Saturday, April 30, 2011

Leaving The Church

I have long held that that word "Church" definitely has different meanings for different people, and even different meanings for the same people in different situations. With that in mind, the name of this post might well be entitled: "In Search Of The Church".

I have become disillusioned in my experience of Church. Accusations of us-four-and-no-more hyper-spiritual elitism at one time might have poisoned the well of my thinking on this matter, but my need for more now trumps that.

I recently read an article by Albert Mohler that helps me to articulate my current dissatisfaction. In his article he cites a book "Why Conservative Churches Are Growing: A Study in Sociology of Religion" by Dean M. Kelley, and an article, Creed or Chaos by columnist David Brooks concerning Mormonism. Mohler focuses in on this idea at the heart of Brook's column: "the religions that grow, succor and motivate people to perform heroic acts of service are usually theologically rigorous, arduous in practice and definite in their convictions about what is True and False.

Brooks is an agnostic I would presume.  Yet he has the insight to see that the very things that define what modern western churches seem inclined to avoid, are the same things that "motivate people to perform heroic acts of service". Mohler, however, points out another probing question at the center of the true/false quandary for the Christian , a question I often ask myself as a guiding light in my decision making processes: "Do we really believe that the message of the Gospel is the only message that offers salvation?

Mohler attributes this question to the one that was asked by mainline denominations in the sixties, hence the word "only", and indeed it appears that the modern day mainline denomination did ask that question a half century ago, and for the most part answered it wrong. But for me, the question is still a pertinent one, absent the word only, and deserves an answer today; indeed every day. I am in search of the Church that is willing to ask this question daily, answer it daily, then practice life daily as if the answer is yes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How Do You Know If You're Making A Bad Argument?

The short answer is, if you can make that same argument against your own argument by simply changing the subject, it is a bad argument.

I was recently presented with just such an example when commented on a friend's Facebook status concerning earth day. A friend of the host responded to me and someone else with the following argument, which by the way, had absolutely nothing to do with my comment. (I have changed the names)

So Dan, "those who are spiritual" often disagree with one another on many interpretive issues. So are you saying that you and those who think exactly like you are the only ones who gets[sic] it right?

So this was my response. I simply copied and pasted his argument and changed the word spiritual to unspiritual:

So Bob, "those who are unspiritual" often disagree with one another on many interpretive issues. So are you saying that you and those who think exactly like you are the only ones who gets[sic] it right?

He subsequently sent me an email in which he claimed he had been sent information about me that was unflattering, which gave me the opportunity to employ his basic argument yet once again.

I call this living at the center of the universe. Situated there, every measurement of good and evil, right and wrong, and even in determining who can proclaim what is good and evil, and right and wrong, is taken from the center of the universe, which is self. At the center of the universe you can argue the truth of something based on the "fact" that we can't know truth, because YOU are confident that no one can be confident about anything. You can judge the judgmental, not tolerate intolerance, assert facts based on ignorance; why you can do all sort of things simply because it doesn't conflict with how it makes you feel, which we all know is a wonderful basis for appeal.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oughts Ex Nihilo

Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning out of or from nothing. A quick Google search will reveal that the word is normally associated with creation. But I contend that worlds and universes are not the only things that are ex nihilo.

As it pertains to creation in modern day discussions, ex nihilo highlights the collision of the material and spiritual worlds. The strictly material worldview scoffs at the idea of a world created ex nihilo because it denies the existence of anything that cannot be known via the five senses. But no sooner than a person adopt this worldview than he becomes cognitively dissonant in the arena of morality. From the materialistic standpoint there is simply no foundation from which to assert any morality. Still, those who approach our beginnings from a strictly materialistic point of view are no less prone to preaching oughts than the most fervent of the faithful.

We can see this when we ask the question "why" to any kind of ought. Following this line of reasoning will always lead to nothing. Why ought every American have health care? Why ought I care if the planet overheats? Why ought I not shoot a bunch of kids in a school? Why ought I care about diversity? Why ought I not be a bigot? Why ought I not impose my beliefs on others?  Why ought it matter that the electrical signalling generated in one skull causes it to turn away from the sick and hungry and to self indulgence? The fact remains that for the materialist, any appeal to ought HAS to be made ex nihilo.

It is impossible to connect the dots from scientific facts brought about by materialisticly based thinking to moral values, and it is of the utmost importance to realize this. The material world, as interpreted by randomly involved intelligence, can only produce facts. Facts are not moral. They tell us nothing of oughts. To make the leap from 2+2=4, to thou shalt not murder, is a leap ex nihilo. Facts, the discovery of which is the ultimate goal of real science, (real science as opposed to the a priori pseudo science that is so common today) do not and can not produce moral values. No matter how complicated or sophisticated our science becomes, or how arrogant it makes us, or how much it can increase our faith in death being the end, a wall exists and will ever remain between cold facts discovered and moral codes that dictate how we ought to behave. The Ultimate and cruel reality then is that if there is no God; and even if there is a God and we can't know him, any "oughts" asserted by anyone are oughts ex nihilo.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Juxtaposition Of Sermons

My wife showed me this video from Face Book a few days ago. It is kind of funny and we both suppressed some chuckles.

I didn't say much before I went back to what I was doing. She soon asked me what I thought of the video, and did I think it was OK? Without answering, and with my computer in my lap, I went to You Tube and pulled up the following message somewhat randomly. I played it for her and then asked, do see the difference? Which one points more to a gimmick, or comedic-look-at-me-ain't-I-cute Gospel, and which one is serious?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who Are They Talking To?

Harry Ried had this to say this morning:

"Republicans want to shut down government because they think there is nothing more important than preventing women from getting cancer screenings?" (source)

Now who was he talking to when he said this? The answer is simple, the politically unsavvy. He was certainly not talking to those who are going to pull the lever for "D"'s regardless of anything anyone might say or do. He wasn't speaking to those who understand that no nation can run trillion dollar deficits and expect to survive. That leaves those who kind of float and flitter this way and that depending on how they feel on a given day.

Like the baseball player caught between bases however, the options are narrowing for those running this way and that. Toward third base are slave making taxes, toward second are dreaded spending cuts. Stuck in the middle are the ones to which the media, leftist pundits, liars and others who are hoping to take America out by overwhelming it with debt are speaking. We shall soon see how persuasive the Reid's of the world were.

(update)Other comments that in a sane world would be outrageous:

In ’94 people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they’re here to kill women. Rep. Louise Slaughter D-NYsource

Wow, this is like having a front row seat to a civil war except the bombs falling out side are verbal. That was a big one. I wonder if Old Glory will still be there tomorrow?

Update II
"This is the functional equivalent of bombing innocent civilians." Washington's Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton source

That one made the chandelier shake. I bet that sent some moderates scurrying somewhere. But where? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Neil's Apt False Teacher Primer

This is an Extranormal video created by Neil Simpson at "Eternity Matters". According to Neil the making of the first video is free after setting up an account. He also points out an interesting thought in the making of this video: "There is something unique about how the characters read the lines. It helps make points that get lost when there is too much emotion in the voices."

Neil says that the content is the result of years of debating false teachers and that many of the arguments made by the false teacher character are direct quotations from various false teachers he has encountered. Neil also provides sound Biblical responses through the other character. It's fun to watch... and educational to boot!