June 2009

Every once in a while I get a nice piece of hate mail from someone who disagrees with me.  This one, in response to an article I wrote on the topic of celebrating Christmas, however, takes the cake:

You are a candy fanny, gutless coward attempting to rationalize your stupidity. God have mercy on fools like you who call yourselves men of God but have lace on your drawers and probably squat to pee. You are a liar and a fraud and a curse to Christianity.

I have to give it to this guy, he is original in his insults!

Jon_MeachamThe Founders created a “context in which religion and politics mixed but church and state did not.  The Founders’ insight was that one might as well try to build a wall between economics and politics as between religion and politics, since both are about what people feel and how they see the world.  Let the religious take their stand in the arena of politics and ideas on their own, and fight for their views on equal footing with all other interests.  American public life is neither wholly secular nor wholly religious but an ever-fluid mix of the two.  History suggest that trouble tends to come when one of these forces grows too powerful in proportion to the other.” [1]—Jon Meacham

[1]Jon Meacham, “The End of Christian America,” Newsweek, April 13, 2009 edition, p. 37 (pp. 34-38).

worldviewNancy Pearcey described a worldview as a mental map that helps us effectively navigate our world.  The better our worldview, the more effectively we ought to be able to navigate reality with it.  Faulty worldviews are easy to spot because they always run contrary to our pre-theoretical experience of reality at one point or another.  For example, scientific naturalists claim the material world—working according to natural processes—is all there is to reality.  There is no God, there are no angels, and there are no souls.  All that exists is what we can put in a test-tube.  This creates a problem for the concept of free-will, which in turn creates a problem for the concept of moral responsibility.

If there is no God everything is purely material, including ourselves.  Material things do not make decisions, but respond in determined ways to prior physical events.  They don’t act, but simply react to prior physical factors.  For any particular event there exists a series of prior physical causes that not only results in the event, but necessitates it.  Life, according to scientific naturalism, is like a series of falling dominoes.  When you ask “Why did domino 121 fall?” it will be answered, “Because domino 120 fell.”  Domino 121 could not decide to not fall when acted upon by domino 120.  It must fall.  If man is just physical stuff, then our “choices” and “knowledge” are like falling dominos: nothing but necessary reactions to prior physical processes.  There is no free will.  Scientific naturalists admit as much.  Naturalistic philosopher, John Searle, wrote, “Our conception of physical reality simply does not allow for radical freedom.”[1] He admitted that there is no hope of reconciling libertarian freedom with naturalism when he wrote:


man in praiseSome have argued that a God whose essence is good is not worthy of our praise for doing good, since He cannot do otherwise.  Being praiseworthy entails merit, but there is no merit in doing what one must do of necessity; therefore, God, is not deserving of praise for doing good.

William Lane Craig offers three points in response (Question #114) to this argument:

(1)   While a good act must be free for it to be praiseworthy, this argument falsely assumes that since God cannot do evil, He is not free.  Freedom, however, does not require the ability to do otherwise (in this case, to commit evil).  It only requires that one’s choices are not causally determined by external factors.  In that sense, God’s freedom to do good is a free choice.  While God cannot do evil, He freely chooses to do good.

(2)   Strictly speaking, “moral praise” is inapplicable to God.  According to Craig, “Moral praise and blame have to do with duty fulfillment. Someone who fulfills his moral obligations is morally praiseworthy. But…I don’t think that God has any moral duties. For moral duties are constituted by God’s commands, and presumably God doesn’t issue commands to Himself. Therefore, He has no obligations to live up to. Borrowing a distinction from Kant, we can say that God acts in accordance with a duty but not from a duty. Because God is essentially loving, kind, impartial, fair, etc., He acts in ways that would for us be the fulfillment of our duties.”

(3)   God is to be praised, not for choosing to do good, but for being good.  As Craig writes, “I think that our praise of God for His goodness is…to be properly understood in terms of adoration. God is the paradigm and source of infinite goodness, and therefore we adore Him for who He is. We don’t offer Him moral praise in the sense of commending Him for living up to His moral obligations; rather we love Him because He is goodness itself.”

British churches may be forced to hire gay and lesbian staff beginning next year if the Equity Bill passes.  This makes sense.  Given the logic of gay rights advocacy, and its comparison of gay rights to civil rights, if a church cannot decline to hire someone on the basis of their race, then neither can they decline to hire someone on the basis of their sexual orientation.  This may be coming to a U.S. church near you!  Remember New Hampshire?  Their House of Representatives initially voted down a same-sex marriage bill because they didn’t want to allow religious organizations to opt-out of participating in same-sex ceremonies.  The trend is moving toward decreased religious liberty.

oocyteDoes anyone remember the promises from the legislators, scientists, and bioethicists that they would not pay women for their eggs for use in cloning research?  As with most bioethical promises, they are handed out like candy in order to obtain the desired political result, only to be taken back once that result has been realized.  Apparently, New York has decided it will pay as much as $10,000 for women to donate their eggs for cloning research.  What’s the problem with that, you say?  The problem is that the hyper-ovulation drugs used for the procedure can have adverse effects including sterilization, and even death.

empty-pulpitIt’s common in Christian circles to limit our preaching and teaching to Christ’s ability to take care of our sin problem and fix our broken lives.  That is the Gospel message, but that’s not all Christianity has to say about the world in which we live.  Christianity is total truth.  It’s not just truth about salvation, it’s also truth about science, morality, and insofar as morality should affect society, politics as well.  The Christian worldview affects every area of life, both private and public.

Unfortunately the church has typically limited its preaching and teaching to issues surrounding the private life.  We have ignored socio-moral issues such as abortion, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, cloning, etc.  If they are addressed at all, it will be with a passing condemnation that lacks both intellectual substance and explanation.  I think our lack of dialogue on these issues explains why our socio-political influence is disproportionate to our numbers.


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