Friday, November 5, 2010

Parent-Teacher Conference Nightmare

I created a short movie on about some of the struggles a teacher can feel during conferences with parents.

Well, it was a hit with my students, so I thought I would post it here.  Disclaimer: it is satire, no one should take this too personally.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Symptoms of "Secular Seep"

What is "Secular Seep"
I could be wrong, but I think I have coined a term.  "Secular Seep" is a phrase I use to describe the little things in a Christian's life that are out of place according to the all-encompassing nature of our faith.  Christianity is a religion which proposes to be a way of looking at all of life (in fact, it proposes to be the way of looking at all of life).  This being the case, there isn't a part of a Christian's life that Christ should not be the center.  When we let in an aspect of the world into our lives, we open the door to not only let that aspect in, but, just a little, the door is open to push Christ out.

"Secular Seep" is not an easy disease to diagnose. It is a slight, subtle, subversive, parasitic infection often undetected for years.  The key element is a general trend toward compromise, so slow the sick do not understand their sickness.

However, it is highly contagious (virulent).  It does not spread by touch, or cough, or even blood transfer.  No, as of now, it is the only disease I know that transfers at the rate and speed of thought and communication.  A friend pressures a Christian into compromise, and "secular seep" has started in the Christian's life.  Whole local Churches can be infected in a very quick amount of time.

It is also, highly resilient (resistant).  Once secular seep has infected a subject, or a body of subjects, it is extremely painful to extract or cure.  It fights to continue its parasitic life off the life of the host.

What are the Symptoms of SS?  Do I have SS?
SS is almost impossible to spot for those who have it.  It often takes a trained, outside observer to correctly diagnose SS. However, it is possible to recognize some of the symptoms of SS before it is too late.

Watch What You Watch
If you find yourself watching TV shows that glorify sex, money, or fame and justifying it as "not that bad" you may have symptoms of SS.  One good rule of thumb is, if your TV shows imply sin in their titles, you could have SS (Gossip Girl, Sex in the City).  Remember, not all of these titles are inherently sinful, but instead there is sin implied by their titles.  Sinful talking about someone (gossip), and having intimate relationships God does not want you to have (I mean what else was Sex in the City all about???) are clearly implied in these titles to anyone who has watched even 5 minutes of these shows.

Even one of the best reality shows on television (American Idol) implies a sinful relationship before God.  How is it there wasn't an outcry by Christians about the title of this show?  For the most part, American Idol is only a show about some people trying to make it big.  However, many of these people strive for fame at the expense of others and better lives for themselves.  Also, some people who follow the show are so obsessed with it, it truly has become an idol to them.

It is possible to watch TV or movies like this, and be able to keep SS at bay, but it is extremely difficult.  One must be constantly on guard against attacks against their soul, evaluating the content of what they watch against the word of God.  For some (maybe even most), it is better to be safe by not watching, than sorry for watching.

This is an area I find to be one of the least consistent for Christians.  I know of many people who will avoid the Harry Potter movies because they contain spells (forgetting about the overall message of Good and Evil being different things and battling for the hearts and minds of people), but they are far too eager to watch Glee (forgetting that the message is about how some evil things, sex outside of marriage for example, are actually good and should be pursued at all costs).

Take Stock of Your Friends
Do your friends want you to succeed in your spiritual life?  Or are they constantly asking you to compromise? If they are putting you in situations against God's word, then you might have already contracted SS.  True friends urge you to glorify God.  True friends do not ask you to live against his standards for your life.

This does not mean we should not have friends who are not Christian.  It does mean, however, that non-Christian friends (or Christian friends that are not constantly following Christ) should not have influence in our lives.  These unChristian friends cannot be motivating to us.  We cannot spend so much time with them that we adopt their thinking without knowing we are doing so.  Jesus was stronger than we are, thus he could spend more time the the "tax collectors."

What Do You Listen To?
In a similar way to the movies or TV you watch, the things we listen to can tell us a lot about our health and ability to fight off SS.  Does your music better you as a person, or does it make comments that are not consistent with a godly view of the world?  SS is so subversive, in part, because it is hard to tell where the problem has come from, and there may be nowhere harder to see this than the music we listen to.  Our music can give us thoughts we didn't know we even had.  Christians are children of God, why live or settle for so much less?

The music you listen to can subtly change your worldview to the point where you wouldn't recognize yourself if you are not careful.  We say we "only listen to the beat,"  and to be sure, Satan loves that we think this is the case.

Where Does Your Money Go?
When was the last time you asked God about a decision regarding how you spend your money?  Remember, Christianity claims to be a way of looking at all of life, and this includes your money.  However, as Americans, we often think we are entitled to use our money the way we want to, we think it is ours because "we earned it".

Instead, Christ should be the center of all our transactions.  There is no purchase too small, to ask God if there is something else he would rather us do with this money.  For many of us, we have never even asked God about what he thinks about our purchasing a car, let alone a candy bar, but if Christianity is truly the center of one's life, then even buying a candy bar is a spiritual act.

There May Be Other Symptoms
There are many other things which can be associated with SS.  Many of them are not inherently wrong.  However, the key question to ask yourself is, what does Jesus have to do with the way I live my life?  Satan loves when people do not understand they are in a war for their hearts and minds.  If he can keep us from believing there is a war, then we will die comfortably, but die nonetheless.

How to Treat SS
If you think you, or someone you know, may have contracted SS, do not panic, but know it takes a lot of work to eradicate the disease.  Surround the subject with people who truly love them, who want to see them succeed in the life of Christ.  Get into a mentor relationship with someone who will challenge you on the areas you struggle with.  Delve into God's word in a deep way.  Read more, listen to Christian radio.

In some extremes, it may be necessary to rid oneself of TV or popular music, or even the internet.  However, remember this is a small price to pay to follow the creator of all the universe, who knows how you were made and can give the abundant life.

The truth is, this transformation comes from God himself, and we need to surrender to his leadership in our life.  We can truly live for him, only through his power.  It is not our salvation, but His salvation to us, His life to us.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why I Teach!, or My Desire to See the End of High School Education

My "Job"
I am a High School teacher.  I teach History and Bible at a small Christian school in southern California.  I absolutely love it.  As far as I know, there is no better job in the world.  I am able to be an integral part in so many minds, at such a formative age.  To see these minds grow and learn to glorify the Creator is a true joy in life.

The job is not without its issues however.  Many students do not care as I care.  They do not find interest in Thoreau or Chaucer, revolution after revolution: French, Glorious or Industrial, mitochondria or rough ER, physics: theoretical or applied.  Many do not see the joy of debating the ideas of existentialism versus nihilism, and they thus do not see the connection between the two.  Even when it comes to knowing the God of the universe, they do not share my enthusiasm for delving deep into the great mystery, to know Him better, and thus to understand ourselves in deeper and truer ways, to find true beauty before all other beauty, and to learn to love the good and the true.

The Problem
Sometimes the students only sleep through class, if not literally, then at least mindlessly.  These students hurt my heart, because they are missing out.
Those students, however, do not nearly make me as sad as the student who finds their only motivation to learn is to "get an 'A.'"  This student does well in class, maybe too well.  When they have graduated, they will have earned all the awards, but not learned who they are.  They might be looking toward getting that "good job," but they have no love of learning.  They might find a way to make a lot of money, but the pursuit will not make them satisfied.

I hate grades!  I hate to give them, I hate to get them.  But I'm told I have to give them.  They do not make sense to me.  Isn't the education I give supposed to help a student discover themselves, and find true joy (or at least the classical idea of happiness)?  How do these grades motivate the student to delve into their own psyche, or even soul, and investigate what makes them tick?  How do grades help them communicate with God?

Grades give an artificial barometer of a student's progress. They give us something to reach, something which will not satisfy.   When you get the 'A' there is always someone smarter than you.  Or even if not someone smarter than you, another school has someone else smarter than you.  Or even if you are the smartest, there will always be another 'A' to reach.  When will this satisfy?

A Broken System
Our whole system of education seems broken.  From the very beginning, we tell students they need to go to school to get into a "good" college.  They may ask, "Why?"  To which we respond, to get a "good" job. "Why?"  To support your family.  "Why?"  So, they can get a "good" education.  Uh, oh, the cycle begins again.

I think our students are asking the wrong questions.  Instead of asking "why," they should be asking "what."  What do the teachers mean when they say "'good' education?" Or job?  Does making money seem all that good?  Is making money enough to satisfy?  I know too many people with money or "good" jobs to know these are not sufficient roads to happiness, as well-traveled as they may be.

When did a liberal arts education become about making money?  I seem to remember Universities developing to try to make sense of the world.  They were looking to find the Unity in the Diversity.  This means a liberal arts education was not a means to an end, but instead an end in itself.  It was about finding one's place in the world, and living a full, well-rounded human life.  This full life would lead to happiness, because we would be living in harmony with our purpose.

Why I Seek to End High School Education
High school education today is involuntary, and, it seems to me, it gives promises it cannot keep.  Now, realize, I do not actually want all HSE to end.  I just would love to see us stop lying to ourselves about it.  HSE makes promises it cannot keep, we tell you an "A" will make you happy, or the right college will make your life right, but they will not.

Instead, I would love to foster a love for learning, in all its glory.  This would mean a student who does not enjoy history, would not have to take my class.  I am now walking on thin ice, because most students do not enjoy history.  This could mean my job would no longer be needed, because no students signed up for my class.  I feel it would be worth the risk.  Let me give you one example why:

I had a student who typifies my struggle with our educational system.  He was extremely bright, exceedingly polite, exorbitantly astute, and enormously motivated.  However, if I engaged him in a conversation of any real depth, he was candid about his motives and perceptions.  "I just need the 'A'" or "Why does this matter to me?" are typical of the statements and questions he made.  He was pressured by the system (and his parents) to learn things in which he saw no value.  Unfortunately, this means he memorized trivia, and never learned any lessons and therefore never grew.  (Coincidently, his parents seemed to act this same way, and although fairly wealthy, they were no closer to living happy or satisfied lives. Interestingly, they were the ones always pushing for extra credit.)

This is akin to the student who asks the calculus teacher, "I'm not gonna be a rocket scientist, when will this show up in my life?"  This is a student working for a paycheck, before a paycheck is even reachable.

What makes us think the student will suddenly find satisfaction when they reach the workplace?  Many are the drones who work to find a paycheck, but never find happiness.  These drones do not work for honey, but instead the weekend.

My Solution (A Work in Progress)
I propose we seek to help students find out who they are, not memorize trivia.  This requires several things:
1. It requires teachers who love what they do.  They are not in the career for the paycheck, but instead to mold minds into harmony with their purpose.
2. It requires less emphasis on grades, especially from parents.  Grades are wonderful for measuring your memorization, yet horrible for measuring a life well-lived.
3. It requires a knowledge of the one true God.  All knowledge finds its home in the Creator, thus any system of education which does not find its center in God will not fill any heart.
4. It requires us to let students have more responsibility at an earlier age.  Students whose lives are forced upon them by parents and teachers do not have time to think deeply about who they are.  To truly learn one's desires and inner workings requires the ability to make mistakes and learn from them.  I know of way too many students who are allowed to stay a Toys 'R' Us kid well into their 20s and sometimes even 30s.  How do we expect them to grow up if we don't baby them?
5. It requires lots and lots of time.  The education I propose is based around relationships.  Unfortunately, this is much more time consuming than trivia and thus most people would rather be lazy.
6. It requires lots and lots of prayer.

P.S.-- A Side Benefit, Avoiding Alex Trebek Syndrome
My dad loves Jeopardy.  I have to admit, I enjoy the show as well.  However, I have real problems with Alex Trebek and others like him.  I call these people 'smug memorizers.'  Alex is always so condescending to people who get wrong answers, because Jeopardy is a results driven show.  In a Jeopardy world, there is no room for growth, because we are only as good as our last correct answer. Thus, those who do not have the answers are looked down upon.

But a world in which we spend our time in relationship, and thus we find our worth in our growth and treatment of others as an act of worship to our Father, avoids the 'smug memorizers' which keep people trapped into boxes in which they do not fit.

Here is a link to a person who thinks somewhat similarly to me:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Quick Post: Jesus as Savior for All in the Birth Narratives

 Evidence of the Birth of Christ as Precursor to Saving the World

It is impossible to read through the narrative of the birth of Christ without seeing it was intended for Jesus to be the savior of the whole world, not only the Jews.  It is clear throughout the narrative that Jesus was going to be the Messiah, although many times it seems that he is only the savior for the Jews.  Verses such as Luke 1:32-33, 46-55, 68-69, 71, 74, 77, 2:38, and Matthew 1:21-23, and 2:6 all point to a savior of the Jews coming to earth, and that Jesus was this savior.
However, it is also clear this salvation was not only for the Jews.  In Luke 2:8-20, the angels announce the birth of Jesus, commenting in verses 10 and 11 that Jesus was/is a source of “great joy which shall be for all the people” for he was born “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  The angels then sing in verse 14, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  Coupled with the above verse we can see that Jesus would be peace for all who were saved.  It is also telling, that peace with our fellow man follows after God is pleased and glorified.
Later, a man named Simeon tells of the salvation of the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, in Luke 2:29-32.  This shows the salvation was not reserved for the Jews, but instead for all that would please God, which we find out later in the Gospels happens by trusting in Jesus as savior.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In the Fullness of Time-- Christ's Impeccable Timing

One of the themes of the NT narrative is the idea that Christ arrived on the scene just at the right time.  He wasn't too early, he wasn't late.  Instead, he came when the world was ready, even ripe, for the truth he brought.  This idea can be found in the NT in passages such as Mark 1:15, Gal 4:4, Eph 1:10, 1 Tim 2:6, and Titus 1:3.

When one studies the historical context surrounding the entrance of Christ, we find indeed, the best possible time for the entrance of the incarnated Son of God was around AD 3-4.

There are 3 main reasons for this.

The World was Prepared Politically
Since the "known world" was conquered by the Romans, the world was politically stable enough to receive Christ.  The Romans had enforced a peace enabling Jesus to carry out his ministry, and subsequently the peace also enabled the spread of the Gospel.

Many people had immigrated to the cities, where ideas were being exchanged freely in the melting pot of the cultures.  This meant Jesus would be heard in the cities as another voice.  Thus many nations would quickly hear about the teachings of Christ.

Not to be overlooked, the Romans also established an extensive system of roads.  These roads made it possible for easier travel between cities.  It also helped the authorities enforce laws and thus reduce thievery of travelers.

All in all Rome created a safe haven for the spread of  the Gospel.

The World was Prepared Intellectually
When Alexander the Great had conquered the "world" he did something very beneficial to the ministry of Christ.  Having died in 323 B.C. Alexander left the world more "greek" than it was before he had conquered it.  One of his goals was to make the world "greek," and as such, he had soldiers marry native women, and teach all of the people the Greek language.  Also, the Old Testament was translated into the Greek by 280 B.C. As such, when Jesus arrived the people had a common language to communicate their ideas.  Jesus probably spoke Aramaic most often, but a common language meant his life and ideas could be communicated easily.

Philosophically, the world was also ready for the person of Christ.  Greek philosophy had taught a few positive things which helped whet the people's appetite for Jesus of Nazareth.  Socrates taught about morality, Plato taught about a soul and an immaterial realm, and Aristotle argued for the existence of a "prime mover" or God.  All of these things impacted the world positively for Christ.

On the other hand, philosophy had not met the needs the people had.  Regular Joes did not find fulfillment in philosophy, it was a system for the elite, strong, and affluent.  It did not make any promises to people who understood their sin, and were looking for love and redemption.

Lastly, the Greeks had also shown the world that not every religion would cut it.  The religion of the Greeks and Romans had failed the people in so many ways.  They offered a polytheism with vengeful, spiteful, egotistical gods that seemed to rather hurt people than help them.  If one of these gods said they loved you, you would cower or run for fear of rape (Zeus was especially known for his lust for mortal women)!  These gods did not meet man's needs.  Instead this type of religion made the masses hunger for something much more satisfying to their needs and intellectual capacities.

The World was Prepared Religiously
The Jews had sufficiently kept the ideas of Judaism in a way as to be able to share them with the world.  They had preserved monotheism.  They had given the world the Old Testament in the common language of the time, and had developed an extensive system of worship throughout the known world.  This led to many gentiles embracing Judaism in the synagogues.  The influence of these synagogues was important in preparing the world for Christ.

Christ's Impeccable Timing
Jesus came to this earth when just the right circumstances came together to maximize his impact on this world, thus changing the face of Western Civilization, and consequently the whole world.  His life ignited a world-wide movement, spreading like wild-fire.  We need to continue preaching the Gospel, waiting for his perfect timing when he comes again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Posts to Read on the Trinity??? How fun!

Today I came across two separate posts on the Trinity.  Brett Kunkle posted a video on the definition and rationality of the Trinity, and Fred Sanders posted about his new book on the Trinity, with an excerpt from his first chapter.

I found both posts enjoyable and informative, although they took entirely different approaches.  Kunkle aims to help educate students in the definition of the Trinity, while Sanders seems to most tackle the methodology of our learning of the Trinity in his post.

Either way, both posts are attempting to clarify a deep theological truth of the Christian faith.  Christianity rests upon the idea of the Trinity and we need more people to help explain what it is, and how it affects every day life.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It is reasonable to believe in God. Conclusion

The End of a Long Road
Alright, it took me a little longer than I had projected to finish my short discussion on the reasonableness of belief in the existence of God.  Somehow, though its finished.  One last thing, lets wrap it up.

We began the series with my assertion that a very good case for the existence of God can be made cumulatively.  That is, these arguments strengthen each other, but all of them do not fall if one of them falls.

Next, I issued the evidence put forth by the Kalam Cosmological argument,  with some of the Scientific evidence supporting its claims.

In review, the basic argument goes like this:
1.  Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2.  The Universe began to exist
3.  Therefore, the Universe has a cause

Now, this did not prove the existence of God necessarily, but it did have some startling implications.  This cause is spaceless, timeless, immaterial, and personal.

After the Kalam argument, my next two posts were Teleological arguments, or arguments from purpose or design.

The first post draws evidence from the complexity of the universe, and it is inconceivable to believe it happened to be this way out of luck.  It would take a designer for all of the intricacies to be just right.

But, if that were not enough, the next post explains we find life is also too intricate to arise without a purpose.  Life is irreducibly complex, and could not just happen randomly, or in small steps.

I then moved to show evidence from the existence of an objective moral law.  Our legislation requires a law giver, why would a moral law be any different.

Lastly, I threw in a few more short arguments I think fun and helpful for belief in God.

Individually, the arguments are suggestive.  Together, as a cumulative case, they make belief in God a completely reasonable stance.

The question becomes, "Which God?"

I suggest starting that search with Christianity.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? 15 Passages

Is Baptism a necessary condition for one to be saved?  Scripture declares, no!  Here are 15 clear passages showing this:

Romans 10:9 (Confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart Jesus is Lord, you will be saved)
1 Cor 1:13-17 (Paul says God did not send him to baptize, but preach the Gospel.  This shows the Gospel and Baptism are two different things.)
Eph. 2:8-9; Philipians 3:9; Gal 2:16; Rom 3 (We are saved by faith, as a gift from God, not works)
1 Cor 15:1-4 (A summary of the Gospel, with no attachment to baptism)
Acts 15; Rom 4 (No outward act is necessary for salvation)
Acts 3:12-26 (Peter doesn't mention baptism as a part of his gospel message)
Luke 7:37-50; Matthew 9:2; Luke 18:13-14; Luke 23:43 (People saved apart from baptism)
Acts 10:44-48 (Many people are saved before being baptized)

Baptism is the normal obedience of one who has trusted in Christ.  Because Scripture asks us to be baptized, anyone who is a Christ follower will react to their salvation by obeying Scripture's request for a baptism.  This outward sign does not create inner transformation, instead it shows inner transformation.

For more on this check here, here, here and if you still want more here.  These sites have some good reasons why verses commonly used for Baptismal Regeneration (baptism is necessary for salvation) are not saying baptism is required for salvation.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Defending Pro-Life

I feel one of the most important "causes" for Christians today is to stand against abortion.  As such, it is particularly helpful to have really good resources for training.  Here are some pages and audio clips to help:

Three Audio Lectures
A ton of resources from Life Training Institute
An article by Greg Koukl
Alan Shlemon Debate about abortion

Considering the fact that over 150 babies were killed during the 3-4 minutes I wrote this post (120,000 babies a day), I think the legalization of abortion is one of the worlds greatest evils today.  It does not take long to train yourself to be able to make a difference.  One human life is worth more than all the atoms in the universe, and we need to treat them as such.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

"I'm Still Young"... And Other Bad Justifications

They are used often, both by the perpetrator and the defender.  I hear them said in a lot of different ways.  They seem to be something to even desire.  These statements are the way people hide behind their youth.  Some wear them as a badge of honor, while others just use them to excuse their behavior.

"Boys will be boys;" "I want to experience life while I can;" "They're just kids;"  "I will always have time to learn about that later, but I want to have fun now;" "I want to live it up while I can!"  These, and others like them, are the "I'm Still Young" class of justifications.  It is a common idea to believe we will always be able to change later.  This is often why youth act like they don't care, they think they will always be able to fix it later.

However, contrary to this idea, there are many problems with this type of justification.   The first problem is easy to see.  Being young does not change the morality of an issue.  Lying, Murder, Hate, etc. are all wrong no matter your age.  This idea is undertaken in Ecclesiastes 11:7-10.  The author does say to live well while still young, enjoy your youth, but remember we will be held accountable.  Clearly, to be young is not to absolve from responsibility.  And I think most people realize this very quickly.

I am not sure we are as ready and eager to recognize the second (and I think deeper) problem behind the "I want to experience life while I can" set of justifications.  I think there is something fundamentally wrong with what we think experiencing life is in reality.

Far too often I will hear, and even think myself, that life is better while you are young.  This seems to be an underlying assumption in our culture today.  "Those were (are) the best days of your life" or other like statements adequately describe our attitude toward life.  We as a culture honestly think life is at its best in High School and College.  This is something that has been documented by Diana West in her book The Death of The Grown Up.  Also, for a couple shorter treatments of this idea, check out these articles by John Stonestreet.

For some reason we have bought the idea that life is all downhill after 30.  This scares me as I turned 30 this year.  But it also scares me, because it means that, if this theory is true, I am now heading into the boring part of life!  Is life really best in the 20s???

I would venture that it shouldn't be true.  And it is a very, very sad thing for people who find it to be true for them.  It is painful to be around people who are in the middle of life, still wishing to be in high school.  Don't believe me??? To show you life should get better with age, like fine wine or cheese, I submit Uncle Rico.

Do you know Uncle Rico?  In the movie Napoleon Dynamite, a set of loser characters combine to make a memorable movie (though maybe memorable for all the wrong reasons.)  In this movie of loser characters, I think we all know the worst one is Uncle Rico.

Rico is a 30s relative of the main character Napoleon. He is often referring to his high school football days, "I bet I could still throw a football over those mountains."  He wishes he could relive his glory days!  Unfortunately, those are his glory days.  He now lives in a van, and tries to come up with get-rich-quick schemes.  It is hard not to understand the pathetic nature of a grown man wishing to be in high school again.

Even so, we, as a culture, try to hold on to our teen years for as long as possible.  This is true enough that it is not actually hard to find an "Uncle Rico" in real life.  We can all probably think of someone like this, or we will find one soon.

I think this goes against the idea Christ had in mind when he spoke of having the full life in John 10:7-10.  It seems to be counter-intuitive to urge people to reach for a "full" life, but it doesn't keep getting better as people grow.  A full life should only get better.  In this case, getting older would be welcome.

Most cultures have understood the value of growing old.  They recognized, that while losing some physical ability, growing old brings an experience and wisdom that is surpassing in its meaning and beauty.  This is one reason why many cultures have a more healthy respect for their elders.

As a culture, we need to recognize the full life begins in Christ, and only gets better as we grow in him.  This will help our students to mature earlier, because they will not be afraid of the life still to come.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It is reasonable to believe in God. Pt 6

I have been arguing belief in God is reasonable by putting forth a short, cumulative case for the existence of God.  In my last post, I argued the existence of universal morals is best explained by the existence of an ultimate creator.  Today, I want to focus on some lesser known arguments for the existence of God.

Quick Extras (Maybe One Not So Quick)
There are many, many arguments for the existence of God.  Some have been researched more than others.  In this space, I will treat some of my favorites in a very short way.

The Argument From Desire
One of my favorite arguments for the existence of God is called the argument from desire.  Many people have used this argument.  It appeals to the desire in all of us for meaning, love, glory, and other desires.  Some have put the argument this way: "There is a God-shaped hole in each of us."  C.S. Lewis was very good at using this argument.

The way I put this argument is:  For most of the things I want, I find there is a suitable, even perfect, satisfier for this desire.  When I am hungry (the desire for food) I can find food.  When I am thirsty (the desire for drink) I can have water.  I cannot think of one physical desire for which there is not a perfect satisfying element in this universe.  You could suggest the world was made in such a way as to be able to work towards satisfying needs/wants of its inhabitants. (By the way this is another form of the argument from Teleology.)

It is almost as perfect with my non-physical (spiritual) desires.  My desire to have loving companionship is fulfilled by my wife.  The desire I have to care for, and nurture the creation is fulfilled by my care for my home and dogs.  I desire to leave a legacy for new generations, and hopefully someday I will have children of my own to do this with.  But unlike my physical desires, these "spiritual" desires are not perfectly fulfilled all the time.

However, I can see glimpses of how these might be fulfilled perfectly.  It leads me to believe, that if all of my physical desires can be met perfectly, might there be a place where my spiritual desires can be perfectly met?  After observing how many desires are satisfied, CS Lewis put it this way: "If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

I find this most compelling for the Christian God when one considers our desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, and yet we do not want to lose ourselves.  In other words, we all want to live a meaningful life, but be able to be who we are.  All other worldviews do not answer this adequately.  Atheism tells us to only care for ourselves, while Pantheism tells us to lose ourselves in the cosmic goo.  

Only Christianity gives an adequate explanation for this desire.  The Christian God is the perfect example of this in the Triune nature.  God is a unified being in three persons.  All members of the Trinity are fully God (unity), but are fully distinct persons (individuals).  No other worldview answers this question in a satisfactory manner.

The Argument From Beauty
I think I like the way Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli put this.  It goes something like this: There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.  Therefore, there is a God.  Seriously, check it out in this book.  

Beauty, like the beauty represented by this picture from space needs an explanation.  The best explanation is it was created by a designer.

I know there is a lot more to explain in this argument, but these are supposed to be quick extras and I already really screwed that up.

The Argument From Consciousness
The fact that there is something unphysical about us points to an unphysical cause.  Our mind needs an adequate explanation for existence.  The existence of mind (not our brains) cannot be explained by physical means.  The best explanation is another mind.

There are a lot more of these arguments.  I find some of them more compelling than others, but in a cumulative case all contribute to the case for the existence of God.

Next: Conclusion

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Biblical Interpretation in a Nutshell

Over at Parchment and Pen, Michael Patton has posted a concise summary of correct Biblical Interpretation.  I have been working on several posts about Biblical Interpretation, where I have claimed there are 5 steps to correct Biblical Interpretation.

Patton has suggested there are really only 3 steps to correct interpretation: Exegetical Statement (What It Meant To Them), Theological Statement (What It Means To Everyone) and Homiletical Statement (How This Applies To Me).  These actually are basically the same steps I advocate said in a different way.  However, Patton has been working at this longer than I, and therefore has much insight and experience I cannot give.

It seems to me, that many (not all) of the problems we have when reading the Bible would be solved, if we just read it more carefully.

I highly recommend giving this post a read through.