Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Truth Wins

In response to my article entitled “Reading & Fuhrer Furor” a Christian friend admonished:

God has called us to be separate from the world, (Romans 12:2). Be careful how deep you delve into the darkness, Steve. I say this as a concerned brother in Christ.

I responded to him:

I don't consider studying non-Christian worldviews (through the lens of Christ and scripture) to be "delving into the darkness." But I think I understand what you're getting at. And I thank you for your concern. I'll have more on this in next week's blog.

So without further ado…Heeeeeere’s “next week’s” blog!

Apologetics is the branch of theology which concerns itself with the defense of the Christian faith—in whole or in part.

There are many different apologetic methodologies but all of them attempt to engage unbelief (and thereby bolster belief). To do apologetics (which I believe is modeled and encouraged in the New Testament) one must have knowledge of those views which oppose Christ and scripture.

How can one defend Christian truth (even within one's own mind) from a position of ignorance? We must know and understand our “enemies” if we are to fight the battle (I am speaking of ideas, not physical confrontation).

I fully understand that many Christians are largely ignorant of (and perhaps intimidated by or frightened of) cults, non-Christian world religions, atheism(s), and the like. I understand such folks have no interests or abilities (because they’ve never developed them) to engage non-Christian movements and/or philosophies. In a sense they live in a spiritual or intellectual “bubble” if you will.

The “bubble” approach may be comfortable for the Christian—so long as nothing or no one is allowed to burst it. Thus, every effort must be made to keep the “bubble” intact—a circling of the wagons, perhaps a burying of the head in the sand. And so we find cornered Christians living under self-imposed societal banishment, warily protecting their kingdom rather than advancing His.

I suppose this may “work” for the individual Christian. But what about the culture?

I think our culture desperately needs folks like C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Cornelius Van Til, William Lane Craig, John Lennox, James White, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias, J.P. Moreland, and Alvin Plantinga (and many other professional and non-professional apologists past and present); who understand their times and who knowledgably and wisely engage the world of ideas. They remove barriers to belief and strengthen the Church.

Light doesn’t cower to darkness—it dispels it. But we’ve gotta get out of the echo chamber! 

In clashes of worldviews I’m convinced…Truth wins.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reading & Fuhrer Furor

In response to my “2014 In The Books,” a reader asked, “why would you read a book written by adolph hitler [sic]?” (This is what we call a statement in the form of a question, boys and girls.)

Predictably, the “question” was followed up with this little gem: “I would rather read of Jesus Christ than hitler [sic].”

Now, without getting into that whole “Who is better: Jesus or Hitler?” thingy, I offer the following thought processes behind reading “Mein Kampf.”

First and most obvious, Adolf Hitler is among the most influential men who have ever lived—one cannot study the 20th century without reference to him. Even folks who know next to nothing of history (which is a lot of folks) have heard of him.

Plus, one can scarcely read an internet debate without the obligatory Hitler comparisons being hurled about by all sides. Thus, in our online reading we find that Adolf Hitler was an atheistic, Satan worshiping Christian under the spell of Martin Luther and Charles Darwin.

Consequently, I find that getting information straight from the horse’s mouth, rather than taking the proverbial “Everything on the internet is true” approach, can go a long way in separating fact from fiction.

Furthermore, Hitler’s racial and political ideas or theories are alive and well today.

“Mein Kampf” is widely available, in its entirety, across the Web. It has been a hit in Japan and Turkey in recent years; it has sold briskly in South America and the Middle East . . . By 2008, an estimated 70,000,000 copies had been put into circulation since the book was first published in 1925 . . . In other words, the restrictions on its publication may have enabled a kind of willful ignorance, a means of not recognizing the continued impact of the book’s ideas on society.

In addition to these things, Hitler’s commentary on the "proper" use and goals of propaganda is truly remarkable. (I believe governments and media—including within the U.S.—employ the methodologies he presents.)

Thus, it seems to me the better question is: Why should I read a book written by Adolf Hitler. Ignorance of the man and his thinking doesn’t help us. (Ignorance isn't always bliss.) 

Ideas have consequences. If we don't learn lessons from history...ignorance has consequences too. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 In The Books

My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. . . . In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see.
~C.S. Lewis

I’ve seen some folks catalogue the most influential books they’ve ever read. Less ambitiously, I’d like to share a list of influential books I read in 2014—one for each month and in no particular order.

Obviously, this list in no way serves as an affirmation of all the things contained in the works; but it does enumerate books which shaped, enlivened, informed, challenged, or reinforced my thinking in the past year.

1. “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler

2. “A Free People’s Suicide,” Os Guinness

3. “Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed,” Austin Fischer

4. “Warranted Christian Belief,” Alvin Plantinga

5. “The Dawkins Delusion?” Alister & Joanna McGrath

6. “Four Views On The Historical Adam,” various contributors

7. “Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy,” various contributors

8. “Darwin’s Doubt,” Stephen Meyer

9. “The Lost World of Genesis One,” John H. Walton

10. “Scripture And The Authority of God,” N.T. Wright

11. “The Lost History of Christianity,” Philip Jenkins

12. “The Dark Side of Camelot,” Seymour M. Hersh

The above books, and all books, should be read in conjunction with and through the lens of God’s holy word, The Bible. As I like to advise: Eat the meat and spit out the bones.

Read carefully, my friends.