Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's A Mad World

These are crazy times.

We ridicule the liars who report the news and reelect the ones who make it.

While cultural Christians are losing their minds for 50 Shades of Grey (aka “mommy porn”), Coptic Christians are losing their heads for Jesus Christ. Think about that.

Speaking of losing things…what madness is driving Bruce Jenner’s morphology from Wheaties to Fruit Loops on “reality” TV?

TV and reality—how about the Oscars? First the chick with her feminist nonsense, then the dude “jumps the shark” in his skivvies; only to be outdone by a weepy Chris Pine—oblivious to the camera (wink, wink)—overcome with his own oppressive Whiteness.     

Bread and circuses

Meanwhile, President Obama tackles (sorry…no golf metaphors come to mind) jobless jihadists and Texas judges with all the rhetoric, skill, and dexterity of a community organizer extraordinaire.

Now consider this:

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled [January 8] that state officials aren't violating the rights of a 17-year-old girl by forcing her to undergo cancer chemotherapy she doesn't want. . . . Cassandra currently is confined in a room at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, where she is being forced to undergo chemotherapy.

Whatever happened to a “woman’s right to choose” what to do with her own body?

I suppose this only applies to situations that include a woman’s preborn baby, not those that involve her actual body. Thus, in Connecticut young women have a choice in killing their children but not their cancers.

It’s a mad, mad world.

What does such a world need? Jesus Christ.

But as G.K. Chesterton observes, “The mad man is certain that he is sane.” So naturally, a nutty world rejects the sanity of the Savior. The Apostle Paul found himself in just such a circumstance.

Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:24-25).

Yes, the world’s a mess—but not a hopeless one. The Gospel is God’s wisdom and power to save it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

WWJD—Who Would Jesus Divide?

Waaaayy back in 2013, in response to my “Hath God Said?” article, I received the following little note of encouragement:

“The bible is often better read and understood by non believers . . . showing how idiotic some theists are...because divisive Steve's of the world effect us all. and, i'll stand on their side [the side of unbelievers] any day of the week! christ-like my ass!”

I offer a two-fold rejoinder.

First, I think it would be rather counterproductive for me to mount an argument in favor of my own Christ-likeness. I can’t imagine anything more distasteful than crowing about one’s personal holiness. Can you?

Second, it is, shall we say, counterintuitive, to regard the Lord Jesus Christ as being non-divisive.

That Jesus was just so relentlessly "non-divisive" goes a long way in explaining why He was crucified, doesn’t it? It also sheds light on what Christ meant when He said,

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law”; and “a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36).

A “non-divisive Jesus” goes against scripture and plain reason! The historical, biblical truth is our Lord was hated and despised then even as He is now. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him. And let us never forget our Master’s admonition:

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. . . . Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18,20).

Suffice it to say, Jesus never experienced mild disapproval.

Jesus says we are blessed when folks revile and say “all kinds of evil against” us (Matthew 5:11). Well, this offended gentleman certainly blessed me. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised to receive another huge blessing any minute now.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eros & Marriage

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. (CS Lewis, The Four Loves)

The Four Loves is a marvelous study on the various types or kinds of love within human experience. Lewis examines our “loves” in light of four Greek terms: storge, philia (also phileo), eros, and agape.

I’d like to consider eros. 

Eros, in Hollywood, is the end all and be all of all things between a man a woman. Hollywood knows only one sort of love and it knows it wrongly.

Hollywood, more often than not, simplistically equates eros with sexual desire (from eros comes erotic). But eros is more than sexual desire and sexual desire is often less than eros. Human sexuality may operate within eros or without it. (When it operates without it, it is little more than—in fact it may properly be thought of as less than—animalistic.)

Eros, as conceived by Lewis, is the state of “being in love.” Healthy marriages certainly enjoy romantic love. But eros in marriage cannot simply be enjoyed. It must be encouraged. Godly spouses will seek to stir eros in their covenant lover’s heart, as well as in their own heart.

Yet, as vitally important as eros is to marriage, it is but one aspect of it. We dare not elevate eros too highly. We must not make a god of him as Hollywood has done. As Lewis observes, “Eros, honored without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon . . . what costlier offering can be laid on love’s altar than one’s conscience?

How many homes have been decimated, honor betrayed, and hearts vitiated in the name of “love”? Eros must be submitted to Christ and His word. And when it is, it is glorious.

Rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love (Proverbs 5:18b-19).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Toddling To Atheism

My arguments against faith were really those of a schoolboy.
~ Francis S. Collins

In response to my 2 part series entitled, “Ignorance of Biblical Proportion,” (the thesis of which is that nearly every atheist I’ve ever heard, read, or interacted with knows very little of the Bible and church history) an atheist reader writes:

All the atheists I know grew up in the Christian church so know and learned exactly what you also learned. Then, after finding so many problems and contradictions in the Bible itself [they left the Christian faith].

Perhaps if I knew the atheists of which she speaks I would change my opinion. But as it stands I've yet to come across an atheist (celebrity or otherwise) who is truly knowledgeable with regard to sacred scripture and history.

That being said, I do believe that many atheists "grew up" in a church of some kind and then left the church upon leaving home. In fact it’s quite likely that they abandoned the church much earlier than this. That is, while they may have been physically present they were mentally absent. Thus their knowledge of the faith may be even more stunted than appears.  

It is now clear to me that my reasons for becoming and remaining an atheist from about the age eighteen to thirty-eight were intellectually superficial and largely without a deeply thought basis. ~ Paul C. Vitz

Whatever the case, the Christianity such folks "know" and reject is FAR from mature or robust. Their "knowledge" of the Faith is at best sophomoric and at worst infantile. And this shows in their straw-man argumentation (typically served with a side order of ad hominems smothered in condescension).

But we must try to see past all this.

When the Christianity they left behind is the stuff of misremembered Bible stories and children’s church, is it any wonder they compare “faith” to fairy tales? Sometimes ridicule evinces more than mockery.

 Collins’ and Vitz’s essays appear in “A Place For Truth,” edited by Dallas Willard.