Archive for the ‘Faith’ category

Where is Our Confidence and Focus?

January 17, 2018

Depositphotos Image ID: 15807997 Copyright: Kuzmafoto

Paul, the man Jesus “recruited” face to face after His death and resurrection to be the apostle to the Gentiles, was concerned about the purity and integrity of that Gospel. He had every reason to be proud of his accomplishments and heritage as a Jewish Pharisee, a scholar and leader of the highest order, but counted them all rubbish for the sake of the Gospel. Paul did not boast in his accomplishments; he boasted in Christ.

At the same time, Paul was keenly concerned with bad influences creeping in to the little pockets of believers that Paul oversaw and nurtured. We see this concern in most of his letters, including the letter to the Philippians, which I have been reading the last couple of days. Paul says in Philippians 3:2-7:

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by [in] the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.”

This got me wondering: Who might Paul be talking about today?

(more…)

Advertisements

Faith, Reason, Leaping & Falling

January 13, 2018

Parallel Sidewalks in Pest along the Danube river

I came to the conclusion in college that a person cannot reason his way to knowledge of God. I don’t remember all of the details that led me to this conclusion, but the conclusion was solidified for me in a lecture given by a professor on Western Civilization featuring Thomas Aquinas.

This lecture was given every year by this professor and eagerly anticipated by students at my college, which is why I attended it. As I remember the premise of the lecture, my memory of it being simplified now so many years later, science and reason can and does lead one to God. I determined then, and I believe now, that this is not true.

Not that science, reason and faith are incompatible. It’s just that science and human reason are not adequate for the task. Just as God must, necessarily, be Other than the material universe, we who are limited to the senses that are part and parcel of the material universe are limited in our ability to “see” and know anything beyond it.

The material universe consists of and is limited to the space/time continuum. By definition, God (if He exists) is Other than the space/time continuum. He is “outside” of space time. He is timeless and immaterial. Our science and our minds exist in space time and are limited to it and by it as a first principal.

In my way of thinking, a God who exists outside of this material world (our immediate environment) would have to reveal Himself to creatures such as ourselves. We could not “ascend” to Him.

Yet this is not to say that we can’t know anything of God. If such a God were to reveal Himself to us, we could know Him, but would we recognize the significance of that revelation? Jesus claimed to be a direct revelation from God. John, the apostle, said, “He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.” (John 1:10)

Is Jesus who he claimed to be?

I was influenced in reaching the conclusion I came to in college about the value of science and reason in this endeavor, no doubt, by Immanuel Kant and Soren Kierkegaard. They came to the opposite position of Aquinas. They essentially say it is impossible for a finite being such as ourselves to reason or discover our way to God. There will always be a gap in our knowledge that we will never be able to close by the reason and evidence that is available to us.

This made more sense to me. There will always be a gap between a finite being and an infinite being.

(more…)

God’s Special Purpose

January 11, 2018


God reminds us who He is because we are creatures, the product of His creation, and we could not understand God without Him revealing Himself to us. We also could not understand purpose in our lives apart from the God who made us. And it turns out that He made us for a special purpose.

Among the various revelations that can be read in the various books that we consider Scripture is the revelation of a God who created humankind in His own image. We reflect many of the characteristics of the God who fashioned us. Perhaps of greatest significance is the ability He has given us to direct our own wills.

We can choose to see and relate to God for who He is. We can choose to be the captains of our own souls. We can either commit ourselves to our God and Maker, or we can choose to go our own ways. If we choose to go our own ways, however, we go it alone, without the blessing or sustaining grace of the God who made us.

“Return to me, for I have redeemed you,” says God through Isaiah. (Is. 44:22) The God who gave us this capacity to accept or reject Him, calls us to Himself.

In the end, God is all that we could want, all that we are made for and all that we need. In Him is love and peace and eternal life. He is reminding us who He is. Our destiny rests on our willingness to grasp this reality and to submit ourselves to it.

We will not need to be told to “sing for joy….” (Is. 44:23) when we do submit and yield to our Maker because in Him is our joy. It is the natural expression of the child returning home to her Father. God is who He says, and God reminds us who He is in His lovingkindness.

From Fiction to Faith

January 9, 2018

Photo from ChristianPics.co

I recently had a short exchange with an atheist friend over an article I wrote about science and faith. He is from the world of science, his father being a scientist, and he making a living on scientific principles. He found my article and analysis of atheism and science to be colored by my faith. And, of course it is, just as his view of religion and science is colored by his atheism.

He views God as a fiction. I view God as reality, transcending all the reality I think I know. We couldn’t be more opposed in our views of the world, though that doesn’t mean that we cannot be friends and learn from one another.

I suggested to him that both theism and atheism are rational conclusions, but the conclusions depend on the starting places. I remember from my philosophy class in college, and the study of Immanuel Kant and Søren Kierkegaard that theism and theism can both by logically “proven”. Syllogisms reaching both conclusions can hold up logically. The only difference is the starting premise.

To put it more simply: if you start with a premise that assumes God, a logical syllogism can be constructed that proves the existence of God. If you start with a premise that assumes no God, a logical syllogism can be constructed that proves the nonexistence of God.

How, then, does a rational person resolve the tension between these diametrically opposite conclusions? Logic cannot suggest an answer to this conundrum because logic can only operate on the basis of a premise, and the premise with which we start makes all the difference.

If we could determine which premise is correct, we would be well on our way, but it turns out that this is easier said than done. What then?

Science doesn’t help us either. Science is, by definition, the study of the natural world. God is, by definition, “Other” than the natural world.  Science can take us back to nanoseconds after the Big Bang, but we can peer no further into our past. We can’t see the very beginning, and we can’t see beyond it.

We can’t see through the lens of science and our senses beyond this natural world, and this leads many, like my friend, to conclude that nothing exists beyond the natural world. It’s a fair conclusion, to be frank.

But it’s a bit short sighted. Why we do assume that we and our physical senses are the measure of all reality?

How do we know if there is anything beyond the natural world? How do we know if there is a God?

(more…)

Of Monuments, Saints Stephen and God, Our King Forever

January 8, 2018

Heroes Square Budapest, Hungary

I recently returned from a trip to Budapest Hungary. Traveling to foreign lands and meeting foreign people expands our horizons and opens us up to new perspectives, and sometimes helps us to understand ourselves better.

I didn’t know much of Hungary before we left, not nearly as much as I know now. We had the intimate advantage of a guided tour by our own daughter who is living there now. She regaled us with some of the rich history that is proudly displayed throughout the sprawling city.

Budapest is a City full of strong, stately buildings and monuments to its past, good and bad.  We have our own monuments to the past that are no less stately, though many centuries more recent, but viewing the unfamiliar Hungarian monuments got me thinking.

Why do we do this? Why do we erect such proud monuments to our past?

(more…)

Reflections on Gauging the Light and the Dark

December 28, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 80301160 Copyright: SergeyNivens

I’ve heard the following Chinese parable from Ravi Zacharias a couple of times. It’s on my mind today:

An old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped through the fence. When the farmer’s neighbors sympathized with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Is it bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know?”

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills. This time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Is it bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know?”

The next day, when the farmer’s son attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. The neighbors came around again and commiserated with the old farmer about his very bad luck, but the farmer’s reaction was, “Is it bad luck? Good luck? I don’t know?”

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Or was it bad luck?

We like to jump to conclusions, and we have a tendency to jump to those conclusions pretty quickly. We do this even with ultimate, worldview positions. We have a tendency to want to measure everything by the tools that are convenient and familiar to us, but sometimes we need to be willing to venture off from the light of our comfortable positions into the darkness of unfamiliarity to gain a bigger perspective.

(more…)

Christmas Thoughts: Uriah’s Wife and The Redemption Plan

December 27, 2017

My Christmas thoughts a year ago were focused on the women in the genealogy that Matthew included in the beginning of his Gospel. Tamar, Rahab and Ruth are all stories of redemption foreshadowing the ultimate redemption story when God entered into our story, which is ultimately His story. The grand story of global redemption is what we celebrate at Christmastime, and these women are all instrumental in that global redemption story.

A total of five women are listed in the patriarchal lineage included at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel. The oddity of including women in a patriarchal lineage bears some investigation. Indeed, we find the redemptive theme when we look into it, and, that theme continues with the next woman on the list, but with a twist.

The twist begins with the fact that the next woman isn’t even named! The genealogy in Matthew reads like this:

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife[i]

Another oddity signals that something is different here. The stories of Tamar and Ruth were stories of kinsman-redeemers, women who embraced the shelter and protection of the relatives of their deceased husbands and, thereby, gave birth to sons who would carry on the line that would eventually lead to Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). All of the first three women, including Rahab, are also stories of faith and God’s faithfulness.

The story of “Uriah’s wife” is another example of God’s faithfulness, but human side of the story is one of unfaithfulness. Bathsheba is the mother who had been Uriah’s wife. She isn’t named for a scandalous reason.

(more…)


Belong to The King

Christian, Faith, Jesus

Quantum Awareness

Are Buddhism and Quantum Mechanics saying the same thing in different languages? Let's finally bring the two together and have an enlightening discussion.

JonahzSong

Writings & Ramblings

testifyingtotruth

" Contrary to the claims of "sexual rights" propagandists there is no agreement at the United Nations that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) can be used to create "rights" to abortion, to be a prostitute, to be a child who has sex as they choose or for Men who have Sex with men (MSM) to engage in fisting, felching, rimming, farming, scat, chariot racing, jackhammering , anal penetration etc ".

Humanitarian Explorer

Dylan Raines is walking all 193 member states of the United Nations to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian projects.

Quotes, thoughts and musings

“God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes.” ~Apostle Paul

A Pilgrim in Narnia

a journey through the imaginative worlds of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Inklings

Sparkonit

Science - Simplified

Paradigm Shift

A Godly Perspective To Refocus Every Day

Life, God, and the Universe

Inspirational insights revealing the secrets to a life of abundant joy, meaning, purpose, and love

Cat Battista

Faith. Family. Fête.

resurrecting orthodoxy

Joel Edmund Anderson

Spiritual Sisters

Embrace, Encourage, Empower.

Work in Progress

My thoughts as I journey through this thing called life.

Small Town Girl Taking on the World

"The world is a book and those who do not travel only read a page." - St. Augustine

t2gospel

Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Convergent Christianity

Where Evangelical, Charismatic and Historic church expressions are brought together in unity.

Wolff Poetry | Poems - Resources for Beginning Writers

Linda J. Wolff is poet & founder of Wolff Poetry. 75% Original Poems & the Go-To Source of Basic and Advance Writing Tools

The Truth Will Make You Mad

Skeptical believer. Christian anthropicist. Post-partisan Hayek-Friedman-Reagan classical liberal.

Larry Hurtado's Blog

Comments on the New Testament and Early Christianity (and related matters)

WIT

Women in Theology

Real as the Streets

Faithfully Authentic

%d bloggers like this: