Monday, September 17, 2007

The “Great Awakenings”

Why do you think America has not seen a religious awakening since the 1800’s

The failure to value the intellectual properties of Christianity in the revivals in the 1700’s and 1800’s has stifled the growth of the church.
In describing the first great awakening J।P. Moreland says , “What appeared to be a great time of revival for the church can now be considered the beginning of intellectual demise.” The reason Moreland says this is the preaching employed in the early awakenings focused on emotionalism and personal salvation, in fact anti-intellectualism was a promoted feature of the next three “great revivals.” They were more worried about about filling their altars than creating strong Christians.

In Christ’s parable of the sower he describes exactly what happened after the awakenings। Matthew 13: 5-6. “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” The awakenings produced Christians that were only motivated by emotions, so like the parable they grew quickly but after a while when their emotions wore out so did their faith.

The “great awakenings” did produce good things at that time, but years later we are still feeling the negative consequences of their watered down teachings। One horrific consequence was the rise of cults in the 1800’s. During this time Mormonism, Jehova Witness, and “Christian Science.” These cults flourished in areas were the revivals left weak believers. Another consequence was some Christians lost their ability to think critically. When this happened we started losing the battle on abortion, evolution, and other harmful ideas. As Christians lost faith in their ability to argue they withdrew from defending their faith, and some gave it up. The Barna Group, a company devoted to collecting and evaluating religious trends, reports that 58 percent of all active church-attending teenagers won’t be attending church by their thirtieth birthday.
Not only has the earlier revivals crippled modern day revivals it has given other “religions” the public pedestal for revivals। Religion is defined by msn Encarta as: a set of strongly-held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by. Using this definition as my source, I must disagree with the essay question because there have been many “religious awakenings since the 1800’s. In fact we’re in the midst of one right now. Post Modernism is gathering momentum daily. Atheism determines one’s beliefs and values, it is definitely a religion, even if atheists won’t admit it.

In summary, one of the main reasons we haven’t seen a great Christian revival in the last 200 years is because the early revivals weren’t carried out properly. This failure has helped cause the Church in America to be less effective in our culture. And it has also given cults and other philosophies a strangle hold on America’s beliefs and values.

Smart Faith p.20

Matthew 13:4-рем

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Mystery of Color

Color is a very funny thing, it isn’t necessary for life, yet it adds an element to life that makes life enjoyable. What is it about a beautiful sunset that captures our attention, and what is it about a gorgeous painting that makes it worth millions of dollars? Two questions that I am going to ask you are these, how did color get here, and does it actually exist, or is it a figment of our imagination?

How did color get here?
An interesting thing about color is that it has three primary colors. Not just one. I know that you learned this in kindergarten, but I think that this is actually pretty cool. For color to not have one primary color, it means that it couldn’t have evolved. In evolution you have the molecule, and by natural selection and random mutation it branches out into other things. Think of it like an umbrella, the starting molecule is the handle, you pull the handle and the spokes spring out and form an umbrella. The handle is the starting molecule, and the spokes are the different forms that have evolved from the handle. The point that I’m trying to make here is that color cannot be evolved, because it has no starting point from which to evolve from. So we have one of two possibilities here, either some being created color, or color does not exist at all.

Does color exist?
I’m now going to use the above argument, and twist it slightly, to make a new argument; here it is; if color has no molecular basis, does it still exist? Some people argue that since it doesn’t, it cannot exist. If you think about it, this kind of makes sense, for example, can you see color in the dark? No you can’t, does that mean that light plays tricks on your mind and makes you imagine that color exists? I’m not inclined to think so.

First of all, as someone who holds to the intelligent design theory, I have no problem believing that color has no one great ultimate color basis. But the argument that color doesn’t exist is a bit trickier. It isn’t that I’ve given this a great deal of thought, but it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know any tricky little philosophical arguments for color, so I’ll resort to common sense (horror of horrors). Just kidding.

If something has any ontological status it must conform to the laws of nature. I’m inclined to think that color does conform to the laws of nature. For example, the sun is always yellow; it does not change to blue because we imagine it does so. Every reasonable person since the beginning of the earth has not argued the fact that the sun is yellow. Insert about anything with color in for the sun and this proves my point. It’s not like the chair I’m sitting in currently changes colors at the bidding of my imagination. I can twist my perception of the chair by doing something like wearing sunglasses, but if we are being reasonable we will accept the fact that the chairs color did not change, only that our perception of the chair changed.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Danger of the Narrow Study of God

The church has long taught only one part of God’s nature, tending to play it safe and not offend anyone. To often have pastors and Sunday school teachers taught about love, grace, and forgiveness, ignoring the God of perfect justice, anger, and full of righteous wrath; One that is not afraid to punish those who deserve it, and a God so powerful that if he were even to think it, he could demolish every being he ever created in an instant.
We seem to have forgotten the God of the Old Testament, only dwelling on the seemingly more loving and ‘cuddly’ God of the New Testament. Some people in the church have gotten things so twisted they say, “I can do anything I want, God loves me and is gracious, so he’ll forgive me every time I sin.” Basically they’re saying that grace is the allowance to keep on sinning. This is egregious theology (to put it lightly). But when you look at the way most of us approach and think about God, this Christianity- shattering belief makes sense. The absence of the teaching of God’s full character (as well as humanly possible) is handicapping the growth of Christianity.

Before I begin my argumentation, I’d like to investigate how we got to this unhealthy fixation on the loving side of God’s nature. I’ve already expounded on the point of how it is used to justify sin, but I think there are a couple more reasons we do this. The first reason being we as humans don’t like mysteries. God being perfectly just is a huge mystery to humans. How can a perfect God send people to Hades? We don’t like to think about God’s justice; it just doesn’t seem to make sense.
Another reason we focus exclusively on God’s justice is because the way we think about Jesus is only through the lens of love, advantageously skimming over the passages were Jesus displays his perfect anger and wrath. We’re too busy admiring His miracles to look at when he cleansed the temple and committed other deeds out of perfect wrath. Having adequately shown how and why we slip into this improper and unhealthy view of God, I will now show how and why we need to look at all of God’s attributes.
First, I would like to show why we need to see God in his fullness. The first reason is because it alters our lifestyle. If we don’t see God in his perfect justice, it leads to a point were we live in complacency, content with our sorry excuse for a spiritual life. If we don’t believe God will implement justice, why should we live according to his laws? If we believe that God doesn’t implement his justice, then a parent also would not need to punish their children. If a parent is to punish their children as God punishes his children, and God does not implement justice, than a parent should not punish their children either. We must see God in his perfect justice in order to live a just and holy lifestyle. We must also see God’s attributes correctly if we are to impart a healthy lifestyle to our children.
Second, it hinders our worship. How can we grow in our worship if we only praise half of God’s attributes? Another reason this hinders our worship is because it eliminates a good deal of mystery in Christianity. We need mystery in worship for it to be complete. If there is no mystery in Christianity then we know as much as God. If we know as much as God, then he is no longer God, and we cannot worship him. So for us to worship him completely we need mystery. Mystery should not scare us; rather, it should encourage us.
In summary, we need to study God in his full character because;
-It will guard our mind from vain philosophies and their subsequent ill effects
-It will influence our actions for the better
-It will improve our worship

A few passages showing God’s perfect justice, perfect wrath, and anger
Deuteronomy 27:19
Job 34:12
Job 34:17
Job 37:23
Job 40:8
Psalm 9:8
Psalm 9:16
Psalm 11:7
Psalm 33:5
Psalm 45:6
Psalm 72:1
Psalm 89:14
Psalm 97:2
Psalm 99:4
Psalm 103:6
Psalm 140:12

There are many more passages that clearly show and proclaim God’s justice.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Free will and morality

I’ve been re-reading Mere Christianity lately, and as C.S. Lewis is arguing for basic morality, it reminded me of an argument employed by J.P. Moreland. Moreland was arguing that atheism does not allow free will, and listed highly respective atheists who say just that. John Serull (spelling?) a professor at UC Berkley (and a leading scientific naturalist) said this, “our conception of physical reality does not allow for the existence of freedom of the will.” Similarly, William Provine, a leading scientist at Cornell university says this, “free will as it has been traditionally conceived, simply does not exist, there is no way the evolutionary process as currently conceived, could produce a being that is truly free to make choices.”

They have to say this because:
Premise 1. Only material things exist
Premise 2. The current concept of free will is intangible
Conclusion: free will does not exist

This clearly does not make sense. If there is no free will, why do we make so many excuses? When we make excuses we acknowledge that we should have done something different than what we actually did. We should have done action (a) instead of the action we actually did (b).
Another clear objection to this “scientific predestination,” is the human emotion of guilt. Whenever you feel this sensation, you admit that the action you took was wrong, and you should have taken another action. This is basically saying, “I feel bad about the action I took, because I had the choice to do action (b) and decided not to.” If there is no free will, we have nothing to feel bad about, it ultimately wasn’t our choice so we don’t anything to worry about.

Now picture this, what if in a courtroom someone who had committed a murder said this, “Judge, I don’t think I should face jail time or the death penalty; because I don’t really control my actions. It wasn’t my choice it was the laws of nature that made me commit the murder. So ultimately I’m innocent, because I don’t control anything. I’m simply an inanimate object that external factors move and use. I’m no different than a rock, if a rock killed someone, would you give it the death penalty?”
Hmm…that’s a tough one… The judge and jury would have a hard time with this case. Don’t you think?
I thought not.

We humans expect something out of each other (we're strange like that). We expect each other to act decently to be kind when kindness is due, and be just when justness is due. C.S. Lewis said this in Mere Christianity, "think of a country where men were admired for running away from the battle field, or were men felt proud of themselves for double crossing all those who had been kindest to him. You might just as well imagine a country where 2 + 2 = 5."

So in conclusion, humans have some sort of free will, label it differently, set different boundaries to it. I don't care, but you have to acknowledge some level of human free will. This concept of free will leads to a lot of places atheists don't want to go.