mikedvirgilio – Keeping Your Kids Christian http://keepingyourkidschristian.com 8 Ideas to Teach Your Children So They Won't Abandon Their Faith Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:09:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/cropped-family-law-32x32.jpg mikedvirgilio – Keeping Your Kids Christian http://keepingyourkidschristian.com 32 32 The implications of origins part 3 – Lucky Dirt Turns Out to be Not So Lucky After All http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/the-implications-of-origins-part-3-lucky-dirt-turns-out-to-be-not-so-lucky-after-all/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/the-implications-of-origins-part-3-lucky-dirt-turns-out-to-be-not-so-lucky-after-all/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 00:58:57 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2233

In my previous two posts (one and two) I argued that how we understand our origins, where we come from and why we are here, have implications for life that are all encompassing. If we, as Scripture declares, are creatures made in God’s image in God’s world, then we can know what “real reality” is, and live accordingly. The results will be positive because we can live according to the actual nature of things. If, on the other hand, all we are is lucky dirt that erupted for no reason at all with no cause but chance, a grand cosmic coincidence if you will, then the implications will be bad, very bad.

Things, of course, are generally never absolutely one way or the other, perfect good or perfect evil, because in fact, as is evident all around us, we live in a fallen world that was created by a God good. So we see evidence of fallenness and goodness in everything. But the logical implications of origins will eventually drive people one way or the other. This is very important and should not be missed: a person’s, or people’s, or country’s, or culture’s basic presuppositions about the world we inhabit and what human beings are, will eventually find its way into the culture.

For example, if we are simply material beings, with no soul or higher purpose for our existence other than luck (thus, lucky dirt), then we can have no more value than dirt. This logical conclusion cannot be disputed. Mind you, real and armchair philosophers since the Enlightenment have tried, but you simply cannot get to ought from is. In other words, there is no such thing has human dignity, or human worth in any cosmic sense. Why should a human being have any more value than the dirt with which it is made? The only credible answer from the atheist is, just because. That’s not very persuasive in the face of tyrants, thugs, and dictators. The history of the 20th century and all it’s bloodshed and destruction is only one example, all flowing ineluctably and logically from the implications of human beings seen as cosmic accidents.

Both the moral/religious relativist who thinks he gets to determine right and wrong, truth from fiction, and the progressive, Utopian, communist drink from the same well of materialist lies. The fount of those lies would be that reality is not an objective thing whose definitions are separate and apart from what we think of them, which follows if all we are is lucky dirt. For the former (relativist) their motto is “true for you, but not for me.” For the latter (Utopian) their motto is “might makes right.” The materialist presuppositions lead both to ignore that reality is not ultimately malleable. Looking at consequences of these lies, the former has given us a society of moral confusion where almost 45,000 people a year successfully kill themselves, and the latter a 20th century where well over a hundred million people were murdered by totalitarian thugs.

A favorite example of mine that shows side-by-side the implications of these worldview questions (God or chance) is the American and French Revolutions. The American Revolution was built on moderate Enlightenment and Judeo-Christian values. Our founding document states, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” No lucky dirt for America’s Founding Fathers! Only something beyond humanity itself can be appealed to to make its rights secure. The French Revolution by contrast tried to destroy all religious and moral traditions in its past, and built it’s revolution upon the abstract concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity. How’d that work out? We should not be surprised that le guillotine became the enduring symbol of a revolution that not only ignored God as Creator, but actively tried to kill him.




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The implications of origins part 2 – Telos in a Baby’s Ear http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/the-implications-of-origins-part-2-telos-in-a-babys-ear/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/the-implications-of-origins-part-2-telos-in-a-babys-ear/#respond Fri, 12 Jan 2018 13:13:10 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2246

In my previous post I argued that how we see our origins, where we and this universe comes from, have significant implications for how we see reality and live life, all-encompassing implications, both positive and negative. The reason this is important for keeping our kids Christians, as I said, is that our goal as Christian parents is to sell our kids on “real reality,” on existence as it really is, or in other words, as God created it to be. The lucky dirt people, as I called them, are those who see our origins in material chance, atoms that came together for no reason at all to “create” all that we see and experience. It is extremely easy, and I mean ridiculously easy, to persuade our kids that such a view of reality is totally absurd, because it is!

The consequences of the lucky dirt view are all negative, and I’ll focus on that more in the next post, but here I want to briefly focus on the positive effects of understanding the biblical view of our origins. I’ll do that with a story that highlights a concept called telos. It comes from ex-communist Whittaker Chambers, and his magisterial autobiography Witness:

My daughter was in her high chair. I was watching her eat. She was the most miraculous thing that had every happened in my life. I liked to watch her even when she smeared porridge on her face or dropped it meditatively on the floor. My eye came to rest on the delicate convolutions of her ear—those intricate, perfect ears. The thought passed through my mind: “No, those ears were not created by any chance coming together of atoms in nature (the Communist view). They could have been created only by immense design.” The thought was involuntary and unwanted. I crowded it out of my mind. But I never wholly forgot it or the occasion. I had to crowd it out of my mind. If I had completed it, I should have had to say: Design presupposes God. I did not then know that, at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.

Simple question: Why do ears exist? There is no need to answer, is there. Their purpose, or telos, is obvious to anyone with a second’s thought. Where does purpose, or telos, come from? Can lucky dirt produce it? Think about it for a moment: does chance produce anything other than chaos? If the material is all there is, if no God is responsible for existence, then somehow, some way (miraculously?) chance produces telos? I don’t think so. Purpose points us to the one who imbued his creation with purpose.

This leads me to one of the great ironies of Western history. The thinker who best understood and explained this concept was a pagan, of the Greek sort, Aristotle. What made this student of Plato so consequential was his powers of observation, and God’s revelation in creation spoke to him, although he knew it not. (He was no atheist, but he had no conception of Israel’s God.)

Telos in Greek means purpose, or the end of a thing. The why of its existence. As he keenly observed, all things that exist, exist for some reason that fulfills their purpose, their telos. He called this “the good.” What this means is that a thing has its highest meaning in the fulfillment off the purpose for which it was created. I believe that this observation is one of the most profound Christian insights ever attained, and that by a Pagan! He laid out this concept of telos in his four causes. For Aristotle the word cause meant why it is that a thing exists:

  1. Material Cause. What does a thing come from? The material cause of a table is the wood used to make it.
  2. Formal Cause. What is it? The formal cause of the table is the idea of the table in the mind of its maker. The idea has to exist in the mind before it potentially exists.
  3. Efficient Cause. What is the means by which it comes to be? The one who makes the table is its efficient cause.
  4. Final Cause. What is its purpose or end? The final cause or purpose of a table is to place things on it.

The lucky dirt people have to admit that the four causes are the basis of everything that humans create, but deny it applies to nature. In other words, the material cause is the only cause of all that exists! Like I said, absurd.

For parents who understand they need to raise their kids in a hostile secular culture differently, as “apologetic parents” if you will, this is powerfully persuasive good news. Like Whittaker Chambers seeing in his daughter’s beautifully exquisite ear, we can see that all things in nature exhibit the same powerfully, purposeful telos. Children want to know what “the good” is, and to distinguish the “real reality” from the lucky dirt lies the culture tries to sell them. This is just one of many reason why we as Christian parents never have to feel insecure about keeping our kids Christian in an increasingly hostile post-Christian culture.

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The Implications of Origins Part 1: Wealth Lies in the Human Mind Made in God’s Image http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/the-implications-of-origins-part-1-wealth-lies-in-the-human-mind-made-in-gods-image/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/the-implications-of-origins-part-1-wealth-lies-in-the-human-mind-made-in-gods-image/#respond Sat, 06 Jan 2018 23:08:02 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2036

In the beginning God created . . . We know this famous passage from Genesis 1, the first words of our Bible. What we often fail to appreciate, unfortunately, is how profound these words are in their implications for all of human existence. How human beings understand the origin of their existence has everything to do with how they understand that existence, and how they attempt to live it. Everything. If, on the one hand, we believe that all we are is lucky dirt as a result of an astounding cosmic accident, that will have certain implications. It is easy to prove both logically and practically none of these are good. By contrast, if we are created by an almighty personal God in his image, the implications of the logic flow in an inescapably positive and constructive direction.

Why would this be significant for keeping our kids Christian? Simply put, we have to sell “real reality” to our children. I cannot adequately convey how crucial this is as an apologetic for our children. The world works a certain way because that is the way God made it to work. If our origins, where we came from, are in the mind and will and power of God, then the reality we inhabit will in every sense reflect this God, the God we learn about in the Bible.

I thought about all this reading an article with the strange title, “More Lessons from The Twilight Zone On the Importance of People.” The author tells of an episode where we learn that wealth isn’t a function of natural resources, but of people who turn those resources into something valuable.

[N]o resource – even the most ubiquitous – is truly natural. Water can be used to grow food. It can be distilled and purified. But only if human beings use it toward those ends, and develop efficient ways of doing so. Sunlight can be harnessed for energy – but only if human beings devise ways of doing that, and come up with the means to do so. All natural resources have potential value, even if no one has yet to develop them.

If God is our Creator, and we are created in his image, then we too are co-creators with him. And it doesn’t surprise us that he gave us a world filled with raw materials that could be turned into wealth through human ingenuity and creativity. The lucky dirt people, on the other hand, only everywhere see limitations and apocalypse. Whether that’s global freezing 40 years ago, or global warming today, we are constantly told we’re headed for ecological disaster. In the 60s and 70s as I was growing up environmentalists predicted overpopulation and mass starvation on a worldwide scale. This failed to happen because the scaremongers didn’t take into account one little factor in food production: human beings! Environmental predictions of coming doom have been one huge Epic Fail.

The idea of economic limits goes back to someone who should have known better, Thomas Malthus, an economist, demographer, and Reverend in the Church of England. His main idea, very simplified, is that population growth will always exceed the resources to support it. If he had understood his Bible better, he would have known that God made the world to support the people he told to “fill the earth and subdue it.” I read a book by George Gilder some years (decades) back that once for all cured me of this notion of a world that could not sustain its inhabitants called Wealth and Poverty. If you want to know how “real reality” works economically, there are few resources better to learn about this than Gilder’s book. The world works the way Gilder argues because man, male and female he created them, is made in God’s image. Full stop.

I have more to say on this and will bring in our old (well, he’s only 2,300 hundred give or take a decade or two) friend Aristotle, so I think a series of posts are in order because the implications of origins, God’s good creation or lucky dirt, are manifold.





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Why The Trinity Makes Perfect Sense Theologically and Logically http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/why-the-trinity-makes-perfect-sense-theologically-and-logically/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2018/01/why-the-trinity-makes-perfect-sense-theologically-and-logically/#respond Wed, 03 Jan 2018 00:20:20 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2213

There are many things that separate Christianity from every other religion on earth, but nothing is more central than the Trinity. An important part of apologetics, and keeping our kids Christian, is to make the case that the Trinity is all over the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. For several hundred years of her beginning, the Church struggled with how to make sense of Scripture, that there is one God, but that Jesus also clearly claimed the mantel of divinity. While critics of Christianity claimed that the concept of a Triune God is illogical and absurd, they refused to wrestle with the texts of Scripture that have Triune implications. I learned of one in a recent Advent sermon at our church.

In a series of sermons in Isaiah, our pastor explained that the the suffering servant who is to pay the penalty for our sin is nothing less than the Lord God Almighty. Three verses that use the phrase “high and exalted” point us to another one that justifies such a conclusion. The first reference is in Isaiah 6:1:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

And in this passage the angels declare, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” It is no coincidence that the Lord is thrice spoken of as holy, and Isaiah’s response is fitting for a confrontation with ultimate holiness, sheer terror. Instead of the popular conception of a nice, tottering old grandfather, the God of Israel is a consuming fire, and terrifying to sinners. Isaiah here says that this God is “high and exalted.” The phrase is not used lightly in Isaiah, as we see again in 33:5:

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.

Again, it is the Lord alone who is “high and exalted,” which cannot be said of any human being. Later in the book (57:15) he uses the phrase again:

For this is what the high and exalted One says—

he who lives forever, whose name is holy . . .

This holy God who lives forever is “high and exalted,” a phrase that leaves no room for confusion of the divine nature of this God. He is above and apart and wholly other from every created thing. But we get a hint in the section of Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant (52:13 through 53) that he is not so wholly separate from his creation that he could not become part of it. That conclusion would come later with the ultimate revelation of God in Christ, but this servant we learn of in Isaiah is one of whom “high and exalted” also applies (52:13):

See, my servant will act wisely;

he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.

The very next verse describes what is going to happen to this servant, and it is appalling. Only Jesus at the hands of Roman sadist soldiers can explain what we read, yet this one is also highly exalted? Yes! This servant will be God himself! It’s crazy, but the whole testimony of Scripture confirms it. Two times in Jeremiah (23:6 and 33:16) we read that Yahweh, The Lord, is our righteousness. And Paul confirms that Jesus himself “has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” Jesus, the Lord, is himself our righteousness. And reading the rest of the account of the suffering servant we learn that this will be accomplished by the servant taking the punishment for our sin.

Seen in light of redemptive history, the Trinity makes perfect sense, regardless of human inability to conceive of it. That’s why God gave us his special revelation because we couldn’t figure this out on our own from general revelation in nature. But it also makes perfect sense logically. We live in a world of persons, i.e., us, and only persons can love vis-a-vis other persons. We are made in God’s image, and thus if God is love, then God is a person, and in eternity he must have had other persons to love or he could not be love. Thus the Trinity!


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John 10 – Reformed theology and Keeping Our Kids Christian http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/12/john-10-reformed-theology-and-keeping-our-kids-christian/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/12/john-10-reformed-theology-and-keeping-our-kids-christian/#respond Fri, 29 Dec 2017 23:15:42 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2125

Reformed theology has been instrumental, even foundational, in keeping our kids Christian. Looking back at Christian history this means that I find the faith explicated by men such as Augustine and Calvin more persuasive than Pelagius and Arminius. I was reminded of this recently in a New Testament reading at our church from John 10. The passage is familiar to all Christians because it’s about Jesus as the good shepherd. What stood out to me was the relationship of the shepherd to the sheep. It is clear that the relationship is one of belonging; the good shepherd knows his sheep, and they know him. They belong to him, and he to them. Here are Jesus’ words:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Verse 27 is especially powerful and instructive in that it comes before verse 28 and the promise of eternal life. The sheep belong to the shepherd: he owns them (v.12). Jesus doesn’t offer them eternal life if they will only take it; he gives it to them, and “they shall never perish.” Period, end of story. This is true because Jesus didn’t come to save just anybody, but a specific body of people. We know this because when an angel of the Lord announced the coming of the Messiah he was given a name for a very specific reason. (Matthew 1):

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins

Notice who Jesus came to save: his people. He didn’t come to potentially save some undifferentiated mass of humanity from their sins who might one day choose to accept the offer. No! He came to save his people from their sins. His people. The way Augustine or Calvin would interpret theses words is completely different from the way Pelagius or Arminius would, and I find the former far more persuasive.

The reason this has to be true is because all human beings are born dead in sin, and are enemies of God. As Paul says quoting the Psalms, “there is no one who seeks God.” We are all like Adam and Eve after the Fall. When the Lord God “was walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” what did Adam and Eve do? They hid! They were ashamed because of their nakedness. God could have exacted the wages of sin, death, that very moment, but he didn’t. In fact, he first promises that there is a salvation to come, then pronounces judgment upon them (I call this the gravitation pull of sin in a fallen world), and then he sacrifices an animal to clothe them. At that very moment, the sovereign, Almighty Triune God put in motion the excruciatingly long process of saving his people from their sin. And throughout the whole story of the history of redemption, God is choosing. We might even say, God is the choosing one. And God’s choosing is always in spite of what his people do, never because of it. Next time you read through the Old Testament see just how true this is.

So how is this Augustinian and Calvinistic (Reformed) view of salvation foundational in keeping our kids Christian? First, they are Christians because they are born to my wife and I, and God’s covenant promises are to us and our children. Don’t believe me? Here are the words of the Apostle Peter in Acts 2, the very first sermon in Christian history:

39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.

Our children are not strangers to the covenant! Peter was no doubt aware of Moses’ words in Deut. 29:29: “the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Our children have never had to bear the weight of thinking their salvation was up to them, that it was ultimately based on their choice. It wasn’t! They have chosen to follow Jesus as one of his sheep because he chose and owns them; they are his. He gave them eternal life, and they shall never parish; no one will snatch them out of his hands.


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I’m Baaack! http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/12/im-baaack/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/12/im-baaack/#respond Wed, 27 Dec 2017 23:30:10 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2201 As you may have noticed, over the past month or so my little website had a cold. Technology is like that, not unlike we who experience life in a mortal body in a fallen world. Nothing is perfect. But I learned that Godaddy is a little less perfect than HostGator. My web guy who helped me get the site up and running initially said I should go with the latter to host my site, but I had used Godaddy for years with other sites so just stuck with them. Unfortunately, when something went seriously wrong with the site they couldn’t help me. It was the perfect opportunity to move the site over to HostGator, which I did. As soon as the site was transferred over to them, a short time with their support on the phone, and the site was up and running like new. So if you want a site hosted sometime, I’d definitely suggest HostGator.

Now I can get back to my apologetics musings with the goal of keeping our kids Christian.

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Aristotle’s Commitment to Truth an Imperative for Biblical Christians http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/11/aristotle-truth-classical-education-counter-cultural-etc/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/11/aristotle-truth-classical-education-counter-cultural-etc/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 00:33:41 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2177

I’ve been meaning to read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics for some time now, but it’s a tough slog (unlike Plato which I found much easier to understand), so like the typical human being I am, I’ve just put it off. The reason I’ve been so non-eagerly eager to read it is because I’ve heard one of my favorite people in the world, Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn, say too many times to count how it’s his favorite book and that he reads it every year. One of the reasons Dr. Arnn is so highly esteemed by me is that when he talks I hear wisdom. It’s odd because he doesn’t sound terribly intellectual or sophisticated, and in fact maybe the opposite (Tim Keller has this affect on me as well), but his insights about life and people and the nature of reality ring truer and deeper to me than most other people. Part of the reason for this, I am convinced, is his passion for an education that is classical focused. Thus his constant promotion of Aristotle’s Ethics.

I found early in my reading why Aristotle and classical education is so important in our postmodern, relativistic cultural moment. Today the idea or concept of truth is problematic at best, and in the realm of religion and morals (anything metaphysical) most people don’t believe truth with a capital T exists at all. Most Westerners embrace (whether they could articulate it or not) some form of, “What’s true for you is true for you, and what’s true for me is true for me.” A more absurd notion is difficult to fathom, but that’s what you get with the triumph of the subjective where the sovereign self gets to define its own reality. One of our own Supreme Court Justices, Anthony Kennedy in a decision could not have put this mindset any better:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life.

That’s some heady stuff! You wonder what happens when one’s own concept of existence comes up against another’s concept and the two are diametrically opposed to one another. Who’s the arbiter or judge of which concept wins? Ultimately, who is stronger, or in Nietzschean terms, the will to power, might makes right. Here is the bottom line, and you can take this to the metaphysical bank: If there is no truth, all that we have to determine right and wrong and meaning is power. Inevitably life is lived among persons, so all that stuff that Justice Kennedy thinks is so all sovereign self, is most definitely not.

This is why the biblical and classically Greek view of truth is so important in our cultural moment. As Christians we have to stand for the reality of Truth, and stand against the irrational idea of a sovereign self. Aristotle is an ally in this battle. His commitment to Truth is established from the first pages of the Ethics:

But no doubt it would be admitted to be better, indeed to be necessary when keeping the truth safe is at stake, even to abandon the things that are one’s own, both for other reasons and because we are philosophers; for while both [the truth and one’s friends] are loved, it is a sacred thing to give the higher honor to truth.

Sacred indeed! The very idea of Truth is inextricably tied to the existence of God. Without him, if all we are is “lucky dirt,” then truth is only what we make it, and that leads only to misery and death (see the history of the 20th century). But if Truth exists outside of us, exists in the fabric of reality, as Aristotle and the biblical writers knew, then we have something to appeal to beyond our own wishes and desires, our own innate inclination to want to “be like God.”

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When In Doubt, Open Your Eyes http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/11/when-in-doubt-open-your-eyes/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/11/when-in-doubt-open-your-eyes/#respond Sun, 12 Nov 2017 14:55:30 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2166

If you’re like every human being on the face of the earth, you sometimes doubt what you think you know. It’s part of what’s known as the human condition, and being finite. We can only know so much. There is in fact much more that we don’t know, way much more, than we do know. One of the nine ideas I explore in my book is epistemology, which is the study of knowing, what we know, how we come to know it, etc. If a person doesn’t doubt what they believe they know (no matter what it may be—doubt is not a religious concept), I don’t question their humanity, I question their sanity! A person who thinks they don’t experience doubt is deluded.

As for me, I’m terribly human. Just ask my family. So of course I experience doubt. Sometimes I doubt if I should go to a doctor for a nagging ache somewhere in my body I just know is cancer—of course I doubt that too! Or I doubt if I should lease a new car. Or I doubt if I should cook for dinner, or do take out. Mundane stuff all, but proof that doubt is a fundamental fact of human existence. What, though, if I doubt big things, like God’s existence?

My first question to such a question is, why wouldn’t I doubt it! I can’t “see” God, and we live in a culture where God is persona non grata. In almost every product of popular culture, media, and education, God is really invisible. That’s why it’s so easy for people to be agnostic, atheist, or apathetic (the Triple A’s I call them) in Western culture. Those who try to insert God into the picture are often treated as strange, weird, or just downright anti-social. So should it surprise us that doubt about God’s existence sometimes creeps into our own consciousness? I’d wonder about you if it didn’t!

For me, it sometimes happens when I’m praying or in church and the thought passes through my brain that maybe, just maybe, I’m praying to the air, and that’s it. Or maybe all these people around me have been duped, and we’re all singing to and worshiping a make-believe deity. As these thoughts shoot through my mind, almost reflexively I’ll look out the window, and a contrary, much more powerful thought comes to me: this cannot all be an accident! You’re telling me that chance can explain all the beauty and complexity and purpose we find in nature? Really? I just don’t have that much faith to believe such an absurdity.

I read apiece recently about the amazing, incredible, almost unbelievable fine tuning of the universe. This is an exciting time to be alive for Christians because the more our scientific knowledge grows, the more plausible does our trust in the Bible’s message become. This was not supposed to happen, to say the least. Secularists have been predicting for over 200 years that science would eventually make religion a curiosity among the enlightened of the world’s inhabitants. Exactly the opposite is happening. Read the piece about fine tuning, and I dare anyone to tell me with a straight face that this is all sheer coincidence.

As I tell my kids all the time, there are only three, count ’em, three options to explain reality. People think there are all kinds of philosophies and religion, zillions it seems, all kinds of options to explain reality, and it’s all so confusing so why even try, bla, bla, bla. But there are really only THREE! Pantheism: God is everything, but it fails to explain persons and thus fails in explanatory power. Atheism explains absolutely nothing and fails even more spectacularly than pantheism to explain reality as we find it. So the only other option, the ONLY one is theism. And of the theistic religions, only Christianity explains personhood in its doctrine of the Trinity. So feel free to doubt, but know this, when you do you can just open your eyes to what God has provided us to trust him, now and forever.



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The Doctrine of Creation is Critical to Keeping You, and Your Children, Christian: Part 3 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/11/the-doctrine-of-creation-is-critical-to-keeping-you-and-your-children-christian-part-3/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/11/the-doctrine-of-creation-is-critical-to-keeping-you-and-your-children-christian-part-3/#respond Thu, 09 Nov 2017 22:44:02 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2158

In the second of the three posts about creation I argued that naturalism is the default view of reality in our post-Christian secular culture. Even for people who do believe in God, they live their lives functionally as Deists. Even if God is there, he’s not terribly relevant to life. The pervasive naturalism of our culture makes this easy to do. But why is naturalism such a threat, and how is the doctrine of creation the answer?

I believe most Christians are functionally naturalists, in that we tend to see the natural world much as our secular neighbors do. This is nothing new because since the Fall human beings have always been inclined to see reality as if they were God and he was not, the heart of Satan’s temptation to Adam and Eve. So from the very beginning God has had to establish his bone fides, if you will, that he is God and we are not! It seems absurd to have to argue that we are not God, or that we have to be continually reminded of that. Isn’t it kind of obvious that we are finite in every way? Obvious that we are fragile in so many ways, and finally mortal? Of course! But the, “You will be like God” temptation is a great one, and at the heart of all human misery.

Thus God had to get the point quickly, so we read the very first words of God’s revelation to his creatures, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God as Creator is foundational to the Christian life. He is affirmed as the creator or maker of the universe continually throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, the contrast is often made to idols which are literally nothing, just human creations. In the New Testament, we learn of Jesus, the Logos, and his role in creation. John tells us:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

And Paul expands on this in Colossians 1:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Pretty comprehensive, wouldn’t you say? The absolute centrality of God as Creator to our faith is why Satan works so assiduously to get human beings to deny or ignore it. Since the Enlightenment, naturalism is the point of the spear in Satan’s toolbox to undermine our faith in God as Creator. If he can get us to buy into that no matter how subtly (we can say God is the Creator, but see the world as if it is independent of his sovereign, providential control), then we are that much closer to dethroning God from his rightful place in our lives, and replacing him with ourselves. Not good.

A simple example comes from C.S. Lewis, and something I’d never considered until I read it. For Christians there should be no distinction between the natural and the supernatural. The material world is infused with God’s presence, as Scripture affirms. Lewis pointed out that Mary’s conception by the Holy Spirit was no more miraculous than any woman’s conceiving. Is not a new being’s creation utterly miraculous? Are we really supposed to believe the process of creating a new life is solely “natural”? No divine assistance required?

Another example is a simple tree. We look at a tree, any tree, and tend to think that it exists and grows because of the seed that it came from, and the soil and sun and water. While that’s certainly true, that’s only part of the story. The tree exists and grows because of God! He animates all existence. As Paul says above, through Jesus “all things hold together.”

One more example will suffice, especially since we moved to Florida this summer and experienced the first Hurricane to directly hit the Tampa area since 1921. Such things are often referred to as “natural disasters,” as if God, if he exists as all, is a bystander. My Christian brother or sister, there is no such thing as a “natural” disaster! God is the sovereign Lord of all creation, and nothing, not a hurricane, a tsunami, earthquake, or sparrow falling to the ground, happens without God’s providential ordaining of it. Such a God is worthy of our worship, our lives, and our trust.

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The Doctrine of Creation is Critical to Keeping You, and Your Children, Christian: Part 2 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/10/the-doctrine-of-creation-is-critical-to-keeping-you-and-your-children-christian-part-2/ http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/2017/10/the-doctrine-of-creation-is-critical-to-keeping-you-and-your-children-christian-part-2/#respond Sun, 29 Oct 2017 16:07:01 +0000 http://keepingyourkidschristian.com/?p=2146

In my last post I argued that the doctrine of creation is central to the entire history of redemption. For the Hebrews in the ancient world what differentiated them from the Pagan nations was that their God was the creator of the universe, while Pagan gods were literally nothing, figments of sinful human being’s imaginations. But I ended my last post with this question: What makes the doctrine of creation so important for us, and keeping our kids Christian, in the 21st century? Let’s answer this question for our own unique historical cultural moment.

It’s no secret we live in a post-Christian age, one getting more post-Christian by the moment. As I argue in the book, far from being a threat to our and our children’s faith, a hostile secular culture can be our children’s best friend! But we can only turn the culture to our advantage if we know the actual threats it poses. The doctrine of creation will help us counter one of the least understood cultural threats Christians must address if we are to build a generational faith in our children: naturalism. What exactly is naturalism and why is it such a threat?

Simply put, naturalism is the doctrine or assumption that the natural (i.e., material) world is all their is, or even if their is a God, it is a closed system of cause and effect. The religious term for the latter is Deism. In this version of theism, God is an almighty Creator, but once he built the universe and set it in motion, it was on its own. He pushed the first very big domino, and they’ve been falling ever since. This is the clockmaker God of the Enlightenment: once he built the clock (the universe) and set it running, it was hands off after that. The Bible knows of no such God, but our culture insists on it.

Charles Darwin was a gift to naturalists. His theory of evolution made it plausible to imagine a universe without a creator. Combined with Newtonian physics (which requires a closed system), and a very limited understanding of the “natural” world, by the 19th century God was on his way out as a necessary part of human existence. Unfortunately for the naturalists, Albert Einstein messed all that up. If time and space were not absolute . . . oh my, that might have metaphysical implications, and we can’t have that! But as knowledge progresses the idea of a God-less universe becomes increasingly implausible. Nonetheless, as sociologist Christian Smith has argued, the religion of most Americans is something he calls Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The Bible calls them fools, as in, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.” The biblical fool isn’t an atheist, however, because a god-less universe was inconceivable to ancient people. In Hebrew, the words “There is” are not in the text, so in effect the fool says, “No, God!” The fool still believes in God, but he ignores him, much like a Deist would. God is simply not relevant to his life.

That last sentence perfectly captures what it means to be secular in a secular, post-Christian society. But what does this have to do with the doctrine of creation? Everything. If God is the Creator, and providentially in control of all things, as the Bible claims, over and over again, naturalism is a lie from the pit of Hell. But we swim in a culture where naturalistic assumptions are everywhere, literally ubiquitous. I’m watching, and enjoying the World Series right now (my Dodgers are looking very good), and the commercials annoy the living daylights out of me. They’re all naturalism, all the time. The point of all this is that if we are not careful, and most Christians unfortunately are not, we begin to see naturalism as plausible. We begin to see the created world through lenses informed by naturalistic assumptions. How does that manifest itself in our lives and the lives of our children? This post is getting too long, so I guess I’ll have to come back for a third post and conclusion. Stay tuned!



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