No, I haven’t turned into a Catholic, but Catholic teaching regarding having children is something Evangelicals should embrace. I thought of this when I read a piece recently by John Stonestreet at Breakpoint: “Fur Babies:Pets, Children, and the Triumph of Autonomy.” I know for most Evangelicals, asserting that having children is not an option is “controversial.” But I would argue that it’s only controversial because we’ve too easily been influence by the culture of autonomy Stonestreet is talking about. The word means “freedom from external control or influence; independence.” In other words, our choice is the ultimate value. In the West, and especially for Americans, choice is as sacred a right as one can possess. Why would Christians, on the other hand, think having children is a choice? It certainly doesn’t come from Scripture.
Most Americans do not believe that the Bible gives us reliable history, let alone a divinely inspired authoritative history we can trust for the salvation of our souls. Most Christians do believe they can trust Scripture, but few know why. This is unfortunate because in the history of the Church there has never been so many solid, scholarly, easy to understand resources available for Christians to defend that trust.
One issue that is a popular target for skeptics of the New Testament is the idea of canon, which means “a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine.” Critics of the New Testament insist that what we find in our Bible was the result of a power play by early Church Fathers. What’s at stake is the authority of what we find in our Bible. The goal of skeptics who attack our canon is to undermine that authority by claiming it’s formation was no more than some Shakespearean tragedy.
Words mean things . . . This little phrase is one my kids have heard numerous times over the years, probably more than they’d like. And words are among the most profound things about human existence because they allow us to think and communicate.
The profundity of language is built into the nature of the Christian faith. In the first chapter of the first book of our Bible we read, “And God said,” nine times, all in the context of God creating “the heavens and the earth.” Think of the power of one single atom, from which can arise immense forces of destruction. You will maybe then have some sense of the power in the words, “And God said.” He created an entire universe filled with atoms!
Since the Enlightenment and the drive by Western cultural elites to make secularism the default plausibility structure of reality, the family has been under attack. It may not have appeared this way to the average mom and dad in the street until the 1960s, but many Western intellectuals have been trying to throw off the shackles (for such is how they see it) of the family for several hundred years. The successful effort to legally redefine marriage is only the latest in this long march. The family is a reflection of the very nature of God, and thus of immense importance; it’s not up for redefinition.
In Genesis 2 when God makes a “suitable helper” for Adam, he established the foundation for the family, but the Triune nature of God is the true basis on which the family exists. The essence of the Triune God is life-giving love, unlike the monism God of other religions. I was reminded anew of the beauty and logic of the Trinity recently as I thought about some who can’t or don’t accept it.
In December of 2015 a professor at Wheaton College, the well known Evangelical college in Illinois, made the claim that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. The two religions venerate the Old Testament, but the Gods they worship couldn’t be more different. I also recently learned about a Christian sect called Apostolic Pentecostalism which rejects the Trinity. For them God is one, end of story. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only different revelations of the one God, not three persons in one as understood since the first church Council of Nicea in 325. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also have the trappings of Christianity, but deny its core. While adherents of these religions think the Trinity is illogical, it actually makes total sense logically.
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In my previous post I wrote about the word of the year, “post-truth,” and how the triumph of the subjective makes assertions of Christianity as true, or anything as true for that matter (outside of scientific claims), problematic for many of our neighbors. The cultural obsession with the self, reflected in various ism’s (relativism, scientism, skepticism, postmodernism), has lead to people believing that the self is the ultimate authority on everything it surveys. In such a cultural milieu it won’t surprise us that our latest adult generation in the West, those called millennials, are considered the most narcissistic generation ever.
The ancient myth of Narcissus is about a youth who spurned suitors, and then became so taken with the beauty of his image reflected in water that he dies (or kills himself) because he realizes he can never obtain the object of his desire, himself. Though ancient Greek and Roman pagans had no revealed knowledge (i.e., the Bible) of the fallen nature of man, it was clear to many of them that the obsession with the self was endemic to human nature and ultimately self-destructive.
In a previous post on the The 4 Horsemen of the Philosophical Apocalypse, I mentioned that Truth in our secular age is a casualty of various ism’s, like , scientism, and relativism. After 50 plus years of Western secular culture watering down Truth with such ism’s, we’ve gotten to the point where they finally get the Word of the Year: Post-Truth. The Oxford Dictionaries decided that we are not much interested in Truth anymore, especially when it relates to shaping public opinion. Their definition of the word:
After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.
I saw this title at the Intellectual Takeout website, and was instantly curious. Two of the first three chapters of my book are on truth and epistemology, so I’m a big believer that philosophy is not exactly tangential to keeping our kids Christian. Most Americans, Christians included, think philosophy is only relevant to pointy headed intellectuals, with no bearing on everyday life. These people would be wrong.
Everyone has a philosophy, whether they know it or not, or think through it or not. Most Americans, Christians included, uncritically swallow the philosophical assumptions of our secular culture, and live out their implications in their daily lives. How and what we think about things could not be more profound or practical, which makes the average Christian’s ignorance of these four scary horsemen lamentable. They were originally given this designation by a philosopher of education named Robert Maynard Hutchins in 1951, and they’ve only become more entrenched in the culture since. The brief descriptions from the piece relate to their consequences for education:
The more I read the Old Testament, the more amazed I am that a people could be proud of such a book. I’m currently reading through Jeremiah, a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah that was shortly to be destroyed by the Babylonians as God’s judgment for their sin. The northern kingdom of Israel endured God’s judgment, having been conquered by the Assyrians, a hundred years earlier
Jeremiah weeps for his people because, as he says, “they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people.” Images of sexual infidelity are woven all throughout the prophets’ writings as they declare the Lord’s judgment upon his people. They prostitute themselves to false gods who are worthless idols in whom they think they will find their salvation and fulfillment.
What kind of people (the Hebrews/Jews) would write a book about their history that is so unrelentingly negative? I would argue people who are writing history that really happened! We can have confidence that this is so because of the criterion of embarrassment. Human nature is such that we are loathe to reveal embarrassing information about ourselves. We even lie in the face of facts that are less than flattering to us.
Darwinists are fond of saying that evolution is a “fact.” Maybe, but facts are not self-explanatory. Most people who believe in evolution as an undirected, material process of random mutation driven by natural selection, are sincere and think the “facts” compel us to believe this. Unfortunately for them, there is much disagreement about the “facts,” not that you’d know that from elite Western cultural institutions like education and the media. In a recent piece at Evolution New and Views about a new book by long time journalist Tom Bethell, Darwin’s House of Cards, the introductory paragraph gets it right:
The popular media’s attitude on evolution mixes several elements: loathing for the large part of the public that doubts the Darwinian narrative, preening at its own (presumed) superiority in grasping science, and a fawning reverence for evolutionary biologists. Added to this is an unwillingness to weigh the evidence for themselves, offering the excuse that the experts must know best, so why bother? Veteran journalist Tom Bethell’s new book offers a marvelous implicit rebuke on each of these points, but on the last in particular.