Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Consequences of Freedom

Today's SCOTUS ruling has developed a lot of conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Forums, and remarkably even face-to-face discussion on health care, health insurance, charity, working and what it all means in a civil society that is supposedly geared toward enlarged freedom for the individual person. The issue at hand is, I think, does a person have a "right" to health insurance from the federal government, which is "funded," yes funded, by taxpaying citizens? Some seem to think so, particularly the Left and even some on the Right (compassionate conservatism - a unique beast). I don't think so, but I'm not going to dive into why I think so, instead I want to share a post written by a person of the Left I read on a friend's FB (Facebook) wall/timeline/whatever.

The context of the conversation is that people should work to provide income and health insurance for themselves and their families if they have they have a family, but basically work to pay for his health insurance. If you don't work then you shouldn't have health insurance provided for you because obviously you can't pay for it. I think it was also stated that if you don't work you shouldn't expect the government to give you food, water, and shelter either instead that kind of care should be given from charities. This gentleman of the Left disagreed.

"No. Poor people SHOULD NOT starve if they don't work. To make that claim is to say that people have NO inherent value except for the wealth they have.

Nor should providing the safety net be left to charity. Charity is for specia
l case disasters and people who slip through the system. It is NOT to cover up a gaping hole where a system should be.

You can get (most) people to work though the same laws of supply and demand that function everywhere else in the economy, without requiring that the people in the worst jobs have absolutely no alternative.


There will be exceptions of course - mostly drug addicts, the mentally ill and "hippies" for want of a better word. Some of them are going to have lots of money and won't bother the system anyway. If you feel the rest should be given the choice: lose their lives or lose their freedom (and that is what coerced work is), then fine. But tell me, is it these people's lives, or their freedom which you feel has no value at all?"
 

There is a lot to cover just from this post alone (he has wrote many more, but he sticks to this foundation mostly) so I didn't have time to respond quickly and thought a blog post would be more profitable because I would have time to leave it and then come back to it. I'll go through this line by line. 

"No. Poor people SHOULD NOT starve if they don't work. To make that claim is to say that people have NO inherent value except for the wealth they have."

I don't know where he got the impression that we (conservatives/libertarians/the right) ever said that those who don't work should starve. However the question must be asked "If I don't work will I starve?" If the man doesn't have a close bond with loving family then he just may starve if he doesn't work. I think that if a man has lost his job, is single and has a close bond with family or friends then he has a better chance of getting shelter and food provided he doesn't find another job soon. If a man has a working spouse loses his job then they can adjust their expenditures and live differently until he can find new work. There are many examples, but let's focus on the man who doesn't want to work. Should this man starve for not working? I don't think any person with properly functioning moral faculties would say this man should starve, but it doesn't follow that we can't say this man will starve if he doesn't work to sustain his life. Who honestly thinks that it's up to someone else to provide food, shelter, and health care for this man who doesn't want to work? Am I morally obligated to sustain the lazy person? No. I am morally obligated to provide a hand-up, but not a hand-out. What is a hand-up? Providing for a person until he finds work. This person needs to be actively searching for work, not actively searching for a career. There is a difference, which I will tackle later in this post. I also think it's important to make clear those who cannot work, those who are disable in some way should be taken care of by their family and friends. Some people truly cannot work. These people need care from family, friends, and private institutions, not government.

If I did say that people should starve if they don't work; I don't understand why it would follow that I think such a person has no value except for the wealth they have. That doesn't make sense to me. If I said a person should starve for not working I would be saying that there is a certain truth that if you don't work, then you don't eat, which actually makes sense. If a man is able to work then he should work to provide for himself. If he doesn't work, then he is lazy. This kind of person, who is able to work, is infectious in a social way. The working men who see the lazy bum continue to be fed, clothed, and sheltered might think, "Gee, here I am working for a living and the lazy guy capable of working has must as much, maybe more, than I do. Why am I working?" The lazy man supported by the government is infectious. It gives the impression that a person has a right to government sustainment, which again is funded by the hard-working citizens paying taxes. Does the lazy man have a right to government sustainment? Not at all and thinking so doesn't mean he has no value. I actually think each human being has intrinsic value meaning each human being in himself is valuable no matter what someone else thinks or says. Even though each man is intrinsically valuable, it doesn't follow that his government is obligated to sustain his life through food, shelter and/or health insurance. I'm confused why some think so. I would think a government having people dependent on it would devalue a human being. The government is essentially saying you're not good enough to take care of yourself; you're not smart enough to know what is best for your life, i.e. your vocation, where your money is coming from, what doctor to choose, what you should eat. That is devaluing a human being. It creates a life of dependency. It takes away freedom to sustain yourself and to live your own life whatever the consequences. I don't, nor would I like anyone to, find self-worth or value in what a government gives me. I'm reminded of a statement philosopher Allan Bloom wrote on Rawls' Theory of Justice: "
What Rawls creates is an enormously active government whose goal is to provide the primary goods, including the sense of one’s own worth, and therefore to encourage the attitudes that support the production and equal distribution of those goods. What can the future of liberty be in such a scheme?" 1

Nor should providing the safety net be left to charity. Charity is for specia l case disasters and people who slip through the system. It is NOT to cover up a gaping hole where a system should be

I wonder why a system must be in place? What is this hole? Who dug the hole? I think the hole is debt and it was dug by a new deal. I agree charity is for special cases. I'm confused on why there must be a government run safety system. I think individuals in need could depend on private institutions for difficult times.

You can get (most) people to work though the same laws of supply and demand that function everywhere else in the economy, without requiring that the people in the worst jobs have absolutely no alternative.

Worst jobs? While it's not the foundation for my thought, but I'm reminded of immigrants who come to the U.S. in search of work and are actually satisfied and proud of what the "privileged" call the "worst" jobs, e.g. landscaping, shoveling manure at a zoo, construction etc. Aside from illegal work or immoral work (prostitution, hitmen), is there really a "worse" job to being lazy? I would think laziness is worse than working at a zoo in order to provide for yourself. Temporary "demeaning" work is better than laziness. I cannot imagine laziness ever being respected. Take a job, provide for yourself. You might ask: "Well what if he's a struggling artist?" I've heard plenty of musical and artistic success stories and most of them involve the band or artist working part-time some even full-time until they "hit it big."  

If you feel the rest should be given the choice: lose their lives or lose their freedom (and that is what coerced work is), then fine. But tell me, is it these people's lives, or their freedom which you feel has no value at all?

Is it truly such a terrible thing that every able man have to work to provide for himself? Again, I ask, is laziness to be preferred to one of the "worst" jobs if that is all the work a man can find? For three and a half years I worked as a custodian at a college until I found work in my field. I don't say this to prop myself up on a pedestal, but to give an example that I did what some call demeaning work until I found a computer science job. I suppose I could have chosen to live off of the government cheese until I found preferred work, but why? Why would I have chose that instead of a "lowly" job that enabled me to personally pay for my bills? Further why is custodial work even "lowly" or one of the "worst" jobs? There is a terrible view that some jobs are demeaning, lowly, and/or one of those "worst" jobs. I say no. All work, that is legal and moral, is good work. It's good to work and provide for yourself and your family if you have one. Some jobs pay higher than others, for sure, but that doesn't make the job itself inherently better than some other job. 

Do I understand that statement correctly If you feel the rest should be given the choice: lose their lives or lose their freedom (and that is what coerced work is) to mean that having to work for a living is somehow losing freedom? If the lazy man doesn't want to work for "the man" to sustain his life he can leave the city and live in the woods to be as free as he wants to be; he can join an Amish community; he can live off the land, not pay bills, etc. If his family and/or friends don't mind feeding, clothing, and sheltering him I suppose he can live that life too. He doesn't need the government's welfare system to sustain himself outside of private or public employment. To think so is ridiculous. The government is also not forcing the lazy man to find work. It's simply a conclusion that if a single man who can't depend on family and friends doesn't work then he doesn't eat. It is in the realm of freedom that he makes that choice.

But tell me, is it these people's lives, or their freedom which you feel has no value at all?

I think freedom is a part of every human being's life. We are free creatures. Every human being has intrinsic value, which is to say we are valuable because we are human beings. Saying a man will starve if he doesn't work isn't claiming in any way that he is invaluable.

What of a Leftist government? I think a government that provides your every "need" or your welfare produces an artificial happiness and an artificial man. It promises to create a great society, but it actually produces a desert. It promises great tales that the unequal are actually equal and its dependents feed on this philosophy that government can take away your problems and greatest fears, which result from a fear of death. The rich Leftists have the artificial happiness of thinking they are maximizing liberty, diversity, and breaking down class walls, but in actuality they are only dividing, restricting liberty, and igniting class warfare; at least their self-satisfaction is served. Commenting on "big" government Bloom wrote: "
Democracy, which was to free us from the myths which perverted nature, becomes the platform for a strident propaganda that denies nature for the sake of equality, as the myths of conventional aristocracies denied nature for the sake of inequality. The community desired is one without tension, without guilt (except for those who do not go along), without longing, without great sacrifices or great risks, one made for men’s idle wishes and for the sake of which man has been remade."

True freedom involves risks. It involves the possibility of starvation if you choose to not provide for yourself. Those who think such a thing do not devalue freedom or the human being. On the contrary, the one who sees a person in need is truly free to help in whatever way he can the one who is suffering (even if the sufferer is suffering as a result of a poor life decision). A safety net cast out by a government takes away freedom I would think. Freedom is precious. Sometimes in the moment of suffering, the cost of giving up freedom doesn't seem like much, maybe only a little cost. Before you know it, your freedom is gone. A nudge here a nudge there into the government's direction instead of the direction you would like to take. 

The freedom lover notices the inherent value in a human being as a human being and freedom itself. There are consequences to freedom, but hopefully there is a free individual nearby who, for the sake of freedom, will give you a hand-up. 

Sources
1. Allan Bloom, “Justice: John Rawls Vs. The Tradition of Political Philosophy,” The American Political Science Review 69 [June 1975]: 648-62, at 662

2. ibid. 



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Commentary on Paul's Areopagus Address Part 2

Obese Disclaimer: This is a commentary by a roughly 2 1/2 year old Christian. Keep that in mind. I think of this blog as my online container of thoughts. I am open for correction as my "About" page explains. I'm not a professional theologian or philosopher, I'm a student. Having said that, please enjoy this post

23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you
24  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,

In verse 23 we get the idea that Paul actually took his time to walk around the place, become familiar with it showing an actual interest in the Greeks and their culture. He didn't simply barge in the place and have an intellectual throwdown with them. It seems, from a reading of the text, that Paul took his time and observed things because he was interested, not to try and show intellectual authority. 

In verse 24 Paul began with natural theology. What is natural theology? Natural theology is a theology built from reason and ordinary experience or what I've heard others call "minimalist Christianity;" it's theology that is crafted from reason and ordinary experience instead of theology crafted from God's special revelation, i.e., the Bible. Paul began with God. The God who made the world and everything in it is Paul's starting point. Who created man? Who created the world? Who created the universe? Paul gave this title of "creator" to God. Paul is implying everything that begins to exist has a cause and said that cause is God. From this statement we learn that God is the Creator. 

Did Paul say that God is an aloof creator who created then left the universe to run its course built on the mechanisms he instituted? No not at all. Let's read on. Being Lord of heaven and earth implies, to me, that this creator is personal. He rules over His creation. He is the Sovereign of His creation. He didn't create it, build in laws for it to run by then leave it to go on to bigger and better things or whatever else interested Him. No. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He is involved with His creation. He is personal. If God was not personal He would not be the Lord of His creation.

Where does this God stay? Where is His throne if He is indeed Lord of heaven and earth? Paul said that God does not live in temples made by man. Paul is getting at what theologians and philosophers call the "incorporeality of God" which is to say that God is not a material being or object. Some say, which I agree, that God is of the order of mind, but I don't mean a brain which is a physical object; what I mean by mind is a self-conscious mental entity, not physical. I think that is what Paul was getting at also. God is omnipresent. If God was a physical being sitting on a physical throne then He could not be omnipresent. I don't think God's omnipresence is like what some theologians have described as a ether spreading through the universe, instead I think God's omnipresence is parallel to his omniscience or his "all-knowing" things. He knows precisely what is going on at all times in all of His creation.

So far, in Paul's address we have learned that God is the creator of all things, sovereign over all things and that He is omnipresent. 


Part 1 of the commentary here

John Macarthur on current Christian worship

"Just in general, Christian worship today is more about style than it is about substance. It’s more about feeling than it is about fact. It’s more about self than it is about the Savior. It’s more about therapy than theology. It’s more about the secular than the sacred. It’s more about good feelings than the glory of God." 

- John Macarthur from his sermon No One Can Separate Us

Monday, June 25, 2012

What are some problems with the futurist view of eschatology?

From Keith A. Mathison on the futurist approach to the book of Revelation.

"Proponents of the futurist view say that their approach is necessary because there is no correspondence between the events prophesied in the book and anything that has happened in history. This conclusion is reached because of an overly literalistic approach to the symbolism of the book and a lack of appreciation for how such language was used in the Old Testament prophetic books. This, however, is not the most serious problem with the futurist approach.

The most fundamental problem with the futurist approach is that it requires a very artificial reading of the many texts within the book itself that point to the imminent fulfillment of its prophecies. The book opens and closes with declarations indicating that the things revealed in the book “must soon take place” (1:1; 22:6). It opens and closes with declarations indicating that “the time is near” (1:3; 22:10). The book of Revelation does not begin in the way the pseudepigraphal Book of Enoch begins, with a statement to the effect that the content is not for the present generation, but for a remote generation that is still to come. The book of Revelation has direct relevance to the real historical first century churches to whom it was addressed, and the text of the book itself points to the imminent fulfillment of most of its prophecies." 

Read the rest of his post covering the other views on interpreting Revelation here.

Quote of the week - Nietzsche on liberalism

"My conception of freedom. — The value of a thing sometimes does not lie in that which one attains by it, but in what one pays for it — what it costs us. I give an example. Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. One knows, indeed, what their ways bring: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make men small, cowardly, and hedonistic [genĂ¼sslich] — every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization ." 

- Nietzsche, Expeditions of an Untimely Man, 38.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Piper is playing it safe

So Piper and some other conservative evangelical pastors are staying out of the marriage fight according to StarTribune. From the article:
"Don't press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism," Piper said during his sermon, posted on Bethlehem Baptist Church's website. "Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative mandates, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word."
Piper had been under pressure from conservative groups to weigh in on the amendment, according to his spokesman David Mathis, adding that Piper did not hold back over concerns the church could lose its tax-exempt status.
"Basically our position is, we're not taking one as a church," Mathis said. "And by addressing this in June rather than October or early November, there's no effort here for political expediency, trying to get certain votes out of people."
"He [Piper] wants to avoid the political realm as much as possible. The Christian Gospel is not left, it's not right. It is what it is."

As a pastor, this is a safe position. I won't lie. It is a safe position. Piper and the other guys not commenting politically on the issue can hold up their hands and say, "Hey, we're outta this fight. We have no comment." They can't catch heat for saying there should be a federal law banning homosexual marriages or even state laws banning homosexual marriage. They also can't catch heat for saying homosexual marriage is "cool" and "alright with me and my flock" because they didn't endorse homosexual marriage either. While they are staying "safe" on the issue I think they also messed up in some ways.

Piper didn't condone homosexual sex. He said that such a thing is sinful and the only sex a Christian can have is in a heterosexual marriage. So he didn't mess up theologically, but he did mess up by just playing it safe. Why? Because the serious thinkers on both sides of the issue won't take him seriously. How can they? Playing it safe regarding issues is weak. I don't think Piper should have yelled fire and brimstone from his pulpit declaring all who have homosexual sex are going straight to hell if they don't repent and become Christians. I don't think that is the correct action to take at all. He could have said the following: "Our church isn't going to take an official position on the issue, but here's my reasoning for thinking homosexual marriage is harmful to society." Phrasing it that way leaves the church out of the fight, but keeps Piper from looking weak. If you present good reasons for having a position, then you don't have to play it safe and have no comment on public policy. However, if your reasoning is weak and totally dependent on revelation then you do have to play it safe, meaning you can't comment on issues like this.

When I hear people say, "Christianity isn't Left or Right" I cringe on the inside because that statement is a crock of crap. Really? You think Christianity isn't Left or Right? What Bible did you read? Socially Christianity is "Right" or I guess the better word would be conservative. People who say that Jesus, Paul, and the others were socially neutral or that they embraced all flavors of lifestyle choices are blinded. Christianity is right-of-center on social issues and I would even argue right-of-center on fiscal issues as well.

This might read harsh to you all, but I think it's worth thinking about. If you don't want Christianity, the full-blown one hundred percent real-deal then choose something else. Really. If you're not comfortable with Christianity being socially Right then go to something else. Don't try to lodge the pieces of the Christian worldview you like into your Leftist worldview puzzle. I think it's ridiculous to try and make Christianity something it isn't, don't you? Now we Christians don't have to stand for our positions in a harsh, rude, ignorant, and violent way; I'm not advocating conversion by the sword. What I am an advocate of is discourse on the issues in a reasoned and gracious manner. Why are we for traditional marriage? Then give reasons 1, 2, 3, and so on. Why are we for abstinence until marriage? Then give the reasons. Our reasons aren't just from the Bible, but from other sources as well. I'm not convinced that Jesus, Paul, and the early church fathers only used the OT as their reasoning for the Christian worldview. We have reason. Let's use it.

I think Piper will still catch heat from both sides of the aisle. Also, I think did a disservice to Christian theism because he essentially made the traditional marriage position look totally faith-based when in fact it isn't a faith-based position.

UPDATE
John Piper argues that same-sex marriage could threaten religious liberty


Links

Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight

Secular Case Against Same-Sex Marriage



Monday, June 18, 2012

Quote of the week - C.S. Lewis on love

" 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 at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

- C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 1960

Friday, June 15, 2012

Commentary on Paul's Areopagus Address part 1

Obese Disclaimer: This is a commentary by a roughly 2 1/2 year old Christian. Keep that in mind. I think of this blog as my online container of thoughts. I am open for correction as my "About" page explains. I'm not a professional theologian or philosopher, I'm a student. Having said that, please enjoy this post. 

Acts 17

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 

What? Paul doesn't begin his address with wit? He doesn't begin his address with a snarky comment or joke? He doesn't even begin by offering them pizza so they have something to do while he talks? Wow. Paul is different. Paul starts with a compliment, "...I perceive...you are very religious." Now, it's not like he's saying, "Dudes, you're awesome." I don't think it's a compliment like that or even an accepting compliment like, "Your way is just another way to God." Paul clearly didn't teach here or in his letters universalism or inclusivism. However, it is a compliment. Maybe implying "you're almost there. Let me clear the fog for you."

Paul was truly in step with the Spirit I think. It would have been very easy for him to approach the men in arrogance, right? Paul, if anyone, was very religious. He had the credentials for sure of a very religious man. He could have swaggered in the Areopagus (I bet Paul had excellent swagger), adjusted his black rimmed glasses, threw one end of his scarf behind his neck and then tore the Areopagus apart with his wisdom and rhetoric. He didn't do that though. I imagine, exercising the virtues of the Spirit, Paul approached them in a neutral, yet engaging manner; full of patience, kindness, and confidence. Not being a floor-mat, yet not being a steam-roller. Paul is the kind of man every apologist should set his benchmark at. Paul is not an impossible man to be because he also had weaknesses and struggled just like every Christian does, but what set him apart was his life of repentance and faithfulness to Christ.

When you address a person, group, or crowd with the gospel it is wise to begin like Paul did with the men at the Areopagus: begin like, to borrow from STR, an ambassador of Christ would begin. Be gracious. Be confident. Be reasonable. Be attractive. Most importantly, be honest and correctable. You might make a mistake to the person or group you're talking with. Own up to it, if it is indeed a mistake, then take it from there. Don't let pride and/or anger get the best of you. You're sharing the truth of Christianity and if it's delivered in pride, anger, or rude snarkiness it won't hit the bullseye regardless of the truth content because of the delivery. Delivery matters. Truth must be delivered with gentleness and respect. That's how Paul rolled and I want to roll like Paul. Let's pray every Christian shares the same desire.

Part 2 of the commentary here

Natural Theology in 11 Verses

Paul at the Areopagus
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24  The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27  that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
‘For we are indeed his offspring.
29  Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What about all of the unethical actions in the Old Testament?

This is an excerpt from the Apologetics Study Bible
  • Narratives describe what happened, not what was necessarily approved.
  1. We assume wrongly that if a story is in scripture, it must be "what God wanted."
  2. Biblical narrators dealt with the real world, with all its corrupt and fallen ambiguity.
  3. Shouldn't mistake realism for ethical approval.
  4. OT stories challenge us to wonder at God's amazing grace and to patience in continually working out His purposes through such morally compromised people.
  5. OT stories challenge us to be discerning in evaluating their conduct according to standards the OT itself provides.
  • The Conquest of Canaan
  1. Must be understood for what it was.
  2. It was a limited event. The conquest narratives describe one particular period of Israel's long history. Many of the other wars that occur in the OT narrative had no divine sanction, and some were clearly condemned as the actions of proud, greedy Kings or military rivals.
3) An eye for an eye is remarkably humane
  • Metaphorical, not literal
  • Not a license for unlimited vengeance, but the opposite; it established the fundamental legal principle of proportionality.
  • Punishment mustn't exceed the gravity of the offense.

More OT ethics resources:
Peter Williams on the ethics of the Old Testament here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The God who rescues

John 6:37 - 40

37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 10:27-30 

27  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me,[a] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30  I and the Father are one.”


Romans 8:31 - 39

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These are three of my favorite biblical passages. These passages give us the concept of "the God who rescues." God rescues sinners from ultimate suffering. He truly rescues. He doesn't pull you out of danger then wish that you don't fall into danger again. His rescue is concrete. His rescue is without fail. His rescue is so true that "no one is able to snatch them out" of His hand. When you put your trust in Christ alone for salvation then you are rescued from ultimate suffering. You aren't just rescued from a current unfavorable predicament. You are rescued from an eternity of separation from God.

This doesn't mean the rest of your days on earth will be perfect. However, it does mean that the Helper will preserve you until your final salvation, which will be at the end of your earthly life. The doctrine "the perseverance of the saints" is a doctrine full of hope, security, and a realization that the God who rescues you, not only rescues you, but loves you and nothing can separate you from the love He lavishes on those who trust in Him alone for salvation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

moral philosophy chart

I found this cool chart on the internet (don't you just love the internet?). Sometimes, when discussing moral arguments, it's easy to get confused on moral ontology and moral epistemology, meta-ethics, and such. This chart is very helpful.

Quote of the week - Greg Koukl on the problem of evil

"A world that had never been touched by evil would be a good place, but it wouldn't be the best place possible. The best of all worlds would be a place where evil facilitated the development of virtues that are only able to exist where evil flourishes for a time. This would produce a world populated by souls that were refined by overcoming evil with good. The evil is momentary. The good that results is eternal. 

What good comes out of a drive-by killing, someone might ask, or the death of a teenager through overdose, or a daughter's rape, or child abuse? The answer is that a commensurate good doesn't always come out of those individual situations, though God is certainly capable of redeeming any tragedy. Rather, the greater good results from having a world in which there is moral freedom, and moral freedom makes moral tragedies like these possible."  

-Greg Koukl, Augustine on evil 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quote of the week - Jean-Paul Sarte on objective morality without God

"The existentialist, on the contrary, finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that ‘the good’ exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men. Dostoevsky once wrote: ‘If God did not exist, everything would be permitted’; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.”

A lecture by Sarte (1946) printed in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. Walter Kaufman, Meridian Publishing Company, 1989;

*This was supposed to be posted on 6/4/2012