Archive | January, 2009

The Casual Use of Theological Terminology

31 Jan


Relax. That image is tongue in cheek.

From a current conversation that I am having with someone regarding a very technical aspect of theology, I am rediscovering a real and pervasive problem that is hindering people from getting a better grasp of God and the Bible.

This is an important issue, because it creates confusion on our understanding of God– which in turn has a radical effect on how we think and live our lives.

The problem? That some people (especially church leaders and church members) use theological words and terminology without really understanding what they mean.

Need I give examples? OK, sure… How about:

  • Limited Atonement or Unlimited Atonement… or “atonement” for that matter
  • Election, unconditional or conditional
  • Redemption
  • Regeneration
  • Justification
  • Sanctification
  • The list goes on

Now, it’s not that NO ONE knows what the words mean, but they are used by BOTH people who do AND don’t understand those terms. They are then, in turn, heard by people who had a limited understanding of the terms in the first place– who, themselves, then casually re-use the terms with others. The result is that it sort of becomes the old example of getting in a circle and sharing a word or concept with someone and them passing around the circle until it gets back to the original person; inevitably, the concept bears no resemblance to what was originally said or meant. That’s what happens when people are fast and loose with theological terms– especially Christian leaders and speakers.

The Development of “Hearsay Status”

As a result, these words take on a type of “hearsay status” where everybody uses the words without really understanding exactly what they mean. And that further dilutes the already weak understanding of theology that people had in the first place.

Now, one good rule of thumb is to AVOID using words of which we don’t know the meaning. My mom taught me that when I was a kid. My Uncle “Cotton,” as he was called, told me to go to my mom (in front of a group of people) and make a certain statement. I dutifully did what my mischievous uncle told me to do, only to see the look of horror on my mom’s face as the profane word fell from my lips. (I’ve never said THAT word since). The experience taught me not to use words I didn’t really know.

But that doesn’t keep the average person from doing it.

The Solution

Lest you misunderstand from these initial statements, let me clarify my point. The solution to this problem isn’t what you think. By no means would I suggest that people STOP using theological terms altogether. Nor do I want to force people to “leave theology for the formally educated.” No, theology is everybody’s business. And we “use” theology every time we think or say anything about God.

So the answer isn’t to STOP using theology or theological terms– it is simply for people to engage in more rigorous LEARNING of theological words. It is a good thing for Christians and others to develop a working knowledge of what such words mean, so they can engage in more meaningful and intelligent discourse about truth, knowledge, meaning, ethics, morality, and… God. And as a person develops that understanding, their use of such words should be commensurate with the current knowledge that they have.

Also, we should insist on people using these words technically and accurately, so we can ensure that closer approximations and descriptions of spiritual phenomena and realities are commonly known and understood. That means holding people who use these words accountable for their proper use. As we do, over time, our collective understanding of important themes and ideas will be greater, and we can all grow in our depth and breadth of the most important things in life and eternity.

Initial Ideas on God: Where Did He (or the Idea of Him) Come From? Other Parts May Follow

26 Jan


God.

I was asked recently where God… or the idea of God comes from. Note: though I jotted this post down quickly, some of my ideas follow a sequential pattern, so it may be best to read it slowly–otherwise parts of it may not seem to make sense.

The idea of God is the greatest idea and most powerful concept possible. No other concept carries the weight or the import of this singular postulation. In fact, the great mind that was Mortimer Adler listed the “idea of God” (a Supreme Being) as one of the great themes ever conceptualized. His research implies that there are more references to “god” in literature and popular culture than any other concept. That’s saying something.

The idea of God is birthed in our consciousness because, as the Bible says, “deep calls to deep.” The core and epicenter of our inner man innately recognizes in its deepest and innermost existence, the reality of an ultimate reality– not only a “higher power” but a profoundly absolute being, with inestimable force, which awakens in us a longing and a desire for intimacy.

That is not mere God Speak. It is a fair characterization and articulation of a universally experienced reality. It is simply a fact that people naturally believe, without being coached or told, that an awesome force and uncaused cause or Prime Mover is “there.” And this sense within themselves causes a longing to (watch this) KNOW and BE KNOWN by this Being.

Ironically, this very reality speaks to the personal nature of this Being– for, if the ultimate being were impersonal and only a force or power alone– without attributes of personality and identity, then it would make no sense for people to seek to know or be known by it. But, in fact, we DO have an innate hunch that this being is knowable and perceivable, and that it (dare I say “He”) could also “know” and “perceive” us back. Wow.

What’s more, because the idea of God represents belief in a Supreme/Ultimate/Sovereign Being, it is natural for such an “organizing principle” and reality to define everything about usin reference to Himself AS THAT Supreme Being.

Meaning what?

Meaning that, because God is the Supreme Being and because we sense His existence and being naturally and without coaching, as non-supreme, temporal, limited, finite beings, we naturally seek to understand Him and our relationship TO Him, because (as the Supreme Being), he must be the one fixed, immobile, and non-transitory reference point of existence. In other words, and this is critical to get, our very identity (understanding who we are) and our sense of meaning (understanding why we are here) is bound up and wrapped in His identity and existence.

FOR THIS REASON– (to recap, because, as created beings, our existence is dependent on and wrapped up in God as the Supreme Being and Creator), this explains humanity’s restlessness with their own sense of meaning and purpose in life– and also explains and speaks to the nearly universal issue of identity crisis. The fact is that we SIMPLY DON’T KNOW WHO WE ARE– NOR DO WE KNOW WHY WE ARE HERE OR THE PURPOSE OF LIFE, and HOW TO FIND ULTIMATE MEANING IN IT, without the organizing principle of God.

When a person finds God– or, rather, is found by the One and Only True God, those fears, insecurities, doubts, and threats always begin to fade into distant memory. This is the God of the Bible– He created us this way and, though we are estranged from Him, He loves us nonetheless, and in our estrangement and emptiness and longing, He seeks and pursues us.

That pursuit is a deep stream of inquiry and wondering that routinely filter through our minds and consciousness– it is nothing other than that Deep calling to Deep (Psalm/Song 42:7, Old Testament).

Perhaps more to come.

Dante’s Leviathan

26 Jan

I was asked the following question, so I thought I’d answer it here.

Were Leviathans (Bible sea monsters) dinosaurs? And if so how do dinosaurs fit into the creation theory- if not, what were they?

Disclaimers
1. I’m not a specialist in this topic, but here’s what I suspect from my limited knowledge of this subject.


2. Also, I’m going to answer this question from an adult perspective
, and Dante’s significant other can ‘translate’ what I’m saying into age-appropriate vernacular.

Leviathan

Leviathan is mentioned only a handful of times in the Bible, perhaps five, if I’m not mistaken. It’s also mentioned in some types of ancient and other literature. The thing to keep in mind is that some people assume that, since they haven’t seen Leviathan and because we know so little of it, that perhaps it is only a myth.

Two things come to mind as I write that:
(1) People should be more, not less, inclined to take the Bible and its remarks at face value– rather than quickly throwing them off as pre-scientific nonsense. That’s simply because the Bible is written in a historical-grammatical way and is essentially a literal book. That last sentence is a theological way of saying that the Bible speaks matter-of-factly and in the plain sense of things– its general M.O. isn’t to speak encode. Though certain literary devices are certainly used in scripture (hyperbole, allegory, etc.), the writers of scripture are usually straight-forward, so they say what they mean and they mean what they say.

(2) Another factor that leads to people’s outright disregard of concepts like Leviathan are the general way of thinking in Western/American culture today. We live in a changing but still largely “scientific” society where thoughts and ideas are generally weighed and determined based on the empirical-rational (viz., if I see it, I’ll believe it) standard of establishing knowledge (AKA, epistemology). Because of this, some people are inclined to doubt or to dismiss anything that cannot be immediately proven in a lab or through incontrovertible, visible evidence (and even THEN they may not believe it). That’s another way of saying that there is an anti-supernatural bias that exists in our culture, and many people outright reject anything that the Bible says or that pre-scientific literature describes.

Those issues notwithstanding, I want to begin (at least now and in this particular blog post) with the assumption that the Bible is authoritative and true– so we can get on with Dante’s questions without any more objections.

So, what about’em?

Job 41 in the Old Testament of the Bible says (King James Version): Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Other scriptures also reference Leviathan, like Psalm 104:24ff that reads (New Living Translation): “O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. Here is the ocean, vast and wide, teeming with life of every kind, both large and small. See the ships sailing along, and Leviathan, which you made to play in the sea.”

All of that to say that Leviathan is mentioned in scripture.

To greatly summarize the concept of Leviathan, so I can get to the rest of the question, here’s the gist of how I believe Leviathan are viewed:
1. Because Leviathan are mentioned in a plain sense– and are mentioned in common ways, much like other animals are mentioned in the Bible (like goats and eagles, etc.), there is an argument to be made that they are/were actual animals existent at the time of the writing of those stories. Now, since Job mentions the animal/monster about 40% of the time– and since his book is among the earliest of Old Testament literature, that also factors into the real possibility of this creature having existed/existing at some point. (It may be the case that, because of the early dating of Job and his mentioning the animal, that it may have existed and then ultimately became extinct, which would describe the monster not being mentioned in the literal sense in many other places of scripture– think about that).

2. Some have thought the Leviathan is a reference to a Crocodile. I personally don’t buy that. That’s simply because some of the passages don’t speak to that type of similarity. Passages mentioning Leviathan seem to be addressing an animal in the deep where ships sail (Ps 104:26), and the last thing I would worry about if I were in the middle of the Adriatic Sea or the Indian Ocean is being attacked by an alligator-type creature! No, I don’t think that’s it. I think that type of argument is an attempt to posit the Bible as true, but without having to commit to the idea of such a creature ever really existing. I think of it as a more theologically moderate view and think it’s pretty easily dismissed.

3. Finally, the third major set of arguments I am aware of, seem to suggest that Leviathan was a type of whale or a dinosaur. I know of no other dinosaur that was sea-bound in this sense, and these descriptions (again) seem far-fetched to me– more far fetched than simply acknowledging the possibility of there being such a thing as this particular animal.

If There WAS a Leviathan, then what?

For argument’s sake– let’s go with option 2, that there was a historical animal in the food chain whose existence and identity was like it has been described in literature. That sounds like a reasonable starting point. And if so, what became of them?

My uneducated guess is this….
I think it’s possible that Leviathan existed as they were described in scripture. The world has lots of unusual animals that are hard to describe and certainly hard to imagine– if one had never seen it before.

Imagine, for example, that you had never seen a rhinoceros. If no one had ever seen one of those– or, perhaps, a hippopotamus, it would really be hard to sell that idea to somebody. Just think of describing its size and how it looks. The same goes for a giraffe.

Now, a step farther. Imagine some of the dinosaurs that WE KNOW CERTAINLY roamed the earth. If we did not have absolute proof of their existence, we would have a hard time believing they existed. What’s more, there are animals that have existed that we sometimes discover that we NEVER KNEW existed. In fact, even recently a number of animals were found in both the oceans and in rain forests that nobody had a clue existed. They existed… but we didn’t know nor did we have proof. Similarly, I think it’s conceivable that these animals existed.

Moreover, I think that though it is unlikely (for the reasons I will share in just a moment), it COULD BE theoretically possible that in some dark recess of the world’s oceans, the vast water fields that surround most of the earth (70%), a small handful of these animals could possibly exist– though they very may well be extinct, and probably are extinct. But keep in mind that huge sections of our planet are unexplored and that the world’s oceans and seas remain the world’s last frontier. The giant squids that were once thought to be folly and fantasy were recently discovered and presented. It may be that, some day, large sea monsters similar to what the Bible describes as Leviathan could possibly be found– or remains of them. Even so, it is also likely if not probable that these animals have been gone for so long that they no longer survive in any identifiable form due to decomposition of the carbon remains.

Were they dinosaurs?

I am not completely familar with dinosaurs, but is my assumption that many or most were land-based animals and that only a small number of them were prone to water at least some of the time. I don’t know if that suggests they were akin to amphibians, but you get the idea. I presume they were essentially on or near the dry ground much of the time. To boot, many were herbivores, while some were carnivorous or flesh-eating.

For these reasons, my best guess is that (if Leviathan existed in the sense I’ve described) these creatures were most likely (a) COLD BLOODED and (b) herbivores. I’ll describe why those are important in the next section, below. But for now let me continue this idea of “were they dinosaurs?”

I would assume that these creatures were somehow in the same Order or Family as dinosaurs.


Generally, Biologists classify organisms into 8 different groupings, called taxonomies. Taxonomies are ORDERED AND SEQUENTIAL PHASES OR RANKINGS that ascend or descend. For the ease of argument, I am going to use these categories to try to explain what I think– but that shouldn’t be understood to imply that I believe in macro-evolution or Darwinism, or Natural Selection, which I do not.

At any rate, if Leviathan were in the same general order or family as dinosaurs, they could share many of the overall body systems and similarities as one another, but still remain distinct.

I think it is possible that they were similar and very much related, having those similarities of being cold blooded and herbivores, but having the dissimilarity of being either land-bound or water-borne.

Where did they go?

Earlier I mentioned the interesting biblical feature that Leviathan were mentioned in both the Psalms and in Job. Those books were written or being written quite early on in scripture. That could place these references quite early in human history.

If that were to hold true, here’s what I think may have happened to leviathan and their ‘cousins’ the dinosaurs. Think With Me— and give me some room… I’m just thinking out loud here, I’m not making a theological argument.

Here’s a plausible way that it MAY have/COULD have happened:

  • I imagine that Leviathan (sea monsters) and dinosaurs may have been, like all other animals, created by God in the beginning of the earth.
  • Those animals were cold-blooded and primarily herbivores.
  • During the pre-flood days of the earth, there was believed to be a type of tropical canopy enveloping the earth, keeping the earth warm and at a relative temperature and humidity.
  • In this type of environment, (a) large plants would have been easily grown– sort of like a large rain forest, only all over the world (EDEN); (b) large animals certainly could have grown– and especially cold-blooded ones, which would have been able to grow large because of the sub-tropical environment that existed pre-flood.
  • When the flood came, Noah was instructed to put samples of certain animals on the ark. I believe he did that and probably put male-female pairs of dinosaurs on the ark. The need for placing a Leviathan on the boat was moot, since those were water-borne creatures and they would/could survive in spite of the global deluge.
  • Once the flood came, the Bible says that water sources from beneath the earth (hot springs) and clouds above the earth (rain) combined to flood the entire earth. When that happened, it is my belief that the protective canopy and the global-tropical environment it created (as imagined in EDEN) was no longer in existence. As such, the earth would no longer be like a rain forest– and it would also be more susceptible to temperature fluctuations. This led to the existence of seasons and cold after the flood.
  • As the earth cooled, I think the large glaciers were formed from the massive amounts of water on the earth which had frozen in many areas. These swept across the earth and destroyed much vegitation, including any remaining large plants that would be required for sustaining the lives of large herbivores like dinosaurs. Also, since the earth was cooler, it was only a matter of time before they were unable to survive and died off. So though there are examples of some wooly mammoths who survived longer, most dinosaurs just couldn’t make it. They died of starvation, from cold, and from being cold enough in the environment that they were sluggish in response and victims of other quicker animals. This would also be true of the carnivore-types of dinosaurs– though they probably lived longer than the others.
  • The Leviathan, if they were cold-blooded, would be able to survive in some regions but not many. As ocean tides and underwater currents carried them to and fro, they would have died or become food for other animals that attacked them. Because these large animals were probably deep sea creatures, since the deep seas are unbearably cold (but originally weren’t in a pre-flood world), they quickly succumbed to that reality. Also, it is likely that their bodies were lost into the depths of the sea and covered up from the layers of post-global flood debris running off the earth into the earths waterways and from the natural ebb and flow of currents which cover things up on the bottom of the sea.

Now, whether what my ideas are happen to accurately state how it all works, I don’t know. But it seems to me that these are plausible ideas and may provide a possible explanation of how Leviathan and Dinosaurs are possible, and how these things may have come to pass.

Understanding Seminary Professors

25 Jan

For a living, I am primarily a seminary professor. There are lots of different types of professors and it’s easy to misunderstand the nature of this kind of a position. For example, there are Old Testament professors and New Testament professors; Theology and History professors– and, ironically, Historical Theology professors (go figure); there are Apologetic (defending the faith) Professors and Homiletic (preaching) Professors… and Christian Education professors (that’s me).

Seminary Profs generally do one of two things: They provide (a) theological and biblical education and (b) ministerial preparation. Theological and Biblical Education is primarily about biblical content (what the Bible teaches). Ministerial Preparation is primarily about equipping people to use that information (what to do with the Bible and how to do the job of ministry– and what THAT means is “helping people cultivate a relationship with God”).

And because there is so much content that is taught in a seminary or divinity school, so many subdisciplines in seminaries, people often assume that “every” seminary professor is a biblical scholar.. but that’s not really the case.

A Biblical Scholar? Not me.

Take me, for example. I am not (SAY “NOT”) a biblical scholar… not in the least. Now, I DO have a working knowledge of theology and a more expansive knowledge of the Bible than some people– but it’s nothing (SAY “NOTHING”) compared to many of my colleagues. Each of us has our specialty.

Two Sides of the Seminary: Arts and Divinity

Seminaries have two primary areas– arts and divinity. Divinity is about “what.” Arts is about “how.” That’s a horrible oversimplification and not even completely accurate– but it’s a fair approximation and generally holds to be true.

So seminaries offer those types of degrees– Master of ARTS and Master of DIVINITY.

Divinity Degrees are generally related to biblical content areas (knowing). Arts degrees are typically related to practical ministry areas (doing). Again– this is a terribly shallow representation, but it’s got a lot of truth to it, and for our purposes here– it’s a valid description of how to understand what I’m saying.

The Liberal Arts: Practical Living and Practical Ministry

I teach in the Arts side of the school, but do very little in the Divinity side. So, I know and can do a little in the area of Education (such as leadership principles, leadership theory, organizational management and process, educational theory, educational psychology, motivation theory, educational philosophy, learning theory, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, etc.). So my job is primarily helping future ministers and missionaries know how to help people find God and get to know Him. And I do that by teaching them how to construct, lead, and run ministries that can help reach, teach, and spiritually feed and nourish preschoolers, children, youth, adults, senior adults, special needs people, and help those leaders know how to help people find their way spiritually, so they can become all God has made them to be. And because it’s liberal arts, I also help my students understand how other disciplines and subjects integrate and fit into one another: like how politics and faith work together– or how Christians should think about and deal with practical areas of life as a believer– medicine, justice, morality, meaning, economics, choices, etc. That’s, again, a major simplification of my job, but it’s the gist of what I do.

Divinity Studies: Classical Learning in Bible, Theology, Philosophy, etc.

And just like I have an expertise– each of my colleagues has his own emphases. Whereas I work on the Arts side of the school, most others work on the Divinity side of the school.

Some of them are theologians. A theologian often has a good working knowledge of the Bible, but his primary emphasis is, well, “theology.” That means that he primarily works with SYSTEMS of THOUGHT and DOCTRINAL FORMULATIONS. And each theologian has certain strengths and weaknesses. Some theologians are very strong in, say, what the Bible says about God, Salvation, and Meaning– but may not be near as strong in details about specific Bible books, such as the individual cities the Apostle Paul visited on his various missionary journeys. In fact, a theologian may not know that much at all about some of those more ‘textual’ areas of scripture. What’s more, theologians may specialize in a given area like systematic theology, or philosophical theology, or historical theology, etc.

Other professors are biblicists or biblical professorsbiblical theologians. Among them are New Testament Profs or Old Testament Profs, and the like. Some of these may specialize in the Old Testament– but not have a great handle on ALL of it (since it’s a big book). For example, I have a good friend who is an Old Testament professor but who doesn’t feel like the Hebrew language of the Old Testament is his strong suit. (What??!!!??). It’s really not that far fetched, though, if you know much about how it all works. An Old Testament (OT) Prof may be a specialist on the Ancient Near East or the Pentateuch, or Early Monarchial History or Post-Exilic Prophetic Literature… and feel somewhat weak in other parts of the Old Testament.

The discussion goes on… endlessly.

What This is All About

I say all that to make a point and to ask for a little slack for a liberty that I am going to take in some future upcoming posts.

Like I said earlier, I’m personally NOT a biblical scholar… but here’s what I am: I’m a Christian believer who tries to think deeply about key issues and phenomena (cultural, social, philosophical, biblical, etc.) [or, in other words, LIFE] and who likes to try to produce thought-provoking ideas to help people understand those things AT A STREET LEVEL– because that’s where most of us live. I try to make God and life from His perspective UNDERSTANDABLE as much as possible.

But sometimes I like to think about and dialogue on questions that I’m not a specialist on– on things that perhaps others should address… but they’re not here!!! And one other thing– just because a person (me) isn’t a world-renowned expert on everything I talk about doesn’t mean my perspectives are useless or dangerous. It just means that they are limited in their perspective (but I can deal with that, if you can). Hey~ if I waited until I knew something before ever saying anything, I’d never feel the freedom to even write one post on my blog!

So, that’s why when a friend asks a question that stimulates me to think, I can either SAY NOTHING… OR I can try to provide a reasonable answer, on the street level, though it may lack the specificity or technical accuracy or breadth or depth that a formal specialist in that theological or biblical area would prefer.

That’s my way of saying that, although other people could often do a better job answering certain things than I, I’m going to “take a stab” at some issues from time to time that interest me (and some of you)– even though my knowledge is sometimes a little sophomoric.

That way, even though it’s not the final word and even though it could make me the source of criticism by some more informed specialists, many of them aren’t taking the time to write to the average person about these issues. And if no one answers people’s questions, then what?

What To Look For In Some (Not All) Future Posts

So that’s my REALLY LONG disclaimer.

In the future, I’m going to take the liberty of answering questions that, maybe, I have no business trying to answer. And if someone reads a post and thinks he or she could answer it better or more accurately– I’d be happy to give those people “props” and let them write their own piece, so I can link my post with theirs.

But for now, I’m excited to give at least elementary answers to at least a few questions that people have or that people ask me to address. It’ll be fun.

Understanding Fear

24 Jan

Artist Edvard Munch’s ultimate work was his expressionist series The Frieze of Life. In that series Munch sought to illustrate some of the most fundamental themes of the human experience: life, love, death, melancholy, and fear.

The emotion of Fear was characterized and immortalized in his painting, The Scream. That work is highly-acclaimed because, in painting it, Munch tapped into the epicenter of that universal experience and phenomenon: “fear.”

Fear causes dread. It cultivates terror. Fear is very, very personal. Fear is intimate.

Everyone understands fear. Just meditating on the word itself can cause us to physically shudder. Fear evokes caution within our innermost person. And, ironically, what produces fear in one’s emotions and troubles people’s minds are not necessarily the same thing. Some fears move from the rational into the irrational– resulting in hard to understand phobias. Phobias range from rational fears, such as being uneasy around tight spaces (claustrophobia), to irrational fears like becoming dismayed at the sight or thought of human beards (pogonophobia).

The sense of feeling or being threatened arrests us and is capable of immobilizing us and bringing our entire lives to a grinding halt.

Understanding Fear

So what is fear? Or more importantly, how does fear “work?” Why does it have such an effect on us? And how do some people live with fearless abandon– in spite of fear and threat?

People feel fear because of the fact that we are not omniscient, omnipotent, or sovereign.

Omniscience is the quality of knowing everything. Since we don’t know everything, we are afraid because of the Fear of the Unknown.

Sovereignty is the quality of being “over all.” It speaks to the ability to pull the strings on everything and make reality do what we want it to do. Since we’re not sovereign over our own lives, much less anyone else’s, we have the Fear of the Uncontrollable.

Omnipotence is the quality of being all powerful. Since we are not all-powerful in the least, we have the Fear of Powerlessness.

These fears are very real because those things they represent can harm, exploit, and even kill us. That’s why we are afraid…

The Solution

The solution to fear is for the fearful to locate a higher power that is all of those things– Omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign… AND ONE MORE THING: Omnibenevolent.

Omnibenevolence has to do with having the quality of being “completely and absolutely good.”

So where does that leave one? Should a person simply grab hold of some “higher power” and feel safe? No, for two reasons.

1. Only the God of the Bible identifies Himself as having all of these attributes, including Omnibenevolence. No other religion even makes the claim to have a god like this. Ah, I’m sure some will doubt what I am saying, but it’s true. Those who are really familiar with other faith traditions know this to be the case.

But one more factor needs to be understood.

2. Just believing in a higher power isn’t enough. That’s because belief alone is inadequate. One can’t just fabricate confidence and fearlessness. We’ve tried that, haven’t we? We can’t fake ourselves out or trick ourselves outą„¤ The answer isn’t belief in a higher power without those attributes– because it’s not our belief that makes us fearless… it’s belief in the one higher power that does possess those attributesą„¤ His power, knowledge, sovereignty, and goodness ENSURES we’re going to be OK. And that’s how to overcome fear: Place yourself in the care of the One and Only True God.

The Party’s Over: Obama, Legality and Morality

24 Jan

It’s hard nowadays to see Obama without a teleprompter telling him what he thinks– oh, I mean, ‘what to say.’ His handlers have worked hard to ensure that he stays on script, and this is especially true with regard to the party line on liberal causes like abortion.

I really do hate to be divisive, but I must.

I have a beef with the Left about the late-Friday-afternoon policy implemented by Camp Obama to kill the Mexico City Policy which was designed to keep U.S. Tax Money (part of it “mine”) from helping promote and fund the ghastly and barbaric act of abortion. Here’s more information on the situation.

So that’s what this is about… but before I make mention of my main point, I should deal with a couple of side issues as I’m often wont to do.

The background on all of this is that I am compelled to voice my opposition to the Obama Administration today in the interest of truth. That’s because Truth means more to me than maintaining superficial, flimsy “peace.”

Yes, sure, it would be easier to say nothing and crawl under a rock. After all, people “like you” when you go along with anything they want. You’re a hero when you’re everybody’s door mat.

Everyone loves a jellyfish. They’re cute and soft… but, ouch! What a sting they can produce! Yes, peace is more comfortable than confrontation. Being agreeable is the new ethic. It’s the New Golden Rule. Politeness is more important to the average person than nearly any character trait or conviction. But the truth is that such “peace,” however warm and fuzzy, isn’t the genuine article. No, this isn’t about peace– it’s actually about an acquiescence of one’s principles… and that’s something I’m not quite yet ready to surrender. I’m a man who has been pushed too far. On the issue of abortion and being indirectly forced to help finance it– I’m simply not ready to make nice.

In light of this, Pro-Obama pundits and, well, “Obama Fans” (fans coming from the root word “fanatic”) generally want those with alternative views on certain matters to be silent. More bluntly, many want people like me to simply “shut up”– especially about abortion. This is one of those rare issues when “Freedom of Speech” becomes more of a nuisance than an unalienable right. Yes, it’s curious how pro-life foes quickly want to engage in censorship when it comes to the voice of opposition or the Voice of Truth on issues of a moral and ethical nature.

And, sadly, that even includes some fellow Christian believers who have fallen under the sway of Obama’s powerful dynamism. This propaganda-like, and seemingly brainwashed loyalty is one so powerful that many otherwise good-thinking people are able to turn a blind eye to ideologies and principles that I find appalling. Even some Obama-supporting-Christian believers (many of them my good friends) are almost TOO WILLING to look the other way about this issue of abortion, and many others too numerous to mention. But I cannot.

But, even as I say that, I know that the abortion issue isn’t “convenient,” and many wish it would just go away– because the new President is so likeable. But the issue is not going away… at least not until blood thirsty proponents of “Choice” stop the heinous practice and “choose” to honor responsibility over convenience– which is what most abortions are really about. Abortion is GENERALLY about freedom from moral responsibility. In some cases, it is about the eradication of the evidence of peoples’ illicit behavior in an attempt to subvert the consequences of persons’ actions. Ironically, abortion removes the effect of this behavior, but never the cause.

So, no, however disappointing to some of my Obama-supporting friends and other pro-abortion advocates, I cannot in good conscience stand by silently when the core foundations of my personal convictions as a human being are under relentless attack. What can I say? It’s a dangerous thing to violate one’s conscience and render himself a reprobate– unable to even discern the difference between right and wrong. So in the interest of preserving my own moral integrity, I speak.

Lest I’m Misunderstood: Where I’m Coming From

Though this blog may not sound like it, I am generally an agreeable person. I DO care about how I am perceived. I have absolutely no interest in hurting my own credibility after working so hard for so long to build it. But in the current situation, I consider it immoral and unbiblical NOT to speak out against Obama’s move today to further soften our cultural resolve against the murder of the innocents. In many places in scripture, speaking up for the unprotected and disenfranchised is considered a just cause and an act of virtue. It is in that vein that I write.

With that long introduction, here’s what this is about.

I grieve over the fact that (as one of my friends reminded me on Facebook) some 50 Million unborn human babies have been murdered in their mothers’ wombs, at the directive of the women whose bodies (and, usually, actions) produced them.

That’s a travesty. It is a miscarriage of justice.

It wasn’t enough for Obama that 50M abortions have taken place since Roe v. Wade exactly 36 years and one day ago. Nevermind that Roe herself regrets her decision and part in the original case.

I am also appalled this evening that Obama would wait until late Friday afternoon (the end of the business week) to sign away the Mexico City Policy, so it would be buried in evening news casts, as most stations would be unable to turn the story around for the broadcast. Obama’s act was and is one of cowardice. It’s offensive to me personally, and it is the ultimate of partisanship… and I thought we were past party politics now. Oh well, I guess not.

My final and main point is this. Only a couple of days into the Obama regime, I am not encouraged. First the confirmation of some questionable administrative officials. Then the (against-conventional wisdom) decision to close Guantanamo without any plan whatsoever of what to do with those men… except possibly to turn known terrorists loose in American Prisons, with the possibility of them being released into the American public (the very place they’d like to be in the first place). And now this… Removing certain restrictions that make abortions more readily available and that, in my estimation, further exploit poor women who have them. So, what a way to start. The party’s over.

In closing, I know that some people might say “but abortion is legal” so why not let it be readily available, without restriction and on demand. Simply because I do not personally equate MORALITY and LEGALITY. They are not one and the same.

Legality is simply what a given culture relativistically establishes as a more’. Morality transcends mere legality. Ironically, some things in our culture are legal and moral. Other things are immoral and illegal. Other things are illegal, but moral. But in this case, abortion is immoral, but LEGAL. That’s why equating legality and morality in one’s mind is so dangerous.

Legalizing evil doesn’t make it good. Evil it remains.

People Without a Life

23 Jan


The Irrelevant Disclaimer.

Everything that interests me isn’t thrilling or profound, but most of my insights come through thinking or talking about ideas– so I decided to think through some issues about people I sometimes meet who just don’t seem to be “going” anywhere. They have no life.

Life is meant to be lived.

I know this sounds glib and sort of cheeky, but it’s true nonetheless. Life is a gift. It’s a precious treasure. It’s a pearl of great price. It’s something of inestimable worth. And its value is what makes it such a terrible thing to waste.

I guess I feel this way more than usual because someone close to my family passed away this week and will be buried tomorrow. And since death is such a cold, brutal reality– the green vitality of life is a theme that’s on my mind today.

Life is a full-contact sport. But some people don’t like that aspect of it. They don’t like the rough and tumble. The bumps and bruises. The hurt and the burn. But that’s sort of like wanting to eat a big piece of cake without having to go to the gym to burn it off– we have to take the good and the bad, because the two can’t be separated. The good and bad of life represent two polarities– sort of like a magnet. Both forces are always present and they come as “part of the package.”

So, back to those without a life. There are those people we know who just won’t get into the game. Those are the ones who just ride the pines and let life bench them. The truth is that I GRIEVE for people like that. I mean, life’s simply TOO important to miss out on it.

And it’s short too– relatively speaking, anyway. The irony of it is that life seems *painfully long* for those who have no real purpose. And its *unjustly short* for those trying to ingest its fullest and drink it in.

Something I’ve noticed about people without a life is that they often fall into two broad categories. Most seem to either (1) live vicariously through others or (2) anonymously through technology.

And it’s through these two ways that they both “escape” life and “engage” it at the same time.

But each of those approaches pose a problem.

Living Vicariously. Living vicariously means that we personally never experience those actual things, themselves– except by proxy. As a result, the emotions and thrills and excitement such a person does have are second-hand, or at least one dimension removed from their own personal reality. And since it’s second-hand, ultimately that type of living won’t satisfy our innate craving for daring and drama. No, we’re hard wired for life in stereo– not mere mono. Life’s thrills, emotions, hurts, and the catharsis those things bring should be an eyewitness event, not hearsay. The best of life’s experiences shouldn’t be hand-me-downs from someone else.

Living Anonymously. Those who don’t have a life and who choose not to live their years through others’ experiences want to embrace life in all its fullness, but fear and insecurity make them want a layer of insulation from the brunt of life’s sometimes cruel realities. So they often live in the cocoon of anonymity. They try to experience depth of meaning and intimacy, but they do it in a world that is only a form of quasi-reality (Not a bad word– I should get intellectual credit for that one if you use it). This quasi-reality is the world of technology. People want to go interactive but they also want to remain anonymous. These are the people who have online identities without names or pictures. They want to know you but don’t want you to know them. They want you to see their kids on their avatar tags, but not they-themselves.

All of this to say the obvious: We need to embrace life. We need to live. We need to know– and we need to BE KNOWN. We need intimacy. Intimacy is a two-way street of giving and taking. But a person can’t be intimate if they have no identity.

And that’s really what this post is all about: That until we come to terms with ourselves, we can’t have an identity. And until we have an identity, we can’t have intimacy. And until we have both, we won’t have a life.