Saturday, November 27, 2010
Truth is incredibly limited. It exists within iron-clad boundaries and has no wiggle room at all. Truth is a tiny sliver of reality in a universe of infinite possibilities.
Untruth, though, can be anything at all.
Here’s a simple example of what I’m talking about.
Everyone knows that 2 + 2 = 4.
Everyone also knows that 2 + 2 does not (and never will) equal 5.
Or even 4.0000000000001.
Nor will it ever equal 17.594 … or 0.136452 … or 44,572.0990213.
You get the idea.
While Truth inhabits only the tiniest part the whole possible spectrum, falsehood resides at every other point.
Because of this, it’s no surprise that most people find at least one of the infinite manifestations of untruth more attractive than Truth. Nor should it shock us that, those who do, often accuse Truth of being “intolerant” or “exclusivist”.
But Truth is still Truth.
And all the rest is still untruth.
And to make things even more confusing, falsehood uses its advantage brilliantly.
Untruth can (and does) transform itself into whatever shape, flavor or texture will best endear it to the desires, preferences and needs of its intended victim.
Well of course it does! The Bible tells us that even Satan - the prince of darkness himself - can appear as a glorious angel of light. When he wants to.
If beauty woos you, that’s what he’ll be. If terror cows you, he can do that too.
It’s no wonder Jesus warned us that the gate which leads to life is a very narrow one.
In the end, the best advice I can give I gave before, and I’ll give again: Be intentionally aware of the things you believe and keep asking yourself where in the Bible you learned them. If you have no answer, reconsider.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
- Those who believe because it's beautiful may lose faith when they see "ugliness" (eg, Hell) in it. Those who preach it because it's life-changing may lose heart when they see someone whose life did not change. Etc.
- We may begin to pick and choose our doctrines. You know how it goes. "I like this one. But I do not like that one. So I will embrace this one. And I will reject that one."
- We may be tempted to push it in the direction we want it to go, gradually moving away from the truth so that it lines up better with the reason we teach it. If we teach the gospel because we love the poor or think society corrupt, we could make Jesus into a mere social reformer. If we want evil people to suffer for their sins, we could twist the Word so that mercy loses out to judgment. And so on.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
- How well the term "soft religiosity" describes our modern (American) Christianity! But we don't need to point any fingers at religious leaders to profit from the reminder. We each decide how we want to live our Christian lives based on how much of ourselves we're willing to give to God. One of the great old preachers, AW Tozer, wrote something like this: "We are all exactly as filled with the Holy Spirit as we want to be. Maybe not as much as we wish we were - but exactly as much as we want to be." Ouch.
- John's message was bare-bones and no nonsense. How much of our faith and lives are diluted by the addition of other things? We love, desire, enjoy "God and" - but how often "God only"? How different our attitude is from that described in one of the hymns of Israel: "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You." (Ps 73:25) I read that psalm probably 50 times before I caught that it's not "more than You". It's "besides You". Ouch.
- What is this weakness we have for seeking popular support? If we know God Almighty, why do we still care about the approval of others? Paul hit it right on the nose when he wrote: "If I were still trying to please men I wouldn't be a servant of Christ." He's right! Society and culture have become so perverse that when we try to please others (by doing what they want and expect of us) it's almost certain we won't be pleasing to God. We know that. But still we do it. To quote Tozer again: "I won't seek persecution, but I want to walk so close to Jesus that when they reject him they'll dump me right out along with him." Ouch.
- How tempted are we to imitate the softness we see in others who profess total commitment? As Christians, do we feel free to go places where Christ is not welcome? Do we make great friends of people who despise Him? Do we readily join in conversations He would refuse to be part of? At what point does our devotion to Him need to put a damper on our fun? At what point does it force us to be different? "Weird"? Or, that guy? Ouch.
Monday, November 8, 2010
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."
— C.S. Lewis
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Considering the title of this week's blod, you can imagine my surprise when our guest preacher spoke these words last Sunday. As I jotted them down I wondered how he knew I'd been planning to write this week on the topics of fear, control & submission. And then I realized he didn't, and that I needed to watch fewer spy movies.
Here's something to think about: I believe the root of evil is fear.
Next I looked inside. As I recognized this tendency in others I began to see it very clearly in myself. Fear makes me edgy, unkind. In the absence of fear I'm peaceful and sweet as honey.
Finally, I thought about what Jesus said about the source of evil. At the time, I still believed Jesus taught that "money is the root of all evil," but now I know He didn't. What He said was "money is the root of all kinds of evil." The old translations didn't get it quite right. But still, that's quite a statement.
Although it's kind of long for my normal blod offering, I want to include a passage from a book called The Trifling Adventures of Grover Rodriguez, because it illustrates so nicely what I'm talking about here. I pick up in the middle of a conversation about the nature of evil between two college sweethearts sitting on a hill under a romantic full moon. She wants to debate. He has other ideas.
"So you believe that evil exists, right?"
"Of course," I replied, already ready to move on.
"Then what do you think the cause of evil is?"
"I don't know. I've never thought about it, but isn't it different in every situation?"
"I think it's fear," she whispered, ignoring me. "I've thought about it a lot since that thing with my mom. People are only harmful if they're scared of something."
I sat back now, and she put her hand back in her lap.
"Fear? Really? You think so?" I didn't know if I was bored or curious.
"Definitely." She moved into professor mode. "Give me some situations in which you think evil is involved."
"All right. Bigotry. How about bigotry? Why does the evil of bigotry exist, based on the Fear Theory?"
"Fear of the unknown. Fear of someone else coming in and taking away what you have—your livelihood, your home, your beliefs."
"Too easy. Challenge me."
"What about gossip? That's evil, right?"
"It is. And the answer would be fear of being disliked by others. Fear of being the one gossiped about if you don't do it first. Fear of thinking that you're the most pathetic or scandalous person around - so you make sure someone else seems worse."
"Tailgating!" I shouted triumphantly for no apparent reason. "How do you explain that scourge of society in terms of fear?"
"Well," she began, "if you were tailgating someone, why would you be doing it?"
"What do you have to be frustrated about?"
"The person ahead of me isn't going fast enough."
"Why do you want him to go faster?"
"So I can go faster too."
"And why do you need to go faster?"
"So I can get where I'm going faster."
"Grover, dear - you do see where this is going, don't you?"
I honestly didn't, but then I was only eighteen and had other things on my mind, so she continued without me.
"Is it because you need to get to work faster? You're either late—fear of being yelled at—or you need to get something done as soon as possible—fear of not succeeding. Maybe you're late for a date—fear of upsetting me!"
"Or, more likely, I just can't wait to see you," I crooned, feigning adorability.
"Fear of not having enough time with me!" she retorted."Hmph," I sniffed. At this point I was willing to let her win.
While fearful things happen to all of us, we are not obligated to experience fear. When fear hits us we have to act. But how we act is up to us.
And this is exactly what Jesus encouraged in His disciples when He told them:
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I believe that any Christian who is qualified to write a good popular book on any science may do much more by that than by an directly apologetic work. The difficulty we are up against is this. We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite position is taken for granted. As long as that situation exists, widespread success is simply impossible. We must attack the enemy’s lines of communication. What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects--with their Christianity latent… You can see this most easily if you look at it the other way round. Our faith is not very likely to be shaken by any book on Hinduism. But if wherever we read an elementary book on Geology, botany, Politics, or Astronomy, we found that its implications were Hindu, that would shake us. It is not the books written in direct defense of materialism that make the modern man a materialist; it is the materialistic assumptions in all the other books. In the same way, it is not books on Christianity that will really trouble him. But he would be troubled if, whenever he wanted a cheap popular introduction to some science, the best work on the market was always by a Christian. The first step to the reconversion of this country is a series, produced by Christians, which can beat the Penguin and the Thinkers Library on their own ground. Its Christianity would have to be latent, not explicit: and of course its science perfectly honest. Science twisted in the interest of apologetics would be sin and folly.