Summary of CHAPTER 5:  THE 19TH CENTURY_PROTESTANTISM    [pp.158-201]

 

imagesAt this time in history, it appears that man is most in touch with his individuality and subjectivity.  Contact with the higher world was sought not through abstract reason, but rather through feeling and the movements of the heart.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) led the way for this new apologetic.  In his Critique of Pure Reason (1781) he understood that:  Reason is nothing but a calculating machine with the ability to organize data of sense experience.  It nevertheless is not able to rise above the empirical, nor able to deal realistically with the divine.

In his Critique of Practical Reason (1788) Kant saw it necessary for moral obligation to postulate the existence of God, freedom, and immortality.  He made room for faith in a new sense where belief rests not simply on external authority but also on personal motives.  This is subjectively compelling but objectively insufficient.

In his Opus Postumum Kant identified the voice of conscience very closely with the divine presence within man.  In his Religion within the Bounds of Reason Alone (1793), Kant gave a secure philosophical status to several fundamental Christian doctrines, even though he severely criticized the notion of historical revelation.

PROTESTANTISM: GERMANY 1800-50 [Pp.159-164]

Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher (A.D. 1768-1834) was raised among the Moravian brethren, he retained a strong pietistic leaning.  For him the thoughts of antiquity concerning religion are a hindrance to epistemological progress which led him to re-define all key concepts of religion (e.g., miracle, revelation, prophesy, God, etc.), revising Christianity to his tastes so that it would be palatable to his times.

In his The Christian Faith, he attacks arguments from miracle and prophecy and held that these signs are not probative (i.e., having the quality or function of proving or demonstrating something) in order to bring conviction for the non-believer.  To be Modern, Schleiermacher held that dogma must be reinterpreted. Hence, to fit into his sitz em leben, he reconstructed a new epistemology, thus redemption by Jesus of Nazareth cannot be verified outside of faith which is purely subjective.  Thus, there’s no room for an objective body of knowledge.

In his Brief Outline on the Study of Theology, Schleiermacher sets forth a new apologetic where he states that biblical, historical, and practical theology should be prefaced with a new discipline—philosophical theology—which is both apologetical and polemical.  Where apologetics seeks to generally view Christianity in relation to its communities, polemics seeks to detect and correct any deviations within the Christian community.

Karl Heinrich Sack (A.D. 1789-1875) was a disciple of Schleiermacher who wrote Christian Apologetics.  In it, he seeks to do his apologetics as a rational grounding for the Christian faith based on demonstrable divine facts.  He demonstrates that God’s self-revelation finds its zenith in Jesus Christ by using OT texts.

Georg W. F. Hegel (A.D. 1770-1831) sought to make his philosophy a rational appropriation of the Christian patrimony.  He sought to show how the principal Christian dogmas (Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, etc.) were a symbolic projection of rational truths set forth in his evolving pantheistic system.

David Friedrich Strauss (A.D. 1808-74) reinterpreted Christian theology by subordinating traditional orthodoxy to the new evolutionary philosophy.  In his book Life of Jesus, he maintained that the finite and the infinite are realized in the whole of humanity, not in one individual (Jesus Christ).  The Christ of the NT was mythical, not actual.  This work devotes its energies to showing the historical unreliability of the Gospel stories.  The positive results from the writings of Strauss are that he helped NT scholarship hone their skills at historically verifying the NT.

PROTESTANTISM IN DENMARK: 1800-50  [Pp.165-168]

Søren Kierkegaard (A.D. 1813-55) is seen by some as the greatest eristic (one given to argumentation) thinker of the Christian faith within Protestantism.  He viewed rational proofs to be out of place for theology, because faith does not need them.  He was fideistic at the core.  For him, to defend something is to discredit it.  Moreover, he rejected all demonstrations of the divinity of Christ, which he sees as the central fact of the Christian faith and insisted that there can be no access to faith through objective rational thinking.  An apologetic of sorts can be made from the apparent absurdity of faith (i.e., Incarnation of Christ where the infinite One became finite,) which is itself a miracle.

In his Sickness unto Death, he affirms that sin is despair before God, that despair is failure to have faith, but it’s also the first step to faith grounded in man’s pursuit of God.  Thus for Kierkegaard, Faith is ultimately irrational at the core, but simultaneously he is giving an apologetic for his view.

PROTESTANTISM IN GREAT BRITAIN: 1800-50  [Pp.168-171]

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (A.D. 1772-1834) in his Aids to Reflection, he castigates the evidential school for forgetting that Christianity is not just theoretical but spiritual and living.  Coleridge saw faith as preceding understanding like Augustine.

Frederick Denison Maurice (A.D. 1805-72) in his What Is Revelation, Maurice maintained that documents could never lead to any religiously satisfying results.  In faith, one knows God, as He existentially imparts Himself to man, which for the believer said communion is proof.

Thomas Chalmers (A.D. 1780-1847) a Scottish preacher wrote The Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation.  In it he makes his demonstration mainly on miracles, prophecies, and the historical reliability of the NT.  Chalmers held that for the Biblically and morally oriented person, Christianity’s truths are evident.

Thomas Erskine (A.D. 1788-1870) wrote Remarks on the Internal Evidence for the Truth of Revealed Religion (1820) and stresses the moral influence of the gospel and avoids the usual arguments from miracles, prophecy, and eyewitness testimony.  He had a strong appeal to natural religion but philosophically and empirically was anemic.

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Summaries Now Available!

310D727a2fL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Now available in summary form is Politics for Christians.  This is an election year and the candidates for both the Democrats and the Republican parties are less than stellar according to many.  Moreover many people while having opinions on their preferred candidates have no grid from which they clearly decide on a particular person for office.  As Christians, we divide on many things and our preferred political party is certainly one of them.  Whatever party lines believers find themselves coming under, a fundamental question needs to be answered: “what policies come closest to our worldview as ambassadors for Christ?”

Answering that question takes careful thought and humility.  It’s my hope that the summaries of this book will help the Christian in particular be salt and light as they engage to the glory of God, the political process.  Moreover, it’s my desire to see the citizens of heaven consider their temporary earthly citizenship as a means to rule and reign that honors Christ and their fellow man, rather than shaming his name.  Take up and read friends.

Summary of CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THE GOD WHO IS VERY ANGRY [Pages 201-211]

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First, Carson opens the chapter by considering why talk about the wrath of God tends to make people so uncomfortable. In our culture according to Carson, “…it is hard to think about this topic because anger is often connected in the public mind with intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and bigotry”.  And yet, according to the “eternal gospel” in Revelation 14:6-7 the herald calls every nation, tribe, language and people to fear the God of all creation and give Him glory and worship for His judgment has come.  And the impending doom of paganism (e.g., Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great) is that of a “society that’s been set free of God is its own worst enemy”:

And I saw another angel flying in mid heaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, “Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters.”

Second, Carson considers how Revelation 4&5 unpack the gospel.  According to Carson, revelation 4-5 unpacks for us what the gospel is.  Chapter 4 reveals that God is the God of creation and the entire created order is dependent on Him to live move and have its being.  Chapter 5 reveals God’s purpose for judgment and blessing and only the Lion, who is the Lamb, can open the seals. 

 Third, Carson looks at the meaning of two agricultural metaphors found in Revelation 14:14-20.   The grain and the treading of the wine press are teaching about the final judgment. 

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 18 Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.”19 So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.

Grain Harvest means that a set time is coming when the harvest will happen, and there’s no escaping it.  It speaks of the goal of history, and end in sight, where time will be no more after the final judgment.

The Treading of the Wine Press means to emphasize the violent thoroughness of God’s wrath when it is finally poured out.  This imagery is horrific—it’s about the trampled blood of people by God’s thorough wrath.

 Fourth, Carson addresses the issue of manipulation when we talk about hell.    Many have charged that talking about hell is manipulative.  Carson rightly emphasizes that it’s not manipulative if it’s true.  After all, Jesus spoke of hell more than any other person in the Bible and he warned people of impending doom (Mt. 10:28).  However, if it were a lie, then it would be manipulative and the charge would be warranted. But, if it’s true, to not sound the alarm is vicious, cruel, and unloving.  Jesus warned people, we must also…but many times we have not.  That’s troubling!

When we preach about hell we want to be faithful to Christ’s attitude about it, not betray Him.  Moreover, we who have been pardoned by the sovereign grace of God through the Son were once under God s wrath.  We’re no better than any other person.  We are beggars/prisoners who know where to find bread, and who have received pardon.  Plain and simple!

Summary of CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE GOD WHO DECLARES THE GUILTY JUST [Pages 169-185]

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In this chapter Carson tackles the issue of how and why God can and does declare the guilty just.  It’s largely Paul’s argument in Romans 1-11 and is perhaps the most misunderstood aspects of the gospel transculturally.

First, Carson explains why it’s impossible to be acquitted with justice on the ground of the good things we do.   The reason is because we are all law breakers: those with the Book, and those without the Book.  All of us have broken even our own lesser standards.  It’s ridiculous for the murderer to appeal to his “good deeds” before the judge after he in fact has been properly convicted of committing the crime.  How much more before the judge of Creation?!  And yet, people tend to flock to this absurdity when it comes to eternal matters.

Second, the main theme of Romans 1:18-3:20 is precisely how everyone is justly guilty before God.  All are under judgement; all are guilty, because they have denied God the Creator.  They have thus become fools and Paul reminds us that there are none righteous, none who understands, none who seeks God, none who does good, not even one—their deeds and words condemn them, none who fears God.  Humanity is the core of all the evil there is, for in wanting to go our own way we have all disowned the God who is there, The One, who has made us.

Third, Carson explains several ways in which the Old Testament anticipates the arrival of Jesus.  There’s the sacrificial system of the blood of bulls and goats which testify to what was to come in the new covenant.  Here the high priest came with sacrifices into the holiest place on the Day of Atonement—all pointing to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.  Then, there are the Ten Commandments which anticipate a day when murder and adultery will not only be prohibited but unthinkable in the new heavens and new earth.  And there’s also the anticipated day from the law when the righteousness of God would be revealed in Christ. 

Fourth, Carson considers how God’s righteousness is available to all people without racial distinction but on the basis of faith.   The reason it’s good news for the above mentioned caption to be true is because all are guilty before God, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  All means everyone under heaven’s sky, on earth’s dirt and in the oceans water.  Carson then explains three terms related to our salvation in Christ.

There’s righteousness, which is achieved through Christ’s redemption.  This redemption involves buying back from the slave market one who is indebted to another and has absolutely no possible means to pay for the debt.  A redeemer is one who purchases the one in debt and delivers him and his family from slavery to another.  Biblically, Jesus justifies us freely through faith by the redemption of his blood.  Thus, believers are justified before the God of heaven!

Then there’s the act of propitiation.  Propitiation is that sacrificial act whereby God becomes favorably disposed to us.  He is set over against us in wrath, but now by the sacrificial act of His son, He has become favorable toward us.

Another term is expiation, which is the act whereby God wipes out sin from the board, sin here is cancelled.  The object of expiation is sin, while the object of propitiation is God.   The text says that God propitiated God through the sacrifice of His son.  This is mind boggling in light of the fact that in the pagan world those offering sacrifices for propitiation to the gods were the worshippers.  Not so in the Bible, God propitiates God.  Thus, turning away of God’s wrath and the cancelling of sin are achieved by both expiation and propitiation.

 Fifth, Carson explains what is meant when Paul says that in the cross God is both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus.  God’s holiness must be maintained.  Therefore He must punish sin which He did through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  He maintained Justice!  God’s love has been demonstrated by paying for our sins on the cross. He displayed Love!  Unlike so many understand today, in the Bible faith is related to truth.  If it’s not true, it’s worthless.

In the Bible, Faith doesn’t mean that which makes you feel good and is not subject to verification.  Rather, it deals with that which is stated and argued as actually occurring in space-time history.  Paul does this in 1 Corinthians 15 where he affirms that if Christ has not truly been raised from the dead the first witnesses are all liars.  Again, if Christ has not truly been raised from the dead we are still in our sins.  Then if Christ has not truly been raised from the dead our faith is useless.  And that if Christ has not truly been raised from the dead we are to be pitied more than anyone else.  Our lives are a joke precisely because we consider that which is false to be true.

Conversely, if the resurrection is actually true, then all others rejecting the truth of these claims are sadly under the wrath of God and the “joke” is on them.  That’s sobering, sad, and must cause our hearts to live under God as we endeavor to shine in this world for Christ.

Summary From CHAPTER SEVEN: THE GOD WHO BECAME A HUMAN BEING [Pages 101-119]

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Carson begins this chapter by first pointing out that before Jesus was born, the prophet Jeremiah promised a new covenant.  What this promise implicitly says about the old (Mosaic) covenant is that in some sense, it is becoming obsolete (Jer. 31:31-34):

31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Secondly, Carson explains how in Jesus God became human.  For starters, “Jesus’” name means “Yahweh saves.”  This is the covenant name of God given to Moses at Sinai.  The importance of this name in Mathew’s gospel is that it sets forth the entire theme of the book; namely that Yahweh has come to save his people from their sins (in Christ).

He then explains the doctrine of the Trinity to mean that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are God.  Not three Gods, only one.  One way of explaining this, is that the Word shares one substance with the Father, but is distinguishable from Him.  That is, there are three distinct persons within the Godhead who are equally the One God, co-existing, co-equal, and co-eternal.

In John’s prologue (John 1:1-18) it’s clear that the “Word” is simultaneously God’s own peer and God’s own self?  In verse 1 this is emphatic: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  God reveals, himself to the prophets through his word; God creates through the spoken word in (Gen.1; Ps.33:6); God transforms his people through the word (Ps. 107:20), and Jesus is God’s self-revelation, self-expression; God’s own agent in creation; and he comes to save and transform his people.

Thirdly, Carson explains what the incarnation means.  It means that the Word becomes a human being (i.e., the infleshing). God becomes something that previously before the incarnation, he was not.  What John does not say is that the Word merely clothed himself in animal humanity, pretended to be human, coexisted with a man called Jesus, nor is all of God exhausted in Jesus.  But John does say that the Word (God’s own peer) became a human being.  Jesus is the “God/Man.  God in his divinity cannot change, but in Christ’s humanity there’s a distinct addition: a human nature.  This is mind baffling.

Fourthly, Carson makes the connection between the Old Testament Tabernacle and New Testament incarnation.  He does this by thematically connecting John 1:14-18 on the one hand and Exodus 32-34 on the other hand.  He explains that the Tabernacle and Temple, point to the fact that Jesus is the ultimate meeting place between a holy God and rebellious sinners.  He is said to have “tabernacled among us”.  This is where the meeting place of peace with God can be found in Jesus Christ.

Glory is what Moses wanted to see of God on Sinai, but when Jesus tabernacled among us the wonder of his glory, God’s glory, is seen in the miracles and ultimately on Calvary’s tortuous bloody cross.   Grace and Truth (Love and Faithfulness) God reveals himself not only as the One who punishes evil doers but is also kind and forgiving.  Full of grace and truth is that which brought him to the cross to pay for our sins.  Here is where justice and love kiss!

Grace and Law means that we have received grace in place of grace already given.  The gracious gift of the Law was superseded by the ultimate revelatory expression of God in the 2nd person of the Triune God who through his sacrificial death on Calvary’s bloody cross purchased the redemption price required for wrath doomed sinners to be rescued and thus adopted into God’s family.  It’s found in the new covenant, which replaces the old covenant.

Seeing God can only be accomplished through seeing Jesus. We cannot look directly on God, according to John 1:18.  What is at present, the closest we can come?  Presently, we can see the character, holiness, wrath, forgiveness and glory of God in Jesus.  He is the ultimate revelation of God the Father—he is the incarnate son of God.

And as such, Jesus most spectacularly showed that he is full of grace and truth on the cross.  Both God’s justice and love are fully expressed there.  This field will forever be marveled on by the redeemed age without end.

Summary of CHAPTER SIX: THE GOD WHO IS UNFATHOMABLY WISE [Pages 85-100]

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In this section of the book, Carson first focuses on Biblical wisdom literature.  He points out that Psalm 1 is called a “wisdom psalm” because it shows us that there are only two paths to walk on in this life.  There’s the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked.  The former will be remembered, the latter forgotten.  There’s no “third way” by which to live (c.f., Mt. 7:24-29).  Wisdom literature demonstrates the polarity’s of life (a notion utterly denied by pantheistic monism).  There’s the way of the wise, and the way of the fool.  There are only two ways, not a third.

These polarities in wisdom literature have two qualities: they are absolute and they establish parameters by which to live, an actual border for life.  We either live for the self-existent holy Creator God, or for the needy, unholy creature man.

Secondly, Carson admits the scary reality that we neither always live as lovers of God nor always walk in His ways.  Often we act like the wicked indeed (e.g., King David)The truth about us is that often the counsel of the wicked sounds really good, the Law of the Lord is not our delightJesus also emphasized the realities of two roads, two gates, and only two ways to live (Mt. 7: 24-29).  This accentuates the holy from the unholy, the righteous from the wicked, and while it clarifies for us this state of affairs, it cannot save us. 

Carson then considers the fool as illustrative of the bent of those who lack wisdom.  The reason those who deny Gods’ existence are considered fools (Ps. 14:1), is because the God who is there has disclosed Himself in nature and in the Scriptures (see Rom. 1:18-22).  They are fools because they deny the obvious.  They and we, are without excuse and yet, the denials persist which disclose how deep humanity’s corruption goes, and how desperately we need God’s amazing grace.

Thirdly, David is used as an example of how man’s foolishness must be dealt with, “Against you only have I sinned” David says to God in (Ps. 51:4).  But how does this make sense in light of the fact that he sinned against other people?  Carson affirms that David understood that his sin was ultimately and most importantly, treason against His Maker.  It’s not that he didn’t think that he was not guilty before the people, he was and knew it.  But, he was so in touch with his offense toward the Holy One of Israel.  The fact is that what makes sin so heinous is that it defies God.  To defy the One who made us and will judge us on the last day is utterly absurd.

Fourthly, Carson considers the life of Job to provide an answer to the problem of innocent suffering.  But the humility that follows is noteworthy.  The innocent do suffer and in the most extreme cases, they are to trust in the person of the God who is there.  In the end Job is a microcosm of what’s forthcoming in the end—wrongs will be righted, and the Just judge will set things right.  This too is wisdom.

Ecclesiastes warns us that we will all face God and give an account of our lives; we must all face Him in the end.  Its “good news” in the sense that we are directed to focus on what really matters—living for God.  That is, our ultimate pursuit in life must be to fear God and keep His commandments—because in the end, nothing else will matter.

Lastly, Carson considers how we are to live in light of coming judgment.  Judgment—the first doctrine in Genesis 3 revealed, is denied by many professing Christians.  Death approaches, and it is death we in our culture strain at avoiding, sanitizing, we speak of Sister Sue “passing away” or she’s “gone”.  We can’t bear to say that she is “Dead.”

When we die, regardless of the cause, the ultimate reality is that we stop breathing.  There’s no life in us anymore.  We’re separated from; our body, our loved ones and the life we once knew.  Now we must face God.  This is sobering.  (SDG)

 

Book Summary Now Available!

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Available now is my summary of The Universe Next Door by James Sire.  This worldview catalog is part of the arsenal needed  for believers to understand the major beliefs held by both their neighbors and also themselves.

The value of this study is akin to a baseball scout taking the necessary time to understand the opposing team’s ball player’s strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.  After such due diligence is accomplished, the odds of “competing” and “beating” the “opposition” are enhanced.  Too often Christians are bested in the classroom, boardroom, or family room because we have not done our due diligence regarding other worldviews when compared to Christendom.  This book is a remedy for such maladies as Sire notes:

“For any of us to be fully conscious intellectually we should not only be able to detect the worldviews of others but be aware of our own—why it is ours and why in light of so many options we think it is true” [Opening page]

Summary of Chapter 9: THE VANISHED HORIZON—POSTMODERNISM (Pgs.172-190)

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          In this chapter Sire argues that Postmodernism (PM) changed everything starting with the death of God which grounded its’ wisdom and demise in Modernism.  This is because far from being “Post” anything, it’s nothing without Modernism.  What it has accomplished though is taking Modernism’s views to their natural end which failed to meet their own criterion.

To begin with, Sire admits defining (PM) is difficult.  The term was first used to describe architecture.  One definition advanced of (PM) is: it denies there is any one metanarrative that is more credible than another to explain to us the nature of reality (e.g., theism, pantheism, or atheism make part of the whole).

A good way to understand (PM) is to compare it to Premodern and Modern views of reality to grasp its’ significance.  Pre-moderns for example focused on attaining a just society by basing it on the just God of revelation.  Moderns contrarily focused their view of attaining justice through universal reason.  Post-moderns however despair any universal attaining of justice because language is what constructs reality or meaning itself.

Sire continues and explains how the three different views lead to a way of ruling by virtue of their starting point.  Pre-modernism lead to medieval hierarchy, Modernism lead to Enlightenment democracy, and Postmodernism leads to anarchy.

Concerning first principles, Pre-moderns saw metaphysics (being, existence) as the grounds for epistemology (how we know anything); Moderns held that epistemology is the grounds for ontology (the study of existence, being); and Post-moderns hold that epistemology is the grounds for significance but end their search with no confidence in human reason.  The self-refuting nature of (PM’s) many positions is here obvious by their use of reason to make said statement.

Sire continues to point out the self-refuting nature of (PM) positions like its notion of truth that it is forever hidden from us.  These “authorities” are telling us the “truth” that truth is forever hidden from us.

When (PM) says that all narratives are a mask for a play of power, they fail to see that they also are giving us a narrative of reality that according to them also falls into the category of a “play of power”.

Another notion of (PM) is that language is what’s used to construct who people are and what is ethical or not by society.  This ends with a radical relativism that if consistently lived out has as its’ champion the sociopath.

It leads naturally that from this view of language, the discipline that is king is literary theory, rather than theology, philosophy or science.

Sire than considers many of (PM’s) shortcomings not least of which is their denial of any objective truth but act as if it really exists by their writings and “insights” into describing reality, thus elites, not true experts end up ruling everywhere including the sciences (Pgs.184-187).

PM has rightly criticized naturalisms’ too high a view of reason, explained that language can be used to exercise power over people (these are not always negative situations however) but (PM’s) seem to overlook that their own criticism’s also apply to their use of words.

Sire points out that the “truth question” is very uncomfortable for (PM’s) and it should be pressed.  Moreover, their negative view of reason should be considered in light of their use of reason to advance their position.  That is, they employ their negative view of autonomy by using said autonomous human reason.  It’s just self-refuting.

Finally, Sire concludes that (PM) is not so much a worldview, but a parasite on worldviews and it’s not surprising therefore that this position lacks confidence in truth, a trust in reality or hope for the future.  Pessimism, nihilism and anarchy result if this thought of (PM) is followed to its natural conclusion.         

 

Summary of Chapter 7: JOURNEY TO THE EAST—EASTERN PANTHEISTIC MONISM (Pgs.118-135)

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            Sire begins by pointing out the disparity of thought that obtains between the West and East and the problems which arise as a result.  Many events, including the Vietnam War, caused many Westerners to look to the East for meaning in life.   This shift of thinking in the West was evidenced by the Hippy movement of the 1960’s.

Eastern thought is both pantheistic and monistic where all is god and God is all, thus the One is Atman and Brahman are true reality.  First, it is held that every soul is the Cosmos where distinctions are eradicated.  Thus, God is each person and each person is God so whatever distinctions appear to be the case, are a mere illusion.

Second, some things are more than others which means that pure being is unity with the One.  Third, many if not all roads lead to the One, thus Hicks view of salvation obtains here.  One can meditate a mandala, chant a mantra, or chant the OM where solitude and silence are necessary.  Here it is where non-rational content has meaning and for one to become one with Atman, it is necessary for the waking, dreaming, sleeping and awakening which result in enlightenment.

The word OM is multifaceted in meaning (Pgs.125-126).

Fourth, one must realize their oneness with the Cosmos in order to pass beyond personality which equals the acquisition of pure being, which is nonconsciousness (Pg.127).

Fifth, realizing one’s oneness with the Cosmos means one has gone past knowledge where the law of non-contradiction does not apply.  Here’s where many Westerners get tripped up and rightly so.

Sixth, oneness means going beyond good and evil.  This view makes it impossible for one to have moral outrage much less a moral position (Pgs.128-129).

Seventh, death terminates the individual but really changes nothing and history is cyclical (See how West must engage East with their W.V.).  At the end of the day, the Eastern mentality denies reality as it truly is, thus evil and good are denied (point out this problem mannishly).  Mostly, the law of non-contradiction must be championed in order to address this position.  

Summary of Chapter 6: BEYOND NIHILISM—EXISTENTIALISM (Pgs.94-116)

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Sire argues that existentialism arose as a response to nihilism.  This view of reality comes in atheistic and theistic forms.  After the horrors of WWI people needed answers to make sense of all the evil experienced.  Sartre and Camus gave aid through their literature.

Atheistic existentialism (AE) presupposes naturalism’s world of only matter in a closed system of cause and effect where choices are real but for humans they’re only imagined.  Thus, for (AE) one goal is to derive meaning from non-meaning seeing that matter doesn’t “care” about meaning, matter just is.  Much of what transpires is what Schaeffer describes of the Upper/Lower story of reality (Pg.98), where values are subjective and unverifiable, as opposed to science which is objective and verifiable.

Humans determine their essence by actions, not by some intrinsic quality (E.g., image bearers) and thus are free to choose their own destiny as kings of their subjective world.  True here is the mantra; conceive, believe, achieve.  For the (AE) death is the pinnacle of absurdity rather than a signpost pregnant with meaning (E.g., God’s judgment for rebellion).

Ethics is a bit of a conundrum for what isought to be, because we determine what meaning is.  Hence, when one chooses it’s never to do evil, but always to perform the good.  If this is the case, then what defines the good, the sociopath?  When ethics is ultimately grounded in the creature rather than in the Creator, relativism is spawned and makes life absurd.

Theistic existentialism (TE) arose from Kierkegaard’s response to the dead orthodoxy of his day which touted the keeping of rules over the nurturing of a relationship with God.  This view thus started its’ focus on how humans relate to God and the cosmos, not with God and how all of creation is to properly relate to Him (Pg.107).

Reading through some highly abstract positions was somewhat of a bore but from this view came the movement known as Neo Orthodoxy (NO) which among other things emphasized either (according to Sire) Pelagianism or a hyper Calvinism.  Many (NO) don’t believe in the historicity of biblical accounts but rather see them as mythical and symbolic.  Much of this came from German “scholarship” that imbibed naturalism as a fact (Pgs. 113-115).  This chapter was by far the most difficult to follow because of the subjects’ writers deep abstraction.  Nevertheless, I can see residues of this theology with many of my church friends.