WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? “Why Black Lives Can’t Matter…If…” PART 1

stooges-fix

We humans share many things in common; we desire to be loved and accepted for who we are not what we can do; we long for happiness and fulfillment; we don’t like it when people mistreat us; we dislike it when people lie to us; we all try to make sense out of reality as we know it.  These dearly held notions are mainly communicated through words.

The “Black Lives Matter” notion is a case in point.  The desire to communicate that “we matter” can be put “our lives have meaning” and we should thus be treated a certain way.  But whether or not that’s actually true depends on the worldview held.

For example, if naturalism is true (a la Atheism), and humans are merely material entities without an immaterial soul, an accident of macro-evolution where there’s no design, purpose or meaning, then “Black Lives” actually don’t matter.  This is true for at least two reasons; first, “meaning” is not something physical—it can’t be tasted, seen, smelled, heard, or touched, but its’ effects (which are immaterial) are constantly seen in the physical world.  Secondly, the basis of naturalism is that there is no “mind”, no “design”, no “better”, no “progress” but “eternal matter that just is”.

According to the this worldview, humans are simply born, live out their meaningless lives, and then die, never to be remembered, cherished or loved again.  It’s a cold reality.  Thus if this position is true, “Black lives can’t matter”.

Another example comes from nihilism (naturalism’s child) which reduces all of life to chance plus matter plus time.  This means that human decisions are matter in motion and are thus determined.  This means that human choices are not significant, but a mere illusion.  The reason is because what seems to be “our decisions” is actually, impersonal, mechanistic matter in motion.  According to this worldview, those in favor of or against “Black lives matter” have no choice in the matter, but are simply determined to one “view” or another.  Thus if this position is true, then really “Black lives can’t matter”.

Still another example is pantheistic monism (a la Buddhism and certain branches of Hinduism), which among other things teaches that the individual is part of the oneness of the universe, that life is illusory and thus “individuality” is not real, but a fantasy.  Trying to get meaning from this position is an exercise in futility.  Ironically, many Westerners have looked to the East for its wisdom and insight on reality, except that at its core, there’s a denial of reality.  According to this worldview, there’s no real “Black lives that matter” because that whole notion too is an illusion.  Thus, if this position is true, “Black lives can’t matter”.

Yet another example is moral relativism (a la the University), which among other things is the self-refuting position that there’s no such thing as absolute truth (i.e. correspondence view of truth) and “we know this to be absolutely true”.  That is, the basis for reality is not any higher power, God, etc., but the individual who creates what is true and right for herself/himself.

If this worldview is true, then “Black Lives can’t matter” for it means that we can’t tell anyone that they are wrong because the individual decides; we can’t complain about the problem of evil because the individual decides; we can’t blame or praise anyone for deeds they’ve performed because the individual decides; we can’t object to injustice because the individual decides; we can’t improve on our morality because the individual decides; we can’t have meaningful moral discussions nor demand tolerance from the opposition because the individual decides.

The “Black Lives Matter” position under this worldview is incoherent at best and diabolical at worst.  Under this self-refuting worldview, “Black lives can’t matter”.

In contradistinction to the aforesaid, theism (a la Judaism or Christianity) holds that the universe—contra naturalism—is not a closed system but one that is open.  This means that both divine and human decisions significantly shape the present and the future.  Moreover, in a theistic world human beings are not chance accidents or illusory entities—contra nihilism and pantheistic monism—but created in God’s image and likeness with the purpose to reflect the wonder of the Creator unlike any other creature.  And in opposition to moral relativism, theism grounds all truth and morality in the Creator not the fading whims of the creature.

Only in a theistic worldview can one coherently and rationally argue that “Black lives matter”.  For if the God of Scripture (I.e., The Law, Prophets, & Writings, and the New Testament) actually exists, not only do Black lives matter, but every life matters.  The reason is because human meaning under this worldview comes from the Self-existent, Eternal, All-wise, All-powerful, All-knowing God who came near to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

And I would further say that only from this theistic worldview can emotions rightly and compassionately be expressed, because they are rationally based on the God who is there, the One to whom all humanity will give account for their lives—which indeed matter.

(SDG)

Remembering My Friend: Mike S. Wilson

11753272_10207165204034285_1595941229438045497_nIt was a sunny late Wednesday afternoon when I received David’s call that his eldest brother, and my dear friend, Mike had died of a heart attack.

This news was not surprising to me because I knew Mike had health problems for some years, and yet it made me very sad.  Too young to die, all too soon!  Or was it?

Mike and I met in the late 1980’s while I was a steward at Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach, California.  He was part of the surf ministry and I recall his physical presence grabbed my attention.

He looked like a “jar-head” surfer with a stocky build.  It reminded me of those “bad-surf-dudes” from 1970’s that you did not want to mess with.  But as is often the case, first impressions are misleading.

When I got to actually know him, he was witty, funny, and courteous. One afternoon in Hope Chapel’s sanctuary he asked me about  possibly going to the College I was attending—LIFE Bible College—in order to get more prepared for pastoral ministry.  I don’t remember the details of our conversation but the tenor was of “one serious about the kingdom of God”.  As so many do, Mike had a bright mind and was sensing a call to pastoral ministry.

Approximately one to two years later, I found myself driving out to LIFE Bible College three times a week with Mike and James Day—another dear brother wanting to get better equipped for kingdom ministry.  We three formed a special bond and as brothers tend to do “iron” often “sharpened” iron.

Sometimes we’d challenge one another to walk closer to Christ or wrestled with what Scripture taught about a subject.  Other times we’d comfort each other through tearful prayers.  And when appropriate, we comforted each other through laughter triggered by impersonations of the “Three Stooges”, “Cheech and Chong”, “Tony Montana”, and yes even “Staff and Church Members” at Hope Chapel.

Twenty-three years later much water has gone under that proverbial bridge.  What we envisioned for our lives in those earlier years of being in pastoral ministry in many ways—did not materialize.  This was a source of pain in Mike’s life and one I understand well.  But God addresses this reality and supplies His wisdom to us:

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” And “Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 16:9; 20:24)

There’s a lot we don’t know because we are creatures, limited in our knowledge.  What we do know, is that God is lovingly working out His eternal purposes in and through us because of Christ.  Here’s our comfort, here’s our joy, here’s our inheritance as God’s people.

Solomon wrote: There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die (Ecc.3:1-2).  Mike’s time came, our time is coming.  What are we doing with the time God has graced to us?

Appropriate to this occasion is a partial exhortation from a poem Missionary C.T. Studd penned:

“Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.[i]

I miss my friend Mike.  It hurts deeply.  But to my brothers and sisters in Christ who remain, I pray: “that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:11-12).

[i] Accessed (7/30/2015) http://i-am.org/members/index.php/156-devotional/493-only-one-life-twill-soon-be-past-only-what-s-done-for-christ-will-last

Like Water and Wetness Morality Can’t Be Separated From Legislation

The front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Completed in 1935, the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, is the first to have been built specifically for the purpose, inspiring Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes to remark, ÒThe Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith.Ó The Court was established in 1789 and initially met in New York City. When the national capital moved to Philadelphia, the Court moved with it, before moving to the permanent capital of Washington, DC, in 1800. Congress lent the Court space in the new Capitol building, and it was to change its meeting place several more times over the next century, even convening for a short period in a private house after the British set fire to the Capitol during the War of 1812. The classical Corinthian architectural style was chosen to harmonize with nearby congressional buildings, and the scale of the massive marble building reflects the significance and dignity of the judiciary as a co-equal, independent branch of government. The main entrance is on the west side, facing the Capitol. On either side of the main steps are figures sculpted by James Earle Fraser. On the left is the female Contemplation of Justice. On the right is the male Guardian or Authority of Law. On the architrave above the pediment is the motto ÒEqual Justice under Law.Ó Capping the entrance is a group representing Liberty Enthroned, guarded by Order and Authority, sculpted by Robert Aitken. At the east entrance are marble figures sculpted by Hermon A. MacNeil. They represent great law givers Moses, Confucius, and Solon, flanked by Means of Enforcing the Law, Tempering Justice with Mercy, Settlement of Disputes between States, and Maritime and other functions of the Supreme Court. The architrave carries the motto ÒJustice the Guardian of Liberty.Ó The interior of the building is equally filled with symbolic ornamentation. The main corridor is known as the Great Hall and contains double rows of marble columns

“You can’t legislate morality” sounds like “You better not get wet if you jump into that ocean junior.”  That’s silly and lamentable.  By nature laws prescribe what one ought or ought not do.  Like water and wetness moral standards can’t be separated from their prescriptive design, nor can morality from any legislation.  Douglas Groothuis answers this issue succinctly, clearly and cogently.  Click http://douglasgroothuis.com/2015/07/08/should-we-legislate-morality/comment-page-1/#comment-1649

Happy pondering!

TRUE TRUTH and Why It Matters—“Is Truth Real and Can It Be Known?” Part 3

truth

In part one of True Truth and Why it Matters, I mentioned first that truth is—that which corresponds to reality, and without truth there’s no Christianity—a position the Scriptures teach.  In part two I considered that a belief is a state of mind where trust is placed in a person or thing held to be true, that beliefs are unavoidable and yet beliefs are not created equal.  In part three the issue under consideration is whether or not truth is real, and if it is, can it be known.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT THE ISSUE OF TRUTH?

Christian writer, lecturer and social scientist, Dr. Os Guinness on a talk he gave at Cambridge University, considers whether there is any truth and if so, how we can come to know it, and says:

“…the most common motto in all the universities of the world is ‘the truth shall set you free’. But while that adorns the walls, it no longer animates the minds of many people in the West. Truth is highly controversial.”[i]

           “The fact is the higher the education, the more brilliant the mind, often the slipperyer [sic] the rationalisations [sic]. In other words, humans are not only truth seekers we’re also, let’s be honest, truth twisters. And there’s two ways you can always handle truth. We can try and make the truth conform to our desires of reality or make our desires conform to the truth of reality.” [ii]

The Apostle Paul in the book of Romans speaks of what Guinness says we do and are: truth twisters.  Consider these ancient words:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth[iii] in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom.1:18-19)

According to the God of Scripture truth matters and suppressing it is cause for his wrath.  These propensities lie within all human beings.  Its’ part of what Christian theologians call “The Fall” where Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s holy command and thus sin entered the world.  Despite this tragic event, God’s gift of logic while tainted nevertheless remains to aid our discovery of the real.

Thus to answer the question: is truth real and can we know it? , we must first consider the nature and utility of logic and then (to read more click→define what we mean by truth.

—————————————-

[i] Os Guinness lecture “Truth—How Can We be Sure about Anything”  http://www.bethinking.org/truth-tolerance/intermediate/truth-how-can-we-be-sure-about-anything.htm (accessed 2/19/2014)

[ii] Ibid. (accessed 2/19/2014)

[iii] Emphasis added

Our Darwin, Design & Origin Seminar Notes are Now Online!

attq Darwin Series header colorIn response to the social climate of our day and the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor, Answers to Tough Questions is making these notes available to the body of Christ.  These are the notes we utilize in our one day seminar called Darwin, Design & Origins. This one day seminar  Continue reading “Our Darwin, Design & Origin Seminar Notes are Now Online!”