Sunday, September 30, 2007

Faith vs. Reason? Charles Stanley's Big Mistake

Dr. Charles Stanley has thoroughly misrepresented reason in a Sept. 19th radio broadcast episode called "Faith vs. Reason". Stanley falsely implies that reason (and logic, for that matter) is never of God and is always a futile attempt. In polarizing his faulty definitions of both faith and reason, he is dangerously pushing Christians deeper into a state of anti-intellectual ignorance, thus enabling them to sink further into evangelistic ineptitude (that is, Christians are perpetuating the non-Christian belief that Christians have defective mental faculties).

He is attempting to make the point that we must rely on God for guidance and not on our finite human faculties alone, which I agree with. However, in suggesting that using any understanding or reason means not trusting in the Lord, Stanley throws the baby out with the bathwater. As it says in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NET translation):

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.
Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight.

The key here is that when the verse says "do not rely on your own understanding"*, it implies that self-reliance is the problem, not understanding. Trust in the Lord does not mutually exclude any and all understanding. This stance would promote a purely blind faith (not Biblical faith). Furthermore, if we are to "Acknowledge Him in all our ways", does that mean that the Bible is telling us to actually throw out understanding (which is one of our ways) and actually means acknowledge Him in SOME of our ways? Absolutely not!

It saddens me that he professes this malignant misconception, as many Christians listen to him and respect his messages.

_______________________________

* The emphasis here is mine

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Top 5 Reasons Why This Generation of College Students May Not Make it in the Real World

This list contains many generalizations. There are those who do not display these traits. These individuals are called "strange".

Top 5 Reasons Why This Generation of College Students May Not Make it In the Real World

5) A language all their own is developing. It is similar to English, except in a statement it takes multiple four-letter expletives to arrive at what we can only assume to be the subject and predicate (the subject and predicate usually resemble familiar English).

4) College students use "like" and "ya know" in the place of where a thoughtful pause should be. This also occurs in writing, along with "whatev" and "srsly" (this is "collegian" for seriously, as I have been informed by a fluent friend).

3) When a college student says "I'll be there", they usually mean "I might be there, and if I am there, I will be late".

2) If you are not discussing alcohol, parties, or evading police, the college student has a tendency to mentally "check out" of the conversation. Bring up anything of substance, and most will, after a patronizing smile, leave. Quickly.

1) The average college student is unaware of how to use the apostrophe, i.e. possessive versus plural. I give you the Qdoba (a burrito restaurant) exclamation on an ad:
"Free Burrito's!"
Poor souls.

Yes, I am aware that I am a part of this generation.
Oh, the irony!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The CSU Campus Newspaper- A Wonderland Of Intellect *Insert Sarcasm*

The Friday issue of the Rocky Mountain Collegian had, in its editorial section, a massive entry which stated simply:

TASER THIS (in reference to the recent out-of-control student who was tasered)

F&*#K BUSH (the actual word without replacement symbols along with a weak if even existent connection to the former statement)

This is the view of the Collegian editorial board.

The fact that there was not a single soul on the editorial board who found this vastly inappropriate and an immature reflection of poor judgement disturbs me greatly.

Not only is this the most blatant and pure-blooded ad hominem attack I have seen in this paper (and there are many), there is a lack of any sort of argument whatsoever!

They have also ignored (as of yet) my op ed submittal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Implications of the Church Not Reading Constructively

I read a warning in J.P. Moreland's book, "Love Your God With All Your Mind" this morning (pp. 93-94):

"Eventually the church without readers, or with readers with the tastes just listed [Christian self-help and books about Christian celebrities] will become a marginalized, easily led group of Christians impotent to stand against the powerful forces of secularism that threaten to bury Christian ideas under a veneer of soulless pluralism and misguided scientism. In such a context, the Church will be tempted to measure her success largely in terms of numbers- numbers achieved by cultural accommodation to empty selves."

This is both a prediction for the future, and in many cases, has already begun to happen.

The Constructive Curmudgeon also has a good post about Francis Schaeffer's take on the state of American readers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Worldview Bias on Campus

Here is the non-edited version (longer and most likely more mistake-ridden) of an Op-Ed piece which I have submitted to a couple of newspapers; we shall see what happens. In the meantime, I have my blog!

Worldview Bias on Campus
In my four years of experience at Colorado State University, there is one thing that has proven to be rather problematic. It is a dangerous, frustrating, and rather condescending approach to education, resulting in large numbers of students allying themselves with this mentality before they have had an opportunity to weigh each side and its implications. The assumption is that in order to be truly enlightened and intellectual, one must not only hold to a liberal political philosophy, but must also hold no absolute beliefs at all, especially about religion.

If a student is a conservative, a Christian, or heaven forbid, both, they are simply ascribing to an outdated way of thinking that has no place in the realms of higher education. I, of course, represent the horribly ignorant and primitive conservative/religious combo platter. In a philosophy class, we were asked on the first day if any of us read the Bible. A few of us raised our hands, only to have the professor say, “Well, we won’t be using that book in this class, because it has nothing to do with philosophy. It is purely mythological”. I have no problem with those who believe that. However, the professor’s statement served absolutely no logical or productive purpose. I was not expecting to be using the Bible in the class, and I doubt it had crossed the minds of any others. No, what this professor was doing was making it abundantly clear that there would be no room for viewpoints which would come from people ascribing to a Christian worldview. He was clearly holding to the false but common assumption that faith and reason cannot coexist inside a classroom, much less in the same brain.

I have found that many professors blend liberal philosophy and subtle comments into their teaching. Subtlety often takes the form of having students read articles which espouse a liberal worldview as the ultimate in academic excellence (and if it is in print, it must be true!). I am also aware of comments made such as “please don’t make this topic a religious issue.” How is a religious and thinking student to respond to such a (often polite) request?

An arguably more malignant process of indoctrination exists in professors who, much to the dismay of those in support of the Academic Bill of Rights, use their classrooms as a liberal bully pulpit. One professor of this type was spawned out of the sociology department of the University of Colorado, and brought his condescending, pontificating self to Fort Collins to teach a freshman sociology class. He had on any given day a captive audience of around 300, and while there were inevitably some sleepers, many were without a doubt knocked one rung closer to being hopelessly indoctrinated into the non-religious left because of his outlandish and brutish attacks, which were wholly unrelated to sociology or any other academic area. These attacks were mostly on conservatives, but the semester was seasoned with intermittent (and always unfair) insults hurled at those he identified as Christians. At first, he pretended to entertain disagreeing comments only to cut them off before they were fully expressed. After a few weeks he had learned who the consistent dissenters were and ignored their angrily waving hands.

As a general rule of thumb, any viewpoint is acceptable in the public university system with strict exception to conservatives and especially Christians. This unfair standard collapses under its own weight, as an adherent must be either entirely open to all viewpoints or open to none. I know of at least one conservative Christian professor who, rather nobly, feels obligated to give a letter to his seniors the last day of class detailing his beliefs, because he is not allowed to speak of them during class. Why are people like this professor silenced from their opinion but anything else on the opposite side of the spectrum is deemed ok?

Do not assume that those who are not atheistic or agnostic liberals are stupid. Faith and intellect are not mutually exclusive. Political conservatism and Christian worldviews can and do exist at the highest echelons of learning. A tax-supported state university should be no place for eradication of conservative or Christian thought and belief. If these worldviews are never allowed legitimate expression, I fear the marketplace of ideas will become merely a place for indoctrination rather than honest critical exchange.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Absurdity on Facebook

Facebook is the networking site similar to Myspace only arguably less trashy and more organized. There is a particular "group", that is, an online common interest cyber-community, which really struck me with its incredible ridiculousness. It is called, "If 5000 join this group – I will accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour" (yes, that is a British spelling).

The group description is this:
"Here is my story: I had never wanted to join facebook before yesterday, but yesterday I felt something I had never even begun to hope for before. I have never been particularly religious; I always looked to science for guidance and truth. However yesterday morning I was lying in bed when I suddenly felt something I had never felt before – a spiritual awakening. However with in minutes I fell back to sleep and had the most wonderful dream. I dreamt of setting up a facebook account and starting a community group of Christians in which one of 5000 members will tell me something very important. I can’t rationally explain why I know this but I do know it is the truth."

What is absent?
The Bible and therefore truth
Rationality

What is present?
439 "members"
A false dichotomy (again) between faith and science
The superiority of emotion/feeling/experience
The possibility of this guy actually mocking Christians for being (stereotypically) illogical and ruled by emotion

The realm of the Internet persona is taking over the space/time persona, and all the while becoming more and more absurd and distorted.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Emerging" Out of Biblical Christianity

Pseudo-Christianity is not Christianity. This is an example of the law of non-contradiction, or A is not equal to non-A. Two things which contradict each other cannot simultaneously be true. Because Christianity is defined by absolute truth claims and requires such to exist, anything which rejects the authority of absolute truth cannot be by its nature, Christian. Please follow this thought: relativism rejects the notion of absolute truth, and Christianity claims to know the absolute truth. Because the emerging church embraces relativism, it has therefore stepped outside of the boundaries laid out by the word of God.

Although I recognize that it is difficult to isolate a consistent definition, the definition which I will use is anything that professes to be Christian while compromising truth for various reasons. While the intentions are to reach more people, and are therefore genuine , it is also a prime example of what happens when Biblical theology becomes an afterthought and "reaching more people" becomes the primary concern. When truth is compromised, the message cannot be trusted. If evangelism is the goal, and Christianity reconciles with its antithesis in the form of the emerging movement, then what, other than the current cultural milieu of postmodernism is being proclaimed? If one is attempting to make the truth more appealing, one must ask if in fact truth changes with the era? The answer is an emphatic no! A Christian must seek to tear down the postmodern "wall"-unstable though it is- because it is a stumbling block to those who would otherwise be receptive to the absolute, objective truth of the Bible. If truth changed from era to era, then we would have no Gospel.

The potential ramifications of sympathising with or embracing the emerging church are great. The EC does not only compromise the integrity of the Christian church, but at its extreme end has no connection to Christianity whatsoever. The inchoate emergent mentality can actually be found within the walls of some conservative evangelical churches. Its influence is small in the community, but far from benign. It is spreading. When I taught an apologetics in evangelism class to junior high students and asked them to define truth, they confidently came to the consensus that truth was what "smart people decide" that it is. The indoctrination is a seemingly passive one, in that the postmodern culture is passively absorbed into the minds of the youth with the most success, but influences anyone who will absorb it. When not trained to out think this mental attack, people tend to (in droves) passively surrender to its control.

The emphasis on our “emotional response” to God instead of emphasizing what He actually says through the Bible is another danger which facilitates the move toward the emerging mentality. Bible studies should focus less on how we “respond” to a passage and more on what it actually says. I am not talking about application of passages, but using our emotional responses to dictate interpretation of the passage. It is commonly thought that if it feels right, then it must be true, and feelings are therefore set loose to join forces with the "nice guys who don't push their views on anyone" over in the emerging camp. The focus on “what feels right” will effectively lay to rest any hope of true evangelism, that is, evangelism deeply rooted in the absolute truth of the Bible. I am able to draw this conclusion by asking the rhetorical question of how can someone become a Christian if there is nothing to become? If being a Christian and a non-Christian are so inherently similar (being based on feelings and subjectivity) that there is little difference seen, what then is the draw? What is keeping one from being absorbed into the other?

The logical progression to this inchoate version of the mindset lies in churches which consider themselves proudly emergent or progressive. They have officially entered the realm of religious pluralism, and have "emerged" themselves right out of Biblical Christianity. The "all views and people are welcome" attitude can be a wonderful thing when they are welcomed into a place where truth is unshakable and stable. Sadly, this is not the case. Truth is what you want it to be, God is who you want Him to be, and Jesus is "just a guy who we like to quote" (incorrectly most often). Even if this is not the intention, this is the reality. The church is making an attempt to “emerge” into dangerous territory where is will render itself obsolete by way of contradiction. Beware.

Doug Pagitt- An Emergent Posterchild

On The Constructive Curmudgeon, Doug Groothuis discusses a CNN special about Christians and Yoga. John MacArthur is on one side, and Doug Pagitt is the Emergent representative. It is very telling.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Analysis of Auto Decor

There are three bumper stickers that I see fairly regularly, all three of which I viewed in transit in one day. They all have two things in common: they display a postmodern mindset, and they use terrible reasoning. (It can be successfully argued that these two things go hand in hand) Almost always they are accompanied by some other intellectually bankrupt and poorly reasoned bumper stickers, but these three are by far the most common.

Bumper sticker number 1:

"Question Reality"

This is by far the most overtly postmodern of the bumper stickers I have seen.

To question reality implies that one can also reject reality. If one cannot reject reality in any situation they choose, then one cannot ever reject reality. That is, one cannot arbitrarily reject reality. It truly is an all or nothing belief.

If we are to question reality, how does the reader of the sticker know that they are, in fact, reading a bumper sticker? How do they even know that that car exists? The madness ends when we must appeal to reality in order to draw the "question reality" imperative. Therefore, it refutes itself.

Bumper sticker number 2:

"Coexist"

Including the symbols of all the major religions comprising the letters in the word, this was paired with a sticker from a Yoga gym as well as a "Free Tibet" sticker. What is the connection? The answer is: if it walks like an Eastern religion and talks like an Eastern religion, then it is probably an Eastern religion. The sticker then raises the question, what does it mean to coexist?

According to http://www.dictionary.com/:

Coexist
–verb (used without object)
1. to exist together or at the same time.
2. to exist separately or independently but peaceably, often while remaining rivals or adversaries: Although their ideologies differ greatly, the two great powers must coexist.

I doubt very highly that the driver of this car would go out of their way to purchase a sticker in order make a statement that we should all "exist together simultaneously while often remaining adversaries." (combination of definitions mine) This would (correctly) imply that all are indeed coexisting as long as we are not dead or trying to kill each other. No, what this vehicle was attempting to get across was that we are all equal and that no one path is correct. Facing this definition, the creator of that sticker might as well replace the symbol of Christianity as well as the symbols for Islam and to some degree, Judaism with something else. Their intrinsic natures require that only one can be the true path. The presence of these renders the whole idea null and void.

Bumper sticker number 3:

"Question Authority"

Showcasing the apparently admirable postmodern trend of not submitting to authority, the decal was paired with a "Darwin fish". This is a significant pairing.

I will explain. The purpose of the Darwin fish with legs is to announce to the world that we are all accidents and, by logical default, life is meaningless. Therefore, this concept of questioning authority has no real intention to remain for an answer, as answers imply meaning. It is just merely empty questioning. And people say that Christians are closed minded! What the sticker is actually communicating is "Reject Authority".

If we are giant cosmic accidents, there is no natural need for authority. In that respect, adherents to the sticker (no pun intended) are being logically consistent, but they are still dangerously wrong. Rejecting authority logically progresses to supporting anarchy, which almost always progresses to a totalitarian regime such as communism, or even socialism which is soft communism (on that, see http://www.marxmail.org/faq/socialism_and_communism.htm).

This sticker also refutes itself, in that "question authority" is an authoritative imperative. One must, if taking it seriously, question the statement itself. Therefore it is without meaning.

This analysis only begins to scratch the surface of the inconsistencies of these stickers and the cultural milieu surrounding them. There are much more thorough resources out there which delve into these postmodern inconsistencies; I recommend they be utilized.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Popular Christian Literature as a Reflection of an Intellectual Crisis

Save the withering brains! The top 50 Christian bestsellers according to http://www.cbaonline.org/ as of 9/6/06 have rather interesting statistics. While these categories are mine, they still communicate the point I am trying to make.
The categories of the top 20:
Christian Living: 4 books
Popular Fiction: 5 books
Inspirational Stories: 2 books
Study Tools: 2 books
Self-Help: 2 books
Motivational/Prosperity Gospel: 1 book
Relationship Help: 2 books
Theology: 1 book
The Bible paraphrased into 96 pages (yikes...): 1 book

Seems fairly evenly distributed, but here's where it gets sad....

Book Numbers 21-50:
1 Apologetics book
1 Christian classic
1 Study Tool
1 "Beginner's Bible"

Everything else in 21-50 (that's 26 books) falls into either the categories of Christian Living, Popular Fiction, Inspirational Stories, Self-Help, Motivational/Prosperity Gospel, or Relationship Help.

A shining gem of popular Christian literature can be found on the back cover of Joyce Meyer's book, "The Battlefield of the Mind". At first, I thought that perhaps Joyce was going to take a stab at discussing worldviews and/or apologetics. Then I read this:
"Overcoming negative thoughts that come against your mind bring freedom and peace".
This claim suggests (unintentionally, but nonetheless...) that positive self-talk is the key to being a "good little Christian" as if living in a sea of blissful ignorance is the ultimate goal! Not only is this inherently dangerous, it is outright unbiblical! Statements such as this are such a reflection of the anti-intellectualism movement within the church (generally) this day in age.

It is also worth mentioning that all three study tools are the "KJV Standard Lesson Commentary" which is commonly used in children's Sunday school classes.

Are there this many brand new Christians out there? I do not believe so. I believe at issue is the presence of unchallenged Christians who are under the delusion that reason is bad and faith is good. Faith and reason are mutually exclusive to the anti-intellectual movement. Believing this false dichotomy produces spiritually stunted Christians who are nearly incapable of maturing in not only faith, but discernment and understanding as well! An army of this kind can hardly be expected to hold its own in the world while the battle goes on unencumbered by thinking, mature Christians.

Why is it that Christians are largely more interested in reading inspirational non-fiction and feel-good fiction instead of, for example, a good, meaty book on defending the Christian faith against opposing worldviews? (Hint: it is along the same lines as why channel surfing is usually preferred over being productive)

I argue that this kind of reading is the reader's TV. It dumbs you down, is easy to get through, entertains you, and makes you feel good. The only lasting benefit is that it perhaps can improve your vocabulary.

However, a meaty non-fiction book on philosophy, theology, apologetics, or even an old fiction book clothed in rich philosophical allegory, such as an Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn work will be quite the opposite.

It will challenge you, will sometimes be difficult to wade through, and is usually far from anything resembling a feel-good text. The lasting benefits include: increased brain function, improved speech and vocabulary, greater intellectual discernment, and more patience in study among various others.

Challenging reading sadly is not popular because it is not easy or fast.
This mentality has produced a crisis in Evangelical Christianity which must be remedied or counteracted.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Posts in Progress

I will most likely be a bit slow on finishing posts and posting them for a while, as I have recently (and temporarily) lost the use of a crucial typing finger due to a pathetic scissors accident. My 4th grade Girl Scouts knife-safety merit badge should be revoked.

I am working, however, but make no guarantees of speediness!

(There is also a new puppy, which adds an element of distraction I need to overcome. He happens to be correlated to the scissors accident. New puppy collar + strong plastic packaging + poor scissor skills = serious problem)