Archive for category Philosophy
I’m reposting an oldie but goodie from several years back. -JB
These days, teachers in the news facing charges of “corrupting the youth” are usually repeat sex offenders. But did you know that the great philosopher, Socrates (469-399 B. C.), was also charged, convicted and ultimately executed for “corrupting the youth”? Socrates’ mode of “corruption” however was of an entirely different kind. At his trial, Socrates’ (in Plato’s account) explains the nature of his so-called “crime”:
“I go around doing nothing but persuading both young and old among you not to care for your body or your wealth in preference to or as strongly as for the best possible state of your soul.”
When given the option of acquittal on the basis that he stop teaching this “subversive” philosophy, he responds as follows: Read the rest of this entry »
WHY ‘GOING TO HEAVEN’ IS NOT THE ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN HOPE.
What happens when a loved one dies? Their body is laid to rest while their eternal soul goes to be with the Lord. This is true, but not the end of the story. It seems that for many this is the natural process: Our physical life on earth ends but our soul/spirit lives on eternally somewhere else (a place called Heaven, often far away, usually filled with clouds and harps, and maybe some glimmering streets of gold). This heavenly fate is usually viewed as a disembodied, spiritual existence somewhere far removed from earth. Most don’t envision rocky mountain peaks, flowing rivers, rolling meadows of grass and flowers, or anything resembling the scenes of Animal Planet or National Geographic. Why?
It’s a long, complicated story, but it has to do with an ancient Greek philosopher named Plato who lived some 400 years before Christ. Plato saw reality split into two categories: matter and spirit. We lived in the world of matter—of material, dirt, rocks, flesh, bone, or the “physical stuff.” Yet, everything we see and touch here on earth are only inferior, imperfect shadows of the pure, perfect, untainted ideas, or “forms”, of the spirit realm. This separation of matter and spirit, the physical and spiritual, led to the widespread belief around the time of Jesus (and up to this very day!) that the physical world, including our bodies, was ultimately corrupt and the ultimate hope is for our spirit/soul—that pure, untainted part of us—to escape this “prison house of our physical bodies” and to find rest in the perfect, spirit realm far removed from this material world. Read the rest of this entry »
QUESTION: Can I trust God if he does not possess exhaustive definite foreknowledge?
Excerpt from Motivations for ascribing foreknowledge to God by GREGORY A. BOYD published in “Religious Studies” (Cambridge University Press 2009).
Aside from exegetical objections, the single most frequent criticism raised against the open view in the polemical literature is that it undermines confidence in providence. To illustrate, this criticism permeates Bruce Ware’s book, God’s Lesser Glory. According to Ware, the open view of God posits a ‘limited, passive, hand-wringing God’, who can do little more than hope for the best. ‘[W]hat is lost in open theism’, Ware contends,
… is the Christian’s confidence in God … . When we are told that God … can only guess what much of the future will bring … [and] constantly sees his beliefs about the future proved wrong by what in fact transpires … . Can a believer know that God will triumph in the future just as he has promised he will?
Inasmuch as the need for security strongly influences the faith of most people today, as it did in ancient Greece, this type of argumentation is psychologically effective. But is it valid? I do not believe that it is. Read the rest of this entry »
“If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, …then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled. Perhaps that one maverick molecule will lay waste all the grand and glorious plans that God has made and promised to us…” -R.C. Sproul, Calvinist
“There is, I submit, no conceivably weaker view of divine sovereignty than one that is threatened by a single maverick molecule.” -Greg Boyd, Open Theist
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself.” -Jesus
As fall stares tired youth pastors in the face, weary from summer trips and fun-in-the-sun adventures, we try to take a deep breath, grab a mini vacation before ramping up for another year of bringing the good news of Jesus and the realities of the Kingdom of God to our students. What keeps me going and fuels my ministry attempts is plain and simple: I really believe truth matters, eternal life is at stake and the world bombards our teens (and all of us) with many messages that lead us in the opposite direction of the “abundant life” found in a right relationship with the true and living Creator God.
I am preparing to teach out of Paul’s Letter to the Romans this fall. I will be focusing on some of the similarities between the ancient culture of pagan Rome that Paul is confronting with the message of the gospel and our own 21st century world growing rapidly more pagan and religiously pluralistic.
The gospel confronts all rival truth claims. The gospel unmasks all attempts to create our own religion in our own image. But the gospel is being softened and twisted by the dominant philosophies of the day. Believers and unbelievers alike have been drinking deep from the waters of modernity and postmodernity. We are swimming in their ideals and interpreting the world through their ideas. Like the proverbial fish in the aquarium, we are so immersed in the water that we don’t see it — but rather we see everything else through it.
Scot McKnight had a piece in Our Of Ur blog recently called “Self in a Castle: How Modernity and Postmodernity Have Conspired to Warp the Current Generation.” He describes one deep influence of our current postmodern landscape. He speaks of the toxicity of self-serving (and we might say “self-enslaving”) individualism and the elevation of self as the final authority on personal faith and belief. As you read this lengthy excerpt join with me in asking yourself how we (especially youth pastors) can speak the truth of the gospel in love to students who themselves are the most passionate believers (though often unknowingly) of this new kind of self-made faith in the gods of our own culturally-shaped images. Read the rest of this entry »
The previous post sought to show how the biblical narrative paints an ideal picture of human flourishing which echoes the same longings the Neo-Tribalist philosophy emphasize. The point: So far, Christians can find much common ground with the aims of neo-tribalism. Today, however, I want to highlight where the biblical story diverges from the neo-tribalist story.
BOTTOM LINE: Neo-Tribalism has worthy goals, some well justified critiques, and some beautiful ideals. Yet, it is driven by a secular humanist philosophy that places the ultimate hope of human civilization in the hands of human beings while leaving the Creator out of the picture. There is a profound irony here. On the one hand, Neo-Tribalists aim to tear down the oppressive, dehumanizing towers of Modern Civilization. On the other hand, however, they still share the same humanistic, idolatrous optimism that drove the inhabitants of Babel to build a their towering civilization to the heavens in the first place (Genesis 11).
Both Neo-Tribalism and the architects of Modern civilization have the same approach and the same foundational flaw: they leave God out of the picture, and place human goodness and ingenuity on the throne as the final hope for humanity. But the real problem — a deep-seated rebellion against God in the human heart — goes ignored.
I want to thank my friend for sparking such a great conversation. I want to offer another future post unpacking the whole idea of “redemptive tribal membership” (See, perhaps, my The Church as God’s New Language) — since God has chosen to use a particular “tribe” (i.e., the descendants of Abraham and now the church) to be his chosen people through whom he would bring lasting restoration and cosmic renewal to the rest of his broken creation. Stay tuned!
For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly but because of the one who subjected it — in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now (Rom 8:20-22).
When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive — a perfect ending (1 Cor. 15:28 MSG).
Data has pointed to a general breakdown in the social structure of modern civilization due to more frequent moves for economic reasons, longer commutes and a lack of emphasis in the media narrative on the desirability of strong friendships and community bonds….The French Sociologist Michel Maffesoli was perhaps the first to use the term neo-Tribalism in a scholarly context. Maffesoli predicted that as the culture and institutions of modernism declined, societies would look to the organizational principles of the distant past for guidance, and that therefore the post-modern era would be the era of Neo-Tribalism.
Let me interact with the Neo-Tribalist’s ideal by looking to “the distant past” and unfolding the ancient tribal story as told by another nomadic tribe of the Ancient Near East — the Hebrew people who brought us the story of Genesis. You will see that at almost every turn the Hebrew story speaks to, often affirms and also firmly critiques the Ne0-Tribalist’s narrative. Read the rest of this entry »
This is an oldie but goodie out of the Daily Illumination treasure chest from a couple years ago. Why an old post? Because Jesus says that “Every teacher who has been well trained in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Matt 13:52). Plus, I’m feeling a bit lazy… Enjoy!
Yesterday I had the chance to sit down and interview two high school students who are both self-declared atheists. They are both very inquisitive, mature thinkers for their age. I have enjoyed several conversations and interactions in the past with these two young men, and appreciate the honest and respectful way they carry themselves. While most high school students are primarily consumed with more immediate, personal concerns like food, video games, homework, sports, hanging with friends, music and other individualistic concerns (micro-issues), these two guys are already thinking “globally” — having many thoughtful opinions on political, economical, cultural, religious and philosophical matters (macro-issues). So, I was thrilled and grateful for some wonderful conversations.
One of the students I interviewed, when asked about his own “belief system”, said he currently supports the underlying philosophy of neo-Tribalism. (I told you these were not ordinary teenagers!) According to Wikapedia, “Neo-Tribalism is the ideology that human beings have evolved to live in a tribal, as opposed to a modern, society, and thus cannot achieve genuine happiness until some semblance of tribal lifestyles has been re-created or re-embraced.” As he described some of the foundational ideals underlying this tribal lifestyle, I began to immediately compare and contrast them with some of the teachings of the Hebrew tradition we find in the Bible. Read the rest of this entry »