Month: February 2019

Religion, Theism, Christianity, and Why I Believe in Jesus

So, what motivated these posts on Why I am Not an Atheist?

Well, in part, because I am a Christian. I am a Christian, not in spite of my mind, but because of it. I am a Christian because I believe Christianity to be reasonable. I certainly live by faith, but my faith is always a faith that seeks understanding.

I believe Christianity makes sense … the most sense;
and provides meaning … the deepest meaning;
and gives purpose … the greatest purpose there is.

There is a God. This God is a Creator God and a Loving God. Humanity is the creation of that God and is designed for LOVE. Something has gone drastically wrong. Jesus is God with us to address the breaking bad world, and to repair and heal it.

RELIGION is the general term for any belief in the spiritual, the supernatural, and a transcendent Being of some sort.

POLYTHEISM is the belief in many gods. It may be the old Greek and Roman pantheons. It may be the animistic religions of tribal peoples through history—gods were everywhere and nature itself seemed to be divine.

PANTHEISM (and Panentheism) is the Eastern religious view of God. In …

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Darwin on Trial

In one way, I sort of regret even writing these short posts on Why I am Not an Atheist, because they are short. And I have no wish to caricature these thinkers by misrepresenting them. But I am sharing their own words and reflecting on their meaning.

When it comes to Darwin, I need to open a MAJOR can of evolving worms. I am not talking about the creation in 6 days versus evolution debate. I am not talking about other views of origins. I am not talking about macro versus micro evolution. I am not talking about intelligent design.

I (as one of many evangelicals) believe intelligent design by a Personal Creator is not incompatible with astrophysical means of creating the universe. I believe that Genesis 1 is much more the WHO of creation than the HOW of creation. It is about a Supreme Creator God and not the mechanics of how that Creator God created.

For anyone who wants to dive in, and I mean dive in and let the scholars wage their arguments back and forth, here are three books. They are worth reading, but they are not easy reading. They are each in the Counterpoints series …

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Nietzsche is Why I am Not an Atheist

In the history of atheism, there are four original thinkers who stand at the source of this river.

Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Nietzsche are a sort of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They are far from being the smartest of atheists, but they are the originals who spoke against Christianity and, in fact, religion. They are kind of a Mount Rushmore of the founding fathers of atheism.

At the end of this post, I’ll share a few books that are general studies of these individuals (and others).

So, let’s start with the most famous quote by Nietzsche: “God is dead.” Of course, that quote is situated in a longer context.

Nietzsche also said, God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?”

God is dead, but his memory, his shadow will live on for a time. For secular Europe, Nietzsche was spot on.

Of course, not only was God dead, but much of Europe would die in World War II, as a madman named Adolph Hitler found Nietzsche to be the legitimizing intellectual for his Third Reich. Hitler saw himself carrying out the Nietzschean …

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Why I Am Not An Atheist

A Slightly More Philosophical Musing

I have a reflection mostly written, but not yet ready, on Why I am a Christian. I’ll finish it one of these days.

For several days this week, I am going to provide posts that are more philosophical in nature. I hope they will be helpful. I want to address the issue of atheism by looking at what several prominent “original” atheists have said.

I want to do this because, too often, Christian are on the defensive against the, at times, harsh and condescending attacks from those who are disdainful of all things religious and spiritual. I do not want to attack, but I do want to use some of the atheists’ own words and show some of the consequences of life without God, life without transcendence, and life where you are Master of Your Universe. It is not a pretty place.

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If you remember (but you probably do not) the famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell and his rather poorly reasoned book, Why I am Not a Christian,* I would like to borrow Mr. Russell’s views as to why I am not an atheist.

Here is just one of Russell’s beliefs as a consistent …

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The Place Where We Eat Grace

Here is another phrase I owe to Francis Spufford.

The church is the place where we eat grace. That’s what the church is. Everything else, even the important stuff (and by the way, there is also a lot of stuff that is not that important), is where we eat grace. Everything pales in comparison.

We eat grace when we take communion. We drink the cup, we eat the bread. We hear the words my body broken, my blood poured, the forgiveness of sins. We eat grace. We drink love. As we do, we taste glory.

We lose our guilt and shame. We cast off condemnation. We are reconciled to God the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Thrice Holy God whom even angels must be cautious about seeing.

I, we, need communion. Here we are, week after week, stumbling and shuffling through the days, and then we gather together. We sing the songs, we hear the words, we receive the prayers, we receive the blessing.

And from time to time, we do the Celebration of Remembering called the Lord’s Supper. We eat grace. Then, once more, knowing we are forgiven, we are loved, we are free, we …

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Think About It

You are only young once. You can be immature forever.

Growing older does not mean you are growing up.

Aging is mandatory. Improving takes work.

Some people have 30 years of experience. Others have 1 year of experience 30 times.

Life is hard. Being dumb makes it harder. That’s Will Rogers for you. So, in that vein: Being foolish at 25 is hard. Being foolish at 45 is worse.

Just saying…

You get older on your own. We are here to help you get better and wiser as you ripen and season with the years.

Pastor Brian

P.S.  I love Rembrandt’s Philosopher.

 

 

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All You Need is Love

Well, maybe it’s not all you need, but it’s certainly the first thing you need.

Robert Putnam is a sociologist (I love these people) who understands the power of love and the dangers of isolation, loneliness, and lacking the love of a community. In his research, Putnam found that, “if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying the next year in half.”

Hey, for no other reason then this, contact Ned Keene, our small groups pastor!

This next thought is a bit comical. Thaddeus Williams reports one study that found that relationally connected people who have bad health habits (smoking, drinking, bad diet, overweight) consistently outlive isolated people who have healthy habits.

Imagine how long and how well you can live with healthy habits in a loving community.

Hey, in the beginning God said it is not good for anyone to be alone. It was not good then. It is not good now. It won’t be any different tomorrow.

We are here to help you find a community, a tribe, a people, a group of friends to whom you can belong so that you can live longer, live better, and flourish.…

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So What’s Behind This?

In 23 years time (1988–2011), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measured a 400% increase in antidepressant use.

In the last four decades of the 20th century, in America . . .

  • Our divorce rate doubled
  • Teen suicide tripled
  • Violent crime quadrupled
  • The prison population quintupled
  • Out-of-wedlock births sextupledCohabitation septupled

One of my favorite Christian sociologist-psychologists talks about this in his (somewhat dated) book The American Paradox.

What’s the paradox?

Simply this. The more we pursue our definition of happiness apart from any sense of religious, spiritual, and moral reality the more we do not find it!

The more hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure) and the more individualism (the supremacy of the self) become just the way we do things in the nation, the more sure we are NOT to be happy.

There are always consequences from our choices. Even though society may strongly push us toward certain ways of living, if those ways are not the way of Jesus, those ways will not be good for us as individuals, families, and a nation.

With no apologies or hesitation at all I affirm the Christian worldview of God, life, faith, transformation, calling, family, meaning, purpose, and everything else …

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Finished With Low Living

I came across this declaration recently. It is by Sister Ann Shields, a well-known Roman Catholic speaker, evangelist, and leader. I really liked it. I think you will, too.

I am finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, frivolous living, selfish giving, and dwarfed goals . . .

My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, and my mission is clear . . .

I am a disciple of Jesus.

To which I say, “Yes and Amen. Make it so, Lord Jesus.”

May we all be finished with such things.
May we all be called to a better way.

Pastor Brian

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How About a Month Later for a Fresh Start?

Okay, the month of January is over. We have started February. The pressure of New Year’s resolutions is over, but the opportunity for some fresh starts is always there for the taking.

I mean that.
Every day!
Fresh starts.
Second chances.
New beginnings.
A clean slate.
A blank page.

But time is going by rapidly, inexorably, and you don’t get a do-over of today, you just get a new day tomorrow.

Check this chart for how you will spend your days and years.

Okay, that can be a little sobering, discouraging, depressing. I, for one, will choose to be highly intentional about my days and my hours.

“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Instead of thinking you only have one shot at a new year, see yourself as having 12 of them, at the start of every month.

Or 52 of them, at the start of each new week.

Or 365 of them, at the start of every day.

It is yours for the taking and life is yours for the …

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