The Problem with the “Deeds, Not Creeds” Mentality Is Its Anti-Intellectualism

rauschenbusch

“Christianity is a life, not a doctrine” –Walter Rauschenbusch.

This idea has captured liberal congregations in the past, and today is the rallying cry for many who claim to be Christian conservatives. One reason that Christians often shy away from defending Scripture is because cool-shaming is a reality, especially among some of the university-age set.

Full article by Alex Wilgus here.

Paganism, or Not Paganism

jones_interview

From Peter Jones book, The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat. Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press, 2015:

Our Worldview Alternatives: Oneism and Twoism

I claim, with the Bible, that there are only two worldviews—one based on the ultimacy of the creation, and the other based on the ultimate, prior, and all-determining existence of the Creator. Creation and Creator are the only alternatives as divine objects of worship—the only possible explanations of the world we know. The conflict is between two mutually exclusive, antithetical belief systems. Our choice will affect the answers we give to those two important questions: Is there something rather than nothing? And if there is something, what is that something like?
For the sake of simplicity, I call these two alternatives Oneism and Twoism.1 They are not mere variations on a general spiritual theme, but the only two timeless, mutually contradictory ways to think about the world. In these two terms (Oneism and Twoism), there is a universe of difference. These are the only two destinations on the tracks we can travel; let’s map them out in more detail now.

Oneism

Oneism sees the world as self-creating (or perpetually existing) and self-explanatory. Everything is made up of the same stuff, whether matter, spirit, or a mixture. There’s one kind of existence, which, in one way or another, we worship as divine (or of ultimate importance), even if that means worshiping ourselves. Though there is apparent differentiation and even hierarchy, all distinctions are, in principle, eliminated, and everything has the same worth. This is a “homocosmology,” a worldview based on sameness. The classic term for this is “paganism,” worship of nature.

Twoism

The only other option is a world that is the free work of a personal, transcendent God, who creates ex nihilo (from nothing). In creating, God was not constrained by or dependent on any preexisting conditions. There is nothing exactly like this in our human experience of creating; our creative acts are analogous to God’s. There is God, and there is everything that is not-God—everything created and sustained by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This worldview celebrates otherness, distinctiveness. We only worship as divine the distinct, personal, triune Creator, who placed essential distinctions within the creation. This is a “heterocosmology,” a worldview based on otherness and difference. This is often called “theism.”2
Both of these worldviews, whether implicitly assumed or explicitly embraced, require the same fundamental certainty. In other words, if one is ultimately true, the other must be false. In the moral universe of the Bible, knowledge is never neutral. That’s why Paul calls these worldviews “the truth” and “the lie” (Rom 1:25).

Endnotes:

1 I am not inventing anything other than a simplified terminology. Other descriptions of the two options include biblical faith or paganism, monism or theism, or the Creator/creature distinction.

2 If this is the biblical worldview, how does one relate it to Rabbinic Judaism and Islam, whose followers also claim to respect the Bible (though in very different ways)? There is only one pure Oneist—Satan—and one pure Twoist—Jesus Christ. Judaism and Islam have a defective view of biblical Twoism. Their denial of the Trinity leaves them with a transcendent yet impersonal God (an attempt at Twoism), who ultimately depends upon his relationship with human beings in order to constitute his personhood (which ends up in Oneism by a circuitous route). Rabbinic scholar Abraham Heschel (1907–1972) rightly critiqued Islam for seeing God as “unqualified Omnipotence,” who can never be “the Father of mankind,” and thus is radically impersonal. See Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper, 1962), 292, 311. Yet postbiblical Judaism cannot escape Heschel’s critique entirely. The medieval rabbi Maimonides, for example, also confessed an “absolutely transcendent God who is independent of humanity.” See Reuven Kimelman, “The Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel,” First Things (Dec 2009). On the other hand, Kimelman notes that Heschel commits the opposite error to that of Maimonides (and Islam), namely that of making God dependent on man in a covenantal relationship that both God and man need in order to be who they are. Heschel adopts the rabbinical concept that it is human witness that in some sense makes God real (Kimelman, “The Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel”). Once more, God is dependent upon humanity. This is the classic dilemma of a monotheism without the Trinity. Because Heschel does not believe God to be triune, God depends on man to be personal and therefore cannot be “Wholly Other” in relation to creation.
Peter Jones, The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat (Bellingham, WA: Kirkdale Press, 2015), 12–13.

Here's the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.

Here’s the Problem:

https://mediamatters.org/embed/206855

This scene from the TV series Homeland was featured on Monday’s MSNBC news, as a commentary on the Paris attacks. Notice around the 1:35 mark, when the solutions are proffered: “200,000 ground troops indefinitely to protect an equal number of doctors and teachers,” OR “bomb Raqqa into a parking lot.”

Those are the only options available to the mind of popular media (which is a mirror of popular thought). I fear that Western leadership suffers from the same tunnel-vision, when the question should be asked, “Why are we so impotent?”

We, the West, are powerless to fight against the ideology of Islam, as the clip correctly shows. But the problem is not one of strategy, but one of moral nerve. This moral nerve cannot be mustered, because the West has committed spiritual suicide, having finally and completely rejected its spiritual foundations in Christendom.

Christendom gets a lot of bad press right now, often without describing what it really was, could be, and really entails. Mention it and you will get one of two comments: “You can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,'” or, “Yes, but the Crusades were terrible.” The first comment only demonstrates ignorance; the second, fails to understand that the soldiers of the Crusades actually believed that what they were fighting for had eternal consequences.

Today’s soldiers will grow weary fighting for freedom when, upon their return, find that their governments define freedom as confused young men’s rights to shower with their daughters after gym. The growth of government has been a solution to the wrong problem for decades, and when freedom is celebrated in the West, it is done so with the proper permissions, permits, and waivers.

The spiritual underpinnings of Western freedoms and democracies have not simply faded away, they have been banished. This is why in popular culture, the two options of humanistic education and health care (the 21st centuries’ version of salvation) or elimination through bombing are the only two choices available.

The option of national repentance, from leaders to the led, across all segments of society, is not on the table, and this is certainly why the West must fall.

We, the West, have tolerated the destruction of generations of children. We cannot, then, think of ourselves as the moral superiors to Islam in any form, violent or not. Our cultural sins have brought great judgement upon us, and God will give our lands to those who do not kill their children.

Consider God’s words against Nineveh, who a century and a half repented under Jonah’s preaching, but was to fall for their sins. Nahum compares Nineveh to Thebes of Egypt, a nation that Nineveh (Assyria) slaughterd:

Nahum 3:10 (ESV)

10  Yet she became an exile;

she went into captivity;

her infants were dashed in pieces

at the head of every street;

for her honoured men lots were cast,

and all her great men were bound in chains.

Notice the infanticide that Nineveh inflicted upon Thebes, and how that was a cause of judgement. Nineveh was known for its cruelty, yet somehow Western post-Christian nations think that they are not! The thousands that Islam has killed in the past decades is such a small number compared to the mass destruction of the innocent by the West.

In Nahum 3:11-13 we read how easy it will be for Babylon to defeat Nineveh. Keep in mind that Nineveh and Assyria were the regions superpowers at the time, and were thought for years to be invincible. No military strategist could have seen this coming.

11  You also will be drunken;

you will go into hiding;

you will seek a refuge from the enemy.

12  All your fortresses are like fig trees

with first-ripe figs—

if shaken they fall

into the mouth of the eater.

13  Behold, your troops

are women in your midst.

The gates of your land

are wide open to your enemies;

fire has devoured your bars.

Drunkenness, fear, pursuit, an easy target, women soldiers and open gates all describe Nineveh before her enemies. Nineveh, and her neighbhours, did not believe this for a moment, but this is how their end came.

God mocks their preparations, as He mocks our strategies today:

Nahum 3:14–15 (ESV)

14  Draw water for the siege;

strengthen your forts;

go into the clay;

tread the mortar;

take hold of the brick mold!

15  There will the fire devour you;

the sword will cut you off.

It will devour you like the locust.

Multiply yourselves like the locust;

multiply like the grasshopper!

Get ready, and die anyway, is the message of Nahum.

More doctors! More teachers! or, More bombs!

Since we’re not treating our cancer, it must metastasize. God granted Nineveh repentance during the days of Jonah, but did not do so again. We have no certainty that He will grant us repentance, and we should just reflect upon that.

Bahnsen on Miracles: What Makes a Theist?

 

Bahnsen on Miracles

Quote from Greg Bahnsen in his closing remarks in a debate with Dr. Gordon Stein (Stein representing the atheist position).

Audio and printed transcript available here.

The full context of the quote below:

Moderator: Dr. Stein, the final question is directed to you. It reads:
You have said that there has been no adequate evidence put forth for God’s existence. What for you personally would constitute adequate evidence for God’s existence?
Stein: Well, it’s very simple. I can give you two examples. If that podium suddenly rose into the air five feet, stayed there for a minute and then dropped right down again, I would say that is evidence of a supernatural because it would violate everything we knew about the laws of physics and chemistry.

Assuming that there wasn’t an engine under there or a wire attached to it, we can make those obvious exclusions. That would be evidence for a supernatural violation of the laws. We could call it a miracle right before your eyes. That would be evidence I would accept.

Any kind of a supernatural being putting it into appearance and doing miracles that could not be stage magic would also be evidence that I would accept. Those are the two simplest way. I would also accept evidence that logically non-contradictory, and I have not heard any yet here tonight that hasn’t been offered already.

Bahnsen: Dr. Stein, I think, is really not reflecting on the true nature of atheism and human nature when he says, “All it would take is a miracle in my very presence to believe in God.” History is replete with first of all things which would be apparently miracles to people.

Now, from an atheistic or naturalistic standpoint, I will grant, in terms of the hypothesis, that that’s because they were ignorant of all the calls of factors and so it appeared to be miracles. But you see that didn’t make everybody into a theist. In fact, the Scriptures tells us that there were instances of people who witnessed miracles, who all the more hardened their heart, and eventually crucified the Lord of glory. They saw his miracles, that didn’t change their mind.

People are not made theists by miracles. People must change their world views; their hearts must be changed. They need to be converted. That what it takes, and that’s what it would take for Dr. Stein to finally believe it. If this podium rose up five feet off the ground and stayed there, Dr. Stein would eventually have in the future some naturalistic explanation because they believe things on faith, by which I mean that they believe things as which they have not proven by their senses.

The Problem with Progressive Thinking

The problem with evolution is that its essence is progress. Progress must be assumed. By progress I do not mean mere improvement, but progress that rejects all which preceded it as faulty and broken. By assuming that the human race is continually evolving, it must see the previous race as failed, and needing improvement. Progress becomes the worldview, and an expectation. Evolution is total-izing, in that no aspect of reality is allowed to be explained apart from it. Thus religion, family, economics, government, the humanities, etc., can only be explained in evolutionary terms, as insufficient as was and being in need of revolutionary makeovers. But this evolutionary process can never end, for in progressive thought, the state to which we have progressed must be seen as failure in the future. This, of course, applies to all reality except evolution itself. As it serves as its own ground and foundation, it cannot change.

It isn’t the evolutionary thinking about the past that should trouble Christians. It is evolution’s  future interpretation of the past and present that should.

Scott Jacobsen

Ultimate Presuppositions

van til

“But herein precisely lies the fundamental point of difference between Romanism (Roman Catholicism) and Protestantism. According to the principle of Protestantism, man’s consciousness of self and of objects presuppose for their intelligibility the self-consciousness of God. In asserting this we are not thinking of psychological and temporal priority. We are thinking only of the question as to what is the final reference point in interpretation. The Protestant principle finds this in the self-contained ontological trinity. By his counsel the triune God controls whatsoever comes to pass. If then the human consciousness must, in the nature of the case, always be the proximate starting-point, it remains true that God is always the most basic and therefore the ultimate or final reference point in human interpretation.
This is, in the last analysis, the question as to what are one’s ultimate presuppositions. When man became a sinner he made of himself instead of God the ultimate or final reference point. And it is precisely this presupposition, as it controls without exception all forms of non-Christian philosophy, that must be brought into question. If this presupposition is left unquestioned in any field all the facts and arguments presented to the unbeliever will be made over by him according to his pattern. The sinner has cemented colored glasses to his eyes which he cannot remove. And all is yellow to the jaundiced eye. There can be no intelligible reasoning unless those who reason together understand what they mean by their words.”
Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company: Philadelphia, 1955).

A Religion of Redemption

Image

Bavinck quote

 

“The revelation that comes to us in Christ through Scripture in fact takes that position toward us. It does not put itself on a level below us to ask for our approving or disapproving judgment on it but takes a position high above us and insists that we shall believe and obey. Scripture even expressly states that the unspiritual cannot understand the things of the Spirit, that they are folly to them, that they reject and deny them in a spirit of hostility [1 Cor. 2:14]. The revelation of God in Christ does not ask for the support or approval of human beings. It posits and maintains itself in sublime majesty. Its authority is normative as well as causative. It fights for its own victory. It itself conquers human hearts and makes itself irresistible.”

Herman Bavinck, John Bolt, and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 505.

On Trans-everything. A Summary from Douglas Groothuis

“I am nearly sixty years old. I have been studying, writing about, and teaching about culture, philosophy, theology, and art diligently and for decades. I have never seen the revolt against God-given categories of being as we are seeing now. Men identify as women. Women identify as men. Whites identify as blacks. The healthy identify as disabled. Most of these bogus identifications require expensive self-mutilation.

The explanation for all of this sad perversity is simple. Without the knowledge of God, one does not know one’s true identity. If God is dead in our experience, law, traditions, then human beings are no longer reckoned as made in the image of that God. Rather, we are made (and re-made) in the image of ourselves. This contradiction leads to abysmal elasticity. X identifies as Y. So what? What is the basis for this re-identification? It is the self, untrammeled by reality or morality. This is “the protean self” of Robert Jay Lifton from 25 years ago. Yet he had no idea what the extent and depth of the protean spell might be. We do. God says:

All who hate me love death (Proverbs 8:36).”

Douglas Groothuis

Douglas Groothuis