Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Think Therefore I AM Is

Just a little thought exercise about things that ultimately matter...

We exist, self-aware, but chance is not even close to being a sufficient cause to explain our existence.
Therefore, something other than blind chance is responsible for our existence.

Whatever we can do, think, envision, discover, or know, the something responsible for our existence must be able to do better.
Therefore that something must be personal and intelligent.

Since we can reason, explore and discover, especially things like those above, that something must have wanted us to be aware of his existence.
Therefore that something must be communicative.

Everything that exists is highly ordered, symbiotic and incredibly efficient within its environment.
Therefore, that something should not be expected to be inscrutible, indifferent, or uncertain, and especially not so in his communication to us.

Therefore, it should be expected that something would have spoken to us clearly, in an engaging, inviting, and understandable way, and there is neither reason nor excuse not to know of him.

Only Christianity can swim in these waters. Or in other, somewhat Cartesian words: I think, therefore "I AM" is.

Perhaps you have some thoughts that would fit into the exercise.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Choo Choo Index

I was watching CNBC while I ate lunch, and saw something that gave me a boost. Years ago, I moved within half a mile of a double, double RR crossing. Every train that crosses both crossings in either direction blows its horn 4 times for each crossing. Suffice it to say, I have an ear on the economy. I can gauge how well we're doing economically, just by what my ears tell me.

Now, I've never been afraid to spill my "secret" economic tell to friends in casual conversation, but that news report told me bona fide economists pay attention to similar things, albeit a bit more scientifically and accurately. They watch the number of truck drivers actually working on the road and the number of vehicle miles travelled to gauge how the economy is doing. BTW, it's quiet around here, and the economy is not doing well!

The long and short of all this: from now on, I won't be so quick to doubt my perception of how the economy is going. I might not be able to count on the Bureau of Economic Analysis to give me the straight poop, but I have an ace in the hole in the infallible Choo Choo Index!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two Seeds in Human Nature

There are two seeds planted deep in the earth of human nature. One of them is most definitely God's fault, the other is only indirectly so. These two seeds lay dormant within us until effected by the stimulus that stirs them to life by God's design and as described in Paul's letter to the Romans. What are these seeds? One is sin and the other is faith.

Sin, as I've described it before, manifests itself so early in any of us, we don't recollect the when or the how of its initiation. We may start life with sin as a latency rather than an actuality, but we are born in it and to it, we imbibe it. It's as natural as breathing to us, not even noticeable to us! We all act sinfully long before the seed of sin is even discovered by it's budding within us. Nonetheless, it takes a stimulus to enliven that sinful seed--a catalyst acting upon the latency, awakening tendril and root and establishing it's vice like grip upon our souls.

Paul said that instigating agent was the commandment of God. What Adam and Eve could only pattern because they were not sinners from birth, we all are by our very nature. A singular command was sufficient to reveal their inability to handle all that God had given them: we have more commands but lack their pristine goodness. When we are exposed to the law, sin awakens, rises, and wrestles us into submission. No matter how hard our minds may try to exert the upper hand, the seed hidden in us wins the day and declares its hegemony over us.

Thankfully, there is another seed in us--the seed of faith. Everyone is given a measure by God, at least that's how I see it. That seed may be only a small, insignificant trifle, but it is sufficient to raise the dead to life and launch mountains like ICBMs. This seed requires a catalyst as well to produce its desired effect. Paul tells us that catalyst is the word of God.

Now some could envision that merely as a communication of biblical material, but I think it goes farther than that. I believe God has to be there, in the word, speaking ethereally that which may be coming palpably through the language of man.  In otherwords, it's the Word of God carried by the Breath of God: alive, active, compelling, convicting. When that Word comes that close, the ears of the heart are tickled to life, and the seed of faith can awaken.

Monday, March 8, 2010

God's Forensic Responsibility for Sin

It is easy to get into a circular argument when it comes to the responsibility for mankind's sin. Blaming it on the Devil doesn't cut it in my estimation, it only temporarily deflects the issue. Since the Devil did not fashion himself, nor his parameters of action, how can he be seen as the ultimate cause? Blaming it on the sinner is certainly more justified, but not without it's own philosophical problems. Whether one says (as would a Calvinist) that it was predetermined by an omnipotent God; or one says (as would an Arminian) that it was foreknown by omniscient God and allowed in his omnipotence, all paths lead back to God, the singular, and great initiator!

God, it seems to me, acts like he is responsible for sin. When one is omnipotent and omniscient there is just no avoiding the responsibility for what ensues from what he starts. It is similar to the responsibility that a parent shoulders when his or her rambunctious child throws the baseball the folks gave him for his birthday through the neighbor's window. The parent may not be the author of the act, but bears the responsibility for the potentiality of it just by giving the kid the ball--or even just for being called, "Mom," or "Dad." What any decent, reasonable parent does at that juncture is take responsibility by either paying for the damage outright, or negotiating a settlement the offended neighbor feels is justified.

God acts something like that responsible parent. He gave mankind God-like capacities, he endowed them with freedom of will, he certainly was not surprised by their failures. Though there is ample evidence that in the early church many thought the Devil was the "abused" neighbor, I don't think inspired scripture bears that out. They do, however, paint clearly the picture of God taking upon himself the rectification of the situation caused by his erring children. God is not the author of sin, that tag has to remain with us; but I, for one, am thankful he stood up and took the forensic responsibility for it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Freewill and the Nature of God

When Adam and Eve were created in the garden, they were specially made by God. They alone are said to be formed by his action rather than his word, and alone were "in-spirited" by his breath. He got his hands dirty making man and preparing a place for them--for everything else mere words were sufficient. Only they were made in the image of God and became living souls. When God was finished creating them, his response elevated from the merely good to the very good.

It seems obvious to me, that God was creating companions for himself in Adam and Eve--folk who could relate to him on his level. Lest you think I'm wandering off into Mormonism, go to the source (Jesus) and see his actual vision for redeemed mankind. God may have built a park for us to live in, but he wasn't opening a zoo. He was building a pleasant place to fellowship with people.

So to understand the nature of man one must look to the nature of God. I think it impossible to view God as shackled, bound, conscripted in any way. He's nobody's puppet! He is the picture of freedom and freedom of will. This is the image in which he's built mankind. He called it good. God's desire as reflected in pristine creation, pronounced good by him who would know, is mankind not coerced, or oppressed, or forced to do, or to act, or to think in any certain way. God's not like that and he did not build man to be like that.

In the best condition that humans could be in God allowed them have free reign. It was what separated them from all else and made them true companions to God. They had to have such freedom, or they wouldn't be God-like, and could not fellowship with God at the level he wanted. However, being God, in all his perfections, they also could not hope to exert will in opposition to God. That is untenable, unsustainable and, well, just plain evil. Nonetheless, even at the best they would ever be, God did not coerce or make his will irresistable to them. Why would anyone expect him to change his mind now?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reasonable Advice for Dealing With the Unreasonable

Some sage advice from Jeff Leake. Have you ever been stumped, flumoxed and left scratching your head from dealing with someone who's just plain unreasonable? Would Pastor Leake's counsel have helped you?