Friday, September 19, 2014

Searching for the God of our own Creation

People tell me:

  • Often, I have prayed to your God, but nothing ever happened!

Tonight, at Washington Square Park, a woman told me this very thing. I therefore responded:

  • For years, I vainly sought after God. I had thought that I was really searching, but I wasn’t. Instead, I wanted God my way. He had to be a Jewish God, a God who authenticated my Jewish ethnicity. I would have nothing to do with Jesus. He was a traitor, and many Jews had been killed in his name. However, that all changed when, years later, I lay dying, bleeding to death from a severe chainsaw injury. Suddenly, I realized that God was with me, and I was in ecstasy. Nothing mattered anymore, just that God loved me and that I would always be with Him. For the first time, I prayed, “God, I really need to know who you are, even if it costs me both hands and legs,” and I meant it.

I suggested to the woman that perhaps she too wanted God her own way and wasn’t truly open to who He is. I explained Jesus’ guarantee – that if we seek, we will find (Mat. 7:7-8), but she would have to seek with all of her heart.

Her face tightened:

  • I can’t believe in a God who says that homosexuality is wrong.

I tried to argue that God wisely forbade certain destructive sexual practices like adultery and incest, and perhaps homosexuality is also destructive.

I quickly realized that I said the wrong thing:

  • I can’t stand the way you Christians liken homosexuality to adultery and incest.

She became inflamed, and so I tried to change my tactics:

  • Okay, let me take a step back. Are you saying that you will not believe in a God whose worldview doesn’t line up with yours in every way? It looks like you are doing the very same thing that I had been doing – rejecting a God who doesn’t ascribe to all your requirements.

We wrongly expect God to conform to us. Rather, it is we who must be willing to conform to Him, to be open to accepting Him as He truly is. However, as long as we insist on remaining the captain-of-our-own-ship, we essentially refuse to board His ship.

She looked very confused and protested:

  • I can’t believe in this God of yours!

I explained that I was simply asking her to search and pray with an open mind. We cannot demand that the ones we love endorse all of our beliefs. Instead, we have to accept them as they are. How much more does this pertain to a relationship with God!

I don’t think that she was able to see that it was she who had erected the barrier between her and a relationship with God.

Our autonomy is so basic to our existence that we can’t see it and how it interferes with our relationships. Can the sea urchin see the water if that’s the only thing he’s ever lived in?

I wasn’t able to see the absurdity of claiming to be seeking for God, when I was merely seeking a God of my own creation, one whose job it was to validate me. Sadly, this is what it today means to be “spiritual.” It is to treat God as a smorgasbord table, picking-and-choosing what appeals to us, without a clue that this is offensive to God.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Atheism and its Abuse of Women

The way we think is the way we live. If we think that we humans are merely another genus within the kingdom of animals, eventually, we will begin to treat others as animals.

Mark Oppenheimer has documented many instances of abuse among those sharing this worldview. Atheist women are complaining that they have abused by their atheist brethren:

  • For the past several years, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and online forums have become hostile places for women who identify as feminists or express concern about widely circulated tales of sexism in the movement. Some women say they are now harassed or mocked at conventions, and the online attacks — which include Jew-baiting, threats of anal rape, and other pleasantries — are so vicious that two activists I spoke with have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. One of these women has been bedridden for two years.

Why is such abuse taking place among the most “enlightened” ones – the “freethinkers,” those who are truly “bright?”

  • According to [atheist and evolutionist] PZ Myers, atheists and skeptics may be uniquely unable to recognize their own flaws. “You’ll find the atheists who say, ‘I’m rational, therefore I’m better than everybody else,’” Myers said. “They take it for granted that all of their beliefs and positions are founded on rational thinking.”

Arrogance breeds hardness – an unwillingness to be self-critical. This is a theme that is epidemic among all groups that believe that they are the “enlightened” ones. In Going Clear, an expose of the cult of Scientology, Lawrence Wright quotes a former Scientologist who claimed that those who felt that they had been liberated by this cult had actually been imprisoned by it:

  •  “You have all these thoughts, all these ways of looking at things, that are [the founder’s] L. Ron Hubbard’s … You think you are becoming more you, but within that is an implanted thing. (320-21)

Those who regard themselves “freethinkers” are sometimes the most bound up. Without humility and the awareness that there is still so much we need to learn, we cease to be students and resist any correction. Meanwhile, our false ideas will chasten us.

Believing that we are animals, we will act like animals and will reap the appropriate consequences. It seems that these atheists are beginning to receive the censure that they so well deserve. Orthodox Jewish writer, David Klinghoffer, has concluded:

  • Whether the rampant accusations of sexual harassment are all true, mostly true, or even just one quarter true, the New Atheism is a community that has a problem with women.

And women are understandably finding that they have a problem with it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Need Sexual Taboos

Advocates of homosexuality had assured the public that accepting homosexuality would not provide a slippery slope into wholesale sexual deviance. On the other side of the debate, it was argued that this rationale could be used to justify almost anything, and it has – pedophilia, polyamory, and sex-change surgery.

Unsurprisingly, the rationale for the homosexual agenda, as a hard-wired, unchangeable sexual orientation, has quickly expanded into “choice.” Anyone has the right to “love” whomever they want. Consequently, one motherexplains:

  • “Vertasha and I knew we were attracted to each other when she was sixteen,” Mary Carter said. “But we decided to wait to have sex until she was eighteen, legally of age. We are now going public with our relationship to help others who might be in gay mother/daughter relationship feel confident and okay about coming out. We want the world to know we love each other as mother and daughter and romantically… we’re not hurting anyone. We’re a new minority and just want acceptance.”

Carter pleads that they “just want acceptance,” and why not? Who wants to be regarded as “haters” or “familio-phobic?” And don’t they have a right to enjoy sexual “love” wherever it might take us by surprise?

There are costs, significant ones. Homosexuals bear tremendous physical, spiritual, and psychological costs. The intra-family costs are even more ghastly. Can a daughter or a son sit on a parents lap without wondering whether or not they are being groomed as a sexual object? Can they wrestle, play, and remain affectionate with their parents (or even siblings) once the taboo is removed, and their school informs them that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with sexual relations with their parents?

The trust arising from our unconditional, “taboo-ridden” parent child relationships is the foundation of family and the minimal condition that children require for a stable and secure childhood. What will happen when the wife can no longer trust the husband to keep his hands off the children? Will not sexual jealousies tear apart the family!

Our progressive society blindly jumps into sexual experimentation because it yields pleasurable but very temporary benefits. It then becomes politically correct and beyond the pale of any serious discussion.

Sex-change surgery is now financed by tax dollars despite the lack of evidential support. In a “review of more than 100 studies,” the University of Birmingham found that “no robust scientific evidence that gender reassignment surgery is clinically effective.” (Salvo, Fall 2014, 33)

Dr. Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital reports on two studies which tracked children claiming to have transgender feelings.

  • Among children who received no medical or surgical treatment, 70 to 80 percent spontaneously lost those feelings. (32)

Clearly, the scalpel should not be used to address mental disorders. However, the “right to choose” has become a conversation stopper. If parents want to sex their children, well isn’t it their right, even if they have to wait until their child becomes “legal?”

And why shouldn’t we take seriously the little girl who says she wants to marry “daddy?” We don’t, at least for now. But why shouldn’t we if that’s her orientation! Shouldn’t we honor it?

Vertasha is no less naïve and myopic:

  • “My mom is still my mom. She does normal mom stuff: buys me clothes, pays for food, tells me to make our bed. We just happen to enjoy sex with each other too.”

Vertasha assumes that mom will always be mom. However, if other lesbian relationships are any indication of their future, the inevitable challenges presented by jealousy, bitterness, guilt, and the many other forms of disappointment will bred alienation, and mom will be history along with dad.

They want acceptance for their sexual experimentation, but should they receive anything other than censure? Should they be allowed to open a door to the inevitable demise of society? Acceptance would be the death-knell of an already imperiled but necessary institution of the family.

Peter Enns, Inerrancy, and the Re-Interpretation of Scripture

The doctrine of Inerrancy – the teaching that the Bible is entirely God-breathed and therefore entirely trustworthy – is more than a doctrine. It’s a radical re-orientation towards God and the entirety of life. It removes us from the throne and allows God to remain there. Consequently, this doctrine changes everything, placing us in submission to God’s revelations. Peter Enns, former professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, laments how this approach to Scripture impacts our creationist beliefs:

  • The big impasse for evangelicals is that accepting evolution requires them to rethink how they read their Bible, specifically the story of Adam and Eve.

Rather than to ask the Christian – Enns calls us “evangelicals” – to reject the Scriptures, he calls upon us to interpret them differently:

  • Maybe the way in which evangelical read the Bible and conceive of its authority is the problem in the evangelical system that needs to be rethought, rather than being the non-negotiable hill to stand and die on for addressing every issue that comes down the road? This isn’t about evangelicals accepting or rejecting the Bible. It’s about thinking self-critically about how they read it and their approach to biblical authority.

However, it seems that Enns is demanding more than just a reinterpretation. Although he charges that we read our Bible blindly, instead of “self-critically,” he also charges that we attach too much divine authority to the Bible, suggesting that it isn’t entirely God’s word.

Okay, let’s look “self-critically” at the implications of having a Bible that is not completely divinely authoritative. What then do we believe? If the Bible isn’t entirely authoritative because it is not entirely God-breathed, then who is to decide what we take from the Bible? We are! Who then becomes the deciding factor – the #1 authority? Ultimately, we decide with the help of the “experts” or what feels socially or professionally comfortable.

Once we take this step, we invariably pick-and-choose what verses seem reasonable, work-for-us, and are politically correct. This seems to be inevitable with the shift of authority away from the Scriptures and onto us.

Dialogue with some “progressive Christians!” You will find that their faith is virtually indistinguishable from the university community. Consequently, they will vote for gay marriage and regard those who don’t believe in macro-evolution as sub-Cretan. With this one shift regarding the authority of the Bible comes a shift in everything else we believe in.

For them, the Bible has become little more than the New York Times. They both say many trustworthy things, but ultimately, the choice is ours – what to accept and what to reject. Why then even bother with the Bible? Why meditate on it both day and night as we are instructed to do (Psalm 1)? We can find good ideas in many other places – ideas that are at least up-to-date!

Is the Bible just a book of good ideas, or is it the Word of God? If it is the latter, we have to treat it as such! However, Enns believes this is a problem:

  • The problem, though, is that the evangelical view of the Bible as God’s inerrant authority for the church is its ground floor raison d’etre. Evangelicalism exists, at least intellectually, to defend and promote this view.

To not regard the Bible as entirely God-breathed puts us at the controls, where we become creator and concoct an entirely different religion. For many years, I unwittingly attempted to do this. I had been convinced that many biblical teachings were simply beneath the dignity of God, like the teaching that we are to submit to the authorities (Romans 13). I had been a radical, and this just didn’t accord with my intellectual baggage.

However, over the years, God has humbled me and my regard for my own thinking and proclivities. Admittedly, not all of the teachings of Scripture are now agreeable or even sensible to me. However, these “problems” are no longer proof that the Bible isn’t fully God-breathed. Instead, they represent challenges to deepen my understanding into God’s ways.

Perhaps Enns thinks too much of his own thinking and too little of God’s. He concludes:

  • To ask evangelicals to do a critical self-assessment of how they read the Bible is in effect to ask them to assess the entire system.

He is right about that! But of course, Enns has already completed this “critical self-assessment.”