Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the category “Epistemology”

God’s Word, The Beacon Of Truth

Dear children,

The Bible is not a book suitable for fools, for it is the fool who approaches this work of works with the premise already set in his heart that the claimed author doesn’t exist. You must make up your mind about this your own self, but as you make up your mind, do so only after you’ve made up your mind about your own existence.

For one, you exist in time. One of the most profound passages in the Bible is God answering the question put to Him by Moses, “Who shall I say sent me”? The two words “I Am” was his answer, and this is our creator’s signature to His magnificent work. I was told of this passage before I read it, and it put me into an immediate state of awe and wonder. “I am” speaks of existence, but not only of existence, but an existence as it relates to time and space, or perhaps better put, to an existence from the perspective that is outside of both.

It is difficult to think outside of one’s own perspective. I am a westerner now living in the early twenty first century. My mind interprets all things from that perspective. And while I might manage to capture and confine a few of the influences bearing on me from the perspective of my 21st century western experience, I’m convinced that it is a hopeless endeavor to escape the myriad influences sufficiently to evaluate myself and my world from any other perspective. I can never say, “I am”. I can only say that “I am here and now”. Indeed my own history as late as yesterday is already fading from my grasp, and tomorrow is completely unknown.

Yet still, I am aware of a history that preceded even my own existence, but even the study of that is limited by my perspective and made more hazy by the perspectives of those who witnessed it and played their part in conducting it to the present. It is clear to me that man can never “be” in the same sense that the “I am” is. Man is a blind fool wandering around in the annuls of time, seeing his own short history of existence in the light of a dim flickering lamp that creates long shadows which hide truths. And he is completely blind as it regards his future. He is led about by a ring in his nose, that ring being his fleshy desires.

As a result of such contemplations of “time” you will inevitably be led to your origins. On this matter the Bible and your culture are not compatible. Pay no mind to anyone who attempts to reconcile evolution and scripture. If it be concluded for you that your existence is the result of evolution, then reject God and accept the consequences of that faith. But if it be concluded in your heart that the faith required to be an evolutionist is beyond your ability to reason, then reject it. Your father lacks the required faith to believe the tenets of evolution. It is an easier task for this feeble mind to see the “I Am” as the author of man’s existence, and so by extension your father’s existence. Still, I understand those who put their faith in a system of knowledge that denies the a coming day of judgement wherein an account will be required. Man generally prefers to see the world as he wishes it to be rather than how it really is. But know this, in the whole of it reality dangles precariously for any of us on the tiny thread of that portion of the total of truth which we hold to be true.

On the second matter, you exist in space. That is to say that you exist on a slab of land on a planet in a gravitational relationship with two heavenly bodies, all three of which are spinning and churning through the cold nothingness we call space. But more importantly than this, you exist in another sort of place that is multifaceted. You live in a family, a community, a region, a culture and a nation. And just as well, if you are in Christ, and He is in you, you live within a global community of believers who together make up the body of Christ. It is these facets that exert themselves onto your existence. They pull and push you this way and that. In fact the Bible calls it being “blown this way and that by every wind of doctrine.” Without some sort of stabilizing force in your life you will have no recourse but to look inwardly for direction, and in so doing subjecting yourself to feelings and the prevailing thought patterns in which you find yourself emmersed.

God’s word is the only answer for such chronological and spatial disorientation. It is a beacon on the horizon by which you can fix your position in time and space according to the great “I Am”. You will not be lost, your direction and purpose will be sure, and you will endure the course set before you, which, though not beaten, certainly not untrodden by former witnesses either.

I pray that God’s Word would become a lamp unto your feet, a beacon of hope, and a comfort in your trials.  I pray that you would hear and trust the promises of God and that you would set your face like flint in the direction that God has marked for you to go. I pray that you would not falter, that you would rise up as a mighty warrior in Christ’s army, and that where I have failed and fallen, you will succeed. May you in the end hear those blessed words, “Well done my good and faithful servant”. I desire nothing for you more than this.

Your father.

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A Familiar Story Of Apostatizing Youth

Dear children,

As you might imagine I am keenly interested in any advice that would help me to help you develop a stronger faith.  So when I see an article entitled 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church, it gets my attention.  It is but one of many appropriate articles that express concern at the number of today’s youth who are abandoning their Christian faith when they leave home.  But what caught my attention, and what I would like to discuss in this letter, was a comment left by a young woman, fresh from her parent’s home herself, who explained why she abandoned her “faith”.  The first half:

These articles keep popping up all over the place in my feed and I find it so interesting. You see I am one of those kids. I am one that was raised in a very Christian home and now am definitely not a believer. I was very involved in my church. I sang up front many many sundays. I helped out in the nursery. My entire social life was wrapped around the church. That was all I knew. I loved God. I read the Bible cover to cover many many times. I prayed fervently on the constant. I witnessed to those around me. I published a Christian girl’s online magazine/newsletter. I served at the nursing home about once a month. I went to Africa with the Jesus Film. I was the definition of “youth that don’t leave the church.” You say it’s not a formula and yet you basically endorse it as if it is. 

As a father I can say that I would be encouraged by these things; encouraged yes, but not persuaded.  Your mother and I do the best we can to examine your hearts.  We don’t just assume that your conformity to the surroundings that we’ve immersed you in is evidence of a regenerated heart.  For all we know, a different environment will bring about a different conformity. We can see that this has been the case with this poor soul.

When she continues with her comment she transitions from herself as the topic to accusations against the Church.  She explains why not any of the external evidences that she manifested earlier mattered in the end:

I’ll just say in my case, I am a naturally very curious person. And I had questions about Christianity that apparently are not really encouraged to be asked. I found a huge gap between Christianity and authenticity. I left because it wasn’t real to me anymore. I left because I saw how it’s all a show and fear tactics. I left because I had discovered what real love looked like. I left because I honestly can’t believe in a God that created us so he could enjoy us and yet send most of his creation to Hell for eternity. I left because I FINALLY found peace….Instead of writing articles on why the youth are or aren’t leaving the church, why not just ask us? You may be really surprised at our answers. 🙂  

I’d like to respond to this part of her comment for your sake.  So let’s look at each statement individually.  She starts:

I’ll just say in my case, I am a naturally very curious person. 

Curiosity is a human trait. No one need deny it in order to be a Christian, nor does having more of it keep anyone from being a Christianity.  But we do begin to pick up on a veiled arrogance as we read this sentence in the context of the rest of the comment.  It is but an arrogant assumption that curiosity and Christianity are not compatible, which is an unsubstantiated assumption.  That arrogance will become more blatant as we continue with her comment.

 And I had questions about Christianity that apparently are not really encouraged to be asked.

You will hear this accusation often, but is it true?  Does “Christianity” really discourage the asking of questions?  While I can’t speak to her personal experience, I can speak to Christianity in general.  But before I do, I’d like to speak to her–unwitting I’m sure–sleight of hand in this statement.  She makes a general indictment against a very large, old and encompassing thing, Christianity.  And she bases it on a narrow and limited thing, her experience.  Where was her curiosity?  If she felt discouraged from asking questions in her limited experience, why didn’t she go elsewhere for answers?   She is, after all, living in the age of the internet, with lots of answers at her fingertips available to anyone with just a little bit of curiosity.  But man is a blame shifter by nature, and he is quick to shift blame from self to others, and I think that’s what’s happening here.  I’ve never been discouraged from asking questions.  That’s been my experience.  And I certainly haven’t discouraged you from asking them.  But even if I had been discouraged I would not have been thwarted, I have more curiosity than that.

But there is another side to this equation.  Some of the answers will necessarily be, “I don’t know.”, which is the truth.  And that is the rub for many I think.  There is so much that we don’t know.  But remember that this will be true regardless of whether you are an atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever.  It is not as if this poor soul has moved into a system of thought that has all the answers.  We can know she hasn’t.  But as far as Christianity is concerned, God promises to save us from our sins.  He doesn’t promise to make us all knowing.

I found a huge gap between Christianity and authenticity.

Here I’m sure she has a point.  She herself was obviously not authentic.  But even had she been authentic, she would have still been surrounded by inauthenticity within the Church.  Jesus tells us that weeds are planted among the wheat.  So it should not have surprised her.  But even if she were surrounded by “wheat” only, she would have still been surrounded by inauthenticity.  This raises a serious question that demands an answer.  If others had looked at her life alone, and judged Christianity on it alone, would they have seen a “huge gap between Christianity and authenticity”?  I know the answer because I know humans.  The answer is yes, they would have seen a gap.  So have grace my dear children on your brothers and sisters in the Lord.  They are running a race and fighting the fight just as are you.  True authenticity is the admission to each other that we are not authentic.  The believer understands this.  The unbeliever can’t.

But I will chalk this up to her youth, which is naturally idealistic.  She will in time discover that no matter what she pursues, the lack of authenticity will be a part of it.  Even if she pursues lawlessness, she will still be inauthentic, because she will be offended when others steal from her, harm her, lie to her and so on.  Should she become an environmentalist, a secular humanist, an activist, it won’t matter.  She will still be in the midst of inauthenticity, and I can say this with the utmost confidence.  Why?  Because man is fallen.  He can’t be authentic in anything. There was only one authentic person to ever live, and she has rejected Him.  She will eventually have to either accept this fact, or shut down her curiosity altogether.  She will have to lie to herself, which might finally, after all, allow her to exist in an authentic, if unreal, world.  Man is most authentic when he is deceiving himself.

I left because it wasn’t real to me anymore.  I left because I saw how it’s all a show and fear tactics.

Given the rest of her comment this makes sense.  But it raises yet more questions.  What is real?  If she was so convinced all her life that Christianity was the real thing, and then it suddenly becomes unreal, what then?  How can she ever trust herself in judging “realness” again?  She will necessarily discover, with even a tiny bit of curiosity, that this lack of realness will follow her wherever she goes, unless, again, she deceives herself.  Christianity confronts the lack of realness head on.  It provides answers concerning our purpose, evil, pain and suffering.  That is real.  She won’t find these answers elsewhere.  At best she will only be able to expend herself attempting the impossible task of rebuilding Eden.  And she will fail like the millions who have attempted it before her.

I left because I honestly can’t believe in a God that created us so he could enjoy us and yet send most of his creation to Hell for eternity. I left because I FINALLY found peace.

The vail has been removed now and she is revealing her true reason for leaving, which is that she hates God.  She hates Him because He is Sovereign, and she is at war with Him, hence no peace.  But most of all she hates Him because he is Just.  She, like all people, has broken God’s law.  She, like you and I, have lied, and stolen, and have hated–which Jesus equates to murder.  We are all guilty, and there is a just reward for us all in our guilt.  But God, in his love, sent his Son to die on the cross.  He has reconciled us to Him through His Son.  He has made peace with us.  Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.”  Sure, there is a measure of peace that can be found in living in self-deception.  Whistling in the dark can gain a measure of peace I suppose.  But it doesn’t change the reality that not only will she sin against those around her, those around her will sin against her.  And while her sin might not seem all that bad to her, we can know that the sin of others, who do not buy into her way of thinking, will steal back what peace she might muster, and then some.

I left because I had discovered what real love looked like.

This is arrogance completely unveiled.  Can she really believe that she, a young person in the 21st century, has figured something out that 2000 years of scholars, martyrs and devouts missed?  Evidently so, and there is the arrogance.  Those lovers of God would be in tears to “learn” that the whole thing has been nothing but a hoax, perpetrated on hundreds of millions of people over thousands of years.  But not her.  Oh no.  She’s smarter than all that, and in her thinking herself smarter, she exudes pride.  She knows what real love is, and all those who have gone before were fooled, lacking perhaps the curiosity to not be fooled.  They had no idea what real love was.

Her curiosity ought to have led her to the realization of her ignorance.  Real love was Jesus dying on the cross for those who hated God, and then reconciling them to Himself while they were in the very act of warring against Him.  That’s real love.  Real love has nothing to do with feelings.  It has nothing to do with what’s in it for me… like achieving a few temporary and fleeting warm and fuzzies.  Dear children, please understand, you do not want her “real love”.  The love of self, and how others, or things, make the “self” feel is often mistaken for love.  But in reality it is only self-centeredness.

 

So what do I, your father, think about this?  I think that she is the victim of her times.  You will notice that she rejected a religion, and not the Gospel.  It is a religion that preaches grace without justice.  And, “God loves you unconditionally”  is a religious message devoid of the Gospel, and devoid of a need for the Gospel.  But you will hear it preached time and again.  And it will be preached to unsaved people who are already convinced that God loves them.  And some of them, with a little more curiosity, will know that the threat of eternal Hell fires make the message of unconditional love seem ever so slightly… inauthentic. In fact it is this very thing that she is pointing to in her statement: “I left because I honestly can’t believe in a God that created us so he could enjoy us and yet send most of his creation to Hell for eternity.” 

You will live in a time that has confused social service and unreal love with the Gospel, which removes the power from Christianity and relegates it to just another religion.  The Gospel is key, but the Gospel is not about how great you are in God’s eyes, but rather about what a sorry state you are in, in God’s eyes.  That is an extremely unpopular message in this day.  But once you understand it, the Gospel, and grace, are beautiful; much too beautiful to trade in for a worldly counterfeit.

I came out of the world that this poor girl has fallen in love with.  I know what lies ahead for her and can only hope she will be “very curious” after all.  But for me, I will never forget the words of Peter in John 6.  Jesus had just preached what seemed to those present to be a bizarre message, that one must drink His blood, and eat His flesh to have eternal life.  Most abandoned Him on hearing this, but not His disciples.  After all were gone, Jesus looked at them and asked, “Are you going to leave Me too?”  Peter responded, “To whom shall we go?”   If this girl had received the Gospel, if she had understood justice, and then mercy, she would have asked the same question.  “To whom shall I go?”  She would have known that that question is the question of the ages.

I pray that God would arrest you.  That you would understand justice too, and then mercy.  I pray that you would understand, in the great scheme of things that extend outward, far beyond your being, what a great salvation the salvation offered us through the cross is.

Your father

Living In Reality

Dear children,

Every now and then you will hear someone say that so and so has lost touch with reality or some such thing.  Or they may even question the existence of reality.  So I think it’s worth thinking about, the question, what is reality?  It might seem like a dumb question at first, but it isn’t really.  In fact, it’s a question you should be asking yourself regularly.  So, to begin, let’s look at the definition of the word.  It is  “The state of things as they actually exist”.  My own one-word definition is, “truth.”  And as you will learn in this life dear children, truth can at times be quite evasive.

As I’ve discussed before in these letters, we are living in two different worlds at the same time.  There is the natural world and the spiritual world.  So granted, if we are defining reality in terms of this material world only, then the question of reality might rightly be judged as a dumb one.  Not many people question the existence of physical things.

However, we should remember that some things are abstract, that is to say that they’re neither physical or spiritual.  A man can be living with his wife, for example, and have no idea that she is secretly planning to divorce him in a year.  He may be making plans for his family’s future, but unfortunately, he’s not living in reality. He is in fact ignorant of reality and is on a collision course with it.  So let us first conclude that one does not need to acknowledge the existence of a spiritual world to understand that reality extends beyond physical things.  That is the first challenge, even for the atheist, of keeping our feet firmly planted in reality.  And it is also important to consider that had this man acknowledged the spiritual world, namely the existence of a personal God and Savior, it might well have helped him avoid his blissful ignorance.

Another barrier to grasping reality is change.  As time moves along things seem to be in a constant state of flux.  Standards appear to morph over time.  So, since we all experience this change, especially in social mores, we can see how we could see change as normal.  And we can also see how we could then define reality as that which we consider normal based on our experience.  It has become normal and acceptable, for example, that it is good for a woman to have her unborn child put to death because she doesn’t want him. That is normal, so it is what we experience, and so it is reality and so it is moral. Increasingly, understanding reality as a mixed bag of propositions that contradict each other defines the culture in which you live.  Such a culture is in the process of losing touch with reality.  So be warned, to buy into the cultural mindset of “normal” is to exit reality.  But we will discover that reality is not simply wished away.  It has a way of imposing itself on us after all.

As older generations die, with them die an old and more realistic way of seeing this world.  As the young of each new generation enter society they will not only be the product of 12 years of secular humanist education, they will also increasingly be the product of parents who are themselves products of secular humanist’s education.  The world you are living in, therefore, is in the midst of a great shift.  The mindset that there is no truth will not only be prevalent in your world, it will become even more prevalent with the passage of time.  You can expect, therefore, that anyone who holds that absolute truth does exist will be seen as abnormal, and even immoral.  This reality will present you with some challenges that are, perhaps, unique to your time.  You must not only hold fast to the truth that there is truth, you must hold fast to the truth.

Indeed, the belief that there is truth, is the starting point.  You will discover that there is another question, which is epistemological in its nature, and which must be considered if you will have any hope of living in reality.  That question is, “Can truth be known?”  We can believe all day long that truth exists, but if we are also convinced that truth cannot be known, its existence makes little difference.  So, let me emphatically answer that question for you: Yes! Truth can be known!  There is a higher order.  Reality exists, and you can know it.  The claim that truth cannot be known is a proposition that, like many popular propositions in your time, that is self-defeating.  It ought to raise the question right away,  “How can you then know that your claim is true?”  If one is to be consistent he must admit that he can’t know.  But you will find that those who do not live in reality seldom concern themselves with the internal consistencies of their worldviews.  Don’t be like that yourselves, especially if living in reality seems like something you’d like to do.

It is a stubborn thing, reality.  Man cannot create or rearrange it to suit his preferences or pleasures.  You will either live in reality, or you will be on a collision course with it.  If I believe that I can jump off a cliff and not get hurt, the moment I jump I will have set an appointment with reality, no matter how much I deny its existence on the way down.  In the same way, if I set sail on the sea of life in a ship constructed on the basis that truth can’t be known, I will have also set an appointment with reality.  Unfortunately for me however, since I deny that I can know truth, I won’t even realize that it was my own faulty compass that brought my life smashing against the rocky shores of reality.  Such is the nature of truth I suppose.  If you deny it can be known, then a shipwrecked life is nothing more than “stuff happens”.  But you don’t have to live this way.

Jesus told us that He was the way, the truth and the life.  There are reasonable and rational reasons to believe that He was indeed all of these, and much more.  So, with this in mind, let us look to His words:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matt 7:24-27)

To be sure, “stuff does happen”.  Storms were a reality for both of these houses.  They will also be the reality in your life. The only real question is, will your house still be standing when it’s over?  Will your “reality” going into the storm be the same as your “reality” coming out of the storm?  Are the particulars of  your mindset, your worldview and your reality strong enough to withstand the winds of reality?  I pray that they are.

In closing, let me simply give you a few pointers to help you live in reality.

First, be open to the fact that you will have blind spots.  In the same way that you can see things in the lives of others that they can’t, they can see things in your life that you can’t.  If they love you they will won’t to help you.  Don’t dismiss their concerns.  Their love for you is trying to move you toward reality.  God made us to be relational, and part of relationships is just this sort of “building each other up”.  In that regard be approachable.  The truth often hurts and as such is often difficult to hear from a friend.  Love those who love you you enough to hurt you in order to make you better.

Second, renew your mind.  Paul admonishes us to not conform to this world, which is not according to reality, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  (Rom 12:2)  We renew our minds by programming it to think Biblically, and we program it to think Biblically by reading the Bible and asking God to teach us.  As our minds are renewed reality becomes increasingly clear.  We can discern the rocky shores long before we can see them.

Third, resolve inconsistencies.  Here are four ways to be consistent in your life and thinking.

  1. Live a life that is consistent with scripture.  God speaks to us through His Word.  Ask for God’s help that you may live according to his Word.  Remember that you are not earning your salvation, but are simply living it out.
  2. Avoid holding to internal inconsistencies.  We can’t, on the one hand for example, claim that God’s law no longer applies and then, on the other hand, say it’s wrong when someone steals our wallet.  That would be inconsistent and so therefore unrealistic.  Be aware that some internally inconsistent ideas are more difficult to resolve than they may at first appear.  That’s Ok.  Wrestle with them.
  3. Learn history, and especially the history of God’s Church, then think consistently with that history.  Don’t get sucked into “normal”.  God did not change his mind about things according to how they fit with an era or culture.  Still, you will find that consistency with historic views will be inconsistent with contemporary views.  Be aware also that old does not mean true.  Every age and place is impacted by the winds of that particular culture and place, so always start with scripture.  Look for consistencies throughout the history of Christianity, then try to remain consistent with those things.  God leads and directs His Church.  Be careful of “new-found” thinking or revelation.  You, right now, are living in a great falling away from the Church in America, a great apostasy.  The same denominations that are now confused about sins that are popular with culture, were the first ones to embrace other “new ideas” a hundred or so years ago.  Think beyond your own times.
  4. Understand your words.  Think about what they mean when you speak them, but more importantly, when you think them. Many times inconsistencies are present without our even realizing it simply because of the way we define words.  This is most evident in how we understand the word “love”, as well as what we expect from those who love us, and how we interact with those we love.  We can know that we are not living in reality when the meanings of our words morph, but our use of them does not.

I pray that you would live your lives in the city of reality.  I pray that you would be ever growing in the truth and knowledge of Jesus Christ, as the deceptions of this world grow ever darker.  It will be a battle for you, but it will be a battle that you, and your mother and I,  can fight shoulder to shoulder.

Your father

Encountering Secular Humanist Proselytizers

Dear children,

I once took nearly a half a year in meeting with Jehovah’s Witnesses; almost every Saturday.  I understood their intentions.  They were trying to change my mind.  My intentions were exactly the same in the opposite direction.  As it turns out, Jehovah’s Witnesses are trained in the art of subverting faith.  That’s what they do best and they make no apologies for it.  IT is all above board in that regard.  This is not so with the secular humanist.  When you encounter him it will have an entirely different feel to it.  For one, nothing is above board.  Indeed the Secular Humanist proselytizer does not see himself as a proselytiser at all, and would reject any such suggestion outright.

You should realize that you will be living in a culture dominated by this “religion”,  Secular Humanism.  You could actually say that it is the state religion in that it is the mandatory view in the state school.  Most of the people you meet also, regardless of their political persuasions, will be thoroughly indoctrinated into this religion, or worldview.  And in keeping with the history of established religions, that is to say, “state religions”, it is wholly intolerant of opposing belief systems.

But Secular Humanism is different than other established religions in that it rejects the existence of a deity beyond man himself.  In this religion man is god, and as such would never view himself as one of those religious, zealot proselytizers.  Such words are pejoratives saved for “religious” religions.  So, unlike myself and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he will not knowingly be attempting to preach you out of your faith and into another, but rather he will see himself as simply convincing you to be normal… like him.

Man, as it turns out, must order his existence according to a framework of “truths” that have a source.  Find the source of a man’s “truth” and you will find the object of his faith.  As man orders his life around his “truths” he attempts to answer the larger questions of life concerning his purpose and eternal destiny.  The secular humanist looks to his own mind for those answers.  And since his mind lacks the knowledge to answer them, makes them up, then presents his make believe as “science”, into which he throws himself with blind faith.  But that does not stop him from resorting to ridiculing you about your faith.  No, he will be happy to do that.  What man, for example, can the secular humanist point to who has gone to the grave to observe what happens there and then returned to inform us?  No one of course.  That would be absurd.  So he must therefore resort to faith concerning our ultimate destiny beyond the grave.  And to console himself, he must convince all others to do the same.  His faith is that he lives in a materialistic naturalistic world and that he will simply cease to exist once his “machine” begins to decompose.  Or, even if there were an experience to be had beyond the grave, it would certainly not be one in which he will be held to account for any wrong he did in this life.  How does he know this?  Faith.

The idea of man’s accountability for the life he lived brings us to another question concerning guilt and righteousness.  The secular humanist will preach to you that you make up your own righteousness.  But you cannot do as he preaches for if you do you will be be persecuted and judged if your ideas of righteousness does not agree with his and his ilk.  Indeed, you must be an environmentalist, anti-religion–especially of the conservative Christian variety, you must approve of aberrant sexual behavior and and condone the murder of babies in the womb.  The “community” becomes the catch phrase.  You must fall in line with “the community’s” standards of righteousness or be considered wicked and evil.  But “the community” is just a front.  The real source of right and wrong are those who have the power to establish it.  In the end, might is the source of right in “the community”.  So, when the Secular Humanist is appealing to you, these are the things he is attempting to proselytise you into, and again, it won’t be because he knows it, but because you need to believe it.

So what about this guilt and forgiveness?  Well, in “the community” there is none.  Oh, they will tell you that you have no need to feel guilty for anything and that such feelings in themselves are sinful.  And that works well as far as your relationship with “the community” goes, just don’t ever disagree with it.  If you do you will realize very quickly that you actually can sin as a secular humanist.  Sure, you may repent of your sin and realign your thinking with “the community” I suppose.  But if you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself doing dreadful things in the name of good.  The history of righteousness based on man’s best ideas is a history of evil deeds.

Lastly, you should realize that Secular Humanism comes to you with many labels not excluding the label “Christian”.  A “Christian” may come preaching and proselytising in an attempt to usurp your faith and lure you into his “religion”  And in the same way as all other Secular Humanists, this proselytiser will not be aware of what he is doing either. The humanist is easy to spot by his source of “truth”.  If it is man’s wisdom, and not God’s Word, he is trying to preach you into the City of Man.  The Secular Humanist will love certain Bible verses that align themselves with his sensibilities, but don’t be fooled.  He will reject anything that the community rejects.  They will not tolerate such thinking, nor can they.

It is important to realize also that as a Christian you ought not fit into this Secular Humanist society.  What you call evil this world will not call evil and what you call good this world will not call good.  What is normal for the secular humanist will not be normal for you.  You have a different source for truth.  So, let us go to our source, God’s Word, and see what He has to say about all of this.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:30 that “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  A little later in the same chapter he continues:   “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.”  That word “good” raises an important question.  Does Man decide through brute power what is good and evil, or does God decree it through His law?

God says that man’s righteousness is as filthy rags.  He says that no man does good, no not one.  He says that man is lost and in need of salvation.  Paul had this to say about unsaved people as he spoke of their condition prior to salvation:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph 2:2)

Here Paul paints a portrait of the Secular Humanist Man, who thinks that he is looking to himself for truth.  He will deny his condition even when his hands are drenched with his fellow man’s blood.  In the end, man without Christ is doomed.  But God, rich in His mercy, showed us a better way and provided for our salvation.  He promised us a renewed mind, a mind ordered and centered on Himself, His law, His righteousness and His love.  Unlike the City of Man, God’s yoke is not burdensome, but He promises a yoke that is light.  I therefore beseech you, dear children, to choose the narrow gate early, and to have faith in your God to walk along the narrow path that lies beyond.  Trials are a part of life, one way or the other, except that on the narrow path they are not in vain.

I pray that you would see the preachers and proselytisers that come your way for what they are.  I pray that you would see the pain and misery that their path will lead to in this life, and the eternal damnation that it leads to in the next.  May the eyes of your hearts be opened, and may a mantle of discernment rest on you.

Your father.

Is God Really “Good”? Are You?

Dear children

There are some words that we use… that I use, which I have termed “neon words”.  I call them this because it seems that every time I hear them they shine bright in my thinking and generally suggest the need of a definition.  These words are so common that we often make assumptions that they mean the same thing to everyone when they don’t; and that causes a lot of confusion.

Today I want to talk about one “neon word” in particular.  It is used often and it often communicates very little between people.  That word is “good”.   Here are a couple of things to think about when you hear it:

First, the word “good”, when you think about it, appeals to a standard.  It in fact must.  No confusion there just yet.  The problem comes when the source of the standard is unclear, or whether that standard is subjective or objective. For example, if someone says: “Chocolate ice cream is good”, good appeals to a subjective standard. It does not imply that the goodness of chocolate ice cream is, or ought to be, universal. But imagine if the speaker, or hearer, was making assumptions about that the statement.  Suppose someone understood that statement in universal terms.  That would change everything?  The statement would then be an objective and would appeal to a universal standard which would make it an objective truth.  But, when we’re talking about ice cream it is easy to discern that the statement is not making an objective or universal claim.  But trust me, it is not always quite so clear.

Consider, for example, the statement, “I am a good person”. Unlike the goodness of ice cream, this is appealing to an objective standard. While ice cream is subject to personal tastes, in order to assert that I am a good person I must then compare myself to another standard completely; a standard that is independent of, and outside of, myself, and which is universal.

With a little thought we can see here how, if we confuse the source of the standard, not only will our communication suffer but so will our thinking. Consider for a moment the statement: “Mr. Smith is a good teacher”. What is most likely heard is that Mr. Smith conforms to some objective standard for teaching. But the person saying this might well be communicating that Mr. Smith makes him feel good about himself while in Mr. Smith’s class. Mr. Smith may well not be a good teacher at all but rather good in the skills of personal relations. There is no way the hearer can know without exercising a little curiosity about what is meant.  He must ask some questions like “Why do you say that?” Or maybe someone thinks Mr. Smith, although he has great interpersonal skills, is a rotten teacher.  That person may ask, perhaps sarcastically: “If he’s a good teacher then I’m wondering what your idea of a bad teacher would be?” Such questions are seeking to understand the standard being used.

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “God is good”? Does standard does this statement appeal to?  Is it a subjective or objective standard? Is God “good” because His character aligns with a definition of good derived from my own personal desires? To correctly convey the reality that these words represent, these questions must have answers. Is God’s character being compared to a higher standard than even Himself? What standard does one appeal to in such a statement that God might be judged as having measured up to it? Our own personal standard? What if, as I believe to be true, “God” is the standard? In that case we can rightly say with Job “Though He slay me, (a bad thing) I will hope in Him”1  and it would make sense? But if God’s goodness is subject to my own personal preferences, then not only is God diminished, but so is the word “good”. In such a case we can only say “God is good” when we, say, get that one thing that we’ve been wanting.  But we can’t then also say “God is good” when we then lose that one thing for what ever reason.  That would necessarily make God bad, would it not, since his goodness or badness is measured against what good or bad thing happens to you?  To judge God according to what you think ought to be, or a standard based on your own likes and dislikes will lead you to a misunderstanding of both, the meaning of the word good, and the very nature of God.

Second, it doesn’t help that we live in a time in which all standards are considered relative. The idea that an objective standard exists has been rejected because it is believed that there is no objective standard except what man determines that it is on any given day.  With this view we need not examine our own lives according to any standard other than the one we create for ourselves… which would of course be subjective. Using this sort of reasoning a mother, having just been convicted of horribly abusing her children, could still proclaim loudly to the court that she is a good person, as happened a few years back here in Arizona. Why shouldn’t she say it? To what objective standard would anyone appeal to argue differently?  We are all, after all, little cocoons wherein our own self-created reality, and its standards, aligns with our own desires. We can see why then that any suggestion that there is a standard that exists beyond our own personal tastes and pleasures is met with fierce opposition.

But it gets more confusing yet. You will hear that it is not good for you to impose your standards on others, and we are not to judge others either, as if the world outside our cocoon is now somehow subject to the subjective standards that exist on the inside. The fact that we feel better about ourselves because we are living according to a standard we created ourselves, for the purpose of making ourselves feel better about ourselves, hides the fact that we are now twisting ourselves into logical pretzels and are in reality functioning in an absurd world.

In this world the very word “good” is rendered meaningless and in many cases — according to any given person’s subjective framework — it is no longer distinguishable from “bad” so that good for some becomes evil for others. 2   Yet the word lingers in our language as if there were still a standard from which its meaning could be derived, while at the same time that standard’s existence is denied. The language therefore becomes confused and communication between souls breaks down so that we live in a modern-day kind of Babel.  3

In such a world it is then pondered, why are people these days so isolated? Why can’t we all just get along? Why is there such division and loneliness? One reason is that they have killed and dismembered a key and core concept. They have treated a foundational thing like the idea that is represented by the word “good” as if it were a pre-born child and ripped it from the womb of our thinking, and having thrown it into the trash bin, have celebrated the freedom to do so.  But such freedoms are not free.  They come with a price that apparently very few realize that we are paying.

So dear children.  Hold fast to the foundations laid long ago by God.  Don’t think yourself in a position to judge God, but instead cry out for his mercy as he judges you according to a perfect standard that was laid before the foundations of the earth; a standard that all have fallen short of.  As Paul admonishes us, so do I, cloth yourself in Christ that you may rise to God’s holy and perfect standard in Him, and therefore become good in the sight of God.

Your father.

Nothing Doesn’t Attack Anything

Dear children,

You will live your lives in a world with competing worldviews.  But it is worse than that really.  It is not as if these worldviews are in amiable competition for your allegiance.  They are at war with each other.  It is a war of ideas, yes, but eventually wars of ideas become bloody.  You,  my dear children, will pick a side in this conflict.  There is no avoiding that fact.  You will be touched by it as well, no matter what side you choose, even if that side is one of pacifism, Unitarianism or live and let live.

If you follow the path that I’ve pointed out for you, that is to say, if you follow Jesus, you will likewise be attacked in any number of ways.  Scripture is clear on this matter.  So in this letter I would like to paint those attacks with a wide brush and then point out something worth noting.  But fist let me define the key term, “attack”.

To attack a thing can generally mean to act violently toward it.  Or it can mean to impugn or challenge its cognitive structure, as in the “idea”.  While both of these kinds of attacks on Christianity are happening today, I want to focus on the latter of the two, and specifically on the fact that these attacks should be interpreted from two different perspectives.  The first of these perspectives is the actual challenge to your worldview.  If someone, for example, is challenging your belief that there is a God by offering his believed evidence that there isn’t, then that evidence must be dealt with.  I’ll call that the offensive perspective.  An offensive action is being taken against your beliefs.  The second perspective I’ll call the “defensive” perspective.  Every attack emanates from its own belief system, or worldview, and therefore is a thing open to attack itself, and which ought to be defensible.  Because of their immersion in this culture, most whom you will encounter will not even realize this because their belief system is “normal”, which is just another way of saying that it is what everybody else they know believes too.  It more than likely will have never occurred to them that they hold a view which itself requires a defense.

I would have your minds work so as to think within the framework of both of these perspectives, always.  As a Christian you are not, nor should you ever be, solely held to defending your faith against those who are attacking it.  You will find that defending your faith is a much easier task, even in your own mind, when you are able to challenge the challenger and make him defend his faith also.  His faith will generally come in one of  two forms.  The form that you are most unlikely to encounter is the one that insists that there is no god.  But there is another from just like it, which you will encounter often, even from many who profess to be Christians, that will insist that thought there is a god, you can’t know or be certain what he requires.   You will navigate attacks from these worldviews more easily when you realize that they are in reality nothing more than attempts at usurping your faith with theirs.  But be sure that in the end, they offer nothing more or less than faith also.

Life requires faith.  You will put your faith in something, be it a Utopian idea, a man, a religion, a government or any number of other things that can easily be turned into an idol for worship.  While you will encounter some who have faith in the gods of differing religions, and yes, the people of those faiths will–and if they are being true to that faith, should–attempt to win you over to their faith. These are easier to think through because it is plain to see that your faith is being challenged by another faith that does not attempt to hide its own beliefs nor the fact that an attempt at usurpation is happening.  But you will face precious little of that sort of an “attack”  in your lifetime.  The attacks you will experience rather will come from a faith that doesn’t see itself as faith at all, for it is a faith in man.  And though it will seldom be admitted to you, the name of this faith is “Secular Humanism”.  It bills itself as not being based on faith because it points to what it calls science, and it worships no deity.  Or, the deity that it does worship is indistinguishable from the government and the prevailing “morality” of the age.   But rest assured, this faith contains all the elements of just another religion with all of its ordinances, worship requirements, systems of morality, redemption and even its own little gods.

For this reason I would admonish you to study your culture.  Know it.  Understand that attacks on your faith are not coming from nowhere or nothing.  They have a source, always, a belief system from which it attacks.  Realize that it, like all other religions, are at war with God and His law, and it means to win.  Understand that those who fall away from Christianity, and embraced this Godless culture, have not fallen away from religion but have merely exchanged the one true God for an idol.  They have simply allowed that God be usurped by an idol, which in your culture’s case, is man.

I wish, dear children, that you could simply embrace the love of Christ and live out the rest of your life in peace and tranquility, and to a certain extent, you can though your belief in Jesus.  But the Bible is clear.  Trials will come… many trials.  You will either traverse those trials with the light of God’s word, or you will traverse them based on some other belief system.  But know that they will come, and you will walk through them.  I plea that you hold onto Jesus tightly, who promised us that, though troubles will come in this world, He has overcome this world.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”
(John 16:33)

Your father.

Think!

Dear children,

It is my desire that you would live your lives as thoughtful beings, that you would think about things deeply in ways that would lead you to difficult questions.  And then I desire that you would spend a lifetime answering those questions.  I desire that you would contemplate common but profound words; words like, “good”, “love”, “beauty”, and “truth”, along with the concepts that these kinds of words represent.  For to understand the weightier matters of your life, you must have some inkling of what the ideas being expressed by these words are.  Without thoughtfulness, this will not happen, nor can it.

Words are representations of ideas.  They are mere sounds.  But for the real purpose of the word to take place, communication, the representations of the speaker and hearer must be the same.  Satan’s initial attack on man involved words. His first words in scripture were, “Has God said…?”.  While the words of men naturally morph from one meaning to another over time, the ideas represented by the Word of God can not and must not.

What does that word “good” mean for example?  Is mercy good? Why?  There’s good ice cream, and then there’s a good God.  It’s the same word, but is it the same meaning?  Why?  Where do you go for the answer?  Do you go to man?  If it is legal is it therefore good?  Or do you instead consult your emotions?  If it “feels” good to your senses, is it therefore good? Can something be pleasing to the senses and not be good?  Why not?   And if not, then how does man know what is good and what is not?  And how do you know?

What does “love” mean?  Is it a feeling?  An action?  A decision?  The Bible says that God is love, yet we see much evil in this world.  Does love allow evil?  How is evil defined?  Some say that God forbids Himself from intervening in the affairs of men, and that man has free will, and that is the reason for the evil.  Is that true?  How do we know if it is true or not?  Does the Bible have anything to say about that?  Can we even know?

Some say that it is wrong to ask questions like these.  Why is it wrong?  Is willful ignorance good?  On what truth does one base such an assertion, and can we know if that basis is true?  Is it good to not know what is good?  Others say that what is true for one person may not be true for another.  Is that true?  Still others yet reject the existence of God altogether because they say that religion, and the belief in God, is evil, and causes evil.  How does one then define evil and truth?  You, my dear children, must contemplate these things and much more, for if you do not, others will surely do it for you.

At the core of understanding these words is one word: “truth”.  That must be your starting point.  Without that one word settled there will be no basis upon which to build an understanding of any other word.  It should be no wonder then that the Apostle John introduced Jesus as “the Word”: “In the beginning was the Word…” (John 1:1).  Or that Jesus called himself  “the Truth”.  (John 14:6)  All of the words I mentioned, you will notice, point to a standard without which they are meaningless.  That standard must be true.  If truth is corrupted, then the ideas must be corrupted too.  If God is love, and the word “love” has been corrupted, what truth about God can that statement represent?  Answer: None.   The word “love” must have a true meaning or it is meaningless, and any sentence that uses it is meaningless also.

There is truth.  That truth is timeless.  That is to say that what is true now has always been true for the entire world for all time.  Any other understanding of truth is not true.  Man is not the arbiter of what is true.  Man can be, and is deceived.  That does not however mean that man cannot know.  To not be deceived requires contemplation and thoughtfulness.  It also requires a reference point outside of himself by which he can be oriented.

“There is no ‘truth'”, “We cannot know Truth”, “What is true for one is not necessarily true for another”,  will be the “truths” in the zeitgeist in which you live.  These statements will not only not support their own weight, they are not consistent with each other.  They therefore demand thougtlessness.  But that fact will not cause those who attempt to live according to such assumptions from militantly making the claims.

For the thoughtful, the Bible provides a reference point.  It is trustworthy.  It is consistent.  It paints a true picture of you, of your world, and of your Creator.  It is a book unequaled by any other in the history of the world.  It deserves study.  Indeed it has been studied like no other book ever.  Millions have found comfort and answers in its words, and millions have studied it for the purpose of destroying it… and yet it lives and continues to impact the world today.  It is loved.  It is hated.  It is relevant.  It belongs in your heart and it belongs in the public square.  It said what it meant when it was written, and it says and means exactly the same thing today.  The words it has spoken has and had meaning, and that meaning has not changed.  Thoughtful men have embraced that meaning through the ages, and God’s enemies have schemed against them though the ages.

My dear children, think, therefore, about things deeply.  Ponder them.  Examine them.  Refine.  Ask questions.  Seek answers.  Discuss.  Do all these things in the light of scripture.  It will withstand your thoughts, questions and examinations.  No other claim of objective truth can nor will.  Pray always.

Your father

Epistemology And Faith

Dear Children

You should think about things worthy of thinking about.  One of the things you can think about that will be worth your time is the question, how do you know what you know?  This question is an old one that dates back to the ancients.  And just so you know, there is a name for such contemplations, it’s called epistemology.  For the thoughtful, which is to say, for those who think about things deeply, it will ever be a question.

The word “science” is an epistemological word.  It means “a state of knowing”.  It uses methods to separate assumptions from knowledge.  That kind of science is what brought us cell phone computers, the existence of which, by the way, I am old enough to still be marveled by.  But as man marvels over his accomplishments he can begin to think that since he knows a little more about a few things, he knows a lot about a lot of things.  His great leaps in knowledge therefore can blind him to his actual poverty.

One of the things new knowledge can teach us is that what we thought we knew we didn’t know at all.  We can see this in the study of the history of science.  For much of this history, for example, doctors practiced a thing called bloodletting.  This was a practice of “bleeding” patients to cure them of illnesses.  For the scientist, in that time, I’m sure it all seemed reasonable based on what they thought they knew.  I’m sure doctors learned all about its advantages in medical school.  I’m also sure that anyone who opposed such a procedure would have been ridiculed for going against a very old and accepted practice.  These scientists did not know that they did not know and presumed to know something to be true that wasn’t.  My father, your grandfather, used to say, “It’s what I learned after I knew it all that counted most”.  The Bible says that knowledge puffs up.  It makes man proud.  Knowledge, properly handled however, ought to make us humble.

With this in mind, consider one of the deepest questions a man can ask himself: how did I come to be?  The answer to such a question has profound consequences no matter how one answers it.  There is an answer acceptable to man in these days that displaces a Creator, but what do we really know concerning that answer?  As it turns out, not much.  It is based on made up stories of how it could have happened.  But made up stories does not constitute science.

So, what can we know concerning the consequences of this answer?  Well, we can know that if man, by happenstance, evolved from dirt into sacks of chemicals, blood, flesh and bone, and those chemicals reacted in ways that made him ask questions like, how did I come to be?, then the questions are as absurd as the man.  For if man came from nothing meaningful, and he will return to nothing meaningful, nothing the chemical reactions in his head do in the meantime are meaningful.  Knowledge itself is in fact meaningless and whether the chemical sacks attempt to create meaning, or they instead do something else like go on a killing spree, just for the fun of it, it in the end is still meaningless.  We can know this.  It is not logical to deny it.

But man wants to insist that he does have meaning.  But so what?  His insistence is inconsistent with his “knowledge”. It is only mere chemical reactions that are meaningless.  This is called epistemological inconsistency.  If a man who wants to live knows the building he is in is on fire, and he goes to bed as if it is not, then his actions are not consistent with his knowledge.  He is being epistemologically inconsistent.  In the same way, if a man knows that his existence is ultimately meaningless, and his actions are contrary to that knowledge, he, again, is being epistemologically inconsistent.  So, it would only be fair to say that for the man in the burning building to remain epistemologically consistent with evolution, it would be absurd whether he stayed and burned up, or whether he ran out.  In fact everything he says and does is meaningless, for it is simply the result of the chemical reactions of cosmic dust.

But dear children, man does not know from where he came, as man counts knowing.  In the grand scheme of things man fares much better when he is humble concerning what he thinks he knows.  He should be content that no matter how much he knows, in reality he knows very little.  Beyond that he must have faith.  We can know that it is a man’s faith that informs him of his origins, whether that faith be placed in men, called scientist, or in religion.  But make no mistake, do not be mislead, in the end it is faith no matter what name man hangs on the door of it, and no matter how arrogant, puffed up and proud the man is who says it is not faith.  Man cannot prove that he evolved from dirt.  It can’t be done.  The belief in evolution is a religious belief, and you ought to always consider it as such.  And it is the basis for the predominant religion of your time and place, Secular Humanism.  It takes faith to believe and live according to it.  Come what may we can know that all have faith in something.

But my dear children faith is not a bad thing.  The more you know the more you ought to know that you do not know, which ought to humble you rather than inflate your opinion of yourself.  You must have faith.  You must have faith that there is good and evil and that man is not the arbiter of which is which. (Isa 5:20)  You must have faith that God gave a law unto man. (Rom 1:19) Once you know God’s law, you can know that man, and you, rebelled against it. (Rom 3:9-18)   You must then have faith that God loved the world in such a way that he gave his only Son to redeem rebels like you while maintaining consistency with His justice.(Rom 3:26) You must have faith that God poured out His wrath against you on His Son instead. (Rom 3:25). And you must have faith that His Son, Jesus, rose from the dead.  (1 Cor 15:17) And you must have faith that your life is not meaningless, no matter your lot, which God in his providence, good or bad, bestows upon you.  (Eph 2:10) It is by faith that you are saved. (Eph 2:8)

To believe these things is to be epistemologically consistent and reasonable.  Think about these things: There is good and evil.  All men are by their nature depraved, and man is accountable to his Creator for his evil.  We can escape God’s wrath by hiding in Christ through which we have access to joy in this life, and we have hope for the life that is beyond the grave.  We do not have to be slaves to sin.  We are able to forgive.  We can do all these things through Christ who is in us.  Life has purpose.  This is both reasonable and consistent, and it is faith.

But it is not blind faith, as some will say.  For 2000 years there have been those who have tried to undermine and destroy God’s Word with no success.  A study of this magnificent work, the Bible, will reveal many reasons as to why it has stood the test of time against a massive onslaught.

It has been my prayer for you since you were young that God would have mercy on you and save you from His wrath.  It remains my prayer today.  I pray also that you would be wise in the fear of the lord, and that you would not presume to know things that cannot be known, and which set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

Your father

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