Monthly Archives: June 2013

To be Honest … I Hate God’s Sovereignty

If I admit that God’s Will regulates the great movements of the universe I must admit that it equally regulates the small. It must do this, for the great depend upon the small. The minutest movement of my will is regulated by the will of God. And in this I rejoice. Woe is me if it be not so. If I shrink from so unlimited control and guidance, it is plain that I dislike the idea of being wholly at the disposal of God. I am wishing to be in part at my own disposal. I am ambitious of regulating the lesser movements of my will, while I give up the greater to His control. And thus it comes out that I wish to be a god to myself. I do not like the thought of God having all the disposal of my destiny. If He gets His will, I am afraid that I shall not get mine. It comes out, moreover, that the God about whose love I was so fond of speaking, is a God to whom I cannot trust myself implicitly for eternity. Yes, this is the real truth. Man’s dislike at God’s sovereignty arises from his suspicion of God’s heart. And yet the men in our day, who deny this absolute sovereignty, are the very men who profess to rejoice in the love of God, – who speak of that love as if there were nothing else in God but love. The more I understand of the character of God, as revealed in Scripture, the more shall I see that He must be sovereign, and the more shall I rejoice from my inmost heart that He is so.

 

Quoted from God’s Will & Man’s Will By Horatius Bonar.


How College Strengthens the Spiritual lives of 18- to 23-year-olds

Christian Smith & Patricia Snell answer the following question in their book (2009). Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults . Oxford University Press, USA.
 
Does going to college cause the religious and spiritual lives of 18- to 23-year-olds to weaken or decline?
They state:
However, something very interesting emerged when scholars took a second look at the question more recently. They found that the religiously undermining effect of higher education on recent generation of youth has disappeared . Most of the older research was conducted on baby boomers, for whom College did indeed seem to tend to corrode religious faith and practice. But many studies more recently have shown that the conventional wisdom about boomers does not apply to today’s youth. Higher education no longer seems to diminish the religion of emerging adults. One recent study, for instance, using some of the best longitudinal data available, has shown that it is not those who attend college but in fact those who do not attend college who are the most likely to experience declines in religious service attendance, self- reported importance of religion, and religious affiliation. Another showed that among recently surveyed college students, 2.7 times more report that their religious beliefs have strengthene1 during their college experience than say their beliefs weakened. Yet another investigation suggests that emerging adults’ religiousness does not vary with educational achievement. Another study specifically focused on Catholic college students draws the same conclusion. Yet another sophisticated investigation has found no secularizing effect of college on the latest college graduates and concludes that the data suggest that “secularization as a result of college attendance may be waning. . . . The overarching trend seems to be that educational attainment may have been related to some forms of religious decline in the past, however this is less the case for recent college graduates.”
If all of this is true—and it certainly seems to be—then this change represents a major shift in the role of higher education in American religion. According to one metaanalysis of the relevant literature, that clearly perceptible change appears to have begun in the 1990s. But what caused it? Multiple, interactive factors seem to have worked together to produce this historic transformation.
1.      One factor seems to be a growing influence of campus-based religious and parachurch groups that provide alternative plausibility structures for sustaining religious faith and practice in college.
2.      Another is that colleges and universities themselves seem to be changing their attitudes and programs in ways that are more supportive of the religious and spiritual interests of their students.
3.      Yet another part of the explanation may be an apparently growing number of committed evangelical and Catholic faculty who are teaching in secular American colleges and universities, providing role models to religious students of ways to combine higher learning and religious faith.
4.      Another factor is the growth of religious colleges and universities that train their believing students to integrate faith and learning and to go on to influence the larger society and culture.
5.      Still another causal influence could, ironically, be the major long-term decline in American college students’ interest in answering questions about the meaning of life—which the dominant worldview of higher education over much of the twentieth century would have replied to with largely secularist answers—and the concomitant long-term increase in college students’ interest in becoming financially very well off, which to many students is a religiously neutral matter.
6.      Also relevant is the influence of post- modern relativism in the academy, especially in the 1990s, which undercut the authority of positivism, epistemological foundationalism, and scientism, all of which historically have tended strongly to marginalize and disparage religion.
7.      More broadly, adolescents today are generally quite conventional, and specifically so with regard to religion—less rebellious, for instance, than they were during the baby boom generation—and so are generally content to continue in the faith traditions in which they were raised, however much that faith may or many not mean to them.
8.      And at a very general level, American culture and perhaps Western culture seems to have shifted from a secular to a postsecular era in which secularist assumptions are no longer simply taken granted but are rather on the table for questioning, and religion is increasing considered a legitimate subject of discussion—a cultural shift that has much affected contemporary youth.
Through the influence of these and other factors, American higher education seems to have become an environment and experience that is less corrosive than it was in the past of college student religiousness. Indeed, some researchers conclude from their fieldwork on religion at college campuses that at least certain campuses have actually become “a breeding ground for vital religious practice and teaching. (pp. 248-250)
They go on,
Our findings, based on NSYR data, about the influence of college on the religious faith of emerging adults confirm those of recent studies. Which the transition from the teenage to the emerging adult years does entail an overall decline in religious involvement, as we have shown, attending college per say does not an experience that particularly contributes to that decline. For instance, consider the findings presented in figure 8.7, which compares religious measures for emerging adults currently in college with those not currently in college. We see there are very little differences in overall religiousness attendance, professed importance of faith, and frequency of prayer and reading scripture. In every case, emerging adults currently in college are slightly more religious than those who are not in college, although only the differences in overall religiousness and service attendance are statistically significant. In short, if anything, it is not attending college that is associated with lower 1evlels of religious practice, though those differences are slight. This is confirmed by the fact, revealed in ancillary analyses (not shown), that more highly religious youth did not select into college in the first place and then decline in religiousness to the levels shown in figure 8.8, which would have indicated a secularizing effect of higher education. Furthermore, our analysis of religious differences between emerging adults who have ever attended college (not simply currently enrolled) versus those who have not reveals identical findings—those who ever attended college are slightly more religious but not often statistically significantly so. (pp. 250-251)
Bottom line,
In short, for contemporary emerging adults, going to college does not increase the “risk” of religious decline or apostasy as it did in the not-too distant past. Some evidence now even suggests that it may actually decrease that risk, compared to not attending college. (p. 251)
 
References cited:
Lee, J. J. (2002). Religion and College Attendance: Change among Students. Review of Higher Education25(4), 369–384.
 
Arnett, J. J., & Jensen, L. A. (2002). A Congregation of One: Individualized Religious Beliefs Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Adolescent Research17(5), 451–467.
 
Dillon, M. (1996). The Persistence of Religious Identity among College Catholics. Journal for the scientific study of religion.35(2), 165.

Treat Others Only in the Manner We View God Treating Us

How are we in the body of Christ to love, accept, and forgive one another? Just as God in Christ has loved, accepted, and forgiven us! Seeing this, I recognized that this is a law of human nature. Whether we realize it or not, we will treat other people with the same measure of love, acceptance and forgiveness that we (rightly or Wrongly) think we are receiving from God. We will never love one another with a higher degree of love than we think we are receiving from God. In other words, if I think that God likes me when I’m good but is hammering me when I’m bad, how do you think I’ll treat you? Exactly the same way!
 
Quoted from George, B. (1989). Classic Christianity. Eugene, Or: Harvest House, p. 169.

Have You Rejected the Real Christ?

You may say to me that you have long since rejected Christianity. Well, I only want to ask one question: have you ever read the Bible through? I have found that all of us tend to dismiss Christianity without really knowing what it is. We have never really taken the trouble to find out. We have dismissed it as a prejudice. We have not read the Bible, we have not even read the New Testament, we know nothing about the history of the church—yet we dismiss it all.

 

Quoted from Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (2009). The Gospel in Genesis: from fig leaves to faith . Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, p. 69.


Only a Triune God Can Redeem Time and History

As Derrida shows, it is axiomatic for Plato that supplementarity is degenerative; that is, anything added to an original, anything flowing from a source, is “worse” than the source itself, precisely because it has moved away from the source. This metaphysical assumption is parallel to mythical views of history for which temporal supplementation necessarily means degeneration For Platonic and Neoplatonic metaphysics, the lower is always lesser; for Hesiod, Ovid, and other myth-historians the later is always lesser. Such a metaphysics cannot support a comic view of history, much less deep comedy.

[In response,] orthodox trinitarian theology asserts that there is always a “supplement” (Son and Spirit) with the “origin” (Father), and, second, insists that the Son and Spirit, though “supplemental” to the Father, are “equal in power and glory.” There is no degeneration or “leakage” of glory or divinity as the Father begets the Son or, together with the Son, spirates the Spirit. trinitarian theology thus provides theological ground for a view of history where the passage of time does not necessarily mean decay, where history can move from death to life rather than the (common-sensical) reverse. Thus, for a trinitarian theology, time and history can be redeemed and brought to comic conclusion. For trinitarian theology, the “Second” is fully equal to and is in fact the glory of the “First,” and therefore for the Bible, the golden age is always out before us not behind us. Here, as elsewhere, the dominical axiom about protology and eschatology subverts the common sense of antiquity and modernity: “the last first and the first last” (…Mt. 19:30).

 

Quoted from Leithart, P. J. (2006). Deep comedy: Trinity, tragedy, and hope in western literature. Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, p. xiii-xiv.


The Echo of a Tune we have not Heard

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things–the beauty, the memory of our own past–are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.

Quote from C.S. Lewis’s Weight of Glory.


The Quintessential Myth of Modernity: Autonomous Freedom

If the quintessential myth of modernity is that true freedom is the power of the will over nature—human or cosmic—and that we are at liberty to make ourselves what we wish to be, then it is not necessarily the case that the will of the individual should be privileged over the “will of the species.” If there is no determinate human nature or divine standard to which the uses of freedom are bound, it is perfectly logical that some should think it a noble calling to shape the fictile clay of humankind into something stronger, better, more rational, more efficient, more perfect. The ambition to refashion humanity in its very essence—social, political, economic, moral, psychological—was inconceivable when human beings were regarded as creatures of God. But with the disappearance of the transcendent, and of its lure, and of its authority, it becomes possible to will a human future conformed to whatever ideals we choose to embrace. This is why it is correct to say that the sheer ruthlessness of so much of post-Christian social idealism in some sense arises from the very same concept of freedom that lies at the heart of our most precious modern values. The savagery of triumphant Jacobinism, the clinical heartlessness of classical socialist eugenics, the Nazi movement, Stalinism—all the grand utopian projects of the modern age that have directly or indirectly spilled such oceans of human blood—are no less results of the Enlightenment myth of liberation than are the liberal democratic state or the vulgarity of late capitalist consumerism or the pettiness of bourgeois individualism. The most pitilessly and self-righteously violent regimes of modern history—in the West or in those other quarters of the world contaminated by our worst ideas—have been those that have most explicitly cast off the Christian vision of reality and sought to replace it with a more “human” set of values. No cause in history—no religion or imperial ambition or military adventure—has destroyed more lives with more confident enthusiasm than the cause of the “brotherhood of man,” the postreligious utopia, or the progress of the race. To fail to acknowledge this would be to mock the memory of all those millions that have perished before the advance of secular reason in its most extreme manifestation. And all the astonishing violence of the modern age—from the earliest European wars of the emergent nation-state onward—is no less proper an expression (and measure) of the modern story of human freedom than are the various political and social movements that have produced the modern West’s special combination of general liberty, material abundance, cultural mediocrity, and spiritual poverty. To fail to acknowledge this would be to close our eyes to the possibilities for evil that have been opened up in our history by the values we most dearly prize and by the “truths” we most fervently adore.

 

Quoted from Hart, D. B. (2009). Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies . New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 107–108.