Category Archives: Apologetics

A Radical New Way: Loving Those Whom You Disagree & Disapprove

… [w]e have forgotten how to flex two mental muscles at the same time: the muscle of moral conviction and the muscle of compassion to all regardless of their morality. Secular society no less than religion often operates on a narrow-minded logic: you can only love those whose lives you approve of. You can only be friends with people who agree with you. The logic can take you in two directions. The religious version reduces the number of people it loves — to match the few lifestyles it approves. The secular version increases the number of lifestyles it approves to the point of accepting virtually everything, thus fulfilling G. K. Chesterton’s famous quip about open-mindedness: “An open mind is like an open mouth: its purpose is to bite on something nourishing. Otherwise, it becomes like a sewer, accepting everything, rejecting nothing.”

But there is a third way, based on a different logic. It’s where we learn to respect and care even for those with whom we profoundly disagree. We maintain our convictions but choose never to allow them to become justification for thinking ourselves better than those with contrary convictions. We move beyond mere tolerance to true humility, the key to harmony at the social level.

Quoted from Dickson, J. P. (2011). Humilitas: A lost key to life, love, and leadership. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan., 169-170.

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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.


The Most Basic Human Right: To Know God and to be Told of His Ways

“That’s interesting,” I responded.

“Let me venture a guess. For them and for you, religions are not just a matter of different lifestyles, something vaguely analogous to a preference for one ethnic dish over another. Rather, religions make truth claims about what constitutes the good life. So if a Muslim is trying to persuade you to embrace Islam, he is not so much meddling in your private affairs as honoring you as a person to whom truth matters. If he had no desire for you to become a Muslim, you could rightly protest that he was either indifferent to your well-being or to his own faith.”

“Yes, although one may still, for other reasons, prefer not to seek to persuade the other of the truth of Islam or Christianity, but simply to offer accurate information. And when it comes to offering such information,” my friend said, “there is a third point to make. That’s the question of rights. Every person has the right to accurate information about another religion. A person may not claim that right because she doesn’t care, but if she does, she has the right to be informed. The only adequate way to inform her about religious beliefs and practices is through representatives of that other religion.”

 

Quoted from Volf, M. (2010). Against the tide: Love in a time of petty dreams and persisting enmities . Cambridge, U.K: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, p. 115.

 


God is Not a Watchmaker … He’s a Musician

For every one who sees a beautifully made lute, and considers the skill with which it has been fitted together and arranged, or who hears its melody, would think of none but the lutemaker, or the luteplayer, and would recur to him in mind, though he might not know him by sight. And thus to us also is manifested that which made and moves and preserves all created things, even though He be not comprehended by the mind. And very wanting in sense is he who will not willingly go thus far in following natural proofs.

Gregory of Nazianzus,  The Second Theological Oration, 288—301 in  The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, 2nd series, vol. 7, eds. P. Schaff and H. Wace (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1989), 290.

From Dembski, W. A. (2002).  No free lunch: Why specified complexity cannot be purchased without intelligence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, p. 374 (note 35).


Evil Necessitates God’s Existence

The very protest against God in the face of evil in fact presupposes God’s existence. Why are we disturbed about the brute and blind force of tsunamis that snuff out people’s lives — including those of children who were lured, as if by some sinister design, onto the beaches by fish left exposed in the shallows because the waters had retreated just before the tidal wave came? If the world is all there is, and the world with moving tectonic plates is a world in which we happen to live, what’s there to complain about? We can mourn — we’ve lost something terribly dear. But we can’t really complain, and we certainly can’t legitimately protest.

The expectation that the world should be a hospitable place, with no devastating mishaps, is tied to the belief that the world ought to be constituted in a certain way. And that belief — as distinct from the belief that the world just is what it is — is itself tied to the notion of a creator. And that brings us to God. It is God who makes possible our protest that there is evil in the world. And it is God against whom we protest. God is both the ground of the protest and its target. Almost paradoxically, we protest with God against God. How can I believe in God when tsunamis strike? I protest, and therefore I believe.

 

Quoted from Volf, M. (2010). Against the tide: Love in a time of petty dreams and persisting enmities. Cambridge, U.K: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, p. 36.