Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On Doubting

From The Reason for God by Timothy Keller: 

Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts--not only their own but their friends' and neighbors'. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt. 

But even as believers should learn to look for reasons behind their faith, skeptics must learn to look for a type of faith hidden within their reasoning. All doubts, however skeptical and cynical they may seem, are really a set of alternate beliefs. You cannot doubt Belief A except from a position of faith in Belief B. For example, if you doubt Christianity because "There can't be just one true religion," you must recognize that this statement is itself an act of faith. No one can prove it empirically, and it is not a universal truth that everyone accepts. If you went to the Middle East and said, "There can't be just one true religion," nearly everyone would say, "Why not?" The reason you doubt Christianity's Belief A is because you hold unprovable Belief B. Every doubt, therefore, is based on a leap of faith. 

Some people say, "I don't believe in Christianity because I can't accept the existence of moral absolutes. Everyone should determine moral truth for him- or herself." Is that a statement they can prove to someone who doesn't share it? No, it is a leap of faith, a deep belief that individual rights operate not only in the political sphere but also in the moral. There is no empirical proof for such a position, so the doubt (of moral absolutes) is a leap. 

Some will respond to all this, "My doubts are not based on a leap of faith. I have no beliefs about God one way or another. I simply feel no need for God and I am not interested in thinking about it." But hidden beneath this feeling is the very modern American belief that the existence of God is a matter of indifference unless it intersects with my emotional needs. The speaker is betting his or her life that no God exists who would hold you accountable for your beliefs and behavior if you didn't feel the need for him. That may be true or it may not be true, but, again, it is quite a leap of faith. 

The only way to doubt Christianity rightly and fairly is to discern the alternate belief under each of your doubts and then to ask yourself what reasons you have for believing it.
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Truth is...there is very little knowing in this life; just looking at clues and making a call.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Maawidg...Maawidg is What Bwings Us Togedder Today

A. J. Jacobs has made a name for himself by writing about his social experiments wherein he subjects himself to a set of rules (like, for instance, living up to the Old Testament law, which he wrote about in The Year of Living Biblically).
In The Guinea Pig Diaries, he set out to spend a month doing everything his wife said...to be The Perfect Husband. In one short passage, he comes up with a pretty good word picture for what a good marriage should be like: 

This is something I notice throughout the day. Whenever Julie says something, my default setting is to argue with her. It's (usually) not overtly hostile bickering. It's just affectionate parrying. Verbal jujitsu.

I also know it's not good. You playfully bicker enough, and after a few years, it stops being playful. 

I've got to reboot my brain. Marriage doesn't have to be boxing. Maybe it can be two people with badminton rackets trying to keep the birdie in the air.

Truth is...a guy (like A. J.) doesn't have to be a marriage counselor to give some good counsel about marriage.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On Colossians 3:17

In the New International Version, the 17th verse of the 3rd chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians reads thus: "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

Now HERE'S a challenging set of questions to ask myself before doing or saying anything...

Can I do this in Jesus' name...as His representative?
Can I thank the One who died for me for what I am about to do?
Will this activity mark me as a Christ-follower, or will it stand in stark contrast to that claim?

Truth is...like Paul, it's "not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Philippians 3:12)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Best Presents

The March 30-April 1, 2012 edition of USA Weekend featured an article by "personal finance guru Jean Chatzky" titled "8 Great Rules to Grow Your Money."
I have a particular fondness for tip number six:
Buy experiences, not things. Spending on experiences makes people happier than spending on things. Things get broken and go out of style. Experiences get better every time you talk about them.

And a cool thing is...even if the experience wasn't all that great, sharing its story and laughing about it makes it a good experience after all.

Truth is...I personally prefer to give (and receive) experiences as gifts, and now it's nice to have corroboration.