“Life is pain…. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” So says the Dread Pirate Roberts (in The Princess Bride—a must-see movie!) Roberts is right. Life is full of pain. From getting splinters while woodworking to losing loved ones (as I wrote about in my last series here), we all suffer more than we care to admit.
I was surprised this topped the charts last year. It is on a very important topic, but is quite technical. I decided to write it because it needed to be written, but I didn’t think it would get many views. 560 people thought otherwise, making this the most popular post of last year. (It being promoted by someone else in December didn’t hurt either!)
As I did last year, I am again re-posting the top three articles from last year. The third most-read article was “Announcing the Society of Christian Scholars” posted July 5 and having 432 readers.
This is a good time to repost this article—we are less than two months away from the establishment of the Society of Christian Scholars! If you know any Christian professors, graduate students/post docs, or campus ministers/campus pastors who serve Christian professors, please help us get the word out by inviting them to visit www.SocietyofChristianScholars.org.
Before determining the morality of abortion, we must first reflect deeply on what a human person is, and when a human person begins. Last week I discussed the first issue. Secondly, when does human life begin? There are two ways to answer this question. They both come to the same conclusion, yet by different routes. Each has pros and cons, and we should use them in different contexts. Understanding this is essential in developing both our personal and our social ethic concerning this issue.
“Roe Isn’t Just About Women’s Rights. It’s About Everyone’s Personal Liberty.” was the title of an opinion piece in The Washington Post on July 8. It is one of many articles written about the possibility of a new member of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. How can Christians best think about and discuss this issue with others?
We all want to be faithful to our Lord’s command to see the gospel permeate and change the world. As Christians, we see countless ways things are not as they should be—people alienated from God, one another, God’s good creation, and even themselves. As a result, they live and lead from non-Christian beliefs and values, which results in shattered lives, fractured families, human trafficking, oppressive regimes, and many other forms of alienation from God and one another.
(As we look back on 2017 I'm posting the three blog posts which received the most views. If you missed these the first time around, hopefully you will enjoy these reposts!) Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
2017 ended with a bang—a barrage of sexual harassment charges against Harvey Weinstein and so many others. I call these men “Weinstein et al.” In my last post, I explained that their accusers (rightly) assume Weinstein et al. have violated an objective moral value, and therefore what they did was Wrong. This week I’ll explain why we must be consistent in our ethic, applying this same reasoning to similar moral issues. Otherwise our rebuke of Weinstein et al. is hollow, and our inconsistency is the "Achilles heel" of our quest for human flourishing and the common good.
2017 ended with a bang—a barrage of sexual harassment charges. Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, James Toback, Ben Affleck, Cris Savino, Roy Price, Blake Farenthold, John Besh, Al Franken, Mark Halperin, Michael Oreskes, Lockhart Steele, Matt Lauer, Roy Moore, Russell Simmons (and this only scratches the surface). I’ll call this group “Weinstein et al.”
What do talk shows, news reports, political debates and many conversations between two people who disagree have in common? Often people are not listening to but rather attacking one another. These are examples of a third way healthy conversations are derailed—though the ad hominem fallacy. In fact, this is so common that it may be the hardest of the three fallacies to spot. But we must learn to identify it and reject it if we want to have healthy conversations and come to agreement on the issues we care most about.
Good conversations can help us understand one another, find truth together, and flourish. Unfortunately, there are three ways healthy and profitable conversations can be derailed. The second wrong turn is the “Genetic Fallacy.” We hear it all the time and must avoid it at all costs. In this post I’ll define the genetic fallacy and illustrate ways it was used against Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement, how I hear it in conversations about the Gospel, and how it underlies the charge of “homophobia.”
Recently a major credit card processor refused to handle further transactions that were gifts directed to a non-profit group. They said the organization’s view of family breakdown and the impact such a view has on children made it a “hate group.” Similarly, a firm that provides information about non-profits labeled one association a “hate group” due to the group’s traditional position on marriage (though the information company quickly retracted this assessment when critics challenged their arbitrary action).
Within the past two weeks, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston and Hurricane Irma swept over Florida. My wife and I have many friends and relatives in Florida, and so we have been glued to the news. Now that we have all had time to catch our collective breath and begin to assess the damage, there is much to learn. I see three reminders in the events of the past few weeks: we live in a fallen world, everyone knows this is not the way it ought to be, and our call is to be good stewards of this world. (I’m interrupting my leadership blog series to discuss these reminders this week.)
Does the world need North Americans to continue sending missionaries worldwide to finish the task of seeing all people hear the gospel? Or have we done our part, and now it is time for those in other nations to finish the task in their homelands? A recent article taking the first position was criticized in a response in another journal here, highlighting the two opposing views. I just finished a book that charts a helpful “middle course” between the two.
Artists are able to see beauty before it exists, and bring it into being, taking raw materials such as paint, canvas, clay, metal, fabric, notes, words or movement, and producing something of value. I believe this is what Christians are called to do in culture—take what God has created and produce something of value, which leads to human flourishing and the common good. As Ted Turnau puts it, “God commands us to develop his creation. It makes sense, then, that the Bible begins with a garden and ends with a city.” (Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective, p. 54)
Abortion, reproductive technologies, end-of-life issues, LGBT rights, environmental concerns, racial tensions, artistic expression. These are just a few of the important conversations currently underway in our culture. They are ultimately questions about how we define the nature and ends of humans, what the good life is, what constitutes human flourishing and how to promote the common good.
“If I can’t see it, it isn’t real.” This is another way people often express their belief in Physicalism. So far I’ve offered two reasons Physicalism can’t be true. In this final post on the topic I’ll offer a third….
In sum, if Physicalism is true, then we would have to reject all consciousness, including all rational thought. This is a very hard thing to admit, and therefore few Physicalists are willing to do so. But the honest Physicalist must do so and grant that “no one has ever had a thought in his life” and “there cannot be a rational reason to believe in Physicalism.” Let me explain.
“If science can’t prove it, it isn’t real.” This is another way the belief in Physicalism” is expressed. Last week I discussed one reason Physicalism dies before it gets started as a rational approach to the world—it is logically self-defeating. This week I’ll tackle a second problem with Physicalism—it can’t explain so much of what we observe every day.