Tag Archives: Morals

The Dangers of Subjectivism

Recently I have been doing research on the Emergent Church.  Just in case you are not familiar with this movement, let me give you a little background.  The Emergent Church movement originated in conversations between various pastors, youth pastors and church leaders back in the 1990’s.  They were concerned about certain trends and practices they saw in the church.  They were especially concerned about how relevant and effective the church was in reaching a postmodern culture.  Out of their conversations arose an entire movement which has swept through America, Britain, Australia and other parts of the world.

The original ambitions of those involved in these conversations were noble and good.  However, in their efforts to address the concerns of a postmodern society, they ended up becoming a postmodern movement.  It seems, at least in their thinking, that to be relevant you must accommodate yourself to the culture—even if this accommodation involves sacrificing some of the foundational truths of the Christian faith. Continue reading

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Evil = Okay!?

We live in a day when everything is relative.  According to the popular mythology, nothing is absolute.  (How popular mythologists get by with this absolute I will never understand.)  Truth and morality are situational, personal, relational and relative.  The all-too common thinking runs something like this: “If I think it is okay, then it is okay.  If I perceive it as moral and good, then it must be moral and good.”  Usually what such thinkers actually mean is “if what I am doing is something I want to do—that makes me happy—then it must be good.” Continue reading

Have We Lost Our Souls?

Years ago I remember reading a science fiction short story about the depletion of the stock of human souls.  I can’t remember the author or the title… wish I could.  But I do remember that the gist of the story was that God (or fate or nature or whatever) had only created a certain number of souls.  As the population of the earth grew to the abundance we see today, the quantity of available souls was completely reached.  Doctors and midwives, parents and childcare workers, all began to notice that they were seeing children who were alive, but had only a vacant stare and no intellectual response.  They seemed happy, in a sort of mindless bliss, but were missing the vital component that would make them fully human.   What was missing?  They had no souls.  The reservoir of souls had all been used up.  According to the story, the world had reached a stage where all beings genetically identifiable as Homo sapiens were only soulless human-appearing creatures.  We had come to the end of humanity as true human beings.

This story came to mind today because I have been pondering C. S. Lewis’s critically important book The Abolition of Man.  At Advancing Native Missions we currently have four interns working in the office.  As part of their program, they are reading this Lewis work.  George Ainsworth, an ANM staff member, is leading them in their study.  Knowing my devotion to Lewis, George asked if I wanted to join their discussion.  I jumped at the chance.  Thus prompted by this opportunity, I have reread The Abolition of Man for the first time in many years.  What a book!  Some believe that this may be Lewis’s most important work.  It certainly deserves attention as an amazingly prescient writing.

In this book Lewis takes to task a grammar book which he calls The Green Book.  Beyond just discussing grammar, the authors of The Green Book were attempting to change students themselves.  As Lewis observed, the authors were clearly redefining not only the use of language but values and fundamental beliefs.  Basically they rejected the objective nature of truth and the idea of universal absolutes and mores.  Lewis rightly asserts that these matters (call them first principles, natural law, human conscience, or just plain ol’ right and wrong) are foundational in all of Western philosophy and civilization.  We built our culture upon them.  To abandon these building blocks of our society has tremendous consequences not only for the individual students who read this work, but for society as a whole.

In the 1940’s, when Lewis wrote his book, he was seeing the beginnings of this move to jettison such fundamentals.  The idea of a postmodern culture was still decades in the future.  Now, what Lewis saw in a nascent form, we see full grown and endemic in our society.  We are daily witnessing what Lewis “prophetically” saw in 1943.

One of the main points of The Abolition of Man is that by rejecting natural law, what Lewis calls the Tao, the natural way of things, we are rejecting what makes us truly human.  When we remove first principles, absolute truth, we reduce man to something less than human.  We create what Lewis calls “men without chests.”  By this he means there is a disconnect between our intellect and our passions.  And without the mediating human factor, we become either thinking mechanisms or brute beasts.

For example, we may have intellects, thinking minds, but without a proper spiritual basis as a responsible beings created in God’s image, we are simply organic machines.  Thinking is reduced to electrical pulses between synapses in our brains—nothing more.  We are only fleshly computers.  This is the position asserted by Francis Crick in his final major work, The Astounding Hypothesis.  Crick was co-discoverer with James Watson of the structure of the DNA.  For this he was awarded a Nobel Prize.  However, with all his intelligence, Crick rejected the idea that we possess souls, something external to our material physiology.  For him, our minds are only physical realities.  The mind consists of nothing beyond electrical and chemical processes.  We are organic super-computers, if you will.  This is the same position held by many in our culture today.

At the other end of the spectrum we may be “men without chests” who are ruled by our physical urges.  We are slaves to our passions, those barking dogs in the lower recesses of our psyches that Dostoyevsky wrote about.  What is a human being?  According to this perspective, we are only animals dominated by instinct, feelings and hormonal desires.  There are no moral absolutes, no certainty in ethical matters.  What is right is what I want to be right.  Generally, the attitude is more like this:  What is right is what I enjoy, what gives me pleasure.  Humans are nothing but evolved, reasoning primates.  We are not made a “little lower than the angels.”  Instead, we are only one step above gorillas.

The point is this:  It is not our intelligence that makes us human.  Nor is it our physical form.  It is what is found in our chests—our values, our beliefs, our spiritual nature.  What makes us human is our soul.  And the evidence of our soulish nature is seen in the reality of natural law (absolutes, first principles, conscience).  If we deny the existence of natural law, we deny what it is that makes us human.  To deny what fills our “chests,” to dismiss the existence of the soul, is to reject the very essence of what it means to be a human being.  We abolish mankind en masse.

Think this too far-fetched?  Then consider the modern world.  How do you explain gross immorality being promoted as simply “alternative life-styles”?  How do you understand all the crime, violence, war, hatred, and terror of contemporary life?  How do you deal with the slaughter of untold millions of unborn babies?  Every year over 800,000 teens become pregnant out of wedlock in this country.  Why is this happening?  We kill each other over drugs, the very drugs that we use as an escape from the tedium and pain of life itself.  Religious faith has become either something to be mocked or an excuse to justify our immoral behavior.  God is ignored, or blamed for the mess we have created.  In other words, the world is totally fouled up.  And we have made it so.  What we are experiencing is a society of “men without chests.”

 

 

“That’s Not Nice.” Good!

With the advent of an amoral, ethically apathetic, and increasingly characterless society—which we are now experiencing—we have correspondingly seen an epidemic spread through our land. There is moral disease that is robbing us of convictions, values, and truthfulness. It is draining off our integrity, killing our sense of righteousness, and undermining the proclamation of truth. It is a sickness that rots the very fiber of our being as a nation, as a people. It is nothing less than a plague of NICENESS. Continue reading

Voting On Truth?

A number of months ago some eyebrows were raised when country singer Carrie Underwood expressed her views in support of same-sex marriage. Underwood, who is a self-proclaimed Christian believer, said the following: “As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry.” In speaking of the non-denominational church she attends, she commented: “Our church is gay friendly. Above all, God wanted us to love others. It’s not about setting rules, or [saying] ‘everyone has to be like me’. No. We’re all different. That’s what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It’s not up to me to judge anybody.”

When I first read these comments by Carrie Underwood there were red flags popping up in my head like crazy. I am very concerned about what she said. I know that this is a loaded issue. In fact, marriage rights and homosexuality are topics that Christians must exercise a great deal of wisdom in addressing… and, yes, compassion. No, we do not have a right to judge others. Yes, to love others is of paramount importance. It is true that to love God, and to love our neighbors are the preeminent commands of God’s word.

But, it is the very issue of the God’s word (and its authority) that bothers me. While our goal as followers of Christ is not to attack people, or to turn personal opinions into presumed judgments from God—at the same time, we cannot deny or reject the clear teaching of Holy Scripture, on whatever subject. And when it comes to this issue (homosexuality) the Bible is not ambiguous at all. And for me, or any Christian, to reject homosexuality as sinful, perverse and ungodly is not a personal opinion. Rather, it is agreeing with what God has revealed as His will on this subject. It is not a personal judgment on my part. Instead, it is the judgment that God has already rendered, and that I must accede to as His follower. And to affirm that marriage is designed by God, and designed in a specific way, to follow a particular model, is simply to agree with the revelation of the Heavenly Father Himself.

Let’s be clear. The Bible is unequivocal about the sinful nature of homosexuality. For example, consider the following passages of Scripture: Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Jude 7, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Kings 14:24.

The Bible is equally clear about marriage being the union of one man and one woman. This is evident from the creation account in Genesis 2. It is validated and reaffirmed by the clear teaching of the Master Himself (Matthew 19:4-5). And it is ratified by Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5:25-32. Here marriage is seen as a divine institution patterned after the relationship of Christ and His church. To present any other option for the married state other than the union of a man and a woman is to deny the very model given to us of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, atoning work, and covenantal love for His chosen Bride.

With all this said, here then is what really worries me about (and for) Carrie Underwood. As a Christian, a follower of Jesus, what does she do with these Bible passages? Obviously in order to endorse homosexuality and same-sex marriage she must reject clear Scriptural teaching. And this is what is so scary (and dangerous) for her! If a Christian can choose to reject one portion of Scripture because he/she doesn’t like it, or finds it offensive, what about other Biblical passages? If we can decide that we don’t believe one particular Bible teaching, then isn’t all Bible teaching up for grabs? Where do you stop? If we don’t like Jesus’s teaching on loving your enemies and doing good to those who mistreat us—can we choose to ignore these commands? Are we to condone adultery because the man and woman involved are “in love” and we don’t like denying “true love”? Are we allowed to reject the wrongness of murder because some people believe it is okay to kill “inferior people”? And what about the key doctrines of the faith? Many find the idea of Christ’s passion and death offensive. Can we reject these? Some struggle with the concept of the Trinity, or the Incarnation, or Christ’s dual nature? Do we reject these also? Are we only to accept the Biblical teachings that we personally understand, agree with, or find pleasing to our individual tastes?

The bottom line is this: To reject any portion of Scripture, to deny any Biblical truth, is to stumble onto an extremely slippery slope. And once a believer starts tumbling down that hill, there is no end to where they may end up. Indeed, the likelihood of falling all the way to bottom is very high. And the bottom is in the Stygian depths of spiritual deception, moral blindness and ultimately apostasy itself.

Remember, God said: “Diligently do everything I command you, the way I command you: don’t add to it; don’t subtract from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32, The Message).