Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Really?

It's when I sit here late at night, reading the Word or listening to music. That's when I just get filled with wonder. Is it really true that a man on a cross has bought me freedom and life, and God.. forever? This is beyond words. This is amazing.

Is it really, really true? God, giving me His life?  The creator of all, chosing me for eternal salvation, apart from any and all of my own merit...  wow. Truly, truly this is, as it is called, "such a great salvation".

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Ways are Higher than Yours

I want to quickly right down this thought while it is lucid in my mind:

I wish someone had taught me this earlier, because not realizing it before-hand has caused me a significant amount of emotional pain.

This is going to be a little exercise in epistemology. Let me define terms: Epistemology is the study of what we know. It is a field which asks the questions that not everyone likes to ask, like, "How do we know this, or that?" and, "What does it mean to know something", etc..   A proposition is something which is simply a statement about reality which can be true or false. For example, "There is a dog in my basement." is a proposition. It depends on whether there is a dog in your basement or not if it's a true proposition! Propositions can be replaced by Letters. For example, I could call the earlier mentioned proposition "P" and refer to it as P) from now on.

What we do with propositions is take a stance towards them-- an stance about the truth of the proposition. I can either believe proposition A), I can believe A) is not true, and I can simply withhold belief since both A) and not-A) are equally justified.  One is called belief, the other is called belief in the negation of the formerly mentioned proposition. The last is called agnosticism. By the way, shame on any atheists who claim that atheism is simply a "lack of belief" in God. That's agnosticism.

Anyways. When it comes to believing a certain proposition, there are reasons to believe it and there are reasons not to believe it. If there are more and better reasons to believe a proposition than to believe it is false, then you should believe the proposition. For example, even if Christianity were 51% likely to be true and 49% likely to be false, we would be required to believe it over the contradictory, "Christianity is false."

Now to the main point! If there are good, solid reasons to believe that God exists and that Jesus rose from the dead, then that makes Christianity very likely to be true. Unfortunately it can't positively prove it-- but think about it: you can't even positively prove that the external world exists.

For example, the resurrection.
Either the (Hallucination theory, Disciples stole the body theory, Survival on the Cross theory, Myth/Embellishment theory, or the Resurrection theory) is true. Everything except the resurrection theory is very unlikely.

Now, just because the resurrection is the best historical explanation of the events surrounding the crucifixion and appearance of Jesus after his death doesn't mean that it's been positively proved. The very logical possibility that we could be wrong entails that it's not 100% proved. But it is by far more likely than the resurrection not being true. And even if a supernatural bodily resurrection did happen. Does that necessarily imply that Christianity is true? Much to my aggravation, no, actually! Because it's logically possible that an Evil God raised Jesus from the dead to fool us all! But how likely is that? Very, very unlikely. So the evidence for the resurrection makes Christianity far more likely to be true than anything else. But you could never prove it 100% (nor can you prove anything 100% except your own existence.)

 We should then believe that Christianity is true since it is far more likely to be true than to not be true. But suppose that there are problems with Christianity. Not even problems, really, but things that don't make sense. Like original sin, or hell, or evil, or problems with the Bible which archaeological research has not found an answer to (or shows evidence contrary to).  Does that mean that we should then ditch Christianity as a worldview? Of course not.  I remember so many cases of where the Bible's critics found some sort of historical evidence against the Bible only to be silenced in later years by evidence which was just discovered. There was once a professor who claimed that the New Testament was myth simply because in his studies of antiquity around the time of Jesus crucifixion, the only evidence pointed to the fact that those who were crucified were tied to the cross with ropes, not nailed by their hands and feet like the Bible claims Jesus was.  Only years later, in ancient Jerusalem a family tomb was discovered where the male father had been crucified with his hands and feet nailed to the cross. That objection disappeared.

So, my main point is that simply because there are potential problems or things that don't make sense doesn't mean that we should therefore toss a whole worldview. We must approach our investigations as to what is true taking into consideration how little we truly know about the world as compared to what God knows. If the way God did things seems blatantly unjust or wrong to you, perhaps its because God knows everything and you know next to nothing. 

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

These are a few verses which I've seriously had to consider recently. What problems with Christianity have I been experiencing of late? None, really. I've just been thinking about the nature of justification of beliefs and realized this, whereas I used to take arguments in isolation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reality

Thank goodness for objective truth!

I hold to the "Correspondence" theory of truth. That's essentially the theory that statements are only true when when they state corresponds to reality. For example, if I say "The Universe began 13.5 billion years ago", that statement is absolutely false unless it is true in reality that the Universe began 13.5 billions years ago.

I also believe that reality is independent of my belief. God did things a certain way, and anyone who believes something which doesn't correspond with the way God actually did things is simply wrong. If it turns out that the statements that Calvinism makes are false, then I am wrong.

Knowing this, I can seek out truth knowing that what I believe about it cannot change it. Why is this important? Well, if you've ever struggled with worldview questions, you know that struggles can produce confusion. Confusion produces a strangled vision. Strangled vision lowers passion. A low amount of passion causes burn out. And man, have I burned out before.

But if reality is independent of my belief, I can know that even when I get confused about Christianity, Jesus is no more or less glorious than he was before I got confused. The Bible says that God is unchanging; Philosophy does as well. (in fact, if any of the eternal truths about God changed, he couldn't exist).  If this is true, though, then it humbles me and gives me the ability to accept that my rational arguments cannot change God. He's eternal. He's there. He's glorious. And none of it's changing.

I know this seems rather basic and obvious. But knowing very well how the human frame starts to collapse under the pressure of conflicting beliefs, these very ideas rebel against a human tendency to believe that reality changes as a person's belief's change. It doesn't. Reality doesn't change. So feel free to pursue it!  Jesus is waiting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Desperate Conversations

The Conversation that's been going on between me and God all day:


God: Stop ignoring me. It's not like I don't know how superficial your devotions have been. I want your real heart.

Me: I can't trust you.

God: Yes you can.

Me: No I can't. What about all the painful, suicidal doubts I went through? You just left me cold. I've never even been abandoned by a human that violently.

God: Was I really not there? Use your philosophy that you claim to be so good at. Did I really leave you?

Me: Yes. And it hurts so bad. Leave me alone.

God: No.

Me: What about all those people who sought you out but never found you?

God: Which ones? No one has sought me out faithfully and not found me.

Me: I don't know! All of them. I don't trust you!

God: I thought you were a "rational person", Evan.

Evan: I am, and I have concluded that I can't trust you.

God: But don't you believe in me?

Evan: Of course, all the empirical and philosophical evidence points straight to you. A person would have to be forcefully ignoring evidence not to believe in you.

God: Then why can't you trust me?

Evan:

God: There is but one stream to drink from, Evan. You're not going to find anything better than me. The rest is mud puddles.

Evan: Do you realize that I could explain you away or liberalize you away in a matter of minutes?

God: Could you?

Evan: no. I mean, I could ask painful questions about you though.

God: Like what?

Evan: What about all the suffering? What about all the pain? Where are you? Why do you let all this horrible stuff happen?

God: Evan, several months ago you said the Problem of Evil was a horrible argument against me. Do you not believe your own rebuttal?

Evan: Of course I believe it. But that still begs questions about your character. It's not you I'm doubting, it's your faithfulness.

God: Where have I been unfaithful to you?

Evan: I need more than just your Spirit. But even having your Spirit would be nice. But no. You've been very sparing about giving your Spirit to me. What's up with that?

God: I don't give gifts when they're not desired.

Evan: So you're saying I never desired your spirit?

God: Oh, you convinced yourself you did. But you didn't, really. It would've meant scary change for you. And that's not fun is it? Because you can't trust God to be there with you, because he won't give you his Spirit. That's what you call circular reasoning Evan. You get really mad when people use that, don't you? Why are you using it now?

Evan: What do you want from me?

God: I want your heart.

Evan: I don't give my heart to people I don't trust.

God: You've got to trust me. I created everything, remember? I work everything for your good. Remember the earlier years of your life where you preached in the streets and were so filled with joy? You can have that again.

Evan: I don't want it.

God: Why not?

Evan:  Because I wasn't as informed then as I am now. Now I know that you don't always come through.

God: Well when it comes to believing that I'll come through in places I never said I would come through, that makes sense. But where I've said I'll come through, I'll come through.

Evan: I don't know how to give you my heart.

God: Trust me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Random

Random thoughts:


"The Cross and the Switchblade" is such an inspiring and encouraging book. A story of God's faithfulness.


Also:


"So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." Jn 16:22.


Is it really true that my Joy will NEVER be taken away from me? 


I am an analytically impulsive person. When I'm thinking about something amazing that gives me great joy, I have this criterion of acceptable beliefs which goes something along the lines of, "Too good to be true, gotta throw it out." No wonder I doubted Christianity so much. 


When I think about things that make me happy, if I start getting really happy and joyful, I start questioning them to make sure they're for real and not just fake. I have an overbearing intolerance for relying on fake or false beliefs (thus why I'm always quiet and thinking a lot, working out internal difficulties in my belief systems). Not that I expect to always be like this at all, but for the past year, whenever I get joyful about the truth of Christianity, my heart has a subtle fear that I'll start questioning it again. It's not like Christianity isn't true, it's just that I question everything that makes me joyful. But it's starting to get to that sweet point in my belief formation process  where no matter how much I question it, Christianity and Christ return with a full reward of reassurance. I still have my questions. But I have an overarching, faithful, anchor-for-the-soul answer. That's good stuff. 


No one, nothing, will take your joy from you or my joy from me. Now that's something to lose everything for. 



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Loss

I am being fearfully and unwillingly forced (or, dragged by God) to this realization: that to lose everything I have confidence and satisfaction in apart from God is perhaps the best thing that could ever happen to me. But I don't want it to happen. But I know it has to happen.