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Question suggestion

What comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

A.W. Tozer

We are opening a new Series of articles called Question suggestion. This very simple concept is meant to give you one question every week to think about. Simple as that!

However if you would like to share your answer underneath the article, you are more than welcome!

What would you ask God, if you could ask Him something?

…Give it a thought!
 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Question Suggestion

 

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The week deal


“Rejoice, that the immortal God is born, so that mortal man may live in eternity.”

John Huss


 

Jn. 3:16; Is. 9:6-7;

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in News, The week deal, Theology

 

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The Moral Argument

  1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

  2. Objective values and duties do exist.

  3. Therefore, God exists.

 Contemporary form of this argument was formulated by William Lane Craig.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Ethics, Reasonable Faith

 

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Unreasonable Philemon (2/2)

Previous: Unreasonable Philemon (1/2)

A modern reflection

Robert J. Gula, a professor of logic at the Groton School in Massachusetts listed in his book about verbal logical fallacies called “Nonsense” quite a few that Paul in fact uses here, starting with the “word choice”, “image words” or “(controlling) phraseology”.

First two could be described as intentional usage of specific words that create a positive image or describe a situation in a way that makes it sound better than it actually is (removes the sting from a possibly unpleasant condition). This is also called euphemism and a typical example would be to call old people – senior citizens or friends who are in autumn of their lives.

Acknowledging the fact that Onesimus stole a substantial amount of money from Philemon, calling him “useless” (11, NIV) is truly a good “word choice” strategy. As the word “useless” does not sufficiently embrace the fact that damage was induced, but it merely denotes that no positive outcome can be expected. Surely more objective words such as thief, thug or robber could have been used, or even going the opposite, negative, direction rascal or scoundrel could do the job.

Further Gula defines “controlling phraseology” as small suggestions that try to control a response before it is made. These could be short phrases like you do, don’t you, surely you, or even whole sentences as “You don’t really want to go out tonight, do you?” Such phrasing makes it even harder to say “Yes, I do want to go out.” Going back to scriptures we can see this method used abundantly in the verse 21.

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.”

However the prevalent logical fallacy Paul uses would be the appeal to love or appeal to friendship which is together called argumentum ad amicitiam. This occurs when no or only very little reasonable arguments are offered, but emphasize is put solely on a relationship e.g. wife telling to her husband: “if you truly loved me, you would buy me that pearl necklace”. Logically while husband can be deeply in love with his wife, he will not buy her the pearl necklace, for he is perfectly aware of the fact that if he did it, they would not be able to pay their rent for next month. And because he loves her he wants the best for her, which is in this case roof over her head.

Besides overall presence of this appeal in the epistle, we can see it also specifically in verse 17:

“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”

Philemon is requested here to treat a disloyal, dishonorable and deceitful slave in a completely same manner as he would treat his dear friend and co-worker in Christ Apostle Paul merely on the ground of their partnership without much further explanation attached to it. This does not seem like a good deal for him, furthermore it appears to be completely irrational!

Legalism vs. Grace

After this somewhat lengthily examination I believe the contrast of legalism and grace needs to be taken into the picture, to adequately explain what Paul is truly doing here. As shown before, his request is plainly absurd, at least from the legalistic perspective.

However, Christ did not come on Earth to secure legalism, but to establish grace for sinners. The reason why rational cogitations based on logic and adamant justice will never support grace, is that grace goes beyond them. Grace is in fact illogical and until one wants to hold tight to legalistic perspective he can never understand what grace is, as Jesus demonstrated it. Mr. Gula himself in conclusion expressed that after all there is nothing intrinsically wrong with emotional appeals, for sometimes they merely reflect a deep feeling or belief. If our belief in God is genuine it should be reflected in our behavior and talk as well.

Today we are more and more concerned with justice, than ever before. The American trend to immediately sue anyone or anything that could possibly induce damage to our well-being is slowly stretching all over western world, leaving only very little space for forgiveness, mercy and grace. Paul in the same time to the same city writes:

“13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

 (Col 3:13–14, NIV)

Letter to Philemon invites us to start walking on an seemingly irrational path, which will surely be often misunderstood by the secular world (1.Cor. 4:10), yet God’s perspective tells us that it is perfectly reasonable, as together with love it creates unity among people. Since our churches and their members are not at all immune to this cultural influence change, it is crucial for us to remind ourselves repeatedly what God has done for us and that he just asks us to follow His example. As it was with Pharisees, we have just the same tendency to descend to legalistic attitude, which Jesus addressed so sharply in Matthew 23.

Soteriology, one of the Major’s in Bible is a grace based doctrine and Christians should likewise ascribe weight to it in their individual lives as it is a powerful tool that transforms lives and repairs what was once broken.

Since in this paper I have put emphasize on God’s grace, I believe there are certainly other perspectives that could be examined regarding this letter; however these affairs need to be gone over by some other studies. Finishing with a short quote from the “prince of paradox”, I would like to leave an open end for everyone to contemplate over its meaning and use.

“Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.”

–       G.K. Chesterton

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2011 in Theology

 

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The week deal


“The true calling of a Christian is not to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things in an extraordinary way.”

A. P. Stanley


 

I Cor. 1:26-28; II Timothy 2:20-21;

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in The week deal

 

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Sense the nonsense

Some time ago I was browsing web and I found this short comic on the topic of atheism.

While I was slightly amused by an awkward position to which this christian couple was put to, knockout that author intended to show is however certainly not as sharp as it appears.

One of the roots of the problem around the question “Who is an atheist?” is it’s very definition. We should not continue to solve this issue without first defining the word atheist.

According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary atheist is: “one who believes that there is no deity.

Thesaurus: “someone who denies the existence of god.”

American Atheists (self-definition): “Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity, which implies that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.

Other: “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

This meaning of the word “atheist” is in its root of origin very similar to the word “atypical”. For in both cases we only added letter “a” in front of the original word. a-theist / a-typical, which changed the value of the word to its opposite meaning.

Reading the comic with these definitions in mind, we are one step closer in seeing why is it just a nonsense, rather than a witty blow to Christians.

Mathematically speaking: If Jeremy says that he believes, that 349*825 is 287925 then you have three basic options to choose from.

  • Check his claim whether what he is saying is true. After doing your math you can either come to the same conclusion and agree with him. (Christian – theist)
  • or come to a different one and disagree with him while having or at least assuming a different result. (Muslim – theist)
  • Disagree with him while saying that a result does not exist (dividing by zero is impossible) (Atheist)

We see that in the example above, not everyone can be right, we can all be wrong, but we can’t all be right. Here all three options represent position, standpoint, belief or opinion which has or ought to have a value in for one who is seeking the truth.

Therefore when a Theist says that an Atheist has a belief (faith) that there is no God, he holds a valid standpoint. However when an Atheist is trying to do the same, by pointing at the fact that a Christian (Theist 1) does not share the same view (does not have a belief in the same God) as Muslim (Theist 2) therefore he has 2 beliefs or holds 2 opinions, he is simply committing the usual “non sequitur” fallacy (conclusion does not follow from the premises).

Surely it logically follows, when a person believes that 2+2=4 he believes not that 2+2=5. Yet the second is not a belief by itself, but only a logical necessity following from the primary belief. This cannot be said about a belief that 2+2 has no true result, for this is the primary belief in itself and all the other (2+2=4 or 2+2=5) “disbeliefs” are thus logically necessary.

 Other Definitions

However, today we can find other, new definitions of the word atheist such as “the absence of belief in any gods.” or “disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.” This position is also called a “weak atheism” and is often called also agnostic atheism. For it is very similar (if not the same) to a view called agnosticism that holds no commitment to any opinion whatsoever, perhaps only that the ultimate reality is unknown and probably unknowable (Merriam Webster).

Now, having this definition in mind I guess we in fact do have a fourth option and that is to say: “I do not know and probably I don’t even care.” This is surely a position, however at this point it seems that any further discussion is unnecessary. At least until one truly opens himself to the sort of questions, which has been sought to be answered by the many generations before us, namely: “How did it all start? What is our purpose? Where are we heading?…” To find the best possible explanation is one way to do it, which does not commit anyone to the inevitable verity of his conclusions only proposes rationality behind them over the reasonableness of its rival hypothesis.

 
 

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Illegal Software & Christians (revised)

Throughout my life I have often met people that were deeply involved in working with computers; I experienced ministers that were using various software for projection, video or audio editing. All my friends in school and church always had computers and had installed a wide variety of different kinds of software, copied music, downloaded movies and burned CD’s every day. I was also practically raised in an environment where rules of CopyRight did not exist. CopyRight was a Right to Copy! As most young teenagers I as well acted according to the golden rule: ”Monkey see, monkey do.” I joined my friends and joyfully followed their footsteps. We passed games to each other, watched movies that someone downloaded and of course listened to all the new cool music CD’s of famous secular but also Christian interpreters.

Then, one day my brother threw out all his burned CD’s and for the first time in my life introduced me to the true idea of copyrights. I did not take it seriously and thought that he was way too much radical; however I can say that that was the time when I slowly started to think about the whole issue of piracy and software theft. As I started to notice this “only legal software” behavior at some other people I seriously put myself into finding out whether all what I was doing was wrong or just these few people around me were somehow weird?

The challenge

In the past there was nothing like stealing software, because there simply was no software. In the past everything was hardware and since earth was created, people took this kind of crime very seriously; everybody knew very well what theft was and was also aware of the repression consequential to it. So concept of software by itself is quite young, all together not more than 60 years, and for many it is hard to implement into their way of thinking. How do we define theft? Is it when we acquire something while someone else forfeits it? I believe that many different interesting opinions and ideas could arise out of these questions; I would resolutely say that response for the second question should go much further than to just a simple “yes” answer.  There are still millions of people in countries all over the world that did not meet with notion of software and thereby it is important to clear this out for ourselves in order to be able to communicate it further to these people in the future. Many are today convinced that software is too expensive to buy and companies like Microsoft or Mac are already very wealthy therefore they do not need the additional money for my one little copy of their product, but is that really true? Others say that the copyright law is not clear enough, it changes too frequently and they are not willing to study it every time it does change, more than that they see everyone around doing it, including their brothers and sisters in faith.  So how is it when even Christians do so, is it an excuse for us to do likewise when majority is doing it? Maybe they truly realize the gravity of copyright law and also see copying software as stealing, but still own some black copies and as they often claim, are planning to buy it later; Is this alright then? And probably the most common case occurs still when simply people say: “I do not have money for all of it, but I want to watch movies and I want to listen to music. I do not harm anybody, if I had to buy it I would not buy it anyway and after all nobody is inspecting it so they are not going to catch me.” Does lack of money excuse us to copy software that we did not pay for on our computer? Is not there something a little bit astray if our standard of doing something is based on considering the fact whether they are going to catch us or not? One of the most often excuses Christians make when downloading worship songs is that it is not the same, that it is different because they have good motives, they want to praise and give glory to God. And God looks first of all at the intentions of heart. So is it OK then to download music? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Ethics, Reasonable Faith, Theology

 

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