Monday, 21 April 2008

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Some wisdom from the world of hip-hop

Life is fragile, we take it for granted,
I’m thankful for the life I was handed.
Christ stretched out his arms on the cross,
Offered me freedom at a tremendous cost.
I can’t accept the gift without repentance.
I talked to God with expectancy,
He said: “Ask for anything in the name of my Son,
If it’s my will then it will be done”.
I’m not praying for material possessions,
Being close to God is the greatest blessing.
- Braille, ‘Blessed Man’, The IV Edition (Syntax, 2008)

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Dembski on sin and redemption

From William Dembski's Christian Theodicy in the Light of Genesis and Modern Science:

It is vital here to have a correct picture of Christ’s redemption and our role in it. In allowing evil and then redeeming us from it, God is not an arsonist who starts a fire, let’s things heat up for us, and then, at the last moment, steps in so that he can be the big hero. Nor is God a casual bystander, who sees a fire start spontaneously and then lets it get out of control so that he can be the big hero to rescue us. We are the arsonists. We started the fire. God wants to rescue us not only from the fire we started but also, and more importantly, from our disposition to start fires, that is, from our life of arson. [...]

Sin has rendered us insane. Granted, most of us don’t see it that way and take offense at the very suggestion. But if God is all that Christian theology teaches that he is, then it is nothing short of insanity for us to be constantly constructing idols that divert us from finding ultimate satisfaction in the God who is the source of our being and is willing to give himself so totally to us that he enables us to call his life ours (see Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 3:1–4).

The central ideas of Dembski's theodicy are that evils, both personal and natural, exist because God wants us to learn gravity of sin - "to rescue us from a life of arson requires that we know the seriousness of what arson can do [...] so that we can rightly understand the human condition and come to our senses" - and that their origin is to be traced to the fall.  In response to the question of how natural evils can be due to the fall when they preceded it by a few million years, Dembski answers that while they are indeed chronologically prior to the fall, they are logically and "kairologically" posterior to it (not being phased by Newcomb's paradox).

The theodicy itself is interesting and definitely worthy of discussion, and I will be grateful for comments on it.  To my mind, it has a lot going for it, although it does sound a bit much like backward causation, and backward causation sounds weird.  But this is not the point of the post as such.  What I wanted to do was draw attention to the noetic effects of sin (Romans 1:21; 1 Corinthians 1:20; Ephesians 4:18) and its destructiveness.  Apologies to anyone who saw "Dembski" in the title line and is disappointed to find that this post has nothing to do with ID.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Going deeper

They speak truly but touch on only half the matter: we must go deeper.
- John Calvin

Back at the end of February I and about 80-odd other people went to a conference at the Round Church in Cambridge run by a new organisation called Still Deeper, which, the founder explained, aims to really encourage and enable Evangelical Christians to "go deeper" in our faith in terms of doctrine, Bible exposition and cultural engagement. He was worried by a certain superficiality he sensed in contemporary churches, engendered by exessive activism, pragmatism, specialisation and reliance on techniques. This was the first in a planned series of conferences aimed at biblical engagement with certain issues. The issue here was friendship. Over the course of the lectures we explored together what impact Christ should have on our friendships, even on what we understand by the word, in contrast to the world's view, taking in the opinions of such Christian thinkers of the past as John Chrysostom, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Søren Kierkegaard and C.S. Lewis. We also examined what it means to be friends with Jesus (John 15:15). Future conferences are planned, the next due to take place on September 27 and dealing with "The dark side of the cross".

The reason I am blogging about this now is that since then a website has been set up with a useful collection of articles and other resources, including film and book reviews, reflexions on the Christian life, philosophy, theology and information on both conferences mentioned above. I recommend it to you, whether or not you live anywhere near enough to Cambridge to actually make it to any of the conferences.

UPDATE (19/04): The next conference will be in London, not Cambridge.