CENTER: On self?

Unfortunately, the Liberal worldview is just one manifestation of our not being ‘grown-up’ about things (i.e., family, friends, foes, work, play, rest, etc.).  In other words, what’s wrong with Liberalism is wrong with all of us!  We need to grow-up and be comfortable doing so, especially when those around us act/think like children.

Let’s remember that all our efforts are in vain, unless Christ builds himself (likeness) in us, otherwise we’ll be found pretending to be grown-up.

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REALITY: Grasping it with both Faith and Reason

The following are notes based upon a Ken Samples lecture, which can be listened to here:  Dangerous Ideas (part 4)

NOTES on Making Sense of Reality from a Christian Perspective – Compatibility of Faith and Reason

1)      Ultimate Metaphysical Question:

  1. Why is there “something” instead of nothing?
    1. Why does anything exist?

2)      The existence of God is the best explanation of reality.

  1. A cumulative argument is sufficient
    1. Being more plausible, credible, and reasonable
    2. Having ‘explanatory power’
    3. Not arguing for certainty, but plausibility
  2. We believe that to make sense of the world “faith” is essential
    1. Denial is a willful choice
      1. Fool: suppresses the truth
    2. Atheism requires a great faith
      1. They too have to bear the burden of proof, in explaining God’s alleged nonexistence in light of reality

3)      Reason does not cause faith, but reason supports faith

  1. Reason = general revelation
  2. Faith = special revelation
    1. The latter is in itself reasoning, but more particularly on the basis of special revelation and divine intervention
    2. The former reveals that it is epistemologically and morally inexcusable to reject a biblical faith; particularly that it would be irresponsible to do so without giving due consideration to the true nature of reality and how well a Christian faith coincides with it.

4)      C.L.E.A.R.

Cosmos: cosmological argument

Life: meaning realities

Ethics: objective, prescriptive realities

Abstractions: ultimate source of conceptions

Religion: sense of the divine

  1. COSMOS
    1. Cosmological Argument
      1. Singular beginning (origin)
      2. Order and elegance
      3. Fine tuning
    2. “Almost everyone believes there was a beginning of the Universe and Time.” Steven Hawking
      1. Matter, Energy, Space, and Time
        1. All have a mysterious origin
    3. Big Bang
      1. Bible: only holy book to address the particular dynamics of this
      2. Universe: 13 Billion years old
      3. Earth: 4 Billion years old
    4. A look into outer space displays an undeniable order
      1. The universe is just the right place for life
      2. Laws of physics do not demand a universe as such as we have.
        1. It doesn’t have to be the way it is to exist
        2. It does have to be the way it is for us to exist
        3. Extremely complex design requires an explanation that is not bound by the laws of physics
  2. LIFE
    1. Meaningful Realities
      1. Human consciousness; free-agency; and meaning
        1. Materialism, etc. cannot give us a plausible explanation for their existence.
  3. ETHICS
    1. Objective, prescriptive ethics
      1. Duties and Human Values
        1. Universally objective law
        2. Murder is always wrong
        3. Moral values are built into reality, our existence
        4. Why is there not absolute moral chaos?
          1. Atheism: Morality is invented, descriptive, and subjective
          2. Nazism could have been considered right, if they won the war!
    2. Problem of Good
      1. Why is there good?
      2. This is equally as important to answer as is the question of ‘why there is evil?’.
  4. ABSTRACTIONS
    1. Numbers; Logic; Propositions
      1. Conceptual realities
        1. Never in your life have you seen a number
          1. “9” is a symbol that represents a notion of nineness
          2. These make life meaningful and intelligible
            1. These come from the mind of God
            2. They are unexplainable on the basis of matter alone
              1. Physicalism; Materialism
  5. RELIGION
    1. Sense of the divine
      1. Awareness of God
      2. Universal religiosity of humanity
        1. Inherent in man
        2. Intuitive awareness
    2. Jesus Christ
      1. Called himself “God”
        1. “I am.”  (Jn.8)
        2. Matchless moral character
          1. In three years…turned the world upside-down
          2. Prolific miracle work
            1. His enemies never denied that He did them!
            2. Messianic prophecies
              1. Fulfilled
            3. Empty tomb
              1. Post-mortem appearances
              2. 500+ witnesses
            4. Paul’s conversion
              1. From Judaism to Christianity
                1. The equivalent of Hitler becoming a Jew!

The Christian faith, based upon the Holy Bible, makes the most sense of life, of reality.

NEW SELF: New Creation in Christ

“Old self” is dead, having been crucified once-for-all with Christ.

“New self” is the new life we now have in Christ: new heart, new mind, new spirit, and the Holy Spirit.

Forever forgiven.

Saved (made a new creation, through new birth in Christ) once-for-all in Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice and eternal priesthood.

All sin(s) forgiven; full fellowship now; no longer slaves to the reign of Sin (original Sin, Adam’s); now held captive by the reigning Lord of Life.

Forever are we reconciled…this is something we will reckon with daily.

As a people with new hearts/minds under a New Cov’t, we are therefore now bearing a new image (identity) that actually shapes our self awareness as Saints (no longer Sinners, in the NC sense).

YOU (4): As Lord or Savior?

MORE OF MY CONVERSATION OVER ON FACEBOOK:

Hello, XXXXX!  Honestly, at some level, I appreciate all three things you mention, knowing that on a *superficial level* they might be the only options in our making some kind of *temporary fix.* But, they would be just that, temporary at best, leaving the ‘heart’ of the problem untouched.

With any good treatment of standard physical ailments there needs to be a good ‘diagnosis’ first before a sound ‘prognosis’ can be had.  Without identifying THE root cause…we just end up tracking down dead-end streets, only to find ourselves in an ongoing search for better answers, or just giving up in frustration.  Nor will things get any better by our being ‘led’ by *emotions* (how we “feel” about this or that), for oftentimes they actually impair our understanding of what’s really going on.  We depend then on the facts, moving hopefully from thinking well about the symptoms to grasping well a corresponding course of action.

Therefore, it is imperative that we get to *heart* of the problem!  Anything less won’t due.  Anything other is superficial.

In the course of our looking at this scenario (drunk-of-a-husband/nag-of-a-wife), I’ve made the observation that the *heart* of the problem is…one’s first-birth problem…an inborn-identity-crisis.  To attempt to “fix” this *heart* problem by placing band-aids (i.e., tough-love, “self-love”, boundaries, etc.) on the outside is nothing short of bad medicine.

Again, I agree, there comes times when one has to “step back” (a.k.a, tough-love/boundaries), but these are mere external measures.   What remains untouched is the *heart* problem; the root problem that bore all the bad fruit.  No medicine, no talk-therapy, no manipulation will make the internal fix.  Regardless of whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, money, work, leisure, etc. that is in the picture, all of it remains very much external.  All the so-called “abuse” is a mere symptom.

And, I agree, there is something to be said about so-called “self-destructing” or “self-loathing.”  They are real, yes.  However, I don’t believe they in themselves are the *heart* problem, but again, only another way of speaking of the symptoms.

It might help if we ask questions like: Why is this person in an apparent state of self-loathing?  Could it be that they are merely feeling “sorry” for themselves?  Could it be that they are so disappointed in themselves and others for this reason or that?  Could it be that they began with too high of an opinion (expectation) of themselves, that they deserve this or that, but things didn’t turn out the way they thought they must?!  Could it be that they simply can’t bear with reality (things not going “our” way)?  Couldn’t it be they want control (of themselves, others, circumstances, etc.), but sulk (seek to suppress reality) when they realize it just ain’t so?   Could it be they are fearful and/or prideful when faced with the “control” question…they aren’t ultimately in control?  Could it be they can’t live sober (face-to-face with reality) so they mask (protect!) who they really are?

Granted, all of our inner-trouble speaks of a need for a proper self-image, but our wrongly *identifying* THE problem only creates more problems; all of which are a response that DEMANDS that others see us as we want to see ourselves.  And yet, we are afraid to face the harsh reality that we ALL are but human, not all that different, and have a BIG problem.  Nothing is ultimately fixed; the game goes on and on.

In sum, it’s always an *identity-problem.*  We’re born with it.  We struggle with it.  We mask it.  We dress it up.  We dress it down.  But, it always remains the same inside, an *identity-crisis.*  Our jobs, our cars/houses, our marriages, our children, our bank accounts, our 401K’s, our parents, our friends, our hopes, our dreams, our talk-talk-talk, our experience(s), our education, our mere-religion, our country, our name, our so-called goodness, our looks, our stuff! are never THE  solution, nor are they THE problem.  Our-selves!  Ourselves, our inner-self, our soul, this is where the problem lies and where the solution must be applied.  Anything less is artificial, a mere masking of that inner reality of soul.

So as for this notion of “self-love”…I find it never to be a remedy but always a reality (natural), regardless of how distorted it becomes, we have by birth a distorted preoccupation with ourselves.

What’s ultimately needed then?  Love from Above (vertical)!  Not from within (internal) or without (horizontal).  This is the source of everyone’s identity-crisis.  We are born with broken hearts, suffering from a distorted self-love.  We need a transplant!  Not a pace-maker.  We can’t perform it, nor can our friends and family, but only One.

NOW: Believing before Be-living

[CONVERSATION HAD WITH FRIENDS ON FACEBOOK]

Right on, XXXXX.  The Gospel about Jesus Christ (i.e., born to die, perfect living, willful dying, triumph over death, raised to the Seat of Glory) is the sole truth that sets people free.

Of course, this truth also says something about the condition of people (whose sin(s) He must bear, once-for-all!).  He did for sinners (those born in a state of sin) what they couldn’t do for themselves due to their captivity/incapacity in this State.

The question remains: What does the Gospel-truth (about Christ) free us unto, here and now?  Is it just a “get-out-of-Jail-free card?”  Or does the ‘once-for-all forgiveness’ and ‘eternal-life-given’ — that Christ accomplished and applies — actually change the lives (mind and actions) of believers/be-livers ?  Or again, does their existence (being) continue to conform to their environment (earth)?

An answer: We definitely have reason to rejoice, in the Truth about Christ ‘for us’ (Bethlehem, Palestine, Calvary, MT-Tomb, Zion) and ‘in us’ (born-again, new creation, new heart, mind of Christ, etc).

And no doubt, there’s a calling upon us to wisely communicate these truths, in the milieu of everyday life (as we walk and talk).  We don’t need a special invitation (or meeting) in order to do this.  There are, of course, times when a door of opportunity is wide-open, providing a time and place for us to speak directly to Gospel-truths.  However, more often than not, we bear witness to Christ crucified and risen in our everyday lives.  Most of the circumstances (environment) of our lives will be like that of those who have YET to genuinely believe (trust and rejoice) in the redemptive work of Christ Jesus.  And yet, there is truly something different at the core (heart) of one who is genuinely a disciple, of which outsiders ought to be able to catch a glimpse.

As people get to know us, existentially, they will be faced with ‘something-of-the-reality’ of what is the engine (Christ crucified and risen) that drives our lives, regardless of things being similar circumstantially on the outside.  There typically is a problem in the “thinking” of believers though, which results in their “living” stunted lives.

Why are we “living” stunted lives?  I believe it begins with our having stunted “minds”.  We possess too small of an understanding of the nature of being a Christian.  In other words, we are having an identity-crisis, in failing to grasp the realities of what it means that “Christ is in us” and how this can genuinely impact our lives, to His glory and our neighbors good.

Problem is…most “believers” wrestle more with their “environment” (where in the world they are; what in the world is the world doing) and miss the need to begin and continue with a sound understanding of our “existence” in Christ and He in us.  Meaning, most “believers” are distracted by “environment” and fail to comprehend “existence” (their new identity in Christ/Christ living in them).  Thus, we can go on living out this identity-crisis and in so doing mis-communicate the truth regarding Christ ‘for us’ and ‘in us’.

So then, we are first and above all “accountable” to believe rightly, and then we can hope to live rightly, before God and toward our neighbor.

YOU (3): As Lord or Savior?

ONCE AGAIN, FURTHER THOUGHTS SHARED WITH A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK:

Hello again, XXXXXX.  Appreciate your input here.

You’re right, the choices are tough.  When things unravel we’re left with options that aren’t all that pleasant, unfortunately.  Too often in comes down to making moves that just minimize the fallout.  And as you say…some of this ends up in the hands of the one (husband or wife) that is probably least able to see some of the more obvious things for what they are, which has to do with how things got all out of whack to begin with.

One of the dangers in the scenario that we’ve been discussing is that the one who seeks to “protect” the children, etc. may well be missing their own inner-brokenness; the very brokenness that led them to embrace such a relationship at the beginning.  In cases like this, it would be all too easy to place all blame upon the “other” and miss (or be unwilling to accept) one’s own faults.  Again, we are talking here about a particular situation—a typical one—where both spouses are living out an “identity crisis.”  Of course there are exceptions to the ‘shoe fitting’ well upon the foot of either spouse.

Further, I am trying to keep in mind, as I think through all this, that, these are not troubles found in marriages only.  As we can see, a scenario like this one has a way of readily spilling over into the lives of the children.  They (like their parents) are struggling with a ‘first birth’ condition (identity crisis), on top of which the parents (perhaps one or both) have piled further trouble in the way they nurture the child.  All of which, tends to result in the child-now-adult perpetuating many of the same responses they saw demonstrated by their parents.

So, now the child-now-adult ends up re-enacting the foolish ways of their parents, not realizing the root cause is not ultimately their parents but their very own ‘first birth’ condition (identity crisis).

Everyone involved in this scenario has missed this basic problem…identity problem.  Everyone in this scenario ends up perpetuating this one problem, fleshing it out in this way or that.

We could go on and on here observing how THE problem applies to EVERY single relationship, not just marriage, and not just the parent-child one.  Suffice to say, all too often we would rather hide our troubles than face them squarely, and then perhaps find ourselves in a position to really help whomever, without treating them like they were beneath us somehow, without acting like their Lord (master) or Savior (martyr).

YOU (2): As Lord or Savior?

FURTHER THOUGHTS SHARED WITH A FRIEND ON FACEBOOK:

I hear you, XXXXXX, and understand the commonly held belief that we are to begin with “loving oneself.”  The challenge is that, in reality, it doesn’t bear out.  Let’s take the drunk-of-a-husband for instance; his problem is that he BEGINS & ENDS with himself, clearly loving himself and his own ways, over his wife, children, etc.

The drunk-of-a-husband demonstrates the destructiveness of “self-love” and its inability to reach the pinnacle of genuinely “loving-others.”  He is trapped in his self-love.  He continues to put hope in himself and/or his using the bottle, which gives a temporal sense of relief that eventually gives way to the harsh reality of how problematic it is to “love-himself-as-is.”

Meanwhile, his nag-of-a-wife continues to grow bitter and more self-righteous, all of which demonstrates the problem of her ongoing “self-love.”  She loves the idea of having to be the one to “fix everything,” as if she is the savior of her husband.  And watch her closely, because she doesn’t stop with him…she ends up doing the same thing to her children, which leads them to run off; and she also does it to her closest friends who either learn how to maintain a safe distance or hide.

“Self-love” is the broken-condition with which we are born.  Self-love = holding as a standard our own interests, at the expense of others.  In the scenario before us, the husband and wife are both selfish, self-RIGHT-eo-US!   The selfish disposition and response of both spouses merely perpetuates the problem.  Unwittingly, they continue to feed off one another, which leads toward devouring one another.  And all the while…they assume it is the other spouse who’s doing them wrong.

All the while, a solution is in the opposite direction from loving oneself!  It’s found in one or both spouses having a self-LESS disposition.  A NEW disposition of self-less-ness is impossible to come by when we consider that this is not how we are first born.  And to make matters worse, we’re instructed from our earliest days that self-love (our first born state) is the way to go.  Thus, the problem–our nature (first born state)–is compounded by the nurture (earliest instructions) we receive.

***Please note: I understand the wife here could (should!) be genuinely concerned for her drunk-of-a-husband (or substitute any other vise he’s gripped by…porn, drugs, illicit sex, money, authority, entertainment, etc).  Her problem, in this case-study, is that she sees herself as better (morally or otherwise) and wiser than him, and that his ultimate hope is in HER or at least doing things HER way.  When, in fact, the problem lies much deeper within his soul, just as it does in hers.  Until she can be released from the bondage of her own self-righteousness, etc, she’s of little or no help to him, but is only apt to make things worse.  Once she is released from her first born state, she might then at some point be able to come in humility and patience to his side, helping him as a friend (neighbor) and not as lord and savior.  For the latter is never the place of anyone of us, but One.