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Possible: The Decline of Evangelicalism March 11, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Uncategorized.
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Internet Monk Michael Spencer has an intriquing article at the Christian Science Monitor, which is due to also be published in this week’s hardcopy edition.  Spencer presents an insightful, if disturbing, view of how the future landscape of evangelicalism may appear within a few generations.  His commentary is further supported by articles such as this.   Modern evangelicalism, as Spencer also points out, is quite top-heavy with materialism, and the natural pressures that bear upon such competing worldviews are now a common part of the evangelical culture, i.e., in music, publications. 

As more and more Americans say “none” when noting their religious preference, will the simple gospel message be given as an answer?  Modern evangelicalism has certainly moved way beyond that depth of response.  The gospel simply hasn’t been enough to satisfy.

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Obama’s Favorite Philosopher: Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture February 27, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Uncategorized.
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I was recently listening to NPR’s Speaking of Faith program one Sunday morning, and the topic was President Obama’s favorite theologian.  It was an interesting discussion (you can listen to it here).  The program spurred a memory of another NPR report I had heard referencing Obama’s favorite philosopher.  Both pertained to liberal theologian Richard Niebuhr, Yale professor and Christian ethicist, who is widely regarded as one of the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century.  carson1

Browsing through the local Lifeway store this week, I happened upon D.A. Carson’s Christ and Culture Revisted.  I’d heard of the book but hadn’t yet had time to pick it up.  Carson is a favorite author of mine and speaks to many of the church’s and society’s challenges today, obviously both theological and cultural, as overtured by the title of his latest work.  As soon as I picked up the book and opened the jacket, Niebuhr’s name caught my attention.  I read through several chapters standing there and came away appreciative of Carson all the more and also of the discerning eye all Christians should bring to a consideration of Niebuhr’s insights.  Interestingly, Carson’s book was published in March of 2008, a providential timing to coincide with the year of Barack Obama’s election to the presidency.

One point did raise an eyebrow as Carson, in a footnote referencing Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth, mentioned how he thought it strange to label any truth as “total”.  On one level that is understandable, given that any particular proposition is either true or not.  However, I think Pearcey, in titling her work, shrewdly addresses the broad spectrum of truths discoverable but, moreover, contextualizes these truths within the confines of one profound, singular overarching Truth — there is a God, the triune God of the Bible, with whom we have to do.  This is similar to Christian theists speaking of the “heart of hearts” when discussing that men, deep inside the seat of their wills and passions, are aware of, in some sense, and thus culpable concerning God’s law (see Romans 1). 

In any event, I highly recommend any of Carson’s works and this, his latest work in particular, not only to rightly grasp Niebuhr’s insights, but to also grasp where we must leave Niebuhr behind. 

For futher thinking: read a review of Carson’s book at Christianity Today.

Tolerant … kind of February 18, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Academia, Christianity, Philosophy, politics.
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It is a clearly observable phenomena that when modern liberalism’s proponents cry out “tolerance” to those who oppose on cultural, sociological, economic, political, or, dare we say, even Biblical grounds, a particular policy or behavior (or policy that will lead to certain behavior), their claims are selective.  This is the legacy of all poorly crafted reasoning.

Case in point: the California student who, in an open-topic speech in class, referenced opposition to same-sex marriage in his support of California’s Proposition 8 but received not a little grief from the professor, obviously a modern liberalism proponent.  You can read the summary at Volokh or may read a PDF version of the complaint courtesy of the Alliance Defense Fund.

And this lack of tolerance is simply normal for modern liberalism ideologues.  Though we hear the words come out of their mouths or from their pens that, “We hope for a world of tolerance,” with the creation of a plethora of social programs and diversity curricula to that end, the pendulum has simply crossed the center point; tolerance is viewed as accepting this other perceived view of how things ought to be.  And once we begin to delve into the world of perception and “oughts”, we necessarily enter into the world of philosophy and ethics and, most tolerably, Christian thought. 

It was once said, though I do not have the source (it may have been from Dr. R.C. Sproul), that tolerance once meant I wouldn’t punch you in the nose when disagreeing with you.  But the terms have shifted yet again.  Simply saying “be tolerant,” can no longer mean we merely disagree civilly, as it should.  No, now it must mean a particular position (same sex marriage in the above example) is as valid as another and worthy of government tax dollars spent to defend it; this view of life, these choices are right individually and may even be right from a societal standpoint.  Claims of truth have been discarded (save for the confused proposition that there is no such thing as truth, of course). 

Reason alone will lead us along the path of Aristotle to truths but no overarching Truth.  To find such, a grand system of thought is needed in which to coordinate all complex ideas.  Some have now found this in Darwinism’s common descent of man.  Others have found it in Islam’s Mohammed.  Yet, when all are considered rationally, reasonably, with the full force of our intellects focused on finding the truth, it is Biblical Christianity alone that gives this overarching system of thought and life and which in fact is Truth itself, not only pointing the way but being that which transforms. 

R. C. Sproul, in his work Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, notes this effect of the Bible on one of theology’s most significant thinkers:

The Swiss theologian Karl Barth was asked by a student during a seminar in the United States, ‘Dr. Barth, what is the most profound thing you have ever learned in your study of theology?’ Barth thought for a moment and then replied, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ The students giggled at his simplistic answer, but their laughter was of a nervous sort as they slowly realized Barth was serious.

Simple but true, the greatest system of thought knowable to man are the facts and truths of Biblical Christianity.  The professor at LA City College would do well to consider this claim and uncover the truth of it for himself and for the sake of those he endeavors to teach. 

 

For further study, read Nancy Pearcey’s Total Truth

 

 

On Darwin and why he is now a Creationist February 12, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Uncategorized.
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darwin_charles_2With what many are naming a celebration of Darwin’s birthday upon us, I’m linking below some sites refuting the theory of common descent.  Fox News has a few reports on Darwinism today.  In one, this is noted:

Among weekly churchgoers, only 24 percent said they believe in evolution, while 41 percent do not and 35 percent have no opinion.

Inversely, 55 percent of those who seldom or never attend church expressed belief in evolution, while 11 percent do not, and 34 percent have no opinion.. 

As a Christian, and seeing from the evidence that Biblical Christianity is the most reasonable answer to the meaning of life and the truth of eternity, I posit that as Darwin is now dead, he is now a creationist by default and joins the majority of regular churchgoers’ opinion. 

Discovery Institute has good material for further consideration:

The Problem of Evidence (discussing the philosophical nature of Darwin’s theory)

Darwin’s Birth Day (addressing the theory’s validity in light of irreducible complexity)

Darwin, Intelligent Design, and Freedom of Discovery (deals with the unsettling disposition of darwinians to stifle critical thought and study)

The Art of Political Labeling February 9, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Uncategorized.
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Economist David Friedman discusses the impact of political labeling.  Hat tip: Volokh.

The anti-intellectual intolerance of University of Vermont Supporters February 4, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Uncategorized.
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Fox reports on the anti-intellectual, intolerant backlash supporters of the University of Vermont let loose when UVM President Daniel Fogel invited Ben Stein to speak at its commencement ceremony this year.  The ruckus was over Stein’s opinion that the theory of evolution does not fit the best science.  Stein told the Burlington Free Press, “I am far more pro-science than the Darwinists. I want all scientific inquiry to happen not just what the ruling clique calls science.”

To read about the more robustly supported science of intelligent design, click here.

England and the Human Right to Home Educate January 31, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Christianity, politics, Relationships and Family.
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As a parent who educates his four children at home (ages ranging from 2 to 15 … we start early here) in the classical Christian model, I watch closely for government intrusion in this, the most ancient and, in many cases, best modern instructional option for many families.  Not only am I observant of what America’s politicians are pursuing in regards to education, but I keep an eye out for international indicators as well; I think the instruction of children by their parents, particularly for religious reasons, is a basic human right, as basic as the freedom of religion and association.

To the point, Peter Hitchens has penned a well-written, yet troubling article on England’s move to review home education in Great Britain.  This review has a preconceived end in mind and is not at all interested in truly understanding the breadth of excellence resulting in home education.  Here is a sample of Hitchens’ notable quotes, though I heartily recommend its full digestion, for America has the unusual knack of following Europe on societal and philosophical matters:

Why should [the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families] be less than keen on home education? Why is she even interested in it?  English law since 1944 has allowed parents to educate their children at home without any state interference at all. In this, we are quite unlike Germany, for instance, where it is a criminal offence to do this – a law, I believe, dating from 1938, when Hitler wanted everyone brought up as a National Socialist,   but somehow not repealed by the new Germany.  …

… Certainly the home education movement is largely Christian, and Christian in a pretty uncompromising and Protestant way – that’s why it has rejected state schools from which Christianity has been expelled thanks to an absurd misreading of the US Bill of Rights. Roman Catholics tend to use the network of parochial schools instead. But the education achievements of homeschoolers have been considerable, and they regularly capture many of the best scholarships at Ivy League universities. There are also a lot of them, sharing many non-school activities, which disposes of the cliche (invariably trotted out by opponents, and based on nothing)  that home-schooled children do not have any social contact with others of their own age. What they do have is much more contact with adults who think it worthwhile to say ‘no’ to them when it matters, who read to them and converse with them and teach them morals and manners. But let that be, I’m sure we’ll have a chance to debate this.

What the modern left really don’t like about homeschooling is that it is independent of the state, and threatens its egalitarian monopoly from below. If it became a mass movement, it would be very dangerous to their project of enforcing equality of outcome, while using the schools to push radical ideas on sex, drugs, morality and politics.

Iran’s Rhetoric: More truth than we realize? January 31, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in politics.
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America’s new and, questionably, improved policy of approachment with anti-democratic regimes intent on seeing America fail, as their own ideologies domineer global cultures,  has now led to an interesting conundrum.

President Barack Obama has, according to many conservative commentators, spoke condesceningly of America in recent remarks to al-Arabiya, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is pondering which letter to send to Iran’s President in hopes of warming relations.  Now, news is afoot that Iran is not exactly keen to accept the new Administration’s proposals for good relations.  Iran’s spokesperson this week said, “… Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed.  Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for [the United States] to change.”

Was this type of rhetorical posturing expected by left-wing policy wonks?  It certainly was expected by conservatives.  Or has Iran hinted at a bit more truth than is popularly believed?  Time will surely tell the tale.  Charles Krauthammer notes this observation in his article:

Iran has already responded to the Obama overture. In perfect tune with Obama’s defensiveness, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that better relations might be possible — after America apologized for 60 years of crimes against Iran.

It seems we have a long road before us to see whether the new strategy of approachment will win economic, even political friends in Iran or if it will only further embolden their growing opionion that American influence is on the decline. 

Now, to the important news: Football January 30, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Uncategorized.
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American Thinker has an insightful article on the apparent mismatch Sun. night between the Steelers and the Cardinals (now, really, who east of the Mississippi even recalled that Arizona had a pro football team?).

Update:

The Cardinals nearly pulled it off at the Super Bowl in Tampa with only 2:30 left in the game and won a new measure of respect from this blogger.  The Steelers OL was firing tonight, though, and won the game, giving Big Ben enough time to do what he does.

Light and Darkness January 30, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Christianity, Religion.
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In response to my post Eckhart Tolle’s Old Message, I received this interesting comment:

An APPEAL

An Appeal to all the responsible WORLD CITIZENS
If the presented idea resonates with your Being in any way, please pass on the Message
Also I would insist Whether you BELIEVE or NOT…
Spread this Message as a Responsible WORLD CITIZEN for the Movement to gain momentum & herald the Change

Let’s Call Upon LIGHT to lead us from Darkness unto LIGHT…

LET US ALL PARTICIPATE IN THE WORLD MOVEMENT OF LIGHT CHANNELS

For more info please visit:  [website addresses removed]

Thanks in advance,
Love & Light to all Alike
O

And here is my brief response:

My dear friend,
 
Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”  The only way we can know God in a life-changing way (or reach any state of true enlightenment) is through Jesus Christ, His Son.  To truly see the sharp contrasts between darkness and light, please read the book of John in the New Testament of the Bible.  Please also consider reading the material of Ravi Zacharius for further information at www.rzim.org.
 
Soli Deo gloria,
 
G.L. Campbell
The contrasts of light and darkness in the book of John are profound.  Here is a sample of the passages dealing with this topic:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:1-13)

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. (John 3:19-21; in fact, start at the beginning ch. 3 and read of Nicodemus’s visit to Jesus by night.)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 12:46)

In short, there is no true enlightenment apart from Christ.  Please pray for this Hindu guru follower, that he may know the true and only light of the world.