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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.