Do You Have a Worldview/Lifeview?

Do you have worldview? The term worldview was used in the sense described by prominent German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911). Dilthey affirmed that philosophy must be defined as a comprehensiveness vision of reality that involves the social and historical reality of humankind, including religion. A worldview is thus the nature and structure of the body of convictions of a group or individual. (1) Worldview includes a sense of meaning and value and principles of action. It is much more than merely an “outlook” or an “attitude.” Each person’s worldview is based on a key category, an organizing principle, a guiding image, a clue, or an insight selected from the complexity of his or her multidimensional experience. (2) Believe it or not, a worldview will impact our view of our vocation, our family, government, education, the environment, etc. A worldview also impacts ethical issues in our culture such as homosexuality, abortion, stem cell research etc. Remember, the issues of competing worldviews shape the past, present, and future of a nation.

Some of the fundamental questions that make up a worldview are the following:

•Creation: How did it all begin? Where did we come from?

•Fall: What went wrong? What is the source of evil and suffering?

•Redemption: What can we do about it? How can the world be set right again?

•Morality: What is the basis for morality? In other words, how do we know what is right and wrong?

•History: What is the meaning of history? Where is history going?

•Death: What happens to a person at death?

•Epistemology: Why is it possible to know anything at all?

•Ontology: What is reality? What is the nature of the external reality around us?

•Purpose: What is man’s purpose in the world?

To see more about this, see our clip here:

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Five trends that contribute to the spirit of anti-intellectualism

For those of us that have spent our lives attempting to bring apologetics into the local churches and public square, there has always been an issue with a spirit of anti-intellectualism in both of these places. There is progress being made. However, most recently I was reading an essay in the book above in which the author  believes there are at least five trends that contribute to a spirit of anti-intellectualism:

1. Pragmatism: In today’s world, the first question about any idea is not “Is it true or right?” but “Does it work?” Pragmatism rules over both values and thought. Result-oriented social activists are often supporters of a cause without always inquiring too closely whether their cause has a good end or whether their action is the best means to pursue it.

2. Focus on Results: We have become an impatient generation. Students quickly become bored if there is not a lot of action. “Don’t talk about it—just do it” seems to be the byword. They want to get it done, get results the instant way, or give up on it if it requires extensive thought.

3. Preoccupation with Feelings: We have also become a feeling generation. Feeling triumphs over reason in our decision-making. “If it feels good, do it” is too often the principal criterion for behavior. A subjective experience becomes more important than revealed truth or absolutes in what has been described as our post-secular university thinking. We are admonished to get in touch with our feelings. This is good, especially for males, but requires that a balance with reason also be struck.

4. Ritualism: Ritualistic attitudes have encumbered our intellectual imagination and creativity. In the church it has become an escape route to avoid our God-given responsibility to use the minds that God has given us. In educational circles, it can be identified with rote learning, learning from the professor merely to pass the exam or to be politically correct. The danger of ritualism is that it is mere performance in which ceremony has become an end in itself, a meaningless substitute for intelligent consideration.

5. Intellectual Isolationism: Profound thinkers are being increasingly isolated from the mainstream of human activity. I was once introduced to a very prolific writer who had written several dozen books. He spent all his time thinking about what the world should be like. He sought to inspire others through his writings, but he was so out of touch with where his readers were in the real world that there were few readers to inspire. As a foreign policy planner, I found it relatively easy to write policy; the critical issue was the test of relevance in the light of current events. If the intellect is left on its own, it may become dry and humorless, leading to an academic intellectualism that is devoid of emotion, drive, and meaningful action.- taken from Donald Page, “Developing the Characteristics of a Christian Mind” adapted from Christian Worldview and the Academic Disciplines: Crossing the Academy (McMaster Ministry Studies Series Book 1)
Deane E. D. Downey and Stanley E. Porter.

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Why the Need for Divine Revelation?

Why do many people struggle with the existence of God? Perhaps because they don’t know the nature of the object they are investigating. After all, the nature of the object determines how you come to know which approach to take to see whether it exists or not. As Eric Johnson says:

“Suppose you want to answer some specific question. How will you proceed? That depends on what you want to know and how it can be known. For instance, “Where is Kenya?” can be answered by consulting an encyclopedia, looking at a globe, or asking someone who knows. Answering “Did I leave the bedroom light on?” usually requires going to the room to see or asking someone else to go. Consulting an encyclopedia or , looking at a globe, or asking someone who knows. Answering “Did I leave the bedroom light on?” usually requires going to the room to see or asking someone else to go. Consulting an encyclopedia or looking at a globe won’t help. “What is 12 x 12?” can be answered from memory (if you learned your multiplication tables) or by looking at a multiplication table, working out the answer on paper, using a calculator, counting out twelve rows of twelve sticks and then counting through them all, or (again) by asking someone who knows. It cannot be answered by looking at a globe. We ask “What are you thinking?” only of persons—and only the person who is being asked can answer it. We may guess, but we won’t know for certain unless we are told. Consulting encyclopedias, looking at globes, going to another room, or trying to work out the answer on paper aren’t good ways to answer this question. Our primary question is, What is God like? That is what we want to know. Let us assume for the moment that it is possible to know some significant things about God. Yet still we must ask, How can we know them? Our answer to this question depends on the kind of being we think God is. – God Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents God, pgs 44-45.

But how can know the kind of being God is? Perhaps he needs to show us?

Remember, the skeptical issue in our culture mostly enters into the religious dialogue in the following way: “In the case of God, who isn’t some physical object but a divine being, what kind of evidence should we expect to find? Christianity, Judaism, Islam, are all theistic faiths in contrast to pantheism (all is God), polytheism (many gods), and atheism (without God).The study of world religions involves a commitment to understand the issue of divine revelation. Most religious claims say that there is a God who took the initiative to reveal himself to an individual or a group of people who later recorded it in a group of writings or sacred texts. There are three aspects of a revelation:

1. A Being capable of giving a revelation: God
2. A being capable of receiving a revelation: Man
3. A medium that is used for the revelation: (The created order, a messenger, the Bible, Jesus, etc.)

An Introduction to Christian Philosophical Theology: Faith Seeking Understanding by [Stephen T. Davis, Eric T. Yang]

In their recent book, An Introduction to Christian Philosophical Theology: Faith Seeking Understanding, the authors say the following:

” A divine revelation is an unveiling or disclosing of something that was previously hidden or unknown. Most theologians distinguish between two main ways in which God has chosen to reveal himself: general revelation and special revelation. General revelation consists of those things about God, the world, humanity, morality, and religion that human beings can learn on their own—that is, without any supernatural (“special”) assistance from God. These truths can be discovered in principle by human reason and careful reflection. The Bible appears to teach that some important truths can be learned in this way (cf. Ps. 19:1; Acts 17:22–29; Rom. 1:18–23). Theologians have suggested that we can see evidence for them, for example, in considering the beauty and grandeur of creation, in reasoning cogently about God, or maybe even in examining our own consciences. But natural revelation, even at its best, is incomplete, hazy, and easily confused. Thomas Aquinas, a medieval theologian and philosopher, worried that even for truths about God that can be discovered by human reason alone, there are some serious concerns and limitations (Summa Theologiae I.1.1). For example, he claimed that if general revelation was all we had, only a few intellectuals would be able to discover these truths about God, and doing so would take a very long time and likely include many falsehoods, given human fallibility. So, natural revelation is in need of supplementation, especially since it does not tell us all that we need to know or guarantee that we will arrive at the truth. “”

Another reason that general revelation is insufficient is that there are huge barriers or gaps between human beings and God. Indeed, there are at least three such gaps:

(1) Ontological gap: God is a self-existing, eternal, and all-powerful creator, whereas we human beings are dependent, temporal, and feeble creatures.

2) Epistemological gap: we are limited in our capacity to know and understand, especially to know and understand a being who is transcendent and radically different from us.

(3) Moral gap: God is a holy and morally perfect being, and we are depraved and self-centered creatures, and our sin separates us from God and darkens our minds to truth.

Because of these gaps, human beings naturally know little of God and his requirements, or at least not enough to comprehend God’s redemptive purposes. But thankfully God did not leave us to ourselves. We also have special revelation, which consists of those things about God, the world, humanity, morality, and religion that are relevant to our salvation and that we can learn only as the result of some supernatural or special act of divine assistance. Typically special revelation consists of things revealed by God to some person or group of persons through dreams, visions, epiphanies, prophecies, or miracles, though Christians believe that the ultimate way that God has specially revealed himself is through the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that reading the Scriptures can also, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, speak to us and reveal God to us.”- Kindle Locations, 480-495 of 3832.

Conflicting Revelatory Claims?

“Since all these revelations, many of them  hopelessly inconsistent, cannot by definition  be simultaneously true, it must follow that  some of them are false and illusory. It could  also follow that only one of them is  authentic, but in the first place this seems  dubious and in the second place it appears  to necessitate religious war in order to decide whose revelation is the true one.”-  Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great:  How Religion Poisons Everything (New  York: Hachette Book Group,2009)

How do we respond to this objection? Three questions we need to ask are the following:

1. What is the claim of each religion? 2. How does it claim to know it? 3. What is the evidence for it?

When we do this, we will see that while there are some similarities in faiths such as truth, a God, a right and wrong, spiritual purpose in life, and communion with God, they all also have some glaring differences such as the nature of God, the afterlife, the nature of man, sin, salvation, and creation. As a Christian, I don’t think God wants the world to be confused. If God wants the world to know Him, it seems to me that he would give a clear revelation to humanity.

To assert that the God of the Bible would give a clear revelation in the person of Jesus (33 A.D.) and then give another revelation 600-650 years later (Islam), which contradicts the one in 33 A.D is odd. Furthermore, what about the two other so-called revelations in the 1800’s (Mormonism and the Watchtower Society) that both contradict the Christian and Muslim claim. If anything, that would make the God of the Bible a very contradictory Being. We see in Scripture that the God of Israel is a rational being, principles of good reason do flow from his very nature. For example, “It is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18), and God cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13).

In my view, we should follow the guidelines as seen in the book Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective, by Norman L. Geisler and and Paul D. Feinberg. They say the following about the relationship between revelation and reason:

(1) “Reason is over revelation” is correct in that reason is epistemologically prior to revelation. The alleged revelation must be tested by reason. (2) “Revelation is over reason” is right in the ontological sense. God created reason and it must be His servant, not His master. (3) “Revelation only” is correct in the sense that ultimately and ontologically all truth comes from God. (4) “Reason only” has some truth, since reason must judge epistemologically whether the alleged revelation is from God. (5) “Revelation and reason” is correct because it properly assigns a role to each and shows their interrelationship. One should reason about and for revelation, otherwise he has an unreasonable faith. Likewise, reason has no guide without a revelation and flounders in error.

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The Difference Between Knowing and Showing God Exists

Here is a chart on some of the differences between knowing and showing God exists. Obviously, there is much more to it than what is displayed here.

Remember:

Knowing God exists: There is a difference between knowing our faith is true though personal experience and sometimes what is called intuitive knowledge (i.e., something that is directly apprehended).  Disciples of Jesus are blessed to receive the assurance of the truthfulness of our faith through the work of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8: 16-17; 2 Cor. 2:2). However, people of other faiths claim to have personal revelations/experiences. Thus, people have contradictory religious experiences that seem quite real. For example, Mormons claim that the Holy Spirit confirms their faith as true by a “burning in the bosom”—this is something they consider to be a confirmatory personal experience.

Showing God exists: While religious experience and intuitive knowledge or sometimes what Alvin Plantinga calls “Properly Basic Belief”  is important, all experience must be grounded by truth and knowledge. Knowledge can be the key thing as to what keeps us close to God over the long haul. Plus, Jesus says we should love him with all our being (i.e., mind, emotions and will). Sometimes people think that personal religious experience negates the need for having other good reasons for faith.

Also, see our post called Seven Ways To Approach the Existence of God

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Are You Suffering From Apologetic Burnout?

Are you suffering from burnout from doing apologetics? Are you showing sings of fatigue from the countless debates and arguments for and against your beliefs? Then may I suggest that it may time for a break! Remember, you are not indispensable! That means it is time to get back to the basics. As you many have already noticed, even though this blog is geared towards apologetic issues, I view apologetics as ONE brick in  a Christian’s foundation. But the key to being an effective witness who can defend and articulate the Biblical worldview in the marketplace of ideas is to first and foremost be a disciple of Jesus. This means we must learn to live how Jesus lived. Remember, Jesus always found time to break away and pray and he didn’t always say ‘yes’ to everyone when asked to do something. He knew the right time to engage and fellowship. He also did his ministry in the strength of the Holy Spirit.

What kind of resources are out there to help you become like the one who died and rose in our behalf? First of all, if you have decided to  take a break, obviously, it doesn’t hurt to get back to reading and mediating on the Bible. Also, another aspect of renewal is to get back to finding satisfaction in God. John Piper has made all his books available for reading.  Furthermore, rich community is important. Hence, deep fellowship with other Christians is a must!

As you may or may not know, some of his materials are designed to help Christians find complete satisfaction in the Lord.  I also think the late Dallas Willard set the bar in some of the books he wrote on this topic. I think any of the following books are a must read.

The Spirit of the Disciplines

Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ

Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God

The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus's Essential Teachings on Discipleship

The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus

Also, feel free to check out his website. Willard was certainly a top notch philosopher. But he was clearly a devoted disciple of Jesus and truly sought to emulate his Lord in all he did. Remember, if you are losing motivation or are continually struggling to keep up with the apologetics endeavor, it may be time for a break. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Ben Shapiro on the impossibility of the incarnation of the Messiah within Jewish thought

Recently, I wrote a post called The Problem of God’s Visibility and Invisibility. I note the following quote by Marvin Wilson. He says:

“The claim that Jesus is God incarnate is foundational to traditional Christianity but is one of the most difficult concepts for Jews to understand. Going back to early Israelite history, Jews have had a fundamental theological resistance to the idea of God becoming a man. The command to make no image or physical likeness of God has generally led Jews to prefer keeping the worship of God as an abstraction. Jews usually avoid concrete representations or physical symbols of God. It is held that to believe in such would be a departure from the idea of pure monotheism and would compromise the teaching of God’s incorporeality. Christians, however, point to theophanies in the Old Testament. These temporary physical manifestations of God, they claim, indicate that God did occasionally choose to manifest himself in human form to his people. At the end of the day, however, both Jews and Christians subscribe to monotheism. Though paradoxical and mysterious to many, most Christians in the creedal tradition would be comfortable describing themselves as Trinitarian monotheists.”-Wilson, Marvin R,  Exploring Our Hebraic Heritage,  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Well known Jewish speaker Ben Shapiro (who is an Orthodox Jewish man) spoke about the issue of the deity of Jesus and other Orthodox  Christian and Messianic beliefs about the Messiah. In his interview with Jewish atheist Michael Shermer,  Shapiro gave a summary of why he does not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. He says:

“Judaism never posited that there would be God [coming] to earth in physical form and then acting out in the world in that way. Judaism posits that God is beyond space and time. Occasionally he intervenes in history, but he doesn’t take physical form – it’s one of the key beliefs of Judaism, actually, an incorporeal God. The idea is actually foreign to Judaism of a merged God-man who is God in physical form who then dies and is resurrected and all this. It’s just a different idea than exists in Judaism.”- Ben Shapiro, this is taken from one of his Sunday Specials,  June 17th, 2018.

What is troubling about these comments are that they are simply  false.

Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, Jewish Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary, a non-Messianic Jew, has written a book  called ‘The Bodies of God and The World of Ancient Israel’:

He says in this MP3 here called The_Bodies_of_God_and_the_World_: 

“When the New Testament talks about Jesus as being some sort of small scale human manifestation of God, it sounds to Jews so utterly pagan, but what I’m suggesting is perhaps the radical idea for us Jews that in fact, it’s not so pagan. That in fact, there was a monotheistic version of this that existed already in the Tanakh. And that the Christian idea, that Jesus, or ‘The Logos’, The Word, as the Gospel of John describes it in it’s opening verses, that the presence of The Word or Jesus in fleshly form – in a human body on the planet earth – is actually God making God self accessible to humanity in a kind of avatar. This is what we were seeing in the ‘J’ and ‘E’ texts [differing Hebrew manuscripts]. This is much less radical than it sounds. Or when the Gospel of John describes God’s Self as coming down and overlapping with Jesus – which is a famous passage early in the Gospel of John – that is actually a fairly old ancient near eastern idea of the reality, or self, of one deity overlapping with some other being. So, this is not just Greek paganism sort of just smoothed on to a Jewish mold, which is a way that a lot of Jews tend to view Christianity. This is actually an old ancient near eastern idea, that is an old semitic idea, that is popping up again among those Jews who were the founders of Christianity. We Jews have always tended to sort of make fun of the trinity. ‘Oh how can there be three that is one? If they’ve got this three part God, even if they call it a triune God, a God that is three yet one, really, really, they are pagans. They are not really monotheists like we Jews are or like the Muslims are. Those Christians are really pagan.’ But I think what we are seeing in the idea of the trinity that there is this one God who manifests Itself in three different ways, that’s actually an old ancient near eastern idea that could function in a polytheistic context as it did for the Babylonians and Canaanites, but it can also function in a monotheistic context as it does I think in the ‘J’ and ‘E’ texts. In fact, to say that three is one, heck, Kabbala [Jewish mysticism] is going to go further than that. They say ten is one. The Zohar says ten is one. Actually certain parts of Kabbala say that within each of the ten spherote has ten spherote within them so that there is a hundred spherote, we are taking this much further than the Christians did. One of the conclusions that I came to, to my shock, when I finished this book [The Bodies of God and The World of Ancient Israel], is that we Jews have no theological objection to the trinity. We Jews for centuries have objected to the trinity, have labeled it pagan, have said: ‘Well, that’s clear. There you can see that the core of Christianity doesn’t come out of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, what they call the Old Testament. Really, they are being disloyal to the monotheism of the Old Testament.’ Actually, I think that’s not true. To my surprise, I came to the conclusion, somewhat to my dismay, I came to the conclusion that we Jews have no theological right to object to the trinity. Theologically, I think that the model of the trinity is an old ancient near eastern idea that shows up in the Tanakh and in a different way shows up in Jewish mysticism as well.”

As far as a Jewish man dying and resurrected being foreign to Judaism,  I discuss both of these issues in my two booklets here.  Also, see our post called “Why Would God Become a Jewish Man?” 

 

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