Posts Tagged ‘religion’

Based on the book “Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, the youth group at The Church at Tree Lake examined common misconceptions about God, religion, the Bible, and Christianity.

Other videos in this series:

Based on the book “Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, the youth group at The Church at Tree Lake examined common misconceptions about God, religion, the Bible, and Christianity.

Other videos in this series:

Based on the book “Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, the youth group at The Church at Tree Lake examined common misconceptions about God, religion, the Bible, and Christianity.

Other videos in this series:

This is the introductory video (1 of 4) chronicling a three part study series done with the Youth Group at The Church at Tree Lake.

Related Videos: Part 1: Pantheism | Part 2: Naturalism | Part 3: Theism & Christianity

I had a special event coming up at my church a while back addressing the scientific validity of Darwinian Evolution. As I have been thinking on this topic and meandering around cyberspace looking at blogs and YouTube videos, I came across this quote:

“The radical novelty of modern science lies precisely in the rejection of the belief, which is at the heart of all popular religion, that the forces which move the stars and atoms are contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.” ~Walter Lippmann

Now, I have no idea who Walter Lippmann is, and I it doesn’t really matter. This quote, however, jumped out at me as a great example of how the naturalistic, humanistic, and secularistic philosophies have infected our culture. I have observed more and more that, even among people who claim to be religious or even Christian, the starting point for their assumptions and view of the world is not Christ or God. It is from a secular mindset.

This quote says that “science” rejects the belief that the forces behind nature are contingent upon “the preferences of the human heart.” 

First, “science” doesn’t accept or reject anything. People do. Science is a method of investigating the world (and not the only one). It may also describe the body of knowledge gained by that method, but that “knowledge” (conclusions drawn based on the raw data) is itself subjective and at the whim of the scientists.

Second, I would completely agree with Mr. Lippmann that the forces of nature are not contingent upon the preferences of the human heart. And he might be surprised to know that the Bible would agree with Him as well. The forces of nature are contingent upon the will of the Sovereign Creator who made them. The preferences of human hearts do not enter into it.

Oddly enough Mr. Lippmann seems to have gotten things backwards. Religion points to God as the force behind nature. It is science which, as a body of knowledge and theories, is based on human understanding. It is influenced by the biases and philosophies of the human scientist making those theories and conclusions. Biases and philosophies which are “contingent upon the preferences of the human heart.”

Between science and religion (especially Biblical Christianity), if one can be said to be based on the preferences of the human heart, it is most definitely science.

I generally try to avoid political posts on social media, but there was one that was just too funny to pass up. My comments in sharing the post involved my low opinion of policies based on taxing wealthy people in order to pay for programs that are of questionable effectiveness to begin with. Now, regardless of how you feel about that issue, that’s not really the point. A friend brought to my attention what at first glance looks like a contradiction in my thinking.

She asked, “If as a christian you feel compelled to bind others to christian standards using laws and policies that police things like abortion and gay marriage, why is it suddenly a crime to do the same to rich people? There’s more in the bible, specifically the gospel about charity and giving and paying your taxes.”

Was I being inconsistent? I certainly don’t want that. As I pondered, I saw several issues here, and ultimately, no, I do not think there is a contradiction.

First, while I honestly don’t think she was being tricky with it, her language is a bit loaded to throw me on the defensive, as if I have something to answer for. Emotionally charged terminology already paints the question so there could be no “good” answer. Like I said, I don’t think she did this for that purpose, but it does have that effect.

As a Christian I am not “compelled to bind others to Christian standards using laws and policies.” In fact history has shown that while a government might impose religious behavior it cannot produce genuine faith. Some of darkest parts of church history is when it got tied up with the government. Beginning with Constantine around 300 AD, the church got intertwined with the Roman Empire in such a way that eventually, to be Roman was to be Christian. Disagreement with or failure to follow church doctrine (whether biblically sound or not) was punishable by the state. How many “Christians” were actually repentant followers of Jesus Christ, and how many were simply Roman citizens jumping through the hoops the church set for them? I think it is safe to say that is not what is revealed in the Bible as Christ’s intentions for the church, and neither should it be the desire of Christians today.

However, as an American, living in this representative society where government policy should reflect the will of the people, I am obligated to make my voice heard and try to persuade my fellow citizens and elected officials that a particular position is the better choice for our society. The same as everyone else. It just so happens that my views are colored by my religious & philosophical beliefs. Which is also the same as everyone else, some just like to pick on Christians as if we’re the only ones. The fact is, everyone has a worldview that answers certain foundational questions about life that are generally thought of as “religious” issues. That worldview (“religious views”) shapes everything else.

Second, it seems that the question is about this supposed inconsistency in thinking where there are certain parts of my religious beliefs that I want to see the government enforce but not others. The first step in clearing this up would be to make sure that the supposedly contradicting views in question actually are accurate Christian teaching on those issues. Not wanting to get off in the weeds on the specific issues used as examples, I’m going to assume they are accurate and try to just explain how they are not contradictory.

There is a difference in a moral framework informed and shaped by my religious beliefs and my opinion on how that framework gets effectively applied to society. Not everything is best applied as a direct enforcement by government.

For example, murder, is a sin and is something we can and should effectively enforce through society. Most non-Christians would likely agree, though I doubt their reasons are based on man being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and His commandment to not murder (Exodus 20:13). Given that it destabilizes society to have murderers running around killing people, it is proper for government to enforce this commandment, and given that we can arrest, try, convict and incarcerate/execute murderers effectively without creating other overly burdensome problems, then it is something that we can/should do.

But Jesus also said to be unjustly angry is a sin (Matthew 5:22). I don’t want thought-police though. That’s unenforceable and would be a horrible opportunity for oppression and abuse even if it could be done. Usually, people being angry only hurts themselves, so that’s not really a societal concern. Also, we have no means to effectively judge and enforce an ordinance against anger. Even if we could, by giving government that sort of authority and power, we create all sorts of societal problems worse than the one we sought to fix.

Third, the opinions on what is a proper application of a moral belief can vary from one society to another based on culture and government system. Christians can even disagree on the proper application within their own communities. Some Christians are all for taxing the rich to give to the poor. And they cite verses on charity, giving and helping the poor. However, while I share their moral position that those who have should help those who don’t, I greatly disagree on the propriety and effectiveness of this method of forced charity. <– (an example of loaded language to solicit emotional response producing a built in bias against any critical response)

Fourth, not all sins are created equal. Some Biblical “commands” are prohibitions and some are obligations. Some are societal, some are personal. Some involve our actions, and some our attitudes. Some deal with our relationship to God, others our relationship to people. Some sin causes damage to others, some only hurt ourselves.

The issues that we face are as unique and complex as the individuals they involve. Not all commandments are an explicit “though shalt not”. Not all people have the same struggles, temptations, and proclivities. The shape and specifics of how these things get obeyed and lived out in our individual lives will look different from person to person. How much more would it create a convoluted mess in society if every law was a direct reflection of a specific divine command? However, from God’s Word and His commandments we get general principles that can be applied in how we determine effective and appropriate uses of government policies and laws.