Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Get Apologetics in Your Church: Apologetics, the Church, and Cultural Relevance

Apologetics, the Church, and Cultural Relevance by Vocab Malone

As evangelical Christians looking back at the past 2,000 years of church history and then peering forward into the 21st Century, we can see that the many challenges ahead are a combination of both old and new. We must see these challenges as opportunities much in the same way that the Early Church saw martyrdom: as a means to spread the faith. In fact, the Latin Church Father Tertullian once quipped that, “The blood of Christians is seed.” [MP3 | RSS | iTunes | Table of Contents]

I have no doubt the American Church is in decline; in numbers, in influence, and in general effectiveness. Anyone inclined to agree with the findings of pollsters George Barna or George Gallup, Jr. would agree with this basic assessment. Part of the problem is the cultural shift that has taken place, most notably since the 1960’s. Many observers use the term “Post-Modern” to describe this phenomenon, but I agree with exegete D.A. Carson (and others) who prefer the term “Post-Christian” because it is more exact. 

Choice of terms notwithstanding, the defining characteristic of this cultural attitude is epitomized by phrases such as, “You have your truth; I have mine” or “Do whatever works for you.” Within this context, I believe the big issue on the table in regards to the historic Christian faith is truth - what is its nature and can it even be known? Therefore, anyone developing a philosophy of ministry for the 21st Century must make the actual truth of Christianity a central priority. One problem here is the culture is becoming increasingly apathetic, ignorant, or even hostile towards traditional Christian belief. Nonetheless, we are mandated to engage them with firm truth and genuine love.

In the vein of Paul before the Athenians in Acts 17, we must attempt to meet our culture on common ground and then take them from that point to the Gospel. At the Areopagus on Mars Hill Paul even quoted the Greeks’ own poets, namely the Stoic Aratus and the polytheist Epimenides, to prove his point.

Before we delve into some specifics on how this thought works itself out in real time, let me mention some possible objections up-and-coming church leaders may have: “But what if I’m not an apologist, what if I’m just a person who wants to preach and care for the flock?” or “Well, I’m going into music ministry so this whole issue doesn’t apply to me.” 

Attitudes like those aforementioned are short-sighted; the cultural equivalent to "sticking one’s head in the sand.” My goal here is to convince those folks to think differently about the issue of truth because authentic Christian leadership strives to improve. As we crucify our flesh daily we become more like Christ and can walk in the Spirit. This may sound somewhat obvious or vague but I think it can mean that Christian leaders should take inventory from time to time. The first area to tackle is how we personally - and collectively - can effectively penetrate our culture with the gospel.

There are a variety of creative ideas to employ but the key is to pray up, study up, and then engage people. In one-on-one evangelism, the humble use of apologetics is quite helpful. At the same time, we must not be scared to “fail,” seemingly “lose” a debate, or say “I don’t know the answer to that but let me get your e-mail and I will contact you soon.” People under 40 especially have lots of questions and misconceptions about the church, Christianity, and Jesus Christ Himself. 

I Peter 3:15 tells us to help clear up this confusion: “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” This verse and others - especially the ones where Christ is modeling these principles - serve as clarion calls for us to engage the culture with compassion, clarity, and dare I even say it - cleverness. Here are some suggestions for how to do this in a local church setting.

In Love Your God With All Your Mind, J.P. Moreland offers some great suggestions about how apologetics can function within the context of a worship service: 
Whoever is preaching that morning should … develop … a one-page handout to be given to each person entering the sanctuary. The handout should have various exercises designed to prepare people for the theme of the morning. It could lead a brief word study by listing a key word from the sermon text and five or six verses with that word.
Moreland in particular offers some insight on what apologetics in a sermon may look like and ways we can implement it better. For example, he recommends more of a team approach to the pulpit because “no one who preaches week after week can do adequate study for a message or deeply process and internalize the sermon topic spiritually.”

Moreland also mentions better supplemental material accompanying the sermons and even order forms for books that could form a sort of a recommended reading list (i.e., bibliography) based upon the current sermon series . Of course, a healthy church library and/or study center can greatly buttress these efforts. His last idea may be somewhat controversial but I concur nonetheless: “[F]rom time to time a minister should intentionally pitch a message to the upper one-third of the congregation, intellectually speaking.” All I can say is, “Hey, Bible nerds need love, too!”

Moreland also believes modern chorus songs are usually better for the devotional/emotional portion of worship, while carefully selected classic hymns are usually better for teaching doctrine. He puts forth the idea that the worship leader should choose hymns to reinforce certain doctrinal truths. The way to do this effectively is to have said leader take a few minutes to introduce the hymn and what it means so that it will have more meaning (and therefore impact) for those unaccustomed to more traditional songs. This is something we do often at our church and we will sometimes even explain an obscure or archaic word. 

Moreland’s next proposition is similar in its intent to prepare hearts and minds better for worship: 
If worship is response, then if a service starts with worship, the people of God have not been given something to which to respond. Regularly, we ought to begin our services with a time of teaching followed by congregational testimonies about how God has used the sermon topic in people’s lives. Once God’s people have their minds filled with truths about God, His Word, and His ways … then the congregation is prepared to respond in worship.
The reason behind doing this should be clear by now: to have worshippers engage fully in praising God. A recognition of the mind’s role in worship will help us do a better job of stimulating the whole person instead of just the emotions. Art is a great way to do both: one thing we have done at our church is have poets do deep theological poems in the middle of a worship song or before the sermon. 

In Craig A. Loscalzo’s book, Apologetic Preaching: Proclaiming Christ in a Postmodern World, Pastor Loscalzo defines apologetic preaching as preaching that “has at its purpose to make a clear defense for the faith using methods that people will not dismiss out of hand as mere sophistry” and “by its very nature apologetic preaching requires ministers to reclaim the mantle of theologian for the church.” This means more work for both the preacher and the congregation because they may have to actually think deeply about a sermon (gasp!)

The reason I am elaborating on all his points is because I agree 100%. I believe they are natural applications of apologetic preaching, which goes hand-in-hand with the philosophy of ministry we need more of in our churches. All of this follows the admonition in Colossians 4:5-6: “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

This is why apologetics in the church is so crucial in this day and age: it clears the ground so there’s a clear pathway for the gospel, for people can’t truly believe in something if they don’t think it’s true. Since souls are at stake, shouldn’t we take people’s questions seriously and study to show ourselves approved so we need not be ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15)? My answer is an unequivocal “YES!”

27 comments :

Strader327 said...

Just curious, when are you all going to address the Stephen Hawking book? Thanks and God bless.

Davitor said...

If the main topic of an apologist is of the sovereignty of an all powerful God and His elect why is it that God needs your help on the dwindling issue? Is God not aware of the exact number of elect which is in accord with your dwindling number? Now please I know what you’re thinking that this is a red herring question thrown by a non-believer, but I’m not, my intention here is to hit at the heart of the problem with honesty and sincerity because without it you will never solve this dwindling issue...

pds said...

Sigh....

1. God doesn't but he chooses to work through our actions.
2. Yes he is, but so what.

The problem is an anti-intellectual Church.

Brian said...

Strader327:

I have read it already, but haven't decided whether or not to review it as I have some other projects "cooking" right now. It may happen and it may not.

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

Davitor -

Here is one reason: Matthew 28:16-20

"Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Jesus' total control (“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.") is directly linked to his command to his disciples to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you"

So the two are not polarized but intrinsically linked together.

vocab

Davitor said...

Thanks pds that is exactly what i wanted address that hits at the heart of the problem. So if deep in your heart you know that God does not need you in order to save these soul that are at stake, What motivates you to help? Is your motivation based on fear? Are you going to inspire others with your beliefs based on fear?

pds said...

God has chosen to create a world where our choices matter. If you want a model for how that works, then perhaps this set of lectures will help:
http://www.lastseminary.com/divine-foreknowledge-human-fr/

Alternatively, perhaps you might like to read William Lane Craig's, 'The Only Wise God'.


Fear has never really motivated me, just the desire to do whats right and true and good. A small amount of fear isn't all bad though:)

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

D -

All wise humans will fear the wrath of a just and holy God. If we love this same God, we will enjoy our relationship with Him and want others to experience this same desire for God since it brings great joy.

Furthermore, if we love our fellow humans, we would want to present them with the way to escape the wrath that is to come.

Lastly, if we love this same just God, we would desire to please Him by obeying His commands and obeying Him should give us great pleasure! This is why I witness, my friend.

vocab

Davitor said...

Yes Vocab and I follow God's command to love my neighbor as myself and how can I truly enter heaven as not with my neighbor as myself. And may you find this peace where no one is left behind.

Davitor said...

Yes pds and my your choice is to love God above all thing and to love my neighbor as myself and to truly follow that commandment means I cannot enter heaven without my neighbor as myself, where no one is left behind. Then heaven cannot keep you out, and fear has become extinct.

Paul said...

If we are all going to heaven, then why bother loving God or my neighbour?

I love God and my neighbour because it is moral and rational. I love God and my neighbour in response to the Gospel. These are some of MY reasons. But no one on this website knows how YOU justify or define love because you always ignore or side step the question. For that reason, you can't grasp the concept of Heaven and Hell or punishment and reward. Furthermore, I doubt you will be able to grasp the concept of God's perfection in contrast with our sinful nature.

There are MAJOR rational and logical contradictions in your system of morality(such as the inability to judge a rapist). This is the problem you arn't dealing with.

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

Davitor -

You said that you "follow God's command to love my neighbor as myself."

How would you define God? Where do you get your information about him (especially His commands)? And why do you believe you should follow his command?

Just trying to understand you better, my man.

vocab

Estella said...

Paul why bother? because its a choice. Please explain where I sidestep the question? My definition of love is that is unconditional. Your definition of love is conditional based on your need for a punishment and reward. Paul if you need reasons to love your neighbor then how can you love those who hate you persecute you? How can you turn your cheek to those who hit or want to kill you which is even worst than rape. Unless you die to yourself Paul you will never understand what it means to follow Christ.

Paul said...

"Paul why bother? because its a choice. Please explain where I sidestep the question? My definition of love is that is unconditional."

Lets unwrap what your saying once again and show you where you are sidesteping.

You say we should love because we "have a choice". Furthermore, you say we should love unconditional. However, these are not reasons for loving or acting in a moral way. We act in love because love is GOOD, it is the RIGHT way to act. This right way is grounded in God's commands. Having a choice means nothing unless we have a reason to act in such a particular way.

I define love as doing the greatest good. However, you don't link love to anything other then "don't judge" and "don't hate". But then you continue to judge us anyway! Your system of morality is hopelessly bankrupt!

"Your definition of love is conditional based on your need for a punishment and reward."

Your definition of love is void of any form of justice, so how can you call it unconditional love? How can a loving God ignore those who are raped and murdered?

"Paul if you need reasons to love your neighbor then how can you love those who hate you persecute you?"

Because I HAVE reasons! I have the Gospel, the Holy Spirit living in me and God's word to guide me. It is you that has NO reasons for loving anyone.

"How can you turn your cheek to those who hit or want to kill you which is even worst than rape."

Your not fooling anyone by misusing Christs words here. I'll say this: How can you turn away from the victims of rape? How many victims does a rapist need before you demand justice?

"Unless you die to yourself Paul you will never understand what it means to follow Christ."

I follow Christ as revealed in History and the Bible, not the one in your imagination.

Davitor said...

Thanks Paul may you find peace in follow Jesus as the Bible dogmatically dictates you to. And may you never use your imagination. And please don't think that I am judging that in any way for God has allowed for you to make that choice and I must accept it.

Russell said...

Davitor,

I don't mean to cut into your conversation with Paul, but it seems to me that you are simply taking what you like from scripture and mixing it with your own imagination. Where's the basis for your beliefs? Where's the authority? Is there a name for your religion?

I don't wish to speak on Paul's behalf, but I would rather dogmatically follow the dictates of the Bible since it provides a source for my life style than to throw what pleases me into a pot and call it religion.

Also, i am curious how your worldview provides the distinction of murder being "worse" than rape.

Davitor said...

Thanks Russell I don’t mind at all, and yes I am taking what I like from scripture and mixing it with my imagination, for I note that Apologist do the same. For example they focus entirely on what Paul wrote in his letter and emphasize his worldview and often omit (no on purpose I suppose) what Jesus said directly, in particular the parables. For example I can bring up the parable of the prodigal son or of the lost sheep and explain that God will never close the door to anyone who seeks. But it’s ok I’m not here to tell you that Paul’s worldview is wrong, I just want to point that he was influence by a Jewish upbringing and the dogmatic approach that they had with scripture and it’s laws. Paul was also trying to convince Jews that Jesus himself was not using his imagination with scripture and it laws. But to Paul’s credit I should mention 1 Corinthians 13, which is in fact the most, quoted verses in the bible, of which I am going to quote verse 7, love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. So I can argue that you are using your imagination with the word always for you are saying God will give up.
And yes Russell my distinction or worldview of anyone who commits murder or rape or any of what you describe as evil is simply based on the fact that they see themselves separated from others. That is the greatest of all imaginations for it is in fact what makes us all seek unconsciously for love, for love focus on what true. Any harm or any ill intend I do to another is the same as doing that to myself. I am temple where God dwells and I must treat all others the same.

Davitor said...

Vocab I will define God as in all things. And to your second question, I get my information (or commands) about God behaviors in the behavior of photons and how they inter act and make up the entire universe. And to your last question why do I believe well I suppose I could blame that on my brain type. Science is now uncovering the fact that we have 16 specific brain types that directly correlated to our beliefs systems.

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

Davitor -

In reading your last few comments, I think we may have stumbled upon a bigger problem. May I ask a few more questions to help see if I'm correct in understanding you?

1. Do you see yourself as distinct from God?
2. Do you see yourself as distinct from other living beings?
3. Do you see yourself as distinct from nature and the universe?

If so, in what ways? If not, why not?

thx bro!
vm

Russell said...

Davitor,

I want to challenge you on a few of your points.

yes I am taking what I like from scripture and mixing it with my imagination, for I note that Apologist do the same. For example they focus entirely on what Paul wrote in his letter and emphasize his worldview and often omit (no on purpose I suppose) what Jesus said directly, in particular the parables. For example I can bring up the parable of the prodigal son or of the lost sheep and explain that God will never close the door to anyone who seeks.
I don't know of any apologists who focus solely on what Paul said. Furthermore, I don't see how you have proven that Paul picked and chose his beliefs simply because he did not reference certain parables.
The idea that you are taking what you like from the scriptures and mixing it with your imagination shows that you have no basis for your beliefs. J.P Moreland made a similar point in saying that when people approach the question of God by picking and choosing, they end up with a God that looks more like themselves. A god in their own image rather than a true god.

I’m not here to tell you that Paul’s worldview is wrong, I just want to point that he was influence by a Jewish upbringing and the dogmatic approach that they had with scripture and it’s laws. Paul was also trying to convince Jews that Jesus himself was not using his imagination with scripture and it laws.
Paul's worldview was strikingly different from his upbringing as a result of his experience with Christ. He went on to preach a resurrected Jesus to a Jewish community that was hostile to the idea of a resurrection at that time.
Can you elaborate on that last statement?

I can argue that you are using your imagination with the word always for you are saying God will give up.
In what way did I say this?

my distinction or worldview of anyone who commits murder or rape or any of what you describe as evil is simply based on the fact that they see themselves separated from others. That is the greatest of all imaginations for it is in fact what makes us all seek unconsciously for love, for love focus on what true. Any harm or any ill intend I do to another is the same as doing that to myself. I am temple where God dwells and I must treat all others the same.
You are misunderstanding my point. You said murder was worse than rape; as if one was more evil than the other. You're worldview doesn't provide a basis for this. You can claim that it is simply what i call evil, but that fact that you state one is worse than the other shows that you believe it as well.

I get my information (or commands) about God behaviors in the behavior of photons and how they inter act and make up the entire universe
How does a photon give you a command?

why do I believe well I suppose I could blame that on my brain type. Science is now uncovering the fact that we have 16 specific brain types that directly correlated to our beliefs systems.
If you believe this, then why are you posting on this site? If we are predestined to follow our brain types then how would we ever come to this peace you speak of?

Davitor said...

Hey Brother vocab, it is good that you are trying to understanding me, but may I suggest to be more fruitful that we approach this with how God see’s all of this.
So I hope I can answer your first 3 question with this explanation, so here it goes, when I observe and watch my body my flesh, it makes me see a distinction or separation, my body makes me observe that I am separate from all living beings, from everything which I suppose includes the universe, and when I observe this infinite universe and compare it to this minuscule body it makes me feel like nothing. But it’s this very observation, of watching and seeing my body that makes me aware that it would be impossible to make comments of it (body) without it being a separate entity. Now since you’re not an atheist I don’t have go deep into this explanation for I suppose you would resort to see this observer or watcher as the soul. But it’s this very observer that my mind needs to dialogue with that I am intrigue. Who is this mind having a dialogue with? Now there are people out there who have this dialogue out loud and I don’t need to give details how society depicts them but I can argue to the fact that in some way we all are having this dialogue but quietly with ourselves. And for this very reason many famous psychologists have argued that we are all insane. Why is my mind needing to dialogue. Who is my mind conversing (with). It is this (with) or entity that remain forever silent that I have to vigilantly acknowledge. It is this silent entity that never needs to judge, that never needs to see itself separate or together for it is being yond that. And when I observe life from that perspective everything is born again with no judgment and everything is a miracle that cannot be explain for when it’s explained it becomes a word but a word can only point to it. It is this silent witness that remains forever that I will refrain from calling God for that very notion limits our understanding.
Why not? because when I don’t vigilantly observe this silent witness I see death.

my dear bro vm!

Davitor said...

Hi Russell, I’m afraid that if you use the argument that J.P. Moreland has that we cannot pick and choose what we want God to be, then how can you prove that those who wrote the bible were not doing the same. Now I know that you’re going to resort to prophesies that were fulfilled in the bible, but that still does not prove beyond a doubt that they were not wishfully hoping that God can have human emotion or compassion. Interesting to point out the book of Job for it points to the very notion of a human like God for which I note apologist avoid quite strategically for certain reasons and I really don’t want to get into that.
My reference with Paul is his writing to the Jewish sect that followed Yeshua was to adhere to laws that guided them to a doctrine, so that they won’t go astray with the influence of other religions that were so prevalent at the time since they were not allowed to be considered under the Jewish law which they had to adhere at synagogues. And I am not going to elaborate on the topic of resurrection for I truly believe that it leads to a concept where I need God to perform a miracle in order for me to believe. I truly believe that blessed are those that don’t need one miracle but still believe and love God above all things. For how can you prove you love God above all things if you need a resurrection in order to follow? Is the belief in a resurrection above the love of God?
Russell do you believe in eternal hell? If yes, then please explain how God has not given up?
How do I know that the photons give me a command well let’s just say they don’t command my mind directly but indirectly they command the energy that make up my body. Without this command or principle or code my body would disintegrate into a billions atoms in less than a nanosecond. So let’s say that without this command that you’re body photons are following you would not be able to even have one thought to answer back. ; )
Now I really like your last question for it points to, as to why? Why do you do this? Why the need to make others believe in what you believe if it’s not necessary? What’s the point? Which is often the very question I ask atheist? What the point. Now deterministic atheist get into this topic as to they why which makes them sound so much like fundamentalist is funny and that really hints back to what scientist are observing of the human brain types.
But I suppose that if I could really answer the why? I would be God himself. ; )
And so you my dear Russell, your right, I really don’t need your approval on my belief in order for me to accept it. For I truly believe that if everyone accepted my belief it would get quite dull and boring in such a short period and so life has become so undetermined that it really makes everything so interesting and so my peace abides on what cannot be determine an so infinity is so worthwhile.

Russell said...

As always Davitor, it’s been nice interacting with you. Please see my below comments on your response.
how can you prove that those who wrote the bible were not doing the same. Now I know that you’re going to resort to prophesies that were fulfilled in the bible, but that still does not prove beyond a doubt that they were not wishfully hoping that God can have human emotion or compassion.
I wouldn’t merely point to prophecy. There is so much more evidence than this. If they were merely trying to create a religion based on their own likes then why create a place like Hell? I can understand Heaven, but why Hell? Why would they decide that certain things such as lust, greed, etc were sinful? Why would the writers leave certain embarrassing details in the writings? Why list geographical locations that could be checked by others? Why create a God with human emotion and compassion at all, if they did not in fact have direct knowledge of him?
I am not going to elaborate on the topic of resurrection for I truly believe that it leads to a concept where I need God to perform a miracle in order for me to believe. I truly believe that blessed are those that don’t need one miracle but still believe and love God above all things. For how can you prove you love God above all things if you need a resurrection in order to follow? Is the belief in a resurrection above the love of God?
What exactly is your view of Jesus, Davitor? I think it would help a lot of us who interact with you to know where you stand on his life, death, and resurrection.
Russell do you believe in eternal hell? If yes, then please explain how God has not given up?
I don’t see how this proves your point. We decide whether we want to spend eternity with God. What about those who do not want to? There must be a place for them.
How do I know that the photons give me a command well let’s just say they don’t command my mind directly but indirectly they command the energy that make up my body. Without this command or principle or code my body would disintegrate into a billions atoms in less than a nanosecond. So let’s say that without this command that you’re body photons are following you would not be able to even have one thought to answer back. ; )
So you get your information about God from interpreting the energy that makes up your body? How do you interpret this energy?
And so you my dear Russell, your right, I really don’t need your approval on my belief in order for me to accept it. For I truly believe that if everyone accepted my belief it would get quite dull and boring in such a short period and so life has become so undetermined that it really makes everything so interesting and so my peace abides on what cannot be determine an so infinity is so worthwhile.
I think this is where we are going to have to part ways Davitor. I really don’t understand how this non determinism fits into your worldview. Furthermore, I don’t see how you are able to follow a worldview that doesn’t have a basis. I also don’t see how one can live a life without any transcendent morals. I don’t mean this to be offensive, but it seems that you aren’t even able to fulfill this during these discussions.

Thanks for reading Davitor, I look forward to your response.

Davitor said...

The Russells, I will try to answer your questions from my perspective or better put a different perspective than yours. Why would someone create Hell? Simply put man’s imagination or illusion. But to answer that better, we have to look at the worldview ancient man had at the time and the amount of knowledge that was available in such times. In order to decipher how ancient man can imagine such place we would trace the environment they inhabited at the time. When ancient man looked up at the clouds they saw peace and tranquility and imagine the unknown up there. When they heard thunder and rain they could only imagine that this water can be coming from something up there but who can hold that much water up there? It must be a power (God). It must be a God who is disappoint when it does not rain. There must be an explanation as to why it thunders or when there is no rain God is upset what can we do? Sacrifice, till the rain falls again. When it rain again ok God is happy. Now hell should be the opposite of up there. Well if not up down, when they dug deeper into the ground they saw how the earth got hotter and hotter. Some heard legend where travelers saw deep holes in the ground where a sea of fire come from beneath the earth and their goes man’s imagination. When you don’t have TV’s and movies around what better way to capture your audience than to give stories to explain why bad things happen to good people. Lust, greed, etc all lead to man’s unquenchable thirst in earthly things which has and end when they die. God is up there always providing to those who sacrifice but to those who just lust for earthly things they find no fulfillment hence a life that is missing the point of a relationship with God.
My view of Jesus or at the time he lived “Yeshua” was that he was the very first man to come with the correct understanding of our relationship with God. Of whom we are all part of. If I cannot see that my life is the same with God as Yeshua then I have failed to have the correct relationship with God. I am a pantheist. I thought you knew that. Sorry. Many here at this site already know that.
Yes, Russell I think you and I share the same perception of this aspect of hell is that it is a place that the individual chooses to be separated from God. But I think that our differences here is that you view it as an actual place where as I view it as a mental state.
In math when you have a problem you break it down to it simplest denomination and from that perspective the problem can be easily traced and therefore solved. How do I interpret this energy? By its behavior, actions, activities, manners in different conditions. All to come to a fundamental understanding of what is the essence and what make up our entire universe. As Einstein once said to see God’s hand at work.
At any rate, when we trace a math problem as one system of interconnected procedures, the first thing we note with molecular behavior is that it’s all one big interconnected system, and every part of it depends upon every other part. Thinking of the world as consisting of separate things is just that a way of THINKING about it. In fact, as Alan Watts used to say, a “thing” is a “think” a unit of thought, as much of reality as you decide to get your mind around in a particular moment. Again, I’m not against dividing things up. In fact, the mind does it automatically in order for you to function with movement and create time. But is it real or an illusion? Time can be extremely useful to create events but it’s when we forget that all the divisions are actually made-up by the mind, that we get ourselves into trouble and create an illusion that leads to separate events thru the process of what we consider bad to what we consider is better. Hence the knowledge of the tree of good and evil is born and we partake of this illusion every moment.
Russell my perspective on non determinism is that is exactly what it is. For once I try to state where exactly non determinism is leading then I have failed my hypotheses. ; )

vocab malone/jm rieser said...

Davitor - I wanna highlight something you just said:

"My view of Jesus ... was that he was the very first man to come with the correct understanding of our relationship with God. Of whom we are all part of. If I cannot see that my life is the same with God as Yeshua then I have failed to have the correct relationship with God. I am a pantheist."

This is a very startling statement. first, you rightly say Jesus alone had the correct knowledge about God and man, then you turn around and say we are all part of god - something Jesus most certainly did not say!

I am glad you are up front about being a pantheist but where can you find these words on Jesus' lips?

vm

Russell said...

Davitor,

Sorry for the delay in responses. Time has been scarce for me lately. I appreciate the dialogue we’ve been having, but I fear we are not going to make much progress.
You’re explanation for Hell is interesting, but I don’t see how it solves the issue of man dreaming up a place where they would spend all eternity for indulging themselves in sinful acts that would seem so natural. Aside from this, I think your explanation is too simple. Many of the writings of the Old and New Testament can now be backed up by cosmology, archeology, geography, etc.
I was aware that you were a pantheist, but I wasn’t completely sure were you stood on Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection. I think VM makes a strong point. I will be interested to hear your response.
As I stated before, I don’t think you can live a life with this deterministic worldview. Furthermore, I don’t believe you have been able to maintain this relativistic view of morality.

Davitor said...

Hi Russell & Vocab, I will answer simply that Jesus said that we will do much greater things than even him and to be perfect as your heavenly father. And I know how you will going to respond to this so I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Thomas Jefferson "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the the man with the wrong mental attitude"
Not even God. God Bless you both.

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