I should probably try to clarify some of my remarks from a couple posts ago. I had a friend IM me (and yes, Sachin, of course I remember you!) and point out that atheists or agnostics can live moral lives as well as any Christian. This would seem to defeat my point that moral decisions for them are infinite, so choosing a path is infinitely simple.

I acknowledge that Christians don’t have a corner on the morality market. I also acknowledge that not believing in God doesn’t necessarily give you a feeling of freedom from obligation or things you “must” do. However, I would argue that that feeling is primarily a result of religious belief. Our entire structure of law, obligation, morality, and responsibility is built on precepts that were born of religious principles. For instance, why do we have welfare? What reason is there for helping the poor?

Well, for one thing, we tend to have “sympathy pains” for them when we are made aware of their need. This is why commercials for international aid organizations always say, “Don’t just turn off the TV”, because they know they need to play to your sympathies. Humans naturally dislike pain, even sympathy pain, so they respond in one of two ways. Either they try to ignore the pain or they try to dispel it. Ignoring is turning off the TV or, even better, being able to desensitize and overcome feelings of guilt and sympathy. Dispelling, on the other hand, is doing things to help those who have the pain.

The principle of dealing with the pain of others by helping to dispel it is inherently religious. It assumes the dignity and worth of all people, and places a value on giving, sacrifice, and compassion. Today’s atheism, for the most part, is still infused with those types of principles, causing many atheists to have a morality that makes no sense given their worldview.

Nietzsche was great for this. He pointed out that our entire governmental and societal structure is built on religious assumptions. If we are to truly show our commitment to a scientific world devoid of the supernatural, he argued, we must reshape our entire understanding of right and wrong to fit our new understanding of the order of the universe. Rather than look to the heavens for help and guidance, we must embrace and celebrate our mortality and the futility of our existence, and through that embracing reach higher states of evolution than were ever thought possible (this race being the overmen, or supermen).

Again, this shouldn’t be taken as a criticism of the value or worth of my atheist or agnostic friends. Their love and compassion is very real, as is the quality of their character. Most of my friends in high school were non-religious, and it certainly wasn’t because I had some masochistic desire to spend time with people who wouldn’t care about me. In reality, I spent time with them because they were extremely loving and accepting towards me and my many quirks.

The reason I pointed this topic out in the first place is actually to express a certain sort of jealousy. I WISH I could choose my own morality, my own purpose, my own direction. It must be nice. I wish I could forge the kind of existence and relationships that would alter the way the world thinks. I wish I could avoid identification with a particular group and create my own way of thinking.

But I can’t. I am completely convinced of God as Truth and the Bible as His Word. There can be no turning back.



If you missed that last blog, don't sweat it. It's not for the faint of heart (or the light of reading). Basically, I'm struggling with some intense philosophical and theological issues right now, and I'm going to be working on them. :-)

On a lighter note, Dave and I finally removed the stupid tree from the back yard! Chopping wood is awesome. It makes you feel quite manly, even when your hands are ringing and arms are shaking (actually, that just adds to the experience).

The job hunt is still a failure so far. I feel like such an idiot, though I suppose that's probably good for me.

The Tigers won on opening day! They're headed for the playoffs this year, I can feel it.

Have a great day! Also, I've noticed a COMPLETE lack of new nickname suggestions, which says to me that I either have a shy readership, or else I don't HAVE a readership... with the latter being the more likely. Oh well. Have a nice day anyhow.

Why isn't there unity in the message?

Sometimes I just don’t get God.

It may sound funny, coming from me, but He really can be confusing. We all know the criticisms. Why does He let bad things happen? Why does he save some and not others? Why does understanding His message for us take so much work?

For me, the hardest part is seeing unity in God’s creation. I can understand that the discord in the world is our own fault; sin is a powerful thing. However, I struggle with knowing why God’s MESSAGE can seem so inconsistent.

When I was in high school, I had a hard time seeing why God allowed ignorance. If He wants to save everyone, why does He put people in situations where knowing Him is so hard? I knew many kids from abusive or dysfunctional families, or from places where the only good thing in life is having more stuff. Their minds were never challenged, and had stagnated by the time they hit high school. Where was God in all this?

Later I struggled with “contradictions” in the Bible. It wasn’t that I thought the Bible contradicted itself; in fact, I found that the so-called contradictions are very explainable to those who care. What I didn’t understand though, was why God would ALLOW things that seemed to be contradictions. If God knows every heart and can guide every pen, why were there copying errors? Why did the authors word things in a way that seemed contradictory? Why couldn’t I spend time explaining God’s love instead of defending his word?

I eventually worked my way through these struggles. Learning of predestination, God’s passion for His own glory, and the historical context of Scripture did a lot to set aside my uncertainties.

Recently, though, it’s been hitting me again.

My latest struggle has been with denominational separations.

See, there are a LOT of denominations. Plymouth Brethren, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of God, Evangelical Free, Reformed, Wesleyan, Anglican, Quaker, Pentecostal… the list goes on and on. Each denomination has its own take on church life, organization, and doctrine.

To be frank, that’s just fine with me. I’ve been listening to “leadership interviews” online recently, where some of today’s top theologians talk about issues facing the church, and they’re remarkably unified. As I listen, I am quickly able to see that many of the differences we see in the church are due either to A) Honest desires to worship and glorify God in different ways, which is fine, or B) An incorrect understanding of God and His Word, which is a problem that needs to be named and challenged.

However, there is another category that drives me nuts. If God is completely unified in purpose, direction, and control, why can those of good faith disagree so much? Why the split between dispensational and covenantal? Why the disagreements on the role of women in the church? Why can teachings of earlier Christians be so out of touch with today’s (such as Jonathan Edwards teaching that the Catholic Church is the AntiChrist and that the world would end in the year 2000)?

I’m not certain of my answer just yet. I have some different kinds of studies I want to do, in hopes that they will shed light on the subject. What is my hypothesis, though?

At this point, my atheist friends will helpfully inform me that the Bible was just made up anyways, so of course it can’t express a unified message because there was no unifying force behind it.

Some days I almost wish for that sort of a world. In the constantly changing, never-dull world of the atheist, life is just something that happens, and we may as well derive our own unique sense of purpose in the world from what we are (randomly) given. In a world like that, everything is simpler. I choose my morality, choose my direction, and choose my version of happiness. When things with Samantha get hard, I can just leave. If my political career doesn’t pan out, I can join the military. It’s like one of those choose-your-own-adventure books. You look at what is, and then make decisions about your response. It’s infinitely simple because the options are limitless.

Unfortunately, that’s not for me. A purposeless, random, uncertain world is inherently self-destructive… and frankly, is basically impossible. Only a God beyond all rules stands the test of possibility.

So, then, I’m forced to accept that my sovereign God allows dissension. My hypothesis is that he is doing this because it accomplishes His purposes. If debate restructures our thinking and sharpens our study, so much the better. If some in one place need one teaching to see God and those in another need something different, so be it.

What, then, is true? What does God really intend? What does the future really hold and what is the most loving way to get there?

And the big question: Is this a debate that should be conducted in the publicity of the square… or the privacy of the heart and community? Hmm… we may be on to something here.