Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Socratic Wisdom

You know Chaerephon. . . . He went to Delphi at one time and ventured to ask the oracle . . . if any man was wiser than I, and the Pythian replied that no one was wiser. . . . Consider that I tell you this because I would inform you about the origin of the slander. When I heard this reply I asked myself: "Whatever does the god mean? What is his riddle? I am very conscious that I am not wise at all; what then does he mean by saying that I am the wisest? For surely he does not lie; it is no legitimate for him to do so." For a long time I was at a loss as to his meaning; then I very reluctantly turned to some such investigation as this; I went to one of those reputed to be wise, thinking that there, if anywhere, I could refute the oracle and say to it: "This man is wiser than I, but you said I was." Then, when I examined this man -- there is no need for me to tell you his name, he was one of our public men -- my experience was something like this: I thought that he appeared wise to many people and especially to himself, but he was not. I then tried to show him that he thought himself wise, but that he was not. As a result he came to dislike me, and so did many of the bystanders. So I withdrew and thought to myself: "I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas when I do not know, neither do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know." After this I approached another man, one of those thought to be wiser than he, and I thought the same thing, and so I came to be disliked both by him and by many others.

- Socrates, from The Apology (21a-21e)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Santelli and the Chicago Tea Party

CNBC journalist Rick Santelli has been making waves this week after aggressively attacking Obama's "stimulus" package on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade, earning cheers from traders on the floor. Here is the video:

The President's press secretary Gibbs responded to Santelli. Here are Santelli's responses:

The truth of the matter is that Santelli is right: the stimulus is rewarding bad behavior and punishing those who have been responsible. Why should those of us who live within our means be forced to pay for those who have been irresponsible? The Porkulus Bill is simply a return to business-as-usual for liberalism: cut defense spending, increase entitlements, create new dependents, raise taxes on those who actually pay them, on companies that create job, and on people with the means to start companies. Success is vice and failure a virtue under such a scheme. No longer do we hold accountable those who act foolishly, but rather we taut them as "victims." Yes, things are not pretty economically (except for the price of gasoline), but that does not legitimize legalized plunder.

President Obama, this is neither "change" nor anything worth believing in. This is old-hat lefist socialism being pushed on America in the Chicago-style of thug-politics.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Mahaney: Showing Grace

We're all in need of grace. There's no one you know who doesn't need more of it. And God has so composed His church that when we're together in a larger corporate gathering or in a small group or even in casual conversation, we can both receive grace and communicate grace through the exchange of edifying and appropriate words.

Every conversation has this potential. So let us pray, "Lord, help me discern what kind of grace this person needs." For those who are legalistic or feel condemned, we want to bring justifying grace into their souls. To those struggling with besetting sin, we want to bring sanctifying grace. To those experiencing suffering, we want to bring comforting grace. To those who are just weary, we want to refresh their souls with sustaining grace. The list goes on and on.

Through each and every interaction, however casual, however brief, I want to impart grace through my words, for that's God's purpose in granting us this gift of speech. And in effect we have God's promise in [Ephesians 4:29] that when our words are edifying and appropriate, they will give grace.
- C.J. Mahaney, Humility

Monday, February 02, 2009

Worldview and Two Masters

The Bible sets up a struggle between two forces: sin and righteousness. Every man, woman, and child belongs to one or the other of these groups. Indeed, we are all born slaves to sin, dead in our transgressions. Yet, we who believe in Christ are alive to righteousness and have died to death. Christ himself said that no one can serve two masters, but is either mastered by sin or mastered by righteousness.

This antithesis is underscored throughout the whole of Scripture and is an important concept for Christians to understand, for it tells us who we are and where we are going. But what does this notion of either being of sin, or being of righteousness have to do with worldviews? When discussing the truth about reality, does this distinction between saint and sinner have any relevancy? I propose that it does. In the context of belief and knowledge, the ideas we hold concerning reality dictate how we perceive and understand reality. There is no middle ground to be had. We cannot serve both sin and righteousness. Neither master will suffer to share us with the other.

In 1 Corinthians 1-2, Paul instructs the saints on how those yet in sin perceive and understand the Gospel. To such men, Christ is folly and a stumbling block. Not just as foolishness, the world also sees Christ crucified and raised as weakness. Paul, however, notes that Jesus Christ is not only the power of God, but also the wisdom of God. Thus, Christ is regarded as folly by the world and wisdom by Christians.

It seems that Paul meant that there is a difference between the Christian and non-Christian understanding reality. If they disagree on the nature of Christ, will they not also disagree with things of lesser consequence? That non-Christians are unable to correctly understand God indicates that there might be something wrong with the way they think and believe. In Romans 1, Paul indicates that sin causes them to reject the the truth of God for a lie, and to suppress the Truth in unrighteousness. The root problem is sin. Because sin darkens and twists the hearts and minds of men, they will not see Christ as the Wisdom and Power of God, but as folly and weakness.

One additional thing needs addressing: this does not mean that non-Christians are stupid or ignorant people. From His own goodness, God showers blessings on both the righteous as sinful, including glimpses of true reality. The consequences of these few paragraphs is not that only Christians are smart, but that prudence needs be used when interacting with people of different worldviews. Rather than viewing apologetics through an either/or lense of Evidential versus Presuppositional methodologies, the charitable Christian will seek to understand where each person he meets is at, and give his defense for the faith according to what wisdom dictates. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens are not interested in hearing about evidential arguments. They are so darkened by sin that they will not heed. Thus, presuppositional questions are appropriate, especially when used to gentle show inconsistencies in their worldview and create doubt as to the veracity of their claims. For the non-Christian who, by God's grace, is honestly interested in exploring the historicity of Christ or arguments against Darwinian naturalism, the time for evidential arguments is at hand.