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Archive for the ‘C.S. Lewis’ Category

Why Nietzsche is Helpful for the Christian

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So, I’ve been chewing on some Nietzsche for the better part of the last 8 months (I mentioned a few things I was struck by here) .  I think Nietzsche is very helpful for Christians and is worth reading/understanding.  There are at least four reasons why this is the case:

First, Nietzsche is helpful because he presents a worldview almost completely antithetical to Christianity.  From my experience, total opposites often have a lot in common and typically this is the case because opposites employ the same categories to divergent conclusions.  Nietzsche takes many of orthodox Christianities’ categories and turns them on their head.  He preaches the opposite of the Sermon on the Mount, encouraging master morality over slave morality.  He preaches that humanity has killed God through our lack of worship of God and as a result there is no such thing as good/evil, right/wrong, or black/white because all of these depended on God for their existence.  He preaches that all that humanity has is power through the assertion of one’s will.

Second, Nietzsche and Christianity have a few common assessments and aims (The Fall, Telos, and Pleasure).  In my opinion, there is definitely a sense of the brokenness of things in Nietzsche’s philosophy.  While not coming from a theistic framework, he sees that humanity needs to rise above its current pitiful state to something higher.  While he might not refer to the ubermensch as redeemer of humanity, it is certainly Nietzsche’s telos for humanity.  Nietzsche and the Christian see very eye-to-eye when it comes to a promotion of life-affirmation (given, from very different angles).  Some may accuse Christianity of being prudish or oppressive but they haven’t read C.S. Lewis on joy, Jonathan Edwards on affection, or John Piper on Christian hedonism.  Both Nietzsche, Lewis, Edwards, and Piper all put forth a very life-affirming, full-bodied, joy-filled, and pleasure-seeking vision of life.

Third, Nietzsche is correct in his assessment that the death of God necessitates nihilism (a rejection of all morality).  For Nietzsche a large portion of his philosophy was devoted to the reevaluation of everything in light of the death of God (particularly morality).  Unlike the New Atheists who want to have their cake and eat it too (atheism with some semblance of morality), Nietzsche obliterates this notion.  Nietzsche rejects all transcendence in light of the death of God, for if God is the only transcendent thing/being in existence, then the death of God also destroys anything transcendent.  The only meta-narrative (for Nietzsche) left is the assertion of power and pleasure in the face of the harsh world.

Fourth, Nietzsche’s worldview is horribly unlivable.  The unlivability of the Nietzschean worldview is probably the greatest critique of his thinking.  I won’t even delve into the fact that Nietzsche spent the last decade of his life severely mentally ill and institutionalized (as this has been abused by Nietzsche’s critics).  It is no great secret that Nietzsche’s most faithful disciple was Michel Foucault.  Foucault was an influential post-structuralist and post-modern thinker who sought to live Nietzsche’s worldview to its logical end.  Power and pleasure were at the center for Foucault and Nietzsche and as such Foucault delved deep into the world of homosexual sadomasochism.  It was not uncommon for Foucault to have 6-12 such encounters in a single night (facilitated by the bath-houses of 70s era Southern California).  He was quite open and would brag about his sexual power and prowess.  He was one of the first public figures to die of AIDS.  He wanted to die in his native Paris and upon his triumphal entry to his city, 2 million people lined either side of the Champs-Élysées.  Those celebrating his return carried posters with Foucault’s motto, “Be Cruel.”

Your thoughts?

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Nietzsche vs. Christianity: Part 5

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Lecture five consisted of a series of talking points.  Aside from Alvin Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism… this lecture explores what Christianity and Nietzsche have in common.  The content suggests that Nietzsche’s Dionysian thinking is not entirely incompatible with Christianity.  It is my contention that C.S. Lewis, Jonathan Edwards, and John Piper have carved out common ground between Christianity and Nietzschean Dionysianism.

Audio of the lecture if available here.

Avatar Causing Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

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Pandora: The Fictional Utopian World in Avatar

Disclaimer: I have not seen the film Avatar.  Here is a link to a story about audience members who have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts, due to the fact that they cannot live in the utopian Pandora.   My initial thought was this is completely pathetic…  it is just a movie promoting pantheism (or perhaps panentheism) while bashing American imperialism.

However, on second thought, there is something more profound here.  It is not new or revolutionary for humanity to long for peace, prosperity, and flourishing life.  The people who are feeling these ‘side-affects’ are really longing not for Pandora.  They are longing for the Shalom that God will usher in at the Second Coming of Christ.  These people are longing for the fullness of the Kingdom of God where everything is made right, everything is made new, and there is no injustice.  Its the same longing for the end of winter in Narnia, the destruction of the ring in Lord of the Rings, or Christian’s journey to Mt. Zion and the Celestial City in Pilgrim’s Progress.  There is a palpable intensity to living in this broken world.  The reality of fallen creation can be bleak and depressing and promote both anxiety and despair.  All of man’s attempts at utopia have failed:  communism, capitalism, pantheism/panentheism/Walden’s Pond, communalism…  We need the reality of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, making peace through his propitiatory sacrifice the wrath of God towards the sins of man.  We need Christ’s church to do her work throughout the Earth.  We need Christ to return and establish the New Heavens and the New Earth.

Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Top 5 Childrens Books

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The Jesus Storybook Bible

Someone asked for this list.  I have no children and am not very knowledgeable here.  Hence, someone who has children and better resources please post books that should be listed here.

1.  The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

This book is a monumental achievement.  I really don’t know what parents did for their children before this book.  I have heard that The Big Picture Story Bible is also good.

2.  Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

These are classic books and solid Christian allegory.  When they get older, have them read the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

3.  The Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul

Yes, R.C. Sproul has written some children’s books.  The Poison Cup is the only one I am familiar with, but I have heard that The Lightlings and The King Without a Shadow are also good.

4.  Window on the World by Daphne Spraggett and Jill Johnstone

This is like Operation World for kids.  It will introduce them to world missions and prayer for other people groups.

5.  First Catechism

This is the Westminster Shorter Catechism for Children.  Also, the entire list of questions and answers can be found here for free.

Introduction to Apologetics, Part 3: Evidentialist Apologetics

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Mousetrap

Irreducible Complexity

Evidentialist Apologetics can be seen as a subset of classical apologetics mainly focusing on all the evidence supporting the Christian faith and its rationality.  Evidentialists can be looked at in three main overlapping categories:  those advocating A. Teleological Argument  B. The Intelligent Design Movement (which borrows from the Teleological Argument)  C.  Those promoting the reliability and historicity of the Bible, Jesus, miracles, and the resurrection.

Teleological

William Paley (1743-1805) was the first to popularize the Teleological Argument by reworking some of Aquinas’ fivefold argument.  The argument is essentially that there is too much order, specialization, and fine-tuning in our world and the Universe for it to have been a product of mere chance.  Therefore, an intelligent and wise being must have created all of these things.  This being is God.  The problem with Paley is that he employed the analogy of God as a watchmaker who set the laws that governed the timepiece in motion.  Paley’s argumentation was critical for a young Darwin in seminary.  The impersonal (nearly deistic) picture painted by Paley, led others (Darwin) to look for naturalistic laws that could in turn replace God.

John Polkinghorne (1930-) has written extensively on the fine-tuning of the universe and has been an advocate of ongoing dialogue between science and religion (see also Michael Polanyi).

Intelligent Design Movement

The intelligent design movement is a movement of scientists, thinkers, and philosophers who are challenging scientific materialism (aka Naturalism or Neo-Darwinianism).  The aim of the movement is to get a seat at the table on the discussion of origins of life.  Many of their arguments are really quite sound science and present very damning (and in my view fatal) critiques of Darwinian macro-evolution.  Michael Behe (1952-) in his book Darwin’s Black Box argues that on the microbiological level many different things have the characteristic of irreducible complexity.  He employs the analogy of a mousetrap which has five pieces to it:  platfrom, spring, hammer, hold-down bar, and catch(cheese).  If you take away any one piece of the mousetrap then you have something that is functionally worthless, and therefore unable to catch any mice.  The mousetrap is irreducibly complex and is in its most simple state with its five components and therefore it has no functional precursor.  Behe then goes on to describe several things that have this characteristic of irreducible complexity, namely, the eye, flageullum, cilia, e. coli, adaptive immune system, and blood coagulation.

Other noteworthy scholars are William Dembski (1960-), Nancy Pearcey (1952-), Michael Denton (1943-), and Phillip Johnson (1940-), many of whom are involved with the Discovery Institute.

Reliability and Historicity of Bible, Jesus, Miracles, and Resurrection

F.F. Bruce (1910-1990) spent his entire life defending the historicity of the Bible against the tsunami of doubt cast by higher and lower Bible criticism.  His New Testament Documents:  Are They Reliable is an absolute classic and a fairly easy read.  Josh McDowell (1939-) has written on the historicity of the person of Jesus in his popular book More Than a Carpenter.   In a similar vein Lee Strobel (1952-) has written on the historicity and Biblicity of Jesus.  N.T. Wright (1948-) has written probably the best defense of the resurrection of Jesus in his terrific volume The Resurrection of the Son of GodC.S. Lewis (1898-1963) has written many important apologetic works what lands him here is his defense of miracles.

Up next is a look at presuppositional apologetics.

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