I am a pastor who is an atheist who believes in God.

I am a pastor who is an atheist who believes in God.

I just read this great article by a guy who says he is a Christian, but rejects the existence of God. He writes:

I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

This brave confession has given me the boldness to come out and tell the world, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Yes, I am a pastor who is an atheist who believes in God.

  • I reject the notion that there is no God.
  • I believe that man was created by God and in the image of God.
  • I believe Jesus Christ was more than just an historical person, he was also God in flesh who died and rose again.

God-deniers are really just a culturally conditioned brain-washed product of a poor educational system, because real atheists know there is a God. Now to those atheists who get angry and tell me that I am not a real atheist, I say you are too small minded in how you define that word. I am an atheist who proudly believe in God.

The Fallacy of Success

The Fallacy of Success

The Church is enamored with success. Which, in and of itself, might not be so bad, except all too often we allow secular business, Hollywood, Nationalism, politics, the media and.. maybe worst of all… “Christian” publishers. to set the agenda for us. Through the lens of history, G.K. Chesterton offers significant insight that can help us shed light on the fallacy of success.

Success Is a Fiction

In his work, “All Things Considered” G.K. Chesterton laments not only the vanity but the emptiness in our pursuit of success. The term itself, he argues, is a misnomer because all of us are successful by virtue of our being.

 all things considered chestertonTHERE has appeared in our time a particular class of books and articles which I sincerely and solemnly think may be called the silliest ever known among men. They are much more wild than the wildest romances of chivalry and much more dull than the dullest religious tract. Moreover, the romances of chivalry were at least about chivalry; the religious tracts are about religion. But these things are about nothing; they are about what is called Success. On every bookstall, in every magazine, you may find works telling people how to succeed. They are books showing men how to succeed in everything; they are written by men who cannot even succeed in writing books. To begin with, of course, there is no such thing as Success. Or, if you like to put it so, there is nothing that is not successful. That a thing is successful merely means that it is; a millionaire is successful in being a millionaire and a donkey in being a donkey. Any live man has succeeded in living; any dead man may have succeeded in committing suicide.

G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered. (New York: John Lane Company, 1909), 21-22.

I understand all too well what Chesterton is alluding to.  This past week I celebrated another birthday, which is really only a testimony to the fact that I succeeded in not dying since last year.

Sadly, too many pastors are consumed with books written by men who can’t write telling other pastors how to achieve their kind of “success”. Consequently, in the pursuit of fiction, the average pastor is blinded to the Divine-success they have every day when, by faith, they serve Christ and His Church.

Success Is Not Our Gospel-Mission

The problem with our success obsessed Church, is that it blinds us to our Gospel-mission. Chesterton reminds us of this very truth.

all things considered chestertonBut, passing over the bad logic and bad philosophy in the phrase, we may take it, as these writers do, in the ordinary sense of success in obtaining money or worldly position. These writers profess to tell the ordinary man how he may succeed in his trade or speculation—how, if he is a builder, he may succeed as a builder; how, if he is a stockbroker, he may succeed as a stockbroker. They profess to show him how, if he is a grocer, he may become a sporting yachtsman; how, if he is a tenth-rate journalist, he may become a peer; and how, if he is a German Jew, he may become an Anglo-Saxon. This is a definite and business-like proposal, and I really think that the people who buy these books (if any people do buy them) have a moral, if not a legal, right to ask for their money back. Nobody would dare to publish a book about electricity which literally told one nothing about electricity; no one would dare to publish an article on botany which showed that the writer did not know which end of a plant grew in the earth. Yet our modern world is full of books about Success and successful people which literally contain no kind of idea, and scarcely any kind of verbal sense.

G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered. (New York: John Lane Company, 1909), 22.

Sadly, in the last 100 years since Chesterton penned these words, our books on success have not improved. So many of the most popular books driving the ministry are filled with drivel encouraging pastors to reach for the brass ring. But, success with a Jesus-veneer has become a euphemism for growing a big church, creating a wealthy church, building larger buildings, or increasing influence through video venues. And while none of these things are inherently bad, none of these are synonymous with our Gospel-mission.

Success is…

What, then, is success? To what should our leaders aspire? Chesterton again offers keen insight.

all things considered chestertonIt is perfectly obvious that in any decent occupation (such as bricklaying or writing books) there are only two ways (in any special sense) of succeeding. One is by doing very good work, the other is by cheating. Both are much too simple to require any literary explanation. If you are in for the high jump, either jump higher than any one else, or manage somehow to pretend that you have done so. If you want to succeed at whist, either be a good whist-player, or play with marked cards. You may want a book about jumping; you may want a book about whist; you may want a book about cheating at whist. But you cannot want a book about Success. Especially you cannot want a book about Success such as those which you can now find scattered by the hundred about the book-market. You may want to jump or to play cards; but you do not want to read wandering statements to the effect that jumping is jumping, or that games are won by winners. If these writers, for instance, said anything about success in jumping it would be something like this: “The jumper must have a clear aim before him. He must desire definitely to jump higher than the other men who are in for the same competition. He must let no feeble feelings of mercy (sneaked from the sickening Little Englanders and Pro-Boers) prevent him from trying to do his best. He must remember that a competition in jumping is distinctly competitive, and that, as Darwin has gloriously demonstrated, the weakest go to the wall.” That is the kind of thing the book would say, and very useful it would be, no doubt, if read out in a low and tense voice to a young man just about to take the high jump.

G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered. (New York: John Lane Company, 1909), 22-24.

In short, success is found when we do the things we are called by God do. It does not matter who sees it or how much money we earn from it. Success, for the Christian, is simply obedience to Christ.

If I may take liberty with Chesterton’s example, it is my impression that the writers on church leadership and success most-often offer something like this:

“The pastor must have a clear aim before him. He must desire definitely to pastor a bigger congregation than the others around him. He must not be constrained by tradition or theology, but use any means to achieve his success. He must remember that growing a bigger church is distinctly competitive, and that, as Darwin has gloriously demonstrated, the weakest go to the wall.”

Have you been deceived by the fallacy of success?

Get grounded in WORD: a Bible study on Psalm 119

Get grounded in WORD: a Bible study on Psalm 119

My good friend, Lyn Smith, has just published a new book titled, “Get Grounded in WORD: a Bible study on Psalm 119,” which serves as “a catalyst for knowing God, WORD inspires you to grow deeper and serve stronger in Jesus’ name.”

As the materials suggest,

Confident godliness comes only one way – through a consistent, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. This six week study, with video downloads, will nourish your soul and give your faith deep roots.

Dig into Psalm 119, and discover the strengthening power of God’s Word.

Designed to be done by individuals or groups, the book contains study and discussion questions. Teaching videos to go with the book are available for purchase at www.lynsmith.org. While structured as a six-week study, it contains 22 meditations so it can also be used as a personal devotional.

Below are some quotes from the book that may inspire you to use it …

Peace comes when we understand that we are thoroughly known and absolutely loved.

 

God is the best one to open ourselves up to because His responses will always be right and filled with love.

 

Our job is to stay at His feet, to bask in His presence, and to let Him fill us.

 

Praise becomes a habitual response of our spirit and soul to His magnificence.

 

Because God’s Word cannot and has not failed, it has been the foundation of millions, if not billions, of lives.

Click on the image below to get your copy today.

WORD website header 2

If you have not read Lyn’s blog before, here is a short bio.

lyn_smith_bioLyn Smith is a Bible Activist who is passionate about God and His Word. She teaches Bible studies, speaks at conferences, and writes. Lyn has co-authored two books: The LeadHer Challenge and Think 4:8, a collaborative effort with Tommy Newberry. WORD is her latest release. Lyn lives with her husband and three children in Oklahoma.

Is Moral Fact a Fiction?

Is Moral Fact a Fiction?

Recently, a Facebook friend who is a Professor of Philosophy posted an article titled, “Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts.” In this article, Justin P. McBrayer observes how his son’s school is teaching him that there is no such thing as a moral fact. After citing several examples from his son’s curriculum, he shares these two concerns.

So what’s wrong with this distinction and how does it undermine the view that there are objective moral facts?

First, the definition of a fact waffles between truth and proof — two obviously different features. Things can be true even if no one can prove them. For example, it could be true that there is life elsewhere in the universe even though no one can prove it. Conversely, many of the things we once “proved” turned out to be false. For example, many people once thought that the earth was flat. It’s a mistake to confuse truth (a feature of the world) with proof (a feature of our mental lives). Furthermore, if proof is required for facts, then facts become person-relative. Something might be a fact for me if I can prove it but not a fact for you if you can’t. In that case, E=MC2 is a fact for a physicist but not for me.

But second, and worse, students are taught that claims are either facts or opinions. They are given quizzes in which they must sort claims into one camp or the other but not both. But if a fact is something that is true and an opinion is something that is believed, then many claims will obviously be both. For example, I asked my son about this distinction after his open house. He confidently explained that facts were things that were true whereas opinions are things that are believed.

But one need not investigate our educational system to see the cultural indoctrination into moral obfuscation. This short clip from the popular TV series Blue Bloods tells the whole story.

However, the most interesting part of this was the ensuing discussion on Facebook. Here is the unedited discussion, excepting some spell-checking, between my friend, the Philosophy Professor, and me.

FB FRIEND: When it comes to morality, I think we can begin reasoning from the belief that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood,” (Article 1 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights). All reasoning rests upon basic assumptions, whether we are talking about science, morality, etc. (we call these metaphysical first principles). There is a reason why rape and slavery are always wrong. Always. Everytime and in every culture. Rape, slavery, etc. violates the statement of truth expounded in Article 1 (and the rest of the UDHR totally rocks too!)

 

ME:Very interesting article. It raises a question the average student may ask, “who gave the UN authority to declare moral facts?” More than 20 years ago at Penn State I had a fellow-student tell me that Hitler was only wrong from our modern perspective, but he could not judge if Hitler was absolutely wrong for all cultures and all times. In his view, what Hitler did was not “wrong” his actions were simply not culturally acceptable. ISIS, as another example, is a collection of people who find rape, slavery and torture acceptable, and possibly encouraged, in their religious-worldview. In their view, the UDHR is just a moral opinion of a wrongheaded and corrupt and godless culture. So how does one decide who is right? Who decided the UN had universal authority of moral facts for all cultures and all peoples of the world?

 

MY FRIEND: Good questions, Joe. As for the declaration, it was put together at the end of World War II, in the wake of the crimes against humanity. Many counties contributed to the writing and passing of the UDHR, including Russia, China, and many Middle Eastern countries where Islam is the dominant religion. As to who gives it moral authority? In a quick fb post, my answer is reason. Those who put together the document agreed (for the most part) about the content, but not about the philosophical underpinnings.

 

ME: FB does have its limitation. I would just make two observations. One, if reason is the guarantor of moral-fact, then moral-fact will, of necessity, change as worldview transforms the process of reason. This post I made some time ago about Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) gives some idea of where I am coming from. http://www.morethancake.org/archives/2203 Two, if moral-fact requires the consensus of countries, what happens when those countries cease to exist? A look at a world-map shows that many of the countries that existed when we were young have passed into history. So in the end, moral-facts, rooted in governmental authority, are no more transcendent than the governments who enforce them.

 

MY FRIEND: Good points. Joe, what do you think of Aquinas’ natural law? I suppose that’s how I’d respond to #1. And as to #2, the idea is that we are humans first and citizen second. That’s the idea behind human rights.

 

MY FRIEND: Joe, I suppose the reason I admire the UDHR is because I see it as a way to talk about morality in a pluralistic society. When we don’t all hold the same religious beliefs, what are we to do? I think we can still reason together, and the UDHR is a great place to start.

 

ME: I suppose my quick, and probably unsatisfying, answer to both of your queries is that it depends upon how one defines nature and interprets its “laws.” If nature evolves, so then do her laws. If nature is ever-changing, then moral law must be ever-changing. Eg. Hitler, inspired by Darwin, saw some races as superior and therefore he had a natural right to eliminate the inferior races (survival of the fittest and all). Margret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was a strong advocate of eugenics and advocated abortion as an easy way for society to eliminate blacks whom she saw as the inferior species. Or, as others have proposed, to prevent global warming, eliminating humans is okay since the rights of nature = the rights of all animals = rights of human-animals. I address this latest issue in this post. http://www.morethancake.org/archives/5912 So the ablity to reason together still assume a shared wordlview and as society becomes more bulkanized through pluralization, reason becomes much less reasonable.

My friend offered no more replies, but my final observation took back to the original dilemma regarding the fiction of moral fact.

ME: Back to the original post, “Fact” vs “Opinion”. Another confusing part of your people is how these terms are used in a scientific context. Check out this definition of “Fact” from the National Center for Science Education, “Fact: In science, an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as “true.” Truth in science, however, is never final and what is accepted as a fact today may be modified or even discarded tomorrow.” http://ncse.com/…/definitions-fact-theory-law... So in this sense, a Fact is just an opinion that a lot of people accept, but may change later. Right?

  1. How did the conversation go?
  2. How would you respond?

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