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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Big People Picture)

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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A Concluding Email to “Mike”

[Some of you might remember my post back on June 2 regarding my dialogue with my friend “Mike.” I believe the Lord led me to write the following. I’m always open to your comments.]

Hey, Mike!
Always good to hear from you.
Just a couple of thoughts:

1. I appreciate your honesty in not accepting my understanding of God and the human person. I’ve never been in the dark about what you believe. And I thank you for your candor.

2. I must admit I’m sad to read that you said “the two of us will never come to a common understanding.” So I guess we’re done with our “religious” discussions. It is interesting that you sent me your essay on truth.

3. A comment or two on your article on truth: Granted, the sum of what you or I don’t know greatly exceeds the amount of “truth” that we do know. But doesn’t this assume that quantity of information is more important than quality? You may give me accurate directions how to get to your winter cabin for a feast of venison, but there’s a world of things I don’t know about the things surrounding my trip (the area’s topography, how my car exactly works to get me there, etc.).

You know that your wife loves you, but there is a world of information about her and her inner workings that you’ll never know. But the most important point is that she loves you. It seems unreasonable to deny or denigrate the truth we do have because of the volume of truth we don’t have.

You challenge the idea of our being made in God’s image because of the evil of man. I can understand that. Man is fallen and in rebellion against God. But man is also capable of great sacrifice for others. How does one explain that?

I could go on, Mike. But there are several points that I want to leave with you (if we cease our “religious” discussions):

1. I regret I’ve not done an adequate job of presenting the best case for biblical Christianity to you. I have tried. I’ve thought long and hard about my responses to you. I do remind myself of 2 Corinthians 4:4 which gives me a bit of help.

2. As someone has said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” Another responded, “I can! I can give him a salt tablet and he will get thirsty and drink!” I regret, Mike, that I’ve somehow not provided a salt tablet for you, for I’ve not seen any real thirst on your part to pursue the God of the Bible and find real forgiveness for your sins. God saved me as a teenager. There’s still time for you to trust him as an octogenarian!

3. I hope you won’t be offended by what I’ve written, but rather assured of my concern for you. I’m appreciative of your friendship and won’t bring up “religion” again unless you ask me to.

Blessings.
Larry

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2020 in evangelism

 

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A Dialogue with My Friend “Mike”

Friends: I have been corresponding with an unsaved friend of mine for years. We’ll call him “Mike.” You might find the following dialogue interesting. I’m open to your comments or questions:

Hello Larry,

I take you up on your last sentence: “I think that a genuine friendship gives the other permission to share his thoughts and deepest convictions”.

You understand my frustration….

You understand my request…..

Do you really???

We both believe in a higher authority that governs our life. We give it different names, but it is the same authority. It is the same authority that all the hundreds of different religious belief systems are based on. You enhanced your conceived system with ideas that are not shared in the same way by all the other different religions. This does not change the fact that there is only one authority and it is wrong to take the position that ones own interpretation is better than every other.

I fully accept the Christian value system, but cannot accept the detailed descriptions of paradise, the creation of mankind, the original sin, the love of God, etc.. similar as I cannot accept the idea of a Santa Claus, or an Easter bunny.

Whenever you talk to me in terms of converting me to your views, it always implies that your views are better than mine. Do you think this is right?

You talk about my world view. I don’t have one!

I simple accept the higher authority without having any thought of trying to understand. I know without doubt, that this knowledge is outside my capability.

Hope you will not give up on me for being blunt with expressing my views.

“Mike”

Good morning, Mike.
I received your email and wanted to jot down a couple of thoughts to you. On some things we agree; on others, not so much.

1. On the issue of “a higher authority” — If you mean “God,” then on the surface you are right. All religions claim to believe in “God” (although Buddhism believes in many gods or none at all). The Bible talks about “false gods” and bluntly says that those who don’t worship the God of Israel are worshiping idols. Your comment reminded me of a long conversation I had with a leader of the Ba’hai movement. He believed that all religions were really believing the same things.

But that’s not true, is it, Mike? Apart from the specifics of Jesus, etc., the various conceptions of God (a Trinity? not a Trinity?) differ dramatically. To say that all religions believe the same thing when it comes to “God” is actually not taking those religions seriously in what they claim.

2. I would love to know what you mean by “I fully accept the Christian value system.” Which parts? On what basis do you pick and choose which parts you will believe — and consign the others to the level of the Easter Bunny?

3. Thank you for your honesty in asking me the question: “Whenever you talk to me in terms of converting me to your views, it always implies that your views are better than mine. Do you think this is right?” I’m sure some of your views are better than mine, and maybe some of my views are “better” than yours. What’s the problem? Isn’t dialogue and discussion a way to get to “better” views (those more consistent and in tune with reality)? For example, isn’t the Christian idea of love not better than the Hindu practice of sati, the forcibly burning to death of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre? Mike, I’m certainly not saying that you hold to sati, but if you did, wouldn’t love dictate that I try to dissuade you of that idea?

4. You write, “You talk about my world view. I don’t have one!” Au contraire, mon ami! Every person has a way of looking at life, of understanding reality. Your worldview does not include recognizing Jesus as God’s Son who gave His life for you. Mine does. That’s a pretty big difference in worldviews, wouldn’t you say?

5. Lastly, you write: “I simple accept the higher authority without having any thought of trying to understand. I know without doubt, that this knowledge is outside my capability.”

Mike, don’t you see that this is an assumption that you make? What if that higher authority has revealed Himself to man in order to draw people into a relationship with Him? Of course an exhaustive knowledge of this “higher authority” is impossible. But our knowledge need not be exhaustive to be sufficient. I don’t ever want to be one who has given up the pursuit of the knowledge which He has revealed.

I will not give up on you for being blunt about your views. And I hope you won’t give up on me. But please don’t expect me to leave my Christian convictions outside, to stop praying that you will understand and believe the gospel, that you will come to know my Jesus.

Blessings.
Larry

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2020 in evangelism

 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Philosophy)

When we think about theology, we also need to think about philosophy. Everyone has a philosophy, a way of looking at life. Pragmatists, idealists, or those who live on their mere whims — every person has a worldview, a way of dealing with life and its multiple choices.

The Christian faith rests on truth — truth revealed by God and given for our good. Our job is to learn the many elements of that truth and — by God’s grace — life it out!

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2020 in philosophy

 

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Principles? (Time for a Great Cartoon)

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in principles

 

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Back to the Basics! Introductory Matters #6 Philosophy!

We have been thinking through a few issues of an introductory nature that need to be discussed before we get into the specific subject areas of God, the Bible, Christ, the Holy Spirit, etc. [For those of you who like technical words, this area of study is called PROLEGOMENA, literally, “things you discuss first.”]

There are many of these preliminary matters to be considered. This morning we want to consider the issue of philosophy. “Philosophy” is the love of wisdom. How does philosophy relate to theology (the study of God and the things of God)?

The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 2:8- “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” Philosophy can quite easily become theology’s enemy, especially if it elevates the thinking of fallen man above the infallible Word of God.

But notice that Paul warns against “hollow and deceptive” philosophy, not philosophy in general. If one’s philosophy is how one views life, everyone has one, and needs to have the best one possible!

Paul knew philosophy, especially Stoic and Epicurean philosophy (as we see in Acts 17). We need to know various philosophies today IF we want to relate to where people are in their thinking.

We are not to put down good philosophy, but test it by the word of God. I love the quote from John Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Lyndon Baines Johnson: “The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2018 in philosophy

 

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The Insane Logic of Mass Shootings (Dr. Larry Dixon)

Our hearts are broken by the recent tragedy in Las Vegas.   There are no words to describe the horror, the inhumanity, of Stephen Paddock’s actions on Sunday, October 1st. We grieve for the almost 600 families who either lost a loved one or will live the rest of their days with members injured by this man’s maniac action.

But I would like to raise one question in this post which should be deeply disturbing to any thinking person. Imagine that Paddock left a note explaining his intentions. Again, we are simply imagining the possibility that he had thought out what he was going to do.

“To Whom It May Concern:
Life has no meaning. There is no God. Of any sort. There is no afterlife. There will be no judgment for either my ‘good’ actions or my upcoming ‘evil’ actions. ‘Evil’ and ‘good’ are socially constructed categories, able to change as society evolves. But — I will be remembered.”

Admittedly, I have no idea what worldview or philosophy (if any) was held by this crazy person. If an investigation shows that he was a member in good standing with, say, a Christian Science community or a Jehovah’s Witness congregation or a Baptist church, would that connection then condemn that group or religion? Of course not.

But philosophically, what motivated his murderous rampage? He was obviously not someone who gave no thought to what he was about to do. He meticulously planned his action, selecting (and modifying) his weapons, choosing his vantage point to reign down as much lethal damage as he possibly could. As one news report said, “The shooter had checked into a hotel room overlooking the music festival, stocked a cache of weapons there and set up cameras inside his hotel suite and hallway.”

Apparently he thought enough of his live-in girlfriend to have her leave the country before his atrocious act.

A multi-millionaire, Paddock enjoyed gambling for a few days before the country music concert on Sunday. But he did not gamble with those 58 innocent lives he took. He simply took them. And the 500 his weapons brutally maimed? They never had a chance to choose their fate.   He imposed his will on those strangers like a demigod who haphazardly and whimsically metes out punishment.

No fear of God served as a deterrent to his actions. No fear of man gave him pause. He did not anticipate a trial or imprisonment for what he was about to do. It is a reasonable conclusion that he had already decided to take his own life after he had robbed so many of theirs.

Ideas have consequences and, though we may never know Paddock’s worldview, he obviously did not value his life or the lives of others. He gave no thought to the unrelenting misery his actions would scar over half a thousand people.

The question is not, it seems to me, why do such mass shootings happen? But why don’t they happen more frequently? In his October 2nd article in Patheos entitled “Answers to 4 Questions About Violence in Vegas”,[1] Pastor Mark Driscoll makes the excellent point that “Once we realize that at the root human beings are the problem, it is easy to see that we cannot also be the solution.”

In a culture that mostly refers to God only as an expletive of surprise (“Oh, My God!”), why are we shocked that godless actions would result?

One news source said, “The mass shooting has raised questions about the gunman, his intentions and his access to weapons.” But why has his act not raised questions about his worldview? What did Paddock believe? Beliefs lead to actions.

We find solace in the stories of heroic efforts made by first responders and average citizens to help others. Sacrificing one’s own safety for the sake of someone else is not a value logically derived from a Darwinian point of view.[2] Tim Keller makes the point that “If there is no transcendent reality beyond this life, then there is no value or meaning for anything.”[3] Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “Without God and the future life . . . everything is permitted, one can do anything.”[4]

But there is built within each of us a God-consciousness which includes a deep-seated grasp of the truth that all people are made in the image and likeness of their Creator. Alas, that consciousness can be suppressed and, as Romans 1 says, the natural man “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”

As a result of rejecting God’s revelation of Himself, God has given the natural man over to “the sinful desires of their hearts” (v. 24), “to shameful lusts” (v. 26), and “to a depraved mind” (v. 28). As a result “they do what ought not to be done” (v. 28). They “are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

We who are Evangelicals need to embrace and teach the biblical worldview.   The famous unbelieving historian and philosopher Will Durant wrote: “I survive morally because I retain the moral code that was taught me along with the religion, while I discarded the religion…. You and I are living on a shadow…. But what will happen to our children…? They are living on the shadow of a shadow.”[5]

 

[1] http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdriscoll/2017/10/answers-4-questions-violence-vegas/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_campaign=Evangelical&utm_content=46

[2] In his book Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical, Tim Keller makes the point that “humanistic moral standards . . . don’t follow logically from a materialistic view of the world.” (p. 41). Later he points out that “Modern secularism has largely kept these moral ideals of biblical faith while rejecting the view of the personal universe in which those ideals made sense and from which they flowed as natural implications.” (p. 47).

[3] Ibid., p. 49.

[4] Quoted in Keller, p. 177.

[5] Chicago Sun-Times 8/24/75 1B

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Las Vegas shooting

 

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