We Can Learn a Great Deal about Suffering from the Puritans

spilled milk

It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about our suffering, but we should stop expecting that we won’t have any and should also not dilute the term with our petty inconveniences. Carl Trueman explains:

First, the Puritans lived in a time before the discovery of antibiotics, analgesics and flush toilets.  Disease and pain and filth were thus part of everyday life.  A good day. a really good day, for a seventeenth century person would have involved something akin to a low-level fever which today would involve time off work.  A bad day would be… Well, best not to dwell on that if you want to sleep at night.   Read Samuel Pepys’s account of his bladder stone operation if you are truly curious.

Second, with catastrophically high infant mortality rates, scarcely a family would have been untouched by something that today would be regarded as exceptional and horrific.  John Owen buried all eleven of his children.  Imagine that.  And in all his voluminous writings, he never mentions these tragedies even once…

But did they have a theology of suffering? Well, few of them dwelt on their suffering in their writings so not really, no.  Not explicitly so anyway.  But implicitly even this silence indicated that yes, they did have a theology of suffering.  It was a theology that denied cosmic significance to the pain and injustice which they personally endured.   They simply did not consider themselves or their experiences to be that important.

Read the whole thing here: Did the Puritans Understand Suffering?.


The nature of idolatry and worship

Image result for celebrity worship

Wow! Here is a piercing explanation of idolatry as a counterfeit to true worship:

At the heart of worship is a sense of ‘giving yourself away’ to another.  Key to worship then are the questions ‘To whom are you giving yourself away and in what manner are you giving yourself?’ Genuine worship is giving yourself to the living God in whom and for whom you ave been created.  Idolatry by contrast is substituting the true object of worship (God) for an imitation (idol) and reorienting the relationship from worship to possession.  One who worships the living God does not possess him for one’s own purposes.  But those who create an idol seek to possess it for their own purpose….


An idol is desired as a means to an end, and the end is significance and security on the individual’s own terms.  Since significance and security cannot be fulfilled by the idol, the idol creates a deeper longing for significance and security for that which it cannot provide.  This results in a chasing after the idol, driven by the conviction that eventually the idol will somehow provide the promised significance and security.  The cycle repeats itself.  Longing provides the opportunity to chase, and chasing creates a deeper longing.  Effectively the idol possesses the one who fashioned it.  The yearning for significance and security that initiated the dynamic of idolatry has in fact led to a deeper dissatisfaction and a greater frustration – a dissatisfaction and frustration caused by the inability of the idol to fulfill that which it appeared to promise.

Richard Lints, Identity and Idolatry: The Image of God and Its Inversion (IVP, 2015)

From the Secular Viewpoint, Nothing You Do Will Ever Matter

collapsing universeThomas Nagel, NYU Professor:

Even if you produce a great work of literature which continues to be read thousands of years from now, eventually the solar system will cool or the universe will wind down and collapse and all trace of your effort will vanish…The problem is that although there are justifications for most things big and small that we do within life, none of these explanations explain the point of your life as a whole…It wouldn’t matter if you had never existed. And after you have gone out of existence, it won’t matter that you did exist.

Thomas Nagel, What Does It All Mean?, 96.

How to Answer a Fool

Guest Post by Jeff Mindler

Proverbs 26:4-5 reads, “4Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

This, in its simplest form, is the two step procedure of the apologetic task. While engaging in dialogue with someone and defending the faith, it is always helpful to have this verse in mind and to carry out this procedure with the unbeliever. To help us understand what this means and what it looks like, Greg Bahnsen states,

“Here he [Solomon] is instructing you to temporarily stand on the presuppositions of the unbeliever, not as a matter of neutrality and compromise, not as endorsing his worldview procedures. Rather, he does so in order for you to show the unbeliever the vanity of attempting to explain the world and life from his own perspective. You must let him know that you are taking his position only momentarily, just “for the sake of argument.”

This is a critical element to remember at this point, we are not surrendering our ultimate authority of Scripture in this step, but merely answering the unbeliever according to their own worldview temporarily. We do not assume neutrality at this point but we do want to show the unbeliever where his own worldview leads according to its own tenets. Bahnsen continues,

“In this step you will be showing the unbeliever that on his own autonomous presuppositions he cannot justify reality, knowledge, logic, morality, value, meaning, purpose – or anything. You want to show him the outcome of his worldview when his principles are fully followed out. Thus, Solomon allows that you may, “answer a fool according to his folly” – so that the fool will see the error of his being “wise in his own eyes” (Prov 26:5b). If you adopt the unbelievers procedures as your actual apologetic, he will suppose himself to have the correct position. Whereas, if you only theoretically adopt his presuppositions in order to demonstrate his error, then you are being faithful to the biblical model of apologetics.” [1]

Thus, this is our apologetic task and our procedure in answering objections to the christian faith and we do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). If we keep this two step procedure in mind while engaging with unbelievers, we will be well on our way in giving a defense for the hope that is within us and by so doing, God will be glorified, and this after all, is our goal in faithful apologetics. Soli Deo Gloria!

[1] Bahnsen, Greg. Pushing the Antithesis. 163

Asking Worldview Questions

Guest post by Jeff Mindler






Worldviews are everywhere; we simply cannot avoid them. James Anderson states this regarding worldviews, “Your worldview represents your most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe you inhabit. It reflects how you would answer all the “big questions” of human existence, the fundamental questions we ask about life, the universe, and everything.” When one considers what a worldview is, the importance of knowing and identifying them in the apologetic encounter becomes clear, but the question arises: how do we identify a worldview?

James Anderson provides an excellent resource on just this very issue, knowing what questions to ask in order to discover a person’s worldview, in his work What’s Your Worldview? What is unique about this work is that it follows a type of “choose your own adventure” format wherein the reader is provided with several questions and based upon how they answer are prompted to advance to a certain page until they reach a conclusion, that being a particular worldview. The worldview they reach is the logical conclusion to how they have answered various questions about knowledge, reality, truth, goodness, religion, and God. By asking these types of questions we can quickly uncover what a particular person believes about the world and thus what they believe about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the gospel and can thus focus on specific areas where the gospel and the claims of Christ need to be brought to bear.

Anderson also provides a brief analysis of each worldview and then proceeds to critique and expose the weakness’ of any worldview opposed to Christianity. For example, if a person reaches the relativistic worldview they will be met with a brief overview of what the worldview is and then challenged to reconsider a few things in light of its flaws, namely that relativism is self-defeating. It is impossible to be a consistent relativist, just consider the statement, “There is no objective truth.” Is that claim itself objectively true? If so, one can see how the position collapses upon itself based upon the contradiction of saying there is no objective truth but stating it as if it was an objective statement of truth. I believe Anderson’s work provides a helpful tool and resource for any level of apologist as a means to think about careful questions to ask unbelievers and to get them to reconsider what they believe and why they believe it.

Christian Worship Doesn’t Just Teach Us How to Think; It Teaches Us How to Love

Hydraulic Pressure Gauges installed on Hydraulic Equipment

To be conformed to the image of his Son is not only to think God’s thoughts after him but to desire what God desires. That requires the recalibration of our heart-habits and the recapturing of our imagination, which happens when God’s Word becomes the orienting center of our social imaginary, shaping our very perception of things before we even think about them.

James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Brazos, 2016), 85.

Our Emotionalism Has Left Many Christians Intellectually Defenseless

I’m saddened that atheists are so passionate about what they believe that they will read stacks of books in order to define their beliefs, while we are happy to float along the surface with a “Hillsong-deep theology” and call it good. And we wonder why people are leaving the Church in droves.

Read it all here: The Tragedy of Dumbing Down Christianity

Love God with All Your Mind

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all. But, fortunately, it works the other way around. Anyone who is honestly trying to be a Christian will soon find his intelligence being sharpened. One of the reasons why  it needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself.

C. S. Lewis,  Mere Christianity.

To Be Modern Is To Believe in Nothing

To be entirely modern (which very few of us are) is to believe in nothing. This is not to say it is to have no beliefs: the truly modern person may believe in almost anything, or even perhaps in everything, so long as all these beliefs rest securely upon a more fundamental and radical faith in the nothing–or better, in nothingness as such.

Modernity’s highest ideal–its special understanding of personal autonomy–requires us to place our trust in an original absence underlying all of reality, a fertile void in which all things are possible, from which arises no impediment to our wills, and before which we may consequently choose to make of ourselves what we choose.

We trust, that is to say, that there is no substantial criterion by which to judge our choices that stands higher than the unquestioned good of free choice itself, and that therefore all judgment, divine no less than human, is in some sense an infringement upon our freedom.

This is our primal ideology. In the most unadorned terms possible, the ethos of modernity is–to be perfectly precise–nihilism.

David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press, 2009), 20-21.

A Complexity is Not a Contradiction: Jonah and the Whale as an Example

“When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction.  A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.  To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.”

Read the full article here: Bible Contradiction Resolved: Who Cast Jonah Into the Sea?.