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.
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
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 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.
“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?.
Christianity is the only major faith built entirely around a single historical claim. It is, however, a claim quite unlike any other ever made, as any perceptive and scrupulous historian must recognize. Certainly it bears no resemblance to the vague fantasies of witless enthusiasts or to the cunning machinations of opportunistic charlatans. It is the report of men and women who had suffered the devastating defeat of their beloved master’s death, but who in a very short time were proclaiming an immediate experience of his living presence beyond the tomb, and who were, it seems, willing to suffer privation, imprisonment, torture, and death, rather than deny that experience.
David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press, 2009), 11.
Just as many Christians are unaware of the Hindu origins of yoga (namaste means “the god within me bows to the god within you”), many are unaware of how popular Buddhist practices are infiltrating our vocabulary.
“When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels— welcomed with open arms, but go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.
You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become…Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”
C S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
A common response among Christians who encounter atheists or skeptics is to ask, “I wonder who hurt them that they would reject God?” This thought reveals a basic assumption that only trauma could possibly be the cause of unbelief. And certainly, some people who have experienced trauma have forsaken belief in God because they felt abandoned by God, or could not reconcile their suffering with an all-powerful, all-loving God.
The root cause of atheism and skepticism, however, is rebellion, not hurt. Romans 1:18 reminds us that the unbeliever knows God’s holiness and his own guilt, and in response chooses to suppress the truth of God he knows. Trauma may play a part in rejection of God, but it also drives many people to God, not away.
Many people, having encountered signifiant trauma, have sought explanations for what they have experienced. They try to make sense of the evil or pain they have experienced, and find in Jesus Christ one who was innocent, yet voluntarily suffered the greatest evil and suffered the righteous wrath of God against sin on our behalf. They find in Christ one who can comfort them in their suffering, and who gives them hope of restoration of all that has been broken.
Those who turn to God in suffering often intuitively know that if God does not exist there can be no meaning in their suffering, there will be no justice brought to evildoers, and sorting out their lives in light of the suffering is entirely up to them. What a hopeless state!
When encountering skeptics and atheists, therefore, ask questions to discover how she is suppressing truth, not why. The why has been explained for us in Scripture as rebellion–not wanting God to be real, Christianity to be true, their sin to render them guilty, Christ to be the only way, and future judgment just around the corner. The how happens in a thousand ways and is the key to challenging them with the truths of the gospel.
If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and backbiting; the pleasures of power and hatred…That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 94-5.