Beware the Secular/Sacred Split

Charles Spurgeon was famous for referring to the gospel as a caged lion. “It does not need to be defended,” he would say, “it just needs to be let out of its cage.”

Keeping that analogy in mind, when we Christians are commanded to give a reasoned defense for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), we must simply let the gospel out of its cage. The question we must ask is, what cage is preventing the gospel to move freely in people’s hearts and minds?

Christian philosopher Nancy Pearcey has a suggestion:

Today the cage is our accommodation to the secular/sacred split that reduces Christianity to a matter of private personal belief.[1]

Continue reading “Beware the Secular/Sacred Split”

Say It with Me: Cognitive Dissonance

This is the third installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.

“But they’re organic!”

Because we don’t have a Trader Joe’s near our house, whenever my wife can make a trip out to the closest one, she stocks up. I grew up on a steady diet of Crisco and high fructose corn syrup. So, when she introduced me to the reasonably-priced organic food store, I had a lot to learn. Joe-Joe’s, organic equivalent to Oreos, made the learning curve much easier.

They are not all that bad—as long as you haven’t had an Oreo in a while for comparison. And, did I mention they’re organic? Nutritious and delicious, right?

After polishing off the first box within a couple of days, my wife warned me to ease up. “But they’re organic!” My naivete must have been pitiful. “Organic doesn’t mean they are any less fattening,” she explained.

I compared the nutritional values of Joe-Joe’s with Oreos. Across the board, Joe-Joe’s had more sugar, more carbs, and more fat. As it turns out, self-control is just as important with organic products as it is with “the fake stuff.” What I thought would be a more waist-friendly option betrayed me.

I was crushed—crushed by cognitive dissonance.

Read more…

The Problems of Scientism

Few things earn you more credibility in a conversation than dropping a “scientists have found” or “studies have shown.” This is because our culture places such a high premium on scientific understanding. And, rightly so! Science has given us spectacular insight into our universe and has improved our lives in countless ways.

Do we value science too much?

In 1877, mathematician and philosopher W.K. Clifford published an article titled “The Ethics of Belief.” He stated in the article a principle that has since become more famous than he has:

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.”

Sparing the historical details (see René Descartes and Auguste Comte), Clifford simply said what philosophers had been thinking for some time. Namely that empirical evidence—that which is observed with the five senses and rationally interpreted—is the only reliable grounds for claiming to know anything.

It is a way of thinking called scientism.

In his book on the subject, Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland defines scientism as “the view that the hard sciences alone have the intellectual authority to give us knowledge of reality.”[1]

Moreland explains that scientism can be found in two forms, strong and weak. Strong scientism holds that science is the only way to know truth while all other claims to knowledge are simply irrelevant. Weak scientism holds that science is the best way to know truth while all other claims to knowledge merely opinion.

Economist E.F. Schumacher explained the concept this way:

The architects of the modern worldview…assumed that those things that could be weighed, measured, and counted were more true than those that could not be quantified. If it couldn’t be counted, in other words, it didn’t count.[2]

So, what is the problem? After all, science is definitively observable, measurable, and repeatable. The facts discovered by the scientific method are just that—facts. What else could be more reliable? What else could we need?

Here’s the thing…

Science is an unspeakably important means of discovery knowledge, but it is not the only one. It tells us a lot, but it doesn’t tell us everything.

Continue reading “The Problems of Scientism”

Scientific Reasoning vs. Religious Faith: The Fight that Should Have Never Been

There is a common notion that science and faith work against one another. Many people believe that the more science a person understands, the less religion that person will need. The more one reasons their way through life, the less they will need faith to cope with life’s ups and downs.

While many people have found a satisfying balance between their scientific reasoning and their religious faith, Atheist author Sam Harris describes the conflict in more absolute terms.

The truth, however, is that the conflict between religion and science is unavoidable. The success of science often comes at the expense of religious dogma; the maintenance of religious dogma always comes at the expense of science.[1]

In other words, faith has no place for science, and science has no use for faith. The more we have of one, the less we can have–or should have–of the other. Therefore, there is an apparent fight for the minds of people between scientific reasoning and religious faith.

But, here’s the thing…

This is a fight that should have never been.

Here are three reasons why. Continue reading “Scientific Reasoning vs. Religious Faith: The Fight that Should Have Never Been”

Thinking about 2019

What does the year 2019 have in store for us? What does the gospel of Christ have for 2019?

If there is one thing that 2018 taught us, it is that none one knows what a year may bring.

Yet, our culture would have us believe that it offers an abundance of solutions to bring clarity to the mystery, direction to the confusion.

The next smartphone will solve all your problems. A quick internet search will provide you with all the answers. This new app will connect you to the world and possibly your soulmate. Buy this, live here, go there, be like them…and you will be happy. If that does not work, drink this, take those, and stream that until you forget about it all.

Christian author Trevin Wax calls these the myths of our culture. These myths are essentially lies that we believe because they appeal to our deepest longings. Every day, it seems like we are barraged by countless myths each more believable than the one before.

When confronted by the culture at large, we Christians—especially in America—feel overwhelmed by the constant fluctuation. We know there is solid ground in the truth of God’s Word. However, it seems like we are daily challenged by some new idea or trend even further removed from a Biblical understanding of the world than the previous one.

Christians often oscillate as much as the culture does. Some reject as much of the culture as possible with little regard for the people the fail to reach. Others accept as much of the culture as possible with little regard for the truth they fail to affirm. Meanwhile, our responsibility to be salt and light to the culture is largely neglected.

As Wax writes,

When we feel uncertain and confused about our rapidly changing society, we lack confidence in the gospel and in the power of the church. Many of us wonder: Are we truly up to the task of being faithful in this time?

So, what does it mean to be faithful in this time?

Continue reading “Thinking about 2019”

My 2018 Reading and My 2019 Goals

open book apologetics worldviews

John Wooden once said, “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” I believe there is a lot of wisdom in that statement.

A year ago, I made a personal commitment to read 50 books in 2018. I am happy to report that I have achieved my goal.

Please do not read this post as a brag. I know people who have read twice that number this year. However, for me, this was a huge accomplishment from which I have benefited immensely. The only purpose of this post is to share what I have learned and encourage you in hopes that you benefit as I did.

This is my first time setting a number for books to read within a year. My purpose was twofold: not only to increase the quantity of books I read but also to improve the quality of books I read. I believe I accomplished both.

Some of the books I read were like coasting down a hill. Some were like fighting an uphill battle. Some of them have already made the list to re-read in 2019. Some I hope to never read again.

Either way, I feel as though I have taken a journey worth taking. It is a journey I plan on taking again in 2019. It is a journey I highly recommend. Continue reading “My 2018 Reading and My 2019 Goals”

Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: How?

Last time, I discussed the reasons why we Christian parents, pastors, and teachers should make it a goal to teach young people the big ideas about God, his Word, themselves, and the world around them. 

But, here’s the thing…

That can be a daunting task, especially when the distracted kindergartner or the apathetic teenager is sitting there in front of you. So, how do we go about teaching big ideas to these young minds? 

I would suggest five Es: exemplify, educate, explain, escalate, and express.  

Continue reading “Teaching Big Ideas to Young Minds: How?”