This is the fourth installment of a series, introducing terms and ideas that may be unfamiliar to most but are increasingly necessary for the thinking Christian to understand.
Stephen Hawking died in March of 2018. He battled a disease for fifty-five years that should have taken his life in two. Dr. Hawking pushed the boundaries of human understanding while inspiring wonder in millions. Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees eulogized, “Few, if any, of Einstein’s successors have done more to deepen our insights into gravity, space and time.”
Rarely does such an intriguing combination of intellect, personality, and circumstances intersect. A mind of that caliber and a life of that character has much to tell us about ourselves and the universe we inhabit.
As Dr. Hawking drew close to death, he shared his thoughts on the prospects of dying. Hawking believed that science had eliminated the notion of a personal creator, and he was outspoken in his belief. He believed that the universe was only the result of quantum fluctuations. He believed that humans are no more than biological machines. So, when commenting on death his worldview came through.
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
Despite the monumental life he lived, in the end, he was reduced to a computer whose components had failed. This world-changing mind was reduced to a failing machine. The man who changed how we view the world was reduced by his own worldview.
Stephen Hawking was so much more than his worldview allowed him to be.
Here’s the thing…
People are more than their worldviews often allow them to be. This is because their worldviews contain a fatal flaw known as reductionism. Continue reading “Say It with Me: Reductionism”
I love comic books. I love the storylines. I love the history behind the stories. I love the characters—most of them anyways. So, ever since the tidal wave of superhero movies flooded the past two decades, I have been all in.
Sure, there were superhero movies before the year 2000, but well-made movies were few and far between. It should also be said that not all comic book movies made since then are worth watching. (I’m still bitter about the 105 minutes I will never get back thanks to Green Lantern.) However, comic book movies have seen unprecedented success in recent years.
With the advent of believable CGI, brilliant casting, and skillful adaptation of classic storylines, long-time enthusiasts like myself have welcomed multitudes of new fans.
Furthermore, with box office records broken annually, it does not seem like the flood will be receding any time soon. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed over $18 billion with solid production plans well into the 2020s. Superhero movies are a dominant presence on the list of the highest-earning movie franchises of all time.
With that many movies, making that much money, over that amount of time, there must be something that makes them that popular with that many people. I believe there are several themes common among superhero movies that connect to the heart of the human experience.
Here’s the thing…
I love superhero stories, and you probably do too.
Here are three reasons why: Continue reading “Why I love Superhero Stories”
As a Christian parent, are you concerned that your children have doubts about the faith you are passing on to them? As a youth pastor or minister, are you troubled by the apathy so many of the kids in your youth group show toward spiritual things? As a Christian educator, are you worried that you are out of your depth with the questions your students have about the Christian worldview?
Being all three, I can relate. The fact is that the generation currently coming of age, Generation Z as they are called, are living a profoundly different adolescence than even the most recent generation before them. So, how do we Christian parents, pastors, and teachers help them stay grounded in the faith and thrive in the culture?
Here’s the thing…
Thankfully, we have some help.
In their newest book, So the Next Generation Will Know (set to release May 1), renowned Christian apologists Sean McDowell and J. Warner Wallace offer a guide to engaging what is quickly becoming the largest and most secularized generation. Continue reading “Book Review: So the Next Generation Will Know (McDowell & Wallace)”
Many Christians find themselves living in two separate worlds, one on Sunday and the other the rest of the week.
They may see their faith as an add-on that merely supplements their daily routine. The effect that being a Christian has on their lives is limited to nominal traditions and comfort in times of crisis. They do not see their Christianity as having any implications on their jobs outside of being an upright, honest, hard-working, gospel witness while doing it.
On the other hand, they may see their faith as being somehow beyond their day-to-day. Worshiping God is something done in a Sunday service. Serving God is something done in organized church ministry. They see their jobs as John Beckett describes “a second-class endeavor—necessary to put bread on the table, but somehow less noble than more sacred pursuits like being a minister or a missionary.”
In other words, they have bought into the secular/sacred split, dividing all of life into a two-story house that Francis Schaeffer described decades ago. They have relegated “real world” issues and “everyday” life downstairs along with all things secular. They have confined their Christianity upstairs, as it were, with personal preference, subjective values, and everything else sacred.
But, this is a huge departure from the Christian life as prescribed in the Bible, doing everything in Jesus’ name (Colossians 3:17) and to God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)
So, here’s the thing…
We need to mend the secular/sacred split. Continue reading “Mending the Secular/Sacred Split”
In the previous post, I introduced a way of viewing human experience known as the secular/sacred split. In a nutshell, it is the idea that all our thoughts and actions belong in one of two distinct categories:
Secular—all that is physical, practical, tangible, and temporal
Sacred—all that is spiritual, abstract, intangible, and eternal
It is profoundly obvious that ideas shape history. However, I believe it may also be said that history shapes ideas. The secular/sacred split is an excellent illustration of the interplay between an idea and history writ large.
In this post, I would like to give an immensely oversimplified but hopefully accurate history of this idea.
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So, if we see where this idea has taken us in the past, we can make the choice as to whether we want to go there again. Continue reading “A Brief History of 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.
Continue reading “Beware the Secular/Sacred Split”
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.