Friday, February 29, 2008

Letter to Christianity Today concerning their March 2008 article, "Not Your Father's L'Abri," by Molly Worthen

February 29, 2008

Dear Editor:

Inaccurate and flippant comments were strewn through the article, “Not Your Father’s L’Abri.” Francis Schaeffer was not an academic philosopher; however, as a philosopher, I recently reread all his apologetics books and found that they hold up quite well overall. It is untrue that Schaeffer’s work is unsuited to the challenges of postmodernism. He began The God Who is There saying that the essential problem facing the church was the meaning of truth—the crux problem of postmodernism. In Escape From Reason (1968), he critiqued Foucault (before any other evangelicals were doing so). Further, the article is terribly wrong in claiming that Schaeffer’s apologetics was presuppositionalist and “arrogant.” Schaeffer’s method, while influenced by Van Til, was more akin to Edward John Carnell’s hypothesis testing. It was dialogical and anything but arrogant. If younger evangelicals write off Schaeffer for these kinds of cavalier reasons, they will forfeit the wisdom and courage to be found in his life and writings.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy
Denver Seminary

Obama Repents of the Wrong Thing

Obama has repented of one good thing he did in the Senate: voting to save Terri Schaivo's life. Read this story for the details. Is this the kind of "change" we want: the killing of the innocent at both extremes of life: the unborn and the disabled?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Praise for a deceased TV program

This is an excellent story from The New York Times on William F. Buckley's long-running TV show, "Firing Line"--so different from the mindless shoutfests that litter TV today. It was a dialogical program, enlivened by Buckley's relentless intelligence, sesquipedalians, and charm. I wonder if there is a DVD of these programs.

The Second Coming in Pop Culture

This from a friend. It is taken from a textbook he used in college in 1960.

Ernest Van Den Haag wrote this. "In popular culture, even the Second Coming would be just another barren thrill to be watched on television till Milton Berle came on."


In an age of idolatry,
not to be an iconoclast is to be an idolater.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In Honor of Mr. Buckley

William F. Buckley, author, interviewer, columnist, debater, magazine editor, wordsmith extraordinaire, preternatural wit, and uber-conservative of the Twentieth Century has died at age 82. Although I have few kind words to offer about television, Buckley's long-running interview program, "Firing Line," was television at its best. If you can, view his interviews with Mortimer Adler and Malcolm Muggerridge. They deeply intelligent and thought-provoking.

This is taken from The New York Times obituary:

Mr. Buckley’s vocabulary, sparkling with phrases from distant eras and described in newspaper and magazine profiles as sesquipedalian (characterized by the use of long words), became the stuff of legend. Less kind commentators preferred the adjective “pleonastic” (using more words than necessary).

In honor of this great and inimitable man, learn ten new words this week. Or, better yet, read (or reread) his classic Up From Liberalism, one of the key books that turned me away from the political liberalism when I read it in 1980.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Os Guinness reviews "Crazy for God"

Os Guinness has written the definitive review of Frank Schaeffer's book, Crazy for God, which I, too, have reviewed. Guinness, the wisest of evangelical social critics, spent three years at L'Abri (the community of Francis and Edith Schaeffer), and brings his personal experience and deep insights to bear on Frank's largely distorted picture. He does so with passion, reason, and charity.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Jesus and Buddha lecture outline and on line articles on the topic

If you'd like a copy of my four-page lecture outline on "Jesus and Buddha," let me know and I will send it to you. This is the lecture I am slated to give Feb. 25 in Boulder, Colorado.

1. My review from The Christian Research Journal of Hanh's book, Living Buddha, Living Christ, is here.

2. My article, "Jesus and Buddha: Two Masters or One?" from The Christian Research Journal is here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Event at Denver Seminary

Christian Thought Colloquium - February 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008, 12:00 PM - 12:55 PM
Location: Denver Seminary, 6399 South Santa Fe Drive Littleton, CO US 80120

The Christian Thought Colloquium is a series of presentations by Denver Seminary faculty, exploring connections between the disciplines of the Division of Christian Thought (theology, philosophy, church history) and several other academic disciplines. Each session will consist of a major presentation, a response from a member of the Christian Thought faculty, a counter-response by the presenter(s), and Q&A with the audience.

The February 2008 presentation features:
Dr. Craig Blomberg, “How Can a Whole Theological Curriculum Fit Together?”
Moderator: Dr. David Buschart
Respondent: Dr. Douglas Groothuis

Presentations are kept to a strict 55 minutes to accommodate schedules. Presentations will be he in the Executive Board Room on the second floor of the Graber Administration Building.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


In John Stott's commentary to The Sermon on the Mount, he speaks to the need for "Christian counterculture." The way of Jesus is not that of the fallen world. Stott's book was written in the late 1970s, when the idea of counterculture had some salience (even if it also had some pejorative connotations).

But do we have any sense of "Christian counterculture" today? One wonders. The pressures of conformity are massive, given mass and niche media. Biblical illiteracy is high; biblical behavior is low. Christians are far too much like everyone else when they should be different.

What is required to be a Christian counterculture? Here is a short list to provoke thought and action.

1. Biblical knowledge (Psalm 119).
2. Spiritual disciplines: prayer and fasting in particular. See John Piper, A Hunger for God.
3. The restoration of the doctrine of calling. See Os Guinness, The Call.
4. Media awareness: how they often deaden us to biblical priorities for purity and spiritual power.
5. The courage to go against the crowd for Christ (Luke 16:15).
6. Accountability and community.
7. Careful, studied biblical preaching (1 Peter 4:11).
8. Repentance concerning materialism and consumerism. See Francis Schaeffer's sermon "Ash Heap Lives" in No Little People.
9. A greater concern for the world Christian movement, not just what Christians in America are doing. See P. Jenkins, The Next Christendom.
10. More sensitivity to the realities of spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18). See Gary Kinnaman, Winning Your Spiritual Battles.

We must be against the world, for the world, under the Lordship of Christ (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:1-2). Otherwise, the salt has lost is savor.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Holy TV!

It is hard to forget the lithe and lovely young actress who played Claire in the wonderful film, "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," the story of St. Francis of Assi. She became a nun and worked with Francis.

Now one of my students informs me that Claire of Assi is the Roman Catholic patron saint of television.... If so, she is definintely not doing her job. So much for supererogatory media ministry. Better to just turn it off.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Flyer for Groothuis lecture on Jesus, Buddha

You can see and (I think) download the flyer for my talk, "Jesus and Buddha: Similarities and Differences," here. This will be held on Boulder on February 25 at the CU campus. Please spread the word and attend if possible.

Epigrams on reading: one original

1. Those who do not read, should not lead. Not original.

2. Put reading above eating--for one day. Original

Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Wall of Separation"

"The Wall of Separation" is a superb documentary on a much-abused and little-understood phrase: the separation of church and state. The documentary proceeds at a thoughtful pace, interviews scholars on both sides of the question (strict separationists and those who think that religion was meant to inform public life), and is generally pleasant to view.

Given the perennial role of religion in politics in American life, and impending elections, this video sheds needed light on the issues.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Herbie and Grammy

Ben Ratliff, the excellent jazz writer for The New York Times, has some reflections on Herbie Hancock's recent grammy. He assesses the recording, the nature of a grammy, and the place of jazz in music. It is worth reading, as his is book Coltrane's Sound.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The PersonalPhilosophyTrainer (PPT)

Always looking for more applications of philosophy to life, I have come up with a sure-fire winner: the PhilosophyPersonalTrainer (or PPT). Personal trainers developed out of the fitness trends of the last three decades. We pay and defer to experts to size up our (generally unacceptable) bodies and propose solutions (or at least ameliorations).

Now: enter the PPT. Poor thinking is a perennial problem, as least since the fall introduced intellectual torpor, stupefaction, and dereliction. Things really got dumber east of Eden. Poor thinking, which leads to bogus worldviews and ruined lives, needs to be corrected. As C.S. Lewis opined, good philosophy need to exist if for no other reason than to counteract bad philosophy. Yet many never take a philosophy class, never read a philosophical book, and don’t even know what modus ponens is! (Hint: it is neither a snow mobile nor a skin rash.)

The PPT will access your intellectual life (or lack thereof). First he or she access your library. Since most do not have a library (of books at least), the trainer will recommend starting one, even if this means talking money always from (gasp) cable TV and Netflix. Then, one must actually read these rather archaic objects in book form (not on line). One must learn to love the text, to indwell it, and have it indwell oneself. This, of course, takes work. No pain; no gain. Withdrawal symptoms include: twitches in the direction of the nearest remote control, urges to check one's cell phone and email, boredom because the book's text does not move or blink, and so on. The trainer can provide practical help by regaling the client with stories of those who used to intoxicate at play station who now are hopeless book addicts who cannot let a logical fallacy pass unnoticed. Support groups are available as well.

Second, the PPT audits your vocabulary and knowledge of the history of ideas. This is not done through a routine test but through conversations. The PPT sometimes uses personal restraints on the more hyperactive clients who tend to lunge toward whatever electronic medium is in sight. After several conversations, the PPT accesses the client's knowledge (and ignorance) and makes general recommendations. Here is an excerpt from one recommendation made to Ivan Ignoramus:

Ivan, you know everything about "The Matrix," but nothing about Plato. So, you really cannot understand "The Matrix," since it trades on Plato's cave allegory. You are terrific at video games but no knowing of Wittgensteinian "language games." You are swimming in data about sports, but know nothing about theories of human nature or why humans even care about sports. Your vocabulary is miniscule, pathetic. You rely on a few emotive terms to do all the work of analysis (if I can call it that). Things you like are "cool" or "awesome," but there is no clear sense what you mean by these terms. Things you don't like "suck," but you show no understanding of where this expression came from (the gutter) or just why you dislike the things that "suck." You say, "Oh my God," all the time, but have never considered whether there are any sound arguments for God's existence. And you don't know what a "sound argument" is.

Of course, there is much more to the discipline of being a PPT. But this is enough to start a new movement, a movement of the mind in the making. All you need is a car, philosophical knowledge, and a lot of patience and clients. But what should the hourly rate be? As Proverbs says, "Buy the truth and do not sell it."

Hurray for Herbie

Legendary jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock, has won a Grammy for best recording of 2007, River: The Joni Letters. I have not heard it (since I typically shy away from vocal recordings), but, according to The New York Times, the award caused some controversy, since Herbie is not a pop/shlock performer, but (horrors) a real jazz musician. They say:

"Though the choice of Mr. Hancock may stoke criticism that Grammy voters are out of step with pop music’s cutting edge, the decision was defended backstage. Vince Gill, the country superstar who lost out to Mr. Hancock in the album of the year field, said Mr. Hancock was 'hands-down a better musician than all of us put together.'"

Quite so, Mr. Gill. An ant salutes a lion.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Upon reading "Love and Sex With Robots" by David Levy

I'm a robot,
but try to forget that I am.

Soon I will do whatever
a human can.

I'll pass your Turing test.
You can't tell me from the rest.
No, this is no jest.
I'm programmed to beat the best.

I have plenty of motion without commotion.
I simulate emotion.
I simulate devotion.
I am your salvation.

I'm responsive.
I was programmed to be!
You'll soon forget that there is no

I'll make a more satisfied you.
You'll me amazed at what I can do.
Humans are old, but I am new!

I'm another other,
and a better, one, too;
for I am destined to rule and stimulate you.

I'm on all the time and I never sleep.
Compared to me, humans are cheep.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Groothuis to Speak on Jesus, Buddha in Boulder

I am slated to speak at The University of Colorado-Boulder on Monday evening, February 25, on "Jesus and Buddha: Similarities and Differences" It will be at Humanities Room 1B50 at 7:00 PM. There will be a question-answer time following.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Politics and "Purity"

John McCain is the Rebublican nominee for the Presidency, given that Mitt Romney has pulled out. This is a terrible defeat for principled conservativism, which has lost control of the party. It is not that I loved Romney, but that the GOP could not present a Reagan-style candidate with legs. Some, of course, will rejoice in this "centrism," but half-hearted conservativism combined with elements of full-strength liberalism (insecure borders; American legal rights for enemy combatants; heavy and progressive taxation) is nothing to rejoice in.

However, James Dobson is dead wrong. This is no time to make a statement of "being true to conscience" by withholding support from McCain because he supports stem cell research, is opposed the marriage amendment, and so on. The alternative to McCain will do all that, plus much more, such as jeopardizing our national defense. The left is utterly incapable of recognizing the Islamic threat for what it is. See David Horowitz's Unholy Alliance on this.

Politics is the art of the possible, which require painful compromises. I will vote for John McCain; I will clench my teeth when I do so; but the alternative is unthinkable. The "moral purity" shown by refusing to vote for McCain plays into the hands of either the inexperienced and rhetorically overinflated Omama or the experienced and utterly corrupt and dangerous Hillary Clinton. Either an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket means:

1. Socialized medicine.
2. Internationalism--"talking" to Iran other terrorist states, which cannot be trusted--and the weakening of national defense.
3. The appointement of liberal judges to the Supreme Court, who view it as a "living document" and dispense with authorial intent. There would then be no chance of overturning Roe Vs. Wade in my lifetime.
4. Embracing radical policies on global warming that will hurt our economy and take money aways from other areas where it could do good. It is far from certain that global warming is (a) occuring (b) if occuring that it is man made (c) if it is man made that it can be significantly rectified by human effort (d) that the human effort would be worth it overall, given the vast expendsure of money and economic fallout. See the chapter on global warming in Tom Bethel's excellent book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science.

So, this election will be come down to "the evil of two lessers." But nevertheless, the lesser of two evils is John McCain.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Link for Doug Groothuis on "Bible Answer Man"

Here is the Internet audio link if you want to listen to my comments on the new atheism from the Bible Answer Man. Click on the link, "Questions and Answers" for Feb. 05,2008.

The Man Who Would Be God is Dead

Maharish Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation and the guru to the Beatles, is dead. Maharish (a self-given title meaning "greatly awakened") may have done more to bring Hindu mysticism to the West than anyone else. He first presented his yogic teachings to the West in the 1950s as yogic teachings and met with little success. Then he revamped the message as nonreligious, as a mere technique for enlightenment. TM could be practiced in good conscience by anyone of any religion or of none and that person would derive measurable benefits: lower blood pressure, higher intelligence, and so on. Or so we were told.

But the essential message remained: through yogic meditation, one can find the divine within--The Source of Creative Intelligence, he called It. The intitial stages of learning TM were supposed to induce a sense of calm. This lulled the meditator into the deeper levels of meditation that were more overtly Hindu. The initiation into TM was religious, requiring a sacrifice and oblation before Maharishi's teacher, Guru Dev.

When TM tried to insinuate itself into the New Jersey public school system in the late 1970s, the Spiritual Counterfeits Project (SCP) filed a lawsuit against them, claiming that their teachings were "establishing religion" (Hinduism), and thus violated the First Amendment. SCP won that important case, although various forms of yoga are now taught in state schools around the country. It is even taught in some churches and endorsed by Doug Pagitt, an emerging church leader.

Maharishi was nothing if not messianic about his TM. He claimed that given a critical mass of meditators, all the world's problems could be solved. He modestly called this "The Maharishi Effect." Given the present state of the world, either he didn't get enough chanting heads or the theory was bankrupt.

The giggling guru attracted a number of celebrity followers over the years and established a university. What he could not establish was a coherent worldview. Consider just three points.

1. TM's claim to not be religious are absurd. He was a Hindu guru who taught people to transcend their humanity through finding Brahman with (despite the semantic smokescreens he used).

2. The idea of perfecting human beings through dissolving their personality and connecting them (or what's left of them) to an impersonal and amoral force lacks credibility. This idea is intrinsic to Hinduism (and Buddhism), which seeks release for humans by transcending their very creaturehood and their humanity.

3. The Absolute for Maharishi was Nirguna Brahman, to use the Hindu name: God beyond thought and form and attribute. But if this is so, how can we know It even exists or that it is valuable? We cannot, since ineffability cancels out any meaningful predication, as does the idea that it has no attributes.

I once attended an introductory TM lecture and was told that the highest state of being was "beyond thought." I asked how anyone could know that, since it was beyond thought and knowing require thought. They had not thought of that, and had no answer beside, "Just mediatate and you will know." But then there is no possible reason to meditate. It is a post-dated check for the Void.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who would be God, is dead. But his worldview, pantheistic monism, is very much alive in American culture. Oprah promotes it on a regular basis by hawking The Secret and the writings of Marriane Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, and others. It is promoted in films like, "What the Bleep Do We Know?"

It is the original lie: "You will be as God..." (Genesis 3)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Groothuis on "The Bible Answer Man"

I will be on "The Bible Answer Man" program today, Feb. 5, at the beginning of the program for 15-30 minutes, speaking on the new atheism.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Instead of the Super Bowl

[I posted a somewhat different version of this list last year. Here are things to do instead of watching the worst team sport on the worst medium.]

1. Read a good book or several articles in one sitting.
2. Inspect your soul in silence for one hour.
3. Pray for the American church to wake up and strengthen the things that remain.
4. Pray for the global church, especially the suffering church in Africa, China, and so on.
5. Lament what needs to be lamented. See James 4.
6. Rejoice in your salvation (if you are a follower of Jesus Christ).
7. Ask yourself where you will spend forever. Hint: it isn't in a football stadium.
8. Read The Book of Romans or the Book of Ecclesiastes or both.
9. Memorize Scripture.
10. Sing unto the Lord.
11. Recite Scripture unto the Lord.
12. Associate with the lowly.
13. Compose an essay on the moral viciousness of football.
14. See how many push ups you can do in one minute. (I did 43 back in May of 2007. I have witnesses.)
15. Organize your library (of books). This would take me several years.
16. Write a hand-written letter to someone.
17. Call someone you miss and try to edify them.
18. Repent what needs to be repented of.
19. Listen to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" in one sitting through headphones.
20. Write poetry--even bad poetry.
22. Read poetry--only good poetry.
23. Pray for the Victoria's Secret Models.
24. Pray for our troops stationed around the world.
25. Pray for your pastoral staff.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

On Hearing Branford Marsalis

That man is strapped inside his saxophone.
Not trapped, but lost and loving it
within a playground (and battleground) of sound.

Notes with everywhere good to go,
many routes to myraid delights.

Outside, notes play over us and play with us.
No downside to this man
strapped inside his saxophone home.

Love and Sex With Robots on Colbert

Three more minutes of video: In researching material on David Levy's book called (I am not making this up) Love and Sex With Robots (I may do an BBC interview on this topic), I found a three minute video clip from Colbert, who is, apparently, a big deal on the intelligence attenuator (TV) and has a book on the best-seller list.

This is really odd stuff on multiple levels. Levy plays it straight. He researched the various dimensions of human-robot sex. Colbert, of course, is glib, playing for laughs, and tries to insult and humiliate the author (who deserves it in a way, since he finds no difficulty this new activity which is, I suppose, a hydrid between onanism and bestiality). The subject is profound, really: out of control technology meets postmodern loneliness, pansexualism, and amoralism. Colbert and his cackling crowd have no idea. It is all kinky giggles to them.

Doug Groothuis Epiphany Sermon On Line

An audio file of my January 27, 2008, sermon at Wellspring Anglican Church, "Behold the Glorious Incarnation," is on line. However, I am not listed as the speaker and it starts some ways into the message. I can send you the sermon notes if you'd like. But no sermon stealing!


The world is rutted, gutted, glutted with


But is it washed?

inner and outer,
spoken, unspoken, whispered, shouted.

Tears of anger, sorrow.
Tears of joy can be found.

Acid tears on red, heaving faces,
gasping for breath,
stammering words, left in the air
and in the ears
and in the souls
of the

And Tears never shed,
ahead and behind
a few smiles.

Smile for me?

Cry for me.
Cry in me.
Cry with me.
Cry in us.

The tears of God
run deeper still.

Every one finds its
watershead There.