Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review of R.J. Rushdoony, To Be as God

Rousas John Rushdoony, To Be as God; A Study of Modern Thought Since Marquis de Sade. Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2003. 253 pages, with index.

Rev. Rushdoony's son, Mark, notes in his introduction that his father had left his book incomplete at his death in 2001. Nevertheless, a book there was and a book we have, despite the author's inability to finishing writing all he had in mind.

R.J. Rushdoony was a prolific, often profound, and equally-often idiosyncratic Christain scholar, writing on topics as varied as epistemology, history, psychology and eschatology. I know. I read about thirty of his books (including the 890-page "Institutes of Biblical Law") from the late 1970s to the early 1990s--and I have dipped back into three of his later works--including this one--in recent years. A Westminister Standards man of the Reformation, Rushdoony also championed reconstruction: the doctrine that the institution of comprehensive biblical law would be a key factor in establishing the (post-millennial) Kingdom of God on earth. The epistemology and apologetic behind this was Van Tillian presuppositionalism: one must give no inch of common ground to the unbeliever in apologetics, but must, rather, presuppose the entire Reformed worldview and use that perspective as the foundation from which to critique alien worldviews.

I was much influenced by this grand and compelling vision for several years. While I remain a Calvinist on soteriology, I have abandoned reconstructionism, although I retain a "Christ transformer of culture" model, to use Neibuhr's typology from Christ and Culture. Nor do I accept Van Til's apologetics in its entirely, as I point out in my book, Christian Apologetics. 

Yet Rushdoony, the disciple of Van Til, aptly employs his mentor negative apologetic and key theological insight throughout this book: people want to be their own gods at the expense of the one true God of Scripture. In so doing, they erect impotent (if noisy) idol which ultimately turn against them and all they influence, since those who hate God love death. In some cases, they are blatant in this confession (Nietzsche); in others, the idea must be traced out through analysis. And this is what Rushdoony does by critiquing an impressive list of thinkers, including Marquis de Sade (a perverted thinker far more important than most realize), Walt Whitman, Nietzsche, Marx, and others. He was also able to apply theological categories to social and philosophical thought in way that uniquely illuminated their true roots and fruits. In addition to his deep historical knowledge and philosophical insights, Rushdoony had broad pastoral and personal experience--sources from which he draws many illustrations, some humorous.

For these reasons, the book is worth reading as an apologetic against autonomous modern thought. However, like most of Rushdoony's works, it is poorly edited, given that he seldom wrote for established publishers who would rigorously prune and purify a manuscript. Nevertheless, the book, like all of his works, is deeply footnoted. His son-in-law, Gary North (another prolific author and Reconstructionist) claims that the man read a book a day for decades. Having seen his library and read so many of his books, I believe it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Of late, I have been reading a lot of biographical material about Georgia O'Keeffe (d. 1986) and her circle of friends and artists, including her photographer-impresario husband, Alfred Stieglitz (d. 1946). Both helped shape the adventurous face of artistic modernism in the Twentieth Century. Both were fascinating personalities, but hardly virtuous outside of their art work. Much of their lives, despite their artistic genius (and my fascination is with O'Keeffe far more than with Stieglitz), were marred by the sexually perverse.

In contrast, I am near finishing Basic Christian, a biography of the British evangelical pastor, author, and statesman, John Stott (d. 2011). Rev. Stott was not an artist through photographs or on canvas (although as an avid bird-watcher, he did engage in aviation photography), but rather a purveyor of biblical truth through a godly and focused personality. His call was to preaching, teaching, writing, and the truths of Scripture. He was known for his discipline, articulation, and humility. He was a model for ministry, for a life well lived under the calling of Christ. I have benefited from so many of his many works: Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ, The Contemporary Christian, Why I am a Christian, Between Two Worlds, and others.

John Stott, I can admire. I am inspired by this faithfulness and character. O'Keeffe and her kin, on the other hand, display creativity, daring, and often (when not perverse) endearing idiosyncrasy. But they were not godly. In most ways, they cannot serve as models of moral character. And I must read and study them with a certain amount of caution, lest I imbibe unhealthy sensibilities.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gag on Gaga

Mark Sayers and I have the cover stories on Lady Gaga in the most recent Christian Research Journal.


Special revelation calls to and for general revelation:


General revelation calls to and for special revelation:


Friday, December 23, 2011

Introduction to Philosophy

Douglas Groothuis
Texts for Intro to Philosophy
Metro State, Spring 2012

Introduction to Philosophy

1.      Louis Pojman, Philosophy: the Pursuit of Wisdom. Wadsworth
2.      Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates. Barnes and Noble.
3.      Blaise Pascal, Human Happiness. Penguin.
4.      Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy. Barnes and Noble.
5.      Ecclesiastes: Or the Preacher. Canongate Books Ltd.
ISBN-10: 0862417945
ISBN-13: 978-0862417949


  1. Douglas Groothuis, On Pascal. Wadsworth.
  2. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus. Wadsworth

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yes, and No

Wisdom knows
when to gaze,
and when to avert the eyes.

When to listen,
and when to muffle the ears.

When to touch,
and when to pull way untouched.

When to embrace,
and when to turn away.

When to ponder the past,
and when to inhabit the present fully.

Each thing, time, place
in its own measure.

Only God
can bear to know
all things
as they are--
and know them aright.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens is Dead

Christopher Hitchens, the acerbic atheist and prolific author, is dead. I reviewed his book, god is not Great, a few years ago. He was a keen wit, a good writer, and a terrible philosopher of religion.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bachmann on Gingrich

“Well, I think there’s very serious concerns about Newt Gingrich as the nominee. And this is starting to get unpacked, because again we know that he has taken over $100 million. His offices are on the Rodeo Drive of Washington called K Street. He’s the king of K Street. And so for a person who has been influence peddling for over 30 years in Washington D.C. to think that Newt Gingrich is somehow an outsider, when he’s the consummate establishment insider, he’s the big government candidate just like Mitt Romney is the big government candidate, that’s not what we want in our nominee. It doesn’t even survive the falling off the chair laughing test.” -- Michele Bachmann.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dear Douglas,

Only 24 days remain until the Iowa caucuses and our campaign is ramping up its efforts! Despite what the elitist media and my establishment-backed opponents would have you believe, Iowa is still anyone’s game and we are rising in the latest polls.

With your help, I can prove to the liberal media that grassroots conservatives like you not only stood with me in Ames, Iowa, but also stand with me in the national polls and support my campaign with your generous contributions.

In fact, according to some of the latest polls, 70% of likely early primary voters are still undecided in this race!

That’s why I must raise every available dollar between now and January 3rd to ensure our hard-charging constitutional conservative campaign – not some milquetoast opponents like Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich – wins over these undecided Iowa voters.

With so much on the line for our nation, struggling Americans deserve a consistent conservative to solve our economic problems and create jobs -- not the same empty rhetoric offered up by my opponents and the Democrats. We need a proven leader who will stand up to the “Washington elite”.

I am the consistent conservative running for President, and you can always count on me to stay true to my word. Your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more today will ensure our campaign is able to stand up to the Democrat war machine.

As a mother of five and foster mother to 23, I need to prove to the liberal media that grassroots conservatives like you not only stood with me in Ames, Iowa, but also stand with me in the national polls and support my campaign with your generous contributions.

This election is the most critical of our time and it's not a year to settle for just anyone; this is the time to restore the principles that once made our nation great.

The next step on the road to the White House is the Iowa caucus, and we're going all in. Join us as we push forward to victory!


Michele Bachmann

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

O'Keeffe in a Cup

I looked, then gazed, then coffee and milk in my cup. Yes, yes, it looked something like a Georgia O'Keeffe painting--especially the swirls, but not the colors. I thanked God, and took another gulp

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It is somehow our lot to lament the avoidable and the unavoidable woes of a wounded world.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

From Michele Bachmann

You can always count on me to stay true to my word and put America and Americans first. I am the consistent conservative who will put our nation back on a path towards prosperity and restore our values to government. In the words of Rush Limbaugh, “She's not seeking fundamental transformation of our country. She seeks to uphold the country and the Constitution."

My Original Version of an Article Published in Christianity Today

Social Media and the Church

Many American assimilate and advance new communication technologies without a second (or perhaps first) thought. To invoke Marshall McLuhan, they “sleep walk through history.” Those who Jesus called “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) should rather wake up and assess the nature, strengths and weaknesses of the plethora of technologies that assail us daily and hourly.

What place does social media have in the fellowship and evangelism of the local church? Is Facebook a good home for your church? Should your pastor tweet or not? To answer these pertinent questions, we need to attend to two issues: First, what is social media? Second, what is a biblical model of fellowship (or koinonia)?

Social Media

Social media are computer-mediated methods for communication. They enhance human accessibility and the speed of communication between people and groups. I can check Facebook or Twitter to learn how a friend in India (or across the street) is doing. (That is, assuming I can verify their identity—no small problem for much of social media.) However, social media both give and take away, as do all media. They extend the reach of text and images far beyond what the un-electrified, un-mediated individual may do. However, social media also restrict the human presence by subtracting the reality of “being there” and “being with.”

Social media also clutter our field of concentration, rendering our attention to any one thing at one time with any depth nearly impossible. Thus, multi-tasking becomes the norm (even though our God-given brains are not designed for it). We become scattered, flighty, not fully engaged in anything.

Biblical Fellowship

The Bible prizes the personal and face-to-face dimension of human association which is absent, but simulated, through social media. John writes at the end of his short epistle, I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12; see also 3 John 13-14). Although God had sent prophets and inspired holy Scripture for centuries, all was not complete until “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The mission of God is to make himself known and worshipped as the one true God in all the nations. To that end, Christians have ardently preached and defended the Gospel. The have copied and translated the Bible into as many languages as possible. Christ-followers have also labored to out the message through radio, television, and now the Internet, because “how can they hear [the gospel] without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14). We can try to evangelize through social media and develop forums of association within the church.

Nevertheless, we should remember the shortcomings of social media. They remove the personal presence and fracture awareness. One should not receive communion while glancing at a text message. One cannot be baptized on line. As Paul said, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thes. 5:21).

Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary is the author of Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity, 2011) and The Soul in Cyberspace (Baker, 1997).

Friday, December 02, 2011

Urgent Prayer

God, who owns everything, prevail on behalf of your impoverished servant who is in danger of losing his house at the holidays. He is working for your to educate the church on Islam. Come to his aid, Oh God of mercy and provision. Oh, God, restore, renew, and bless supernaturally. Amen
Sending hand-written cards to people is a way to personalize an increasingly impersonal world. "Love is kind."

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Thursday in Denver, the temperature will drop forty degrees. Many laugh at this, but those with chronic illnesses will suffer exponentially on account of it. Pray for them, try to show mercy when they are angry and sorrowful, and be thankful you do not share their miserable plight. If you want to begin to understand, read Psalm 88--slowly and repeatedly. There are many Hemans among us. Look for them, if you have the courage and compassion.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Naturalism and Truth. See chapter 17 of my book, Christian Apologetics

Patricia Churchland:

Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in…feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principle chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing [the world] is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival. Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost. [1]

Charles Darwin:

With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind? [2]

[1] Patricia Churchland, “Epistemology in an Age of Neuroscience,” Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987), pp. 548-549; emphasis in the original.

[2] Charles Darwin to W. Graham, July 3, 1881, in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. Francis Darwin (1897; reprint, Boston: Elibron, 2005), 1:285.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

–II Timothy 1:6-7, NIV

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Manners, Morals

Is it not rude to sending and receiving text messages at the Thanksgiving table while surrounded by family and their friends? The decline in manners means (eventually) the decline in morals. MeWorld replaces community.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why do some of my students not get the basics of an argument for P?

1. Introduce the issue and its importance.
2. Give the argument form for P
3. Give the evidence for P.
4. Respond to salient objections to P
5. Conclude.
One may threaten to destroy the soul of another by one devastating insult. More common is the assassination by a thousand small complaints, a constant dripping of acid into the heart.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Duke's Music in The World to Come

In my restless, eager, and perhaps exorbitant pursuance of all things Ellingtonian, I at times lament that much of Duke's early music was recorded on less than stellar equipment. The exquisite arrangements and virtuoso soling are muted, distorted, or improperly balanced--and not in stereo. Yet, the beauty speaks through it all, nonetheless--so my search continues.

Given my eschatology, I believe that the best of human culture--from every tongue, and tribe, and time--will somehow be conserved in The World to Come. I was convinced of his years ago when I read Richard Mouw's short but compelling book, When the Kings Come Marching In(now out in a second edition by Eerdmans). The chapter addressing "true beauty" in Truth Decay underscores this as well, for what it is worth.

If this is so, then, one glorious day, in the presence of the Triune God and all the redeemed (and I hope Duke is among them), we shall in some manner listen to the aesthetic apex of Duke's nonpareil orchestra form every period, whether badly recorded, well recorded, or not recorded at all. Surely the ears of heaven cannot forget such beauty--or hoard it.

Outline for My Talk at Saddleback Church, Nov. 27

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

Putting Truth to Work: the Biblical View of Truth

Truth is so obscure in these days, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth, we shall never know it.—Blaise Pascal Pensées.

I. Truth in Christian Witness: Apologetics

A. Jesus is Truth Incarnate and an apologist (John 14:1-6). See Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus, chapter 3.

B. His followers must know the truth and make it known (John 8:31-32;

1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 28:18-20).

Christian worldview: creation/fall/redemption/consummation. Christian Apologetics, chapters 2-3.

II. Truth and Today’s Culture

A. Knowing our culture, for example,

“From Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do”—Chronicles 12:32 (see also 1 John 2:15-17).

B. Two types of unbelief

1. Postmodernism (Richard Rorty): Truth is socially constructed and variable (relativism or non-realism)

2. Philosophical materialism (Richard Dawkins): Truth is what materialistic science describes (realism); there is no supernatural realm, e.g., God, the soul, spirits, the afterlife

III. The Christian View of Truth: the Nature of Truth

A. A true statement is one that reflects or matches reality (realism or the correspondence view of truth). See Christian Apologetics, chapter 5; Groothuis, Truth Decay, chapter 4.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”—1 Corinthians 15:14.

B. Truth is objective; not merely subjective

Truth-claims stake out portions of reality through words: “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:5-11).

C. Truth is antithetical, either/or

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters—Matthew 12:30.

D. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Depend on the Spirit to give us an intelligent and virtuous witness (Acts 1:8).

IV. Against the Postmodern View of Truth

A. Postmodernism often refutes itself: claims truth is not objective, but then claims to be the objective account of truth: “There is no objective truth.”

a. If this statement is true objectively, then it is false. It is, therefore, self-refuting, self-stultifying as an objective truth claim.

b. If the statement is true subjectively, then there no reason to hold the postmodern view of truth as the claim applies to everything as objective, universal claim.

2. Counterexamples against postmodernism showing universal, objective truths:

a. Laws of logic: identity (A=A); noncontradiction (A is not non-A).

b. Objective moral goodness or evil: Mother Theresa or Osama bin Laden; sadistic torture or famine relief; murder or love

B. Challenge postmodernists to pursue the truth and put off laziness: truth counts forever (Luke 9:25). See Christian Apologetics, chapters 6-7.

V. Against Scientific Naturalism

A. If the brain is not designed for truth, and if organisms can survive and reproduce without consciousness or rationality, there is no reason to think our material brains know the truth. Charles Darwin. See Christian Apologetics, chapter 18.

1. We were designed to know God and the world; there is a fit between our being and our knowing of the world (Genesis 1:26-28; Psalm 8).

2. Laws of logic are not physical, but universally and absolutely true ideas (that is, immaterial things).

B. Morality is more than instinct and social conditioning (materialism): values are immaterial truth beyond mere matter. See Christian Apologetics, chapter 15.

VI. Take Biblical Truth to the Streets!

A. Understand the biblical view of truth (realism) and what is true (creation/fall/redemption/consummation) as opposed to postmodernism and scientific naturalism.

B. Therefore, defend Christian truth with competence, confidence, courage, compassion, and creativity (2 Tim. 1:7). There is much at stake (Matthew 25:46).

Sources: Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011); Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism (InterVarsity Press, 2000); On Jesus (Wadsworth, 2003).

Doug Groothuis at Saddleback

I will be giving the last lecture in this series of lectures on apologetics at Saddleback Church. My title is "Putting Truth to Work: The Biblical View of Truth." I will post my outline shortly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self ?--Luke 9:25.
What does our age of constant diversion, distraction, and dissipation lack? It lacks meaningful discipline: self-denial for a cause greater than the self. But this alone gives meaning and truth to the self, which is otherwise derelict in its own finite absorption

Friday, November 18, 2011

Roots and Fruits

A write up of my recent talk, "Roots and Fruits," plus the audio, is now available at the Denver Seminary web page.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.,

Denver Seminary

How to Spot a Cult

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.—Colossians 2:8.

I. Discerning Truth from Error

A. Christ, the church, and the truth

1. Jesus is Truth Incarnate (John 14:1-6)

2. The church is the pillar and foundation of the truth

3. The truth about God, salvation, ethics, and history is found in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 1:20-21)

B. The challenge of theological error

1. The wide road to destruction (Matthew 7:14-14)

2. Paul’s farewell address to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:20-28)

3. Being rooted in the truth (1 John 4:1-6)

II. What is a Cult?

A. Historically: groups that split off from an established religious body

Christian cults: significant deviations from Christian orthodoxy

B. Scaling the language barrier (Walter Martin)

Cults use Christian vocabulary without using our dictionary (the Bible’s meaning of these terms)

C. Theologically: teachings deny key orthodox beliefs about God and salvation

1. Source of authority: the Bible alone (sola scriptura) or the Bible plus another source?

a. Mormonism: Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrines and Covenants

b. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Watchtower Society pronouncements

c. Christian Science: Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures

d. Other Mind science groups: Unity, Religious Science

2. Understanding of human nature

a. Cults always demote God and promote humans (Walter Martin), thus denying the need for the Cross of Christ

b. Cults deny total depravity and original sin (Mark 7:21-23; Romans 3:9-20)

3. Redefining the person and work of Jesus Christ

a. Cults diminish the work of Christ for our salvation (Galatians 1:6-11)

b. Deny his deity (John 1; Colossians 2:9)

c. Deny his full atonement for sins (Romans 5:1-8)

d. Deny his physical resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

4. Cults deny the gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:6-11; 2 Corinthians 11:14)

a. The gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; John 3:16-17; Romans 5:1-5; Ephesians 2:8-9)

b. Faith plus good works or mystical experience

Mormons: We do all we can—and God makes up the rest

c. Salvation is found only in Christ (Acts 4:12) and received only by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)

III. Reaching Those in Cults

A. Know what you believe and why you believe it (Romans 12:1-2)

B. Be prepared for spiritual warfare (Acts 13:1-12; Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

C. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

D. Treat the cultist as a human being needing salvation, not on object for evangelism

E. Discern the cultists beliefs and gently challenge them with biblical truth and apologetics (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5)



Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults. Several editions.

Gordon Lewis, Confronting the Cults (P&R Publishing).

Robert Bowman, Orthodoxy and Heresy (Baker, 1992).

Ron Rhodes, The Challenge of Cults and New Religions (Zondervan, 2001).

Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Tyndale) A classic on living the Christian life biblically. I have read this many times.

Magazine: The Christian Research Journal. See

I am speaking on "How to Spot a Cult" for Logos Central Chapel tonight at 7:00 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Denver.

Groothuis on Radio

I will be on Crosswalk with Gino Geraci Friday from 4:00-5:00 on KRKS-FM (Denver) to discuss Christian Apologetics.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wisdom from Timothy McGrew

One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point. It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed with the internet may be better informed than he would otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lecture outline for my talk at Denver Seminary today

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

November 15, 2011

Roots and Fruits:

Intellectual Influences that Shaped my Christian Calling

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.—1 Corinthians 11:1

I. What is a Christian Calling? (See Os Guinness, The Call)

A. Life direction according to spiritual gifts, opportunities, and strong desires

1. What needs to be done for the Mission of God

2. What one does well

3. What gives one deep joy

B. My calling (Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

1. Defend and apply Christianity as objectively true, rationally compelling, and pertinent to all of life (Matthew 22:37-40; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3)

2. To do this through teaching, preaching, and writing

3. What this means: teaching at Denver Seminary, adjunct teaching and guest lecturing at secular schools; preaching in local churches; writing academic and popular works: Twelve books; two dozen peer-review academic journal articles; hundreds of articles, book reviews, and letters to the editor in dozens of magazines, journals, and elsewhere.

4. The biggest literary fruit: Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Christian Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011)

II. The First Root: Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55)

A. The Sickness Unto Death: exegeted my own soul for me

B. Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing: solidified my calling as a Christian thinker

C. Example of an earnest, brilliant life of letters for the cause of Christ (despite his fideism)

III. The Second Root: Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-84)

A. The discovery of Schaeffer in the fall of 1976: The God Who is There (1968)

B. The gift of understanding, intellectual courage, and a life-plan

C. Schaeffer’s strengths

1. A deep compassion for the lost

2. Spiritual integrity in ministry

3. A broad understanding of the Bible, theology, culture, and history

4. A strong sense of the Lordship of Christ over all of culture

D. Schaeffer’s weaknesses

1. Over simplification

2. Lack of philosophical rigor

IV. The Third Root: Blaise Pascal (1624-1663)

A. The discovery of Pensées in 1977.

B. The genius of his view of the human condition: deposed royalty

C. The genius of the wager (properly understood)

D. His influence on all my writing and ministry

E. See my book, On Pascal (Wadsworth, 2003); chapters 7 and 19 of Christian Apologetics.

V. The Fourth Root: Os Guinness (b. 1941)

A. The Christian as astute social critic and prophet: The Dust of Death (1973); The American Hour (1992); The Case for Civility (2008); etc.

B. Guinness as a matchless orator and statesman for Christ

VI. The Fifth Root: Rebecca Merrill Groothuis

A. Rebecca and my calling

1. Prodding me to write Unmasking the New Age (1986)

2. Alerting me to spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

3. Challenge to develop my views of women in the Kingdom of God.

a. “Equal in Being, Unequal in Role: Exploring the Logic of Woman’s Subordination,” in Discovering Biblical Equality (2004)

b. See Adam Omelianchuck, “Ontologically Grounded Subordination.” Philosophia Christi, Vol. 13, No. 1 (2011): 169-180. This defends Rebecca’s argument against challenges by Steven Cowan.

c. See Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Women Caught in the Conflict (1994); Good News for Women (1997).

B. Rebecca’s editing and my writing

Episode from finishing our book, Christian Apologetics

Those also deserving mention (not in priority order):

James W. Sire, C.S. Lewis, Carl F. H. Henry, Gordon Clark, Gordon R. Lewis, R. J. Rushdoony, J.P. Moreland, William Lane Craig, Richard John Neuhaus, Arthur Holmes,

Keith Yandell, R.T. Herbert, John Calvin, The Westminster Divines, G.K. Chesterton, Jacques Ellul, Bernard Ramm, John Stott, Walter Martin, Brooks Alexander, Harry Blamires, Ronald Nash, Alvin Plantinga, Phillip Johnson, F.F. Bruce, William Dembski, Neil Postman, Marshall McLuhan.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Advice from Duke

In an interview, Duke Ellington said that his "first job is to listen." See James 1:19.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Steve Jobs, Jesus, and the Problem of Evil

In the best-selling biography Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson recounts an event when a thirteen- year-old Steve Jobs is distressed by a photograph in a 1968 Life Magazine of a pair of starving children in Biafra. He then went to his Lutheran pastor, holds up one finger and asks, "Did God know I would hold up this finger before I did?" The Pastor said, "Yes, God knows everything." Then Jobs produced the Life cover photo and asks, "Well, does God know about this and what's going to happen to those children?" The Pastor replied, "Steve, I know you don't understand, but yes, God know about this."

Issacson reports that "Jobs announced that he didn't want to have anything to do with worshiping such a God, and he never went back to church." Instead, Jobs pursued Buddhism, gurus, and hallucinogenic drug use instead (pages 14-15). This is yet another tragic encounter with the problem of evil. Jobs later told Issacson that "The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus of seeing world as Jesus saw it (p. 15).

The most reliable records of Jesus life are the Four Gospels of The New Testament (see chapter 19 of Christian Apologetics). In them, we find Jesus affirming the existence of one, all-powerful God, as well as the existence of all manner of evil. That is how Jesus saw the world. But, unlike the Buddha, Jesus did not counsel his followers to detach from the world of suffering by ceasing to crave satisfaction. He rather said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be satisfied." It is inescapable that those who so hunger will also suffer: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted," Jesus also affirmed. (For more on Jesus's teachings, see chapter 20 ofChristian Apologetics.)

The evils of this groaning world did not detract Jesus from his mission to "seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). It was this wounded and aching world that sent Jesus to a bloody and horrible death on a Roman Cross, in order that humanity and deity might be reconciled and hope restored to an erring planet. As Pascal said: "The Incarnation shows man the greatness of his wretchedness through the greatness of the remedy required" (Pensees, 352/526).

If God is perfectly good and thoroughly powerful, he will not waste the sufferings of the world. He will bring a greater good out of them not otherwise possible. This may sound theoretical, but God himself put flesh to that reality through the Incarnation: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). That Word taught only truth, offered only love and justice, and was put to death for no legal reason. On his Cross, he forgave his accusers and finally said, "It is finished." He was buried, dead as dead could be. The universe waited...until he rose from the dead in three days time--never to die again.

At a young age, Steve Jobs faced the severity and seeming absurdity of evil. In so doing, he rejected the only answer to the suffering: Christ Jesus. Let us rather affirm with the Apostle Paul:

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.--1 Corinthians 15:55-58, King James Version.

(For more on the problem of evil, see chapter 25 of Christian Apologetics.)