Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wood, Wonder

Siren sounds
of worldly wonder.

Lash me to the masts,
The churning sea
Has is allure, when
Voices raise their
Fleshly plea.

It is a whipping post,
Tied to it. No escape--

Not the axis mundi,
Not the stairway to the gods,
but a pike of wood and

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Some philosophical points about the Zimmerman-Martin case

Some philosophical points about the Zimmerman-Martin case

1. Juries know more than the common person about the case and the laws of legal evidence. The standard for criminal prosecution is "beyond a reasonable doubt."
2. One's race (which is often difficult to classify) has nothing to do with truth or knowledge (justified true belief). Members of any race may be right or wrong, justified or unjustified about any given proposition. Race is not, in itself,  the issue in epistemology, but, rather, competence in judgment given a particular circumstance.
3. To say that one race (or several) cannot rightly evaluate a controversy is to undermine democracy and to demean strangers (and friends) simply because of their race. This is wrong. Moreover, many are mixed race, such as Barack Obama and George Zimmerman. Where do they fit in?
4. America is not a systematically racist society. Consider who was elected president-- twice. Look back at the Civil Rights Act. Consider the canonization of Dr. Martin Luther King. To say so is rank ignorance or worse.
5. Outrage is not a good indicator of knowledge. One may be wrongly outraged or rightly outraged. But outrage does not determine the truth of the matter. Remember the crowd that condemned Jesus to death. One's emotions are easily untethered from good judgment and concern for proper reasoning.
6. If an injustice has been done in a trial, punishing and terrifying innocent people is no way to rectify or ameliorate the situation. If you think all members of one race are to blame, you have undermined the Western and American and Christian heritage individual responsibility. If so, you are wrong.
7. If you think that boycotting products from the state in which a verdict was rendered with which you disagree is just or even helpful, you are wrong. State's do not give sentences. Juries do that.
8. If you try to reveal the details of personal identities of witnesses in important trials, you are endangering them and undermining the entire legal system. If you think our system needs a total overhaul, find a better country. You are also harming the individuals in question, who are innocent. They, the jurors, are not on trial.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Robert George on Marriage

Robert George in his new book Conscience and Its Enemies.
A fundamental error some supporters of conjugal marriage have made is to imagine that a grand bargain could be struck with their opponents: “We will accept the legal redefinition of marriage; you will respect our right to act on our consciences without penalty, discrimination, or civil disabilities of any kind. Same-sex partners will get marriage licenses, but no one will be forced for any reason to recognize those marriages or suffer discrimination or disabilities for declining to recognize them.”
There was never any hope of such a bargain being accepted. Perhaps liberal forces would accept parts of such a bargain temporarily for strategic or tactical reasons, as part of the political project of getting marriage redefined. But guarantees of religious liberty and nondiscrimination for people who cannot in consciences accept same-sex marriage could then be eroded and eventually removed.
There is, in my opinion, no chance–no chance–of persuading champions of sexual liberation (and it should be clear by now that this is the cause they serve) that they should respect, or permit the law to respect, the conscience rights of those with whom they disagree. Look at it from their point of view: Why should we permit “full equality” to be trumped by bigotry? Why should we respect religions and religious institutions that are “incubators of homophobia”? Bigotry, religiously based or not, must be smashed and eradicated. The law should not give it recognition or lend it any standing or dignity.
The lesson for those of us who believe that the conjugal conception of marriage is true and good, and who wish to protect the rights of our faithful and of our institutions to honor that belief in carrying out their vocations and missions, is that there is no alternative to winning the battle in the public square over the legal definition of marriage. The “grand bargain” is an illusion we should dismiss from our minds. (144-45)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Truth Decay

"Without a thorough and deeply rooted understanding of the biblical view of truth as revealed, objective, absolute, universal, eternally engaging, antithetical and exclusive, unified and systematic, and as an end in itself, the Christian response to postmodernism will be muted by the surrounding culture or will make illicit compromises with the truth-impoverished spirit of the age. The good news is that truth is still truth, that it provides a backbone for witness and ministry in postmodern times, and that God's truth will never fail." Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay, p. 81-82.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sneak Preview: The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought

Denver Seminary is currently developing the new Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture, led by Dr. Douglas Groothuis.

In light of Denver Seminary’s calling to teach in order “to engage the needs of the world with the redemptive power of the gospel and the life-changing truth of Scripture,” the Lewis Center will serve as a vehicle for this mission. The Center will focus on serving the greater-Denver community by using the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and apologetics to explore the question of what it means to be a Christian in our world. Driven by the Mission of God, the Center will serve as both an outreach to those who do not believe as well as to Christians in need of bolstering their faith. This means that we will seek to engage our community in ways that emphasize the objectively true and subjectively transformational nature of Christianity. 

We will kick off the Lewis Center with two lectures open to the public in September.  These will be held in room 119 of Denver Seminary's classroom building. The first lecture will be on Monday night, September 23rd, at 7pm, when Doug Groothuis will speak on the relationship of faith and reason. On Tuesday night, September 24th at 7pm, Mark Mittelberg will join us to speak on "Understanding the Secular Landscape," which will cover the relationship between apologetics and evangelism. There will be a special question/answer session after the September 24th talk, which will include both Mark Mittelberg and Doug Groothuis.

Among other things, the Lewis Center will continue to offer lectures and longer community courses to the public.

If you would like to be put an email list for updates, please send an email to, and put "Lewis Center Updates" in the subject line.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Verdicts and Mob Violence

If anyone--red, yellow, black, or white--threatens mob violence if a high-profile trial does not go their way, then:

1. They think they can adjudicate the evidence between than the better-informed jury, who are held to strict standards of evaluation. This is absurd.
2. They think that by retaliating against those who had nothing to do with the trial they can make a moral point. This is immoral.
3. If the threat of mob violence is racially-based, they hold all members of the supposedly guilty race responsible and worthy of violence or intimidation. This is immoral. 

How, would anyone want to claim 1, 2, or 3 as a consequence of their threats of mob violence?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Providence on the Cheap

The Bible's teaching on providence is that an infinite-personal and triune being governs the cosmos. This being, God, is never outwitted or surprised. He is Lord of heaven and earth. His purposes will be achieved, despite the turpitude of humans east of Eden.

Providence on the cheap appeals to an historically-ungrounded and perverse notion of "karma." The teaching of karma in Hinduism and Buddhism claims that an impersonal mechanism punishes and rewards humans according to their actions. But karmic effects on only obtain between one's lifetimes (reincarnation), not within one. That is, everything one experiences in one incarnation is the result of previous incarnations. What one does in this incarnation will have its effects in the next lifetime. Further, this system is impersonal; it functions automatically and without moral evaluation or moral agency. (This itself is a philosophically problematic idea, which I have addressed in Christian Apologetics, chapter 25.)

However, Americans apply karma to one lifetime. One author even writes of "instant karma," to explain a good circumstance following a good deed of his. This is nonsense and contradictory, given the rigors of karma and reincarnation in the Eastern systems of thought. Worse yet, Americans, by combining loosely Christian ideas with Eastern doctrines, imagine that karma is administered by some personal and knowing being. But this is alien to Hinduism and Buddhism. Moreover, Christianity denies karma and reincarnation, but affirms the resurrection of the dead--for punishment or redemption (Daniel 12:2; 1 Corinthians 15).

God's providential governance of all history and eternity is that of a moral administration, judge, and savior, through Jesus Christ. No one can build up good karma to merit anything before God. God demands perfection. There is only one life available to get right with a holy God (Hebrews 9:27). It was only the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ that makes atonement and brings reconciliation between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Whatever good works are wrought by the Christian are not the basis of salvation, but rather the fruit of salvation.

Let us give up providence on the cheap, which is an illicit blending of Eastern doctrines and the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). Herein is truth, peace, and meaning.


This was quoted in The NY Times today in the obituary for James Martin, 79:

"A naive view of the past is that technology gives us mastery over nature. A more appropriate view is that advanced technology causes us to need even more advanced technology in order to survive."

Thursday, July 04, 2013


“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.”

― George Orwell1984