Saturday, December 21, 2013

Blaise Pascal on Jesus, from Pensees

Jesus Christ. Offices.—He alone had to create a great people, elect, holy, and chosen; to lead, nourish, and bring it into the place of rest and holiness; to make it holy to God; to make it the temple of God; to reconcile it to, and save it from the wrath of God; to free it from the slavery of sin, which visibly reigns in man; to give laws to this people, and engrave these laws on their heart; to offer Himself to God for them, and sacrifice Himself for them; to be a victim without blemish, and Himself the sacrificer, having to offer Himself, His body, and His blood, and yet to offer bread and wine to God…

Friday, December 06, 2013

Frigid Cold and Frozen Souls

Frigid Cold and Frozen Souls

I had seen her before. A bell-ringer for The Salvation Army sat in her wheel chair about ten feet from the opening and closing automatic doors of King Soopers. It was zero degrees outside. She sat and stared outside as I shopped. I kept looking over at her and wondering. When I checked out, I said hello and asked if I could help. She had called a cab company twice to pick her up. No one had come. I called the cab company and insisted they send someone soon. She had no cell phone.

I won't tell all of the rest of the story, but will adamantly make one point. No one in the store, neither the workers, nor the few customers did anything to help her. When I came back later, she was not by the door, but was wheeling her manual wheel chair across the store. Meanwhile about six employees chatted among themselves, since there were no customers to speak of. If anyone ever looked pathetic and needy, it was Lisa; and Lisa was wheeling herself at a glacial pace across the store. Yes, she has a name, damn it. Lisa had rung the bell all day in freezing cold and could not buy a ride home. Lisa had waiting well over an hour for a cab that never came. Lisa was, as far as I could tell, was abandoned in an upscale King Soopers (near "The Presserve") with well-to-do people rushing in and out, stepping by Lisa.

"As you have done it to the least of these, my brethren, so you have done it to me"--Jesus Christ. Have you heard of him? He was sitting in the cold all day and could not get a ride home.

No, I am not mentioning this for my ego, blast it. I am a stupid sinner, believe me.  I am mad as hell about people's neglect of those at the margins of society, those too easy to pass by. These poor souls are made in the image and likeness of God, like it or not. These folks should interrupt our precious schedules, like it or not. And you don't have to do that much to show them some heart. Buy them a hot drink. Ask them their name. If they look like they are distress, see what you can do. You do not have to take them home or be their social worker. But you can do something, anything in love.

Will you please pray for this dear soul and remember, too, those without homes when it is cold out enough to kill?

Monday, December 02, 2013

Philosophy of Card Writing

1. Use your own handwriting. Chose a tasteful pen. Write slowly.
2. Write for consolation, encouragement, or to share you life with a close friend. Or write strangers whose work you appreciate. I write musicians, authors, and more They almost never write back. The exception is Peter Brötzmann.
3. Ponder before you write. Pray, too.
4. Perhaps adorn the card with stickers or your own drawings.
5. Although I always want my cards reciprocated in some way, I almost always write more than I am written to--at least since my mother died. If someone never writes back after two or three cards, I usually give up.
6. Be creative in conveying truth and love in this way. It can mean much to many. I know.

Preface for the Korean Edition of On Jesus


I was delighted to discover that On Jesus would be translated into Korean, especially since I have and esteemed Korean colleague, Dr. Sun Wook Chung, and several beloved Korean students at Denver Seminary, and because of the resurgence of Christianity in Korea in recent decades. I hope that its translation will contribute to wise philosophical discussion about Jesus and Christianity in Korea and among Korean readers elsewhere, whether these readers are followers of Christ or not.
While some of the cultural references employed may be unique to American culture, the essential issues that are raised in On Jesus are not uniquely American, but timeless. Jesus addressed issues that are perennial for human beings, and which have been categorized by philosophers as matters of metaphysics, epistemology, and morality. One thing that distinguishes Jesus from most philosophers is the metaphysics of his own identity. The Bible, Christian creeds, and orthodoxy through the ages have confessed and defended [SG1]  the claim that this prophet from Nazareth was both human and divine: one person with two natures. Therefore, this book discusses this significant claim in some detail. However, I discuss this topic in much more depth in chapter 21 my book, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Christian Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011).
If I had originally written this small book for a Korean audience, I would have added more comparison and contrasts between the teachings of Jesus with those of Buddhism and Confucianism. However, I hope that the attentive Korean reader will supply this analysis and bring the philosophy and identity of Jesus into a uniquely Korean context. Although On Jesus does consider some of the differences between Jesus and the teachings of other religions, Christian Apologetics deals with this important topic in more detail, especially in chapters 19-24. (This book is now being translated into Korean and should appear in 2014.)
Perhaps many Koreans will also be intellectually provoked by my chapter, “Jesus’ View of Women,” given the influence of the Confucianism view of women and the assumption of male leadership in the church.
I further hope that this small volume challenges more Korean Christians to confidently enter the philosophical calling, with Jesus are their model and inspiration. As he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind” (Matthew 22:37-38; see also Isaiah 1:18).
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., September 12, 2012
Professor of Philosophy
Denver Seminary
Denver, Colorado, USA