Monday, April 29, 2013

Homeschooling is not a fundamental parental right?

I have been following this case for a while.
Please keep this family in your prayers, here.

Homosexual marriage won't affect traditional marriage???

     I have always found it very puzzling that many people actually think that legalizing homosexual "marriage" would have no effect on "traditional" marriage.

(BTW: there is no such thing as "traditional" marriage. There is only marriage.)

     What also puzzles me greatly is those Christians who feel that they have nothing to say, or they feel that this issue isn't that big of a deal. It is amazing to me how naive and uninformed Christians can be in to thinking that this homosexual agenda really is about homosexual "rights" when in fact it has nothing to do with "rights" but with forcing their agenda by the arm and sword of the state.

     The original news report is on the, here.

     Masha Gessen, an activist for the LGBT agenda, gave this speech some time in 2012, and she outright admitted that this issue over homosexual marriage isn't about the "right" to marry, but the opportunity to use this as a vehicle to eliminate "traditional" marriage altogether. 

     This is what happens when the authority of God's law is diminished or eliminated. This is what happens when the church decides that we have no place at all to love our secular neighbors to tell them of the moral truth of God (law and gospel). Once people or the state understand that there is no transcendent standard, they are left with the understanding that they can simply make their own morals and codify that into legislation because they feel that they are their own authority, and in fact, they are in fact their own authority because we as individual Christians and as the church refuse to speak up.
     Even if the best natural law arguments are given, if they are never given with reference to the transcendent standard of the Bible, they end up becoming as arbitrary as any other argument. When this happens (and it already has) it is those that are in power that get to decide what is right and wrong.
     I recently corresponded with a sociology professor in which he disagreed with me that laws were about reflecting morality. He told me that laws weren't about reflecting morality, but about power. For him, it was one or the other. While laws do reflect power (the authority given by God), that is not the purpose of civil laws because the authority that the magistrate has from God is never an autonomous authority, but a ***derivative*** authority to obey his moral law. The authority and power are the means by which morality is reflected in civil law, but it is never the ultimate purpose.
     I don't know if that sociology professor really understood the implications of what he was saying, but regardless, this is a very chilling statement. If what he is saying is true, what is to logically stop the state from wielding utter and totalitarian power to crush those whom they please? And this is what is currently happening little by little every day in the US.
    Here is a little bit of what Ms. Gessen said, "I agree that it is a no brainer that we should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it is a no brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist." (Applause from audience at this point about how marriage should not exist..)... "...fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to with marriage when we get there.. You know, because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change, and again, I don't think that it should exist.... and really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality and I don't think that this is compatible with the institution of marriage."

    It seems amazing to me that churches will actively refuse to formally engage this kind of thinking head on, when in fact it is Christians who have the most superior understanding of nature through the aid and revelation of the Bible, and we have the revealed moral law of God, which clarifies, heightens, and in fact is the same as the natural law that non-Christians have in their hearts.
    Please inform those that you know.
    May God stir up our hearts to love our country through our gospel motivated actions and prayers.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Open Letter to Supreme Court of the United States of America (Part 1)

Part 1, here. Part 2, here. Part 3, here.
     I am posting in parts this letter that I originally wrote to SCOTUS concerning their upcoming decisions for homosexual marriage. This went through three drafts in which each draft is completely different and rearranged based on inputs I received from my colleagues.
I really thought earnestly about how to frame the arguments and when to hold back in certain places, and how aggressive I needed to be. I will never meet these justices and this is my only shot.
     As I mentioned in previous posts, as a theonomist I certainly recognize that natural law arguments are useful, and I use them here. While I feel that these arguments are effective, I fully understood that these arguments in and of themselves are not fully and logically sufficient unless you fully refer back to the transcendental standard. I wasn't fooling myself into thinking that they were actually logically (biblically) sufficient.
     I had to try to balance this issue with the immediate and focused intent of getting the message across for the justices to be convinced to uphold (traditional) marriage. Especially since I will never meet these justices, I had to think of a way that they will actually read through my entire letter without them throwing it in the trash after the first page.
     My approach would have been much more forward if I were to actually have a sit-down with them but since I cannot, I made the tactical decision to focus more on the natural law arguments and hint at the transcendental aspects. (I also put in references that I used, which appear in the later parts of the letter).


March 29, 2013

The Chief Justice of the United States
Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Thomas , Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Alito
Justice Sotomayor, Justice Kagan

The Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20543

            Dear Mr. Chief Justice, Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, Justice Thomas, Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Alito, Justice Sotomayor, Justice Kagan,

            My name is Christopher Lee. Before I proceed, I want to thank each of you for your service to our country in the Supreme Court. I have been following the court cases regarding Proposition 8 and DOMA and I would like to humbly offer some insights into the sociological and moral dimensions of this issue. I hope you will find this information helpful. First, let me be clear. This issue isn’t whether homosexuals are made in the image of God who deserve to be treated with love and respect. They are, and they do. Below are the typical arguments made for homosexual marriage, and my responses:

Claim 1)          Marriage is a voluntary union of persons in a committed relationship
Response 1)     How something is phrased can certainly affect how one views that particular thing. This is true with homosexual marriage. Very subtly, we have begun to talk about marriage as a union of persons in a committed relationship, rather than a union of a man and a woman. Never before has marriage been spoken about in this way and the implications are profound. This shift in terms has been attendant to a shift in how we think about marriage. Unconsciously we begin wondering: if marriage is really the union of persons in a committed and loving relationship, why shouldn’t homosexuals be allowed to participate in this institution?

The only problem with construing marriage in these terms is that this has never been how it was understood since the beginning of human history, even among cultures like ancient Rome which might have been most inclined to understand marriage as the union of persons. Those who take this view must acknowledge that throughout most of human history the laws, customs, culture and language built up around marriage was apparently based on a misunderstanding of what marriage actually was, for until recently no one understood that marriage has actually always been the union of persons. It would be difficult to say that the Framers of the Constitution thought of marriage as a union between two persons, and not one man and one woman.
Now to be fair, the fact that marriage has never been understood as a union of  

persons does not itself prove the new concept. However, at a minimum it does establish that it is a new concept, a novel definition that is discontinuous with the institution of marriage as it has been understood and practice for thousands of years. This is something the champions of gay marriage are reluctant to acknowledge, since their case for “equal access” depends on maintaining some degree of continuity with the norms of an existing institution. This pretence of continuity enables them to form their arguments in quantitative terms, as if they were merely expanding the pool of people who can get legally married, rather than qualitatively altering the very essence of what marriage is.

Claim 2)          It’s not enough to have partnership. The title of marriage is
something special and homosexuals are entitled to it.
Response 2)     As Chief Justice Roberts mentioned, there is something special about the label “marriage.” But to simply change the meaning of marriage would be doing exactly the opposite of what homosexual marriage advocates are hoping for. If the term “marriage” were now to not exclusively apply to one man and one woman, the term has no standard anymore, becomes meaningless since we can define it any way we want, and has no boundaries. Logically, marriage could then be applied to incestual relationships and polygamous relationships.

Part 2 next time....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A perfect example as to why we need to teach logic (among other things) to our young kids

     I saw a "news" article on Yahoo today. It was about a school essay from a fourth grader who writes about his views of homosexual marriage, here.

    When I read his letter, I couldn't help but notice the leaps in logic and attitude of moral arrogance that was emanating from his letter. I have heard from places around the Internet of Christians complaining that other Christians are not prepared to have any good defense or justification against homosexuality, and homosexual marriage in particular. I am hoping that this will help in some small way.

    The reason that this is so significant is not because I like picking on fourth graders, but because this is a boy who will soon become a man and a functioning adult in our society. His views, while malleable now, will go uncorrected because there is no one there to correct them! And his views become hardened over time as he gets older. He, with millions like him, grow up and vote in particular ways and perform various actions based on the beliefs that he attained as a child. It doesn't take much to realize the impact that little children can have when you look at them from that type of long term perspective.

Ok.. To start off, here is his letter:
"Why gay people should be able to get married is you can’t stop two adult’s from getting married because there (sic) grown and it doesn’t matter if it creeps you out just get over it. And you should be happy for them because it’s a big momment in their life. When I went to my grandparents wedding it was the happies momment.

As you can see gay people should have the right to get married and you shouldn’t judge other peoples lives because if you was gay you wouldn’t want people talking about you."

     Let's tackle this line by line and I will also comment on the article itself a little bit. Aside from his poor diction and bad grammar, I am simply focusing on his logical train of reasoning.

Fourth grader: "Why gay people should be able to get married is you can’t stop two adult’s from getting married"
CL: Notice in his beginning line, he says that the reason that people should get married is that we cannot stop from two adults getting married. One of the things that this fourth grader is assuming is that marriage is merely another "morally neutral" thing like getting an ice cream cone, or drinking a glass of water. He has no concept of how marriage is in fact a moral issue because it was most likely never taught to him.
If we are to properly understand (and are properly taught about) nature and the commandments of God, we can see that marriage has definite boundaries associated with it, and is a moral issue.  

Who is there to properly teach him the real meaning and nature of marriage?

     Additionally, to render a moral judgement of a particular act on whether or not one can be stopped from performing that act is ridiculously arbitrary and entirely incoherent.
     So, if he ended up stealing his classmate's toys in school and his teacher or the recess monitor was not there to stop him, it was acceptable for him to steal those toys.

FG: "... because there (sic) grown and it doesn’t matter if it creeps you out just get over it."
CL: Being a grown up doesn't make the inherent morality of a particular action different. Your age status is irrelevant.
This is different from drinking laws or driving laws. The inherent morality of drinking a cup of beer is the same whether a 12 year old drinks it or a 25 year old does. The reason for the drinking law is for health issues and also cultural issues associated with alcohol. So, when a 12 year old is drinking, he is not sinning in the immediate sense, but he is sinning because he is breaking the civil law that dictates the legal requirement (and reflect to a certain extent, the cultural "norms") for drinking.
But, the fact still remains that the inherent morality of a 12 year old drinking beer and a 25 year old drinking beer is the same. 

I would agree with fourth grader that being creeped out is not a logical reason to disagree about an issue.

FG: "And you should be happy for them because it’s a big momment (sic) in their life."
CL: In FG's case, the biggest moment in his grandparents' lives is one that consists of affirming:
    -FG's distorted concept of what marriage is.
    -His view that the inherent morality of an action is based on whether or not the participants of that action can be stopped.
    -His view that inherent morality of an action is based on the age status of an individual.

With this in mind, it should be clear that the biggest "momment" of his grandparents' lives (in terms of what it represents to him, and also the idolatry being displayed for all to see) should not be celebrated.

FG: "As you can see gay people should have the right to get married and you shouldn’t judge other peoples lives because if you was gay you wouldn’t want people talking about you."

CL: What has FG actually proven in terms of his arguments for homosexual marriage? Nothing.
He displays his distorted understanding of what marriage is, and he gives amazingly arbitrary justification for his morality.

Additionally, he asserts that you shouldn't judge other people's lives. Why? ... because in the hypothetical situation that I am homosexual, I wouldn't want people to talk about me.
First, so, I shouldn't "judge" other people because of a hypothetical?
My basis for rendering a moral judgement does not depend upon how other people think or how other other people might think of me.  The validity and soundness of a moral argument or judgement is true regardless of the perceptions of other people.

If this were not true, then managers should never give bad performance reviews to poor performing employees because the managers would fear the employees would take smack about them behind their backs in the lunch room.

Second, his unspoken premise about not "judging" is that making a moral judgement or pronouncing anything as morally wrong, is in itself a wrong action. This is absolutely contradictory and incoherent thinking.
So, it is somehow acceptable for him to make a moral judgement upon your decisions to judge a moral action, but it is absolutely unacceptable for you to do the same. Why? Because the fourth grader said so!
Not only is this contradictory but this is also question begging.

Additionally, in the "news" article, the fourth grader's teacher said, "I'm not sharing this because of how perfect the sentences are," his teacher added, "but because of how clear his thought process is on this specific issue."
Given what I have shown above in this entry, it is absolutely amazing to me that a grown adult could possible think that this fourth grader's letter actually had a single, proper and logical thought.

The reason why I bring this issue up isn't just because of the fourth grader's views, although that is a significant part as well. This letter and the news article represents a larger problem within America's children and how we Americans develop and educate our children.

I have easily shown how there is not one coherent argument (except the part about being grossed out) in this boy's essay, and the school teacher is actually praising this boy's clear "thought" in his essay! How can we teach our kids to think and reason ***properly*** if we don't even have adults who are trained properly?

This is an example that underscores the need for our children (and our adults), in addition to godly biblical education, really need to be trained to think logically. As Christians, it is a moral imperative that we think logically and properly. Joel McDurmon's Biblical Logic book is a very easy and good way to start, here. There are other more theoretical books, and websites that will help as well. Here is the Logic Classroom, here. Theoretical logic training and "practical" logic training such as Biblical Logic, will go a long way in helping you not only refine your arguments, and to present more clearly what you believe, and why you believe it, but also to be able to share the gospel and increase your faith more.

We need to have more children (and adults) trained to think logically. If we don't, it will be immensely difficult for them to have any sort of proper standing when discussing these ethical ideas and also the Gospel with non-believers.

For any Christian parent, whether it is homeschooling, Christian schooling or public schooling, I would encourage you to either purchase classical homeschool education materials or have your child enroll in a Classical Christian school. Classical christian education (whether homeschool or brick and mortar school) places heavy emphasis on logic and rhetoric, two of the most important subjects that a child can learn (other than the Bible). 

For instance, in addition to being theological issues, all of these statements below are logical fallacies. Can you identify what the fallacies are?:

     -If God sends people to hell, this is not fair.
     -If God chooses/predestines only certain people, this is not fair. 
     -Since Christianity says that it is the only way, this is arrogant, and so this invalidates Christianity.
     -There is nothing in the Bible that says internet pornography is wrong, so, it is OK.
     -The Bible has nothing to says about politics.
     -All religions lead to God.
     -Don't judge me in terms of what I do or don't do with my "girlfriend" behind closed doors.
     -Christianity is good for you. Buddhism is good for me.
     -Nothing has any meaning. 

You can tell that all of these statements have very significant moral and theological value to them. If these questions are not understood in the proper logical framework, the consequences of misunderstanding or not knowing how to articulate your position to another person can be very devastating for any one of questions/statements above.

May God continue to raise up godly, thinking Christians.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Indoctri Nation

I recently found this, and it should peak everyone's interest. Of course, the preview is a little in your face. But, given the subject matter, it is warranted.

May each Christian family strive very hard to really understand that the assault on Christianity comes in many forms. The assault from public schools, though more subtle, is no different.

The website is here, the main youtube site here.

What is especially alarming is the quick video clip at time  0:49-0:57.

Robert Ziegler is interviewed in this movie. He is the math teacher that got fired in Nebraska for talking about religion and Christianity in class, here.
I think that this particular case is a little tricky for several reasons. I commend the fact that Ziegler is very upfront about his faith and sharing it with his students. At the same time, he knew what he was getting himself into, and knew that he could get fired for what he did.

There are situations where it is actually detrimental to be so "pushy" and there are many instances in my own experiences that can attest to that. Try being pushy with your unbelieving family members, and see how that goes.

At what point can we say that Ziegler was being simply "faithful" vs. "pushy"? I personally cannot say. However, regardless of whether he was pushy or not, I think that this does serve to prove the point that the secular realm will force you out if you are too outspoken about Christ.

Are there times that we are called to be patient and not pushy? Yes.. Are there times where we are called to be outspoken, and pushy? YES!

Don't simply look at this case as "Oh.. He was pushy... and therefore he got fired" to lead you to say that being "pushy" is always bad.

Not being personally involved in this situation, I just have to trust that Ziegler was being led by God to do the things that he did. Pushy aside, he had great faith and courage for doing what he did (how many of us can say the same?) and I commend him for his courage and love for his students.

The most loving thing that you can do for a person is not always the most appreciated.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Examination of the "is-ought" fallacy and its implications on the nature of the epistemic warrant of ethics (part 3)

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

     In part 2, I discussed the issue of how (R)2K does not take into account:
       -the issue of competing worldviews, and related to that is:
       -how natural man understands "nature" completely different from the Christian man,
       -the issue of necessity vs sufficiency,
       -its epistemological arbitrariness, and finally:
       -the larger apologetical and methodological issue of how (R)2K is evidential, and not presuppositional.

     In part 1, I mentioned that this fallacy is defined as a statement in which the allegedly impersonal nature can direct personal and social standards of living. You cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is.'" In other words, you cannot simply conclude that Johnny has an obligation (imperative) to obey his father simply from the description (indicative) that Johnny has a father.
     So, how can we apply what was previously discussed to (R)2K and the "is-ought" fallacy? We understand that (R)2K attempts to convince the non-Christian to understand the Christian's view of nature by using various natural law arguments, of course, and various reasoning etc...

     Here is a quick rehash of the problems with this approach:
     (1) From a MN point of view, there is absolutely no basis AT ALL to derive any sort of natural law or order from mere observation. The Christian has already lost the argument before he even began because he will never attack the non-Christian's MN presuppositions. Merely using the concept of natural law will never address the MN presuppositions. (R)2K simply uses a concept (natural law) that the MN non-Christian man doesn't accept in the first place. 
     (2) (R)2K has never seriously tried to understand that the natural man's concept of nature is significantly different in key points from the Christian's view of nature. If non-Christian man does not acknowledge anything immaterial in nature and believes that nature is simply physical, no amount of argumentation will logically convince the non-Christian that there are in fact immaterial things (e.g. natural law) that exist in nature.
     (3) Therefore, because of points 1 and 2, it should be obvious that from a consistent MN presupposition, the "is-ought" understanding is indeed a fallacy. From the Christian presupposition, with the benefit of the Scriptures to interpret nature for us, the "is-ought" concept is not a fallacy.
Point #3 is very crucial, and in all the discussions of (R)2K and theonomy/kuyperianism/neo-calvinism, I have never seen this particular point ever being brought up.

It is crucial to understand point #3 because (R)2K insists that Christians could actually make ***logically sufficient*** arguments even though (R)2K cannot even fully recognize that one's particular presuppositions greatly impact whether or not the "is-ought" is indeed a fallacy.

No logical verbal exchange can ever be conducted when a Christian is trying to prove a concept that is inherently fallacious to the consistent MN non-Christian, and trying to convince that person on his fallacious grounds. In other words, it is utterly incoherent to try to prove the truth of a concept that is inherently false to the non-Christian.

Next time, we will look at how natural law arguments can be used properly given this discussion above (they can be), and we will look at more deeply how the NL2K doctrine is grossly absent of any proper epistemological examination in its normative ethical and meta-ethical understanding of natural law.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Put your money where your mouth is.

I came across this post today, and it was encouraging and rebuking at the same time. It reminded me even more about how important it is to work out your worldview. If one claims to be a theonomist with no action, he is about the same as the Christian who has absolutely no interest in doing anything. I will be moving to the East Coast soon, and this post gave me even more motivation to join the church that I have been eye-ing, and start volunteering in their ministries, and leave on a "good note" with my current church.

What are some practical ways that you can work out your faith (and worldview) with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12)?
Any issue that you see come up that would have applications to the gospel, you could ask your pastor to bring this up in congregational prayer, or even preach about it.
Or organize a group or a ministry within your church that focuses on love and mercy ministry.. What does love and mercy mean?
It could be evangelism at the local shopping center or college, right to life walks, "skeptics" nights in which you invite atheists or those weak in the faith to have a discussion, letter writing to various government officials, petitions against or for certain laws, having a son-father club and a mother-daughter club at your church, election day services, even updating your church website to make it more professional looking.
On an individual basis, that of course means blogging and other things that you are already probably doing. Most importantly, it also means to continue in godly family worship with your family.

Here is the original article here, and below.

Fear of Failure

With so many Christians professing to be Reconstructionists, why is so little being accomplished?
While I admit there may be many reasons for this I think there is one that leads the pack, which must be faced if the Kingdom of God is to be advanced in our life time.

Writing is Easy
It is easy to write and pontificate about Theonomy and Christian Reconstruction and do nothing to apply it. It is also east to tell others what needs to be done without actually doing it yourself. To sequester Theonomy and the principles of Christian Reconstruction to the written or spoken word is to make void that very word . Talking is not doing. By its very definition Theonomy is to be an applied reality. It needs to be set forth in application into the events of history, beginning with local communities.

The reason why not much is actually accomplished  in the name of Theonomy and Christian Reconstruction  is fear of failure. While ignorance of Theonomic Reformation strategies may play a part, fear may be the real culprit.
battle_of_monmouthThink about it this way. Theonomists and Reconstructionists want to believe that the concepts of Biblical Theonomic Reconstruction hold the solutions to our unraveling societal order. I hold to this idea as well. Yet, too many believe that simply discussing these concepts without injecting them into the social order is enough to make changes. This can never work.

Since talk is cheap, and concepts can be discussed without any measurable negative blowback or failure, every strategy and tactic seems glorious. However, until these strategies are put into the culture they remain merely conceptual. Theonomic Christian Reconstruction strategies and logistics must be tried. They must be applied and their impact measured. Just because Biblical solutions are needed does not automatically translate into our knowing on how to apply them to every situation. We are all still on a learning curve. We must begin testing our logistics in the laboratory of the societal order.
Leadership is about overcoming fear. It is about having enough confidence in the concepts to actually get out and apply them. Christendom must stop talking and get moving. The application of faith is the test of faith.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Historial Theological Background on (R)2K

From the Bayly blog, Mr. Darell Maurina wrote a fairly lengthy article on the historical-theological background and implications of (R)2K.

It is a little long, but it does give excellent background on the issue. Mr. Maurina strengths obviously lie in this discipline, and as such, he did not examine this issue from an exegetical/philosophical perspective. He touches upon it only very briefly.
I need to strengthen my history, and my personal preference gravitate more towards the exegetical/philosophical perspective.

And this is good in some ways because different people bring different things to the table. More the merrier..

It is worth reading, very gracious, very even handed, and yet bold where it needs to be..

So, please find the time to read through Mr. Maurina's article, here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Examination of the "is-ought" fallacy and its implications on the nature of the epistemic warrant of ethics (part 2)

     So, previously, I talked about some well respected thinkers' assessment of the "is-ought" fallacy (part 1) here.
     As Dr. McDurmon reiterated and as Hume and Moore actually believe, when one is entirely consistent with (atheistic) naturalism, all three thinkers are exactly correct in understanding that one cannot derive any notion of an "ought" from an "is." In other words, we cannot logically say that since little Johnny is Timothy's son (is/indicative), and therefore, Johnny must obey his father (ought/imperative). This is further confirm when Moore rightly understood that naturalism "offers no reason at all, far less any valid reason, for any ethical principle whatsoever; and in this it already fails to satisfy the requirement of Ethics."
     At this point, it is probably helpful to define what exactly I mean by "naturalism." Generally speaking, we can think of naturalism as subdivided into several different "strains."  Metaphysical (philosophical) naturalism from which you can derive moral naturalism, and methodological naturalism (science related).
     Methodological naturalism is the label for the required assumption of philosophical naturalism when working with the scientific method. Methodological naturalists limit their scientific research to the study of natural causes, because any attempts to define causal relationships with the supernatural are never fruitful (Rational Wiki). There is a lot to be said about methodological naturalism but I am going to focus more so on metaphysical naturalism in this post, although methodological naturalism does have relevance to this discussion as well.
     Metaphysical naturalism (MN) (or "ontological naturalism" / "philosophical naturalism" is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences. Metaphysical naturalism holds that all properties related to consciousness and the mind are reducible to, or supervene (dependent) upon, nature. Broadly, the corresponding theological perspective is religious naturalism or spiritual naturalism (Wikipedia).
     "Nature" in the sense that MN defines it necessarily excludes anything immaterial (e.g. God, logic etc..). It is crucial to understand how MN defines nature because the Christian view of nature is remarkably different in certain respects. If you ever studied science (chemistry, bio, physics) in college or high school, you will understand that science's inherent function can never study anything beyond the material, or "natural," realm.
     So, from a proper understanding of metaphysical naturalism, "nature" (as MN understands it) is purely physical and material, and never immaterial. Within MN, morals, ideas, emotions etc... are logically accounted for by regarding them as merely chemical reactions or physical movements of molecules in our brains etc... With this "naturalistic" understanding of morals, ideas etc... (anything immaterial), if they are simply chemical reactions, or movement of molecules, and if we understand that there is no such thing as an immaterial concept/object, the conclusion will necessarily follow that morals, ideas etc... are ultimately meaningless, arbitrary and are not under a transcendent standard. You can try putting it into a syllogism to test out how the propositional variables will logically lead to my conclusions.
     From this understanding and conclusion of MN, we can see how the "is-ought" statement really is a fallacy when looking at it from a purely MN point of view. Johnny obeying his father could simply be seen as a merely pragmatic thing to do (in order to survive etc...). Timothy knows more to keep Johnny safe and secure and to help him grow etc... So, there is some value in Johnny obeying his dad, but it is never regarded as an imperative. It is only regarded as a survival/evolutionary issue. If the immaterial doesn't exist, we have no basis for saying that Johnny must obey his father.
     If we look at a garden variety non-Christian, we see that MN is working in his mind and heart. From the Bible, we also see that he does have the natural law that was implanted in his heart from his birth (Rom 2:14-16). Related to MN, we see that the non-Christian is heavily influenced by evolution, and the "scientific" claims that there is no God. If there is no God, MN is necessarily true. So, in the non-Christian, we have three things that are in an inconsistent "harmony" with each other. The evolutionary worldview and from this, MN originates. And the natural law that God has implanted in a man's heart.   
     It is important to understand that this is the current state of every man who does not know God. And this is crucially important to help understand why the (R)2K doctrine and the way in which Escondido espouses natural law, while beneficial in a limited temporal sense, can never actually be a fully epistemologically sufficient means of arguing ethics.
      The (R)2K doctrine emphasizes heavily upon appealing to nature and attempting to convince a non-Christian on the basis of nature for various creational truths (marriage, man, woman, morals etc...). Yes, appealing on the basis of nature is necessary condition (A cannot occur without B). However, what all (R)2K proponents misunderstand is that simply appealing solely upon the basis of nature is NOT a sufficient condition (A guarantees B).
     This is why: I mentioned before how the natural man has three things in his heart and mind that are in inconsistent "harmony" with each other. The evolutionary worldview, the MN that flows from it, and the natural law that God gave him. Natural law does say all of these various creational truths, and from the beginning, natural man understands and in fact. ***knows*** these things. However, natural man is also influenced and affected by evolution and MN (and thus sin). Because of this (among other things), he cannot properly understand natural law.
     Because of this, there are several problems with the (R)2K understanding of appealing to natural man.

(1) (R)2K's insistence that the non-Christian man can consistently understand nature or at least certain parts of it is true (sometimes). However, (R)2K then overcompensates by then using natural man's proper understanding of nature as the de facto standard for the necessary and sufficient conditions of an argument.
 This methodology does not take into account the evolutionary worldview and MN that are at war (or are in inconsistent harmony) with the natural law in his heart. I mentioned how MN's understanding of nature is completely different from a Christian's understanding of nature. The presuppositions are entirely different. MN believes that nature is completely material. The Christian's understanding of nature includes both material and immaterial (natural law).
(R)2K fails to take this issue of entirely different presuppositional understandings of nature into account at all. 

(2) (R)2K's insistence that we appeal to what non-Christian man knows or understands "by nature" is of some value (very limited). Because of the natural law in their hearts, there is some intersection of agreement between what we as Christians understand about nature, and what non-Christians can understand about "nature". However, there are some subtle yet very significant problems.
      (a) I mentioned before about the issue of necessary conditions and sufficient conditions. It is necessary to bring up nature as a basis (as Christians properly understand it) for morals etc... However the fatal flaw in (R)2K is that they seriously misunderstand in thinking that something being necessary automatically means that it is sufficient.
      (b) When you appeal to nature, and to nature ONLY, although your conditions and conclusions about nature are correct, if (R)2K never actually deals with the transcendent basis behind nature (ie: God, the Bible), the arguments placed forth for the Christian position become exactly as arbitrary as the non-Christian's MN position. Therefore, the arguments are not sufficient.

     Christian: "I am right about nature and how things should be ordered."
     Non-Christian: "Well, I dont accept and don't agree with your statement about nature. What basis do you have to say that I am wrong and you are right?"
     Christian: "The natural law"
     Non-Christian: "Where does natural law come from? From my MN point of view, natural law is simply a figment of chemical reactions in my brain."
     Christian: ......... (since he can't use the Bible to refer to as the ultimate transcendent standard)

To in fact be unwilling to refer back to the Bible and the Triune God as the epistemic warrant for your conditions of natural law, morals etc..., and to simply stand behind your statement that natural law is true (which it is) without proper argument, you are simply asserting it without proof.

When you simply assert something without argument, you are being just as arbitrary as the non-Christian and committing question begging.

(3) Finally, part 2(b) really speaks to a larger issue of evidentialism and presuppositionalism. (R)2K will ardently say that they are being Van Tillian and presuppositionalist. But, simply asserting that you are these things doesn't mean that you actually are.

If we are to understand that we are not ***allowed*** to use the Bible when discussing ethics with a non-Christian, and we are to only appeal to what they already know, I already discussed about how this does not make sense from a presuppositional point of view (part 1).
It is clear from this brief study of MN (and the evolutionary world view) that the non-Christian man absolutely does not have the same presuppositions as the Christian does when looking at nature. He doesnt even define it the same as the Christian!

And yet, we see how (R)2K demands that we appeal to their understanding of the evidence of natural law and what they already ***know***. I mentioned before how this does have limited value because of the natural law in their hearts, and because of that natural law, they do understand certain things.
However, I would never recognize these arguments as sufficient in the way that (R)2K understands it.
(R)2K in fact does recognize these arguments as sufficient.

Think about it. If you insist on only appealing to man's understanding, and the evidence of natural law, and what he knows, this smack's of evidentialism at its methodological and apologetical core. With this understanding, you have never dealt with his presuppositions about what nature exactly is, and what he knows about nature, and how he can come to know exactly what nature is.

The entire basis behind VT and presuppositionalism is in fact the understanding that we don't ultimately argue with the non-Christian on his terms, on "neutral" ground, or on anyone else's basis except the standard of God.

(R)2K will say that they believe the basis is God when they argue for natural law. and I do agree with them that they do. However, their particular methodology belies this point. Even Josh McDowell believes that God is the eternal moral standard. But, how does he argue? He is a strict evidentialist, and argues from that "ultimate" starting point of "evidence."

There are more nuances to this... and I dont want to sound like I am overstating myself. There is value is using natural law arguments, but they have to be done properly.. I will try to show this next time and I will also try to round out the discussion about the "is-ought" fallacy as well.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

We as a nation and as the Church are killing ourselves

I received this quote from a friend. I responded back to him that I felt that this was painfully relevant. 

"Wearing a benign mask, the secularist loudly proclaims his commitment to religious tolerance on behalf of those weak minded souls who still cannot bear to face a hostile or, worse, an indifferent universe, without the narcotic effect of ecclesiastical opium. The church is safe from vicious persecution at the hands of the secularist, as educated people have finished with stake burning circuses and torture racks. No martyr's blood is shed in the secularist West--so long as the church knows her place on her modern reservation. Let the babes pray and sing and read their Bibles, continuing steadfast in their intellectual retardation; the church's extinction will come not by sword or pillory, but by the quiet death of irrelevance. It will pass away with a whimper not a bang. But let the church step off the reservation, let her penetrate once more the culture of the day and the Janus-face of secularism will change from benign smile to savage snarl" (Christian Apologetics, R.C. Sproul, pg. 4). 

Why do we as the church willingly let ourselves do this? Why do we so easily capitulate to the world, when we are the ones who have THE eternal salvific, meta-ethical and epistemological truth?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Examination of the "is-ought" fallacy and its implications on the nature of the epistemic warrant of ethics (part 1)

   In my personal studies, I came across something interesting that I think gets easily lost in the discussion concerning ethics. It is a little nuanced, and so, it comes as no surprise that you can have highly respected thinkers look at this particular issue from completely opposite ends of the spectrum. I would like to offer my own observations on how the gap can be bridged.
   The particular issue is called the "is-ought" fallacy.  The "is-ought" fallacy is what is called an informal fallacy. An informal fallacy is an argument that errors despite acceptable form or structure. To think about it from a different angle, they are counterfeit arguments because they consist of premises and conclusions which seem to be related, since conclusions drawn logically from true premises. However, while there might be some connection between premises and conclusion in such arguments, the connection is ultimately a ***psychological*** one, not an actual logical relation.
     As an aside: a formal fallacy is a mistake in the actual forms of the argument (the forms are incorrect). Informal fallacies have correct forms (in the premises and conclusions), but the issue is that the sound (correct) conclusion cannot be inferred from those particular premises. Suffice to say, most of the time, in various debates and everyday conversation, we mainly deal with informal fallacies.
     Simply put, the "is-ought" fallacy involves attempting to derive moral directions (imperatives or normatives) from descriptions of nature (indicatives or descriptives). For instance, say Johnny has a father, Timothy (indicative). From this, we can infer that the proper moral direction for Johnny is to obey his father (imperative). The fallacy affirms that we can properly draw a conclusion about Johnny's obligation to obey his father.

    At this point, this is where this particular fallacy becomes a little interesting.
    Dr. Joel McDurmon in his Biblical Logic In Theory and Practice, says that the "fallacy lies in assuming that allegedly impersonal nature can direct personal and social standards of living. You cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is.'" In other words, Dr. McDurmon would say that the you cannot simply conclude that Johnny has an obligation (imperative) to obey his father simply from the description (indicative) that Johnny has a father.
     In John-Michael Kucynski's Analytic Philosophy, he delves a little bit into metaethics, and says that this "fallacy" may well actually be true. Specifically, he mentions that you can derive an "ought" from an "is" since "'x is what ought to be done' can be inferred from the fact that 'x is more likely than the other possible courses of action to maximize happiness/the actualization of human potential."
     Atheist philsophers David Hume, and G.E. Moore both expressed doubts about this. In Principia Ethica, Moore says, "My objections to naturalism are then... that it offers no reason at all, far less any valid reason, for any ethical principle whatsoever; and in this it already fails to satisfy the requirement of Ethics, as a scientific study.... though it gives a reason for no ethical principle, it is a cause of the acceptance of false principles - it deludes the mind into accepting ethical principles, which are false; and in this it is contrary to every aim of Ethics." In other words, there is no foundation for and therefore no such thing as values and morals, and if you do believe in morals, you are creating a delusion for yourself.

     So, who is right? You have Dr. McDurmon and Hume/Moore on one side. Dr. McDurmon is not arguing this point as an atheist, but as a Christian attempting to explain the naturalist worldview. Hume/Moore are simply expressing what they actually believe in terms of their worldview.

And on the other side, you have Dr. Kucynski, who says that we can derive "ought" from "is" based on human flourishing etc...

     The next blog post will deal with this question, the nuances behind the issue, how it relates to worldviews and the Christian epistemic warrant. And I hope to round out the discussion on how this relates to our current reformed polemic of the NL2K (natural law 2 kingdoms as espoused by Westminster Seminary Escondido) and the other "side" (theonomy, kuyperianism, neo-calvinism).

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The canard of academic elitism

A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America by D'Elia, John A. published by Oxford University Press, USA Hardcover

     I think that a lot of reformed people struggle with the air of academic enlightenment/superiority or some sort of arrogance (present company included!) when discussing the Bible or theology with other Christians who are not reformed or even with other reformed Christians.
     To a certain extent, this is understandable (but never excusable). When you sit in a sermon, and you clearly hear something that is so grossly wrong that your 10 year old son who has been catechized since the womb can point out the error, our sinful pride rears its ugly head.
     I think that this speaks to our selfish tendency to look more impressive than the other person, and to be puffed up with pride. The subject matter of the Bible is the most important subject in all of human thought and study, and no wonder, people can be puffed up and arrogant. You are well versed in the most important subject that humans have ever studied, and you are good at it too! It's only natural in our sinful state that we would then develop some sort of sinful, selfish arrogance.
     At the same time, this selfish confidence in your own understanding of the Bible has actually led to probably one of the most intellectually and academically dishonest acts wrought by Christians, seminary students, and seminary professors. You know them, you have been on their blogs, and their websites.
     I think that this issue of academic elitism can also swing the other way as well, in which you are pining so much for that academic credibility within the broader secular community, that it can nearly destroy you.
     George Eldon Ladd was a NT scholar (1911-1982), who eventually taught at Fuller Seminary, and incidentally, the NT chair is named after him. He went to then Gordon Divinity School and later to Harvard University for his PhD. By any standard, his work on the NT has taught legions of laymen and seminary students, and I have personally benefited from his book "The Gospel of the Kingdom."
    Even with his great contributions that would rival any of your favorite theologians, he unfortunately bowed down to the idol of academic recognition and craved the approval of secular NT scholars. There were many failures in his personal life all the while hopelessly pursuing the canard of academic respectability. His academic achievements came at a high price. He was a workaholic, with an estranged his wife and his two children in favor of his studies. He ended up struggling also with alcoholism, and even made a pass at one of his graduate students' wife.
     Amidst these moral failings, Ladd was not merely to “rehabilitate evangelical scholarship” but to gain respectability for himself personally.  He was so driven to finding “a place at the table,” amongst the secular scholars, that this was beyond a desire to improve his own academic performance for the glory of God, but it was really the idol of gaining respectable recognition from the secular NT/academic community.
     This is different from when you are trying to speak truth and defend God's word in the academic community. This was more of being accepted within the circle of love. When Ladd wrote his magnum opus "Jesus and the Kingdom," Norman Perrin wrote a very critical review, and according to John Piper, Ladd "was almost undone emotionally and professionally." Piper goes on to describe how Ladd walked through the halls of Fuller shouting and waving a royalty check when A Theology of the New Testament was a stunning success ten years later.
    This account of Ladd should serve as a very cautionary tale to us as Christians, whether in the pews, as seminary students, or as professors: Ladd's entire life accelerated into a drunken tailspin when he could not achieve what he wanted so much from the secular world.
     This is written about in a biography, written by John D'Elia. See picture at the right hand side.

     We should all be wary of the “approval of men” (Gal 1:10) — rather than seeking the truth of God simply for the sake of the glory of God.
     This doesnt simply apply to Christians confronting the secular world, but it is the most obvious example. Your own personal life is probably replete with examples in which your adherence to the Word of God, and concern for glorifying God and not bending towards secular humanism has been tested, or even mocked.
     I remember one time when one person flat out mocked my strict adherence to the Bible for my worldview as narrow minded. "Chris, stop being so narrow minded in using only the Bible to understand ethics." And this man is a Christian who attends a PCA church in southern California.
    And this is how it goes. So, the canard of academic elitism can go either way. It can either make you an arrogant, unloving Christian who dishonors God by abusing his truth as your own personal soap box. Or the canard can make you into someone who is an idol worshipper and will readily forgo the worship and approval of God for the approval and pleasing accolades from mere temporal creatures.
    May God give us the strength and integrity to flee from both.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Putting things into perspective

Bahnsen had some choice and visibly frustrated words to say. I can understand his frustration, here.

"If you sincerely try to stand against the slide into the cesspool of wickedness in our state, and in our culture by looking for a consistent biblical position from which you can witness against the disgrace all around us, (as many of us have found), you’ll lose your job within the seminary community. You’ll lose your standing in the Church establishment. You’ll virtually become unemployable — even if your orthodox. You’ll become ostracized. You’ll be called ‘dangerous.’

What’s wrong with us?! That theonomists are dangerous when we have to lock our windows at night?! It’s crazy isn’t it?

How many times can a man turn his head and pretend he just doesn’t see?

Of all the wicked heresies and threatening movements facing the Church in our day, when Westminster Seminary finally organized their faculty to write something in unison, they gave their determined political efforts:
not to fight Socialism, 
not to fight homosexuality, 
not abortion, 
not crime and mayhem in our society, 
not subjectivism in theology, 
not Dispensationalism, 
not cultural relativism, 
not licentiousness, 
not defection from the New Testament, 
not defection from the Westminster Confession of Faith,

all of which are out there and they could give their legitimate efforts to. 

Boy, the thing they had to write about was ‘Theonomy.’

How many times can a man turn his head and pretend he doesn’t see?!

We are living in the cesspool of relativism and the Church doesn’t have an answer! Well, I praise God, not for my work, I think that it is the grace of God that allows me to have this ministry, but I praise God that the truth that the early Church knew and that is found in the Bible and is available to us and there are people like you who were willing to pay the price and say, ‘it’s worth it'"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A good way to help your children learn theology and the catechism

     Teaching your children about the Christian faith is always a challenge. I have noticed that my children (esp. my daughter) tend to retain things better when set to a tune.
     There is a CD called "Why Can't I See God" in which Judy Rogers enlists the help of the children at her PCA church and they crafted the songs in this CD.
It is basically portions of the Children's Catechism set to music. It is very well done, and the tunes of the songs are very pleasing to the ear.
     I even play it in the car even when the kids are not in with me. Even though it is meant for kids, it is very theologically rich that even adults by themselves can learn, be encouraged and refreshed. The link to her website to find out more and to purchase is here.
     One of my favorites is #12, "Jesus Our Redeemer".. This song takes you through creation, Adam's fall, the ruined race and our subsequent depravity, the salvation that Christ achieves for us, the judgement and second return of Christ. And this is in a kid's song CD! This CD song set is more theologically rich than any contemporary Christian artists that you may have listened to in the past. 

     Here are the lyrics for that song (Jesus Our Redeemer):

"Blessed be the wisdom and the power,
The justice and the grace,
That joined in counsel to restore
And save our ruined race!

Our father Adam ate the fruit
And from his glory fell;
And we his children then were brought to death
And near to hell.

Praise be to God that sent His Son
To take on flesh and blood;
He gave His life a sacrifice
To make our peace with God!

He honored all His Father's laws
Which we have disobeyed;
He bore our sins upon the cross,
For us the ransom paid.

He rose victorious from the grave
And now He lives on high;
He pleads His merits there to save
Transgressors doomed to die.

There on a glorious throne He reigns,
And by His  power divine,
Redeems us from the slavish chains
Of Satan and of sin.

Someday the Lord will come to judge
And with a sovereign voice,
Shall call the dead from every grave
While living saints rejoice!

Oh may I then with joy appear
Before the Judge's face;
And with the saints forevermore
Sing His redeeming grace!"
~By Isaac Watts; Adapted by Judy Rogers

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Biblical Patriarchism

I was reading on several weeks ago, and I came across a link to someone's blog for Biblical Patriarchism. The author was against it and makes it very clear in her blog entry, here. Even the title says it all, "What's Wrong With Biblical Patriarchy."

I read through her entry, and decided to write a response. It was fairly lengthy, and I spent a good deal of time writing it in such a way that it got my point across without sounding needlessly abrasive or like a arrogant jerk.

She ended up deleting my response. This is the second time that this has happened to me. ;-)
The only thing that I could do is smile when I realized that she deleted my response. 

Anyway, I have posted below my response to her blog entry. I felt it was right on the money.. Apparently, she didn't think so.

Thanks for the article.. Pretty insightful comments that you make..

May I offer some insights of my own?

Based on your responses to 'biblical patriarchy', I think part of your disagreement may have to do with the way that Doug Wilson and crew have stated their positions. DTM (previous commenter) above alluded to it.

It basically comes down to one's worldview, and the logical train of thought that flows from that. And I went through the link that you sent out, and I think that they didn't really emphasize this enough.
They only mentioned "worldview" once in the entire post that you linked to.

The reason that I mention this is that, there is a difference between being offended because of that person's twisting of Scriptures vs someone who is genuinely trying to be consistent with the Scriptures.
And after what I read through the patriarchy link, I would say that they are simply trying to be consistent with their understanding of husband-wife-men-women relationships as they see it in the Bible.

Even in secular societies who dont have the revealed law of God, there is still some sense of women serving their husbands, and this generally carries over into the public domain.
I have also observed noticed that one can never simply separate the public sphere from one's own personal family government.

There is always going to some sort of analogous relationship.

If you ever notice the discussions about women "having it all", there is no clear distinction of men-women-husband-wife relationships between home-life and their career...
There is some of course, but that is why I called it an analogous relationship...

Anyway, the general mentality is: "I am equal in the workplace with men, I am equal in the home-place with my husband"...

And where does this thinking come from? It comes from the secular worldview that husbands and wives are ***positionally and functionally*** equal...
The biblical worldview says that while husbands and wives are ***inherently*** equal, they are not ***positionally and functionally*** equal..

How can we so easily see the results of this worldview???
You see this all the time in TV commercials..

The American husband is viewed as a moron, while the wife is viewed as the smart, sensible, mature adult.. Look at the way that Cox (internet) recently has done their commercials or the new Eggo waffle commercial which the husband and father of the family is ridiculed.

Again, where does this come from?
It comes from the egalitarian mindset that men and women are "equal".. This mindset tells women that they are equal in the workplace, and "equal" at home, when in fact it is actually the opposite (if you are treating your husband as a moron).
The secular mindset tells women that they are in fact superior to men, and their husbands..

(You also see this with the recent statements by women congressmen saying that if they were in office at the time, they would have come up with a better budget deal.. Why???? Simply because they are women!)

TV commercials are simply a reflection of that secular worldview. This understanding of "equality" between men and women is related to the understanding of "equality" of husbands and wives..
They are not mutually exclusive as the TV commercials make clear the evidence of this "egalitarian" worldview applied at home...

Moreover, it is odd to see that the secular worldview of husband-wife-men-women relations makes no attempt to "bifurcate" home life and work life, yet you demand that the Christian world view be done in this way. This would make your application of your Christian worldview inconsistent while the seculars apply their worldview with consistency (at least on this particular issue) with devastating consequences to the family order...

The point that I am trying to make is that Wilson and crew are trying to be consistent with their worldview, and trying to be consistent with how that worldview extends towards society in general.

I do agree with you that application is definitely hard... But I would encourage you to look at it from their angle. Their underlying motivation isn't to try to offend women or "put them in their place".. They are simply trying to be consistent with the principles that they understand in the Bible.. Even if you don't agree with them, you should try to address their worldview understanding instead of saying that they are wrong simply because you feel offended...

When you disagree, you offer up no Scriptural or exegetical argument as to why their points are wrong. You simply assert it by saying that "Scripture doesn't teach that", and then move on to quote someone. While quoting someone has value, it is more beneficial if you could offer up some biblically analyzed reasons for why you think that they are wrong, and not simply quoting someone who agrees with you.
You also quote various history, which provides good context, but the history that you quote never actually address their line of reasoning..

Simply because, say, Victorian culture coincides with some aspect with Christianity (or Doug Wilson's understanding of it) this doesn't actually prove your point.

Mormons pray to "God".. Christians pray to God.. Does that mean that prayer is wrong?

And, arguments from silence are not proper arguments to use as to why you disagree with someone. Scripture doesnt address masturbation at all.. But, we know that it is wrong because of our worldview on sexual purity.. 
And you wont ever see me quoting some historical aspect or sociological aspect or medical aspect as to the "health" benefits of masturbation as reasons why it is morally permissible.

For me, I think that it is demeaning for a woman to think that she is in a lower position because she doesnt have a job that pays 6 figures, while her husband does.. She has a role that God gave her as a wife and mother, and that is is something to be honored, not looked down upon.

Finally, what I am NOT saying is that women can never hold jobs or something like that... "All things are lawful"..

But, what I am saying is that how does one's actions and thoughts reconcile with the Biblical worldview of 'patriarchy'?

I really did enjoy reading your post, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you.. and I do appreciate your thoughts.. There is more that I can say, but, i think that this will suffice for now..

Thank you.. Keep thinking and writing!!!!!