I'll Never Understand This

Christopher Hitchens
Image via Wikipedia

Okay, it is time for me, once again, to put on my “naive religious person” hat and wonder why on earth people get offended over the stupidest things.

It has nothing to do with the recent decision to ban cross memorials for fallen state troopers in Utah because it allegedly is Christian proselytization forced on innocent motorists driving down the highway. That was a bit outrageous, and those judges should have their heads examined. The cross isn’t a Mormon symbol, and both the folks who erected the monuments and the troopers to whom the monuments were dedicated were Mormons. The cross has come to mean “grave marker” just as much as it symbolizes Christianity. For more information on that, see the related links below.

No, the subject of this post is one of far greater concern to me. Vjack of Atheist Revolution has written a post decrying prayers being offered for Christopher Hitchens’s recovery from cancer. He discusses why prayer, in this specific case, is offensive, then treats the broader issue of why prayer in general is offensive. Continue reading “I'll Never Understand This”

In Memorum: Clark Pinnock (1937-2010)

I really hadn’t read much of the work of Clark Pinnock, who was a defender of open theism, but I had always meant to get around to it (and to the work of John Sanders as well). I was familiar with Pinnock through my brief flirtation with open theism when I had first begun apologetics ministry back in 2006, but I was only passingly familiar with him. I know that he was a great thinker, as he pioneered a brand new systematic theology (however misguided that may have been).

His theology may have been wrong, but I think that it was constructed in the spirit of better defining the nature and person of God; trying to tear down some of the mystery surrounding the divine. That’s a noble goal.

His work survives, so I hope to still read some of his books. May he rest in peace, and may he delight in the presence of the God he endeavored to serve.

Market Research

The economy is tanking, and my family (like everyone else’s, I know) is suffering alongside. This blog and all content therein is (and will remain) free. The upkeep (domain name) is not free, however. This means that I am devoting a significant portion of my time to writing and maintaining fresh content on a resource from which I derive no income and actually costs me a nominal amount of money annually to maintain.

In order to keep doing this, I must generate at least some revenue from this venture. Although I have set up a way to receive donations, which has generated some interest, no donations are coming in. After careful consideration, I have decided that producing e-books is the best way to continue this ministry.

That does not mean that I’m shutting down the blog or that I will begin to charge for reading it. Far from. I will continue to update the blog, hopefully as much (or more) as I already do. I want this resource to remain free.

However, I would like to produce e-books in addition to what I’m already doing here. These e-books will both be original as well as expansions of past articles. I have numerous ideas, but I need to focus my efforts where they will do the most good. As such, I have constructed a poll. What follows are all of my ideas for e-books so far. I would like you, the reader, to vote on the ones that you would be most interested in reading.

If you have any questions, send me an e-mail or comment below for all to see.

Revising Opinions of People

Sometimes, first impressions are not always right. I did something that I usually don’t do in regard to people in the course of writing this blog: I let the opinions of others unduly influence my opinion of another blogger. I generally ignore what other people say about a person I’ve just met and form my own opinion. But I never did that with a particular individual that I’ve had the fortune (or misfortune?) of encountering in the past.

The individual of which I speak is Dave Armstrong. I have said of Dave:

Words in English are precise, and are chosen to convey something specific. No convergence was ever meant or implied between the words “vicar” and “disciple.” Dave needs to head to the book store and get himself a copy of On Writing Well by William Zinsser and carefully read the chapters on Simplicity, Clutter, and Words before he constructs his next “paper.” (source)

This pretty much summed up the position I held about Dave. I thought (and still do, in some respects) that his blog posts are unnecessarily long. Conventional wisdom says that a blog post should run 200 to 500 words. After that, your audience tends to lose interest.

However, I’m not one to talk. My posts can reach 1100 words or better on a regular basis. I think that when a person blogs about philosophy or theology, it requires more words than the average blogger since the average reader isn’t as studied in the background of such posts. Therefore, the blogger has to lay the groundwork for why he (or she) thinks what he (or she) does.

That said, I’ve recently started to take a liking to many of Dave’s recent posts. He disagreed with an atheist on YouTube (beginning of series) and constructed a post about the top 10 atheist arguments. He also has a project in the works about Christianity and modern science, trying to explode the atheistic myths that Christianity had nothing to do with the rise of science. More recently, he commented on Anne Rice’s deconversion from Christianity. In that post, Dave said something that I agree with in spirit, though being a Protestant I would understand “Christian authority” differently than Dave:

There are serious lessons to be learned here: along the lines of having an informed, reasonable faith (complete with apologetic knowledge as necessary), and of yielding up our private judgment and personal inclinations to a God and a Church much higher than ourselves. Faith comes ultimately by God’s grace and His grace alone: not our own semi-understandings. Christianity is not “blind faith”; it is a reasonable faith. But there is such a thing as allegiance and obedience to Christian authority, too.

This is rather similar to my expressed sentiments here. I state emphatically that I don’t question Rice’s salvation, for that (as Dave aptly expresses) is a gift from God resting solely on faith in Christ. Rice still expresses faith in Christ; she just refuses to be bound by some of the strictures of doctrine (e.g. being against homosexuality, birth control, feminism, and Democrats). What I question is Anne Rice’s sanctification: whether she has submitted to the authority of God expressed in Scripture. That is something that she must wrestle with, and I pray that God can show her the error of her ways.

In sum, my opinion of Dave has changed drastically. Dave is a capable writer and meticulous researcher. I was very wrong in my initial impressions of him, and for that I apologize.