Hello blog people. I know entries have been a little spotty, but this should be a little thicker than posts of late. Last night John Drage from The Rock spoke at our High School youth worship, and he really put the capstone on lots of things that have been floating around my head, mostly from books i've been reading, which in the following paragraphs I will blatently plunder and pass off as my own thoughts.
In America, we've got phrases like "culture war" in our vocabluary. You can use that phrase for all sorts of trends/cultures/beliefs in our country, but I will present the "war" between Christianity and Naturalism (which we will define shortly). Just look at the litigation in recent years over curriculum in schools and separation of church and state, the whole "In God We Trust" on our currency, the battles over "one nation under God" in the pledge of allegiance, the recent "Lost Tomb of Jesus" stuff in print and on Discovery channel, TIME/People magazine going to the well for another "God vs. Science" coverstory every 3 months...I could go on. There's clearly a division among worldviews in our country. I will attempt to outline 2 in my meager way, and then reveal that we have the same problem on both sides of the spectrum.
I will define a Christian as one who believes in an eternal, personal God who is the author of creation, who revealed himself through the inspired holy scriptures (i'll leave what scriptures are included as scriptures and how they are interpreted up to the reader for simplicities sake) and ultimately in his begotten son Jesus Christ, and continues to reveal himself through the holy spirit. The Christian believes that the universe IS ordered and that there IS a moral/ethical absolutre and his name is Jesus Christ. I've tried to make this definition pretty generic, as most Christians couldn't agree what exactly a Christian is, which is kind of funny and sad at the same time. Anyways, moving on.
I will define a naturalist as one who does not believe in the existance of an eternal, personal God. The universe is a mysterious result of time + chance, yet this mystery can be "unlocked" or observed through impirical, observable evidence and rational reasoning. Mankind arrived through natural selection and therefore through his rational thought, progress, and advancement can make his own parameters about his past, present, and future with no absolutes other than whatever is existential.
Obviously, you can sense my bias towards the former, but here a goes.
The problem is this: Niether the Christian NOR the Naturalist REALLY believes what they say they believe. (or at least, not to the extent that they think they do. Read that last part again and see if it makes more sense the second time.)
The Christian is too lawless and the Natuaralist is not lawless enough.
As Dallas Willard points out, you can have a Christian family and a secular family living on the same street and you wouldn't know the difference. I'm not just pointing the finger here, i'm right up there with everyone else. If we REALLY think that Jesus REALLY existed and the story is not just a story with a nice moral code but a call to REALLY live wholly/holy and participate in the Kingdom of God then we are not doing a really good job, at all, across the board historically, and currently in every arena of American life- economically in our giving and stewardship, socially in our compassion, corporately in our churches, and MOST IMPORTANTLY personally in our relationships. We are too lawless- we are not living by Jesus command to love God and love neighbor, period. (is it neccessary to put an actually period after the emphatic word period that ends a sentance? Interesting digression...)
On the other end of the spectrum, the naturalist has not adequately dealt with his claims either. For if there is no God, no order from whence we were created, and as the naturalist doctrine claims- we are just a different configuration of natural elements, then there is no order or reason by which they can substantiate their very championing of reason and rationalization. Chaos does not move towards order. In less confusing terms, if we have no higher reason to think about any one but ourselves, then there is no absolute good and evil other than whatever we rationalize for ourselves. Therefore, whatever is immediately good for me and only me according to my "natural" instinct is how I should behave. Naturalists cannot claim that man has no higher purpose but then appeal to a higher purpose of reason in defense of man living for "the common good". The naturalist is not living as lawlessly as he contends the nature of the universe is.
The common thread is what Francis A. Schaeffer refers to as "Personal peace and affluence". We've all got it made. As Americans, and particularly where I live in West St. Louis County, we're comfy. Do I REALLY depend on God for "daily bread"? NO! Literally i've got bread thats probably to old to eat in my crisper drawer, and figurativley i've got all these plans and then try to include God somewhere in there. Other scholars (and this is what prompted my mention of John as he did a great job of outlining this for us on Sunday night) point to a historical period referred to as panem et circenses, or bread and circuses. Basically, as long as our needs are met and we're entertaining ourselves, we don't realize the rut we've gotten ourselves into, neither the Christian or the Naturalist.
So all of this "culture war" between religious/Christian and secular society is really just silly because both of us are in bed with our own comfort. As Christians, we will verify our claims to truth by the difference we make in our communities and the world (or rather, the difference God makes through us because of the difference God makes in us). So who cares if you're arguing about creationism vs. big bang vs. evolution vs. intelligent design if you don't LIVE LIKE YOU WERE INTELLIGENTLY DESIGNED (fearfully and wonderfully made!). Who cares what your kids are learning at school if you don't model it at home. For the Christian- we have a higher calling and we better act like it. For the naturalist- why do you really care if we all just die anyway?
But the problem is the same for both, we don't really behave like we believe. Jesus addressed this in his life on Earth, and perhaps we can have a nice discussion around this subject because i'm tired of typing and pretty much out of things to say right now. Peace.