Monday, February 22, 2010

A Crisis of Meaning

Hello everyone, I'm sorry about the late post.

Lately as I've been writing this blog I've experienced something of a crisis. I feel the need to take this blog in a new direction, but I'm still not quite sure where.

I would like this blog to be more than just a vanity project. Nor do I want it to be a place where I post my thoughts whether anyone is interested or not.

Ideally I'd like to find something meaningful to contribute. Right now I'm just not exactly sure what that is.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Everything You Know is Wrong

Awhile back twenty sided tale, a blog I follow, posted a link to this video. The video's a fan made music video for a Weird Al Yankovich song. The song is funny and rather strange, like most Weird Al songs, but it got me thinking about something more serious.

I started to think about what it was like when I converted to Christianity. I remember what it was like when I started to think about things in a new way. I remember how it felt when I realized that I could no longer rely on my existing beliefs. They no longer seemed as certain as they once had. For a time it really did seem as though everything I once knew was wrong.

It seemed that way because my worldview was changing. Worldviews provide a stable framework that allow us to make sense of the world we live in. If our worldview shifts, we lose that sense of stability.

Worldviews provide stability in a few ways. First of all, along with a worldview comes certain assumptions; things that we believe are true without needing evidence or proof. Before I was a Christian I assumed that the scientific method was a reliable and sufficient method to find truth. I assumed that anything that existed could be understood scientifically. That assumption, along with a few others, formed the basis of my worldview.

These assumptions informed my understanding of the world. They allowed me to know and understand things about the world. They were the tools I used to determine what was true and what was false. They also helped me to judge what was potentially true. In other words, my worldview helped decide what I believed was possible and what I thought was impossible.

Around the time when I converted to Christianity my worldview began to shift. My basic assumptions about the world started to change. This had quite a few significant consequences.

First of all, since I could no longer be certain that my basic assumptions about reality were true, I was no longer entirely sure what was true and what was false. I still had strong opinions, of course, but I lacked certainty. I just couldn't be sure what was true or false because I wasn't entirely sure what I believed at a basic level.

Even worse than that, I was no longer certain I knew what was possible and what was impossible. I remember that there were times when it seemed like anything and everything might be possible. I say that and it might sound wonderful or amazing, but it was actually quite terrifying. If we're certain that some things are just impossible it provides a sense of security and comfort. Without that certainty, one can never feel completely safe.

Over time my new beliefs began to settle. My new worldview started to take shape. Once again I had some basic assumptions, a way to determine what is true and what is false, and a way to determine what is possible and what is impossible. It took awhile, but I've gained a new sense of stability and security.

I think changing worldviews is often a difficult and uncomfortable process, but in my case it has been more than worth it. Not only have I gained a broader perspective, by tearing apart my old beliefs and reexamining them, but I've also gained so much by learning to believe in and to trust in God.

I hope you found this post interesting. I also hope that if any of you are reexamining your beliefs that this post is helpful for you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Gospel

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that all who believe in him would not die, but would have eternal life." It is an ancient story and it is one that I'm sure you've heard many times before. Even so I'm going to tell it again here because the best stories deserve repeating.

This story in particular deserves repeating because it isn't always clear that God loves us. Often times it can seem that the opposite is the case. When our luck runs out, when tragedy strikes, or when everything seems to be falling apart we can come to believe that God is against us. That God has nothing but evil intentions toward us.

But throughout history God has sent messengers to let people know that he is watching over them and that he is concerned for them. And at just the right moment in history God himself came down to earth and visited us.

He came as a human being so that he could experience everything we experience whether good or bad. He did this to show that he is not unconcerned with our struggles. Indeed God has experienced our struggles and made them his own.

Indeed this man even suffred and died just as mortal men do, to show that God is with us even in the depth of our pain.

And if the story had ended there it would have been a fine story. A tragic tale of a God who really cared for his people. A God who lived among them in good times and in bad times. A God who even went to the grave with them.

But the story does not end there. For the man who was God came back from the dead. By doing this he showed the whole world that humanity has a future. He showed everyone that God is for humanity. That his plan for humanity isn't limited to this mortal life.

His plan for humanity includes teaching people how to love each other. It includes healing our diseases and our infirmities. It includes freeing us from oppression. It includes taking away all of our guilt and our shame and showing us how to live with honor and integrity.

His plan includes an end to war, an end to strife and the beginnings of real peace.

This is the gift that God has offered to everyone, without exception. This is the gift given to everyone who trusts him. This is the good news.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why Do I Bring up the Bible so Often?

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I bring up the Bible quite often. A quick glance at the archives shows that almost half of the posts I've written are tagged with the word scripture. I use that tag whenever I reference or talk about the Bible.

It should be obvious that I personally believe that the Bible's message is relevant even today. I believe that people should try to understand the message of the Bible and apply it to their lives, but not everyone thinks the way I do. I know that not everyone who reads this blog shares my beliefs about scripture. So why do I reference the Bible so often?

I talk about the Bible because I want to provide my readers with a fair presentation of the Christian faith. The Bible is accepted as an authoritative text by nearly every Christian tradition. I use scripture to show people how the arguments I'm making fit in with the Christian belief system.

I want to offer people a fair presentation of Christianity because, unfortunately, the religion is often misrepresented. A recent example would be Pat Robertson's remarks about Haiti. I don't like to see people get taken in by these deceptions. I want people to understand what the Bible actually teaches.

I want Christians to understand what the Bible teaches so they can put it into practice. I also want them to understand what the Bible teaches so that they won't be confused by bad preaching or deceived by preachers who have their own agenda.

I want non-christians to understand what the Bible teaches so that they can be more informed. I'm especially concerned for people who have decided to reject Christianity based on bad information. Like most Christians, I hope that someday everyone reading this will come to believe, as I do, that Jesus is the Son of God who paid the ultimate price so that we too could be called sons and daughters of God.

I know it's foolish to hope that the people reading this will all decide to convert based on my presentation of the gospel. I still do hope for that, but I know it is foolish. In any case, I hope that the people reading this will at least be able to make a more informed decision about Christianity. If people hear a fair presentation of Christianity and make an informed decision to reject it, that's better than if they reject it based on a lie.

Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for hearing me out. Please feel free to let me know what you think. I'd love to hear it.