My Political Worldview: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of God

Photo Cred | (1)

So I’ve been asked several times by others my opinion on politics and I usually never give them an in-depth answer to those questions. From police brutality to immigration, I’ve been asked what my views are on many political topics. What I usually do is provide possible solutions, but never really say what I believe on a given subject matter. Not that I don’t care about politics, but I’d rather have an opinion after personal research before going public with my view on any given topic.

What I mean by that is I would rather look into an issue on my own before giving my opinion on anything political due to the vitriol reaction that seems to be the only response that anyone can give online. When it comes to subjects that I am not sure where I stand, I’d rather talk it out in-person. When I do have a firm idea of where I stand on an issue, then I’ll usually go about talking on that issue online with no hesitation.

With all that said, here is my political worldview or platform as some would call it. I do not side with one of the two binary American political parties (Democrats and Republicans) or any political party for that matter. I believe in voting for individual people, not for a political party. I have no allegiance to any political party and I do not think I ever will.

Honestly anyone who is running for political office that is associated with a particular political party means very little to me. This is because during the campaign trail, a candidate will promise lots of great stuff and then when they get into office they only get about a third of it done. Even then, what is actually accomplished is corroded by other politicians, donors, PACs, Super PACs, and any other special interest group hoping to get their hands on a new bill or law. There are just too many cooks in the kitchen and that affects every branch of American politics.

If I had to summarize my political worldview in one sentence, then I would say that I am for life, liberty, and the pursuit of God. Now let me explain each part of my political worldview in more detail. Let me start with why I am for life.

Life

I am for life in many regards. I am for the protection of endangered species, marine conservation, protecting national parks, and environmentalism in general. The more we do as a species to protect the environment, the better our lives will be for future generations to come.

I am also pro-life, which means that I am against both abortion and euthanasia. The only case where I would be for abortion is when the life of the mother is at stake, then I would say abortion is okay. This sort of situation can occur due to any number of problems like an ectopic pregnancy where internal, life-threatening bleeding could kill the mother.

I am for abortion in these rare situations because the chances of the mother surviving from said problems during the course of a pregnancy are much higher than the chances of the baby. Therefore, if I had to choose theoretically between an abortion to save the mother’s life or going on endangering the life of the mother and the baby, then I would advocate the abortion option. Saving one life is better than risking the death of two lives.

I am for life in the justice system. For the equal treatment of all types of people whether in arrests, investigations, prosecutions, or any other aspects of the judicial process. All people were created equal and hence all people should be treated equal with the utmost respect for their human dignity.

I want to see prison reform in the sense that the punishment should equal the crime, but that life should be respected at all costs. Measures should be taken for those that are truly done with their life of crime and want to live in society again in a proactive way. Measures such as more community service and less time in prison for crimes that do not deserve a prison sentence. If people are willing to change their ways, then they should be given opportunity on a case-by-case basis to get their life on the right path.

The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, I believe should only be implemented for certain criminals like mass shooters, serial killers, serial rapists, and child molesters. Because they have lost all respect for other life, I believe that these types of people should not live. By taking their life through capital punishment, we can potentially save the lives of countless others.

Lastly, when it comes to healthcare I believe that we as a nation have the capacity to provide the most basic medical needs free of charge to legal citizens. Not every medical expense, but the bare necessities. I’m still working through in my own mind how that could work, but I think there is a way that would benefit almost everyone. I do believe in some form of general healthcare and yet it is not as refined as my other beliefs, so grant me grace in that regard.

Liberty

I am for liberty in a lot of ways. Liberty for all to live however they see fit as long as it does not infringe on the liberties of others. For the sake of time I’ll just share two examples: free speech and marriage. Let me start with marriage.

I believe that anyone can marry whoever they want as they are both consenting and adults. I may disagree biblically with who marries who, but that does not mean that said people cannot get married in America. For instance, an LGBT+ couple should have the freedom to get married whenever and however they want, but that does not mean that I agree with their decision to get married.

Likewise, the same can be said of unequally yoked couples. An unequally yoked couple is those that want to get married, but are two persons who do not adhere to the same worldview (i.e. a Buddhist and a Muslim getting married). I would disagree with this decision as well on the same logic applied to the LGBT+ couple. I affirm their freedom to choose, but not their choices within said freedom. Nevertheless, two consenting adults in America can marry whoever they love.

Then again, I believe that certain social traditions should not be enforced by the government like marriage. I do not believe that marriage should be done through the government in any capacity. It’s a decision between two people and the witnesses chosen to uphold that couple’s vows. The government doesn’t need to be involved in marriage.

I am for liberty in the sense of free speech. I believe everyone should have the freedom to express themselves in any verbal way that they wish. Free speech should only be limited when a minor is involved because certain speech can affect their growth as individuals like verbal abuse or mature subject matter that is simply not appropriate for them to hear at their current age.

Also, the obvious things like yelling “bomb” at an airport or shouting “fire” at a movie theater shouldn’t be said either. Outside of that, let discourse and discussion thrive through the civil expression of ideas. With proper social cues and standard politeness, anything can and should be said.

Without free speech, I wouldn’t even be able to write this blog-post without punishment from the government. Let that sink in the next time you wish certain speech was removed from society. One of the signs of a healthy community is the disagreement between two people on a belief or idea, yet the respect they have for each other as human beings. Freedom must always be greater than fear. If not, we lose everything.

The Pursuit of God

Now of the three pillars of my political worldview, this final pillar does require some explaining. There was a man named John Locke who argued that everyone is entitled to life, liberty, and property (2). In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that we are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Although I do believe that property should be an unalienable right as it is a basic human instinct to have shelter and that happiness can be a good thing, I believe that the pursuit of God matters more. That’s why I have altered this saying to include the pursuit of God instead of either property or happiness into my political worldview.

For it is in the pursuit of God that one can find the greatest joy imaginable: ultimate meaning, purpose, and value. With property, a basic human need is met, but that cannot replace the inner void within those who have not been found by God. What is the point of having shelter to stay alive, if you do not know why you are alive in the first place? For me, the pursuit of God supersedes the right to property.

Happiness cannot be the answer either because it is completely subjective. It’s a neat idea, but in practice no one and that includes the government can sustain your desire to be happy. For happiness like all other emotions doesn’t last long. I would rather have lifelong joy pursuing God than situational satisfaction rooted in nothing but my current mood. When it comes to politics, I stand firmly for life, liberty, and the pursuit of God.

In conclusion, these are not all of my views within politics. I haven’t even gotten to the economy, gun control, the minimum wage and maximum wage debate, recreational and medical drug use, transgender military participation, or everything else for that matter. But I think this should give some of you a good idea of where I stand on certain issues.

It’s a work in progress and these views are in a constant flux as I learn more each and everyday, so don’t be surprised if they change eventually. In time, all things will work together for those that trust in God for their life and liberty. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. http://oll.libertyfund.org/quotes/497
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Alvin Plantinga + Autism

About two years ago in the month of June, I was on a road-trip with my Dad and a few of our friends. On the way to and from our destination, I was finishing off Alvin Plantinga’s book, Warranted Christian Belief, and came across an interesting statement that Plantinga makes in his book. In fact, it’s not necessarily apart of the main narrative, but is rather just a footnote at the bottom of a page in the chapter entitled “Sin and Its Cognitive Consequences.” In this footnote, Plantinga writes

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Source: Amazon

It is no part of the [Aquinas/Calvin] model to say that damage to the sensus divinitatis (1) on the part of a person is due to sin on the part of the same person. Such damage is like other disease and handicaps: due ultimately to the ravages of sin, but not necessarily sin on the part of the person with the disease. In this connection, see Jesus’ remarks (John 9:1-3) about the man blind from birth (p. 214, fn. 22).

Now as someone who was diagnosed for high spectrum autism disorder when I was very young (2), this quote stuck out to me like a sore thumb when I first read it. I’ve always had a curiosity on the subject of those with special needs and their cognitive ability to know God, but this really gave me more of a drive to study it further. To think about it and see if someone with malfunctioning cognitive faculties (i.e. autism, mental retardation, etc.) can consciously choose to believe or not to believe in God.

There is a lot packed into this brief footnote, so let’s break it down in context. The footnote is attached to a section of the chapter where Plantinga is describing the worst effect that sin has on us and our sense of God. He adds

The most serious noetic effects of sin have to do with our knowledge of God. Were it not for sin and its effects, God’s presence and glory would be as obvious and uncontroversial to us all as the presence of other minds, physical objects, and the past. Like any cognitive process, however, the sensus divinitatis can malfunction; as a result of sin, it has indeed been damaged. Our original knowledge of God and his glory is muffled and impaired; it has been replaced (by virtue of sin) by stupidity, dullness, blindness, inability to perceive God or to perceive him in his handiwork (p. 214-215).”

In other words, Plantinga argues that our knowledge of God is the most damaged aspect of our sensus divinitatis (sense of divinity). If our sense of God was not impaired, then we would be completely aware of God in everything. But because everyone has been born into sin, we all have a malfunctioning sense of God. Like a broken window, our view of God is distorted before we accept the Gospel. After we accept it, then our sense of God is restored to what it was always meant to be since the beginning.

Yet, we all don’t have malfunctioning cognitive faculties. Is this footnote indicating that some may have a harder time understanding the Gospel because there are more mental roadblocks that may inhibit their path to genuine belief in God? Not to say that our own sin directly causes this malfunction, but that sin itself has caused this malfunction in the cognitive faculties of some.

For example, no one is morally responsible for a person being born with a heart defect, but rather this defect is directly related to the natural consequences of the Fall of mankind. The unnatural breaking down of the human body as the world gets older and older. The original sin is the root of these malfunctions for the most part, not the individual sins of others. For more on that, let’s turn to the Gospel of John.

The passage of Scripture that Plantinga points out in the already mentioned footnote is John 9:1-3. In this passage, Jesus comes across a blind man who has been blind since birth. Inquiring to know why this man is born blind, the disciples ask Jesus whether it is due to the man’s own sin or that of his parents.

As if to say, whose sin caused this consequence? Who is responsible for this man’s poor condition of being blind from birth? Jesus succinctly replies “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” What does Jesus mean by this exactly?

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Source: Pulpit & Pen

John Piper of Desiring God (3), spoke on this very subject and makes an important point. “The explanation of the blindness lies not in the past causes but the future purposes,” says Piper. For this specific case, the blindness from birth was not a sinful consequence, but rather a predetermined act of God. This disability was given, so that God might have the glory in the healing of it. By healing a blind man from birth publicly, Jesus caused others to see things spiritually. Thus, leading to people naturally giving God the glory.

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph speaks about how God can take something evil like our physical ailments or malfunctioning cognitive faculties and turn them into something good. This can be seen when a family is closer to each other when compared to other families because of the attentive care necessary for one of their family members that may have special needs. If not for having a family member with special needs, there are many families that would probably be more distant to both each other and God. Like usual, God can answer a series of evils with one good thing.

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Source: Pexels

But that stills leaves our question unanswered: can people with malfunctioning cognitive faculties consciously accept or reject belief in God? Can they ever have a repaired sense of God? To put it simply, of course they can and a good portion of them do have genuine belief in God.

Even though someone may be at a mental state where they are equivalent to that of a small child or may have an IQ lower than normal, they still have the ability to receive the Gospel. In Mark 10:15, Jesus clearly states that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” If we base our faith in our own intelligence and knowledge, than we have not received the Gospel like a child and thus are not actually Christian.

We have made up our own God at that point because faith in the kingdom of God is childlike, not complicated and complex. Either we believe that Jesus is Lord and confess that God raised Him from the dead or we don’t. It’s as simple as that and for someone with malfunctioning cognitive faculties, they too have the ability to receive or reject belief in God on these grounds.

One last thing. Like anyone who comes to faith in God, the moment of salvation is completely by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot do this on our own. We cannot have our sense of God repaired and our souls redeemed, unless by the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

So whether special needs or not, we need the Holy Spirit during this transformation from death to life. From disbelief to genuine belief in the one true, triune God. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot be born again. But by the power of God the Father in Christ Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit, we can all be born again. We can all be made alive in Christ. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. Earlier in this chapter, Plantinga defines sensus divinitatis as “a disposition or set of dispositions to form theistic beliefs in various circumstances, in response to the sorts of conditions or stimuli that trigger the working of this sense of divinity (p. 173).” This sense of divinity or this sense of God is the bedrock for which the A/C Model hinges on and is one of the main themes discussed in Warranted Christian Belief, along with the rest of Plantinga’s Warrant trilogy. The name sensus divinitatis was originally penned by a French theologian named John Calvin.
  2. It is possible that my original diagnosis of high spectrum autism disorder by Stanford University may have been a mistake. As Thomas Sowell argues, a number of cases in the past that were diagnosed as ADD, Autism, and so on could have been just children with what he dubs “Einstein Syndrome.” Also known as late-talkers, Einstein Syndrome is named after Albert Einstein due to a theory that he began to talk at a later age than usual due to certain portions of his brain developing faster than normal. If a child’s parents are extremely gifted in mathematics or music, then the child may be more likely to be a late-talker, according to Sowell. To learn more, click here.
  3. https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/why-was-this-child-born-blind

The Cosmo-Quattro Argument

Rather than writing on something currently on my mind, I just wanted to upload a response I gave a couple years ago on a Facebook group to someone who posted a meme about theism. The post revolved around how theists cannot provide adequate answers to support their belief in God. I don’t remember which group on Facebook it was, but I think off the top of my head it was either “Atheist Beings,” “Atheism Uncensored,” or “Atheism United.” Either way, because I’m notorious for posting extremely long comments when in a dialogue online, I have had to write my comments on Google Docs before copying and pasting them into discussions.

I wrote this particular response on Google Docs as well and have just kept it over the years in my Google Drive. Also, I name all of my own arguments and this one I called the Cosmo-Quattro Argument because it sounded really cool at the time. So with minor adjustments for clarity and conciseness, here is my response:

“Okay I’m back. Sorry for the delay, I had a long day at work and then after work I was busy for quite some time. Finally have a little time to sit down and write back to you all. In a previous comment, I said that I would lay out the Change Argument and William Lane Craig’s Kalam-Cosmological Argument for those who are following this particular thread. First let me start with Dr. Craig’s argument and then proceed with the Change Argument:

The Kalam-Cosmological Argument (Source: On Guard by William Lane Craig)

1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2) The universe began to exist.

3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Now this argument is airtight in its premises. The logic likewise flows as follows and is simple in its presentation. The conclusion is that this universe has a cause. Simple enough. Now let’s take this one step further with the Change Argument:

The Change Argument (Source: www.peterkreeft.com)

1) The material world we know is a world of change.

2) When something comes to be in a certain state, such as mature size, that state cannot bring itself into being.

3) Other things must be involved.

4) Nothing can give itself what it does not have, and the changing thing cannot have now, already, what it will come to have then.

5) Nothing changes itself.

6) No matter how many things there are in the series, each one needs something outside itself to actualize its potentiality for change.

7) The universe is the sum total of all these moving things, however many there are.

8) The whole universe is in the process of change.

9) But change in any being requires an outside force to actualize it.

10) Therefore, there is some force outside (in addition to) the universe, some real being transcendent to the universe. This is one of the things meant by “God.”

11) Briefly, if there is nothing outside the material universe, then there is nothing that can cause the universe to change.

12) But it does change.

13) Therefore there must be something in addition to the material universe.

14) But the universe is the sum total of all matter, space and time. These three things depend on each other.

15) Therefore this being outside the universe is outside matter, space and time. It is not a changing thing; it is the unchanging Source of change.

With Craig’s argument and Plantinga’s argument in mind, we can conclude a series of things:

  1. The universe has a cause.
  2. This cause logically must be immaterial, spaceless, and timeless.
  3. It cannot change because it is the unchanging source of change.
  4. Therefore, the cause of the universe is changeless, immaterial, space-less, and timeless.

Adding these figures together we move onto the next argument that reasonably follows: The Teleological Argument. It is the argument that the late and great Christopher Hitchens considered the greatest argument for the existence of God. Even today, many atheists consider it to be the most formidable argument. The argument goes as follows:

The Teleological Argument (Source: On Guard by William Lane Craig)

1) The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

2) It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

3) Therefore, it is due to design.

Gathering our conclusions together, let’s now attribute factors to this mysterious first-cause. In order for something to be the first-cause it must fit this specific criteria that we have just observed together:

  1. The universe cannot cause itself into existence nor be the first cause (See: The Kalam-Cosmological Argument).
  2. The first-cause of the universe must be immaterial, space-less, and timeless (See: The Change Argument).
  3. The first-cause of the universe must be changeless (See: The Change Argument).
  4. The first-cause of the universe must be the designer of the universe (See: The Teleological Argument).
  5. Thus, the most reasonable and logical explanation based off of the evidence is that this first-cause must be and is God.

Lastly, in the Greater Than Argument I argue that God must be multi-personal due to Him being beyond our limits as the first-cause of the universe. My argument goes like this:

The Greater Than Argument

1) Every human is a single person.

2) God is greater than a human.

3) Since God is greater than a human, He therefore must be multi-personal.

4) The Christian Trinity is the best explanation of His multi-personal nature.

5) Therefore, God is a tri-unity of persons, yet remains one nature.

From this lengthy and exhaustive breakdown, we can also conclude that this first-cause (i.e. God) is indeed personal and is a transcendent creative mind. Just as a painter paints a painting with a specific purpose in mind, God must have personally caused and created the universe with a specific purpose in His mind. What purpose did God have in making the universe?

In the Judeo-Christian worldview, God caused and created the universe for His own glory. In other words, everything was caused and created for the glory of God. In Revelation 4:11, it says “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Branching off of this, why should we glorify God? Well succinctly put, He made us and that should be enough reason to glorify Him. We are in eternal gratitude that God would want and will for us to exist because He desired for us to glorify Him by tending to the Earth in response to His love towards us (1). It’s a relationship that God desires from us because it’s in that relationship that those who choose to love Him back are glorifying Him to the fullest extent. “We love because He first loved us” (2). and that’s why in the Judeo-Christian worldview, we desire to love everyone equally because Christ loved us first.

But before this can take place, everyone must first repent of their sin. The very thing that separated this relationship God and mankind once had together is blemished by our own sin. Yet, God (the Father) so loved the world (humanity) that He gave His only begotten Son (the Christ) that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

To conclude, you must repent and believe in God, so that you can now determine to glorify God in all that you do. The ultimate aim in Judeo-Christianity is to know God, to be known by God, and to make God known. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.”

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 1:26-31
  2. 1 John 4:19
  3. Disclaimer

Causation, Karma, and Kung Fu: Dragon (2011) | Film Analysis

This is the third and final film analysis paper that I wrote while I went to the Colorado Film School. The first two were The Dark Knight: A Scene Analysis and Of Monsters and Men: Trollhunter (2010) | Film Analysis. I wrote this third paper for my Contemporary Global Cinema class and this class was taught by Andrew Houston at the time. It was originally published on December 7th, 2016 and was one of my last assignments at CFS. Since this is a blog-post and not in the original format, I have made minor revisions to this film analysis to make it up to date with the rest of my blog. With all of that in mind, here is my film analysis:

When considering cinema in general, a quintessential part that is often glossed over is the worldviews that the characters on-screen inhabit. Consider this the subconscious factor in a character’s motivations as they make decisions from both an explicit and implicit sense. In particular, a character’s worldview helps us as the audience understand more fully why a character believes what they believe. Now in the West, the worldviews of a cinematic character are rarely elaborated on, in order to appeal to the broadest audience possible by avoiding points of controversy like religion. So instead, we will look at Eastern cinema for a more fleshed-out look at worldviews in film.

When deciding on which film precisely, I have chosen the Hong Kong movie Wǔ xiá (2011) which is translated into Dragon in English. I chose this film because it portrays a great difference in thinking in our two main characters who make for quite the odd couple. The film is about a burglary that takes place at a general store where Donnie Yen’s character, Liu Jin-Xi, works and the aftermath case is investigated by Detective Xu Baijiu played by Takeshi Kaneshiro. The film opens with the inciting incident of the burglary, but what coincides thereafter is an investigation to sort out the loose ends of a peculiar crime scene.

At first it seems that Liu Jin-Xi has, in an attempt to protect the general store, accidentally killed both burglars in some sort of brawl. With too many loose ends, Detective Xu Baijiu looks further into the crime scene only to find that Liu Jin-Xi is actually a former martial artist named Tang Long. As a former martial artist, Long used to be apart of the “72 Demons” gang led by his own father, The Master, played by Yu Wang who famously portrayed the One-Armed Swordsman in the 1970’s in a series of Chinese films.

Now the main scene that shows this conflict in worldviews between these two characters is right after Detective Baijiu pushes Long off of a bridge to see if his martial artist theory is correct and he truly did intentionally kill the two burglars. Turning the case from a self-defense to a double homicide, but Long simply falls onto a tree before falling into the river below as the theory appears to now hold no water. Once Long is recovered from the river, wet and shaken up, the two have a conversation over a warm campfire as the sun sets behind them. It is here when the themes of karma and materialism clash as the two converse, revealing their innermost beliefs regarding the world they equally share.

Long begins this discourse as he says “If you hadn’t come today, I wouldn’t have fallen. It’s karma.” Detective Baijiu replies sternly with, “It was an accident.” In response, Long says the following monologue that succinctly presents his perspective on human existence:

“No. What I mean to say is: the fabric of existence is composed of a myriad of karmic threads. Nothing exists in and of itself, everything is connected. For example, if I hadn’t come to this village, I wouldn’t have met Ayu. If her husband hadn’t left her, I wouldn’t have married her. If I hadn’t gone to the store, I wouldn’t have seen the criminals, and they wouldn’t have died. Then you wouldn’t have come here… No one truly has free will. When one man sins, we all share his sin. We are all accomplices.”

So with this knowledge in mind, we now know what Long’s viewpoint in life is and even in his current situation of potentially going to prison for murder. There is a lot to unpack here, but first we need to understand Detective Baijiu’s perspective on both the situation at-hand and his perspective of the world as well. Earlier in the film, as he is attempting to solve the case, he is quoted saying the following during a montage of sorts:

“Good or bad, it’s determined by our physiology. The Shanzhong Meridian controls our emotions and gives us empathy. My Shanzhong Meridian is overdeveloped. It makes me too empathetic… my rational self appears separately from me, it tells me human emotions can be altered and controlled by manipulating the Meridian. That’s why I use two needles [for acupuncture therapy]. One is inserted in the Shanzhong, to suppress my empathy, the other in the Tientu to control the poison. You can’t trust humanity. Through science, I’ve discovered only physiology and the law don’t lie.”

When compared side by side the two worldviews bear both commonalities and stark differences. For starters, let’s observe the film from an epistemic perspective and see how their differing worldviews compare to one another. Long grew up in a world outside of modern civilization in rural China.

A common man that was surrounded by the ancient belief in karma that can be found in Buddhism. “Karma is the law of moral causation” and is a foundational doctrine of belief within Buddhism (1). Put succinctly, karma is the idea that whatever wrongs or rights that are made in the past will directly affect the present as one is rebirthed. This causational link of events is very much attached to a linear concept of time and thus is limited by that conceptual idea.

To contrast, Detective Baijiu has grown up in a more civilized part of China where Western thought has made its greatest impact: in the city. This influence is what pressed upon Detective Baijiu to adopt some form of a materialistic worldview. Where only matter is reality and everything can be answered through the power of scientific inquiry.

Although, his faith in science is an idolatrous logical fallacy at best and his version of naturalism is quite common in the West. As a detective, Baijiu also sees the world through a much more pessimistic perspective as most likely in his career, he has only seen the worst in people. It must be hard for him to see saints when his job is to stop sinners. The world he sees is only functional and right when the law is firmly established in society and everything lines up.

Now that our two main characters have been briefly described based off of the story they are apart of, let’s see what makes this clash in worldviews so unique. How they actually believe almost the exact same thing in the long run, but have differing definitions for their stances in life. Between the two ideologies, they share three distinct similarities with each other that are fundamental to both worldviews: that there is no god, that there is no soul, and that we are bound by circumstantial causation. We will reflect on all three before going full circle and seeing why at the beginning of the film, Long and Baijiu are at odds, but by the end are allies fighting for the same goal. First, we will start with their shared belief in no god(s).

Now when the topic of contrasting different religions and belief systems is brought up, the reality of it all is that most of these faiths bear several similarities across the board. Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University, John C. Lennox, remarks on this similarity when he says that “in particular, ancient Near Eastern accounts [on the origins of the universe] typically contain theogonies, which describe how the gods are generated from primeval matter. These gods are, therefore, mere deifications of nature and its powers. This means that such ancient worldviews stand much closer to modern materialism than might at first appear (2).” In short, as odd as it may seem, polytheism and atheism are much closer in relation than one would expect and the same can be said of other pairings like Buddhism alongside materialism.

Both Buddhism and materialism share the fundamental commonality that they both hold to the belief in no god(s). For materialism, the existence of a non-material deity and/or force somehow living amidst the material or separate from the material is illogical. This is based on the grounds that only matter and the laws therein that bind matter are all that exists in our universe. The affirmation that neither the spiritual nor the supernatural could possibly co-exist within a universe constructed of only matter. Matter is all that there is and all that there ever could be in our reality, according to materialism.

When it comes to Buddhism and whether or not it is a form of theism is a hot-button topic of debate in religious circles. While there are certain factions of Buddhism like Pure Land Buddhism that some suggest as theistic in nature, the vast majority of scholars and Buddhists affirm that Buddhism is very atheistic on a fundamental level. This is because it is silent on the subject regarding the existence of god(s).

As philosopher Ravi Zacharias would put it, “there is no teaching about god in Buddhism… the goal of the faith is to cease desiring (3).” Hence, Buddhism is rooted in the implicit belief that one can be good enough to get to Nirvana without the assistance or grace of god(s). While modern Buddhism may have theistic themes in certain sects, classical Buddhism is strictly atheistic in its origins and fundamental values.

In regards to the soul, materialism again has the belief that matter is all there is to life in the universe. The soul in its most basic definition is the essence of who we are as individual persons and what makes us human even after our life is over. Materialists, like Baijiu, believe that time itself is the measure that makes our reality real. To say that there is an existence or a life after our own time ends is preposterous to the materialists because everything that is exists solely in the confines of time. We begin. We live. We end. This is an essential truth for the materialist.

For the Buddhist, like Long, the soul is not real and is a fundamental of Buddhism called Anatta meaning “non-self” or “non-soul” that separates Buddhism from the majority of world religions all together. A Buddhist may believe in the ever-present recurrence of the rebirth cycle, but to have an eternal soul is not supported by any Buddhist writings. The soul happens to be an issue that yet again divides Hindus from Buddhists, respectively. On the other hand, it is a second fundamental similarity between both materialists and Buddhists.

At last, we arrive at one more commonality that both Baijiu and Long share and that is this: they both assert strongly the notion of circumstantial causation. A term that I coined to show the parallel between the two and can be taken in the literal sense. In that everything that is caused is the direct result of the circumstances that one may find themselves in the moment or in the long run of their life. For instance, a Japanese woman may find herself in an internment camp in the Midwestern United States due to the previous circumstances of her living on the Pacific side of the U.S. during the duration of World War II. She is simply where she is based off of circumstances that she cannot control because of the ever long list of circumstances that led to this very moment of her imprisonment.

The materialist would respond to a scenario like this and say that this Japanese woman is apart of a less-developed section of the evolutionary tree that is struggling to survive amidst the presence of a stronger branch of human evolution. The Buddhist would reply with the fact that this is happening due to something awful that the Japanese woman did in a previous rebirth and karma is giving her exactly what she deserves. In this same respect, both materialism and Buddhism carry this idea of circumstantial causation into their own belief systems. The materialist has to logically conclude that all humans can do is fit the most basic evolutionary needs with the use of their cognitive faculties guiding them to reproduction and survival of the species. This conclusion follows because naturalism is the underlying force behind materialism in most cases, especially for Baijiu in the film.

Due to the circumstances of previous members of the evolutionary family tree, the modern human has the sole purpose of surviving long enough to reproduce, in order to pass on their genetic makeup onto the more evolved next generation. This cycle of evolution is interestingly similar to the way karmic rebirth plays out in the mind of a Buddhist. We are born due to circumstantial causation and must perform better in this life to guarantee a better life later down the timeline, according to this Eastern philosophy.

An oddity, but nevertheless a similarity between the two differing viewpoints. In other words, natural selection through the process of evolutionary naturalism within a materialistic worldview is identical with Buddhism because karma through the process of rebirth within a Buddhist worldview has the same exact circumstantial causation. Thus, the two belief systems are almost perfectly aligned in this respect.

So how does this culmination of a case in favor of the similarities between materialism and Buddhism connect with the relational dynamic of both Long and Baijiu? Well in the explicit sense, the two are at odds over their differences, yet by the end set their differences aside to fight the ultimate evil: the Master of the 72 Demons. In the implicit sense, could it be a stretch to argue that subconsciously the two figured out their own similarities in their own worldviews throughout the unfolding of the film’s narrative, which led them to fight alongside one another in the end? For Long, a battle for redemption, honor, and family. For Baijiu, a battle for truth, justice, and the survival of the fittest to make way for the next generation.

The two have differing reasons because of differing worldviews during the whole film and yet they work together to stop this evil threat. Why would they do that exactly? The field of sociology might just have the answer. Within sociology, there is common idea that there are more differences between two people within the same sub-culture than there are between two people in different sub-cultures. Therefore, these two different people, Baijiu and Long, being from two different sub-cultures fought against the Master because they were more aligned than they thought at first. The Master, who was from the same sub-culture that Long was apart of, in the end viewed the world drastically different than the way Long views it and hence they differed so much leading to this battle.

To summarize, at first Baijiu and Long appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum of worldviews, that is Buddhism and materialism. As seen previously, the two subconsciously may have recognized some similarities in their thinking (i.e. no god(s), no soul, and circumstantial causation) and this led to their teamwork throughout the final battle in Dragon. Which when the title, Wǔ xiá, is translated into English, it means knight-errant. This word equates to a medieval knight or a warrior searching in the hopes of finding an honorable quest.

So two warriors from two polar opposite worldviews are subconsciously looking for something worth fighting for that is greater than themselves. In this instance, beyond the self, in order to bring about a satisfactory end to their individual quests. Baijiu fights in the hopes of eradicating the outlaw to further the human species and Long fights in the hopes of entering Nirvana by fixing the debts of his past life. Together, by the end of the film, the two are walking on their own quests and both have only a few more steps before reaching the end of their journey. Like an ancient Chinese proverb once said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/karma.htm
  2. Seven Days That Divide The World, P. 94
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5jr00Hyk54
  4. Disclaimer

The Book That Made Your World: Review and Summary Part 2

Photo Cred: (1)

*Note: this is the final installment of a 2-part series on The Book That Made Your World by Vishal Mangalwadi. If you have not read Part 1, go here.*

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Chapters 10 – 11: Language & Literature | Photo Cred: (2)

The Bible also changed the way the West developed both our language and our literature as time went on. For instance, due to the efforts of several key missionaries like William Carey, Joshua Marshman, and William Ward, India finally had a national language, instead of hundreds of languages and their nuances that were dependent on their geographical or demographic state.

When it came to literature, the Bible has influenced countless writers varying from William Shakespeare to even the immigrants on the Mayflower that sailed to find home in the New World. This is largely due to it having a ring of truth that other famous works of literature simply lacked. Compared to the Iliad or the many poems of Rabindranath Tagore in his work Gitanjali, the Bible resonates because it stands the test of time as true. The Book of books forever changed the way we communicate through whatever medium we choose to do so. It defined how we tell stories because it is the collection of stories that together tell one, ultimate story. The story of God and His plan to save us from ourselves.

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Chapters 12 – 13: Education & Science | Photo Cred: (3)

In light of this, there was also the profound effect that the Bible had on both the development of the university system and on the scientific method as a whole. As history shows, a good portion of cathedrals and monasteries became universities as Christians at the time believed that we ought to relearn our knowledge of nature. A knowledge that supposedly Adam and Eve had before the Fall as they daily walked with God. Even modern day universities were founded by Christians like Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, Princeton, and even Yale.

In regards to science, a firm belief in the Bible and God was the very cornerstone of the study in general.  John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University, once said concerning the debate over science and religion that “far from belief in god hindering science, it was the motor that drove it.” At first, science was referred to as natural philosophy and natural history as it branched out from theology. This is because “the scientific perspective flowered in Europe as an outworking of medieval biblical theology nurtured by the Church. Theologians pursued science for biblical reasons” (P. 223).

Francis Oakley has taken the time to observe and validate this claim between the laws of nature (science) and its origin in a Bible-believing culture in his essay entitled Christian Theology and Newtonian Science: The Rise of the Concept of the Laws of Nature (The American Society of Church History, 1961). Later Mangalwadi asserts that “science was born in the university-an institution invented by the church” (P. 229). Some notable founders of science who were also Christians include Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Nicolaus Copernicus, Robert Boyle, Albertus Magnus, Francis Bacon, and many more as pointed out by Elaine Howard Ecklund in her book Science vs Religion: What Scientists Really Think (2010).

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Chapter 14: Morality | Photo Cred: (4)

Morality is another way in which the Bible sculpted the Western way of living, in that there was a return to a more civilized society every time a movement was led by the Holy Spirit and not by the hearsay of men. One notable time that Mangalwadi points out is John Wesley and his impact on England and the surrounding area as a preacher and social activist. Reminding people that there is a moral law written on the tablet of our hearts. This effect can also be seen when comparing Holland and India in the way the Bible’s influence, or the lack thereof, helped shape these two very different countries.

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Chapter 15: Family | Photo Cred: (5)

In this day and age, the idea of family is under serious investigation and scrutiny in the West. This is due to the rise in awareness of the LGBT+ movement that preaches that all sexual expressions of love are love. That no matter the combination of sexual partners, it still counts as equal to the original idea of what a family looks like.

In the Christian worldview, the monogamous family structure is central to what is directly taught in Scripture. Because of this model of the ideal family structure of one man and one woman in a mutually consensual relationship raising the next generation, the West thrived. As the culture carried on this idea generation by generation, they could rightly live in light of the original intent of God’s grand design. The Bible gave Western society a firm foundation to build a better world and that foundation was a proper understanding of the most functional family structure: the monogamous family.

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Chapter 16: Compassion | Photo Cred: (6)

Shifting his focus, Mangalwadi then pinpoints another key in the difference between those places that are influenced by the Bible and those that are not with the fact that compassion is an essential outpouring of Christian living. Unlike America for example, India has the karmic belief that the needy do not need to be helped because they have received what they sowed. Justice has had its way and the best thing is to let the needy sort out their karmic threads on their own without the aid of the more fortunate.

Yet Christ taught numerously that we ought to love our neighbor as ourselves, to help the poor, to serve the downtrodden, and to not neglect the needs of the weakest links in our own societies. Compassion is a key outpouring of God’s Word penetrating the hearts of humans as they live out what Christ taught. It is for this reason that Christians have made the most homeless shelters, hospitals, and orphanages than any other religious system in history by a long shot.

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Chapter 17: Wealth | Photo Cred: (7)

Concerning wealth, Mangalwadi argues that capitalism is a direct result of the Bible’s influence on the West in the economic sense. He believes that because of this influence, it created brilliant inventors like Cyrus McCormick who would go one to revolutionize the way farmers tended to their crops with the invention of horse-driven reapers . Mangalwadi argues that his influences of both growing up in a home that had strong Protestant influences such as John Calvin and his Puritan upbringing made McCormick the man that history knows him as now. Later on in his life, McCormick continued to influence the world by promoting the Bible in the local newspapers and when he changed the name of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Chicago to the now McCormick Seminary. True wealth stems from true wisdom and true wisdom is rooted in true worship unto the triune God.

Later on in the chapter, Mangalwadi makes the statement that “ambition is good, but it becomes greed when separated from moral absolutes (P. 321).” The idea of a free market economy and saving wealth for later, instead of either hiding it or throwing it away on quick pleasures was unheard of in these older days. Greed was far more commonplace as the rich would hide their wealth, instead of redistributing it back into the free market. As Ayn Rand would say and Mangalwadi would agree, “happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values.” This specific chapter covers a lot of other ground too like foreign markets and the history of capitalism in the West, but you will have to read the book yourself to find Mangalwadi’s argument on the relation between the Bible and its influence in those areas as well.

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Chapters 18 – 20: Liberty, Missions, & the Future | Photo Cred: (8)

Jumping off of the free market section of the book, Mangalwadi ends by highlighting a few other key places that the Bible has influenced: the idea of liberty, Christian missions, and what lies ahead in the future. On the biblical idea of liberty, Mangalwadi makes the case that only the Bible could drive people like the Huguenots (French Calvinists) to construct the Huguenot monument in South Africa to commemorate their newfound freedom from the Wars of Religion where the strong, woman holds firmly a Bible in her left hand. There is a reason Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics didn’t stir the hearts of the downtrodden to keep fighting for freedom. Only the Bible could invoke this sense of longing to be free like Adam and Eve once were in the garden of Eden.

On the subject of missions, Mangalwadi tells the story of how the introduction of the Gospel of John revolutionized an extremely remote tribe called the Hmars who lived in the dense forests that rest on the border between Myanmar (Burma) and India. The effect of missions work such as that done for the Hmars tribe is evidence of the effect that the Gospel can radically change even the most primal tribes of people and turn them into much more civilized people with the tools necessary to keep up with an ever changing world.  

Finally, the book ends with where the West is going now that these biblical principles are being abandoned in favor of other, more tolerant, worldviews. A direction that, if continued, could lead to a social and spiritual decay that we cannot recover from. Mangalwadi ends with an urgency to remind people of how the West was built in the first place. On the very spine of the Christian Scriptures leading and guiding us from darkness and into the light.

In summary, the Bible is the most influential book of all time and Mangalwadi does a pretty good job of showcasing that in this book. There is a lot of good information in this book and it’s worth the read for any who are curious on the Bible’s impact on history. Suffice to say, the Bible is the book that made your world. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishal_Mangalwadi
  2. www.pexels.com
  3. www.pexels.com
  4. https://sites.smu.edu/cdm/bridwell/jwl/
  5. www.pexels.com
  6. www.pexels.com
  7. https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/cyrus-mccormick-6675.php
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org
  9. Disclaimer

 

To the Bride and Groom

Photo Cred: www.pexels.com

Recently, my friend David got married and it got me thinking about marriage in general. If someone was to tell me something I needed to know before I ever got married, in order for a successful marriage, what would I need to hear? What is something every couple needs to know and have in mind before their wedding day? Well, I would want realistic expectations and some sort of idea of what will happen regardless of what that marriage turns out to be in the future. Something that needs to be known before “just married” becomes “married.”

As I have observed other marriages in my life, I have noticed five things that every marriage faces. Five obstacles that can repair or ruin this intimate relationship. These obstacles are communication, finances, intimacy, society, and worldview. Every couple will face one, if not, all five of these types of obstacles during the duration of their marriage. So for those of you who are either a) going to be married or b) just got married, then this blog-post is for you.

1) Communication

The obstacle of communication revolves around the issue of who matters more in this conversation: me, you, or us. The answer is us, not you or me. It’s called a team effort for a reason: teams communicate well because they have to, in order to win. Likewise, spouses communicate well, in order to maintain their marriage.

In marriage, everything you and your spouse do in life from now on will be communicated one way or the other. There are always going to be two types of marriages: those that communicate well and those that communicate poorly. Which marriage do you want?

By taking the effort to communicate well with your spouse on little things, you won’t have to worry when big situations come up. You will have all of that discipline to not only speak openly, but also to listen actively. All good marriages have a great sense of communication. Does yours? Will yours? If not, say something to your spouse or spouse-to-be and work on being better before it’s too late.

2) Intimacy

The obstacle of intimacy is a matter of understanding love and then living that out practically. Love at its core is sacrificial. Christ was sacrificed because of God’s love for us, even while we were in sin. The husband is commanded to follow this example and sacrificially love his wife.

Likewise, Christ respects His Father in Heaven. The wife is commanded to follow this example and respectfully love her husband. The answer to the obstacle of intimacy in marriage is sacrificially loving your lover with consistency. Better to have loved too much than to have never loved someone enough.

3) Finances

The obstacle of finances is a problem rooted in a combination of faithfulness, honesty, and wisdom. If you are faithful with little, then you can be faithful with much. Whether that be saving, spending, or investing, your faithfulness in finances will translate into honest use of your money as one couple. This faithfulness and honesty will in turn become wisdom in all of your financial endeavors.

I’ve seen countless couples who have a horrible marriage because of the tensions of bad financial decisions. This can lead them to either go broke or divorce. Don’t be them. Prepare ahead of time for the financial emergencies and general costs of marriage before they happen. Save, spend, and invest wisely while you have the advantage at the beginning of your marriage, not after you have already dug your financial ruin like everybody else. Be wise by making financially wise decisions in marriage.

4) Society

When two families join together and become in-laws to one another, this can be both bad and good. The obstacle of society is the social pressures of maintaining the expectations of those closest to you. This could be your in-laws, your family, your friends, or even your “public image” on social media.

First and foremost, live out the expectations for marriage as instructed by God before you ever listen to anyone else. Everyone else’s opinions on your marriage can wait as you listen to the LORD’s instruction. God’s expectations should be your standard for how your marriage should look and be perceived by others.

On the other hand, when two families unite through marriage you will inherit newfound responsibilities that you should certainly prepare for now rather than later. These are natural and should be celebrated new changes in your new life together. Nevertheless, marriage is two people married under God and it doesn’t have any wiggle room for control-freak family members, friends, or nosy neighbors to nitpick your every decision. If you follow God first and then listen to others, you’ll be just fine.

5) Worldview

The obstacle of worldview is a problem that deals with how the home will be run. How does your worldview align with your spouse? Do you share the same worldview or do they differ? Are you both Buddhist or Christian? Atheist or Muslim?

You need to be aware of the fact that if you both have differing worldviews, it will be much harder to run the home as a team because of the disagreements that can arise in different ideologies. It is crucial to keep in mind how each other’s worldview will impact the other as you both grow closer together. Your combined worldviews are the foundation for the way your new life together will turn out. If you have no foundation, how can you even begin to build a home? Start with a firm foundation and work from there. Know your spouse and allow yourself to be known by your spouse. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

 

Thank You, Nabeel Qureshi

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Dear Dr. Nabeel Qureshi,

Recently, the world has been at a loss for words on your tragic passing from this life into the better life to come for all who follow Christ. You had a long fight with stomach cancer and now you have entered into eternal rest with our LORD. Those that knew you mourn your loss, but also know that you are in a far greater place than we could ever imagine.

With that said, your recent transition from this earthly life into eternal life has caused me to reflect on your impact on my life. How I was first introduced to you through Dr. David Wood and his ministry on YouTube that uses apologetics to reach the Muslim community. A ministry that might just have the greatest bromance in apologetic history as well. The friendship that you and David had in the LORD was unparalleled. You both displayed what it truly means to have a brother in Christ.

It was these moments and more that you showed all of us how to speak the truth in love in a practical way. Like when you had a formal debate with the famous Muslim apologist, Dr. Shabir Ally (2). A highly respectable figure within academia and a great debater, to say the least. Even then, you stayed civil and Christ-like in spite of the challenge of debating such an accomplished public speaker like Ally.

The greatest lesson you showed me was to always have compassion and love for those who do not know Christ. To build a bridge and reach people where they are at was so inspiring. To love people like Christ did was evidence enough of how much Jesus has changed you to be more and more conformed to His image. I have never met you on this side of eternity, but I can’t wait to meet you on the other side.

In short, thank you. Thank you for being a role model to apologists on how to intellectually engage others in love. Thank you for showing us believers what it truly means to live both a life of conviction concerning the great commission and joy in the grace of our LORD. Thank you for showing non-believers what it means to truly love your enemies as you loved those that hated you for leaving Islam. Thank you, Nabeel Qureshi. You may have lost the battle with cancer, but Christ has won your soul. Rest in peace, Dr. Qureshi. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. David Wood (Facebook)
  2. https://youtu.be/FWpqqqZn7Kg
  3. Disclaimer

The Greater Than Argument

A while back I wrote an argument for the doctrine of the Trinity called The Lovely Trinity Argument (1) and it was okay in retrospect. After further study and improvement in philosophical argumentation, I have a second argument for the doctrine of the Trinity. This new argument is called The Greater Than Argument. The argument goes as follows:

The Greater Than Argument

By Christopher Cribari

  1. Every human is a single person.
  2. God is greater than a human.
  3. Since God is greater than a human, He therefore must be multi-personal.
  4. The Christian Trinity is the best explanation of God’s multi-personal nature.
  5. Therefore, God is a tri-unity of persons, yet remains one nature.

Now this argument is meant to be presented after belief in God is philosophically proven. This can be done by showing the person that you are talking to any number of arguments for the existence of God. In the spirit of my argument, I think the Kalam-Cosmological Argument (2) makes the most sense as a foundation to then build off of and further understand who God logically must be if they exist. Although, one could just as easily use Norris Clarke’s World as an Interacting Whole Argument (3) or Peter Kreeft’s version of The Change Argument (4) first proposed by Thomas Aquinas in his famous Five Ways collection of philosophical arguments.

On the flip side, I also have in addition to the original Greater Than Argument, made an alternative version that is simply called The Alternate Greater Than Argument. This alternate version is more so meant to be used in broader contexts, but still requires a logical building block to be placed upon in order to work correctly in dialogue. The Alternate Greater Than Argument goes as follows:

The Alternate Greater Than Argument

By Christopher Cribari

  1. Every human is a single person.
  2. If God exists, then they would have to be greater than a human.
  3. If real, God would be multi-personal.
  4. The Christian Trinity is the best explanation of both God’s existence and His  multi-personal nature.
  5. Therefore, God is a tri-unity of persons, yet remains one nature.

The basic concept for my Greater Than Argument was inspired by many things, but mostly Alvin Plantinga’s philosophical work in general and a YouTube video from InspiringPhilosophy called “The Trinity Explained” (5). I’d highly recommend those resources, along with James White’s book, The Forgotten Trinity, that you can buy anywhere books are sold (6). Both arguments have the exact same conclusion and start with the same first premise. Where they differ is in their next three premises, in order to get to the same conclusion.

It’s probably not going to become the most groundbreaking development in defense of the doctrine of the Trinity, but I would say it is a vast improvement over my first argument. Not only in its more focused nature, but also for the fact that it is a third of the length of that first argument (i. e. A 15 point argument vs. a 5 point argument). So the use of The Greater Than Argument and/or The Alternate Greater Than Argument in discussion will be far easier to defend in a dialogue, rather than The Lovely Trinity Argument because of those two primary reasons mentioned above. Because the argument is shorter and more to the point, the defending apologist has more time to support their view by focusing on a combination of logic, Scripture, and everything of that sort.

Maybe you may find it useful to use or might figure out a better way of defending the doctrine of the Trinity. Regardless, I hope it helps you out in some way. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. https://chriscribariblog.com/2016/01/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CulBuMCLg0
  3. http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#8
  4. http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#1
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G2S5ziDcO0
  6. https://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Trinity-James-R-White/dp/1556617259

Christian Reconstructionism: Not So Right

Photo Cred: Austin Cline (1) | Updated: 4/3/2018

As of late, I have noticed a strange phenomenon growing in the political climate and it is one that concerns me because of its implications on American society and Christianity as a whole. That phenomenon is the Christian Right and its underlying belief by some within the movement in an ideology called Christian Reconstructionism. Before addressing the problem, let me properly define it and then get into why Christian Reconstructionism is a dangerous ideology that should not be upheld by Christians or those on any political platform.

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R. J. Rushdoony | Theologian Source: http://www.amazon.com

Christian Reconstructionism is a theonomic movement that really began in the early twentieth century by a man named R. J. Rushdoony and flourished during the 1980s in American politics as it seeped into the Republican Party as a major driving force (2). They are similar to a political action committee (i.e. PAC or Super PAC), but instead of using primarily money to influence the political process they twist Scripture to push their ideology. Rushdoony’s philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism was largely influenced by the fact that his family were victims in the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and his strong resistance to the New Deal proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930’s, which led him to creating this new form of Christian political involvement.

The basic philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism is the idea that any given nation must be run as a theocracy by Christians, for Christians. Just to be clear, let me define a few terms before moving forward. A theocracy is a form of government where a nation is ruled by the divine order of some type of deity. A theonomy is how a theocracy is run by any given governing institution in power. The difference between the two terms would be “what it is” versus “how it is” from what I could gather online. A couple examples of theocratic government include, the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages and Islam in the Middle East. So, why is this scary? Why is this such a problem that people still have this mentality, albeit only a small minority? Well, let’s quickly look at those two examples for a refresher on the negative side effects to a theocratic government.

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Source: https://strangenotions.com/is-the-catholic-church-a-force-for-good/

When it came to the Catholic Church, they essentially ruled Europe during the Medieval Ages and had complete control up until both the Reformation and later the Enlightenment that flipped the world upside down. As PBS put it, “the church reinforced the political authority of the states, and the states reinforced the authority of the church (3).” What this meant was that they worked together to enforce law. The government enforced the law of the land, while the Catholic Church enforced the law of the LORD. If one broke either law, then they broke both forms of law and thus would not only receive punishment in this life, but also in the life to come afterwards.

Because of this political snare, the common people were apart of the faith in fear of the tyranny that loomed above them. If they did not believe in the Catholic faith, then they were subjected to torture or even death like those that were implemented during the Spanish Inquisition. This fear drove the commoner to live in utter submission to whatever the government said. Likewise, the government lived in utter submission to whatever the Catholic Church said because in those days, spiritual concerns superseded material matters.

Regarding Islam in the Middle East, it is much more extreme when compared to the Catholic Church not only by the length of time, but also by the amount of death and torture inflicted onto non-believers throughout history. These modern methods include, but are not limited to forcing homosexuals to jump off of buildings to their death, genital mutilation of women, stoning, and so on. Nevertheless the same goal for both forms of these theocratic governments was to sustain control over the region and in these two cases, through whatever means necessary. For the purposes of this blog-post, I’ll leave further research into both of these abuses of theocratic forms of government to you to look into on your own.

Going back to where we started, this is what a theocratic government would look like if the Christian Reconstructionist had their way and that is why it is a danger to the American way of life. Under theocratic rule, every American would have to be Christian or suffer the severe consequences for believing otherwise. Not only that, but a very specific type of Christian that upholds certain beliefs like rejecting antinomianism (opposite of legalism), upholding presuppositionalism (opposite of evidentialism), and affirming postmillennialism to name a few.

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Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/progressive-revelation.html

The Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible, would become the new rule of law and it would be barbaric to say the least in its application to 21st century civilization. Things such as interracial marriage, individual autonomy, and even modern women’s rights would be abolished. In other words, the philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism reapplying the Old Testament Law as the new law in American society is the equivalent of reapplying the use of horses instead of modern-day tractors for farming. They had their use and importance in history, but their need in today’s society is no longer applicable as the world has advanced beyond that phase of human civilization (4). 

At the time, the Old Testament Law was amazing when compared to the horrific cultures that surrounded the region. Other nearby nations like the Hittites and the Canaanites were utterly wicked in the sight of the LORD, so God commanded the Israelites to live differently in almost every way than these other cultures lived. This is why the Old Testament Law existed in the first place: to fulfill the Hebrew’s part of the Old Covenant. If the Israelites obeyed God, then they would be blessed beyond belief under this covenant. If they didn’t keep the covenant, then they would receive the repercussions of their actions in full (5).

Fast-forward to the times of Christ when the Old Covenant is turned obsolete as Jesus introduces the New Covenant not just with the Hebrews, but with all of mankind (6). Hence, the Christian Reconstructionist’s major selling points on their particular philosophy are in direct conflict with crucial biblical truths in Scripture. The Old Covenant is no longer necessary and yet the Christian Reconstructionist advocates the reintroduction of the old way of relating to God.

As history can attest, when the political and the spiritual are unnaturally bent into a particular agenda we all lose. When it comes to Christian Reconstructionism, this just happens to be one of many attempts to do just that. Forcing someone to live a certain way in spite of their convictions in order to show them what you believe is a better way is not loving, but tyranny. In the name of freedom, there must be flexibility. In the specific case of Americans, what could be better than each and every one of us freely doing as we will to do, without infringing on the dignity inate in others. Sharing ideas rather than controlling them to fit within certain boundaries that favor one sect, while simultaneously oppressing another.

So what is the solution to a theonomous culture? Well, there are only two other options: a heteronomous culture (totalitarianism) and an autonomous culture (libertarianism). For the sake of brevity, America began as a theonomous culture with the mutual belief in the natural law of God giving us unalienable human rights, but has overtime become an autonomous culture where the rights of the individual matter more than the rights of the collective group. Act, believe, and think how you want, but without stepping on the toes of another person’s freedom to do the same.

As I clearly noted earlier, American politics and Christian Reconstructionism are simply not compatible. The movement would only cause more harm than help in the grand scheme of things. When choosing between compromise and extremism in the game of politics, compromise is always the better way out. Compromise is the reason that we as Americans can proudly say that we freely pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!

Footnotes

  1. http://fax.libs.uga.edu/wwpost/
  2. http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr3.htm
  3. http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/people/catholic-church.html
  4. The idea that I am referring to in this section of my blog-post is called progressive revelation. It is a common concept in both Christianity and Islam. Read more about it here.
  5. Deuteronomy 30:15-20
  6. Luke 22:20

Who Is Chris Cribari?

Updated: 10/12/2018 | Photo Cred: Daniel Walton

For those of you that are new to this blog and since I’m closing in on 50 blog-posts pretty soon as of this blog-post, I figured it might be time to reintroduce myself to new visitors to this site. Who am I exactly? Well, here is a little about myself and what makes me who I am today.

I grew up Southern California for the first ten years of my life and then my family moved to Colorado in July of 2007 for my Dad’s job where I have lived ever since. I was raised by my parents in the Calvary Chapel Movement, along with my four siblings. My four siblings are Rachel, John, Corban, and Nathan. My parents grew up in very broken homes, which directly influenced their strong emphasis on a family established on Christ first and foremost.

I came to faith in Christ when I was 9 in the summer of 2006 and have been a Christian ever since. My parents strong belief in Christianity had a great impact on my path towards the Christian faith, but the decision was all my own. I privately accepted Christ walking home from my friend David’s house where we were watching Playboy DVD’s after school. I publicly came to Christ at Calvary Chapel Oxnard’s Summer VBS a few weeks later when my VBS group leader explained the Gospel to me after I questioned him as to whether or not it was true.

I am and always have been an avid storyteller, along with an active listener to people’s stories. I started writing my first stories in either second or third grade and continue to write to this day. At home, I have stacks of partially-written novels, poems, sermon ideas, and short stories either on flash-drives or busting out of years-old binders. Writing allows my soul to speak truthfully, in spite of my high-spectrum autism disorder as diagnosed by Stanford University.

This is also why I love cinema and going to the theater so much. When Blockbuster was still a thing, my siblings and I would watch our VHS movie collection to death as we rewatched our favorites all the time growing up. This collection that we had as kids contained the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), the Wallace & Gromit series (1990-1995), a pair of Jurassic Park movies (1993; 2001), a few Val Kilmer movies like The Ghost in the Darkness (1996), The Saint (1997), and The Prince of Egypt (1998), along with a few dozen other films.

When we got a little older, we boys got the privilege of watching my Dad’s infamous movie collection that holds some of the best films I’ve ever seen. This collection consisted of mostly war movies like Braveheart (1995), Gladiator (2000), Saving Private Ryan (1998), The Patriot (2000), and We Were Soldiers (2002). It also had other genre movies like A Beautiful Mind (2001), Bandits (2001), Equilibrium (2002), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007), The Matrix (1999), The Passion of the Christ (2004), and the Phantom of the Opera (2004). It might just be a box of DVD’s, but it holds some of my favorite memories as my Dad showed us boys what men he wanted us to be through the medium of film.

When I have time to train, I occasionally compete in Strongman too. I was introduced to the sport by my mentor Andrew Morrison and have loved it ever since. I have competed four times and I am preparing for future competitions as well. Through my time training, I’ve met some of the world’s strongest men like Brian Shaw, Mike Burke, Robert Oberst, and Stan Caradine. My favorite Strongman lifts are Atlas Stones, Deadlift, and Log Press.

My theological stance is Molinist, while my preference on church function leans heavily towards Anabaptist. I favor the elder-run church model versus the Moses model as seen in the Calvary Chapel Movement. As the old saying goes, power corrupts. For me, the more powerful one is the more likely they are to be corrupted. Therefore, more accountability before God and His church is necessary for the Great Commission. I currently attend and serve at church in Colorado called LifeGate Denver as a youth pastor.

My favorite apologists are John Lennox, Ravi Zacharias, and William Lane Craig. Although some honorable influences also include Alvin Plantinga, C.S. Lewis, Hugh Ross, James White, Michael L. Brown, Nabeel Qureshi, Norman Geisler, Peter Kreeft, R. C. Sproul, and Voddie Baucham. My parents taught me the basics of Christianity when I was young and from there I have continued to develop my own systematic theology as I mature in the faith.

If I specialized in a subject within Christian apologetics, then it would either be philosophy or world religions. With that said, I’d like to know more about every subject if I’m perfectly honest. I’m mostly self taught, but I have had mentors in my life that have sharpened my worldview to be more coherent and concrete.

I attended the Colorado Film School for a while and have an education in screenwriting, along with directing for the screen. I continue to use my education in my career as I am currently the Director of Creative Content for AvidMax and produce their video media. I’m in the process of researching for two books that I am writing. The first book is a fictional novel that focuses on a married couple’s grieving a stillborn birth and the problem of suffering. The other book is like Mere Christianity for the modern world.

I started this blog for a few reasons. It gave me the opportunity to speak freely about whatever has been on my mind. People have also asked and encouraged me to write, so that inspired me as well. Most importantly, I believe God put me on this planet to write for Him.

This blog started in June of 2015 and will continue to go on as long as God wills. I’m Chris Cribari and this is just a frame of my life. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!