The Veritas Forum: An Amazing Source for Thinking Christians and Non-Christians Alike

We all need help, and the help we need takes different forms throughout the various seasons of our life.

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avatars-000304975045-5n2u7d-originalI am currently writing a course for Enlightium Academy titled, “The Works of C.S. Lewis.” I am having a ton of fun writing this course though at times it has been a bit challenging. In the unit requiring students to read the majority of Lewis’ book, The Problem of Pain, they are required to watch a video where Oxford Mathematician John Lennox, my absolutely favorite Christian apologist, delivers both a sophisticated and compassionate response to the question, “Where is God amidst suffering and evil?” You can find the video by clicking here.

I watched this video in its entirety this morning and built the assignment. After doing so, I felt inspired to do something new with my website. If you now look at the homepage in the upper right, you will see “Links.” I want to help other Christians find the amazing online sources that are available to us all. We all need help, and the help we need takes different forms throughout the various seasons of our life. The video I mentioned earlier was originally posted on The Veritas Forum, a website dedicated to Christians and non-Christians alike who are asking difficult questions in relation to the Christian faith and what is revealed in the Bible. You can find the following description on the Veritas website:

How can we mend a broken world? How should we seek justice? What is the good life?

The Veritas Forum helps students and faculty ask life’s hardest questions. Many of the world’s leading universities were founded to answer the big “why” questions. Our mission is to help them confront these questions anew. The first Veritas Forum was planned by students, faculty and chaplains at Harvard University in 1992. Since then, over 200 universities in North America and Europe have hosted over 2,000 Forums.

The Veritas Forum is committed to courageous conversations. We place the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invite participants from all backgrounds to pursue Truth together.

The material on this website is stunning. Some of the top intellectuals in the world are asked to address certain topics related to Christianity in a way that is understandable for us all. Keep an eye out in the weeks and months to come as I continue to add to the list of links that I believe can help you and I fulfill the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

 

If you have any recommendations, send me a message.

Michael Brown & Eric Garner: An Argument Against Moral Relativism

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“Every man to himself.”

“Who are you to judge?”

“What is right for you is right for you, what is right for me is right for me.”

These are the type phrases you hear all of the time in America. All three have one thing in common. What? They each express the view known as Moral Relativism. Put simply, Moral Relativism is the view that there are no moral absolutes. There are no moral facts in the universe to be discovered. Thus, morality is nothing more than that which is preferred by an individual (i.e. ethical subjectivism) or that which is agreed upon by a particular society (cultural relativism). Morality is created, not discovered. This is a clear postmodern interpretation of morality. And this view is quite often trumpeted the loudest by agnostics and more specifically, atheists. In the absence of God (Nietzsche is famous for declaring, “God is dead”), there seems, though there have been attempts (Mill’s Greatest Happiness Principle and Kant’s Categorical Imperative), to not be any fixed reference point by which to ground moral objectivist claims.

All that being said, I believe that the current events in America reveal our morally hypocritical nature. Many of us want to be relativists when it comes to our personal life. An atheist can be because there is no God. A Christian can be by calling into the question the authority of the Bible. But when it comes down to it, when the rubber meets the road and something horrible happens, we all of the sudden operate on the principle that there are moral absolutes. A moral absolute is that which is morally right or morally wrong no matter who you are, what time period you live in, or what society you live in. So let me get to the point.

In the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and in the case of Eric Garner in New York City, NY, one of the things that has come out of all of this is the cry for justice (I am refraining from stating my opinion on the details of the case ONLY for the reason that this is not the purpose of this specific blog) and for people to recognize “Black lives matter.” And interestingly, no one, I repeat, no one that is calling for a justice on behalf of black Americans is saying, “Every man to himself,” or, “Who are you to judge,” or, “What is right for you is right for you.” No! Instead, we are screaming as loud as we can as Americans, “Racism is wrong, no matter who you are or what society you live in.” And, if you do not agree, we do not then respond, “Well, ok then, racism is right for you and wrong for us.” No! We judge, and rightly so. We are prepared to say, “If you are a racist, you are morally wrong for holding this view.” Racism is, from a moral perspective, not wrong because an individual or society thinks so. Rather, racism is wrong because we consider it a fact in the moral fabric of the universe that all people are equal.

Alduous Huxley, a famous author and atheist in the 20th century, wrote at the end of his life that his philosophy of meaninglessness (no spiritual or moral absolutes) was not the result of philosophical speculation. Rather, he chose this philosophy in order to feel justified in doing what he wanted both politically and sexually. Very honest.  I wish we were all that honest.

The last thing I want to say is that moral absolutes, especially absolutes like “Racism is wrong,” point clearly toward both a moral and personal God, both of which is best encapsulated in the Christian message. Why? Fyodor Dostoyevski wrote, “Without God, all things are permissible.” Without God, many argue, as I do, that there is no reference point, no ultimate court of appeal (of course, this brings in anothe set of questions, but that for another time). And not only is God needed if one desires to be intellectually responsible in claiming the existence of moral absolutes, but some of our absolutes tend to point toward the idea that God must be personal as well. “All people are equal” (and the corollary, “Racism is wrong.”) suggests that whomever is grounding these objective moral values is personal, caring, and value-affirming toward humans. The God of Christianity seems to fit the bill more than any other.

So, either claim “Racism is wrong” and admit you are a moral absolutist (which suggests the existence of a moral and personal God) or stop saying, “Racism is wrong.” I believe God exists, the Christian God, and therefore, am philosophically justified in making the moral claim, “Racism is wrong.”

One disclamer: Concerning these recent events, there are more important things to be said. This is a digression of sorts. Nonetheless, I believe it significant.

We Need More Than That

1 Peter 3:15 NIV
[15] But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Chances are, if you go up to a Christian and ask, “Why do you believe in Jesus,” the answer given will probably have something to do with a personal experience. Now, this is not wrong. To be honest, I meet too many Christians who seem to lack a deep, personal encounter/experience with The Lord. Yet, on the other side of the coin, is this enough?

I heard a story a while back of a Muslim that spoke of how God (“Allah” is nothing more than the Arabic word for “God”, similar to “Dios” in Spanish) healed him. The person was seriously ill, prayed to their God, and was healed. If you asked him why he believed in God, he might replay, “Because God is real, and him healing me proves it!” In other words, “Because of an experience I have had.”

When people ask for your reason for loving/following Jesus Christ, you better be able to point toward a personal experience you have had. HOWEVER, you need more than that. If the only defense you have for your faith is the same line (i.e. “I have had a personal experience.”) that an adherent in another religion can use, then Christ will seem nothing more than one option among many, a mere preference placed nicely and neatly among other buffet options.

Again, your “reason” for believing needs to be personal. If it is not, you are probably following doctrine more than the person of Christ. Yet, we as Christians need to be able to say more than that.

Let me give one example of what this might look like. If someone rises from the dead and later appears to approximately 500 people, then that would be a strong piece of evidence (not “proof,” for I advocate an inductive rather than deductive approach to demonstrating the reality and goodness of Christ) in favor of this risen person being God. You might come at it from this angle. If Christ didn’t rise from the dead, how did 11 disciples who were brokenhearted, disillusioned, disappointed, hopeless, and ashamed of their having left Jesus, all of the sudden live decades upon decades to honor Christ. Someone can live for a lie for some amount of time, but almost each one of these disciples ended up dying for Jesus after years of relentlessly serving Him. How do you fake that? One might say, “Well, it was pride. They didn’t want everyone to think they had made such a stupid, foolish choice.” I would reply, “Ok, maybe they could have faked it out of pride for a few months or years. But to keep going for decades and to be willing to even given their life for Christ, this seems to suggest they really did see a resurrected Christ. How could they have gone the distance, especially when you consider that their very life was required of them, for someone they were just pretending was alive. This kind of fortitude, persererance, and strength could have only existed in their hearts if indeed they witnessed and experienced a Jesus after His death.”

Now, this is not my original thought. Lee Strobel and others have developed this in more detail. Does the above “prove” that what Christians believe is in fact the truth? No. But does it provide one more piece of evidence that makes our case stronger? Yes! A little humility goes a long way. As a Christian, I am not called to provide a mathematical-type proof for God’s existence and goodness. However, I am called upon to provide pieces of evidence so that people have a hard time arguing that at the end of the day, among so many competing worldviews, Christianity really is the most comprehensive and holistic answer.

The bottom line is this: You better have more than, “I have experienced God.” You may not need it, but this is not about you. We are called to be salt and light. Being able to say more than, “I have experienced God,” is how we humbly love and serve our fellow human who does not yet share our faith.