Saturday, October 22, 2005

I love God coz it really works!

Joshua reflects on a grim truth of today's Christianity:

"In his essay "Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?", Russell wrote:


"I can respect the men who argue that religion is true and therefore ought to be believed, but i can only feel profound moral reprobation for those who say that religion ought to be believed because it is useful, and that to ask whether it is true is a waste of time."At National University of Singapore, as some of us (Christians) gathered after a talk by someone on some topic, there came an student who asked us for our reason why do we think that our belief is true. At first, everyone hesistated to give an answer, then there was this young lady voice out that the reason why she thinks that Christianity is true is because she believes the bible is the word of God, and the word of God helped her whenever she was struggling with decision making. The bible provided her solutions, therefore she believes that Christianity is true.

That's pragmatism. Christianity is no longer true because it is true in itself, but because it's workable. What kind of rubbish is this?

Christianity is true, therefore it works... not it works, therefore it's true!" (Click here to read full post)

10 comments:

The Hedonese said...

Only the truth really 'works'!

tfleong said...

Thank you for this piece of information. This is the beginning of an email I sent to members of the NECF Research Commission to share an update on a paper I presented to them last month. It is self-explanatory:

In my paper last month I used the quote "I (still) believe in Christianity because it (still) works for me" to help describe or define a postmodern youth. I mentioned that I had not heard anyone actually saying that but made it up. I had to depend on Josh McDowell's book to support me.

I can now update my paper because I have found a "local" (by this I mean Malaysia and Singapore) example to show that the made-up quote has actually been uttered (in essence) at least once....

discordant_dude said...

There are somethings that "work" in other religions too, so there must be fragments of truths in other religions as well?

BK said...

Since the starting point for a lot of pomos is "Does it work?", is that where we should start at too when reaching those with such a mindset, before working our way to questions of truth-claims ("Is it true?")? Or should we defend the truthfulness of truth, as it were, first? Or another alternative?

The Hedonese said...

imho, it helps to show how alternative worldviews do not 'work' or 'unliveable', and demonstrate how the biblical worldview makes sense of life, morality, personhood etc first...

wat Schaeffer called 'taking the roof off', its a type of applying the Law (luther).. show em the logical consequences of their views.

Then we cant leave them as they are, they'd be worse off and its cruel... we nid to give the gospel. "This works bcos its the truth" comes in later...

It's the old Lutheran Law-Gospel way of preaching

BK said...

Thanks for replying. :) So...evangelism at the level of worldviews then? Hehe...suppose pomo ppl don't recognise worldviews/declare the death of worldviews as a worldview is essentially a metanarrative? (I guess the answer is that postmodernism itself is also a worldview!)

I guess it finally comes down to the individual person, but I don't think reductio ad absurdum, or showing the logical consequences of their views, is always the right way, because some people are quite happy to live with their inconsistencies and/or contradictions; and if handled in a pig-headed manner, can lead to more resistance. I suspect that for pomo ppl, an evidential apologetic is often stronger evidence (though I better be careful of drawing too sharp a distinction between mind and heart - that would be going against the aims of the Agora now wouldn't it? :-p )

I agree that the biblical worldview is internally consistent and coherent, but I suspect none of us have the 'perfect' biblical worldview.

Still, I can see your point, and I think this is exactly what William Lane Craig did when I listened to him debate last year - contend at the level of worldviews, but not being afraid to share the truth of the gospel either.
Romans 1:16-17 in action!

The Hedonese said...

Amen! Some things i gleaned from RZIM... One speaker called us as ambassadors to be...

"Articulator of Inner Events"

C.S. Lewis, John Eldredge and Barry Morrow are all examples of helping people "make
sense" of unarticulated notions, deep desires and powerful feelings within them. With
some idea of who and what we are, what makes us tick and what we need (as human
beings made in God's image), we can use the fragilities and frailties that are felt and the
subsequent questions which come, as indicators of a greater reality or as pointers to the
very source of life, healing and peace.

B. The Demonstration of Compassion
The impersonal and "don't get involved" nature of much that passes for "service" in our
world, is symptomatic of the deeply felt alienation of our times. Compassion calls us to
not only hear or share with people, but to enter into life situations. As Nouwen says,
"Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that men (and
women) feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty that the world knows all too
well is also rooted in our own impulses."

As he says further on, "The compassionate person who points to the possibility of
forgiveness helps others to free themselves from the chains of their restrictive shame,
allows them to experience their own guilt, and restores their hope for a future in which
the lamb and the lion can sleep together." Amen.

The Contemplative Critic

Knowing that life is difficult, that pain is real, that issues are complex and demanding,
the challenge (for us) is not to fall into despair or cynicism, but to offer another way.
Nouwen is right on target, "As a contemplative critic he keeps a certain distance to
prevent his becoming absorbed in what is most urgent and most immediate, but that
same distance allows him to bring to the fore the real beauty of man and his world,
which is always different, always fascinating, always new." 16 We need to point people
to what is basic, central and ultimate.

jacksons said...

I must add though, that like many characters in the Bible, many of us began our journey in a relationship with God based on what He did for us - a healing, a relieved conscience, a miracle of an answered prayer in desperation, these brought us to a real understanding of God, like the two disciples having Jesus pointed out to them by John the Baptist, and so we said to Him from there “Master, where do you live” and followed Him from then on.

But like Jesus warned;

John 6:26-27
"Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs , but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal."
ESV

We can tend to take miracles & God’s providence as an ends in themselves, and not as the means they were designed to achieve – to point to God, for who He is and how it relates to us, His creatures. So, people, when they concentrate for to long on what they can get from God, and are not on a passionate quest to know Him, really scare me.

ManiaC Provost said...

Modern man has a much more scientific worldview than in the past. Scientific theories are not considered 'true' or 'false' per se, but they are accepted if they work. This method of investigation has created the material prosperity we enjoy today. Like Descartes, science uses what it cannot disprove and believes almost nothing wholeheartedly.

It is not surprising that this attitude permeates our culture, especially as people are naturally selfish and egocentric. However, even Descartes believed in absolute truth. He based his belief in God on what he considered perfect logic. I think this distinction of 'absolute truth' is somewhat lost on many people.

jacksons said...

Hi ManiaC Provost, pleased to meet you, i went to your blog and alot of it was greek to me, being one not very familiar with US politics. Maybe you can tell us abit more about yourself?