Se7en Years in Tibet: The Aftermath

Currently reading selections from James W. Sire’s seminal work, “The Universe Next Door”. At the end of the chapter in which he lays out the pantheistic worldview, Sire describes the trek of the Westerner who goes East to “search for meaning and significance”,

Many, of course, drop out along the way, try to take a shortcut to Nirvana through drugs, or cop out, come home and take over their family’s corporation, reentering the West and leaving the East behind with little more than a beard left to show for it (That gets trimmed before the first board meeting and removed before the second.)

Who says academicians are humorless people? For a pre-board meeting example of what Sire might be talking about, see below:

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Ravi Zacharias succinctly contrasts Christianity and Islam

I’m thoroughly enjoying Ravi’s 2000 book, Jesus Among Other Gods. The man has a way with words without being verbose and thus inhibiting the presentation of the Gospel.

While a post a day quoting a great insight from this book is doable, I’ll try to contain myself.

Before I cite the words relevant to the title of this post, I sense the urgency to quote Ravi’s words from a few pages earlier,

Jesus’ kingdom was of such nature that it was not procured by military might or power. Its rule is neither territorial nor political. If history has proven anything, it is that the spread of the gospel by the sword or by coercion has done nothing but misrepresent the message and bring disrepute to the gospel.

Now to the main quotation,

The teaching of Jesus is clear. No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian. This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam. In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith. There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of the state.

Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where a Muslim who renounces his or her belief in Islam to believe in anything else risks death. Freedom to critique the text of the Koran and the person of Mohammed are prohibited by the laws of blasphemy, and the result is torturous punishment.

One must respect the concern of a culture to protect what it deems sacred, but to compel a belief in Jesus Christ is foreign to the gospel, and that is a vital difference. The contrast is all too clear.

Ravi Zacharias on Postmodernism

This is taken from Ravi’s book, “Jesus Among Other Gods”,

Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true.

Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do no claim that it is a “better” way.

Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.

If a spiritual idea is eastern, it is granted critical immunity; if western, it is thoroughly criticized. Thus, a journalist can walk into a church and mock its carryings on, but he or she dare not do the same if the ceremony is from the eastern fold. Such is the mood at the end of the twentieth century.

A mood can be a dangerous state of mind, because it can crush reason under the weight of feeling. But that is precisely what I believe postmodernism best represents–a mood.

Thoughts?

Books to Read

The “inspiration” for this post came from a comment made by j razz over at his blog (Blogged Down World).

It can be truly said that the wife and I are bibliophiles. We’ve gotten to the point where we buy more books than we have time to read and as a result the queue is getting increasingly long.

For what it’s worth, here’s the list of books that are sitting on my shelf (or numerous other places throughout our home) and which I know that God willing I will finish at some point in the future:

Read more of this post

John Piper on the manifestations of Pride

Currently reading through John Piper’s classic, “Desiring God” and thoroughly enjoying it.

Here’s Dr. Piper’s insightful take on pride,

The nature and depth of human pride are illuminated by comparing boasting with self-pity. Both are manifestations of pride.

Boasting is the response of pride to success.

Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering.

Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.”

Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.”

Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong.

Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak.

Boasting sounds self-sufficient.

Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing.

Though Piper’s words might not be as elegant as CS Lewis’, it can be truly said that Dr. Piper no canta mal las rancheras.

CS Lewis Posthumously Corrects Philip Pullman

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of “Heaven” ridiculous by saying they do not want “to spend eternity playing harps.” The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them…

A child saying a child’s prayer looks simple. And if you are content to stop there, well and good. But if you are not–and the modern world usually is not–if you want to go on and ask what is really happening–then you must be prepared for something difficult. If we ask for something more than simplicity, it is silly then to complain that the something more is not simple.

Very often, however, this silly procedure is adopted by people who are not silly, but who, consciously or unconsciously, want to destroy Christianity. Such people put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. — C.S. Lewis

When a movie or a book comes out which is perceived to undermine Christianity, the reaction by some Christians really leaves a lot to be desired. The rallying cry of “Boycott” is heard from some Christian leaders and is a symptom of perhaps what can be called knee-jerk reactions.

Exhibit A,

“Christian groups slam new Kidman children’s movie”

The movie, of course, is “The Golden Compass” which is based on Phillip Pullman’s book “The Northern Lights”. Mr. Pullman does not like Christianity very much, this may be in part due to a misconception regarding the Way of Christ, but more than likely it might be the natural contempt humans have for the things of God, as the Apostle pointed out here.

Albert Mohler does not commit the mistake in Exhibit A, on the contrary he wrote a good article regarding the upcoming movie,
The Golden Compass — A Briefing for Concerned Christians

Dr. Mohler does his usual stellar job of breaking things down in a logical and concise manner. In his commentary, he cited an article in which Pullman further reveals his ignorance,

“This is exactly what happens in the Garden of Eden,” Pullman told me. “They become aware of sexuality, of the power the body has to attract attention from someone else. This is not only natural, but a wonderful thing! To be celebrated! Why the Christian Church has spent 2,000 years condemning this glorious moment, well, that’s a mystery. I want to confront that, I suppose, by telling a story that this so-called original sin is anything but. It’s the thing that makes us fully human.”

Besides the obvious display of darkened human understanding, as evidenced by Pullman’s description of original sin, Isaiah describes Pullman’s view of things here.

Though Pullman is no fan of C.S. Lewis he might want to read his works to at least know just what he is so vehement against,

A reasonable (and traditional) guess, based on our own experiences of going wrong, can, however, be offered. The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting Yourself first–wanting to be the centre–wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race.

Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.)

What Satan put into the heads of our remote–ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”–could set up on their own as if they had created themselves–be their own masters–invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God.

And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history-money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery–the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

Lewis goes on,

That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended–civilisations are built up–excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin.

In fact, the machine conks. It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down. They are trying to run it on the wrong juice. That is what Satan has done to
us humans.

Self-Righteousness: A Pillar of Unbelief

Often the charge is levied at religious people (in America it’s Christians since it is, on the surface, the prevalent faith) that they are self-righteous prigs who like nothing better than to impose their morality on everyone else and sapping the “fun” of out of everything. Sometimes the accusation is justified albeit for the wrong reasons.

It’s somewhat comical to watch religious people lob this label on one another. Among Christians much of this brotherly bickering could be curtailed with a cursory look at Romans 14, but I digress.

Currently reading Gene Edward Veith’s, “Loving God with All Your Mind” and are finding it to be a stimulating read.

In one of the chapters he talks about self-righteousness and the way he explains it shed some light on the fact that this disease is not limited to religious folk.

Veith writes,

The most dangerous illusion of them all is self-righteousness. This is the true barrier to Jesus Christ. All rejection of God’s grace takes this form. Those who refuse the free forgiveness of God through Christ do so because they do not see themselves as needing that forgiveness. They do no admit that they are sinners. They deny that they are desperately lost.

God’s Law in its purity works not only to shape society and to show us how we are to live, but also reveals our sinfulness and awakens in us our need of a Savior (Romans 7, Galatians 3).

And yet we try to convince ourselves, even in the midst of our sins, that we are basically good, in fact better than most people. We justify ourselves, and in our complacency and self-sufficient pride we shut out the grace of God.