Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Why Study Philosophy?

Because of its reputation as an esoteric field thanks to areas within the broader discipline concerned with matters barely connected with everyday life, many ask, “Why study philosophy?” when confronted with the subject. Related to this are concerns and reservations raised by many sincere Christians regarding this area of study because of luminaries such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Marx who used their formidable cognitive abilities to undermine the Judeo-Christian framework of Western civilization.

But in reality, philosophy can be a powerful tool capable of helping the Christian to better comprehend God's universe and to fulfill their Scriptural obligations as salt of the earth. In “Introduction To Philosophy: A Christian Perspective”, Norman Geisler provides the reader with a number of reasons why the study of philosophy is useful beyond the exercise of mental abilities (20-22).

For starters, philosophy can aide the individual in understanding human society. Though many fail to realize it, philosophical issues are found at the base of civilized life and how a populace approaches these issues will determine the very quality of life enjoyed throughout society

For example, does a woman's right to reproductive choice outweigh the human rights of the tiny life growing within her? Or, is it just to discriminate against those who have done no wrong in order to benefit the descendants of those who have faced historic injustices even though these descendants currently enjoy a considerable degree of equality?

It has been said that America is the only nation based on a set of ideas rather than an accident of geography. Those seeking to solve these complex social issues had better offer justification beyond the brute power of the state if delicately balanced liberties are to remain intact.

Professor Geisler also points out that philosophy with its emphasis on clear thought can help liberate the individual from provincialism and clarify the meaning of Scripture. Many times what the Church considers holy writ are in fact human accretions added on for whatever reason. These might be legitimate or mere grabs at power whose origins have been forgotten in the distant past.

 Besides assisting the Church in sifting between what is God's directive and man's opinion, legitimate philosophical inquiry can elucidate the holy reasoning behind a number of divine decrees. For example, through the application of reason and analysis, one can deduce that the Biblical dictates forbidding adultery are in fact rules set down by a loving Father rather than by a deity seeking to be a cosmic wet blanket.

It would be an accurate analogy to compare history's philosophical giants with the great military leaders of the past. Just as aspiring military officers study the strategies and tactics of these figures for the purposes of perfecting their own craft in order to defeat their battlefield adversaries, Christians must know their own opponents in the arena of ideas so that they might win souls for Christ and to retake social territories in the culture war (or at least prevent the loss of additional intellectual or moral ground).

For those turned off by military analogies and comparisons, John Warwick Montgomery suggested that the apologist must soak up the ideology of his day in a fashion not unlike a missionary learning a foreign language in order to communicate with those spiraling down the path towards eternal damnation. Philosophy, rightly applied, can be an immense help in the accomplishment of this task, especially when so much of contemporary thought is an eclectic mishmash of Nietzschean, Darwinian and Marxist ideology. With even a passing familiarity with philosophy, one is able to realize how many blows are struck at human liberty simply through poorly defined phrases and concepts.

II Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” For too long assorted factions within the Church have sought to sanctify their own ignorance. As a result, culture is reaping a harvest of bloodshed, blasphemy and disbelief.

It must be realized that God is the God of all creation, including philosophy when built upon a solid foundation. If Charlie Church is to reach out to Phil Philosophy, he must do so by showing that this field rightly divided also points back to the creator and sustainer of all things.

By Frederick Meekins

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Naive Religionists Eager To Find Shackles Under Their Nonsectarian Commemorative Photosynthesizing Lifeform

The scene is a classic one in terms of cinema. Depicted is an army defending its position with muskets or rifles drawn as the adversary marches steadily closer. To maintain awareness of the situation, a commanding officer reminds those under his authority to remain steady and not to fire until explicitly ordered to do so. Inevitably with the tension so thick, a trigger will release and a weapon fires before the desired moment.

Observers of America's cultural situation witnessed something similar in the developments that unfolded surrounding the 2015 Starbuck's Christmas cup. For whatever reason, the purveyor of shockingly overpriced caffeinated beverages decided to go with a plain red cup unadorned by any additional ornamentation with the exception of the company's mermaid logo. Absent were the snowflakes or decorations of Christmas cups past.

Christian Evangelist Joshua Feuerstein responded that this design alteration was akin to removing Christ from the celebration of His birth. Most Christians shrugged off such a reaction with a laugh or two, remarking that they really didn't care as they never purchased a $7.00 cup of coffee in the first place and weren't about to begin doing so now.

Others such as Lutheran theologian Chris Roseborough reflected that it is the duty of actual Christians rather than retailers to take the true meaning of the holiday to the broader unbelieving world. Still others such as Southern Seminary President and former Southern Baptist functionary Richard Land assured that there will indeed be a boycott of Starbucks nevertheless just to assure the captains of commerce that conservative

Christians are still capable of exerting economic influence. Yet an additional perspective contends that, since lack of a snowflake on a red cup has got to be the flimsiest of evidence of a war against Christmas that one could come up with, that must mean the war against Christmas must be about as real as flying reindeer. However, children born the day I published my first column regarding the effort to undermine Christmas are now nearly old enough to legally spike their eggnog.

These deprivations of liberty and subversions of culture have occurred with such regularity that I was able to assemble a sufficient number of these holiday-themed columns into my first book published in 2006 titled “Yuletide Terror & Other Holiday Horrors” and am well on my way to completing an even longer sequel. Among these apparently non-existent incidents ranked students denied the opportunity to attend a performance of “The Christmas Carol” because of the work's holiday-specific content, municipalities terrified to refer to their celebratory greenery by the traditional nomenclature, and students forbidden from distributing to classmates something as simple as a candy cane accompanied with a card interpreting the confection's origin from a religious perspective.

Even more disturbing than either Christians that don't celebrate Christmas over objections as to what they perceive as the holiday's questionable origins or outright unbelievers wanting to censor the Gospel message because of the offense of the cross comes an additional outlook that is apparently aroused by the prospect of cultural subjugation. This particular viewpoint was articulated in a ChristianPost column titled “Why Christians Should Lose The Christmas Culture War” by Jared Byas. Of his particular bias, Mr. Byas writes, “For me, defending God means letting go of 'Merry Christmas' so my non-Christian neighbors feel respected when I invite them to the holiday table. For me, keeping Christ in Christmas is not about winning the culture war --- but about losing it.”

If that is how Jared Byas gets his Christmas jollies, that is his own business. But just because his mental lights exhibit the symptoms of a loose bulb, there is no reason the remainder of us must also. If your neighbor is such a burro excretory orifice that they have a mental breakdown at the sight of religious symbols or even decorations where the religious meaning might not be quite as obvious, is there really much of a point in inviting them to this hypothesized nonsectarian holiday table? If we are to gradually set aside the traditions that characterize this particular season, perhaps the first to go is pretending to care about those that you barely give the time of day to the remainder of the year.

It might be one thing to tone down one's in your face religiosity in the attempt to reach out to an acquaintance overtly hostile towards true spirituality. However, this attitude of abject surrender is not without profound consequences.

Those such as Jared Byas elevating nicety to the status of something akin to the Prime Directive from Star Trek have failed to realize that God establishes different missions or objectives for what are conceived of as the distinct social spheres or what might be referred to as orders of creation in Augustinian theology. For example, Romans 13:3-4 stipulates, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil...For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he beareth not the sword in vain for he is the minister God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (KJV).”

However, for someone that is thought of as a traditional minister in terms of church office that administers the sacraments or delivers the public proclamation of God's Word to draw a sword to settle an acrimonious debate on what color the new carpet in the sanctuary would be or to resolve a heated doctrinal disagreement in Sunday school class would be for such a pastor to overstep the boundaries of appropriate authority. Translated in terms of the Christmas issue, it might be in good taste that, if you invite the adherent of another faith over for Christmas, you don't berate them up one end and down the other as to the shortcomings of their errant belief unless they first proceed to attack you in like manner.

However, a culture or nation cannot necessarily afford to be as lenient in terms of its standards and foundational assumptions. For example, those that do not share in the assumption that values Christmas as a cherished celebration should be allowed to verbalize that they do not, articulate the reasons why, and pretty much allowed to continue along in their affairs without bodily harm or without fear of such to an extent that a person steeped in a common sense realism would deem sufficiently reasonable. However, that does not mean that the majority that value, celebrate, and derive meaning from the comprehensive narrative source from which Christmas is derived should be required to cower in silence for fear of upsetting those that do not or of receiving punishment for having done so.

In the attempt to position themselves as profoundly pious, it is quite evident that some fail to comprehend the full implications of what they are actually advocating. Jared Byas writes, “For me, keeping the Christ in Christmas is not about winning the culture war --- but about losing it.”

As in any conflict, sometimes the battles go on for so long and become so acrimonious that the involved parties can end up forgetting that for which they are fighting. The term “culture war” gained widespread notoriety in Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 Republican convention. In the address, the political analyst and former presidential candidate gave rhetorical voice to the proverbial Silent Majority noticing then that the embrace of progressivism and permissiveness on the part of various institutions such as academia, media and government was resulting in symptoms of noticeable decline throughout American culture and society.

Therefore, in calling for a surrender in the culture war those of the viewpoint shared by Mr. Byas think that what they are calling for is a truce on the part of all parties to simply play nice on the part of all parties irrespective of creed. What they are inadvertently giving the green light to is an anything goes mentality that will eventually result in the worst depravities and possibly even atrocities imaginable.

The veracity of this observation is already playing itself out in regards to the gay marriage issue. After standing up for years against the steady drumbeat to normalize this particular moral corrosion, many sincere Christians finally relented. They essentially said, “Fine, go ahead and do as you please in the privacy of your own bedroom. Just don't expect the remainder of us to stand around applauding in approval.”

This armistice of don't ask don't tell did not last long in terms of history's lengthy reach. For throughout this unfolding cultural revolution, the propagandists and social engineers insisted that the love between a couple of any combination imaginable was not dependent upon a piece of paper. But nearly as soon as those attempting to order their thoughts and their lives in compliance with the sanctified and the holy began to make peace with the fact that much of society was going to recognize such unnatural couplings as perfectly ordinary, additional blows were landed by the ephors of the judiciary that those objecting to the solemnization of wanton carnality would also be required to render the legal equivalent of acceptance and adulation.

In a court ruling upholding the right of conscience for the marrying couple but apparently not for the objecting merchant, a baker was threatened with financial ruination and the profound psychological trauma resulting from such for doing little more than refusing to bake a cake for a wedding that the baker believed to be an abomination in the eyes of God and for a couple not even likely to remain faithful to one another within the next couple of years anyway.

Libertines will snap why can't the baker just go ahead and bake the cake? Traditionalists can retort why can't the couple simply find another baker (which shouldn't be too difficult given that those of the couple's boudoir proclivities are often quite skilled in those crafts requiring a creative flair).

So what other freedoms and liberties is Jared Byas willing to surrender when he hoists the white flag in the culture war? Edmund Burke admonished that all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing.

At the University of Mississippi, not only has the word “Christmas” been banned because it “connoted too much Christianity on campus” but so has the traditional color combination of red and green, having been replaced with red, blue, and silver. Commissars at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville decreed that in the future staff and student organizations must eliminate all religious themes and cultural allusions associated with designated celebration periods commonly referred to as holidays. But do such acts of censorship also apply to Muslim or secularist Jewish populations as well?

One waits with anticipation to hear of the commencement of orgies and human sacrifice. Think that remark goes a little too far?

It must be pointed out that the Nazis were also big on removing Christ and Christmas in favor of generic winter celebrations venerating nature, the state, and the COMMUNITY. As to the orgies, the University of Mississippi has changed the name of its celebration from the festive yet dignified “Grand Ole Christmas” to “Hotty Totty Holidays”. And with a name like that bringing to mind drunkenness and lewd behavior, academic administrators will still gawk on dumbfounded and flabbergasted at the expansion of the alleged rape culture supposedly reaching epidemic proportions on campuses across the country.

From the way Byas formulates his argument, it is assumed that insisting that the existence of Christmas be recognized is an inherently selfish act. This is evident in the phrase ...laying down my demand that the coffee shop I share with my non-Christian neighbors 'privilege' my religion.” The word “privilege” was no doubt deliberately selected in the attempt to link this issue with the revolutionary fervor of the Black Lives Matter movement with its constant drum beat of “White privilege” in the hopes of eroding resistance to increasingly extravagant demands. But are the motives for demanding a generalized respect for Christmas necessarily an either/or dichotomy between selfishness and altruism? Why can't it be a little bit of each?

In “The Wealth Of Nations'”, Scottish economist Adam Smith hypothesized that it was through the enlightened self-interest of numerous individuals making decisions on behalf of their own particular needs and desires that the great invisible hand was able to manifest the will of providence. This particularly brought about the distribution of a finite quantity of goods and services.

However, this theory can just as properly be applied to a Christian approach to the controversy surrounding the Christmas issue. In his call for abdication along this front in the culture war, Jared Byas believes that he I upholding the Biblical admonition to esteem others more highly than ourselves. And that principle does indeed have a place in adjudicating the relationship between specific individuals.

For example, if someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” and they seem sincere in their extension of the sentiment, there is no need to go “Old Testament” upon them calling down holier than thou condemnation in how you go out of your way to maintain the theological formalities of the holiday. Such stridency might do more harm than help in advancing the cause of Christ.

However, what about addressing the attempts of unbelievers demanding that their own animosity towards traditional expressions of religion be granted a place of privilege so militant that in order to be satisfied an entire civilization is expected to lay down in what amounts to ritualized suicide? Therefore, provided one goes about it in a levelheaded manner, each time that you speak out against a censorship or deprivation of Christmas even if as little as letting someone know how much these radical activists tick you off, you are not being selfish.

You are in fact defending the right of someone else to enjoy Christmas unabashed in compliance with their particular convictions. Even more importantly, you are also lighting a candle against a pending Dark Age bent on plunging the world into an engulfing and pervasive tyranny.

By

Dr. Frederick Meekins

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Terrorist Attacks Prompt Church To Downplay Its Open Border Homilies

In response to the terrorist attack in Paris, Pastor William Strum of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC remarked how dumb a nation had to be to grant entrance to swarms of refugees.

Both he and Senior Pastor Sean Harris suggested that the approach of targeting specific Jihadist leaders and cells would ultimately be doomed to failure.

Rather, the Western World must consider eliminating significant swaths of the Islamic population.

Yet in a SermonAudio podcast uploaded a little over a week prior to these remarks that addressed Hungary's refusal to admit Islamic refugees, Pastor Strum declared that, as a minister of the Gospel, that he would teach that these infidel indigents should be allowed entrance since it is our obligation to be more “Christian” than “American”.

Pastor Strum was previously so sure of his position regarding this issue that he announced in the podcast that he was requiring the students in his world religion class to write a paper on the Christian approach to immigration.

In Christian school jargon, that means the essay will likely be graded down if the approach taken by the student is not in agreement with the personnel opinion of the instructor.

Apart from not machine gunning down without warning those violating our borders without permission, the primary obligation of the American government is to protect actual Americans first and foremost.

If a nation decides not to admit a single immigrant, a society has fulfilled any so-called Christian obligation.

By Frederick Meekins

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Catholic Media Invokes Christmas Imagery To Manipulate Refugee Policy

In the attempt to play on Christian sympathies at Christmas time, the National Catholic Register has posted a story titled, “No Room At The Inn, Why So Few Syrian Refugees Come To America”.

Firstly, the only ones that can be blamed for that are those that formulate the admissions policy.

Most Americans aren't held in much higher esteem by the secret society elites that run the upper echelons of the State Department and related agencies than the refugees applying for entrance.

It is doubtful your State Department gives a hoot what you think.

If the agency had it's way, those that run the place would probably like nothing better than to implement Prince Philip's proposal of systematic depopulation in the most diplomatic way possible where you would end up thanking them for doing you a favor in terminating your existence.

Secondly, Roman authorities ordered the swarms of whom Mary and Joseph ranked to report to their ancestral lands.

The United States did not compel the dispossessed to flock here only to slam the door in their face.

There is not a constitutional obligation to let them in.

Thirdly, enough with badmouthing what transpired at the inn after all these centuries.

How do we not know that the beds there weren't filled by other pregnant women also on the verge of giving birth or perhaps even elderly in nearly as much agony as Mary might have been?

Even if Mary had made a fuss that she was carrying the Redeemer, without angelic intervention to verify, why ought she have necessarily been believed in the first place?

By Frederick Meekins

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Purpose & Scope Of Apologetics

Apologetics exists as a field of Christian study to aide the believer in understanding his beliefs, why critics refuse to ascent to these eternal truths, and how these beliefs apply to broader intellectual concerns. Upon hearing of these applications of the discipline, those unfamiliar with such studies might conclude the field to be a subject preoccupied with trivial, esoteric arguments divorced from more pressing issues arising in the course of everyday life.

However, Apologetics does not have to confine itself to the halls of higher education. Apologetics does, in fact, have a role to play in the more popular forms of communication and cultural expression often looked down upon by more traditional academics and clergy.

Many students enrolled in formal degree programs and academic courses of Apologetics no doubt embrace aspirations of serving the Lord in the capacity of a pastor, missionary, or some other form of traditional Christian service. While these students are to be commended for such lofty goals, it must be noted that formalized education in Apologetics can also be good preparation for vocations involving more direct confrontation with the social and cultural realities of the day.

Such an assessment is not a detached observation. Rather it is one derived from my own experience of nearly two decades as a writer of editorial and op-ed commentaries. These efforts began in local newspapers but eventually migrated onto the Internet as that particular technology became more widespread and assessable.

One would not, at first glance, suspect a connection between Apologetics and scathing news analysis. However, Apologetics can serve as as useful tool to get at the ideas and assumptions concealed beneath the theatrics and hoopla surrounding most public issues.

Likewise, the Evangelical might be surprised by the receptivity of many of these public forums to the presentation of the Christian worldview since most believers have grown accustomed to a hostility towards traditional religious perspectives in the mainstream media. The point is not so much for the Christian to expect to anchor the nightly news on one of the major networks but to capitalize on those opportunities made available by new technologies contributing to the democratization of the means of mass communication.

The ability of the Christian to stake a foothold and win at least a modest audience in the tumultuous arena of public debate is predicated on the nature of truth itself. Romans 2:14 says, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, since they show that requirements of the law are written on their hearts...”

This reality serves as a gateway to an apologetic utilized by some of the most influential Christian thinkers. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery writes in “The Law Above The Law”, “...the fundamental function of the legal profession is to seek justice by seeking truth. The lawyer endeavors to reduce societal conflicts by arbitrating conflicting truth claims (68).” Similar things could be said of the journalist or columnist as these modern scribes chronicle the events of the day and attempt to relate them to the overall human condition.

Yet the Christian taking the insights of Apologetics into the public debate should not expect things to always go along peachy keen. After all, this is an age whose prevalent outlook of relativism stands in opposition to the absolute claims of the Christian faith. It, therefore, falls to the apologist to show the contemporary unbeliever, acculturated to the temper of these times, the disjunction that exists between what the average non-Christian publicly professes and the stable moral order the heart actually longs for whether the individual fully realizes it or not.

C.S. Lewis in “Mere Christianity” noted that when there is a disagreement between two individuals, “It looks, in fact, very much as if both parties had in mind some Law or Rule of...morality...Quarelling means trying to show that the other man is wrong. And there would be no sense in trying to do that unless (there was) some sort of agreement as to what Right and Wrong are (31-32).” If radical tolerance really was the ultimate principle around which the universe operated, argumentation would be pointless and perhaps impossible. Alister McGrath writes in “Intellectuals Don't Need God & Other Modern Myths”, “Lewis's point ... is that there is a core of moral constraints underlying human civilization (40).”

The Christian makes the argument for the superiority of his answer by comparing how well Christianity and the competing belief system in question measure up to various tests such as that of systematic consistency and coherence. By this test, the philosophical investigator examines how well the statements within a given worldview logically fit together and how these propositions square with the external facts. In the arena of public debate, this test is carried out by extrapolating from policies and ideas to their ultimate conclusions and how they either help or hinder both the individual and the nation.

For example, Winfred Corduan of Taylor University writes in “No Doubt About It: The Case For Christianity”, “Relativism plays the role of Zorro in the world of knowledge. It stays in concealment for long periods of time only to suddenly appear at crucial moments, conquer the day, and go back into hiding (37).” In other words, relativism might be good for tearing down dogmas, but there is no way an individual can live or a society govern by this perspective consistently. Because with no standard by which to cry “foul”, such an ethic naturally degenerates into the strong imposing their arbitrary will upon the weak.

Francis Schaeffer noted in “A Christian Manifesto”, “We live in...sociopolitical law. By sociopolitical law we mean law that has no fixed base but law in which a group of people decides what is sociologically good for society ...and what they arbitrarily decide becomes law (41).” So if society needs to kill a few million Jews or experiment on a few million fetuses, who is the average relativist to argue against these kinds of things when these atrocities are couched in the language of the “common good”? There might have been a time when Christians could have ignored the outside world with little peril; but as apologists such as C.S. Lewis, John Warwick Montgomery, and Francis Schaeffer have made know, that day is long gone if it ever existed at all.

Of the gains made by Christians in the discipline of Philosophy over the past several decades, J.P. Moreland says in “Evangelical Apologetics: Selected Essays From The 1995 Evangelical Theological Society Convention”, “In spite of these gains, however, it would be misleading to speak as if all were well on the battlefront. There is much work to be done...philosophical apologetics should be focused on those areas of study in which activity is underrepresented...Political and social philosophy would get my vote here (19-29).” This analysis has echoed this sentiment in calling for a Christian voice to address the pertinent issues of the day. This examination also embraces the spirit of Dr. Moreland's comments calling upon apologists not to ignore other forms of popular communication for the most part traditionally overlooked by Christian polemicists, primarily imaginative literature.

Bombarded with an unending twenty-four hour news cycle and conflicting streams of argumentation on nearly every conceivable issue, some overloaded minds simply turn off any alacrity they once had for the absorption of raw facts and refined logic. The desire to be entertained here in the twenty-first century shows few signs of letting up.

John Warwick Montgomery writes in “Neglected Apologetic Styles: The Juridical and The Literary” appearing in the same volume as J.P. Moreland's essay writes, “The...juggernaut of scientific technology has alienated many in our society...Might literary creativity offer a way through this labyrinth? Can literature succeed where other paths have failed (126)?” Unlike rational argumentation, which as to get around tenaciously held objections or what C.S. Lewis referred to as “watchful dragons”, stories have a way of infiltrating the defenses of the mind before one realizes what is happening (McGrath, 198).

The success of this approach is not predicated, however, upon literature for literature's sake. For although packaged in the regalia of high adventure, sympathetic characters and compelling settings, to literary sophisticates John Warwick Montgomery observes in “Myth, Allegory & Gospel”, “Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien display...an infuriating combination or ingenuousness and genius. On the other hand, no 20th century writers in the English-speaking world have had such an ... extensive impact on the intelligentsia in the sphere of ultimate commitment (14).” Of Tolkien, Montgomery admits that some say of this fantasist that he “...limits his imagery to the symbols of Celtic and medieval myth and the verities of the Christian tradition that in the judgment of a recent critic ...'his earnest vision seems syncretistic, his structure a collage, and his feeling antiquarian.'. (14).” Yet “The Lord Of The Rings” has been heralded as the greatest novel of the twentieth century and the cinematic adaptations set in this imaginary realm are the box office hit of any Christmas season.

What these tales do is tap into a fund of themes, ideas, and images etched upon the human mind and soul. Lewis himself reflected upon the theories of Jung and Tolkien to account for the appeal of these timeless narratives. Jung believed that myths and fantasies verbalize symbols universal to the human psyche. Tolkien Christianized this idea when he said as quoted in “Myth, Allegory & Gospel”, “The Gospels contain...a story of a larger kind which embraces all of the essences of fairy stories (117).” John Warwick Montgomery further expounds, “To Tolkien and Lewis, tales such as “The Chronicles Of Narnia” can...serve as pointers to...Christian Redemption. Moreover, they will establish in the heart of the sensitive reader an appreciation of and a longing for the Christian story (118).” This technique works because, as Romans 1:20 informs, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities --- his eternal power and divine nature --- have been clearly seen so that men are without excuse (NIV).” Thus, each human being's inbuilt curiosity regarding God and eternal things pops up in regards to the stories of good and evil so prevalent in contemporary popular culture.

With such names as Lewis and Tolkien attached to it, the average Christian might feel unworthy of employing an apologetic having grown synonymous with classical literature for fear of not properly honoring it. However, even those unlikely of ever penning a timeless epoch for the ages can still use speculative narrative to stimulate the imagination in the direction of religious truth. In fact, one does not even have to adorn the tale in the traditional medieval fantasy motifs popularized by this format since the underlying concepts being presented are much more important than the external trappings and regalia.

Though it might seem a bit clich├ęd now in light of the popularity of Left Behind and the crop of other End Times novelizations that popped up at the turn of the millennium, in a creative writing class during college I wrote a short story incorporating certain elements of a literalist eschatology such as the Rapture, the Mark of the Beast and Christian Redemption and placed them in a literary setting incorporating elements of the techno-thriller and police-state genres. The story was surprisingly well-received by a state university audience. Some of the students were kind enough to rank it among the best in the class.

It has been said that those who can, do; those who cannot, teach. Likewise, in the literary world, those who can, write; those who cannot, criticize.

Among those Christians who enjoy imaginative adventures but lack the creativity to craft their own speculative worlds there is more than ample opportunity to relate the symbols found in these narratives to Biblical truths. Some might consider it bizarre to comb science fiction and fantasy for parallels in Christian thought. Silly as it seems, it is not without precedence among secular academics to examine this kind of material through the analytical lenses of their own respective disciplines.

Such efforts have given rise to a group of semi-popular works one might classify as “Star Trek Studies”. One such volume entitled “The Ethics Of Star Trek” by Judith Barad, head of the Department of Philosophy at Indiana State University, examines the moral dilemmas confronted by these beloved characters created by the late Gene Roddenberry. It would, therefore, be just as legitimate to probe and analyze programs such as “Babylon 5”, “Stargate”, “Battlestar Galatica”, and “Doctor Who” as a form of apologetic outreach to an overlooked segment of the population, namely science fiction enthusiasts. The Blackwell Philosophy & Pop Culture Series already does something similar from the standpoint of secular philosophy.

II Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “...we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses (NAS).” The Scripture acknowledges that the children of God are at war. In this conflict, it would not be strategically sound to have all the participants engaged in the same kind of combat. The army fights on the land, the navy on the sea. Still other agencies such as the CIA gather intelligence for the other branches and engage in other assorted activities not exactly fitting the mission profiles of the other services. Likewise, it is the mission of the apologist to gather information of the conditions outside of the Church and to relay that knowledge back to the body of Christ and to go into places where a pastor might not be accepted or appreciated.

By Frederick Meekins

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pastors Needing To Get Somewhere Run All Over The Congregation

In a blog post at ChristianPost, it said that the most common reason a pastor leaves a church is because the pastor believes that they have taken a church as far as they can.

From the assorted scandals that erupt nearly constantly, I would have assumed it was because the pastor couldn't keep his hands off other men's wives or even underage minors.

But on a more serious note, why is it that a church has to necessarily “go anywhere”.

Isn't it enough that people show up each week, politely listen to the sermon, drop a few dollars into the collection plate, and wash and repeat the next week?

A pastor saying that they have to take a church as far as they can sounds like a pronouncement uttered from atop a dangerous precipice.

Primarily, it sounds like a pastor is willing to stomp all over a congregation in order to make a name for himself.

In such a situation as a member of the congregation or regular attender, if you don't go along with the pastor's outlandish schemes, you are made out to be some kind of dangerous subversive.
Slow and steady wins the race.

If you find yourself in a congregation where the church needs to “go somewhere”, you might very easily find yourself in the jungles of Latin America where the unsuspecting before they realize it are forced to line up to take the “spicy Kool Aid” whether they really want to or not.

Frederick Meekins

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Church Bulletin Provides Little Comfort For Those Enduring Prolonged Suffering

A testimony on the back of a church bulletin detailed the spiritual journey of retailer J.C. Penney.

At a low point in his life at the age of 58, he found himself in a Michigan sanitarium.
Here he cried out, “Lord, I can do nothing. Will you take care of me?”

Of that petition, the testimony reads, “God answered Penney's prayer for salvation and restored his health and wealth.”

Praise be to God.

However, the part about health and wealth raises a number of questions.

How is emphasizing that much different than the Osteenism that Independent Fundamental Baptists rightly preach against?

But what of those that God does not return to health and material prosperity?

Are not “no”, “later”, or “in a manner different from the way you asked” also answers to prayer?
If such souls do not receive restitution on this plane of existence, are we to conclude that the prayer requesting such was not sincere?

And what about when Penney croaked at 95?

Should that be taken that his prayer was not focused or directed, to use the faddish terminology we are hearing enunciated even in churches that go out of their way to assure how much they avoid prevailing theological innovations?

It can be uplifting to hear stories of those t

hat find themselves in destitute or despondent circumstances that God elevates in this life to a level higher that from which the individual initially fell.

However, there also needs to be encouragement for those that sincerely seek God but who for whatever reason are for now denied the healing for which they ask.

By Frederick Meekins