God Is Younger Than We Are….

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

-GK Chesterton

Let The Gospel Lion Defend Himself (Spurgeon)

A great many learned men are defending the gospel; no doubt it is a very proper and right thing to do, yet I always notice that, when there are most books of that kind, it is because the gospel itself is not being preached. Suppose a number of persons were to take it into their heads that they had to defend a lion, a full-grown king of beasts! There he is in the cage, and here come all the soldiers of the army to fight for him. Well, I should suggest to them, if they would not object, and feel that it was humbling to them, that they should kindly stand back, and open the door, and let the lion out!

I believe that would be the best way of defending him, for he would take care of
himself; and the best “apology” for the gospel is to let the gospel out.

CH Spurgeon

Mrs. Irony and Her Children

Said the angry agnostic Mother of three to me:

“My children are not indoctrinated!”

Was her sanctimonious plea

“We treat them as humans, not subjects at all”

As she looked down her nose, she stood proud and tall

“We don’t raise them as a Baptist or a Catholic or a Jew

No, not as the close-minded fundamentalist would do;

We instill in them ‘green’ values, and the Herbivore diet,

and Nietzsche and nihilism, you really should try it!

They will defend abortion rights with an apologetic passion

and preach humanist dogma in an evangelical fashion”

So said the angry agnostic mother of three to me

“My children are not indoctrinated!”

Was her sanctimonious plea

Bryan Daniels

The Atheist God

“In that terrific tale of the Passion there is a distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but through doubt. It is written, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”  No; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself; and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In a garden Satan tempted man: and in a garden God tempted God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at the cry from the cross: the cry which confessed that God was forsaken of God. And now let the revolutionists choose a creed from all the creeds and a god from all the gods of the world, carefully weighing all the gods of inevitable recurrence and of unalterable power. They will not find another god who has himself been in revolt.  Nay, (the matter grows too difficult for human speech,) but let the atheists themselves choose a god. They will find only one divinity who ever uttered their isolation; only one religion in which God seemed for an instant to be an atheist.”.’

– G.K. Chesterton

 

Penn On Evangelism (Gift of A Bible)

I’ve heard Penn of Penn and Teller’s comedy routine a few times. He is a talented comedian with a sharp wit. He’s also an outspoken atheist. Though I would disagree with him on some fundamental theological issues, I happened to find this video by him refreshingly good.

I share this vid (which one of my dear readers first shared with me) because Penn speaks a lot of wisdom here Christians should consider.

Be sincerely interested in people. This goes for people from a variety of worldview persuasions. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a unique context from which they draw answers to the biggest questions in life.

Everyone deserves to be heard and valued, if not simply because they are fellow image bearers.

I’m not great at this by any stretch.

A few years back I had an outspoken atheist coworker I worked closely with on a daily basis. Conversations inevitably turned spiritual from time to time. Most of them were respectful but now and then some of the dialogue turned heated. I was as much (probably more) to blame for this as he was.

I remember one day after asking a few questions about the origins of everything he admitted, “Well, we both take some things on faith.”

I appreciated that honesty.

No one has all the answers.

I certainly don’t.

But everyone deserves to be heard, considered, and respected at a basic human level. No one has to be a world class apologist to do this.

In the end we’re not walking trees, we’re souls.

Bryan Daniels

Seven Miles! Matt Chandler (Happy Resurrection Day)

Happy Resurrection Day beloved! I hope the reality of His resurrection shocks, engulfs, and spurns you into deeper wells of worship this Lord’s Day. Let’s take our eyes off the colored eggs filled with heart stopping sugars, and fix the eyes of our heart on the wonder and beauty of the risen King.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

Bryan Daniels

Man Crush Confession #3: GK Chesterton (1874-1936)

{This is a blog series. For context, please go to my Man Crush Confession numero uno and number two}

When a brilliant mind, winsome personality, and a scathing humor combines into one portly jovial frame you get my Man Crush Confession #3: Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

GK Chesterton was a renaissance man with a wickedly diverse writing palate. As a popular English author he churned out works that included poetry, political, literary and art criticism, biography, fiction and apologetic. His greatest apologetic work “Orthodoxy” had a great impact on me in college. I was grappling with what it meant for a Christian to be intellectually and spiritually driven. Or, as CS Lewis coined, what it meant to be a “Romantic Rationalist.” I found Chesterton’s writing to be winsome and challenging, entertaining and scholarly.

Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy” and “Everlasting Man” should both be required reading for the thinking and apologetically minded Christian. In fact, CS Lewis once said, “the [very] best popular defence of the full Christian position I know is G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man.”

I’d submit to you this: If you have the slightest mancrush on CS Lewis, then you are indebted to GK Chesterton in some way. I read “Mere Christianity” before I read “Orthodoxy” by Chesterton. I was shocked to see the clear parallels in writing styles, logic, and apologetic flow of argument. I saw the 300 pound ghost of Chesterton in much of the polemic of Lewis. On top of this, both men were considered respected Christian philosophers, authors of fiction, and noted apologists for their day. To me, Lewis was just the Anglicanized version of the Roman Catholic Chesterton; they both impacted the thought life of Great Britain during the World Wars (Chesterton WWI, Lewis WWII).

I think one of the best ways to get introduced to Chesterton is through his quotes. He had a quotable quip for almost every topic; here are some of my favorites (sorry, some are without reference):

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man”The Book of Job: An introduction (1907)

“Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

“The word “good” has many meanings. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.”What’s Wrong With the World?

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”Illustrated London News (16 July 1910)

“As for science and religion, the known and admitted facts are few and plain enough. All that the parsons say is unproved. All that the doctors say is disproved. That’s the only difference between science and religion there’s ever been, or will be.”Michael Moon in Manalive (1912)

“Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.”Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton : The Illustrated London News

“Every remedy is a desperate remedy. Every cure is a miraculous cure. Curing a madman is not arguing with a philosopher; it is casting out a devil.”Orthodoxy, Chapter II : The Maniac

“It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.” Orthodoxy, Chapter 3-Suicide of Thought

“He is only a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of the Conservative”Varied Types (1903)

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”-What’s Wrong With The World?

“Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich.”

“All things are from God; and above all, reason and imagination and the great gifts of the mind. They are good in themselves; and we must not altogether forget their origin even in their perversion.” The Dagger with Wings, Part One: The Homelessness Of Man, Ch. 5

Maybe my favorite Chesterton story was when a major British publication asked him to write an article on “What’s Wrong With The World.” Chesterton gave his classical pithy response:

“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,
― GK Chesterton”

If Spurgeon was the “Prince of Preachers”, then it is certainly true Chesterton was the “Prince of Paradox.” He was also deemed the “Apostle of Common Sense” by his contemporaries. He was one of the few men in the world where “Paradox” and “Common Sense” seemed to reside effortlessly. Such paradox pointed to a mind awakened by the Christian worldview, not deadened by legalism. As his debating friend and antagonist, George Bernard Shaw, noted after his death, “He was a man of colossal genius.”

As a RCC adherent, he didn’t have glowing view of the Protestant Reformation or Puritanism. So in my opinion he left some things to be desired on the theological front. But he had a contagious view of the world that restored child-like wonder to even the most intellectual secular stiff. He could muse poetically and deeply on the meaning of a blade of grass, friendship, or the Trinity.

So I pay homage to this unlikely vessel God used to awaken my imagination to the wonder and mystery of the world around me.

Who are some of the unlikely vessels of godly influence in your life?

Bryan Daniels

Bible Contradictions: To Answer Or Not To Answer A Fool (Proverbs 26:4-5)

‘Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.’ Proverbs 26:4-5

(Note: Hebrew terms of “fool” and “foolish” describe a person who does not believe in God and is ignorant of wisdom based on God’s moral standard.)

Some modern critics assume the ancients were flat-out stupid. Case in point, after a brief glance at Proverbs 26:4-5 an objection may be raised along the lines of: “Look! An obvious contradiction in the very next verse! The Bible cannot be trusted…” And so a superficial argument has been framed.

But the ancients were not stupid.

The author of Proverbs actually intended to pair these seemingly contradictory verses together. And what these verses propose is not a logical contradiction, but a dilemma for the reader. It is a proposal of two choices. Proverbs 26:4-5 reveals two wise and effective ways to deal with a fool given the specific circumstance, and either way could be pertinent when the options are thoughtfully weighed.

‘Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him’

Some will outright reject any claim of the historical authority the Bible. Because of their contemporary secular presuppositions, some critics assume any argument with Biblical foundations must be deemed ridiculous.

When the debate format has been framed without using the Bible (evidential apologetics), the Christian has already conceded that the critic’s apologetic approach is a valid ground to start. It’s not. Secular critics may cry for objectivity and neutrality when debating; but they are neither objective nor neutral. No one is. Neither should the Christian be in an attempt to appear amicable.

Objectivity is a myth.

If a Christian takes up the approach of his critics the debate will spiral downward in to an incessant match of evidence regurgitation. After both of sides have exhausted all the contemporary arguments for and against evolution, the resurrection, and bible validity, still nothing has changed.

The critic leaves satisfied, because the Christian took the bait and accepted the game even though the deck was stacked.

In that case a fool was answered according to his folly. Or, to borrow the words of Jesus, the Christian has casted his pearls before swine (Matthew 7).

In this case, silence is preferable. A closing of the mouth may speak volumes of godly rebuke.

 ‘Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.’

Again, this seems to be a surface level contradiction when compared with v. 4. But remember one of the principles of the book of Proverbs is this: Wisdom only comes to those who diligently and desperately seek it (Proverbs 2:1-5). Wisdom does not come to those who would lazily cherry pick a verse as cheap ammo against bible authority.

It should be noted that there are many interpretive disciplines to employ when taking up Scripture, such as grammatical nuances, historical context, literary genre, and authorial intent. The secular critic rarely employs any of these when reading into the meaning of alleged contradictions.

Verse 4 may also be presented like this: ‘Answer not a fool according to his own presuppositions, lest you be like him’

When both sides apologetic foundations are addressed it may be time to proceed with debate. When a critic believes his arguments are above reproach then the Christian should expose his subjective presuppositions with the only unchanging foundational truth: the Bible.

For example: If the critic believes they evolved by chance (unguided natural process), then the Christian may need to point out that their processes of logic also evolved by chance. So ultimately, the critic can’t be sure they are even asking the right questions. Even more, they can’t be certain they are capable of knowing with certainty the answers. The critic has no ground to stand on but the randomly programmed chemical reactions of the 8 pounds of tissue between his ears.

How can the Christian be certain their logic has ground in historical reality? The Christian appeals to something outside of self. To the true abiding eternal word that has never changed and reveals the design and mind of God. The Christian stands on the firm foundation of God’s word. The pinnacle of the Bible is the glory of God as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the fool’s error is exposed using God’s living word he is forced to an impasse: submit to it or scorn it. If there is a softness of heart and open door to a clear presentation of the gospel you have been right in answering the fool according to his folly.

Without the goal of the biblical gospel, apologetics becomes nothing more than intellectual one upmanship.

Defending the faith should always be done humbly and boldly (1 Peter 3:15).

So there are times you should answer a fool and there are times you shouldn’t. It depends on the nature of the fool.

Is there evidence of grace in the fool’s words, demeanor, and person? Answer him according to his folly. Is there only an insulting scorn and hardness in the fool’s discourse? Do not answer him according to his folly.

How can you discern when and how to answer a fool? That takes Holy Spirit-born Bible-saturated wisdom. This divine wisdom must be prayerfully and intensely sought before God.

Such wisdom doesn’t come cheap or easy. But the truth is neither cheap or easy. Otherwise it would be an easy sell.

As wise Solomon once said in Ecclesiastes 3:7: There is a time to speak and a time to shut up. There is a season for everything.

Bryan Daniels