Apologetics 315: Essay: The Euthyphro Dichotomy by Mariano Grinbank

Posted in Apologetics on April 22, 2010 by Charl

Apologetics 315: Essay: The Euthyphro Dichotomy by Mariano Grinbank.

While this sounds like a mouthful, it is really interesting as it asks about the existence of ethics.

Here follows a quote:  “All claims to naturally evolving ethics can be logically disregarded since—as commonsensical or true as they may be—while there may be actions which help to ensure survival, since nature is not an ethical agent there is no natural ethical imperative. We could feed the poor or eat them.”

In fact, if natural selection was the driver behind a natural ethic (one arising by necessity to promote the survival of the fittest), Hitler’s programmes to exterminate undesirables because of their defective genetics was ethical!  We intictively reject such an ethic, atheist or not. Why?

Glory in Defeat

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 4, 2010 by Charl

Glory in Defeat

The Bible tells of many great feats achieved by all sorts of people, from an unbelieving pagan becoming a father of faith, a prostitute who saves her family by sheltering a couple of spies, a fugitive shepherd who confronts a military power with a pole, an orphaned girl becoming a queen who saves her people from destruction, and many others.

There is one story that is the story of all stories, a story that has its echoes in every great tale told, a story that is hardwired into the human heart, because it is the story of the redemption of sinful humankind. What’s more, is that the stories I’ve just mentioned are some of the ones that form the preconditions for the story of redemption, because they were the human ancestors of the man in question.

This is the story of the Cross of Calvary.

The story starts with the unlikely events of an elderly couple who couldn’t have children having a son they called John. Even more unlikely, the mother of John has a cousin Mary, who has a baby without a human father. When Jesus was born, his mother was a virgin. Four eyewitnesses tell the story from different viewpoints. They tell of miracles, of amazing leadership, and how Jesus was ideally positioned and equipped to overthrow the Roman rule that many believed God’s promised Messiah would achieve. Maybe Judas believed that he could set Jesus up to start the revolution that almost all Israel hoped for that would free them from the Roman tyranny. So persuaded were Jesus’ followers that they argued about the positions they would hold in his new kingdom, a kingdom he often told them of.

Yet, when Judas betrays Jesus, it starts a chain of events that would end with a scene of extreme brutality and violence that result in his excruciating death on a Roman cross. His closest friends and mother watch the hope of Israel die a slow, painful death and even those provoking him to action appear to fail to get him to defend himself.

He is ultimately buried in a borrowed tomb, while his closest followers cowered in room where they feared what would become of them. The benefit of hindsight dims the pain of despair that all who believed in him experienced. The strongest candidate to be the Jews’ saviour had been thoroughly humiliated.

Has your greatest hope ever been crushed like that? Have you been confronted with defeat and humiliation? Have all the great promises you’ve had been brought to nothing?

Behind the scenes, Jesus was disarming Satan and taking the captors captive, until he on this we celebrate all over the world, would re-emerge from death and appear to upwards of 600 people at various times over a period of time.

Jesus would ascend into heaven, but following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on his followers, a mere 120 or so people, the world would never be the same again.

Ephesians 1: 21-23 NIV That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

The most dramatic demonstration of his ongoing presence with his followers is first evidenced by a man called Stephen.

Acts 7:55-56 NIV 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

You see, even in Stephen’s death, he had a vision that would take him through his apparent defeat! Stephen was getting a standing ovation from Jesus. Jesus was honouring the first Christian martyr.

Jesus and all but one of his followers have died violent deaths. Yet we have hope! We have been commanded to share the hope we have, hope regardless of circumstances. Today, Jesus can turn your defeats into victories! Put him in charge and give him the honour!

Humility

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2010 by Charl

Last Thursday I was at a study group meeting for dentists.  Toward the latter part of the meeting, there was a speaker who specialises in social network marketing.  He gave all sorts of tips as to how you can try to get your website to appear higher up on a google search.  I offered our practice website as an example. One good and free way to do this is to get reviews.  He displayed the search results on the screen at the front and noticed that our website had one review. I was quite happy about this, especially when he clicked on the review so that we all could see what it was.  Here is what it says:

Don’g go here!‎

By Annabelle – 16 Mar 2010

A dentist here ruined a family member’s teeth for life. Didn’t listen properly to concerns. Very expensive and currently being sued by other patients in similar situations. Avoid!‎

I was absolutely mortified!  It felt as if a bucket of cold water had been thrown over me.  The speaker was very gracious and reassured us that if we had enough reviews we would sooner or later have an unfavourable one.  He explained what could be done about it.  I am still incredulous!

How do we respond in situations like these?  We feel humiliated, hurt, angry, resentful and my first response after the shock, is usually to want to make them pay for it!  It is very hard in these situations to act wisely!

Humility generally does not come easily!  It is a process, often a painful one.  But it is possible to take pride in our position, without forfeiting the virtue of humility.  Humility has been defined this way: Humility is not thinking less of oneself, but of oneself less! James put it this way:

James 1 9 The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10 But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. 12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. NIV

The word used for taking pride is used in different ways:  glory 23, boast 8, rejoice 4, make boast 2, joy 1 Total: 38 times in the new testament!

You see, there are people who take pride in their poverty (religion), others who take pride in their riches.  The issue is not poverty or riches, but of pride.

It is possible to rejoice in grace one receives in the midst of humble circumstances that lifts us above our conditions.

Likewise, we can rejoice in our humility in spite of being rich, when we realise how fleeting those riches are, and how poorly riches can establish our self worth.

Trials have a way of revealing our selfish pride, and when we repent on being confronted by it and ask God for the grace of humility, instead of resenting God for not keeping us from the trials, God promises us the crown of life.  Ironically, the qualification for this crown is humility!

1 Peter 5: 5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Ultimately, it is our pride that stands between us and God. “What will my friends or family say?”  “I don’t want to give these things up,” or, “I want to do my own thing first.”  But those who come to God broken in heart and spirit, recognising that they need help, he gives grace to.  This is grace to save us from our failures and sin, grace to live lives that make a difference and reach into eternity. Hear what Jesus would say to us:

Matthew 11:29 NIV Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Reflection on Riches

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2010 by Charl

I was recently invited to look at the profile of someone on Facebook that is about what appears to be one of those multilevel marketing business models.  They usually have words to this effect, “We market services directly to consumers and small businesses worldwide, eliminating the high costs of traditional marketing methods.” Read this statement with the following “Instead we are going to rely on you to do it and make you rich in the process, but we’ll be even richer!”

Does 1 Timothy 6:9 apply to this? “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

I am, like Paul, having to learn to be content in all circumstances.  At least I’m in good company!

Philippians 4:12 NIV
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I struggle with redeeming what Paul teaches on contentment with ambition to earn more, even if it is for Kingdom purposes. What are your thoughts on this?

I agree that money like wealth has no inherently good or evil properties.
I agree that the Word does not condemn riches per se, or the rich.
I agree that God’s work needs money in many cases (sharing your faith with your neighbour costs nothing, btw except your time and we all have the same amount).

What I do challenge is the idea that being rich is necessarily an abundance of money. Most of Paul’s use of the word “rich” refers to our riches in Christ.

“But what about those who think being devout is being poor, struggling or sick? Is this not a form of religiosity?”

I think it is offensive to say that those who live in poverty, struggle or sickness are religious! To suggest that people in poverty have necessarily a lack of faith is equally offensive! It makes a mockery of thousands of Christian martyrs all over the world who often have lived in the most abject of circumstances, yet have given the ultimate sacrifice for the Lord.
Furthermore, the passage I quoted in Philippians 4:12 is not about carnality v. spirituality, it is in fact in the context of giving money!

I challenge you to do a NT word search of rich or riches, you’ll find that the vast majority of the Epistles the references are not financial, although in a few instances do not exclude finances, such as Romans 2:4; Romans 9:23; Romans 11:12; Romans 11:33; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2; etc.

Finally, Jesus himself was poor. He was not rich for the simple reason, I believe, that the poor too, could identify with him. I pray that you will wisely ensure that your business pitch is reflective of your response above as well as Biblical teaching on the matter, which is summed up in this verse, 3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” This, incidentally is the only 1 of 3 times the word prosper is used in the entire NT, and of the 3 usages it is used of finance only once, but in the context of giving. The key point being that we should prosper in our soul first and foremost, as all riches are fleeting and it is better to store treasures in Heaven by investing as little as a glass of water with compassion.

Hello world!

Posted in Apologetics, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 25, 2008 by Charl

Hi! 

I have pondered the wisdom of getting involved in something like a blog for a while.  My chief concern has been whether I have the time to do the thing justice, but I have now bitten the bullet and am going for it.  I trust that you will find my musings interesting and maybe even insightful.  I’ll try to give you a glimpse of the real me in the process. 

Right now I’m looking forward to the weekend – busy as it will be!  A balance of home, church and some quality me-time on my bicylce while listening to Wolfi speaking about where God is in the midst of suffering on my ipod. 

One interesting point:  It occurred to me recently that had there been no suffering, not only would there be no freedom, because the ability to choose (having a choice) implies the ability to do evil as well as good, but there would be no forgiveness as it was Christ’s suffering on the cross that brought us forgiveness and is the ultimate expression of love! No suffering, no love – all of us just automatons.

What’s your view on suffering?