Tuesday, February 26, 2008

OK, so I'm going to continue my rant from last week...

The shortcomings of post-modernity are pretty much self-evident and have been highly publicized by modern Christian apologists for quite some time now. I am not going to deny them, I just would like to make note of the fact that every worldview has its own strengths and weaknesses. The moment you critique a perspective you need to realize that you are doing so from your own perspective along with its strengths and weaknesses.

Objectivity is Impossible.

This is something that the modern worldview completely missed the boat on. Modernity focused so much on calm, cool, collected logic and "objectivity" but didn't stop long enough to realize that, logically, that doesn't make any sense.

One of the strengths of post-modernity is that it recognizes "Social Location." Your social location is made up of the social aspects of your life that define the way you view the world.

For example, what is your:

Gender – Race – Age – Religion – Education – Nationality – Economic Status – etc?

So, I am a Caucasian male, 27, Christian, with post secondary education, Canadian, middle class, ...

Compare this with, for an extreme example, an Asian female, 72, Buddhist, completely uneducated, Chinese (Tibetan), unbelievably poor, ...

Now, this old woman and I live in the same world. However, if we were to reflect on the world around us and about events that we were both aware of do you think that we would be able to reach a common, 'objective' perspective? NOT A CHANCE!

Our racial, generational, religious, educational, ... differences have shaped us so much that it is virtually impossible that we would view things from the same 'objective' perspective.

Objectivity is a modern ideal, not a reality.

Even if our old Tibetan woman were converted to Christianity do you think that we would interpret the scriptures in the same way? I doubt it.

This is what Daniel Taylor has to say: "... in the broil of wider human enterprise, in deciding what is good and true and beautiful and worth living for in this world, there is so much sheer humanness at work (and their should be), that the claim of cool, rational objectivity is almost laughable. Only objects are truly objective." [The Myth of Certainty, pg. 51]

What do you have to say?
What are the weaknesses in this idea of 'Social Location?'
What are its strengths?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of modern 'objectivity?'
How might people of differing social locations view Christ and scripture differently?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Was Mother Teresa a Christian?

So, most of you who know me know that I'm kind of passionate about the concept of clashing worldviews. We currently live in a world where we are transitioning from a "Modern" worldview to a "Post-modern" worldview.

Now, I try not to beat this topic to death but I've had a specific request... and I must indulge my reading public! The request was to present some of the material of a seminar I sat in on last week. The seminar was titled "Worldviews in Tandem, Tension, and Conflict." It was exploring how this transition from Modernity to Post Modernity is showing itself within the Evangelical Churches of North America. The beauty of this seminar was that it was presented by a father and son. Both are knowledgable theologians; the father has been a pastor for several decades while the son is working on his doctorate at Canadian Baptist Seminary.

The father and his son; the pastor and the student; the modern and the post modern.

I can hardly begin to scratch the surface of what they got into so I'll just give you the outline and, should you choose to direct the comments, we can go from there.

Oh, and if you don't care then just skip down to the picture of Mother Teresa.

**Please keep in mind that these are hugely, broad generalizations that can only be understood to represent the very basic ideas of each worldview within an evangelical Christian context.**

Where the Modern and Post Modern Worldview are in:
Tandem: (agree)
1. The Centrality of Christ
2. The Reality of Relationship with God
3. The Importance of the Church

Tension: (may not totally agree but don't completely disagree either)
1. Perspectives on God
a. Post Modern emphasis on God's "Immanence" (closeness)
b. Modern emphasis on God's "Transcendance" (greatness, holiness, implied distance)
2. Perspective on Mission
a. Post Modern emphasis on Social Justice
b. Modern emphasis on Evangelism

Conflict: (areas where PM and M worlviews are in direct contradiction)
1. View of History
a. Post Modernity views us as being 'interdependant' with history. We are shaped by history... we do not live in a vacuum. This view also emphasises a return to a 'historical' view of Christianity.
b. Modernity is the era of the 'self made man.' Man is independant of history. History does not shape us, we shape the future.
2. View of Culture
a. Post Modern Evangelicalism views 'church culture' as being fabricated (see below). It is a false reality. Culture is something to be redeemed. Not only that, we can learn from culture. All truth is God's truth regardless it's cultural source.
b. Modern Evangelicalism views the world as the enemy. Thus the church focuses on protecting / isolating itself from the world more than interacting with it. Create a 'Christian Culture' so that we are not ruined by the world's culture.
3. Views of Truth ... THE BIG ONE
a. Post Modernity views truth as being a relationship to be engaged with. Truth is too big to be pinned down by propositional statements (see below). Truth is to be experienced.
b. Modernity views truth as being best described through propositional statements. Mental acceptance of truth statements are emphasised over lifestyle. Hence it's emphasis on flawless doctrine.

While there are about a billion things that could be discussed here I just want to highlight one example that they used. The modern christian worldview focused more on Right Belief than on Right Action. The post modern view is reversed; it is more important to act like a christian than to have all of your theological ducks in a row.

The perfect way to see this divergence is this: The modern evangelical would look at someone like Mother Teresa and question if she was actually a christian. They might say, "Sure she acted like she loved God and loved those around her... but she was a Catholic." Thus, disagreements with her theology overpower her obvious Christian lifestyle.

The post modern evangelical would say, "Sure I may not agree with all of her theological views, but come on! It's so obvious by her lifestyle that everything she did was driven by her love for God and her fellow mankind. Who cares if we don't agree on every little thing? The main thing is that she believed that Jesus was God's Messiah."

So, what do you think?
Talk to me.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Art = Beauty?

OK, so this week I'm looking for everyone's opinion.
I've supplied a few samples of what some would consider to be art. Which do you like best? Which is more artistic? Which is the most beautiful? Which is the least beautiful? Why?

"Mona Lisa" by Da Vinci:
"Starry Night" by Van Gogh

"Red Kanji Bird" by Billy Martin (aka illyB)

"Salary Man" by Stanley Donwood

"Alvis Hamilton" by Range Murata (concept art for LAST EXILE)

What is art?

What is the nature of beauty?

Are art and beauty synonymous?

Should they be?

Is there purpose behind Art? Beauty?
Does art or beauty play a role in your faith? Why?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Leave Room for the Doubters

Faith does not come naturally to me.

It seems to me as though my natural disposition tends toward questioning, cynicism, and skepticism. I don't relate much with Peter's faith as he jumped out of the boat and walked on water. I think I can relate more with Thomas' skepticism.

I hope you don't think less of me when I say that, even as a pastor, I've sat at my desk and asked myself, "is this all for real?"

It's at times like these that Jesus' words to Thomas from John 20:27 sting:"Do not disbelieve, but believe."

Now, I don't want to make this sound like I'm in a huge period of questioning my faith or anything like that... 'cause I'm not. Sometimes I'm just struck by the unlikelyhood of it all. This is just a struggle within my own personality; a battle within my human nature. Many different people struggle through a lot of different things and my natural skepticism provides me with my own little battle.

One thing that has helped me through these doubtful thoughts has been "Pascal's Wager". Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher from the 1600s. Pascal layed out his "wager" in the Pensées (which was actually assembled after his death).

His wager runs a little like this...
If you live as though (the Christian) God exists:
If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
If God does not exist, you gain nothing and lose nothing.

If you live as though (the Christian) God does not exist:
If God exists, your loss is infinite.
If God does not exist, you gain nothing and lose nothing.

Thus, by Pascal's reasoning, if you're going to risk either belief or unbelief it is more prudent to make the risk of faith. It's not a flawless arguement but I think he's right and many Christian authors have picked up on this rational. CS Lewis makes use of this logic in "Mere Christianity" and it is, to a certain extent, the basis of Daniel Taylor's book, "The Myth of Certainty." Both of these books have had a huge impact on my life.

Does your personality tend more towards belief or unbelief? (more for personal reflection)

Does Pascal's Wager make sense to you?

What is Pascal's most "becoming" feature, his hair or his nose?

Check out my amazing photoshop skills: here.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Newest PC Trailer!

Here's the only thing about the Super Bowl that I cared about,the next CoN:Prince Caspian trailer!