Monday, January 26, 2009

The Inner Ring

Lewis gives advice to his juniors.  He warns us against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.  However, Lewis only advises on the World in this writing.  Lewis speaks of our desire to be included into an inner ring.  To be accepted into a human society is one of the greatest desires of man.  Lewis says, “But what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?” To be excluded from the ring is probably one of the worse fears of many men.  To be alone is anguish to some.

 Lewis says sometimes inner rings are good.  Everyone needs an inner ring of friends in which they can hold confidences in one another. However, Lewis spends more time explaining how our pursuit to be in the inner ring can cause us to do bad things. Lewis says that good men can become scoundrels; they get sucked into a ring that they know will lead to bad outcomes.  Lewis puts it in a very good way, “And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world.”  Slowly it will get worse and worse, Lewis says week by week a little farther from the rules, until you become a scoundrel.  

Another problem that Lewis presents about the inner ring is that it is often times just our desire to be “in the know.”  We may get in, and when we do experience satisfaction.  However, such a satisfaction cannot last.  Once you are “in” most of the satisfaction begins to ebb away because you realize that it is not as good as you initially thought it was.  Lewis puts it in a good way, “The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside.” Happiness will never come from wanting to be “in” just for the sake of being “in”

Friday, January 23, 2009

Problem of Pain

I found the speech we listened to in class helpful.  The speaker said that it is not uncommon to understand only 10% of the book the first time.  I think I only understand 8% of it some times. 

There is a lot of controversy when we regard the pain that exists in this world.  If God is totally good and all-powerful, there should be only good in this world and not pain. The argument is against the God is that He must lack in power or goodness, because of all the pain in the world.  The speaker talked about the creation of man.  He asks the question of whether God made a mistake creating Man with free will.  I like how he says that we cannot answer this question; we cannot know God’s divine mind with our tiny human minds.  One thing that I know for sure is that God does not make mistakes.  I believe that God allowed man to fall, so that He could send His Son to die on the cross; what better way to cause praise to be given to Him, than to send His Son, Himself, to sacrifice Himself for his children’s sins.  However, I could be totally wrong, because only God knows the answer to this question. 

Something that is not talked about much is why pain was created in this world.  God used pain as a punishment against the human race for disobeying the Lord’s one command on our Father Adam and our Mother Eve.  Death is the end result for all humans because of our sin, but as the speaker and Lewis points out that sin is of our own free will. 

I like the example of Job.  God allowed Satan to torment Job, until he had nothing left but God; Job still refused to curse God.  God knew that Job would not, and He was glorified in Job’s faith.  God blessed Job with double of everything.  There are no temptations that we cannot overcome, because Christ has overcome all of them.  God will never give us something that we cannot overcome.  Our suffering is a punishment for the fall, but it is a small price to pay for the glory God will give us in heaven. 

If a friend dies, we mourn and we ask, “Why God, Why?”  I know because one of my friends died of a brain aneurysm during a fundraiser in my high school.  At first it hurt so bad, but then I realized that I was selfish.  My friend Paul, was God’s to take when He would; God took Him to heaven, because it was his time.  God does not operate on our time.  Besides, I doubt Paul is complaining, because he is already experiencing eternal glory.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Abolition of Man

“Abolition of Man” speaks a lot about Natural Law.  The Natural law is written in the heart, telling us what is right and wrong.

Lewis tells us that many of the different denominations, even if they vary a lot in regards to doctrine, they still retain many of the same principles.  All men know what is right and wrong.

Something that Lewis talked about that I found to be very interesting was about how the newer generation is weaker than the previous generation.  Our fathers invent certain technologies that they handed to us, and we would have a very hard time living without them.  Our grandfathers invented many things that they gave to their children that we could not even dream of going without.  The truth is that every generation is coming very dependable upon the previous generations ideas and inventions.  Where would be without Edison, who we all know invented the light bulb.  Sure, we have definitely improved on the system of electricity and lighting, but we would not have these improvements if the light bulb was not handed to the next generation to use and to study.  We never really think about this.  Fifty years ago twenty men had to tend to the fields and milk the cows, now we can get by with just one or two men, and a bunch of machines.  Man has become very proud of its Science, and its power over Nature. 

Man strives to manipulate everything to his own purpose.  Lewis talks about how man will keep gaining power over Nature until man finally gains power over Human Nature.  We all know that this will never happen.  Man will never be able to tame the wickedness in our hearts.  Christ’s death on the cross is the only way to destroy that old man of sin and renew the new man of regeneration.  At the end of this world, on the day of judgment, when Christ comes again, the Human Nature of man will finally be defeated.  All those who retain that sinful human nature will burn in Hell for eternity, and all those who have had that human nature destroyed by Christ will spend an eternity in heaven.


Plantinga: Ch 4

Sometimes I think we take what God has given us for granted.  We have become kind of desensitized to the amazing, selfless act that Christ committed for us.  He not only died on the cross, but he suffered his whole life.  He was persecuted and rejected by his own people.  They screamed that they would rather Jesus die than Barabus, one of the vilest men of his time.  What is even more incredible is that Christ suffered in hell for all of his children’s sins.  He paid for each and every sin; we could not even pay for one on our own, let alone every sin of all believers.  Often times we forget how big of a sacrifice Christ undertook for us.

In regards to this whole shalom idea, I do not quite agree with Plantinga.  Plantinga said,

“In the new age God’s people will respond with glad obedience, the rich helping the poor and the strong lifting the weak.  As God’s grace spreads across the land, the lame will begin to dance; the blind will gaze at a world they have never seen before; the deaf will hear the song of a lark.”
Maybe I am misinterpreting it, but from what it sounds like, Plantinga is saying that God will establish his new Kingdom on this earth; He will heal all of the sick and afflicted; He will create a lasting peace in this world.  There is no biblical proof for such a shalom.  The Bible tells us very clearly that this world will be destroyed, and made anew.  The new world will be perfect.  There will be no strong helping the weak or rich helping the poor; there will be no rich or poor, nor will there be weak.  The blind and lame, if they are God’s children, will experience a new world if they live to see the end of this world.  Plantinga’s idea of shalom sounds as if he is denying the coming of the Antichrist, and the persecution that the church shall endure.  I am an A-millennialist, so I believe in a figurative 1000 year reign of the church, which I believe we are in now.  Plantinga makes it sound as if the earth will get better and better.  The earth will only get worse and worse, if you do not believe me read revelations.  This past century wielded the worse persecution on the church, and it will only get worse.  There will be no shalom on this earth.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Plantinga Ch 5

The first point that Plantinga makes is that God’s kingdom envelops everything.  Plantinga also says that we all have our own little kingdoms that expand and envelop more as we gain more responsibility.  When we are babies we have the rule of whether or not everyone else gets sleep in the house.  When you have you own house and pay your own bills, your kingdom is larger, because you have much more responsibility.  We have to remember that God’s kingdom envelops all of our little kingdoms.  Our kingdoms must fit in with God’s kingdom.  His kingdom determines what happens in our kingdoms.  We must never forget who is really in control.

Plantinga speaks a lot about how our vocation is to mesh our kingdoms with those of the other citizens.  I do not agree with this.  The Bible calls us to live the antithesis, and this mesh our kingdoms together is the exact opposite of the antithesis.  God’s children are to live apart from the world, not among them.

Later, Plantinga says “John Calvin even regarded government as a sign of God’s love for us, a means of grace, because it adjusts life in society toward civil righteousness and promotes ‘general peace and tranquility.’ “  John Calvin does not regard government as a form of grace but a “calling”, an holy, honorable, lawful, and sacred calling.  

The Four Loves: Eros

I like how Lewis made a distinction between wanting the woman and wanting the pleasures of that woman.  Now days many men pursue a women for the pleasure that she can provide rather than pursuing the women themselves.  They seek the Venus first rather than Eros. 

Eros is falling in love. Eros focuses on your love for the other while Venus focused on the lust of oneself.  Venus is more selfish because it is the carnal side while Eros is the romantic side.

Lewis states, and completely agree, that Eros should come first and then Venus.  Love and marriage should come before sex.  In our day this has been reversed.  The world encourages sex before marriage or even love.  If you do not believe me, just watch some of the popular movies today.  People meet someone, and then have sex on the same day.  The world places sex in its own separate category.  According to the world it is just a normal process in a teenagers life.

Lewis also speak of the respect a wife should show to her husband, but the thing that we cannot forget is that the husband must love their wife.  A husband should respect his wife and listen to her advice, because she is wiser in many ways. 

Adultery is a powerful weapon of the devil.  He wields Venus like a sword.  I have witnessed many people, even friends, fall to that sword and have sex before they are married.  I have heard God’s ministers’ letters of repentance for having been unfaithful to their wives, and commit adultery.  This temptation affects everyone from the lowest to highest Christian.  We must be wary of this sword, and lean on the Lord, for we cannot stand alone.

Learning in Wartime

Lewis asks why we spend all this time learning when there is a war going on amongst us.  He later answers by saying that  “Good philosophy must exist, if for nor other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”  We educate ourselves so that we can defend our faith against attacks within and without the church.  We have to remember that some heathens are vey intelligent philosophers, and we must be able to defend ourselves against these people. 

Another reason that I think it is good that we are educated is that learning about God’s creation is learning about God.  A Christian goal is to know God, and we can learn about who God really is by studying the world around us.

The Bible says, "Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."  When we are in a war we should put everything we have into fighting that war, whether spiritual or physical.  We have been blessed to be at College right now, and we should put everything we have into our education, because that’s what God calls us to do.  He placed us here so we should learn to the best of our ability.

Something that Lewis pointed out that I liked a lot was when he talked about how after his conversion his life did not really change.  His activities did not all of a sudden become “sacred” after his conversion.  This made me feel a lot better, because I have always felt that my life need some huge change in order to praise God.  I now better realize that my mindset is what matters.  If I do even the most trivial things in God’s name, I am still praising God.  It is not necessary to expect a revival, because we can praise God just as well in our daily lives.

I also like how Lewis explained that there is no middle ground, between doing a work for Christ or against Christ.  All our actions are either God-glorifying or sinful. Lewis says “All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest: and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not.”  This simply says that everything must be done in God’s name or it is a sin.