Thursday, May 15, 2014

Response to Skeptics: "Religious Pluralism"

Growing up in a confused Korean household, with Christian influences, my parents believed and told me of a religious pluralism, or a belief that all religions are true. Growing up in the Church, there was distinct difference between what the Church was telling me and what my parents were telling me. The Church was saying that Christ was the only way, yet my parents were telling me different.

In The Reason for God, Timothy Keller says this:
"If Christians are right about Jesus being God, then Muslims and Jews fail in a serious way to love God as God really is, but if Muslims and Jews are right that Jesus is not God but rather a teacher or prophet, then Christians fail in a serious way to love God as God really is.'" The bottom line was - we couldn't all be equally right about the nature of God. 
Bottom line is, there is no such thing as religious pluralism. In fact, everyone believes that there is an inferiority of certain beliefs over others. For example, atheists believe that a supernatural worldview is inferior to that of a naturalist worldview. Additionally, if one claimed that the Earth was flat, most would consider his/her idea as inferior to the view that the Earth is round. Most would agree that a religion that requires the murdering of children, rape, and incest are inferior to any other major faith. In fact, when most think of the equality of religions, they think of major world religions, contending that the differences between, for example, Christianity and Buddhism was insignificant and that they basically taught the same things. But you cannot truly believe that Christianity and Buddhism teach the same things! Christianity teaches that there is a deeply personal, just, loving God while Buddhism doesn't teach about a personal god. While Christianity teaches that Jesus is the one who perfects us, Buddhism teaches that one must give up fleshly desires in order to become Enlightened. There is a clear distinction between those teachings. Also, by saying that there is an all-encompassing loving god that is present in all religious systems which teach essentially the same thing, one creates a doctrine of their own which insists that the doctrines in other religious systems aren't all that important. By doing so, one asserts that ones beliefs are superior to the beliefs of those who believe in other religions, which in turn breaks down the construct of religious pluralism.

I will be addressing apologetics as well in future blog posts. All of my writing in this post is heavily influenced by Dr. Timothy Keller's writings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Debtors to Grace

"But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, thought it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." - 1 Corinthians 15:10

When regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ, everyone has a response to it, whether they like it or not. There are those who don't know about the event, and there are those who are skeptical nonbelievers, who say the resurrection could not have happened. And there are those who believe. There are a myriad of responses even among those who believe. I believe that as believers we need to embrace the resurrection of Jesus and live in obedience to His commandments as John 14:15 tells us.
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." - Jesus
You may be asking "Obedience? That sounds like we're working for salvation! As Christians, we believe that we're saved by faith alone and not by works. Surely you jest!" Just to clarify, I am in no way suggesting a works-based salvation, but I believe that genuine faith is followed by works. One implication of that is that if we are saved by works, there's a limit to what God could ask of us but because we are saved by grace, there's no limit to what God could ask of us and our obedience to Him must be unconditional. But how hard is it for each of us to obey even the simplest commandments such as loving our neighbors, let alone what God's called us to do? But there is hope.

In 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul says that it is by the grace of God that he was able to work, which implies that we obey because God's grace allows us to. More often than not, we tend to say things like "I want to do more for You God," which while it's a noble thing to want to do more for Him, it is a misunderstanding of grace. It should be "God, You helped me in my time of need, and I need Your help in this very moment to obey You!" Without grace, we are unable to obey Him and being indebted to grace gives God all the glory, for it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me!

Soli Deo Gloria!

What is the chief end of man?

What is the chief end of man?
     The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
- Westminster Shorter Catechism
The question posed by the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  It's the one that everyone knows and remembers, yet the one that is the hardest to put into practice. At least I think it is for me. It is simple to understand, yet hard to grasp. Why is that? I believe it's because we have the wrong mindset when it comes to this idea.

The way that this question and answer is worded, it seems to imply that we need to glorify God, and we also need to enjoy Him, as if they were two different tasks. When I was younger and I heard this creed, I just memorized it and assumed that I needed to be giving God glory one day and I needed to enjoy Him another. But as I grew older I knew that couldn't be the case because God seemed to want me to rejoice in Him always. Then I came across a book called "Desiring God" by Dr. John Piper. He said it like this:
...[t]he old theologians didn't think they were talking about two things. They say "chief end." not "chief ends." Glorifying God and enjoying Him were one end in their minds, not two. How can that be? ...What does God have to say about the chief end of man? How does God teach us to give Him glory? Does He command us to enjoy Him? If so, how does this quest for joy in God relate to everything else?...The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."
In this creed, there seems to be a misunderstanding of what our primary purpose is. Our primary purpose is to glorify God in all that we do, by enjoying Him in all that we do. I pray that we may be able to enjoy God in all that we do so that we may glorify Him.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31