Category Archives: People

pervasive moral schizophrenia

This schizophrenia does not exist only in academic circles. It is now pervasive, especially in the day-to-day lives of younger adults. Sociologist Christian Smith found that younger American adults held two views of morality in sharp tension, even contradiction. Most are relativistic, not believing in abiding moral absolutes. And yet they have many very strong moral convictions, which they insist others should honor. When asked how they knew if an action was moral or not, most said that the “automatically know . . . what is right and wrong in any situation. When asked how they would explain to someone else why they should do or not do some action, they repeated insisted that “everybody already knows” what is right and wrong. But there is no set of moral values that is self-evident to all people.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 180.

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something very wonderful indeed

The Gospel would still be true even if no one believed it. The hopeful thing is  that, where it is tried–where it is imperfectly and hesitantly followed–as it was in Northern Ireland [and South Africa] during the peace process[es], as it is in many a Salvation Army hostel this Christmas, as it flickers in countless unseen Christian lives, it works. And its palpable and remarkable power to transform human life takes us to the position of believing that something very wonderful indeed began with the birth of Christ into the world.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 192.
Quoting A. N. Wilson, It’s the Gospel Truth.


fight for other people’s children

We need to . . . think about what we can do in our everyday lives for the people who aren’t our neighbors. We should be fighting for opportunities for other people’s children as if the future of our own children depended on it. It probably does.

Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic: The 9.9 Percent
Is the New American Aristocracy
, June 2018


“good” and “bad” based on purpose

All judgments that something or someone is good or bad do so based on an awareness of purpose. If you know what that purpose is, then your moral evaluation of something can be a factual statement, a truth that exists apart from your personal likes and dislikes. You may not like watches for some reason, but if it is a good one, you will have to acknowledge it to be so. If you know the purpose of a farmer is to get a crop out of a piece of land, but she does not get any yield at all, year after year, then you know she is a bad farmer, however much you may like her personally. If, however, you have no idea of the purpose of an object, then any description of it as “good” or “bad” is wholly subjective, completely based on inner preferences.

How, then, can we tell if a human being is good or bad? Only if we know our purpose, what human life is for. If you don’t know the answer to that, then you can never determine “good” and “bad” human behavior. If, as in the secular view, we have not been made for a purpose, then it is futile to even try to talk about moral good and evil.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, pages 186-187.


impersonal spiritual life force cannot love

Eastern religions today teach that after death our souls merge with the All-Soul of the universe. Just as a drop of water returning to the ocean loses its individual nature in the whole, so we become an impersonal part of the impersonal spiritual life force knitting all things together. But if after death there is nonexistence, impersonal existence, or in any case nonconsciousness, that means there is no love, because only persons can love. If we are not a self after death, then we have lost everything, because what we most want in life is love.

Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 167


forever enjoyment of love

In addition, we will never again fear separation from those we love. Disrupted love, the greatest sadness that earthly life contains, will be gone forever. In heaven “they shall know that they shall forever be continued in the perfect enjoyment of each other’s love.” All things there “shall flourish in an eternal youth. Age will not diminish anyone’s beauty or vigor, and there love shall flourish . . . as a living spring perpetually springing . . . as a rive which ever runs and is always clear and full.”

Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 169

Quoting Jonathan Edwards, Heaven is a World of Love, The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader.


civilian or soldier

“What we need to ask ourselves today is, ‘Am I a civilian or a soldier?” This is how a civilian thinks: ‘God, I want to do this for you. I have these gifts, these talents and I’m this old and I want to do this for you, God. I love to play music. I want to play music for you.’

“But a soldier says, ‘Tell me what to do with my life. I don’t care what it is. Whatever you want me to do, I will do it.’ There is a tremendous difference.”

David Pierce, Rock Priest, page 254


affirming takes heart out of culture

If an African were to go to one of the great secular universities of the world, the professors would tell her that the solution to her fears was to see that there are no spirits, evil or good, that everything has a scientific explanation. Not only that, but all moral standards are person specific and relative to culture, and all moral values have to be self-authorizing. Ironically, her professors would say they wanted to affirm her culture and hear her “voice,” yet at the same time they would be taking the very heart of her Africanness out of her.

Christianity, Sanneh says, took a very different approach. It answered the challenge so that the existing African “framework was reconfigured without being overthrown.”


christianity the only worldwide religion

One of the unique things about Christianity is that it is the only truly worldwide religion. Over 90 percent of Muslims live in a band from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Northern Africa. Over 95 percent of all Hindus are in India and immediate environs. Some 88 percent of Buddhists are in East Asia. However, about 25 percent of Christians live in Europe, 25 percent in Central and South America, 22 percent in Africa, 15 percent (and growing fast) in Asia, and 12 percent in North America. Professor Richard Bauckham writes: “Almost certainly Christianity exhibits more cultural diversity than any other religion, and that must say something about it.” . . . It is no longer a Western religion (nor was it originally). It is truly a world religion.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 148.


prayer can be like skiing

People who ski happen to enjoy skiing; they have time for skiing, can afford to ski, and are good at skiing. I have found that I often treat prayer as though it were a sport like skiing— something you do if you like it, something you do in your spare time, something you do if you can afford the trouble, something you do if you’re good at it. Otherwise, you do without it most of the time. When you get in a pinch you try it, and then you call an expert. But prayer isn’t a sport. It’s work. Prayer is
work because a Christian simply can’t “make a living” without it. The apostle Paul said we “wrestle” in prayer. In the wrestling of a Christian in prayer, “our fight is not against any physical enemy; it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen powers that control this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil” (Ephesians 6:12, PHILLIPS). Seldom do we consider the nature of our opponent, and that is to his advantage. When we do recognize him for what he is, however, we have an inkling as to why prayer is never easy. It’s the weapon that Unseen Power dreads most, and if he can get us to treat it as casually as we treat a pair of skis or a tennis racquet, he can keep his hold.

Elizabeth Elliot, The Elizabeth Elliot Newsletter, January 2002

http://www.elisabethelliot.org/newsletters/2002-01-02.pdf