Thursday, June 23, 2005
I do believe it is possible to allow oneself to start off expressing an ‘argument’ for something, only to find oneself involved in an ‘argument’ over that very same thing! In other words, we can start off ‘reasoning’ and end up ‘fighting’! Maybe it’s just because we have a mental reckoning of the word ‘argument’ that slips from one definition to the other, I don’t know. But, I’ve started looking for a replacement word. After all, I want to understand, and own, good arguments for what I believe, without becoming an argumentative person along the way!
So what is a good replacement word? What word expresses my desire to be able to express what I believe in a reasonable way, without becoming a belligerent jerk? I don’t really want to argue with people, I want to win them over to a new way of thinking about something. So I’m not really trying to convince them with an argument, but rather I am trying to plead my case, in hopes they will consider my view. Perhaps a ‘plea’ is closer to what I am offering than an ‘argument’.
The Webster’s dictionary offers a definition of ‘plea’ that describes it as “an earnest entreaty”, which implies that it is an urgent, heartfelt effort to persuade. It’s synonymous with words like “appeal”, “cry”, “petition”, and “prayer”. I think these words are closer to what my heart intends when I begin to discuss life’s big issues with someone. And ‘pleas’ for the truth are much more difficult to develop into nasty ‘arguments’. ‘Appeals’ and ‘cries’ for the truth may become insistent, but they seem less likely to degenerate into hostility. After all, hostility is not a component of these words, in fact, to insert ‘hostility’ into the definition of ‘plea’ is to change its definition altogether.
So, I am going to replace the word, ‘argument’ from my vocabulary in an effort to become less a ‘hunter of men’ and more a ‘fisher of men’. And it’s my prayer that our website can be seen in that light. By the way, I won’t be blogging or adding anything to the site until July 4th or so, as we are getting ready to take our group out to do some street witnessing for about 8 days. As soon as we get back, I’ll update with a story from our trip!
In the meantime, please check us out at www.PleaseConvinceMe.com
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Think about it for a minute. Our trial system assumes that there is a truth about a particular case, and while the jury reviewing this case may never know everything there is to know about this truth, they are still charged with reviewing the matter and doing there best to decide what that truth is. And this endeavor to decide what is true is actually valued and honored! How long can this outdated modern rationalism go on?
Earlier this year, after a Sunday morning service, I was approached by a young man who told me that I was WAY out of line for trying to convince people of the truth of Christianity. (He hated the name of our website). This young man, who had been calling himself a Christian, told me that there ‘were no answers, only questions’. In addition, he said that it was EXTREMELY offensive for me to try to illustrate the truth of Christianity by comparing it with other religious or secular worldviews. That was crossing the line, because it was judgmental, (presumably because it assumes a ‘right’ position, and therefore calls contradictory positions ‘wrong’).
I was amazed that he could not see the contradiction in his own position. After all, he was trying to ‘convince me’ that I should not be trying to convince others. And he clearly had an answer to the questions, ‘are there any answers?’ On top of that, he had no problem being judgmental about my approach to truth, and in the same breath, complained that I was judgmental! It seems that folks like this, as they devolve into complete cultural relativism, find themselves lost in a world of self-refutation.
But what if juries took the same approach toward truth? If they began with the attitude that there are no answers, only questions, how would they ever come to an answer about someone’s guilt or innocence? If they believed that it was judgmental to contrast one version of the truth with another, how would they ever sit through closing arguments? Sometimes I wonder if we are losing our ability or desire to determine truth, or if we think this is an activity that cannot be applied to our thoughts about God. While it is certainly important to decide the fate of a defendant, discerning the truth about God is far more important.
Please check us out at www.PleaseConvinceMe.com
Thursday, June 09, 2005
It's a world of laughter, A world of tears
It's a world of hopes, And a world of fears
There's so much that we share, That it's time we're aware
It's a small world after all
There is just one moon, And one golden sun
And a smile means, Friendship to every one
Though the mountains divide, And the oceans are wide
It's a small world after all
I like the words, there’s a lot we can learn here and much that is true. And I do like the first part of the ride; each room contains all the diversity found on the planet; a myriad of colors, plants, animals, food and architectures. Each environment also has its own inflection of musical style and instrumentation. In these rooms, our cultural diversity is celebrated and highlighted. We are all different and that’s OK. Different is good.
But the last room is the one that is problematic for me. It is a room of silver, grey, white and purple tones. These are the only colors on the found here. All the diversity celebrated in the prior rooms has now been removed. All the dolls look a lot more alike than before. All their cultural diversity has been removed. They are all pretty much the same.
I want to give the ride designers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the only message here is a simple one: hey, we are all humans and deserve the same respect and reverence. And who could argue with that? I too, believe that we are all humans, created in the image of God, and all of us regardless of ethnic origin, deserve to be treated like the creations of God that we are. But there’s another message in this room. It’s that all cultures are of equal value. Is that actually true? Are all cultures to be considered of equal value? Aren’t there some cultures that have advanced the human race more than others? Aren’t there some cultures over the course of history that have committed evil acts or even promoted evil in the world?
Look, maybe it seems like I’m over the top here, but isn’t it true that the comparative literature classes in our schools now place the works of primitive cultures (dare I even use that term anymore?) alongside the greatest writings of Shakespeare? Are we allowed to say that one set of works might be better than the other? Are we allowed to say that one culture might produce advances in science, for example, that advance the human race further than the scientific endeavors of another culture? It seems to me that we are losing our ability to call something ‘better’. To do that is considered extremely judgmental and arrogant. There is no objective excellence in a world of cultural relativism where all cultures are considered to be of equal value. The culture that treats a fever with an aspirin is no better or worse than the culture that treats the fever with leeches.
I think we need to be careful not to get sucked into a worldview that fails to recognize that while each culture may have its own view of reality, this does not mean that there is more than one truth about reality. I want to be INCLUSIVE when it comes to individual humans created in the image of God, but DISCERNING and WARY when it comes to worldviews. I can still celebrate the differences without embracing all the ideologies. It may be a small world, but that doesn’t mean that we need to forget who we are.
Check us out at www.pleaseconvinceme.com
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I don’t want to seem overly dramatic here, but it won’t be long before ‘extreme’ is a dirty word. Our culture is slowly starting to come to the belief that all extremism is dangerous and bad. But, is that really true? Aren’t there things that are extremely beautiful, extremely accurate or extremely holy? I’m starting to think that our ‘extreme edges’ are being ground down as the cultural and moral relativity in America pushes everything toward the middle. No one is right, and no one is wrong; everything is a matter of opinion. No one religious system is better than another; no one set of values is a more accurate prescription for human behavior.
In fact, holding firmly to a belief, especially the belief that there is an objective right and wrong (an objective moral code) is starting to look very extreme. Those of us who believe that there is a God, and that He has revealed Himself to us in a way that makes it possible to know about him with a high level of accuracy and certainty, are starting to look like extremists. Orthodox, traditional Christians who hold to the historic doctrinal truths of Christianity (just as the Apostles held these truths in their own day) have come to be seen as religious extremists in our relativistic culture of twisted tolerance. How dare we believe that some things are right and some things are wrong? And how dare we claim that Christianity is true (and therefore make the claim that other faith systems that make opposing claims are NOT true)?
So how long will our religious extremism be tolerated? When will fundamental, historic, orthodox Christianity find itself in the crosshairs of the WOE (War on Extremism)?
Please Visit Us at www.PleaseConvinceMe.com