Why Do We Need the Old Testament Anyway?

Thomas Aquinas teaches that in addition to the eternal law, the natural law, and the positive law, there is also the ‘divine law.’ The natural law is intended to be for all humans, everywhere. By following the dictates of the natural law it is possible for us to live happy lives here on earth. The divine law is also intended to be for all humans, everywhere. Obeying the divine law, however, is a course of action that equips us to go beyond a merely earthly happiness. Persons who seek to obey God … [Read more...]

3 Criticisms of Pascal’s Wager

Last week I shared a way of modeling Pascal’s Wager, which Pascal offers as an argument for God’s existence. This week I want to share three common critiques of Pascal’s Wager.1st Critique: the Wager does not work as a demonstration of the advantages of Christianity, over other religions.I agree with this critique. Think about it for a second. You could run the Pascal Wager for a variety of different religious perspectives that teach the existence of an afterlife. You could run the Wager … [Read more...]

Pascal’s ‘Wager’ as an argument for God’s existence

Blaise Pascal perhaps is best known for his 'Wager' argument for God's existence. I regularly teach the ‘Wager’ in my classes, and it goes as follows.Pascal says that every human being faces a choice. Everyone must choose whether to believe in God or not. You cannot not make this decision. You must choose, and if you try not to choose (say, by being an agnostic about God's existence - someone who says we just cannot know one way or the other), then your 'I don't know' will become a 'no' on yo … [Read more...]

Why I will teach my children my Christian faith

Speaking personally, my intent is to share my Christian faith with large numbers of my neighbors in the course of my life. I see doing so as being the natural outflowing of the spiritual exercises that I undertake in my devotional life. I plan also to train up my children in the Christian faith. My children will be raised as Christians because the Christian faith is the best I can give them as a parent. There is a cartoon out there that I ran across recently that shows two mothers walking beside … [Read more...]

If you’re a Christian, your life should be changed

As Christians, our devotional lives come first. But at the same time, when we prioritize the devotional the kingdom work naturally follows. This is because our relational encounters with God change us. Their natural effect is to sanctify us and to produce in us a desire to do kingdom work. Who has been the most profound relational influence on your life? Think of how much that person has impacted your decisions and behaviors. In the same way, the Scriptures teach that it also is not possible for … [Read more...]

Mining the Riches of the Philosophical Tradition

These days when people think of a theologian or philosopher they tend to imagine someone really old like Confucius or Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. But contemporary Christian philosophy is a youthful movement. In fact in the last two decades it has been spreading rapidly to universities around the world. Its ambitious projects have been of enormous value to the church. One of the central concerns of contemporary Christian philosophers has been the knowledge of God. So their insights ought to be … [Read more...]

The Motives of the Gospel Authors

Encountering the Bible ought to be more than just a matter of factual absorption. It is important sometimes to go deeper into the meaning and background of the Biblical stories. To imaginatively enter the events and parables of the Bible means to reflect on them in ways that transcend the mere written word. Doing so does not have to be a high-level philosophical exercise. Nor does it even have to focus on the text itself. It is sometimes just as important to reflect on the second-order hymns, … [Read more...]

Bible Reading: how to do it right

Not too long ago I read a blog post by my friend David Capes about how some prominent Christian leaders have been giving up on private Bible reading. As reasons they cite their lack of confidence in their interpretations of the Scriptures and also their (correct) belief that the Bible’s books were intended to be read publicly, not privately. Their goals seem to be that they (a) not misinterpret the Bible, and (b) not separate the Bible from its cultural context. So their conclusion is that they o … [Read more...]

Inspiration from the Theological Greats

We've all been told that the regular reading of Scripture is essential for growing in faith learning about God. But another way of learning about God - a way that too frequently is undervalued by evangelicals - is to study the works of the great theologians and philosophers. Why are such studies important? Consider the life of Inigo Lopez de Loyola. Born in 1491 as the 13th child of a minor noble family in northern Spain, he grew up to be a military hothead. In May 1521 his native city of … [Read more...]

The Twin Books of Scripture and Nature: is God Knowable?

Responsible Christians seek to learn things about God. There are no excuses or exceptions. If you are not making an effort to learn about God’s nature and person, then quite frankly it is not possible for you to lead a flourishing spiritual life. Regular Scripture reading is the most natural way for Christians to learn about God. The best advice I ever received on reading the Scriptures was this: just do it. Dive right in and do not wait for some special study method or inspirational m … [Read more...]