Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Overt and Covert Danger

We have been in some dangerous places, North Ireland during the troubles in the early 1970s, crossing from Jordan to Israel on the Allenby bridge as a rifle shot echoed off the rocks, and in the dark side of several American cities. Some of the members of our Body of Christ are suffering severe overt danger today, perhaps even martyrdom, but what is the danger that you and I face? St. Paul tells us that, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” [Ephesians 6:12]. 

There is overt and covert danger. Facing overt danger you may lose your life. If that happens, as a Christian, you will be with Him forever. But in facing covert danger you may lose your soul; that danger is eternal. Morality is a matter of life and death. That is why God gave us commandments, and why Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. God wants to keep us out of the greater danger.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
      who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,
      my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
      who subdues peoples under me” [Psalm 144:1-2].

O Lord, from whom all good things do come: Grant to us Thy humble servants, that by Thy holy inspiration we may think those things that be good, and by Thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. [BCP 1662].

Monday, January 26, 2015

She Said She Was an Atheist: The Impossibility of Atheism

What is atheism? The Online Merriam Webster Dictionary says that Atheism is a:  “a disbelief in the existence of deity; b:  the doctrine that there is no deity.” The American Atheist website says that, “Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.” There is not much meat in either definition for the obvious reason that there is not much meat in Atheism.  Atheism is like the Down East story of the woman who serves her husband sausages for breakfast for the first time one morning and then asks, “What do you think of them, Marvin.” He labours away at skinning the sausages then eats the skins, and says, “Not bad, Martha, but after you clean ‘em, there’s not much to ‘em.”

All of three of these “definitions” suffer from the same philosophical problem; it is impossible to get rid of the concept of a god, without reference to a god of some sort, and still retain any basis for developing any moral or any philosophical system. In the 1960s Altizer and Hamilton published “Radical Theology and the Death of God,” a bread and butter basic in my seminary. The book followed Friedrich Nietzsche in proclaiming the death of God and the human freedom to determine value and meaning. The problem with the book was that in the end there was no way to get rid of God without bringing in a fundamental idea of god in the back door.

There is an alternative; that is to say there is no meaning, and even the word random must be emptied of any hint of its opposite. Humankind is so desperate for meaning that they make of themselves the god who directs their lives. It’s like having music without rhythm and scales; you end up with cacophony, but you can’t even call it cacophony because you have nothing to compare it with. The moment you impose order to make melody, you have already referenced something greater than yourself that others will also recognize. Saying that there is no meaning is  rather like going to the Coffee Shop and ordering a Decaf Coffee with Skim Milk and two Equal, “One Why Bother please.”