Morality: The Great Signpost

cs-lewis_originalDeep down human beings are aware of objective morality. It’s what ultimately convinced C.S. Lewis to leave atheism behind. It was the Moral Argument for the existence of God that led this intellectual giant of the 2oth century down the path of theism, and eventually to the divinity of Jesus.

Simply put, this classical argument states that humanity’s universal awareness of morals and values come from a moral Creator, therefore our innate sense of morality proves that God exists.

This short video from Reasonable Faith is a nice summary.

Lewis would admit that there are differences in moral codes. We can’t dispute these minor nuances. However, some differences in moral codes can be explained in terms of differences about the facts. So, he concluded from three separate logical arguments that objective morality comes from God.

In his classic work, Mere Christianity, Lewis wrote the following about his pre-conversion reasoning:

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

Not only did Lewis believe that morality was convincing enough to close the case on the existence of God, he said the very ability to question God’s existence was itself a signpost to the Creator, a transcendent moral lawgiver.

Lewis said, “When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”

In The Case for Christianity he elaborates on this point:

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It’s like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can’t trust my own thinking, of course I can’t trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”

So when Richard Dawkins, and other skeptics today, belligerently scoff at the idea of God based on what they perceive to be “evil” deeds done by Yahweh in the OT, they actually prove God’s very existence in their condemnation.

Why does Dawkins get to decide what is good or evil? Isn’t morality simply a by-product of human evolution and the formation of culture? Notice that Dawkins uses a moral law code set forth in Scripture to make such a judgment.

Furthermore, by condemning any “evil” thing with morals and values explicitly set forth in the Scriptures as given by God, the skeptic affirms objective morality and a moral lawgiver. Without God, good and evil are only subjective—nothing more than personal opinions and cultural perspectives.

As I heard it put once, a skeptic trying to refute theism, and Christianity more specifically, by making moral judgments afforded to them via the Scriptures, is to hop in the “Christian car” in an attempt to run it into a tree.

If this proves anything, it merely points out that there is indeed such a thing as objective morality, and that it has been indelibly imprinted on our souls by our Creator. It is the signature of God on our lives.

I agree with Lewis that an atheist or an agnostic has to embrace all sorts of illogical contradictions in order to maintain their skepticism. A world without God is definitely a world without morality.

It’s no doubt a world in which none of us would want to live.

D.D. Flowers, 2015.

Check out these related posts:

Does God Exist?
Is God Good?
In Awe of the God of Science


Biblical Faith (More Than A Feeling)

The Christian life is hard. I’d never tell anyone anything different.

Why is it hard?

Well, first off… life itself is hard. We all experience pain, loss, disappointment, heartache, heartbreak, trial, and tribulation.

In our most cynical moments, life can feel like we’ve fallen out of a really tall tree. The goal of life, or at least one subconscious desire we have, is to hit as few branches as possible on the way down.

The truth is that nobody is immune to or safe from the hardships of life. We must all experience them. We are fragile beings living in a world that is groaning from her many afflictions. And we’re never allowed to forget it.

From the increasing complexities and the magnificent mysteries of the universe, we can’t help but feel very small and insignificant. Of all the billions of bodies made up of dirt and water that have ever lived on this pale blue dot, I’m supposed to believe that I matter in some way to the unfolding of time and human history? I know how difficult it can be to believe that.

Now add to that a belief that requires that I move in the opposite direction of the post-enlightenment herd of empiricists and rebuke the modern systematic attack on faith—the gospel that says God became flesh, was crucified for my sins, and was resurrected from the dead to give me life everlasting.

Sorry, Karl (Marx). That’s not an “opiate” for me or the masses.

In that sense, being a person of faith isn’t making life easier. In fact, I could easily argue that it makes life much more challenging, as it necessitates that we believe in more than what we can see, touch, and put in a test tube. The science lab is no help in that respect. The “proof” I’m looking for isn’t there.

I suppose that if a person’s idea of “faith” is simply to stop all critical thinking, become anti-science, and just believe a bunch of mystical teachings in an ancient book, well then, it no doubt seems absurd, even psychotic, to embrace such a view. That sort of “faith” is like gouging out your eyes and trying to convince everyone else that you see. But that’s not biblical faith. And we should stop promoting it as such.

I know that it’s much more complicated than this, but I’ll sum it up this way. It has been the anti-intellectual voices of the church that helped to fuel this cultural confusion with faith. The response of the “enlightened” to this anti-intellectualism was to run in the opposite direction of mystery and accept a worldview that leaves no room for God. That’s unless “God” is a scientist.

But what if biblical faith isn’t about numbing the pain, dodging the hardships of life, or inventing a myth and wishing it to be true in order to create meaning and purpose in what is nothing more than a cosmic hiccup?

Instead, what if biblical faith is about opening our eyes to the meaning and purpose that’s already there, right in front of us? In that regard, faith is all around us. All we must do is reach out for it. And I believe it begins with accepting that life (and faith) is hard, ambiguous, and a perplexing paradox.

Therefore, biblical faith might best begin by coming to terms with this truth.

I don’t mean to say that everything we experience or that happens to us is from God. Of course not! Rather, we live in a world where the Creator’s original intent and design was derailed long ago. Even now, we are free, but we often use that freedom for destructive ends. We are the culprits. It isn’t the God we often love to blame (or hate) so much.

Think about this. We repeat the fall from Eden every day. That story in Genesis 3 isn’t primarily about a primal pair sinning against God and violating their own conscience, only then to find themselves naked and alone.

No, it’s about you and me. And it happens every day. In an effort to cover our own nakedness and shame, we end up covering our eyes from seeing the truth that God loves us and wants to bring good out of our evil.

We must factor this in when trying to understand the darkness in our lives and our world. No sufficient explanation can be given to the problem of evil without a theology of the fall. If you’re blaming God for the problems in the world, then you haven’t encountered the God revealed in Jesus.

So biblical faith is about facing up to our own sin, brokenness, and limited understanding. It’s this humble path than unlocks the door to peace, forgiveness, and hope. Christ, our redemption, is found here.

I’ve known many people who have never been able to overcome their feelings in order to go deeper in their faith. Their emotions drive them, even when they believe it’s their logic and reasoning. Actually, their feelings cloud their vision and judgment. They are cut off from the faith that unlocks peace because they fail to persevere in their doubt and hard times.

These folks want it easy, and they want it their way. If these people don’t get it their way, they quit. And they step away from faith, sometimes for good.

But Jesus said that if you want to find your life, you must lose it (Matt 16:25). Believe me… there’s nothing easy about that. It’s hard. It hurts. But it works.

In other words, you must learn to press on through your momentary fickle feelings by clinging to what you believe to be true, indeed what the Scriptures say, about the God revealed in Christ. If we trust him regardless of circumstance, that is biblical faith. If we don’t trust him, we have no faith.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Perseverance is about pressing on to find life, even when you feel like you’re losing yours. Perseverance is about busting through the stopping places! Just an ounce of faith is able to produce a pound of faith if we’ll allow it.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2-4

I have personally discovered that my faith increases and I’m given access to more of Christ when I exhibit this trust. No matter the hardship or trial, I can testify that when I hold to what I believe is true about God’s character, displaying my faith, he will carry me through my feelings. I come out on the other side a better person. I’m more mature and complete.

What is needed for a biblical faith? More than feelings, that’s for sure. Faith is for those who wish to be strong. There are no quitters in the Kingdom.

If you want to go deeper in your covenantal faith with Christ, I encourage you to do these three things in community: (1) “hunger for righteousness”—for more of Jesus; (2) memorize Scripture about God’s love and faithfulness; (3) make up your mind to persevere despite your hardships. Then you’ll get your proof.

This is your part. It’s out part. Do this and give God the opportunity to prove his faithfulness to you. Follow Christ and let him reward you with his peace. Let him grow your roots down deep into the soil of his own faith.

D.D. Flowers, 2015.


2014 Year in Review

David, Lanna & Kainan Flowers

Many of you are aware that I began pastoring Christiansburg Mennonite Fellowship on January 1st, 2014. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we moved to Virginia and started a new chapter in our lives and ministry!

While it hasn’t been without challenges, it has been an exciting year filled with God’s blessings for the Flowers family. The Lord has revealed to us throughout the year that we are living in his will for our lives. We are thankful for the Spirit’s continual presence with us in all seasons of life. He continues to reward us for our faith in Jesus and our willingness to trust his leading.

It has normally been the blog custom to recap the year of blogging with stats, what was popular, and/or garnered the most shares and likes. I really don’t feel like doing that this year. If you’re interested, just check out the Popular posts page. It has been updated to reflect my reader’s all-time favorites.

I’m grateful for my 500+ regular subscribers. Pastoring has demanded more of my time, so I have blogged less this year. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to post 1-3 times a month, and I’m glad that folks are still finding reasons to subscribe.

As always, one of the purposes of my blog has been to put forth weightier posts on matters that are increasingly neglected in the church. And of course, those things which are connected in some way to the centrality and supremacy of Christ, hence the name of my blog.

I’ve been blogging since 2008. I must admit that it’s been a bit disappointing over the years to discover that if I were to write more on homosexuality, or some other hot button issue, my views would sky rocket. It’s happened before. However, when I’ve written on prayer, the blog traffic almost comes to a complete halt. What does this say about us? Well, I have to say that it’s not the sort of thing that gives me a boost as a blogger.

I’ve learned how to increase my blog traffic, to be sure. But rather than seeking to have a post go viral, I’m committed to being a pastoral voice and utilizing this blog to approach things differently for those who believe we need it.

Honestly, there have been moments throughout the last couple of years where I’ve seriously considered shutting the blog down (mainly due to time constraints and the lack of engagement from readers), and then I get an encouraging comment or a timely email from one of you.

I appreciate those who have taken the time to give back and express their solidarity with my journey. A handful of you keep me blogging. I sincerely mean that. You remind me that there are some good purposes for the internet.

Personal Reflections on 2014

As I’ve been reflecting on this past year, there are a few things that stick out in my mind that I would like to share with you. These are areas where the Spirit has been at work in my life to convict, convince, and conform me to Christ. I want to encourage us all to think about how these might apply to us in the church, especially those in some form of leadership.

  1. Personal ambition robs us of the peace and joy of Jesus.
    It’s built into our American culture and it’s perpetuated everywhere we turn today. The craving for notoriety and celebrity status is not of God. If being known by Christ and your small circle of family and friends is not enough, nothing ever will be. Ambition may be evidence that you’re empty, and you’re broadcasting that to the world by your narcissistic endeavors, seeking to fill the void in your soul.
  2. Social media is a mixed bag. Use with extreme caution.
    I’ve made some incredible connections with folks through social media. Most of my blog traffic comes through Facebook. I’m happy about that. But I’ve come to believe that Facebook is a virtual dark alley in a really bad part of cyber town. It has largely become a garbage heap where we bring all the trash that’s in us. This year I feel like a veil has been lifted from my eyes to see all of the psychological and spiritual issues people have, including my own. I’m also convinced that social media has for many Christians become a substitute for local incarnational ministry. This needs to change if we want to make any lasting difference.
  3. Relationships and Gospel ministry are slow, hard, and messy.
    I turn 34 next month and have been actively following Jesus for about 20 years, so I knew this truth already. I’ve simply been reminded of it in many ways over this past year. This never changes. There is no fast-track to holiness, no easy way to achieve what is eternally rewarding. People are broken. I’m broken. Evil exists, but God is good. The Kingdom is advancing despite set-backs and our chrono-centric worldview. We may struggle here, but it’s here in the messiness of our relationships that the Spirit thrives. Don’t give up on people. Get down in the dirt with others. Be present and expect to find the Lord there.

I could say a great deal more about these things, but I’ll just leave it there. I hope you’ll do some reflection of your own. What has the Spirit been teaching you this year? Are you expecting greater things in 2015? Let’s pray for our eyes to be opened to God’s presence. He is faithful.

Grace & Peace,

D.D. Flowers, 2014.


Overcoming Cynicism (Sermon)

Overcoming CynicismI’ve written on cynicism a few times here at the blog. If you follow regularly, you know this is something I’ve admitted to struggling with myself. I consider myself a recovering cynic. I must repent of my cynicism daily to follow Jesus faithfully.

I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m not alone in my cynicism. In fact, I’ve gotten more response through personal correspondence on this one issue than any others. It no doubt strikes a chord with folks today. And I’m not surprised.

I’ve found that cynicism is the elephant in the room that nobody really wants to talk about.

A few weeks ago I preached a sermon that is a compilation of stuff I’ve written, as well as new thoughts, on the subject of struggling with and overcoming cynicism. This one sermon was probably the most relevant message I gave all year. It connected with our congregation like no other.

In Overcoming Cynicism, I specifically take on the growing cynicism toward the church, the Body of Christ. It’s something we desperately need to address as we seek to emerge from the “evangelicalism” of the last 30 years.

Here are a few excerpts from the sermon:

“Cynicism manifests itself out of frustration with persons, institutions, organizations, and authorities that have left her victims disillusioned and angry. Cynics feel cheated, robbed, lied to, and taken advantage of. Maybe you know the feeling. Disillusionment has been described as the “dispersal of illusions,” and many Christians are finding themselves passing through disillusionment only to drown in a sea of cynicism.”

“Cynicism is a sickness… it leads to despair. We must repent of it… repent by believing that God is greater than the evil at work in the world, for he calls us to be people of hope. We repent of it because it’s not consistent with the people we’re called to be.”

“Let’s be clear. It’s not cynicism simply to acknowledge reality. It’s just that we can’t fully know what’s real without considering the God fully revealed in Jesus. Reality must conform to the good news of Christ. If we’re not doing that, then why bother with being a Christian. Hopeful realism is about resurrection and the promise of new creation. And this is what I believe we’re being called to embrace in the gospel message. It allows us to see the Spirit of God at work, and it empowers us to join him in shaping God’s good future.”

You can download the sermon and view slides (PDF) here at our archives. Listen to Overcoming Cynicism and learn about practical steps you can take on your way to becoming a hopeful realist this Advent season.

Grace & Peace,

D.D. Flowers, 2014.

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 540 other followers

%d bloggers like this: