Monday, January 31, 2011

Responding to Ivan, pt. 5 (or X is the Answer)

This post is a part of a series:


Responding to Ivan, pt. 1

Responding to Ivan, pt. 2

Responding to Ivan, pt. 3

Responding to Ivan, pt. 4

**Please feel free to join the discussion. Your comments will help me as I continue the series**

It is now time to turn to the second conversation in my series about responding to Dostoevsky’s Ivan Karamazov. Please note that the first italicized quotation is from The Brothers Karamazov. What follows is how I would like to respond.

"Rebellion? I am sorry you call it that… one can hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me yourself, I challenge you - answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature - that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance - and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth."

Ivan, there are a lot of ways that people try to answer your question, but I have only ever found one answer that satisfies me. I do not know that you will believe me if I share the quick answer, but I will share it just the same and then, just perhaps, you will allow me to give a fuller version of the story.

In short, we can believe this world to be what it is, and we can believe in the God of the Bible to be who He claims that He is, because Jesus was resurrected on the third day after His death.

The resurrection of Jesus is your answer! That’s absurd and I can hardly imagine that your long answer could be worth my time.

I am not surprised that you feel that way. There are a lot of people that share your thoughts about it. But it is the truest answer that there is, and I have found none better. If you would allow me the time to explain, I would appreciate the opportunity. Imagine for a moment that I am right, then would not the time spent in hearing the answer be time well-spent?

I suppose.

Then I will continue. I ask that you hear out the story and tell me if there is really anything else, whether story, or syllogism, or argument, or experience, that can better explain the world in its entirety. But before I start, I have a question for you. Please, answer it honestly. Do you believe that there might be a good, loving, and all-powerful God who is capable of revealing himself to us?

No. I do not.

So, you do not even acknowledge the possibility?

No, based off of what I see in the world around me, I refuse to believe that such a being could exist.

Well, then I really have nothing else to say. If your heart keeps your mind from being open to the possibility, then how could your mind be possibly changed? There would be no point in continuing this conversation if you are unwilling to weigh it against that which you perceive to be true. Nothing that I could say would change your mind. I would be wasting our time.

I suppose I agree, but you have piqued my curiosity. Let me hear your answer anyways.

If I take the time to talk it out, then you are going to have to lay aside your presupposition that I am wrong. You will have to lay aside your preconceived notion that there is no good, loving, all-powerful God capable of revealing Himself. Because you see, there are some extraordinary things in the story. Extraordinary things that folks often disregard for the very reason that they are extraordinary. They are considered to be untrue, because if true, they would, as a result of their supernatural nature, point to the supernatural.

Such folks are the same ones that want you to prove the supernatural without using supernatural evidence. They immediately dismiss supernatural evidence as wrong. Thus, they never like the answer that I know this is true because Christ was resurrected from the dead. Their unstated reason for rejecting the Resurrection of Christ always comes back to the notion that since resurrections don’t naturally happen then Jesus must not have been resurrected, because if he was, that would mean something supernatural must have occurred. The trouble is that all evidence for the supernatural is always going to be supernatural and all natural evidence only ever evidences the natural. Pretty basic stuff, but it seems to be lost on a number of people. This isn’t really a surprise, my story actually explains why such things occur, but I’m getting off track. My point is, if we take the time to do this, you are going to have to suspend your disbelief for a bit. Parts of you will not like parts of the story, but the story is only sufficient if you accept it in its entirety. And I assure you that the story, when taken as a whole, satisfies.

So, here we go.

[to be continued]

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hebrews 10:39

"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Read the Bible this Year (make this your January 4th's year's resolution)

Get your Bible and read it. Just do it. Read the whole thing and read it soon.

1) Follow a reading plan if that would help you. There is a great collection of reading plans on Justin Taylor's blog. There is even a place where you can download a podcast audio version and just listen to it each day.

2) Or, print off a list of all the chapters in the Bible and check them off as you read them. And do it aggressively. Don Whitney has a list that you can print out and place in your Bible. This is the method I'm following this year.

3) Just treat the Bible like a book, albeit a big one, and pick it up and read it. Don't read many other things until you have finished it.

Reading the Bible is so important. If you are a Christian, understand that it is one of the primary ways that God communicates to you. If you are not a Christian, God also wants to communicate to you through it (but I know you probably don't believe me). Even if you don't believe that, you should at least care about it in terms of the impact it has had on history and your culture. If you think it is full of contradictions, fine, believe that, but read it and then let's talk about it. You are wrong to think that it is full of contradictions, but I can't prove it to you until you have read the whole thing. Plus, it is never a good idea to make general claims ("the Bible is full of contradictions") when you don't know anything about the subject. So, read it.

If you are not sure how to study the Bible, don't worry about it yet. Just read it anyways. There is a reason why you don't have to worry about that just yet, but you won't understand the reason until you have read the whole thing.

Alright, quit reading this and go read your Bible if you haven't done that yet today. That's why the blog is called "Take and read, take and read." For more of an explanation see the "About Me" in the sidebar.