Thursday, November 09, 2023

How good is the argument from prophecy?

Gavin Ortlund just posted a video on prophecy fulfillment as evidence for Christianity. And here's a post I added to the comments section. The large majority of Christians need to address issues like these far more than they do. If you want the world to change for the better, you need to make an effort to persuade people. Few Christians are involved much in apologetics, and those few usually don't handle prophecy issues nearly as well as they should.

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Leave The Bulbs Alone, And The New Flowers Will Come Up

To demand the continual experience of the pleasure is to cut ourselves off from the subsequent pleasure that God intended. This principle - that memory is the capstone of pleasure - is for [C.S.] Lewis one instance of Christ's teaching that a thing will not really live unless it dies, and it has many applications. "On every level of our life - in our religious experience, in our gastronomic, erotic, aesthetic, and social experience - we are always harking back to some occasion which seemed to us to reach perfection, setting that up as a norm, and depreciating all other occasions by comparison." Many Christians look back with longing on the bright days after their conversion or after some great spiritual moment. They lament that those fervent desires have in some measure died away. No doubt sometimes the death of those initial pantings is due to sin. But not always. Lewis suggests that God intends those intense passions to pass away. They were the explosion that started the engine of the Christian life. But man does not live on explosions alone….

In addition, God has built us so that we can't keep these explosions going. Our bodies will not suffer the intensity of thrills for long. Lewis calls this the law of undulation (a fancy word for a wave-like rhythm)….Undulation is the natural, bodily way that God regulates our desires. Self-denial is the supernatural way that we join God in ordering our loves. As fallen humans, we're sorely tempted to ignore undulation and seek to get maximum and repeated joy out of the same pleasures. Self-denial is our resistance to this temptation, not because we wish to hinder our joy, but because we believe that God wishes to give us additional joys.

[quoting Lewis] "It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go - let it die away - go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow - and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life."

Instead of being tormented by the lost golden moments of our past, Lewis encourages us to accept them as memories. When we do, we find that they are entirely wholesome, nourishing, and enchanting. "Properly bedded down in a past which we do not miserably try to conjure back, they will send up exquisite growths. Leave the bulbs alone, and the new flowers will come up. Grub them up and hope, by fondling and sniffing, to get last year's blooms, and you will get nothing." The past joy is to die if it is to live.

(Joe Rigney, Lewis On The Christian Life [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2018], 159-60)

Sunday, November 05, 2023

The Popularity Of Premillennialism In Jerome's Day

In earlier posts, such as here, I've discussed the popularity of premillennialism during the earliest centuries of church history. The degree to which it was popular is often underestimated. Jerome referred to "a very large multitude" of orthodox Christians who were premillennialists in his day (in Thomas Scheck, trans., St. Jerome: Commentary On Isaiah [Mahwah, New Jersey: The Newman Press, 2015], pp. 820-21, section 18:1 in the commentary).