Thursday, April 11, 2024

Forgotten In This Life, But Not In The Next

There's a passage in Ecclesiastes about a man who saved a city, but was forgotten:

"Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, 'Wisdom is better than strength.' But the wisdom of the poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good." (9:13-18)

Augustine made a somewhat similar observation:

"From the blessing of the two sons of Noah, and the cursing of the middle son, down to Abraham, or for more than a thousand years, there is, as I have said, no mention of any righteous persons who worshipped God. I do not therefore conclude that there were none; but it had been tedious to mention every one, and would have displayed historical accuracy rather than prophetic foresight." (The City Of God, 16:2)

A lot of other examples could be cited. Most of what we have in modern Bibles (and other modern editions of ancient documents) is based on manuscripts produced by unknown individuals. Much of the patristic literature comes from unknown sources (The Didache, The Epistle Of Barnabas, The Letter To Diognetus, The Apostolic Constitutions, etc.). And so on.

I think this is part of how we'll see the fulfillment of Jesus' comments on how the first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 19:30). The forgotten in this life won't be forgotten in the next life. It's another reason to not have much concern about your social status in this life.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

The Structure Of Life

People are born into a family, and they're surrounded by a larger culture (other relatives, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, people on television, people in books, etc.). From their earliest years onward, they're surrounded with those two contexts (the family and the larger culture). They think, talk, make their plans, and so on with those two contexts in mind. Christians should be intervening in people's lives to get them to be more concerned about God, above their concern for family and above their concern for the rest of the culture. God is superior, he deserves to be of more concern to us, and the family and the culture wouldn't exist and wouldn't have hope for the future without him.

Given the nature of life and how so many people err so much in the direction of neglecting God while giving too much attention to the family and the rest of the culture, we should adjust our efforts accordingly. Family issues, career issues, and such should be addressed within the framework of the primacy of God, and the tendency of people to overestimate the former while underestimating the latter needs to constantly be kept in mind.

Often, opposition to a Christian view of the family comes from a minority of the population, even if it's a large minority, an unusually vocal one, or something like that. Even when the opposition represents a majority, that majority often simultaneously overestimates the family in other contexts. I've mentioned before that the Pew Research Center has found that when asked where they find meaning in life, Democrats cite the family more than Republicans do. Just because a group is anti-family in some contexts, that doesn't prove that it isn't overestimating the family in other contexts. And the pro-family response to anti-family movements can go too far in the pro-family direction. There's a reason why Jesus repeatedly addressed the need to love him more than you love your family. There was a lot of fornication, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, abortion, polygamy, etc. in Jesus' day. He addressed those issues while simultaneously recognizing the primacy of God, telling people that loving God is the foremost commandment, and recognizing that the same culture that had so many anti-family characteristics also needed to repeatedly be warned about overestimating their family. And much the same can be said about other issues in life (careers, healthcare, etc.).

One of the reasons why I'm bringing these things up is that a lot of Christians (and Jews and others who should know better) don't seem to be giving these subjects enough thought. I frequently hear people who should know better commenting on how nothing in life is more important than the family (or your health or whatever), how the biggest issue of our day is the family or some kind of anti-family movement in our culture, people saying a lot about their family while saying far less about God than they ought to, etc. A lot of this seems to involve peer pressure, since people know that it's so popular to give a lot of attention to something like your family, your career, or health issues, whereas it's unpopular to say much about God. But we should be going against the peer pressure rather than going along with it. And the peer pressure wouldn't exist if there weren't so many people holding these false ideas and pressuring others to go along with them.

"The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity." (Luke 8:14)

Sunday, April 07, 2024

The Christopoulos/Dillahunty Debate On Jesus' Resurrection

Than Christopoulos and Matt Dillahunty recently debated the resurrection. Than made a lot of significant points in his opening remarks, which Matt didn't interact with much. As you listen to Matt, keep in mind that objecting that there isn't more evidence doesn't explain the evidence you have. And keep in mind that offering equal or better alternative explanations of the evidence Than appealed to would be an effective way of demonstrating that Than's case is as bad as Matt suggests it is, yet Matt didn't do that. The more often you ignore the evidence cited and appeal to agnosticism, the less of a position you're in to use the sort of language Matt used to describe the evidence for the resurrection: "pretty weak", "bottom of the barrel", "the weakest evidence", "the worst possible evidence", etc.