Limits on forgiveness and grace?

Tim Keller is my favorite teacher of the Word alive today. He has such great insight and has a gift of simplifying complex ideas into practical application.


An invitation to suffer.

“But we all suffer. For we all prize and love; and in this present existence of ours, prizing and loving yield suffering. Love in our world is suffering love. Some do not suffer much, though, for they do not love much. Suffering is for the loving. This, said Jesus, is the command of the Holy One: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In commanding us to love, God invites us to suffer.”

― Nicholas WolterstorffLament for a Son

Schaeffer on Pacifism.

“The Bible is clear here: I am to love my neighbor as myself, in the manner needed, in a practical way, in the midst of the fallen world, at my particular point of history. This is why I am not a pacifist. Pacifism in this poor world in which we live — this lost world — means that we desert the people who need our greatest help.”
― Francis August Schaeffer

Myth of Secondary Causation; Design Hypothesis.

Via First Things

“Aquinas inherited from Platonic philosophy the idea that matter is pure potentiality. It has no organizational capacity of its own. Some modern Thomists like Jaques Maritain tried to reconcile Thomas and Darwin by suggesting that Thomas can be interpreted as inscribing a desire for form into matter, but this only confuses Thomism with what is called vitalism. Matter’s potentiality has no appetite for Aquinas; matter itself is not inclined toward self-perfection. Only form actualizes matter, and form is, in the words of Lawrence Dewan, O.P., “something divine in things.” Dewan points out that in Thomas’ day celestial bodies were thought to be a higher form of matter and thus could function as an intermediate cause between primary and secondary causation “Perhaps someday,” he writes, “we will have discovered enough about corporeal reality to provide candidates for such universal causality under God.” The Design Hypothesis is, in a way, such a candidate.”

Authentic Christianity.

“People understand me so little that they do not even understand when I complain of being misunderstood.”

           —Søren Kierkegaard, Journals Feb. 1836″

If you know me, or have skimmed through this blog enough, you will quickly see my love for Soren Kierkegaard as a philosopher and as a foundational thinker within the history of Christian thought. I believe he is misunderstood in many ways, either because those who have read him did not take the time and energy to really understand what he was truly advocating, or those who have been told by others and have done no further investigation into who he was and what he was up against. Mind you, I do not fully endorse all of the thoughts and ideas of the theologians and philosophers I read, Kierkegaard included. Proper understanding and critique of opposing views should always be our goal. Never dismiss and ignore what we do not understand or agree with.

My wife recently purchased me a book (Kierkegaard and Theology by Murray Rae) for my birthday, and it is because she knows me so well, it is a tremendous blessing to finally read some justified understanding of Kierkegaard’s thoughts and words on what it means to be a Christian and how we can live authentically Christian. The book has eight chapters, and within those chapters are detailed in sub sections on Kierkegaard’s thoughts and beliefs on individual subjects such as; grace, atonement, consciousness of the self and many more. The third chapter is called “What it means to Become a Christian” where a few statements hit hard and challenged me to critique my own way of thinking about the faith that I hold.

One of the main reasons I hold such reverence for Kierkegaard is his ability to call out my own inauthentic beliefs. More specifically in recent years, I have become far more rationalistic in my approach to faith and the things of God.

Johannes Climacus was one of the pseudonym’s Kierkegaard wrote under, and he poses the question;

“How can I, Johannes Climacus, share in the happiness Christianity promises?”(1)

We cannot be a Christian by just following the crowd, Christianity is foremost concerned with the individual and their heart. We can look to the the question Jesus posed to the rich young man in Luke 18:18-25. “And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” To which Jesus offered no universal formula, but a challenge addressed to the young man’s point of greatest resistance (2): “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Murray Rae cohesively sums up Climacus’s (Kierkegaard’s) attack upon the methodology of Modernity upon Christianity:

“The first problem, he is well on the way to dealing with; it is the problem of Christendom, that cultural landscape in which it is supposed that everyone is Christian without having to do anything at all. Climacus, however, has discovered that Christianity requires something more of him. But what? Here the second obstacle proves much more difficult to overcome. It is the obstacle posed by the supposition of Modernity that everything must be reasonable, that we cannot commit ourselves to anything about which there is the least bit of reasonable doubt. The difficulty is, in Modernity, that setting aside one’s reason is every bit as scandalous as selling one’s possessions and distributing the money to the poor.” (3)

Following Jesus is what it means to be a Christian. Not to just believe in a set of objective propositions, but to set all of our reason to follow Christ wherever He calls us. Christianity is at war with our whole being, because we are about the “self”. We want to depend on our “autonomous reasoning” and nothing else. To believe with all certainty and no doubt. This is not the call of Christ. Trust Him, when all seems uncertain.


(1) Kierkegaard and Theology, Murray Rae

(2) Kierkegaard and Theology, Murray Rae

(3) Kierkegaard and Theology, Murray Rae

Argument from Consciousness in 8 Quick Points

Via Saint and Skeptics

1) We cannot directly observe another creature’s consciousness, and we cannot measure or quantify conscious experiences. If we could describe every physical fact about a bat’s brain in every detail, we would still not have a description of what the bat experiences. There are facts about animals that are not physical facts – facts about “what it is like”. It does not matter how much data we gather, what we imagine or what new concepts we learn. We are forever barred from another animal’s rich world of experience.

2) Neuroscience can describe animals as a system of causal inputs, or representations, that produce certain casual outputs. But this description of the physical system with its inputs and outputs does not describe intrinsic, subjective feelings. We can only describe and understand emotions like fear and anger when we experience them ourselves in the first person – “from the inside”, as it were.

3) Subjects have privileged access to conscious events. Observers could infer that I was in pain from my behaviour. However, I don’t need to infer that I am in pain by observing my behaviour or brain states; I feel it directly. There is nothing more to this mental event than the way it “appears” to me in subjective experience. I am not picking out a physical event which causes or accompanies that experience.

4) Brain states and events have a complex physical structure that phenomenal awareness lacks. Conscious experience does not have a complex spatial structure; it cannot be broken down into various parts. We do not have privileged access to physical states and events; physical states and events can have a complex physical structure. So consciousness cannot be identical to anything in the physical world.

5) If there is more to the world than the physical, scientific materialism is false.

6) In every worldview some phenomena are foundational: they are not explained in terms of any more basic phenomena. On scientific materialism elementary physical entities and the laws which govern them are foundational. But conscious events are nothing like physical parts; there is nothing about the interaction of physical parts that would lead us to predict or enable us to understand the existence of consciousness. Consciousness arrives very late in the history of the universe and late in the history of life as an inexplicable accident. Consciousness does not “fit naturally” into the materialist’s worldview.

7) However, consciousness is foundational on theism, because conscious agency characterises God as understood within theism. Theism has the explanatory resources to account for the existence of finite conscious beings in terms of God’s omniscience and omnipotence.

8) There is a correlation between physical events and mental events; certain events always produce some kind of pain, others always produce pleasure. There is a connection between the physical world and the world of consciousness. But what could connect the two? We must look to some underlying reality which could bring this connection about. The order present suggests that a mind is involved; and so God emerges as a good explanation, both for human consciousness, and for its connection with the physical world.