Why Is The Universe So Big?

I’ve talked before about my philosophy of religion course. Recently a classmate posed the question, “Why would God create such a massive universe, when the size does not aid humans in the slightest? Particularly given that science seems to indicate that the universe is ever-expanding, this makes no sense.”

Here is the brief response I offered. As before, I would welcome corrections, suggestions, or other comments; I don’t claim to be a professional philosopher or theologian and am hoping to learn through this experience.

I doubt you’re looking for the dogmatic answer, but some things must be answered in that way. It’s hard to support an argument for God’s reasons for acting when the listener doubts God’s very existence, so I’ll just share the answer as I would to one who accepts God’s existence as a foundation. Forgive me.

The traditional Christian answer to why God acts is that he acts for his own glory, that is to say that he acts so as to bring praise and acclaim to himself. Therefore, the act of overabundant creation makes sense as a display of his power and creativity; and in a sense it is comforting, because it proves that mankind is not the focal point of creation (for we have no need of, or use for, much of the created universe).

Is God Constrained?

I wrote last week about my class on the philosophy of religion. I am only a week into the class, but so far I have enjoyed both the readings and the online discussions with classmates.

One of the topics we are considering is the nature of God’s immanence and his transcendence. In other words, how can God be omnipresent in our world but also unconstrained by its laws. For example, how can God be everywhere but not be subject to gravity, or entropy?

My classmates come from all walks of life, and they each have a different stance on whether God exists. For that reason, our discussions have a great diversity of views, and it forces everyone to think deeply about their beliefs.

One student wrote that if God exists he must be either immanent or transcendent, but not both. I offer here my response with the hope of conversation or correction where you think I am in error.
[Read more...]

Harry Potter is Alone: There is No God

Harry Potter is Alone

Harry Potter is Alone

And Harry saw very clearly as he sat there under the hot sun how people who cared about him had stood in front of him one by one, his mother, his father, his godfather, and finally Dumbledore, all determined to protect him; but now that was over. He could not let anybody else stand between him and Voldemort; he must abandon forever the illusion he ought to have lost at the age of one, that the shelter of a parent’s arms meant that nothing could hurt him. There was no waking from his nightmare, no comforting whisper in the dark that he was safe really, that it was all in his imagination; the last and greatest of his protectors had died, and he was more alone than he had ever been before.
– From Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

There, distilled down from thousands of pages spread over seven books, lies the essential difference between J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, between Hogwarts and Narnia. Harry Potter is alone.
[Read more...]

From This Night On: The Presidential Election

Presidential ElectionThis morning I’ll share a few thoughts before the presidential election results begin to come in tonight. (I published this same post, with a few minor differences, four years ago on the day of the presidential election between John McCain and Barack Obama.)

No matter what happens tonight, and no matter who is the President-elect, Christians have one duty from tonight on. No matter what we think of either candidate, and no matter what we think of his agenda, believers must respect the President-elect and pray for his administration and for America’s future.

Although many Christians feel strongly in this election, our responsibilities are the same no matter who wins.
[Read more...]

The Gospel Emotion Among Christians

Last week I wrote about healthy Christian communities. They are characterized, as I said, by the gospel emotion, “the instinctive attitude that senses the essential similarity of all mankind, the mindset that knows we are all sinners under God’s mercy.”

That attitude, that gospel emotion, should mark individual believers, so it should mark our communities. We should be known as people aware of our essential similarity: that all mankind are sinners, and our only hope is in Christ. Today I want to focus on what that should mean for how we treat other Christians.

The Gospel Emotion Among Christians

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
– John 13:34-35, ESV

[Read more...]

The Gospel Emotion

What Marks a Healthy Community?

For several months a question has stuck inside my mind. I have wondered: What is it that marks a gospel community? How do we identify believers seeking to live in the light of the gospel?

Gospel EmotionNow, please do not misunderstand me. I am not wondering how to tell if someone is saved — that is God’s to judge. God has told us what is required to be saved (to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead) but I see nothing in Scripture to suggest that He has given us the ability or responsibility to judge the eternal state of others with certainty.

No, I am wondering something else. During many years as a student I had the special opportunity to attend and join several churches in a variety of cities, and I am more interested in reflecting on those healthy churches and what makes them strong, vibrant, and honoring to God.
[Read more...]

Christian Lifestyle

To put it bluntly, Christ says the world will hate us. Which begs another question: If our lifestyle doesn’t even raise the eyebrows of the world, what does that say about our devotion to the gospel?
– From Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous

Serve One Another

Serve One AnotherLast week my wife and I drove through the southern states hit by Hurricane Isaac. No, we didn’t plan to drive into the area right behind the hurricane just so that we could enjoy the rainstorms for our entire roadtrip. It just happened that way. Our lease ended and we had to move back south.

On the long drive, we made lots of pit stops. We stopped for gas. We stopped to eat. Sometimes we just stopped to stretch.

One of our stops was at a deli in Jackson, Mississippi — we’d finally made it far enough south to get some good, authentic sweet tea! While we sat down and waited for our food to be cooked and put in a to-go bag, a group of older gentlemen walked in. Each had white hair and years of wisdom, but I was intrigued by their matching shirts and badges (almost like the Boy Scouts for retired men).
[Read more...]

Christ or Success

My heart is sick within me. Nothing nauseates me like hearing Christ demeaned, especially when the attack is made subtly. Overt attacks on God’s character are rather commonplace, just look at the vocabulary of modern expletives, but what is truly dangerous is the slew of subtle attacks that go unnoticed by many thousands of people. One does not have to curse Christ to hurt his cause.

I read an article on CNN and am horribly saddened by what is happening in “Christian” churches.

Some Christian congregations, particularly in lower income, urban areas, are turning to an unlikely source for help — the Church of Scientology.

Scientologists do not worship God, much less Jesus Christ. The church has seen plenty of controversy and critics consider it a cult. So why are observant Christians embracing some of its teachings?

A very good question, and one posed not by Christian news media, but by CNN.
[Read more...]

Forgiving Me When I Am Selfish

Dear Darling Wife,

Thank you for forgiving me when I am selfish. Marriage has shown me how quick I am to take care of myself, how quick I am to prefer myself over you. I am so sorry.

I am forever grateful that God redeemed me once and forgives me daily, that He promises me salvation and sanctification. Each day, you and I become more like Christ, by God’s grace. But today I’m still selfish.

So thank you for forgiving me today. And yesterday. And tomorrow. Thank you for forgiving me when I am selfish, and trusting me to love you better.

I love you, and I am forever grateful for your patient love.

Photo Credit: jojo (Creative Commons)