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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Truth

Quoting Blaise Pascal:

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

The Sword That Cuts Both Ways

From the pen of Louis Albert Banks (1855-1933):

There have been many sharp two-edged swords in the earth, subjected, like the far-famed Damascus blades, to the most ingenious temperings of the swordmaker’s art; but Paul declares that the Word of God is sharper than any of them. Shakespeare must have had this text in his mind where he speaks of “the mind’s eye” which flashes through all the sensations and actions of the soul like lightning, and lays bare to a man’s consciousness all that God has detected within him. There is life in the Word of God. It is living and active to awaken the slumberer, to cut deep beneath the surface and make man know himself.

Students Unwilling To Make Judgments On Right And Wrong

The following article is taken from excerpts of Chuck Colson’s Moral Relativism and Education”:

Dr. Stephen Anderson teaches philosophy at A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. His students had just finished a unit on metaphysics and were about to start one on ethics.

To jump start the discussion and to “form a baseline from which they could begin to ask questions about the legitimacy of moral judgments of all kinds,” Anderson shared with them a gruesome photo of Bibi Aisha, a teenage wife of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan. When Bibi tried to get away from her abusive husband, her family caught her, cut off her nose and ears, and left her to die in the mountains. Only Bibi didn’t die. Somehow she crawled to her grandfather’s house, and was saved in an American hospital.

Writing in Education Journal magazine, Anderson relates how he was sure that his students, “seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, [they] would have a clear ethical reaction,” one they could talk about “more difficult cases.”

But their response shocked Anderson. “[He] expected strong aversion [to it], … but that’s not what I got. Instead, they became confused … afraid to make any moral judgment at all. They were unwilling to criticize,” as he said, “any situation originating in a different culture. They said, ‘Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.’”

Anderson calls their confusion and refusal to judge such child mutilation a moment of startling clarity, and indeed it is. He wonders if it stems not from too little education, but from too much multiculturalism and so-called “values education,” which is really just an excuse for moral relativism.

Anderson writes, “While we may hope some [students] are capable of bridging the gap between principled morality and this ethically vacuous relativism, it is evident that a good many are not. For them, the overriding message is ‘never judge, never criticize, never take a position.’” Anderson wonders whether in our current educational system, we’re not producing ethical paralytics? Well, if the horrifying example of the students’ reaction in this case is any indication, Anderson already knows the answer.

We would do well to ponder the words of Pope Benedict, who said on January first that neither justice nor peace is possible if we do not hold the Ten Commandments as expressions of objective truth. The Pope said that peace and justice are simply “words without content” unless founded on the bedrock of natural moral law, as expressed in the Decalogue, given to Moses more than 3,000 years ago.

To read more, click here. . . .

Freedom Is Not Indifferent To Religion

Quoting Justice Joseph Story:

The promulgation of the great doctrines of religion, the being, and attributes, and providence of one Almighty God: the responsibility to him for all our actions, founded upon moral freedom and accountability; a future state of rewards and punishments; the cultivation of all the personal, social, and benevolent virtues–these never can be a matter of indifference in any well-ordered community. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how any civilized society can exist without them.

If We Are Just Matter, How Should We Then Live?

Gavin Beers

Rev. Gavin Beers encourages us here to think clearly and logically about the philosophy of materialism which is so prevalent among men today. If you accept this philosophy then men are no more than beasts who instinctively react to only their comfort or discomfort. In this excerpt Beers writes:

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7)

I ask you, is matter all there is in the universe? That’s a question. A lot of blank looks! But as you think about the question, ask yourself, what is that thought that you are thinking? Is it more than the random movement of molecules in the brain? I stand up here and look down from time-to-time at these notes and convey thoughts that are in my mind through words. Yes there is the physical projection of the voice; there are vibrations in the air. Your little eardrum is sensitive to those vibrations. You are translating the sound waves. My thoughts are ultimately provoking your thoughts, even if your thoughts are: What on earth has he been talking about for the last ten minutes? We are thinking. Are our thoughts more than matter? If I wanted to convince you of something and matter is all that exists, then I should get some chemical that does the work that I want it to do. Rather than stand up here and try to convince you by provoking your thoughts, I would do it in a materialistic way. So is matter all that exists, and matter all that matters? Think about your own thoughts and try to come to an answer to that question. . . .

So if matter is all that there is, how should we then live? What are the implications for life in such a world, when there is nothing more than matter?

First of all, if matter is all there is, what does it mean for morality, what does it mean for right and wrong? Sometimes we build our case and we come to a conclusion, other times we state the conclusion at the beginning for impact and that’s what I want to do here: if matter is all there is, what does it mean for morality, what does it mean for right and wrong? Very simply, there can be no right and there can be no wrong. If you meet a materialist he’ll want to try and talk in terms of right and wrong and the best thing that you can do is to immediately nail that. Cause him to see that there can be no right or wrong in his world view.

Does a mushroom know the difference between right and wrong? Nobody knows. No! Why does a mushroom not know the difference between right and wrong? Because, we might say, it’s not conscious. Ok. Does a fish know the difference between right and wrong? Everybody is starting to think now about the morality of fish. No! But the fish is conscious isn’t it? Ok. So it’s not to do with consciousness. Is a hurricane that wrecks a city and kills many people, a good thing or a bad thing? What do you think? You think it’s a bad thing? Why? In a materialistic world all we have in that hurricane is the rapid movement of air blowing a force against other bits of matter, those other bits of matter that we have shaped into houses fall upon other bits of matter, which are you and me, and we die. But it’s just the random, rapid movement of matter. Why in a materialistic world view do we conclude that that is a good thing or a bad thing? It’s just a thing.

Well then, is it morally wrong for a lion to kill and eat a wildebeest? Is it? No! Why? Because that’s what it does. It needs to eat. The wildebeest is tasty, so it eats the wildebeest. But, would it be morally wrong for me to kill you, and eat you? Yes! Why? Did we not evolve from mushrooms, through lions or something? Why is it that we at the top of the tree in this evolutionary world view, why is it that we are the only ones that have morality? There is absolutely no basis for it in a materialistic world. We are just like mushrooms, we are a bit more conscious, a bit more sophisticated – granted; but ultimately, we are reduced down to the same kind of dignity and the same kind of morality. If you desire to be consistent with the materialist view of the world, the first thing you need to do is throw out the idea of right and wrong for this reason: chemicals and a random interaction of atoms do not know anything cause right and wrong. In nature, says Darwin, the strongest or the fittest wins; that’s the law. The hurricane destroys the house, the house is heavier than the man, it squashes the man; the lion eats the wildebeest, but if he gets it wrong and jumps into a crowd of twelve wildebeest and they tear into him, then the lion is killed by the wildebeest. That’s the morality of the materialistic world view. (“Materialism: Is Matter all that Matters?”)

Everyone Will Think You Insane

Joseph Charles Philpot

J. C. Philpot reminds us below that we cannot see real things without heavenly eyes:

“The Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.” (John 14:17)

The world—that is, the world dead in sin, and the world dead in profession—men destitute of the life and power of God—must have something that it can see. And, as heavenly things can only be seen by heavenly eyes, they cannot receive the things which are invisible.

Now this explains why a religion that presents itself with a degree of beauty and grandeur to the natural eye will always be received by the world; while a spiritual, internal, heartfelt and experimental religion will always be rejected.

The world can receive a religion that consists of forms, rites, and ceremonies. These are things seen. Beautiful buildings, painted windows, pealing organs, melodious choirs, the pomp and parade of an earthly priesthood, and a whole apparatus of ‘religious ceremony’, carry with them something that the natural eye can see and admire. The world receives all this ‘external religion’ because it is suitable to the natural mind and intelligible to their reasoning faculties.

But the quiet, inward, experimental, divine religion, which presents no attractions to the outward eye, but is wrought in the heart by a divine operation—the world cannot receive this—because it presents nothing that the natural eye can rest upon with pleasure, or is adapted to gratify their general idea of what religion is or should be.

Do not marvel, then, that worldly professors despise a religion wrought in the soul by the power of God. Do not be surprised if even your own relatives think you are almost insane, when you speak of the consolations of the Spirit, or of the teachings of God in your soul. They cannot receive these things, for they have no experience of them; and being such as are altogether opposed to the carnal mind, they reject them with enmity and scorn. (Sermon: “The Abiding Comforter,” 1858)

Relativism And Moral Truth

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”

Ideas Have Consequences!

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” (John 18:36-38)

Ideas have consequences. If you accept relativism as a moral code, then you really can have no system of morality. The philosophy of relativism demands that every man has the right to do what he defines as right for himself. This world view believes everything is permissible and nothing is impermissible. The Old Testament tells us there were times like this in ancient Israel: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21, 25). This text defines moral relativism: right and wrong is what you choose it to be; morality comes from within you.

If there is no absolute standard of right or wrong then there is no concept of guilt. This is why relativism is so popular today. If there is guilt, then there is responsibility. Guilt implies an absolute standard of right and wrong. This is what the culture today is seeking to avoid.

The very people in our culture who hold to this position, however, still try to hold on to morality for self-protection. They even want other people to be accountable for their actions. If nothing is absolutely true or right, if nothing is absolutely wrong, how can anything be condemned? Therefore, if relativism prevails, morality dies. If there is nothing true beyond what you will to be, there is no objective right or wrong to provide a moral compass for your life. Some people look at this belief as something that frees them from the law of the Bible. In reality, however, it locks them in a dark prison of opposing truths which lead to insanity. Without God’s absolute objective truth to hang on to, all is lost.

Relativism kills meaning and with it, motivation. Why? It is because there can be no real meaning in anything you do. This, in turn, leads to the addiction of escapism in order to avoid reality. We find escapism in things like alcoholism and drugs.

People do not have anything to live for. Their lives are filled with emptiness, anguish and despair. There is no point to this life, so why live? The philosophy of relativism is destroying our culture and, as Christians, we need to understand it and oppose it.

Truth Redefined

Kelly O’Connell is an author, attorney, and radio show host. In his article “Who Defines ‘Truth’ When Politicians Re-Write the Dictionary?” he points out three areas of American life – Education, Church, and Political Correctness – where the false has been declared true:

The very notion of truth itself has been tied, stretched out and crucified for political advantage in America. This is why we are in a dreary swamp, a national malaise. Our current struggles are all the more remarkable considering most result from wrong ideas. A simple attitude adjustment, ie a “reality check”—would eliminate most of our seemingly permanent issues fairly quickly. Our troubles occur because disreputable political doctrines are raised over common sense. For example, huge deficits undermine America’s ability to continue its military and humanitarian roles, home and abroad. And yet, the notion of serious spending cuts is regarded by liberals as more horrible than an offer to barbecue holy cows in downtown Bombay.

The problem in America today is our “official” national narrative is based upon a torrent of false, leftist ideas, directed by political theory towards relentless failure on every front. In other words, the elites uphold the tenets of Marxism. A key example is Political Correctness. This devilish doctrine claims no action is bad, in itself—as long as fostered by an ideologically acceptable group. . . .

Continue reading this article. . . .

Subjectivism Run Amok

Dinesh D'Souza

Dinesh D'Souza

Truth is simply that which corresponds to its object or reality. Despite the opinion of many popular authors, we can know the “Truth” about reality. You cannot say, “We cannot know truth.” This statement is self-defeating because it claims to be true. If something is not true, it is false.  This is undeniable. Those who claim that all “truth” is relative or subjective are denying the existence of truth. Dinesh D’Souza explains how this concept is weakening the moral foundation of  America:

Moral debates in American society are fraught with confusion. Often people who invoke moral principles seem to be talking past each other, rather than engaging with each other. For example, one person states a moral position, such as “abortion is wrong” or “America should not meddle in the affairs of other countries.” Rather than examine these issues on the merits, the response is something like, “Yes, but that is your opinion.” Or, “I understand that you feel that way, but I feel differently.” Or, “I agree with you, but who are we to impose our values on other people?”

Upon examination we see the influence of powerful philosophical currents at work. The notion that morality is simply a matter of private opinion is an expression of subjectivism. The notion that people “feel” differently about issues contains the premise that morality is a function of feeling, and is not fundamentally a matter of reason or argument. The assumption that values cannot be imposed carries the implication that values are relative; one person’s truth is another person’s falsehood. . . .

Continue reading. . . .

The Materialistic Mind

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (b. 29 May 1874 – d....

G. K. Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton believed that materialism caused human beings to lose contact with their own common sense and everyday experience as material and spiritual beings. He saw materialism as a species of madness. A madman may think himself a goat, although the differences between a man and a goat are obvious. The materialist trys to reduce all human thought to chemical reactions in the brain. This does not explain, however, man’s keen desire to understand the meaning and purpose of life beyond fulfilling his basic needs. A man’s life cannot be reduced to a few simple causes and effects. According to Dr. Benjamin Wiker:

We have a strange prejudice nowadays—perhaps it is really a superstition—that truth is a function of time, i.e., that being later in time and truer are more or less identical, as if the best way to avoid error is to hold off being born as long as possible. . . .

Both insanity and materialism suffer a fateful contraction of reality, and both share “the strongest and most unmistakable mark of madness,” to wit, the “combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.” That combination is a perfect expression of many of the most eminent of our modern secular theories: their rejection of God and the soul allows them to posit that everything can be reduced to a few simple, physical causes.

Against this, Chesterton wisely declared that, “As an explanation of the world, materialism has a sort of insane simplicity. It has just the quality of a madman’s argument; we have at once the sense of it covering everything and the sense of it leaving everything out”. . . .

The key to living sanely, Chesterton says, is to realize that we live in a world that is larger than our grasp, a far grander cosmos than we can ever fully understand, one given to us by a God who is wiser and far more benevolent than we can comprehend. Against the notion that we understand everything, if we are honest, we find that our everyday lives are shot full of mystery. . . . For Chesterton, we must humbly and gratefully take things as we find them and accept the mysteries as gifts from God, rather than try to deny them by some entirely lucid but simplistic theory.

Read more here. . . .

“Men Without Chests”

C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis made some interesting observations about the trends influencing modern manhood.  He considered such men to be stunted men, whose desires never rise above the belly and the groin.  These men conform to the soft despotism of the state and become willing slaves. They are men who do not care about the truth and thus they are malleable clay in the hands of those in political control.  Dr. Benjamin Wiker writes:

Lewis understood, with prophetic lucidity, that our ills today are largely the result of our ongoing attempt to escape from our own nature.

Such is the theme of his first chapter [The Abolition of Man], “Men without Chests.” In it, Lewis pillories a lamentable book (typical of his time and ours) that attempts to indoctrinate  mere schoolchildren with moral and intellectual relativism. The authors, whom he calls Gaius and Titius (in reality, Alec King and Martin Ketley), declare matter-of-factly that words don’t have any real connection to things, but are mere descriptions of our subjective feelings. . . .

For Lewis, these were fighting words, because they were words designed to usher in peace at any cost, even at the cost of truth, words designed to make chestless men who believed in nothing and hence would fight over nothing.

Here Lewis brilliantly ties together two modern trends: the emasculation of society and widespread intellectual and moral relativism. Both of these trends have one aim: to make men peaceful by removing the great sources of war (at least as some see things), the belief that there is truth, and that the truth is worth fighting for. Chestless men, men whose fighting spirit has been entirely quashed by relativism and the belief that manliness itself is one of the great sources of the world’s evil, are at least peaceful men. And for those who desire peace at any cost, the deformation of men and the destruction of the natural human desire for truth is a small price to pay. It is no accident that King and Ketley’s book was written between the two hideously destructive World Wars.

According to this view, we must, for our own survival and peaceful co-existence, escape from our own nature. Maleness must be left behind; it must have no place in our brave new world. Passionate truth-seeking is likewise a thing of our bloody past; it must have no place in our schools, our public discourse, or our media.

Continue reading. . . .

Ayn Rand On The Doomed Society

Author Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand

Quoting author and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982):

“When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion — when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing — when you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors — when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you — when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice — you may know that your society is doomed.”

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