Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians

Logical Gal asks: What ‘grounds’ or provides a rational basis for what we do?

19 Aug

I often argue with myself.  I split into two contrary views and dialogue back and forth in my thoughts.  Al Mohler prompted a recent mental workout.

Besides serving as president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, this thinking and articulate man offers a daily worldview analysis about leading news headlines and cultural conversations.

The topic he picked up last week dealt with assisted suicide and euthanasia.  Turns out that the assumptions of secular society and those of Christians are completely different.  More and more countries are basing their policy decisions on the presupposition that we are in essence just ‘autonomous accidents’, whose dignity derives from this autonomy and the freedom to choose what WE decide is good for our human flourishing.

As I listened and discoursed internally, I asked this question: So what if a non-Christian government decides to permit suicide with dignity?  Should Christians ‘impose’ their Biblically based views on the wider culture?  Drawing a blank about how to begin thinking through this crucial issue, I recalled that the Apostle Paul explicitly addressed this matter in a letter to the Corinthian church:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church  whom you are to judge? 13 God judges  those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”  1 Corinthians 5:9-13

With his argument in view, my other side answered this ‘So what’ question:

William Wilburforce

  • What about Wilberforce?  This 19th-century Christian parliamentarian worked years in that British legislative body to end the slave trade.  Should he not have tried to influence government and society?
  • What about the issue of slavery in the US?  or 20th and 21st century legalized abortion? Should citizens not petition their representatives and try to work within the system to change laws?

But where do we look for grounding or fundamental guidance on how to interact with society outside of our church family? God evidently wanted to guide His children, so He provided the inspired Bible.  And in the book of Jeremiah, God through His prophet, specifically calls us to work for the good of those in our community:

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7

And lest we think that God only addresses Christians’ interactions with the wider society in the Old Testament, the New Testament ‘boils down’ the Christian’s ‘marching orders’ to two: Love God and Neighbor.

Matthew 22: 37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

So, after only a few minutes of rational debate within myself, I concluded that as Christian citizens and neighbors, God does call us to work for what honors God and helps our neighbor flourish as His image-bearer.

Logical Gal – holding mystery and reason together

21 Mar

Mystery

Most people love a good mystery, whether a novel or a movie.  And the best kind of ‘whodunit’ seems to be the one where the dénouement is a complete surprise.  Yet, when looking back, one can clearly recognize all the clues and evidence that had been there all along.

The very fact that we can accept now, as obvious, the signs that were earlier ‘hidden’  is because the unfolding of details is rational. There’s a progression, a sense to the sequence.  The outcome is NOT an irrational one.  Hence, mystery and reason CAN co-exist.

This tension has implications for other mysteries.  Take God, for instance.  Much about the Creator and Ruler of the universe is still hidden.  But God is not irrational. He has created us in His image with a mind to see, to inquire and to piece together.  He expects us to use reason.  Yet we do not understand everything. You’ve probably heard the observation that Paul made, as recorded in 1 Cor 13:12: For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

See through a glass darkly

Haven’t we all had the experience of not knowing how something would turn out in our lives? We’ve had to live with mystery….and then once we’re on the other side of the event, we realize that the way all the circumstances unfolded was just right.  As they say, hindsight is 20/20!  

If the world were irrational, we wouldn’t even be able to live with what we COULD see because of the unpredictability!  There ARE patterns in the seeming randomness.  There ARE natural laws.

So next time someone attempts to say that reason contradicts mystery, just ask them “How is that?”

Remember, the one who MAKES the assertion has to defend it.  No pressure for you, the question-poser!

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