I was looking through my journal and saw some thoughts I wrote down three years ago, I wrote these before sinking into a very dim atheism, this entry was part of my last effort to hang on to the Christianity I had when I was LDS. I think I was grasping at whether it made sense at all to consider ourselves Christian disciples. Now I realize that it does not make sense to even to attempt Christian discipleship without more than a mere belief that you believe in Christ – a state of grace is necessary. I open them up for discussion to reveal something about how many faithful Mormons see the task of discipleship:
My Journal, September 1, 2012: Pascal mentions that things are different for Christians now because primitive Christians had to devote themselves to the kingdom of heaven, to forsake all safety and security, in essence, to throw their lives away. Becoming a Christian was about throwing your life away. It would destroy your career prospects, make you an enemy of the state, risk all of your life and property. It meant a hell of a lot. What this tells me is that Christianity is simply not for everybody. We simply cannot expect people to be Christians like this. It’s a very difficult task. But its always marvelous when we do see people approach life with this sort of abandon. Continue reading →
This blog owes a lot to Del Parsons and a very awkward painting of Jesus (if you’re curious about the title of this post you have to check out that link). So in effort to honor that legacy we must point out the glory of perhaps the most awkward painting of Jesus of all time.
Everything about this painting is awesome. I’m not sure what my favorite part is but let me point a few of them out in no particular order
The hole Jesus is apparently standing in
The baby orangutan
The inconsistent light sources
Adam’s dislocated hips and birthing posture
Is that the sun or the moon?
A miniature giraffe AND a dwarf tiger symbolizing male virility
There seem to be a few hints to me in the painting that the artist might have some Mormon influences but wasn’t for sure (Eve in particular). My suspicions were a bit confirmed by this painting of Mitt Romney welcoming a new child’s birth. But the artist’s resume seems to indicate that he has many Evangelical connections. Sorry Mormon friends, the brilliance of this painting appears to belong entirely to the Evangelical subculture.
Last week I contacted you about a lecture at Caltech. Several couldn’t attend but asked if it would be available on line. The answer is yes.
Last Thursday, five of us from Calvary attended. Dr. Francis Collins, world-renown geneticist, physician, and Former Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health shared his journey from atheism to faith, propelled by science. His talk was followed by a Q&A session. Several of you asked if the talk was available. It is now available at this link: http://www.veritas.org/media/talks/662. (different university, same presentation) Note that you need to download either the audio file or the video file and then play it. The files are big, 50 and 80 MB respectively.
A few comments about this lecture:
I spent 7 years in graduate school at Caltech and since then I have been involved in literally hundreds of on campus events. Never in all of this contact with Caltech have I seen a born again Christian scientist give an address. This event was in Beckman Auditorium which seats maybe 1,400. Every seat was filled and people were standing in the back. Truly amazing considering that it was a cold rainy night and the lecture was at 8 PM.
Dr. Collins gave his personal testimony of how he moved from an atheist to belief in God and then in Jesus. Scientists cover many fields. Those who are the most adamant about atheism are typically the evolutionary biologists. That is why this talk is so important. Collins was responsible for the first complete mapping of human DNA and is a world class expert in biology. He talked about his belief not only in God but also in Jesus and how it changed his life. You could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium as he spoke. After his talk he responded to questions and this was probably the best part of the evening. Agnostic and atheist students and adults asked polite questions and he responded well. As part of the talk he discussed CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity.” At the end of the talk, free copies of the book were available to all who were interested.
One part of his talk that was certainly controversial from a Christian viewpoint – the method God used to create the diverse species. His position is that: (1) the earth is old, (2) God initially created life, (3) God used the evolutionary process to create diversity of life up to Homo Sapiens and (4) at that point, God infused man with free will in His image.
A chief theological difference between mainstream Christianity and Mormonism is found in “Creation Ex Nihilo”. This is the belief that God is a non-created being who created the universe out of nothing (or out of himself). In my understanding, Mormonism holds that God may or may not be created and that he organized the universe with pre-existing materials.
The most obvious criticism of the Mormon viewpoint is that it leads to the logical fallacy of the endless regress. If God is created, who created God? And who created that creator? And who created that creator? etc. The answer to each question is just passing the buck on into the past.
We know that in the laws of nature (something Evangelicals would say was introduced in the creation) that something can not come from nothing. So Mormons need to answer “where did the pre-existing natural materials come from that God used to create?” And I would follow that question with “if they were created, why aren’t we worshiping their creator?”
The mainstream Christian view is probably most strongly supported by John 1. Aristotle and Plato’s asked the question: who is the logical necessity that is the uncaused cause or the unmoved mover? John answers “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” Later John makes it clear that the Word is Jesus. (Which raises more problems for Mormon theology about the nature of Jesus.)
The idea of creation ex-nihilo is supported by the evidence of the Big Bang. The Big Bang shows that the universe had a beginning. There was a one time a specific point where all things were born and put into motion. If it had a beginning that means in had to have a “beginner”.
I’m seriously short changing these concepts and ideas. (and there’s likely going to be some fledgling BYU philosophy student who wants to comment with their own 30 page retort). If you like to read more I’d recommend William Lane Craig’s excellent article in “The New Mormon Challenge” where he specifically places his cosmological argument in the context of Mormon studies.