Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Col. Klink vs. Hogan's Heroes

Watch Hogans Heroes as I did for a huge chunk of my child-hood and you may see a resemblance between Col. Klink and I.

Klink is not worldly wise, un-like his adversary and at a disadvantage because he naively respects and trusts people.

Among many members of his “captive audience”, Klink's authority is disputed and his words, however firmly pronounced are ridiculed and disregarded.

Although he has an easy smile and and a timidity born of a subconscious awareness of his own inadequacy, Klink acts like a stupid man who is easily and regularly out-maneuvered by his adversary, Col. Hogan.

Theologically, Wilhelm Klink represents the overstretched clergyman, trying to maintain a church from which no one “escapes”. While Col. Hogan, on the other hand represents the uninhibited anti-Christian “world” that lives by situation ethics and makes constant lying and breaking the rules seem glamorous and even heroic.

Like Klink, I find myself to be the impressively uniformed but intellectually impotent guy with a position that is almost more than he can handle (despite delusions of gallantry), who ends up the hapless and gullible foil of the suave and cunning Col. Hogan.

From the world's perspective, I am (at best) the straight-laced unpopular martinet to his uninhibited and popular rogue. At worst, I am the bad guy, through a combination of my association with an unpopular institution (the church) and my own incompetence.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Who are using their minds and who aren't?

Although ridiculing our intelligence plays a big part in their campaign against believers, atheists cannot really prove that believers are stupid. Too many smart people have been believers – Sir Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Kepler, Pasteur and many more come to mind. The geneticist Gregor Mendel was even an ordained clergyman. No - atheists cannot prove that believers lack intelligence. Nor can believers argue that atheists are stupid. There are plenty of clever ones out there, as we know. They are constantly writing books and making films to expose themselves to us.

What we can agree on is that none of us “knows it all” and that all of us are missing something. Unlimited striving to attain further knowledge and understanding is something unbelievers and believers alike should be doing as human beings. Humility before the vast expanse of the unknown is a good thing. Arrogance is inconsistent with any claim to truly seeking knowledge. This is why atheists need to stop posturing as “know it alls” and admit that they are missing that sense of the reality of spiritual things that believers are getting by the billions, through all times and places.

Am I saying that atheists aren't “spiritual”? Yes. That is my argument. They are such materialists that they have utterly excluded the possibility that they will ever receive the spiritual “signals” that God is giving other human beings. As Jesus would put it, atheists have “blasphemed the Holy Spirit” and committed “the unforgivable sin”. This is because atheists have switched off their access to the only Gospel that can save them and committed themselves to not listening to only voice that can describe to them that world of God that human brains have been hard-wired to contemplate.

Ironically, of course, atheists claim to be the ones who are using their minds and would accuse believers of closing theirs and “committing intellectual suicide”. What seems to be the case, however, is that the atheists are refusing to use their whole brains, by never letting their thoughts go to that part of the brain that God designed to grasp the transcendent. They are closed-minded and proud of it! Just look at their popular arguments, in print and on YouTube etc. They claim they can rip to shreds anyone who claims that human minds should be open to the spiritual. To them, religious certainty and even spiritual openess are equivalent to the absurd willingness to see some “spaghetti monster in the sky”.

But are the things to which believers minds are open nothing more than celestial pasta, or “dragons on the street” or other hallucinations we are accused of foisting upon the world? No. Atheistic attempts to impune religious belief as ridiculous are but their own sad attempts to justify the closing of their own minds.

The question still remains: Who are really using their heads and who aren't?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What's the big deal about invisibility?

Epiphany” (from the Greek ἐπιφάνεια) means “appearance", "manifestation") and is a season beginning next month that celebrates the occasions when the divine nature of Christ was revealed at various times in the Scripture. Epiphany commemorates such things as the star of Bethlehem and the miracles and transfiguration of Christ. Such things made Christ's identity as God visible during an earthly ministry when His divine nature was usually invisible.

Before Christmas, I again led a Bible Study for a group of blind people. As always, they were a wonderful group with whom to share Christian faith – and you know what? They didn't have a problem with God's invisibility! They didn't have a problem with angels being invisible, Heaven being invisible, all evidence of God's existence being invisible to them – because, as visually handicapped people, everything was invisible to them.

Their faith brought home once more to me the fatuous foolishness of the argument of today's atheists that we believers should be ashamed of our God because He is normally not visible. They say “they don't see the evidence of God” and the burden of proof is with us to show that God is real.

Jesus said, The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3.8). Invisibility is part of the realm of faith, but, having said that, faith must “take a number”, because it is but one of countless invisible realities that we live with every day and believe in, at times staking our lives upon, despite not being visible to our eyes.

How many natural (and man-made) phenomena are invisible to you, yet you don't doubt their existence? We use wireless internet – and that signal, like other man-made television, radio and other waves, criss-crossing all over us all the time is invisible. Add to that all natural cosmic radiation and waves and you have a huge amount of reality that is invisible. Now, what about all those things that are too small to see the electrons and protons of atomic physics without which our life would be impossible? Their nature, in addition to being invisible, is largely theoretical!

And how many historical realities are invisible to you? Did you see the local water authority test your drinking water for safety before you poured yourself a glass? How do you know it's safe? And, looking further back, do you see Alexander the Great conquering his vast empire. Do you see America's founding father planning to build a new nation? Were you there to “see” anything that took place before the invention of the photograph? Are you sure the great-great Aunt you had really existed, since you have never seen her? Yes it is absurd to doubt facts of history that are “invisible”. By the same token it is absurd to waste one nano-second doubting the realities of God, let alone jeopardize your eternal salvation, just because they are invisible at the moment. Temporary invisibility really is no big deal!

Instead, this Epiphany and always, thank God that He sent His Son to be our Redeemer and Savior. For He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1.15-16).