Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Talking to young people

Letter to a friend who is a SRE teacher.

A couple of turns of phrase, possibly unconscious on your part, caught my eye.

Now, please don’t think I’m being overly critical, but words betray meaning, at least to the sceptical listener, so I’d like to make some observations, if I may.

You wrote as many Christians would, “As a Christian I…”

This usage runs the risk of being heard as perspectival. That is, ‘as a…whatever’ a certain view flows. The view’s attachment to reality ceases to become an issue, the ‘view’ being perspectival is merely subjective in the perception of the listener and in the final analysis runs the risk of being regarded as an uninteresting piece of the speaker's fantasy life (at worst).

The Bible teaches us what is truly real. As Schaeffer puts it ‘true truth’. That is objective truth. We know things about reality because God has spoken. His logos being the initial engine of creation, and thereafter the consistent revealer of what is true about the world, himself, and us.

In answer to the question, “is there any hope for the world” the answer is, the only hope is that we turn to Christ in repentance because the world is the scene of humanities' rejection of him and all goodness. Naturally, it’s a mess. By the grace of God, Christians’ influence and thinking has lead to great improvements in the lot of humanity, and day to day many people do great things for others because we all have the imprint of being in God’s image: morally aware souls that make real choices of significance; but this world as it stands has no hope in itself.

‘Jesus is in control’, being part of ‘speaking as a Christian’ becomes a perspectival triviality. Of course, all things are worked together for good for those who love God, but not all do. Jesus will sew up history, which he will bring to a climax in the judgment of evil and re-creation of the world and all that is, as the setting for us to enjoy him and his creation forever.

Embedding our discourse in the flow of biblical history: God (creator), Humanity (the fallen ones), Jesus (the creator’s taking human form), Cross (his triumph over death and sin), New Creation (all things made new), enables descriptive and coherent answers to questions. This is far better than quips which for the non-believer are deluded, and the young believer meaningless because they are often left contextualized by a world given its core definition by humanist-materialism, or the self-centred subjectivism of post-modernism.

Your first lesson, ‘what is the Bible’ would be a wonderful one to participate in. Most people these days regard it as a collection of disconnected ‘verses’ and rules, much as the Koran is. It must be quite a challenge to dislodge this and profile the Bible as a vast collection of literature written over many centuries that have given us a grounded realist way of thinking about the world. A collection so profoundly influential that it was the foundation of modern science, and concepts of justice and charity, gaining expression in the generosity of Christian-influenced nations in seeking to benefit others, as fraught with corruption as this project was with the fallenness of humanity. It did this through great stories and texts written by some of the towering geniuses of all time: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Solomon, Paul, John, Luke with Moses, and Paul as the high peaks of these intellectual mountains.

Apart from this, it's a great read that people have found endlessly fascinating to study for the past 2000 years.

Blessings as you continue this year’s work.

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