Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Deus Absconditus or Nobiscum Deus? (Do you really believe the Bible?)

Sterling State Park, Monroe

Linda and I recently prayed for someone in a church I was visiting, and they were healed. The people of the church were filled with joy. They are still talking about it, and giving much worship and glory to the God who did this great thing.

When someone is healed like that, we have an event which doctors, in all their expertise, have been unable to effect. And, which money cannot purchase.

A healing can have persuasive power. It gets people's attention. It is beautiful. It's a sign of the inbreaking of God.

At Redeemer we are always praying for people to be healed. This is part of our culture. A healing culture is a profoundly biblical culture. Remember the Gospels, where Jesus healed and delivered many as a demonstration of the rule and reign of God. These healings and deliverances were manifestations of the Kingdom that was invading this present darkness. This is what every church needs: a Kingdom invasion. (See, e.g., James McDonald, Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs For. What Every Church Can Be. And what about the reality of Satan (the coffee cups begin to nervously tremble)? See how the American Church has been "Scooby-do-ified," in Reviving Old Scratch: Demons and the Devil for Doubters and the Disenchanted, by Richard Beck)

Sadly, the American Church has lost touch with such things. This detachment is due to acquiescing to the surrounding secular, skeptical culture. The American Church has been reduced to the form of this world. Now all we have to offer is stage lighting, scripted music, blue jeans, and coffee.

My church does not have stage lighting. We definitely do not script our music, since the Holy Spirit is our leader and will not be click-tracked. I have always liked blue jeans. And, I drink too much coffee. But anyone can do that. It's possible, even actual, to have all that cultural stuff and Deus absconditus. (God, absent.)

Where in the heavens is God in whatever we are doing on Sunday mornings? Singing about it is one thing; the God-invasion is quite another thing.

The good new is that hope is on the horizon, in the form of Jesus-followers who have been experiencing the kind of signs and wonders the biblical text attests to. Most of these churches can barely afford new strings for their guitars. All they have, in their midst, is nobiscum Deus. (God, with us)

Theologian John Jefferson Davis (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) writes:

"Some scholars have estimated that by 2025, Pentecostal and charismatic Christians around the globe may number nearly 800 million. "Now exploding in Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and China, Pentecostal Christianity may become the most widespread form of the religion," notes Lamin Sanneh, "with as yet unquantifiable effects on the mainline churches and global politics."" (Davis, Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence, Kindle Locations 155-161)

"One outcome of this growth," writes Davis, "is likely to be a challenge from the avowedly supernaturalistic worldview of Christians in the Global South-a worldview in which biblical signs and wonders are considered normal Christianity-to the worldviews and ontologies of North American churches that, from the Southern churches' perspective, seem to be stuck in the naturalistic assumptions of Enlightenment naturalism and materialism. "

Davis asks the American Church some questions: "The idea that the age of miracles ceased with the apostles or when the biblical canon was closed seems strange to majority-world Christians, who seem to be saying to their northern brothers and sisters in the faith, do you really believe the Bible? What universe are you really living in?" (Ib.)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Premarital Counseling and Marriage as Covenant



In our community we had a "Wedding Chapel" where couples paid some local pastor $75 and got an instant wedding. I refused to do that. I won't officiate a wedding ceremony unless a couple agrees to met with me at least six times for premarital counseling.

I only work with premarital couples who are part of our church family. This gives me more than enough to do. If they are with us, Linda and I love assisting them on the road to marriage.


I'm passionate about helping premarital couples enter into a marital covenant with God that will last a lifetime. There aren't a lot of marriages like that, so I feel pretty intense about this. My experience is that nearly all premarital couples desire a marriage that lasts a lifetime. In order to achieve this they need a lot of help, since it's likely that they lack parents who stayed together and modeled a healthy marital relationship for them. The lack of this creates problems for people who want to get married. In counseling we address this, along with many other things.


Linda and I love getting to know premarital couples! When we finally come to that moment where we're standing before God and the man and woman are expressing vows to each other, I can say: I know these two people. That's important to me.


In premarital counseling I have, for years, used the FOCCUS premarital inventory. Couples individually respond to statements like the examples below. The materials are sent in and, for a small fee, processed and returned to a Facilitator like myself. I get a packet of information that works like an MRI of the premarital couple's relationship. It's broken down into categories such as "Communication," "Financial Issues," "Family of Origin Issues," and "Extended Family Issues." In the premarital counseling sessions I work from the areas that have the least amount of agreement on the preferred answers.


Here are some sample statements from the actual FOCCUS inventory.
Here are some thoughts I have about learning about Marriage As Covenant (rather than "contract").
      • THINK OF HAVING A LIFE PARTNERMost couples I work with, when they think of marriage (rather than co-habiting), think of a life partner. But the idea of covenant may not be there, at least intentionally and reflectively. "Covenants" are forever; "contracts" can be negotiated and broken.
      • DO THE FOCCUS PREMARITAL INVENTORY WITH A THIRD PARTY WHO CAN INTERPRET IT (GET EXCELLENT PREMARITAL COUNSELING). 
      • The FOCCUS material asks covenantal questions. You don't have to be engaged to do this survey. Note: 10% of all who take it decide not to get married and end their relationship.
      • FIND A COVENANT MARRIAGE AND TAKE THEM OUT TO DINNERDo you know of a two persons who have been married many years, and selflessly and sacrificially love each other? Go out for dinner with them and ask them questions about their marriage. Treat them. They deserve it. Note: Linda and I were once hosting the Jewish novelist Chaim Potok for a series of presentations at Michigan State University. In a session with high school students a girl asked him, "Mr. Potok, I don't have any moral values. How can I get them?" Chaim answered: "Find a family that has moral values and hang around them." A lot of the stuff we have been taught has been caught.
      • REJECT THE MYTH OF COMPATIBILITY. Understand, from the beginning, that no two people are compatible enough to weld together for life. So, you won't need to divorce on the basis of "incompatible differences." Expect them. Again, find a successful, long-term covenant marital couple. They've learned how to love in the midst of their differences.
      • SAVE THE SEXUAL (INTERCOURSE) RELATIONSHIP UNTIL COVENANTALLY WELDED TOGETHER. This builds trust, and increases real love which is: loving the other for who they are in Christ and not for the sex they can give you. Contractual relationships are all about what I get; covenantal relationships are all about God first, and the other person second.
    • READ THESE TWO BOOKS BY WALTER TROBISCH. Before I got married (41 years in August!) my pastor had me read these two marvelous books by Walter Trobisch - I Married You, and I Loved a Girl. Prepare to be ushered into another, beautiful, alternative noetic framework.
  • READ MIKE MASON'S BOOK. I strongly suggest reading Mike Mason's famous The Mystery of Marriage. This is all about the nature of covenant relationship.
  • WATCH "SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE," ALONE. The Tom Hanks character knew his wife, inside and out. The Meg Ryan character longs to have a husband like this. And she hasn't even seen his face. Such is the quality of covenant relationship; viz., it grows in an ever-newness of love while the face and body sag and decline.

The Spiritual Vacuity of the Entertainment Church (The Presence-Driven Church)

Sterling State Park on Lake Erie, Monroe

I think the Seeker-Driven Church and the Entertainment Church are slowly losing their appeal with a generation that is far more enamored with and take by the accelerating digital productions secular culture offers.

For example:

"Dan Kimball, a youth minister trained at Willow Creek Community Church and Saddleback Church in Orange County, California, began to notice the different temperaments showing up in the younger generation of students attending his meetings. Students who once had been impressed by the fast-paced programming, dramas, media clips and topical messages were showing less interest. "The special effects in the video games they were used to went far beyond what we could offer," noted Kimball. "Their lives were fast paced as it was; coming to church for yet another fast-paced experience was losing its impact."" (In
John Jefferson Davis, Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence, Kindle Locations 396-399)

In contrast, what tomorrow's digital venues will never be able to duplicate or compete with is the earth-shattering, awe-inspiring, numinous presence of God. Sadly, today's Seeker-Driven and entertainment churches, in their spiritual and financial investments to compete, have lost sight of our great distinctive, which requires no money, and which cannot be packaged.

Davis writes: 

"If the biblical Abraham were to visit some of the cozy and comfortable seeker-driven driven worship services of the present day, he might well say of them what he said to Abimelech, the pagan ruler of Gerar: "There is surely no fear of God in this place" (Gen 20:11)." (Davis, Kindle Locations 564-566)

Is that really important?

Without the experiential, existential reality of God's living presence, God-with-us in encounter, power, deliverance, healing, comfort, restoration, grace, mercy, direction, and love..., I would check out of the faith. As will, and as are, the youth Dan Kimball references above.

***

My book Leading the Presence-Driven Church will hopefully be out this summer.

Evicting the Wrongdoer From the House of Your Heart

Tree canopy, in my back yard


Yale theologian Miroslav Volf writes of his military service in the Yugoslavian army. Volf was a Christian in an atheist, socialist society (in Yugoslavia atheism and socialism were the same). For his faith, he was punished.

Volf was unaware that many of his fellow servicemen were ordered to spy on him. They collected conversations and papers that would indict him of sedition and insurrection. Ultimately he had to appear before the authorities and was accused of being a spy and a traitor.

While not abused physically or sexually, he was tormented psychologically. So much so that years afterward Volf could not get the fearful memories out of his mind. He writes:

"My mind was enslaved by the abuse I had suffered. It was as though Captain G. [his tormentor] had moved into the very household of my mind, ensconced himself right in the middle of its living room, and I had to live with him." (The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly In a Violent WorldKindle Locations 65-67)

Volf's punishers stayed in the living room of his mind and interrogated him again and again. What could he do to finally evict his accusers from the house of his soul?

The answer was: to not allow evil to win. He writes:

"To triumph fully, evil needs two victories, not one. The first victory happens when an evil deed is perpetrated; the second victory, when evil is returned. After the first victory, evil would die if the second victory did not infuse it with new life. In my own situation, I could do nothing about the first victory of evil, but I could prevent the second." (Kindle Locations 91-93)

Evil can be overcome with good (Romans 12:21). This is done by:
  • loving the wrongdoer
  • forgiving the wrongdoer
This is Core Christianity; viz., "to embrace the heart of the Christian faith is precisely to be pulled beyond the zone of comfort into the risky territory marked by the commitment to love one's enemies." (Kindle Locations 101-102) Without this your abusers will take up permanent residence in the house that is your heart.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gaunilo's Criticism of Anselm's Ontological Argument



For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion Students. Here is what I want you to be able to say for the oral exams.


Anselm's contemporary Gaunilo thought Anselm was a fool for believing that you could just think of something in your mind, and it would then actually exist in reality.

Gaunilo said, if that's true, then I can think of a great island, and because it is greater to exist in reality than just in the mind, my "greatest island" must exist.

Our objections to Gaunilo are these:

1) Gaunilo misunderstands and misquotes Anselm. Gaunilo writes: "How is the fact that this greater being has been proved to be greater than everything else supposed to show me that it exists in actual fact."

But Anselm is not talking about "a greater being," or a "being greater than everything else," but rather a "greatest possible being". 

2) Even if Gaunilo had correctly understood Anselm's "greatest possible being," there would still be a problem, which is: Contingent things like islands have no intrinsic maximums. For example, you could not think of a "greatest possible number," or a "greatest possible pizza." So, Gaunilo cannot think of of a "greatest possible island."

3) Even if "greatest possible island" was conceivable (which it is not), it would be a subjective thing. For example, my "greatest possible island" would include sushi at every meal with the music of David Hasselhoff playing 24/7. Presumably your greatest possible island would not.

What's Missing In Most Churches - The "Is-ness" of God

Linda, walking at Sterling State Park on Lake Erie in Monroe

I'm reading Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Presence, by theologian John Jefferson Davis.

Davis is calling for a return, in worship and in the people of God ("church"), for ongoing encounter with God. It's not about the preaching, not about the musicians, not about the stage lighting, not about the coffee, and it's not about you or me.

Davis talks about the transcendent "heaviness" of God, and the comparative "lightness" of all material and human things. He writes: "To say that the God of the Bible is "heavy" is to draw an intentional contrast with the weightlessness of God in much of contemporary culture and church life." (Davis, Kindle Locations 481-482)

Davis refers to Exodus 3:14, where, when asked by Moses for his name, God replies, "I am that I am." Davis writes:

"My colleague Gary Parrett has remarked that in Ex 3:14 God is saying to Moses, in effect, "I am not who you may think I am, or who you may wish that I am; I am who I am, and you need to adjust your thinking accordingly."" (Davis, Kindle Locations 2572-2573)

Davis cites John Durham's commentary on Exodus.

"Durham states that "I AM WHO I AM" also connotes the sovereignty and freedom of God in his self-disclosure: "By revealing himself as `I AM WHO I AM' the Lord had in effect said, `Yes, I have committed myself to you to be actively present with you, but I am not at your unfettered tered disposal. My active presence is mine and mine alone to exercise as when and under what conditions I choose" (p. 70)." (In Ib., Kindle Locations 2574-2576)

Thus, you and I can dispose of any idea that we have power to control God, or control our relationship with God.

God cannot and will not be manufactured, marketed, hyped, billboarded, bought, sold, or controlled. God IS. "This "is-ness" has the sense of "active presence"; this divine presence and reality is not "a bare `is' but a living force, vital and personal." (Ib., Kindle Locations 510-511)

This is what is missing in most American churches, as it was missing in the Second Temple Judaism that Jesus encountered.

***
In my book Praying I have a chapter "Prayer and the Nature of God," emphasizing how our ontological conception of God shapes how we pray.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Progressive Secularism's Orwellian Rewriting of History

Sharp-shinned hawk in my back yard

Anyone interested in the current battle between opposing faith-systems (progressive secularism vs. religious belief) needs to read Mary Eberstadt's It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. You will see why I am reading, concurrently, 1984.

Here's but one of many examples: Downton Abbey. (See "God banished from Downton Abbey, says show's historical advisor.")

Alister Bruce was in charge of ensuring that Downton Abbey was historically accurate. But this was tricky to do, since an early twentieth-century English family would have been religious.

So, to avoid being accurate, meals on the set were always shown already under way. This avoided seeing the family pray before they ate.

"The word abbey in the show’s title came in for scrutiny, over fear that it could conjure a religious subtext. The dining room table was not even allowed to show napkins folded in the pattern traditional to the time—because it suggests a bishop’s miter, apparently another possible triggering affront." (Eberstadt, pp. 32-33)

Bruce "said that executives in charge of the series had ordered producers to “leave religion out of it”, for fear of alienating an increasingly atheistic public." ("God banished from Downton Abbey," op. cit.)

So much for truth. So much for historical accuracy.

In 1984 Winston, the main character, works for the Ministry of Truth. His job is to dispose of historical facts by tossing them into a "memory hole." And then, he is to rewrite history, to make Big Brother look good.

"This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs—to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date." (George Orwell, 1984, Kindle Locations 627-630)


‘Reality control’, they called it: in Newspeak, ‘doublethink’.

1984

Friday, January 27, 2017

THE CALL (two sermons)

Pine tree out my window


My two sermons on THE CALL are online.

#1 is HERE.

#2 is HERE. (This one emphasizes dreams and visions.)

God Is Absent in Most American Churches (The Presence-Driven Church)

Image result for john piippo presence of god
Tree, in my back yard

At Redeemer, and perhaps at your church as well, the presence of God is welcomed, taught, made central, and experienced. The one thing we want our people to be saying, as we gather together, is: Surely the Lord is in this place. Without that we're just another entertainment center striving hard to keep the people happy.

Sadly, most American churches leave one wondering where, if at all, is God in all of this programming? This observation is confirmed by Gordon-Conwell theologian John Jefferson Davis, who writes:

"I believe that the problem of the loss of the awareness of the presence of the Holy God and the risen Christ as the central reality of worship is present to some degree in most evangelical churches today, whether charismatic or noncharismatic." (Davis, Worship and the Reality of God: An Evangelical Theology of Real Presence, Kindle Locations 2474-2475)

I'm in the early pages of Davis's book. What needs to be recovered, he argues, is this: 

"The fundamental issue is the recovery of the centrality and reality of God in the worship and life of the evangelical church generally: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead; Jesus is still alive today, and is present here with us in the power of the Spirit to enjoy communion with his people.
It is the recovery-each and every Sunday morning-of the consciousness of this fundamental fact, without which the New Testament church would not have been born, and without which there would have been no new, continuing religion called Christianity.

This is the reality for which I am contending." (Ib., Kindle Locations 94-97)

(BTW, for those of you who like A.W. Tozer - he was contending for this, too.

And, Jesus was contending for this too. That is why he says the Temple is going to fall.)

The Religion of Today's Secular-Progressive Alliance

Monroe County

I am re-reading Orwell's 1984. I'm doing this to gain insight into the Thought Police of today.

The new custodians of the Ministry of Love are filled with hatred. Orwell helps me see this, providing a lens through which to view the New Intolerance.

I am among the religious, and we are being excoriated, in a country where supposedly we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion (and, BTW, secular-progressivism has all the marks of a new, alternative religion, with its many mindless acolytes [viz., the media and the mediatees]).

Side-by-side with Orwell I am reading Mary Eberstadt's It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. Eberstadt writes:

"Belligerent secularism, not religious traditionalism, is the true heir to Puritanism today.
It is standard-bearers within the progressive-secular alliance, not religious traditionalists, who now enforce dogma on the wider society, who police cultural precincts for heretics, and who shun and shame dissenters. They are the guardians of what has become a secularist substitute faith, concerning the sexual revolution and its perceived moral imperatives. And like the Puritanism of yesteryear, today’s secular version does not tolerate nonconformism. Practicing Christians who refuse to cave are on the front lines of the new intolerance today." (p. 17)

Only the Thought Police mattered.

George Orwell, 1984

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Psalms and Proverbs for Breakfast

My home office

For several months I have been starting the day by slowly reading and meditating on the biblical books of Psalms and Proverbs.

Both books are refreshing antidotes to the prevailing political bleakness. They point me to True North. Psalms leads me into praying and worshiping God. Proverbs directs me to the matters of character and integrity. Proverbs is the ancient text to ponder for wisdom on what and what not to do with my mouth. It is stunning how relevant Proverbs is to the Western amoral atmosphere.

I have an office on the second floor of our house. It is very, very quiet. The window overlooks the two old Norway spruces in my front yard. Blue jays especially like these trees. I see a lot of birds, and an occasional bald eagle flying in front of my window (about one eagle a week).

My computer screen is off to the side. I pull up my Kindle, and my copy of the best study Bible I have ever seen - the NIV Cultural Background Study Bible, edited by Craig Keener and John Walton. (Today this is on sale for Kindle at only $3.99 - incredible!) 

Today I am in Psalm 34, and Proverbs 19. I alternate between them. I read some or all of Psalm 34. God speaks to me. I take notes. I pause. I meditate on what God is showing me, which means, I repeat. Then I do the same with Proverbs 19. Proverbs is so thick with wisdom that I rarely get through an entire chapter in one session.

All this takes, usually, between thirty and sixty minutes.

With my soul enriched, my mind instructed, and my heart renovated, I move into whatever God has for me this day.

***
My current book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Dealing with Anger in Relationships

Istanbul


In every good relationship there are feelings of anger between persons. I once had a friend tell me, “I never get angry.” My thought was this: here is a person out of touch with what’s going on inside of him. Even God feels anger. Even Jesus felt anger.


I have angry moments. When I feel angry, what can I do?

I can evaluate my anger. Here's how to do this. 

1. Recognize my anger. “Anger” is the emotion a person feels when one of their expectations has not been met. For example, if I drive across town expecting every light to turn green when I approach, I am going to be an angry person. Because this expectation will not be met. Therefore...

2. Identify my unmet expectation. Fill in the blank: "I am angry because my expectation ________  was not met."

3. Evaluate my unmet expectation. Is it either: a) godly, reasonable, good, fair; or 2) ungodly, unreasonable, bad, unfair. In my "driving" example above, my expectation was irrational.

4. Reject any ungodly or irrational expectations. If, for example, you expect people to clearly understand every word that comes out of your mouth, you are now free to reject this as an irrational expectation. Or, if you have the expectation that other people should never make mistakes when it comes to you, I now free you from that ungodly, irrational expectation.

5. If the unmet expectation is godly/fair, then ask: Have I communicated this to the person I am angry with? If not, then communicate it. For example, my expectation that persons should take off their shoes before entering our living room may be both rational and of God. But if I have not communicated this to others, my anger at the unfulfilled expectation is still real. But my expectation that people should know such a thing without being told is unfair.

6. If you have communicated it clearly to the person you are angry with, then communicate your anger this way: Say “I feel angry because my unmet expectation is __________________.


Communicate this by using “I” words rather than “You” words. Begin your sentence with “I feel angry…” rather than “You make me feel angry…” Doing it this way asserts without being aggressive. For the other person this feels less like an attack that causes them to rise up in defense.

Get rid of irrational or ungodly expectations. As I get free of these things I find myself less angry.

Remember that from, the Christian POV, “anger” is not sin. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” We are not told never to feel anger. There is a righteous anger, and that is not only appropriate but necessary. But when we feel the emotion of anger we are never to sin. In all relationships we are never to be harsh, demeaning, vindictive, or abusive. But in every close relationship there is anger. The anger-free relationship is a myth, and probably is a sign of unhealth when claimed.

Finally, the second part of Ephesians 4:26 says, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Which means: deal with anger quickly, and in a loving and truthful way. The goal is always restoration of relationship and reconciliation. 

I am thankful that only two, maybe three times in our 43+ years of marriage, have Linda and I fallen asleep angry with each other. The reason for this is not that we’re some special, exceptionally compatible couple. We were taught to do this by godly people who spoke into our lives. We were warned about the cancerous bitterness that arises when anger is swept under the carpet.

Kant's Objection to the Ontological Argument

Detroit
(For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion students.)

Oral exam question #3: explain Kant's criticism of the Ontological Argument.

Here are the bullet points.

1. Kant says "exists" (or "being") is not a predicate (= "attribute"). For Kant there are two types of predicates: Logical (analytic) and determining (synthetic). This is important since Anselm's OA requires "actual existence" to be a predicate (attribute) of "greatest possible being."
2. A "logical" or "analytic" predicate analyzes the subject, but adds nothing to the concept of the subject. A "determining" or "synthetic" predicate adds something to the concept of the subject.
3. In a subject-predicate statement, "exists" is the "copula" that connects subject and predicate.
4. If "exists" were a real predicate then we would have the absurd situation that "the real contains more than the merely possible." (Use Kant's $100 example here.)
5. Anselm's Ontological Argument fails because it depends on "actual existence" being a real predicate that adds something to the concept of the subject "God."
6. State Norman Malcolm's response to Kant re. "necessary existence." Malcolm agrees with Kant that "exists" is not a predicate. But Malcolm think Anselm meant, not "existence," but "necessary existence." "Necessary existence" does seem to be a predicate. For example: My wife Linda necessarily exists. This statement seems to make an outrageous claim; viz., that my wife Linda cannot not-exist. It attributes necessary existence to her, and thus seems to function as a predicate or attribute.


FURTHER EXPLANATION

Kant’s criticism of the Ontological Argument is that "exists," or "existence," is not a "predicate." By "predicate" we mean "attribute," or "quality."

Anselm's version of the Ontological Argument depends on "existence" being a "great-making attribute." But if "existence" is not an attribute at all, then Anselm's argument seems to fail. This is Kant's criticism. "Exists," Kant says, "is not a predicate."

Consider the form of a subject-predicate statement: S is p. 'S' denotes the subject, 'p' denotes the predicate. For example, John's car is red. "Red" is the predicate, or attribute, of the subject "John's car." "Redness" is predicated of "John's car." Or: "redness" is an attribute of "John's car."

In the statement John's car is red, where do we find "existence?" "Exists" is found, says Kant, in the verb "is." "Is" is the "copula" (connector) that connects subject and predicate. The verb "is," in the statement John's car is red, simply posits the existence of John's red car. And, this adds nothing to our concept (idea) of the subject.

Kant writes: "'Being' is obviously not a real predicate; that is, it is not a concept of something which could be added to the concept of a thing. It is merely the positing of a thing, or of certain determinations, as existing in themselves. Logically, it is merely the copula of a judgment."

What does that mean? Here is an example to illustrate that "exists" (or "being," "is-ness") is not a real attribute or predicate.

Consider this. I'm going to tell you some things about my wife Linda. I'll do this by making a series of subject-predicate statements, predicating attributes of the subject "My wife Linda."
  • My wife Linda is 5'6" tall.
  • My wife Linda has long brown hair.
  • My wife Linda is a sushi-lover.
  • My wife Linda is a piano teacher.
All of these predicates add something to the concept "My wife Linda." But consider this:
  • My wife Linda exists.
That adds nothing to the subject "My wife Linda." Actually, it functions more like a tautology: My existing wife Linda has the attribute of existence. That statement is tautological (redundant), which means the predicate simply repeats the subject.

Try this.

You go for a job interview. The interviewer asks you to describe yourself, which is another way of listing your attributes. You respond:
  • I have computer skills.
  • I graduated from Harvard.
  • I have worked for Steve Jobs as his personal assistant.
  • I invented the iPhone.
The interviewer, his eyes wide open and jaw dropping to the floor, is amazed! Probably, he wants to hire you. But then you open your mouth and say...

"Here's one more thing about myself, one more attribute I have that I want to share with you: I exist."

That was a bad move. Because "exists" is not an attribute. And you just lost the job.

Kant further explains this by saying, "The real contains no more than the merely possible." But if "exists" was a real predicate, then the real would contain more than the possible, but that is absurd.

You say to me, “Please go to the bank and withdraw a hundred dollars.” That is, you have in your mind the idea of one hundred dollars. I go to the bank with that idea in mind and make the withdrawal. But upon making the withdrawal I now have, instead of an idea of a hundred dollars in my mind, an actually existing one hundred dollars in my hand.

Is the concept of a hundred dollars in my mind any different than the actual hundred dollars in my hand? If you answer “Yes,” then is it because the hundred dollars in my hand actually exists? In other words, is “existence” a predicate of the hundred dollars I hold in my hand? If you say “Yes” to this, then the hundred dollars in my hand is different than the hundred dollars in your mind. I will have withdrawn from the bank something different than what you asked me to withdraw. I withdrew something that has an extra “predicate” which your idea did not have.
You are thinking of $100. If we then add that the $100 "exists," in asserting that it exists we add nothing to the concept of the $100. The $100 is the same whether it exists or not; it is the same size, the same weight, the same colour, the same value, etc. The fact that the $100 exists, that the concept-of-$100-in-the-mind is exemplified in the world, does not change anything about the concept-of-$100. Therefore “existence” is not a real, or first-order, predicate.

A real predicate adds something to the concept, which is the subject of the judgment. If the actual $100 has a predicate (“existence”) which the idea of $100 does not have, then they are not the same thing. And the thing I withdrew was not what you had in mind. Which seems absurd. I don't wish to say "Here is the $100 you were thinking about but it has the extra attribute of "existence."

Kant writes:
"A hundred real dollars do not contain the least coin more than a hundred possible dollars. For as the latter signify the concept, and the former the object and the positing of the object, should the former contain more than the latter, my concept would not, in that case, express the whole object, and would not therefore be an adequate concept of it. My financial position is, however, affected very differently by a hundred real dollars than it is by the mere concept of them (that is, of their possibility). For the object, as it actually exists, is not analytically contained in my concept, but is added to my concept (which is a determination of my state) synthetically; and yet the conceived hundred dollars are not themselves in the least increased through thus acquiring existence outside my concept. . . ."
(By "analytically contained" Kant means a predicate that adds nothing to the concept of the subject, such as in the statement: John the bachelor is not married. A "synthetic" judgment contains a predicate that adds something to the subject, because it is not analytically contained in the subject, such as: John the bachelor is 99 years old.)

Therefore existence is not a predicate. It merely posits the existence of the concept in mind. As Kant puts it, a hundred real dollars contains as much as a hundred imaginary dollars. 

"The real contains no more than the possible."

For Kant to say that something "exists" is to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world. Existence, then, is not a matter of a thing possessing a property, "existence," but of a concept corresponding to something in the world.

Anselm's version of the Ontological Argument, at this point, seems to fail.

Kant writes of this in his Critique of Pure Reason. The relevant passage is found here