Thursday, May 23, 2019

Blessed Are Those Who Wage Peace, Not War

(Wellspring Lutheran Home, Monroe)

(I am writing this for a pastor friend who feels shame that his church is having problems.)

Thirty years ago a church in the Detroit area took out a large advertisement in the local paper. The advertisement had these words: "________ Church: The Friendliest Church in America!" When I read it I felt like jockeying for position. I could advertise my church as "We're #2!" Within three years this church had massive internal conflict, many people left, and the church imploded.

At this stage in my life as a pastor one thing I have concluded is: no church is problem free

I can prove this. Your church is not without problems, because you are in it.

My church is not without problems, because I am in it. 

We all are troubled people growing (hopefully) into Christlikeness.

Misunderstandings and arguments and conflicts are inevitable, even among the righteous. What if God shows you someone else's problems? Francis Frangipane, in The Three Battlegrounds, says if God shows you someone else's mess it is only so you can pray for them, not to talk to other brothers and sisters about how horrible they are.

If you are part of the mess, do not leave others with the mess. Be part of cleaning it up. Be the solution, not the voice of the problem.

As a follower of Jesus you are called to do far more than just love peace. You are to make peace. (One of the best books I've read on this is Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict, by James van Yperen. See also Henri Nouwen's beautiful The Road to Peace.)

Any fool can wage war. Followers of Jesus are called to wage peace. As a pastor, I have found this to be ongoing in marriages, families, and churches. Waging peace never stops this side of the Age to Come!

"But the new church I am going to doesn't have problems." It does; certainly it will. This is important, because it is within conflict that peacemakers and reconcilers are built. These are people who run towards the battle, not away from it.

I know people like this. They say things like, 


"Come, let us reason together."

I have seen people do this in my church family. When I hear of this, I cannot tell you how thankful I am and how blessed I feel!


Blessed are those who put things together, 
rather than tear things apart.

Blessed are those who, more than loving peace, 
make peace.

Blessed are those who stay when the going gets tough,
rather than leave because the going is tough.

Blessed are those who go to the other person,
rather than tell others about the other person.

Blessed are those who deal lovingly with their anger,
rather than sleep on their anger.

Blessed are the problem-solvers,
rather than the complainers.

Blessed are the understanders,
rather than the judgers.

Blessed are the participants,
rather than the observers.

Blessed are the doers,
rather than the talkers.

Blessed are those who wage peace,
not war.

***
My two books are:

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I'm now working on...


Encounters with the Holy Spirit (I am co-editing this with Janice Trigg.)

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

And, when all this settles, Linda and I intend on writing our book on Relationships.

If There Is No God, Then There Are No Moral Facts

Image result for john piippo science
(The River Raisin, Monroe)

Science qua science reveals no value-information. I can measure something, weigh it, analyze it into physical structures and components, but the moment I ascribe a value to it, say, "elegant," I have left science.

Nietzsche understood this. His "madman" knows that sans God values do not exist, since the metaphysical underpinning for such values is taken away. So, I find it overreaching when an atheist moralizes.

Philosopher Thomas Metzinger states it this way on edge.org:

"There are no moral facts. Moral sentences have no truth-values. The world itself is silent, it just doesn’t speak to us in normative affairs — nothing in the physical universe tells us what makes an action a good action or a specific brain-state a desirable one. Sure, we all would like to know what a good neurophenomenological configuration really is, and how we should optimize our conscious minds in the future. But it looks like, in a more rigorous and serious sense, there is just no ethical knowledge to be had. We are alone. And if that is true, all we have to go by are the contingent moral intuitions evolution has hard-wired into our emotional self-model. If we choose to simply go by what feels good, then our future is easy to predict: It will be primitive hedonism and organized religion."

If there is no God, then Metzinger's logic follows. And all moral judgments, to include the atheist's, are mere expressions of emotions. (Like "Yayyy!" or "Booo!")

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Sartre on Morality as Non-binding if God Does Not Exist

Image result for john piippo ethics
(Detroit)

I find the moral argument for God's existence intriguing and persuasive. William Lane Craig's version goes like this.


  1. If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. Objective moral values and duties exist.
  3. Therefore God exists.

My interest in the moral argument started a long time ago when, at age twenty-one and a new Jesus-follower, I was given a copy of C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity. Lewis spoke of morality (as existent, in humanity) as the key to the meaning of the universe. Surely objective morality, on atheism, is a weird thing. 

On atheism morality is only subjective and non-binding. See, e.g., J.L. Mackie, Nietzsche, and Sartre. These three "saw the nonexistence of God as morally relevant... For these thinkers, atheism didn't mean business as usual when it came to ethics. It meant fundamental rethinking of what ethics is all about, because they recognized the long history of a perceived connection between God and morality. Thus they stand in contrast to those who think that eliminating God from the moral equation changes little or that including God adds nothing of consequence." (In Baggett and Walls, Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality)

Way back in the 70s, when I was an undergraduate philosophy student, I read Sartre's famous essay "Existentialism Is a Humanism."  Sartre wrote: 

"Towards 1880, when the French professors endeavoured to formulate a secular morality, they said something like this: God is a useless and costly hypothesis, so we will do without it. However, if we are to have morality, a society and a law-abiding world, it is essential that certain values should be taken seriously; they must have an a priori existence ascribed to them. It must be considered obligatory a priori to be honest, not to lie, not to beat one’s wife, to bring up children and so forth; so we are going to do a little work on this subject, which will enable us to show that these values exist all the same, inscribed in an intelligible heaven although, of course, there is no God. In other words... nothing will be changed if God does not exist; we shall rediscover the same norms of honesty, progress and humanity, and we shall have disposed of God as an out-of-date hypothesis which will die away quietly of itself. The existentialist, on the contrary, finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that “the good” exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men." (Emphasis mine.)

This supports premise 1 of Craig's moral argument: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

(For reading suggestions on metaethical matters see my post "Morality Needs God."

The "Handmaid's Tale" Argument for Abortion


I read the book The Handmaid's Tale. I have not watched the TV series. 

The book is a story about a totalitarian dystopia premised on the theocratic oppression of women. The Christian God has declared that women are nothing but ovens of flesh within which babies are cooked and born. Women are "incubators," and nothing more.

This quote from the book explains this dystopian view of women. The woman who tells her story is the reproductive surrogate Offred, who says:

"We are for breeding purposes: we aren’t concubines, geisha girls, courtesans. On the contrary: everything possible has been done to remove us from that category. There is supposed to be nothing entertaining about us, no room is to be permitted for the flowering of secret lusts; no special favors are to be wheedled, by them or us, there are to be no toeholds for love. We are two-legged wombs, that’s all: sacred vessels, ambulatory chalices." (P. 136)

Women make babies. That's all. 

Women have no choices.

I have seen, more than once, Handmaid's Tale used against anti-abortionist pro-lifers. Especially in political cartoons, and women dressed in red "handmaid" outfits at protests. The presence of women dressed in these outfits supposedly adds weight to the abortionist reasoning. It's done to make some point, which is what?

It goes like this.

1. Those opposed to allowing women to kill their babies are totalitarian, oppressive theocrats, just like the dystopia depicted in The Handmaid's Tale.
2. Therefore, women should resist the evil theocrats and abort their babies, if they so desire.

But surely we do not live in a dystopian, theocratic culture like that depicted in Handmaid's Tale. The idea that those of us who oppose killing defenseless, vulnerable, innocent inborn persons view women as nothing more than incubators is absurd. Which shows how far from rationality and reality this abortionist position has gone.

Related image

Image result for cartoon handmaids tale abortion

Image result for cartoon handmaids tale abortion

Image result for cartoon handmaids tale abortion



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

SUMMER SEMINARY - Study Spirit Hermeneutics With Me


Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost by [Keener, Craig S.]

An invitation to Study Biblical Interpretation 
with me this summer.

WHEN: June-July- August 2019

CLASS: Spirit Hermeneutics

A discussion of New Testament scholar Craig Keener's Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost.

HOW:

June - purchase and read the book.

July/August - meet with me 5-6 times to discuss. Dates and location TBA.

Long-Distance - for any interested pastors: If you are a pastor or church leader and would like to study with me this summer, please contact me. We can schedule some conference calls in July and August to discuss.

TEACHER:

John Piippo, PhD, Northwestern University
Visiting Professor, Faith Bible Seminary, New York City
Adjunct Professor, Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio

Former professor at...
Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min. programs)
Palmer Theological Seminary (D. Min. program)
Asia Theological College (Singapore)
Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit)
Monroe County Community College (Adjunct Professor of Philosophy)
Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship Church, Monroe, MI

CONTACT ME at: johnpiippo@msn.com

Why I Am Against Abortion

Image result for john piippo kids


The abortion issue is heating up. I think that's good.

I hope and pray aborting babies ends.

The reason I and others like me are against abortion is this: I/we believe the inborn conceptus/embryo/fetus is a person. No person is more defenseless and innocent than an inborn person.

I and others like me believe it is morally wrong to kill innocent, defenseless persons. I believe if you saw the inborn entity as an innocent, defenseless person, you would feel the same as I and others do.

You would then see abortion as person-killing. This would make you feel angry. This should make you feel angry.

I do not believe I, or you, have a moral right to kill an innocent, defenseless person, no matter how they were conceived, no matter how inconvenient their existence is to us, no matter how unprepared we are to nurture them.

I see the following reasoning as irrational and immoral.

1. I am not prepared to care for you.
2. Therefore, I must kill you.

1. You do not fit into my life plans.
2. Therefore, I must kill you.

1. You are a product of rape.
2. Therefore, I must kill you.

1. I have the right to do what I want with my body.
2. You were part of my body. (This premise is false.)
3. I did not want you.
4. Therefore, I killed you.


Here's one I heard this week.

1. People who are against abortion should care for unwanted babies.
2. They are not caring for unwanted babies.
3. Thus, people who are against killing babies are hypocrites.

Which leads to,

1. No one was there to care for you.
2. Therefore, we killed you.

If you are angry that not enough is being done to care for unwanted persons, perhaps God is calling you to do something about this, and not use it as some justification for killing persons. Thankfully, in Southeast Michigan, some people have taken this on. Several in our church family have responded to the call and are doing something for these unwanted babies.

***
See also...

Against Abortion: A Logical Argument




SUMMER SEMINARY - Study Spirit Hermeneutics With Me


Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost by [Keener, Craig S.]

An invitation to Study Biblical Interpretation 
with me this summer.

WHEN: June-July- August 2019

CLASS: Spirit Hermeneutics

A discussion of New Testament scholar Craig Keener's Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost.

HOW:

June - purchase and read the book.

July/August - meet with me 5-6 times to discuss. Dates and location TBA.

Long-Distance - for any interested pastors: If you are a pastor or church leader and would like to study with me this summer, please contact me. We can schedule some conference calls in July and August to discuss.

TEACHER:

John Piippo, PhD, Northwestern University
Visiting Professor, Faith Bible Seminary, New York City
Adjunct Professor, Payne Theological Seminary, Wilberforce, Ohio

Former professor at...
Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min. programs)
Palmer Theological Seminary (D. Min. program)
Asia Theological College (Singapore)
Ecumenical Theological Seminary (Detroit)
Monroe County Community College (Adjunct Professor of Philosophy)
Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship Church, Monroe, MI

CONTACT ME at: johnpiippo@msn.com




Monday, May 20, 2019

REMEMBER

(I wrote these reminders to myself many years ago. I put them on an email, and sent the email to myself, periodically. I called it "REMEMBER." Because I can forget. I'm posting this, mostly for myself.)

Be myself. Be who God made me to be, with all my strengths and infirmities.    
Overcome denial.
Overcome fear & intimidation.
Overcome addiction
Do not compare...
Stimulate the mind with intellectually challenging reading. 
Physically exercise
Get outside and ponder God's creation
Listen to excellent music
Write beautiful worship songs
Remember blessings
Enjoy Linda, Dan, Josh 
God works all things together for good!
Live in gratitude
Remember - you're not alone
Eat well
Pray about struggles
Enter deeply into God's presence
Know the Father's love
Play the guitar
Lead worship with passion
Preach with passion and excellence
Teach brilliantly
Laugh
Don't lose your joy
Lead with confidence
Mentor with great discernment...
Counsel others

Write the books

Take beautiful photographs
Love others deeply