Monday, April 30, 2012

Atheistic Freethinkers and Square Circles

Window, in Ann Arbor
(A few morning thoughts on determinism and free will.)

In reading American Nietzsche this morning I see how much Nietzsche believed in freedom in the sense of free will. He was, in his own way, a "freethinker." "Freethinking" is an old philosophical idea that assumes persons have free will. But if persons do not have free will, then "freethinking" is logically impossible if incompatibilism is true.

The current, strong version of atheism as philosophical naturalism (PN) disallows free will. PN-ers often claim that "free will" is an illusion, as are the philosophical ideas of "mind" and "soul." And, the ideas of "reason," "rational faculties," and "critical thinking."

Nietzsche thought persons had free will. So did Bertrand Russell. But PN-ers are determinists.

Note that some are "compatibilists," suhc as Daniel Dennett in his Freedom Evolves.

Other PN-ers (and theists) are "incompatibilists." That's also me, so far. "Deterministic free will" is like "square circle."

Here, e.g., is an incompatibilist argument (the incompatibility of determinism and free will) found in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

We have free will (of the kind required for moral responsibility) only if we are the ultimate sources (originators, first causes) of our choices.
  1. If determinism is true, then everything we do is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside our control.
  2. If everything we do is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside our control, then we are not the ultimate sources (originators, first causes) of our choices.
  3. Therefore, if determinism is true, we are not the ultimate sources of our choices.
  4. Therefore, if determinism is true, we don't have free will (of the kind required for moral responsibility).
A little bit of googling brought me to this article in Psychology Today, showing the oddness of PN-ers who continue to "freethink."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nietzsche's Indebtedness to Emerson

Cemetery in Monroe County
Ralph Waldo Emerson was, arguably, the greatest influence on Friedrich Nietzsche. Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen brings this out in her new book American Nietzsche.

Of all the books Nietzsche read the most, Emerson's "topped the list." (Op. cit., K 352) "It was Emerson who first instructed Nietzsche about the joys and terrors of the intellectual life without firm land beneath one’s feet, of life on the open waters of indeterminacy without compass or guide." (Ib., K 356-358)

Nietzsche saw himself as a solitary thinker, and found a companion in Emerson. Emersonian images find their way into Nietzsche's work. "Emerson bathed Nietzsche in images of the intellectual life as life on the open sea, as circles of waves emanating outward from the active intellect." (Kindle Locations 350-351). Here we have Nietzsche the nihilist sailing alone on a sea with an infinite horizon, with no land in sight. The true thinker has left the former land of Judeo-Christian theism and sails the open waters alone, charting his own way since the map, the compass, is now useless. "For Nietzsche, Emerson provided an image of the philosopher willing to go it alone without inherited faith, without institutional affiliation, without rock or refuge for his truth claims." (Kindle Locations 399-401)

As Charles Gray Shaw once wrote, "we Americans have our Emerson; why, then, should we dote on Nietzsche?" (Kindle Location 462) Nietzsche was greatly influenced by Emerson the American. Nietzsche was largely neglected in Europe during his lifetime, but began to have influence in America. Ratner-Rosenhagen's book describes the history of that influence. I've been influenced by Nietzsche, too. I asked for her book for my birthday. I got it today and have begun the read. Even though I am a theist, not an atheist, I've long felt that, were I an atheist, Nietzsche would be my guide, since he is guide to the guideless in a world without purpose and without a compass since (were atheism true) we're not going anywhere.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Krauss's Much Ado About "Nothing"

Ethereal skateboarders in Ann Arbor

Here's more on the extravagant claim of Lawrence Krauss that he can tell us how "something" came from "nothing," and Richard Dawkins's immediate response that Krauss's new book is the historical physics-equivalent of Darwin's Origin of the Species.

John Horgan, in Scientific American, does the Krauss-dissing this time. (Science Will Never Explain Why There’s Something Rather Than Nothing) Horgan writes that "when scientists insist that they have solved, or will soon solve, all mysteries, including the biggest mystery of all, they do a disservice to science; they become the mirror images of the religious fundamentalists they despise."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saying "No" to Self-Hatred and Condemnation

This Sunday morning I will preach at Redeemer out of Romans 8:1-5. The text is:

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:1, of course, is HUGE, especially since Satan's modus operandi is accusation and condemnation. (See Rev. 12:10)

I am especially taken by the last sentence fragment in v. 3 - And so he condemned sin in the flesh... I have arrived again at a piece of Scripture that seems unfamiliar, as if I've never noticed it before. Here we have the clearest statement in Paul that what happened on the cross was the judicial punishment of sin.

So the death of Christ on a cross freed us from all condemnation. But there was a lot of condemning going on on the cross, and the recipient was "Sin," which Paul views as a power. “Sin” deserved the condemnation, which it received. On the cross the condemnation that sin deserved was given out fully and finally…

…so that sinful people like you and I who were accused over and over and over by the enemy and by people wielded by the enemy as instruments of wickedness might be liberated from this threat once and for all.

Ben Witherington writes:  "This ‘condemnation’ refers to the judgment God rendered on sinful flesh by sending his Son to the cross. In this way, sin was actually condemned in Christ’s flesh and in what happened to Christ’s flesh on the cross. The condemnation then was not merely a decree, but involved a demonstration, or an affecting event – Christ’s death. The declaration of no condemnation  on those in Christ (v. 1) is based on the judgment of condemnation on sinfulness exercised on Christ on the cross (v. 3).” (Witherington, Paul's Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 214)

I am fascinated by this.

It's going to be yet another freedom day at Redeemer. It will be the Day of Freedom for some.

Another Thankful, Condemnation-Free Day

Yesterday was my birthday. The day began with a meeting with a Redeemer friend. Then, Linda and I drove to Ann Arbor where we ate breakfast at Afternoon Delight. She had their cinnamon french toast; I had the smoked nova salmon eggs benedict served on a toasted whole wheat English muffin with cream cheese, capers, red onions, poached eggs and topped with béarnaise sauce. yum!

When we stepped onto Liberty Street after eating it was sunny and approaching 60 degrees - beautiful! We held hands and walked uphill to Starbuck's. I got a dark roast coffee to go, then we walked back towards where the car was parked. We passed a store called Adorn Me. We went in and looked at the women's clothing, jewelry, and handbags. I love looking in stores like this with Linda. She tried on a pair of red-framed sunglasses. I said, "Very glamorous!" And bought them for her.

The sunglasses I bought Linda are in row 3, far left.

We went to Whole Foods and picked up some things for our Home Group meeting. When we got back to Monroe Linda dropped me off at MCCC where I gave some final oral exams for my Philosophy of Religion classes. Many students sat before me, one-on-one, and answered the following questions: 1) explain Nietzsche's "parable of the madman"; 2) explain Russell's "A Free Man's Worship"; 3) explain Plantinga's idea of God-belief as properly basic; and 4) tell me about Stephen Jay Gould "Non-overlapping Majisteria" (NOMA). A few of them tried to explain Plantinga's modal version of the ontological argument for extra credit.

The day ended with our Home Group meeting at our house. We discussed Romans 8:1-5. I'll be preaching on these verses this coming Sunday at Redeemer. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." Wow! This chapter has been referred to as "the inner sanctuary within the Cathedral of the Christian faith." It is so rich and helpful to me to hear our Home Group share about these verses while I am in the middle of studying them and meditating on them. This coming Sunday many people will be set free from inner voices of rejection.

Linda had prepared a variety of my favorite foods for after the meeting, to include fresh-baked strawberry rhubarb pie and peach pie, accompanied by Breyer's vanilla ice cream. At this point I felt like the birthday boy in Katroo. Delicious!

After all were gone Linda and I watched the replay of last night's "American Idol." There are some amazing young singers this year. Twenty-year-old Joshua Ledet is...  simply...  stunning... and humble and gracious. I'll probably watch the replay of his performance last night of India Arie's "Ready for Love."

I took a bag of birthday garbage outside, deposited it in the garbage can, and walked the can to the roadside to be picked up today. Then I did something I do a lot, and have done for years and years, over and over. I stopped, looked at the skies, and thanked God. Thank you God for rescuing me years ago. Thank you God for giving me Linda. Thank you God for my sons. Thank you God for my friends. Thank You...    for life... and meaning... and purpose.

It was 12:30 AM when I went to bed. My life could have turned out differently. It didn't. I realize this, and have a thankful heart.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?

In my home office
"Has Physics Made Philosophy and Religion Obsolete?" The answer to this question is: No.

You could verify this by taking this question into the University of Michigan's powerful, brilliant philosophy department and letting them go at it.

Lawrence Krauss apparently thinks the answer is mostly Yes. Krauss says:

"Philosophy is a field that, unfortunately, reminds me of that old Woody Allen joke, "those that can't do, teach, and those that can't teach, teach gym." And the worst part of philosophy is the philosophy of science; the only people, as far as I can tell, that read work by philosophers of science are other philosophers of science. It has no impact on physics what so ever, and I doubt that other philosophers read it because it's fairly technical. And so it's really hard to understand what justifies it. And so I'd say that this tension occurs because people in philosophy feel threatened, and they have every right to feel threatened, because science progresses and philosophy doesn't."

Gee, I don't sense that, e.g., the U-Mich philosophers act like a threatened species.

For one philosophical response see Columbia U theoretical physicist and philosopher David Albert here.

Note that claims about the veridicality of scientific theories are inexorably philosophical and worldviewish. Therefore philosophy (philosophical reasoning) is needed; there's no such thing as an uninterpreted "fact" (in Kant's language, we can't access the ding an sich).

And remember: physics can tell us NOTHING about ethics; viz., about what we OUGHT to do. For example, physics can describe how to make a nuclear weapon, but it cannot prescribe whether we ought to do so. Ethical questions are important. The realm of ethical discussion has always been philosophy and religion. Physics has in no way rendered them obsolete. Krauss sounds scientistic to me. (Note: even if physics can describe what happens when a person makes an ethical decision, or if science can give us an evolutionary history of ethics, this in no way helps us prescriptively. To think it does is to commit the genetic fallacy.)

I Ate Another Big Brownie (& the Problem of Divine Hiddenness)

The Big Brownie
My family took me to Mongolian BBQ in Ann Arbor on Sunday for a birthday lunch. On my way there a plan was formulating in my mind. I would eat a Big Brownie for dessert, all by myself, since this was my birthday lunch. I trembled to think of this. It's been four years since my last one!

Divine Hiddenness
The problem of divine hiddenness against the existence of God can be stated this way.
1. If there were a perfectly loving God, He would see to it that each person capable of a personal relationship with Him reasonably believes that He exists, unless a person culpably lacks such belief.
2. There are capable, inculpable nonbelievers.
3. Therefore, there is no perfectly loving God.
(From Daniel Howard-Snyder and Paul Moser, Divine Hiddenness: New Essays, 4)

The Big Brownie
I love eating at Mongolian BBQ. They bring a bowl to your table. You take the bowl to a buffet-area and fill it with raw, fresh food. I filled mine with shrimp and scallops and all kinds of vegetables and pineapple and then mixed three sauces together. I took the bowl to the grill area, a large circular flat hot metal grill. The griller took my bowl and laid the ingredients on the altar. After mixing them and slicing and dicing them with his long spears he laid on the sauces. After that it was but a moment before he slided my meal onto a platter and gave it to me.

Divine Hiddenness
"Inculpable nonbelief": the idea that there are people who lack belief that God exists and do so through no fault of their own. "It is perhaps noncontroversial that infants and certain mentally impaired adults, for example, fall into this category. Some philosophers contend that a large number of normal adults are included as well." (Ib., 5)

The Big Brownie
My food was delicious. Often, at M-BBQ I will request a second bowl, and go through the line again, this time mixing different foods and sauces. But not this time. I had another plan, another telos, on that day. The waitress returned to our table. "Would you like another bowl? she asked? "No." I hesitated, and then spoke the request that had been grilling in my mind for days:

"I would like a Big Brownie."

Divine Hiddenness
We see the matter, at times, of the hiddenness of God in Scripture. For example:

Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?

-Ps. 44:23-24

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?....I cry by day, but you do not answer....
-Psalm 22:1-2

But I, O Lord, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me?
-Psalm 88:13-14

Howard-Snyder and Moser write:

"Psalm 10 complains about God's hiding, as follows: "Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1, NRSV; cf. Job 13:24). Psalm 30 laments God's hiding after a time when the psalmist had confident security. "When I felt secure, I said, 'I will never be shaken.' O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed" (Psalm 30:7, NIV; cf. Psalm 104:27-29). Psalm 44 expresses outright annoyance at God's hiding, suggesting that God’s hiding is actually morally irresponsible. "Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?" (Psalm 44:23-24, NRSV).

The subject of God’s hiding is no merely theoretical matter in the Hebrew Psalms. It cuts to the core of the psalmists’ understanding of God and of themselves. Thus at times it prompts sincere lament from God’s people. Isaiah 45:15 likewise sums up a central Jewish view of God: "Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior." God's hiding is sometimes a response to human disobedience and moral indifference toward God (Deuteronomy 31:16-19, 32:19-20; Psalm 89:46; Isaiah 59:2; Micah 3:4), but this is not the full story behind divine hiding. The Jewish-Christian God hides at times for a range of reasons, not all of which seem clear to humans." (Ib.)

The Big Brownie
If life was all a "waiting for Godot," in this story "Godot" arrived.

The Big Brownie.

It stood before me.

It's attributes were unveiled.


It was Big. Nestled and hidden within mounds of ice cream coated with caramel and hot fudge and whipped cream was the Brownie - still warm in this world of coldness. Showing self-restraint I slowly took my camera and photographed it. Dessertus non-absconditus.

Divine Hiddenness
Michael Murray, in his essay "Deus Absconditus," reasons that God remains hidden from us is because "failing to do so would lead to a loss of morally significant freedom on the part of creatures. The reason, in brief, is that making us powerfully aware of the truth of God's existence would suffice to coerce (at least many of) us into behaving in accordance with God's moral commands. Such awareness can lead to this simply because God's presence would provide us with overpowering incentives which would make choosing the good ineluctable for us." (In Ib., 63)

In other words, God does not reveal Himself to us in the unmediated glory of His omni-attributes, since to do so would take away our choice to love Him or not. God wants us to freely love, trust, and obey Him. Otherwise, "we would be coerced in a manner incompatible with love." (Ib., 9; "love" requires free will; without free will love is meaningless.)

The Big Brownie (BB)
The presence of BB before me was Moses-like, when Moses was on the mountain. Except that the BB showed me all of its glory. When this happens, viz., when something so transcendent consents to revealing its entire, unmediated omni-glory, the word "No" cannot come to one's lips. I could only say "Yes." I could not not-resist. At this point free will is gone. I was coerced into eating the BB. And, of course, I did. I ate the entire Big Brownie as my family looked on, still consuming their platters of food.

The Big Brownie and the Presence of God
On Sunday I spent time at a restaurant I enjoy with the family I love and topped it off with a mountain of sweetness. At this moment life is good, and I am blessed.

Life, with its struggles and ups-and-downs and crises, contains for me many moments where I think of Heideggarian questions like "Why is there something rather than nothing" (still one of the Very Big Questions for me) and biblical questions such as "What is man that You, God, are mindful of Him?"

God has given me more than enough evidence for His existence. He mediates His presence through His creation, through the miracle of consciousness and the vastness of the universe, and through His coming into our world as a Human to rescue us all and bring us freely into His presence forever.

And, He created a world that contains delights like the Big Brownie.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Echoes of the Sermon on the Mount In the Book of James

"There are 25 examples in [the letter of] James that are versions of sayings from [Jesus'] 'sermon on the mount'... Similar phrases, almost whole sentences... James uses the sermon on the mount. Not entirely suprising, since James's brother was...? Jesus."

- Witherington, "The Historical Jesus"

The Historical Jesus - Ben Witherington

Here is one of our greatest New Testament scholars, Ben Witherington, speaking on the topic that is my greatest passion - the historical Jesus.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

God Strips Away Layers of the False Self

Monroe County

"It is often when the ego is most deconstructed that we can hear things anew and begin some honest reconstruction, even if it is only half heard and halfhearted." (Rohr, Richard, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, K 466)

This is true. But first, a note about the term "deconstruction." This word does not mean tearing down something so a new thing can be rebuilt. See here, e.g.

Rohr (and many others) use the word to mean something like a "tearing down" or peeling away layers of stuff to enable some kind of reconstruction. "Deconstruct" is being popularized, like "existentialism" once was.

That being said, I think it's true that layers of the false self need to be peeled away by God so as to restore the original imago dei within. We are created in God's image. That image is largely covered over and obscured. Among other things, this makes it hard to see things clearly. As we allow God to do restorative work in our heart it begins with stripping away accretions of falsehood. The more the false self gets stripped away, the better we hear the true voice of God. This soul-restoration happens as we spend much time in God's presence.

Charles Colson Dies

"Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today with the death of Charles W. “Chuck” Colson. The Prison Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview founder died at 3:12 p.m. on Saturday from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage. Colson was 80."

Linda and I were among the many who were influenced by his dramatic conversion to Christ. The beautiful and abundant fruit produced through him was evidence of a real Jesus-follower.

See the nytimes article "Charles W. Colson, Watergate Felon Who Became Evangelical Leader, Dies at 80."

See the Justice Fellowship, which Colson founded.

See his influential book Born Again, which many of us read ate the time it came out. The Body and How Now Shall We Live were important reads for me.

I greatly valued Colson's ecumenical leadership and Protestant-Catholic dialogue - see Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, with Richard John Neuhaus.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jesus' Method: Proclamation & Demonstration (Needed Today More Than Ever)

My back yard
I was trained in an evangelical Christian environment. For all I received from my teachers and pastors I will forever be grateful.

My evangelical seminary training gave me tools to study God's Word and proclaim it. It did not help me much with two things I now view as central to my Jesus-walk; viz., how to have a deep prayer life, and demonstrating the Gospel of the Kingdom. My understanding is that a lot of Protestant evangelical seminaries in the 1970s lacked in these areas.

I learned how to proclaim God’s Word, but was not trained or mentored in demonstrating God’s Word in love and power. To not do both proclamation and demonstration is, I believe, to be left with a half-Gospel. I do not mean to criticize my teachers. I am greatly indebted to them. In fact, it was one of my seminary New Testament professors who introduced me to the Kingdom theology of George Eldon Ladd. Thank you! I didn't realize how important this would be to me until many years later.

I’m also convinced that there’s not one of us who has the Gospel exactly right in all areas, to include moi. Nevertheless, it seems clear that the way Jesus brought in the Kingdom was 2-fold: He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom of God, and then he demonstrated it by doing things like healing and delivering people from demonic oppression.

Ladd, former New Testament professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, is one of the most influential evangelical scholars of the late 20th century. Here’s how Ladd explains this in his excellent book The Gospel of the Kingdom:

“Our Lord’s ministry and announcement of the Good News of the Kingdom were characterized by healing, and most notably by the casting out of demons. He proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and He demonstrated the Good News of the Kingdom of God by delivering men from the bondage of Satan.” (47)

Of course.

And then Jesus told his followers to do the same.

I think persons who devalue the importance of healing and deliverance ministry devalue the real Gospel. They have only half a Gospel. If you are a theological kind of person, one reason for this devaluing is because of the influence of that nonbiblical theory known as "dispensationalism." (For a decisive refutation of dispensationalism see here, and follow the links.)

Today we need the full Gospel as much as we have ever needed. Here's a recent example for me.

This past week, in my MCCC Logic class, I've been teaching on "inference to the best explanation." The logic of this is:

1. Phenomenon Q.
2. Explanation E best explains Phenomenon Q.
3. Therefore, Explanation E is probably true.

I used, as Phenomenon Q, the ongoing story of the 1 pound Argentinian baby. Here's the state of affairs.

- A baby girl is pronounced stillborn.
- A team of physicians make this pronouncement.
- The baby is placed in a coffin, and put in a morgue refrigerator.
- 12 hours later the baby's mother wants to see her dead baby.
- The morgue allows her to see the baby.
- The coffin is pried open, the cloths surrounding the baby are unwrapped, and the baby cries.
- The mother thinks God did this; viz., that God raised her baby girl from the dead.

That's Phenomenon Q. I asked my logic students the question: "What best explains this?" A number of creative naturalistic explanations were given. All assumed the baby was not really stillborn, but was alive, her vital signs being so weak that the doctors could not detect life.

Now surely that is a possibility.

But note that the "supernatural" option was not given as even a possible explanation by my students. If there was a student who held such a view it was not expressed. This I find to be common: viz., that many mid-adolescents are, at heart, non-supernaturalists. They are philosophical naturalists, and don't know why.

If there are no "signs and wonders" in today's church, little or no evidence of a God who is not himself a philosophical naturalist, then it's no wonder many teens and young adults opt out of this.

Yes, we need "proclamation" of the Gospel. And I do think it is true that, when someone responds to such proclamation in favor of Jesus, this is a work of God. I believe this. I also know it is easily explained away by philosophical naturalists. So, needed more than ever - demonstrations of the power of God, such as we believe happened in the ministry of Jesus. Remember that Jesus himself said his followers would do the things he had been doing, right? That's us, correct? Demonstrations of God's power could be used by God to persuade some of His existence, right?

(For examples of the now-activity of God see especially Craig Keener's Miracles, and U of Indiana professor Candy Gunther Brown's Testing Prayer: Science and Healing.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Nouwen Turned John Climacus's Ladder On its Side

Redeemer sanctuary
One of the classics of Christian spirituality is John Climacus's The Ladder of Divine Ascent. (7th century A.D.) Climacus was also known as "John of the Ladder." John's spiritual ladder has 30 rungs that reach from heaven to earth, metaphorically speaking. By ascending these "rungs" one's heart moves towards the contemplation of God.

When Henri Nouwen was a young priest he counseled his students to use John's (and others') "spiritual ladder of ascent." Thomas Christensen writes: "Nouwen had read John of the Ladder, the sixth-century ascetic who sought perfection in the desert, and Nouwen despaired of ever reaching the top." (Christensen, "Nouwen’s Place in Spiritual Development Theory," Appendix in Nouwen, Henri J. M., Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit)

What Nouwen eventually did was turn John's ladder in its side, giving us the spiritually transformative movement from one unChristlike spiritual pole to a Christlike pole. Christensen writes:

"By the time he arrived at Notre Dame as a professor of pastoral psychology, he had turned the ladder of ascent on its side and taught spiritual formation as a series of horizontal movements of the heart, back and forth, that require daily devotion and discipline, with the goal of human wholeness rather than divine perfection." (Ib., Kindle Locations 2204-2206)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What It Means to Say That God Is Love

Our back yard

What does it mean to say that God is "love?" Ben Witherington writes:

"While we might be tempted to think that this phrase means that God is loving, and so defined by his loving activities, and while that is true, it would seem that this phrase means something more. God not merely possesses or expresses love, love is a term which seems to embrace all God is. Yet still God is not really being defined here by an abstraction, nor is it a claim that the reverse of this statement is true (namely that ‘love is God’). What may be meant by ‘God is love’ is in part that “if the characteristic divine activity is that of loving, then God must be personal, for we cannot be loved by an abstraction, or by anything less than a person…But to say ‘God is love’ implies that all his activity is loving activity. If he creates, he creates in love; if he rules, he rules in love; if he judges, he judges in love. All that he does is the expression of his nature, which is— to love.” One more thing—the definition of love proceeds from God and works its way down to us—‘not that we loved God but that God loved us and sent his Son’." (From here)

"Exhibit A of the loving character of God... is that he sent his Son to die for a sinful and ungrateful world."

1 John 4:8-12 says:

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Social Consequences of Prayer

Red Admiral butterfly on our lilac tree.

To pray, in solitude before God, is to enter into the furnace of spiritual transformation. We get refined in the practice of praying. Spend much time praying with God and you will be changed. in this sense to pray is to change. Prayer has, as James Houston says, transforming power.

In much prayer God morphs our heart into greater and greater Christlikeness. One major way we are changed is in how we love God and others. I agree with Houston when he writes: "We pray to a God who loves the world, and so our prayers will be false if we do not respond by loving other people as well as loving God." Irregardless of the various styles of prayer,  "prayer should always have the same social consequences: That we love others and love God more sincerely." (Houston, The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God, 54) 

This may be one reason why some Christians do not have a prayer life; viz., they do not want to give up their hatred of others. If such hatred is there God will, while we are praying, address this in us. In the presence of God no oxygen exists that would fuel the flames of hatred.

My main prayer for the last 2-3 years remains: "God, change my heart to be a more loving heart, a heart like Your's."

Saying "No" to Our Addictions

Our back yard path to the river.

For 5 1/2 years at Redeemer Josh Bentley and I preached through the 4 Gospels. The emphasis was on "the kingdom of God." The KG is the hermeneutical key to the Real Jesus of the Gospels.

After that we preached through the Christological texts of the Book of Acts.

Then we began preaching through the Christology of Paul. We've done 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians (which became new and living for me), and now, the Christology of Romans.

Last Sunday morning Josh did a great job preaching on baptism out of Romans 6:1-7. After he preached we had baptisms. Something happened with the heater and the baptismal pool water was... freezing! Still, we really celebrated.

This coming Sunday the text is Romans 6:8-14. Here it is:

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

I've been meditating on and studying this passage for over a week. I'm excited to preach on it. My expectation is: some people will be set free from "besetting sins," i.e. "addictions."

I learned from Gerald May that the word "addiction," in French, is atache. Addiction is "attachment." Literally, atache means "nailed to." May writes: ""Attachment "nails" our desire to specific objects and creates addiction. In this light, we can see why traditional psychotherapy, which is based on the release of repression, has proven ineffective with addictions. It also shows why addiction is the most powerful psychic enemy of humanity's desire for God." (May, Addiction and Grace)

Our addictions "enslave us with chains that are of our own making and yet that, paradoxically, are virtually beyond our control. Addiction also makes idolaters of us all, because it forces us to worship these objects of attachment, thereby preventing us from truly, freely loving God and one another."

Wow. The addict is a worshiper who bows before the object he is attached to and says, "Yes, Lord." But the Pauline idea is that the addict can say "No" to his idol-attachment because the idol actually has lost its reign over us. Can it be true? Can it be that simple?

I have seen this happen, in me and in others.

I expect to see more of the same this Sunday.

Monday, April 16, 2012

MCCC Philosophy of Religion Final Exams

For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion Students

Your final oral exams will be on Main Campus in room A-153.

The exam questions are:

  1. Nietzsche's "Parable of the Madman"
  2. Bertrand Russell's "A Free Man's Worship"
  3. Alvin Plantinga on God-belief as Properly Basic
  4. Stephen Jay Gould's "NOMA"
Extra credit - optional: Plantinga - A Modal Version of the Ontological Argument for God's Existence.


1. It is possible that a necessarily existing being exists.
2. Therefore, God exists.

If you accept Premise 1 then you must, says Plantinga, logically conclude (by modal logic) that 2 follows.

Another version:

1. There is a possible world where maximal greatness is instantiated.
2. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

Facelooking Creates More Social Capital than Facebooking

Wildflower in our back yard

A good part of my week, every week, is meeting with people. I actually physically get together with them and look them in the eye and talk with them. I see their facial expressions, I hear their undigitized voice. I attend to them. We are in each other's presence, as much as one could be.

Linda and I are in a Home Group. This is a small group of 14 people who meet once a week to share our lives with, study Scripture together, and pray with and for one another. This, for me, is one of life's oases. We meet, whole-being-wise, as friends. Face-to-face. Facelook.

Facelooking precedes Facebooking.

"I" am on Facebook. Facebook has a place for me, but it's a far cry from Facelook. Facelook is therapy for loneliness. Facebook can be, and is for many, a lonely place that breeds loneliness. So writes Stephen Marche in his Atlantic essay Is Facebook Making Us Lonely? Here are some bullets.

  • Social media has made us more densely networked. But new research suggests that we have never been lonelier, and we are more narcissistic than ever. This loneliness is making us physically and mentally ill. We're now in the midst of an "epidemic of loneliness."
  • Our social connectedness has grown broader but shallower. "We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible... within this world of instant and absolute communication, unbounded by limits of time or space, we suffer from unprecedented alienation. We have never been more detached from one another, or lonelier. In a world consumed by ever more novel modes of socializing, we have less and less actual society. We live in an accelerating contradiction: the more connected we become, the lonelier we are. We were promised a global village; instead we inhabit the drab cul-de-sacs and endless freeways of a vast suburb of information."
  • Loneliness and being alone are not the same things. Solitude can be good. "Loneliness is not a matter of external conditions; it is a psychological state."
  • Ten years ago 20% of adults 45 and older were chronically lonely. Today that number is 35%. "According to a major study by a leading scholar of the subject, roughly 20 percent of Americans—about 60 million people—are unhappy with their lives because of loneliness. Across the Western world, physicians and nurses have begun to speak openly of an epidemic of loneliness."
  • "It is clear that social interaction matters. Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy." We are now facing "social disintegration."
  • Loneliness makes life harder, physically and emotionally. "If you’re lonely, you’re more likely to be put in a geriatric home at an earlier age than a similar person who isn’t lonely. You’re less likely to exercise. You’re more likely to be obese. You’re less likely to survive a serious operation and more likely to have hormonal imbalances. You are at greater risk of inflammation. Your memory may be worse. You are more likely to be depressed, to sleep badly, and to suffer dementia and general cognitive decline." Yet in spite of this "loneliness is one of the first things ordinary Americans spend their money achieving... We are lonely because we want to be lonely. We have made ourselves lonely."
  • Enter Facebook, which is leading us further into social isolation and loneliness. What intends to make us a great circle of "friends" is leaving us friendless. "Which brings us to a more fundamental question: Does the Internet make people lonely, or are lonely people more attracted to the Internet?"
  • Composed communication (letter-writing) on Facebook can increase our socail capital and thereby decrease loneliness; "liking" ("the lazy click of a like) leaves the lonely person lonely.
  • "On the other hand, non-personalized use of Facebook—scanning your friends’ status updates and updating the world on your own activities via your wall, or what Burke calls “passive consumption” and “broadcasting”—correlates to feelings of disconnectedness. It’s a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear. According to [Moira] Burke [until recently a graduate student at the Human-Computer Institute at Carnegie Mellon], passive consumption of Facebook also correlates to a marginal increase in depression." 
  • "John Cacioppo, the director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, is the world’s leading expert on loneliness... [He writes that] surrogates can never make up completely for the absence of the real thing.” The “real thing” being actual people, in the flesh... The idea that a Web site could deliver a more friendly, interconnected world is bogus. The depth of one’s social network outside Facebook is what determines the depth of one’s social network within Facebook, not the other way around. Using social media doesn’t create new social networks; it just transfers established networks from one platform to another. For the most part, Facebook doesn’t destroy friendships—but it doesn’t create them, either."
  • "In one experiment, Cacioppo looked for a connection between the loneliness of subjects and the relative frequency of their interactions via Facebook, chat rooms, online games, dating sites, and face-to-face contact. The results were unequivocal. “The greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are,” he says. “The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are.".... But “If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact,” he says, “it increases social capital.” So if social media let you organize a game of football among your friends, that’s healthy. If you turn to social media instead of playing football, however, that’s unhealthy."
  • Facebook doesn't make us lonely. Facebook is but a tool, like a car; it depends on how we drive it. We make ourselves lonely, or not.
  • "Our omnipresent new technologies lure us toward increasingly superficial connections at exactly the same moment that they make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy. The beauty of Facebook, the source of its power, is that it enables us to be social while sparing us the embarrassing reality of society—the accidental revelations we make at parties, the awkward pauses, the farting and the spilled drinks and the general gaucherie of face-to-face contact. Instead, we have the lovely smoothness of a seemingly social machine. Everything’s so simple: status updates, pictures, your wall.
    But the price of this smooth sociability is a constant compulsion to assert one’s own happiness, one’s own fulfillment. Not only must we contend with the social bounty of others; we must foster the appearance of our own social bounty. Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy—it’s exhausting."
Facebook "works" for me because it is not at the core of my social connectedness. I spend a lot of time Facelooking with people, and I take a lot of time in solitude (which does not mean me and my laptop).

A Facebook connection is not the same thing as a bond. "Instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity. Solitude used to be good for self-reflection and self-reinvention. But now we are left thinking about who we are all the time, without ever really thinking about who we are. Facebook denies us a pleasure whose profundity we had underestimated: the chance to forget about ourselves for a while, the chance to disconnect." 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Argentine Baby Shows Slight Improvement

Many are praying for this baby to live, including me.

"Argentine baby spends hours in morgue fridge, shows slight improvement"

Your Marriage Will Not Go Smoothly

Our back yard
Once a man I was counseling for his failing marriage told me, in anger, "I just want my marriage to go smoothly!" (As he said this he spread his two hands before me as if he was smoothing out a tablecloth.)

I told him: "It won't."

It's not logically impossible to have a "smooth marriage," in the way "square circles" and "married bachelors" are impossible. It's more like an oxymoron, perhaps, such as "Microsoft Works."

When he told me this I thought - there's the problem. He wants everything to go his way, and for his wife to always agree with him. He's controlling and self-centered. He doesn't want conflict.

Mark this: every good marriage has conflict. Two very different persons have come together to do life. There's trouble a-brewing. When it comes like a tsunami (not "if" it comes) what's needed are humble hearts + good communication skills. Marital partners must go through conflict, not turn tail and run from it (warning: you can't outrun conflict; it's faster than you are, especially as you grow older). And mostly, do not repress it, for if you do you are squashing your significant other.

One book I recommend is Caring Enough to Confront: How to Understand and Express Your Deepest Feelings Toward Others, by David Augsburger.

Another is To Understand Each Other, by Paul Tournier.

And especially Mike Mason's The Mystery of Marriage: As Iron Sharpens Iron.

Also good is Fit to Be Tied, by Bill and Lynn Hybels.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Argentina's "Miracle Baby" takes turn for the worse

So many, including myself, are praying for this little child to live.

Argentina's "Miracle Baby" takes turn for the worse.

God Has Already Dealt With the Forces of Chaos Within

Linda bought these tulips a few days ago.
I have met many people who do not pray because of a fear of what is inside them. James Houston writes: "Beyond the defects in our character that we know about, lurk deeper fears and anxieties that are even a secret to ourselves." (Houston, The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship with God, 49)

Thomas Merton writes: "Who can swear that his intentions are pure, even down to the subconscious depths of his will, where ancient selfish motives move comfortably like forgotten sea monsters in waters where they are never seen!" (Merton, No Man Is an Island, 115)

Some people have a loveless, abusive childhood past and cannot shake its images. Some struggle with the dark forces of addiction, and these forces seem to rise up within them when they try to pray, screaming words like "Shame" and "Failure" and "Worthless." "Some people fear to look inside   themselves at all. It is as if looking into one's soul is to look through a window of the heart into a bottomless pit." (Houston, Ib.)

Prayer can be threatening. Because "it calls for us to face our darkness and uncover it." (Ib.)

If that is true, who would want to pray? Why pray at all if it might bring us face to face with our inner demons? The answer is: "God has already dealt with the forces of chaos - with cosmic chaos far greater than we can ever imagine. Because of this, we can go to him in prayer with a confidence spoken about in Psalm 139." (Ib.) Which reads:

"If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you."
- Ps. 139:11-12

The same God who has dealt with the vast, deep moral and spiritual darkness that has entered the world is able to face and lovingly expel the darkness inside of us. When this happens we are not only not further damaged, but we are restored and healed. God removes our fears and addictions. God eradicates our sense of helplessness and despair. This is why the enemy would not want us to come to God in prayer; viz., because God wants to kick him out of the spiritual house that belongs to Him.

God transcends all our enemies.

God lies beyond the shadows.

Go to God and trust in Him.

Houston writes: "Our trust in God is a realization that he is already working for, in and through us, calling us to a new, whole life beyond our broken lives. The darkness will not wim through, because light will overcome the nght and love will destroy evil and hatred." (Ib., 51)

Friday, April 13, 2012

The "Miracle Baby" Is Still Alive


Last night, in my MCCC Logic class, I began teaching "inference to the best explanation." The form of this reasoning goes like this:

1. Phenomenon Q.
2. E is the best explanation for Phenomenon Q.
3. Therefore, E is probably true.

For example, suppose Phenomenon Q is: I discover my mailbox by the side of the road is lying on the ground broken, 50 feet away from its original location. The 4X4 post is broken off at the base. And, there are pieces of broken plastic lying on the ground. Tire tracks are there where my mailbox was once anchored.

What best explains Phenomenon Q?

It would be Explanation E: A car strayed from the road and ran over my mailbox.

An alternative explanation F could be: An alien spaceship landed on my front lawn, broke my mailbox, and left plastic on the ground.

If these are the only two explanations, then clearly E is best. This is Sherlock Holmes' kind of thinking. In logic it's called inference to the best explanation.

Last night in Logic class I gave, as an example of Phenomenon Q, the recent story of the Argentinian "miracle baby."

Phenomenon Q (from what we know so far) is:

A premature baby - who was declared dead shortly after birth - was later discovered to be alive after spending 10 hours in a morgue refrigerator. How did this happen?
Doctors at the Perrando Hospital in northeast Argentina can’t explain how several doctors pronounced the child dead or how the premature infant born three months early survived for so many hours inside a chilly coffin.
A similar case occurred in Israel in 2008. A baby was found alive in a morgue refrigerator after having been declared dead for five hours, according to the Jerusalem Post. An Israeli doctor suggested the premature infant's irregular heartbeat could've eluded doctors and that placing the child in the cooler kept her in "suspended animation." The baby later died.
In a case last year, a 60-year-old man woke up in a South African morgue after 21 hours.
- CNN report

To ask "How did this happen?" is to ask for Explanation E. The CNN report given today reasons: Can cooling explain why ‘miracle’ baby survived?

Not if it was dead already.

Were the doctors wrong? Perhaps. Remember, reasoning by inference to the best explanation is inductive (probableistic), not deductive reasoning.

The students in my class last night did a great job giving possible explanations.

I suggested that one explanation could be: God resuscitated the baby to life from death.

Here is the point where your worldview kicks in.

(See: Newborn Baby Pronounced Dead, Placed in a Hospital Freezer, and Comes to Life 12 Hours Later)

Free to Love #3 - What You Think of Others Is Very Important

Me, Lee Davis, & Jon Standifer
Years ago God told me "John, what others think of you is mostly not important. But what you think of others is very important." And: "What I [God] think of you and others is most important."

Here there are three ideas:

What others think of you is mostly not important.
  1. What is most important is what God thinks of you and others.
  2. What you think of others is very important.
Today, I'm addressing #3.

3. What you think of others is very important.

#3 is not possible without 1 and 2. The more you are concerned about what others think of you, combined with an experiential lack of God's love for you, the less you will be free to love others as Christ did. The person who tries to please others to gain approval would not do so were they secure in God's love for them.

Only a free person can selflessly love others. Love is selfless and other-cenetered. More strongly, only a free person can love even their enemies. At its highest this includes feeling. Com-passion is "to feel with others." Real love is feeling + action, expressed outwardly. Jesus looked on the people with compassion, as sheep without a shepherd.

This is important because God so loves the world, and the world includes more people than you. If God loves others, then we are to do no less. It is not a God-thing to think little or not at all towards those in your circle of life.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

Love your neighbor as you do your own self.

That is the heart of true Christianity.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beckwith On the After-Birth-Abortion Debate

Ann Arbor
For me, Francis Beckwith is the one to read on the scandalous, horrendously evil debate on aborting persons after they are born.

"The fetus, then, is not a potential person. It is what it is: a being with a personal nature, and for that reason, it has essential properties that include capacities for personal expression, rational thought, and moral agency. The maturation of these capacities are perfections of its nature, and thus, contrary to what Giubilini and Minerva claim, the human fetus can be wronged even before it can know it has been wronged."  

Rhetological Fallacies

Tulip tree in Ann Arbor

Here is a nice chart of Rhetological Fallacies (errors and manipulations of rhetorical and logical thinking). These are also called Informal Logical Fallacies (Hurley), or Fallacies of Irrelevant Premises and Fallacies of Unacceptable Premises (Vaughn).

After-Birth Abortion (Killing Newborn Babies)

The nytimes just linked me to The Journal of Medical Ethics, which published a paper entitled "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" Here is the paper's Abstract.


Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus' health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

But...  fetuses and newborns are "persons." See here.

How could anyone think like this? For some history, see atheist Peter Singer's famous and chilling "Taking Life: Humans." Here's some Singer:

"The fact that a being is a human being, in the sense of a member of the species Homo sapiens, is not relevant to the wrongness of killing it; it is, rather, characteristics like rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness that make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings, or any other self-conscious beings. This conclusion is not limited to infants who, because of irreversible intellectual disabilities, will never be rational, self-conscious beings. We saw in our discussion of abortion that the potential of a fetus to become a rational, self-conscious being cannot count against killing it at a stage when it lacks these characteristics - not, that is, unless we are also prepared to count the value of rational self-conscious life as a reason against contraception and celibacy. No infant - disabled or not - has as strong a claim to life as beings capable of seeing themselves as distinct entities, existing over time."

The authors of the Medical Ethics article, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, are atheists and utilitarians. Utilitarianism is "a philosophical outlook that denies that anything has intrinsic moral worth and views morality in terms of maximising overall ‘happiness’, where such happiness is measured in terms such as that of increasing pleasure, decreasing pain or ensuring satisfaction of individuals’ preferences. It is a theory that is often logical in some abstract way, but it is rarely rational within the framework of actually lived human lives." (From here.)

The last quote was from Kenan Malik's response to Giubilini and Minerva. Malik goes on to say:

"A cell created by a fusion of egg and sperm is (if we ignore the possibility of cloning) a necessary condition of being a human being. It is not a sufficient condition. A human being is created in the long journey from being a single invisible cell to becoming a self-conscious moral agent. That change does not happen at any one instant, but slowly and over time, so that, almost imperceptibly, a qualitatively different being is created. But while this is a process, and there is no point at which a ‘non-human’ becomes a ‘human’, or a ‘non-person’ becomes a ‘person’, there are moral boundaries that mark qualitative shifts. Birth is one of those boundaries."

False, I think. See again Francis Beckwith on the illogic of this position. The conceptus is both a necessary and sufficient condition for being a full-fledged human being.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Newborn Baby Pronounced Dead, Placed in a Hospital Freezer, and Comes to Life 12 Hours Later

Who doesn't love stories like this one?
  • Luz Veron was born weighing 1 pound, 12 ounces.
  • This baby was born on April 3, three months early, and had no vital signs, hospital director Dr. Jose Luis Meirino told CNN.
  • The gynecologist on hand didn't find any signs of life, so he passed the baby to a neonatal doctor who also didn't find vital signs, Meirino said.
  • The doctors observed the baby for a while, and only then, pronounced her dead.
  • The hospital then followed protocol. Two morgue workers then put her body inside a little wooden coffin and placed it in the freezer. "Up to that point, there were still no vital signs," the hospital director said.
  • That night, the baby's mother wanted to see her little girl one more time. Hospital officials allowed the couple to visit the baby in the hospital morgue around 10 p.m., Mrs. Veron said. As many as 12 hours had passed since the baby had been declared dead.
  • "They put the coffin on top of a stretcher and we looked for a little crowbar to open it because it was nailed shut," Veron told a local television station. "It was nailed shut. I put the crowbar in there and started prying. I took a breath and took the lid off."
  • The mother approached the baby's body, touched her hand, and heard a cry, she told CNN.
    She jumped back. "It's my imagination, it's my imagination," she repeated.
  • The baby was alive, and crying.
  • Mrs. Veron's brother-in-law rushed the baby back to the neonatal ward. He clutched her close to his chest for warmth. She felt like an ice-cold bottle against his body, the relative told Veron.
    "I can't explain what happened. Only that God has performed a miracle," Veron said.
  • "Today is the eighth day of my daughter's resurrection," the girl's father, Fabian Veron, told CNN Wednesday.
  • The parents named her Luz Milagros, the Spanish words for "Light" and "Miracles."
  • Watch the CNN video report here.
That's what happened.

From this point on your worldview will take over.

Register Now for Our 2012 Green Lake Conference

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Ignite the Fire!!! Make plans NOW to attend our annual Green Lake Holy Spirit Conference. It will revolutionize your life!!

June 23-29, 2012

Green Lake Conference Center (

What would it be like to experience and demonstrate a naturally supernatural lifestyle, to walk in Jesus’ love and healing power today? It is possible! Let it begin at the amazing Green Lake Holy Spirit Conference! Five days to recharge in the presence of the Lord, ignite the fires of passion, and activate the ultimate power source, the Holy Spirit, in your life.
Life-transforming, biblically balanced teaching, rest and relaxation in a beautiful setting, excellent programs for children and youth make it an unforgettable experience for all ages!

Keynote Speakers include:
Dr. JP Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology; Pastor Philip Mantofa, Mega-church Pastor and International Christian Leader from Indonesia; and Darren Wilson, Founder and CEO of Wanderlust Productions. (See LINK to speaker bio & pictures). Other speakers include Dr. Lee Spitzer, Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey; Annie Dieslberg, Director of NightLight outreach in Bangkok, Thailand; Dr. John Piippo, Pastor at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, MI; and Dr. Clayton Ford, Pastor of La Jolla Christian Fellowship and National Chair of Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries.

Conference Dates:
June 23-June 29, 2012
Our conference begins at the Green Lake Conference Center ( with Sunday morning worship at 9am, June 24 and ends with Communion at 9:30pm Thursday evening, June 28. Most people will arrive at Green Lake on Saturday evening June 23 and leave Green Lake on Friday morning June 29.

Please register for our conference online at our website if at all possible.
Click on the Conference link, scroll down, and then click on Register. After filling out the registration forms for each person coming to the conference, go back and click on the Conference link, then scroll down to Pay Green Lake Fees. Use PayPal to pay your registration cost ($50 for an individual or $75 for family (parents and kids ages 18 and under). Day rates are: $20 per individual per day; $35 per family, per day.

If you do not have access to a computer, please register by sending a check for $50 per individual or $75 per family (parents and kids ages 18 and under), along with your name, full mailing address, and phone numbers to HSRM, c/o Richard Baldwin, 148 Winghurst Blvd, Orlando, FL 32828 . Day rates are: $20 per individual per day and $35 per family, per day.

(NOTE: For Housing and meals accommodations, see below) If you have any questions, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Clay Ford at 858-909-0201 or Richard Baldwin at 407-371-0247. Please register as soon as possible - it's a great help to our registrars if you do. Thanks!

Housing and Food Accommodations:
Housing and meals costs are separate from the conference registration fees. For Green Lake housing accommodations and meal plans, please call Guest Services, Green Lake Conference Center at 1-920-294-3323.

Pastors and Denominational Leaders Scholarships Partial Available: First-time attending senior/lead pastors and denominational leaders and their families may apply for partial scholarships to this conference -- please contact HSRM Chair Dr. Clay Ford at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 858-909-0201 (home office) or 619-495-0818 (cell) for more information.