If you've been paying attention at all to the increasingly radical rhetoric of the Left––whether on college campuses, in the BLM "protests", or the SJW crowd––you know that they are convinced that there is something deeply and psychologically wrong with "The West" in general, and with American Capitalism, in particular. This isn't the old-school quazi-liberal rhetoric that the system is broken and needs to be fixed. The new guard will not be satiated with tinkering around the edges. To them, the system, itself, is fundamentally immoral. Of course there are all sorts of ways to analyze and answer these allegations of immorality––the best of which is to question their fundamental moral premises––but beyond the fact that, at the end of the day, their self-righteous moral high-ground is grounded in nothing but their own emotions, I've noticed something interesting about the very way they posture in presenting these supposed moral crises of our time: they seem to be projecting their own (pathological) assumptions on the culture. You could likely make this case with many of the modern topics of the "outrage culture", but here I want to focus in on one particular topic: Materialism. ...continue reading
Piper's recent article on armed Christian self-defense has stirred up a lot of controversy, primarily because, in it, he sheds a lot of doubt on whether and when it is ever appropriate for Christians to physically defend themselves––particularly with a weapon. While the points in his article offer a much needed Biblical emphasis on trusting and glorifying God in the midst of tribulation, the article doesn't seem to leave much room (if any) for glorifying God through self-defense. However, I would like to submit the bold idea that Piper's position might be altered if he were to think a little bit more like a Christian Hedonist about this issue.
Piper's primary concern is that we not forget that "the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life" should lead us to "not avenge ourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God"; to live as exiles who "expect and accept unjust mistreatment without retaliation"; to see violent hostility as an opportunity to bear witness (not arms); and to "endure persecution with joyful suffering, prayer, and the Word of God". All of these concerns have very strong roots in the New Testament (read Piper's article to glimpse a few), and as such, should not be hastily written off by modern gun-toting Christian conservatives. As Doug Wilson has helpfully pointed out in his response to Piper's article, if we are going to take the Bible seriously, me must wrestle with all of these texts which, at first blush, may seem "pacifistic". While I can't do an exegetical study on all these passages in this one blog, my aim is to set forth a paradigm that I think can go a long way in helping us to make sense of these passages in a way that embraces Piper's Biblical concern for a general Christian heart-attitude and the concerns of many others when it comes to self-defense. That paradigm is rooted in Piper's own Christian Hedonism.
In many ways, Christian Hedonism is a rebuke to the idea that Christians are "preachers of death"; that Christian self-sacrifice and self-denial are ends in themselves. The remarkable response of Christian Hedonism is that the Bible is always calling Christians past the suffering and the sacrifice to the glorious rewards on the other side, with Christ as our prime example: "He endured the cross for the joy set before Him" (Heb. 12:2). So, according to Christian Hedonism, all Christian suffering is meant to be value-oriented. Every Christian loss is meant to be a net gain. There is no value in suffering, as such. Only in suffering for the sake of the gospel––only in sharing in the fellowship of His suffering (Phil. 3:10). What does this mean? It means we don't seek out suffering. We follow Christ, avoiding unnecessary suffering, and joyfully embracing any suffering which is necessary. Necessary to what? To following Him.
Falling on the ice and breaking your leg is not necessary to following Christ. Being publicly mocked as a Christian by unbelievers is (or might be in a particular situation). So, we try not to do kart-wheels on the ice, but when we are mocked for our faith, we embrace it and rejoice, knowing that our reward is great in heaven (Mt. 5:11). What does this have to do with self-defense? Quite a bit. As with everything else in the Christian life, as we approach the idea of self-defense, the good Christian Hedonist should be asking himself, "where's the ultimate value here?" As Jesus indicates in Mt. 5:11, the ultimate value being sought when enduring persecution for your faith is "your reward in heaven".
What about when you're "persecuted", but not "for the sake of righteousness"? What about a random assailant, who has no clue you're a Christian––and who couldn't care less? Where, specifically, is the value in patiently enduring his violence? How, specifically, is Christ magnified? I don't think He is. I don't think there is any value to be sought in passively enduring random assaults which are not primarily related to one's faith in Christ. No one will magnify Christ because you refused to defend yourself against a drunken thug. This, it seems, would be a bit like doing kart-wheels on ice, and then saying "to God be the glory" for the suffering incurred as a result.
Perhaps one of the reasons we may be tempted toward a more pacifistic position in regard to random (non-faith related) assault, is that we do not have a category for the eternal value of our own individual lives (or of those around us). Here's a thought experiment: Do you think Jesus would have passively allowed himself to be killed by a random thief before His time came to go to the cross? God aims to be glorified in our life and in our death (Phil. 1:20). Piper is known for saying "don't waste your life". I would add: don't waste your death. Each Christian is called to glorify Christ to the max in this life. Some will be called to give up that future glory for the sake of a greater glory brought on by being killed for the faith. But what glory is there to be found in giving up the future glory of one's life by being killed, not for the sake of the faith, but for the sake of... nothing?
That is where self-defense comes in: self-defense is the refusal to waste one's own death on the meaningless, the nothing, the zero. General self-defense is essentially no different than taking medicine to fight off infection, or having a life-saving operation. Each functions off of the principle that one ought not allow oneself to die for no reason; that death must come either as a result of circumstances outside of one's own control, or as the conscious and joyous choice to hold on to those eternal values which death can't ever take away. Anything less would be a waste. And we dare not waste the life, or the death, given to us by God.
So, as we move forward in this discussion on Christian self-defense, let us strive to be ardent Christian Hedonists. Let us labor to identify all of the specific values involved, and to always pursue the path of greatest eternal treasure. Let us refuse to stoically embrace all suffering and death as ends in themselves, and joyfully embrace only that which actually and specifically points to Christ. Let us develop heart-attitudes which drive us to administer immediate Christ-like compassion after stopping an assailant, praying for them as our enemies, and tending to their wounds (in the safest manner possible)––perhaps even sharing the gospel with them as we do.
As I observe the increasingly evasive tactics of those who are defending Planned Parenthood, I can’t help but notice the sad similarities to those who so evasively defend blatant irrationality in theology. And I’m not surprised, because it all comes from the common root of relativism, and is supported by the militant insistence of moderation. Relativism and moderation: those are the destructive twin “narratives” of our time, and though evangelical Christians would love to protest otherwise, they are, in large part, complicit in that destruction. ...continue reading
In the last post, we concluded that the will must be free in some way, but we didn’t really specify in which way. I was going to do that in this post, but I realized that it would likely be more helpful to first discuss in which ways the will is not free. In fact, this will help us to narrow our focus down to see the simplicity of what is properly meant by the term, free will.
Free From Reality?
The most important question which must be asked about free will is, “free––from what?” You see, many wish to hold that, in order for the will to be free, it must be free in every possible way, from every possible thing. To this, I ask: free from reality? Then the will is not a real thing, for that is what it means to be “free from reality.” Free from any sort of cause and effect? ...continue reading
The idea of free will tends to run into problems (or at least perceived problems) in both atheistic worldviews (like Objectivism) and in theistic worldviews (like Christianity). The Christian Egoist advocates certain “brands”, or aspects, of both, and therefore I get a lot of questions about free will, or things pertaining to it. Whether you’re dealing with “strict” laws of logic and nature, or with “strict” ideas of God’s sovereignty and providence, many seem to think that such “suffocating” ideas must necessarily “crowd out” any possible notion of human free will. But could this be because such people haven’t thought very carefully about what free will is? I think so. ...continue reading
Thanks to conversations with a fellow follower of the blog (you know who you are! Haha), I was recently inspired to do a little bit of digging to see what the different modern Objectivist intellectuals had to say on this issue. I was surprised to discover such sharp disagreement.
Below, you'll find two of Peikoff's podcasts on this topic and one from Hsieh. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Which do you agree with? Why? Is there another position or major Objectivist out there who has a similar position on this?
"In a previous podcast you said that it is wrong to go against nature by undergoing a sex-change operation–that the metaphysically given is an absolute. But by this definition gender is not metaphysically given because we can now change it if we so chose."
"Since race is social construct, not a biological or theological one, some people reject that terminology altogether"
-K. Edward Copeland, on "Public Justice" at The Gospel Coalition
Yeah, try figuring out what that's supposed to mean. For a clue, check out this great (and revealing) article by Walter Hudson on the recent trend of counting "Black" as an ideology, rather than a skin color.
Do you see what is happening? The left has, for years, successfully peddled their ideology under the auspices of being the "non-racist" party, and recently has ramped up to hyper-speed the racial rhetoric to condemn any and all detractors as racists, even if the issue had nothing to do with someone's skin color. The right is (finally!) catching wise to the game and calling them on it, both by pointing out that skin color (i.e. race) has nothing to do with most of these issues, and by presenting many conservative racial minorities, or "people of color," who flat out contradict the left's "narrative".
You'd think this meant the game was up, but oh no! They're just getting started. You see, because race doesn't have anything to do with "biology" or "skin color" anymore–– ...continue reading
In this episode, I review some major objections against the traditional cosmological argument (particularly those raised by Objectivist philosopher, Dr. Diana Hsieh), and respond to each. You can view an outline of those objections below. You can also listen directly to Dr. Hsieh present these arguments in her series here.
This is the first episode of The Christian Egoist Podcast!
It is also the first episode in the series on Arguments for the Existence of God.
In this episode, I begin with a brief introduction of myself and my work, and then explain that this series is interacting heavily with Dr. Diana Hsieh's series on the same topic (More on her and her series below). Then, I give an overview of my various audiences, along with unique challenges to each. In sum though, my challenge to everyone in my audience on this (and every other issue) is to be devoted to the truth, whatever the costs! ...continue reading
Balance. It’s probably the fundamental functional morality for most people today. And it’s definitely the go-to answer for most moral conundrums. How do love and truth go together? Justice and mercy? Individualism and community? God’s sovereignty and human responsibility? Personal responsibility and charity? The answer: “Balance.”
A Dubious Assumption
But isn’t there a dubious assumption behind the idea that good and true things need to “balance” each other out? The idea of balance implies an inverse relationship between those things which are being balanced: the degree to which one goes up, the other goes down––and vice versa. The degree to which love goes up, truth goes down; and the degree to which truth goes up, love goes down. Such is the conventional wisdom. The key to morality then, in this case, is to “balance” the two out. But what does this mean? ...continue reading