Mere Christianity 2: We Have Cause to Be Uneasy

In the first section of Mere Christianity, Lewis gives his argument for the existence of God.  He starts off by making two basic points:  first, that we all (almost all of us, at any rate) know the Law of Human Nature, that is, we all know deep down that certain things are right and certain things are just wrong, and second, we do not keep the Law of Human Nature.  We do things which are wrong and we do not do things which are right; in both cases we feel compelled to make excuses to justify ourselves, a compulsion which we would not feel if there were no Law of Human Nature.  Lewis then responded to possible objections, namely that this Law of Human Nature is nothing more than instinct or social convention.  That is where we left off last time. Continue reading “Mere Christianity 2: We Have Cause to Be Uneasy”

Some Thoughts on the Pullman Books

Just a few thoughts on the Phillip Pullman His Dark Materials trilogy, which I am currently in the process of working my way through.  It’s the holidays, and I did not feel like organizing these into a more coherent post or developing any of these into separate full-length posts right now, so just take what you get:

–Phillip Pullman has written a work of fantasy literature that is definitely worthy of serious and favorable comparison with the works of Lewis and Tolkien.  Phillip Pullman is an atheist.  Get over it.

–The “Authority” which the heroes of the Pullman books are attacking is definitely the Judeo-Christian God whom we all know and love.  Pullman makes no bones about this, especially during Part 3.

–Those of you who believe that the Bible is true have nothing to fear.  Just because Pullman says that his “Authority” is the same as our God, doesn’t make it so.  If you look at the way God is described in the Bible and the way the Authority/God is described in the Pullman books, you will see that they are two almost completely different beings.  The God of the Bible is a creator who wants His creations to worship Him freely, and who loves them to the point that He is even willing to sacrifice His Son’s life (in ways that we cannot fully comprehend, this is the same as Him giving up His own life) for their sake when their bad choices make it impossible for them to be in relationship with Him.  The Authority of the Pullman books is a power-hungry usurper who is bent on destroying men’s capacity for free choice and forcing them to follow him.  Basically, Pullman has set up a straw man and then proceeded to beat the living s–t out of him. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on the Pullman Books”

Mere Christianity 1: Right and Wrong and the Law of Human Nature

Today I would like to begin my next serious blogging project, which will be to blog my way through C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

Mere Christianity is for my money one of the most important books that a Christian should read.  If you have not read this book at some point during your Christian life, I would strongly recommend that you do so.  If you have, then go back and read it again.  I will be here through the course of this series to provide you with a guide to the book and how it lands in my life.

Let us start with the introduction. Continue reading “Mere Christianity 1: Right and Wrong and the Law of Human Nature”

Is There a Gospel for Those Who Are Already Saved?

Today I would like to commend to your attention a resource from Dr. Rod Rosenbladt entitled “The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church”.  This is a 45-minute talk which is available from New Reformation Press.  You can download it in MP3 format for only $3.45.  Or, if you are a college student like myself and seeking to live resourcefully with limited means, you can save a dollar and download the text in PDF format.

I am sure that many of you who are Christians have wrestled with the question of “What does the Gospel mean for me now?”  As unbelievers, we got that we were sinners who were completely, utterly, hopelessly incapable of living up to the requirements of an infinitely holy God.  We were condemned to death followed by an eternity of separation from God and all the misery entailed in that–and justly so.  And then we heard and believed the Gospel message that Christ had died for our sin and made a way for us to enter into relationship with God, that He had satisfied the requirements of a holy God and that this righteousness would be credited to us if we just believed. Continue reading “Is There a Gospel for Those Who Are Already Saved?”

Don’t Go Sportin That Persecution Complex

I just wanted to say one thing in light of the unpleasantness in Colorado this weekend:

Don’t go around thinking that whatever happens in the world of American suburban Christianity is automatically the most important thing on the face of the earth.  Don’t go around saying that it’s the end times and the big persecution is here just because some nutjob went postal down at the local megachurch.

There is a lot of persecution of Christians going on in other parts of the world today.  We don’t hear about it because the only news/media outlets which report that sort of things are the few in number which are specifically dedicated to reporting that sort of thing.  But it does happen.  And if you think this was persecution, well there are plenty of believers from other parts of the world who could tell you stories that would make you want to just sit down and shut up.

Man please.

I’ve said it before on this blog and I think it bears repeating in light of this weekend’s events:  We who live here in the world of suburban American evangelical Protestant-dom are NOT the end-all, be-all of what God is doing in the world.

Christmas with My Imaginary Girlfriend

I’ve been listening to a lot of Cellophane Dion’s Christmas album lately.  I am attracted to it by a well-balanced presentation of Christmas standards and other material, including strong orchestral adaptations such as “O Holy Night” which leads off the album, “Ave Maria”, “O Come All Ye Faithful” which features the full-on choir and pipe organ, “The Prayer” with Andrea Bocelli, and the reflective “Lullaby”.  Other highlights include a slow, sultry blues adaptation of “Blue Christmas”, an up-tempo cover of John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)”, and “I’m Your Angel” featuring thug/playa extraordinaire R. Kelly.

What’s not to like?

Well, there’s just one problem.  Cellophane Dion is not the best thing in the world to listen to if you’re single and still out there looking for Mr/Mrs. Right.  If you listen to other albums that she has done over the years, you will find that an awful lot of her material has to do with the subject of love.  You will come away with the impression that if you are not in love or if you have not had the experience of being in a meaningful romantic relationship, then you are missing out on something which is profoundly important and essential to having a happy and fulfilled life. Continue reading “Christmas with My Imaginary Girlfriend”

Jono’s Guide to Essential Christmas Music

Christmas time is here, and that means Christmas music is here as well.  So as a public service to our readers, I would like to offer my recommendations on which of the vast abundance of Christmas albums out there are truly essential.

The Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas.  What more could you possibly want in life?  Here is Vince Guaraldi, one of the finest jazz pianists of our day, backed by Monty Budwig on bass and Colin Bailey on drums, performing all your Charlie Brown Christmas favorites, exactly as you remember them from the TV special.  Crank up the fireplace, pour yourself a glass of wine (grape juice if you’re a Baptist), put on this CD, kick back in front of the fire and enjoy.

Harry Connick Jr, When My Heart Finds Christmas (1993).  Harry Connick Jr. brings his trademark big band sound and New Orleans flair to the Christmas standards.  Highlights of this album include a Dixieland version of “I Pray on Christmas”, a rendition of “Ave Maria” with a reflective piano solo intro, and a well-orchestrated rendition of “O Holy Night”.  The 2003 sequel Harry for the Holidays is also good.

Celine Dion, These Are Special Times (1998).  A solid and well-balanced Christmas collection showcasing the vocal abilities of Celine Dion.  Highlights include “O Come All Ye Faithful” with the full-on choir and pipe organ, “The Prayer” featuring Andrea Bocelli, “I’m Your Angel” featuring thug extraordinaire R. Kelly, and “Feliz Navidad” featuring the entire Dion clan.

Michael W. Smith, Christmas (1988).  For my money this is by far the best Christmas album ever done by a CCM artist, and goodness knows there have been an awful lot of Christmas albums done by CCM artists over the last couple of decades.  Other CCM Christmas albums worthy of positive mention include the Michael W. Smith sequel Christmastime (1998), Amy Grant Home for Christmas (1992), and Point of Grace A Christmas Story (1999).

Anything by Mannheim Steamroller.  Mannheim Steamroller has been a force in the world of Christmas music for the last two decades.  There are now five albums for you to choose from:  Christmas (1984), A Fresh Aire Christmas (1990), Christmas in the Aire (1995), Christmas Extraordinaire (2001), and Christmas Song (2007).

Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Christmas Eve and Other Stories (1996).  This album tells the story, through music, of an angel who comes down to earth in search of something to represent all the good that was ever done in the name of Christmas.  This album features “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” for which Trans-Siberian Orchestra is best known, a driving orchestral/rock adaptation of Carol of the Bells.  I haven’t heard any of the other Trans-Siberian Orchestra albums, but I would imagine that they are good as well.