Archive for July, 2011

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Learning to Walk and Run

July 30, 2011

God is genderless. God is beyond masculinity and femininity. God doesn’t have the identifying ‘parts’ because God is Spirit.

However, God is still called a Father in the Scripture. In fact, God reveals Himself in the Bible through predominantly masculine imagery. This is not solely because the Bible was produced in a Patriarchal age. The truth is masculine imagery for God can prevent us from thinking erroneous ideas about God’s relationship to the world.

Philosopher Peter Kreeft writes,

“Alone among the ancients ‘gods’, the Jewish God was always ‘He’, never ‘she’. For ‘she’ symbolized something immanent, while ‘He’ was transcendent. ‘She’ was the womb of all things, the cosmic Mother, but ‘he’ was other than Mother Earth. He (God) created the earth, and He came into it from without, as a man comes into a woman.”

The masculine imagery for God safeguarded the truth that God is separate and distinct from creation. In Pagan Religions where feminine deities were prevalent, there was always a strong tendency towards ‘Pantheism’ (the belief that everything is God) because in these worldviews creation is birthed out of the mother goddess thereby sharing in her very nature.

The end result was the deification of creation.

Over and opposed to this worldview is the Biblical worldview which claims that God is distinct from creation but loves creation and floods creation with His presence and glory. Not only does God love the world He’s made, He enters into creation through Jesus to redeem and restore it from all the consequences of humanities’ sin and rebellion. The masculine imagery for God protects these theological distinctions.

However, despite the predominance of masculine imagery in the Bible, the image of Motherhood is also applied to God in certain scripture passages by way of analogy (contrary to Peter Kreeft’s strong statement above. See Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 66:13, Dt. 32:18, 1st kings 3:26)). Here is the key point I want to stress:

God’s parenthood is not a projection of our parenthood. Rather, our parenthood is a reflection of God’s.

The above Biblical understanding is the underlying assumption of every Baby Blog I’ve written. Because our parenting reflects God’s, we can learn much about God’s interactions with us through our own interactions with our kids (See Hebrews 12:7-12 where the Bible exemplifies this very principle).

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The author George McDonald once wrote that ‘God is easy to please but hard to satisfy’. The above comment floating free from it’s original context could mean a lot of different things to different people.

I believe that George McDonald was originally making a remark about Christian sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which God conforms the Christian to the image and likeness of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

God won’t be satisfied until we grow up into the likeness of Christ. But he is pleased with our first feeble, faltering steps in the direction of Godliness and obedience.

In this regard, a parent can reflect God in their attitude towards their children. Here is what I mean if it isn’t clear already: My son has recently learned to stand with assistance. He’s also begun to crawl and I am very pleased at his efforts. I constantly encourage him and affirm his progress even if he can’t fully receive it yet.

But I must confess, I’m not satisfied. I won’t be sufficiently satisfied until he can walk and run. I won’t be satisfied until he grows up into a fully functioning adult. But that doesn’t subtract from the pleasure I have in witnessing his first faltering step. His mother and I celebrate it like he won the hundred yard dash in the Olympics.

Kaeden stands up like he’s ‘tipsy’ and stumbles more than an unregenerate College freshman on Spring Break, but he’s our little ‘drunk’ and we love him. I like to think he’s hammered on the Holy Spirit but I digress…

One day Kaeden will run but he will have to fall a lot first. He will have to fail. Failure is not an option, it is a requirement if he’s going to learn to sprint. We’ve given him permission to fail because we’ve given him permission to grow.

And if he is going to fail at running I want him to fail aggressively. I want him to fail by trying. I won’t be pleased if he fails passively, by refusing to try, what good parent would be?

We will fail God. We will stumble. But that’s how we will grow in our understanding of Grace and Godliness. God is easy to please but God is hard to satisfy because God is a good Father.

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The Deathly Hollows and the Death of Christ

July 19, 2011

In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul finds himself in the city of Athens deeply distressed by the idolatry that pervades the city. He engages the people in the market place in a conversation about Jesus. Paul is eventually invited to Mars Hill where he is invited to share about Jesus. The Apostle Paul does at least four significant things in his approach:

(1) The Apostle Paul connects to the Athenian culture by quoting their own poets and affirming their culture where possible. His also uses rhetorical flourish that his audience would have been accustomed to.

(2) Paul also affirms the Athenian’s spiritual hunger and builds his address on this common ground. He notices that the people express their spirituality in a myriad of ways. The people of Athens even have alters to an unknown God.

(3) Paul then begins to correct the erroneous spiritual beliefs of the Athenians. However, he builds his case in a philosophical manner that they would appreciate. As mentioned above he also quotes their own poets who they recognized as authorities on spiritual matters. This is very different to Paul’s approach when dealing with the Jews. When discussing the Gospel with the Berean Jews in Acts 17, Paul begins with the Old Testament because the Jews acknowledge the spiritual authority of the scriptural narrative.

(4) Lastly, Paul points his audience towards Jesus as the one who can fulfill their spiritual longings. He claims that God raised Jesus from the dead authenticating his claim to be savior and judge.

Can we do the same today?

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In 1997 J.K Rowling’s published the book, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. With the launching of her first children’s book, a worldwide phenomenon was born. To date J.K Rowling’s has sold over 400 million books and the Harry Potter series has been translated into at least 65 languages. The books have spawned 8 motion pictures, all of which were Block Buster hits. The last film ‘The Deathly Hollows: Part 2’ came out last Friday.

Athens was a city full of idols. Our world is a global village littered with Harry Potter books and movies. Can a Christian use our culture’s fascination with the Harry Potter series as a bridge across suspicious waters to share the Gospel? Can we adopt Paul’s approach for our day without compromising the good news of Jesus?

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It is a little known fact that J.K Rowling’s is a confessing member of the Presbyterian church of Scotland. In an interview, she once commented that she didn’t want to broadcast her Christian commitment because she was concerned it would give away the end of the last book in the Harry Potter series, “The Deathly Hollows” . She is also an avid fan of C.S Lewis’ Narnia series and the Lion of Gyrffindor may be a nod to Lewis’ Aslan.

So given Rowling’s comments is it possible to use the end of ‘The Deathly Hollows’ as a point of contact to begin communicating the Christian Gospel to our broader culture?

On page 554 of “The Deathly Hollows”, the hero of the book, Harry Potter, comes to the realization that defeating the villain, ‘Voldemort’ will require him to willingly march to his own death. His death is the only way to accomplish the death of Voldemort. Prophecies made about him before his birth are coming to fruition at this climatic point in the story. Harry has a moment of intense anguish as he wrestles with the personal cost of defeating Voldemort; it will mean his suffering, embarrassment, mockery and torture .

Gathering his courage Harry makes the choice to willingly confront death out of love for his friends. He will die so that they can live. What happens next is like a sequence ripped out of the Passion narrative. Harry allows himself to be killed by Voldemort. No one took his life from him. He freely laid it down. However, death can’t keep its cold grasp on Harry and he ‘resurrects’.

The implications of his death and resurrection become immediately apparent. All of a sudden Harry’s friends, for whom he willingly died, are no longer subject to the power of Voldemort. Though Voldemort is the most powerful Wizard alive, his spells no longer have the desired effect on all of those protected by Harry’s sacrificial death.

In the end Harry vanquishes Voldemort. A great evil has been destroyed and all of the people celebrate together the benefits of Harry’s victory won on their behalf. Barriers between different classes and races of people are broken down and celebration ensues.

Not all prosper from Harry’s sacrificial death. Those who have chosen to side with Voldemort are unable to actualize the benefits of Harry’s victory without throwing down their arms (or repentance).

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Now before we go too far I should mention a critic of the above approach could point out the many dissimilarities in the Harry Potter narrative and the passion narrative . It is true that the comparison cannot be pushed too far. For example, Harry undergoes more of a ‘revivification’ rather than an actual resurrection. Another blatant difference would be that Harry is not offering himself as a sinless sacrifice.

There is also the issue of sorcery and magic, which has often been strongly suggested by Christians to be tightly intertwined with the demonic. Several points can be made in regard to this important concern: Firstly, demonic activity is real and any spirituality that denies Christ, or is not connected to him, is demonic (1st John 4:1-8). Wicca, therefore, is demonic. Secondly, we are forbidden to engage in sorcery by the scripture (Dt. 18:10-14). Thirdly, it could be a valid concern that a fascination with Harry Potter could lead to dabbling in Magic, which is not all innocent or make believe.

Personally, I don’t think Harry Potter is demonic. I think it is good literature. But the enemy of our souls can take advantage of any and every good thing and corrupt it.

As an interesting aside, it might be worthwhile to note that some Christians thought that C.S Lewis’ Narnia books were demonic because he talked about magic and spells in those books as well…

Anyways, the point of my using the ‘Harry Potter’ story is not to validate Witchcraft. The Apostle Paul did not intend to validate the entire worldview or practices of the Greek poets he quoted. Paul’s employment of the Greek poets is to make a point of contact with the audience and use it as a means to begin talking about Christ. My use of Harry Potter is meant to be taken in a similar vein.

The basic plot line of sacrificial death, resurrection, and the ‘evil one’ being defeated, is borrowed from the Christian story. A line can be drawn from the end of Harry Potter to a presentation of Christ’s sacrificial, substitutionary death, as well as the ‘Christus victor’ theological motif, and the breaking down of racial barriers that result. One could imagine a conversation moving along these lines (forgive the forced dialogue):

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Hermione: I really loved the last Harry Potter movie.

Harry: What did you love about it?

Hermione: I was so moved by Harry’s courage and his willingness to face his death out of love for other people.

Harry: I found the end really moving too.

Hermione: I cried. It made me want to be a better person; more loving, more courageous and more sacrificial in my interactions with others.

Harry: It’s amazing how stories can inspire us in that way. Did you know that the main elements of J.K Rowling’s ending aren’t original to her?

Hermione: What? Are you calling her a plagiarist? I’ve never read anything like the end of the ‘Deathly Hallows’.

Harry: No, she is not a plagiarist but she is inspired by a narrative that long preceded her.

Hermione: Really, what narrative?

Harry: The answer may shock you but the culmination of the Harry Potter series bears a startling resemblance to the end of the Biblical Gospels. It is no accident that Rowling’s quotes the New Testament twice throughout the book. For example, at the grave of Harry’s parents she inserts a quotation from the Apostle Paul. “The last enemy that shall be defeated is death”.

In the Gospel the victory over death is won through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus willingly lays down his life for us. Through his death and resurrection the power of sin is broken and the dark spiritual forces that plague our lives are defeated.

Through repentance of sin and faith in Christ we can participate in Jesus’ victory. As Harry’s uncle Sirius says in book 5, ‘the world isn’t divided into good people and bad people. The line of good and evil runs through the middle of all of us’. Repentance is, in a sense, taking ownership of the darkness within each of us, confessing and trusting in Christ to remove it.

The difference between the Gospels and the ending of Harry Potter is that Harry Potter is fictional and the Gospels are historical. That is why the Gospel has the potential to, not only inspire us, but also transform our lives. In the Gospel narratives, we are the ones being loved so much that someone is sacrificing their life to rescue us. His name is Jesus Christ.

In addition, Harry’s sacrifice represents a fictional manifestation of the biblical ethic of love (John 15:12,13). So, perhaps, Harry Potter resonates with out hearts because it dimly shadows the larger cosmic drama that God created us to participate in. Have you ever thought of that?

Hermoine: No. Wow. I’ve never heard that before. I might have to read the Gospels for myself.

Harry: Good idea. I suggest starting with the Gospel of John.

In the above dialogue the Gospel hasn’t been accommodated to the culture, and it hasn’t been isolated from it. We have followed Paul’s method in quoting the popular literature of our culture and used it as common ground for talking about the Gospel of Christ. People do need to be awakened to their need for Christ and Paul provides us with a wonderful example to follow in whatever cultural context God places us in.

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Solids and Scripture

July 15, 2011

(Photo by Rachel Raymond)

We started feeding Kaeden solids over a month ago. His first meal was something called ‘rice cereal’ not a splendid blend of wheat and carrots as I originally posted. He’s tried a lot of different ‘foods’. The least appealing to my refined palate was the blended broccoli that resembled the innards of a slug.

Parent’s sometimes warn not to introduce fruits to early in the babies life because once you do it will be more difficult to get the child to eat things like vegetables. Vegetables aren’t as sweet as fruit but vegetables (in most cases) are healthier.

Why must unhealthy things taste so much better?

In my mind, this is perhaps the greatest argument against the existence of God. Perhaps it’s not ‘logically sound’ but it carries a lot of emotional weight for me and my stomach.

Have you ever asked, ‘Why God’? Why? Why must unhealthy foods taste so good? Whole wheat pasta? Give me a break. Isn’t whole wheat pasta demonic, or at the very least a corruption of that which God made originally good?

Anyways, feeding Kaeden solids has caused me to reflect on the Bible. You might think that is a stretch but the Apostle Paul wrote this to the Corinthian church,

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly- mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it..” (1st Corinthians 3:1,2).

There are certain truths that are sweet to our soul. God loves me. Jesus died for all of my sins. God will never leave me or forsake me. My life has meaning. Existence isn’t absurd and I’m not a cosmic coincidence. Death is not the end; Jesus conquered the grave.

To my knowledge there are no movements among Christians to eradicate these truths from the life of the church. These truths taste sweet to our spiritual palate.

But there are other truths that taste bitter. Other doctrines that are more difficult to swallow. For some the doctrine of hell is a toxic concept that should be expunged from the teaching of the church. For others the Christian teaching of forgiveness is incredibly hard to embrace as well as Jesus’ comments about loving your enemies. How about this one, ‘Any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman is sinful’.

That last one is a real crowd pleaser.

I’m not saying I don’t struggle with some theological issues but here is the pertinent issue for me in the form of a question, ‘Is God good’? Christians would answer ‘yes’. ‘Is the Bible the word of God’? Again, Christians would answer ‘yes’.

If we answer yes to both of those questions that means the Bible teachings that taste bitter to us at first are for our spiritual growth and health and when we are more mature (and humble) in our faith we may learn to appreciate that truth. In a similar way that I now appreciate foods that I neglected when I was a youth.

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Most of the theological controversies in the Evangelical church today are the result of Christians who refuse to swallow the ‘spiritual’ food being feed to them by their benevolent ‘parent’ (God through His word) because of an unbalanced proclivity towards the ‘sweet’ truths of scripture. Some teachings in the Bible aren’t hard to understand but they are hard to accept so we pretend like they’re hard to understand. I learned that in Bible College.

Maybe that is too harsh. It’s probably overly simplistic.

But didn’t someone once say, ‘God created us in his image and we have been returning the favor every since’? Hmmm. That happens when my criteria for spiritual truth becomes whatever ‘I like’. The ‘god’ that results from my pickiness begins to look a lot like me, or the surrounding culture. This type of ‘god’ is nothing but a Freudian projection of my wishes and longings and it’s certainly not the God of the Bible.

I’ve done this in my theology, do you? Isn’t this ‘pickiness’ the unavoidable result of taking a handy highlighter to the scriptures?

I’m convinced that if our spiritual diet only consists of truths that taste sweet we will be unbalanced in our theology which will likely lead to us being unhealthy in our lifestyle. Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences sooner or later. The end result is that we will become spiritually stunted individuals. Mere infants in the faith. God wants us to grow up in our theological thinking like we’ve grown up in our eating habits.

But this pastor still doesn’t like Peas.

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Morality, tolerance and Postmodernity

July 4, 2011

I’m doing my Masters at Trinity Western University (Acts Seminaries). One of my professors is Christian Apologist and author Dr. Paul Chamberlain. Below is a review I did of one of his chapters from the book, “Talking about Good and Bad without getting Ugly”.

The issues discussed in this paper are extremely relevant in our culture.

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Allan Bloom wrote a book called, ‘The Closing of the American Mind’. In the book he presents this scenario to his students:

In the 19th century when the British colonized India they outlawed the practice of Sati. Sati refers to the custom of burning widows on the funeral pyre of their husbands. Were the British right to outlaw this practice?

The students found themselves on the horns of a dilemma. If they agreed that the British were correct in outlawing the practice of widow burning they would be inadvertently affirming a moral standard that overarches all cultures and peoples. They would be advocating the right of British colonialists to impose their morality on the Indian populace.

However, if the students contended that the British were wrong in outlawing Sati it would offend their deepest sensibilities about the dignity and value of women.

The students were, in a sense, trapped by their own relativistic morality. With the above example Bloom was forcing them to confront the inconsistencies inherent in their moral understanding. They didn’t want to force their morality on other people but at the same time they really did feel like certain acts are morally repugnant and should be forbidden.

This brief case study leads to a plethora of philosophical and ethical questions, ‘is morality objective’? Or, ‘is morality relative to the individual as in the modern perspective, or is it created in community, as in the Post Modern perspective? Is it always wrong to impose your morality on another person? Is morality constructed or discovered? Are good and evil meaningful categories anymore?

Dr. Paul Chamberlain begins to tackle some of these issues head on in his chapter ‘Redrawing the Map’. In ‘Redrawing the Map’ Dr. Chamberlain introduces us to two fictional characters, ‘Isaac’ and ‘Michael.’ Isaac and Michael are university students who engage in a dialogue about morality. They represent incompatible viewpoints. Michael presents a Post Modern understanding of morality while Isaac embodies a more modern, or perhaps traditional, approach to moral questions.

The chapter begins with a reference to September 11th, when Terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the World Trade center and the Pentagon, killing thousands of civilians. This atrocious act of terror shocked the world and led to many heated discussions about religious extremism, as well as good and evil.

The attacks on the World Trade center act as a launching point for Isaac and Michael’s discussion on Morality. As stated above Michael represents the Post Modern perspective. He contends that the ideas of good and evil are simply cultural conventions that change from society to society (pg. 18). From our western perspective September 11th was a great evil but from the prospective of some Islamic extremists the attacks on September 11th were the will of God. September 11th is to be celebrated not condemned from their perspective. Who’s to say they’re wrong and North Americans are right?

According to Michael, this type of moral imposition of values on another culture or person represents enormous hubris and ‘moral imperialism’ (pg. 19). Moral Imperialism should be resisted in all its various manifestations even when discussing issues as emotionally charged as September 11th.

It is better to replace words like ‘good’ and ‘evil’ with softer nomenclature that lacks the same type of imperialistic tendencies. For example, words like inappropriate and unacceptable would be more appropriate and acceptable when discussing morality. The acts of terrorists (or heroes depending on your perspective) should really be described without stark moral terms like ‘good’ and ‘evil’. The most Michael can say about September 11th is that he personally finds it repulsive and reprehensible.

In the dialogue Michael recommends replacing problematic terms like good and evil with a less troublesome word: tolerance. He believes that we should promote tolerance and individual rights for all people. This involves trying to steer away from anything destructive to human flourishing like discriminating against other people, or elevating our morality to a God like status where we force other people to bow down at the alter of our own culturally conditioned values.

Isaac finds himself reeling from the new moral perspective that Michael is presenting. In his view, evil is evil and it’s as simple as calling ‘a spade a spade’. Good and evil are recognizable and can be labeled accurately from culture to culture. However, Isaac is ill equipped to respond to Michael’s Post Modern perspective and the strident Socio-cultural relativism he is aggressively advocating.

What do you think?

Part two is below…

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Part 2: Morality, tolerance and Postmodernity

July 4, 2011

This is the second part of the paper discussing the issues of morality and tolerance.


Inconsistencies in ‘Michael’s’ approach

At this point in the chapter, Dr. Chamberlain explicitly adds his voice to the fictional conversation. He points out that the moral landscape is changing dramatically. The culture’s verbiage has moved from words like ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to other more culturally acceptable terms like ‘tolerance, individual rights, minority rights, social consensus and discrimination’. Michael’s position reflects this cultural shift. The author then makes the point that these ‘buzz words’ shouldn’t fool the reader because “they signify no less denunciation than the old terms” (pg. 23). For example, Discrimination and intolerance are still treated as serious moral offenses in a Post Modern culture.

The author then proceeds to point out the inconsistencies that are inherent in Michael’s moral position. For example, in the second dialogue Michael condemns Isaac’s imposition of his moral values on their fellow students preceding a rambunctious party that took place the previous night (pg. 24,25). The author points out that Michael is being extremely hypocritical in his approach. In telling Isaac not to impose his moral views on people, Michael is himself imposing his moral views on Isaac. Michael’s position, therefore, is ultimately self-refuting. In saying, ‘you should never impose your view on another person’ the speaker is doing the very thing he forbids’.

Like many aspects of Post Modern thought Michael is guilty of self-referential incoherence. He is holding up a mirror to Isaac while refusing to look at his own reflection. He is accusing Isaac of moral imperialism while engaging in his own Post Modern version of it. With every word of condemnation, Michael forcefully utters, he is steadily cutting down the tree upholding the branch he is sitting on.

More problems…

Here is another curious aspect of Michael’s Post Modern position. He finds words like ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to be highly problematic and when challenged to replace these words he chooses the word ‘tolerance’ and the concept of individual rights.

This seems to imply that the word tolerance isn’t as problematic as words like ‘good’ and ‘evil’. But what does Michael mean by tolerance? The word used to mean ‘I don’t agree with a word you say but I will respect and defend your right to say’. Or, ‘I think that you’re wrong but I will treat you in a respectful manner’. The Christian ethic takes tolerance a step further; I won’t just tolerate you I will love you and actively seek your good .

From Michael’s application of the concept of tolerance he seems to mean, ‘You can’t say that anybody is wrong’. Or, ‘to claim that you’re right and I’m wrong is intolerant, naive and arrogant. Michael’s usage of the word reflects the Post Modern mood and its understanding of tolerance.

This new understanding of tolerance represents a highly muddled state of affairs that is difficult to tolerate. If nobody is right and nobody is wrong what is there to tolerate? The word tolerance becomes functionally meaningless if we’re not allowed to think or say that anyone is wrong. If ‘tolerance’ becomes synonymous for ‘agreement’ there is nothing left to tolerate. I don’t have to tolerate my wife’s love for the Canucks. We both agree that the Canucks are awesome when they win.

Amen.

Defining tolerance correctly isn’t the only problem. In addition, how can tolerance be consistently applied? In our culture we seem to be very intolerant of those who are intolerant all for the sake of tolerance. Certainly, we shouldn’t tolerate everything. We shouldn’t tolerate the sex trade or child abuse, should we? Clearly not! Also, discrimination (another buzz word) isn’t always a bad thing. We should discriminate against drunk drivers by penalizing them for getting behind the wheel. What morally sane person would disagree with that?

Upon reflection, it seems that tolerance and discrimination are linked (necessarily) to our morality and what we think is ‘good’ and what we think is ‘evil’. Why would we uphold tolerance and individual rights as a virtue? Because we think tolerance is good and intolerance is evil. We can erase the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ from our cultural discourse but we can’t escape their hold on our lives.

All of the above to say the word tolerance is no less problematic than terms like ‘good’ and ‘evil’, given Michael’s understanding of morality. Every question that Michael asks in his attempt to invalidate objective morality and the categories of good and evil can be asked about tolerance. Who decides what we should tolerate and what we shouldn’t tolerate? What one culture tolerates may be different than what another culture tolerates. There are some cultures that are intolerant towards tolerance. Should we tolerate them? Isn’t our western ideal of tolerance our own cultural imposition on the world? It would seem so.

Now, another question that should be posed to Michael is, ‘from within what World View do you affirm the importance of tolerance and the dignity of the individual’? Does he do so from within the folds of a Secular, Naturalistic worldview? If so, how does his idea about human rights and dignity flow logically from an evolutionary perspective that thrives on the strongest devouring the weakest? Is his view of human dignity consistent with the story of origins he has chosen to embrace? An evolutionary worldview can feed the fire of racism and it lacks the moral resources to consistently condemn one people group oppressing another in the struggle to survive; this world view can lend itself to the very attitudes and actions he wants to avoid.

Or does he affirm individual, human dignity from an Eastern perspective that puts little emphasis on the individual person because personality is an illusion? Michael should be forced to confront these questions and justify his own moral believes about tolerance and human rights.

In the chapter ‘Redrawing the map’, Dr. Chamberlain flushes out some of these flaws in ‘Michael’s’ Post Modern perspective on morality. Clearly Michael needs a more adequate means of addressing the pressing moral issues of our times. He needs a moral framework that he can live consistently within. Michael seems to want to embrace and advocate an objective moral standard that can be applied to all peoples, in all places, otherwise his comments about promoting tolerance and human dignity don’t carry the moral weight he wants them to.

However, at the same time he wants to retain a Post Modern perspective on morality that is relative to people and cultures. As a result, Michael finds himself in the same dilemma that confronted Allan Bloom’s students when considering the Indian practice ‘Mati’. Michael is unable to live consistently with his own understanding of morality .

A supra-cultural standard of morality

It seems that we need a supra-cultural standard of morality by which we can coherently affirm human dignity and values like tolerance. The Judeo-Christian narrative provides one. We are made in the image of a God who is infinitely valuable which in turn gives value to every human being who has ever lived. Genesis 1:27 provides us with an objective moral standard by which we can condemn racism, injustice, oppression, terrorist activity as well as converse meaningfully about moral progress.

Christianity would provide Michael with an objective moral framework from which he can aggressively and graciously advocate for human rights and tolerance (in the proper sense of the word), without lapsing into the inconsistency or self-referential incoherence that plagues the Post Modern perspective on morality.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Dr. Chamberlain’s chapter on ‘Redrawing the map’ shows us the beginnings of a way forward in addressing issues of morality in a Post Modern context. His dialogical approach embodies an apologetic to the mind and the imagination that strikes a powerful cord with our cultural concern about human rights and the oppression of people. This approach is, perhaps, more effective than the approach of philosophers like WIlliam Lane Craig, who present arguments for objective morality in syllogistic form. For example,

1. If God doesn’t exists objective moral values don’t exist
2. Objective moral values do exist
3. Therefore, God exists

The above syllogism is sound in that the conclusion follows logically and necessarily from the premises (if they can be defended). However, this approach may be unappealing to the Post Modern palate. The question incumbent on us as Christians in a Post- Modern culture is, ‘How can I present the same argument in story form or within the context of relationship and conversation?

Sean McDowell wrote that, ‘Modernity is truth without relationship and Post Modernity is relationship without truth’. The dialogue format weaves together both relationship and a search for truth and as such, provides an effective tool for reaching a Post-Modern person. God help us.