Sunday, October 30, 2011

Discovering my Nature

Now that I feel at least half-way caught up with homework, I feel somewhat at liberty to write another blog post about stuff I've been learning. The past month has been an amazing period of growth and increase in understanding for me, while at the same time slightly depressing. I suppose I may as well just call myself stupid now, because for the past three years I've looked at who I was a month ago and realized I was stupid. Who's to say it's not going to happen again? and again.. and again.

In the past months that I've been in college, I've worked on trying to understand what I as a human find myself obligated to do. Without assuming the truth of my worldview and starting solely from my knowledge of my own broken humanity, I've come to the conclusion that as a human I have the obligation to seek truth and practice truth. I came to this principle simply by acknowledging the possibility that potential obligations may exist. Now as humans we all know that knowledge binds us. If you know you need to do something and you don't do it, you are performing a subjectively immoral act, and if God exists, then he holds us accountable to our immoral acts. But since we know that knowledge binds, that specific instance of knowledge binds us to seeking more knowledge, for to avoid knowledge is to avoid potential obligations, and to avoid potential obligations is like avoiding reading a book of the Bible because you know if you do, you might have to make changes in your lifestyle: it's immoral. If this is true, then it imprisons me to a life-long and whole-hearted pursuit and practice of truth. I must seek to have the right perspective on things, for having the true and right perspective on things causes one to act most in accord with reality. That being the case, since I know that I do not know many things about this world and thus probably have an off-color perspective, I am obligated to learn and experience and practice the truth in order to have a more right perspective. This pursuit of truth can only end if one becomes omniscient. That's not to say that you should put your worldview on hold. I'm a Christian because I think that Christianity is true and because I am in love with Christ. But since I am a Christian, I have even more of an obligation to pursue truth. This really is a weighty obligation. How careful can you be with the truth?

But what I've found is that as I've tried to figure out the necessary adjustments to my life in order to begin this pursuit (Abstaining from seeking others' approval, abstaining from sexual immorality, abstaining from anything which will prevent me from desiring to perform or performing my obligations, finding deep satisfaction in the good, finding deep satisfaction in God, finding deep satisfaction in the truth, etc.), I've found that I absolutely have NO ability to maintain these rules. I am absolutely helpless. The minute I finally rejoice in that I'm not seeking other's approval in my actions, I begin to get prideful, which messes everything up all over again. The minute I have finally been able to think without sexual thoughts about girls coming into my mind, I find myself having such a strong desire just to be in a relationship that it starts to cause me to seek the attention of girls, which causes me to completely disregard truth and obligation. I am literally worthless when it comes to doing good things. Even when I do good things such as care for people, listen sympathetically, fulfill my obligations as a friend, or anything else of that nature, it seems the larger part of my motivation is to be socially accepted and thought of well. I'm so sick of this. I wish I could say there's an escape hatch or some easy fix, but there's really not. It's the truth, and though I so often fail, my obligation to acknowledge and practice it does not disappear.

So what do I do? I've prayed to God to give me power to do good things, but as of the current moment I honestly cannot say it has helped (because I haven't spent a large amount of time doing it). I have realized, however, that I've not been spending a large amount of time in prayer or in the Bible. I think this is due to 1) laziness and stubborn sinfulness, and 2) the fact that though I believe Christianity is true, I've been so wrong, so many times, about the nature of Christianity that I don't know what to think about the nature of the way Christ helps us and gives us power. I have no idea what to think about Christianity some times. All I know is that it will cost me my life. But what is the nature of that? How much of my own efforts will this take, and how much depending on the power of God will it take? Or is it both?

I've recently had a little bit of break-through in enjoying Christ through the context of the Old Testament. So I'm going to pursue God along those lines. Please pray for my heart!

Other than that, I changed my major to philosophy and am now minoring in counseling, just got back from Kentucky from a Cross Country race, and have been hanging out with my awesome friends from Church! God, I will never understand you fully, but how I love you for the extent of your grace!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thoughts on Truth and Obligation

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Do we have an obligation to believe the truth? What are obligations and where do they come from?

These are some preliminary thoughts that I hope to refine as I continue thinking and reading about this. I would appreciate any critique, if possible. 

Man perceives that he has an obligation to believe the truth, since he is necessarily a truth driven creature; if he perceived that it were false that he had to believe truth, he would be obligated to believe this; that it is true that it is false that he ought to believe truth-- but that is absurd and contradictory. A person cannot call a thing true without already believing it on some level, and so the question of whether a person should believe truth or not is, in some ways, flawed. But the active pursuit of truth is another thing, and man perceives that he ought to actively pursue truth in light of potential obligations.  Man has an obligation to find and become acquainted with what is, because if he did not, he is aware of the fact that he is ignoring other potential obligations. Since man cannot possibly believe all truths, he must believe all those which will most affect him and those which will most spur him on to believing more truth and being satisfied in it.

Man, since he perceives that he can't do anything unless he desires it, has a duty to desire to perform his obligations to believe truth. He can desire these by finding satisfaction in the truth, in that by knowing what is, he can desire more of what is.  But what if knowing what is deeply wounds man?  Then man must seek to find a way to not be wounded, be satisfied, and continue performing his or her obligation to believe truth. Man must hate falsehood-- and the only reason that could be false is if it were true that it were false, which would be a thing that one would believe and hate the negation of.

Since man has a tendency to fall into being satisfied by things which prevent him from fulfilling his obligations, he must avoid these things and be satisfied and fulfilled only by those those things which will spur him on towards fulfilling his obligations. Perhaps being satisfied in the fulfillment of an obligation itself is necessary. Some ways that man can seek to be satisfied by truth are to gain truth by acquaintance. If God exists, he can come to know God; which he is obligated to do if God exists and he can perceive it. This is satisfying to man. But knowing propositions about God are not enough. To know God by acquaintance, he can allow the truths about God to deeply affect him, to perform his obligations to God, and all those ways in which God has told man that man can come to know Him. In fact, humans have a duty to know reality by acquaintance; for one must not only believe truth on a conscious level, but also on a subconscious level. Then one will act in accord with his obligations.   In effect, man can learn more about God by learning about the world God created. The only way for man to desire the end of his obligations is to be satisfied with the end of his obligations. The only way for man to be satisfied with the end of his obligations is to know by acquaintance the goodness which is associated with them.

As humans we will desire higher order things, middle order things, and lower order things; we ought to desire and give top priority to the higher order things, and let them cancel out lower order desires if necessary. We also ought to have higher order desires in that our higher order desires satisfy us. If we are currently not satisfied, we must start with our higher order desires, to have them and be satisfied by them. It is evident that if one desires that God be glorified, he is somehow satisfied by that, mysterious as it is.  Middle order desires such as desires for marriage and for a family are good, yet must give way to higher order desires, and lower order desires  such as desires for food and sex are good, yet must give way to middle and higher order desires. One can, however, fulfill higher order desires through lower order desires, for example, by stewarding one's sexual desires for one's wife such that they flow with one's desire for a healthy marriage, or eating food while giving thanks to God through a higher order desire to glorify God always, or allowing one's sympathies towards people to drive them on towards a higher order desire to help them heal.

Further, man has a tendency to fall into thinking that what other people believe determines the truth about the world, about himself, and what he ought to do. He must realize this is false in his search for truth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Obligations, Worth, and Acceptance

Things I've been learning:

  • I must make decisions not based on what others think or what I think, but based on what I am obligated to do by the truth- which human perception does not affect.
  • My worth and acceptance is not based on what others think or what I think, but based on what I am worth and how I am accepted in reality-- which human perception does not affect.
  • My worth and acceptance cannot be based, in reality, on performance, skill, temporal possessions, or knowledge.
  • The obligations I have must proceed from a human obligation to believe and practice the truth. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

How to be more Human?

I've got to spill this stuff right now.  There are several things that I'm struggling with right now and I want to list them in public to expose them and ask for prayers from the body of Christ. I have much more to write about things I've learned lately, but that can come when I have more time.

1. I have made so many mistakes in the past year. They have mainly resulted from my not being honest with myself. Please pray for me that I emphasize this honesty in my thoughts and prayers. I struggle, sometimes, with hiding parts of myself from other parts of myself. The lucky thing is that it drives me nuts when I do this, so there is a preventative mechanism in my personality. This mainly relates to my worldview and beliefs. I've pretty much decided that I'm going to be spending the rest of my life in the ministry and philosophy and apologetics. It's just my home. But what if at some point in my life I suspect Christianity is simply not true?  Will I just ignore my doubts and keep on going, or will I be honest with myself and admit my doubts?  I earnestly pray and hope that I will do the latter. Yes, it seems contradictory to pray to Christ that I will admit my doubts about Him if I ever do doubt Christianity seriously. But I'm becoming more and more convinced that he would have me do so; and I resolve to follow the disarming humility and almost appalling commitment to truth embodied by the man, Christ Jesus, no matter where life takes me. I consider this my duty as a human. Why do I mention this? I am actually more convinced than I have been in a long while that Christianity is true, but I think that is what caused this internal conflict to rise. Those moments when I encounter an argument against my faith which seems incredibly intimidating, I want most to shove this issue as far down into my subconscious as possible. So yes, I think and am very much rationally confident that my worldview is true. But I want to be honest, real, and humble about this. I'm still a human who lacks absolute certainty in many things.

2. I want to start living consistently with my worldview. I can spend all day theologizing and thinking about how wonderfully and articulately the Christian worldview intimately reflects what life is really about, how amazingly accurate a tragic/hopeful view of human nature it holds, and how it tempts my heart with it's affirmation of the inherent goodness of the natural world and human desire and the necessity of doing good to all people.  But when it comes to actually doing good to all people, I fail, miserably. Please help me God. I tried to live as if other people's hearts mattered today, and I was horrified out of my comfort zone by the fact other people have struggles too.

3. Oh, Lord, please help me to stop trying to show off to girls. I've got nothing to prove. Just help me be me. You're all I'm fighting for-- or at least all I want to care about fighting for.

4. Oedipus Rex taught me some incredible life lessons about what it means to trust reality inductively. It's hard to explain. I just need help with trusting reality and things I know to be true, yet can't articulate.

5. Prayer. What happened to it? I feel like I treat prayer like a foolish thing that those "silly ignorant Christianity do all the time" but look, how irrational I'm being! Look how ignorant I'm being!  How contradictory! Lord, help!!

6. I want to know what it really means to be human. I want to lose everything for the truth, not because it is inherently good to lose everything; but because there is such a good to be obtained by experiencing the bad of losing things, that it's worth the leap of faith. I trust that I'll find strong arms to take me up on the other side. I want to get rid of my psychological defense mechanisms and just open up. As a Switchfoot song goes, "don't close your eyes; don't close your eyes. this is your life, are you who you want to be?"

what a wonderful savior we have.