On the national stage and in many smaller communities we’ve come upon a difficult debate. This debate is the clash between LGBT rights and Religious Freedom. This clash has triggered a philosophical conflict, what many view as discrimination vs. the 1st amendment right to free speech.
The loyal Christian, dedicated to the Heavenly Father must be an activist in the pluralistic global environment post 9/11. We’ve put up with a lot in the United States. Many decisions have been made, and many changes have occurred in recent years. How are Christians to respond to the new cultural attitudes of casual sex, the embracing of homosexuality, child extermination through abortion, and the growing authoritarian nature of the U.S. government?
Christianity is in trouble in the USA, and has crumbled in Europe over a short period of time. The American public seem poised to remap the moral framework from a Christian view to a sort of pluralistic view that quietly ejects Christianity and Judaism while embracing self deification and naturalism. The Judaeo-Christian worldview has been called into question and found incompatible with the new globalized framework.
We can see the problem. I don’t need to expand upon the problem. What’s the solution? Do we end up asking ourselves if Christianity can even have a seat at the table? Inevitably the question arises as to the role of the Christian in the political process.
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.- C. S. Lewis
In Plato’s famous work The Republic, written around 380 B.C., he gives an allegory commonly known as The Cave. In this discourse he describes people who are trapped in a cave from birth. The inside of the cave is all they know. They are chained by the feet and neck so that they can only face the back of the cave. Behind them is a fire. Between the people and the fire, objects past by casting only shadows for the people to see in front of them. From these shadows the people come up with all types of stories, theories, and philosophies. They form their realities based on the shadows they see on the wall not realizing they are only illusions of real objects. In fact they took great pride in their abilities to interpret the pictures on the wall.
One day, one of the people is freed from his lifelong prison. He finds his way outside the cave into the glorious sunlight. However, since he’d been in the dark all of his life, the sunlight hurts his eyes. After a while, his eyes become adjusted to the bright light and he begins to see plants, animals, trees, himself. He sees the shadows that he saw in the cave only to come to the reality that shadows are mere representatives of actual objects and people. He sees that these objects have colors. He then realizes that it is the sun by which he sees everything and after a while he can even gaze upon the very source of light itself.
He then returns to the cave. The sunlight has not only exposed the true world to him but it has also made the cave seem much darker than he remembers. Because his eyes haven’t readjusted, the darkness doesn’t fit like it used to, per se. Neither does the ignorance of being in the dark. He tries to explain to his fellow man that they are being kept in darkness and tries to make them understand the experience he just had. But they are so set in their perception of reality. They’ve believed it all their lives. The illusions of the darkness believed by everyone cannot compare to the truths of a “mad-man”; even though this mad-man is the only one who knows the truth. His new found freedom and attempt to free the others is met with so much disdain and mistrust that they plot to kill him.
Plato’s cave allegory has had many interpretations over the past 2300 years. To him it was a picture of the teacher attempting to free the masses from ignorance. His teacher, Socrates, was killed for this very thing. However, when I read it, I immediately thought about the life of Jesus. He was the “illuminated One” who sought to free people from their bondage to darkness only to be killed as a result. However, He was never in bondage like the rest of us. He only came in the form of the rest of us.
I also thought about the process of the new birth through Him.
Like the people inside the cave, we are all born in spiritual darkness (Ephesians 5:8). Since the fall of Adam and Eve, each of us has been born with Adam’s sinfulness imputed into us (Romans 5:12). Our perception of reality is flawed because of this sinful nature and the proprietor of the cave has kept us chained in ignorance (2 Corinthians 4:4). One day, by the grace of God, someone is freed from the chains. He is led to the opening of the cave. This new experience can be scary for some as they begin to see things differently. Although it is scary, there is something liberating about it all. He begins to see things like he has never even thought about seeing them. Then he sees the Sun (Son) and has now been born again.
But he can’t wait to tell the rest of the cave-dwellers what he has experienced. As he reenters the “cave”, the new believer understands that this way of darkness is no longer fitting to him (1 Peter 1:14, Romans 6:2). As he tries to tell the others, he is seen as a foolish man (1 Corinthians 1:18). In many cases, these attempts to free the others from their deeply held ignorance, leads to being ostracized or even death.
I must also point back to my personal testimony. Before I had even heard of Plato’s story, I described understanding the power of the Gospel in a very similar way. Instead of a cave, I had been living under a rock my whole life. In my blindness I’d heard and believed stories of the sky (God’s forgiveness) but my actions proved I was still in darkness. But, when I got saved the rock was removed and I experienced the breadth and length and depth and height and immensely beautiful color of the sky (Ephesians 3:18). I was never the same.
God is not willing that any of us should perish by remaining in the “cave” (Hosea 6:4, 2 Peter 3:19). Jesus, in John 3, tells Nicodemus “Very truly I tell you, no one cansee the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” And “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” In John chapter 8, He says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
You too can come out of the cave, from under the rock and experience a new life. The abundant life (John 10:10). If you read this blog and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.firstname.lastname@example.org). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!
By Derrick Stokes
Why is the pro-gay lobby eagerly waiting for the discovery of a gay gene? Is it to possess a so-called legitimate excuse to practice homosexuality? If a gay gene is discovered, would it offer true legitimacy to practice homosexuality?
First things first, homosexuality is a deviant or an abnormal behavior whether it’s viewed from a natural or from a Historic Christian perspective. Nature deems that the final cause of sexual intercourse is to procreate. This sexual intercourse ought to happen between a man and a woman. That homosexual couples cannot bear children naturally is basic knowledge. [Read more…]
Christopher Hitchens claimed religion poisoned everything; Dawkins has compared a religious upbringing to child abuse. Are they right? Sociologist Rodney Stark draws from an impressive range of studies to make the case that the opposite is true. Religion – specifically evangelicalism – helps everything it touches to flourish.
Stark, a sociologist of religion, began his professional life as a research sociologist at the Survey Research Center and at the Center for the Study of Law and Society. He has since worked at the University of Washington and more recently at Baylor University. He has written over 30 books (two of which won the Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion) and published over 140 scholarly articles.
He has described his early stance toward religion as that of an agnostic incapable of religious faith; in 2004, he claimed neither faith nor atheism; in 2007, he described himself as an “independent Christian.” In other words, he spent years studying a worldview that he often did not support before aligning himself with the Christian faith. One would think that his long (and thoroughly researched) path from skepticism to belief at least affords him the dignity of being taken seriously. [Read more…]