Friday, September 24, 2004

Reformation & Redevelopment: Montserrat’s Alternatives
GEM 04:09:20

Ever since September 1997, three months after the deadly volcanic eruptions of June 25 1997, Montserrat has had an official vision statement, one that acknowledges that we face the challenge of rebuilding our nation, and it also implies that we have to think, decide and act based on our community’s fundamental views and values:

The rebuilding of a healthy and wholesome Montserrat, founded upon a thriving modern economy with a friendly, vibrant community in which all of our people through enterprise and initiative can fulfil their hopes in a truly democratic and God fearing society.

So, when our community leaders sat down together seven years ago to think carefully about our common future, the consensus that emerged was that we want to build a healthy, wholesome, friendly, enterprise-driven, truly democratic and God-fearing society. However, now that we are considering concrete development proposals, we are facing issues and conflicts that are tied to the current three-way global clash on the future:

I. Those who are influenced by secularism – i.e. “practical” atheism -- and other anti-Christian trends from North America and Europe assume that the most dangerous threat to our liberty and progress is: traditional, so-called “fundamentalist” Christians. So, now that Bible-believing Christians in Montserrat have objected to the proposed gambling act, some feel that Christians are attempting to undermine the “freedom” for people to do whatever they want to do, and are also blocking the road to economic progress. (Sadly, they are blind to the moral, social and economic responsibilities that are the basis for liberty – and to the chaos that grows from gambling.)

II. Islamists view the West (including the Caribbean) as decadent enemies of Allah. Advocates for Islam also sometimes accuse traditional Christians of being foolish idolaters who have allowed the upstart apostle Paul to distort the true teachings of Jesus and his disciples. (But, in fact, the ~ AD 49 Apostolic council described in Ac 15:1 – 28 agrees with Gal 1:15 – 24 that “the man who formerly persecuted [Jesus’ disciples] is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” Cf. .)

III. Christian revival and reformation have been reshaping the South of our planet over the past 200 years as millions in Latin America, Africa and Asia have turned to Jesus. So, souls have been saved, and lives, families and societies have been blessed and transformed in light of love: first to God, and then to our neighbours.

Clearly, these three alternatives have drastically different and conflicting core beliefs about God, ourselves, the world and our moral duties. How, then, should we decide which is best? And, given that different people think different options are better, how can we form a workable compromise so we can come together to rebuild our community?

Obviously, we must decide democratically – the majority should rule, but we must respect the rights of minorities that disagree. However, when popular feelings are based on ignorance or misinformation, community decisions often go tragically wrong. So, if we are to consistently decide wisely, we need to have free, informed, fearless public discussions based on well-established facts and sound reasoning, rather than on lies, misleading sweet-talk, high feelings, fear, greed or blind loyalties. But also, whenever we deal with basic questions that touch on God and morality, every major alternative is built on core beliefs that we simply cannot prove beyond dispute. So wise people and communities compare the alternatives and their difficulties, then choose the “best”; recognising and respecting the fact that other people will come to a different decision.

So, since our community’s God-fearing Christian values are now being publicly challenged, we will need to “give an answer . . . [for] the reason for the hope that [we] have.” [1 Pet. 3:15.] The best start-line for that is the words of the Apostle Paul, as he spoke to the C1 leaders of Athens:

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. `For in him we live and move and have our being.' . . . . now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." [Ac 17:24 – 31.]

So, in the end, our choice is whether or not we are willing to accept the testimony of the over five hundred eye-witnesses to the resurrection of Christ [1 Cor 15:1 – 11], a testimony that was cheerfully kept up even in the teeth of torture and execution. Further, while there have been many sad evils done by wicked and misguided people in the name of Christianity, it is also undeniable that once the Word of God was freely available to the people, the gospel has consistently been in the forefront of the waves of liberation and godly reformation that have transformed and blessed the world over the past five centuries. For, “except the LORD builds the house, its workmen labour but in vain.” [Ps 127:1a.] AMEN.


Dave Mullenix said...

"So, in the end, our choice is whether or not we are willing to accept the testimony of the over five hundred eye-witnesses to the resurrection of Christ [1 Cor 15:1 – 11], a testimony that was cheerfully kept up even in the teeth of torture and execution."

Actually, we don't have the testimony of 500 witnesses, just Pauls assertion that they exist.

And as for cheerfully facing torture and execution, I'm surprised that you feel so favorably towards the Muslim suicide bombers and Gitmo detainees. Can we expect your conversion to the One True Religion soon?

GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...


I see you commented on a rather old blog post of mine.

Pardon, but you are trying to belittle a noted, datable primary source historical document.

So, you run afoul of the Ancient Documents Rule and many other principles of historical and forensic investigation. Were you to consistently apply that approach, you would have to let go of not only the history of classical times, but the ways that courts and even accounting and audit systems work. And, a fair amount of science, as the treatment of record is an issue in science too.

In short, you are falling into selective hyperskepticism as long since identified by Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School, a founding father of the modern theory of jurisprudence.

The cited text, 1 Cor 15:1 - 11, is a part of a generally accepted epistle of Paul, in a context of addressing a controversy of that time among his audience, and to resolve it he appeals to that which is commonly known and accepted, with the bulk of 500 eyewitnesses to back it up. Do you think a competent rhetor in a controversial context would appeal to claimed in-common knowledge that was not in fact so?

Within a decade, history informs us, those witnesses -- starting with Peter -- would indeed be facing death for their testimony. A testimony that it is further clear from the record, that there were simply no recantations of among the core witnesses identified. In short, their sincerity and courage are not in doubt, nor is their peacefulness. The early Christians simply were not murderers, fanatics, terrorists or rebels. Indeed, that is a significant part of their alienation from the Jewish nation in the AD 66 and 130's revolts against Rome: the Christians refused to take up the sword.

Further to this, the testimony recorded in 1 Cor 15:1 - 11 is strongly corroborated by the record of the historically and archaeologically well-attested Acts, which is on reasonable grounds, datable to AD 60 - 62. Similarly, in the remarks from the epistles tracing to the other members of the core of the 500, e.g. Peter, James, John and Jude.

(I suggest you read section B in the just linked. On doing so, I further suggest you subject your views to the Morison challenge.)

Next, I would normally refuse to entertain a piece of nasty false accusation as you so easily glide on to; but your remarks show a key failure of understanding and a key point of deliberately cultivated slander-driven polarisation.

The Christian Martyrs of C1 - 4 were NOT making terroristic attacks, but were peacefully bearing witness to the gospel in the face of a tyrannically oppressive society. Even when threatened with or facing torture and death at the hands of the authorities of the day.

To willfully conflate these peaceful and brave witnesses with that minority of Muslims who through being indoctrinated with a murderous fanaticism set out on deliberate targetting of civilians even at the cost of blowing themselves up too, is a slander on the memory of those Christian martyrs.

Indeed, as the facts are easily checked, this is at minimum a passive lie.

Shame on you; you owe the global Christian community an apology.

But also, the rhetoric involved in this conflation reflects the typical claims of today's New Atheists, the heirs of the ill-informed Village Atheists of yore. Accordingly, I suggest that you would profit by reading say Vox Day's The Irrational Atheist, which is accessible at no cost as an ebook, here.



GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...


It would also be useful to contrast the general tone and substance of the original post -- a Let's Talk radio talkshow commentary -- with Mr Mullenix's remark.

Mr Mullenix, sadly, has dragged a distractive red herring away from the serious matters at issue, led it away to a slander-soaked strawman, and has ignited same to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

Surely, we can do better than such. Especially, given the serious policy, ethics, and geo-strategic questions -- as well as the issue of the core warrant for the Christian faith -- at stake in the original post.


GEM of The Kairos Initiative said...

PS: Here is a current discussion in this blog that addresses the New Atheists, in the context of the warrant for theism.