Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Basic Road to the Resurrection @greglaurie @christianaudio

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Church in Riverside, CA, and host of the Harvest Crusades, released Road to the Resurrection as an exploration of the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Laurie is a dynamic speaker who has a strong focus on evangelism, and this is not missed in his Lenten tome. I actually really appreciated his acknowledgement in this book that traditional evangelism is not the only important element of the Christian faith.

But that is not the point of this book, which was only 2.5 hours in the audiobook version I reviewed. His goal was really to walk the reader/listener through some of the facts around the last days of Christ's life. If someone is looking for a very basic Bible study into the end of the Passion Week, then this is a good introduction.

I can only recall one new thought I gained from the book (a clever and realistic explanation of why John arrived at the empty tomb prior to Peter). The rest was rather basic. While Laurie attempted to engage in some critical thinking on elements of the biblical narrative, the arguments were pseudo-scholarly. For instance, in defending the fact of the resurrection, Laurie depending almost solely on the Bible. Unfortunately, most critics of the resurrection have no faith in the Bible, so his rebuttals would be worthless. This perspective is analogous to a Latter Day Saint using the Book of Mormon to convince a Southern Baptist about the nature of Jesus. It just doesn't work.

In summary, there was nothing wrong with this book, but I found it neither thought-provoking nor moving.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Danger of Empiricism

I recently finished teaching a course entitled, Epistemology and Worldview. My nerdiness is emphasized in that I was excited to teach it and loved every moment of it (well, except the grading).

Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know. In this course, we addressed three ways of knowing: revelation (basically God speaking to us directly), reason (using logic to know), and empiricism (looking at hard facts).

So much of society today is driven by empiricism. Church structures want to know how to prove what works in gaining people. Numbers mean that growth has occurred. Christians want to prove God and his ways beyond any shadow of a doubt. Psychological interventions are increasingly driven to provide hardcore evidence that change has occurred.

The benefit of empiricism is that it's hard to argue with it. We know the sky is blue. To argue otherwise indicates problems with perception. This model works well (in many cases, but not all) in a traditional medical setting. Was the heart surgery effective? Well, is the heart beating? Is the patient alive?

Empiricism becomes further entrenched in society with the increasingly litigiousness of our culture. Someone sues you, and you each need to prove your case. Revelation does not stand up because there is an element of subjectivity. But does that mean it's untrue? In a court of law, it's essentially inadmissible. But something you can touch and measure is perfect.

So we increasingly try to measure and objectively describe all aspects of life. But it doesn't work in all aspects. Truly measuring one's spiritual life is impossible in my estimation. There are things we can point to, but it's like measuring and proving how much your spouse loves you. Even if you could measure it, it takes the life and essence out of the object.

The same thing is true in mental health. Using my primary patient population, I can measure how often the teen self-injures. But is the presence or absence of self-injury a true marker of health or illness? Few would argue that its presence marks health, but its absence also does not mean health.

This is the problem and danger of empiricism. When we try to focus on symptoms and measuring, we miss the true goal: Human flourishing as we put on the character of Christ.

Empiricism has its place, but we need to not overemphasize it or put it higher than other epistemologies. All are useful and important in gaining a full, holistic picture of life.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Danger of Good Enough

As many of you know, my wife and I are adopting. We had our second and longest homestudy visit on Saturday. The social worker mentioned the work of Ira Chasnoff when exploring in utero substance exposure. The video below addressed the issue of "good enough" when it comes to policy decisions and life. It's something I've heard many times before, but it really hit where I think I'm struggling with frustration in many institutions.

So often, particularly in the mental illness institutions, decisions are made for what is good enough. But as my dad frequently told me (especially in the dating arena), the good is the enemy of the best.

When people's lives are stake, why do we advocate for good enough? Why do we feel satisfied with just meeting the good enough goals in our own lives?

While it is important to know limitations and be realistic, I have been increasingly appalled at the lack of motivation and decisions to really challenge to raise the bar and standards higher. How are we ever going to become more like Christ if we always settle for good enough?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

@CommonEngBible Lenten Readings #CEBTour

The Common English Bible, my newest favorite translation, is offering a free Powerpoint presentation (embedded below) with Lenten readings for anyone to use. My church has been using the CEB for several months, and I have been quite impressed with how useful and accessible it has been. So check out the presentation if you're interested!


Got a question, struggle, or doubt you'd like to see addressed here? Contact me, and I'll try to discuss it (and may even help you get an answer).