How Do We Explain Pleasure?

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For centuries philosophers have debated “the problem of evil,” but an equally valid but rarely discussed question is “the problem of pleasure.” Where did that originate? Why is sex fun? Why do we find beauty, food, music, and humor enjoyable? How do we account for these delights?

English writer G. K. Chesterton felt Christianity gives the only plausible explanation. He saw pleasure as scattered remnants washed ashore from a shipwreck. We are the survivors of the sinking of a golden ship that went down before the beginning of the world. Here and there, relics of a glorious past are to be found— tokens of a time when pleasure flourished in lavish abundance. They are leftovers from Paradise.

These vestiges of beauty, joy, and sheer goodness on our scarred planet resonate deeply with our hearts. They are reminders that we were meant to live in a better world that once was. They are traces of the “enormous bliss” (as John Milton put it) of a garden named Eden.
– Jurgen Schulz

Evil’s greatest triumph may be its success in portraying religion as an enemy of pleasure when, in fact, religion accounts for its source: every good and enjoyable thing is the invention of a Creator who lavished gifts on the world.
– Philip Yancey

In a break with the mystical heritage of the church, Bonhoeffer maintained that Christianity involves not the negation of earthly desires but their celebration and sanctification. Sin is not the natural but the unnatural, not the human but the inhuman. Whereas in his earlier writings he portrayed the things on earth as temptations and snares leading us to forgetfulness of God, he now regarded them as welcome gifts from God, since they serve human preservation and happiness. He even claimed that God can be found in earthly bliss as well as in the church… sin is not only an affront to God but a putting down of humanity. Sin is in the last analysis inhumanity, and salvation is the realization of true humanity…
– Donald G. Bloesch

Pleasure is designed to raise our sense of God’s goodness, deepen our gratitude to him, and strengthen our hope of richer pleasures to come.
J. I. Packer‏

Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of our experience.
– C. S. Lewis

If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.
– Epictetus

When something good becomes a god, the pleasure it brings dies in the process.
– Kyle Idleman

The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.
– Bruce Marshall

If I am a son of God, nothing but God will satisfy my soul; no amount of comfort, no amount of ease, no amount of pleasure, will give me peace or rest. If I had the full cup of all the world’s joys held up to me, and could drain it to the dregs, I should still remain thirsty if I had not God.
– G. A. Studdert Kennedy

How Do We Explain Freedom?

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The demand for absolute liberty brings men
to the depths of slavery.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (1906 – 1945)

Some young men are so ill-informed as to suppose that absence of restraint is the same thing as freedom, whereas, by unchaining the passions, it makes them slaves to a set of masters more tyrannical than all the teachers and mentors of childhood.
– Plutarch, (c. 45 – 120 AD)

No man is free who is not master of himself.
– Epictetus, (c. 50 – 135 AD)

Freedom on a piano involves subjection to the laws of music. Freedom in flying requires applying the principles of aerodynamics. Freedom in driving necessitates respect for the rules of the road. Freedom flourishes inside of boundaries. It self destructs without them.
To live life with the notion of absolute freedom is absolute folly. One quickly becomes a slave of his own self-centeredness, winds up in jail, or ends up dead.
We need something higher than ourselves to steer our life by. We need boundaries to be free. We need guidelines from our Maker.
– Jurgen Schulz

Freedom is not the permission to do what you like.
It’s the power to do what you ought.
– Os Guinness

Jesus Christ was nailed fast to the cross so he could not move. How is that for giving up your freedom? Christianity is the only religion that claims God gave up his freedom so we could experience the ultimate freedom—from evil and death itself. Therefore, you can trust him. He sacrificed his independence for you, so you can sacrifice yours for him. And when you do, you will find that it is the ultimate, infinitely liberating constraint. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
– Timothy Keller

He is a free man, whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides.
– William Cowper, (1731 – 1800)

We find freedom when we find God;
we lose it when we lose Him.
– Paul Scherer

In freeing ourselves from Christianity, we have only freed ourselves from freedom.
– G. K. Chesterton

Tyrant or Trinity?

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The late Christopher Hitchens, author of the book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything . . . said in an interview: “I think it would be rather awful if it was true, if there was a permanent, total, round-the-clock divine supervision and invigilation of everything you did. You’d never have a waking or sleeping moment when you weren’t being watched or controlled and supervised by some celestial entity from the moment of your conception to the moment of your death. It would be like living in North Korea.”

Mr. Hitchens presents a good case! However, it is most helpful to note how he describes the deity in whom he does not believe: an all controlling Divine Despot who is keeping tabs on everyone—the Heavenly Policeman.

To be honest, I find myself in hearty agreement with Hitchens on this point because, quite frankly, I don’t believe in that god either. Who would want to be a worshipper of such a god?

Such a deity, in fact, does not exist.

The God revealed in Christ shows Himself to be not a self- centered dictator but an other-centered fountain of goodness. He is not a tyrant, but a Triune community of love.

And that makes all the difference.

J. O. Schulz,
What Jesus Wished People Knew About God

The God Who Is Outrageously Good

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If God were as many perceive him to be, we would do well to reject him. A celestial caesar who is harsh, implacable, demanding, easily annoyed, fussy, vindictive, overbearing, and unforgiving is not worthy of worship. To those who turn away from such a deity, I would say, “You’re absolutely right. I can’t bring myself to believe in that God either.”

If, however, God were as compassionate, humble, kind, genuine, irreproachable, and furiously good as Jesus—that changes everything! We have never seen anyone as irresistibly wonderful as Jesus, and if God were like him—that would be the best news ever broken on planet Earth! Before a Christ-like God we would gladly bow, amazed and entranced.

The Christian message affirms that Jesus came not only to redeem but to reveal the true nature of God. Christ declared that if we have seen him, we have seen the Father. And what we see when we take a close look takes our breath away.

There’s a story that Jesus told that distils the key features of his vision of God into one concise parable. Christ’s narrative brings to light the unspeakable goodness of God’s heart. The story is loaded with spiritual dynamite that blows away the falsehoods that many have believed about God.

There is so much to be learned about God from the Parable of the Prodigal Son that I ended up writing an entire book on it. If people are to know God as He truly is, Jesus’ story is a fabulous place to start.

If you dare to let Jesus overhaul your view of God, you might want to check out the book, WHAT JESUS WISHED PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT GOD. You can find it on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, etc.

What New Atheism Has to Offer

New atheismNew atheists are opposed to faith in God. In place of God what do they offer? Well, there’s a lot they don’t offer. No rules, no truth, no purpose, no morals, no absolutes, no purpose, no meaning, no afterlife, no ultimate justice, no basis for human dignity, no real reason for being here.

Is there anything left?

When you stop believing in truth, everything turns mush and grey. You can no longer discern between good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, sacred and sleazy. It’s all up for grabs—and you don’t have to worry if you got it right.

When you stop worshipping God, pseudo deities rush in to fill vacuum. You end up bowing before the gods such as sex, pleasure, consumerism, and success. When you resist serving God you infallibly fall into the servitude of self-gratification. You end up serving a pitiful deity—yourself.

When you stop believing in the sacred, you end up undermining the ideas of beauty, and goodness, and wonder, and dignity, and virtue. If there’s no Higher Power everything goes flat.

Not believing in a Supreme Lawgiver leaves you with no boundaries, no guidelines. It is like playing soccer with no rules—the game self-destructs.

When you refuse to believe that the universe has a Maker, you end up believing in the ultimate magic trick that the universe popped out of nowhere, on it’s own, from nothing. Frankly I can’t muster up that much faith. It’s remarkable what you end up believing when you don’t want to believe in God.

When you reject the idea of a Creator, you have to create yourself. You are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul. Lots of luck.

There’s no one to pray to and no one to thank. You’re on your own.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the New Atheists.

-J. O. Schulz

Ditching God and getting “free”

Jurgen Schulz'12 copyHow exhilarating to throw off the yoke of belief in God! No one to answer to, no one to impose rules on you, no one to cramp your style. You are free! Nobody is going to stand in your way. You can do what you want. What a great way to live!

Or is it?

If you attempted to play a piano with that idea of freedom, the resulting noise would be horrendous. It you approached flying an airplane with that mindset, be prepared to meet your Maker. If you drove a car in such a manner, your driving days will be short-lived.

Freedom on a piano involves subjection to the laws of music. Freedom in flying requires applying the principles of aerodynamics. Freedom in driving necessitates respect for the rules of the road. Freedom flourishes inside of boundaries. It self destructs without them.

To live life with the notion of absolute freedom is absolute folly. One quickly becomes a slave of his own self-centeredness, winds up in jail, or ends up dead.

We need something higher than ourselves to steer our life by. We need boundaries to be free. We need God.

Even the atheist who rejects God finds himself forced to hang on to some smattering of Christian morality,

If he didn’t—nobody would put up with him. Nor could he live with himself.

He would be absolutely free.

And absolutely obnoxious.

–Jurgen Schulz

It doesn’t always stand to reason

Jurgen Schulz'12 copyOne of the crucial factors relating to faith and belief is the fact that humans are not merely rational creatures. We often think and act in very irrational, and sometimes downright foolish ways. Reason does not reign supreme in our lives.

Along with a mind, we have a heart—a motive center. Our heart tends to find certain things attractive or repulsive, and encourages our mind to look for logical reasons to support these inclinations. Before long “good” arguments are found to back them up these preferences and desires of the heart.

We often end up eating something we shouldn’t eat, or buying something we shouldn’t buy. At times we act or react in wrong and hurtful ways.

What happened to our rationality?

It got overtaken by our desires. Our mind got highjacked by our heart.

A similar phenomenon takes place in matters of faith. There are things swirling around in our hearts like guilt, pride, lust, resentment, hurtful memories, etc. Our intellect is colored and shaped by these feelings and inclinations. We latch on to certain ideas because we “feel” inclined to do so. It may have little or nothing to do with logic or reason.

It was suggested by Thomas Cranmer that what the heart loves, the will chooses and the mind justifies.

Thomas Aquinas ‏went as far as to say “Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason.”

So the questions arise: Do people reject belief in God because of cold hard evidence? Or do they do so because they have hearts that prefer it to be that way? Do we honestly seek to know the truth, whatever it may be, or do we seek evidence to support what we really want to believe? How objective are we really?

I am afraid that rationality is only a part of what’s going on. Perhaps a small part. We are often eager to believe what we know is not true. No one deceives us more often than we deceive ourselves.

Even in matters of life and death.

In fact, it’s rather scary.

–Jurgen Schulz