On the Word “Faith”

What is faith? The word, like many words that fall out of our mouths, is often misunderstood and misused. No little problems result from such careless thought and speech. We may get reality wrong and suffer on account of our blunder. Perhaps we can rectify this a bit.

The general meaning of faith is a strong trust in something or someone taken as reliable. Thus, I have faith that J.P. Moreland’s next book will be worth reading. This is because all his work thus far has been excellent and because I know him to be a godly and intelligent man. Faith in this sense, requires no doubt that must be overcome by a leap of ascent.

But faith can also mean belief in what cannot be rationally justified. This epistemically weak sense of the term refers to what is likely a baseless hope or wishful thinking. The Bible never uses the word faith in this sense. In Scripture, believe in God and trust in God is not like this. The Bible does speak of faith as contrasted with sight, but never contrasted with reason or evidence. One may rightly believe in what one cannot see. You believe your neighbor has thoughts (which you cannot see; which no one can see), you believe in rational inference (which you cannot see; which no one can see), and you believe that there are subatomic particles (which you cannot see; which on one can see). One could go on, but you should see the point.

Religious people are sometimes singled out as “people of faith,” since they hold to beliefs not held by everyone and beliefs that are usually rooted in a holy book or some other seat of authority. They place their faith (assent and trust) in these doctrines, either rationally or irrationally.

However, non-religious people have faith as well in that they adhere to some stripe of worldview based on some notion of authority, albeit a non-religious authority such as “science” (a weak reed, that) or mere personal experience, which they claim to have rightly interpreted. An atheist may have faith that the universe began to exist out of nothing a finite time ago and without a cause. No atheist has observed this, but it is inferred (against all reason, since something cannot come from nothing), and then taken as a basic belief. They, thus, have a faith in (literally) nothing–everything came from nothing, plus nothing. May reason always deliver us from such faith.

Proof is not required for rational faith. (See my previous essay on this blog.) All one needs is adequate justification for belief P and the requisite trust in and response to this belief. Then you have faith. Thus, I believe on good evidence that my dentist is well-trained. That is rational assent. Then on the basis of this rational assent (belief), I open my mouth to accommodate her use of the tools (some very noisy), hoses, chemicals and other dental machinery.

As a Christian of many years, I assent that Christianity is objectively true, and do so for many reasons. My most developed testimony to this is Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity Press, 2011). As a follower of Christ and believer in the Bible as true and authoritative, I entrust my self to God through prayer, service, and worship.I not only believe that Christianity is true; I believe in God as revealed in the Bible and through Jesus Christ, God Incarnate.

Perhaps this has cleared away a few cobwebs. Faith need not and ought not be blind, whatever the object of that faith may be. And it does make a difference. If Christianity is true, the stakes could not be higher.

What Ought We Make of the Word “Proof?”

Words often confused us because we fail to press for a definition of the term. Or we can say, words often fail us because we are confused as to their range of meanings. Consider the word proof.

It has muscle, this strong word. It is insistent. “I need proof!” we demand. “There is no proof!” we insist. Or, “You may not believe it, but there is no proof.”

Perhaps this strong word needs to be tamed and not allowed to run so free and reckless across the intellectual landscape. We need to rope in this beast. But what is the range of its meanings?

Proof may mean that we evidence sufficient to warrant absolute certainty. If A=B and B=C, then, A=C. The proof is simply in the understanding of the terms. It could not be otherwise. Even an executive order could not change the conclusion, given the premises.

But few items of our knowledge know of such cognitive assurance. To be sure, we are lost without these kinds of proofs. But there is more to knowing than this. I know full well that my wife is not an alien, but I do not know this in the manner of an absolute proof about which I cannot possibly be mistaken. It is logically possible that she is an alien. However, I have no positive evidence that she is–or that my dog, Sunny, originates from outside the galaxy. The upshot is that most of what we know is defeasible. It could be shown to be wrong. However, we do not need proof in the strongest sense to have knowledge, which is justified true belief.

Proof can also mean “evidence sufficient to convince.” This is a looser sense of the word and is not as commonly used. We might say that we have overwhelming reason to believe P. Thus, it is proven. For example, we have ample evidence that the holocaust occurred. This means that the overwhelming burden of proof is on anyone who would deny it, such as the recent Presidents of Iran.

Now we come to religion. Some trouble the air without wisdom by insisting, “You cannot prove God exists.” By this, they usually mean that you cannot establish the existence of the Christian God in the manner of: if A=B and B=C, then A=C. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, one may reasonably believe in the existence of a personal, infinite, and transcendent being without relying on arguments that confer absolute certainty. The matter—and no small matter it is—concerns whether this being exists and what manner of evidence and reasoning is required to have the knowledge that this is so.

To finish up this epistemic primer, one may be justified in belief P (about God’s existence or about anything else) without having incontrovertible evidence or total certainty. We rightly believe in the existence of all manner of things without proof in the strongest sense–in teeth, tulips, turnips, and toasters; in planets, insects, parsnips, and posters; in virtues, vices, values, and lobsters; in gravity, levity, tragedy, and comedy. We believe in the past we cannot see, in the future not yet here, and in the “what if” that has never been and will never be. Yes, we do; and all without proof.

Now that this is cleared out of the way, perhaps we can get on with considering arguments for and against the existence of God, not being weighed down by the unnecessarily tonnage of  proof.

Are Miracles and Science Compatible?

One of the secular claims against Christianity is that the modern world’s increasing knowledge of the natural world through science (principally chemistry, biology, and physics) has made belief in miracles unjustified at best and positively irrational at worst. Recently, biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins has led this charge, especially in his best-selling book, The God Delusion (2007).But before responding to this challenge, we need to define our two basic terms: miracle and science.

Biblically understood, a miracle is God’s supernatural intervention into creation, which produces an effect otherwise not possible given the operation of natural laws. Therefore, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in space-time history is a miracle, and the grand miracle of the entire Bible (see 1 Corinthians 15). These divine actions, wrought by a personal and perfect Being, break no natural laws. Rather, natural laws, such as gravity, only cover natural events. When God raised Christ from the dead, no natural laws were violated. Rather, God’s supernatural action did what natural events could not produce: brought Jesus back to life. Further, biblical miracles have a purpose; they are not arbitrary or impenetrable (though not all who behold or read of them may understand their meaning). They work as signs of God’s character as he establishes his Kingdom throughout history.

This description of a miracle already answers one of the complaints of those who claim that science has displaced or replaced miracles with merely natural events and natural laws. Since miracles do not violate natural laws, none need worry that believing in miracles will destroy explanations that trade on predictable regularities in nature. Apples still fall from trees even though Jesus once walked on water.

But why, then, do secularists think that science is incompatible with a rational belief in miracles? There are three main reasons.

First, if one believes there is no God, then there is no divine agent (or conscience actor) to produce a miracle in the biblical sense. However, there is ample evidence from science and philosophy that a personal Creator and Designer exists. Cosmology tells us that the universe began to exist from nothing a finite time ago at the Big Bang. If so, this event requires a cause outside the universe. The best explanation is God. In a sense, the creation of the universe from nothing (creation ex nihilo) is God’s first supernatural action. Physics also reveals that the laws and proportions of the universe are finely-tuned on a razor’s edge for human life. Chance and mindless natural law cannot explain this adequately. God, again, is the best explanation. No irrational leap of faith is required. If so, then one can discover sufficient reasons to believe in a God who could intervene in creation.  Whether or not he did intervene after creation is a question of historical investigation. Science itself does not preclude finding evidence for God’s miraculous actions in human history, such as the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

Second, many secular people define science in such a way to exclude miracles (or any divine design in nature). That is, science is seen as giving only natural explanations for natural events, and scientific endeavor is the only legitimate source for knowledge. No supernatural explanations are allowed in principle. So, even if the universe began from nothing, science cannot even suggest that a Creator is involved. Neither can science speak to the existence of a Designer to explain fine-tuning. And, of course, no one can be intellectually justified in believing in miracles.  Such are the conditions for science as materialism: all that exists (or is knowable) is the material world.

But this definition of science is neither historically-grounded in the history of science (many leaders of the scientific revolution were theists) nor philosophically credible. This is because science becomes a knowledge-stopper if God has left recognizable signs of his existence in the cosmos and history. Whether we can find evidence for God—through science or history—should be an open question worthy of rigorous investigation. Further, when science is understood as being the only source of rational knowledge (religious faith has no such credential), it logically refutes itself. This approach, called scientism, claims the following:

  1. Science is limited to giving natural explanations for natural events based on logical reasoning.
  1. Science is the sole conduit for knowledge (or credible true beliefs).

However, these two statements yield the following:

  1. Science, as defined in (1) is not justified by any natural event or logical reasoning to be the only source of knowledge. Scientism is, rather, a philosophical claim.
  1. Therefore, since this materialistic view of science is not supported by its understanding of science itself, scientism is false.

The argument above does nothing to undermine science as one source of knowledge about reality; however it destroys an account of science which assumes only matter exists and, therefore, that a materialistic understanding of science (scientism) is the only manner to acquire genuine knowledge.

Third, some affirm that the development of technology, especially in the twentieth century, is incompatible with belief in miracles. It was a biblical scholar, and not a scientist, who put this starkly. Rudolph Bultmann (1884-1976) said that no one who uses a transistor radio can believe in the miraculous world presented in the New Testament.  But the development of technology is not incompatible with miracles, since these technologies depend on scientific discoveries and methods which themselves to not refute miracles, as argued above. This claim is a classic and egregious non sequiter—however often we hear it thoughtlessly uttered.

I said earlier that detecting a miracle in human affairs (as opposed to the original miracles of creation and design) is a matter of historical inquiry. No hard science (such as chemistry, biology, or physics) speaks directly to events that occur once or repeatedly through human actions. That is, we cannot know that Caesar crossed the Rubicon through the methods of science. However, that does not (scientism aside) mean that we can have no knowledge of historical matters such as social change within societies, the rise and fall of empires, or biography. One’s method of knowing must fit the subject of study. History consults written and unwritten items from the past to discern what has happened. While many historians (like many scientists) simply dismiss God and the supernatural from knowable history, there is no good reason to do so. If God can be known to exist, then miracles are possible. If they are possible, we can investigate miraculous claims to see if there are any actual miracles.

While many religions make miracle claims, none are as well-substantiated or as important to the religion as New Testament miracles, particularly those of Jesus, and especially concerning his resurrection. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that attributes miracles to its founder in its earliest and foundational documents, e.g., the New Testament. For example, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in real history is affirmed in all four Gospels and directly or indirectly in the rest of the New Testament, which itself was written by eyewitness (John 19:35) or those who consulted eye-witnesses (Luke 1:1-4). Further, these original documents have been accurately transmitted through a wealth of reliable manuscripts, more so than any other piece of ancient history.

Lastly, there is sufficient evidence that miracles have not ceased to occur after the time of the New Testament. While they are not as plentiful as in the days of Jesus and the early church, many miracles done in the name of Jesus can be documented. For a thorough scholarly study of New Testament miracles and those since, see Craig S. Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, two vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011). If miracles are happening today and science is going about its business today, they are certainly not incompatible!

Christian need not fear that the advancement of science somehow undermines the rationality of their belief in miracles. Science and miracles are not incompatible. Only a wrong concept of both science and miracle generates this false impression. Both science and history, rather, corroborate the biblical teaching that God is a wonder-working God of space-time history—and eternity.

Why I Think American Civilization is Crumbling

The American way of life and civil government are founded on principles that are being renounced, both overtly and subtly. We were exceptional and, thus, much was required of us. President Abraham Lincoln called us, “the almost chosen nation.”

America was settled by Christians who took their worldview seriously. This does not excuse errors, such as how Native Americans were often treated or the terrible institution of slavery. But when the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution were written, they did not appear out of a vacuum. God gave us our fundamental rights. Religion must be neither established nor opposed by the civil government. We affirmed a government of laws, not of men. Hence, the three branches of government were separated and held each other in check.

The American moral compass once pointed to the Judeo-Christian work ethic, the responsibilities of citizenship, and the prizing of liberty over equality, since that latter cannot be achieved East of Eden. The power of private charity and non-governmental organizations were valued higher than any impersonal subsidies or structures. Religion was either assumed or encouraged through the work of Christian churches. National leaders quoted the Bible and called the nation to prayer, whether sincerely or not. But who could doubt the sincerity of Abraham’s statements on God’s bearing on the nation?

America saved the world from global tyranny at least twice in the Twentieth Century—from the fascist, axis powers and from the world domination of the USSR. (By the way, fascism is left-wing, not conservative. Remember Hitler’s ideology was National Socialism.)

And now, it is nearly all gone. The President of the United States denies American exceptionalism and confesses that he is a “citizen of the world.” He arrogates unconstitutional power to himself through executive orders and intimidation. Religious freedom for Christians is threatened by demands to recognize and accept same-sex marriage in businesses and schools. Churches will be next. While the Declaration states that God has given us inalienable rights, including “life,” about fifty-five million unborn humans have been slaughtered through abortion. Now it is federally-supported by The Affordable Health Care Act, which is also the most monstrous statist power move in the history of the republic. Statism, the foulest political idol, abounds. Individual initiative is not saluted. Handouts are demanded. Multiculturalism claims that no culture is better than any other—except that American culture is more guilty than any other because of our supposed imperialism, systemic racism, and the rest of the fictional litany.

The signs of this decay are both large and small. Internationally, the Commander in Chief will only “lead from behind.” He will not recognize Islam as the tidal wave of terrorism globally. A man shouting “Allah is great” slaughters a dozen of his military companions, including a pregnant woman, whose child also died. The Obama administration calls this “workplace violence.” The deceit is painful and deadly. While in prison, the Fort Hood murder continues to declare his worship of Allah and death to the infidels. American citizens want American flags taken down, since they are “offensive” to some. Police recoil from stopping violent protests, lest they offend racial minorities. Cities burn; authority is broken down; fear spreads. Ignorance of American history and the Bible is epidemic. Ignoramuses live by media images, slogans, and untutored emotions. They demand “justice” when they have no idea what the facts are.

America is crumbling from the inside, as did Rome. Its resistance to tyranny at home and attacks from abroad (ISIS) cannot keep hell at bay. Much of the church is either asleep or in bed with the world. Most Christians do not possess a biblical worldview adequate to expose error and establish the good, the true, and the beautiful. Few teachers and preachers explain the biblical theology of suffering and sacrifice. (Rev. Timothy Keller is a blessed exception.)

I was young and now I am old. I have seen just about everything, I have spent long, but meaningful, hours at my study desk; I have dared to step into many pulpits; for thirty-five years, I have presided in the classrooms, secular and religious; I have read and studied and wrestled with my Bible. I have been on my knees. That I write is not flippant, not reactionary, and not impetuous. My aim is truth.

The Kingdom of God is not limited to the land of my birth. God’s ways will not be thwarted, since the gates of hell will not prevail against the church. But nations come and go. God sets them up and knocks them down. I fear the worst for these United States. My hope is in the Kingdom and power of the God of the Bible. But I will go down fighting for the best of the American system.

Suffering Well With Others

Many of my friends are suffering terribly in different ways. Bad news is breaking forth everywhere. This is likely true for you as well, whether you discern it or not. Through this manifold of variegated tragedies it strikes me that many of us fail to minister to our friends who are suffering. We say and do things that hurt more than help. We dispense acid rather than balm. By and large, we do not know how to lament and grieve with others—although some saints excel in this grace. Popular culture teaches us next to nothing in this regard. It has no time for such realities. In the wake of the recent horrors (such as ISIS) and given my many friends, relations, and students who are suffering deeply (from bereavement, marital crisis, cancer, and chronic illness), let us consider briefly a few ways to suffer well with others.

First, we ought to pray for wisdom before speaking or communicating in any form with one under the pressures of loss. Ask God to give you the heart and tongue that heals—or at least doesn’t multiply the pain. Consider a few egregious examples. Someone loses a spouse only to hear someone ask within a few weeks of the spouse’s death, “Are you grieving well?” Is this some kind of test? One should grieve with the sorrowful heart, not ask it for an internal audit. Or consider this. Someone is diagnosed with cancer and is trying to reorient their life to handle this. A member of the person’s church says, “Oh, if I had to have chemotherapy—just shoot me.” The dear person who received this body blow is now preparing for chemotherapy with courage and hope. Remember what The Book of James says about the power of the tongue (James 3:1-12).

Second, one should not over-interpret the dire situations of a fallen world by trying to read God’s mind. This only makes for hollow comfort. Yes, God will bring good out of evil for his people (Romans 8:28), but we don’t quite now how he will do this. As Os Guinness writes in his superb book, Unspeakable, the silver lining of a dark cloud—if we can even find it—does not explain the full meaning of the suffering. In light of this, we must learn to silently stew in our ignorance instead of spewing forth our pious pronouncements on the specifics of divine providence. Job’s friends went wrong only when they broke their silence in his presence and began to speak without knowledge.

Third, learn to lament with people. Study the Psalms of lamentation and the many laments in Scripture, such as those uttered by King David, Paul, Solomon (Ecclesiastes) and supremely Jesus himself, “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?” A lament is the cry of the anguished soul before God, which displays puzzlement as well as anger. It expresses disorientation in search of reorientation. However, a lament is directed to God and before the audience of God, “the audit of Eternity,” as Soren Kierkegaard put it. Listen to the stories of the suffering and identify with them. Say un-profound, but appropriate, things like, “I am so sorry” and “That is terrible.” The American South has expression that captures this perfectly: “I hate it for you.” I hate the fact that two marriages are being ripped apart and are may be dying. I hate the fact that my friend’s spouse is going through chemotherapy. I hate it for all of them, and I should show them that I hate it. I hate it because I love them.

We should never try to tell people that losing a spouse or having cancer or facing a divorce isn’t really so bad. It is bad, very bad. This is a fallen world, a world that is still groaning in anticipation of its final redemption (Romans 8:18-26). As Nicholas Wolterstorff writes in his moving and profound meditation, Lament for a Son, we must sit on the mourner’s bench with the suffering and lament with them. This in itself provides a kind of comfort.

I am but babe in this healing skill—suffering well with others. Will you join me in the school of lament? Will you learn to sit on the mourner’s bench before God and with those whom you love?

Sensorium, Amusement, and You

Hard drives are serviced; automobiles are repaired; houses are cleaned; iPhones are fixed. But what of our souls? How does our mental and sensorial equipment work? Do we need a tune-up or a complete overhaul? Might we relate better to reality if our minds and senses were better attuned to the good, the true, and the beautiful?

Our relationship to the world is mediated by our sensorium, a rare term which illuminates areas often left in darkness. A sensorium is the inner place where we sense and try to understand the world. One man’s sensorium is very aware of logical arguments; another man’s sensorium is weak on logic, but highly attuned to nuances in painting. One woman’s sensorium is drawn to human suffering; another woman’s sensorium is more drawn to female fashion. My sensorium, through years of listening to and reading about jazz, can hear a John Coltrane saxophone solo even when it plays softly in the background in a restaurant or bar. Another soul can quickly discern the difference between Celtic and Gaelic music. About this I know nothing.

Our sensoria naturally vary given our eyesight, hearing, and other faculties. However, they are also malleable–subject to corruption and subject to reform. Those aspiring to virtue will desire to know the world in the ways it ought to be known. Thus, certain habits of the heart should be cultivated; others should be refused. If I want to deeply enjoy well-cooked food, I need to develop a taste beyond McDonald’s fare. If I want to keenly appreciate music, I need to expand beyond popular tunes. And so it goes. Taste ought to be educated; there is more to reality than what you prefer.

The enemy of the well-tempered sensorium is an overdose of amusement. Cultural critic, Neil Postman warned of this in Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985). When every areas of life must be amusing (on the order of television programs), then serious discourse fades from the scene. (A-muse means not to think.) Glibness replaces sober assessment and being clever becomes more important than being intelligent. Our sensoria are sullied by the saturation of amusement until we only accept what is entertaining or stimulating. What is dry or abstract has no place in us or for us. This mentality, Postman warned, debases discourse in every area of life. We have been amused to death.

Those with a taste for reality should manage their sensorium carefully. In a fallen world, we can attune ourselves to accepting error and to rejecting truth. However, the sanctified sensorium is a sanctuary for knowledge and goodness. Amusement has its place, but not every place. Step one in reforming the sensorium is putting amusement in its place. Habits of clear thinking flow from un-amused moments of reading, thinking, conversations, and prayer. Perpetual amusement leads to cognitive laziness and stupefaction. Let us rather heed Scripture’s advice and be “transformed through the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2).

On the Word “Porn”

Ross Douthat wrote it in his book, Bad Religion. On Sunday, February 15, 2015, a New York Times writer, Bob Morris, wrote it in a column on cute animal videos. The word is “porn,” which was once short for pornography. Another word for it was “smut.”

Douthat wrote of “travel porn.” I nearly fell over when I read that. What could it mean–smut across the world? No. It meant travel literature that gives one pleasure. Brown writes of “cute animal porn,” and he is not referring to bestiality. He means animal videos that one enjoys.

Why this use of porn? Pornography is the written or visual expression of illicit eroticism. It is indecent and can be addictive. It is bad pleasure: hollow, cheap, degrading, and dirty. But now pornography is considered just another form of pleasure. The sting is gone. If this is the new meaning, then “porn” can be attached to anything that is pleasurable. Who wants more “golf porn”?

Language reflects the mindset of a culture. A culture awash in hedonism wants its porn everywhere, since its desires have been uprooted from moral reality. Nothing we enjoy should be porn. Desires were meant to aim at the good, the true, and the beautiful. The desired should be the desirable. When porn is the norm the self is shorn of life.

Why We Should Avoid Celebrity Gossip

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 2 Corinthians 12:20


While some godly people are very well known, and might be considered celebrities, most very well known people of today–I do not mean giants of history such as Winston Churchhill–possess almost nothing worth us knowing about. As Daniel Borstin said, “They are well-known for being well-known.” Their biographies–or factoids–are vanity of vanities. Their makeovers, their cars, their idiosyncrasies are not worth knowing about.

Yes, they are made in God’s image and need Jesus Christ’s righteousness for eternal life. In that sense, they are valuable. But how much weight they have gained, whether or not they are pregnant, who they are sleeping with, is mere gossip. And gossip, the Bible tells us, is sin. Sin should be repented of, in order to please God and free us up to do God’s will in his power.

Moreover, celebrity watching wastes time. Listen to Moses, from Psalm 90:

10 The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span [a] is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

11 Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.

12 Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.

16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Life is short, a vapor. Eternity is long, an infinity. Life should be lived under the audit of Eternity, not in terms of celebrity gossip or any worldly thing (1 John 2:15-17). As Pascal said, our passionate interest in the trivial and our lack of concern for the eternal, evidences a very strange disorder. Let us repent and live for what matters most.

Fifty Shades of Sin

Time Magazine, in the February 16 edition, tries to understand the film, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” It releases on day before Valentine’s Day, ironically enough. This film, spawned from the best-selling books (100,000,000 sold so far), speaks to the state of the American soul and body.

I know little of this, and by choice. I opened to a page of one of the books at the check out of a grocery chain and read a page of perversity. That was enough, too much. The Cinderella of this story gives herself to a sadist for her keep. She is a kept and abused woman who consents to it all: bondage, domination, injuries–taken and received. Human beings were not meant to do such things to each other.

Time, of course, cannot bring itself to condemn the film. It has neither the moral authority or discernment to do that. Christians can and should evaluate it, since we have been given a revelation of what is good and evil.

As R.J. Rushdoony said years ago, when a culture rebels against God and his creation mandate (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8), it immerses itself in sexuality. Sex is severed from family and culture-creation for the glory of God. Sexuality is exalted above all other concerns and personal qualities. As such, virtue is lost and vice is embraced. Every quirky and kinky orientation and activity (see Leviticus 18) is justified because of the thrill it gives empty selves in an otherwise meaningless world. Nerve endings speak louder than conscience.

Illicit ecstasies (if that is even achieved through evil actions) have their cost–human flourishing under God. The Apostle Paul explains it all in Romans, chapter one, verses 18 and following. By denying the Creator, the creature is left only with itself, untethered from ultimate authority and meaning. Idols beckon and bludgeons their worshipers, who consent to its perversions.

Here we are: “Fifty Shades of Grey.” This is no grey area where we pick our pleasures. No, it is perverse, unhealthy, and sinful. It offends the God who created us as sexual beings; it debauches us as sexual beings; it enriches the sad and sickening souls who peddle this pornography.

If you have read any of the books, there is hope. God calls everyone, everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Jesus cried, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:11). The love and justice of God, shown in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (the sinless One), can overcome all evil. Come to Christ, for forgiveness, for a new life lived according to the Master’s Book. Come and learn to enjoy virtue, self-discipline and the true meaning of love.

Notes on Writing Cards

1. Use your own handwriting. Chose a tasteful pen. Write slowly.

2. Write for consolation, encouragement, or to share you life with a close friend. Or write strangers whose work you appreciate. I often write musicians, authors, business owners, and others. They almost never write back. The exception is Peter Brötzmann.

3. Ponder and pray before you write. Why be in a hurry? This is not the Internet.

4. Perhaps adorn the card with stickers or your own drawings. There was a “letter art” movement decades ago. We should restart it.

5. Although I always want my cards to be reciprocated in some way, I almost always write more than I am written to–at least since my mother died. If someone never writes back after two or three cards, I usually give up.

6. Be creative in conveying truth and love in this way. It can mean much to many. I know.