Go to: => TOP Page; ROAD MAP; Search Page; What's New? Page; Emmaus Ministries Page
Master-Plan 3, "the
Intro to Apologetics, & Apologetics Library,
a New Reformation, and especially Common Sense Christianity
These are all helps to understanding the mission of the Road to Emmaus.]
Indirectly, the Road to Emmaus==>> is the story of my own quest to make sense of a world that seemed to offer me little hope of making sense, often in the Christian Community as much as out of it. As a result, life, by the grace of God, has come to make enormous sense to me. Much of the struggle has been emotional and spiritual, but much of it has also been intellectual -- just trying to sort out whether the Christian faith was true -- or as Freud maintained, a wunchwesen, a wish being -- an illusion promoted by our unrealistic desire to be loved by a cosmic Father.
For the first two decades of my adult life, my mind was the primary hold I had on reality and life, so I know the value of using one's head. I have little patience with people who say, "That's just head-knowledge!" Head knowledge is extremely valuable, not to be scorned. If we pay attention, our minds will point us to the other aspects of life because all truth is from God. Our souls are a trinity of (1) mind, (2) will, and (3) relationship/feelings. We need to be developing all three areas for they are mutually interdependent.
So, theology and philosophy have not been "merely" an academic exercise for me. They have been much of my life-journey, and thus the Road to Emmaus==>> is my personal story, full of my own passion, not only a way of "thinking about things".
First of all, study the Road Map, this article, and the Apologetics Library.
The Road will slowly get into shape to be a "School of Christian Apologetics".
The aim of the Road is to rebuild Biblical Theology, which has been all but abandoned, not only in the public arena, but in our churches. However, most of the articles posted deal with current issues, and are examples (good and bad) of the more underlying issues, but rarely themselves get at the deeper issues.
To get at those underlying issues themselves, visit the Road Map for the various libraries, or read the articles by myself which focus on those basics. These areas are where the Christian community has floundered for two centuries. We can get back in the saddle again, and retake Western Civ. for God -- by His grace and mercy. Generally, references to my articles are preceded by a double asterisk **.
The current issues articles are often good places to test your skills in dealing with the underlying issues -- which are almost universally missed by the public, the press, government, and media.
Three notions have guided my thinking and commitment to the Christian life -- which also guide the shape and format of the Road to Emmaus==>>.
First, I was determined that faith must make sense. It must be related to everyday life in a manner that does not fly in the face of logic or common sense. That does not rule out mysteries or the unexpected. But it does rule out flat contradictions. God is a God of reason and order, not chaos, not intellectual chaos any more than emotional or spiritual chaos (Isaiah 45:18-19). God holds the intellectual high ground.
I had become a Christian by seven years old, but in college, I told God that, although I wanted to be a Christian, He had to make sense. He gave a smiling "thumbs up", and has never withdrawn either the smile or the thumbs up regarding my quest for truth. My request was one way of "testing the spirits to see if they are of God..."
Secondly, something in me rebelled against the idea that truth was for the "experts". The Bible never suggests that it is primarily the experts that get into heaven, not, at least, by reason of their expertise. They get in by being in touch with basic reality of the sort with which any one of us can be in touch. That means that basic Biblical theology must be within the grasp of a fairly ordinary sort of mind. That is not to rule out grappling with difficult and abstruse problems by the experts (we will be dealing with some of the most difficult and abstract issues abroad here on the Road==>>). But the basic understanding of the revelation of God is not something one needs a college degree to grasp. Mostly, one needs to be open to personal relationship because life, if the Bible is right, is all about relationship.
And thirdly, and related to the above, there was something that kept telling me, in often strange ways, that truth is inherently sacramental, i.e., that spiritual truth is in its very essence related to this world of space and time, that the invisible and spiritual is quite at home in and manifested through the physical and material.
These three notions seemed to me to be fundamentally related to the Biblical doctrine of creation, that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Today I am absolutely sure that these things are true, and that they can be shown to be so.
This foundation led to further notions:
I seemed driven to plumb for the foundations of issues, to go back to the presuppositions behind the arguments. We hear that one cannot test ultimate presuppositions. But if that is so, then all argument and attempted reasoning is irrational because circular, and we are all hopelessly lost in darkness. Just guessing. If our ultimate presuppositions are blind leaps, so then is everything proceeding from them.
We must learn how to test our ultimate presupposition. That is the area of epistemology and metaphysics, which have been badly misused and all but abandoned, by scholars of the last two centuries, in favor of a flat secular materialism or phenomenalism.
In order to pursue this foundation-building, and to emphasize how we must begin at the beginning, I have structured the Road==>> (if you look at the Road Map) not only alphabetically, but also by putting the issues of philosophy (those things we can know without the revelation of God) at the beginning (column on the left side) of the lower library list, the first step (from a logical point of view) in the ladder of knowledge. We are beginning with the most basic presuppositions of all. In practical life, of course, we do not begin there. We begin as infants with no philosophical foundation at all. But honest academics must begin there.
And, if my conclusions are valid, we in fact all do begin as little metaphysicians, able, even in the womb, to discern beyond the phenomenal to the substantial, i.e., to persons. A newborn infant sees mother, not a set of phenomena which he then reasons to be mother. He sees a person, not a set of phenomena.
In the Biblical worldview, the basic atoms of the cosmos, the substantial entities, are not small bits of matter, but persons. The foundation of the cosmos is the personal Creator of heaven and earth, and He is building, not a gigantic machine, but a temple fit for His own presence. And as Peter says, we are the living stones, the building blocks of that Temple. The infant knows, without being told and without reasoning to a conclusion, that mom is a person, a someone, and comes to know that persons are different from things. Even an infant knows the difference between being hugged by mom and being surrounded by a blanket.
In the Epistemology and Metaphysics Libraries, we will ask those questions that have bedeviled Western Civ for two millennia and beyond, "How do we know what we know?" and "What is the nature of the cosmos?"
In the Worldview Library, we will put our conclusions to work by asking, What would happen if we take seriously the notion that the world is fundamentally personal and sacramental? What would the cosmos look like? The essentially personal nature of the cosmos will already have come upon us in the epistemology investigation. Knowing presupposes persons.
We have done very poorly, for nearly 3000 years of western philosophy, relying on the notion that the world is fundamentally impersonal (either Platonic, Gnostic, or secular-materialist). Can we create a better worldview with the Biblical notion of a personal cosmos? What happens if we build in all areas on the Biblical foundation of a fundamentally personal cosmos? See especially, Personality, Empiricism, & God.
And then, with the worldview issues secure (I've read the end of my own book), we can move from the philosophical underpinnings to tackle Biblical theology. Christian theology for two centuries has shown a shallow understanding, even a conscious rejection of, intellectual integrity, assuming that we can ignore our philosophical foundation and leap into the Biblical understanding of our relation to God without it -- see especially Personality, Empiricism, & God (PEG).
A tragic and costly error.
The Bible makes sense only given the philosophical basis for the Biblical worldview. The Biblical worldview is presupposed at every point, but being presupposed does not make it true. The worldview must, and can, stand on its own feet, independently of the Bible -- as I hope to show in the philosophy section.
When boiled down to essentials, there are only two ways to look at life, the Biblical way and the secular/pagan way. The Biblical worldview is distinguished by the claim that the cosmos was created and is sustained by the most personal, most complete, most concrete being there is -- Yahweh, I AM. The secular/pagan alternative tells us that the cosmos emerged out of a primal, unformed, impersonal, "stuff", a kind of cosmic soup, from which it evolves and back into which it always returns. The cosmic cycle.
If the secular/pagan way is the truth, then we might reasonably consult the Hindu Bagavad Gita, the Buddhist Tibetan Book of the Dead, or any of the secular philosophies. If the secular/pagan worldview is the truth, then the Bible makes no sense at all, and we should trash it as dangerously misleading.
But if we live in a cosmos created by One who loves it, then the Bible might indeed show us the way back to reality. If the worldview issues are not decided first, if Christians are not intellectually and spiritually secure in their own worldview, any application of Scripture to life will always seem out of touch with reality. If Christians do not understand the unique character and the strength of their own worldview, then they will always be trying to defend the Bible in circular ways, trying to base the Bible on its own authority, i.e., with unhelpful and badly misleading theories of "infallibility" or "inerrancy".
That is the morass in which western Christians have stalled for over two centuries. It is time for a change.
So, when we get our Biblical worldview and basic theology squared away, we can then begin to apply our understanding of God to the problems around us in the Public Arena, Sexuality, and Christian Faith & Practice Libraries (the right side column in the Road Map), i.e., to our own personal growth, to our lives in the Christian community, our nation, the world, discipleship, evangelism, etc. God has opinions about politics, education, the media, and all other aspects of our common lives. And He wants us to know what those opinions are. All those are a part of revelation, or logical deductions from revelation.
Most folks want to jump into these latter areas without substantial homework in the earlier foundations. And for many persons, tasks, and situations that will work. Not every Christian is called to be a philosopher or a theologian. But the Christian community MUST have those who explore and develop the deeper foundations and who inform the others on those issues. Western Christians have done poorly in that for at least two, and probably three centuries, leading to the horrendous disaster of the 20th century.
Signs abound that the Christian faith is burgeoning around the world..., except in the West where it languishes, largely because we have so miserably failed in the realm of intellectual integrity. We are laughed at in the universities, and we have failed to capture the imagination of the public because we are perceived as being anti-science and anti-intellectual. That is to say....., not interested in the truth about life, only in brainwashing people into our own arbitrarily held "position". We are more often position-defenders than truth-seekers.
So, on our Road to Emmaus journey, we move from the abstract areas of philosophy into theology, which is more personal and relational, and then into the areas of the public arena and of personal spiritual life and growth.
Using that approach, we can head off at the pass most, if not all, of those challenges to our faith -- "but how do you know.....???" We will be prepared to explain how we know what we know, and will have regained our intellectual credibility to a world awash in pseudo-intellectuality and pseudo-science. God owns the intellectual high-ground, and He is wanting to teach His people how to stand there with Him.
We must regain our intellectual (along with moral and spiritual) integrity or we will continue (rightly) to be the laughing stock of the culture. That is the task to which Emmaus Ministries and the Road to Emmaus==>> is dedicated. When we begin to win that battle, our moribund Western Christianity will be able more fully to take its place along side the fast-growing Christianity of the Third World, and contribute its bit to the spiritual war going on all about us.
In practice, of course, anyone can begin anywhere they have a mind to. The "Public Arena" libraries will no doubt be the most active, both for myself and for fellow travelers. But there will be two separate but integrated steams flowing and intermingling.
The foundation stream will be developing abstract philosophical presuppositions (epistemology, philosophy of science, metaphysics, and worldview). This stream will move much more slowly, like deep ocean currents.
In the second stream, which rides on the first, we grapple with the practicalities of daily living (apologetics, economics, education, ethics, life issues, politics, other religions, sexuality, etc.). I will be continually posting items from abroad in these latter categories, using such everyday examples as illustrations of basic principle. As the foundations grow, persons wrestling with the storms on the surface will be able to plunge to deeper levels and find out how to answer some of the challenges arising .
It will become evident, I hope, that all these levels intertwine, overlap, and influence one another. It is not possible to understand everyday life without asking the prior and deeper questions. And on the other hand, being able to live our every day lives of personal relationship is the whole point of getting the prior and deeper issues straight. The two cannot be separated.
The Road==>> will develop slowly in some areas, measured in years, not days. Books and articles remain to be written, video tapes are in the works. If all goes well, what will emerge will be a comprehensive testimony to the panoramic sweep of Biblical theology and Biblical life, to its radically logical and factual character, and thus to its very believability, a testimony to the lordship of Jesus Christ who leads us to the Father beyond all things.
The Road==>> is partly my own story and testimony, so things will sometimes appear in the first person. This is a long term project, and the Road==>> will grow slowly into its prime.
All things on the Road==>> are offered for public debate, trusting in good Jeffersonian-liberal fashion, that truth will eventually emerge if honest debate is promoted. And that -- when truth wins, everyone wins.
The biggest enemy of this process, the process of growing intellectually, emotionally, morally, and spiritually, is our own apathy, self-satisfaction, and cowardice. Cowardice is a nasty term -- but we learn in Scripture that cowards do not enter the Kingdom, so we need to pay attention. Cowardice I understand to be the unwillingness to risk safety and comfort in order to stand for truth, for righteousness, and for love. (Those three make a good plumbline for testing our own and other agendas.)
So, I challenge all of us into a covenant of mutual accountability -- to take up Jesus challenge in John 8:31 ff., to risk whatever we must to follow Him on the path to truth. The way of the cross means giving up our right to "be right" and letting the truth and the Lord of truth speak for themselves -- honest science and honest due process.
If you continue in my word, you are truly
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.
See Master-Plan 2 & Master-Plan 3 for update.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Go to: => TOP Page; Emmaus Page; Apologetics; ROAD MAP