Tag Archives: Worldview

Siddhartha: Buddhist Solomon

The book of Ecclesiastes records Solomon’s search for meaning. That path leads Solomon down many wrong paths and at the end of each path he finds meaninglessness. His path leads him to seek wisdom, pleasure, and accomplishment, and finally leads him back to simple and faithful obedience to God: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

Siddhartha, my most recent companion on my commute, reminded me a lot of Ecclesiastes. It’s the story of Siddhartha’s search for meaning. Unlike Ecclesiastes, it is told from a Buddhist perspective and has a Buddhist conclusion.

Ritual, asceticism, learning, and pleasure

Siddhartha starts as a religious devotee. He had mastered all the religious rites and prayers and was on his way to becoming a successful Brahman. He was admired by his parents, his peers, and his friend Govinda. But Siddhartha was not satisfied with sacrifice to the gods. He wants to discover the divine oneness that lies within himself.

As he is praying one day and speaking the “ohm” he sees some traveling ascetics, Buddhist monks called Sramanas. He convinces his father to let him become an ascetic and he and Govinda follow that path. As a Sramana he tries to completely empty himself of himself, to lose himself, through fasting, meditation, and deprivation. His goal is enlightenment. However, he learns that he can always only lose himself for a time, after which he is always, once again, himself. This, he decides, is no better than a person who loses himself in strong drink or momentary pleasures.

He begins to make up his mind to leave the Sramanas and finds his opportunity when the Buddha Gautama arrives. He and Govinda go to hear the Buddha. Both admit that the Buddha’s teaching is very wise and clear and Govinda decides to become his disciple. But Siddhartha believes now that teaching does not provide the path to enlightenment. He believes that the Buddha really has become perfected, but that it only came through a private experience, not by learning. Siddhartha, disillusioned once again, decides to pursue his path elsewhere.

Through a private insight, he now plunges himself into the realm of personal experience. He meets a beautiful woman and learns love from her. He becomes a merchant. He even takes up gambling. For a while he experiences this with a sort of personal disconnectedness. It’s a game for him. It’s a set of goals which he is able to accomplish, but all the while he has a sort of mocking attitude towards it.

But the more he plunges himself into pleasure the more it begins to take hold of it. It begins to empty out his soul. He becomes obsessed by his possessions. He gambles heavily and wildly. And, finally, he reaches his breaking point. Metaphorically he ate until he was stuffed, then sick, and now it was time for him to vomit it all out.

He left all his possessions behind, along with his lover, and began once again to travel. He came upon a river and was about to commit suicide by plunging himself into its depths. But as he was about to do it he spoke the word “ohm” and was saved. He fell asleep and awoke refreshed.

He then became the companion of a humble ferryman and from the ferryman he learned to listen to the river’s wisdom. In this he found a life of contentment, at least for a time.

Eventually, the Buddha Gautama became ill and many of his followers flocked to see him before he died. One of those followers was Siddhartha’s past lover, now with Siddhartha’s son, who he did not know he had. They came across Siddhartha, but she died shortly after their meeting. Siddhartha loved his son and attempted to raise him, but his son did not love him, and eventually completely spurned his father and ran away.

And here Siddhartha bore his final pain, his final wound. For a long time, he could not get over the loss of his son. But in time, Siddhartha learned a final lesson from the river. He heard in the river all the voices of life together – cries of joy and pain and battle. He learned from the river that it is always moving and always progressing and yet it is at once always at its source and always at its destination.

From this he concluded that time was an allusion and that all was ultimately one. He was at once Siddhartha the religious, Siddhartha the ascetic, Siddhartha the indulgent, Siddhartha the suffering, and Siddhartha the perfected one. That he was on a journey to perfection was only an allusion since in the oneness of time and being he had already attained his goal. He also saw, then, that his son needed to go on his own journey, with all its different twists and turns, and that all those twists and turns were both necessary and caught up in the divine oneness of being. Here Siddhartha found peace.

The Search and the Destination

How does Siddhartha’s searching, and conclusion, line up with Solomon’s and the rest of the Bible’s vision?

The source of enlightenment: For Siddhartha, “One must find the source within one’s own Self, one must possess it. Everything else was seeking — a detour, an error.” Contrast this with Scripture, where we see that knowledge and fulfillment come from outside the Self, from God. God grants us knowledge of Himself within us – to all men through a sense that He exists – and in believers through the Holy Spirit. But both of these inner senses exist ultimately to point us away from ourselves to a fundamental reality apart from our selves.

The role of teaching and learning: For Siddhartha, “Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.” Solomon would acknowledge the limits of learning: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:11). Knowledge can lead us to wisdom, it doesn’t necessarily make us wise.

But, Siddhartha’s critique is harsher than Solomon’s. His problem with teaching is that the teacher must make distinctions, must distinguish between real and illusion, between Nirvana and suffering, between good and evil. Siddhartha believes the world cannot be divided as such, since all things are fundamentally intertwined and interconnected. Teaching necessarily obscures the truth. The Biblical worldview disagrees. It’s sees knowledge, learned through teaching, as a necessary step towards the truth. Teaching has its limits. It cannot transform the heart. But it enlightens reality, it does not obscure it.

On time and distinction: Siddhartha finally rejects time, and with it, distinction. A stone is at once a stone and soil and a person and a god. It is not potentially those things, it is not that such a transformation will happen, but that it is simultaneously those things. Siddhartha acknowledges that such a teaching sounds ridiculous, but as noted above, this is a case where teaching obscures, not clarifies, reality.

Again, Solomon would disagree. While “there is a time for all things” under the sun, those things are distinct. There is “a time to be born and a time to die” but those are fundamentally different realities, taking place in the reality of time.

On the goal of life: What is the goal of life? For Siddhartha it is simply to ascent to what is and to the fundamental oneness of reality, it is to agree with the ever flowing river of life in all its manifestations. This means agreement with the good and the evil, the joy and the suffering, the wisdom and the foolishness. And, in that agreement, to find peace. Siddhartha’s journey is complete when he finds individual perfection, understood as an inner state of tranquility.

Solomon’s story seems to end with simple resignation, “This is the duty of man.” But the breadth of Scripture leads us beyond this. The goal of life extends beyond the inner self. For Christians, it’s also about our relation to other people and, most importantly, to God.

Consider, for instance, the ethical implications of Siddhartha’s elimination of distinctions. What happens if we begin to view good and evil, justice and injustice, joy and suffering, as all necessary and natural to the divine “ohm” of reality, distinct only in their particular manifestations?

Perhaps from a personal perspective we will then be able to make peace with all of them and find inner tranquility, but we won’t be able to fight for one side of the reality over and against the other. From an ethical perspective, if we want to fight for what is good, we first need to be able to make a distinction between good and evil. Such distinctions are essential to the Christian worldview and fit naturally with the idea that our chief end is beyond the self.

Many in our time, even if they are not Buddhists, take the same path as Siddhartha. Even secular materialists also must ultimately do away with the distinctions between good and evil, justice and injustice. The world simply exists and cannot be judged by any outside standard. All is one, all is transformation, all is cycle. The Christian worldview is fundamentally different, and, therefore, so is our ultimate goal.

Book Recommendations:

Programming note: I am going to start adding book recommendations at the end of each post. The first reason for this is purely self-seeking. My blog has reached the point where it gets about 500-1000 views per month, mostly from search results, and I’ve decided to become an Amazon Affiliate to try to turn those views into a bit of extra money (nothing so far). The second reason is that I think reading good books is really important. Each of these books is a book that I’ve either read, or has been recommended to me by a friend. Each will also relate to the post. If you want to buy the book and you do it from the below link, hey, I get a little cut. But that’s of secondary importance.

The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 5th Edition

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Already Alive

Joshua Cooper Ramo recalls in his book, The Age of the Unthinkable, a conversation he had with an Islamic Hezbollah fighter. He spoke to the fighter about the fighter’s interpretation of Koran, the importance of martyrdom, and that the fighter considered himself to be already dead. As we have come to learn as a world, there are many extremist terrorist groups who want to usher in a new age through the obliteration of this one. I couldn’t help but think about how different this is from my own Christian worldview.

This fighter considered that his mortal life was already over. He was already dead. What was left for him was only obedience and martyrdom for the sake of his people and his god so that he could be ushered into paradise.

Christians, too, seek entry into paradise. But between our conversion and entrance we are not “already dead” but “already alive.” There is no need to usher in the eschaton, the new age, for it has already begun in our lives. The Kingdom of God, that Day which we long for, is already dawning in our present state of existence.

In the language of the New Testament we have been made “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11) and have been made “alive with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5) and we are a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In a sense we are indeed “dead” but our death is a death to sin.

We had a baptismal service this morning at church and in the Baptist tradition from which I hail, we “dunk ‘em.” We do this as a way of picturing this death-life reality which has already occurred at conversion. Going down into the water we share with Christ in his death (by which we are forgiven of our sins) and in rising up out of the water we share with Christ in his resurrection (by which we receive the power for the new life.)

Throughout the centuries Christians have boldly faced the threat of martyrdom, though it was never called such in “holy wars.” But it was faced bravely not because those believers considered themselves “already dead” but because they knew of Christ’s resurrection. And, knowing that they already shared with Christ in his resurrection by faith, they looked forward to that better resurrection on the Last Day.

After the Paris bombings various talking heads cautioned against painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and I completely agree with them. We should not assume that the actions of a few (and those of an extreme position) are representative of the many. The Muslims with whom I have interacted have given me no reason to believe they are not peace loving individuals.

However, our beliefs do matter. What we believe about the world shapes who we are and what we do. There is a world of difference between believing you are “already dead” and believing you are “already alive.” The one who is “already dead” seeks only otherworldly paradise, which is all the more damaging when that comes through the annihilation of your enemy and yourself. The one who is “already alive” seeks to share that life, to experience that life, and to do it in this present, physical, age. One seeks release through obliteration. The other seeks redemption and renewal and, in imitation of Christ, through sacrifice and love of neighbor.

Unthinkable

“The political goal of making abortion illegal has always been a truncate vision. The real desire has always been to create a world where abortion is not just illegal, but unthinkable. In such a culture, the physical, psychological, and spiritual dangers of abortion are common knowledge. In such a culture, commitment, compassion, and a sense of duty to aid and protect baby and child will be universal.” –David Reardon, quoted by John Piper in A Hunger for God

In A Hunger For God Piper rightly points out the main reason why our country is so permissive, in fact the most permission democracy in the world (Piper, 144), when it comes to abortion is because we have adopted a worldview that makes it so. The pro-life goal, therefore, can’t just be at the level of legislation or court rulings, but at the level of culture, which is what Reardon is getting at in the quote above.

What are some things that we can at the level of culture which could make abortion unthinkable?

  • Recognition of the baby in the womb as human life: The expansion of ultrasound technology has gone a long way in showing us this reality. So have scientific advances in our knowledge of the life of the baby in the womb. Babies in the womb, even at extremely young ages, feel pain, react to light and darkness, and even dream. It’s getting harder and harder for pro-abortion activists to fight against this stream of public knowledge and common sense. So, mothers-to-be, keep posting the status updates on the development of your baby. I promise not to get annoyed.
  • Recognition of all life in all its stages as precious: This gets at the heart of the issue, since it is still possible to believe that the baby is, in fact, a baby, and yet still argue that it is OK to kill it. It is thinkable to kill the baby only since its life is not see as precious. Christians believe that all life is precious and it is precious in every stage of life.
  • This means that those who are pro-life can’t only focus on the stage of life from conception to birth. We must make a commitment to come along mothers with unplanned/crisis pregnancies in order to come to their aid and partner with them in caring for the child, before and after it is born.
  • Caring for life in all stages and forms also means we show compassion to the poor, the homeless, the handicapped, the refugees, and those on the fringes of society. We must see the image of God in everyone we meet.
  • Promoting and living a culture of duty and self-denial: Abortion-on-demand is fueled by an individualistic vision of reality that places the needs of the autonomous self over the needs of others. As a nation we willingly sacrifice the unwanted in order to serve our own vision of reality, and not only in the area of abortion. As a nation we need to recapture the values of having a duty towards the weak and powerless, of being willing to say “no” to self in order to serve our neighbors.
  • This means holding young men accountable. We need men who are willing to say “no” to their own sexual desires and who will say “yes” to fatherhood. If we didn’t have a fatherhood crisis in America, it’s hard to imagine that we would have such an abortion crisis. Great dads would go a long way to making abortion unthinkable.

Finally, for Christians (though there are plenty of non-Christians opposed to abortion as well), we need a commitment to the Word. I’ll conclude with a quote from Francis Schaeffer:

“The only thing that can stem this tide is the certainty of the absolute uniqueness and value of people. And the only thing which gives us that is the knowledge that people are made in the image of God. We have no other final protection. And the only way we know people are made in the image of God is through the Bible and the incarnation of Christ.” –Francis Schaeffer, quoted by John Piper in A Hunger for God

It’s All Within?

Facebook is often a great source for blogging material. In this case I saw two quotes from very different sources (one a Christian brother, the other not) both praising the benefits of our internal strength. One was in praise of a homeopathic approach to health and the other was a quote from a Buddhist.

Starting with the Buddhist quote:

“There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to become better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Everything exists. Seek nothing outside of yourself.” –Musashi Miyamoto

Maybe I’m just not getting the point but my initial response would be to say, “The paycheck that I just deposited says otherwise. The crackers I just ate out the cupboard say otherwise. The joy I get from celebrating my 9 year anniversary with my wife says otherwise. The education that I got says otherwise.” All of these things come from outside of me. The best I can do is accept, learn, grow. None of this comes out of the void of my existence. Miyamoto was a swordsman. Did he not receive instruction? Did he not give it? The myth that everything we need for our own existence lies within ourselves is destroyed everyday experience. We are inherently dependent upon the world outside of ourselves and we’re wise to seek it.

Now for the homeopathic quote (which has mysteriously disappeared). It said something along the lines of “our power to heal comes from within” to which another friend correctly responded, “it may have been planted within but it comes from God.” Certainly our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator, but our Creator also made the whole of the universe. And he has blessed doctors and scientists and researches with the ability to find new ways to harness creation for our good. All these powers to heal come from the outside, not within. And, both our bodies and the medicine which works to heal our bodies come from our Creator.

We are irrevocably dependent creatures.

The same truth that applies to biological dependency also applies to spiritual dependency. The world tells us to find spiritual truth “within” our selves. But where will we turn when our selves, spiritually and bodily are wasting away? When we make ourselves our god, our god dies when we die, and we run the risk of offending the One True God, the only One who is not dependent. And yet, amazingly, while the self-existent God could have spent his time navel gazing on into eternal bliss He is nevertheless a radically outward-oriented God. His is not outward-oriented like we are, by necessity, but out of life-giving creative love.

Looking only within vastly overestimates whatever internal strength, intelligence, or goodness we might have. Instead, look up with dependency to the self-existent and eternal Creator.

Wherein a misreading of Sola Scriptura gets you into trouble

A friend of mine passed along a book on counseling for me to read and critique. On the surface, it appears to be a Bible-centered approach to counseling which made it attractive to me. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize the author espoused a view of Scripture, and knowledge in general, that is problematic, both for how we counsel and for how we read the Bible. Here was my response to my friend after reading about a third of the way through the book:

 

I am only a little way into How to Counsel God’s Way but I already want to respond to one of Hoekstra’s fundamental assumptions. First, I really like what he affirms – God is the counselor, counseling is about discipleship, and counseling has to be about the process of sanctification. I also like that he emphasizes the central importance of the Bible in counseling. I agree with him on those points.

 

However, I am not comfortable with what he condemns. He regularly states that counselors should “exclusively” and “wholly” use the Word and should disregard so-called “human wisdom” or “psychological theories.” He regularly states that the Bible has everything counselors should use in counseling.

 

I think I know what he’s worried about. He’s worried that the psychological theories – many of them based on naturalistic and humanistic assumptions – are “replacing” the Bible. Many of these theories are counter-Biblical. They say the opposite of what the Bible teaches or simply rest of faulty assumptions. If that’s all that he’s against then again, I agree. But, his problem seems to be more theological in nature, particularly his view of God’s revelation and the nature of Scripture.

 

I think there is a common misunderstanding about the Bible which Hoekstra picks up on. Echoing in his words is the call of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone. But, he means something different by Scripture Alone then what the reformation means. He seems to mean, “The Bible is our sole source of knowledge” (at least when it comes to counseling). More accurately, though, the doctrine of Scripture Alone means that “the Bible is our sole source of authoritative knowledge.” That key word “authority” makes all the difference. We don’t learn everything in the Bible, but what we do learn is authoritative. It affirms or denies other sources of knowledge. This is true in any field of knowledge – from science to psychology, ministry to engineering. There is a lot we know that we have learned from a source other than Scripture. That doesn’t demean Scripture in any way or make it “less than.” Scripture still plays the role it is intended to play – it allows us to filter other sources of knowledge to be able to discern clearly what is right and wrong.

 

Furthermore, it acknowledges the breadth of God’s revelation. Theologians think of God’s revelation as either “General Revelation” or “Special Revelation.” Special revelation is God’s Word. It is authoritative and specific. It is “everything we need for life and godliness.” Theologians also understand Jesus as part of God’s special revelation. God’s general revelation is His creation. This revelation truly speaks about God (see Psalm 19:1). Through it we can see that God is God and that He is glorious. But, it’s not sufficient for our knowledge about God. You can’t know Jesus just by looking at God’s Creation. You need God’s special revelation for that.

 

However, just because God’s general revelation isn’t authoritative or sufficient (because it needs to be interpreted through the lens of Scripture) doesn’t mean it’s not useful or beneficial. Under God’s general revelation fall many areas of knowledge – science, technology, history, medicine, mathematics, economics, and, I might add, psychology. All of these things need to be filtered through the lens of Scripture, but they all also teach us things not taught specifically in Scripture. They provide us knowledge on their own. Again, this doesn’t reduce the role of Scripture in our lives.

 

The field of counseling/psychology is no different. The Bible gives us authoritative instruction on counseling. It gives us the basis for leading people in discipleship. It forms the basis and foundation for our thinking. However, God has also given us insights through his general revelation – knowledge of the brain, insights into the nature of addictions, etc. (From a Christian counseling perspective, think “The Five Love Languages,” something taught nowhere in Scripture but something that is by no means unbiblical.) It would be unwise (and unbiblical!) to throw out knowledge received from God’s general revelation. Likewise, it would be unwise and unbiblical to accept theories of that knowledge uncritically. It needs to be evaluated through Scripture and then either accepted or rejected on the basis of Scripture, but not rejected simply because that knowledge is not found in Scripture. The Bible doesn’t tell us everything, but what it does tell us is all together true and authoritative.

 

I’m going to keep reading the book, and it’s possible I am misreading him, so my opinion might change. But, in general, while I like what he affirms, I am cautious that he is condemning things that ought not be condemned.

 

Update: I continued to read the book after sending the email and the author does nuance his position a little in regards to general revelation, which he specifically addresses, but he still presents a radical distrust of it, particularly in regards to counseling, and he maintains his position that only the Bible should be used in counseling, and no other sources.

Hebrews 8-10, Philo, and Plato’s Allegory of the Cave

According to Plato’s “Theory of Forms” non-material ideas have a more fundamental reality than objects available to our senses. The idea of the chair is more real than the chair itself. You might even say that the physical chair is a “copy” of the idea of the chair.

This philosophy is illustrated in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” In the allegory, prisoners are chained in a cave, forced to look at a blank wall. Enough light shines into the cave to show shadows of the world outside the cave. These “shadows” are the only experience of reality that the prisoners have.

In the allegory, the philosopher is the prisoner who escapes the cave to gain access to the real world, that is, the world of ideas. They can then return to the other prisoners and free them, allowing them to see the world as it really is, not just as it is perceived by their senses.

The goal of the Greek philosopher was to understand the universals in the world of particulars.

The Jewish philosopher Philo harmonized Jewish and Greek philosophy, applying the concept of forms, ideas, and allegories to Old Testament text and his exegetical method (the way he interpreted the Bible) was fundamental to some of the early church fathers.

How influential was Philo? Could his philosophy have impacted any of the Biblical writers?

This question comes to bare on Hebrews 8 – 10. In it, the writer says “[The priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern seen on the mountain” (8:5). He also says “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not part of this creation” (9:11). And again, “It was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one, but he entered heaven itself, now to appear before us in God’s presence” (9:23-24).

So how did the writer of Hebrews use the language of “copy,” “shadow,” “true,” and “heavenly?” Was he making a distinction between the physical world of particulars and the more enduring realities of ideas?

There are many reasons to believe he was not. He does not have the Greek idea of physical/ideal dualism in mind, but the Jewish idea of Promise and Fulfillment.

In Hebrews, the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus is a physical and historical event and it is this event itself, not the idea of the event, which brings us salvation. Jesus does indeed accomplish something “outside of the physical realm” but “outside” does not mean the “world of ideas.” It simply means that Jesus’ work affected the way in which we relate to God. The world of ideas is not the fundamental reality of our existence. God is. And, because Christ is God, his death and resurrection provide the most fundamentally real thing upon which our salvation can be based.

Not everyone agrees. Some believe that the historical reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection, while potentially true, is really not that important. What Jesus did on the cross did not actually earn us salvation, instead, it showed us the fundamental reality of the universe, that is, that life comes through death and salvation through sacrifice. Jesus only saves us in the sense that this particular event points us to a universal idea. We are saved by his example, not by his sacrifice. He’s no more than the philosopher who shows us reality.

This is not the Biblical story and it is not the message of Hebrews.

Instead, it is better to understand “copy” and “shadow” in terms of promise and fulfillment. The Old Covenant, the sacrificial system, the office of high priest, and the sanctuary do not simply point us to a universal idea (though they do) they point is to the historical coming of Jesus, to God’s work and revelation in history. They are “copies” of “realities” as a blueprint is to a house. It shows you what the house will eventually look like when it is fully built.

In Christ’s death and resurrection we don’t just see more clearly a universal idea. We see our salvation won, once for all, in time and place.

Incomplete Picture: Who has value?

What happens when we have an incomplete, incorrect, or inadequate understanding of the doctrine of Creation?

Let’s break down the story of Creation into a few short phrases:

  1. God created the Universe
  2. God created man and woman in His image
  3. God said that it was good

In the first two installations in this series I have dealt with #1. Denying that God created the universe leads to materialism and its associated implications. The last two will examine #3. Today, I want to examine the effects of denying #2. What happens when we deny (or just plain ignore) the reality that humans are created in God’s image?

No one, anywhere, has value, meaning, or purpose:

The most obvious and consistent consequence to a purely materialistic system is nihilism, the notion that life is without any objected meaning, purpose, or value. Nihilism may be logically consistent, but it’s not really possible to live it out.

Our value, meaning, and purpose is self-defined:

So, if we have no intrinsic value, as nihilism states, perhaps we have some kind of self-defined value. Since we are beings who actually do have value, we’ll look for it wherever we can, even if that means looking in the wrong place. Instead of saying, as the story of Creation says, that we are made in God’s image, with the value, meaning, and purpose that that entails, we look for meaning within ourselves or our subjective experiences. We attempt to answer the question – if my value doesn’t come from God, where does it come from? If we simply say, “from being human?” it just begs the question. What about being human gives value? Where does value come from? Does it come from being smart? Strong? Rich? Independent? Autonomous? Able to feel pain? Come from a “superior” race? What if someone else doesn’t fit that criteria?

Only some people have value, purpose, and meaning:

Perhaps a more insidious and subtle form of this is to believe (even subconsciously) that only some people have value and others (like the ones we don’t like or can’t see) don’t. Not really anyway. If they really did have value it would mean we would have to treat them like they have value. We don’t really want to do that, do we? But the reality is that we all do have value, meaning, and purpose.

Babies (including the unborn) have value.

Handicapped people have value.

The elderly have value.

Muslims have value.

Jews have value.

Christians have value.

Republicans have value.

Democrats have value.

Socialists have value.

Homosexuals have value.

My wealthy neighbor has value.

That impoverished child in the Third-World has value.

I have value.

You have value.

The ones that are hardest to write… Kermit Gosnell and Peter Singer have value – even though they deny it for other people.

And, this value, meaning, and purpose doesn’t come from some subjective experience, but because we are created in God’s image. He gives it to us, and that makes it all the more valuable.

Value not perfection:

Don’t misunderstand me. We have value but we aren’t perfect. In fact, we’re all deaply flawed, broken, and rebellious. If we stop at Creation and fail to consider our sin, we err. Most people are comfortable with saying we all have value, but conclude that that means we’re perfect, that we’re superstars, that all of our preferences and ideologies and behaviors are perfectly justified. But that is a discussion for another day.