Friday, July 27, 2012


Temperatures and humidity are in the beastly range in Central Pennsylvania and we're in better shape than most parts of the country, especially the Midwest.  So here is a little levity for Friday to let you "chill" out and enjoy.  I will for sure because Friday is my sabbath.

Friday, July 20, 2012


One of the most popular post series that I have published on this blog was a series called "Brian's Questions."  During the next month I am reprising those posts. - Steve

 Recently via Facebook a young man for whom I was pastor when he was a very young teen contacted me with questions that he had developed in his spiritual journey. There were five of them and he prefaced them with this statement:   "I have a few questions that you might be able to answer. To preface a little, I was watching the History channel's documentary on the Bible stories and in particular, the overlaps between religions."  The questions ranged from "Lilith-was there a woman of sand? Or just Eve?" to "Do you think we could learn more about the history of the world by communicating between religions, to fill in the gaps, instead of trying to figure out which one is right? The arrogance that Faith instills in mankind is powerful and has caused many wars over many years, but would it not be more beneficial to cross-reference?"

My response initially is these are good questions.

Depending on who you are as a reader of this blog, you may find these questions strange or right on target,  I am an apologist by way of passion and profession.  An apologist in religious terms is one who "explains the faith" generally to persons who are not yet persuaded to be a part of that faith -- or who are simply trying to find some focus in the plethora of religious ideas.  An apologist is not a disinterested person, but more an intellectual ambassador for the truth that religion represents.  A true apologist actually lives by the faith he attempts to make sensible or accessible to others by answering (to the best of their ability) the questions that the seeker poses.

Later, with Brian's permission, I will share my answers with you via this blog.  For now I want to address one foundational issue.  For much of history, particularly in what is called "the common era" (ironically dated around the birth of Christ), truth has been considered to have an objective character.  Truth was revealed.

Even that which is now relegated to myth by contemporary scholars began in the hearts of humanity as something that was "black and white," a description of reality.

Roughly beginning with the Enlightenment and the so-called Age of Reason, human thinking began to shift. With its increasing emphasis on the material nature of things and the belief that reality can always be observed, measured, described without any particular outside assistance - two things occurred.  The belief in the supernatural was set aside because everything about it could not be tested objectively by the human mind. Thus, even Bible scholars began to dismiss any references to the miracles in the Bible because "who can demonstrate how the Red Sea can be parted or a virgin have a child without a male human partner?"

The second, more a product of postmodernism in the last sixty years, was the truth was defined by human experience. It wasn't truth until it was validated by experience.  But more narrowly, truth for me might be different from truth for you because we have a different experience.  Even with the admission of the spiritual nature of humanity and the possibility of the supernatural - truth moved into the subjective spectrum. Truth is found within ourselves. It is not really revealed, it is self-revealed as a part of the self-actualism of my personal encounter with life and the world.  Objective truth may be possible, says the postmodern, but they seriously doubt if it can be found or adequately described.

Basically with these developments - truth is defined by the person(s) with power or position. The higher the credential - academic or experiential - the more likely is to be presented as  truth as a description of reality. The very popular cable channels like The History Channel or National Geographic Channel or The Discovery Channel were formed by persons trained by persons trained in the Modern Era - hence, holdovers from the Age of Enlightenment with many of the assumptions that still debunk any sense of revelation or supernatural or even a spiritual dimension. Everything is a creation by humanity using its intellect to advance humanity.

The more postmodern purveyors of religious scholarship (I haven't figured out their channels yet), have been fascinated by the alternative religious ideas - often discounted by religions in power, They do not always need a belief in the ultimate triumph and power of human reason. They are just describing "what is experienced" or "what may possibly be experienced."

For biblical Christianity, the authority which establishes truth is a God who reveals that truth.
For religions including Christianity steeped in Enlightenment assumptions, the authority for truth is what can ultimately understood and described by the human mind. For general postmodern spirituality, the authority for truth is what can be experienced (and that's all that really matters.)

My answers to Brian will come from the first position - which as a biblical Christian means that the revelation found in God's Word is the ultimate source of truth.

It is not as simple to answer a good question as people might like think, because if you don't want to accept the response as the real truth based on your personal biases, you can always find a reason to disagree and/or reject.  Ultimately, an apologist never depends simply upon the force of human logic or argument, but the conviction and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in the process to break down the barriers to (Real) Truth.

(C) 2010 by Stephen L Dunn

Monday, July 16, 2012


Former FBI Director Louis Freeh announced the findings of an internal review into how Penn State University handled a scandal involving its former assistant football coach. His findings were that the most powerful leaders at the school showed "total and consistent disregard" for child sex abuse victims while covering up the attacks of a longtime sexual predator.  "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh wrote. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

Freeh also left no doubt that former Head Coach Joe Paterno was actively involved in the coverup; in fact, presenting evidence that Paterno exercised his personal influence to be sure that the cover-up would be chosen over legal action against Sandusky.  This saddens all of us in Pennsylvania deeply, but only the most stalwart and unswerving fan can deny the evidence of Joe's complicity.

What happens next? USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan has called for the NCAA to level the "death penalty" against Penn State, effectively shutting down the football program for its moral lapses and lack of administrative control. That may be extreme, but some believe not really extreme considering the circumstances.  Freeh's report was an "internal" Penn State investigation and has provided massive evidence of a college football program that was not under the control of the university and its trustees, putting it effectively beyond accountability and above the law of the land -- one of the most critical laws of this land.  The NCAA investigation will now begin.

The NCAA needs to act decisively and forcefully. The penalties must fit the crime. In our sports obsessed culture, not to do so is inexcusable and will have a powerfully negative impact upon our collective values as a nation.

Someone must say that sexual abuse of children is beyond reprehensible and is inexcusable.  Our children's well-being demands it.  Our nation's character requires it.

Monday, July 9, 2012


The "long" Independence Day Holiday is now over.  A whole lot of America did no business from about the Thursday before the "Fourth" (when it was still June) and today (five days after the Fourth).  I'd like to think that it was a celebration of our nation's heritage and values, but the former seems to be undervalued these days and the latter seems to be shifting or drifting into a less than admirable state.  Nonetheless, there was a whole lot of relaxation, many a cookout and party, good family time, and some necessary laziness.  If nothing else holidays in America seem a good excuse for simply getting a time-out from endless toil, something we Christians values. It's called Sabbath.

The low point of the American celebration probably came in San Diego.  Despite all the hype, all the expense, hotel bookings and camp-sites claimed, i.e., planning worthy of the invasion of a small country, a computer glitch caused an entire thirty minute show to go off at the same time in a magnificent fifteen second display. The Big Bay Boom was a big, big bust!

Fireworks are wonderful, but so are simple conversations, picnics put together in love, people making time simply to be with one another, and to enjoy another person's friendship.  Parades stir the heart, but so does watching a toddler take a first step with turning it into a contender for America's Home Videos; or watching Dad hit a double in a neighborhood softball game, or someone honoring Mom by doing the dishes.  Celebrations are what you make of them.  The Bible tells us "A cheerful heart is good medicine." I suspect a celebrating heart is also goof medicine.  And you don't need a holiday or pyrotechnics to do either.

Speaking of pyrotechnics, here's YouTube of the the Fireworks that fizzled.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Lately my Facebook friends have been posting some really tremendous counsel and encouragement.  These are among the top ones on my list.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It's Tuesday night, not Monday morning, but these are my reflections, anyway.

One of the good guys died this week.  Actor Andy Griffith died last night at age 86. Although he had a movie career (most famously, No Time for Sergeants), Griffith was probably best known for his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina. A country boy demeanor hid a perceptive and intelligent law enforcement officer, who always seemed to get his man--usually after his bumbling deputy Barney Fife had made a mess of the case and a fool of himself.  His character embodied Jesus' command to the disciples, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16, KJV) A widower on the show, we all watched as he raised little Opie to become the dream child of many Americans. Many a father in America, including this one, learned the value of a gentle word and timely forgiveness on shaping the character of a young man.

It should be no surprise that Andy was a devout Christian.  What many may not know is that he suffered from Guillan-Barr Syndrome.  His response to that disease. "I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before."

Good-bye, Andy.  We will still enjoy your humor and life lessons through the reruns of The Andy Griffth Show and  Matlock. Your Christian witness among the citizens of Hollywood and particularly the people of Mount Airy, North Carolina are a legacy of influence that will bless many for generations.