Check out our new page called “Ask“! Please share it with people you know who are in need, or just ask something yourself! If you have nothing ask, then just make a comment about what you think of the page using the contact form. We’ve also made some changes to WC, including the comment shape and a “bookmark” on the upper right that you can click on to share WC’s articles on various social networks. Try it out guys!
Last Sunday I gave my first reading in church. I don’t have any problems reading in front of people, however I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about it. Here you are getting up in front of a group of people, your spiritual family, and sharing something sacred – you want to do a decent (or at least competent) job. Thankfully it went well and I would certainly like to do it again.
Perhaps what helped was the fact that after I read the verses a few times myself, I found that they resonated powerfully with me. These words are undoubtedly a spiritual call to arms; there is no subtlety here about what we are being called to do. But at the same time it is a message of complete hope and reassurance. God is letting us know that He is with us in the struggle we find ourselves in; he is our sword, our helmet, and our shield. Paul’s words to the Ephesians ring true through the ages with the strength of the Holy Spirit and the uncompromising truth that is the Word of God.
I shall be meditating on these words for the coming week:
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. ” - Ephesians 6:10-20
It may seem as if Walking Christian has been inactive lately, but behind the scenes I have been hard at work. All of our bloggers have been preoccupied with school, and some have their own blogs to take care of. This is partly due to the unclear purpose that some of our bloggers have had about WC. Some think it’s just for causal blogging, and because their interests are primarily academic, more attention has been given to their own blogs. Which is fair enough, I do not want to obligated them to do posts that they do not want to do. At the beginning, the idea was clear and we were able to make both causal and academic posts. Walking Christian was inviting and flourishing for a time when we were adjusted to technical posts because it allowed for causal posts. Unfortunately, I think the novelty of WC has subsided now. Instead, most causal posts are replaced with Facebook and academic posts were placed on other blogs. The problem with RG (the prior blog) was that its current leadership was strict and non-active. Walking Christian is certainly an improvement, it has just been lacking in a clear direction. It has been perceived as going to the other extreme: too much causal posts.
As the leader of this blog, I take full responsibility for this recent downturn. For starters, I am hoping that the recent design refresh could add some “professionalism” without compromising its simplicity. To add purpose to this blog, I have revamped the entire about page. Please read it and give us your thoughts! The idea here is to add a more community-centerd approach to Walking Christian. If I can retain the quality of posts while addressing current events, I think we’ll have a more successful reading experience here. I strongly believe that this ministry is my calling, and I will never abandon it even if I must do it alone. This blog is first and foremost designed to help YOU, it’s not a medium that exclusively expresses our own interests. Too often do we have blogs that just express their opinions, but I want a blog that will let you express your struggles (or seek council) without feeling ignored and belittled. We’re a family, and I hope to introduce other nonbelievers to the family as well. Soon, I should be adding a “contact” page if you desire prayer, council, or support. This blog will change and will operate for the kingdom of God.
Please explain your vote in the comments below. Thanks!
If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.
— Saint Augustine
Let’s suppose you missed a flight. This almost happened to me a few days ago, but as that entire event was unfolding, I thought to myself: How should we interpret this in light of God’s overall purposes for us? There are three possibilities – it is a blessing, a curse, or a trial. Now some may suggest that it simply happened without any divine purpose at all, but I cannot accept that. The biblical account of God’s sovereignty presents his control over every particular thing (e.g, Matt. 6:30, James 4:13–15, Acts 17:26), as well as His purposing of all things for His glory (Colossians 1:16). A Thomistic perspective entails this position as well, so it as at least rationally defensible. Unfortunately, I think our society despises God’s intricate involvement in their lives because they prefer to be left alone, or somehow think the notion itself is absurd. Why think that God is involved at all if a missed flight could be explained as a simple mistake on our parts? How does this situation benefit me, one could ask, or how could God do this to me? I do not presume to be capable of extensively answering each of these issues in a single post, for each of these questions have book length treatments in philosophy and theology. However, I do hope to illuminate and apply these principles in a way that could be insightful for our daily lives.
The Nature of God’s Power
Let’s address the first question: Why think that this is the direct work of God at all? Actually, I would qualify that question because I do not think that it is the “direct” work of God at all. This is to avoid the error of occasionalism, which is the philosophical doctrine that every created substance is of itself incapable of being an efficient cause. Every effect in creation is therefore directly caused by God. In other words, the sun that vaporizes the water does not do so of its own nature, but because God determined that this is what the effect would be. But if He so pleased, He could cause an effect to do whatever He wanted – e.g, the sun would appear to turn the water into dinosaurs for no intrinsic reason. While I’d love to refute this, I think most people would already recognize this as absurd. If that’s the case though, how could God possibly be involved? Either nature does it or God does it, right? That’s a false dilemma. It’s possible for God to cause and purpose things through nature, just as a chess player works through the rules of chess for the purpose of checkmating his opponent. Every move can be anticipated and planned accordingly without sacrificing the nature of the game.
Similarly, God perfectly anticipates every event and plans accordingly, without sacrificing the nature of things. Though this is slightly incomplete, since He decided to actualize this world with all its particularities before the foundations of the world. It’s not as if God finds Himself with a world and is forced to work with what He has. Furthermore, not only does He work before and through the nature of things, He works in the nature of things as well. By becoming a man to die on the cross, He worked in the world to shape the course of history. He does all of this for His glory and purpose, but does so without fail. Now one could ask, “How do I know that God had a specific purpose for that event? Perhaps it is not essential to His plan?”. There are indeed some aspects of reality that you could consider accidental (i.e, it’s not essential to something, not that it’s outside God’s control). For example, it would be difficult to see how a blue colored ball would thwart the entire purpose of God unless it was orange. But Scripture tells us that even the hairs on a person’s head are known by God. So the least we could say is that God knows certain “trivial facts”, but how does this lead us to purpose?
His Universal Plan
First we need to understand that not every feature in the world needs to be “essential” to God’s plan in order to have a purpose. It is possible that the blue ball is a child’s favorite color such that it is a blessing to him. This is obviously extrinsic to the ball, however, as it is not as if that specific ball itself intended to be picked up by that particular child. So extrinsic purposes are possible for particular things with accidental features, without necessarily being essential to God’s plan. Though it’s not inconceivable that something accidental could work to be at least partly essential for something like Jesus’s death – e.g, Judas could have had a silver coin as child, you never know. But even if it had no essential purpose, it could still participate in God’s plan if it fulfilled some good. For example, the Christian worldview entails the idea that God desires our flourishing as creatures (Jeremiah 29:11). Part of flourishing as creatures is experiencing joy. Thus God could work through the ball to provide that child with joy, and by consequence would be fulfilling a infinitesimal part of His greater purpose. I only say infinitesimal because it is Christ that essentially fulfills this joy in us, not the ball. That does not make the ball bad, it just makes it a lesser good.
Second, I think we’re limiting our understanding of “purpose” to either whatever is good for a person or whatever is in accord to God’s plan. This is incorrect, because it just begs the question: What if the ball was never used? What purpose would that possibly serve? This question could not be answered if we did not have a Thomistic account of purposes that will hereby be called final causes or teleology. Since the ball is a human artifact, it derives its purpose from us to be used for a child’s amusement, but of itself it would not necessarily possess that feature. We are interested in what teleology the ball has of itself, not what purpose we assign to it. By final cause then, I just mean that a ball is of its own nature directed toward a certain range of effect/s as its final cause or end just as an arrow points toward the target as its final end or goal. One of the effects that the ball is directed to is the potential to be melted into goo. This effect is present within the ball regardless of whether it gets actualized. Understood this way, all created objects would have some potential to be directed toward a certain end.
Lastly, all physical beings have final causes, but not all final causes are physical beings. The intellect is capable of final causality precisely because it is intentional by nature. Anything that intends a certain end is already exemplifying a form of teleology, except in a much different way than physical things do. At this point though, I think I’m adventuring too far into purposes that do not matter to us. Or so it seems! In reality, the purposes that are most relevant to us are those that are intrinsic to our nature. For example, it is good for us to eat food but this could not be unless it was our nature to eat. Because of the different natures of things, I think God’s purposes work in different ways for all things. A human has different ends that a ball does not have. So it becomes meaningless to ask, “Does God have a plan of salvation for balls?” because they’re simply not in need of such things. Nevertheless, I do think there is a hierarchy of purposes where the lowest forms of final causes are there to serve the higher forms. A clear example of this is water serving the plant’s need for water, and the plant serving the animal’s need for nutrition.
In this way, I think God works through each thing to accomplish good for beings like us. But if there so happened to be a “ball” that did not have a purpose for the greater good of rational agents, then I do not think that threatens the sovereignty of God in any way. It’s not as if every physical thing must work for our own good in order to have a purpose at all, that’s just absurd. Just by virtue of being anything at all, the ball is said to have a degree of goodness that God at every instant of its existence actualizes. Since God is goodness, every thing that has being must be analogous to this goodness in different ways. Even Satan, who has been regarded as evil personified, must have some sort of goodness insofar as he has being. The more perfect we are in relation to our natures, the more we reflect the glory of God’s being. This is why I reject the Calvinistic notion that God is most glorified when we are most damned. Or for the elect, when we are most satisfied in Him. God’s glory is not increased or diminished by any state of man, but only our reflection of His glory within our being can be increased or decreased. Now that some objections have been removed, I’ll be focusing on the practical side in my next post. Forgive me if that bored you, this post ended up being much longer than I had intended.
A beautiful articulation of the Third Way that captures the excellence and mystery of creation. The existence of God should be obvious from any serious reflection, but unfortunately, some men can obfuscate the issue beyond what it needs to be. For example, the powers of the intellect are raised above the powers of reality, to the point that it can incoherently conceive of something coming from nothing. Or it appeals to something as absurd as brute facts. Ultimately, that’s what any atheistic explanation must reduce itself to because it cannot have an explanation for the universe in principle. I hope others could see this, but sometimes it just takes time. Please study this issue more guys, because I want you to find the deepest and most precious truths about the world.
I’d like to introduce David Rodriguez’s new blog! The posts are more academic and philosophical, so if you like that stuff, go check it out. Forgive me for the lack of posts here recently, I was in Florida for six days with the love of my life. I’m hoping to get back right on schedule with WC as I work out the direction I would like for it. For now, I have to work out what God wants for me and this blog.
Imagine having the ability to listen to, read, play, or watch whatever one wanted: movies, games, books, music, software; everything is for the taking. For most people this isn’t just a fantasy. It is a reality. File hosting, torrents, and other websites put all of the digital content in the world right at one’s fingertips. Despite its unlawfulness most people don’t think twice about whether or not they should download digital content. It’s simply not a big deal. However, I will argue in this paper that, to the contrary, the illegal downloading of such content is unethical and that the laws against it ought to be obeyed. I will first present four reasons why it should not be done. After this I will refute five common arguments used to justify illegal downloading. I will close with a final argument addressing the issue from a decidedly Christian perspective.
It would help get to the heart of the question by first figuring out what the problem is not. The problem is not whether there is sufficient legal justification for the downloading of digital content; it is relatively clear that there is none, at least in the U.S. Rather, the question is whether there is sufficient moral justification for illegal downloading of digital content. Hence, when I use the term “illegal downloading”, I’m properly speaking of the type of downloading which is illegal in the United States and violates copyright. It’s important to note that this question can be assessed independently of whether or not illegal downloading is equivalent in nature to stealing.  The real issue is whether the two are morally equivalent, i.e. whether they are both equally wrong.
“Many, however, fail to do good actions but, taking refuge in theory, think that by philosophizing they will become virtuous. They act like the sick who listen carefully to the doctor but do nothing he prescribes.” -Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics 1105b12-18
I think many philosophers fall into this trap. I know I have a couple times. There are times we think we somehow have an edge of the good life because we’re the ones who have sat there and thought about it. We think we have an edge over that little old lady down the street who helps the homeless because we’ve thought long and hard about the virtuous and how to correctly apply them. If we sit at home and not do anything, we’re no more good than a cat that licks itself all day. Part of being a Christian philosopher is not only to to contemplate the good life and virtuous actions under the headship of Christ, but it’s to go out and do the right thing. It’s to go out and pursue the good life in deed. It’s to leave the ivory tower and join the rest of humanity and do works of charity and goodness just as Christ commanded us to. It’s sad that this very thing that Aristotle speaks of is found throughout the philosophical community.