July 23, 2006 Thinking about thinking

The Three R's-Revelation, Reason, and Research (How holding to a revelatory epistemology affects critical inquiry.)

Alvin Plantinga comes to mind here. He has suggested that scientific method posits that there are basically three ways of knowing: perception, memory, and rational intuition. Logic , mathematics, and observation certainly attain for the Christian researcher as well. However, while they can lead us to true conclusions, they are by their very nature limited.; I do not believe that these three ways of knowing are exhaustive in nature, nor should they claim to be.

A revelatory epistemology is not to be relegated as non-reason in opposition to the perception, memory, and rational intuition; a culture dominated by the latter approach to knowledge is on very shaky grounds historically and logically. In reality humans made in the image of God make sense of their experience physically, ethically and spiritually. The existence of revealed, objective knowledge pulls together many things not able to be explained by non-revelatory approaches to knowledge. So I see the Christian as having a distinct advantage rather than a limitation in this regard. We must unambiguously pursue the potentiality of what Jonathan Edwards held as "rational revelation". Faith and reason are not in opposition.

Holding to a revelatory epistemology has a transformative impact on our view of research, from our valuation of what should be researched to our view and evaluation of current theories. As George Marsden has written, (cf.The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship) the revealed doctrine of creation and the doctrine of man changes the epistemological questions we face dramatically. First, it means that truth can be known and verified. This is in opposition to what postmodern critical theory holds to.It means that the pursuit of truth is in fact an act of worship and is transformative. If what Dostoevski said is true: "If God does not exist, then everything is permissible" (if he even said it), then the opposite is true as well- God's existence and his revelation changes everything- there are real boundaries and areas that are open to inquiry and others that will remain a mystery.

I agree with Marsden's take: If we hold to the authority of revealed truth, we will not fall into the temptation of making absolute those things that are temporal, relative, and fallen. We will have an accurate evaluation of human ability. If we understand the deceitfulness of the human heart, we will approach inquiry with humility and a healthy dose of skepticism over our own abilities to know of our own accord. For the Christian researcher, truth is not an epistemological fiction.

Spoiler alert: We went to see Lady in the Water. but she hid out in the shower and flew away on an big bird after the big lawn dog chased her for a while...

I was told by the ticket taker- this movie is going to scare you to death. he surely was not speaking of this movie. There was little that was scary, or even suspenseful in this movie. The word "contrived" comes to mind again and again. It is about as far removed from "The Sixth Sense" as is possible. No plot twists evidence themselves; it is all very predictable. In fact the movie itself slips into explaining itself time and times again, as if to ask whether the audience is tracking with it.

What is supposed to be an affirmation of the power of myth (which worked in "Finding Neverland", for instance) drowns in the authors musings along the way. In fact the self-aggrandizing , self-referential quality was irksome at times. The Disney execs were right not to buy it.

Along the way the critic who believes there is no creativity left in the world, and who dares to offer critique of the mundane, is eventually hoisted upon his own petard. He claims to be able to wrap up the plot and characters in a neat little package succumbs to his own arrogance. It is asked, "Who would be so arrogant as to discern what another person's purpose is?"

Ah but the answer- esoteric knowledge from one who has gnostic abilities, expressed a story from Eastern mysticism framed as a fairy tale. A melange of mytholical creatures invade our world-from a messianic sea nymph to evil Hindu monkey-gods of retribution to the child-oracle, mythic themes are interwoven into a story that makes you forget its moral.

The fact that the narrative of the plot is stiltedly revealed in the telling of this"bedtime story" is the biggest disappointment of all. The only plot twists are in the mistakes Cleveland makes in discerning who is who in the story. It is pretty obvious that he, as the doctor who needs healing will be the healer in the end. Physician, heal thyself.

I have been seeing the trailer for the better part of six months and eagerly anticipated it. Seems I was waiting for an experience that never could happen;community was never really realized, there were no real surprises. The scariest moment was when the sprinkler system kicked on. I'm not sure I still believe in M. Night Shyamalan.

But I do believe in the Trunk-Monkey. Check his hilarious videos out here... and here is the anti-road rage one...


Every Color

Dark was the cross where Jesus died
Black was the sin that was crucified
Grey was the stone that sealed His grave
Deep was the darkness of that cave
White is the lamb who died in our place
Crimson the blood that was shed by grace
Gold is His mighty mercy seat
Blue is the sky where soon we'll meet

We are covered in a coat of many a varied hue
We can apprehend each one in this world we view
And every shade will tell salvation's story
Every color can remind us of the beauty of His glory.

Scarlet, the blood that Jesus bled
Brown is the blessed and broken bread
Red was the cup of covenant wine
Green is the true and living vine
Silver is the crown that was given to me
Purple the robes of royalty
Amber the fire that burns in my bones
These are all within His rainbow shown

We are covered in a coat of many a varied hue
We can apprehend each one in this world we view
And every shade will tell salvation's story
Every color can remind us of the beauty of His glory.

Anthony Foster
July 22, 2006

Blog-Rant Alert!!

Put-down humor is used to criticize and manipulate others through teasing, sarcasm, and ridicule. It may be harmless enough in small doses, but some Christians are far too practiced and adept in this dark art.

I have been noticing the proliferation in Christian circles of put- down humor. I can think of many descriptive adjectives to describe what I think of this: irksome, shameful, mean-spirited, juvenile, shameful, small-minded, unsophisticated, shameful, demeaning, destructive, stultefying, unchristian, and yes, shameful are a few that spring to mind.

We are to think of others as better than ourselves. We are to build up one another, be kind and tenderhearted one to another and to pay close attention to our tongues. An old adage, "if you can't think of anything positive to say, keep quiet" attains in this regard. Our words should be acceptable to God. Put down humor? Put it away, Christian. Life is too short.

Time for a Break

It has been a great ten days with the impostors (our cohort name). Every one has gone back to their home and loved ones and we get some down time. Well, not really. I am off to the National Sales Meeting next week and THEN we will get some down time. Here is the crew in miniature, so no one will hopefully object. I want my friends and prayer supporters to see the group...

I was riding home today and this song filtered into my head as the rain pounded the windshield along the way- so to the tempo of the wipers...

Deep Love, Vast Love

Deep love, vast love, encompass all around.
Without measure
without bounds
Far beyond all we think or ask
In your wonder we would bask
Make your true worth fully known
Through the lives of these, your own.

Deep love, vast love,
Draw us to your side
Let us rest in you alone
Forever to abide!

Deep love, vast love,
Descend to hearts from heav'n above
Engulf us in beauty and majesty
We want to be captured by your glory
Make your infinite love well known
Through the lives of these, your own.

Deep love, vast love,
Draw us to your side
Let us rest in you alone
Forever to abide!

Anthony Foster
July 28, 2006

Black and White

Black was the lie that made us die.
Black was the sin that did us in.
Black was the hole within my soul
Black was the night where I had no sight.

But the darkness cannot comprehend
Nor overcome, not put to an end
The glorious radiance of his light
It shines abroad to give us sight.

White is the lamb who can save each man
White are the fields His planting yields
White was the light on the path that's bright
White is the stone where my name's made known.

But the darkness cannot comprehend
Nor overcome, not put to an end
The glorious radiance of his light
It shines abroad to give us sight.

Anthony Foster
July 27, 2006

Seven God-things...

This past ten days has revealed connections back to the past and evidenced God's sovereignty...it is not just a small world, methinks...

1. One cohort member's church is across the street from my pastor's brother's house. Why in the world would something this obscure even come up?

2. Another cohort member just graduated from the Seminary my project manager's husband is attending. He received his diploma from my former pastor's mentor.

3. Unbeknownst to either of us, one of my prof's and I attended the same church (Reinhart Bible Church) in Dallas at the same time, and he drove by my house each day going to work at Criswell College.

4. The same prof grew up in the SBC, left the SBC intentionally and went the PCA/Bible Church route before returning to the SBC-just like me.

5. Same prof had a communications course with my former pastor, Duane Litfin.

6. Today we referenced an article Dr. Litfin wrote a year before he became my pastor and I was able to report first hand on how his ideas worked out in praxis.

7. Two cohort members attended Mid-America, where I first attended in 1987. One of us shared the same favorite prof...

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/