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Friday, May 20, 2016

The Problem

As Christians we are often confronted with problems. That's no surprise. Everyone is faced with problems whether they are atheists, pagans, or even moderately conscious. However, with Christians our problems are based upon not just any problem, but The Problem.

Not that The Problem is avoided by everyone else. They haven't avoided it. They have answered The Problem to their satisfaction and are comfortable with that answer. For them The Problem has been resolved and now all that is left are a number of smaller problems that need to be knocked over to make life problem free. But for the Christian, The Problem remains and it is The Problem around which Christianity itself revolves.

The Problem is this: What or who is your authority?

"Who or what is your authority?" is the real question behind the great philosophical questions of history such as, "What is truth?", "What is right?", and "What is wrong?", "Why am I here?", and "What shall I do?"

Think of it this way, everything starts with a fundamental fact upon which we hang every thought and interpret the universe around us. For example, for the atheist the fundamental "fact" is "there is no god" and so all of the universe is interpreted as a massive statistical anomaly. But where did that "fact" come from? Of course the atheist will argue that it came from reason, but that's a copout. Reason must be hung on something and ultimately that something has to stand on its own as an authoritative statement. In the case of atheism the fundamental statement is not "there is no god" but "materialism defines all there is" and it is from that statement that the atheist ultimately decides there is no god. Where did the idea come from that "materialism defines all there is"? For the modern atheist it is a philosophical statement that arose from the Enlightenment and philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche.

Think about how fundamentally important that question of authority is to the other basic questions of life. If men like Friedrich Nietzsche are our authority then "truth", "right", "wrong", and "meaning" take on a whole new definition and they fundamentally alter how we behave. In fact Nietzsche denied "truth" existed saying, "There are no facts, only interpretations." This relativism spread out into every part of life resulting in moral relativism.

So The Problem remains. Who or what is your authority? As I said, for the majority of the world their decision was fairly easily made. They decided that they were their own authority. They then found teachers that fit their beliefs and went on their merry way believing what they believe because they believe it and because somebody else told them what they thought sounded pretty good to them too.

Not so with Christians. Christians are fundamentally and uniquely confronted with The Problem every single moment of every single day. Why? Because, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, we are amphibious - with one foot in heaven and another on the earth. Paul addressed this when he wrote in Romans 7:14-25 about his struggle with his two natures. In one moment Paul found his flesh screaming that he was the authority in his life and in another his soul cried out that God was the authority.

And this really gets to the point of this post. Ultimately the most important question of life is not "What is truth?" or "What's my purpose?" but instead, "Who is your authority?" As Christians we claim that God is the ultimate authority in our lives, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of day to day living we are like Paul, caught in a constant struggle against our sinful desire to be little gods while our saved souls are crying out, "Abba, Father!"

As this blog develops I will often refer back to The Problem of who is our authority because that is really the most important place to begin when considering any question. It is that question that determines our starting point and ultimately predetermines where we end up. Will I live up to this goal? Probably not as well as I'd hope (after all, I'm human), but it's a worthy goal nonetheless.

For the moment though ask yourself honestly this one question, The Question, "Who or what is the ultimate authority in my life?" and realize that whatever your answer is it will influence every other thought and conclusion you come to. What's more, those thoughts and conclusions will only be as good as the authority you choose.

And don't forget, saying that God is our ultimate authority is not the same as making God our ultimate authority.

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