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Tag Archives: philosophers

Afraid of the Truth

Recent studies have shown how algorithms used by social media sights favor a secular worldview.  After a whistle blower from Google was fired for expressing his concerns, cable news interviews of this former engineer have exposed how these algorithms block conservative content.  When you add the recent videos released by Project Veritas, it’s clear that progressives are afraid of the truth, unwilling to participate in a fair or friendly debate.

Now after Paul and Silas had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul entered the synagogue, as was his custom, and for three Sabbaths he engaged in discussion and friendly debate with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:1-2.

During the first century, debates regularly took place in the center of town at marketplaces.  Philosophers took turns sharing their beliefs with those that followed either adding, defending or weighing the pros and cons.  The apostle Paul used this open minded climate to his favor, visiting a synagogue in Thessalonica on the Sabbath, examining the Old Testament.  Luke describes these discussions as friendly debates as each shared their biblical knowledge of the Torah.

But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the word of God [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ] had also been preached by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds, Acts 17:13.

After Paul and Silas were successful in convincing several Jews into converting to Christianity, civility departed.  Afraid that others might leave their synagogue, leaders gathered up some lowlifes and thugs to threaten Paul.  After fleeing Thessalonica, the bullying didn’t stop as news of a revival in Berea inspired synagogue leaders to round up another motley crew.  Apparently, being afraid of the truth is nothing new as when individuals begin to embrace biblical teachings, peer pressure is applied to change hearts and minds to revert back to what is considered socially acceptable.  Don’t be afraid of the truth; face it with an open heart.

by Jay Mankus

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Remaining Above the Fray

The expression above the fray refers to abstaining from getting involved in a heated argument, confrontation or debate.  While individuals may participate by adding their opinion, temperance is demonstrated by going the right distance and no further.  One of the reasons I have not activated my twitter account is to avoid being dragged into a no win situation of endless mudslinging back and forth.

But avoid foolish and ill-informed and stupid controversies and genealogies and dissensions and quarrels about the Law, for they are unprofitable and useless. 10 After a first and second warning reject a divisive man [who promotes heresy and causes dissension—ban him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 well aware that such a person is twisted and is sinning; he is convicted and self-condemned [and is gratified by causing confusion among believers], Titus 3:9-11.

Controversy is nothing new.  During the first century, philosophers meet in the marketplace to exchange their ideas.  When these new teachings conflicted with biblical principles, dissensions and quarrels about the God’s law triggered heresy, a departure from biblical beliefs.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns a servant of Christ to avoid getting sucked into these futile discussions.  In the centuries following biblical times, God raised up Christian historians who wrote apologetic books defending and justifying biblical truth.

Therefore if there is any encouragement and comfort in Christ [as there certainly is in abundance], if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship [that we share] in the Spirit, if [there is] any [great depth of] affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ], Philippians 2:1-2.

The best solution to remain above the fray is by developing a Christ-like mind.  Arguments tend to bring out raw emotions that influences human nature to attack, lash out and seek revenge.  Yet, Jesus shares a contrary message, to let God judge the living and the dead.  Jesus had the power to call down fire from heaven as the Son of God, but he choose to live a humble life as a blue collar carpenter.  By taking time every day to meet quietly with God, this spiritual discipline empowered Jesus to carry out God’s will on earth.  When individuals begin to practice Philippians 2:2-5, attitudes will transform toward a heavenly mindset to remain above the fray.

by Jay Mankus

Haven’t You Heard…It is Written

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward.  In ancient Greece, philosophers went to the market place to exchange new ideas.  According to Acts 17:18, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage the apostle Paul.  Trying to be relevant, Paul references an idol in Athens, quotes a famous poet and makes a reference to being an offspring of God.  When you don’t have much in common, its essential to find a starting place that will open the hearts and minds of a foreign audience to your point of view.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:3-4.

Meanwhile, Jesus used a different strategy, especially when confronted by first century religious leaders.  In the passage above, a fallen angel, Lucifer, aka Satan tempts Jesus during his forty day fast in preparation of his earthly ministry.  Instead of using a rhetorical question on this occasion, Jesus simply says, “it is written.”  As a former archangel who knew God’s Word, Jesus corrects the deceivers request by referencing the Old Testament.  This didn’t discourage Satan, as he quotes the Bible, daring Jesus to use God’s supernatural powers for selfish reasons.  To finish this spiritual debate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct what Satan took out of context.

So then, if David calls Him (the Son, the Messiah) ‘Lord,’ how is He David’s son?” 46 No one was able to say a word to Him in answer, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him again, Matthew 22:45-46.

At the beginning of Matthew 22, Jesus endures an onslaught from Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders.  Like a fierce game of pin the tail on the donkey, each expert of the law tried to trick Jesus into making a mistake by de-emphasizing one of the ten commandments.  Beside using expressions like haven’t you read, Jesus answers each question with another question.  One by one, each religious leader left defeated, no match for the Son of God.  While no one possesses the wisdom of Jesus, if you find yourself losing a debate, reference the Bible by saying, “Haven’t you heard?” Then quote a passage of the Bible that relates to your discussion, “it is written.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Sharing That Which You Believe

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment.  This time period spanned from 1685 to 1815.  As Plato once illustrated in a painting known as the School of Athens, philosophers stopped looking up to the heavens for answers to life, to God above.  Rather, scholars began to look within, replacing God with science by relying on minds to direct and guide future beliefs.  Before his death in 1804, Kant once said, “There are many things that I believe that I shall never say. But I shall never say the things that I do not believe.”

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

This quote from Immanuel Kant applies to today’s political climate in America as candidates seek to persuade undecided voters.  Kant realized that sharing everything that he believed openly would hinder his ability to convince skeptics to embrace his philosophical position.  Subsequently, Kant only shared the things he believed, strengthening his message.  Sharing too much information can confuse your listeners.  As long as you focus on your main points, audiences can be persuaded to change their mind.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

When making any argument, its important to possess confidence.  The Greek word εμπιστοσύνη refers to individuals who are confident, faithful, reliable and trusting.  Whenever you share what you believe, if you aren’t a credible source, living out your convictions, no one will believe you.  Therefore, its essential to demonstrate faith before you share what you believe.  The more confidence oozes out of your soul, the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12, will pierce and persuade hearts to follow Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Value of a Statue

Ancient Greece memorialized their heroes by erecting statues of gods and goddesses throughout cities like Athens.  When visitors passed through the streets, these monuments served as a reminder of their importance within the Greek culture.  During a first century mission trip to this region, the apostle Paul took some time to explore before Silas and Timothy arrived.  While waiting for his friends, Paul became overwhelmed by the images he observed.  Despite being offended, Paul desperately sought to engage the citizens of Greece, searching for something, anything they shared in common.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

Although Paul does not give an actual number of statues that he witnessed, it appears to be in the hundreds.  As a former Pharisee, the zealot within him immediately thinks of these statues as idols, breaking the second commandment within the Torah, You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them,” Exodus 20:4.  However, the teaching of Jesus moved Paul to put a positive spin on what he saw, calling a crowd of Greeks religious.  This compliment opens the door to allow Paul to introduce philosophers to the unknown God based upon an altar erected by a former citizen.

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.  For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you,” Acts 17:22-23.

Sure, every culture possesses something that is offensive.  Whether this is a document, religious background or statue, history is meant to educate individuals, not divide citizens.  The United States of America was founded on the principle of free speech earning the nickname back in the 1970’s as the great American melting pot.  The first amendment of the Bill of Rights declares Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  This is what makes America great.  However, if the citizens of this country allow government officials to destroy or remove historic statues of the past, there were will nothing to warn us from making the same mistakes.  May the events of Charlottesville in August of 2017 help people see the real value of a statue.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did Ethos Go?

While I never finished completing seminary due to my iritis, the classes I completed have provided a plethora of knowledge.  One of my favorite terms is the Greek word ethos.  Philosophers like Aristotle used ethos in the context of a person’s character.  Yet, ethos means so much more, its the expression of love, allowing others to see that you genuinely care about their lives.  Those individuals who demonstrate ethos on a daily basis earn the right to be heard.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, Matthew 9:12.

Unfortunately, as I interact with people, listen to what others believe and watch how different worldviews treat one another, the concept of ethos is vanishing.  Narcissism, pride and stubborn hearts are leaving a trail of hate, attacking anyone who opposing their beliefs.  C.S. Lewis eludes to this oblivious trait as diabolical pride in Mere Christianity.  If this flaw continues, the concept of ethos may disappear.

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” Matthew 9:13.

There are certain areas, subjects or topics where people claim to be experts, knowing much more than most others.  Yet, it would help if individuals would learn to become humble and more teachable.  While you may think you know more than a boss, manager or teacher, showing respect breeds ethos.  If the phrase sharing is caring is employed, a generation will begin to witness the powerful effects of ethos on society.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Reason with Liars

 

In ancient Greece, it was common for philosophers to go to the marketplace to introduce new ideas.  This is where the teachings of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates were first embraced and passed down from one generation to the next, impacting and influencing Western culture since its inception.  While reason can be perverted by using a false narrative to justify wrong actions, reason must contain a cognitive understanding where individuals form judgments based upon a process of logic.

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips, Proverbs 14:7.

According to King Solomon, renown for his wise rulings, there are certain people who possess a mind of their own.  Thus, whether you are arguing, debating or trying to introduce a more efficient way of doing things, trying to convince a fool is a waste of time.  You will have a better chance of molding and shaping a child than change the mind of a stubborn adult.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a discussion on morals going no where, remember this: you can’t reason with liars.

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

The apostle Paul provides a blueprint for engaging a non-Christian culture.  Calling people liars won’t win over an audience or keep minds open to what you have to say.  Rather, the best place to start is searching for traces within society that point to an unknown God.  Paul uses an inscription on an idol and later quotes a Greek poet.  These 2 pieces of information break down previous stereotypes held without knowing Paul and provided an open door where he was later asked to return to share more about this invisible God.  Whether you’re talking to a fool, liar or stiff necked individual, bridge these gaps by speaking the truth in love.

by Jay Mankus

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