Ligonier "Wrap Up" Post: Various and Final Comments
If one really pays attention to each message given at a Ligonier conference, he will take a day or two at home to "come down" from the event. So many things barrage the mind that it takes some time to process one's thoughts.
I have a few odds-n-ends I thought I'd post about the conference.
1. At the top of the list is John Piper's message on "The Challenge of Relativism." I thought it interesting that the Hebrews did indeed think deductively--as was illustrated in the text in Matthew 21:23-27. Piper rightly noted that a thorough study of the Scriptures can defend us from the unbelieving sophistry of our day. Secularists and unbelievers like to read their thoughts back into the text of Scripture. But the Scriptures hold their own.
Piper's deconstruction of post-modernism's air of "humility" was especially helpful. People who wish to play fast and loose with the truth often do so with the flourish of humility. "Who am I to say what is right and wrong; what is true or false?" These same folks then turn to the Christian and accuse him of arrogance for thinking he knows a measure of truth. Yet post-modernis'ts uncertain epistemology simply serves as a smoke-screen for his desire to autonomously call his own shots--while the Christian seeks to submit to reality. Which is really the more arrogant way? "Creating your own reality like a god? Or submitting to the Reality that is?"
This insight is key in showing that the Post-Modern Emperor has no clothes. I think R.C. Sproul, Jr, spoke along these lines as well.
Anyway, Piper's message on this topic is extremely important. Everyone should hear it.
2. Ravi Zacharias has been a blessing to me for a long time. I've learned more from him and because of him than I think I can relate. In one of his messages, he told the audience that he is planning to write a book in response to the hard-boiled atheist Sam Harris. Harris wrote a book Letter to a Christian Nation. Ravi said he was going to respond by writing something like A Letter to Sam Harris on Behalf of a Christian Nation. I look forward to reading it. Somehow, I don't think Harris will stand long in the ring with Zacharias.
3. Someone asked in the first Q & A "What movement will follow post-modernism?" One of the answers was "Statism." I think this is true. With everyone doing his own thing, it will take an ever stronger government to keep any semblance of order. I was glad to hear good men say this, because an ever-growing centralized government is what I blog about here. This is a real threat everyone should be concerned about. Statism is on the rise because of the spiritual, moral, and intellectual collapse of the nation. The church is the only hope for spiritual, moral, and intellectual renewal in the years ahead. Pastors has better pay attention.
Along with the rise of statism, I think its possible that our secular society will try to move beyond relativism and obtain a moral realism based on unbelief. Sam Harris's book The End of Faith points to the trail-head of this path. A secular moral realism will be a scary thing indeed. It will require an intolerance and strength in government unseen on American shores thus far. Again, listen carefully to Harris in The End of Faith. His view of the world would also lead to An End of American Freedom.
4. The music at the conference was exceptional. I noticed they did not use soloists. I wonder if this is just how things played out, or if there is a certain musical philosophy excluding them. Regardless, the music of the Westminster Brass was God-honoring and powerful I even enjoyed the organ! (I really am not a fan of organs and hope to never see one in our church....) The singing of the "Hallelujah Chorus" following the last message (R.C. Sproul on "The Resurrection") was moving. Good job, music people!
5. I was impressed with R.C. Sproul, Jr. I have never heard him speak before, and I thought his insights were unique and Biblical. I can sense a strong presuppositionalism undergirding his approach to ministry.
His point on world-views was very good. We really should not seek a "world-view;" we should seek "wisdom." He did not elaborate on this point, but--it seems to me--he thinks the term "world-view" may play into the post-modernists hand. When we talk about "world-views," we set ourselves up for the response, "Well, that's your world-view. I have a different one."
Sproul, Jr. went on to say, "What we really need is wisdom." Again, I think he was telling us that wisdom seeks to understand reality-as-it-is and then conform to it. Metaphysically, there is only one "world-view." We need wisdom to understand it. Everything else is just deception.
I would like to hear him elaborate on this further. He pretty much made this comment in passing.
He also highlighted the fact that man does not construct his world-view and then fall into sin. Man sins and then constructs a world-view to justify his sin.
I think this is true.
6. I don't think anyone can "fake" being "well read." If anyone is well-read, it's Albert Mohler. Somehow, he knows something about everything: current events in pop culture, current philosophical output, the history of thought and theology, and the Scriptures themselves. No wonder he was made president of a seminary at age 33. At age 33, I was still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. (How long does it take to grow up anyway?)
7. The conference was well organized, had a terrific spirit, and offered a lot to think about. I thank God for those who love Christ and work hard to stand strong in these incredibly difficult times. All of orthodoxy is going to need to stand together in the coming days. And as we do, maybe God will grant our nation a new birth of spiritual, moral, intellectual, and political freedom.
But if not...