Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Now, it is not my intention to address any highly refined, intellectually sophisticated psychological definitions of self esteem or psychotherapy, but rather how it is expressed generally. That is the common understanding, so if my presentation happens not to fit with what one might read in a psychology text book (and I don't know if it does or not), well, that's ok, because it's not intended to.
The way that "Self Esteem Issues" are represented in our culture is that people don't have a good enough self image, that they don't think highly enough of themselves, that they are better than they see themselves as being.
It would be my contention that this approach is absolutely wrong. The way that I see it, people who are most considered to have low self esteem in fact do have an incorrect self image, but not that they see themselves as being less than they should, but rather, quite to the contrary, they see themselves as being considerably better than they actually are. That is to say, they esteem themselves too highly already. Where they run into problems is that other people do not see them the same way that they see themselves. Therefore they get negative feedback from other people which does not fit with their incorrect self image, and this is what causes them to feel conflicted. Not that they don't esteem themselves as highly as they should but rather that other people do not esteem them as highly as they incorrectly esteem themselves. They do not understand why it is that the image others have of them does not match up with the image that they have of themselves.
The most common remedy offered for this problem is not to correct the self image of the person with abnormally high, and undeserved, self esteem, but rather to teach them to ignore the negative (and likely quite correct) feedback that they get from those people with whom they interact. This does not breed better self esteem, or a healthy self image, or a even a healthy, well rounded person, rather, when effective, it breeds arrogance. When a person already thinks too highly of themselves, and refuses to take accurate feedback, or even weigh and consider negative feedback, arrogance seems to be the only possible outcome.
It seems to me that it would be much more helpful to correct a persons' self image, to help them to weigh, consider and evaluate the feedback that they get from others, be it negative, positive, or relatively passive, to see what they might learn from that feedback. An honest and earnest assessment of the reactions that others have to us would be beneficial in many ways. For starters, it could very well help us to correct our self image, in either direction it is incorrect, such as, if you think too highly of yourself, you could come to realize that you are not actually as good as you thought and need to be brought down a notch or two, on the other hand, maybe you think you are not good at something, but due to positive feedback come to realize that you have an area of strength that you did not know you had. It might help you to see an area of weakness that you didn't know you had, and thus allow you to ask someone for help in that area and get you on the right track, or stop doing something and allow someone better suited to it to step into a particular role.
Another related point is that this would require all of us to stop giving incorrect feedback. First and foremost, the tendency to soften the truth, or flat out lie, under the guise of sparing someones feelings simply has to go. For instance, if someone does a poor job of something, telling them that they did good, or alright, or not too bad, simply must go, rather we would be doing much more good for everyone to look them in the eye and gently point out what they did wrong, or what needed to be done better. Don't misunderstand, I do not mean to berate and belittle someone, as this will do no good either. The truth, gently spoken to someone who is willing to accept correction, and honestly evaluate feedback, will produce improvement for all involved. Secondly, if we ourselves stop esteeming ourselves more highly than we ought, we might well stop being too hard on other people who do not measure up to our ridiculous ideas of our own perfection.
Perhaps, no, certainly, the most important aspect of all is that the common teaching of this self esteem doctrine makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ quite unacceptable to the modern hearer. After all, who wants to be told that they are a sinner, justly condemned before a Holy God, with nothing to offer, nothing that they can do or bring to stave off His just and Holy Wrath which will be poured out upon them for eternity if they do not repent and turn to him, reaching out with the empty hand of faith? Does not the rebel heart, hyped up on self esteem say, "Wait, no, I'm better than that, why doesn't even God know how good I am, I deserve better than this?!" In fact, isn't this just a rehash of all of the works righteousness religions that have existed throughout all of history? People seeking to be seen by others (be it God, or gods or other people) as being as good as they see themselves is certainly nothing new, thus, self esteem, though the name is relatively recent, is itself nothing new, nor is it any more true in it's current form than it has ever been in any of it's previous forms.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
9 And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29 And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."
Here we have God's account of how He made everything that exists, both on the Earth, and throughout the expanse of the entire universe. Here God is telling us again that He made everything, and He is telling us that He did so in six days.
While a simple reading of these verses from Genesis 1 will tell you in a very straightforward manner that these are six normal days, that is roughly 24 hours in length, what we would consider to be actual days, there has arisen an idea that when the word "day" is used in Genesis 1, it might mean something other than a normal day. The idea is that the Hebrew word for day, just as the English word day, doesn't always mean a normal day. That is true as far as it goes. We can even give examples of this, if I say, "I remember the day my Dad died." I would be referring to one specific normal day. On the other hand, if I say, "I remember back in the day when I was working at Burger King with my future wife and had no idea," in that instance I am referring to a non-specific time frame at some point in the past, but not a normal day. I could also say, "I have to do yard work during the day because it's too dark to do it at night," and in that case, I'm talking about the daylight portion of a day, and not any specific normal day.
To further the example, just to make it clear, day isn't the only word that this happens with, I could say, I left the picnic early and went back home because my back was hurting. Even though I used the word "back" twice in that sentence, we all know that it had two distinctly different meanings. So, as I said before, we understand the fact that the word day doesn't always mean a normal day, but the question isn't, could it mean something else, the question is, does it mean something else?
In order to know when the word day might mean something other than a normal day, we should know when it does mean a normal day. In the old Testament, and indeed in all ancient Hebrew writings as far as I am aware, every time the word day is used with a number, it means a normal day, and every time it appears with the words "morning and evening" it means a normal day. So, it would seem that by using the phrase "there was morning and there was evening, the first day (second day, third day, etc)" God is intent on driving it through our thick skulls that He created in 6 normal days.
What happened to set people off on the wrong course on this issue is very sad indeed. Often we seem led to believe that it was Charles Darwin who came up with the theory of Evolution, but this is not true. Various theories of Evolution had been around for many, many years (maybe even thousands of years) before Darwin came along. Darwin, however, got lucky, where others did not. What Darwin actually did was to popularize one particular version of evolutionary theory (which has been totally debunked by the way) and he lucked out on his timing. You see, while scientists could not really agree on the age of the Earth in that day, none of the ages that were being thrown around were anywhere near long enough to support any of the various evolutionary ideas, and so none of them had been able to gain traction generally. Enter Charles Lyell. Lyell was a geologist who came up with the idea of uniformitarianism, that is, the idea that the Earth was formed by slow geological processes that are still in action today, and by advancing this (deeply flawed) theory Lyell was able to give the Earth an age in the billions of years. If you think about it, you will see that even billions of years would not buy the time needed for Darwin's evolutionary processes to do what they are claimed to have done, but they are long enough so that people are able to accept the idea.
Sadly now, many Christians who are also scientists (and I mean PH D's and such) have bought into Lyell's notion of billions of years, and have decided that while Genesis 1 is true, that God must have meant something different by day than a normal day. So they claim that each day actually represents a long age. Of course, as I understand it, when you go to Hebrew, if the word day is used for multiple lengths of time, in the same passage, and especially if they are sequential, each of them must be speaking of the same length of time. Of course, that would not fit into any of those theories, so they say that the days are not listed in any particular sequence, and must overlap with each other, and sometimes even correspond with each other, and aren't of equal durations. This, of course, removes all meaning from the Genesis 1 creation account, and relegates it to a general statement that God created, which they affirm, while denying the how that is clearly stated.
The fact of the matter is that God did create, and that He has given us an account of how He went about this. For a very nice explanation of the science behind all of this, I would invite anyone who is interested to go to www.answersingenesis.org and read up on whatever particular questions you may have.
While those scientists who want to reinterpret Genesis are still true Christians, and you can be truly redeemed even if you are wrong on this issue, it is still of great importance. You see, if God cannot be trusted in Genesis, then He can't be trusted anywhere else in the Bible either.
Monday, August 16, 2010
As I go through this series of posts, and at present I have no idea how long the series will be, I will do something that is all too uncommon these days, I will explain whenever there is a falsification point in Christianity. The falsification principle is that for something to be true, there will be points that, if false, would prove the entire enterprise to be false. A falsification point is one of those places where, if that point were false, then all of what is being proposed based upon it is also false. Saying that Christianity has falsification points is not at all to say that it is false, but rather to say that there are key points upon which it rests, and if those key points were false, then the rest of it would naturally fall apart. I know that this makes some people uncomfortable, but I can't run from it, because it is so important to understand that these key points must be defended. They cannot simply be tossed by the wayside so that we can go on with other portions of Christianity, because if they are not true, then Christianity would also not be true. And isn't that the salient point? I mean, the really big question is this, "Is Christianity true?" That is what I hope to show, because that is was really matters.
What I am saying is that it is not really important, at least not central, how any belief system makes you feel, or what you think it might do for you, or whatever, what really matters is very simply, is it true? Or, what is true? If it turns out that Christianity is indeed true, which it is my contention that it is, then believing what it teaches is absolutely critical, but if it's not true, then there is no point in embracing any of it at all.
It is interesting that we begin the very first day looking at a falsification point in Christianity. Right off the bat, the very first verse in the entire Bible states it very explicitly, "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth." That's the first thing, it goes before everything else. God created. And what did He create? The Heavens and the Earth. That doesn't mean our solar system, or even just our galaxy. At this point it is important to remember that Genesis, like most of the Old Testament (nearly all in fact) was written in Hebrew, and in ancient Hebrew the term "The Heavens and the Earth" is a phrase which means, all that exists. They didn't have a single word for "Universe" like we do today, but that is what this term refers to. This is fleshed out a little in John 1:3 "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." [ESV] So, all that exists was created by God.
This is a critical fact, if it is true, then we can go forward, but if you reject this, you have no basis to believe anything else that the Bible proclaims.
I'm not going to get into the particulars of Creation today, I just want to point out that it is absolutely critical to the Christian faith. All to often you hear people say that it really doesn't matter if you believe that God created, as long as you believe in Jesus, and while it is certainly possible that someone might never have heard of Creation, or have any understanding of it, but may have had the Gospel explained to them and repented and turned to Christ, without an understanding of Creation, it seems to me that it would be, at best, very difficult for someone to reject that God created, but still embrace Christ. I'm not saying that it's impossible, but it certainly doesn't go naturally together.
Certainly this is not the entirety of my case, but I want to build the argument as I proceed through this series, if at any point I am unclear, or anyone needs more information, or are having trouble understanding what I'm talking about, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer where I can.
Monday, August 9, 2010
I hope to spend some time in the near future laying out some of the basics of the Christian faith, in an understandable and unvarnished way. That is to say, I intend to share the true teaching of the Bible and not the human teachings that have crept in over the years, and especially the uniquely American perversions that are so rank in so much Bible teaching today. It is my hope that in so doing I might help some people who think that they have rejected Christianity to see that it is not Christianity that they have rejected, but the perversions that I too would soundly reject. And for those who continue to reject, at least they may more fully understand what it is that they are rejecting.
I pray that God may grant that I might be able to lay things out in a clear and pure manner, and cast off the shackles of human influence that so corrupts the understanding of Biblical truth in the minds of far too many people today.