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Set Forth Your Case – Paper #4

Part 4 of a 16 part series…

To catch you up, my father, Dr. Michael Ruth (an author, family therapist, and pastor since the late 70’s) gave me an assignment to read the book Set Forth Your Case by Clark Pinnock and to write a 1-2 page response to each of the chapters.  It might be a little difficult to fully understand my responses to or summaries of the chapters without reading the book, but I wanted to share my work anyway.

Set Forth Your Case by Clark Pinnock
Chapter 4: Stamp Out Reality

Pinnock’s purpose in chapter 4 of his book is to show us that the only way to escape the ultimate (and intrinsic) despair of the humanist position is to choose a flight from reason.  We read in the previous chapter how many humanists who are honest with themselves come to the realization that “humanism is too bad to be true.”  So, how do you navigate this chasm and arrive safely on the other side if you choose not to believe in the omniscient, almighty God?  Pinnock says there is only one way, and that is to “slay the dragon reason.  For irrationality is preferable in non-Christian thought to either logical despair or rational theism.”  Let me include further explanation from Pinnock, “The revolt against reason…has religious roots, and is directed at the Logos, Jesus Christ, who created all things by the word of His power.  It is the denial of God’s structure in order to replace it with a man-centered structure.”

The point that Pinnock is making here is easily understood.  Essentially, man needs meaning.  A humanistic worldview is not an adequate provider of meaning and it will ultimately fail to answer the existential dilemmas of life.  If you chose not to turn to God for answers then you must seek more mystical or fanciful solutions.  Pinnock gives many cultural examples to demonstrate what these flights from reason look like:

  • The literature of Camus and Sartre, the latter of whom said, “Man is absurd, but he must grimly act as if he is not.”
  • The naturalist Aldous Huxley who began using drugs to induce his “mystic awareness of the richness of bare being.”
  • The general cultural thought shift from Western philosophies to Eastern mysticism (e.g. the popularity of Zen Buddhism).
  • The desire to create meaning out of chance in various art mediums such as the paintings of Jackson Pollack or the music of John Cage.

All of the above are excellent examples of attempts to escape the world of reason, but Pinnock says that clearly the most profound and obvious example can be found in the drug culture.  Drug users – particularly those who use LSD and other hallucinogenic varieties – attempt to create meaning from what they perceive is a heightened sense of awareness while they are using.  Pinnock explains that during their highs, “All the senses are expanded and jumbled.  Color can be tasted and sound smelled.”

Pinnock shows us in this chapter that there are some very ironic flaws in these aforementioned trends and cultural movements.  For example:

  • Many see the shift from traditional Western thought to Eastern as a step forward, when in fact the Eastern philosophers gave up all hope in their own rationality hundreds of years ago when they settled on their mystical, pantheistic religious constructs.
  • Drug users attempt to find great meaning when in fact all their usage does is create delusions.  Drugs create a “reality” which is in fact not real.  As Pinnock puts it, “LSD will convince a person of powers he does not have, and answers he does not possess.”  A drug-induced high is just as likely to open the user to demonic influence as it is to any biophilic force, if not more so.

The great sadness in all of this, to use Pinnock’s words, is that, “The salvation that cannot save a sober man is unlikely to save an intoxicated one.”  Our world is seeking answers from every source but the One who can truly give them.  Christianity is in fact deeply rooted in reason and logic and can be validated in credible ways.  This stands in direct opposition to today’s intellectual climate.  As Pinnock points out, what these years of mysticism and a growing comfort with irrationality have really done is soften the collective mind of our recent generations in anticipation of the Tribulation.  We are ready to be imprinted with the Anti-Christ’s worldview.  Our Christian worldview will be branded as dogmatic, intolerant and backwards.  As Pinnock states, “Whenever the interpretation of history and fact becomes an arbitrary subjective decision, mankind is subjected to a totalitarian ideology.”  It is only in such a climate where a movement like Nazism could ever take hold to begin with.

Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Ruth


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