“On March 9, 1974, Japanese Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda walked out of the jungle of on a remote island in the Philippines, finally convinced that World War II was over–29 years after it had ended. Trained as an intelligence officer in guerrilla warfare, he was told to survive at all cost. No matter what happened, his superiors would come for him.
Just a few months after his arrival in 1944, the allies overwhelmed Japanese defenses, and Hiroo’s band of five hid deep in the jungle, surviving on what they could find. When the war ended many attempts were made to find and convince the remaining soldiers to come out. Newspapers and even letters from relatives were left, which they found, along with the leaflets. But how could the war have ended so quickly? And why were there spelling errors in the leaflets? Hiroo’s own brother even came and attempted to speak to him over a loudspeaker. The band considered each piece of evidence, and always concluded that the enemy was trying to deceive them. One by one they died, the last one after 27 years in hiding, leaving Hiroo alone.
Finally, a Japanese student tracked Hiroo down and befriended him. He could not surrender, Hiroo explained, until his commanding officer ordered him to do so. The student returned to Japan, and the government found his commander, now a bookseller, who returned in his tattered uniform and personally gave the order. Hiroo, still in his uniform, with sword on his side and his working rifle in his hand, was relieved of duty, and wept. Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos pardoned him for the approximately 30 people he had killed over the years, because the soldier had believed he was still at war. Hiroo returned to a world vastly changed, realizing that his beliefs had been completely wrong for nearly 30 years.”
In his book Mapping Apologetics, Brian Morley opens with the above illustration. Hiroo, Morley explains, illustrates the problem of belief. What should be accepted as evidence? How should one weigh assumptions? When it comes to whether or not to have faith in God, Christ, and the Bible “[t]here could not be a more important question than how we are to decide what to believe.” Morley covers apologetics approaches ranging from Fideism to Rationalism, in between examining basic approaches such as Presuppositionaliam and Evidentialism. I highly recommend his book.
Morley concludes that evidence does play a role in a biblical faith, “[but] it seems that we do not need 100-percent proof in order to have 100-percent faith” (353). The Bible teaches that all creation testifies to the existence and nature of God (Rom. 1:20). Due to human fallenness, this witness is suppressed, distorted, or ignored. This does not mean that the human mind is incapable of grasping truth. Offering arguments for the Christian faith is an entirely legitimate approach because the Holy Spirit works through believers when they make the case for faith (364). The persistent presentation of the truth can eventually win the day. Even Hiroo came to see the light.
Why, despite remarkable worldwide economic progress over the past 50 years, have the 150 poorest nations stayed so poor? Jim Henry, an “investigative economist” (bet you didn’t know there was such a job, did you?) gives the answer: thieving dictators and other similar political elites in these countries have stolen over $12 trillion.
“That huge figure equals a nickel on each dollar of global wealth and yet it excludes the wealthiest regions of the planet: America, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
That so much money is missing from these poorer nations explains why vast numbers of people live in abject poverty even in countries where economic activity per capita is above the world average. In Equatorial Guinea, for example, the national economy’s output per person comes to 60 cents for each dollar Americans enjoy, measured using what economists call purchasing power equivalents, yet living standards remain abysmal.”
David Cay Johnston’s article in The Daily Beast demonstrates that a primary cause of lingering poverty in this world is unethical and heartless political leaders. Business dealings, above all else, are moral transactions. Just notice how many times the Bible speaks of God judging the predatory business practices of those in positions of power (Lev. 19:15; Deut. 15:7-9; Prov. 28:20-22; Luke 6:24-25; 16:19-28; 18:25; James 5:1-6). The rest of the Johnston’s article can be found here.
In 1996, Purdue Pharma introduced OxyContin as a painkilling drug that was both “safe and highly effective.” Drug reps insisted to family doctors that “OxyContin had no real risks–only benefits.” In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it “misled regulators, doctors, and patients about OxyContin’s addictive qualities. But by that point, hundreds of thousands of Americans were hooked.” These are the claims of a damning report published recently by The Week magazine (02/19/16, p. 13).
An epidemic is plaguing America–the abuse of opioids such as Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin. A record 47,000 Americans fatally overdosed last year. That’s more than the number who died in car crashes. “This epidemic isn’t being driven by illicit drugs, but by a surge in the use of prescription opioid painkillers.”
The way American society is reacting (or not reacting, to be more precise) is revealing. The “War on Drugs” of the last 30 years against crack, meth, and other illegal drugs resulted in literally millions going to prison. The muted response to the current painkiller abuse may be indicative of the fact that its abusers typically are from higher socioeconomic strata than most users of crack or meth.
The road to addiction to painkillers is very different from the trek taken for other forms of drug abuse. Student athletes or housewives are prescribed opioids to deal with sports injuries or ailments. “Addiction experts say doctors have fueled this crisis by recommending that patients with even minor ailments and aches take highly addictive opioids…..Physicians wrote 259 million opioid prescriptions in 2012, triple the number two decades ago…” That was enough to provide every adult in America with a bottle. This is an epidemic “that’s essentially caused by physicians.”
Pastors need to be aware of this situation. The next person you counsel who is struggling with drug addiction may not fit the typical stereotype. Rather than a homeless person off the street, he or she may be an honor student in your youth group.
Cross posted at www.betweenthetimes.com
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) never lived to see his 40th birthday, but he was one of the leading lights of the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century. He invented the calculator and the barometer, and he developed what we understand today to be the laws of probability. In addition to being a great mathematician and scientist, Pascal also was an unapologetic defender of the Christian faith.
Ken Samples has written an excellent introduction to Pascal’s life and thought. His blog post is well worth your time.