Thursday, January 30, 2014

Natalie Grant, The Grammys, and Defending the Faith

The blogosphere and social media have been quite alive with chatter about Grammy-nominated Christian music artist Natalie Grant's early departure from this year's award show. There has been much speculation about the reason(s) and/or performance(s) that pushed her to her limit of tolerance for that evening. Her initial tweet that sparked the reactions is quoted here, and her recent response to the reactions is quoted here. Grant did not call out any particular performance or performer or provide any specific reason why she called it a night early, but she did state that she had no intention of using her platform for political issues that cause division rather than unity.

I am not going to go into a long analysis of this particular situation. However, I do want to take the time to look at one of my favorite works from Natalie Grant from the perspective of someone who defends the truth of the Christian worldview and show the connections with this situation.

A few years ago Grant released the album "Relentless." The album's first song entitled "I Will Not Be Moved" focuses on the unreliability of individual humans to save themselves and the reliability of Jesus Christ to accomplish salvation. The message comes to full force in the final lines of the chorus: "In Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. I will not be moved!" The first part of that statement is loaded with much more meaning beyond just what Grant makes explicit in this song. It is only in Christ that objective foundations for many concepts can be anchored:
  • Reason / Logic
  • Objective Morality
  • Intrinsic Value

Reason and Logic
Christianity teaches that reason and logic are grounded in the eternal nature of God  (The Word of God and The Mind of Man). God created the universe to reflect such and created human beings with senses and brains capable of discovering God through His creation. Naturalism has no requirement that the universe is constrained by any laws of logic nor does it provide a mechanism for trusting that our senses and reasoning capabilities are capable of obtaining truth (Agents Under Fire). Jesus, being God, provides a solid rock for our ability to reason, thus only Jesus provides a solid rock for any pursuit of knowledge. 

Objective Morality
God provides the foundation for morality in Christian theism. God is eternally unchanging. Morality is grounded outside the individual, so all are responsible to it whether they agree with it or believe it or not. Naturalism grounds morality in the individual, culture, or survival of the species. All of these change, and none of them are eternal, and so are the morals grounded in them just as tenuous. There is no foundation for claiming someone as intolerant, hypocritical, or hateful (as Grant has been accused of being with her leaving the show early), All moral claims are merely opinions. Jesus provides the only solid rock for anyone to make a moral claim that has the potential to cross the line from opinion to objective fact. 

Intrinsic Value
In the introduction chapters of the Bible, God states that He created man "In His Image," unique from all other creatures. The Image of God gives intrinsic worth and value to whomever carries it because it is grounded in the eternal possessor of intrinsic value- God. Thus all individual humans possess intrinsic value. This affords humans many rights, the least of which is to be loved despite their beliefs and practices (just as Grant implied in her response). Naturalism gives no special place of value to humanity (or any other species), since we all are evolved from a universal common ancestor that possessed no intrinsic value of its own. Naturalism logically necessitates that a house fly and a human hold the same intrinsic value (here). Any value that is ascribed to an individual animal (humans included) is merely opinion of the individual, culture, or species. Not only does Christ provide the only foundation for moral values as love and tolerance, it is only in Him that man can justly lay claim to being due those by another human. 

Science
Assuming for the sake of argument that logic is a feature of reality and that our minds reason reliably without God's existence, we would need to provide evidence that God exists and that Jesus is God to establish that Jesus is the actual Solid Rock for the above concepts and salvation and not just a theoretical one. Many lines of reasoning from the sciences may be marshaled into a cumulative case (more here and here) for the existence of God (I'm only going to give a few here): 
  1. Astronomy- Scientists have discovered that the universe had an absolute beginning outside of itself. This means that it had a supernatural cause. (Some like to say that a "multiverse" could be the cause, but the BGV theorem says otherwise.) God is an option for such a supernatural cause. (The Creator And The Cosmos)
  2. Astrophysics- Many secular scientists also grant that the universe and earth are extremely finely tuned specifically for advanced human life. Levels of fine-tuning orders of magnitude much lower are seen only as results of minds (humans), so it is logically concluded that the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of the cause of its creation. (Why The Universe Is The Way It Is)
  3. Biochemistry- Attempts to create life in the lab are coming closer to fruition. Though many think that such a feat will show that God is not necessary for the origin of life, it shows quite the opposite: if it weren't for intelligent agents (scientists) intentionally manipulating a highly controlled environment with the expressed purpose of creating life, it would not happen. The successful creation of life requires an intelligent agent powerful enough, precise enough, funded enough and motivated enough to break physical barriers of creation to introduce life. (Creating Life In The Lab)
  4. Psychology / Neurology- Modern psychological therapy require that the patient make the conscious choice to act against the wiring of their brains in order to rewire it to be "normal." Such an act requires that the mind be separate from the brain and not be controlled solely by the brain. This is evidence of an immaterial agent which naturalism has no mechanism to generate (Agents Under Fire) and can easily be created by the Creator of life. 
  5. Anthropology / Genetics- Current studies of human remains and the tracing of the origin of DNA signatures lead many scientists to conclude that humanity originated from one (or a small number of) pair(s) in the geographical location near where theologians believe the Garden of Eden was located. (Who Was Adam). This is more evidence for the historicity of the Genesis account of human origins (Navigating Genesis).
Many more arguments grounded in observational evidence exist and are constantly being tested and refined. For more I highly recommend the sites of Reason to Believe and Reasonable Faith

History
Much evidence for Jesus' life, death, and resurrection has been compiled by scholars over the years. Please see my new page The Resurrection for resources. But to give you a quick intro: Dr. Gary Habermas has an approach that builds a case for the resurrection as an historical event based on five pieces of evidence that the vast majority of critical scholars accept. They are: 
  1. Jesus died by crucifixion
  2. He was buried
  3. His death caused his disciples despair and to lose hope
  4. The tomb was empty
  5. The disciples had experiences that they believed to be appearances of the risen Jesus
Habermas chose to use these evidences because they are not under dispute by more than a handful of scholars in the respective fields of academia, and while no other worldview can consistently explain away all the evidences, Christianity explains all of it via its central claim- the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. (The Risen Jesus and a Future Hope)

Establishing The Solid Rock- Conclusion
Given that only Jesus Christ is a solid rock for life's most foundational beliefs and that he is the only explanation that can coherently and consistently explain all the evidence from all the knowledge disciplines, when Natalie Grant makes the claim that Jesus Christ is the solid rock and all others are "sinking sand," she is making a most reasonable claim. When she penned the words "I will not be moved," she established that she not only accepts the truth, but has dedicated her life to it. The fact that she uses her talents to spread the news of Jesus' resurrection and the new life that people may have in recognizing that most reasonable truth, shows her love for others and desire that they experience the Truth also. And finally Grant's leaving a show full of performances that violate the reality of God's character shows that she continues to not be moved despite the world's rejection of the eternal realities of reason, morality, value, and life in the presence of our Creator, all for the hedonistic pleasures of the moment. 

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