Russell and Duenes

Archive for April 2014

Some Interviews Simply Must be Watched

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This is one of them; just rich food for the soul.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

April 20, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Duenes, Science

Where Thy Victory, O Grave!

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I was thinking the other day about an  old acquaintance of mine, a man who came up through Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in college, and then went on to graduate studies in theology. He made shipwreck of his faith by accepting the lies of modern biblical “scholarship.” Buying into the morality of this present, evil age, he tried to convince me that Jesus was nothing but a charismatic religious leader who gathered a few followers to himself, taught some warmed over Jewish ethics, and after his death, was buried in a shallow grave somewhere. In my younger foolishness, I thought it good to “go round and round” with him about the Christian faith. We’d email each other back and forth with our positions, but I really should have shut it down early on. It was not good for my soul, and I found myself getting distracted from the bedrock upon which Christian gospel stands, a bedrock that this man had no evidence to overturn.

That bedrock is Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. (As an aside, if you ever have about an hour-and-a-half free, I can’t recommend more highly N.T. Wright’s lecture on the reality of the resurrection. Find it here). I had to remind myself that everything about my relationship with Jesus, such as it is, stands or falls on the reality of His rising from the dead. And what is our confidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead? There are many evidences, of course, but I want to suggest the one which has proved most helpful to me. St. Paul makes reference to it in 1 Cor. 15:5-8, when he writes that Jesus “appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”

Were these men hallucinating, or merely having a private, inner, religious experience? No. Rather, Paul is making clear that he, along with the other apostles, was bearing witness to a reality external to himself, something that happened in history, and most importantly, something that inexorably and profoundly altered the course of their lives. One simply must give a plausible account as to how it is that Paul, Peter, James, John, and the rest of the disciples and followers, were willing to lay down their lives for this Jesus, and to do so in such civilization-altering way. And the only such plausible account is that these men (and women) had in fact seen Jesus alive from the dead. They had, as St. John says, heard Jesus, seen Him with their eyes, and handled Him with their hands. They testified to it with their mouths, and with their very lives. Everything else follows from this, and so does my faith.

My acquaintance was sorely and sadly mistaken, not only because his beliefs provide no hope, and render life utterly meaningless and futile, but also because the best evidence points away from any notion that Jesus, like all other men, remained in His grave. The history of men and nations points rather to the reality that this Jesus rose from the dead, as He said He would, and today still changes the hearts and minds of men and women the world over, to accomplish His sovereign and everlasting purposes. Anything other than this rests on epistemological sand, and the vain imaginings of men in their pride. “Lives again our glorious King…where, O death, is now thy sting? Dying once He all doth save…where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!”

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Apologetics, Duenes

Good Friday: Come, and Welcome to Jesus!

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Yes, on this Good Friday, come, and welcome to Jesus! By His death and resurrection, Jesus welcomes all who will come to Him, inviting us to confess our sins to Him, and bank on Him for redemption from the power of death and condemnation. On this Good Friday, I invite you, and I invite my own soul, to come again to Jesus, to put our unwavering trust in Him, and to find the joy of worship in His presence. Toward this end, I offer by way of encouragement, Daniel Fuller’s three enticements to worship and enjoy God with your lives:

1) The Triune God alone can bring us the good and happy future, full of joy, since we are made in His image;

2) God longs to share with each of us the greatest possible joy, namely, the very joy He has in being the Triune God; and

3) In addition to giving us joy at this present time, He guarantees that we shall be satisfied for all time to come.

May you ponder these enticements and take them into your soul. All of this goodness was purchased by Jesus – in His death and resurrection – for sinners who turn their lives over to Him. So come, and welcome to Jesus!

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 18, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Apologetics, Duenes

The Smell of Community

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I have thoroughly enjoyed my work in the Emporia City Attorney’s Office this semester, and I will always consider it a high point of my law school days. The job has been varied, interesting (if not sometimes amusing), and challenging. Yet more than anything else, I have enjoyed the people who work in the office and the relationships they have with each other.

Robert Duvall famously said in the film, Apocalypse Now, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” and Jim Witt, Emporia’s Assistant City Manager, riffed off this and said, “I love the smell of community in the morning.” This thought has lodged itself in my mind over the past week, and I think it’s an apt description of what I have experienced in their office this semester: “the smell of community.” I’m only there one day a week, and yet they have welcomed me, been very personable to me, offered me real work, and allowed me to be a small part of the vocational and professional community of which they are a part. This has made all the difference, and I can see why anyone would enjoy coming to work each day in the City’s offices. When you know you are cared for, respected, pulled for, acknowledged and valued by your colleagues, you find that greater desire within yourself to give your best efforts and to seek the good of your colleagues in return. You find the aphorism true: “It is better to give than to receive.”

I will miss the office when I finish my semester, but I know my colleagues will have left a deep and lasting impression on me. The real value of work is what it adds to the well-being of others, and the sense of satisfaction one gets from working with others, in true teamwork, to accomplish worthy ends. City work in Emporia has this value, and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

We’re Morally Better Than Our Forebears

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The U.S. Supreme Court has said that the death penalty must be applied according to the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” I offered in class that it is a rather arrogant presumption that we in the 21st century have evolved in our standards of decency so as to be morally mature beyond that of our forebears.

One piece of evidence proffered in favor of our moral advancement over the ancients is that we no longer cut off people’s hands as a punishment for stealing. So I ask myself: Do I want to live in a society that cuts off people’s hands? I’m not sure. But I wonder if the offeror of the evidence has ever asked himself what it means to live in society that legally allows children to be ripped apart limb-from-limb in their mother’s wombs, funded in no small part by our government, to the tune of 1.2 million dead each year.

It was further offered that women can now vote, with the implication that we simply must have superior standards of decency over those of the Founding generation. I love the reality of women voting as much as the next guy. But I wonder if our less advanced ancestors celebrated and honored their women by referring to them as “bitches and hos” in their popular music, by “hooking up” with them on a massive scale in their social relations, and by consuming vast quantities of woman-degrading pornography, all the while treating the female body like a kind of machine to be mined for parts and to be shut down so that men can have sex without consequences.

When one considers the utterly unique horrors that 20th century man committed against his fellow man, it seems we ought to engage in a bit less conceit about the “progress” of our own “maturing society.” I am making no statement in favor of the death penalty, only a statement that I don’t know how much better off we are, if any, by applying it according to our current moral lights.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

April 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm