“A Christian way of thinking is not just thinking Christian thoughts, singing Christian songs, reading Christian books, going to Christian schools; it is learning to think about the whole spectrum of life from the perspective of a mind that has been trained in truth.”
– Alistair Begg
The Spirit of DoVe
DV.com is a free, public, informative website. Organized by pages (mostly topical), this learning site presents an overview of authentic Christianity through written, audio and video content. It is a resource for the earnest seeker.
We at DV believe you can’t understand the world without understanding religion. We seek to inform the debate around questions of spirituality and Biblical faith, challenging ill-informed thinking through our research, events, commentary and analysis. We examine beliefs, culture, theology and society.
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It is our goal to provide a place where people can clear away any intellectual barriers to the Christian faith that are plaguing them. We understand these barriers, as we have had many of them. We will try to clear away those barriers and deal with difficult questions that we all have. And, in the process, we will not have all the answers, nor will we say that our thoughts are the only correct thoughts.
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On Questioning and Thinking
A Few Ethical Vectors for Christians:
- The God of Truth is NOT afraid of our questions.
- Our God is God of the whole person: will, emotions, body, even our intellect.
- God is seriously committed to truth–whatever the cost…as His children, so should we be.
- Taking a person’s questions seriously is an act of respect and love, even when they don’t really take them seriously.
- Distortion, misrepresentation, or deception through omission are unethical.
- When we don’t know the answer, we must say ‘I do not know’…
- If a sincere question (as a felt need) comes our way, we should attempt to meet that need through answers, resources, or encouragement to patience.
- We are not allowed to be contentious or to argue for argument’s sake.
- We should be changing the shape of eternity, one conversation at a time.
- Sometimes the best answer is silence.
- Prov. 18:13: “He who answers before listening — that is his folly and his shame.”
- “Slander” includes misrepresentation.
- Chronic ignorance can become irresponsibility, and chronic irresponsibly can become a moral failure.
- It is not a sin to have unanswered questions and agonizing doubts–you can raise more questions in 5 minutes than you can answer in 50 years!
- Unanswered questions CAN be a source of emotional pain.
- This is NOT A GAME we’re in.
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Critically Examine Everything?
But I thought this was all ‘Blind Faith’ kinda stuff…
(or at least the politically correct ‘intellectually challenged’ kinda stuff…)
The Judeo-Christian faith is surprisingly ruthless in its insistence on proof (broadly considered), evidence, truth, examination, ‘cordial skepticism’…and correspondingly disdainful of those who believe nonsense.
Consider briefly the following passages in the Bible:
Gen 15 – When Abraham asked God “how will I KNOW that this future will happen?”, God did not rebuke him, but made a legal covenant with him.
Exodus 33 – Moses argued with God that God should not destroy Israel, so that there would be evidence of His work in history
Number 16 – Moses argued with the Israelites over the leadership issue, and appealed to evidence.
Deut 18 – God is VERY explicit-if a prophet EVER misses a prediction, this proves he is not a prophet of YHWH. The test was evidential–pure and simple.
Deut 29 – Moses appeals to their MEMORIES as a basis for decision…historical events .
Joshua 3 – Joshua sets up, in advance, a criterion for knowing that YHWH was among them–a future, visible, abnormal event in Israel’s history.
2 Sam 1 – David wanted factual support for the report that Saul was dead.
Lam 3 – We are to EXAMINE our lifestyles – looking for evidence that reveals our true character and orientation to ultimate issues
I Cor 11 – We are to examine our hearts and conduct–testing them against standards
2 Cor 13 – We are to examine our life vis-a-vis the content of the worldview
Judges 6 – Gideon and the ‘fleece test’ – and yet God ‘humored’ his weakness and provided the evidence he needed
Isaiah 7 – King AHAZ was rebuked by the prophet for NOT asking God for evidence!
Dan 1 – Daniel in a foreign situation, didn’t appeal with a simple ‘trust us’–he said ‘test us’…and depended upon God for concrete, visible results.
Mal 3 – God challenges Israel to test His faithfulness, He invites them to test His commitment to His promises…and in the area of finances!
Rom 12 – Paul challenges his readers to continually expand their thinking–SO THAT they can examine and prove what God’s will for their direction is…an active searching and examination of all the data.
2 Cor 8 – Paul wanted to TEST the sincerity of their love — he was looking for concrete evidence that would reveal their inner selves.
Gal. 6:4 -“Each one should TEST his own actions. Then he can take appropriate pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else”
Is 43 – The prophet draws a picture of a courtroom scene. The prophets are to bring forth their evidence that they are indeed speakers of truth. The only admissible evidence is a proven track-record of future prediction!
Ezek. 13:2 -“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!'” –Accuracy and legitimacy is of critical moment!
John 2 – the Jews of the day where always demanding proof. Jesus appealed to his coming resurrection as the capstone proof of his deity.
Act 17 – Paul referred to the historical resurrection as “God’s proof” that people will have to answer for their innermost attitudes toward God.
2 Cor 13 – The Corinthians demanded proof of Paul’s authority. He submitted historical evidence and lifestyle as data.
Luke 1 – Luke investigated the sources and wrote the account for his royal reader, SO THAT he could know for CERTAIN.
Or consider the following actions on the part of Jesus…
He is constantly doing overt miracles and “out-loud” prayers, for His followers’ benefit–so they might see the evidence, understand what’s going on, and believe.
He doesn’t scorn the ‘doubting Thomas’ but provides his nail-scarred hands and open side-wound as evidence for him (Jn 20)
He constantly refers people back to the data of the OT–as a means to judge His claims and teachings.
Or consider the NT leaders, with their emphasis on the factuality of the Christian events (and their preference for the ‘critical thinkers’)…
Luke who praised the careful and thorough Bereans in Acts 17:11 “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Paul, who challenges us in I Thess 5.21: ” Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
And appeals to the ‘openness’ of the historical facts of early Christianity in his public trial: “The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.” (Act 26:26)
And appeals to natural phenomena as evidence of a good God (Acts 14, 17).
Peter, who tries to ‘force his readers back into the bedrock of data’ in 2Pet. 1:16: We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
Hold it a Minute!
I thought ‘Testing the Lord’ was VERY bad, even Fatal! (as in I Cor 10)…
…Good question (shows you’re thinking, eh?)
If you compare the “DON’T test” passages with the “DO test” passages, you can see the difference in the contexts.
The “DON’T test” passages are those in which the people are NOT seeking evidence/proof IN ORDER TO learn truth, grow, or develop their worldview, but rather are trying to manipulate God into satisfying illicit desires, or into satisfying licit needs, in destructive ways. For example, in Exodus 17, the recepients of an earlier water-providing miracle are now DEMANDING water in a combative manner! (See Ps 78 and 106 for a later historical account of this.)
The ‘DO test’ passages are those in which the people are enjoined to take a small step of commitment, in EXPECTATION of success (sounds a little like giving someone the benefit of the doubt, doesn’t it?). The negativism and close-mindedness of the former situation is not present in the latter. The latter applies to people who are OPEN to learning, not just trying to engineer the situation for their practical gain.
As a matter of fact, this ‘openness to learning’ and ‘positive expectation of good’ is rather basic to ALL types of personal discovery situations. We ourselves tend not to ‘participate’ in these kinds of situations, if we feel we are being ‘interrogated’ in an abusive manner.
So…keep an honest and respectful and patient and good-natured heart…and GO FOR IT!
The God of Truth seems to delight in responding to such attitudes and approaches (don’t we all?).
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Apostle with a good skeptical ‘bent’…
Paul is clearly a good example of faith, but to what extent is he a good example of a ‘cordial but ruthless’ critical/skeptical thinker?
Consider the following:
- He originally was a strong skeptic of the faith, even going so far as putting Christians to death
- It would take something very convincing to ‘convert’ his worldview to become the outstanding Christian spokesperson, evangelist, and apologist that he became.
- He claims that it was an appearance of the risen Jesus Christ that overpowered him.
- His subsequent actions show him to be a man of critical examination all through his life.
A couple of incidents from his life to illustrate this:
- After his conversion, he immediately “baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ”: (Acts 9.22)
- “He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews…” (Acts 9.29)
- He appeals to eye-witnesses often for his claims (Acts 13.31; I Cor 15)
- He appeals to seasonal patterns as evidence of God’s character (Acts 14. 17)
- He appeals to concrete experiences even in theological debates (Acts 15.12)
- “he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead” (Acts 17.2-3)
- “While Paul was at Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him” (Act 17.16-18)
- His argument to them was based on 1) logic and 2) proof (Acts 17.29-31)
- “Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue…” (Acts 18.4)
- “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God” (Act 19.8)
- He challenged the church leaders to ‘be on your guard’ about truth in the future (Acts 20.29-31)
- He appeals to his encounter with the risen Christ (Acts 22.6ff; 26.12))
- In court, he appeals to strict historical data (Acts 24)
- Before the authorities, he appealed to the openness of the data (Acts 26.26)
- He speaks of ‘thinking with sober judgment’, of ‘being convinced in your own mind’, of teachers who ‘by smooth talk and flattery deceive the minds of naive people’, of ‘wanting you to be wise’.
The list goes on and on…he consistently uses data, appeals to evidence, asks for proof, and answers requests for proof.
Does this sound like ‘blind faith’ or a faith that is concerned about truth?!
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Thinking Outside The Mainstream
A safe haven
DOBRA VIJEST (Good News Montenegro), serves the Church and the community best through its website. DV.com, with its 80+ pages, is a safe place for all who have questions and stuggle with doubts, and where our visitors come to read our reflections and learn our position on many issues. All of the pages serve the same purpose – to inform and make you think. DV represents a challenge to the mainstream and accepted versions of events, it questions popular concepts and theories.
In doing so, we abundantly use the resources and all the help we can get from a broad network of sites, organizations and thinking individuals. It’s very often that someone’s (from ouside DV) thoughts, comments, writings, not only perfectly fit our purpose and cause, but we also find them to be much better, in every respect, than what we would have thought and said. So, much of what we do here is just passing on, relaying, reblogging, reposting what’s already been out there. We are not exclusive, nor do we pretend to be, we think that sticking to one’s own strength, knowledge, opinion, etc.,
does nothing but harm, and that DV would only be impoverished by such approach.
As we are of humble knowledge (we are knowledge-seekers ourselves), that would be the surest way to fail our readers. So, yes, we think, but we also search, ask, take, share…
Whatever we receive freely*, freely we give. And our worst nightmare is that we do something without guidance and wisdom from above.
*/Not everything we ‘receive’ is free – DV is independent, non-profit and self-funded, and some of the costs include buying literature, printing material, making ebooks, renewing our domain, maintaining the site…/
It’s also not unusual for us to, not only post someone else’s articles that correspond to DV’s immediate and anticipated needs, but to aggregate other opinions on many issues, as well. If we find something to be of importance for our readership for some reason, although we have some different opinion and disagreement, we post it anyway. Putting our ‘disclaimer’ here and there, and letting our readers see, know and choose among different opinions and think for themselves is nothing to be feared – on the contrary, it’s a practice that we find beneficial to all. It’s freedom- the very thing that we propagate, and also our pursuit.
Never-ending quest for truth, justice and freedom
DV seeks to influence the public. The difference we make, our full impact on our social surroundings is much dependent on you, our readership, in that we need you to endorse our efforts. Only together we can fight lies, half-truths and injustice.
Fear enslaves us and only the Truth will set us free.
We are here to make you think, and you are there to help us endure.
The page you are on right now is describing the spirit of the ministry and what the site is all about. Our purpose is not only clear thinking, but thinking outside the box, a whole new way of thinking. We are here for those of you who dare think that way and tread some new paths and into a new territory.
Quest means Fight
In that quest, we may find ourselves in the land of giants. Once there, you can turn back or face your giants and fight. Good news is, should you choose to stay, you won’t be alone in that fight. God of all Truth will be there for you, on your side.
And so will we.
If you have, in Glenn Miller’s words,
“Questions you always wanted to ask at Church, but knew you would get suspicious looks if you did”
you’ve come to the right place.