The Lord Answered Job

Thursday, December 3

Read Job 38. What does this teach us about God, not just as the Creator but as the Sustainer of all life? How should this important truth impact how we understand the arts and sciences?

“Many teach that matter possesses vital power – that certain properties are imparted to matter, and it is then left to act through its own inherent energy; and that the operations of nature are conducted in harmony with fixed laws, with which God Himself cannot interfere. This is false science, and is not sustained by the word of God. Nature is the servant of her Creator … . Nature testifies of an intelligence, a presence, an active energy, that works in and through her laws. There is in nature the continual working of the Father and the Son. Christ says, ‘My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.’ John 5:17.” — Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 114.

Unfortunately, as stated earlier, so much of science works on atheistic, materialist presuppositions. This means, then, that a scientist could be staring at something of the utmost beauty, of the utmost complexity, even of both the utmost beauty and complexity together, and yet claim that it arose by chance, with no forethought or intention behind it.

This is, in fact, what science claims all the time. Life on earth, in all its beauty and complexity – from butterflies to humans – is explained as nothing but the result of chemicals billions of years ago forming by chance into simple life that, through random mutation and natural selection, evolved into all that lives and moves and breathes today.

Science, as now constituted, argues that the very idea of a supernatural Creator is “unscientific,” since it cannot be tested scientifically, and thus it is a notion that science cannot deal with. This presupposition is not anything that science itself teaches (in fact, science would seem to teach the opposite: all the beauty and complexity of the world do, indeed, point to a Creator), but is, instead, a philosophical position imposed upon the discipline by scientists themselves.

The problem, however, is that Scripture teaches that God not only created everything but that He sustains everything, as well. This means that any true Christian education in science would have to work from radically different assumptions than what science in general claims. Inevitably, clashes will occur, especially when it comes to origins.

Foolishness and Wisdom

Wednesday, December 2

Read Proverbs 1. What does this teach us concerning what true Christian education should be about?

The Bible draws a steady comparison between foolishness and wisdom. The book of Proverbs does well to remind us of the dangers of foolhardy behavior and keeping the company of fools. The distinction is clear: God desires that His people seek wisdom, to treasure it and abound in it.

Students of the arts and sciences utilize their talents to gain knowledge and to pursue excellence in their studies. Teachers of these disciplines do similarly. We can be capable of artistic brilliance and scientific breakthroughs because of knowledge and ability.

Yet from a Christian perspective, what does a knowledge of the arts and sciences really mean if it does not involve knowing the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error? All one has to do, for instance, is read a bit about the lives of some of those deemed the world’s greatest artists in order to see that having wonderful skill and talent doesn’t equate with a moral or upright life. One could argue, too, that great scientists involved in the work of creating biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction might be highly educated, highly gifted, but what are the fruits of their work? As stated before, knowledge, in and of itself, is not necessarily a good thing.

Read Proverbs 1:7. How does this text reveal what the key to true Christian education is?

One Nobel Prize winner, an atheist, a man who studies the universe and the physical forces behind it, wrote: “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” What should this tell us about how knowledge, in and of itself, can not only be meaningless but, even worse, lead to gross error?

Experts in Error

Tuesday, December 1

We know that our world has more than its share of art and philosophy that does not honor God. Many would argue that Christians should not even enter these proverbial tents. Seventh-day Adventist Christians must carefully consider their own business in serving certain industries, patronizing certain establishments, consuming certain media.

In 1 Timothy 6, we are given clear instruction as to what pursuits we should avoid, but we are also given ample explanation. In 1 Timothy 6:9, 10, what are the pursuits against which Paul warns?

Read the rest of 1 Timothy 6. What are the key pursuits that Paul endorses?

Notice in 1 Timothy 6:20 how Paul warns against “science falsely so called”. Though he’s working from a different context, the principle is still applicable. That is, think about all the information, all the teaching, all the beliefs, not just now but throughout human history, that were flat-out wrong. People can, indeed, be experts in error.

For nearly 2,000 years, the world’s smartest people, the experts, believed that the earth sat immobile in the center of the universe while all the stars and planets orbited it in perfect circles. Some very complicated math and science were used to buttress this belief, even though it turned out to be wrong in almost every particular. Hence, we could say that these people were experts in error, and that this teaching certainly was “falsely called knowledge.”

Biological science today, for instance, is predicated on the assumption that life began billions of years ago, by chance, with no God and no purpose behind it. At the same time, an incredible amount of complicated and detailed scientific literature has arisen based on this teaching. What lessons can we take away from this about how people can be experts in error? How should this realization impact Christian education in general and the teaching of science in particular?


A Beleza da Santidade

Segunda-feira, 30 de Novembro

2. O Salmo 96:9 declara: “Adorai ao Senhor na beleza da santidade; tremei diante dele todos os moradores da terra”. Como entendemos o conceito de “beleza da santidade”? O que significa isto para um cristão e como deve impactar o que ensinamos sobre arte e a beleza muitas vezes associada a ela?

Embora as pessoas digam que “a beleza está nos olhos de quem a vê”, não nos devemos esquecer de quem criou os olhos (Provérbios 20:12). Embora devamos ter cuidado para não adorarmos a própria criação, a partir da beleza da criação, aprendemos sobre Deus e sobre o Seu amor pela beleza. Se o nosso mundo caído ainda é tão belo, imagine como deve ter sido antes da queda! Isto ensina-nos que Deus é realmente o Criador do belo.

O estudo das artes e das ciências deve, portanto, aproximar-nos do carácter e do coração de Deus. Visto que somos parte da obra artística e dos fenómenos científicos de Deus, também podemos aprender mais sobre a nossa identidade em Cristo.

“Deus queria que Seus filhos apreciassem Suas obras e que se deleitassem na beleza simples e tranquila com a qual Ele enfeitou nosso lar terrestre. Ele é um amante do que é belo e, acima daquilo que é exteriormente atrativo, Ele ama a beleza do caráter; e deseja que cultivemos a pureza e a simplicidade, como a beleza singela das flores.” Ellen G. White, Caminho a Cristo, p. 85

3. O que ensina Génesis 3:6 sobre como a beleza por si só não é necessariamente boa nem santa? (Veja também Provérbios 6:25; 31:30).

Como acontece com tudo o que Deus fez, temos um inimigo que distorce e explora esta beleza. Então, não nos deveria surpreender o facto de que a beleza e os seus conceitos também possam ser usados contra nós. Portanto, especialmente nas artes, a educação cristã, guiada pelas Escrituras, deve ajudar-nos a ter cautela ao compreendermos que nem tudo o que é belo é necessariamente bom ou santo.

Que coisas “belas” não são necessariamente santas ou boas e podem tornar-se profanas e más, dependendo das circunstâncias? Que padrão usamos para fazer estas distinções?


The Beauty of Holiness

Monday, November 30

Psalm 96:9 reads, “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: Fear before him, all the earth”. How do we understand this concept, “the beauty of holiness”? What should this mean to a Christian, and how should it impact what we teach about art and the beauty often associated with it?

Though it has been said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” we mustn’t forget who it was who created the eye to begin with (see Proverbs 20:12). Though we have to be careful not to worship the creation itself (see yesterday’s study), from the beauty of the creation we can learn about God and, indeed, His love of beauty. If our fallen world still looks so beautiful, who can imagine what it must have been like before the Fall? And this teaches us that God indeed is the Creator of the beautiful.

Study of arts and sciences can and should, then, draw us closer to the character and heart of God. Because we are a part of God’s own artwork and scientific phenomena, we can also learn more about our own identity in Christ.

“God would have His children appreciate His works and delight in the simple, quiet beauty with which He has adorned our earthly home. He is a lover of the beautiful, and above all that is outwardly attractive He loves beauty of character; He would have us cultivate purity and simplicity, the quiet graces of the flowers.” Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 85.

Read Genesis 3:6. What does it teach us about how beauty alone isn’t necessarily good or holy? See also Proverbs 6:25, 31:30.

As with everything God has done, we have an enemy who distorts and exploits it. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that beauty and concepts of beauty can be used against us, as well. Thus, especially in the arts, Christian education, guided by Scripture, must help us learn to be careful in understanding that not all that is beautiful is necessarily good or holy.

What are some “beautiful” things that are not necessarily holy and good? Or, what are beautiful things that can be made unholy and bad, depending upon circumstances? What standard do we use to make these distinctions?


Apenas o Senhor

Domingo, 29 de Novembro

Há provas da presença do Deus vivo na Sua criação. Esta afirmação tem sido repetida com tanta frequência que já se tornou um clichê. Quando consideramos, por exemplo, a intenção de Deus na criação deste mundo, que o ser humano deteriorou e arruinou, podemos aproximar-nos da melhor maneira de ensinar artes e ciências.

Considere o período de gestação humana, por exemplo. A biologia revela que a nova vida humana inteligente surge a partir de um óvulo fertilizado e desenvolve-se até a gestação completa após depois de meses. As marcas de um Criador amoroso estão presentes neste ciclo. A bondade de Deus pode ser vista no local em que o feto se desenvolve: logo abaixo do batimento constante do coração da mãe. À medida que o feto cresce, o mesmo acontece com o abdómen da mãe. A mulher grávida está sempre consciente do seu filho, assim como o nosso Pai celestial está sempre consciente dos Seus filhos.

1. O que revelam Romanos 1:18-21, Salmos 19:1-6 e Neemias 9:6 sobre a obra de Deus como nosso Criador?

Mesmo depois de 6.000 anos de pecado e milhares de anos depois da devastação mundial do Dilúvio, há provas poderosas não apenas de Deus como Criador, mas também do poder, amor e benevolência do Senhor. Esta prova é tão forte que Paulo, em Romanos 1:18-21, declarou que aqueles que rejeitam a Deus serão “indesculpáveis” no Dia do Juízo, pois podemos descobrir o suficiente sobre Ele a partir do que Ele criou. Noutras palavras, eles não poderão alegar ignorância!

Especialmente numa época em que muitas pessoas passaram a adorar a criação em vez do Criador, é crucial que a educação cristã nas artes e nas ciências trabalhe sempre partindo da premissa de que Deus é o Criador e Mantenedor de tudo o que existe. No fim, quaisquer ideologias e pressupostos que neguem ou excluam Deus levam apenas ao erro. A educação secular praticamente trabalha com a premissa de que não há Deus; a educação cristã não deve cair nesta armadilha, nem deve trabalhar ainda mais subtilmente a partir de princípios baseados na suposição de que Deus não existe. De qualquer uma destas maneiras, o ser humano acabará inevitavelmente no erro.

Pense na maravilha e beleza do mundo, mesmo depois do pecado. Como podemos extrair esperança e consolo destas coisas, especialmente em tempos de provações e sofrimentos pessoais?

The Lord Alone

Sunday, November 29

There is evidence of the living God in all of His creation. This statement has been repeated so often that it has become clichéd. When we consider, for example, the heart of God in creating this world, which humans have proceeded to damage and mar, we may come closer to how we can best teach the arts and sciences.

Take the human gestation period, for example. Biology tells us that new intelligent human life emerges from one fertilized egg and grows to full gestation after nine months. The marks of a loving Creator are all throughout this cycle. The loving-kindness of God can be seen in the place that a fetus develops: right below the steady beating of a mother’s heart. As the fetus enlarges, so does the mother’s abdomen, right out in front of her person. The expectant mother is made always aware of her child, just as our heavenly Father is always aware of His children.

Read Romans 1:18-21, Psalm 19:1-6, and Nehemiah 9:6. What do they tell us about God’s work as our Creator?

Even after 6,000 years of sin and thousands of years after the worldwide devastation of the Flood, overwhelmingly powerful evidence exists not just for God as our Creator, but for the power and love and benevolence of this God as our Creator. It’s so powerful, in fact, that Paul, in Romans 1:18-21, says that those who reject this God will be “without excuse” on Judgment Day because enough about Him can be learned from what He has made. In other words, they won’t be able to plead ignorance!

Especially in a day and age in which many humans have come to worship the creation rather than the Creator, how crucial that Christian education in the arts and sciences always work from the assumption that God is the Creator and sustainer of all that exists. In the end, any ideologies and presuppositions that deny or exclude God can lead only to error. Worldly education all but works on the assumption of no God; Christian education must not fall into that trap, nor must it work even more subtly from principles based on the assumption that there is no God. Either way, humans are bound to wind up in error.

Think about the incredible wonder and beauty in our world, even after sin. How can we learn to draw hope and comfort from it, especially in times of personal trials and suffering?