Michael W. Austin

Philosopher. Ethicist. Author. Speaker.

Christian Thinkers: Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard’s two heroes were Socrates and Jesus Christ. When explaining what he took his purpose as a philosopher to be, Kierkegaard said, “My task is a Socratic task—to rectify the concept of what it means to be a Christian.” This nineteenth-century Danish philosopher (1813–1855) is perhaps best known as the father of existentialism, a school of philosophical thought most often associated with atheist thinkers like Jean Paul Sartre. Kierkegaard, however, had a passionate faith in God. He was a staunch critic of the Danish church as well as a voice urging others to consider their need for God and His place in a truly fulfilled human existence. Much of what he wrote is strikingly relevant to contemporary life.

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Cultivating Faith in Sports

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Is there anything redemptive in sport? Given the focus at the elite level on fame, wealth, and winning, often at the expense of character, there are reasons for doubting the claim that sport can be a place of moral and spiritual growth. However, if we are intentional about it, many virtues can be cultivated in the context of sport, including the virtue of faith.

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Parenting for Intellectual Virtue

wiseStewardsParents should equip their children to acquire, develop, and practice intellectual virtue, because this is a necessary (but not sufficient) requirement for shalom.

But what is intellectual virtue?

An intellectual virtue is an excellence of the mind. It is an intellectual character trait that enables one to reason well for the purpose of living well. Some examples of intellectual virtues that Scripture urges us to embody include attentiveness, prudence, teachability, intellectual tenacity, intellectual humility, love of truth, and wisdom.[1] It does not matter whether one becomes a college professor, computer technician, artist, or electrician. Simply by virtue of being human, we live more fulfilled lives and can perform our jobs better if we possess the intellectual virtues and apply their fruit to our lives.

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What is Hope?

5743984911_9f77da98e7_mI’ve often been puzzled by the nature of hope. Many think that hope is one of the central Christian virtues, so my lack of clarity on what hope is has bothered me off and on over the years. Recently, however, I think I’ve started to get a better picture.

When we hope for something, in Christian terms at least, we are not merely wishing for something good, or for better things yet to come. If hope was merely this, it would not count as a virtue. However, hope is a central Christian virtue. So what is it?

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What is Faith?

4416372357_7348991248_zThere is a lot of confusion about what it means to have faith in God. Some believe it means to believe in God without any good evidence. I’ve argued elsewhere that this is a misguided view of faith.

The best explanation of a biblical understanding of faith in God that I’m aware of comes from Paul Moser, who argues that faith is “entrusting oneself to God”. To paraphrase Genesis 15, then, “Abraham entrusted himself to the Lord, and the Lord counted this entrusting as a right relationship to himself.” The virtue of faith, then, includes belief, but goes well beyond it. It also includes a lived experience of entrusting one’s very self to God.

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