God


I recently noticed that the popular NBC TV show, Heroes, is boasting a new series with the promo “In every hero there could be a villain”.  It seems to be centered around the idea that the heroes are also the villains at different times throughout the drama.  I think I can relate.  But I would argue that in every hero there IS a villain.

I have been a believer in Jesus Christ since I was five years of age.  I was dramatically converted from a life of thumb-sucking and temper tantrums, I like to say.  In reality, I know I was “born from above,” as John chapter 3 puts it, because of the warfare that has raged in my soul ever since, among other reasons.  Recently, I have felt frustrated with some of the ways that I have been tempted and, at times, given in to my old nature, the sinful power in me, the “villain” that opposes everything I want to be for God.  I’ve been asking myself alot of questions.  Questions like:

Where does my desire to tear down another person in order to build myself up come from?

Why do I worry about the future when I am promised my needs will be cared for forever? 

What keeps me from sharing God’s truth to my aquaintances every chance I get? 

Why do I care so much about my own comfort? 

Why do I fear for my own loss when everything that really matters I already have, and that which I have I can never lose?

Why do I lose my joy?  How can I fix my eyes on any earthly situation for more than a moment when I could be gazing (spiritually) into the eyes of my Redeemer?

How can I neglect to truly pray when I know that all that I could ever want is found in the whisper of His name?

Why do I choose to feed my physical thirst and neglect feeding my spiritual thirst when my appetite for the former is never quenched, but the latter springs up unto life eternal? 

How is it that I can sin and not shed a single tear when Jesus Christ wept over my sin in the Garden the night before it cost Him His life?

Why do I no longer tremble when I think of how close I came to spending all of forever in eternal damnation and punishment?

How can I forget so easily the agony of that night in the garden or in Pilate’s palace?  How is it that Golgotha slips so quickly from my mind?

Why does my anger rise up within me when I am ridiculed – do I not deserve every word against me and more?

How can I choose the evening sitcom over bedside prayers with my children?

How can I allow images of women other than my wife to linger in my mind?

What causes me to desire to deceive or withhold information in order to be praised by my peers or obtain a larger paycheck?

Why do I choose to stay in bed some mornings when I could be exploring the riches of the Holy Scriptures?

Why do I quickly question and want to rebel in my heart against any and all authority set over me regardless of who it is? 

How do I fall in love so quickly with anything and everything that tickles my fancy when it displaces my first love for my Savior? 

Why do I fail to be content when I already have everything that is good for me?

These are just a few of the questions that lately have plagued my mind.  I want to do what is right.  I want to be holy.  I get so tired some times of struggling with my self.  I see in me this law that all that I don’t want to do, that I do.  And that which I want to do, I don’t do.  What a treacherous man I am!  Who will rescue me from from this war that rages in my soul?  Thank God that I can be free through Jesus Christ, my Lord.  So with my mind I am serving this principle of Christ, but with my flesh I am serving this principle of sin.  (See Romans 7:22-25 – my own paraphrase) 

Once again, my victory over this arch enemy deep within lies in Scripture.  Romans chapter 8, verses 5,13, 14, 26 & 32 seems to spell it out.

Verse 5 teaches me to set my mind on the things of the Spirit.

Verse 13 teaches me to put to death the actions of the sinful nature (the flesh).

Verse 14 commands me to follow the Spirit.

Verses 26 & 32 prompt me to pray for the victory.

Can it really be that simple?  Yes, I think it can be.  Has God’s will ever been hard to understand?  The difficulty is in obeying these simple commands daily.  This battle that I face every day is won by following these four commands.  When I keep my mind on spiritual matters (the Word of God) through memorizing, meditating and mentioning (Psalm 119:11 & Joshua 1:8) it consistently, I have obeyed the first command.  But I have only begun the battle.  When I refuse to obey the desires of my sinful nature, I have gained another part of the victory. 

Thirdly, I must follow the Spirit of God.  “Follower” is a synonym with “disciple”  from which we get the word discipline.  We must discipline ourselves to follow the new law of the Spirit.  Over 1000 commands are given in the new testament and by God’s grace, we are to follow them.  Not as legalists trying to obtain God’s favor, but as children seeking to please Him who has made us accepted in the beloved.  But, even this is futile if we fail to follow verses 26 & 32. 

It is only when I add quality time before the throne of God, allowing the Spirit to pray through me in groanings that often cannot even be uttered, that I ensure I have done my part and have been victorious.  Yes, and I know that I am victorious over this principle of sin because I am more than a conqueror through him that loved me and that predestined me to be conformed to the image of his Son.  (Romans 8:30 & 37)

Praise God for the victory that I have over the villain inside me when I simply trust and obey the truths of His word!   And I don’t even need to watch the TV show.

Let me start by saying I’ve been called a jackass recently, a certain synonym for the “beast of burden” (AKA: mule, jenny, moke) for saying something similar to this.  I’m not complaining.  My point of view isn’t always the most comfortable and I’ve been known to stir things up a bit before. 

What’s more, maybe the shoe fits, in some ways.  Of course, I’m speaking of myself as in comparison to the four-footed animal with large floppy ears – you might have seen it.  I agree that I may be like this dull creature in that I will carry my share of a load on my back, if I am beaten long enough.  I am as ugly as the brute, my wife will tell you that.  And as far as intelligence, there are some striking similarities between myself and the foolish burro.  Just today, I was late for an appointment, so did I respond with increased haste, you might ask?  Not hardly.  I drifted into a daydream while driving down the highway.  I missed my turn altogether and progressed from being just a few minutes late to practically absent altogether. 

Although I guess I could physically be mistaken for a donkey if I was approached from the wrong angle in dim lighting while tying my shoes, I may be primarily like the animal as it pertains to my lack of knowledge of matters of higher learning, the arts, literature, history, etc. etc.  I can perform basic mathematical functions on a calculator and I do know my ABCs.  (Although at times my children have caught me singing the alphabet song when searching for papers in my file cabinet.) 

So I’m not too smart, not the brightest crayon in the box, a couple of fries short of a happy meal, my elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, whatever … but, from my asinine point of view, I don’t get all this fuss about a “problem of pain”.  I was listening to a talk radio show recently and some guy e-mailed in asking where was God when the host of the show had made some unwise choices and created alot of problems for himself.  As if God should have stepped in and saved this guys family from financial ruin, divorce, etc. if he was “truly a good God.”  I hear it all the time, “If God is a good God then why does he allow so much suffering in the world?”  Somehow this question has stumped many people and caused them to become “bitter” against God.  The question is asked, “If God could stop evil and pain, being an all-powerful being, how can he allow evil and suffering to exist?”  The only two answers these people rationalize to be possible are that either (1) God is not good or (2) God is not all powerful.  They say, “How can a good God allow people to suffer?” 

My simplistic point of view, for which I am sometimes demonized, would be …  What?  Are you joking?  You’ve got to be joking.  This is not a valid question!  This is absurd.  Its more than absurd.  Its completely blasphemous to insinuate that somehow its God’s fault for the pain in the world and that a good, all-powerful God should stop the pain.  Pain is a direct and often indirect result of people’s rebellion against God!  Did God cause the pain or did we?  Of course, God will allow suffering in this world! 

Maybe I should put it this way.   When did we start thinking that God was on our side?  We are the arch enemies of God by our very existence.  He created us good and whole but we chose a long time ago to become the people that we are today.  We are God’s enemies from birth.  He hates what we do and what we have become, as a human race.  He loves us because of what He knows we will become when we are recreated in His likeness again, that’s why he has sent his Son, Jesus, to change us, to make us new, holy creations in his image, but I don’t see how there is any reason he should take away our pain!  If anything, we should suffer a whole lot more for the evil that is in our souls and our minds.  My guess is we will too, as our society rebels against God’s clear commands more and more.  Isn’t the whole purpose of suffering to deter further evil and to judge sin.  Isn’t this what we asked for? what we deserve? 

Yes, I said it, sin.  Sin – there it is again.  Why do we feel we must use words like “mistake” or “lack of judgement” to cover what we really are?  Again, call me whatever you want, I’m sure I deserve it somehow.  But aren’t we the ones who brought the curse on ourselves?  Aren’t we the sworn enemies of God by nature through the choice of Adam our father some 10,000 years ago?  We are the ones who rebelled against him.  Not the other way around.  Why do we think that he, the Creator of the universe, should allow us to live – much less take away our suffering?

If we got what we deserve … well, there is a reason they call it hell.  Thank God there is a way to escape the judgment to come, by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and repenting of our sin.  This way we can become new creations and escape what we deserve.  If anything we should be thanking God for the times of reprieve from pain and suffering, not questioning how He could still be good in allowing it.

I know I’m not being very sensitive.  My comments probably haven’t made anyone “feel” good.  And I’m sure the responses I get to this post will make calling me a jackass look like a compliment.  But that’s just the way I see it, and I think I’m in pretty good company.

The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 ESV

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; (28) God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, (29) so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
The Apostle Paul, Romans 1:18-32 ESV

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (19) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (21) For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (22) Claiming to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (24) Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, (25) because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (26) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; (27) and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (28) And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (29) They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, (30) slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, (31) foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (32) Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Many Christians are unsure of what to think of philosophy.  Some believe that it is a volatile mixture of mysticism, humanist psychology, and pagan religion, while yet others believe it to be a discipline that is exclusively practiced by the intellectually elite.  None of these ideas are true, however, and the people who hold them would be surprised to know that they practice philosophy, in some sense, every day.     
       For example, when two men are talking about the moral implications of our nation going to war they are, in fact, philosophizing.  When woman dialogues with another concerning the issue of abortion, and seeks to demonstrate that an unborn child has the same right to life as any other individual, then philosophy is being utilized.  In fact, many of the topics that we ponder and discuss every day fall into the realm of philosophy.

 What is Philosophy?
      Giving a clear, concise definition of philosophy is difficult.  This is not because that there have been no attempts to define it, but because there have been so many different definitions.  So where do we go to find a definition?  The meaning of the word itself may give us a clue. 
      The word “philosophy” is derived from the combination of two Greek words.  The word philos means “love” and the word sophia means “wisdom”; when you combine the two, you have the phrase “the love of wisdom”, which is the meaning of the word “philosophy”.  So philosophy, at least in the ancient sense, is the love and pursuit of wisdom.
      Based upon the etymology of the word and the practice of philosophy – at least from a classical or Christian perspective – we can come to this formal definition: Philosophy is the pursuit of truth and understanding through sound reason.  This is, admittedly, a somewhat biased definition; but all definitions of philosophy are ultimately biased in some form or another.

The Value of Philosophy
      You may still be wondering what value the study of philosophy holds for the CHristian.  Allow me to point out a few benefits that the study of philosophy grants:

(1) It Cultivates Good Judgment
      Individuals who are familiar with philosophical argument are less likely to be deceived by rhetoric or propaganda.  They will look beyond ad hominem attacks and empty emotional appeals and be able to see to the crux of the argument.    This is crucial for the modern day Christian in that it allows us to reason with individuals instead of falling for every rhetorical smokescreen that is set before us.

(2) It Aids in Our Understanding of Culture and Society
      Philosophical principles help us to understand the intellectual forces that are driving our culture.  Rather than seeing the ‘fruit’ of fads and trends, we will see the ‘root’ of a worldview that is giving credence to the culture.  The study of philosophy will teach us that ideas do, indeed, have far reaching consequences.

(3) It Aids in the Systemization of Knowledge
      Another benefit of philosophy is that it allows us to organize and systematize our beliefs.  Philosophical analysis gives us the tools necessary to formulate rational arguments for what we believe.  Also, it is impossible to do a Systematic Theology without employing philosophy.
      Without any doubt, philosophy can be an extremely useful tool for the Christian, and is necessary for apologetics.  It is important to remember that all truth is God’s truth.  He is the Author of truth, and truth is an essential property of His Being.  Since philosophy is the pursuit of truth, the Christian philosopher is in the best position to philosophize, for he knows the one who claimed himself as “the way, the truth, and the life”.

The Three Levels of Philosophy

      Philosophy can be practiced and communicated on three levels:

  • (1) Theoretical Level
  • (2) Existential Level
  • (3) Prescriptive Level

 Level One- Analytic Level
      This level of philosophy deals with rigorous logical analysis, and is concerned with constructing analytic arguments that follow from strict logical inference.  The classical proofs of God’s existence are set forth in this level of philosophy, as well as such issues as the nature of truth and morality. 
      The key word to remember in in regards to this level is “logic”; that is, beliefs and opinions are examined in light of the rules of reason.  If an idea breaks down on this fundamental level and proves itself to be illogical or incoherent, then there is no more need for discussion on the matter: the idea is erroneous.
      The benefits of philosophy on this level come from the fact in that it deals with solid and objective rules of thinking.  It appeals to fact and not emotion or opinion.  Every theory, belief, or idea should be able to stand on this first level of philosophy. 
      However, there are negative aspects to this level when it is employed exclusively.  A debate on the theoretical level often becomes a contest of intellect, pitting one mind against another.  Sometimes the facts are blurred because of the ability of some brilliant intellect or charismatic communicator to manipulate the debate in his own favor.  To put it frankly, there have been intellectual giants who were and are Christians, and there have been intellectual giants who were and are non-Christians.  If an idea or belief is only treated on level one, then everything boils down to a battle of the brains and a satisfactory conclusion may never be reached.

 Level Two- Existential Level
      The second level of philosophy is not communicated by theorems and proofs, but is carried out in the avenue of the Arts.  Novels, poetry, painting, music, and many other methods of artistic expression can communicate ideas in an incredibly powerful manner.  This level is concerned with illustrating philosophical ideas in the artistic expression of the existential struggles and questions that all men must deal with.
      The Scottish politician, Andrew Fletcher, once said, “Let me write the songs of a nation; I do not care who writes its laws.”  This statement by Fletcher shows enormous insight!  The most influential philosophers of our day are not just the distinguished professors of great universities, but the individuals who maintain the print, television, and music industry.  Although these individuals may not be giving lectures on hard philosophical facts, they are carrying their philosophies through the medium of the arts.  The worldview of an individual will always be communicated in the art which they produce, whether it is fiction, drama, music, or any other creative work.  C. S. Lewis realized the implications of this fact when he said: 

We can make people (often) attend to the Christian point of view for half an hour or so; but the moment they have gone away from our lecture or laid down our article, they are plunged back into a world where the opposite is taken for granted…We must attack the enemy’s line of communication.  What we want is not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects – with their Christianity latent.[i]

      An evaluation of the existential level demonstrates that is a highly effective means of communicating ideas.  Whereas many individuals will never pick up a work by Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, or Alvin Plantinga, nearly everyone reads novels, goes to the movies, or listens to some type of music. 
      On the other hand, if one uses the existential level alone, he is bound to fall into error.  The danger of isolating the existential level from the other levels of philosophy is that it leads to subjectivism (the idea that truth is whatever you believe it to be).  The existential level must be grounded upon the analytical level to prevent this slide into subjectivism. 

Level Three- Prescriptive Level
      The third and final level of philosophy that we will deal with is the Prescriptive Level of philosophy.  This level deals with the applicative nature of a certain philosophical system.  This is the level that says, “How does this affect my life?”
      This level deals with how we should live.  It takes the information of the previous two levels and translates into reality.  It is demonstrated in the parent instructing the child on what he should or should not do, or in the minister who sets forth moral standards for his congregation.  We are constantly engaged in the prescriptive level day in conversations on the sidewalk or in our own living rooms concerning the far-reaching moral and ethical issues that we encounter each and every day.
      This level of philosophy is important because any idea is meaningless if it can’t be applied to reality.   It is on this level that the seemingly abstract arguments of the first level and the personal expression of the second level touch reality.
      Again, there are dangers in using this level alone as well.  If the child comes to her father and says, “Dad, we were taught in school today that there are no moral absolutes.  What do you think about that?”  If the father is not careful he will simply jump straight to the prescriptive level and began spouting Scriptural proof texts against the error.  The problem, however, is that the teacher does not believe the Bible and the classroom milieu does not regard it as authoritative.  In essence, the child is not asking her father what he believes about the issue, but why he believes what he does about the issue.  If you forego the first two levels, then you are only left with application, which is very subjective and weak without a foundation.
      It is important that we learn to operate on every level if we really want to communicate our worldview. Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, has wonderfully set forth the meaning and function of these levels of philosophy in this portion of his article, “Living an Apologetic Life”.

 Level one concerns logic, level two is based on feeling, and level three is where all is applied to reality. To put it another way, level one states why we believe what we believe, level two indicates why we live the way we live, and level three states why we legislate for others the way we do. For every life that is lived at a reasonable level, these three questions must be answered. First, can I defend what I believe in keeping with the laws of logic? That is, is it tenable? Second, if everyone gave himself or herself the prerogatives of my philosophy, could there be harmony in existence? That is, is it livable? Third, do I have a right to make moral judgments in the matters of daily living? That is, is it transferable?[ii]

 An important principle to keep in mind concerning these three levels is that we argue on level one (Analytical), we illustrate on level two (Existential), and we apply on level three (Prescriptive).  


 [i] Lewis, C. S., God in the Dock (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), taken from chapter 10, “Christian Apologetics”, pg. 93

[ii] Zacharias, Ravi. “Living an Apologetic Life”, (Just Thinking, Fall 2003), p. 8

 

 

 

                                                       

Jesus loves porn stars! So heralds the cover of the controversial Bible (The Message version) being distributed by the guys over at Triple X Church. Triple X is an anti-porn website run by Mike Foster and Craig Gross, who also run the ministry Starving Jesus, and together authored the book, “Questions You Can’t Ask Your Mama About Sex”.

The flashy picture above is the actual cover of the Bible Foster and Gross are distributing. Distributing at Porn conventions, that is. The ministry of XXXChurch is to attend porn conventions which are frequented by the top names in pornography like Jenna Jameson and Ron Jeremy (who often participates in public debates with XXXChurch on porn). Does Jesus love porn stars? Here’s my controversial answer– No, He does not.

Modernly, “porn star” is simply a euphemism of a lifestyle, not a human being. It’s used, as best I can tell, exactly like “pimp” or “rock star” or “redneck” , words which no longer refer to an individual, but a particular lifestyle. Go to your local superstore, and you’ll find t-shirts (in the teen section by the way) with those titles screen printed on the front. I remember a girl with whom I went to high school wearing a t-shirt which simply said, “I’m a Porn Star,” in the same coloring and typeface as the Bible cover above. Who’s not seen the Rockstar brand energy drink, or heard a rap song about being a pimp or a country song about being a redneck? These titles don’t refer to people as individuals, but lifestyles. Contrariwise, I could say that Jesus loves homosexuals, because this currently still refers to individuals, not the lifestyle. Does Jesus love Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson? Absolutely! He also loves every single other individual involved in the pornography industry. However, He does not love porn stars, nor does He loves pimps, rock stars, or rednecks, as those words are used in modern vernacular to convey not the individual man, but his lifestyle; lifestyles often characterized by their committment to ignorance, promiscuity, drug use, and immorality on many fronts. Does Jesus love that? Of course not.

The message that Jesus loves porn stars, to modern individuals, does not convey the intended meaning, therefore, that Jesus loves the individual man, but that Jesus seems to have a special place in His heart for the porn star lifestyle. This is clearly seen in the ABC news video (below) where a female pornography actress says the Jesus Loves Porn Stars t-shirt is “awesome”. Finally, porn stars are justified, Jesus loves it, and if He does, what’s the problem?

Aside from the obscure message that Jesus loves porn stars, the XXXChurch website sells items which again are intended to deliver the message of Christ to individuals struggling with sex addiction. To encourage men to abstain from lust, cards are handed out that remind them (forgive me for typing this) “Don’t Spank that Monkey”, and the XXXChurch website sells Jesus pencil toppers, and Jesus bobble heads, called Jesus nodders.

  Penciltoppers_copy           

Jesus loves you. Let’s remind modern men that they are just that- you, men, women, people, individual humans in God’s image. Jesus doesn’t love porn stars, but He loves every single human, despite their man made titles.

A Message from  

 

“A number of people called our attention to this clip from the popular TV series ER. It really is amazing for secular television.The “Fair Use” law allowed us to teach from it, without violating copyright laws. It has wonderful evangelistic potential, so please use it all over the Internet.”

To me this one is worth re-posting for WOTM.

Tight SlippersJonalyn Grace Fincher’s book, Ruby Slippers, has proven to be a pioneer book on femininity and discovering the soul of a woman.  I will be reading and re-reading this to contemplate the stimulating concepts that are presented.  I must admit that my own perception of the feminine soul has been challenged.The first analogy that we examined was that of corsets. We layer our corsets so tight so that our soul begins to suffocate under the weight. Another striking analogy that Jonalyn utilizes is that of Grimm’s Cinderella.  Unlike the Disney version, Grimm paints a picture of two step-sisters who cut off parts of their flesh to fit into shoes that were not meant for them. They had normal feet but demolished what they had to try to squeeze into shoes meant for Cinderella.

“Often the roles we play are like pinching shoes. In order to fit into some role, we squeeze ourselves, contort ourselves, even cut off part of ourselves. We accept these roles, and the contortions they sometimes demand, and we call it womanly, submissive even.”

Much like the step-sisters, we slice off parts of our soul to fit into the molds that we are expected to wear. We cut away crucial parts that God intends for us to grow and use. What we don’t realize is that while we fit into the shoes, our souls are bleeding. Why do we accept this as a necessary part of femininity without going to the One who created us to find out what He expects?

God created each woman unique. When we chisel away what He gave us, we are limiting ourselves to the narrowminded expectations of society.  I think its a sad commentary that we are satisfied with the shoes that are handed to us and we struggle to fit outselves into them without asking God what He wants for us.  How unfulfilled our lives become!  We must toss the corsets and man-made shoes to lay ourselves bare before the all-loving God who knows us…really knows us. But, this is so scary! Who are we without our corsets and tight shoes? Do we dare expose ourselves for who we are? 

We must remove human opinion from its pedestal. We must regard God’s opinion as the basis for our femininity. I love how Jonalyn puts it: “It’s time to remove these stifling shoes and corsets so we can walk closer to Christ.”

I believe that this movie has the potential to be the most talked about event in 2008, even eclipsing the political conventions, the Olympics and the Election.   I am equally sure that if it does well in the box office that there will be MUCH negative publicity against it.    At any rate, this is a very thought provoking trailer.  Enjoy

If nothing else I hope that this movie will engage Christians in and with the culture once again.  Forcing us to think! and get off our pat answers and shallow arguments.  This could be a great opportunity to participate in conversations with the culture at large.  It will also be an opportunity to show our ignorance if we are not careful. There is a risk of the anti-intellectuals, who shun academia, science and the institutes of higher learning, to solidify the sterotypical image of the “Christian” as the ignorant, blind faith bumpkins that many in the culture say we are.
At any rate, it is time to get out of the bunkers we call church and engage our culture again, not in some antagonistic conflict, but in truth and love.  It is possible to win the argument and lose the person with whom you are conversing. (I have to give props to my Pastor, Josh, for that line, it was too good not to borrow.)  It is also possible to lose an argument due to lack of preparation and basic knowledge and end up looking like a backwoods banjo picker.

Faith & Reason (Continued from Part 1)

We have already established that there is an interrelation between faith and reason.  Now the question is: How do they relate to each other?  This, the second post on this subject, will seek to answer that question.  There are three major categories in which faith and reason can relate.  These are (1) faith only; (2) reason only; and (3) faith and reason.

Fideism (Faith Only)
The “faith only” perspective says that reason plays no part in matters of religion.  As Tertullian said, “I believe because it is absurd!”  This view asserts that the only valid way to know anything about God is solely through faith.  Famous faith-only Christians include individuals such as Tertullian (160?-230?), Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Karl Barth (1886-1968), and to a slightly lesser degree, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). 

 The driving force behind Fideism is the separation of man from God.  The finitude of human beings (specifically in regard to the intellect), and the transcendent nature of God keeps us from being able to effectively reason on spiritual matters.  On the one hand there is the fallen state of man which has left his mind and intellect in opposition to God; while on the other, there is the infinite greatness of God’s power and wisdom, which is totally foreign to human reason and can only present paradoxes to mankind.

Soren Kierkegaard
One of the most influential proponents of the “faith only” movement was the Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard.  Among his many written works, his book, Fear and Trembling, especially sets forth his case.

The theme of Fear and Trembling is the well-known story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Kierkegaard’s literary skill is superb as he captures the poignant emotions that Abraham must have felt as he traveled with his son to the mountain of sacrifice.  According to Kierkegaard, Abraham – unable to ascertain a rational motive explaining God’s command – had to make a “leap of faith” and obey God instead of his own reason.

This “leap of faith” stands at the core of Kierkegaard’s conception of faith and reason.  In essence he taught that the only way to understand God was to let go of reason and venture out on faith alone, that rational proofs of God’s existence were pointless and an affront to his nature, and that (contrary to Romans 1) there was no such thing as natural revelation.  Frederick Copleston, in his History of Philosophy, describes Kierkegaard’s philosophy:

God is not man, and man is not God.  And the gulf between them cannot be bridged by dialectical thinking.  It can be bridged only by a leap of faith, by a voluntary act by which man relates himself to God and freely appropriates, as it were, his relation as creature to the Creator, as a finite individual to the transcendent Absolute.[i]

Evaluation
Although the “faith only” viewpoint does indeed contribute some important teaching concerning God, faith, and reason, it has made a serious error in attempting to disregard reason altogether.  God created man a rational being and expects him to use his reason even in matters of faith.  If reason is denied then we have no basis of certainty for Scripture and faith.

Rationalism (Reason Only)
Whereas Fideism advocates that we should disregard reason for faith; the “reason only” view holds to just the opposite.  According to Rationalism, anything that cannot be apprehended or explained by reason must be rejected.  Famous rationalists include such individuals as Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).

Although there are various degrees within the “reason only” perspective, the basic idea that is held in common is the belief that all truth can be discovered by unaided human reason.  Therefore the reason of man becomes the measure of all things.  Even Scripture must acquiesce to reason as it must pass the test of rational inquiry before it is accepted.

This ideology is the basis for higher criticism and theological liberalism.  Spirituality and religion are measured only by man’s ability to comprehend them.  Immanuel Kant succinctly summed up the “reason only” movement with the title of his book, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone.     

Evaluation
On a positive note, the “reason only” movement has been successful in dampening some of the influence of the more extreme versions of anti-intellectualism, although in the final analysis, this system of thought has consistently demonstrated itself to be bankrupt of any legitimate insight into the nature of God and Scripture.  While it is correct in assuming that God intends for us to use the reasoning powers of our minds, it errs in placing the mind of man above God and denying the role of faith in the Christian experience.

Interrelation (Faith and Reason)
 The final view that will be stated here represents a synthesis of faith and reason.  This view asserts that faith and reason are interrelational, that is to say, that they both play a part in understanding God and Scripture.  This view was set forth in particular by two of Christendom’s greatest thinkers: St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225?-1274).  

This perspective can best be described by the phrase, “faith seeking understanding”.  In Augustine’s opinion, faith was necessary to reason correctly about God.  We all have to place our faith in some authority as the basis for how we think; Augustine said that the authority of the Christian faith is Scripture.  However we should not be satisfied with simply resting on an authority, but we should seek to understand the authority in which we have placed our faith.  In other words, we should not just believe, but we should seek to understand why and what we believe

Aquinas’ position was very similar.  He believed that man could come to a basic knowledge of God based on reason but that Scripture was necessary for understanding many things within the realm of the Divine.  As he said in Theology, Faith, and Reason:

There are some intelligible truths to which the efficacy of [reason] extends, such as the principles which a man naturally knows and the things which are deduced from them, and for knowledge of these no new intelligible light is required, but the naturally inborn light suffices.  But there are things to which these principles do not extend, such as what pertains to faith and exceeds the capacity of reason…The human mind cannot know these unless it is illumined by a new light superadded to the natural.[ii]

Thomas was basically saying that there are things about God that the human mind can deduce from creation itself, but there are other things which can only be understood through the revelation of Scripture.  Based on this premise, Thomas believed that it was possible to prove the existence of God from reasoning about creation, which he set forth in his famous “Five Ways” in the Summa Theologica.

Evaluation
It has been said before that Satan does not care whether you or going Upstream or Downstream just so long as you are Extreme.  The “faith only” and “reason only” viewpoints represent the extremes of our subject.  The Christian life is one of perpetual balance and this extends to the realm of faith and reason.  It is important that we see that there is an interrelationship between faith and reason, and that we do jump to the fringe on either side.  Blind faith and cold reason are both dangerous guides.  The balanced Christian seeks to have the body of reason animated by the fire of faith.


[i] Copleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy: Vol. II. (New York: Image Books, 1994), p. 336[ii] Aquinas, Thomas. Theology, Faith, and Reason: On Boethius’ “On the Trinity”.

Many people associate Christian faith with a “blind leap into the dark”.  In their opinion, Christians are required to throw away reason in order to embrace a fantastic story that helps them worry less and sleep more soundly.  Modern culture often ignores the voice of Christianity, because it is assumed that faith has no bearing upon reason.

But is this true?  Are faith and reason mutually exclusive?  Can there be reconciliation between the two?  The answer to that question is a resounding yes.  One does not have to check his brain at the door when entering the realm of faith.  On the contrary, we have an injunction from the Almighty not only to love Him with all of our heart and soul, but with our mind as well.

What is Faith?
Many of the misunderstandings concerning faith and reason stem from a misconception of what faith really is.  Many consider faith to be some mystical feeling in the pit of their stomach; a magical intuition that guides them to deeper truth.  To others, faith is a thoughtless adherence to creeds and dogma without any concern or attention to the facts that under gird them.  Neither of these is the Biblical definition of faith, nor are they the traditional concept of faith that the church has held for centuries.

Faith According to Scripture
Nearly every time the word “faith” is used in the New Testament, it is translated from a form of the Greek word pistis.   The primary definition of pistis is a “a conviction of the truth of something that leads to belief“. We see, therefore, that the New Testament conception of faith is not a belief in an irrational fantasy, but rather a confidence in what one knows to be true.  As one theologian has said, “The heart cannot delight in what the mind rejects as false.”[ii]

The most comprehensive treatment on the subject of faith found in Scripture is found in Hebrews 11.  Often regarded as the “faith hall of fame”, this chapter sets forth a concise definition of faith in its first verse:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

A closer look at the attributes given to faith found in this verse will greatly increase our understanding of what faith really is.  The word “substance” is translated from the Greek word hupostatis.  This word, which is translated as “confidence” in 3:14, means “the strongest possible form of confidence that something is true“.  The word “evidence”, found within this verse and translated from elegchos, literally means “a strong conviction“.  The verse, literally translated, would read, “Now faith is the confidence of things hoped for and the conviction (or assurance) of things not seen.”

By looking carefully at this and other portions of Scripture, we can ascertain that the Biblical concept of faith is not an irrational leap into the dark, but a reasonable step into the light.  Although our faith rests in things which cannot be seen, it does so after being previously convinced that those things, though unseen, are real nonetheless.

Faith According to Theology
When we examine much of the traditional theology of the church, we find no conception of an irrational or blind faith.  The theology of saving faith was carefully systemized by the theologians of the past.  These men divided true, saving faith into three components: Notitia, Assensus, and Fiducia.

Notitia
This word means “the idea” and deals with the recognition of facts and data.  Faith cannot exist without some form of knowledge of what one is to believe.  In regard to saving faith, there must be an exposure to the data or facts of the gospel before one will ever be able to have faith in what it says.  Romans 10:14-17 states:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. 

Thus we see that faith must begin with a conscious recognition of fact, and cannot exist within a mental vacuum.

Assensus
Assensus means “to give intellectual agreement to the validity or truth of a statement”.  This means that one not only knows (notitia) the message of the Gospel, but that they have agreed that its message is true (assensus).

Although notitia and assensus are necessary to saving faith they are not sufficient in and of themselves.  This insufficient type of faith is known as fides historica, or mere historical faith, as opposed to fides salvifica (saving faith).

It is important to note, however, that assensus is necessary to salvation.  There must be an agreement with the facts before someone can exercise faith.  This, in itself, demonstrates Christianity to be reasonable faith; because there is no disregard of fact or evidence. It does not mean that the person coming to faith understands all of the facts presented, but that he has agreed that they are true in light of the evidence.  To quote Charles Hodge,

“God requires nothing irrational of his creatures. He does not require faith without evidence. Christianity is equally opposed to superstition and Rationalism. The one is faith without appropriate evidence, the other refuses to believe what it does not understand, in spite of evidence which should command belief.”[iv] 

Fiducia
This term literally means “trust”.  It is the third and final necessary component of faith.  It involves an appropriation and reliance on what one knows to be true.  In the case of the gospel, it is a complete surrender to, and total trust in the promises made by God through Christ. 

It is also important to note that fiducia involves trust in a person and not just agreement with fact (assensus).  Our faith is not is not based on evidence or facts about Christ (though it may be supported by it), but in Christ Himself.    

We exercise these three aspects of faith every day.  Here is a simple but cogent illustration.  Our first reaction upon walking into a dark room is to search for the light switch.  Upon locating the switch we use it to turn on the light.   All of the three components that have been previously mentioned are involved in this simple act of faith. 

switch.jpg

  • 1. Notitia– We realize that the room is dark and we discover the location of the light switch.
  • 2. Assensus– We intellectually assent that the switch will turn on the lights based upon on the evidence (i.e. switches found in similar locations have always turned on the lights before).
  • 3. Fiducia– By actually flipping the switch we have placed our trust in the fact that it will perform the task we have already mentally agreed that it would do.

Although these three divisions of faith may occur almost simultaneously, each one is necessary for true faith to occur.  Therefore a study of the very nature of faith demonstrates that the idea that it is “blind” or somehow separate from reason is absurd.  While reason is not faith, it is necessary for faith.


[ii] Pinnock, Clark, Set Forth Your Case (The Craig Press, 1967), p. 3
.[iv] Hodge, Charles, Systematic Theology,  Taken from Introduction to Chapter 3, “Rationalism”

 (Continued from Part 1)

She felt acceptance and freedom for the first time. The joy was beyond her ability to contain as the tears rushed forth.

It really seemed too good to be true. Gomer began her knew life with a mixture of emotions. The stern glances from her in-laws, the piercing gaze of the priests and the cursory glances from men in the market couldn’t divert her new-found joy. Hosea was the man she had always longed for and he truly loved her. He brought her out of the desperation and despair she had always known. She was his choice and he was hers. She followed him into this new life of godliness and purity. She learned to carry herself differently and to talk differently. She listened to his prayers and followed his leading. She went to synagogue with him whenever it was appropriate. But the scars and memories of her past followed her, reminding her of where she had been and, frightfully, who she had been. Not many months passed and Gomer bore Hosea a son – God was blessing them even with her past, and they seemed to be so happy.

But as the sands of time shifted, something in Gomer’s soul began to change. She was different somehow. The love she had for her savior cooled and other attractions stole her mind. She began to speak of her old life differently than she had before. She remembered the pleasures she had enjoyed and the gain she had been afforded as her affection for her husband subdued. The pleasures that her old life use to afford her became forefront in her mind, fleeting though they were, as struggles of life in the ministry seemed to lack the luster she once knew. This daughter of Diblaim began to grow weary of living the life of a budding, young preacher’s wife. Hosea was absent from the home more than she thought appropriate as he sought to fulfill Jehovah’s mission of preaching to the nation of Israel. Gomer began to resent his ministry. How could he love his God more than he loved her?

Then, a baby girl was born. But, Hosea was suspicious. He had noticed a coolness in Gomer’s gaze. She didn’t talk with him the way she once had. Hosea named this new little girl Loru-hammah: “no mercy.” The strain he felt with his wife depicted the strain Jehovah was feeling with His people, and Hosea used this opportunity to express this burden from the Lord.

It was long after Loru-hammah was born that Gomer bore another son, but Hosea was convinced – this was not his child! In his jealous rage he called him Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people.” What turmoil must have been in his home, what public disgrace! There was tension every night. Bitterness ate at the prophet’s heart, how could she do this to him, after all he had done for her? How could she return to her old life after he had risked everything to rescue her from her shame? And yet, he found he still loved her. He cared for her and even provided for her though she had betrayed him.

On one particular occasion, Hosea caught Gomer in the very act of her promiscuous crime. Her guilt ravaged her cold heart. She thought, “Surely, he will never accept me back after this! How could I be so unfaithful, so virulent … after he has loved me so?”

Hosea begged his wife, his beloved bride, to forsake her false loves, to turn from her proverbial broken cisterns and embrace the fountain of his love once again. But it was too late. Gomer’s actions had propelled her into slavery and temple prostitution once more. What bondage her treachery had brought upon her and what despair overwhelmed her mind!

She had reached the bottom again. The one place she hated the most, the bondage she feared the most, was upon her once more and she could blame no one but herself. She had come to the end of herself. “How could I have forsaken the only true love I have ever known? If only I could see my sweet Hosea’s face again. If I could be but a doorkeeper outside his door and hear his voice in the cool of the evening. If I could just be in his presence once again, how things would be different!” On her knees, sobbing inconsolably through her desperation, she cried, “If only I could be near him again!” She wept herself to sleep.

The next evening found Gomer abject as she trudged to the temple courtyard once more. Her emaciated figure and jaded countenance wore the pain and disgrace of her transgressions. The crowd hushed eerily as she approached the stage, repulsed by her revolting form. Gomer stared at the ground as the priest once again prepared to offer her to the highest bidder. She shuddered as she braced herself for the surly reaction from the crowd.

“We have real treat for you tonight men of Baal,” the priest snarled. “One has come back to us from the ranks of Jehovah. It seems that even Jehovah’s prophets can’t keep their own from the power and influence of our great Baal. This one you may remember. She was once one of your favorites … tonight, it is my pleasure to offer to you and to our great Baal, Gomer, the wife of Hosea, prophet of Jehovah.” At this the crowd went wild, laughing and jeering hysterically. What a joke this Gomer and her prophet husband were! Surely Baal must love what he is seeing now!

“I will buy her back” the echoing voice came from the back of the assembly interrupting the blasphemous uproar. “15 pieces of silver and an homer and a half of barley… this is all I have. She is my wife and I will purchase her back from you for this price.” Gomer couldn’t believe what she had heard. Could it be? “Hosea, is that you?” she gasped as her eyes surveyed the crowd. Then she saw him … him whom her soul longed for, her husband and only savior! Him whom she had betrayed so many times. She instinctively dropped to her knees. She couldn’t look at him, what is he doing here? Does he want to punish me, to humiliate me more, to stone me for all that I have done to him? The answers came as Hosea approached the stage. “I will buy her for myself, for the Lord God Jehovah says unto you, children of Israel, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.’”

The prophet continued, “And Gomer, I say unto you, ‘You must dwell as mine for many days. You must not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” The crowd stood strangely silent. Hardened, calloused men felt tears stinging their eyes. Even the priest loosened his grip at the power of this unfailing love. Could this be real? Could a man love in this way? Can love bear in all this, believe in all this, hope in all this, and endure in all this? Can this be real?

Gomer, still gazing at the ground, afraid to move fearing this might all be a dream, felt a strong hand upon her shoulder and a soft robe across her back. As she looked upward her glance caught the eyes of her husband and friend. “Oh Hosea, I am so, so sorry. I don’t deserve to be called your …” “Gomer, my love, hold your peace. I have loved you from the beginning and I will love you until the end. I want you to be mine and I will be yours. I have bought you back. Come with me. Let’s go home.”

Gomer never did completely understand the love of her husband toward her. She would often wonder at the way he would look at her and why he would always want to be by her side. But one thing is sure, she never doubted that he loved her. She knew that she could always trust in his love … a love that never fails.

Hosea 14:4-9 “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit. Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” ESV

Her name was Gomer. It means “corruption.” And rightfully so; you see, Gomer was a temple prostitute. Her duty was to give the worshipers what they wanted and not to complain about it. She had been a slave to this lifestyle who knows how long. She was most likely sold into the business as a child. This was her life. To many Gomer was nothing more than a pretty face, a commodity to be used up and thrown away. At best she was a religious sacrifice unto various deities of fertility.

Diblaim, Gomer’s father had been born into one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. God’s chosen people, Israel, under the rule of Jeroboam the II, had adopted the sensual worship of Baal. Gomer was one of hundreds of temple prostitutes who may have been captured or sold into temple prostitution. A slave to false religion and debauchery she was calloused beyond her years. The priests were the ones who promoted this wickedness in the name of Jehovah. A mixed worship such as this conveniently promoted their own lusts and quenched their inner guilt as they carefully crafted the God of their fathers into their own image.

Gomer tried her best to please the priests. But no matter how much she tried to obey, it was never enough. The frequent physical and verbal abuse was almost as difficult to endure as the nights were. But, the aching in her soul for love was more than she could bear.

And so she tried to find love. She longed to be accepted for who she was … to be important to someone. Gomer felt she never could do enough. Often, she would pray and cry to Baal, hoping that he would be pleased with her service. She always felt so distant from him. Sometimes anger filled her soul because of the bondage and enslavement he caused her; she wondered if he knew her thoughts. What if he was punishing her for her anger toward him? She was plagued by guilt. No matter what she did, nothing would cause the dreadful shame to go away.

Even her name seemed to punish her. Gomer … corruption … the very sound of it was condemning. She wondered if it angered people when they found out what her name was. She was corruption. She so desperately wanted someone to accept and forgive her, but she felt she would never taste of true acceptance and love. Some of the men seemed to love her at first. They would buy her food and wine, lotions and oils. One man even gave her gold and silver jewelry. But the attention would always come to an end. The love just wouldn’t last.

Until one day … It all started just as any other evening. She was frantic – not by choice. The priests were horrible taskmasters. Men were already gathering outside. She made her way systematically through her preparations. Her hair, her face … everything had to be just perfect or she knew what the priests would do. She had long since learned to be prepared for evenings such as this one.

It was her turn. As she stepped reluctantly before the libidinous gaze of the temple gathering, something was different. There was a strange sense of caution in the crowd. She scanned the rabble as she had done so many times before and recognized most of the faces. One individual she knew was here for her and a shudder went down her spine as she recalled his rough visage.

But a new face was in the crowd. This man was obviously different from the others. He was wearing a long robe and he carried a small purse at his waist. There was a mysterious look in his eyes. His piercing gaze caught Gomer’s attention and she felt as if this stranger could read her thoughts. He had a look on his face like one she’d never seen before, it was as though he were sent there by Someone, as if he were on a mission that was greater than even he could understand.

The bidding began in the usual way. The priest was anxious to be rid of this daughter of Diblaim and to get on to the more profitable merchandise. Just when all the bids had ceased, a figure stood from the back of the courtyard. The mysterious man spoke with a voice that was clear and strong, “100 pieces of silver!” The crowd burst into an uproar. No one had ever offered so much for an harlot, it was unheard of. Someone was heard over the rumbling of the crowd, “Who would pay that for a harlot, especially for Gomer?” The insult stung, but she was accustomed to it and pretended not to hear. Another answered, “You’re not going to believe this, it’s the prophet Hosea! What does he want with a harlot?” The priest handling the auction spoke hastily trying to calm the mob, his cold grip on Gomer’s arm as he motioned to the assembly, “Well, I believe it IS Hosea, the prophet of Jehovah. Tell us, Hosea, what do you want with an harlot? Are you going to stone her as Moses commanded?” The jeering crowd erupted into a muffled cackle. The prophet was calculating in his response recognizing the pitfall. The crowd hushed to hear his answer. “This woman shall be my wife! The Lord hath said, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD. So I will purchase her to me for 100 pieces of silver.”

A thousand thoughts were flooding Gomer’s mind. “The Lord wants a prophet to marry me? This man wants to marry me? Will I never have to be a prostitute again?” As she stood in silence, tears filled her eyes. It was too good to be true! No one had ever paid so much for her before. And certainly, no one had ever wanted her to stay with him. She had always been turned away by every other man as an old garment when it is soiled beyond further use. “Will he love me?” she wondered. “What kind of man would give this fortune to marry a prostitute? What kind of God would send such a man into my life? Could such a dream really come true?”

As Gomer’s mind raced, Hosea was already in action. He reached the platform with that same steady look in his eye. His hand outstretched, there was a question in his eyes, “Will you marry me as God has commanded?” It needed not to be said. Gomer was afraid she would fail as a wife, she was afraid of the unknown, her fear almost paralyzed her. But she knew she had never experienced such love before. With one last glance at the crowd she stepped toward the strange man. Quickly the prophet lifted her trembling body and covered her shame with his own robe. She felt acceptance and freedom for the first time. The joy was beyond her ability to contain as the tears rushed forth.

 This is my favorite scene from “Fiddler On The Roof”

Faith, Hope, and Charity

All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream.” – Edgar Allen Poe

I came across this quote twice tonight. It struck me, this is the creed of many in the present generation. I have been reading of late about the area in and around Bridgend, south Wales, where 13 young people have committed suicide in the past year. Then there is the death of Heath Ledger, the self destruction of Britney Spears and the long list of other celebs in de-tox and therapy. What is it the world is so desperately looking for? What is this generation seeking, in every pleasure they can turn their hand to, and not finding?

What is it that the lure of drugs and alcohol promises escape to, yet cannot sustain over time? Each return trip leaves one successively emptier than before, and a vicious cycle ensues. What is it that the thirteen in Wales and many, many others were looking for so desperately this past year? What is the elusive Holy Grail for which people so futilely seek after? What is it that their worldview is not providing them?

Another young man went searching for the answers this generation longs for, and in much the same way this generation is looking. He said:

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

Indeed, we see them grasping at the wind and toiling for what cannot be retained. In short they are searching for the three fair queens of Tennyson’s, “The Coming of Arthur,” Faith, Hope and Charity.

Along the way it is the latter that is sought for first. We see the cry for love, any love, in any form. In the frantic search for love we have turned to a surrogate and have sex in lieu of love. The desire and the hunger for love creates physical pain that we try to satiate through intake of great quantities of physical pleasures. Yet, there is no love in the morning and we are left with less than the night before. (or even the moment before) And still the search continues and the temporary joining of one to the other only enlarges the void and makes the search more urgent. Listen to what is said of Charity, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; Charity envieth not; Charity vaunteth not herself, is not puffed up; doth not behave herself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.”

Without the first sister, Charity, the second is unknown, making the quest a greater burden still. Without Hope all you have is futility. Vanity and Futility are the twin antagonists that lurk in the shadows, and openly work their frustrations when not in the presence of Hope and Charity. I can, without reserve, state that if your worldview does not provide you with the bona-fide articles of Hope and Charity then it lacks what it takes to provide you with LIFE. I know of only one worldview that can provide such Love and such Hope, and that is found in the person of  and relationship with one man: Jesus Christ.

The saddest commentary yet is, that His Love, which is so great, has not been seen in the words and deeds of those who call Him Lord.

We have hidden that love away inside the four walls of our spiritual bunkers and the world, that is in dire need to see and experience the Love of Christ that we say is shed abroad in our hearts, can no longer see His Love in and through us. (I speak with very broad strokes of indictment.) We, Christians, have the Love that this generation is looking for and we are hiding it behind religion and acting as if we are authorized to judge who is worthy to receive that Love. May God have mercy on us for our foolish pride and judgmental attitudes. May I be the first to humble myself and show His Love to someone who is in desperate need of these three queens.

book_glasses1.jpgI have been listening to a series of lectures on church history and I am sad to admit that I did not know a lot of this before now.  I did not learn about the history of the church at the local public school I went to, even though many events played key roles in society.  I did not learn about Constantine and his famous vision of “in this sign conquer”.  I did not learn about Erasmus, Luther, or even Nero.  Most of the church history that I know, I have learned from my husband and from my own studies.  So my question is this: whose responsibility is it to teach church history? 

Does the responsibility rest solely on the family?  If so, what should parents be doing to educate themselves?

What about the church?  If so, in what setting?  Sunday School?  The sermons? 

What about school or society?  Should all history be taught, regardless of apparent religious content?

Or is it all three?  In what environment should we learn church history?  Should we expect a podium and a 30 minute lecture every time or is there a way to incorporate the facts and lessons of history into everyday life?  I would love to hear your opinion on this.

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