Sunday, July 30, 2006
The end times are coming. Already a beautiful pastel of colors is being splashed across the world canvas to describe in vivid detail that which is appearing with the famed four horsemen. Iran swears on the destruction of Israel; their leader is only waiting for the appearance of the 12th Iman to signal its destruction. Meanwhile the “civilized” (yes, Iran, I do mean the slur) world (yes world I do mean the quotes) is appalled at Israel’s inappropriate response. I even read one commentator (a US birdbrain) who suggested that Israel contrived the whole situation, that they are using the two soldiers who were taken from Israeli soil as an excuse to bomb Lebanon. This birdbrain evidently is incapable of factoring in the thousands of bombs landing on Israel, driving many millions to leave their homes and their businesses to live for weeks in bomb shelters.
Why is it that the world does not understand that Moslems are being driven in their hatred not by themselves, but by another? This "other" defies all reasoning and peace proposals; only left are summurizations of destruction. I wish we were better than this, yet we are not.
It is precisely this other that has yet to be identified. Is it the 12th Iman? Or is it some future pope- which a Christian I have intermittent contact with suggests, and it has been suggested (by Protestants only obviously) for centuries? Much speculation has gone into the identity of this man, and all I can say is that the Bible promises that he will be revealed in due time.
Currently the US support of Israel is anemic at best. Bush and all of his zealous support for Israel is being derided by nearly half the country. This past week there were even attempts by some to oust Condi Rice by trying to pretend she was not in tune with what the administration. I do not think it worked but it is perhaps only a matter of time.
If there is one place that I do not support Bush it is in the Iraq war. I simply believe that over a long period of time people get the government that they deserve. The Iraqi people have been here for thousands of years; their government has not evolved beyond the basic bestial dictator model. Why? To me the answer is obvious: the people are so factionous that they cannot survive under any other model of government. Bush is attempting to bring democracy to this people and while I laud his attempts to do so, it seems to me that he so obviously is shortchanging our founders, namely Jefferson, Adams, and Monroe (both Christians and non Christians). It took thousands of years of thinking and reasoning for us to get to the point of responsibly handling democracy, even with this great slate of leaders we had. Even today, the D'Toqueville ascription of the great experiment still exists; we may well self ignite and destroy ourselves- such is the abomination of democracy (for further info ask France, who had everything and voted it away).
May I add one point? I do hope fervently that my analysis is wrong and that Bush is right. He certainly has a great goal- but one I do fear is doomed to failure. It does relate to my twenty year problem with neocons, but there are many other things about Bush that I do admire.
There is a ten nation confederation governing the world; it is not the ten nation confederation of Europe much ballyhooed by Lindsey and others in the seventies. It is instead the ten nation confederacy (the same confederacy I thought in the seventies to be much more likely to hold economic power- boy, did the Late Great Planet Earth miss that one!) holding virtually all the oil pools of the world (the US has much more oil, but it also has wacko environmentalists who have stopped its development these past thirty years).This is the same ten nation confederacy prophesied about in Daniel. May I point out that this confederacy has already blackmailed both France and Germany to its cause, to the embarrassment of its leaders?
All this has been foretold beforehand. It will become apparent as time unfolds. What exciting times to live in! To think that I may live to see the changing of the ages, the coming of our Christ.
Nevertheless, it needs to be said plainly that there is a coming time when those in the world will all appear to be against Israel. Iran will march against Israel, the tiny nation the size of greater Sacramento, and will send something towards Judea that should call all to flee. At that time Judea better look out; moreover the world better look for the coming of the Son. I suggest the skeptical do a reading of Jeremiah, particularly the 50th and the 51st chapter (please do read Jeremiah 51: 24).
Finally, it needs to be said that when I became a Christian in 1972, I was warned by a prescient godly man to watch Iraq and Iran. Why is it that 35 years later the world is watching Iraq and Iran?
Great explanation of Isreal by Charles Krauthammer here.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
I at 53 remain the only person I know to have received Christ on the basis of having read The Revelation. I found it absolutely filled with stuff I did not understand (neither did my prof understand it later in Bible college), but it was filled with stuff that seemed to prick my spirit. But after reading it, I prayed perhaps for the first time as an adult that God, if He were real, would reveal Himself to me, and implicit in that prayer was the knowledge that I must follow Him if He were real.
Some thirty three years later I find my life so different than what I might have thought. But my purpose in saying this is that there was a special revelation among a very few revelations that I received in those first days. I know this is a personal anecdote, and as always, people should remain skeptical of it unless it is confirmed from outside sources. But I was so excited about the times that were coming upon us, and I queried the Lord as to when this may be, sure in my own mind that it was going to be the next month or the next year. The year was 1972. Instead what I got was a specific dream in which I saw myself as an “old man” seeing the coming of Christ. Needless to say for a young man to receive this kind of dream was sort of dismaying. God is coming, but how much better for a young man if it were right now? Young men do not wait well. Nevertheless my dream was that as an old man I would see the coming of Christ. I am now 53. Is that old? Replacing my father’s roof (I did this 20 years ago) certainly makes me feel old. My ankles and my back tell me I am not young anymore.
But what do world events tell us? Iran and Syria are launching a war against Israel. They both want the total destruction of Israel because of their religion. Israel is yet again in the fight for their very existence. Will they win again? Or is this the time prophesied from long ago:
When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong—let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.
Mark 13: 14-20
Sometime soon this is happening. Those in Judea who will heed will run. Is this day upon us in this time, or five years from now? I am not at all sure as I have no particular vision into the future, but I am sure that I am getting older.
When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong—let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.
Mark 13: 14-20
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
2 Peter 3:12
The War Comes to Us, by Robert Tracinski
Israel's Existence at Stake, by Charles Krauthammer
A Tricky Battlefield for Israel and America
By David Ignatius
Is the War Against Terror Rational?
By Dick Morris
The Rogues Strike Back Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah vs. Israel. by Robert Satloff
Excited about End Times!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Yet it fulfilled God’s exact prophecy. Israel was to be scattered, judged heavily, and then regathered for the End Time. Today we are told of an egoist in Iran who believes the time has come for a confrontation with Israel. He would develop nuclear weapons deeply underground, and is far enough away from Israel to not worry about a sufficient attack, nevermind the fact that Israel is politically in a position not to attack; the whole world is waiting to condemn them for any wrong action. He prophesies of a coming end time war in which Islam will forever conquer; I would submit that he is absolutely wrong. The war will come, but the Victor is Christ, and no other. Of such is the final conflict.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I am afraid I have been reading for too much history lately. Today in my reading of Churchill, I learned how Joseph Kennedy supported Hitler until late in his career (at least as late as 1939). One of Joseph’s comments incited Churchill to an answer, in years which he was trying to bite his tongue. Of course there were many others during this period who supported Hitler, including Lindbergh and the “never say enough appeasement” Neville Chamberlain. All of which is to say nothing I suppose. But I have been fascinated with the way history has acted towards losers. May I point out that we elected the son of one, JFK, president?
I just read a great piece from Jimmy Carter, and it reminded me of all the reasons I respect him, as well as the all the reasons why he must remain a loser. You see though I have a great problem with Jimmy Carter, he loves the Lord, the same Lord which I love. I do not doubt that love for an instant, and I commend him for all of his forthright efforts to eradicate disease and help Africa to become better. I look forward to spending eternity with him, where I have no doubt whatsoever that we will stand shoulder to shoulder working in the labors which our Lord will give us.
BUT, as for the present world, he and I must have a very different view. In his article he correctly attributes the beginning of the great movement of Christians to the Republican Party to 1979. He has noticed that that is the year in which conservatives seemingly forever captured the heart and soul of the Southern Baptist Conference. I became a Christian in 1972, and at that time, I saw about an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the church. He laments; I celebrate. Most Christian organizations have a history of being eaten by the world views that they are supposed to challenge. Consider the Methodists and the Presbyterians, and their early history with the United States. They were at one time considered the radicals, hated by their peer organizations, and yet today are the very staid churches which excite the least comment, let alone change to Jesus Christ. My own viewpoint is that the longer the church exists, the less chance it has to shine for Jesus. I thanked God for the Southern Baptists, although I am not one, that they fought the trend of history, and that they shined brightly for the One that they are called to represent.
The problem, as I see it, is that we are coming upon the time when the Greatest Deceiver of all time will live on the face of the earth. Pericles, Churchill, nor anyone else will convince the world of his evil until it is almost too late. At that moment, if I understand scripture aright, the Lord himself will rescue us from self-destruction. I do think, in large measure, the philosophy of Jimmy Carter will be put forever to rest. There is much enviable in that philosophy, its earnest efforts to help the needy notwithstanding, yet it must remain an ungrown fruit, destined to fall off the branch long before ripening, starved in its infancy, in the face of the Truth. It is based forever in humanitarianism without God.
I am sorry that Jimmy Carter does not see that; yet I pray that he will live to see the coming of our Lord, and the usher of the New Age.
Just so you know, at the age of 18, I registered non-partisan and in the intervening years I have remained forever so. Neither party have I ever endorsed, and I lament for the country that is told there are two answers for every problem, exactly two answers, only two answers, one good and one evil. I think such a system, though I know not a better one, has created much mischief in our pursuit of righteousness.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
I took the above passage from The Simarillian, by JRR Tolkien, to write about the present confusion over God’s reigning on earth. Biblically speaking, we are at or near the period in which Lucifer is cast to earth and is furious, knowing that his time is coming to an end. We humans tend to see the need for order and coherence in our world; instead we see disorder and confusion. Why, we cogently ask, is there not a seemly pattern to our world- why is it all the time invaded by evil, dominated by evil, and we often see humans doing what humans ought not to do- furthering the cause of evil? Tolkien believed strongly in the power of the myth to teach reality. His works greatly reflected his strong religious beliefs and the above passage shows his clarity of understanding of our present plight.
Evil is here, apparently ruling and reigning. But even while evil is having its day, the goodness and power of God are going to pattern that evil into good. There is nothing that Lucifer does which, in the nanosecond God says to stop, shall not instantly cease. Nevertheless God allows evil to have much sway, and herein fits the doctrine of original sin. But even the instance of original sin is under the providence and dominion of God; he has all, the least jot and the tittle shall not happen without God’s having allowed it.
Lewis does this same theme great justice when he gives us the character of Aslan. When Aslan is absent from Narnia, evil reigns (or thinks it does). The White Witch even reasons that if she can kill Edmund there would only be three to fulfill the prophecy, and then she reasons that Aslan himself may go. I find it intriguing that never for an instant does she feel that evil can stand against good; it is her fervent and fruitless hope that Aslan may leave Narnia.
Tolkien and Lewis of course met regularly and often agreed that myths are an excellent means to explain reality. Their works which differ so much in literary style both harmonize on this one theme. Descartes famously said I think therefore I am- a statement I think is a sound basis of modern western thought. But if perhaps I might be allowed to play with such a great statement, let me change it a bit: I feel right and wrong therefore there is good and evil.
I am not trying to be philosophical here. Rather I am trying to argue from backwards design. Isn’t it obvious that we have been made to see good and evil, however poorly, and isn’t that a sound reason for our Creator? Why should we feel right and wrong at all if it were not true that there is both good and evil? The day is coming when our Melkor’s reign shall end, when our Aslan will assume command and “begin setting things aright”. Our God is but reigning at present in a distant sense, an absent Aslan, but the day is soon coming when he will reign in visible physical form.
I think therein is the confusion of many over the presence of evil. Evil cannot live with good- so the poor reasoning goes- therefore there is no good, or if there is good it is too weak to overcome evil. They could not be more wrong. The good which they only imperfectly see at the best of times is a lot bigger and a lot stronger than anything imagined. What of a goodness, shown to us with the mythical charms of Tolkien and Lewis, that is capable of folding evil into a greater pattern of good? Good food for thought.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Today I realized the song from time to time happens to believers. Perhaps the song is but dim, and perhaps we do not hear the right notes, but it is still our majestic song; it marches along as surely as the drumbeat of time plays its cadence to the unfolding of history. All does happen as our Creator has foreordained, and somehow even the discordant notes that do not seem to fit the song entirely mesh into the song planned from before the beginning of time.
Tolkien deals with the discordant notes through his evil character Melkor; on a much simpler level Lewis deals with evil with the “accidental” presence of Jadis. Neither evil character realizes that the creator of their respective worlds has a larger plan capable of turning even their evil into something fine. Milton does the same thing with his chapter on Lucifer. To me as a believer I find these comforting notes from these great authors playing a beautiful melody for me. Isn’t it comforting to know that even the evil in our world somehow is fitting into God’s melody?
In my later years I find the apprehension of evil growing somewhat. I read Mein Kampf and studied Hitler’s pitiful plans which grew so wildly successful only to be put aside by another man named Churchill, raised up for just such a time as this, who spent a whole decade apprehending and preparing for the evil of Hitler despite his own Britain thinking he was bonkers. During that dark decade of Churchill’s fall and Hitler’s rise, a Lady Astor took a party of appeasers to Stalin. Stalin asked about Churchill. The Lady Astor said now the power was now Chamberlain. “What about Churchill,” Stalin asked? “Oh, he’s finished!” proclaimed Lady Astor.
Fortunately for the free world she could not have been more wrong. Were it not for the prescience of Churchill, we might find ourselves in a much darker world today. Somehow all the brutality and loss of life fit into the plan of God. Even the wicked man must have his day. He shall not prevail; neither shall the purpose of the Creator be frustrated in the least.
If I am right in my reckoning, and the time is upon us (see previous post), the man of sin is now living among us, with his false christs and prophets. A time of evil is coming upon us such as the world has never seen, nor will ever see again. It is comforting for me to know that in view of my apprehension of evil that Polly is right all the time- the song is being sung as it should be and all will unfold in the planned manner.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
So doing a little math we can confidently assert that the time is upon us. The Balfour Declaration set aside Palestine for the horribly mistreated Jews, and the Jews flooded back to their homeland. The year was 1948 when Israel declared itself a nation. Add seventy years to 1948, and you get 2018. Remember that we cannot get exact here; rather Jesus said specifically that that generation would not pass away until they saw the coming of man. I do find it interesting though to see that Iran is supposed to be five to seven years from developing nuclear bombs, and the present leader has sworn to destroy Israel.
Now I have observed that Jerusalem was not part of the original regathering, and it was not until 1967 that Israel conquered Jerusalem and began occupying it. So it may be permissible to add seventy years to 1967, but I do think not. Jesus’ parable was simply put forth: when you see the fig tree beginning to bud. That would indicate 1948 as the more reliable starting point.
But this is not all the evidence. It might interest you to know that early Bible writers were all convinced that the world itself was to last 6000 years until the coming of Christ. Over 1900 years ago, writers wrote convincingly of this, repeatedly stating that the coming of Christ was going to signal the coming of the last age- the age of Christ reigning on earth.
I love my father. If I loved him less, I might have rejoined his last statement with Peter’s talking about the scoffers who said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” I do not like putting my father down, and I am not sure he would get it anyway. Skeptics seem to have a veil over their eyes, but in my father’s case it is a veil partly torn away. I do hope for its full tearing.
This train is bound for glory. The next line says: Don't ride nothin' but the righteous and the holy. The time is upon us. Let us not neglect well doing; neither let us be timid in our warnings. Jesus Christ is coming and until he does there is still room for more!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
“What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing you did mattered?” asks Bill Murray. That has to be the quintessential question for modern man. What poignant words to express our lives apart from their meaning that our Lord gave us? Aren’t we all dunderheads, repeating over and over again the same stupid things that make up our inane days? What if we could but live the day again (and again)?
I just came off of a wonderful day with children. I am a fourth grade teacher who gives children an extra hour before school to learn web page building. Many of the children who are coming this year have younger siblings who come along; voila! I am a babysitter too. This morning I happened to feel especially exuberant (that does happen to an older fellow less and less often), and played with the younger children, lifting them into the air and letting them down suddenly. They swamped me and begged for more; that is the problem always with young ones- they have so much more energy than I do. Of course I do remember running out of energy with my young nephews when I was a mere twenty. What chance do I have now?
But still during that day I had things wrong which I thought, which I wished I could think differently about. I had things I might have said better, or compliment that I might have expressed to put my peers at ease. Wouldn’t it be nice to relive the day so that I could get those things right? Wrong!
If I had all of eternity to relive a day, I could not live it perfectly no matter how hard I tried. This is the meaning of what Calvin calls total depravity. Though he defines it in a way that I could never ever agree with, I do believe in my own definition of total depravity. Man can never ever be right in the total sense. At the best he can be right only erratically- most of the time even at the best of times I would get only a B minus. Most of the time I, of course, cruise in the “less than B minus category.” In the eyes of God we are inept, and less than the perfect which he desired us to be. We can never ever reach the standards which Christ has dared us to live in: “Be thou perfect, as even the Son of Man is perfect.”
Yes, I am aware that the word perfect might have been better translated, or at least as accurately translated, complete. But, in my opinion, that begs the question. We cannot in any sense be complete. We are stuck with being incomplete, just vestiges of what we should be, specters of what God has called us to be. That is total depravity. It does not mean, as Calvin insists, that there is nothing good in us. Rather it means that we can never ever be finally good; rather we are condemned to our random goodness (and general badness) - and that only when we are at our best. That is total, complete depravity. We are irredeemably lost apart from the grace of Christ.
But let me talk about what it does not mean; and what we as Christians give the short shrift to our testimony about Christ because of our insistence on a poor doctrine. I think this is one of the dangers of Calvinism, and I want to explain why it does go way too far. It does not mean that a mother’s love for her child is evil. It does not mean that a brother cannot express love to his brother in a good way. It certainly does not mean that a friend cannot give the greatest goodness in giving his life for his friend. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he should give his life for his friend.” Was Paul a liar in saying this? Nay, let it never be said! Rather let us assume that there is something in man, created in the image of God, which reflects the creator who made us, however dimly.
I am aware of Lewis and The Great Divorce. In that very great book, Lewis does us a great service by letting us know about how selfish a mother’s love might become; still in its conception and common practice who would ever say it is an evil thing? That a good thing might become utterly defiled Lewis poignantly shows- what he is not attempting to show is that there might be a good thing that is done in man apart from God’s doing it. Are we to believe that every man who gives his life for his friend, every mother who loves her child, and every brother who shows brotherly love is only showing what God empowers them to show? I think not.
Rather the holistic view of depravity is one that I believe. Man, created in the image of God, is able to feebly replicate the goodness of his God in good deeds, but he is never able to share in the goodness of God because of sin. That sin has forever sold him to evil, which must always predominant apart from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us not then look forward to living one day over and over again forever; let us do look forward to a day without end which we will live forever at the feet of Christ.
Monday, March 20, 2006
To our esteemed President, the Supreme Court and the Honorable Congress of the United States:
Be it known to you:
We the people hold marriage to be an unalienable right emanating from our Creator. No state organization or court may define marriage any other way other than that which has been handed down to us from our forefathers through the religions of the Jew and the Christian. We do not wish to oppress any nor uplift any in our assertion of this unalienable right; rather we wish to succinctly state that which is obvious from the historical record: marriage is an institution rendered by our Creator and is therefore inviolate. It can not be altered from its basic definition of a man and a woman enjoining for the purpose of living their lives before society.
Since we hold this right to be unalienable, we do not recognize the right of the state to alter or subtract from it in any way. We do advise you therefore of our concern on the part of some to redefine marriage. We consider such altering as tampering with that over which you have no recognized power. Respectfully we ask that you do recognize the sacrament of marriage as such a right. Governments are instituted among men to secure those unalienable rights, and when governments begin to stray, it is the duty and solemn obligation of the governed to revoke their consent of governance. Be it known to you that we will treat any usurpation of the sacrament of marriage with the utmost suspicion and will hold such usurpation in the lowest regard.
Citizens sign here:
Saturday, March 04, 2006
I believe Paul. The scripture is very plain and couldn’t be clearer. But there is a huge problem; men deny knowing God by the millions, and other millions claim to know him but have made up a false god whom they worship. How can this apparent contradiction be explained?
In thinking about it last night in bed (that is where I have all my really good ideas) I thought that it might be best explained by postulating that man is an emotional creature. He is not a rational creature. In my lifetime, very few times do I manage to bring people away from their beliefs by arguing for rationality—people are far too emotional to give much credence to rationality. The recent riots by Moslems over cartoons are a good illustration of people working from the basis of emotion rather than reason, but our history is replete with many hundreds of examples of emotion ruling us rather than reason. The ripple of high emotion governing our acts as an American people after 9/11 is but one ripple in a never ending tide of human emotion.
Rationality seems to be an unlikely end for mankind; witness the emotion throbbing through the greenhouse effect debate. But more than just an abstract debate, emotion pervades our daily actions. Most of what we say and do is based first in emotion—the smile I have at work for someone I genuinely like is different from my “being nice” smile I reserve for those I do not like. I suspect that the unwritten communication of those smiles do transfer to the recipients in spite of my desires. But that is a discussion for another paper--that of the strength of nonverbal communication. I do think that nonverbal communication is strongly underestimated.
But the point is that we are emotional first and rational second. We decide we like or dislike, and then build our rationality around those likes and dislikes. Dr. Bahnsen’s paper kept coming back to one very good analogy. Let me repeat the gist of that analogy here. Johnny is a child at school who has been caught stealing. The teacher has caught Johnny, the kids have implicated Johnny in stealing, and even the principal has caught Johnny. Well and good, except for the fact that Johnny’s mother does not believe her son would do such a thing. Her perpetuated mythical son becomes stronger than the real son that she knows she has.
Let me even carry the analogy a bit further. Johnny’s mother is missing money from her purse. This is not the first time it has happened. Johnny’s mother rationalizes the missing money saying that she must have forgotten that she had spent it somewhere. In no place in her mind does she allow herself to face the obvious: Johnny is stealing her money. She carefully builds an artificial environment that precludes that one fact that in her deepest recesses she knows is true. She carefully nurtures the myth of her angelic son.
This analogy is so commonplace among teachers that if I were to share it, it would be thought too obvious. Anyone who has been teaching sees the pattern of overly defensive parents refusing to deal with real problems exhibited in their children. My point is that in real life the problem is not limited to parents defending their children, which we would all understand to be a normal even if deplorable reaction. I would submit that it is in virtually everything we do.
Spiritually all know God without even being told, but all of us are like Johnny’s mother. We find ways to deny and rationalize that which we do not want to face. Some of us see the evil and wickedness and tragedy of the world and construct a paradigm for ourselves. Surely a good God would not allow such a world to exist, we reason, therefore such a God does not exist. All the while we are fooling ourselves, for we know God exists. He just does not conform to our definitions. He seldom does because he is God. It is our emotion which dictates our rationality when we deny God.
All of the above discussion was started from Bob’s blog, which is an excellent place to investigate.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Shortly before my grandmother of 89 passed away, I was visiting and caring for her. I started wondering about what life was like for someone so old so I asked her. (Those who know me are not surprised by my bizarre wonderings which always do seem to surface.)
“Grandmother,” I asked, “what does it feel like to be 89? I mean you have been both 17 and 89. How is it different to get old?”
Grandmother understood me very well, and deliberated for a few seconds—but only a few. She replied, “Pat, I feel exactly the same as I did when I was 17.”
We went on to chat about it for a few moments, and the whole while I was considering her remark. If she is correct, then the whole of our spirit must spend all of our lives denying death. What an awful thing it would be to have a 17 year old spirit locked in a decaying 89 year old body! The eternal is locked with the bosom of the fragile crystal of the human body. Perhaps that explains why hope springs eternal. Hope, after all, is a part of the consciousness unique to humans; how ready we are to hope even in the face of brokenness.
Of course when God told Adam not to eat of the fruit, He said in the day that you eat of it you shall die. There is another death unseen and unsung that has taken place within us; the death of our very soul. What is it that becomes our soul? It is that which seems to separate us from the animals, for it is said that God breathed into man and he became a living soul. If I may be permitted to extend the metaphor, it is the holy breath of God which made us unique. It is our disobedience which brought us death, which in its first context must mean the death of our very breath of our Creator.
We know from later scripture that death is really a separation from God, a transfer of deed of our souls to Lucifer who would own us forever except for the ransom of the Son. Our society denies this penalty of death, attempting to reduce us to mere animals without consciousness or responsibility. But our spirits rail against this, shouting to our bodies that there is more, so much more.
Right now I am enjoying a powerful storm blowing through my city. It speaks of God, just as much as does the serene green pasture with the blossoming trees. God who spoke to Elijah in the still wind sent his Son as a Babe that the world might be reconciled to Him. But the same God is capable of speaking to us in the awesomeness of the storm; in the return of Jesus, if I am not all out of my reckoning, that will be a major gale, a world-wide Katrina if you will. All of nature does declare the glory of God. A denial of death is ultimately a denial of God. How wonderful it is that we who were dead were made alive again in Christ Jesus. Oh death where is thy sting? Oh death where is thy victory?
Thursday, February 16, 2006
I hardly know where to start. The subject is huge, the distortions are legion, and many times the arguments are suspect. Evolution has been postulated at least primitively from the time of Aristotle, who noticed the progression of the simple to the complex organisms. Indeed the Bible seems to give some attention to differentiation of species and seems to delineate it in the story of the creation.
But first let me start where I left off in the first part. There is a fundamental difference that cannot be explained away between creation and evolution. Particularly this contradiction becomes more severe to those who choose to interpret the Bible literally. The Bible clearly gives creation happening approximately 6 thousand years ago; neo-Darwinists postulate an earth five billion years old.
In my first part we learned how the creationists have gotten the 6 thousand year figure. In this paper, I do not want to bog down in trying to understand the dating systems of evolution; rather let me say as an outside observer, that the dating systems used by evolutionists have seemed to expand as they realized their need for more time. I might further observe that the dating systems, as I primitively understand them, frequently have to do with things like molecular decay rates. For instance, scientists drill down in polar regions into the ice, measure the carbon dioxide, and then calculate the rate of decay, or the rate of loss, and attempt to measure age in that fashion. Carbon 14 dating works in a similar fashion, though I think it no longer is the darling of dating that it once was.
I speak in the fashion of a layman, and since my arguments reflect my considerable ignorance, I only wish to point out the obvious. The evolutionist assumes uniform decay of ages past, and assumes like conditions to present. His assumptions are as big as the intelligent design arguments. No one can see or speak of what it was like from about 3,000 BC, as the earliest written records of man date from about that time. No one can be sure of origins of man or of the uniformity of dating assumptions, but to hear the evolutionist speak, one would never know that.
It has always seemed to me to be a strange thing for man to take so long to figure it out. I am speaking of the current view that neo-Darwinists have of modern man being around for a million years or so. What did modern man do—sit and twiddle their fingers (when not making cave paintings of dinosaurs and men fighting) around their campfire at night? I am being facetious here. It does seem strange to me that men would take so long to write, speak and build. We ought to see ancient civilization ruins going back hundreds of thousands of years, but where are they? The ancient Greeks glorious civilizations should be repeated a score of times if modern man has been around so long.
It seems to me also obvious that creationists believe in a God who creates things with the appearance of age. When He created the stars, did man have to wait the light years necessary for the light to reach the earth? Or did he create the stars, light on the earth and all? Did God create Adam as a baby or a man? It seems evident that God created frequently things with the appearance of age, and should not be something difficult for the believer to appreciate.
Which brings us to the point of which I am on firmer ground. Evolution in Darwin’s time thought the earth was about one million years old; today the same theory recognizes the need for five billion years. Why the change? The fundamental assumption of evolution is that natural selection and beneficial mutations work together to produce variation and new species. As scientists have seen the rarity of the beneficial mutation, and the lack of species changing from one to another in the fossil record, they have realized that they need much more time for the impossible to happen.
Am I the only one who recognizes the unlikelihood of this happening? No, indeed, many mathematicians in the 60s said the same thing. Let me quote just a couple from the fine work of Pamela Winnick in her A Jealous God. “We have. . . wondered how it appeared extremely unlikely a priori that in the short span of one billion years, due to successive random mutations, all the wonderful things we see now could have appeared,” observed Stanislaw M. Ulsam of Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.” (p. 122 Winnick)““We believe that there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged with the current conception of biology,” said Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger, and internationally renowned mathematician from the University of Paris and a member of the French Academy of Sciences.” (p. 122, Winnick) Evolutionists historically did not have the same acceptance as scientists and there was a time when this “soft” science was not accepted among the hard sciences such as mathematics and chemistry.
At any rate, evolutionists quickly found out that they did not have enough time for variation to happen and they have been expanding the evolutionary time span ever since then. Stephen Jay Gould, an avowed believer in evolution, and a famous one at that, believed that he saw something the neo-Darwinists did not. His group was “. . . postulating their own theory of “punctuated equilibrium” which holds that evolution progresses in leaps and bounds, often responding to natural calamities that wipe out all those who can’t adapt.” (p. 166 Winnick) Gould went on to announce that neo-Darwinism was “effectively dead”. Gould saw little bursts of evolution happening very rapidly, perhaps because of changes in environment, or for other unspecified reasons. In other words, little miracles made evolution happen. Gould was very angry during his lifetime when creationists seized on his words, but his words do cause huge gaps to open in evolutionary argument. The creationist may reasonably ask whether it is better to believe in lots of little miracles or in one big one.
Darwin cannot be right if he cannot show billions of years to the earth; moreover he cannot be right if he cannot demonstrate one species changing to another. Survival of the strong has been easily demonstrated by Darwinists. What is not demonstratable is the movement of one species to another. The variety of species, with their wonderful differentiation, speaks of a necessary sharp intercession of a creator; I believe that we find that explanation clearly enunciated in the Bible. For 150 years men have speculated about this myth. It is time to collapse the myth and move on. I close with a poignant quote from one good book (if you are looking for a simple treatise on the history and the subject). “Accepting Darwin’s explanation is a little like believing that a piston rod will make a car run a little bit, and then, if you connect it to a crank shaft, it will run a little bit better. Finally, when all the parts are in place, it will get thirty miles to the gallon.” (p. 213, Bethell)
Bethell, Tom, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science, Regnery Publishing, Inc. 2005
Winnick, Pamela R., A Jealous God, Nelson Current, 2005
Monday, February 13, 2006
The case for creation Part 1
(Next: The case against evolution Part 2)
It seems to me that many today do not bother to study the issue; the evolutionist smugly says that it is okay to believe in religion as long as you believe in evolution while the Christian somehow believes the two contradictory propositions to be true. What I hope to show in this two-part posting is that the two views are incontrovertibly contradictory. What we are left with is simple logic: either both are untrue, or one is true and the other is false. What is not possible is that both can somehow harmonize. It is nothing but the simplest logic.
In Genesis, the Bible says that God created the earth in six days and on the seventh He rested. Some who would reconcile the irreconcilable do so on one of two bases. First they argue for a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Indeed, it is my opinion that there could be a gap forced between the two verses, but it is not likely. However long it took the Creator to do this logically does not force a gap, preferably the one of five billion years which is what evolution currently teaches as the age of the earth. In any case for the Christian the case is clearly settled in Exodus 20:11, an important passage giving the 10 commandments to the children of Israel. Hardly a disputed passage, it clearly states: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day” (emphasis added). It seems very clear that the Creator did create in very short order.
Which brings us to the second basis: that of the long-day-interpretation. Some have postulated that each day could be lengthened to a nonspecific term. This term would have been considerably shorter a mere fifty years ago when evolutionists said the earth was much younger. Now they believe that they need more time, and believe it or not, dating systems today show an earth about 5 billion years old. So today we would have to suppose that each day is lengthened to something shorter than a billion years. But what is a few million years more or less when we are talking about such a long period?
The Hebrew for day is the word yowm, which means, according to Strong’s Concordance either from one sunset to another or an unspecified age. At first appearance one might exalt in harmonizing the two views, crying out “Here it is. The place where evolution and religion meet.” But alas, such is not to be. For when the scripture is compared with scripture we clearly see the week that the children of Israel being compared to the same week in which creation took place. Israelites are told to rest on the seventh day, exactly as God rested. The Israelites are told to rest on the seventh day over and over again on the basis of what the Creator did. To make the one a billion years and the other an ordinary day would severely distort the plain sense of the passage.
The real and unstated problem is of course those who refuse to believe in the spiritual. If God is a spirit and all-powerful, why would it take him seven eons instead of seven days? Thomas Jefferson was so furious at the miracles of God that he retranslated the New Testament taking all the miracles out. But it evidently did his faith no substantial good to remove the miracles; as far as I know he remained a skeptic to the end of his days. Some have made the same mistake in trying to naturalize the miracles. I have heard some say the parting of the Red Sea came when a great natural wind came up, providentially this time for the Israelites, but a natural occurrence nonetheless. Naturalizing miracles, or gainsaying them away will not bring us to a knowledge of the Creator; instead the miracles are what point us to the unspeakable power of God. It is His authentication of who He is.
So what? What can be made of this and where is the contradiction? It is really quite simple. Everything from Adam to Abraham is counted in years in the Bible. The years add to 1,946. Abraham was born about 2,150 BC, a date well established in Jewish history. Thus we have 2,150 plus 1,946 to equal 4,096 BC as approximately the time of creation. We are limited in this math somewhat because the Bible only tells us that each father was so old when he had his child. To better exemplify take the case of Noah. Was Noah exactly 500 (did he have his birthday on the same day as his son Shem?) or had he been 500 for 364 days already? This does lend some uncertainty to my math, so for each generation I add a year of uncertainty. Thus in the 20 generations to Abraham I have added 20 years of uncertainty. We are also unsure exactly of Abraham’s birth although New International Version (hardly a conservative icon) lists his birth at 2166 BC. No matter—for the sake of simplicity I will give another 50 years of uncertainty, thus moving my total uncertainty to 70 years. There is not a lot of room for any more uncertainty.
Bishop Ussher gave a famous chronology in the Middle Ages for this, figuring the creation of the world to be 4004 BC. In my opinion, for the above reasons it seems impossible to be this precise, but it can be stated that the Bible does give the clear beginnings of the earth to be at or about 4,000 BC. That is, in a nutshell, the problem of evolution which now states the earth to be five billion years old. This chronology as well as an excellent short biography of Ussher is given by Answers in Genesis.
So let me state the contradiction succinctly: the literal interpretation of the Bible shows the earth to be about six thousand years old and the current hypothesis of evolution says the earth is about five billion years old. Not much room for harmony there. The choice might well be stated as Darwin or God.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
But what Ms. Winnick says in her book is even worse. Men dress in white coats, and have an aura of respect—garnering respect not just for being scientists but also for somehow having the inside track on real morality. Put in charge of the country after WWII, they have systematically undercut Christianity to further their aims. After reading the book I would say that we are not in what is frequently termed the post-modern era; rather we are in the pre-antichrist era. Our country is, as they say, going to hell in a handbasket, and it seems to be going at an unstoppable pace.
The morality many of today’s scientists sell comes from the same place that the creed of Nazism, of Satanism, and of ghastly terrorism comes from. It is in new packaging but is the same old product. Coming from the depths of the hell it is concerned only with deceiving followers into descending into the same depths from which all such philosophies originate. It is all the more horrific when it is done by men who ought to, and indeed, do know better. Such a moralist can see anything to make his case seem right. He reminds me of the man standing in a downpour insisting it wasn’t water that made him wet. So is the scientist who looks at nature but denies the Creator that made it, who sees the world but sees only an accidental burp followed by ten billion other accidental burps that produce the wonders of life. A man that denies God has already denied everything that is.
Ms. Winnick fingers the wrong philosophies and the people behind them in a very scholarly work. But she is also careful to point her finger at those scientists who wrest their craft to fit their belief; she makes a clear distinction between the hard science of mathematics and the soft science of biology, a distinction I fear is lost on our present society.
For instance, she quotes mathematicians in the sixties who questioned the probability of evolution. Two brief quotes will suffice. “‘We believe that there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe the gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged with the current conception of biology,’ said Marcel-Paul Schutzenberger, an internationally renowned mathematician.” In other words, hard scientists were dubious about evolution’s even being possible. Beneficial mutations are so mathematically improbable that in the words of historian Gertrude Himmelfarb it would be “an improbability as great as . . . a monkey provided with a typewriter would by chance peck out the works of Shakespeare.” My observation is that perhaps the biologists would be better served to get those monkeys typing. After all they do have a case to prove.
Anyway, I am delighted with the thoughts provoked so far by reading A Jealous God. I am only about one half of the way through it and may post again on it. By all means, put it on your reading list. Be ready for a book that will turn your stomach a bit—at least it did mine. But I do not think that is the fault of the author. Instead it is the fault of the country giving itself over to the latest idolatry—men in white coats.
Monday, February 06, 2006
The current leader of Iran believes passionately in his coming. He looks to his religious creed and says the following: "The ultimate promise of all Divine religions," says Ahmadinejad, "will be fulfilled with the emergence of a perfect human being [the 12th Imam], who is heir to all prophets. He will lead the world to justice and absolute peace.” To a Christian who does believe in the One perfect human who is also God, these words ring in a frightening manner.
Throughout history many Protestants, (I believe both Calvin and Luther, but I am not on firm ground here, only twenty year old memories of stale studies) have believed the man of sin would be a pope. Today I think many Protestants would be alarmed to even countenance that as a rational thought. We just are not sure. We do know that his rise to power will be spectacular, and many will be deceived.
When the last pope was selected, I did read of an interesting tradition. I wish I had marked the article, and am going to try to go back and find it. Actually it was maintained to be an actual prophecy. Many popes were prophesied to come and the last pope was named. According to this prophecy of many hundreds of years ago, the current pope is to be the second to last in what the prophecy said was a chain of (here my memory is unclear) of an immense number of popes. Each pope had a specific prophecy about his nature or his work. The prophecies were not too clear especially to one unstudied in popiology, as I am. But the really interesting point of the article was that there is to be but one more pope after the current one.
In like manner it seems to me that even the irreligious elements of our society are prophesying frantically about the end of the world. Of course they see no coming Savior, preferring to think of the end of the world in a Mad-Max (Mel Gibson) scenario. Al Gore in Earth in the Balance and Rachel Carson in her Silent Spring speak of coming destruction of the earth, though always evading the responsibility of man to his Creator.
Where and When? We are not sure as Christians, but I do believe the time is very near. In any case here are the Biblical pillars which are important to stress.
1) He is coming. (He who is taken up from among you into heaven will return in the same way.)
2) He is coming soon. (When the fig tree begins to bud, know that that generation shall not pass away until they see the coming of the Son of Man)
3) When He comes He will have a hard time finding faith on the earth. (When the Son of Man returns will he find faith on the earth?)
4) We are to vigilantly watch for his return. (We are told to be as watchmen in the night, for we know not at what hour He comes.)
I used to have an old Southern Baptist friend who often quoted to me the old refrain about prayer: Pray as if it all depends upon God; work as if it all depends on you.
I think that refrain might be slightly changed for the sake of our subject to: Expect him to come today but work as if you are going to have a tomorrow. Of course one day soon we will not have the tomorrow; at least not in our present bodies. What exciting times we do live in! All of the world has groaned and travailed for this brief moment in history that most of us will be privileged to see.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
But we see some missionaries who are called to great harvests. I recently read a biography on George Whitefield, and a fine work it is. As I read the book I realized that I may owe my very own salvation to the work that God did with early Americans through George some 200 years ago. What a marvelous thing the work of the Spirit is such that “no man knoweth whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” My question is why is it that some are called in the Providence of God to relatively lackluster ministries, while others shine like a city on a hill?
In my own life my wife and I saw in an all-too-brief-time a couple of hundred people come to salvation through Jesus Christ. Yet I am 53 years old now, and many of those years of my life have been bereft of much fruit. Why is it that God worked so wonderfully those first years, and not as much later on?
An introspective soul might blame himself; on many occasions I have certainly done that. But when my life is carefully self-examined before God, I am left only with the Providence of God. Why is the Providence of God thus? Why is it not something else which I would prefer?
I think the last question has to do finding the key to my question. If God’s Providence were what I wanted it to be it would not be God’s at all—it would be my providence. I may not be sure of much in this twisty turning wicked world, but at least I am sure of this: the world is a better place for it not being my Providence. And that is perhaps the only answer we get when we ask God why. It is his immutable sovereign purpose that is working its way out, whether we will or no, and it is in that knowledge we find our refuge. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let you hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
Bruce Wilkerson has been receiving a lot of bad press, and World Magazine has loaded on his wagon with a bit more in this month’s issue with a commentary by Joel Belz. Now, normally I greatly respect Joel’s columns and read them with delight and anticipation but this time I found myself asking why. Why did he write this column?
As one who heard Wilkerson speak during his early years of preaching on Jabez I heard a Biblical passage with strong conservative exegesis, and as a student of Biola, I watched his sermon motivate some 95 students to go overseas to witness and preach the gospel. I am aware of those who have tended to go too far with his exegesis, which I suppose is what Joel is implying when he refers to Wilkerson’s quirky philosophy.
As I read the passage waiting for Joel to explain his term “quirky” I was somewhat appalled by his never bothering to do that. He faults Wilkerson for dreaming too big in his Africa trip and makes an analogy to another person named Peter, emphasizing the smallness of his dream. I am not sure he pulls off the analogy very well because, at least in my mind, I perceive the other person must have had the very vision of God in his successful ministry. I am uncomfortable with deigning the plan of God as something “small”, and I cannot see how Peter could be very happy with it either. Perhaps the more important question would be: is God happy with being termed small?
I cannot leave this review without taking a stab at the exegesis of the passage of Jabez. I do think this passage compares favorably with many New Testament passages. In discussing this Jabez thing with my daughter, a different alumni generation from Biola, she rightly pointed out that the Bible seems to amply cover the doctrine of Jabez in other passages. For example, Jesus said that if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can move mountains. The theology of asking great things of God is replete in the Bible; I think it was A.W. Tozer who famously said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
Of course along with our expectations comes the uncomfortable doctrine of the Providence of God. I do not pretend to know whether Wilkerson has been giving proper deference to the Providence of God. For the sake of argument, let us assume that he has made a mistake in what is frequently wrongfully termed “getting ahead of God”. (I think the term to be spuriously wrong as we can never get ahead of God—at those times that we think we are ahead we are of course falling rapidly out of the plan of God.) So he has become guilty of exactly what? He has dared too dream too largely, and out of the Providence that God wishes to dispense. Which one of us has not also done the same thing? I have built what I term castles in the air many times as I have sought for the will of God in my life. I am concerned that Joel has become guilty of “casting the first stone” perhaps unconsciously implying that he is “without sin” in this area. I would that he would reconsider his hurtful remarks. As a loving Christian I do expect better of Joel.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
I look at a single tree and the forest behind it. I look at the glorious mountain and the great green valley. I look at the bubbly spring, the raging river, and the majestic sea. I look at the moon and the shining stars in the heaven. And behind it all I see the Creator.
The evolutionist looks at a tree and sees a million accidental burps causing variation of species. The tree stands on a mountain; the mountain stands on the earth. The evolutionist declares the biggest burp of all started our universe, and that we are only one fly speck on the pattern of an uncountable number of accidental burps working to create only an illusion of purpose. It has all just been one act of ultimate randomness.
Which is easier to believe? Which view takes the most faith? Which view is the most incredible?
When the simple sense makes the best sense then seek no other sense.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
How is it that when we come to faith that some demand that we show them God? They tell us they chose not to believe or alter their life based upon someone whom they cannot see?
Here is a problem of our time. We live in a place where empirical observation has led us a long way in developing technology and medicine. But it is improper to apply empiricist doctrine when we come to the field of abstract nouns. There are many such nouns that we cannot see, that communicate life-changing ideas.
I have long used the light switch as such an illustration. It works, for which of us has seen electricity work when we turn the light switch? Often we proceed into the room after hitting the switch and are walking in the dark for a nanosecond before the light comes on. We are operating on faith, trusting that that momentary darkness will turn to light.
What about kindness? Can it been seen? Can it be measured? And yet who among us does not appreciate it, when we are its recipients?
Sometimes it is not the measure of its “seenness” that tells of its reality. Sometimes the best measure of the concreteness of a noun, is how sorely it is missed when its absence is noted. How much more God?
I remember the picture so well. Judas Iscariot is portrayed as a shifty eyed fellow whom no one would trust. I would now debunk that characterization of Judas forever. Judas was the one person whom all the other Jews trusted with their money. I submit to you that he had an honest face and was probably the most trusted one of the group. After all, these were poor Jewish men who did know the value of a shekel. Who else would they chose to guard their money other than the most trustworthy and fair-haired boy of their lot?
I picture Judas as being the up and moving young man, whose character was thought to be above blemish. I picture Judas as being the outstanding Jew that mothers would want to give their daughters to.
“Ahh, look daughter,” they would say, “there goes a good man for you to catch- one that would know how to take care of you.”
And undoubtedly the daughters would preen themselves, pinching their cheeks, and smiling demurely whenever they saw his passing imposing figure.
Of our Savior, it is said that there was no form or comeliness that we should desire him; but of Judas, it might be said his form and appearance brought much notice and desire. Of course, in the absence of pictures, I am only guessing, and reading far more into the fragments of the story than I have the right to.
But I wonder a few things about the second most famous traitor in all of history. I wonder where he initiated the contacts with the Jewish elders of his day. Could it be possible that he had contact and knowledge of the leaders from his circles of acquaintances? Is it beyond imagination to think of Judas as being the fair haired boy whose very countenance precipitated trust?
Further, I cannot help but wonder what was going on in the heart of Judas. I enjoy knowing however imperfectly the pictures of hearts of those that I am around. I wonder if I were alive and acquainted with Judas if I would see anything in his demeanor that would show his heart. We know from scripture that his heart was as far from faith as the east is from the west, but we do not get any clues as to what motivated this man to join a band of paupers.
Was it the fact that he was trusted and made treasurer? Or did he bet on Jesus as the new rising king? His heart was not apparent to others until his deeds were done, and in doing those deeds, even his own soul drew back with intense loathing.
This I do know. If I had the ability, I would enjoy going back and talking to Leonardo. I wonder if I shared my point of view if he would change his masterpiece at all?
Monday, January 09, 2006
“Providence is wonderfully intricate. Ah! You want always to see through Providence, do you not? You never will, I assure you. You have not eyes good enough. You want to see what good that affliction was to you; you must believe it. You want to see how it can bring good to the soul; you may be enabled in a little time, but you cannot see it now; you must believe it. Honor God by trusting Him.” Charles Spurgeon
It seems to me that any discussion of free will and election sort of presupposes what Spurgeon says. When we are in a particular situation we are generally denied the knowing why. Today at noon, I sat down and commiserated with a fellow worker who has a mild cancer. It looks as if surgery will easily cure him, and I pointed out that he would probably be able to walk away from this with a very good remainder of his life. His quick rejoinder was to offer to switch places with me, and he wondered how I would take it. Of course, how I would take it will never be known. I live and walk blindly in the life God has given me with very little perception of what the future will bring-- except that, if Christ does not return, I shall surely die like all of my species. I will have my pain and suffering to live through, and it will either bring me closer to God, or drive me away. Instead of pointing this out to my fellow worker, I did mention my neighbor who at the age of 59 just was diagnosed with lung cancer. He immediately got the point, and agreed that it could be worse.
In my life I have noticed many times that two postulates are possible. The first is that I could have one of the many better lives that I see others having around me. The second postulate is that I could have one of the many worse lives that I see others having around me. But the reality is in neither of the postulates; I have the life that I have and no other. Nor is there any choice about the main events of my life. I shall live a certain while and then I will get sick and die, or I will get in an accident, or etc. None of these facts of my life will I be able to control.
But as a Christian I do have something more. I cannot understand the manner of Providence in my life but I do understand somewhat of the gentleness of the hand of Providence in my life. More simply put, I do not fathom the why me but I do fathom who is allowing it. It is my duty to trust God when events in my life might dictate otherwise. I can choose to let the events of life, good and bad, to drive me closer to Christ. I will not understand the why of much of it; I do understand the duty to trust. As Spurgeon says it more poignantly, Honor God by trusting Him.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Answer: When it is done in behalf of Katrina victims.
Recently my two brothers and their sons spent their Christmas vacations doing something useful. They went to Gulfport, Mississippi to help Katrina victims rebuild. One hundred and five men left their families and their vacations to join together with an ongoing effort put together by Calvary Chapel Ministries. Every few weeks Calvary Chapel is rotating men and crews together and rebuilding in the name of Christ.
On a one to ten scale of life changing experiences, my 50 year old brother said this one was off the charts! One of the many stories that he told I would like to recount here. Anyway my brother was directed to be the designated gofer. He practically lived at Home Depot, which he said was so short-handed that he had to wait hours for check out, and they kept trying to give him a job! The day before he left, it was his turn to teach a replacement, who became somewhat abashed over contractors asking him to pick up unknown stuff. The guy evidently felt inept (as well I might) in picking up the right stuff to please the contractors.
I guess the fellow expressed his frustration and their leader took him aside and suggested that he was looking at this the wrong way. Their leader said I want you to go buy groceries for all the guys and when you are in line find someone who is a Katrina victim and buy their groceries.
So, in the grocery line he introduces himself to a couple who say they are doing fine and are not victims. However someone in the next line overhears the conversation and says that they lost everything. He offers to pay for their groceries which they gratefully accept, but the first couple he had introduced himself too started crying. He asked why they were crying, and they said, “You are doing what we should be doing.”
So why do I include this story in Building Biblical Pillars? There are several levels in which the love of Christ are showing in the story, but I am reminded of the prayer of Jesus for his church: May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me.
My brother told me scores of stories like this, of people coming to Christ that they worked with and worked for. I think they encountered a Biblical Pillar in their unity together. What do you think?
Friday, January 06, 2006
Did you notice that at the outset of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that we are told by Beaver that there are four thrones waiting for two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve? Not three thrones. I do sort of speculate strangely sometimes but I can’t help but wonder what if Aslan had prophesied of three thrones instead of four? Think of the advantages. He could have avoided the whole bloody mess in one swoop. Let the Witch have the sniveling Edmund. He certainly wasn’t worth anything anyway.
Analogies help us understand deep things in the Bible that are difficult to grasp. I want to look at the analogy of Aslan and Edmund. It is not entirely clear where the prophecy of the four thrones comes from but it certainly must have originated from Aslan. Let us assume so for the sake of this discussion. Aslan, in a sovereign act, says there are going to be four thrones. He knew beforehand that one would betray him in an act of free will. Edmund chose to follow the White Witch, knowing full well in his innermost being that the Witch was evil.
Was sovereignty compromised? No! Was free will abrogated? No! The prophecy was fulfilled exactly as told. But as Aslan says: It may be harder than you know. Edmund did his very worst, and it worked exactly into the predestined plan of Aslan.
If I may be allowed to do something that Lewis correctly points out is wrong, let me suppose that Edmund had done everything as correctly as he possibly could. Here I am asking the “What if” question that Aslan reminds us constantly is not allowed. But I ask nonetheless: what if Edmund did everything exactly right? Would the sovereignty of Aslan nevertheless prevailed?
My analogy thus gives us the widest spectrum of free choice. But whether Edmund says no or yes, there prevails the sovereignty of Aslan. Could not the free will of man and the sovereignty of God work in harmony in a similar fashion? To borrow from my Lewis again, Nothing is more probable.
A final thought, if I may. I am probably more of a sniveling Edmund than Edmund ever was. What was I worth? Somehow God thought me worth the great price of his own son. Thankfully he did not eliminate my throne at Cair Paravel!
Thursday, January 05, 2006
What is to be said about the two traitors: one from history and the other from the rich literature of Lewis? If compared, we of course find much that is similar, but startling, there are some differences.
Judas betrays his Lord for thirty pieces of silver and he finds the price disgusting before he is through. Edmund betrays his lord for thirty pieces of Turkish Delight that enchant him to wicked service. Judas recognizes that he has betrayed innocent blood; Edmund, we are told, must never learn the terrible price his lord paid for him. Both repent, Judas in hanging himself in disgust, and Edmund in genuine sorrow for his misdeeds.
But the odd thing I find in comparing the two is that Lewis’s Edmund is allowed repentance unto life whereas Judas perishes under the justice of God. There is only one person whose soul I understand to be condemned to hell. It says in Psalm 109, speaking prophetically of Judas, “When he is tried, let him be found guilty.” Again Acts says that Judas left the office of apostle “to go where he belongs.”
Was Lewis kinder to Edmund than God was to Judas? I think that might be true, if taken only from the human viewpoint. Perhaps Lewis could not stand to slay one of his fellow children with judgment, and so had Edmund seek and receive forgiveness. Or perhaps Lewis sought to picture Edmund’s betrayal only to be allegorical to that of Judas. He never intended a children’s story to be a forum for discussing the justice of God.
Which leads, I think, to the far more provocative question: what is to be said of the justice of God? Not much, if we read today’s liturgy. Christians are given needed homilies and blessed with thought of benevolence and forgiveness- all of which ought to be properly emphasized.
But what of the demands of a holy God for complete justice? Jesus, as the herald of the coming wrath of God, told his world that most of them were going to hell. Of course they crucified him for his message. As believers today, we find ourselves in sympathy with Lewis and Edmund, and hesitate to condemn others. And in so doing, I think we ignore the second coming.
The first coming, our Lord came as a meek Lamb to literally be led to the slaughter. In the second coming, our Lord comes as a lion (not a tame lion, to bespeak Lewis) who will rend and slaughter among the flocks of mankind. I remember growing up when the opossum got in the hen house he did not stop with the killing of one chicken; he killed all that he could sink his teeth into. I am told that lions loosed in a flock of lambs are even worse; often not a lamb survives.
It is this bloodiness that Revelation tells us is coming upon mankind. Aren’t we being a bit remiss in only telling our brothers and sisters of the love and forgiveness of God? Shouldn’t we also be warning of the coming judgment?
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Let me see. Today I have a problem. I want to construct a box for God to fit in. “What a ridiculous notion,” you say. “God cannot fit into a box of your creation.”
If I understand the meaning of hermeneutics it is the Biblicist’s job to try to trace outlines of the box that God has made for himself. It is a high calling and many do a wonderful job, yet sometimes the box can be drawn too narrowly. I remember many years ago arguing with my Bible college peers about something called “dual fulfillment”. I think it is a classic illustration of what I wish to discuss in this paper. I have named it the box problem.
Dual fulfillment, as I understand the term, is the belief that God can indeed make a single prophecy that has one fulfillment, often in the time of the prophet, and a second fulfillment, often a messianic one. The prime example of dual fulfillment is Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet says: The virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. This was fulfilled in Isaiah 8:3, where it says: Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. It is fulfilled in a more wonderful and far more established way as is made plain by Matthew 1:23, where it says: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.
Some professors at Biola taught dual fulfillment; others vehemently disagreed. We students were also divided; some of my good friends did not see dual fulfillment at all. I perceived that they had a box problem. In other words, they were so busy building a box for God, folding and tucking him into each corner very neatly, and then very tidily sealing the box that they forgot that God makes his own boxes. I am reminded of Aslan, of whom Lewis tells us again and again, is not a tame lion. Not wanting to establish or disestablish dual fulfillment here, I instead would like to point to the box my good friends had inadvertently built when denying dual fulfillment. I think it is easily seen when I pose the question, Can God be big enough and wise enough to say one thing that will have different meanings at different times?
If you say no, God is not that big then you have a box problem. You have just built a box for God that he himself did not build. No where in scripture is dual fulfillment denied, and if you insist on moving forward with this negative answer, then it seems to me that you will have to establish why God would restrict himself to this box.
God does restrict himself to some outlines of a box. He tells us often what he is like. For instance, scripture tells us that he cannot deny himself, he cannot lie, and he is both truth and light. But, as far as I know, nowhere does he say prophecies cannot have two meanings. And that, in a nutshell, is the box problem. If God has not stated a limit of himself, who are we to restrict him?
I am often guilty of the box problem analogy in my own life. I see something evil happening to someone, and instantly I feel that to be so wrong, and sometimes I take the next step of questioning God. Whenever that happens I am constructing a box, however large, in which I wish to fit God.
What a wonder we are that we can question our Creator! What a folly we commit we do so! He came as the Lamb of God the first time, and we in the world rejected him. He is coming as a Lion of God the second time, and he is rejecting the world. In all probability most of us living today will see his coming. It will probably be more bloody and messy than anything we wish to dwell on, but we should remember that he is not a tame lion. We are not telling him what he ought to be; he is telling us what we ought to be.