Tag Archives: Christianity

Mike Bickle: “Manifestations of the Spirit are at least 80% false.”

That’s all, folks. All y’all Pentecostals can come home to a good, confessional Lutheran church now. Mike Bickle (the founder of IHOPKC) said that at least 80% of the “manifestations of the Spirit” which take place in the global Pentecostal church  (“thousands of manifestation meetings worldwide”) are faked. (It’s in the first 20 seconds, but the whole video is important.)

Ah, yes, remember how the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them that a little disorder in their church was okay, how they could enjoy the nonsense without believing it, and how 80% of their speaking in tongues could be babble? That’s definitely what he wrote, right?

This is key, though. The modern Pentecostal movement is based on signs and wonders. But Mike Bickle said that 80% of those are fake. What was it Jesus said about a house built on sand?

Suppose you were sick and you went to go see a doctor. If he introduced himself and said “Now, I only get the diagnosis right about 20% of the time,” would you stay and try your luck or would you get out of Dodge?

That’s the big question, then: If a major leader of your movement is openly admitting your movement is based on falsehoods, why stay in the movement? As I said before, so I say again: It’s time to leave Pentecostalism and come home. Lutheranism is waiting for you.

Comments Off on Mike Bickle: “Manifestations of the Spirit are at least 80% false.”

Filed under Theology, Uncategorized

“Qui Creavit Coelum.”

This is a translation I have produced of an Advent hymn called “Qui Creavit Coelum.” As I understand it, the earliest manuscript in which we find it is from around 1425 A.D.; the hymn is also known as “The Song of the Nuns of Chester.” The original Latin text can be found here. I added some notes at the bottom. Nothing here is particularly scholarly; it’s simply a little devotional exercise that I wanted to share.

Happy Advent, friends.

The King who is ruling the ages,
He who created Heaven,
is being born in a stable.[1]

Joseph brings some rushes;
Mother wraps up the Child,
and places him in the manger.[2]

There among the animals
they place the Joy of the World.
He is fragrant beyond all.[3]

The Mother of the Lord suckles
and embraces the Little One;
she worships the Lord.[4]

Ask, Mother of the Lord,
that He give us Joy
in everlasting glory[5]

 


 

[1] I’ve taken the last line of this stanza first, for two reasons: (a) grammatically, “rex” as the subject fits naturally when rendered first in English, which makes good sense of the two relative clauses, each introduced by “qui;” and (b) by first emphasizing the transcendent nature of this King who is ruling time (present tense) and created matter (perfect tense) , the humility of His lowly birthplace is magnified in English. That this tiny Babe is ruling the centuries is a great mystery.
[2] “Paniculum” here is not a common word and means something like a tuft of reeds used for thatching a roof. I like the poetic image of Jesus being wrapped in rushes. It reminds me of Moses’s basket being placed in the rushes; so here, a rush-wrapped Baby Jesus is “ponit in praesepio.” The whole of Scripture – indeed, the whole of the world – is the story of Jesus Christ coming to save sinners like you and me.
[3] I like fragrant as a gloss for “dulcis” here: the Lamb of God is laid down next to animals He created, incarnate to do what they never could. He is here to take away the sins of the world. Thus He is “dulcis super omnia;” as an offering to God, He is “fragrant beyond all.”
[4] Mary worships God through her vocation as mother. What is done in faith, even the changing of diapers, is service to God. I think this stanza does a beautiful job of honoring the vocation of Motherhood. It also continues to emphasize the mystery of the Incarnation: That God could be breast-fed! How highly favored is Mary, the Mother of God?
[5] I do not believe in prayers to the saints. I have here translated the text as it is, not as I think it ought to be. I think this language could be understood apart from praying to the saints, but considering that this text comes to us from the nunnery of St. Mary, in 1425, I assume the author was indeed intending this as a prayer to Mary. Instead, I believe that scripture teaches that “rogat nobis mater domini” – that is, “The Mother of God is praying for us.” But that is another discussion, which I do not wish to participate in here.

I hope this was in some way a blessing to you this Advent.

Comments Off on “Qui Creavit Coelum.”

Filed under Christology, Devotional, Personal

A Free Chrome Extension That Changes Abortion Into Murder

Since Ohio passed a law making abortion after a heartbeat can be detected illegal, pro-abortionists have been up in arms that anyone would dare to infringe on the brutal slaughter of children within the womb for the name of convenience. I got sick of reading news articles full of pretty euphemisms for abortion like “choice” and “reproductive rights.” So I did something about  it.

Introducing Abortion Is Murder.

Abortion Is Murder is a free extension for Google Chrome that changes sanitized, clean, approved pro-abortion euphemisms into words that relate the reality of abortion. So instead of “abortion,” you’ll get “murder.” Instead of “reproductive rights,” you’ll see “the right to kill babies in the womb.”

murder

Exempli Gratia

This is more than a rhetorical exercise.

If you are pro-life, then this should help motivate you to do something today to fight the culture of death in which you live. This should help recenter your way of thinking about abortion: It is legalized murder. It is happening near you today. But be forewarned: Reading the news like this really makes pro-life concessions seem wimpy.

If you are pro-abortion (if you have the extension installed, that says pro-murder), installing this extension should help you understand what we are opposing. It should help you to read the news as we read the news.

This extension is free. Just click here and install it.

 

Comments Off on A Free Chrome Extension That Changes Abortion Into Murder

Filed under Politics

If it’s Saturday, it must be Arians [Trinity Misconceptions]

This is a post in a series about the Trinity. The introduction is here, and part two is here.

It’s a Saturday morning. Two well dressed guests knock on your door. They introduce themselves as Jehovah’s Witnesses, and ask if they can show you what the Bible really teaches. They deny that Christ is the second person of a Trinity, and say instead that He is the first of God’s creation, who created everything else.

Although the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a very recent development, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes got it right: There is nothing new under the sun. The teachings of the Witnesses about Jesus are an ancient heresy known as Arianism.

The History

Early in the history of the Christian Church, a young man named Arius was studying in Alexandria. From the work of earlier teachers (perhaps Paul of Samosata) he concluded that the Son was created; that is, there was a time when the Son, the Logos in John, did not exist. The teaching of Arius was very popular among the Alexandrian schools, and his theology spread fast.

Proponents of orthodoxy initially won out, led by Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria. The Emperor Constantine, a catechumen in the church at the time, called a council at Nicaea in 324 A.D. and all but two of the bishops there agreed that the Scriptures taught that the Father, Son, and Spirit are “consubstantial” (i.e. they share the same substance, or essence, or being). They composed the Nicene Creed, to put into a succinct statement of faith what the Scriptures teach.

Many have criticized the political power with which Constantine upheld orthodoxy. Often there are myths such as “Constantine determined the canon of Scripture at Nicaea,” or other such silliness. Those improper understandings of the council aside, Constantine did use his power inappropriately (in my estimation) when he ordered the destruction of Arian documents and the death penalty for those who did not volunteer Arian documents in their possession.

Ironically, Constantine later exiled Athanasius, the hero of orthodoxy, in an attempt at conciliating Arian sympathizers. At any rate, when Constantine’s son, Constantius II, assumed power, he used it to spread Arian doctrine throughout the Roman Empire by force. The point being, political force was used inappropriately on both sides of this issue. What we must look at, then, is the doctrines themselves.

The Theology

For a good starting point in discussion with any Jehovah’s Witnesses you may meet, I don’t suggest John 1:1. In their New World Translation of Scripture, they twist this verse to read “and the Word was a god.” Unless you speak Greek fluently, and are able to teach them Greek fluently, it won’t be much use to tell them that their translation is wrong. They simply won’t believe you.

Rather, I’d suggest jumping over to John 1:3. Even in the NWT it reads “[a]ll things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” When I read this with them, I’ll change the “all” to “some” and “not even one thing” to “almost nothing.” So I will (mis)read “some things came into existence through him, and apart from him almost nothing came into existence.”

When I misread it, they will usually correct me. When the answer comes from their own mind, instead of being supplied by someone with whom they disagree, it is much more effective at communicating the point.

That point is that, according to the grammar of John 1:3, Jesus cannot have come into existence. Why? Because all things that came into existence came through him. Can a man be his own father? His own cause of being (in other words, his own efficient cause)? Of course not. So also, if not even one thing came into existence apart from the Word (that’s Jesus, remember? see Jn. 1:14) then Jesus can’t have come into existence, because then at least one thing came into existence apart from Jesus.

If you’re more of a visual learner, you’ll appreciate this very helpful blog post by Greg Koukl. It is essentially no different to what I outlined here, but he has a visual aid that make the point very clear.

Like I mentioned before, I’ll only be posting on Thursdays for a while during my summer intensive at school. I hope to get back to a regular Monday post soon, but I may edit the schedule further to allow for all of my obligations. God’s blessings on your week!

Comments Off on If it’s Saturday, it must be Arians [Trinity Misconceptions]

Filed under Apologetics, Christology, Theology, Theology Thursdays

The Lord Sits Enthroned Forever

I don’t usually use my blog for political statements outside of pro-life activism. Today is a little different though. I wanted to collect a few thoughts on the recent shootings, and hopefully add something constructive and cogent to the conversation.

I’m not going to comment directly on the shootings other than to say mourn with those who mourn, and mourn from a place of deep confidence that justice will be carried out perfectly by our God. And then act, in whatever small way you can, to be a comfort to those who mourn, and an advocate for those who need you.

When we talk about police violence against minorities, it is important that we not discount the fact that it is oftentimes (but not always) targeted toward minorities. This post isn’t to discuss race or racism beyond saying that while I don’t think it is the root cause of all police violence, it does seem to be the catalyst in many situations. At any rate, according to this survey by the DOJ,

Studies conducted across two midwestern States (one in Illinois and one in Ohio), for example, suggest that a significant minority of police officers have observed police using “considerably” more force than necessary when apprehending a suspect. In the Illinois study, more than 20 percent of the officers surveyed reported having observed this type of abuse; in the Ohio study, 13 percent of respondents had seen such abuse.

Moreover, both studies suggest that police harassment of minorities is not an isolated occurrence. More than 25 percent of officers surveyed in the Illinois study and 15 percent of those in the Ohio study stated that they had observed an officer harassing a citizen “most likely” because of his or her race.

NB: These are officer reactions to what they allege is racism in their own departments. That’s telling.

Another quote from the survey:

Therefore, improper force was used in 38 percent of encounters that involved force. As the author of that study, Robert Worden, stated, ‘[I]ncidents in which improper force was used represent a substantial proportion of the incidents in which any force (reasonable or improper) was used.

This is, I think, the deeper issue. In over a third of police encounters which involve force, that force was later deemed improper. Police in America may not use force often, but when they have the historical trend is that 1/3 of the time they use it in an unjustified manner. To understate the obvious: It seems like this might be a problem. I highly recommend you read the whole survey and come to your own conclusions.

Now, how can we respond to tragedies like these? As a citizen, my response is skepticism.

Our justice system rests on an explicit assumption: That the individual who allegedly broke the law is innocent until proven guilty. The implicit assumption, then, is that the State, who is bringing charges against this individual, is wrong.  They are asserting that the individual is guilty; we begin with the assumption they are innocent. Both cannot be correct: Therefore, we must assume the State is wrong until they prove themselves right.

How does that apply to use of force? We should assume it was improper until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that it was not. We should assume the State acted out of line because the citizen gets the benefit of the doubt. We should not immediately defend police actions because (as shown before) they have gotten it wrong at least 1/3 of the time.

This does not mean we have to hate cops, call for their deaths (which have been equally tragic and we should pray for justice on their account as well), or anything negative. It means only that we apply our starting premise (citizens are innocent until proven guilty) consistently and doubt the State.  If the State proves its case, we can move on. But until then, skepticism should be our default position.

As a Christian, my response is sorrow, grief, repentance, and then joy.

When I watched Philando Castile bleed out, when I watched Alton Sterling’s feeble hand try to staunch his own bleeding, I wept. I wept because someone who bears the Imago Dei was just cut off from the living. Even though they were sinners like me, God took no pleasure in their death (Ezekiel 18:23). So I wept. And as I said before, it is good and right to mourn with those who mourn.

I’ve posted before about why our response to tragedy should be repentance. If you want to read that, check it out here, or save yourself the time and just read Jesus’ response to tragedy in Luke 13.

But why joy? “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Or, as Psalm 9 puts it:

the Lord sits enthroned forever;
    he has established his throne for justice,
and he judges the world with righteousness;
    he judges the peoples with uprightness.

Comments Off on The Lord Sits Enthroned Forever

Filed under Personal, Politics

Trinity Misconception: Modalism.

Last week I wrote up a brief introduction to the doctrine of the Trinity. Over the next several Thursdays I’ll tackle some of the different misconceptions and myths about the Trinity. Up first: Modalism.

One of the ways that people talk (incorrectly) about God is to say that just as one man can be a father, a son, and a husband, for instance, God also reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. The result of this analogy is Modalism: The belief that there is one God who reveals Himself in three different modes. It is as if God plays three different roles; in Modalism, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all the same person.

Modalism is also known as Sabellianism, as Sabellius espoused the doctrine in the third century. In fact, it found its origin in earlier teachers, such as Praxeas [see especially Tertullian, Adversus Praxeas, ch. 1]; Sabellius simply popularized it.

In contrast to Arianism, which also taught that there was only one God but denied that Jesus was divine, Modalism does teach that Jesus Christ is fully divine. What Modalism denies is that there are distinct divine Persons. Modalism is also sometimes referred to as Patripassianism (the belief that the Father was crucified in the Son) because Modalists deny that the Father and Son are co-existent persons; thus they teach that the Father is incarnate in the mode of the Son and suffers on the Cross.

The closest modern expression of modalism is found in the Oneness Pentecostal movement. There are some significant differences, but they both deny the persons of the Trinity.

The Athanasian Creed (the best explanation of the Trinity, bar none) shows us the two errors one may fall into regarding the Trinity: “[W]e worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.” All Trinitarian heresies have their root in one of these two errors. In the case of Modalism, the Persons are confounded – they are not seen as distinct from each other.

To refute Modalism, all that must be demonstrated from Apostolic teaching is that the three Persons of the Trinity are co-existent; that is, that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist side by side at the same time. This is done simply: At the Baptism of Jesus, the Father speaks from heaven with approval of the Son, who is standing in the water, and the Spirit descends in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:13ff; Luke 3:21-22). Thus all three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are present (i.e. they exist) at the same time. The alternative, if Modalist doctrine is upheld, is that Christ was throwing His voice to speak from heaven!

You may not run into Modalism tomorrow (unless you’re reading the Book of Mormon), but it certainly functions as a good example of bad teaching. It’s still useful to us because it helps us to dig into Scripture and see what God reveals about Himself.

Next week I tackle Arianism. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do! Also, check out the blog on Facebook or follow me on Twitter for updates. 

1 Comment

Filed under Apologetics, Christology, Theology, Theology Thursdays

Why would Mormons want to be Christians too?

In every conversation I’ve had with a Mormon, whether it be a lay member or a Missionary, they have always told me “Yeah, we’re Christians too.” That statement has always confused me. Here’s why.

The LDS church stands or falls on one idea: There was a Great Apostasy and the Church needed to be restored on the earth. This is first lesson which the Missionaries will teach you if you ever have them over. It’s called “The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and it teaches the Latter-Day Saint view of church history.

According to the official account of the First Vision, Joseph went into what is now known as the Sacred Grove to pray. There, God the Father and Jesus appeared to him, and he asked them which of the sects of Christianity he ought to join. In Joseph Smith-History 1:19 (which is part of the Pearl of Great Price, and therefore official doctrine) he says:

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”

So according to God, all of the creeds (as in the Apostles, Athanasian, and Nicene Creeds otherwise known as Christian orthodoxy) are an abomination, and all those who profess those creeds (Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, and even most Baptists) are corrupt. And yet, when I, as a corrupt professor of an abomination, say “I’m a Christian,” Mormons say to me “We are Christians too.”

I think you can see now why I’ve been stressing the “too.” It wouldn’t bother me if Mormons said to me “Well, we think we’re Christians, and you’re not.” It wouldn’t bother me if Mormons said just “Well, we’re Christians.” If they believe that they are the true church that Jesus founded then it would make sense that they think they are the true Christians. But when they say that they are Christians too, as if we somehow share faith, despite the words of their prophet, it is confusing to me and strikes me as, perhaps, dishonest.

If you’re a Latter-Day Saint, perhaps you can help me understand. Why would any Mormon tell me that they’re a Christian too, when 1 Nephi 14:10 teaches:

Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

Given what Joseph Smith said about traditional Christianity, it cannot be the case that when a Mormon says “we’re Christians too” they mean that both traditional Christians and the LDS belong to the church of the Lamb of God. That would fly in the face of what God told Joseph Smith. But I can’t believe that they would believe the only alternative: That the Latter-Day Saints belong to the church of the devil! They must not mean that we are both Christians, because there’s no way, given Joseph’s revelation from God, that this can be true.

One response I anticipate is what Missionaries have told me from time to time: I, as a traditional Christian, have part of the truth. I just need the Full Gospel restored. The problem with this, as I see it, is that just because someone knows some true things, that doesn’t make them a Christian.  A Sikh believes many true things about the world, but they are not Christians because they don’t believe in the Christian God. So it seems that a traditional Christian, who does not believe in Heavenly Father (at least not in the Mormon sense) cannot, from a Mormon point of view, be called a true Christian despite the fact that they believe many true things.

Would any Latter-Day Saint like to clarify things for me?

9 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Ecclesiology, Mormonism Mondays

The Holy Trinity: A brief introduction.

I was young when The Shack came out. I got it from the library, and I honestly didn’t get all that much out of it. But I do remember thinking how weird it was that God the Father was portrayed as a woman.

Now that I’m older, and more theologically inclined, I see more of the problems with The Shack‘s theology in a clearer light. Since the movie is coming out in less than a year, I thought it might be wise to take a look at the doctrine of the Trinity.

Before we go much further, click here and take the Trinity quiz that Tim Challies offers. How’d you do? 

The word Trinity is not found in your bible. It is an ecclesiastical, or church, word used to describe God’s revealed nature. A simple definition of the Trinity might look something like this: There is only one God, who exists as three distinct and co-eternal persons. The best definition of the Trinity is found in the Athanasian Creed.

I’m sure you’ve heard an analogy for the Trinity before. Throw it out, because it’s probably useless. I’ll let Donall and Conall explain:

Yes, I know: The rest of the post is going to be boring after that.

So where in the bible do we find this Trinitarian doctrine? I submit that the bible teaches that (1) there is only one God, (2) the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are distinct persons, and (3) the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each fully God. If all three of these premises are true, then the Trinitarian concept of God is also true.

Premise 1: There is only one God.

This is, ostensibly, the easiest premise to prove from scripture. We know from a host of verses that God is the only God (Deut. 6:4; 4:35; 32:39; Is. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5; 45:18; 46:5-9, just to name a few). Two of my favorites are Isaiah 44:8 and Psalm 18:31. Both put polytheism to rest so succinctly.

Isaiah 44:8 says “Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” In Isaiah 43-49, God goes on an epic rant against those false gods and false saviors of other nations. He repeatedly makes the point that there are no other gods and no other saviors. And here He hammers it home: “I know of none!”

Psalm 18:31-32 says “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless?” Again, the only acceptable answer to this rhetorical question is “No one!” God alone is God.

Premise 2: The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are distinct persons.

This premise is also easy to demonstrate from the Scriptures. In Matthew 3, at Jesus’ baptism, we see all three separate and distinct persons of the Trinity simultaneously. “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”” (vs. 16-17). This poses a serious challenge to modalists (people who believe that God is not three co-eternal persons, but one person playing the different roles of Father, Son, and Spirit at different times): Was Jesus just throwing His voice to speak from Heaven as the Father?

Another passage, which plays nicely in our next premise as well, is John 1:1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  So as far back as you can go, the Word – whom John identifies as Jesus (Jn. 1:14) – was already there as a distinct person from God (the Father). This “face-to-face” relationship can only take place between distinct persons – not one person playing two different parts.

Premise 3: The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each fully God.

This premise may be demonstrated in two different ways. The first way is that each of the Persons of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Spirit – are certainly called God in Scripture. The second is that each of them is attributed with titles and qualities reserved only for God in Scripture.

As John 1:1 showed that the two persons, Father and Son, are unique, so also it demonstrates that “the Word was God.” Another appropriate translation of that verse is “what God was, the Word was.” Everything that God is by nature, the Word is also by nature.  Distinct persons, but one substance – exactly as the Athanasian Creed puts it.

The Spirit, also, is called God. In Acts 5:3-4 Peter says

“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

Notice in the first sentence, Peter says that they lied to the Holy Spirit; in the last line Peter says they’ve lied to God. So the title of God is applied to the Holy Spirit.

The attributes of God are applied to each of the Persons of the Trinity equally as well. I won’t reinvent the wheel here: Check out this chart of scripture verses.

trinity-chart

Conclusion: The Trinity must be true.

Since the three premises are supported by even this cursory examination of the scriptures, we must conclude that the Trinity is true. It is mysterious, and beyond our understanding by reason alone, true, but God has revealed Himself in this manner. It is our privilege to know and worship the true and Triune God.

 

Got questions about the Trinity? Comment below! Or share your favorite bad analogy (or a good one, if you can find it!), myth, misunderstanding, or other Trinitarian related topics. If you want to hear more then subscribe via email or WordPress, and like the blog on Facebook. See you next week for Trinity Myths and Misunderstandings!

39 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Theology, Theology Thursdays

God has fixed this.

My earlier post on this matter left one crucial question unanswered: In the face of tragedy, what comfort does Christianity offer? The answer is simple: God has fixed this.

We do not know how. It certainly doesn’t look like God has fixed this. But we know that He has fixed this. We know this because He went to the cross for us.

When Jesus hung on the cross, it didn’t look like God was fixing anything. In fact, the one who claimed to be God, who made Himself equal with God, was the one suffocating to a very public and very humiliating death. We could, like the unbelieving thief, say “Are you not the messiah? Save yourself, and then us!”

But we are not unbelievers. We, like the second thief, recognize that we have justly incurred any punishment that befalls us. But Jesus was an innocent man, hung on the cross for sins that He did not commit. And like the second thief we realize that the cross is not a defeat, but it was a victory: “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

So the eyes of faith look at this tragedy and realize that Jesus has hung on the cross. God has died and risen from the dead. The God who is so full of love as to shed His own blood for us will not abandon us. A small child may not understand why a doctor must give him a shot, but he trusts his father who says the pain will be worth it in the end.

Christians, we know that the joy of the new creation will not compare to the suffering we have here. Jesus even promised that we would have trouble in this world. But he also promised that when we stand with Him on that day, and see what it means that He has overcome this world, then the veil will fall away — then this tapestry will take a new hue, as joy unspeakable winds its way through the warp and weft of suffering, and redeems it all for the glory of God.

Take heart. God has fixed all of this.

3 Comments

Filed under Christology, Devotional, Politics, Theology

Keep Praying.

I’m sure that you have, by now, seen the drivel spouted across the web in response to the mass shooting in California, summed up “Stop Praying. Stop Thinking.” Or, as the New York Daily News put it “God Isn’t Fixing This.”

cvrd6a0ukaavrk_

This is, of course, entirely missing the reason why Christians pray, which seems to be par for the course among the press. My friend Steven Dunn has an excellent post regarding why Christians pray: Because “God is fixing us.

I think headlines like these really do an excellent job of highlighting the different ways in which Christianity and our culture answer the same question: “What is wrong with the world?”

It seems the culture believes what is wrong with us is outside of us. We will be able to fix ourselves. The cultural response of “Legislate!” is really a confession of faith in ourselves that, given enough time, we will eventually end up with a general utopia, which we will survey from the top of a Tower (or space-elevator) that reaches the heavens. Nothing we plan to do is impossible for us.

Conversely, Christians pray precisely because we believe that this issue cannot be fixed by gun-control — or any other attempts to modify external behaviors. We believe that mankind is so bent in on itself that even when the only weapon available is a rock, we can still find a way to bash our neighbor’s head in with it. We know that we can’t just keep treating the symptoms — at some point, that Great Physician must excise the tumor or our cancer will certainly consume us forever.

That is why in Luke 13 when Jesus was confronted with two tragedies He commanded “Repent, or perish!” In response to the question “what is wrong with the world?” G. K. Chesterton well summed up the Christian position: “I am.” The problem with the world is not some distant abstraction of sin, or a lack of progress– it’s the fact that every single day sin is a personal reality for you and (especially) for me.

So it comes down to this: Christians don’t pray as a substitute for action, but because we realize that all of our actions are vain apart from God’s grace and mercy in our lives. We pray because we recognize that, if God had not mercifully intervened, we could easily be the one pulling the trigger. Prayer confesses God’s sovereignty, even when we do not understand it.

Keep praying, Christians.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics