February 27, 2011 in Nite Lite with
February 25, 2011 in Bible with
Just finished “The Fire that Consumes,” by Edward William Fudge. If you want a book that makes you wrestle with how long “eternal punishment” actually lasts, this would be a great choice. Well-supported. Tons of Scripture. Not a quick read. Good book. www.edwardfudge.com
February 24, 2011 in Nite Lite with
Tonight Martin starts reading “The Hedge of Thorns,” where a boy named John sees a mysterious land behind the hedge. Then in Cactus Ranch, the Meeting Hall gets a bit ruffled when Jess begins kicking over tables and chairs. After that, a bunch of people are boasting in the wrong thing in Galatia.
February 23, 2011 in Bible with
You asked me a slough of good questions, none of which has a quick answer. I decided the best way to begin to respond was to lay out how I think God, the Bible and human history fit together. This is not an attempt to “prove” that God exists because, just as you cannot prove that God does not exist, I cannot prove that he does. I’m sure we could get sidetracked on this issue, but that is not the point right now. For now, suffice it to say that you do not believe he exists and I do.
Your questions about the God of the Bible are deep and probing. Christians must wrestle with these questions in order to plumb the depths of our faith. And you are right in saying that “people… lie, mislead, hate, kill and persecute in the name of their imaginary friend, because they imagine it requires them to.” People who call themselves Christians have committed, and continue to commit horrible atrocities in the name of God. I grieve whenever I read about how slaves were treated in America by their so-called Christian masters, about any of the various Inquisitions, or about the despicable actions of Westboro Baptist Church toward homosexuals. These events were not and are not commanded by God, but, instead, were/are carried out by people with a taste for power yet little understanding of God.
At the same time, we do know that God commanded ancient Israel to do some things that raise eyebrows. Which leads me to your question: How could God have authorized so many atrocities in the Bible?
Any honest reader of the Bible cannot avoid the blood that spills from its pages. There are explicit instructions to the Israelites to wipe out the people of Canaan and take over the land. David knocks out Goliath with a slingshot stone and then proceeds to cut off his head with the giant’s own sword. A woman drives a tent peg through Sisera’s skull while he sleeps. At first glance it is difficult to reconcile all this violence with a God whose entire law Jesus basically wrapped up in four words: Love God, love people.
In a perfect world, it would be impossible to reconcile violence with love, but we don’t live in a perfect world. At least, not anymore.
When God made the world (lots of room for discussion on how this happened, but we won’t get into that right now), he made Paradise. There was no death, no abuse, no disease, no drive-by shootings, no sickness, no rape, no persecution, no suffering. Humans were a part of this perfect creation. Matter of fact, God made them the benevolent rulers of creation. Since there was no sin, they were able to enjoy the full presence of God in his beautiful creation. This was the way it was supposed to be forever.
But when humans got the bright idea that they didn’t need God around anymore and rebelled, they ushered evil and death into the world and, in essence, poisoned themselves and all of creation. This was not the punishment of God, this was the inevitable result of tearing themselves away from God. In addition to that, by sinning, they handed their rule of the earth over to Satan. (I know you don’t believe in him either, but that’s ok. Bear with me; I am trying to lay the groundwork so I can answer your questions properly.)
We feel the echo of Paradise in humanity’s insatiable longing to rid the earth of death, sickness, evil and suffering. These things do not belong here and so we dream of a better place. So does God.
But because anything tainted with sin cannot endure God’s presence, God chose to pull his full presence away from his creation. If he had not done so, creation would have been consumed. He did not want that because he loves what he created, and because he has a plan…a plan to rescue creation from the poison of evil and death.
This is what the entire Bible is about. It is not a list of rules for people to follow in order to be “saved.” It is not a manual for changing the social order in the here and now in its entirety. It’s a rescue plan.
Paradise was given, Paradise was lost, Paradise is reached for even now, and someday, Paradise will be renewed. This is the framework through which I understand Scripture. It is through this framework that I hope to answer your questions.
Well, that’s enough for now. Hope and pray all is well with you,
February 23, 2011 in Nite Lite with
Tonight we start a new story from Lamplighter Theatre called “The Hedge of Thorns,” where a man named Martin is headed towards disaster. Then Dr. Holstein has some a surprising answer for Tony the Frog. After that, Paul has some BIG LETTERS for the Galatians.