Getting Back to Outside-of-Spacetime Normal

 

“Elsewhere on the Las Vegas Strip, things appeared to go back to normal quite quickly.”  -Quote from a Oct. 4th, 2017 Daily Mail post

 

“I am please asking your prayers for the late 13 year old J— T—— and for his family and friends. J—, a neighbor of ours passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, Oct. 3rd. J— was a smart, kind young man. He went through a lot of pain in his short life. May J— be surrounded with God’s unconditional love and may God lift J—’s family and friends up at this time. Give them peace, comfort, and spiritual healing over the loss of their family member and friend.”

-a recent prayer request from a church’s prayer email list

~~~

Whether be it hurricanes, floods, tornados, mass killings, local armed robberies (my town) and the loss of a child, there are life-events that seem to come out of nowhere. And, they are beyond our control. There are also cause-and-effect circumstances that follow from our own actions. These consequences often situate us in a place beyond our control. After any such occurrences, whether thrust upon us or resultant, it becomes clear to us that there is no going back to before. One passes through an event horizon* after which things will never be the same.

Those in the world who experience any of the above will likely face the situation initially with shock, hurt and outrage and then, as some time passes, turn to a “let’s return to normal” Epicurean palliative mind set -“the show must go on”. Later, they may turn off their feelings altogether within a Stoic apathy, especially if life-events ‘pile’ up. The cycle of indifference then ‘piles’ up until “action must be taken”.

After a horrific event most will seek a motive when great harm is done to others. They will ask “Why?” because they want to discover the means to stop all pain in this life, pain which so often comes home with them. A Christian will view the events from a Kingdom of God perspective, one which is Outside of Spacetime Normal.

“I am persuaded, you see, that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor the present, nor the future, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in King Jesus our Lord.” -Paul’s letter to the Roman church, 8: 38-39

Those of us who call Jesus “Lord” are being conformed to the image of the Alpha and Omega, the One who is outside of spacetime ‘normal’. As such, we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and are summoned to do the work of a priest – stand between heaven and earth and intercede for the world. We are to take the hurt, the pain, the sufferings and the groanings of the world and bring it to the Father and to do so without ceasing.

Maybe you have witnessed the following in your spirit. I have come to understand, after 55 years of a relationship with the Lord, that the Holy Spirit is constantly in conversation with the Father and the Son through me. The Spirit is constantly interceding. I am made continually aware of those around me. I lift them to the Lord. In my spirit I hear the cries of thousands who are hurting. When I see news reports of disasters – natural and manmade – I pray in the Spirit. Most times I do not have words. The Spirit, helping me in my weakness, prays through my very limited understanding.

“…the spirt comes alongside and helps us in our weakness. We don’t know what to pray for as we ought to; but the same spirit pleads on our behalf, with groanings too deep for words. And, the Searcher of Hearts knows what the spirit is thinking, because the spirit pleads for God’s people according to God’s will.”  -Paul’s letter to the Roman church, 8: 26-27

For some, prayers begin with a “Why?” and end up with “How could you let this happen?”

For followers of Jesus our often-wordless intercessions begin with, “How long, Sovereign Lord Jesus?” and end with “Come Lord Jesus. Maranatha.”

 

~~~

*event horizon is a boundary in spacetime, the shell of “points of no return”. Nothing inside the event horizon can ever cross the boundary and escape beyond it, including light. Nothing that enters a black hole can get out or can be observed from outside the event horizon.

Marginalizing Truth…

 

…to Fit Around One’s Agenda

Below, a recent Tweet by the same Jesuit priest referred to in my previous post. James Martin, as he often does, redefines the Gospel so as to frame the #LGBT as “intersectional” (I’m using a popular SJW word) with those who may be on the fringe of society – in other words, those deemed as being over-looked and under-loved. The LGBT’s one-of-a-kind “trials”, he posits, must be considered independently and also, curiously, in relation to others who have suffered some…thing.

Martin is seeking to brand himself as the patron saint of gays. He may well succeed with his populist mission in the venue of the Catholic church. Know that he will be held accountable for his use of the Gospel as a means to an end.

Here are my replies to his Tweet:

And…

1/Jesus’ encounter w/Zacchaeus (whose name means “pure”; a chief tax-collector) reveals the POWER OF GOD to redeem a man’s life…

2/3-Zacchaeus completely repents: he finds that the Kingdom of God is worth more to him than riches & power. Read the full account: (Luke 19:1-10)

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+19:1-10&version=NIV

3/3-Jesus’ encounter w/Paul on the Damascus road is another example of the life changing POWER OF GOD affecting those who have power over others

 Added 10-8-2017:

As I have said, the LGBT are self-marginalizing: (Caution vulgar and repulsive language)

As recorded in the four Gospels and also in the Book of Acts, Jesus and his Apostles encounter those in power and those under the influence of power. Jesus and his Apostles redefine power in every instance.  In so doing they proclaim the Lordship of Jesus the Christ and introduce them to the Kingdom of God on earth. More about this in a subsequent post.

And Nothing but the Whole Elephant

 

Jesus said to them, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you. If you were from this world, the world would be fond of its own. But the world hates you for this reason: that you’re not from the world. No: I chose you out of the world.” John’s gospel account 15: 18-19

~~~

Why would Jesus say ‘know that it (the world) hated me before you’?  From the many conversations I have had on Twitter, the word on the street is that “God is love and approves of anyone who loves.” So, where does the world’s hate come in? And, why do so many in churches today feel the need to make Jesus more marketable (less severe) to the world?

~~~

Coming to a church near you: a populist theology which promotes the acceptance of the gay lifestyle, universal health care and illegal immigration all as works of Christian charity from the pulpits of body-of-Christ-divisive politics (race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.). This populist theology uses the high-sounding term “social justice” so as to neutralize detractor’s objections and to force a consensus, a groupthink around the premise of political correctness redefined as God’s love.

I encounter this populist theology every day now. If you are on Twitter “fighting the good fight”, you may receive the same replies from Catholics that I did. They go something like this:

1.)    “God is love. I know many committed gay couples who love each other.”

2.)    “Jesus never talked about sexuality or homosexuality, therefore it is a non-issue. If Jesus was concerned about homosexuality he would have said something.”

3.)    “Jesus is about loving your neighbor. Jesus is not judgmental. Jesus is fully accepting, inclusive. He’s about loving the homosexual. Who are we to judge?” (from Pope Francis’, “Who am I to judge?”).

4.)    “Loving your neighbor means universal healthcare. You are not charitable if you are against universal healthcare. You must be a Conservative who hates people.”

5.)    “Jesus and Paul are not the same. Jesus is love and Paul is rules. Jesus is universal love. Paul, on the other hand, is a picayune fundamentalist and fundamentalists are authoritarians. Jesus would say “Live, love, eat, pray and let live.”

6.)    “Jesus is social justice. He talked about helping the poor. Dorothy Day is a hero. Many of our heroes are beatified saints, saints who did good deeds while alive. Jesus demands good works from us. “Faith without works is dead”.”

7.)    “Women are talking in church. Women are being ordained. Scripture is being updated and should be inclusive of homosexuality, as well.”

 

My first thought when I encountered these replies: “The Catholic church has done great harm to its charges by not teaching the whole of Scripture, the whole council of God.” Scripture has been defined down to a constructed abstraction of Jesus’ words.

One of the main reasons the populist theology has taken root in the Catholic and all (yes, all) of the mainline churches, I believe, is the lack of Scripture knowledge coupled with a deficit of personal faith-history. Deism is pervasive in the church: “God and His Word are far away from reality and not relevant to what I am experiencing”; “You don’t understand same-sex attraction. You can’t change me so, accept me for what I am.”

Post-modernist pop-theologians rightly question history and what has been passed down through millennia but without a sufficient regard for and knowledge of the discipline of the study of history – factual non-repeatable events. Their pick-and-choose history approach leads to utter confusion about who Jesus is, what happened the first century and to whether or not Jesus even existed. I have witnessed such dissociative history making on Twitter. Such groping at history and at Scripture reminds me of the Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant: each of the blind men encounter a different part of the elephant (trunk, tail, etc.) and then return home and proceed to project their ‘understanding’ of the elephant as the elephant while claiming the other five blind men must be mistaken. 

Populist theology also has historical Leftist ties (“Unconstrained vision” is the term used by Economist Thomas Sowell to define the philosophy of the Left). Political philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau wrote, “man is born free, but is everywhere in chains.” Another philosopher, Marquis de Condorcet, believed that men in their natural state with a “natural inclination” would seek out the social good. For them, man’s nature was not the problem. Rather, institutions needed to be reformed so that man’s better nature would come out. Hence, pop-theology presses for reforms: the church must be reformed to help men to realize their better nature. “We are so much smarter now,” is the inference.

Enter the church’s “social justice” moment. And the “social justice” proffered is done under the guise of the common good but it is in reality a narrowing of focus down to subjective individual rights and individual happiness, in parallel with what is happening politically in Europe and the U.S. currently. The “common” part of their “common good” are those who share the same self-directed interests. Others must conform to their self-interests for the common good.

My second thought after reading the above replies: “It is time for another reformation – putting the Bible (again) into people’s hands and teaching them how to read it for themselves.”

It would seem that many of the above respondents view Scripture through the lens of a post-modern Epicurean Catholic world view, a worldview which replaces historical narrative (in this case, derived from the “faith once delivered”) with a relevant “social gospel” or populist theology promulgated as authentic Christianity. And with little knowledge of Scripture many Catholics are ‘falling’ for what they have been taught by the top-down government and media of the Catholic church and its social justice-primed priesthood.

When they do (see replies above) they end up with a Jesus who is fantasy blend of Dorothy Day, Ghandi, Mr. Rogers and a Democrat with a Jesus bleeding heart – an ends-justifies-the-means person. In other words, they end up not with a literal historical Jesus, but rather a figurative Jesus and one disposed to making you and your world feel good about doting on yourself. And, if you can get other people to dish out love and charity and “understanding” and, most importantly, cash, then you have done right by pseudo-Jesus.

Every self-designated Catholic I have encountered on Twitter appears to know little or nothing of Scripture. For them, it seems, raw Scripture, unrefined by the Catholic priesthood, seems to be tied to evangelicals who are considered fundamentalists and therefore, presumptively, not connected with Jesus’ all-assuming love. What they know and repeat is what a priest or Jesuit tells them, and their reply is usually about social justice, a catch-all for not being judged but for being loved.

Without making this post too long, here are some of my quick replies. Feel welcome to add yours in the comment section below.

  1. The plea bargaining “God is Love” defense is foiled when you define love, not in terms of codependence and sexuality, but as desiring the ultimate good for another. This of course leads to a definition of what is good. I reply with Jesus’s request of the Father, “Set them apart for yourself in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
  2. When someone says that Jesus never talked about homosexuality I remind them that Jesus’s mission was to the lost sheep of Israel, the ones who were supposed to be “a light to the Gentiles”. The Israelites knew the law, the Torah. The law forbids homosexuality. This was common knowledge in the first century. Jesus did not need to repeat it. Paul, on the other hand, an apostle to the Gentiles did need to speak about the matter (e.g., Rome, Ephesus, etc. had temples to pagan gods which involved all manner of sexual immorality.)
  3. Here we have justification by plea bargain. Jesus prays for his own that they will be sanctified, separate – “taken out of the world”- worldview.
  4. If you know Scripture then you know that Jesus did not heal everyone in the world during his earthly time. He told us that we can do the same and greater things than he has done when filled with the spirit. As I see it, universal healthcare removes a person’s personal responsibility for their health onto a non- caring government entity. This tax-payer costly bureaucracy will need to control your behavior and the doctor’s practice and more to control costs. As such, it is caring to not desire socialized coverage.
  5. When I hear someone say that Jesus is Gospel and Paul is not relevant I remind them that Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus. In the fullness of time Jesus encountered Paul. I remind them that Paul right then and there became an eyewitness of Jesus and therefore an apostle. I remind them that Jesus sent Paul to be Jesus to the Gentiles – the heathen, the pagans, the unclean. I tell them that Paul wrote the theology of the newly established Kingdom of God on earth in his letters to the infant churches.
  6. I remind them that the gospel is “Jesus is Lord”. All else falls in line and in order under this proviso:  salvation, sanctification (called out of the world) and then social gospel (to affect the world under the direction of the Kingdom’s Lord.)

When Jesus tells the rich man “Sell all you have and give it to the poor” we understand the means to the rich man’s salvation: renunciation of his coveting relationship of wealth- a relationship which came between Jesus and the rich man, sanctification (separation from the love of his money and the hold it had on him) and then faith with works – a complete detachment from self-preservation- giving his wealth to the poor, a product of the new Kingdom focus.

  1. Women vs. gay acceptance and Scripture: I remind them that there is a difference between culturally defined and morally defined. Paul wrote about such difference in his letters. Anything perceived as ambiguous was directed back to a person’s Holy-Spirit filled conscious.

 

It is no secret that the Evil One’s mission is to ask, “Did God really say you couldn’t…?”

Pop-theology proposes to modernize and conform the church to be a welcoming inclusive place for whatever the prevailing winds of PC doctrine bring to the church’s door step. Be it known:  the called-out ones – the ecclesia – will remain faithful under the Lordship of Jesus.  The churches that wallow in the world will have their candlestick taken away. In the dark their mutual admiration society will be left grappling with elephant parts.

~~~

 

Added 10-4-17:

Gulpture in the Park

 

“… Abstraction came about through the ever-narrowing focus of aesthetic gaze.

The post-modern offshoots of abstract art may seem to be engaged in the same artistic project; but the appearance is, it seems to me, deceptive. Post-modern abstraction is really construction, in which abstract elements are combined ab initio, and without reference to the natural forms and perceptions which might have endowed them with meaning…. Their purpose is to glorify the sovereign role of the artist, who shifts and arranges them as would a child playing with colored blocks…The result has been a sudden narrowing of the artistic intention, and a launching of post-modern art towards bombast and doodling by turns.”

-Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Persons’ Guide to Modern Culture, Chapter Eight

~~~

Over many months now, during my morning contemplative walks in a local park, I have encountered objets d’déclin. Mother Earth needed tattoos to be in vogue.

A gaggle of local apparatchiks of post-modern persuasion decided at some point that nature’s exhilarating beauty-a body of narrative to be read over and to reflect on-should be forever ‘inked’ with the flippant constructionism of various ‘artists’.

The local approvers and inciters of inhuman aesthetics have ‘carnivalized’ a local nature preserve, a park and a paradise infused with wildflowers along a river, where, along such “springs in the valleys” (Psalm 104) “The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.” No matter, though. By so doing, the self-appointed culture-mongers can connote their relevance and earn self-aggrandizement brownie points with the community.

Pictures at an Exhibition:

Entrance to St. Mary’s Park

PM Art vs. Tree Planted in Memoriam

Nature’s Way

Nature Sculpts

 

Nature Revealed in Sculpture

And, “Do Not Feed Post-Modern Artists”

The last photo, a #LGBT advert, fits the theme: the ‘carnivalizing’ of nature and nature’s compliment, Scripture. More about this in the next post.

What’s Not to Wonder?

The Earth is the Lord’s- Horicon Marsh, WI ©Ann Johnson Kingdom Venturers

“…Cynicism and sentimentality are two ways in which things of value are demoted to things with a price.

“To understand this we need to make a distinction between fantasy and imagination. Both fantasy and imagination concern unrealities; but while the unrealities of fantasy penetrate and pollute the world, those of the imagination exist in a world of their own, in which we wander freely and in full knowledge of the really real…Fantasy covets the gross, the explicit, the no-holds-barred display of the unobtainable; and in the crisis of display the unobtainable is vicariously obtained.”

-Roger Scruton, Chapter 6, Fantasy, Imagination and the Salesman, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture

~~~

One aspect I derive out of the above quote is that there is a Wow! that is not wonder. Fantasy, I’ll label here as “the Wow! that is not wonder”, intrudes on our daily life. We allow it to. We do so, I believe, out of a boredom with life, a boredom sustained by a laziness which suppresses the exercise of curiosity that develops a healthy awe and wonder. In the place of applying oneself to reaching higher and beyond one’s self is down and dirty titillation’s instant gratification. Those in the thrall of fantasy, the “walkers”, need a constant diet of fresh fantasy to devour. Philosopher Scruton, in the same chapter as the above quote, provides an example of the “imaginary object which leaves nothing to the [ethical-life sustaining] imagination”. He offers a comparison, noting the queue outside Madams Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London and the queue outside the National Gallery:

 “No effort of the imagination is required to understand a wax work. It stands amid the wash of easy sentimentality, and is never eroded. It is the paradigm fantasy object; absolutely lifelike, and absolutely dead. Through the work of art, by contrast, we encounter a world of real, vulnerable and living people, which we can only enter by an effort of the imagination, where we, like they, are on trial.”

We are content to sit in front of a TV and to be mesmerized by Computer Generated Images. Comic book superheroes smash all sorts of bad guys and save the planet from other bizarre characters gone bad. Apocalypses of every kind, from earth-colliding meteorites to earthquakes to tsunamis to you-name-it-complete-devastation, is served up in order to rivet the audience to a we-are-in-this-together shared fantasy. The intruders we allow into our dumbed down subconscious also include impossible driving-on-the-edge-car chases, extreme violence, explicit pornography, perverse lewdness, vulgarity, cheapness and a host of other “for sale” excitations “walkers” must purchase to feed on.

As a follower of Christ in the Kingdom of God on earth, I fully expect unbelievers, the walking dead, to feed on Epicurean pleasures. What I don’t expect is that Christians, those alive in Christ, doing the same. When Christians purchase with Kingdom resources and live on food which does nourish the imagination, the world sees no difference between fantasy and imagination or, more importantly, between Christian and the walking dead.

This past year I have written posts attempting to prod those in the Kingdom of God towards awe and wonder. I see the Christian’s neglect in exercising his or her imagination and its required disciplined study of the surrounding cosmos as deplorable. There is so much in the universe that awaits our discovery, yet, we are content to feel something, be it raw excitement, instant righteous anger, CGI generated hope, blithe sentimentality and more, in our increasing moments of boredom

How can one be bored? God has given us two books: Nature and Scripture. There is so much to explore in both. There are mysteries that need discovery by you. And, if you think you know Scripture because you know the four spiritual laws and a few verses which look nice on pictures of cute animals, think again.

Almost daily, as I engage in Twitter, I come across those who question the existence of God. I debate them with a desire not to ‘win’ the argument but to impart knowledge which I hope and pray leads the atheist and the agnostic to question their position and to look further. To debate them I have to study aspects of Scripture, science, philosophy. I have to be well-read.

As I debate there are typically no other Christians who jump in to augment the case for Christ. If they do it is usually with Scripture which is tangential to and not on the point being discussed. In other words, where are the Christians? Vacationing on Fantasy Island? “The harvest is great, but the laborers are few..” I agree with St. Augustine regarding interpreting and positing Scripture to support things you do not understand. (see quote below).

As I see it, the church has been passive, reticent to go deep and to reach higher. Many sermons relate illustrations from current movies and not from scientific findings, philosophy or from works of art or music or literature. Beyond Christian colleges which offer scholarships are there any churches that are currently offering funding for scientific research or science scholarships for a congregant? To be sure church donations go to missionary work and to social causes. Yet the Kingdom of God, I believe, demands more of us than translating the four spiritual laws into another language. The Kingdom of God demands more of us than picking a political sideline.

In the U.S. and elsewhere Christianity is under attack. High culture is under attack. Culture is rooted in religion and high culture serves as a defense of Christianity. High Culture as depicted in the arts holds the ethical life above us as worthy of being desired. High culture needs to be maintained, as well as, science exploration by Christianity. Over the centuries the church has mainly been reactive and often antagonistic towards science. Let this be no more.

Looking up from the quotidian things of life, I find all kinds of things to marvel at. A sky that is blue, a sunset that is red, a night sky filled with diamonds in the works. Wonder and mystery fill our expanding and accelerating out-to-infinity cosmos. Einstein added the Cosmological Constant λ to his General Theory of Relativity because there was a factor at work in the cosmos which is still unknown. 

As I read “God’s Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe” by mathematician Amir D. Aczel this past week I was reminded of Einstein’s thought experiments or, as they have been called, “theoretical experiments-in-imagination”. Einstein imagined light traveling thought the cosmos. He also imagined what different observers would see when two trains passed each other. These deliberate intellectual speculations would later spur world-renowned theories, theories that were later proven true through astronomical observations. (Among other things, the church needs to operate observatories or at least buy telescopes! The Book of Nature needs to be read also!)

By coincidence, I read about Einstein’s train thought experiment while riding on a train. In that setting I soon made my own observation: If Einstein used thought experiments to create Special Relativity and did so without the distraction of fantasy, then maybe I should begin thought experiments conceptualizing the Kingdom of God in our expanding and accelerating universe!

Finally, is this how faith works, by giving us conviction about things we can’t see? When the Wow! that is wonder is exercised, the unobtainable becomes obtainable? If so, then it seems to me that prayer in the closet is the de-fantasied realm for a Christian’s thought experiments.

 

~~~

-Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) regarding interpreting Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge.

 

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.” [1 Timothy 1.7]

All Things Hold Together

 

“For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up, the Universe will end in ice.” Saul Perlmutter, astrophysicist

~~~

I find it interesting that light tells us where we have been. Astrophysicist and Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter and his team of astronomers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory focused the most advanced telescopes on 80 super luminous Type 1a supernova. Using red shift (a Doppler-like effect, the wave lengths of light rays increase towards the red end of the spectrum when the source recedes from the viewer) to determine the speed of recession of distant galaxies, Perlmutter concluded from the data that the universe was accelerating its expansion-the universe was expanding faster and faster. 

And since the known universe has only about 20% of the mass density needed to affect a slowdown and then a stop and a re-Bang, Perlmutter concluded that the universe must be infinite.

Guess who stands at each end of infinite?

Guess what Light has no red shift or shadow of turning?

Guess which Cosmological Constant is greater than the one once proposed and later rescinded by Einstein and is now back on the table after scientists learned about Perlmutter’s findings?

Sound trumpets. Now tympani. Start your crescendo all instruments of praise…

“I am the Alpha and the Omega…” Revelation 1:8

“I am the first and the last…” Revelation 1:17

“Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Revelation 21:6

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22:13

Guess Who will meet you at every level of your existence and at any time during your existence and at every question you have during your existence?

Guess Who you will meet when you study biology, chemistry, anthropology, origins, genetics, physics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine and engineering?

Guess Who you will meet when you think science and faith are acting incompatible and seem to be accelerating in opposite directions based on cultural shift readings?

See the above. The audacious claims that Jesus makes in Revelation mean that…at the beginning of any sequence and at the end of any sequence is the Person Jesus. In the middle of the sequence is the Person Jesus.

At every level of study, in every field of science, in every atom, quark, super-quark and boson, if you go to infinity and beyond…you will encounter Jesus. The Hound of Heaven is looking for you there.

Let’s get personal for a moment, as did the Psalm writer.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139: 7-12

Perfect love casts out fear, so start here:

“Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts” 139: 23

 

~~~

You wonder if God is silent. You watch a movie about God’s supposed Silence based on a novel written in 1966 by the same name. Like the main characters, you may even stand on the face of Jesus and commit apostasy because you think that God doesn’t hear and doesn’t see what is going on in your space and time. You behave as you think God should behave in that situation. Your perception of God, as observed through the prevalent Epicurean/Deist worldview, is reaffirmed: God must be off somewhere in the cosmos and not involved in man’s day to day life; God won’t save his own; we are our own salvation and other’s salvation; God is silent, therefore we must act.

You watch a sci-fi movie about the Arrival of aliens. The main character must learn the language of the aliens to gain the alien’s purpose for coming and to learn whether or not a threat to earth is imminent. Near the end of the movie the main character has a salvific vision. In the vision, time is shuffled as a language and an understanding barrier are overcome, vertically and horizontally. A world saving decision is made. Then, at the end of the movie, a personal choice is made, the ends of which are reconnected to the beginning of the movie.

 

Two movies. The one reveals a lack of personal knowledge about the Alpha and Omega. This accounts for a lack of faith and for actions done out of fear. The second movie attempts to show that a personal encounter with another that is completely other. The main character seeks to understand the other’s language. Full understanding comes from a personal encounter with the alien. The acquired personal knowledge brings about saving transformation for everyone involved.

Now imagine the personal knowledge that you would gain from this lesson: you are the bride at your wedding. Your head server tells you that you are out of wine just when the party is ready to get on the floor and dance. At that moment the Beginning and the End does a work of transubstantiation: Jesus turns the physical properties of water into wine.

For your personal knowledge, here is a poem about the centrality and supremacy of Jesus, from Paul’s letter to the Colossian church:

 

He is the image of God, the invisible one,

The first born of all creation

For in him all things were created,

In the heavens and here on earth.

Things which we can see and things we cannot-

Thrones and lordships and rulers and powers-

All things were created both through him and for him.

 

And he is ahead, prior to all else,

And in him all things hold together;

And he himself is supreme, the head

Over the body, the church.

 

He is the start of it all,

First born from the realms of the dead;

So in in all things he might be the chief.

For in him all the Fullness was glad to dwell

And through him to reconcile all to himself,

Making peace though the blood of his cross,

Through him-yes, things on earth,

And also the things in heaven.

Colossians 1: 15-20

Now, one may read this and say, “this passage is all about Jesus and not about me and my worries”. I say to them, “Read the passage again, but this time see that “all things” includes you and your worries.”  ”And in him all things hold together…”. Wherever you are broken, confused or lost Jesus is there to heal and make whole.

 

Fear often paralyzes us. Then, as we sit in the dark unknown biting our nails and thinking that God is uncommunicative, we act. In so doing, we deny the Alpha and the Omega an encounter with the beginning and the end of our fears. We also deny ourselves a personal knowledge that will sustain going forward. Consider Peter walking on the water until fear kicks his legs out from under him.

Perhaps your universe is expanding faster than you can keep up with it. When there is change and accelerating change, remember that God was there when it began and God is there when it ends.  If God can hold all things together in the cosmos, why not hold onto God-The Ultimate Theory of Everything– for the ride of your life?

 

Meditate on this:

Jesus said, “ἐγὼ τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω”

The “Anything Goes” Flood

 

“This is the lie that is at the heart of our society, the lie that encourages every form of destructive self-indulgence to flourish: for while we ascribe our conduct to pressures from without, we obey the whims that well up from within, thereby awarding ourselves carte blanche to behave as we choose. Thus we feel good about behaving badly.” ― Theodore Dalrymple, Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

~~~

Warning! Mixed Metaphors Ahead!

So last night I had a dream…

The past several days I was made hyper aware of the inundation of God’s world with a flood of “the world, the flesh and the Devil.” We know from Scripture that God promised to never flood the world again. His promise would be signified by a rainbow for all to see. God will keep his promise even as the level of man’s inhumanity and depravity rises again.

This last Friday in particular, I sensed the overwhelming “Anything Goes” flood waters of a world system that detests Jesus as Lord. I decided to take Friday off from work, as my workload had slowed. As usual I went to the fitness club to work out first thing in the morning. Inside, the background noise turned foreground noise – a percussive sound – was so loud and so overwhelming and so meaningless in content that I had to use ear plugs and listen to the TV on the elliptical machine to drown out its convulsive effects.

After working out I ventured over to my favorite breakfast restaurant, the one I visit every weekend. The waitresses know me. The service and the food are good. The background music, not so much. And then there is Liz. Liz has waited on me many times. When Liz fills out the check it is impossible for me not to notice the creeping scrawl of tattoos that cover her arms. Liz asks me if I want the usual (what I’ve ordered over and over for three years, now). I say yes. Liz repeats the order to me and gets it wrong. Every time, she gets it wrong. “OK”, I said to myself again, “life is hard”.

After breakfast I went to a large grocery store, a store like Target. I needed to pick up a few things before heading home. Again, the background pop music is flooding forward into the large cavernous room bringing with it cultural rot –lyrics (not the right descriptor) that slither around an accelerating tribal dance beat.

I go home to rest. I turn on the TV to check the stock market news and sure enough commercials flood the room with their raised volume level and carnival barker announcements of products that will fix whatever ails your modern life. Everything is for sale in our culture.

Later in the day, I decided to go out for dinner. The temperature outside was 90 degrees. And, I cook every day, so I tell myself, “Why not go out for a change?” I check out a new “Modern Japanese Cuisine” restaurant in town. I enter and see the hostess looking deeply into her Smartphone. Out of the corner of her eye she notices me at the door and picks up a menu while looking at her phone. She throws the menu onto a table that is between the only two tables in the restaurant where people are eating.  There are about hundred open seats elsewhere. No matter. I pick up the menu and move to a table I like.

Minnie, the tattooed waitress who looked barely 21, came to my table. I asked about a certain Sake. She couldn’t answer. So, I asked based on the pricing, “It looks like the smaller price is for a glass and the larger price is for a Sake carafe?” She couldn’t answer. I then said that I wanted to try a small (I used my fingers to show her small!) glass of sake. Five minutes later and she’s back at my table to ask me what size I wanted, of the two sizes. I go along and tell again, using sign language and words.

Minnie brings the Sake and takes my food order: a Bento box with teriyaki beef. (I like sushi, but I haven’t had teriyaki in a while and besides, I saw that the Sushi chef had tattoos.) Fifteen minutes later Minnie returns with my Bento box. She uncovers the box. The meat portion looks teriyaki-ish so I don’t think there is an issue. But then I pull off some of the meat with my chopsticks and realize that she brought me teriyaki salmon instead.

It took several attempts, in the almost empty restaurant, to flag Minnie down. When I told her my dinner order was wrong it was like I slapped her out of a trance. I was starting to see a pattern develop.

~~~

Last Friday I experienced only some of the effects of what I see as the flood waters “of man’s inhumanity and depravity rising again”. Look around, carefully. You will see TV shows called “Real Housewives of…” which depict mostly women clawing and fighting to be top cat. You will see TV shows of the Kardashians where women preen and fawn over themselves before you, the mirror. You will see sitcoms which trivialize God and exalt man (and his social science). If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

You will see movies of fantasies – superheroes who save mankind within two or so hours and who need to be recycled to save the world again and again (for profit). There is also the trio of leave-nothing-to-the-imagination-PC-approved characters who presume to speak for God in The Shack fantasy (see my previous post). If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

There is the upcoming Chicago Gay pride parade on June 25th with its flood of manmade rainbows meant to stave off judgment for its celebration of inhuman behavior. If you watch such things, how will you transform your mind?

Christians are so inundated by the world system that it is easy for them to take it in and accept its sashaying flirtations with evil as just “fun and peace and love”, to accept gays as being “differently ordered” instead of “objectively disordered” (a change in terms for the Catholic Church as directed by Pope Francis)

I could write a whole lot more about the rising level of inhumanity, about abortions, euthanasia, homosexuality, about Disney’s social justice animation, about climate change population control, etc. Suffice it to say, if the Spirit of God is living in you, you will experience the dissonance: the unrelenting and pummeling sounds of this world system demanding submission and the voice of God asking you to follow here and now.

 

One example of a response to the latter:

 

Important Note: In writing these things, I am not judging these people. I am observing that this world is hurting. I and all believers are a royal priesthood who stand between earth and heaven to intercede for a world that is hurting. When I see the tattoos, I pray for the person. When I hear commercials, I pray for those who are in pain, in need, who seek relief for the struggle of everyday life. When I tweet debate a homosexual I pray for their emotional and psychological needs and for the seed of the Word to be planted and to take root. Within every situation I encounter I am learning to pray in the Spirit for the person before me.

~~~

Keep in mind the words (and mandate) of those around the throne:

 

“With your own blood you purchased a people for God and made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5

 

Keep in mind this warning from the Apostle Paul in his circular letter to the churches around Ephesus (Chap. 5):

“So don’t get involved in the works of darkness, which all come to nothing. Instead, expose them! The things they do in secret, you see, are shameful even to talk about. But everything becomes visible when it’s exposed to the light, since everything that is visible is light. That’s why it says:

Wake up, you sleeper!

Rise from the dead!

The Messiah will shine on you!

So take special care how you conduct yourselves. Don’t be unwise, but be wise. Make use of every opportunity you have, because these are wicked times we live in. So don’t be foolish; rather, understand what the will of the Lord is. And don’t be drunk with wine; that way lies in dissipation. Rather, be filled with the spirit! Speak to each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks for everything to God the father in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah.

Note:  the “Wake up, you sleeper! quote Paul uses is likely from an early Christian poem or song.

~~~

So, last night I had a dream: I am sitting in the backyard of what I perceive to be my house. I am sitting next to someone I perceive to be my spouse. I look up and in the kitchen window of my house are two men in dark suits with guns. I perceive they have taken over the house. Next, I see them tearing up our passports. My spouse says to me, “You need to take care of this.” So, I get up and go look for my handgun which is in my car in the driveway, but then I sense that my car is parked at the train station. I then felt helpless against the two men. I wake up.

Sin is a Symptom

(or, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Idol)

“In most popular Christianity, “heaven” (and “fellowship with God” in the present) is the goal, and “sin” (bad behavior, deserving punishment) is the problem. A Platonized goal and a moralizing diagnosis—and together they lead, as I have been suggesting, to a paganized “solution” in which an angry divinity is pacified by human sacrifice. The zealous theological Boy Scouts have gotten it wrong. Humans are made not for “heaven,” but for the new heavens and new earth.

“The human problem is not so much “sin” seen as the breaking of moral codes—though that, to be sure, is part of it, just as the headaches and blurry vision really were part of the medical problem—but rather idolatry and the distortion of genuine humanness it produces. These two mistakes go together, reinforcing the basic heaven-and-earth dualism that continues to haunt Western theology.”

From The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion by N. T. Wright. (Emphasis added)

David Hockney, Untitled, Portrait of an Artist, Pool with Two Figures, 1971 © David Hockney

 

Artemis of Ephesus

Artemis of Ephesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ox and the Frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~~~

“The church is never more in danger than when it sees itself simply as the solution-bearer and forgets that every day it too must say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and allow that confession to work its way into genuine humility even as it stands boldly before the world and its crazy empires. In particular, it is a problem if and when a “Christian” empire seeks to impose its will dualistically on the world by labeling other parts of the world “evil” while seeing itself as the avenging army of God. That is more or less exactly what Jesus found in the Israel of his day. The cross was and remains a call to a different vocation, a new way of dealing with evil and ultimately a new vision of God.” ~ N. T. Wright

The Dream Weaver

 

Jack opened the door and rolled his suitcase into his apartment. He put the bird cage down on its shelf by the window. He threw his keys onto the Feng Shui bowl of rocks.  There was no cat to greet him. He didn’t like cats. There was no dog to greet him because he traveled 90 percent of the time. There was no wife to greet him. His wife divorced him because she needed someone 200 percent of the time. There was Henry, the parrolet, and the recliner and the comforter his mother made.

Jack switched on the answering machine.  The last message: “Rid your lawn of weeds and brown spots. Have a thicker greener lawn today! This offer is for a limited time only. Act now!”

After apologizing to the cactus, Jack watered it. And then he remembered he hadn’t eaten since Atlanta.

The freezer held empty ice cube trays and a cheese pizza. Tomorrow he would buy some groceries for the weekend. He’d be on a plane again Monday morning. Pizza would do.

After setting the oven temp, Jack sat down and poked the remote. The same old nothing was on the TV: political back and forth that was going nowhere; commercials for drugs to put a smile on your face if you could stomach the side-effects; dramas of cops and robbers and adventure flicks about mayhem and superheroes to undo the mayhem. Jack settled on a baseball game, his version of Feng Shui.

“Order now.”

“What?” Jack looked over at Henry. “Does my sister must leave the TV on all day long, Buddy Bird?”

“Order now.”

“We’ve been apart too long.”

“Order now.”

“Ugh.”

 

Jack wasn’t about to watch Andy of Mayberry again. He watched Andy and Barney almost every night that he was on the road.

Jack found Andy of Mayberry on a channel in his Ramada Inn room in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. He found Andy and Barney on his room’s TV in Rio, Brazil. He found Andy on his TV in Bialystok, Poland, and in Seoul, South Korea and in Hermosillo, Mexico and in the rooms of the fifty states he traveled to for his job. The program was Jack’s version of a friend, as was Henry.

Now Henry stayed with Jack’s sister Linda when Jack traveled. Linda loved Henry’s tiny robot-sounding voice. Until tonight, “Like it?” was Henry’s standard answer to any verbal cue. He would bob his head up and down as he said it over and over. Linda would keep the conversation going for several minutes, bobbing her head up and down, parroting Henry. Jack figured they were both entertained while he was on the road. He had Andy of Mayberry and the endless commercials telling you to order now before it’s too late.

The oven was ready. Jack unwrapped the pizza and placed it on the oven rack. He set the timer and then sat back down.

“Order now.”

“I ordered my pizza, Buddy Bird.”

“Order now.’

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Order now.”

“I wish this catcher would order a fastball right now.”

When the oven timer went off Jack shut off the oven. He removed the pizza and sliced it into quarters. He plopped down two slices on a paper plate and sat back down.

“Oh, that was a beauty.”

The pizza filled him and made him tired. Jack’s eyes watered. His eyelids, heavy, closed. Then, a weird commercial played.

“If you order today, you will have a friend for life. But hurry, this is a limited time offer. Our inventory is going fast, but if you order now, you will have a much-needed friend.”

Jack roused when the game announcer yelled, “He got back to first, just in time”.

But his eye lids and now his stomach felt heavier. Jack laid his head back down on the recliner. He pulled the comforter up to his shoulders. He dozed off in the dimly lit room.

The room where he found himself was dark except for a vignette of kitchen table. Sitting across from him at the table was a familiar face. Ken spoke. “If I win this hand of poker I want you to put on this Speedo and be my houseboy, my amusement. I want you to clean up my house. This offer is for a limited time only. Act now!” Then Jack saw himself face down on a bed and Ken trying to rope him to a bed frame. Jack broke free. He began riding his bike as fast as he could, his heart pounding faster than his feet could pedal.

Jack lurched upright in the recliner. Then his legs kicked straight out. As they did they almost knocked over the TV tray. Jack shook his head as if to shake the dream out of his thoughts. “Man!”

A commercial for window cleaner was airing: “Your windows will be spotless, your view spectacular. This product has been specially formulated. Buy one bottle now and get the second one free. That’s right! Buy one bottle now and get the second one free. Shipping and handling will apply.”

The game was over. Jack got up and covered Henry’s cage. He sat back down and covered himself in the comforter. He watched the news.

“The Peruvian mudslide has left thousands homeless. Intense rains over the last several days have dislodged acres of soil swamping homes in mud. An eyewitness had this to say:”

“There’s a person there!”

The on-the-scene reporter walked over to the man and spoke to the camera: “She is referring to this man now completely covered in mud. We learned that he had just dropped his two daughters at school and was feeding his pigs with his wife when they were pulled into a landslide. The man’s wife told us that they had climbed a tree but the trunk broke.”

The news program broke to a commercial. Jack blinked his eyes several times hoping to stay awake. He just got home from a long road trip. He wanted to savor being home. He wanted to submerge himself in home.

As he let himself sink deep into that pleasure an image came up. He saw himself in his old dorm room lying on his bed. He turned over and saw his college roommate staring at him. Tim was sitting next to his bed watching him sleep. Tim climbed into his bed and threw his arm over Jack. Tim whispered, “I am in the business of love. This night has been specially formulated. Shipping and handling may apply.” Then Jack saw himself scurrying out of his 35th floor dorm window and climbing a tree. Then the tree broke and mud washed over him. “Help! There’s a person here!”

Jack awoke with a chill. The comforter was on the floor. “Man! What’s going on in the ether tonight?” He shook his head to discharge the dream. He shut everything off and went to bed.

 

On Saturday Jack finalized his travel plans. He’d get up early Monday morning and try to beat the snow storm out east. The weatherman was forecasting a winter storm. It would affect the northeast. Jack took note, as he would travel to Albany, New York on Monday. “Oh, great. More airport lounges,” he thought out loud.

 

Sunday evening Jack drove to his sister’s house. He was dropping off Henry.

“Hey. Here’s your favorite bird.” Jack lifted the cage and showed Melanie. “Go easy on her Henry. She can only handle a few words,” Jack teased his sister.

“Mel, no more commercials for this guy. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.”

“Shakespeare it is for you Mr. Henry.” Mel smiled. “To be or not to be.”

“Like it.” Henry chimed in.

“Are you asking or telling?” Jack queried the bird.

“Order now.”

“Ugh. See you next Friday kiddo.”

“Have a good trip.” Mel hugged Jack.

 

Once back home Jack packed his bag and set the alarm for 3:30 AM. He cooked himself a steak and settled down in front of the TV.

He laid back and began thinking of his travel plans. At one point he thought he should get up and check his flight online again. But gravity was holding him recliner bound. He fell asleep.

And that is when he saw himself standing in the hallway of his dorm. The RA asked him to come to the lounge to talk. The RA told him that Steven his new roommate had been killed in a car crash on the way to his wedding rehearsal. The RA said a snow storm caused the crash. Then Jack could see the snow. He could see the crash. And then he saw himself at the bottom of a deep well. Aunt Bee was there. She was showing Jack the comforter she had brought for him. On the comforter was a tag which said “I knit all things together for good.”

Jack then realized that he was holding a large bucket in his left hand. The overflowing bucket was sobbing. It occurred to Jack that the bucket contained loneliness, pain and suffering. Jack looked over at his right hand. A hand in his was pulling him up. Another hand placed the comforter on his head like a shawl. The weight of the bucket in his left hand was causing a terrible strain across his arms and shoulders. He cried out, “Help me dad!” Jack was in so much pain he couldn’t speak. But there were words without words. His speech had turned to loud groaning.

Then, out of his insides came a rush of anguish and sadness so great that he thought that he would be turned inside out. His legs were now being lifted off the ground. He stretched them down to touch the earth. As he did he felt a painful contraction in his left leg. Jack let go of everything and when he did he heard a warning sound. His eyes flashed open.

The alarm clock was beeping. Jack tapped the “Off” button. He noticed as he reached for the alarm clock that there was a severe cramp in his left leg. The stabbing pain made him cringe. He messaged his leg for a minute and then pulled himself out of bed. Other than the pain in his leg, he felt strangely warmed.

 

 

© Jennifer A. Johnson, 2017, All Rights Reserved

Onward Christian Fortresses?

 

Viewed from the six lane highway, the structure appears to be a brick fortress surrounded by acres of treeless grass and a vast moonscape of parking lot. The function without form building inspires no awe, no upward glance and no transcendent thought. The surrounding barren landscape contains no greenhouse, no food or flower gardens, no observatory and no animal shelter. There is nothing of nature’s bounty in my view, only the requisite shrubs to offset the stark landscape. Behold, another mega-church built to feed the souls of six thousand; another unadorned mega-church in a far western suburb of architecturally savvy Chicago.

Every other Saturday I visit someone several towns away. As I do I pass this mega-church going and coming, typically between 10 and 11:30 am. This Saturday, like all the other times before, I saw, again to my astonishment, that there were no cars in the parking lot. There was no activity whatsoever. I wondered at a stewardship that builds a Scripture fort surrounded by acres of asphalt parking that is to be filled only periodically by the six thousand. The transmutation of creation into an austere block complex hurt my soul to see. And, what about the transmutation of the six thousand?

As a child, I first attended a Baptist church and later, Bible/Free churches. Beauty was a no show at these churches. There were, of course, colorful Sunday school materials – what is considered Christian education resources – for the kids. And with a constant pamphlet diet – a three point sermon with alliteration – there was no hunger for intellectual activity. I observed, as did Mark Noll in his book “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind“: The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” I saw extreme resistance to obtaining knowledge. The pews were there to be used, but scholarly books, not so much. It would not be too far off to say that understanding was gained by and strictly limited to what the Bible ‘teachers’, self-help pablum and popular seminars say the Bible says.

Over some fifty years I have heard the same bad theology passed down from generation to generation. Not once in the Bible church did I ever hear a sermon or a class talk about the Kingdom of God being here and now – a major thrust of the four Gospels. The sermons, to an Amen, were, “You need to get saved so you can get to heaven. If you are saved then you need to come forward to rededicate your life. Then you must think seriously about becoming a missionary. Everyone must get to heaven because this world will be judged harshly.” Imagine how our world would change if we prayed for and practiced “on earth as it is in heaven”, and prepared for the return of our King? He will be bringing heaven down to earth to join them together.

There was and is also the highly profitable Rapture fantasy series based on a mis-reading of the Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. And, of course, there is the teaching of a literal six-day creationism. Science must be eschewed as being antagonistic toward God and His Word. I learned otherwise on my own.

And, there is the constant reiteration of the mis-understanding of Paul’s letter to the Romans. Sadly, Romans, since the Reformation and the Enlightenment, has been reduced to a quirky systematic theology – all about us. Paul’s circular letter to the Christians in and around Rome speaks of God’s plan to redeem his creation. The letter is a well thought out dissertation reminding Jewish and gentile Christians in Rome of God’s covenantal faithfulness, his righteousness. It was meant to reinforce an Old Testament understanding of God’s plan for redeeming his creation that was in place all along.

I never heard this at church. Instead, I heard the four spiritual laws imposed onto Romans. And with this I was taught that God imputes – gives – his righteousness to me, sinner that I am. But, this thinking has no basis in Romans given its Scriptural context of Genesis 15 and the Abrahamic covenant. Regarding my righteousness: I am made righteous in the law court of God by God’s exercise of His covenant faithfulness and his desire to put the world to right.

I don’t recall anyone over those years, except for a few visiting professors, who seriously studied theology, N.T. Greek or Hebrew to understand the context of what was written. Often, the visiting seminary professors would reassert the same bad theology using highfalutin terms and out-of-context proof texts.

I have heard countless sermons based on poached verses to create a ‘relevant” topic to preach on Sunday mornings. Relevance and accommodation are apparently key to mega-ness. The mega-church I’ve mentioned offers two services: traditional and contemporary worship. As such, this church divides the Body of Christ into sects for mega-accommodation.

Am I jaded about the Evangelical church? After many years of being involved with these Bible churches, in some sense I am. That is perhaps why I can see the six thousand continuing to come back to the mega-church because it looks… bigly: “There has to be something for me inside this Yuge Assembly of Bricks Church.”

If the election of Donald Trump, supported by the many Evangelicals who voted for him tells you anything, and if the existence of the mega-church tells you anything it is that the Evangelical assembly line approach to Christianity must go onward. And, Bible fortresses must be built.

~~~

A coincidence? I found this audio link on Twitter this morning:

Reflections on horrible preaching

~~~

“The day-to-day services of the Christian churches are embarrassing reminders of the fact that religion is losing its sublime godwardness, and turning instead towards the world of mass production.”

― Roger Scruton, An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Culture

“Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as though it did not matter.” ―Roger Scruton, Beauty

What is revealed to me in the experience of beauty is a fundamental truth about being – the truth that being is a gift, and receiving it is a task. This is a truth of theology that demands exposition as such.” ― Roger Scruton, Face of God: the Gifford Lectures

“The point of Christian scholarship is not recognition by standards established in the wider culture. The point is to praise God with the mind. Such efforts will lead to the kind of intellectual integrity that sometimes receives recognition. But for the Christian that recognition is only a fairly inconsequential by-product. The real point is valuing what God has made, believing that the creation is as “good” as he said it was, and exploring the fullest dimensions of what it meant for the Son of God to “become flesh and dwell among us.” Ultimately, intellectual work of this sort is its own reward, because it is focused on the only One whose recognition is important, the One before whom all hearts are open.” ― Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind