So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Christmas Gong Show...

Okay okay...What is going on with Christmas? Why is it that I've been at several church 'Christmas services' this holiday season and I've heard like 3 different "THe TRUE meaning of Christmas is..." talks. I have also heard 3 different gospel messages, none of which is the Christian gospel:

I've heard the "Jesus gives you joy that never fades" message. That's so idiotic I don't even want to touch it.

I've heard the "Life is all about choices and God gave us the ultimate choice; the choice to have true love" message. That's equally stupid. Is humanity's problem that we don't know how to find "true love"? Maybe a kid in youth group could get away with such abberant theology, but a pastor should get sent to bed with no supper for such garbage.

I've also heard the whole "Jesus will help you find meaning" message. Since when did evangelism get an overhaul by Tony Robbins and Dr. Phil? I don't know if most of Christendom has ever thought about this, but pagans like Tony Robbins and Dr. Phil don't have a CLUE what is going on; at least ultimately speaking. I'll give them some credit, or at least I'll give Dr. Phil some credit...He understands a fair amount about 'relationship dynamics' and 'effective communication' and whatnot, but Dr. Phil doesn't have access to ultimate reality outside of Christ. He doesn't really understand the nature of love nor the divine model for relationships and we don't need to focus on the babbling of the carnal minded with regards to ultimate reality and the gospel. We gotta focus on the truth, not the things that sound intriguing but are off target...

I gotta say, I'm really let down this holiday season. Why are so many pastors so spineless and why is everyone so caught up with making the gospel 'relevant'? What the heck is going on? Everytime people try to make the gospel 'relevant', they only reveal two things:

1. They don't really understand it in the first place (for all their euphamistic 'gospels' have really abberant theology and the message usually changes drastically).

2. They don't have a clue what efficacious means. The Bible is efficacious; it is efective to do it's job. The word of God is what "make(s) you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3:15) and the word of God is "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16). The word is efficacious, it does it's job (through the empowering of the Spirit, of course!)

"The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure
and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward. " (Ps 19:7-11)

That's what the three 'gospel' messages I heard this Christmas were trying to do; bring revival, bring wisdom, bring joy, bring understanding, and do it all in an appealing package. Why are we SO stupid? ARGH!

The Armchair Theologian

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Nebuchadnezzar and the mind...

Just studying Daniel chapter 4 tonight and I noticed something strange in 4:27 and 4:34. I've often had serious doubts about the various disciplines of psychology and whatnot, but I've started actually questioning the entire system, right from the getgo. I mean, reading Daniel 4:27 and 4:34 (in the context of the story), it seems that Nebuchadnezzar was struck with 'mental illness' (thinking and acting like you're a cow probably qualifies on anyone's scale?!), but Daniels prescription for prevention was:

"...Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed..." (4:27)

In order to prevent the coming 'mental illness', Nebuchadnezzar had to repent from sin. That was the prescription; the only prescription. That made me ponder a lot.

Not only that, but his sanity returned when he "...raised my eyes toward heaven..." (4:34).

I don't think that passage, or it's implications, would sit well with most psych. students that I know...let alone most psychologists or counsellors. I've gotta pound a lot more into this, but I'm really struggling to find a biblical basis for mental illness that is 'non-physiological' (for lack of a better term); aka. problems that aren't simply resulting from a metal plate in the noggin or a physically damaged piece of cranium or something. I'm struggling to see a Biblical basis for problems that are resultant from 'bad parenting' or 'co-dependancy' or something like that. All that stuff is called 'sin' or resultant from sin(s). Based on this passage, I would be lead to speculate that basically all non-physiological mental illness is actually related to sin, though that may not appear the case to the observer. I'll search the word more and see what I find. Just posting some thoughts in order to write them out and see what comes in the writing process. Until the next 'episode',

The Armchair Theologian

Monday, December 06, 2004

Bumfuzzled by the Almighty...

Bumfuzzled...I better explain what I mean by that as I'm sure some will not understand. I simply mean 'utterly confused and astounded'. God utterly confuses and astounds me. No, really. I know that there are lots of childrens' songs out there that talk about that, but really...God is amazing. I'd like to take the next moment to ponder aloud an event that happened in my life tonight as I was talking with a dear friend about the tension between divine sovereignty and predestination/free will...

Well, I went to a College and Career event at my new home church tonight and I slipped in for the last 15 minutes as I got off work late. As I slid in the back door, I snuck into the last pew and tried to remain nonchalant. I looked over and saw a good friend from another town, but thinking it couldn't be him, I dismissed the idea and looked away. After the lights came up, I saw it was him and I immediately sat down to talk to him. It turns out that he's under the rod of the Lord right now (God is disciplining him hard and life is amazingly difficult right now) and we both moved to my new home city this past week. He wandered into the church kinda checking things out and it's amazing that we ran into one another. I've known him for a while and we kinda lost contact over the last few months, but he was hoping to find some friends in the city. Needless to say, we've connected and I had quite a time tonight choking back tears when he told me what the last few months has brought to him.

Now, the part of this all that bumfuzzles me is the tension between divine sovereignty and predestination/free will, and the relation of that all to my experience tonight. Basically, God set things in order that I'd run into my friend tonight, at that exact location, in the exact circumstances, in order to answer a prayer that I've been praying and also to teach me a lesson about something, and yet, and without paradox (somehow), God led my friend there to encounter me for entirely different reasons, and yet, we both chose to go to that church at that time because we desired to do so. It's so totally astounding how we think we make uncoerced choices and yet God does exactly what he wants, meticulously bringing his plan to pass.

I mean, the circumstances of our meeting tonight were set in motion from years ago, as I've been one of the people he talked to the last time he had similar trouble, and that was 3 years ago. Not just that, but both our lives converged at this exact moment tonight, with all hundreds of circumstances that led up to our connection. Taking away just one of hundreds of components would have led us to not connect tonight. God's meticulous hand was on the circumstances and he brought us together at a specific time, for a specific purpose, within a context of events that started years ago, leading to tonight.

And yet, in the same way, we both chose to move to our new city. We both chose to go to the C&C event tonight. He chose to sit where I could see him and I chose to show up when I did, going through a different door than I normally do and sitting in the location where I did tonight. We made totally uncoerced choices based on our flippant whims. The events that led to our meeting were hundreds of uncoerced choices.

How in the heck does that all work together? How can God control events so that they are orchestrated meticulously towards a point in time years in the future, and yet still have those events being the fruits of uncoerced free choices by autonomous moral agents? I mean, of all the scholars and philosophers that ask those quesitons, they always compromise one of those points. God's either not meticulously sovereign or man's not really free. None the less, the Armchair Theologian is very convinced that the Bible strongly teaches both, so I'm left at not being able to systematize that...and consequently, I'm simply bumfuzzled by God. Good thing he's got it all worked out, cause I can't even get a handle on the data, let alone process and work it all into a working hypothesis! Until next time,

The Armchair Theologian

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Reflections from the last few days...

Well, my little leprechauns, the ArmChair Theologian is living in a new city now. This past week has been absolutely nuts and in 1 week I have gotten a job, packed, moved and worked 2 business days. Holy Schnikes. I sell computers now and live with a relative in a house with another 4 single guys, only 1 of which is a christian (my cousin). Here are some of the things that have been rattling through my head for the last 36 hours:

1. Man alive, God is faithful, and mighty, and wise, and etc. God always seems to pull the impossible together last minute, as if to brag. For example, I needed some cash to get up here before I came. I prayed and tried to find work and whatnot and then, as if to say 'just trust me dude!' I got $900 in the mail. $500 from a business that I worked for this summer for like 8 days (a scholarship from Petro-Canada; I guess cause my service rig had 8 days on a Petro Can hole and I took 2 classes this past semester; aka. I was in school and got some sorta scholarship I never applied for) and $400 from a person that I don't really ever talk to or anything, but she apparently heard I was moving and figured that I'd maybe need the money. I think God kinda likes rubbing it in my face that he owns the earth and everything in it (Ps. 24:1). One of these days I'll learn my lesson and just trust from the getgo.

2. People are sinful and most Christians are amazingly immature. Wow. The less said about this, the less chance of people knowing that I'm actually talking about THEM.

3. If a 'friend' comes into a computer store with you and gives you advice without shutting up for more than 2 minutes, he's most likely an idiot. Most people don't know much about computers, and that's okay, but what is worse is the guy who checked out one website, completely misunderstood everything he read, and now apparently has a PhD in Computer Science. Thoroughly entertaining, but you most likely won't get the sale.

4. It sucks being a theological minded, biblically literate, 20 something guy. I can't make jokes with anyone. I miss my seminary room-mate. Making a joke about the Hussites or ecumenism or sola glossolalia just gets blank stares from everyone up here. Crap for crap.

Well, I've gotta go buy food. Until next time,

The Armchair Theologian