So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Search that needn't be...

Over the last several years, I have noticed a trend in movies. Most likely because of our postmodern nature, we've been asking the same question over and over. I first heard it asked by Belle in Beauty and the Beast when she said "there's gotta be more than this provincial life...". The theme of "ultimate reality", or answer the question of "isn't there more to life?" has been all over the place in the media. Harry Potter wants us to imagine that the world that we know is really a cover for the true world that is ruled by the wizards and other magical creatures. The Blade movie franchise suggests that the world we know is a sugar coating on the underground, which is ruled by vampires. Underworld imagines that it's not only vampires that run the world, but also werewolves. Aliens Versus Predator and Mission to Mars were a popular adaptation of an actual theory that suggests that we are creations and pawns of aliens, for whom we only serve as playthings or science experiments. Of course, who can forget The Matrix franchise, which is much more intelligent attack on the nature of ultimate reality itself, postulating the unverifiable speculation that all reality is an intricate delusion produced by extraordinarily advanced artificial intelligences.

Without fail, these questions have been asked by people in the church as well. Everyone is looking for the 'final key' or the 'ultimate truth'. Everyone seems to be searching for the 'more' to this life, even in Christian circles where God almighty has already unveiled everything to us. I'm frustrated to death with the whole 'search for something new'...I mean, doesn't anyone get it? That's been the problem of Israel and the church since their beginnings!

Israel HAD the law. They KNEW God. Yet, they rejected him who lay before their eyes plain as day (Check out Deut. 30:11-20). They had 2000+ years of revealed truth and divine history and what did they do? They chased foreign Gods. They kept wanting to run back to Egypt...or Canaan...or Bablyon...or Persia. And that trend kept on in the church age. Essenes, Judaizers, Gnostics, Montanists and whoever else kept on searching for that final 'it'. Everyone was searching for something 'new' and 'deep' when even the apostles were walking around among them, let alone long after they had died.

That search for something 'new' has been the bane of God's people/family since the beginning. Why does it seem that so many are so proud to bear such a dark badge and reject the obvious that has been given to us?

Don't get me wrong. I've also asked that infamous question for many years. When I went through my 'searching' period of questions, I entertained all questions...including the 'what if Christianity is a load of crap?' question. I've been to a Hindu temple several times. I've participated in Sikh worship services. I've spent time with a Ba'hai guru. I've studied Buddhism. I've spent years talking to Latter Day Saints. I've hung out with Witches, Mages, Pagans, Satanists, Santerians and Luciferians. I've dialogued at length with Jehovah's Witnesses. I've befriended several Moslems and had extended dialogues. I've talked with Zoroastrians, Sufi's, Scientologists, Vikings, Hippies and everyone else I could find. Not to brag, but how many questioning 'searchers' have done that? How bad do you want the truth?

I've read most of the major works of Philosophy (including the 'post moderns' like Foucault and Derrida and Rorty). I've read hundreds upon hundreds of original works from a wide variety of liberal scholars (everything from gong shows like Shelby Spong to serious heavy weights like Gerhard Von Rad) and I've never backed down from a book challenge. Ever. I've spent years experimenting with the whole "what if I'm missing something in my theology" and I've extensively experimented with charismaticism, faith healing, liberal accademia, mysticism, postmodernism and every other 'alternate' theology I could find. I've gone out, sought and spoken in tongues (and now am part of the Shun-Da-La club, for those of you who know what that is...*sigh*). I've gone to somewhere around 40-50 faith healing services, in 5 provinces and 10 states. I've personally met and talked with John Bevere, Neil Anderson, Brad Jersak, Scott McKnight, Dennis Lamoreaux and several dozen others whose names are not so well known. I've debated with a whole room full of PhD's in an effort to punch holes in my understandings of Christianity. I've tried to get away from institutional religion and 'church' for years. I've been kicked out of a church for bringing non christian friends that were 'too disruptive' (the people who really need Jesus are sometimes are noisy). I've searched for something 'new' every bit as hard as anyone I have ever met, and almost every person I've met is all talk. Everyone sees the 'problems' (or think they do) and whines about all the problems with Christians and the church ("we should stop talking about church and start being the church"...blah blah blah), but I've met very few truth seekers who are aggressive...most of them are content with sitting around and complaining and living navel gazing lives. And guess what?

Over time, God brought a few things to light. First, I wasn't a Christian in the first place for many years. I was 'spiritual' and being 'spiritual' is useless. My 'spiritual heart' and was a smokescreen for pride, lust, greed and the like, simply covering it up in religious rhetoric. I learned that the gospel is simple and that the Bible isn't some crazy, insufficient, illogical, mysterious collection of contradicting stories (I learned just how true Proverbs 18:17 is, especially in an accademic setting where people are trying to tear apart the Bible). I learned that one cannot search for God while functioning as if one was God (Hebrews 11:6 and Proverbs 1:7 are where you start, not finish). I learned that the whole search for something 'new' is a search for nothing, because there isn't anything new. I learned that God has provided everything I need for life and godliness and the problem, every single time, lies with me not doing what I should, though I full well know what that is. The biting question of 'is there more to life' comes from my deceitful heart looking for other ways to avoid the conscience searing fact that I'm simply disobedient.

My quest for something 'new' led me not to the 'new' kind of Christianity that some emergent folks push, but the real old stuff. The apostolic faith...The simple stuff where the Bible is straight up, true, and authoritative and God is in control and way smarter than me. The stuff where there's room for faith and wonder because it's not a sin to not have a freaking clue what God's doing and yet still trust that he is doing something. Or, more accurately, Biblical Christianity (I don't call myself a young earth creationist, or Calvinist, nor a Puritan, or a fundamentalist, or whatever). Anyway, learn a lesson from history and stop searching for the pot of gold that isn't there. Number your days and gain a heart of wisdom, doing the tasks that the Lord has set before you. Read Mark 4:1-20 and pay close attention to verses 18-19. So love God, serve men and hate sin. I'm rambling here so I'm going to get house cleaning. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Something of Note...

Merry Christmas everyone! I am horrifying, but Christ is astounding! Enjoy him today,

The Armchair Theologian

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Questions about wives and kings...

Well, a good friend e-mailed a question regarding Saul's and David's wives, and whether or not they are the same person (and whether or not David made a shot at Saul's kingship in possibly marrying Saul's wife). I spent around an hour hammering out a response...and then I thought "well, why not post it?" It's always interesting to shoot through some exegetical problems and share the results. All the names and incriminating information have been removed to protect national security. This may or may not interest anyone, but IT'S MY BLOG! HAHA! Here's my response:

Okay. It's 6 minutes past my bedtime, but I'll chunk into this question quickly for you. Admittedly, I've only spent a few minutes on this, but if what I offer pacifies you, cool. If not, then we can really dig through this.

Now as I see it, we have two questions:

1. Are "Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz" and "Ahinoam of Jezreel" the same person?

2. What does "
and your master's wives into your arms" mean in 2 Samuel 12:7-8?

SO...Let's get some answers:

Are "Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz" and "Ahinoam of Jezreel" the same person? Well, let's look at the biblical data... The name "Ahinoam" appears in the Bible in two ways only. First, it's in the "Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz" structure and second, it's in the "Ahinoam of Jezreel" structure. Interestingly, when Ahinoam is spoken of as Saul's wife in 1 Samual 14:50 and that structure is "Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz". When David's wife is spoken of, she is called "Ahinoam of Jezreel", and 6 times at that. I would definitely take a stab in the dark and suggest that it is very likely that this repitition of "Ahinoam of Jezreel" is meant to differentiate between the other Ahinoam. If it were the same person, it would be reasonable to believe that Ahinoam would then be called "Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz" in order to make it clear, for back then people didn't use last names like we do now. Part of how ancient near easter people differentiated between like-named others was done by reference to parentage or hometown or tribe/race. In the ancient near east, instead of saying "Bob Friesen" one could say "Bob son of John son of Peter" or "Bob of Osler" or "Bob the Mennonite". I would not argue tooth and nail that it is impossible for it to be the same person, but from the biblical evidence I would say that it's most likely that they are not the same person.

2. Now for some good old fashioned favorite!

2 Samuel 12:1-12 is Nathan speaking out against David for the murder of Uriah the Hittite. In verses 1-5 Nathan tells the parable of the rich man with plenty of sheep and the poor man with none. Then, in verse 6, David boils over in anger against the man in the parable. Verses 7-10 are God's words to David:

Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master's house to you, and your master's wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'

So, let's tackle this little passage. God says he gave David 5 things:

a. Kingship.
b. Deliverance from Saul.
c. Saul's house.
d. Saul's wives.
e. The house of Israel and Judah.

So, in the context, it seems that God is talking about all the blessings that he gave David. The kingship and deliverance are easy to get...we see those obviously in the earlier parts of the book. But what does 'house' and 'wives' mean? Well, verse 8 says "your master's house" and then says "the house of Israel and Judah". Now Israel and Judah's 'house' wasn't a building... you don't see the Old Testament using the noun 'house' in reference with a country to ever refer to a single, physical building. The term 'house' here is synonymous with 'kingship', or 'rule'. Israel's 'house' was the rule over Israel. Saul's house, in the context of this passage, is likely talking about his rule over Israel and Judah...i.e. his power.

I would then go on to suggest if 'house' would be power, 'wives' would be talking about posessions. For God is commenting on how he has given David everything that Saul had, and 'house' and 'wives' would essentially be a way of saying that, especially in a near eastern mindset. One's 'house' was where they ruled and one's prized posession, or the earthly thing that was the most valuable was the wife (or wives). This is not to say that David didn't live in Saul's palace or didn't actually take his harem. Both were extraordinarily likely. But, in the context of this passage, I would argue that God isn't strictly talking about real estate or a harem (or possibly "Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz") I'd suggest that God is using a figure of speech known as synecdoche...using the part to represent the whole. By saying 'house', God is actually saying 'all that the house represents and controls'. By saying 'wives', God is actually saying 'all that wives represent' (which is essentially the physical household, not the authority but the, children, produce, livestock, etc.)

3. I have another reason for thinking that David would never have married his mother-in-law; he was righteous. In as much as he murdered Uraiah later in life, I suspect that earlier in life David would never have married his mother-in-law for it is explicitly forbidden in the Law:

- "Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonor your father." - Lev. 18:8

- "Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonor your father." - Lev. 20:11

- "Do not have sexual relations with your father's wife; that would dishonor your father." - Deut 22:30

- "Cursed is the man who sleeps with his father's wife, for he dishonors his father's bed." - Deut 27:20

Now I know that these verses don't say 'mother' and don't say 'mother-in-law', but I'd suggest that they still apply. You're father's wife is not your mother. It's your step-mother. She's of no blood relation to you and what makes the defilement a sin is that it dishonors your father, not that it's incestual. I'll take a jump off the cliff and suggest that the same rules of honor that apply to your father would apply to your father-in-law.

Plus, David deeply respected and honored Saul. I'd suggest reading 2 Samuel chapter 1 to see what David really thought about Saul. I'd dare suggest that with David regarding Saul in such a way, it would be a difficult argument to suggest that David treated Saul in the same way that Absalom treated David in 2 Samuel 16:21-22. David never made a move on Saul's kingship like Absalom did on David's. David supported Saul until the very end and the suggestion that David sought to dishonor Saul and make a move on the throne by marrying his wife would require a significant amount of textual evidence to sustain. To suggest such on a single passage is a very risky exegetical decision. Therefore, I would suggest that the arguments suggesting two different Ahinoam's far outweigh the arguments for them being the same person and David taking a very out of character stab at king Saul. At least that's where I sit now. Okay. Have a good night dudes! Hmmm. Looking at the amount of typing here, I might throw this on the's basically a free post! Ha! Thanks for the question though and shoot back with any responses or whatever,

The Armchair Theologian

Hope this answers a questions you've never had...HA! Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Rolling on the Floor and Laughing...

Well, what is with this place? Everytime I comment on any of the 'hot topics', I get arguments going and get my wrists slapped. Calm down guys...I'll comment more on this in a while, when I find time. Anyway, I'm online for another purpose:

I recieved some Christmas baking from an anonymous person today and I'd like to ask for her hand in marriage.

So, if you were the one that dropped off baking at my place, step forth and receive your blessing.

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Strange Evening Conversations...

Well, a few nights ago my roomie watched the movie "Stealth" and enjoyed it thoroughly with one exception. The way that the plane gained it's "self awareness"; the lightening strike. He pointed out how stupid it was to suggest that an advanced computer could somehow be re-programmed by lightening in such a way that it would result in self awared A.I. If anyone understood even the most BASIC computer concepts, they would have to see how such was impossible. It's a slight bit more likely that it would have been frapped all to gehenna. Either way, we laughed and laughed at how if the movies were true, every time there was a lightening storm somewhere in the world a computer or home appliance or vehicle would gain self awareness. We'd see Lieutenant Commander Data appearing on Oprah in the form of a toaster, or Apple IIGS or Buick Skylark. We laughed at that idea for a while...

But then he made the very clever observation that "in an evolutionary worldview, why would that be unexpected?" And we started talking about that. I mean, a random lightening strike (or other similar event) is supposedly how abiogenesis occured originally with the first cell, right? AND, generating a living, fully functional, self replicating cell from base chemicals is most likely way less likely than advancing an already advanced and complex device, like a computer. I mean, all that's going on in the computer is the changing of programming. With the creation of the original cell, the programming (DNA) would have been randomly generated as part of the process. Then, billions of times over during the evolutionary process, such random mutations have apparently occured again and again, leading to the wide variety of life on earth that we see today.

So why does a USAF figher jet, or an industrial robot, or whatever, aquiring intelligence and sentience from a random lightening strike relegated to the real of science fiction? Why are there no documentaries about such occurances? Why would we not expect such amazing random 'positive mutations'? Apparently, in an evolutionary worldview, such things should be commonplace. So what gives? Hmmm...maybe my 'theistic evolution' friends would have an answer to that one (I'll hold my breath now). Or maybe it has happened lots and all the sentient toasters have a silent agreement with the self-awared copmuters and intelligent Chryslers to never talk around people, much like the animals in the movie Cats and Dogs. Hmmm. I wonder if Herbie has gotten in trouble for breaking the vow of silence yet? Stupid car! Screwing things up for everyone else AGAIN! Well, this 'deep thought' was brought to you by the letter 'S", the letter "C" and the number "2". Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Monday, December 19, 2005

An old myth debunked...

I've heard the whole "Christianity stole December 25th from the pagans" garbage all the time. Read this link to encounter a decent defense of the opposite position:

Just for those of us who get these kinds of questions... Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Friday, December 16, 2005

Something I stoled from somewhere else...

A- Age of your first real kiss: 8 (don't hate the playa. Hate the game)
B- Band you are listening to right now: MASTERPLAN! Awe Yeah!
C- Crush: ST. Not that it would ever matter... (The question is, WHICH "ST" am I talking about?...and you're ALL wrong! HA!)
D- Drink you drank last: water
E- Easiest person to talk to: The Chad...and maybe the Beast.
F- Favorite ice cream: anything that someone else is buying.
G- Gummy worms or gummy bears: I've had worms once, but I had to get bare and get a huge needle in the butt to get rid of them. Neither was very pleasant.
H- Height: 6'2
I- Instruments: Of doom or destruction? (Drums, Vibraphone, Marimba, Guitar, Piano)
J- Jelly Flavor: I'm count Chocula. I love chocolate!
K- Kids: Who told you? Who is spreading these horrible rumors about me?
L- Longest car/bus ride: 23 hours. YQ 1994.
M- Major issue: All attacks on the scriptures and things therein.
N- Nicknames: Fattie, El Cheapo Grande, Tiger, Homestar, Cutie Pie, Pootie, M.C. Chubby Chub.
O- One wish: Holiness.
P- Phobia: Getting married to someone who hates Jesus.
Q- Quote: "There is no gospel preaching when Sola Scriptura is compromised. The Sufficiency of Scripture is always the target of every false teacher. The elders of the church must be prepared to define and defend this fundamental truth. And more than this, they must be able to do so with God borne passion. Let us pray that God will bless his people with a deep and abiding love for his truth, and the desire to press this truth boldly in the face of those who oppose it." -James White
R- Reasons to smile: God loves himself. Ask me about that sometime! YEAH!
S- Shoe size: 14
T- Time you woke up today: 11:15...DAG NAB IT! I'm LATE for work!
U- Unknown fact about me: I once won a big amatuer rap contest.
V- vegtables: Potatoes, Corn, Mushrooms, Steak; medium rare with bulls eye. (3 out of 4 aint bad)
W- Worst Habit: Sinning.
X- Xmas gift you really want: $21,000 US Dollars. Ask me why sometime.
Y-Yesterday's highlight: Sleeping in. (Yesterday was CRAP!)
Z-Zodiac sign: Bugatti Veyron. (I think I screwed up)

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Late Night Ramblings, Episode 127 Million...

I was going to call it Episode C, but C is a roman numeral. So is V, and I, and X, and M, and "Objuwanka". For some reason, I think that's the word for "infinitely repeating decimal" in Roman...I mean Greek...I mean Klingon. Well, anywho, here's another one of my "Oh crap! Get off the freaking net and GO TO BED!" posts.

Well, another day off has come and gone. I'm broke from Christmas shopping and tired from doing laundry and cleaning (and starting such said activities at around 10 pm). I've also had a 'feeling the burn' day like a madman, which is inevitable but completely unwelcome. It's not that I've done anything stupid/crazy with a girl or anything like that (God has, for the moment, providentially made me a hermit...or at least that's my best guess) but after two conversations on MSN that hit the wrong button (how's that for ambiguous? HA!), I'm wishing that I was in a coma or something.

I hate me fickle heart. It bends and bleeds with but a word and betrays me for a taboo thought, let alone a kiss. The older I get, the more I understand Paul's struggle in Romans 7. Why is it that I cannot destroy the evil desires that run amuck in me (not just lust, but pride and jealousy and everything else)? Well, I know that it's because I love sin more than I love Christ and I know that it's because I invite sin into my heart for dinner, a movie and a little necking on the couch. The stupid thing is how sneakily and underhandedly sin wages war against me. For the amounts of time that I've had my throat slit, you'd think I'd start to learn. Well, amazingly "as a dog returns to it's vomit, a fool returns to his folly".

Someday I've got to scream "screw all y'all!!" and really declare war against sin. I mean, I'm an outsider enough just with being theologically conservative. That's real tough...believing the bible and being in the minority on every single issue. Life would be a whole lot easier if I could water down my convictions without violating my conscience. If I could play the 'undecided' or 'not sure why it matters' cards with issues like creation, spiritual warfare, the ordination of women or whatever, life would be so much easier. It's really tough to always meet people, have them start talking about whatever, have the conversation moving along swimingly and then, all of a sudden, to have to either bow out or get into a 'dialogue' (or disagreement) with them when they get onto spiritual issues because we're on completely opposite sides of the fence.

What makes matters even worse is when I really try to start stomping out sin. I start walking out of movies (which is SO socially uncomfortable), or not reading certain magazines with dangerous pictures (aka. ladies...and I'm not talking about Maxim or that soft core crap. I'm talking about Muscles and Fitness or Guitar Player...stupid porneia ads!), or not 'socially' flirting (it's just how my personality is...AS IF!) or whatever. That pretty much puts my in the "he's no fun camp" and leaves me out in the cold even worse...and I'm pretty sure that's my biggest reason for making room for sin; not sticking out too bad in a crowd. Thinking about it, that's why Saul didn't fully obey the Lord either. (Thought process coming...)

Anyway, that's my late night ramble. If I had a dime for everytime I met a really cool guy/girl and started talking and got along great and then learned (sometimes right away, sometimes a few months later) that they're nuts (or charismatic, or liberal, or whatever) and then ended up arguing about spiritual warfare (or tongues, or divorce, or why Genesis could possibly be literally true, or their life changing experience that recently occured, or whatever...) and ended up having to be the black sheep because I don't tow the cultural/religious 'party line' and believe whatever heresy is running around these days...well, them dimes would be my new paycheck.

If I also was the guy who didn't have girls over ever for the sake of being above reproach, or if I was the guy who could never get in on a conversation because I don't watch TV, or if I was the guy who refused to let anything come out of his mouth except that which was useful for the building up of others, I'd be eternally the black sheep. And them dimes would turn into the lottery. Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares much about really being righteous. People care about being 'pretty', or 'nice', or 'tolerant', or 'open minded', or whatever. Nobody even knows what in the smack 'righteous' means...or 'holy', or 'sanctified', or 'integrity'. And this is not to cast blame either. It's not others fault that I make room for sin. It's my fault alone. It's just not easy to be the lone tulip in the turnip patch. In fact, I don't think I've ever been the tulip in the turnip patch. That's probably what is the worst. I know that there are tulips out there. The stupid thing is that almost everyone I know thinks turnips are tulips. They've never even seen a tulip. They've seen turnips that they thought were tulips, but that just it...they thought they saw a tulip when it was really a turnip. I know better though and that rubs it in my face all the more. Bah! Cursed be me! Come wrath! Come hate! I need sleep now. This late night ramble is done. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian