The God of All of Life

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, “Mine!”1

There exists a mindset within modern Evangelicalism, taking its cue from natural human conceptions of spirituality, of disdain for the elements of this world, in exaltation for those ethereal aspects of the Kingdom next.

It manifests itself in the Christian retreat to our separatist enclaves in hidden valleys, hoping for the wolves to pass over without bothering to ransack our abodes. And to date, the wolves have been largely satisfied to leave Christendom alone in their private realms in a false peace, while they consolidate their dominance in the public sphere.

It manifests itself in the Christian surrender of the mind and culture and all aspects of living except for and thinning personal morality and theology. A truncated and reductionist theology is increasingly orphaned and alienated from every other aspect of human existence and endeavour. It hangs suspended in the ether, disconnected from prevailing conceptions of objective realities; this latter development, undermining its credibility and resonance.

It manifests itself in a withdrawal of interest in the things of this world and that which befalls it, especially as the world rapidly swirls into intensifying decadence, except to protect Christendom’s own diminishing turf and self-interests. In this bubble of ersatz super-spirituality, such readily disparage as worldly, those of their peers who retain keen interest in human affairs.

It manifests itself in the disdain for the people of this world, in a mindset that sees those Others as substantively different from themselves. These neighbours; from amongst whom, they were called; are perceived more as adversaries to be eventually trampled upon than fellow sods to be won. Ventures into assisting the less fortunate out of programmed Christian duty are undermined by a palpable disdain, distrust and fear toward the very ones they purportedly seek to reach out.

But as in virtually all aspects of the Christian life, there is an equally opposite and detrimental mentality that conceives Christ as culture warrior. They do not merely see these earthly elements as vehicles, by which the Christian ethos can be exemplified. The danger from these other Christian folk is not their self-imposed retreat from society into irrelevance; but of attempting to coerce the dominion of God over all things upon their unbelieving neighbours; the latter, who in their unregenerated state, cannot even conceive of the rationality and virtue of the Christian ethic. However, discourse on that mindset is reserved for another occasion.

However, there is a nuanced and narrow middle path, through which the true Christian pilgrim must navigate through; enjoying the carnal and natural gifts of God without becoming mastered; being interested in the things of this world without being entangled; exhibiting Christ in all ‘profane’ matters, while being circumspect as to the extent that the Christian ethos can or should be impressed upon society.

Life is not divided into two areas of sacred and profane. For, all things are sacred; “all things indeed are pure”2. There is little distinction between earthly elements and spiritual elements; since the righteousness of God can work through both types of elements and evil can work through both types of elements. The “Kingdom of God is already in your midst”3, although “not of this world”4. It does not exist in some esoteric future.

 

NOTES

 

1Abraham Kuyper, Inaugural Lecture of Free University of Amsterdam, 1880

2Romans 14:20. Also Titus 1:15

3Luke 17:21

4John 18:36

Rob Bell “Love Wins” – Hell or Purgatory – Part 1

I have set you a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. (Ezekiel 33:7-9, 3:17-19)

My heart lacks appetite for publicly critiquing and directly confronting the absurd nonsense that I hear from those who purport to represent Christianity. Really! Truly! I say this, despite the overwhelming evidence that I do unapologetically publicly critique and directly confront the absurd nonsense that I hear from those who purport to represent Christianity.

I cannot do otherwise, even if I must forgo ambitions for public office. I have tasted too much of Hell and some of Heaven; such that I intimately know of these spiritual realities. The Gospel and Full Counsel of God that I observe in Scriptures; when unfiltered by second and third rate theological/philosophical ruminations, disingenuous sophistries, factual and scriptural selectivity and interpretative contortionism; is pristinely rational and grants a wondrous intellectual and moral clarity.

And I will seek to use as incisive a surgical wit, to which I have been endowed, to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (1 Corinthians 10:5). But I retain a terror that in “speaking truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15); I favor or appear to favor too much, the truth side. Inevitably, some people will always declaim; although I have little motive in denigrating another. Or they will accuse without being able to honestly and objectively point out the mean-spirited in that specific comment. (With written, recorded words, one can always return to source.) But there are occasions when after one speaks repeatedly and gently on a matter of great import, a polemic thump is necessary.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity. (The Second Coming – Yeats – 1919)

Continue reading “Rob Bell “Love Wins” – Hell or Purgatory – Part 1”

Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform is Biblical, Not Political??

RE:  The Credentialed Signatories of American Evangelicalism who intimate a Scriptural and Spiritual Imprimatur for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (see http://evangelicalimmigrationtable.com/)

RE:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/philosophicalfragments/2013/03/13/evangelical-support-immigration-reform-biblical-not-political-soerens/

Weaving through the Web to acquire factual information for many writing projects, I often get sidetracked onto articles and essays which, although worthy of interest, waylay the priorities of my time. This article reflects one of these occasions, to which I will, no doubt, be kicking myself tomorrow.

One comes across an inordinate number of ethical and sociopolitical advocacies by purported Christians, proud of their own voice, while displaying third rate Scriptural interpretation and reason. I often wish that the Internet had not been invented and thereby not give such free agency for such to utter their babblings in the name of Christ.

I am not timid in expressing economic, social and political analysis in this web site. And Scriptures deeply and insidiously influence my thinking. However, the underlying motivations conform to two of the few New Testament adages, which might bear any relationship with sociopolitical issues. One seeks to extend individual liberty of conscience in the social realm to the fullest extent that the virtue of a contemporary populace can bear (Romans 14). The other is a sociopolitical implementation of the frequently enjoined Scriptural admonishment to seek peace and pursue it (1 Peter 3:11). Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy (Hebrews 12:14). If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). If I raise a concern about economic inequalities and their ensuing social, political and legal inequalities or with philosophical sectarianism, it is in the context of their relation with social piece and individual liberty.

So, I do not have problem with people voicing opinions, regardless of competence. The Internet might prove a worthwhile vehicle to induce iron sharpens iron precision and clarity to its participants’ arguments. What I do take umbrage with, is the SPIRITUAL IMPRIMATUR that some Christian adherents arrogate to their views.

I have seen Christ conscripted into the cause of capitalism and socialism; although I find that those advocates seem clueless about the respective economic philosophies, let alone their own theology. There is a distinction between free markets and capitalism. And a voluntary surrender of one’s goods and property with a community of one’s choice (Acts 204) differs from the coercive ideologies of socialism and communism.

One of the earliest uses of Scriptural imprimatur in my life came from adversaries of mixed racial marriages. As is so common from such advocates, the unity of the mind of God is ripped into little selective proof texts. The banner of Be you not unequally yoked together was waved in my face; until it was realized and pointed out that a couple of words were missing from that adage.

Therefore, I cannot help but feel like punching through church walls when I encounter such rubbish as the suggestion of a Biblical sanction for some American Comprehensive Immigration Reform policy or bill. It astonishes that church leaders, denominations and umbrella organizations even have Statements of Principles with its who’s who of signatories from many Evangelical denominations. Or that advocates, more interested in the things of this world than in things of God would dare to embellish their advocacies with Scriptural verses, located by a Google search without a coherent depth of understanding of Scriptures, theology or the complicated trade-offs required in sociopolitical policy.

From this article comes this little gem

I believe that the primary reason that most have spoken out is not, as Mr. Tooley hints, an embrace of sentimental, liberal theology, but rather an orthodox commitment to the authority of Scripture.

To correct this biblical blind spot, the Evangelical Immigration Table has launched the “I Was a Stranger” Challenge, providing a bookmark that lists 40 Scripture passages that relate in one way or another to the topic of immigration, which we are encouraging people to read, one passage per day. 

In this, the author of the article and the umbrella organization, which he cites, tosses tinsels of Scriptural proof texts to embellish their sociopolitical cause and impress the gullible and clueless.

Are these people serious and sane?

I do not desire to perform exegesis on the flak of Scriptures being offered. There are greater principles involved than discoursing on the minutiae of immigration policy.

And the source of my complaint stems not from any given position on the matter. My overall position on the matter, if it mattered, would be probably one of being in favour of a one-time amnesty program, but with grave misgivings. But these arguments are rational and nuanced. It is certainly not a clear-cut moral issue. Indeed, those who oppose naturalization of illegal immigrants have a better hold of justice on their side.

The issue and the only issue of this dissertation is the perverse abuse of Christ and Scriptures to give spiritual imprimatur to a temporal concern. It requires a hermeneutical contortionism, which betrays the competence or integrity of those credentialed signatories who wasted serious time and money on their theological training. It exposes the worldliness of modern Evangelical theologians, who scurry around like Constantinian bishops, self-deluded by the ostentatious flattery of secular authority of the importance of their influence. It helps explain why the person on the Evangelical pew is Biblically, theologically and ethically ignorant, while its leaders expend their time on needle point points of legislative policy. It causes unnecessary alienation from the Gospel of people with different views on this tertiary social matter, when the Magisterium of God is being invoked. It brings considerable and long-term dishonour to the cause of Christ if this scripturally unsupported policy goes south. The corruption of the theological elite is a tell-tale sign that the salt of American Evangelicalism has lost its savour. “It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13)

Continue reading “Evangelical Support for Immigration Reform is Biblical, Not Political??”