Life, the Universe, and Everything, from the Outside In

Archive for the ‘divine attributes’ Category

The New Dark Ages

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Two observations about History as taught- as you and I were fed it in school, that is. One, that it is edited, obviously, and, second, that it is deadly boring. Now, Mr. Santayana said once, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” We hear that now and then, usually when the news anchor is trying to make a point for his/her own camp. Example? As much as we hear repeated about Hitler’s atrocities, how much is mentioned about Stalin, Mao, or the present “leaders” in China, the Islamic nations, or other present-day atrocities? Santayana was right, but in more ways than what we generally understand.

Remembering history is more than keeping in mind selected bites from the Evening News. Remembering history means having a clue what we’ve come from, so we can have some idea where we’re going.

One thing about this badly edited, deadly-boring subject that passes as History: The people who are spotlighted are then glossed to the point where all you see is the sheen of the writer’s ink, and nothing of the person him/herself. A lot of “just because.” One phrase I still remember from 7th grade is, “Abraham Lincoln was one of the Nation’s greatest Presidents, even though he was plagued with the great Civil War.” Lovely words- the work of a poet. But what if a student asks, say, how he was “plagued” with a war when he was in command? The Federal armies, understand, were on the offensive, on Southern land, in every battle but Gettysburg, and that was two years into the campaign. If that campaign were a plague to him, would he not have considered Davis’s offers of surrender? (Remember, it took every other American conflict from the Revolution through Viet Nam to approach the loss of life in those four years!)

Not to be selling a partisan pitch, but using that bit of tinder to catch this spark: Historians research history, and find out the details that make up the picture, and they do tend to have opinions which guide what they know or don’t know. Textbook writers make up a gloss from parts of that picture they choose, and package it for boards and committees who generally have little interest in what happened when, or why; and in the end , between Don’t Know and Don’t Care, the students wind up with even less. If we are doomed to repeat the history we have forgotten, then we are headed back to the dark ages: but then, who knows enough history to recognise them?


Written by Robert Easter

Friday, 15 August, 2008 at 9:58

War on Terror, and Faith

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The “War on Terror.” The US has, in the past, declared war on poverty, and on drugs. In both cases little progress was made on those fronts. It’s really hard to wage a negative campaign against a negative concept. In this one we seem to have a war with a few more concrete objectives and photo-ops, but until the Western governments get what, and why, it is they’re fighting they stand to lose a lot more than their confusion lets them see. The war that has embroiled the “Western Powers” is far more far-reaching than a bush operation against a motley bunch of sand bandits, as the American Press would have us believe. What we are looking at is an ideological war- a campaign of values, ethics, and dogma that forges the rival Islamic sects and nations into a de facto coalition, and either joins Liberal Western leaders with them or at least keeps them out of the way. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 7 August, 2008 at 20:42

Western Myth Number Five: That Jesus was "a great teacher."

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“Jesus was a great teacher.” The ultimate subject of all of Holy Scripture is Christ, and what He said and did doesn’t allow us that option. (We can debate whether Mohamed was a “great teacher” based on his teachings and his life. It’s not hard for most people to see that loving others on the same level as ourselves is a more godly approach than waging war on civilians in the name of one’s religion, but that seems to be changing.) C.S. Lewis said that Jesus does not give us the option of saying that He was a good moral teacher. A moral man would not make the claims that Christ made, of being in the Godhead before the days of Abraham, of having the power to forgive sins against God, or of having the power to die, and rise again, of His own will. Such claims would have to come from a liar, or a lunatic. A liar, though, would surely have changed his story when facing torture and death, and a lunatic could not have backed up his claims with such miracles (Remember, His miracles were so widely recognised by friend and foe alike that for the first several centuries afterward it wasn’t His divinity, but His humanity that was hard for people to comprehend!) “Which is easier,” He asked, “To say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?'” At His word, the paralytic rolled up his mat and went home. The only option left us is that He truly is the Lord of Creation, and of life. How does that affect your life?

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 6 August, 2008 at 17:38

What Gospel?

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Today we see a vast spread of what we call Christianity. Churches are springing up worldwide, largely influenced by the glut of “Good Christian Teaching” from the US. The problem, though, is seen in looking at the state of affairs in the US Church. Substance abuse, teen pregnancy, STDs and marriage breakdowns match if not outstrip the “sinners” who never darken a church door. The “Hardshell Baptist” has become a standard, and a bye-word, for American religion in general: Quick enough to state a position, but completely unable to give a reason for it which reflects in a godly life. The shell is there, and in good repair, but the yolk has been sucked out years ago, leaving what looks like a healthy egg, but neither food nor life inside.

Severe words? Yes indeed. Un-called-for? Then why do we have cities in the middle of the “Bible Belt” where churches outnumber filling stations, nearly 90% of the people report being “born again,” and the biggest two industries seem to be illegal drugs and prostitution? Why does the head of the Evangelical Alliance have to resign because of a queer sex scandal, the biggest “evangelists” on the media circle the wagons when asked about their finances, and one of their number pack a sports stadium while refusing to confess Christ as Savior on national television? Ranting? Yes. Called-for? What do you think? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 3 August, 2008 at 18:02

Little Boxes?

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It’s become fashionable in Church circles today to talk about thinking or working “outside the box.” An old truism says that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, and so comes a book some years back about “coloring outside the lines” which seems to be the base now for this “outside the box” language.

Speaking of coloring, one bit of info from my “undergrad days” was that Pablo Picasso was an accomplished student of the classical painting styles before he launched off into the Dada styling that made him famous. Possibly he could have gained the same fame anyway, but who knows? The point here is that he knew exactly where the lines were before coloring outside of them.

One concern comes of the fact that the Church is not a business concern, or an ad agency for that matter. A business is an organisation, made of rules and procedures. The Church is a supernatural organism, made up of the Spirit, Word, and Sacraments of God in the living souls of the Redeemed. One is powered by prestige, pride, and performance reviews, the other depends on God. While this sounds too vague or spiritualistic to some, it will ring true with the experience of many others. Now we come to the point of the matter.

To think “outside the box” we first have to find the box. Even thinking outside the thing, the thinking still relates back to it, or else it has no reference point by which to even say what the thinking is about. One has to wonder at times if these “outside the box” heads have really seen the box to which they are referring. The need in view is, for clergy and Church scholar, to find the box, the starting point: a Biblical understanding of the faith of the Early Father & Mothers of the Faith. The ones who learned from the Apostles, and the ones who worked through those teachings to teach the people of their own world. After you have gotten inside their faith, understanding the implications of Christ’s resurrection, and of the Trinity, and where it all applies to being the Church then and today, then we can talk about “boxes:” Only by that time we will have discovered that “box” to be a vast city too great to measure!

Written by Robert Easter

Tuesday, 15 April, 2008 at 14:59

How Many Words?

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Christians of all kinds say that the Bible is God’s Word. That has been throughout the history of the Church, and in Israel long before that. But: What does that mean? Just that the words in those books are about this or that person’s impressions when confronted with something they did not understand? If this were true, then we could be assured that each writer would be going into that encounter with his own expectations, and would see the Unknown in that way. In other words, each encounter would be pretty much this or that person’s own opinions about a matter, only spiritualised . We see that today with so many opinions about divine encounters and self-realisation through anything from fasting and self-denial to cheap sex. Is this what we see in the Bible?

I’m not getting into a long list of the many different backgrounds of the writers, or the (often) thousands of years and of miles that separated them, or how so many of them were unaware of the others’ work. All that is there for who wants to read up on it. Neither am I laying out a list of the hundreds of predictions fulfilled by the Lord Jesus during His time in the flesh. All that is true,but let’s go on.

Some people ask complicated questions about how the Bible can be God’s Word when the Bible says Jesus is the Word. This might be best explained by changing “word” for “revelation.” From the Beginning God has been revealing Himself to mankind whether by “general revelation” like the beauty of the world around us, the many wonderful flavours available in our foods, our inner knowledge of “good” beyond any passed-down list of rules, and the nameless hunger in each of our hearts for that “something more.”

Beyond all that is the “special revelation” that we call His Word. We have history of God appearing in some way to the patriarchs, kings, prophets, and even to poor shepherds. He gave each of them a message. Sometimes that message was clear and simple about something that very day, sometimes it was nothing that could have made the least bit of sense to the people at that moment, and a lot of times it was extremely embarrassing to them; but they knew God had spoken, and they did not dare edit anything out in the copies. So we know that one of Jesus’ human ancestors was born from a widow seducing her father in law, that the priests in Ezekiel’s day were fascinated with pornography, and that cussing somebody by his mother did not just start in the 20^th Century. We know that somebody fell asleep during Paul’s preaching one night and fell off the window sill where he was sitting. And we know his name, and the fact that the fall from that upstairs window killed him, but that the Lord restored him.

It might have seemed easier to the early copyists to re-write that story to leave out the miraculous and appeal to the Greek love for wisdom and the Jewish love for scholarship, but that was how the Living God chose to reveal Himself, and that is what they would pass on.

Back on track now, God has revealed Himself through nature (including human nature), through special revelations, and through His Son. God, by His own nature, is constant, and consistent. He cannot lie, or change His mind, or get confused, so anything He says is going to fit perfectly with anything else He says. The reason we have so many “churches” today dates back to people either missing that fact or ignoring it for their own brief advantage. Brief, because the dangers of putting words in God’s mouth make dancing on high-voltage wires look like fun.

So God’s word is not a pile of bits and pieces to pick through, but a single “word” to you and me. If we allow His Spirit to guide us we begin to see the relationship of each part to the others so that we can even see the “sacred truths” of the various churches and teachers in light of all that God has said on the topic, putting everything in an eternal perspective.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom
teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things
with spiritual. [1 Cor. 2:13]

Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 9 January, 2008 at 11:56

Having a Celibation!

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A friend in college, a Christian girl from a “mainstream”
Pentecostal background, said one time that she was afraid the Lord
wanted to give her “the gift.” Her idea of a fulfilled life was a
husband in her bed and a house full of babies, and she did not
want to miss out.

She was talking about a part of 1st Corinthians that says,

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath
his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I
say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they
abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is
better to marry than to burn. (ch. 7:7-9)

To tie up the story, after finishing college she did marry. Her friends
were upset at the way she was going about it, her groom’s best man and
ushers were trying, up to his walk to the altar, to dissuade him. A
visit to their home two years later showed her nursing and pregnant in a
cluttered apartment with a depressed, exhausted husband. Was this the
fulfillment she struggled for?

We tend to think that “celibate” people spend their lives fighting off
loneliness on one side and sexual desires on the other, all in an
attempt to “be good.” This makes about as much sense as painting
Christianity as a suffering lot of “fun-suckers.” What Jesus said, “I am
come that they might have life ..more abundantly,” was conditional, but
/He/ is the condition. Not marriage, or house, or cars, or indoor
plumbing. Paul later wrote that “Christ is our life,” and David wrote,
“In Thy presence is fullness of joy!”

Knowing God in Christ is a joyful, splendorous, thing. To
want to belong wholly to Him is the norm of Christian life. Would a
desire to be free of worldly distractions in order to better serve and
enjoy Him then be a sad and miserable existence? Never in a million
years! As hard as it may be for young people, and for anyone brought up
on Hollywood movies and sitcoms to comprehend, marriage is not the
summum bonum the “highest good.” God did not create us just so
we could make families, but rather so that we could be His family, and
if we even take a look at our own makeup, the drive for relationship and
intimacy that even marriage can’t quite meet, and our drive to know the
“Other” that no science can satisfy, we realise that we are made,
ultimately, for Him. There is not higher joy, no greater good, no more
intense pleasure!

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 29 December, 2007 at 11:37