SanctiFusion

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

Archive for the ‘growth’ Category

May the Divorced Remarry?

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divorce trauma3
This question has plagued people now for centuries. The consensus in many “Bible-believing churches (should this be redundant?)” is that Jesus said it was an absolute no-no because God has decreed that every marriage is forever, end of discussion. But is this the case?

Before going farther, there is no intent here to encourage anyone to take the marriage vows any less seriously. “Til death do us part” still means the same thing and, as many of us know, divorce can be even worse than death for those so-affected. If you are married, then unless your life is in real danger, that is, if at all possible, make it work, please! Many go running out that “back door” only to find themselves slammed through the brick wall on the other side of the doorway.

If Jesus said that divorce is a sin, and that those divorced must stay single, then we have an interpretation problem. In the Sermon on the Mount He had said that He would not be changing “one jot or one tittle” of the Law of Moses, but to fulfill it. As a body, it is “fulfilled” when every figure and prediction has come to pass. At present count, the 2/3 which covers the Second Coming and the Kingdom Age is yet to happen. The Law, then, including the parts in which God gave the statutes for divorce as well as the parts for honoring parents, respecting others’ property, and loving God with our all, are still in effect.

“Giving divorce?” Yes, before the Giving of the Law divorce did not exist. A man had all rights in the marriage, including to expect a deserted wife to wait for him indefinitely in case he wanted to come back in a few years and sell her and her children on the auction block. God, through Moses, changed this for His people. “For the hardness of your hearts it was given” Jesus said. To protect the injured party from continued neglect, abuse, or infidelity the Law allowed a clean break, with a certificate to show that person was free to remarry or, as Moses wrote it, “free to go where she will.” Marriage, even remarriage, was the norm because of God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” and the male-driven economy which made it nigh-to-impossible for a woman to strike out on her own. This would have been the exception, not the rule.

If we but recognise that Jesus is, Himself, the Word, the Logos, of God, then we see that for Him to change course with any detail of the Law would be for Him to contradict Himself as the Law-Giver. It was not His purpose to outlaw divorce, or any other detail of the Law. As much as it can hurt, and yes it can be about like an amputation, if the amputation takes years to complete and the anesthetic is in short supply. But like an amputation it is not done for cosmetic purposes unless one is either incredibly dense or psychotic, but to save a life. In like manner, for the Church to marginalise the divorced would be like a handicapped parking spot being open for all but amputees.

Is this the whole story? Not by a long shot. There is more- We have yet to touch on Jesus actual words on the subject, or the implications in the Church for leadership, or the charge given to modern pastors and leaders for dealing with the situation as it stands. But this is a good spot to stop for questions. What’s yours?

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Written by Robert Easter

Wednesday, 9 September, 2009 at 20:21

Curing Apostasy

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There is a major problem in the Church today. Whether we are talking about the Roman Catholic, United Methodist, or Independent Baptist, Free Presbyterian, or the various Brethren churches, there is a problem that is costing the Kingdom countless lives every day; and the greater the problem grows the smaller it gets in the eyes of the leadership. Sadly, this is not even a contradiction.

Looking at a website a few minutes ago, there was a mention of praying for American bishops who had yet to come to faith in Jesus Christ. The sad news is that there likely are some. The sadder news is that they are probably quite few. Why is this sad? It’s an old truism that a convert to Liberal Christianity is a rare bird to find. Liberalism just does not have a lot to offer that the average sinner does not already have. Freedom to sin? Why even call it sin? A broad range of opinions? Go to any pub, flower club, or lodge! Tight camaraderie? Stop by your local Kiwanis, Rotary, or motorcycle club and get all you can handle! So why would an unbeliever want to convert from agnostic to skeptic? Liberal Christians, especially the clergy, are seldom “made,” but far more often unmade. Talk with, say, an Episcopal priest about how he or she came to enter the clergy, and you will hear the same kind of “calling” story you would hear from, say, a Congregational Methodist. Later in the conversation, though, the Episcopalian might go on to reveal just how open he or she is Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 14 September, 2008 at 19:20

Posted in faith, growth, hope, restoration

Life as we (Don’t) Know It

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We last looked at the principle of the New Birth. One thing about Jesus’ teachings that impresses me is that if something were a parable, a story offered to illustrate a point, then He would say at the first, “the Kingdom is like thus and such. If there were a true story that He used, then, “There was such a man…” If He was saying that something is this or that way, then that’s what would come out. Like when a group of Jews “believed on Him” as far as opinions go, but still cherished their own sinful attitudes and ambitions, He told them that “You belong to your father, the devil.” God, the Father, has no part with such deceits, and those who hold to them have no right to call Him, “Father,” because it is the devil that is “the father of lies.” So, then, if we are to belong to God, and hear from Him, we need to be born again, by His Spirit, by faith. Faith, in this sense, is more a continuing process than a momentary decision; and the New Birth is, like natural birth, an event that marks a life, and not the whole life in itself.

Because of this, we don’t say that the New Birth is the Main Point, or the Final Experience, for anyone’s life. Two terms Jesus used for the New Life Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 August, 2008 at 0:36

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

Invisible Sidewalks?

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Picking up from “Pearls…” (below):

The streets in the City are made of “gold purified by fire, as clear as crystal.” Pure gold is a picture of faith throughout the Bible, and it is surely a “walk by faith” to step out onto a path that can’t be seen. those who walk on such streets have to be accustomed to walking where they cannot see, and going where they do not understand. For them, the invisible pavement will not be something unusual, but their usual way of walking, as we read, “for we walk by faith, and not by sight!”

With our eyes closed? No, but with our faith open! To follow Christ, to walk with Him, is a picture of sharing, trust, and love. What we do is as He leads, and empowers us. If we do not obey and walk with Him, it is not, as some suggest, a matter of faith, since it’s “just natural.” “The natural man,” the Bible tells us, “cannot understand the things of God,” but His plan for the Church is to comprehend His fullness and be transformed into His likeness, even in this life. So the harder we press forward, and the more of ourselves we give over to Him, the more we are (hopefully) showing the real faith that He has planted in our hearts. Not “works,” proving our own merit, but faith producing a loving obedience to our Lord. Stay tuned for the transformation!

Photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/italamaria/

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 27 March, 2008 at 22:02

A Bargain at Any Price!

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We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. ..everything exactly as in war, lacking only one thing . . . the danger.

So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible–only one thing is lacking . . . the danger.

[Søren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon Christendom, trans. Walter Lowrie (1944; reprint, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 180. Borrowed from http://www.kairosjournal.org

Where is the danger in Christianity? Is there any challenge? What is the hope? Some church people won’t even talk to others if those others talk like this. “They actually believe that there can be a danger!” they say. Did God send prophets to promise Israel a free ride to a candy-coated oblivion? Did Jesus bring such a message?

Jesus said if we want to win, we’ve got to learn to lose, to be the chief means to wash feet, and to find life means yielding our lives to Him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” So why do millions risk their lives in hostile countries to claim his name? Stay tuned!

[Painting, Crucifixion, Emile Nolde, 220.5 x 193.5 cm, Oil on Canvas, 1912]

Written by Robert Easter

Thursday, 20 March, 2008 at 19:53

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