HOPE for the HAPLESS

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12


Leave a comment

“Is It Helpful?” is not as Helpful as “Is It True?”

When did we get into the habit of allowing religious discussion to be thought of as something divorced from reality?  The stuff of the spirit separate and removed from the stuff of everyday life … “spiritual” vs “real.”  Even when we know better, why do we so often allow others to frame the conversation as an “either/or” proposition?  If it isn’t real – if it isn’t true – really and truly true – then what’s the point?  Allowing “truth” to be separated from reality (eg. religious truth versus scientific truth, my truth versus your truth) just isn’t helpful!

Here is a great quote from C.S. Lewis.

One of the things that distinguishes man from the other animals is that he wants to know things, wants to find out what reality is like, simply for the sake of knowing.  When that desire is completely quenched in anyone, I think he has become something less than human. As a matter of fact, I don’t believe any of you have really lost that desire. More probably, foolish preachers, by always telling you how much Christianity will help you and how good it is for society, have actually led you to forget that Christianity is not a patent medicine. Christianity claims to give an account of facts – to tell you what the real universe is like. Its account of the universe may be true, or it may not, and once the question is really before you, then your natural inquisitiveness must make you want to know the answer. If Christianity is untrue, then no honest man will want to believe it, however helpful it might be: if it is true, every honest man will want to believe it, even if it gives him no help at all.

Advertisements


1 Comment

No doubt …

The following is reprinted from a thought-provoking post over at Pyromaniacs.  I’m not sure that I would go so far as to say “everyone”, but certainly enough that most of this rings mournfully true.  I know that even in my few short years of ministering I have had more than a few of the charges laid against someone who holds to the Scriptures as the authoritative Word leveled against me personally.  What do you think?  Is this on the mark? Does it go too far? Not far enough?  Have you faced this kind of thinking yourself?

doubt

Have you ever noticed…

  1. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as heroic?
  2. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as tragic?
  3. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints his doubt as different doubt from every other doubter who has ever doubted and come to a bad end from it?
  4. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine insists that his path won’t end up where every other doubter’s path ended? Which is to say…
  5. …everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine hates it when the historical and logical progression of doubt is pointed out?
  6. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as smarter, deeper, less lazy, and more honest than people who don’t share his doubt?
  7. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as humble, while those who point him back to the Word are arrogant?
  8. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as nice, while those who point him back to the Word are mean?
  9. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as academically sophisticated, carefully nuanced, and wonderfully insightful, while those who point him back to the Word are unenlightened hacks and drooling theological troglodytes?
  10. everyone who tries to back away from an unpopular Biblical doctrine paints himself as courageous, while those who point him back to the Word are bullies and ruffians?


Leave a comment

A WORD for the ELCA

elcaI know that by now this is no longer “news” for many, but sometimes – with sad news – I need time to ponder and percolate.  For me the Old Testament readings over the past two weeks have been a very powerful commentary by our Lord on all that has happened in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America … and their heart-wrenching decision to abandon the clear words of Holy Scripture.

Deuteronomy 4:1  “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2  You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you … 6  Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7  For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8  And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? 9  “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children–

Isaiah 29:11  And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” 12  And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” 13  And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, 14  therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” 15  Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” 16  You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? 17  Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? 18  In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.
Isa 29:19  The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

You see, what is at the heart of the matter is not our love for one another, but GOD’S love for us.  A love that warns us away from all that would harm our eternal welfare.  God’s Word is never ever in the habit of condoning sin, because any sin – All Sin – is an affront to God.  God’s Word is His revealed love for us … A love that calls sin, SIN … but then sends His precious Son to pay for that sin to forgive that sin. Lose, change or ignore the first and you forfeit the second!

But here are some quotes that say it much better than me:

“The ELCA Confession of Faith says that Scripture is ‘source and norm’ of the church’s faith and life, but this assembly has shown that the ELCA is willing to violate what it officially says it believes about the Bible,” Schwarz said. “It is appalling that ELCA leaders brought these proposals to a vote. The church should not be voting on whether or not to follow the teaching of the Bible.” “Luther’s stand was on the Word of God and sound reason. He was not convinced then, and we are not convinced now. We just voted out the Word of God, sound reason and the good orders of creation,” said Jaynan Clark of Spokane, Wash., president of the WordAlone Network. -Lutheran Coalition for Reform

This is not about sexuality or homosexuality. Some will try to make it about this but that is not the cause of such great sadness and distance. No, what is the greater issue here is the way in which a church body has disconnected its current life and confession from Scripture and its Confessions. This is the real issue. It is not about gays or lesbians but about the choice to make the gospel (small g in this case) a principle instead of a message and to set this principle of tolerance, acceptance, liberation, and freedom against the clear passages of Scripture which clearly define sexuality within the context of male and female, marriage and family. For in setting up the rationale for this departure from what Christianity has always understood, the ELCA has put into place the very mechanism to depart from the very Gospel (big G – meaning the cross and empty tomb) itself. This is the inevitable outcome when gospel becomes the legitimacy for any new understanding or new idea that once was clearly prohibited in Scripture and tradition. Indeed the real issue is what do we have left when gospel stands in opposition to the clear words of Scripture? Surely it is the Gospel — the message of Jesus Christ and the salvation He won for us by His death and resurrection — that is lost when the church has the freedom to oppose Scripture or to disregard what Scripture has clearly said and the Church believed for two millenia (and longer in the OT). -Pastor Peters

There are some fine documents in the LCMS that  state positively what we believe, teach, and confess (in accord with Scripture). I offer you links to several of those below:
1. Marriage and Human Sexuality
2. Legislation Regarding Same Sex Unions
3. What About Homosexuality
4. Ministry Plan to Homosexuals
5. Initial Response to the ELCA Proposal
6. The Contemporary Debate on Homosexual Clergy

I would also encourage you to read the official position of my own Lutheran Church Canada:

A Statement From Lutheran Church Canada

I pray that my fellow brothers and sisters (not just in the ELCA, not just in Lutheranism but in all of Christianity) would consider again the clear Words of God on this, and every topic of life, faith, and church policy.  THe traditions of men may seem just and fair and loving and kind and all sorts of other virtuous things rolled into one … but none of that matters if it flys in the face of God and His will revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures.  God’s Word will remain forever, but the decisions of men will fade like yesterday’s news.

Listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.   You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you …   Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.


Leave a comment

Issues Etc Soundbite(S) of the Week …

Here again, is something I would like to do from time to time in an effort to point you towards a wonderful resource for your Christian faith and life.  The show is Issues Etc and the faithfulness, the proclamation, and the scholarship are all second to none.  I know it gives me so much to think about each and every episode.

Each week on the show they post a series of soundbites for listeners to vote on as the soundbite of the week.  Today I will give you the TWO (yes two) I chose as my pick for this week.  They did not come from the same interview, but they do both speak to the same issue.  I chose these because I see it all too often, good Christians who misunderstand apologetics (defending the faith) to be the same as apologizing for the faith.

You hear it in the attitude that says This is my faith, but yours is fine too.  This is what I believe, but far be it from me to burden you with it!  Jesus is great for me, but maybe you have someone better. There is only one God, and many different paths to Him (her/it).

Where does such an idea come from?  Certainly not the Scriptures!  Jesus said (John 14:6) “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life.  NO ONE comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.”  To believe anything less dear Christian is to believe that your very own saviour is a liar … is that really what you want?  Not all religions are basically the same.  They all disagree on one important fundamental point – who Jesus is and what Jesus means for us and our salvation.  It is never doing a disservice to anyone to make sure that we point this out, and then point them to the truth!

Soundbite #1 (Bishop Gene Robinson denying the Truth of Christ Alone)

+ + +

Soundbite #2 (Rev. George Borghardt’s defense of the Truth of Christ Alone)


Leave a comment

Liking the Lie

pinochioSpoiler alert! (If you care deeply for Santa you may not want to read any further.)

My four year old son doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. At least that is what he told us many months ago. He is a very anylitical young man who likes to weigh the evidence, follow the logic, and study the issues from every angle. Upon doing this with the story of good old St. Nick he was left with one undeniable four-year old’s conclusion: Santa is just a story. He can’t possibly be real.

We did not lead him down this way of thinking, we were still debating between ourselves how exactly we should handle the whole issue around Christmas this year. To have our little scientist come to this conclusion on his own lifted a certain weight off our questioning shoulders.

But then a strange thing happened. In the intervening time our son came to realize that the whole world has tied the story of Santa to the giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas. He didn’t believe in Santa, but he dearly loves the idea of toys! You could almost hear the gears spinning. When the smoke cleared he somewhat, sort-of, almost undeniably, in mostly-no-uncertain terms told us that he really truly believes in Santa Claus. (He’s a terrible liar – even for a four-year old – if I can read his face!)

What happened to all his well thought out convictions? What happened to his rock-solid certainty? He was willing to lay it all aside and pretend to believe something he didn’t really believe … IF the reward was great enough. IF it promised something good enough by way of compensation. In short, he began to like the lie better. They sure do grow up fast don’t they?

It is a very grown up thing to do … to like the lie enough to lay aside reason and conviction. It is something we adults have become so accustomed to doing, that we don’t often even notice anymore. We have even come to call it “living in the real world.” If we believe the lie that there is no God or that God is just a creation of our own making, the payback is that we get to be Him, and we are no longer answerable to Him. If we believe the lie that all religions are basically the same the payback is that they are all basically meaningless and easy (and right) to ignore. If we believe the lie of evolution then the payoff is that life is meaningless, we are an accident of nature, and something better is coming. The payback is that morals don’t apply, and the expectations on who we are and how we should act are really very low … not to mention not our fault.

One day the price of the lie will finally outweigh the lure of the material gifts and my son will go back to his well informed and well reasoned understanding. My prayer is that the same will happen for so many of those in our world who have come to like the lie. My prayer is that one day the the lure of the payoff will no longer outweigh the truth before them. That there is a God … one true God who made Himself known in Jesus Christ. A God who in Christ created them … a God who in Christ loves them and has expectations of them … a God who because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross thinks highly enough of them to want to be with them for eternity. A God who loves them more than Santa ever could – and that’s no lie!