Make Baptism Simple Again

Acts 8 is all about Philip. What’s cool about Philip is that he’s merely a deacon in the church. I don’t mean “merely” as an insult, I just mean it in contrast to being an apostle or some other prominent position.

Whether you have a low position or no position in a church, you can still preach the Gospel. Philip is cool. I look forward to meeting him.

After Philip stirs up things in Samaria, he gets in a conversation with an Ethiopian in a chariot. The Ethiopian Charioteer has questions about Isaiah 53, “Is this about the prophet or someone else?”

What a great lead in to evangelism! If only they were all that easy!

Philip informs him about Jesus Christ. Mr. Ethiopian responds,

“Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.

Philip and the Ethiopian are apparently the only ones there on a road in a desert.

Why do I bring this up?

Frequently people say that baptism is an outward testimony, it’s “a public profession of faith,” as if that’s all it’s about.

My problem with this is that the Bible never says this once. And, like Acts 8, there is apparently only the baptizer and the baptizee. There is no public display.

I think the church likes to make baptism a display so they can advertise to people how many souls they’ve allegedly converted. And yes, I’m overly cynical. Sue me.

Now, I’m not saying that public baptism is wrong. I am saying be careful not to put the sole emphasis of baptism on something the Bible never once mentions as a part of baptism.

Baptism is between you and the Lord. It also involves the one baptizing you. It’s perfectly fine if they are the only ones aware of it.

I would also go so far as to say that anyone can baptize someone else. We’ve got this notion that only Church Official People can baptize. This thought exists because we’re institutional people and the church likes power. It’s not necessary though.

I think parents can baptize their kids. I think a kid can baptize their parent! I think a friend can baptize you. I do think there should be a relationship there that the person doing the baptism was prominent in helping the one to salvation. I don’t think it should just be some yahoo off the street. “Hey, can you dunk me in water?”

So, anyway, those are some thoughts about Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Amazing how many of our practices and understandings have nothing to do with the Bible and quite a bit to do with tradition and institutional power. Be aware of that tendency and fight it!

Baptism and Simon the Sorcerer

Acts 8 about Simon the Sorcerer is another fascinating passage about baptism.

Many people in Samaria followed Simon because they thought he had the power of God. But when Philip comes to town and preaches the Gospel, they have a change of heart.

“But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

Again, for the record, they believed and then were baptized. That’s how it goes!

Simon himself believed and was baptized. He followed Philip, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw, it was all very cool and exciting.

Peter and John are sent to Samaria to check out the new believers and to make sure everything was as they had heard.

Because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Their baptism is spoken of as being partial, only in the name of Jesus. Remember they were to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They had a partial message apparently and so got partial benefits.

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Peter at Pentecost and Baptism

After Jesus ascends to heaven His disciples begin their ministry. Peter is the chief spokesman, as he is the Rock the church is built on (not in any weird Catholic way, just in a common sense “boy that sure seems like that’s what happened” way).

Peter preaches a scathing message against Israel for killing their Messiah. “What shall we do?” is the response of the audience, a great response which would melt any pastor’s heart.

Peter answers, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Note our two main themes here: forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit. Baptism circles around these themes all the time.

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Baptism, the Holy Spirit, and Death

Baptism is understood by people in John the Baptizer’s day as referring to the cleansing of sin, making one ceremonially pure.

But looking forward, the Gospels show us something more is coming.

The Bible progressively reveals things. What came before isn’t bad, it was just a beginning. It’s the cute stories you hear in Sunday School as opposed to the in-depth Bible study you hopefully get at Big People Church.

You start small and build. It’s how you educate any kid. One way to look at the Bible and its progression is as a book a parent, say a Heavenly Father, writes to His kids, humanity. View Humanity as God’s kid that God is teaching. The Bible starts with pictures and illustrations and builds into doctrine.

The two fuller pictures that baptism represents are hinted at several times.

In Mark 1:8, John the Baptizer says, “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The “he” refers to Jesus. The same context has John saying Jesus is better than him, he’s not even worthy to take off Jesus’ sandals. Jesus is better, so too is Jesus’ baptism.

John clearly is pointing people forward to something better, not dunking in water, but being immersed in and filled with the Spirit.

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Baptism and John 3

Nicodemus comes to talk to Jesus at night, curious about Jesus’ teaching and miracles.

Jesus seems to cut him off in mid curiosity and throws this at him, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

Nicodemus seems shocked by this statement, wonders how you can enter yo momma again and be rebirthed. So, Jesus responds:

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

Many make the leap right over to baptism here. I understand why, but part of me wonders if we’re not jumping the gun a bit.

Some think born by water and the Spirit is the same event and refers to baptism.

Others, myself included, think being born by water is flesh giving birth to flesh—babies reside in a sack of water, the water breaks upon birth, etc. In order to reside in the eternal, spiritual kingdom you need a spiritual body granted by the Spirit not physical birth.

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John’s Baptism

John’s Baptism was a baptism representing repentance, getting Israel ready for the coming of their King. It wasn’t the full revelation of what baptism was about.

This does not mean that there was something wrong with John’s baptism. Jesus asks some testing people if John’s baptism was from heaven or from men. The obvious implied answer is that it was from heaven.

John’s baptism was part of the revelation of the Messiah, the prophet would come first and get people ready. John did that. This was God’s ministry for John. It was a divine and spiritual thing.

It wasn’t the whole thing though.

Paul in Acts 19 asks some people “What baptism did you receive?” Their answer was “John’s.” Paul did not lecture them for having been baptized by John or find fault with it. Instead he said “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

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Baptism: The Old Testament

Matthew 3 is the first mention in the Bible of baptism: John came baptizing.

I like how baptism is an assumed thing. Like this wasn’t weird to anyone. John just comes baptizing and people are like, “Oh, yeah, well of course, guess we should go be baptized, eh?” He didn’t explain why this occurred. It just made sense to the people.

This is probably from an OT understanding of purity and cleansing.

When an Israelite was unclean for any number of reasons, part of the remedy was to bathe in water (Leviticus 14:8-9; 15:13; 17:15). Utensils used in tabernacle and temple service were to be dipped in water to be cleansed.

In Numbers 19:9 the ashes of the heifer “are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.” The whole chapter of Numbers 19 is filled with “water of cleansing” talk.

Ezekiel 36:25 says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.”

The people of Israel knew that water meant cleansing, and it was stated specifically several times that it was for removing sin.

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Baptism: John the Baptist

Or as he was called in the Old Days: John the Baptizer, which I think is totally awesomer.

Understanding baptism has to begin with John. Baptism isn’t mentioned until he shows up.

Matthew 3 introduces him thusly:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Matthew 3:1-2

The content of his preaching was repentance, this was the big message. Repentance means to turn around and head the other way. The next verse refers to the OT prophecy that one would come to make straight the way of the Lord.

John’s job entailed cleaning Israel up for the coming of their Messiah, and that was done by repenting of their sin.

People have argued over what the “Kingdom of God” is. I think the simplest way to interpret it here is to relate it to the physical coming of Jesus Christ, the King.

Repent, the Messiah, the King of the Kingdom, is coming. Where the King is, there is the Kingdom. Clean up the Land, He’s near!

The response of the people then was:

Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
Matthew 3:5-6

John baptized people who responded and sought out John. Notice John didn’t pursue anyone; people had to find him.

The response of those coming for baptism was confession of sins. Confession means “to say the same thing as.” They agreed with God’s revelation of what sin was, saw it in themselves, and agreed fully they were guilty and in need of forgiveness.

John told them to repent because the Kingdom was near in the person of the King. They responded by repenting! It always blows my mind when people actually do exactly what God calls them to do! Even in the Bible this is rare!

One could make the point that baptism is entirely about being washed from sin, as baptism pictures repentance and forgiveness.

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The Physical and Spiritual Aspects of Communion and Baptism

Baptism and Communion are two physical illustrations God put in place to teach us spiritual truth. We, being physical, tend to obsess over the physical details and bash each other over the head with them and completely miss the spiritual truth being taught.

Church History shows Christians literally killing each other over whether people should be dunked in water or sprinkled, whether the water you’re dunked in should be still or moving, is the bread and cup actually the literal body and blood of Christ, and various other physical details.

While some in the church fixate on the physical details, others see a spiritual point and dismiss the physical aspect entirely.

I know people who refuse to take communion or be baptized because they don’t want to rely on a physical work. Others ignore them because they are spiritually enlightened enough to not need such physical reminders. “We think about Jesus every day without that stuff.” Congrats.

People enjoy extremes. One group fixates on the physical rule-keeping; the other group fixates on the spiritual part and throws out the physical.

God knows our frame. He knows we’re physical. But as true believers in Christ who possess the Holy Spirit and have been born again, we are spiritual creations. We are a blend of physical and spiritual.

True believers should be the one group who can grasp both physical and spiritual aspects of communion and baptism. We don’t have to throw them out, nor do we need to fixate on physical details. We can grasp the physical and the spiritual parts because we are both parts!

Confusion about Baptism and Communion

Baptism and Communion are two physical observances God gave the Church.

God knows our frame; He knows that we’re made of dust. We are physical beings typically focused on physical things.

God, who is a spirit, is trying to communicate spiritual things to us. We’re slow to comprehend these spiritual things because we’re physical.

Thus, in order for God to get spiritual truth through our physical heads, He uses physical things to teach us.

In the Old Testament He used the tabernacle, priests, sacrifices, circumcision, and the Sabbath Day, among other things, to teach spiritual truth.

Instead of getting the spiritual truth, the Israelites focused on the physical stuff.

“Look, we got circumcised, we keep the Sabbath, and look at all the animals we killed! Where’s our pat on the back, God?”

Instead of a divine pat on the back, the prophets came and blasted them, “Yes, I know you killed animals and were circumcised, but your heart was nowhere near God and you missed the whole point.”

The Israelites never got to the spiritual point behind the physical illustration. Israelites, being physical, only did the physical thing and lost sight of the spiritual point.

Christians, who are physically minded just like Israelites, do the same thing.

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God Can Do Above What We Can Ask or Think

This is another biblical phrase that Christians throw around, typically in response to some temporal win.

–Someone loses their job, but then gets hired at an even better job.
–Someone has their house foreclosed on, but they found an even betterer house.
–Someone has a loser first kid, but God gives them a second child who is far superior (OK, probably no one has said this one, but some have thought it I bet!).

“Boom, see? God does more than we could ask or think!”

As though people who lose their jobs or house don’t ask for better ones, or people with loser first kids don’t beg God imploringly for a better next kid.

Typically all the times this verse is quoted it’s in relation to someone getting exactly what they asked or thought, just slightly better, which they kind of thought might happen!

When people ask for healing and instead their pain gets worse, how is this not God doing above what we could ask or think? You didn’t think you could handle any more pain, well, guess what? You can handle pain above what you can ask or think!

Why is the application always in one happy direction?

But the main point is: why is this verse always applied to earthly, temporal things?

Read the context. I can’t stress how much this will help you understand and use verses correctly. What is the context of “God is able to do above what we could ask or think?” So glad you asked.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
–Ephesians 3:17-20

The context is referring to us understanding the bigness of God’s love and being filled with the fullness of God! This sounds close to God’s peace “which passes understanding.” God’s attributes are eternal and very large. Our minds have trouble grasping the totality of these things.

Yet God, who is able to do above what you can ask or think, can embiggen your mind to understand His love. You have no idea what His love is like. How massively huge it is. You can’t even think about what being filled with the fullness of God is like.

But He can help you understand it more and fill you with His fullness. I can’t even begin to comprehend what that means, which is why God doing above what we can ask or think is brought up here. It has to do with enabling us to grasp the hugeness of His love and being filled with His fullness.

I think this is way cool, and definitely more than you’ve asked or thought, and way better than new jobs, new houses, or better kids.

Fighting the Same Old Fight

I was listening to a podcast about wilderness survival. The survival expert said that survival is much different from how survival shows on TV portray it.

On TV, it appears as though people are running from the woods, taking risks to get out as soon as possible. You repel down waterfalls. Jump off cliffs onto tree tops. Drink your own urine. Insane stuff. Makes it seem exciting and thrilling.

In reality, survival is pretty mundane. It’s hard. Rarely exciting. You have to stay calm and measured, not flailing around repelling into bear dens to find a secret cave shortcut.

I fear many have the same idea with Christianity.

We like to think it’s exciting and dangerous. Escaping lion’s dens. Spending damp nights inside whales. Calming storms.

In reality, Christianity is rather mundane. It’s day in and day out living, choosing to love others rather than be selfish. This isn’t thrilling. It’s not exciting. It doesn’t make the news.

Hebrews 11 shows us faithful people, most of whose lives are boiled down to one or two key moments. That’s it. He even ends the chapter with an untold multitude that you never know what they did.

You pray. You think on God’s Word. You patiently and lovingly respond to others, or at least attempt to. You restrain your flesh and pursue what is spiritual and good, or try to anyway.

It’s not exciting. Therefore, it hardly seems worth doing. Exciting stuff gets attention. Doing stuff in secret where only your Father in heaven sees is no fun. So we don’t.

We sign up for the big, exciting, x-treme Christian events, thinking these mountain top experiences mark the whole path and prove we’re being Jesusy.

Fight the fight. Run the race with patience. It’s long. It’s hot. It’s hard. It’s not exciting. Put on the armor of God and stand. Not too thrilling, but it is the reality of faith. The sooner you know this the more you will relax and actually grow in Christ.

And you never have to drink your own pee. Ever. It’s not necessary in any situation. Ever.

Jesus Thinks Christians are Dumb

Do you ever feel like you are lazy, sluggish, and somewhat wimpy with your faith? Well, you’re in good company; Jesus thinks you are too!

Read it for yourself.

“for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8)

This is Jesus’ conclusion to the parable of the unjust steward (Luke 16). This is the guy who got busted by his master and was going to get fired, so he ran around lowering the debts of those who owed his master money. After being fired, these guys might help him out since he did them a solid.

Brilliant, shrewd foresight. Jesus says he did well and is an excellent example for the children of light!

“And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” (Luke 16:9)

Jesus seems to be saying that you should use money to be nice to people so when you die (fail) and stand before the Lord these people will put in a good word for you.

Many aspects of this verse bother Christians.

–Is Jesus saying we should buy friends?
–Why do I need people to vouch for me on judgment day? I thought Jesus was all I needed?
–I thought giving stuff to people was out of love, for their benefit, not to use them for my own ends?

We go on and on with our justifications and keep our money.

It’s this kind of thinking that keeps the children of light dumber than children of the world.

Rather than be sensible, we bog down in theological debate. Our theological bunkers keep us safe from responsibility and intelligence.

Some think a lack of intelligence demonstrates faith. Isn’t all that thinking and foresight and planning just a lack of faith? Shouldn’t we trust God and blindly move forward?

Christians are adept at ignoring “you reap what you sow” because we think our great faith and prayer will shelter us. Surely God will deliver me from my terrible decision making.

Or perhaps fatalism steps in. It’s all God’s will, what’re ya gonna do? If God wanted me to do better, He would have made me do better.

At best, perhaps we’re too busy thinking about heaven, or perhaps we don’t concern ourselves with fixing today because Jesus might come back tomorrow. We follow the example of the Thessalonian believers and sit around being gossips because why work and be responsible, Jesus is coming.

Jesus is also saying that unsaved people in the world have wisdom. This bothers a lot of Christians too. There’s an arrogant superiority we carry with us. Spiritual things are discerned by spiritual people, and that’s us. We know more than all them unsaved heathen scum morons.

We pat ourselves on the back, sit back and judge the world’s sins, and never consider that maybe people in the world are doing some things better.

Paul uses athletes as an example (athletes, otherwise known as “dumb jocks” to smarmy, intellectual, professorial types). But even dumb jocks in the world are smart enough to discipline their bodies and zealously pursue their goals. Paul tells Christians that they should pursue spiritual growth like that. Surely we can be smarter than dumb jocks!

“That’s legalism, Paul!” we shout and then do nothing. Ten years go by, “How come I don’t have any fruit or proof I’ve grown?”

Jesus goes on in Luke 16 to say if we don’t become shrewd and smart like people in the world, He won’t entrust us with spiritual things.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11)

How annoying! “I thought God entrusted everyone with equal stuff. This sounds like works righteousness and merit, man” we argue convincingly with verses and maintain our dumbness.

Be smarter out there. Pay attention. Walk circumspectly. Be sober, in your right mind. Be vigilant. Discipline. Care. Wise as serpents; harmless as doves. If you can’t be smart enough to handle earthly things, why would God entrust you with far more valuable spiritual things?

We’re not called to be empty-headed fatalists. “God is in control. Nothing I can do. Whatever. Grace and stuff.”

We’re called to lay hold on eternal life and put our treasure in heaven. Get busy, yo.

Not Being too Friendly and the Book of Proverbs

When I was a kid I had trouble making friends. I was shy, picked on, and couldn’t see. I was routinely lectured by various family members attempting to be helpful, that I just needed to be friendlier.

“When you walk down the hall; smile at people. When you enter a room; say ‘hello’ to people. If you want to have friends, you need to be friendly. The Bible says that.”

Telling shy and petrified people to smile and say ‘hello’ to strangers is like telling my dog to build a rocket and fly to Mars. Oh sure, she might get one built, maybe even launched, but Mars? Come on, even people can’t do that!

The place where the Bible allegedly says to be friendly to get friends is in Proverbs 18:24, quoted in the KJV says, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Anytime I heard this verse I became annoyed.

I remained annoyed until I read this verse in pretty much any other version. Let me focus in on the “a man that hath friends must show himself friendly” phrase in various translations:

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Why Did God Allow the Serpent in the Garden of Eden?

Also known as:

Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden?

Or

Why did/does God allow evil/sin?

Let me first begin by saying, “I don’t know.” These questions are not explicitly answered in Scripture. Any answer to these questions will be speculation. The extent to which the answer-er is bound to a theological camp and not Scripture, the more speculative the answer is.

Secondly, let me share my speculative answer.

In the beginning God created. This simple statement is the beginning of all “things.” God, being spiritual, is not a “thing.” He is outside the physical “thing” realm. He is the Creator of things—He made everyTHING out of noTHING.

God’s nature is perfect, holy, righteous, pure, and eternal. There is no lack in any aspect of Him. Anything He creates is not Him. Thus, the nature of that thing cannot be as perfect/complete as His nature.

The reason people can sin, the reason there is a serpent in the Garden, may not be philosophical at all; it might just be of necessity.

God made everTHING perfect. But since the nature of things is not as eternal and unchanging as God’s, there is chance for stupidity. We gladly found that chance and became stupid.

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Why Modern Christianity has so Little Joy and so Much Depression

I was listening to a podcast from a professional therapist where he talked about his patients’ depression.

He said a main source of depression (it’s a complicated issue, there are many causes for it) in our day is that we’ve attempted to take away losing.

In any competitive endeavor (not just athletics but grades, finances, promotions, you know, life), there are winners and losers. Losers feel bad. The idea was: losing feels bad so obviously causes depression.

The answer must be: eliminate losing. So we stopped keeping score, we bailed out losing businesses and people, the safety net has all but erased losing.

The theory said this should lead to people walking around in happiness with all the non-losing going on. What a utopia!

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the result. Suicide, drug use, and general depression appear to be higher than ever.

Continue reading “Why Modern Christianity has so Little Joy and so Much Depression”

OK Christians, Time to Do Your Job

In our current state of rancor, arguing, shouting, rioting, and clamoring, I have an idea: how about we listen to what the Bible says a follower of Christ should do and quit following the world’s example.

If we did, we would shine like lights in the world. The good news is that what we’re told to do sounds very refreshing and lovely right about now!

Here’s the main part:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we instructed you,”
–1 Thessalonians 4:11

It’s time (actually it’s always been time) for Christians to put their heads down, shut up, and keep busy.

The world is fighting for power and domination. Let em. Your Father in heaven knows what you need. Seek first His kingdom and all those things will be added to you.

Continue reading “OK Christians, Time to Do Your Job”

Is Joe Biden the Antichrist?

Seemingly every presidential election results in people discussing if the new president is the antichrist. I heard it with Obama, Trump, and now Biden.

The answer is “no.” Here’s why:

First, this implies the antichrist will be an American, which is a typical American thing to think. America isn’t in biblical prophecy in any explicit way. Most prophecy surrounds the Middle East. America isn’t in the Middle East. My guess is that the antichrist will be from the Middle East.

Second, according to dispensational theology (which takes biblical prophecy as literal as possible and believes there will be a person called the antichrist), the antichrist shows up in the Great Tribulation Period. We aren’t in the Great Tribulation Period, so the antichrist is not in power right now. There is a chance he could be before the Tribulation and really get going during it, but I doubt it.

Allow me to make one more point.

If you think the political party that you hate is the one that the antichrist will come from, let me suggest you are already under the sway of the antichrist.

Continue reading “Is Joe Biden the Antichrist?”

No Man Knows the Day or Hour

Anytime people speculate about The End Times’ arrival, someone will say, “But the Bible says no one will know the day or the hour, so shut up, man.”

Which is fine, people shutting up is usually good.

But I think we miss the point when we quote that verse this way.

Here’s the actual verse: (always look up verses when people try to quote them.)

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
–Mark 13:32

One thing to note about the context is that Jesus is giving a list of signs to watch for as the day approaches. So, you can kind of know!

Continue reading “No Man Knows the Day or Hour”

Life As Of Late

In the middle of October I met with our church board and told them I was resigning. They did their part trying to convince me to stay, and I appreciate that, but I was also quite clear with them that I couldn’t do it anymore. When I was done talking, they agreed.

Being a pastor takes a toll on a guy, or it at least took a toll on me. There’s a constant wear, emotional and mental mainly, that got to me.

First, there is the burden of giving an account for the souls entrusted to my care. This burden weighed on me massively. I took my job very seriously. Maybe too serious to the point of paralyzing myself with uncertainty about what to do or say. But I couldn’t figure out how to do it any other way.

Second, not only is there a burden on me to do what I can to help, whenever any of the souls I give an account for “mess up,” I feel it is my fault to some degree. Again, many have told me I’m wrong in this and not to do it, but I couldn’t figure out how. Every failing of every person under my care got to me. Perhaps this is my own arrogance, I don’t know, I just know I couldn’t make it stop.

Third, I took so many shots as a pastor. So many people have taken time out of their busy schedules to inform me how terrible I was and how I messed them up. Everyone and their mother had an issue with me at some point. This isn’t actually true, but it felt like it. Again, maybe this is my own arrogance rearing its head. I’m not saying I was right in feeling these things, I’m just saying this is how it felt. I was a pretty insecure guy to begin with, having grown up legally blind and being picked on, the church didn’t do anything to help this insecurity. It felt like junior high all over again (this isn’t unique to the church. I’m painfully aware that the entire world is junior high).

Fourth, yes there were faithful people and I have true friends and there were some who grew in Christ, but it doesn’t really outweigh the pain and the burden. It just doesn’t. Again, people told me it should and that I’m doing it wrong. Great. Fantastic. Can’t help it though. That’s how I’m wired. I couldn’t figure out how to do it differently.

Fifth, I tend to be annoying with my preaching and approach to scripture. By annoying I mean, I like to poke around in stuff that people don’t want me to poke around in. I take what everyone says and examine it, and usually prove that most people have no idea what they are talking about, they’re just repeating stuff. I did this because I had no idea what I was talking about and was just repeating what I heard. I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I started digging around. People didn’t like this. It also fed some Us vs. Them attitudes. I tried to do it better, I tried not to get annoyed and tone it down, but I couldn’t find the button to push to make this happen.

At the end of the day, the problem wasn’t with the church or any person or persons; it was with me. I couldn’t figure out how to do the job without feeling absolutely terrible all the time. There came a point I didn’t want to preach anymore. I was just done.

I’d sit in my office on Saturday night with complete depression sinking in. Sunday morning was just dread and fear. I was not good. I had to stop.

My whole life I’ve been in a pastor’s family. The church takes on a personality in the pastor’s family; it’s like another family member. A burdensome family member who’s always finding fault and is impossible to think of what to get them for Christmas. I’m done with that. I can’t do it anymore. It was feeding things in me and I didn’t want to blow my testimony.

I resigned publicly on November 1. That same day I went to Illinois to see my mom who was having troubles with her cancer treatments. Two days later she was in the hospital. A week later she was home on hospice. A week after that she died. I spent all of November in Illinois.

Needless to say, my brain was pretty shot for quite some time. It started working again on December 16. I know this because I have a voice recording app on my phone where I say stuff I want to remember when my brain works. There is nothing on it until December 16.

I do not want to be a pastor. I have determined that I can’t be The Guy in a church. I don’t think I’m gifted or equipped to do that correctly. I am gifted enough to be one of the guys, but not The Guy. I did my best. I tried. I gave it what I had to give. It’s not something I can continue doing.

I still get ideas and believe I have some insights others may find helpful, I hope this is the case anyway. I am thinking of ways to share these ideas in the future. It won’t be anything big or spectacular, just some hopefully edifying syllables from time to time.

I’m also looking forward to being involved in a church from a non-pastoral perspective. I am looking forward to not having to put up with pastoral awkwardness and judgmentalism that is so habitually heaped upon pastors. I have completely enjoyed every Sunday so far not being a pastor. I look forward to many more to come.

I’m aware that the pastoral role stifled my true nature to an extent! Knowing I represented a group of people kept me in check from saying and doing many things, not sinful things all the time either, just my natural responses.

I no longer represent a group! I represent me before God. Again, no doubt that’s how I should have been before, I know, I know, but I was never able to do so. Much of this was ingrained in me when I was growing up in a pastor’s family with my parents’ attitudes about church and pastoral ministry. It was depressing and fearful. It did a number on me. I feel the weight even as I write this, “Should I say this? Who is going to leave the church when they read this? Don’t be you; they won’t like you. You’re not good enough. Someone will get mad.” Shush!

I don’t know what this non-pastoral life will look like, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a learning curve! I apologize in advance.

I am looking forward to being done with being affiliated with pastoring. Not a pastor’s kid anymore, and now also not a pastor. I imagine this will be cool. I will miss aspects of the job, but all in all, I’m going to enjoy being free!

Thanks for caring enough to read this. I’d appreciate your prayer. Thank you.

Compensation: A Lovely Poem

In many older theological type books, authors would put poems and hymn lyrics in to emphasize their points. This doesn't happen as much in modern theological type books, perhaps because our modern songs don't contain any theology. 

Ba-dum-bum.

Typically I skip these poems. I don't know why. Probably has something to do with wide margins and being easy to skim over.

But tonight I read one and though it was quite good. I believe it's entitled, Compensation and is by Mary Frances Butts. Perhaps you'll like it too.



For the joy set before thee — 
The cross. 
For the gain that comes after — 
The loss. 

For the morning that smileth — 
The night. 
For the peace of the victor —  
The fight.  

For the white rose of goodness —  
The thorn.  
For the Spirit's deep wisdom —  
Men's scorn.  

For the sunshine of gladness —  
The rain.  
For the fruit of God's pruning —  
The pain.  

For the clear bells of triumph —  
A knell.  
For the sweet kiss of meeting —  
Farewell.  

For the height of the mountain —  
The steep.  
For the waking in heaven —  
Death's sleep. 

Monks and Other Wasted Lives

Our library is open again. Couldn’t wait to check out the New Non-Fiction section to get my latest fill of leftist politician hagiographies, weird diet cookbooks, and various other books no one in their right mind would ever possibly check out.

But tucked in the couple hundred books are at least two books that seem like they’d be worth reading.

I picked up four. I made it through ten pages of one before returning it. So I started another one I hesitated getting, I walked past it twice, but eventually picked it up because I really didn’t want to read Madeleine Albreight’s thrilling autobiography.

It’s about a guy who lived his life as a Buddhist monk in India. Buddhists are full of themselves. Buddhist monks are like, overflowing with themselves. He is massively impressed with himself.

However, from my reading, all monks are full of themselves, at least the ones who write books about their monking. He mentions what a great guy St. Francis of Assisi was. Goodness. Francis drives me nuts. He’s a spoiled rich kid who leaves home to talk to birds and make up rules for people to obey. Nice life.

Well, Mr. Buddhist Monk was also a spoiled rich kid who left his home and spent time feeding ants and not making rules because, “whatever, man.”

On Judgment Day there’s going to a lot of massively disappointed monks.

All that effort. All that discipline. All that rule keeping. “Hey, I never even told anyone to do that,” I imagine God telling them. “Yeah, but, look how impressed we were with ourselves. Surely that must count for something?”

“You have your reward.”

I also note how many famous people endorse his book on the back cover. Everyone likes Buddhists. All the cool self-helpy people in our world just love them. Their meditation, their peace and tranquility, and their pseudo-intellectual agnostic, nirvanaing. They are no threat, primarily because no one has a clue what they are talking about.

Here’s a quote from Mr. Buddhist Monk:

Every one of the sutras–the accounts of the Buddha’s teaching that have come down to us–begins with the phrase, “Thus have I heard.” That opening, hedged as one listener’s experience, implies that this is just one possible account of what happened, filtered by a human mind and the limitations of memory. As scripture goes, it’s a rather tentative beginning

So, Buddha heard some stuff and is like, “Hey man, this is cool. Do you think it’s cool? I think it’d be cool if you thought it was cool. But whatever, man.”

He says later:

They are not divine revelation, absolute and incontrovertible, but communication skillfully framed for a particular audience. It was emphasized again and again that each listener heard those words differently, according to their own capacity and their own concerns.

Well that’s enough to make a guy vomit.

If their scriptures are just things that mean whatever to whoever hears it in whatever context, then why bother with scripture?

Buddha says, “Here’s some stuff I heard.” The Bible says, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Guess which one the world prefers?

Ultimately Buddhism is about the furtherance of the individual. Thus it becomes a self-serving religion. Christians start hospitals; Buddhists sit on mountains feeling superior to sick people. Christianity wants you to get your hands dirty, helping those who are hurting, loving your enemy, sticking with truth despite opposition, and generally living life with hope. Buddhism wants you to sink into yourself and not let anyone mess with your buzz, man.

Selah.

OK, I’m done.

God Is In Control?

Whenever there is a crisis or uncertainty, Christians plop out the “God is in control” cliche.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this in such times, mostly because I have no idea what people think that means. As far as I can tell, Christians mean at least one of the following things:

1. God ordains everything.
This is the Calvinistic notion of meticulous determination. That every molecule of creation is doing exactly what God tells it to do. Therefore, in the current crisis, God created the coronavirus and is killing who He wants to kill with it, is making ill the people He wants ill, and is curing the people He wants to cure. There’s nothing to do to stop it. It’s God’s ordained plan. Suck it up.

2. God will protect me.
Many Christians have the idea that since they have Jesus (allegedly), they will be free of all diseases. Jesus protects them from any and all viruses. They are safe from all harm. The power of God works better than any vaccine or medication ever invented!

3. Fatalism.
God is in control; I am not, so, like, whatever. I’ll just do my thing and whatever happens, happens. I will do the bare minimum of precautions, mostly to avoid judgment by others, and just let God sort it out. If I perish, I perish; if I live, I live. Que sera sera.

4. God’s promises stay true.
All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. The good here is conformity to Christ. No matter what happens in good, bad or indifferent circumstances, God can use it to grow me in Christ. They meant it for evil, but God meant it unto good. Ultimately I will be made like Him when I see Him as He is and nothing will stop that.

If I say such a thing, I mean number 4.

I don’t mean number 1, because then God is just mean and nasty. There’s also no point for there being the Devil, the god of this age, the prince of the power of the air. Then we don’t really wrestle against principalities and powers. And, although God defines Himself as love, boy howdy, if this idea is true, what love is this? When God controls every aspect of life, that will be in the righteousness of the New Heaven and the New Earth, where God’s will is always done. There will be no tears, no death, no Fall. That aint here now.

I don’t mean number 2, because everyone dies. Even we who have the Spirit groan and travail in pain. These same people often wear glasses or have contacts. This view cannot be held with any semblance of logic or consistency and causes one to have to justify away reality.

I don’t mean number 3, because there are plenty of verses that say we have responsibilities down here. Fatalism is not a biblical basis for doing life. We reap what we sow. There are consequences for our actions. God gave us a brain for a reason.

I do mean number 4, because that’s the way God speaks of such things. Romans 8 has a large section about the fact that terrible things will happen down here. But none of these things can separate us from the love of God. All things can help conform us to the image of Jesus Christ and nothing will stop that progression to ultimate conquering. Even if we die, absent from the body is present with the Lord. I will be raised up incorruptible. I will be made like Him when I see Him as He is.

God is in control, but it’s important to understand what that means. A wrong understanding will distort your understanding of who God is and will greatly confuse you about reality on this planet.

Getting it right will fill you with hope and alleviate worry. Getting it right will help you let go of this life and lay hold on eternal life. Help you look for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. When He fully takes over, what a day of rejoicing that will be!

Aint nothing gonna stop the Wedding Feast that’s coming!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Man’s Depravity is Not Total

It doesn’t take genius to know that people are creepy. Sin is natural to us. We are “by nature” the children of wrath.

At the same time, Paul says Gentiles “do by nature” things contained in the law. Which means our nature is not all bad and it aint all good. This would seem to have to be the case if we are made in the image of God and yet fallen. There still has to be some God image in us.

If you express this thought in theological circles, you will get hammered. We’ve been told countless times that we are totally depraved. Calvinism has taken this and stretched it so out of place, they don’t even think you can believe the Gospel.

Not only is this massively contradicted by Scripture, it makes life pretty much pointless. We’re just automatons doing what we’re programmed to do with no choice. Yet God remains ticked off at us for doing what he programmed us to do.

The simple solution to avoid making God into a complete monster, is to admit we’re not totally depraved.

Yup, that’s right, we should drop the traditions of men for the biblical doctrines of God. I know, bizarre, but I’d suggest it.

I’ve held this view for years, yet don’t see many other people going public with the view, because if you do, Calvinists will beat you into the ground. So I’m always encouraged when I see someone else publicly express it.

I came across one today in Ellicott’s Commentary on Matthew 7:11. God is saying that even earthly fathers know how to do nice things for their kids, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Ellicott says this:

The words at once recognise the fact of man’s depravity, and assert that it is not total. In the midst of all our evil there is still that element of natural and pure affection which makes the fatherhood of men a fit parable of the Fatherhood of God. We mount from our love to His, abstracting from our thoughts the evil of which we cannot but be conscious.

Beautiful. Thank you, Mr. Ellicott! You the man.

Coronavirus and The End

Let me begin by saying very clearly I do not think the coronavirus is The End, nor is it fulfilling any prophecies or anything like that. It’s not. Because, like, hardly anything is actually happening.

Let me also say I am not an infectious disease expert so my opinion that this is entirely overblown should carry little weight with you.

All that being said, here are a couple thoughts to consider.

–I believe that the next event in biblical prophecy is the rapture, when the Church will be taken to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). After that is a seven-year Tribulation period where the Antichrist will fool people and take over. He will begin by promising health and wealth to everyone and causing a semblance of peace (2 Thessalonians 2:8-11). You will note in this current crisis the following things:

A. Everyone wants health and wealth.
B. Everyone is looking to the government to give them both, or at least blaming the government for the absence of them.

This is setting the stage for an Antichrist figure to waltz right in and take over. He will promise, and apparently for a time, deliver on such expectations. If you are blaming a politician or looking to a politician to save you from disease, you are falling for the trap. The spirit of Antichrist is already at work right now setting this all up (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

–A stunning amount of Christians are falling for this. I am amazed at how many Christians are completely fixated on politicians. Jesus warns about false christs (the Antichrist is obviously the big, finale false christ–“christ” means anointed one and sums up the prophet, priest, and king roles) and the trend for people to fall for human leadership and not God’s leadership as the age goes on. He says the deception will be so great, that if it were possible even the elect would be deceived (Matthew 24:24). It’s happening right in front of you and possibly to you.

–I’m also aware that, thanks to the terrible writing in The Left Behind series, hardly any Christians uphold this view of The End anymore. It’s pretty much a joke and if you believe in a rapture and an antichrist and a tribulation you are an ignorant dork. In other words, the deception is almost complete! Even the Church doesn’t expect any of this anymore. Incidentally, whether you expect it or not changes nothing that God has planned.

–The more of these “crisis” things we go through, the more people will give up their freedoms to the government. We’re even doing it now when there is no discernible crisis. The more we do this, the more the government will take over the economy. Revelation 13:16-17 talks about the Antichrist’s reign on this earth and how he will control buying and selling, limiting it to people with his mark. Again, this 666 thing has been turned into a joke, yet you see the reality of this already at work. Would you follow the Antichrist to buy food, medicine, and more toilet paper?! Careful how you answer, because most will.

–All of these things are steps in that direction, each crisis bumps us closer. I’m not saying the coronavirus is the antichrist or fulfilling prophecy. I’m just saying to watch. All of this stuff is happening before any coronavirus arrived, it’s just pushing the trend along nicely. Notice how smoothly it’s happening, how people are asking for it to happen, practically demanding it. It’s happening in a way that makes complete common sense and I’m the stupid one for questioning it. The Antichrist will step right in to a situation already set up for him. He hardly has to do anything. We’re doing fine work down here for him.

–You don’t have to believe me. I really don’t care if you agree. I’m just sitting back and watching it happen and it’s stunning how it seems to be fulfilling everything the Bible said would happen (if you actually read the words on the page for what they say). I’m not trying to freak anyone out about the coronavirus. I am not freaked out about it. I’m just watching the slow slide of our response that will set up everything. The coronavirus will pass, but human stupidity will remain and continue us down the slope.

I am happy about Jesus returning, but not about the suffering, stupidity, and deception that will ruin souls along the way. Don’t be one of them.

Even so, come quickly.

Keep the Gospel Simple

I came across the following quote in Ellicott’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:20. His basic point is: keep it simple. Watch out for theories and elaborate theological structures. Don’t miss the main point, which is that God loves you and sent His Son to provide all you need to be reconciled to God. Don’t confuse the simple beauty of that.

It will be seen, in this conclusion of the language of St. Paul as to the atonement, how entirely, on the one hand, he recognises the representative and vicarious character of the redeeming work of Christ; how entirely, on the other, he stands aloof from the speculative theories on that work which have sometimes been built upon his teaching. He does not present, as the system-builders of theology have too often done, the picture of the wrath of the Father averted by the compassion of the Son, or satisfied by the infliction upon Him of a penalty which is a quantitative equivalent for that due to the sins of mankind.

The whole work, from his point of view, originates in the love of the Father, sending His Son to manifest that love in its highest and noblest form. He does not need to be reconciled to man. He sends His Son, and His Son sends His ministers to entreat them to be reconciled to Him, to accept the pardon which is freely offered.

Annoying Christian Books

I finished reading the short book on Romans 5-8. It was only 90 pages, mostly fluff, and lots of white space.

I was annoyed with it on page four, and became annoyed about every 12 pages throughout.

Many books say things that strike me as “off.” Not wrong, necessarily, just “off.” As in, not exactly what the verses say that you just quoted. For instance:

–the book said we “will all die not because we all sin like Adam, but because we all sinned in Adam.” Then they quote Romans 5:12, “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Now the issue of Original Sin is large, not going to rehash it all here, but just note that Romans 5:12 doesn’t say that we all sinned in Adam, it says we die because we all sin. The author of this little book adds words. It annoys me when books add words to verses.

–the book said in relation to Romans 8:16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God,” that we know we have the Spirit if we pray to the Father. Seriously? Plenty of people say the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father, who art in heaven) who are not saved. The fact that you pray does not mean you have the Holy Spirit. Prayer might be one thing, but it’s certainly not the whole thing. The emphasis of the chapter is on mortifying sin, doing righteousness, suffering with Christ, and things like that. That’s how you know you have the Spirit, not cuz you pray to the Father. Praying to the Father is much easier than doing those other things, how convenient and coincidental!

–the book talks about “whom He foreknew, them He also predestinated” and says “The difference between foreknowledge and predestination is, perhaps, that God’s electing choice was formed in His mind before He willed it.” I’d emphasize the “perhaps” a little more. That’s not what it means. He foreknew something that He based His predestination on. Saying it’s simply just that God knew what He was going to do before He did it is largely unnecessary to say. When has God ever done anything He didn’t think about doing first? They can’t define foreknowledge as anything to do with us because then our salvation is supposedly dependent on us and he already told us yesterday there’s nothing we can do to get God’s approval. So, let’s change the plain meaning of Scripture into something non-sensical to keep our theories alive.

That’s the kind of stuff. So many things are just slightly off. Even worse, it’s the same slightly off as everyone else says. Anytime people are all saying slightly off things that the Bible isn’t saying, you know people are just listening to people and not the Bible.

Why is it so hard for people to just say what the Bible says? Why do we feel a need to explain things in such a way that makes the Bible not say what it’s saying?

I could go on, but I’m not going to because it’s a beautiful day. Actually, it’s quite cold, but it’s still a day with many more possibilities in it besides me expressing frustration on the internet over dead authors.

Carry on.

Getting God’s Approval

I picked up a short, fluffy Christian book after finishing Luther’s Bondage of the Will.

Unfortunately, I think the level of stupid I’m going to encounter will be similar.

The book is about Romans 5-8, which are great chapters in the Bible, but rarely ever handled in a way that does them justice.

This book is living up to that assumption.

I knew right off I was going to have trouble when it defined justification as “a legal declaration of not guilty.” Makes my skin crawl.

The book is more than likely going to get in to some kind of weird let go and let God, what I do doesn’t matter stuff, and I know that just from the definition of justification they gave.

Sure enough, here’s a quote from page four:

Bask in God’s grace. There is nothing you can do or need to do to earn God’s approval.

One verse that popped into my head immediately was 2 Timothy 2:15

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

The word “study” means diligent effort. We are to use diligent effort in getting God’s approval. If there’s nothing I can do to get God’s approval, why is God constantly telling us to change our behavior so we don’t get judgment?

Grace, to many people, means nothing I do matters. We get a free ride because Jesus did some stuff.

The Apostle Paul says in Galatians he’s not seeking the approval of men, but of God. God is the one person in the universe we’re supposed to be doing things to get approval from.

The “nothing you can do” idea is an attempt to elevate the concept of grace. But if grace means everything I do is fine, then why bother doing anything?

“We do it because we’re approved, not to get approval” is typically the answer.

OK, so if we do approved things because we’re approved, what does that mean for people who don’t do approved things? Would it mean they aren’t approved then?

Doing approved things and being approved are related. The Bible says there are things we can do to get God’s approval. God gives grace to the humble.

To deny this is to undermine the words of Scripture and the character of God.

I’m only on page four. Sure wish I had a library of Christian books that didn’t continually tick me off.

Finally Unbound from The Bondage of the Will

Today I finish Luther’s The Bondage of the Will. I could not be happier about this. 320 pages of repetitive insult and arguments have come to an end. Here are a couple thoughts:

Luther is arguing against Erasmus’ opinion about free-will, not really against what the Bible says. According to Luther, Erasmus does a bad job. The way Erasmus is presented in the book, I would agree. Luther might just be skipping Erasmus’ best arguments, I don’t know. Erasmus did not use arguments or verses I would have used. Erasmus also said one sentence poorly and Luther uses that one sentence like a bludgeon throughout the book. Any time one of Luther’s arguments seemed weak, Luther throws that dumb sentence back at Erasmus. That was annoying. Not that Luther doesn’t have a right to do that, it was a self-defeating sentence, but that has nothing to do with what the Bible says.
Application: Just because you can defeat someone in an argument doesn’t mean you’re right. Maybe the other person is a moron and doesn’t know how to argue. This does not mean the entire theological camp is wrong.

–Luther’s use of Scripture is insulting. As I pointed out in previous posts about the book, Luther very conveniently switches from literal to non-literal at his whim while interpreting verses. He did a thing where Hebrew idioms mean one thing, Latin idioms mean another thing, so he’ll explain it and then go with whatever idiom proved his supposed point. He just did tricks like that–“God doesn’t use man’s grammar” on one page, and then when it suits his purpose, he mocks people who don’t think God uses man’s grammar. Pick a side, buddy.
Application–most arguing is pointless because you stop hearing what the Bible says and begin to twist the Bible to mean whatever backs up your point.

–Luther doesn’t think there’s free will mainly on the basis of his understanding of justification. Luther talks about justification a lot; it’s kind of what he’s known for. Since Luther doesn’t think we are justified by works of the law, therefore, we don’t have free will. I’m totally cool with not being justified by works of the law, but I fail to see how this means we don’t have free will. But for Luther, this is his trump card, his whammy, that knocks out any argument.
Application–watch out for pet doctrines, for they will take on a life of their own and make you veer from sound doctrine in other areas.

–Luther rarely touches verses that say the opposite of his point. Yes, he does mention some of the feeble attempts of Erasmus, many of which I thought were silly. But he avoids most of the verses I would use. He did a poor job of addressing contradictory verses. He also says many times that “the whole Bible makes my point, so why bother talking about each verse?” That’s weak.
Application–if the whole Bible makes your point, why did we need 320 pages of your words then? Just quote the Bible. Instead he quotes the Bible and has to use words to tell you how it doesn’t mean what it appears to say.

In conclusion, I thank the Lord I do not have to read any more of this book. He did a fine job destroying Erasmus, but the shots delivered to the free-will camp are easily deflected and bounce off without a dent. I appreciate his zeal and his passion, but do think he gets carried away. His carried awayness leads him to say things that are not biblical. I’ve read quite a bit of Luther and always come away thinking this. I think if he had chilled a bit he would have turned out better work.
Application–relax; you think better that way.

Luther and Foreknowledge

The Bondage of the Will slogs along to Erasmus’ argument about foreknowledge. Paul said, “Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate.” If words mean anything, God’s predestination is based upon His foreknowledge.

But, as we know, words don’t always mean what they appear to mean. A Calvinistic trick is to define the word “foreknowledge” as essentially meaning “predestine.” Luther does the same thing.

If God foreknew that Judas would be a traitor, Judas became a traitor of necessity, and it was not in the power of Judas or of any creature to act differently, or to change his will, from that which God had foreseen. It is true that Judas acted willingly, and not under compulsion, but his willing was the work of God, brought into being by His omnipotence, like everything else.

Luther, who recently said God’s revealed will is different from his non-revealed will and that God does not use words like man does, adds,

There are no obscure or ambiguous words here, even though all the most learned men of all ages should be so blind as to think and affirm the contrary.

Just wondering how Luther knows when words mean what they mean and when they don’t.

Luther goes on about foreknowledge meaning God making things happen and redefining words when he says,

We know that man’s foreknowledge is fallible. We know that an eclipse does not occur because it is forecast, but is forecast because it is going to occur. But what relevance has that foreknowledge for us? We are discussing the foreknowledge of God! And if you do not allow that the thing which God foreknows is necessarily brought to pass, you take away faith and the fear of God, you undermine all the divine promises and threatenings, and so you deny deity itself.

So, here’s Luther’s idea about God words and Man words meaning different things in action. So when God foreknows it’s akin to God doing, but when man foreknows it’s just man knowing beforehand. Words don’t mean things then.

The essential idea of the Calvinistic and Lutheran view of God is that God’s sovereignty means no one else can know or do anything. God can only control what He does. He’s not strong enough to control if man had free-will to do things.

Their attempt to elevate the character of God ultimately undermines it. God is a dictator who can’t allow anyone any freedom apart from His control.

But God foreknowing what is going to happen in no way necessarily implies He does everything or that God can only know what He does.

God is made smaller with this view, not bigger. They are viewing power, ironically enough, entirely from a weak human perspective. This is the God of Islam, not the God of the Bible.