Fighting And Happiness

Fighting is a tough subject. Sometimes it’s appropriate to fight for things other times it’s not. People who never fight are people who have lost all hope or love. People who fight all the time have also lost hope and love, along with many other things too I would guess.

I came across this blog post on communication and how much fighting is juuuuust right.

Researcher John Gottman of the University of Seattle (“Why Marriages Succeed or Fail”) has been studying marriage for more than 25 years, watching couples interact, and tracking divorce rates. He has found that there is a “magic ratio” of positive to negative interactions. The ratio hovers right around 5 to 1: Five positive interactions to every 1 negative interaction.

Now part of this ratio is common sense. If your ratio is 2 to 1 or 3 to 1, you just don’t have enough that is positive in the relationship to counter the frustrations. But let’s say your ratio is 10 to 1, or even 100 to 1. Isn’t that ideal? You fight so rarely that you can hardly remember the last time?

No. In fact, couples who fight so little are actually significantly less happy in the relationship three years later, than couples who are closer to 5 to 1. Why? Most likely, you are avoiding the inevitable disagreements and disgruntlement that comes with a daily relationship. If you don’t put that on the table, it’s going to fester and disintegrate the relationship from within.

Interesting. The freedom to argue is a sign of good things. However, it should be measured out with lots of good talking.

When we consider the Church and our ability to retain unity, we must keep in mind that arguing will happen and it aint all bad. It may, in fact, be a sign of a healthy relationship.

If you aren’t allowed to argue with your church something is wrong. If all you do is argue with your church something is wrong. I have no further point, just thinking.

Nehemiah’s Wall Found

Apparently the wall around Jerusalem that was built under Nehemiah (well, not under him physically but under his direction) has been found. Cool.

The findings suggest that the structure was actually part of the same city wall the Bible says Nehemiah rebuilt, Mazar said. The Book of Nehemiah gives a detailed description of construction of the walls, destroyed earlier by the Babylonians.

“We were amazed,” she said, noting that the discovery was made at a time when many scholars argued that the wall did not exist. “This was a great surprise. It was something we didn’t plan,” Mazar said.

Authority To Teach

A question that has caused problems throughout Church History is—who has the authority to teach me? Maybe better phrased as, “Why should I listen to you?”

After Christ died people listened to those who were with Jesus. They did this so much that Paul struggled to get some people (see 1 & 2 Corinthians) to listen to him since he wasn’t with Christ on earth.

Then guys claimed to be in apostolic succession. “No, I didn’t know Christ, but I knew a guy who knew a guy who heard this one guy who knew this guy who said he was with Jesus, so listen to me.”

During the time of intense persecution, people began listening to the martyrs. Perhaps you think it’s hard to listen to martyrs since they would be dead, but alas, martyrs wrote before becoming martyred. If you wrote books on faith and then were burned at the stake suddenly you had authority. Everyone read what the martyrs said no matter how silly it may have been.

Once the world stopped persecuting the church the church began persecuting itself. This is where you see the weird ascetics and pole dwellers and various other forms of monkery begin. Guys who live in caves are like Jesus so we’ll listen to them.

Then, for awhile, people listened to guys who claimed to be infallible. “Wow, you are so smart you know you’re infallible so I must listen to you.”

Then the Reformers came along, risking life and limb. People began to listen to them, no matter how right or wrong they may have been. This is similar to the earlier martyr syndrome.

In recent history, the last 200-300 years, people listen to the educated ones. If you had a degree you were smart and smart people are never wrong because you’re to stupid to know if they are wrong or right anyway.

Now, since education is taking a hit, we concentrate more on money, prestige, number of followers, nice hair, etc.

It’s funny really, if it weren’t so sad, that not once in the history of the church have we ever, as a majority, listened to the people Scripture tells us to listen to—Titus 1:6-9.

History shows we listen to people who have cool experiences. We shy away from the Bible’s teaching that we listen to people who actually live godly in Christ Jesus. As Christ said, “you will know them by their fruits.”

It’s easier to be burned at the stake than it is to love. It’s easier to be with Christ than it is to live with Him now that He’s in heaven. It’s easier to get a degree than it is to be patient and gentle. It’s easier to put on a show than it is to duplicate the mind of Christ.

If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s tough so it doesn’t happen often. But when you find that man who lives it, pay attention.

What Is Edification?

Reading the book on the Plymouth Brethren got me thinking about edification. Based on my non-denominational, Bible church upbringing, I always understood edification to be centered in learning. To be edified meant you were imparted spiritual knowledge that caused your knowledge to grow.

However, in looking at the word more closely, edification has more to do with the stuff you do. Allow me to illustrate:

“Knowledge puffs up; but love edifies”—1 Corinthians 8:1

“follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”—Romans 14:19

“all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”—1 Corinthians 10:23

“comfort yourselves together, and edify one another,”–1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”—Romans 15:2

“we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.”—2 Corinthians 12:19

“according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”—Ephesians 4:16

These verses all stress that what we do is what edifies, not what we know or what we teach. Now, there are a few other examples, such as 1 Corinthians 14 and Ephesians 4 where ministry and teaching do play a role in edifying.

In order to edify with love and works it is required that you know how to do it. It’s not that learning and knowledge don’t have a part, it’s that the part knowledge plays results in an action that results in people being edified.

The Brethren Movement has lots of knowledge and there’s also lots of puffing and division. Many Brethren churches view themselves as the only ones with the truth. It is my experience that those who view themselves as the “sole keepers of the truth” do very little. “We’re already preserving truth, what more could we do?”

Knowledge is never to replace love that edifies.

There were only a few of the prominent Brethren who lived biblical knowledge in action, such as John Darby who said, “[Believers] have to bear His cross and suffer with Him, separated from the world which has rejected Him”

By all accounts Darby did just that in knowledge and in action. Many were edified due to his consistent example. Many others followed what he knew but fewer and fewer followed what he did and division multiplied.

Knowledge puffs up; love edifies. Simply stated and it is to be simply lived.

A Historical Sketch of the Brethren Movement

Harry Ironside, an author I enjoy reading, was a Plymouth Brethren member and wrote a history of that group.

Brethren guys were often known as “walking Bibles” because they knew their Scriptures so well. John Darby was the formative figure in the movement. He popularized dispensations, the premillenial rapture of the saints and a better view of Christ’s work.

Unfortunately, as he got older and eventually died, the Brethren movement split and divided over everything. An argument over whether Jesus would die if he drank poison split the entire Movement! Silly stuff like that occurred bringing much disrepute on the entire movement and, unfortunately, on their doctrine, which was quite good.

Why did they split so much? The guys were too smart. Knowledge puffs up, always does and always will. Instead of emphasizing Christ, as Darby did, they emphasized themselves and their superiority.

Their notion of church structure (basically having as little as possible) also lead to many divisions that probably could have been handled better if they had better structure.

The book was rather tedious as it dealt with all these goofy divisions. It was quite sad as well. However, as a positive, John Darby really shines as a loyal follower of Christ. I have come to appreciate Darby and Ironside even more after reading it.

G. Campbell Morgan

I really enjoy reading G. Campbell Morgan’s books. He won’t blow you away with tremendous insights but he has a great way of saying things and puts things in an order that makes a lot of sense to me.

It also helps that he wrote a ton of books and I happen to have a half a ton of those books currently in my possession for various reasons, none of which included me purchasing them.

I would encourage all believers to read some of his books.

Here is a brief biography and information about the man. Enjoy.

Nicene Creed

Most of the creeds that have been drawn up were done to refute and stand against heresy. Perhaps the most famous Creed is the Nicene Creed.

The Council at Nicea happened in 325. The main issue was doctrine. One group held what they thought was pure doctrine and the other group felt they did. Who was purer? They met to find out.

In Nicea the main issue was boiled by Arius concerning the coeternal nature of Jesus Christ. “There was when he was not” was his rallying cry. Jesus Christ was a created being, not eternal. If that were the case, claimed his opponents, then you deny the divinity of Christ and do damage to the teaching of the New Testament.

Arius maintained that if Christ were created there were then two gods rather than the One of the Bible. This argument, centering in Alexandria, threatened the established church. Something must be done and certainly a committee can sort it out.

Enter the 318 men who attended the council of Nicea. (Seeing as how we’re dealing with a sensitive theological issue, there are debates surrounding everything, including the actual number of people in attendance. 318 is the number of men circumcised with Abraham and so has come in to some doubt as an actual counting and more of an over-sanctimonious pseudo-coincidence.)

Eusebius took up the mantle for Arius and gave a speech agreeing that Jesus was a creature not God. He thought his words were well stated and any reasonable man would surely agree.

Eusebius was shouted down and had his speech ripped from his hands and stomped on! This was the turning point and the Council agreed to author a creed spelling out their objection to Arianism.

When you glance at the Nicene Creed (go ahead, it’s short) you can tell their major beef was over the divinity of Christ. The Nicene Creed is well-stated and eliminates any leanings toward Arius. Which is good, because that’s why it was written.

Credal Fencing

It is often stated that people should stick with the creeds of the church. You shouldn’t leave the established tradition of faith. Usually 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and similar verses are thrown in.

I would agree to an extent. If you are coming up with brand new theology after almost 2,000 years there’s a good chance you are veering into heresy. At the same time, creeds were written by men and men are by nature messed up.

People from the proud Reformation tradition are usually the most adamant about insisting upon keeping church tradition, which always strikes me as humorous. These are the same guys who completely threw away the previous 1,400 years of church tradition and I think we’re all glad they did so.

In the words of John Calvin, “whatever the many are seen to do, forthwith obtains the force of custom. But human affairs have scarcely ever been so happily constituted that the better course pleased the greater number” In other words, the majority is seldom right.

All that being said, the creeds are a simple statement of Christian faith. They summarize biblical truth in an easy way to remember. They never sought to replace Scripture as many high-falutin evangelicals maintain. There’s nothing inherently wrong with them.

Most American evangelicals who resist creeds do so to not be labeled with a religion. They feel that creeds are too stuffy and cathedralish, all the things that American religion tried to avoid. Don’t fence me in!

I think we could use some fencing in our modern anything-goes church and creeds may make good fencing. Then again, there sure is some green grass on the other side.

William Gladstone

Gladstone served in British Parliament and was a Prime Minister. He was an eccentric character basing his government actions on his fanatical religiosity.

He was upset by the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. He said the Catholic Church was “an Asian monarchy: nothing but one giddy height of despotism, and one dead level of religious subservience” that put British Catholics in a conundrum as to whom to follow: British government or the Pope.

Although many treatments of Gladstone completely ignore his religious views, they were a driving force in all he did. He once said, “When have I seen so strongly the relation between my public duties and the primary purposes for which God made and Christ redeemed the world?”

He also wrote, “The best thing would be ‘to die in church,’ he mused in his diary, ‘but not at a time to disturb worshippers.'”

Gladstone’s eccentric energetic life served as inspiration to Winston Churchill and many other British leaders. He viewed himself as appointed by God to serve in politics and energetically carried out his calling.

Still Kickin’

I’ve been on a Church History kick lately. I’ve always liked Church History, it was one of the few A’s I earned in seminary. I find it to be fascinating.

The modern church annoys me greatly, so it’s quite refreshing to look back and see that actually the church has been excelling in annoyance for 2,000 years. There’s nothing new under the sun, eh.

It fascinates me how ignorant “Christians” are. Common doctrines that have been held by the professing church for 2,000 years are falling out of our beliefs. Modern heresies are merely reformulations of old battles already fought and died for.

If we had any idea where we came from and why we got here the church could be greatly helped. I’m going to kick on this subject for awhile, feel free to join me.

I found a link to a couple of online sermons on church history that I think are well done. You can find them here, click on the sermons entitled “The Church in History 1” and “The Church in History 2.” They are a great synopsis of Church History presented well, or at least better than I’ve heard for quite some time. And a cool British accent really helps too.