Luther, Lewis, and the Laughter of the Christian

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One thing that C.S. Lewis and Martin Luther taught me about the Devil is that the old geezer takes himself painfully seriously. Luther once said: “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to the texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” Thomas More once wrote: “The deville… the prowde spirite… cannot endure to be mocked.” Lewis quotes both these men in the opening to his book The Screwtape Letters, and then enters into a discourse wherein he openly ridicules the devil, and shows the ugliness of the Devil’s schemes.

One of the privileges of the Christian when he is found in union with Christ, in union with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ is that he can, with Christ, mock the Devil. In Colossians 2:15, Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” In Christ, and in His armour we go up against these rulers and authorities: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:11-12)

We know from Psalm 2, that the Lord sits in the heavens and laughs at the schemes of men. In the Gospels, Jesus drove demons into the sea, cast them out, triumphed over them, making a public mockery of them. Following His death and resurrection, His disciples did the same thing, casting out demons and preaching in the name of Jesus.

Fastforward to the 21st century. We live in relatively easy times, but we also live in a time when the devil is at work. He is a proud, arrogant prick and he wants men to serve him rather than the Living God of heaven and earth. And so I’m tickled pink when I see him ridiculed, when I see churches continue to grow and people are forgiven of their sins, when families gather together and have holy laughter rather than cackling over the dirty jokes of the devil.

I honestly believe that the devil loses his hold when he is mocked. Of course, it starts from the basis of God’s Word. As Luther once said: “The Devil fears the Word of God, He can’t bite it; it breaks his teeth.” Again, Luther advises: “The best way to get rid of the Devil, if you cannot kill it with the words of Holy Scripture, is to rail at and mock him. Music, too, is very good; music is hateful to him, and drives him far away.” And then when Christians enjoy God’s world within the bounds of His Word, the Devil is at a loss. Luther says again: “So when the devil says to you: do not drink, answer him: I will drink, and right freely, just because you tell me not to.” This is the way in which Jesus disowns him and puts him to open shame when Christians take themselves less seriously, and engage in Christian joy, and fellowship and live in harmony. Of course, within the bounds of God’s Word, because the Devil breaks his teeth on that.

Another way to treat the Devil is to call him names. Martin Luther writes again: “I often laugh at Satan, and there is nothing that makes him so angry as when I attack him to his face, and tell him that through God I am more than a match for him.” Names show that he is despised, etc.

“Come, let us sing a psalm, and drive away the Devil.” Again, Luther conjurs up another weapon against the Devil’s schemes. Against the temptations to worldliness, the desires of sin that lead to death, the desire to leave the gospel. Come, let’s sing a song and drive away the Devil.

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Reformation: Looking to the Future

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A couple months ago, I wrote a blog post defending the Reformers from the charge of schism. Somebody pointed out to me though that the Reformers were not free from criticism and neither are we. The fact is that churches continue to split, and our federations, denominations, etc. are split and divided by minor doctrines. As the Reformers fought for the reformation of the church, the Reformer Martin Bucer confessed to the Roman Catholic theologian Von Wied, that both sides had to take responsibility for the failure to truly Reform the church of that day: “Both sides have failed. Some of us have overemphasized unimportant points, and others have not adequately reformed obvious abuses.” (quote found here)

As we look back to the time of the Reformation, we look back with joy to the time when the Word of God broke free from the strangle-hold of tradition and the papacy. But we also look back to a time of major debate about both doctrine and unity. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is not simply a time of celebration, but also a time of longing as we seek to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1), “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

The fact is, the Reformation rediscovered the centrality of the cornerstone and the foundation of the Church, Jesus Christ and the Word of God. When Christ is pushed away from the center, and tradition is elevated to the Word of God, it is difficult to maintain the unity of the Spirit. Yet, in spite of this aim to bring back the centrality of Christ and His Word, over the course of 500 years, the church has continued to splinter, and rather than building on this foundation of sola scriptura and sola Christus, we have divided it up into little hills where every denomination goes to die on.

My argument is that we are still under orders to work for reformation. The church splintered, and began to be re-formed, but the project was broken up by human pride, and nationalistic spirit. Eventually, God brought all these splinters together in one spot: North America. Immigration and “denominational tolerance” brought multiple denominations into the same towns. The Lutherans, Wesleyans, Presbyterians, Reformed, and Anglicans have had to duke it out for 200 years from town to town in North America.

In North America, we struggle with the fact of disunity. It is hard work to work together in life and in doctrine as churches. Liberal unity movements have killed churches by the hundreds and even thousands, having been built on compromise, rather than on the Word of God, the only firm foundation. Confessional nuances between various confessional statements have divided confessional churches like Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Reformed. Confessional interpretations have divided groups within all these groups. In some, truth has trumped love, and in others love has trumped the truth. And then we have neither truth or love, because they go together. Some churches have rejected the authority of Scripture, and have allowed in various forms of idolatry and worldliness. It’s a mess.

Currently, the Gospel Coalition is seeking to bring together gospel-centered churches, but many look on with a wary eye. This is understandable. We are leery as a result of years and years of compromise and the watering down of the truth. There are unity movements at work within NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Committee), but it is hard when we have become so entrenched in our nuances and have turned our traditions into rules. Add to that various voices of slander and treachery, and the difficulty of unity may seem insurmountable.

It’s a mess. But grace works with messes. The only power is the Word of God, the grace of God, the power of Jesus, faith in Him, and the exclusive glory of God. We should look back and celebrate this expression of God’s grace in the world that exploded in the world 500 years ago. But we must recognize that this same grace is at work today, and can set the world on fire for another 500 years. We can fight in truth and love to bring about new reformations and advance the reformation, to bring the gospel to the countries and cities of North America and too the ends of the earth continuing to build on the only cornerstone and foundation: Jesus Christ and His Word. And then we can open up our arms to the Roman Catholic Church as well and point out how their structures and governments have wandered from the truth. When Jesus Christ and His Word are central, we can then continue the task of building.

This is the ongoing work of Reformation.

A Manifesto: 10 Goals of a Seminarian

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A manifesto can be defined as “a public declaration of policy and aims.” I guess you could say that this is an attempt to draw one up by a student.

  • I will seek to preach the Word of God in its entirety and pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move the hearts of men and women.
  • I will seek to serve Christ’s Church in its entirety, particularly the local church I find myself in.
  • I will seek to preach Christ and all of Christ, as the Triune God has been revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.
  • I will seek to love and speak the truth in a gospel-manner to every man or woman whom Christ places in my path.
  • I will seek to humbly honour and submit too all those earthly authorities that God will chose to place over me: whether consistories, or classes, or synods, or confessions, or creeds. I will do this in subjection to Christ.
  • I will seek the unity of the church in love, while not compromising on the truth.
  • I will seek the glory of God in time of conflict and in time of peace.
  • I will seek to enjoy God’s creation fully and without idolatry.
  • I will seek to repent daily for my failed attempts at living up to this standard that is so high that I will never be able to attain until heaven.
  • I will also seek to watch and pray, and so actively live by the grace of God in this world in which He has placed me.

I’m a student at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary, and a student in the United Reformed Churches of North America.

Time In Genesis?

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Time. This is the awkward four-letter word that has now slipped into the debate over Genesis 1 and whether some form of Christian evolutionary belief can indeed be true.

The belief that the world was created in 6 literal days, and that the world is young, has been challenged in the church at various points during its existence. It didn’t align with the beliefs of the intellectuals of Augustine’s day (the Manicheans and the Platonists), and neither does it align the with the beliefs of intellectuals of our day (the Scientific establishment). So is there an eternal divide between faith and philosphy, between faith and science, between faith and reason?

Skepticism is one of those insidious things that creeps into our minds. Merriam Webster defines skepticism this way: “an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.” This attitude of doubt has often been set toward a particular object: the claims of Scripture. The Higher Criticism of the 1800s lives on in various different forms, and challenges us to be skeptical. As Immanuel Kant challenged the world in the 1700s: “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!” He may have meant something different, but now we use this to challenge authority and testimony.

David Hume (who was a little more skeptical than Kant) once said: “I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another.” Thus, it can be expected that the foundation of Christian belief would be challenged: the Word of God. As one Old Earth Creationist said to me: “the Bible, in and of itself, is merely words on a page.”

The problem with this skepticism is that it can turn back on itself, and that is what Thomas Purifoy and Del Tackett do in their movie ‘Is Genesis History?’ The use time as an argument to make the evolutionist more skeptical of his evolutionary dogma. Their argument isn’t primarily about having different exegesis, or the odds and ends of the phenomenological evidence. The question they ask is: what is time? The very question itself encourages the evolutionist to be skeptical towards his skepticism.

So, according to the Christian who wants to integrate Scripture and evolution, the Bible isn’t recording history, and we know this because of the rock strata and other various pieces of evidence. But if we were looking at Mount Saint Helen’s today we would say that some of these valleys carved out over millions of years, when it was only a couple days. Scientists at the Grand Canyon record catastrophic activity (major volcanoes), and then go on to dogmatically claim millions of years for its formation. Yes, phenomenologically, the rate of change demands millions of years, but we also have data to point to a very fast rate of change.

According to the skeptics, I shouldn’t accept Genesis as history, and as a history of the world that might have implications for the rate of change. But me being a skeptic like them can push back and say why can’t the testimony of God in Scripture challenge your narrative? In fact, when so many of the records among the cultures of the world record a great flood, doesn’t that give me more evidence? Why doesn’t the Bible factor into your data? Or to the “Christian evolutionist”, why would Ancient Near Eastern Literature carry more weight than Scripture? Is there nothing unique about Scripture? Or as my Old Earth Creationist friend said, is it merely words on a page?

I submit that Purifoy and Tackett are winning this debate on the question of time. Rather than nit-picking the details, it would be interesting to see evolutionists responding too the actual argument, and responding with the same philosophical and historical rigor as Purifoy and Tackett used. The actual argument is about time. I do find the movie ‘Is Genesis History?’ interesting, because it has helped me to develop a stronger philosophical argument against evolution. And this is important because many scientists don’t recognize the philosophical implications behind their science.

The 4th century church father, Ephrem the Syrian, puts it beautifully in his commentary on Genesis:

“No one should think that the Creation of Six Days is an allegory; it is likewise impermissible to say that what seems, according to the account, to have been created in six days, was created in a single instant, and likewise that certain names presented in this account either signify nothing, or signify something else. On the contrary, we must know that just as the heaven and the earth which were created in the beginning are actually the heaven and the earth and not something else understood under the names of heaven and earth, so also everything else that is spoken of as being created and brought into order after the creation of heaven and earth is not empty names, but the very essence of the created natures corresponds to the force of these names.”

A Prayer for our Culture

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A prayer that I wrote in June for the afternoon service in Abbotsford URC. I thought I would share it here again.

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Missions Concerns:
Heavenly Father, we thank You hearing our prayers in Jesus Christ our Lord. We thank You that You have revealed Yourself to us in Your Word and that as we press on to know You more, we learn about Your will, and we learn about what You have commanded us to ask You for. And so this afternoon we pray that Your kingdom would come and that Your will would be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We pray that You would defend Your Holy Church, and that You would destroy all the works of the devil. We pray that You would destroy the sin in our midst, and the evil that fights for power among us. We ask that You would build our congregation in holiness and in knowledge, that we would apply the Word to our lives, and that we would live our lives in the freedom of the good news that we know our sins are forgiven by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone.

We pray that Your righteousness would be revealed in Canada. Let our lives be a testimony to the light of the gospel of grace. We pray for the unborn who are being slaughtered in the womb. Arise oh Lord, and defend them. Defend the abused women who find themselves caught in hard decisions. We pray for those who have made these sinful decisions, and that they would turn to You as the battle against the sin that seeks to overtake them. We pray for the men in these situations that they would repent of their abuse of power, and fall at Your feet and ask for mercy.

We pray for the other issues of unrighteousness that are promoted in our nation. We ask that You would protect the elderly and the disabled who are vulnerable to new laws on doctor-assisted suicide. We are a culture of death and we pray that You would bring the life of Your gospel into this culture.

We pray for Your protection from the various issues that our culture propogates and wrestles with. We pray for Your forgiveness for those who have fallen into such sins, and the strength to fight those sins. But we also pray that our response to these issues would give glory to Your Name and would spread the life of the gospel into this nation. We pray that we would fight against the pornographic culture we live in, the loose morals, the lust for money and power and fame. Humble us under Your mighty hand, so that You might lift us up.

We pray for the mission of the church, in particular for Your missionaries and those churches on the front lines. We pray for courage in battle for these men and women, and we pray for an outpouring of Your Spirit on those who don’t yet believe in the gospel. We pray for those new converts who face opposition from their families, that they would stand firm and grow mightily.

We come before you with our petitions, knowing that you have raised us to the high position of sons and daughters in Your Son, Jesus Christ. We know that we are helpless in battle without You. We pray that we would be bold in witnessing to the Kingdom of Your Son. Give us courage and strength. We pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.

On Speedos and Bikinis: Males and Modesty and the Lack Thereof

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I hope to challenge the popular paradigm on modesty. I invite interaction, as I’m sure my thesis can be tightened up. This is generally how I hear it stated. Bad boys lust, and bad girls want to be lusted after. Some women get angry when they hear that they should dress with modesty. After all, shouldn’t men learn how to control themselves? Ungodly men put all the responsibility on them, and blame them for rape culture. Godly men put the responsibility on themselves, and still gently challenge women to dress with modesty. I agree that men should learn how to control themselves, and I also agree that women should dress with modesty. I recently found an excellent article on modesty from Ben Zornes, here.

But I also want to challenge what seems to be a misconception. What I see as a common misconception is that men lust and women want to be lusted after. It is true, but it leaves out the fact that often women lust and men want to be lusted after. This does not deny differences between men and women. This does not deny male headship in marriage. It is primarily an argument that asserts that while lust is a male problem, it is also a human problem. Thus, I also want to assert that modesty is not only a female problem, but also a human problem.

My argument begins in Genesis 39. This is the story of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph. In the ESV, in chapter 39:7, Potiphar’s wife lusts after Joseph: “And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’” This immediately follows the line where the text describes Joseph as “handsome in form and appearance.” My argument is not that Joseph was being immodest. My argument is that in the Bible we see an example of how men have bodies, and women sometimes lust after those bodies. Thankfully, we see an example of how a man did not give into his own lust, and fled her lust. The next step in my argument is that those men who do not flee this lust, often seek after the lust of women through variations of immodesty.

Many men know that they have strength and form, and sometimes they flaunt this in the same way as women seek to flaunt their beauty. Think about the man on the beach who is flaunting his rippling pectoral muscles as he swaggers around shirtless, or the dude on the basketball court who has cut back the sleeves on his shirt as much as possible so that all the chicks in the bleachers can see his shoulder muscles bulging out. Or even all the dudes on the movies who are showing off their abs and biceps. There are men out there who are looking for attention. Sometimes it expresses itself in their desire for women to see their muscly chests or butts.

Of course, this is just an expression of the central sin that cuts through the heart of every man and woman: pride. But for males, this sin has a very particular expression: bragging. Men can brag through their words, but also through the clothes they wear, or lack of clothing they wear. Clothing, or lack thereof, can draw attention to the strength that they want to show off for the world too see, particularly for all the girls who will ‘oooo’ and ‘awww’ over their six-pack and bulging biceps.

This argument does not justify feminine immodesty, or vanity, or pride. This is only intended to say that there is a male problem out there, and it is largely not talked about. This does not mean that the church should stop challenging feminine immodesty in our culture.

Of course, my aim is not to make every athletic and/or muscular male out there feel ashamed of himself. Joseph was a man who sought to serve the Lord and he was ‘handsome in form and appearance’. In 2 Samuel 23, David’s mighty men are described as powerful and strong. This passage in Samuel is one of the most B.A. descriptions of the fighting men of the Lord in the Bible. David himself was ruddy and good looking.

But David also confesses to the Lord in Psalm 18:35, among a record of his feats of strength, that “You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.” In fact, the entire Psalm is a confession of reliance on God. Of course, a man can be immodest in his confession of reliance on God: “Look how great God has made me!!!!!!” But a man can also be modest and humble in his confession of reliance on God. In vs. 31, King David says in humility: “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?” God gets the glory.

What I have sought to prove here, is that in love for our Christian sisters, Christian men should also seek to cultivate a Christian modesty. This applies to both words and clothing. This does not mean that they should give up on helping out their wives and daughters to cultivate modesty. Christian women must repent of their lust, but we can’t do that for them. Instead, we can repent of our own lust and our own pride. We can humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, and begin to cultivate a life of modesty and humility that really seeps down into the very fiber of our being. That doesn’t give us an excuse for being pansies. It just gives us a reason to glorify God as we do battle for His glory. And to seek humility and grace as we do it. As C.S. Lewis once said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Cheers, and have a good day!

Some Creationist Resources

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A couple Young Earth Creation resources for your consideration:

“Is Genesis History?” directed by Thomas Purifoy. You can watch the movie here.

“Creation in Six Days: a Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis 1” by James Jordan. You can buy the book here.

“In Six Days God Created” by Paulin Bedard. You can buy the book here.

“A Shot of Faith to the Head: be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists” by Dr. Mitch Stokes. You can buy the book here.

The Answers in Genesis website can be found here, and the Creation Ministries International write here.

Dr. Gordon Wilson, my former biology professor at New Saint Andrews College has written a textbook, and has a documentary here.

In addition, Kuyperian Commentary has blogged about and interviewed Thomas Purifoy on the movie “Is Genesis History?” There is some good material over at Kuyperian.

Dr. Ted Van Raalte, Pastor Wes Bredenhof, Pastor Jim Witteveen, and Jon Dykstra, have done some blogging over at Creation Without Compromise.

Dr. John Byl blogs over on his blog entitled bylogos, and has written a number of books including God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe (2001) and The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning (2004).

This is just a start!

Be Watchful. Stand Firm in the Faith. Act Like Men. Be Strong.

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I should explain my D-Day metaphor for women in office in the church a little further. The Reformed Churches in the Netherlands just accepted women in office. This is not only in the office of elder and deacon, but also in the office of minister. These Reformed Churches in the Netherlands are sister churches to the FRCA and the Canadian Reformed Churches. It is a major and a dissapointing move, because their church network is one of the most theologically rigorous in the world.

The act of putting women into office on a practical level is like putting a women out on the front lines of a military operation. Only cowardly men do that because they don’t want to be shot at themselves, and so they send out their women in front of them. We see one example of this in Judges 4:8 where Barak tells Deborah “if you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” They are talking about going up and defeating the armies of Sisera.

The book of Judges is a book of failed men and powerful and fearless women. Deborah responds: “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.” There is no glory in Barak’s decision. The fact that the book of Judges is full of failed men and powerful and fearless women, is not a reprimand to the women, rather, it is a reprimand to the men. There was no king in the land.

The commission of an office-bearer, is to exhort and to give rebukes in the New Testament times. And Paul sends out Timothy and Titus too the front lines, not Lydia and the other honorable ladies in the church. It would be cowardice to send out a women to rebuke a man who is making trouble or deep in some other form of sin. It is not that a woman is unable to do that, its that she should not do that. That doesn’t mean that women don’t hold a very high role in teaching and encouraging younger women, it simply means that the often embattled offices of minister and elder and deacon should be given to the men. Where are the men? If the men aren’t stepping into these roles, we shouldn’t be blaming the women for this. Yes, their responsibilities are theirs, but we are responsible for us.

The overarching view of the hermeneutic that took over the CRC was a cultural commentary. Paul was culturally bound, and so we are loosing those social constraints on our churches. But this is a poor hermeneutic because Paul was challenging the culture of his day by giving women such an honorable role as He did in the church. Paul was not a malechauvinist or a feminist. Our response to the culture around us is not only insulting to the men, but also the women. Remember that when Paul writes, this is the Word of God.

“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” This is not jumping topics. The call of marriage in Scripture is to push men to be more Christ-like. This is part of the reason why marriage is between one man and one woman. The call of the Church is to be push men to be more Christlike. It was a man who brought the human race crashing into sin, and it was a second Man who redeemed the human race. For men to give up their responsibilities in leading the church, they deny who Christ is: the second Adam who came to redeem His bride from the curse of sin. Could Christ have been a woman? The very thought is blasphemy, but this question has been asked me. More than once. I always wonder what weird hermeneutical twist brought up that question.

The question for men who might be identified as conservative or fundamentalist Christians is this: will we stand up, grow a back bone, and serve in our churches with grace and love? Gentleness in leadership is a sign of strength because there is a security in your role. Maybe we lack leadership because we lack men, and this criticism hits home with me too. I often see my failings. But the answer isn’t to back down from the task. That’s not courage. If the men at D-day had sailed back to Britain and then sent there women across, the Nazi Reich would be part of our daily life. The key to courage is to be men and to jump out of those ships even when bombs are flying all around, and the artillery from the beaches are wiping out entire platoons of soldiers. It’s not that the woman would be unable to storm Normandy, it’s more that we should not put them in that position. It’s because we know that if we fight today there will be peace tomorrow. It doesn’t mean that we are any less scared. The thought of heading back to Britain is almost weird. But this is exactly what denominations are doing by the score. And then I can say kudos to the Deborahs who stick a goad under the seat of the pants of the Baraks, and the Jaels who pull out tent-stakes, and the women who drop millstones on the heads of wicked kings. But then we have to realize that we are the men in these passages. And that’s embarrassing. For both the men and the women.

I can thank mothers who drive on their sons and husbands to be leaders, and then wives who do that for the next generation of men and take on the task in training the next generation. There is no dishonour to being a woman in the church. That is why the Hebrew meaning of the word for women is fire, and the word for men only means dirt. The woman is the glory of the man. She is the bride, the crowning jewel of the man. Her opinion is of the highest importance. She should be well educated, listened to, loved and cherished. But to put the sword in her hand as we run for the hills is cowardice, and fails to imitate Christ and His church.

Be Watchful. Stand Firm in the Faith. Act Like Men. Be Strong. Let all that you do be done in love. I Cor. 16: 13-14

 

Does Your Interpretation of Genesis 1 have Gospel Implications?

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I find it interesting how with recent “gospel coalitions” across the country, the interpretation of Genesis 1 has been set on the sidelines as an unimportant issue. But here, I will posit a number of reasons on why it is an important issue, even an issue that touches on the heart of the gospel.

First, this debate highlights the meaning of words. Do words actually mean something? Is it right or even intellectually honest to equivocate on words and change meanings as we run down a line of reasoning? Or is God’s Word clear in its most basic sense? What does the word ‘incarnation’ mean to you? Remember, we live in an age of re-definitions.

Second, there is a lot of philosophy that comes to bear on the intellectual level of this discussion. Higher criticism of the 1800s and 1900s has done a lot of speculative deconstruction of the Old Testament. Many interpretations of Genesis 1 are based on 200 year old theories. I’m always wary of the words ‘it is not possible’, when much of the science done has been done in our century, not when the words were written. Scientists who pretend that philosophy has no impact on their science, need to study the philosophy of science.

Third, the science behind much of this debate pretends to do what only history can do. Science looks at the data, but once you start writing stories, you have left the data and entered into the world of philosophy and literature. Evolution is only a story posited as an eikos mythos (likely story) for the data.

Fourth, the terms ‘faith & science’ can be a real red herring. I’ve realized that the more I study this, there is a false dichotomy between the two that has been wielded on me by people much smarter than I am. Science studies the appearances, faith sees what is unseen, or it sees the reality behind the appearances. And of course, it makes sense of everything.

The Bible is God’s Word, and it shapes our thinking, rather than our thinking shaping Scripture. We should be alert to the various ways that we impose our own thinking on Scripture, and be slow to jump the boat just because someone who holds our view isn’t so bright. However, in our interpretation, we must consider how Scripture interprets itself. When we start to do our own thing, this will have implications on the gospel.

Rebellion and Jesus

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I’m from the generation of highschoolers that had some of the Christian “rebel stuff” come out. Take for example Lecrae’s song ‘fanatic’ or ‘rebel’ or ‘don’t waste your life’ were popular among many young people interested in faith. Christian rap has been famous for this. Although I never read it, Alex and Brett Harris put out a book called the ‘rebelution’. It seems that much of this literature finds some of its historical roots in the Jesus Freak movement of the 60s and 70s.

In highschool I tended to dismiss it all as silly reactionary stuff. Admittedly, it isn’t the height of literature. But now I realize a bit more that there was something to it.

There has always been a struggle between the way of Christ and the way of Satan since the beginning of the world. But North America was particularly shocked by the sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s. On the one hand, sexual mores and standards were chucked out the window, with a public carelessness that had not been heard of for a long time. On the other hand, the culture was only bringing a carelessness about God’s standards to the surface that had been brewing underneath the surface of morality and a veneer of public piousity.

This is a bit of an over-simplification, but our culture for the last 60 years has been a series of rebellions against the status quo. Obviously, for a rebellion to happen against the status quo, the status quo must exist. But every time a new status quo is established, a new rebellion must happen. It is the way of young people to desire something better, a better world, and then by the time they are 30, they start to become disillusioned and settle for a new status quo. That being said, often the desire for a better world, is undefined and wickedness becomes more prominent.

In our world, you see an eternal struggle between the young and the old. Of course, different personalities reveal this differently. Some love conflict and others love peace. One place you see this is at its height is between fathers & sons. Sons will shut down or fight back. Fathers will clamp down or give up. Often there is a whole spectrum in between. Fathers & sons are at the heart of the struggle between the old and the new, but it is not limited to this relationship.

Now, I find it striking that the Old Testament ends off with these words: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Ultimately, it recognizes a very real human struggle that lies at the heart of society. Titus 3:3 recognizes the problem on a more general level: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.

Jesus seems to give contradictory words about what He came to do about the problem of in-fighting and rebellion. When Jesus departed, He said “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) At another point, Matthew 10:34-39, He states:

 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

It strikes me that rebellion is a problem, because Jesus came to bring peace. But it also strikes me that Jesus encouraged rebellion. I find it striking that division in families is a problem, but that Jesus also came to bring division. It is also striking that the last command of the Old Testament is to bring families back together. It may be that a Biblically defined rebellion is on route to this peace.

The way I have solved the problem up until this point is to look at the composition of the word ‘peacemaker’. To be a peacemaker is to be actively ‘making’ peace. Jesus was not passive when He went to a cross, but He was waging war on the prince of this world. He was enacting violence on Satan, because there He crushed the head of Satan. Because we live in a broken world, the peaceful Christian will not get away from fighting, and the fighters will not get away from the call to make peace. The rebellious kid will be called away from his/her rebellion, but the good kid will be called to a rebellious attitude.

But the key to this is what is the underlying definition of this word rebellion. Rebellion must be defined by Scripture. Conflict and its resolution must be defined by the Word of God. So rebels can both be commended and rebuked, and nice guys can be both commended and rebuked. But it must be on the basis of the Word. The person they are called to look to is Jesus Christ.

So yes, it is important to be a rebel and it is important to be a nice guy, but the key is our rational, or the ‘why’ behind it. This is why the most productive debates happen when people press each other for reasons, and have a common authority. Answers often come after battles.

Lecrae concludes his song ‘fanatic’ with these words:

So we show them the love of Christ and live in the light
So they can glorify our God when they look at our life
And we win for sharing the truth and hearts get changed
We win if we’re rejected because of his name
We win if seeds get planted and watered and grow
But even if we lost, we still be Fanatical though

Or as Paul continues his song of praise for the greatness of God before the young pastor Titus:

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

When this happens, and only then, will the hearts of the sons be turned towards their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to their sons. Christ takes center stage. If He is not, the battle must continue.