A Brief Retelling of My Journey to Philosophy and a Request to Help for My Opportunity in Oxford

This is quite a life story, not to mention a very, very worthy cause.

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Icy Reformed Theoreticalism

“…and the Greatest of These is Doctrine!”

I’m not sure where the above stated verse is located, but it must be in there somewhere, given the passion generated by those who live by it

I DO know where this is located, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” It’s in 1 Corinthians 13:13, right after these words, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully…” – 1 Corinthians 13:12. Somewhere else Paul says “knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.” – 1 Corinthians 8:1-2.

Seems to me that Paul is a bit suspect of the “doctrinal warrior” attitude if it displaces the chief grace of love. But then, I might be wrong.

While we should have nothing but respect for our rich Reformed theological heritage, modern-day Reformed theoreticalism on the other hand, can tend towards a brutal, abusive religious intolerance. The tendency to icy lovelessness for the sake of being “right” seems closer to Islam than to Jesus. The use of scripture, “correct” dogma and self-authorization as a tool of power and control while sidestepping the dictates of love is to minimize that which God maximizes.

I understand that ideology has consequences, and that true love must flow from true understanding rather than from squishy sentimentalism, but when love is absent or self-serving, it reduces all things to the intolerable din of “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” – 1 Corinthians 13:1.

Something to think about…

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Valley of Vision

In my past, I sought to imitate, preach, and measure all things after the Puritans (especially John Owen, Richard Baxter, Thomas Watson, etc.).

So much of it in retrospect was just a form of sophisticated neo-Puritan Reformed theoreticalism.

But oh, how they knew God, walked with Him in a way that is utterly humbling, as reading these prayers will make obvious.

Lord, deliver us from notion and theory unto Your deep, deep reality in love. Mighty oceans of love, mercy and humbling grace!

Well Spent Journey

Below are a couple of my favorite Puritan prayers from the Valley of Vision collection. It’s available on Amazon HERE, and many passages can be found for free HERE.

Choices

O God,
Though I am allowed to approach thee
I am not unmindful of my sins,
I do not deny my guilt,
I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness.

May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin.
Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care,
to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee,
to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence of the religion I profess,
to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy,
to deem it an honour to be employed by thee as an instrument in thy hands,
ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness,
and willing to offer all my…

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The Centrality of Jesus and Being Marginalized

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Been maligned and marginalized?

You aren’t the first, nor will you be the last. It feels something like this. It’s when:

  • We’re misunderstood, accused and unappreciated .
  • Our best efforts in love are suspected as being a manipulative ploy, because of our track record.
  • We are continually measured by old standards of performance, reaction, and “predicable” outcomes.
  • Our friends and family are unable to leave us free to make the progress we know we need.
  • The ugly reality is that in order to feel good about ourselves we often resort to maligning and marginalizing others. So it’s come back to bite us as well.

    Oh well. Self-defense is RARELY the hill we want to fight on. Let it go.

    Our defense is in the most maligned figure in human history – Jesus.

    Though He died well over two-thousand years ago, the malignation toward Him swells around us at an alarming pace.

    This actually serves us well as His followers. It defines the issues, evaporates lukewarmness and reveals something that His maligners despise – that His was THE MOST SIGNIFICANT LIFE EVER LIVED.

    It’s really a backhanded, unintentional affirmation of His pre-eminence. Otherwise culture would have forgotten His name long, long ago. Even if just a curse phrase, He is not forgotten.

    Instead, He is still the ultimate POINT OF REFERENCE. A glance at your calendar makes the case – 2013 years from what? (a point scientism is trying its hardest to erase insisting on the CE/BCE designation).

    But one thing will always stand: “He has been given the name which is above every name…” (Philippians 2:9)

    It’s Gods way of riveting our focus away from self unto where it belongs – Christ, the center of ALL. (Ephesians 1:9-10).

    So what if we are maligned and marginalized. Let’s get over it and make a STAND.

    For Him.

    I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history“. – H.G. Wells

    Bearing Personal Rejection

    He was despised and rejected by men…he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3)

    In the face of rejection by others, even others very close to us, it is cathartic and immensely helpful to “consider Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith“, especially in the painful experience of personal rejection.

    The spirit of punishment maintained by those around us toward our bad choices, failures and sins bears a truth we all need to take to heart, a sneaky, insidious secret of our hearts – we all want to play God.

    If we could only see.

    God is not like us. “…you thought that I was one like yourself”, (Psalm 50:21)

    We’re into punishment, He’s into MERCY. In the face of a world of rejection, Jesus steeled His will and faced the “cup” of rejection, even unto the cross. Can you visualize this?

    He “endured the cross” so that we could be “accepted in the Beloved” even though despised by all around us.

    Here is the starting point of healing. If we are eternally, unconditionally accepted, the thought of rejecting another becomes repugnant, eventually even a happy habit of kindness and acceptance, bearing something of His image in love.

    God help us.

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    The Delusion of Entitlement, Centrality of Jesus and Erosion of Our Rights

    In addressing the larger subject of “rights” – their identity, source and permanence, it seems necessary to divide the subject into two major categories.

    There are rights that are derived from our position as citizens of a particular generation, geography, ethnicity, nationality, and other variables which all play into the identification and exercise of rights. These “derived” or secondary rights are not universal, nor are they permanent. They are subject to the turnings, and upheavals of the nations and the peoples themselves. What may be considered to be a “right” one day may not be a right at all the next day. In America, the highest court of appeals from which we may demand free exercise of our rights is the Constitution of the United States and our “Bill of Rights”.

    So what about permanent, universal rights? Are there none of those? In other words, does mankind, as a race possess any universal rights that can and are exercised by all men and women, everywhere, in every generation and every culture? Are there no what we might call, “essential”, “universal”, or “original” rights that I can claim? Do I not have a right to life, private property, the pursuit of happiness? The answer is no, not as part of your essential or original rights. To what court will you appeal if you are killed by disease or accident in the prime of life? When and by whom were you granted such a right? Nor do you have the right to freedom from slavery, private property, happy, healthy children, financial stability, a happy marriage, good neighbors and so on. You are promised the right to none of this as a permanent, foundational, universal right. Some of these rights may exist in some form or another as a set of secondary, or derived rights but it depends on the nation wherein you exist, and on the current social-political climate of that nation. As Americans under a leftist ascendancy, we are realizing a fundamental erosion of our derived or secondary rights.

    But as humans, regardless of place of citizenship or geopolitical situation, or generation, or culture, we do enjoy whatever universal, essential or primary rights we have, don’t we? Actually the whole range of universal, essential “rights” can really be boiled down to just one actual right. It is a right pictured from Genesis to Revelation. The Apostle John puts it this way: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12). We may call this one, essential, universal “right”, the “right to life in God”. That’s what John is describing here. It is the one thing we can insist, can take to the highest court and demand that we have it – and that demand is in fact, the most basic act of faith. It is a demand that will always be honored, for He says, “He who comes to me I will in no wise, cast out.”

    From Genesis to Revelation, this theme is a thread that ties the narrative of God together in a beautiful and striking manner.

    Beginning in the pre-fall, pristine experience of man in the Garden, he was given this right to life, this freedom to enjoy life. He was given access to the trees of the garden, and primarily to the “tree of life” which was in the midst of the garden. By partaking of this tree of life, he enjoyed the benefit of enduring life. He had the “right” to life. He partook of that which God provided, and thus enjoyed the life of God himself. Adam did not have the ability to perpetually sustain his own life, but was dependent on something outside of himself for life. That life was his right and it was his privilege.

    After the fall, man was banished from the Garden and forfeited his access to the tree of life. But that didn’t mean that the one essential, universal “right” itself was forfeited. The picture of man exercising his one basic right comes into sharp focus in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Not only is the term “right” (gr. exousia) used in John’s text quoted previously, “to those He gave the ‘right’ to become sons of God”, but repeatedly Jesus takes up this theme urging his countrymen to “come, eat of My flesh and have life in yourselves,” and “I am the Bread of life”. making both points, that man is not able to sustain his own life, and also that man has an unswerving, universal, unconditional “right” to get that life directly from God. In Jesus life, we have the tree of life, and an unmitigated right to that tree.

    Finally the narrative finds it’s resting place in the end chapter of the bible where we read of those who have “washed their robes, so that they may have the right (gr. exousia) to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:14). In this scene all of the elements come together. You have paradise restored, man exercising his one basic right, his right to life in God in the presence of God and the Lamb for unnumbered eternities.

    in summary, our derived or secondary rights are to be cherished, fought for, preserved, exercised and enjoyed so long as we have them. But they are not, of themselves permanent or unwavering. Like a raging beast, the pressure of “Progressivism” which is at it’s heart Marxism, which is at it’s heart, Atheism and its practical expression in Statism, always needs to be beaten back in America. It has in it’s crosshairs our cherished rights, freedoms and liberties. Thank God there is one right this juggernaut can never trample – our right to the Tree of Life, who is Jesus, This, our one true right means we will never be defeated ultimately. A skirmish here, a battle there…a right preserved here, one lost there, but we cannot lose the war.

    So what are our secondary or derived rights in the end? Given that they are neither permanent nor universal, we should look at them more as privileges, or even as blessings. Every day the Father of Lights showers down His blessings upon us. We simply enjoy them, cherish them as we gather them up from the path of life. One day the path may be narrow, the blessings not so richly strewn. Who are we to murmur? We have our true right that can be enjoyed under any circumstances, any outward limitations.

    There was a day when our nation was very mindful, and held out great honor to the essential “right” and to the right-giver. That’s how we as a nation came to enjoy such a richness of secondary, derived rights. That was a time that gave birth to the Bill of Rights (1791) and spoke of the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. And so it goes. When the essential right is neglected, we forfeit our secondary rights. But the opposite is true as well. Let’s make sure we’re fighting the right battle.

    Overcoming Regrets

    A favorite post from a favorite blog. The title says it all. And Jesus has paid it all.
    Thank you Lord, for mercy, grace, forgiveness!

    Unshakable Hope

    Do you ever feel like your regrets are haunting you like ghosts from your past?

    I used to allow regrets over things I’ve said or wished I had said and things I’ve done or wish I had done, to steal my joy, peace and hope. I became so aggravated with these condemning “ghosts” of regret that I finally decided to figure out how to defeat them. The following “battle-plan” (for conquering regrets) has helped me and I hope it might help others dealing with this problem too.

    Defining this enemy
    Even though I knew what the word regret meant, I began by looking up the definition, which, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is: “sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair: an expression of distressing emotion (as sorrow)” 

    I also noticed that repent is one of the synonyms for the word regret. I suppose this makes…

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