Prostituting our Humanity

oceandeep

“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!

Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!

Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love…”

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What’s in it for me“? is the true heart echo of most of humanity. Human love is contractual, transactional and ultimately not unconditional.

If one has achieved or come close to unconditionality, it is usually by progress through the following steps:

  • Pure self-love: Where we all start. The individual is a pure user, a taker, lost to any true concept of love. All individuals as well as things exist for his/her benefit to be consumed on self, for self. Period.
  • Love granted with a clear eye on some perceived payback: “I’ll give but I’m still in it for ME! You give me this and I’ll give you that”. Very much a contractual thing, a proposition. It has precious little of true love in it. Hitler loved this way.  Jesus said even the Pharisees loved this way.
  • Love granted for a non-perceived payback. “Okay, so I sacrifice, give, and no, I don’t expect this or that thing in return, just some return, somewhere“, be it ever so small — expectation of a pat on the back, a card of thanks, anything at all that gives recognition of the “love” or sacrifice. It has the roots of love and constitutes a small step away from pure contractualism.
  • Love granted for a non-perceived payback from God. Here is a notable step forward in the pathway of true love in that it removes from the picture, the human element in the transaction. But transaction it still is. It may be an unselfconscious effort to buy something from God. God is not in the transaction business. All that was completed at the Cross – “It Stands Finished”
  • Love granted purely because that’s what love does — it sacrifices, without an eye on return, or keeping one hand behind the back.  The purest form of love — the love displayed fully on the Cross, and that which constitutes our vision, goal and desire.

The transfer from one level to another is usually the result of suffering with eyes open, or reflection. It is typically imperceptible to self, and would destroy itself by self-recognition.

If bitterness, vengeance, unforgiveness, grudge-bearing takes over at any point it will kill progress and send the whole thing downhill like falling off the rungs of a ladder.

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“My secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy people free, A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty” Anna Laetitia Waring

 

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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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My God, My God! Why?

“divine child abuse” – Christopher Hitchens

My God, my God, why???

In uttering this statement on the cross, the very Center of the universe howled in a moment of divine irony – God asking “why?” to God.

In so doing He was reflecting the unresting, unyielding quest of philosophers and questioners from the beginning – why?

-Why suffering?
-Why warfare?
-Why death?
-Why existence?
-Why humanity?

In finding a philosophically satisfying answer, human thought has utterly failed.  The timeless, boundless “why?” still permeates the corridors of our consciousness, and rides upon every fibre of our being.

But we can narrow some things down on this day, at this time, to this one “why?” question, and realize at least part of the answer to Jesus’ own heaven-piercing “why?”   

“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  – Hebrews 2:18

In others words it was for us.  

Contrary to Christopher Hitchen’s assertion of “divine child abuse” In Him and in His self-sacrifice is the defining point and origin of love, hope and forgiveness.

Hitchens Dodging His Homework – Once Again

Watching a Christopher Hitchens (deceased December 15, 2011) debate is like watching a master manipulator, or like a guy whose bets are on the side of collective ignorance.

As Scott Berkun observes:

…proficiency in argument can easily be used to overpower others, even when you are dead wrong. If you learn a few tricks of logic and debate, you can refute the obvious, and defend the ridiculous. If the people you’re arguing with aren’t as comfortable in the tactics of argument, or aren’t as arrogant  [or informed] as you are, they may even give in and agree with you.

And we might add that if your audience is not versed in the extant data relative to the argument, like the progressive nature of the Biblical narrative, you might appear to win the debate.   

At least the debate of popular opinion.    

But the irony strikes me as this: While the theist must (and is expected to) do their homework in many disciplines like philosophy, physics (quantum, meta and classic), history, biology, etc, the atheistic can usually get off the hook with only a casting glance at the narrative of Scripture.  If he but quotes a few verses or makes reference to just a few aspects of religious history or philosophy, he is regarded as astute and the presentation of his data pertinent and persuasive.

That’s because he’s got a huge advantage – the relative ignorance of Scripture with the masses, both Christian and non-Christian.  It’s the day we live in.

One example is Hitchen’s oft-repeated “man’s been around 100,000-250,00 years-then-finally-God-acted” argument, with the obvious conclusion being that God just didn’t give a damn about all the people who died and went to hell prior to the incarnation of Jesus.  How could you believe in such a God? Hitchens affirms.

It is very much akin to the familiar “what about those who have not heard?” argument so often employed to discredit the Bible, the nature of the Atonement and of Christ Himself.

While the believer must be pretty darn acquainted with everything from astronomy to quantum physics, why hasn’t (or rather wasnt) Hitchens forced repeatedly to deal with verses like Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:25, etc.?

These verses do say something, (the retroactive as well as present and future nature of the Atonement) and they need to be introduced into the debate even though they are admittedly in-house arguments, but then so are things like m-theory, multiverse, etc, and whatever the current argument is to sidestep the ramifications that nothing still comes out of nothing if left of itself.

C’mon believing community.  It is just, right and beautiful to be aware of depth of the content of the Logosphere, the universe in which Jesus reigns – our universe and the words of Christocentric revelation.  Then this material must be introduced into the debate. 

From this I personally will never back down.  

Our Logos-Dimensional Universe

Living in a three dimensional universe, (or four-dimensional if you consider spacetime), something transfixing occurred at what the Bible calls, “the fullness of time.”  Galatians 4:4.

Jesus stepped in and defined all things according to Himself.  

The “fullness of time” concept is then used by the Apostle Paul (Ephesians 1:10) to describe that point in time when all things in reality are to be concluded, again according to and in reference to Jesus, the eternal “I Am” of all things definable and indefinable.

Thus He Himself assumes the term “Alpha and Omega“, (Revelation 1:8 cf. 22:13).  Prior to this point in redemptive history, that designation was reserved for God (Jehovah) alone, (Isaiah 41:4).  

In Jesus we have progress as well as the center point and hub of the human experience.  In Him is the beginning and end of all things and the nucleus of definition, an eternal reference point.  

That’s why He called Himself “Cornerstone” (Luke 20:17) and was referred to as such by Peter (Acts 4:11) and  by Paul (Ephesians 2:20).    

In the ancient world, cornerstones were employed in constructing a building according to the designs of the architect.  From the cornerstone, everything else in the structure took its place and position.  


So Jesus stepped from eternity into human existence, and provided the three dimensional world a reference point for building and for understanding the cosmos – Himself.    He was in fact, both architect and builder.

Post-modern culture has its cornerstone – whatever the media defines as relevant and trendy.  Science has its cornerstone – human reason.   The Christian has his cornerstone – Jesus Christ.

But in “the fullness of time“, the curtains of cosmic consciousness will be pulled back unveiling this eternal reality: there can only be one center, one hub, one defining point.

At that sacred place is Jesus Christ.   He alone defines that and everything else.


“…the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Our Unselfconscious Addiction to Dispensationalism

Dispensationalism, with it’s complex premillinarian designs, it’s hankering for revivalism, sensationalism, and ridiculous charts is a hugely dangerous distraction for the Christian community. Primarily because it is so accepted as truth, it is typically not even considered among believers. 

It is just adopted. Simply raise one legitimate question about the theological (not political) viability of present day Israel and you’ll know whereof I speak. 

Even the smartest simply take it as “gospel”. In fact it takes more mental effort to disengage from it than it does to discover and adhere to it.

Like a fly you keep swatting that never seems to die, it shows up everywhere. Few actually realize that it is in fact a recent, modern day novelty developed in the mid 1800s. Yet it has affected almost everything Christians have to say. And if you differ from their millenarian conclusions you are immediately held suspect in the court of their minds, if not judged, sentenced and dismissed altogether.

Even if one does not subscribe consciously to the distinct tenets of Dispensationalism, it’s end-time scenarios still plague the minds and shape the thinking of the major slice of the professing believer pie.

The scourge of this distraction has caused the focus of otherwise serious, sober-minded believers to veer off course from Jesus to modern-day Israel, (please do not misunderstand – I support the great nation of Israel politically. I just believe that the eschatological schemes that have been presented by Dispensationalism are at best dubious. It’s a hermeneutical thing) left-over Hal Lindsey-ism and the sensational news stories of the day.


Yet one more fatal symptom of the bigger issue of the heart – distractionism and leaving the centrality of Christ for a cheap substitute. 


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