Thursday, October 26, 2017

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Problem of Hell

I tend to think that hell is not a place people are sent. I think it is rather a state of being of one not redeemed. You cannot blame the doctor for dying if you reject his treatment. 

Yes I know it was God who created this world, this world that has the potential to fall and break and feel pain. But you know why he created it this way? Because he wanted you. He created this universe and a world that could fall and a people that have freedom to love or to hate so that he would end up with a being like you. 

You are the sum of your experiences. Your personality as shaped by the events of your life. It is the redeemers hope to perfect this being in you, to make the ultimate and completed you.

The oven is hot, but it is the only way the bread is baked.

"... to think of this bad man's perdition not as a sentence imposed on him but as the mere fact of being what he is. The characteristic of lost souls is 'their rejection of everything that is not simply themselves'. Our imaginary egoist has tried to turn everything he meets into a province or appendage of the self. The taste of the other, that is, the very capacity for enjoying good, is quenched in him except in so far as his body still draws him into some rudimentary contact with an outer world. Death removes this last contact. He has his wish--to lie wholly in the self and to make the best of what he finds there. And what he finds there is Hell."
~ C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Being a Christian that knows a great deal about science is a rather lonely place to be. You hear an idea that someone suggests is incredible PROOF that God exists or that God created the universe and you know it is essentially malarkey. Or you realize that some scientific endeavor will come along and put the debate to bed. You hold your tongue because you realize that "proving" God can be a pathway toward strengthening faith, but you feel isolated as they celebrate the revelation and you just sit and smile. You know that faith is not about proving that God exists. It is about realizing that you've been shown a better way, a way that is itself miraculous, a way that itself proves to you that there is a loving God.
Eventually the proof is disproved and ultimately falls into the pile of failed armchair apologetics that decorates the floor of so many modernist churches.
I believed the malarkey when I was a younger Christian. Then I had it pulled away from me slowly and painfully as I learned more about the universe. I hung on to it as hard as I could, because without it I was not a Christian. But the moment it was completely pulled away, it revealed something that cannot be pulled away, the better way, the way of Messiah. It is faith not belief. It cannot be pulled away as easily as simple assent. It is an anchor. God said to me then in my time of complete doubt the words that will never leave me. "Belief is an act of the mind, but hope is a cry of the heart. As long as you have hope it is enough."
Doubt no longer scares me. I always follow it through. Because I have faith that my sustainer will be there at the end. So far he has.
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." ~ Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Follower's Manifesto

There are two distinct themes in the bible. First, God demands justice. He demands that we follow his law, that we love our neighbor, that we love Him more than anything else. Second, God is merciful. He sent his own son to die and redeem the people of Earth not to condemn them. There is now no condemnation for those who abide. For years I saw a contradiction between these. This was one of the things that pushed me to postmodernism.

However, the more I grow in faith I realize that there is no contradiction. The paradox is a coefficient of my own human ignorance. God is just, but he is also merciful. Every letter of the law stands, but salvation comes through faith in Messiah's gift alone. It isn't about being good, but it is about being blameless. I am a wicked, but I am saved. I really like things this way. No body has it all figured out, though some do abide. It is an formula that leads the seeker to a place of faith and humility, of hope and awe.

The Bible is not a history book. Its not a science book. It is the living Word-- the Logos of God that he has hewn out of the very lifelines of His people.

In the end, the bickering, the hand-wringing, the denominations are superfluous. I am a follower of The Way, a disciple of Messiah. Whatever else is true of me, I want these to be.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Descent toward the Ritual

I've discovered recently that I am given to quirky little rituals.  They are harmless repeated patterns that exhibit themselves in sometimes helpful, sometimes silly ways.  I'm not compelled to do them, this is not OCD.  It is more like a subconscious formalization of my behavior.  I can't close a locked door without checking for my keys for example.  In that sense it is an adaptation that I've developed because of being burned once or twice by actually locking my keys in places.

But recently I became directly aware of the progression toward one particular ritual.  I was playing Solitaire on my PDA (I'm old tech., I know, but smart phones are lame; that's another story) and I realized that I could cheat by moving a card to a blank column even if it wasn't a king. It was a bug in the program that I could exploit. I did this and eventually beat my high score.  It was great, but after a while I felt like a cheater. I felt like my high score was a lie. It really was the tell tale heart. Well, after a great deal of internal struggle (over Solitaire nonetheless), I cleared my scores and started afresh, this time with the intent not to cheat.  But it didn't remain just an intent.  I got to the point where I would resist cheating even when I knew for instance that I could win without cheating but doing so would save time.  It had become a ritual.   It was a behavior that I developed so that I could feel good about my high scores.

I've wondered since if this is how some religious rituals start.  We get caught up with our holiness high scores and so we develop formalized behaviors, we develop rituals.

Communion started with a group of thirteen brothers in a dimly lit upper room huddled close to keep warm.  Now we deliver the communion in gold-colored trays in perfectly portioned crackers and grape juice with our eyes closed and our heads bowed.  It is a ritual.  Now I'm not criticizing our contemporary church practices.  Rituals aren't inherently bad.  My Solitaire ritual does insure beyond any doubt that I deserve that high score.  I am just warning against loosing the point of a thing when it becomes a ritual.  The point, I believe, of communion is to gather together with our Lord and enjoy the company.  It is about shedding conflicts and differences that might be between He and us and each other and asking forgiveness. It is about huddling together in a very, very cold world.  Communion is about community.

Monday, August 22, 2011


I think I am good. I do noble things. I even sometimes sacrifice a little for others. But I am too aware of my darker self. I have no illusions of holiness. The knot of flesh that seeks to rule my life, it whines and writhes in the agony of selfish pity; a self inflicted torment; a spiritual black hole. It is clear to me now that my sin is not merely an ethical schism. It is a prison for my mind.

I keep myself with personal and social checks that waver only in times of intense emotion. Most of the time I seem good, but painted across my chest is the scarlet letter of my inner most being. I am a devil. My inner child screams, "I am good!" But in this context, I know I deserve hell.

All of this is dark, but it is not depressing. Because of this, the salvation given to me is that much more amazing; that much more precious. It is a white hot crack in the encasement of my mind; a fissure in the chains that bind my will.

Sanctus, peccator... nosce te ipsum. Renascere!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Without God

The truth that the atheist offers is a silly plaything; a meaningless amusement while one waits for nothingness. Without God, you are left with delusion or despair. Camus was absolutely right; without God, there is absolutely no difference between living and killing yourself. When the summit of life is pleasure; justice, peace, goodness, and freedom are just buzz words used to make life more bearable. Without purpose, without God, there is nothing.