Monday, June 30, 2014

Divine Humility

It seems fitting to read the following on the day the Supreme Court makes, what is expected to be, and landmark decision concerning religious liberty in America.

“But it matters enormously if I alienate anyone from the truth.”

“Let me implore the reader to try to believe, if only for a moment, that God, who made these deserving people, may really be right when he thinks that their modest prosperity and happiness of their children are not enough to make them blessed: that all this must fall from them in the end, and that if they have not learned to know him they will be wretched.” And therefore he troubles them, warning them in advance of an insufficiency that one day they will have to discover.

“The life to themselves and their families stands between them and the recognition of their need; he makes that life less sweet to them. I call this Divine humility because it is a poor thing to strike our colors to God when the ship is going down under us; a poor thing to come to him as a last resort, to offer up ‘our own’ when it is no longer worth keeping. If God were proud he would hardly have us on such terms: but he is not proud, he stoops to conquer, he will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to him, and come to him because there is ‘nothing better’ now to be had.”

“The same humility is shown by all those divine appeals to our fears which trouble high-minded readers of scripture. It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose him as alternative to Hell: yet even this he accepts. The creature’s illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creatures sake, be shattered; and by trouble or fear of trouble on earth, by crude fear of the eternal flames, God shatters it ‘unmindful of his glory’s diminution.’ Those who would like the God of scripture to be more purely ethical, do not know what they ask. If God were a Kantian, who would not have us till we came to him from the purest and best motives, who could be saved? And this illusion of self-sufficiency may be at its strongest in some very honest, kindly, and temperate people, and on such people, therefore, misfortune must fall.”

C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain. p 97-98

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kindness & Love

“…For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues – ‘kindness’ or mercy – that most of us do not feel anything expect kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad.”[1]

When C.S. Lewis wrote these words in 1940, “Kindness,” ruled the day, but now over 70 years later, “Love,” rules. Starting somewhere - in the 1960’s I’d assume – love became the new pet virtue.

What we’ve seen is that our definition and understanding of love, that is what we’ve been conditioned to recognize as love, is nothing more than the obtaining of sex. And, therefore, the denial of sex is pure hatred.  We’ve been had. We have been lied to.

The lie is that sex is the true meaning of love. Whether this happened by some terrible accident of marketing, “Sex sells,” or it was some grand scheme of the devil (who needs no congratulations if it was) I don’t know. But what I do know is that the conditioning we’ve been conditioned to know as reality is truly a fiction.

A reconditioning not just of our knowledge but also of our feelings is what is required. We can know all we want about the facts of what Christian (and by that I mean true) love is, but that ought to influence our hearts – our emotions. Our conditioned understanding of love as sex must be reoriented to the true meaning of love, God.

But still more we must understand all virtues in this manner. This is the heart side of the matter of belief. In faith our emotions are impacted in a biblical way. So things that are truly unjust are seen and felt as such; things that are kind are seen as kind; and love is seen as Love.

Yet we live in – as Lewis called them – pockets and in these pockets we have convinced ourselves of our own goodness, our virtuousness. But as we look from our 21st Century pocket to the pocket of the Middle Ages we call them cruel and mean while they would see themselves as courageous and chivalrous and us as cowardly and apathetic.

Indeed we ought to really be a horror to God and ourselves. Our pet virtue of love is really no virtue at all just a selfish desire of sexual satisfaction and our understanding of our own time’s, “goodness,” is simply because no one has yet interfered with us to the point of physical violence with them (while mental violence has already accosted them).

We must relearn what it is to be truly human and that by the blood of the cross.

[1] C.S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain. Pg 56

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What's It Mean That God is Father?

What does it mean that God is Father? Aside from the obvious answer that it means God is our Father, there are many characteristics of God that are encapsulated in the description of God as “father.” The providing aspect of God, his Kingship and, well you know, that whole “Him” thing. Books like "The Shack" like to present God as the all-mother or some such nonsense and dispense with the clearly written words of the Bible for some gender inclusive (or just as exclusive as calling him father, but that’s neither here nor there) shtick. But we, as Christians, call God Father.

The aspects of God, his love, greatness, goodness, gentleness, awesomeness, graciousness etc. are not qualities that we would necessarily look at and think that God’s a dude, rather we’d think these cool qualities. But when coupled with his providence, Kingship, leadership and general fatherly-ness we would need to assume upon his fatherly nature because, well, he is our Father. As the Provider we his children are given an old picture of a man bringing home what is needed to give health, home and happiness to his family. As King we see a God fierce in battle and mighty to save from the onslaught of demonic hosts and our own sin. As Leader we see a God who is willing to do what is necessary to take his people where he wants them go.

But something interesting occurs when you strip God of his fatherly-ness. He becomes it and it becomes impersonal and impersonal becomes impartial and impartial becomes careless and careless becomes graceless and graceless becomes meaningless - meaningless to the point of irreverence and disregard. So much so that culture uses his name as a byword and a curse.

Culture has steadily and slowly attempted at removing God’s personal qualities, namely that he is father. And we are now, yes, even now, seeing the outcomes of those slow and steady cultural modifications to cultural Christian understandings. The modern day fight of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered (LGBT) movement for cultural standing and inclusion is part and portion of the degenderization of the society at large which is an outcome of removing God’s fatherly-ness from his personality. It is also, I believe, part of the reason we see such drastic issues with out of wedlock pregnancies and fatherless children, as well as the astounding 56 million abortions that have legally happened since Roe V Wade.

Removing God’s Fatherly nature from the written word, from our modern understanding of God and our cultural understand of Christianity has done nothing in the way of help for our economy, our children or our future. It is safe to argue that homosexuality is not an economically sound decision because economics is based on buying units, of which, homosexuals do not produce because they cannot reproduce. The same can be said for abortion; on an economic point 56 million buying units have been lost thus far, those are both dollars not being used but also jobs not being created or sustained by one, if not all, of those 56 million. And statistically speaking a child born out of wedlock is more likely to live life on welfare than one born in a married family and is , therefore, a burden on the economy because a non-producing unit is only consuming.

But father God is and father he remains. He is father because he has revealed himself as such. He has spoken clearly of who he is in his word, therefore we see him not as impersonal, impartial and unimportant; no we see him as personal, partial and vastly important and this changes everything.

To read an expanded peice on this topic visit Parts, Portions & Pieces.