Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Come pick me up...

Salvation Part 2:
Well, the obvious question following my last entry is: "If you don't believe that God predestines the souls of men, what does it mean in Biblical texts that use the word predestination.?" Good question. I simply believe God predestined the plan--that is, as Ephesians says, he predestined us to be adopted as his children through Jesus. While I find the Calvinist doctrine of predestination totally ludacris, I don't find the Biblical idea of predestination absurd. I find it reassuring.
See, in Romans 8, it says that those God knew would choose to follow him, he predestined them to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. In other words, he set the example for us with Jesus. We are chosen to be just like that... eventually. Its the path we pursue in this world and the assurance of what we'll be like in the next. Anyway, every time I read a text in the New Testament about predestination or election or being chosen, I find it leading to being made like Christ or being made into the image of Christ. Hope that answers that.
And I wanted to point out something about foreknowledge. Just because God knows what's gonna happen doesn't mean he's gonna make it happen. I had a guy in a philosophy class explain it the best way I've heard. A girl in the back was saying that if God already knows what's gonna happen then its locked in place and he made it happen because of his omniscience. This guy turned around and asked "In a few minutes, you're gonna get up and leave class, right?" She said yes. He then said, "Just because I know its gonna happen, doesn't mean I made it happen." I said word. That's it right there. God gives us the ability to make choices, knows every possible outcome, and allows whatever is gonna happen, to happen. Easy as that. Just because he knows what we'll do doesn't mean he makes us do it. That's foreknowledge.
As always, please comment. Let me know what you think. Let me know if any of this makes any sense. Holler back...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The city cemetary's humming...

Here goes... I warn you. I'm sure this will probably take about three posts to even be close to approaching lucid. But I wanna write about salvation. "Why?" you might ask. Well, I think there's a lot of different ideas about it. I want to express mine and hear yours. Plus I think that a lot of misconceptions exist. Then too, I think Christians tend to throw around a bunch of jargon that doesn't make sense to anyone outside of church circles. So, not only do I want to express my feelings on the subject, but I want to try and clear some air around the idea.

I follow a line of thought called "free will." Meaning that I believe that Scripture teaches us God allows us to make the decision on Jesus. Either we reject the life he offers or we choose to follow the example he set. One way or the other. But we choose it. Reformed, Calvinist, or Predestinationist thought, on the other hand, teaches that God chooses for us. He decides who spends the eternity with him or eternity away from him. We have no say in the matter.

Obviously, there is much heated discussion on the subject at hand. People get worked up really quickly over what I just boiled down into a few basic sentences. One could argue that the Bible even leaves room to support both schools of thought. Perhaps. Perhaps. But whatever one believes, I don't think its worth arguing over. I just want to express why I feel what I feel...

For instance, Reformed theology really confuses me on one point: why would God choose to accept us or reject us for eternity (our salvation or lack thereof) but allow us to make every other decision in life? I mean, does that confuse anyone else? God doesn't give us a choice on the matter of following him or not, but he allows us to choose on everything else? I don't get that. If you follow this line of thought, then you simply have to say that if God makes the decision on salvation, he makes the decision on everything. If you follow Reformed thought, then God leaves nothing up to us. We're robots. Designed to love him and serve him and follow him without question. Or designed to reject him and spend eternity separated from his presence.

Its gotta be all or nothing on it. Either he does it all or he doesn't. But the problem for me comes in when someone replies: "Yes. God chooses." If that's true, if we truly have no decisions of our own in life, then the world is the way it is because that's how God wants it to be. And if that's true, then the world is all f-ed up because God wants it to be. If predestination is true, then close to thirty thousand children starve to death everyday because God wants them to. And that's my problem.

I just can't follow it. I just can't. Sure there are certain verses in Scripture that could lead one to think there's something to it. But in light of ALL of Scripture, I just can't read with scissors and say that its certainly true. (Heck, I can't say what I believe is certainly true. But...that's another post.) I'm just saying it doesn't make sense. It doesn't line up with the character of God. I don't follow an all-merciful and loving God who makes suffering and evil exist because he chooses it to. I follow a God who formed us, breathed into us, then set us free to enjoy this life he's given us. But WE make it what it is.

I put the sovereignty of God above all else. I just don't think that shoots down free will. I can't look at the current state of our world and think that God desires for it be like it is. This is not what it should be. We are a long way from the Garden, my friends. And I don't blame God. I blame us. I blame me. I believe God gives us choice. Real, actual choices. These choices determine everything. So at the end of the day, when I look back on what we've done. On who we are. On what our earth has become. I know that we failed miserably. But I also know that the all-merciful, loving God I follow calls me to do something about it, even in the face of the inevitable. (Such as when people quote Jesus saying that "the poor will always" be with us. They try to defend our own selfish spending and lifestyle. Like its not our fault and we aren't accountable. I'd say just the opposite. Its our job to do something about poverty, even if we can't ever totally eradicate it.)

That's part one for now. Just a starting point. I'm sure I'll need to clear up some things I've said, so be gracious and patient. We'll get there. As always, holler back...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'll keep saying it...

If you haven't figured it out by now, I have issues with a multitude of things. Lately, my mind can't stop considering the current state of our world. I think about it all the time. Especially American culture. It makes me sick. We make me sick. I make me sick.

My friends keep talking about how I can be a downer sometimes, but my mind is always thinking about it. I hear people say these ignorant things or people praying these cliche mindless prayers, and it hurts. I said after a men's church league softball game the other night we should think about the 1200 children who starved to death in the hour we played softball.

Maybe we don't wanna hear about it. But that's the problem. We want to stay separated from the poor. Poverty makes us "feel bad" when we have to face it. The Feed the Children show is on and we change the channel as fast as we can. We see the family sleeping beneath the overpass on the highway and we say how sad it is and drive quickly away. We see it. We don't like it. But we won't face it.

My main issue is that we allow ourselves to stay separated from it. And organizations encourage it. United Way and the Salvation Army and all the rest of the list wants you to give to them. That's great. I don't have an issue with giving. But all you do is write a check. Jay-Z in his song Minority Report says that "We forget the unfortunate. Sure I ponied up a mill, but I didn't give my time. So in reality I didn't give a dime or a damn."

We stay separate. We stay away from it. We give. We donate. We may even promote. And a lot of times its with good intentions. We wanna help. We want things to get better. But we don't wanna get our hands dirty. People will give to the homeless, but they won't hold a homeless woman while she cries about the boys who threw rocks at her earlier in the day. People will give to the Salvation Army, but they won't pick up a homeless person and try to help them by actually taking them to get food and find a place to stay. People will buy Christmas gifts for kids in an underprivileged family, but they aren't gonna check up on them two months later to see if they need any help with the light bill or buying groceries.

We have had a tendency in our churches to do the same thing. To encourage people to give money for the church to do the work. Too bad that about 75% of most churches budgets are internally focused. Anyways, we tell people to give. And thats not a bad thing. But that's not what's gonna change our world. People doing something about the problem physically, tangibly, with their hands... that's what will make a difference. Don't separate yourself anymore. Get involved. Support the organizations and campaigns and movements that need our dollars and voices. But support it with your time and actions too.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Its been too long...

Sorry. I feel bad. I've been worrying about it. Really. I have... I've really missed writing. But as of three o'clock today, Brit and I finally have internet at our place! Woo hoo! So I'm about to let loose with some blogs... I'll start later tonight or sometime this weekend. I think I'm gonna start by talking about the wedding metaphor. Church vs the poor is coming soon. So is a posting on homosexuality--that should prove for interesting discussion. Nonetheless, its on the marquee...

Tell your friends.

Thanks for caring.