“Would Jesus bake a cake for a gay wedding?“
“Should a photographer be forced to violate their conscience and have to offer services for an event they are morally opposed to?“
These, amoung others, are some of the questions being batted around cyberspace and spilling much e-ink these days. And, at the risk of getting a few punches myself, i thought i’d throw my own hat in the ring and offer a few thoughts of my own to consider.
To begin, as a friend of mine said earlier today regarding all this, i too feel sympathy for those who feel they are being forced to act against their consciences and make themselves complicit (in their view) with acts they deem to be morally wrong. It doesn’t seem fair after all. Why can’t these patrons just find another cake baker or picture taker? Why make it a big legal battle and, potentially, ruin a hard-earned business for someone acting sincerely according to their conscience?
One particular article/post responding to all the hurly-burly caught my attention. As i interacted with the author in the comment area, one point he made in particular was very clarifying for my own thinking on the issue.
I had stated that in his article, he seemed to be attaching a moral character to cakes and flowers that simply did not exist by stating that creating either one of those things for a same-sex union made the maker of that cake, or arranger of those flowers, complicit somehow in the union they felt morally in conflict with. In his response he replied,
“If it was just about cakes and flowers, I would agree. But it’s about the use of gifts and talents to create special works of art for purposes that we deem to be immoral.”
Now, applying biblical logic to that argument, would that not, necessarily, make God Himself complicit in acts He says are against His revealed will in the bible? For has God not also used His own creative powers to create (and sustain!) creatures of whom He surely knows (infinitely) will be used (or use themselves) for sinful purposes/ends? Therefore, looking at it this way, this also removes, i think, the argument that it is more knowledge of how a creation is to be used that is the real issue of conscience in these widely publicized legal battles.
In the end, i don’t think i know what the right answer is. No one will stand before me at the end of time and give any account for anything. But i offer two ideas of my own in closing for consideration:
1. In Matthew 5:43-48 we read,
““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In the example of Christ while He lived on earth, “loving your enemies” certainly was never about winking at sin or lowering the bar of holiness. But what it was (to a large degree) was about serving, and entering into people’s lives where they were at (surely, with the purpose of not leaving them there), and (ultimately) laying down His life for those who were His “enemies” (cf. Rom. 5:10) to ransom them for God (Rev. 5:9).
So, given that, what then does loving your enemies/those who hate you and persecute you look like for a Christian baker, for example, in a secular, fallen world?
2. In an interview at the Veritas forum, Tim Keller said something very insightful that i think would also apply to these type of situations. He said something to the effect of, [my paraphrase] “Yes, the bible says homosexuality is a sin. But the bible also says to love your neighbour. And there are some Christians who take the biblical imperatives to love your neighbour very seriously, but they ignore what the bible says about the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour. And there are also others who take the moral imperatives against homosexuality very seriously, but who also ignore the command to love their neighbours. And both are wrong in the end”
So, when faced with these very real moral and ethical dilemmas in life, and for the Christian in particular, i think we would do well to ask ourselves:
1. What would loving my enemies look like in this situation?
2. Does loving my enemies mean surrendering my own moral/ethical beliefs about any given subject? Did it mean that for Jesus?
In the opening scenes of the film Gladiator, a meagre but undaunted force from Germania stands across the valley from a overwhelming sea of Roman soldiers, waiting for the next move on the chess boards of war. Focusing in on the Roman general Maximus and his military advisor Quintus, we watch them surveying the opposing army as they continue to roar and shout victoriously, even in the face of a sure defeat. It is then that Quintus says incredulously to Maximus,
“People should know when they’re conquered.”
Continuing to watch across the valley, Maximus replies, “Would you, Quintus? Would I?”
It’s a genuine statement form Quintus (isn’t it as obvious to them as it is to us that they are already defeated?) and a realist response from Maximus (he knows – and desires Quintus to know as well – that, were the situation reversed, they would be no less defiant and undaunted in the face of sure defeat).
Arising out of the deluge of commentary on the Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson interview in GQ magazine in recent days, floated something – amongst all the other muck and debris – that looked very much like this scene in Gladiator.
A good deal of the response to Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality; stating (however ineloquently) that he thought it was a sin, was this same sort of incredulous questioning that Quintus offered to Maxiums on the battlefield, viz.
Doesn’t Phil Robertson know that this issue has already been settled? That this battle has already been won? Sure, there are still a few backward places like Russia and Africa. But how dare anyone from North America claim that they still hold a defeated viewpoint like this anymore!
People should know when they’re conquered!
Now i’m not even making any statement about Phil Robertson’s views or A&E here. I’m simply pointing out that this is yet another clear example of the myriad of occurrences where we witness (what i think D. A. Carson coined) “the intolerance of tolerance” in society. Tolerance used to mean, Carson states, what Voltaire famously quipped, “I may disagree with what you say entirely and yet i will defend to the death your right to say it!” So, in other words, tolerance used to mean we could actually have opposing viewpoints on a particular subject and still, you know, tolerate one another.
But it’s become the soup of the day, it seems, to seek to silence all voices that will not toe the party line. ”Diversity? Sure! As long as it looks like everybody else and conforms to today’s standards of right/wrong. just/unjust, acceptable/unacceptable. Stray too far, though, and you will simply be categorized (religious nut), labeled (homophobic, hateful) and dismissed (irrelevant).“
Is that the kind of diversity we want?.
In fact, we know historically that societies thrive and stretch and grow all the more broadly and creatively when there is such diversity of opinion fostered and encouraged within it (i’m not suggesting a free-for-all, anything goes!) Consider the Roman empire as an example: a veritable hodge-podge of diverse opinions on art and literature, epistemology and science , religion and politics and one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. Given that, i might even go so far as to say that perhaps pluralism is not the enemy of Christianity we were all once led to believe it was, nor is it the enemy of the homosexual worldview!
We don’t always find areas of agreement – and he is certainly no friend of the conservative Christian worldview – but i think a few people now have mentioned what Bill Maher once said during the whole Paula Deen controversy, which i think applies in this instance as well,
“Do we always have to make people go away?”
I think the clear answer is, “No. No we don’t.” Nor should we seek to.
December 12, 2013
Whenever one talks about or considers the fall of man as described in Genesis 3, the connotation is almost always negative. This was the deciding point in history when Adam, as our federal head, sinned and – in so doing – brought sin into the world and all his posterity after him (cf. Romans 5:12).
The understanding of the fall presents a problem of sorts for the theist however, and particularly for the Christian theist who has a high view of God’s sovereignty in all things but also believes in the omnibenevolence (supreme goodness) of God. For if we say, “God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” as the Westminster confession of faith states (WCF 3.1), then we must necessarily say that God – in some manner at least – ordained the fall of mankind. One of the clearest places we see this implied is in Romans 8:20-21 which states,
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (ESV)”
The Initiator of the “subjection to futility” is clearly God. The intended purpose of said subjection is clearly stated as a hopeful expectation that it will be liberated from it.
The understanding of how this all works together – reconciling the sovereignty of God with the goodness of God in the fall of man – has traditionally been referred to as the “problem of evil.” Various reasonings and explanations have been offered up over the years to explain this; some more consistent with their own belief systems than others.
But one in particular that intrigues me, and seems to scratch where i’m itching, is that which is suggested by St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D).
In his consideration of the fall of man and the problem of evil, he introduced the phrase Felix Culpa from the Latin “Felix” (meaning happy, lucky or blessed) and “Culpa” (meaning fault or fall). In the Catholic tradition this has been translated as “Fortunate fall” and the concept, at my present understanding of it, seems to reconcile both God’s ordaining of the fall and a purpose worthy of God behind it.
“Melius enim iudicavit de malis benefacere, quam mala nulla esse permittere.” (For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist.)
In the Eater vigil hymn “Exsultet” it is sung,
“O felix culpa quae talem et tantum meruit habere redemptorem.” (O happy fault that merited such and so great a Redeemer.)
Other notable voices in history such as Aquinas, Anselm and Gottfried Leibniz have also adopted this thinking in their understanding of the problem of evil; Leibniz particularly in his “ Théodicée“ (or Theodicy: meaning “God’s justice”) refers to “felix culpa” as his answer to the objection that he who does not choose what we see as the best course of action must necessarily lack either power, knowledge or goodness.
To be sure, this does not summarily “answer” the problem of evil, nor does it remove mystery or more questions. It also is surely a sole prerogative of a perfectly holy, righteous God and not for mankind; to seek to bring about evil so that the glory of Christ may shine all the brighter in the darkness (cf. Rom. 6:1-2, 12:17,19, James 1:19-20).
But i believe it does give us a greater insight into understanding both the sovereignty and goodness of God in the history of the world, culminating at the Incarnation (which we are currently in the season of celebration). For as Gal. 4:4-5, Rom. 3:23-36, 1 Peter 1:20 tell us plainly, God not only ordained the problem, but also the glorious Solution to it.
And so, as it has been said: just as a light in plain daylight does not shine as brightly as a light in the darkness, so the love of God in Christ shines all the more brightly in the darkness permitted by God than it would have, had no darkness ever existed.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah 9:2
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5
December 4, 2013
When Edward Norton (as the narrator) makes his clever comment to Brad Pitt’s character (Tyler Durden) in the movie “FIght Club” about him being “the most interesting single serving passenger he’s ever met”, Durden’s leading comment that follows is, “That’s very clever!” to which Norton’s character replies, “Thanks!” Durden then quickly adds,” …how’s that workin’ out for ya … being clever?”, with the very clear indication that, from where he’s sitting, it isn’t.
This is the exact comment that came to mind as i had the sad misfortune this week of picking up a copy of “The United Church Observer” magazine (a publication of the United Church of Canada) and reading one of many troubling articles.
Maybe it’s just the simple reality that, in pretty much all of my circles, “Liberalism” is never defined as a good thing. Or maybe it was the other article on how, perhaps as Christians, we’ve “vilified” and misunderstood Vodoo as a spiritual path.
But after reading this interview from the magazine, in light of the massive decline in support and attendance for mainline denominations generally, and the United Church particularly, it just had to be asked,
How’ that workin’ out for ya?
What i mean is this: when you take the historical moves described in this interview towards Liberalism, Viz. denials of inerrancy – questioning/denying literal resurrection of Christ and virgin birth – then, with your sole source for authority now gone, looking to “political theories, psychology, and the sexual revolution” for answers, which all seems to hinge on or around this decisive movement in the 60′s to come clean theologically, don’t you think somebody would look around them – like the prodigal son hungering after the pig slop he’s serving up – and ask, “What the heck are we doing here?!” Or look back historically and trace where the decline all began and work to correct the course of the ship?
Sadly, the last answer in the interview seems to answer that query in a terrifyingly unapologetic fashion. When asked about the moves made in the 60′s the interview-ee (Kevin Flatt) responds,
“There is a link between the theology and the 1960s and the decline of the church.”
Which leads me to think that somebody has asked those questions, and still considers this path of “theological honesty” as revolutionary and worth following into the ground, never stopping to consider that maybe acquiescing to the culture and abandoning the authority of the bible wasn’t really revolutionary at all!
The fruit of this article for me was this:
1. As Evangelicals we should pray for the UCC as well as other declining mainline denominations – not in some arrogant “we have it all right” manner, but in humble pleading with the great Shepherd of the sheep that those places which still claim to proclaim the name of Jesus might do so in a way that honours Him above the soup of the day. Pray as well that all necessary reforms and re-focusing might come about by the true brothers and sisters that surely still spot this troubled denomination.
2. As Evangelicals, we must read these articles like the letters to the churches in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Seeing that we must hold fast to the historic, orthodox teachings of Christianity against the mighty tide of C 21 culture, lest our lamp be removed.
Perhaps the lamp of the UCC has already been removed, but perhaps not. It may be overstating it, but, perhaps as Abraham prayed for Sodom should even 10 righteous ones remain, we can pray for the UCC: that the truths of the Word of God and His gospel might correct the course of this denomination for those faithful who are still working from within.
For the glory of His renown and for the biblical faithfulness of all who include the word “church” in their name and on their sign.
October 28, 2013
Assuming the biblical record of creation in my thinking, the answer – at least as it relates to human beings – has to be no. If Adam and Eve – the pinacle of God’s creation and made in His image – are in fact the first people (and i think they are) then clearly, no one dies before the Fall.
But that, of course, is not really the question i want to explore. The question is: Could they have died before the Fall? Or, even more to the point: Did God create human beings immortal (unable to die) and then they became mortal (able to die) after rebelling against God and bringing sin into the world?
I want to look at a few notable passages of Scripture and then draw a few conclusions. The answer is by no means settled in my mind, however, hence the title of this post.
When it comes to answering in the negative, viz. that human beings could not have died before the Fall, two of the big-daddy Scriptures that seem to close the case are Gen. 2:16-17 and Rom. 5:12. Here we see clearly that God promises death to Adam if/when he should eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then later, in Romans 5, the apostle Paul – referring to the event when Adam and Eve did in fact sin in this way as a literal, historical event – says that because of Adam’s sin death entered into the world and it spread to all mankind.
Clearly, Scripture is revealing to us that physical death is a consequence of the Fall which, by necessity, implies that before the Fall, death did – nay, could not - occur.
Or is it ….?
I want to quickly look at three interesting Scriptures that – for me anyways – at least make me want to look further and longer.
1. But they don’t die! Ok, maybe this one should be obvious, but after clearly warning Adam (and then Eve through Adam) that if they eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they will “surely die”, most of my life hearing this story i have been constantly bothered by the fact that when Adam and Eve eat of that fruit and disobey that one, simple command … they don’t die! I always expected the fruit to be like poison in their mouths and they just drop dead then and there, and God is like, “SEE!!!! I told you you would die of you ate the fruit! Ugh!!” I don;t think we need to belabour the point, but it stands to reason that, right away, we should at least consider other possible definitions if God says they will surely die if they eat the fruit and then they eat it and don’t die. We know God isn’t lying to them or tricking them, and so it could be possible that He meant something other than physical death. Of course, it could be argued that then they do later die and so what God really meant was that they would then experience the decay of sin and eventual physical death as we do now. But for the moment, let’s just put a post-it note by “it could be an option that God did not mean physical death” and that humans always could die before the Fall.
2. Paul’s shifting definition of death in Romans 5. What’s interesting about Romans 5 is that after hammering the whole “Adam’s sin = death” thing for verses 12-15,17 (and even then he never says physical death), he then goes on with the same description/comparison about the first and second Adams, but he starts substituting the terms “death” and “died” with “condemnation” and “made sinners” (ESV) [this starts to sound very much like Romans 8 now]. So he switches from a death-life comparison to a condemnation/made sinners-imputed righteousness of Christ/justification comparison. To me, that adds yet another question mark to the cut and dry case of physical death being a consequence of the Fall. Beyond this even, we know that even those who have received the free gift of grace from Christ still physically die. Of course, we have life eternal, but that leans more towards the conclusion i am considering presently, viz. that the “death” God promises to punish Adam with (and all mankind after him) is spiritual and not physical. This would also line up with Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in 2:1-6 which describes us as “dead in our sins” even though, physically, we are still very much alive.
3. The tree of life in Gen. 3:22-24 and Rev. 2:7, 22:2. This is the other piece that, as long as i have heard this history of Adam and Eve, has brought up questions. And yet it is so easy to pass over! In Gen.3:22 after cursing the serpent, Eve and Adam for their sin, in an act of grace and mercy to His now sin-stained creation God says,
” ‘Behold the man has become like one if us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever –’ therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Now, this is the same tree of life that is mentioned in Gen. 2:9b that God had made, and the implication of Gen. 3:22-24 is that God does not want mankind to live in this eternal state of sinfulness forever. And so, to keep them from living forever He keeps them from eating of the tree of life in the garden ever again. The obvious implication is that it is in eating of tree of life that this (living forever) would be possible.
Even more intriguing is the fact that we are told in the book of the Revelation, that this same tree of life is now in Heaven (Rev. 2:7, 22:2). The implication then being that we will truly have eternal physical life (in our glorified bodies) because we will always be able to eat from the tree of life forever as well as drink from its water which flows from the tree throughout Heaven. This should also gives us a new slant by which to view Christ’s command to abide in Him like a branch connected to a Vine in John 15.
So where does that leave us? A good case could be argued from these passages above that physical death was the result of sin for all mankind because we were bared from the garden of Eden where the tree of life was located at that time. Fine. Granted. But it still leaves the question of the mortality of mankind apart from eating of the tree of life before the Fall open in my mind. For it seems that God’s gracious kindness to mankind is to bar them from the tree of life so that they can die, thereby freeing them from eternal captivity to the consequences of their sin. But that the source of that eternal life was eating from the tree of life, not that they were made immortal before the Fall.
For me, the Revelation 2:7, 22:2 piece along with the John 15 (cf. Eph. 2:1-6) piece make an all the more compelling case for the idea that spiritual death, not physical death, was the primary consequence implied by God’s command in Gen. 2:16,17. The separation of mankind from God because of sin is the cause of spiritual death and ultimate, eternal death – though we are currently physically alive – apart from the saving work of Christ, in Whom we again partake of spiritual Food/Life, Cf. John 6:53-56, 15:4-7, Rev. 2:7.
Honestly, love as much feedback, correction, help as possible as i wrestle through this idea. Am i on the right track? Am i missing something key here? Any coming alongside would be much appreciated.
October 14, 2013
“Do you believe in the bible or science? Creation or evolution?”
This has been the framework i have operated from for the majority of my Christian life: that one had to choose between one or the other. And there are, surely, voices on both sides of the debate that would say the framework was sound and absolutely right. And yet that particular “box checking” has never sat entirely well with me.
Enter, John C Lennox – Professor of mathematics at Oxford as well as Fellow in Mathematics and the philosophy of science + pastoral advisor at Green Temple college, Oxford – who has written a book that pushed over a number of cardboard walls in my mind and at least posed the question that maybe – just maybe – the choice is not quite as simple as all that. If, for no other reason than this, i am grateful for this book.
In his opening chapter of the book, “But does it move? A lesson from history” Dr. Lennox brings us back to the 16th century when Copernicus and Galileo (scientists who themselves operated from a Christian worldview) who challenged both the science and the biblical understanding of their day by suggesting that the earth was not, in fact, the centre of the universe, and proposed a heliocentric universe. Their ideas were condemned both by science and by the church in their day. And yet … without a moment’s thought there is no one today who would even blink at saying that both science and the church were wrong at that time in saying that the earth was fixed and the universe revolved around it. One would look foolish today to argue against such things, for we can now clearly see the truth of the matter.
And, in so doing, Dr. Lennox creates a compellingly reasonable doubt – or at the very least, the necessity of humility – when suggesting that neither Dawkins nor the hardcore “six 24-hour-day creation” guys have it completely right.
I think Lennox rightly points out, right from the start of his book, that as evangelical Christians we are all really Creationists. That term has been recently dominated by the six 24-hour day guys; but from the neo-atheist side, we are all Creationists – and so we are. We would all say – unequivocally and without reservation – that we believe that God (through Jesus) made the heavens and the earth and all that exists within them.
And it is only the how of creation that we disagree over.
But in the same way that i might disagree theologically with an Arminian or an Egalitarian, i may struggle with the “six 24-hour day” position, but i would not for a moment question the reality of conversion, the love of Jesus, or the commitment to the authority of Scripture of anyone who held those positions.
Dr. Lennox outlines his own position in the bulk of the book which – as best as i can understand it – is that God is the author of the “Big Bang” from which He created the universe (much as science has maintained) and that God then specially created mankind upon the earth He designed for us to be abel to live on (as the Scriptures testify). In summary, you could say he purports an old earth (4.6 billion years old) but with a literal Adam and Eve. Or even, as he says early on in his introduction,
“We think that, since God is the author of both His Word the Bible and of the universe, that there must ultimately be harmony between correct interpretation of the biblical data and correct interpretation of the scientific data.”
After this, he goes on, in appendices, to interact with both the “Cosmic temple” view of Genesis 1 and 2 as well as the “theistic evolution” view, which i think he deals with quite adequately in this short book while still doing justice to them.
The sum of it all is this: If you are convinced that the science of geology, biology and cosmology are correct, and that religion is nuts, i recommend this book to you unreservedly. If you are convinced that the bible is plain about how God made the earth and that science is “pagan” and only out to disprove God, i would recommend this book to you unreservedly. And, all you other lot in between, i recommend it to you as well.
The point is this: whether you accept or agree with Dr. Lennox’s conclusions or not, reading this book will surely be time well spent. One of the chief benefits of which, being shown that we can hold a deep love and trust in the authority of the Scriptures and the truth of God’s creation, w/o having to ignore or somehow demonize scientific research.
September 6, 2013
Have you ever heard a discussion or watched an interview and wondered, “Why didn’t they ask them that?!” And then, felt that in not asking that question(s) the whole point of the subject being discussed was missed?
I don’t claim to always think of such things in the moment myself (yet another way i am not like Jesus). But, it struck me very firmly between the eyes the other day as i read this article in our local news paper about a 9 year old girl (now 11) who “identifies” as a boy and so is now seeking to (slowly) become one – a decision now fully supported by her parents (which on one level – as a parent myself – i get what they’re trying to do) and championed by society.
Now, surely, it does take some deal of courage to pursue this course – admitting (surely) that this *is* a very different day and age when such things are not nearly as shocking as they once were. Nor do i doubt that this child is sincere in her beliefs.
But here’s the question that’s not being asked in this whole deal (nor do i ever see it in any articles like it):
Why is pedophilia wrong?
Not the question you were expecting? Follow it through.
We say pedophilia is wrong because we (rightly) say a child does not have the emotional or physical maturity to grant any form of consent to an adult for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. So even if they really felt strongly that they did consent to sexual activity with any adult, we would rightly restrict such a desire; claiming that they had not the capacity to make such a choice, nor any frame of reference to discern the consequences of such a choice – how could they?
But here’s why this is precisely the question that needs to be asked when we read an article like this one or any other like it:
Because although gender identity is not solely about sexuality (it isn;t) the two surely cannot be divorced from one another; they are inextricably linked together by design. And so, in asking the question, “Why is pedophilia wrong?” we unveil a devastating disconnect in our thinking today.
For here, we have a 9 (now 11) year old girl – who we would rightly restrict from any sexual activity with an adult b/c we would rightly say she is not capable of consenting to such a choice however she may feel about it – but that we also say in the same breath can understand her sexuality to the point where she can know that she is not truly a girl, but a boy! Huh?
We rightly respect one standard (for now anyways) and yet in the same breath discard it on the altar of present cultural attitudes. This is nothing to say about the fact that 30 years ago (surely much less than that even) this was not even a question that was being asked by children, “Do i ‘feel’ like i’m the sex i am biologically?” And, no, this is not b/c we’re so much more “enlightened” today. (Opportunistic reasoning perhaps?)
The Word of God, psychology, even our own experience tell us that – in North America – having any clue who the heck you are at any level that we would call mature and well reasoned, does not come until much later in life; not to mention the literal phone-book of mitigating factors along the way that also shape that identity – that shape who we are as people. What sex we are is not supposed to be one of the hard ones to get. It’s supposed to be one of the ones you get earlier on just sitting in the bathtub and looking down. Beyond this, the whole point of parenting is based on the premise that children are not capable of making adult decisions and, thus, need a responsible adult to lead, guide, teach them, etc. To discern their hearts and ask basic, age-appropriate questions like, “What does it mean to you to be a boy, and not a girl?” or visa versa.
Have you ever been about to do something incredibly dumb, and then had a moment of clarity just before (either internally or externally imposed on you) and thought, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! What the heck am i doing?”
Though i am a deeply committed Christian, i assure you, this is not a religious argument i’m making primarily. We’re in straight up logic-world here.
When it comes to the subject of 9 year olds “deciding” what sex they really are and parents abandoning their kids to make decisions they are hopelessly incapable of making: someone needs to ask the question: “Why is pedophilia wrong?” It will absolutely evoke the very same reaction above in your own minds:
What the heck are we doing?
August 28, 2013
“Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know the burden, child, I shaped it;
Poised it in My own hand—made no proportion
In its weight to thine unaided strength;
For even as I laid it on, I said,
I shall be near, and while she leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine not hers;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms
Of My own love. Here lay it down, nor fear
To impose it on a shoulder which upholds
The government of worlds. Yet closer come;
Thou art not near enough; I would embrace thy care
So I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I knew it. Doubt not then;
But loving Me lean hard.“
- Streams in the desert
August 26, 2013
For those of you who know Dr. Murray from either Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, his Head-heart-hand blog or his podcast with Tim Challies, his name alone is associated with winsome and thoughtful critique as well as heart-felt love for people and worshipful love of Jesus and the gospel (plus a super-cool Scottish accent!)
Here, in his book Jesus on every page: 10 simple ways to seek and find Christ in the Old Testament Dr. Murray takes that same love for Jesus and his winsome, thoughtful theology and applies both to create a truly inspirational book that was a joy to read.
One of the many keys to the real success of this book is that – like a true teacher/professor – Dr. Murray doesn’t just show us examples of Christ all throughout the OT and say, “Hey, isn’t that cool?” Instead, he show us how we can do the same thing for ourselves! And (in so doing) he pastors all who read his book very well.
Dr. Murray begins his book by taking us all on a journey down his own “Emmaus road” of sorts as he describes his own fear of the OT and proclivity towards preaching the NT and then how, like those fortunate disciples in Luke 24, he too began to see how all the Law and the prophets testified to this Jesus and His gospel as well. In walking Dr. Murray’s road, we too have our eyes opened to this reality, the result of which (for me) was worship of, and greater love for, Jesus.
Then, like those same disciples, Dr. Murray seeks to create that same “spiritual heartburn” in our own hearts as he walk us through only some of the many appearances and longing hopes for the coming Messiah, Jesus in the OT. Again, he does this in such a way that it both inspires the heart of the preacher as well as kindling the love for Christ in every heart in which He dwells. The overwhelming feeling i had after reading this book was that it created a holy curiosity and desire to find even more of what Dr. Murray shows throughout his book.
Some of the most highlighted and underlined chapters in this book for me were the from the “My own Emmaus” section as well as the ”Christ’s prophets” chapter. There is much more in this book than could be gained by one reading – that is for certain.
One of the other helpful elements of this book is the chapter questions Dr. Murray provides for each chapter, which aid in both individual study as well possible use in a group study of the book.
And that, as well, is one of the exemplary treasures of this book: it is accessible in language and questioning, and so could be used on a lay level by a small group or specific study. But it is also deep and scholarly enough to inspire and encourage any pastor/theology student in their own pursuit of Christ and desire to preach Him from the entirety of the Scriptures.
I would highly recommend this book to all who know and are known by Jesus. It will bring about the very same “heartburn” those disciples felt in Luke 24 in finding Jesus all throughout the OT, while enabling and inspiring you to seek and find more of the same in your own reading and study.
So, for those who read this review and are willing to comment, I so believe in this book, that i will offer one free copy of Dr. Murray’s book to be randomly drawn from the names of all who do comment. Draw will take place on Sept. 30th, 2013.