Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

June 16, 2007

Angel of Light?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 10:26 am

After three months or so of showing up once per week at Bible Missionary Temple here’s what happened. I walked the sawdust trail up front to the “altar” for the so-called altar call.1 Having spoken later to a few of the folks that were there at the time, I am pretty sure some thought I was going up there for the so-called refreshing or refilling or perhaps a rededication.But most of them probably thought I was going up there for the second blessing – the so-called subsequent baptism of the Holy Spirit that all Christians must experience if they expect to be perfected in this life.2 But no one really knew what I actually went up there to do. I went up there explicitly for the sole purpose of begging God to reveal himself to me. I am not making this up or nuancing this act for the sake of writing some provocative article. In fact for a great many years I have stood in front of small crowds of SD County Jail residents where numerous times I made the testimonial statement that I begged God to reveal himself to me.

It’s not like I was proud of having begged for this revelation and I doubt that my hearers took it that way. It was more like I was deriving some assurance of salvation after so many years of sinful behaviour. I rode this experience hard for the next 20 years. This was my token act of pietism and it meant a lot to me. But I must confess that a long time ago I began to worry that its mojo would fizzle out before I died. At which point I would stop being a believer.3

I have been accused of being overly analytical in the past. No doubt I am analytical. But what I am doing here falls under the umbrella of “working out my own salvation”. So, this is what I have come to understand about that experience nearly 30 years ago. In short I now see it as an impetuous act by an immature drug user that was borne out of the kind of thinking and living I had been doing for quite a number of years.4

Here are four reasons that explain why that act was a mistake.5

  • There are two kinds of revelation not three. The two of course are general revelation and special revelation. We all know what general revelation is so I won’t say anything about it. But special revelation may warrant some words. It sure sounds like I was begging for special revelation that day in 1979 but special revelation does not include personal, private, unique, secret revelation. God reveals himself by means of his redemptive acts in history as recorded in Scripture. And this revelation is all we get. Any other modus operandi on the part of God would result in chaos, every person having his own personal word from God.
  • This next one has to do with my gross misunderstanding of what God is. In fact my error is concealed in the question itself. I asked for revelation of God himself. In other words, I was asking for God to reveal his essence to me. I think this analogy explains the problem best. It’s kind of like how Donald Trump who owns most of Manhattan (so they tell me) relates to some obscure janitor who works the night shift in some 5th avenue hotel. If you take this relationship and then multiply Trump by some positive number infinitely, then you get the idea of the scale of being that exists between God and man. In this view then, God is the Supreme Being. Thus, our being and God’s being are basically from the same cloth. This view, though, is impossible to maintain in the face of the Christian doctrine of creation. God alone is being, God alone is the being. All of creation He created out of nothing and into nothing. Therefore there is not just a gap of sin between ourselves and God, there is an even greater gap of existence between ourselves and God. Therefore all of God’s essence and our essence as beings are in two entirely different categories. We are created in His image, yes, but we are a mere analogy of God. What God is, is not something to which we have access. Scripture tells us that God dwells in inaccessible light. He is completely and totally transcendent from our perspective. So, my opening line in this paragraph that spoke of my gross misunderstanding of what God is was really a mistake of using the word what versus the word who. Here are two quotes that are pertinent to this discussion: “Creation is the theater of God’s glory. The church is the theater of God’s redemption. We never know God in his essence, we only know God in his works. The essence of God is to be adored, not to be acquired into. They are mad who seek to discover what God is.” The second quote I like even better and relates to the title of this article. I was thunderstruck the first time I heard it. “All of you scholars and monks are in the same category. You want to climb up and see God in the nude. OK. you’ll see him naked, go to the top of the ladder, you’ll have your beatific vision with blinding light and majesty because the devil disguises himself as an angel of light. But let God get dressed and clothe himself in our flesh and come down to us. Then we can survive the encounter.”
  • The next point has to do with the fact that I was also seeking information, knowledge if you will. This too was a big misstep. It’s okay for faith to seek understanding as long as you go about it the right way. Luther says that one becomes a theologian through the triple play of prayer, study and suffering. I wanted none of that. I wanted direct one-to-one knowledge. I wanted my faith assured without using the God ordained means to achieve it. More importantly I completely overlooked this scripture “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I guess “overlooked” would be the wrong word. I probably was no longer aware of this verse, although I undoubtedly had learned it prior to my career of self-inflicted dain bramage. Unless I was willing to receive God’s knowledge as He accomodates it to me mediated through scripture, there would be no knowledge for me.
  • This last point was my biggest crime – by far. I foolishly attempted to approach God with out the mediation of Christ. I will close with this quote since I can’t say it any better than this: “If we try to ascend that ladder and transcend our creatureliness through the quest for vision or whatever, a vision of God in the nude, what we will actually find is either a mirror of ourselves, our own imagination , or we will find a God of pure wrath because God apart from Christ is damnation. If you walk into that throne room without the mediation of Jesus Christ, without being clothed in his righteousness, and led by him into the sanctuary through his blood you will be incinerated. So we’ve got this problem. The majesty of God on one side and the need of our salvation on the other” C.S. Lewis captured this thought as well – Jill was always wondering – “Aslan’s safe isn’t he?” “No Aslan is not safe but he’s good.” He’s good in Christ. He is good in his being but he has no reason to be anything but wrathful and just toward us.

There you have it. There is obviously more I could say about, for example, how well my mystical experience served me through difficult times. Or how it shaped my understanding. Or how it may have hampered my working out of my own salvation. Maybe some other time, but I doubt it.

——————————————————————————————————

1. It is worth noting (and not at all the point of this article) that this act in itself is in violation of the regulative principle. This sort of behaviour is not authorized in scripture as a commanded act to be performed in worship. It is a man-made invention that probably hails back to C.G. Finney, that anti-christian arch-heretic from the mid 19th century.

2.We have John Wesley to thank for this invention. To be fair Wesley later equivocated on this formulation by saying that with the impetus of the second blessing, Christians will only be able to eradicate known sin. But this disclaimer falls apart since what the Holy Spirit actually does is convict us of our sin with the result that all sin is known.

3. In fact it did die. By the mid 1990s I had been operating on fumes for a good bit. The death of my sisterVirginia gave me a temporary boost after which I was impressed by the need to work with more zeal than I had been.

4. By this I mean that I had flirted in my reading with some pretty bad stuff. For example google “Theosophical Society, Madame Blavatsky, or Jiddu Krishnamurti”. Also, I was fiddling around with the Baghavad Gita. Couple this with drugs and you have the making of a thoroughly Platonic world view

5. I realize that this analysis is not news to many of my readers. But all of it was news to me. These discoveries have been very liberating, obviously.

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38 Comments »

  1. I will digest this a while before commenting at length.

    A few questions:

    So you did not have a conversion experience on that day at BMT?

    Did you describe it in the years following as somewhat like Paul’s experience on the Road to Damascus?

    Did you experience any of the things described in Acts (when people were baptized in the Holy Spirit) that night, i.e., speaking in tongues or prophecy?

    If so, did you fake it?

    Did your family notice a radical change in you following that day?

    By your title, “Angel of Light”, are you tacitly accusing George Evans and the Christians who minstered to you as directed by demons?

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 16, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

  2. Happy Father’s Day

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 16, 2007 @ 8:14 pm

  3. By your title, “Angel of Light”, are you tacitly accusing George Evans and the Christians who minstered to you as directed by demons?

    First, you left off the question mark that is in the title. Second, to answer your question regarding tacit accusations, of course not. Neither are there any overt accusations.

    I don’t know what happened, to answer your other questions vaguely. All I know is what didn’t happen or couldn’t have happened. To state otherwise would be to contradict scripture. Remember, it was a Christian (a life long Christian) who walked up there.

    Happy father’s day to you too.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 16, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

  4. While I want to respect your own fascinating analysis of your own experience, I also want to make a couple of observations.

    1) It seems to me that God did reveal himself to you that day. He met “an immature drug user” where he was in a way that he could grasp. You asked what you thought ought to have been asked. God didn’t scorn the “theologically incorrect” cry for his mercy. The Holy Spirit took your groanings that you couldn’t not put into (correct) words and conveyed them to the Father (Rom. 8:xx). Because that act led you to Scripture and therefore Christ in deeper and deeper understanding, it was a beginning, not an ending. Or, if you would rather, a re-beginning, a resumption, or the end of dead-end or the beginning of another detour, but still a part of your spiritual journey. And he met you personally because he loves you personally. (That doesn’t mean that he is a relativist and changes his method of salvation for each individual.)

    2) Two types of revelation, general and special. You could, of course, subdivide special into written scriptures and the living Christ. Christ mediates between sinful people and his Father by his sacrifice. But the Holy Spirit also mediates him to us, and therefore I would argue that we can know God’s essence because his essence walked around on this earth and his deeds and words were recorded for us in scripture that the Holy Spirit allows us to understand. Just because we cannot know God (or Truth) absolutely does not mean that we cannot know Him/It truly. (That’s a Francis Schaeffer distinction that I have found very helpful over the years.) Because I have just finished drafting the Qur’an part of “Who is God?” chapter, I am keenly aware of their distinction between God’s unknowable essence and his revealed will. They believe that his will is all we can know (which is why the Q is the functional equivalent of Jesus.) I am not saying you have drifted into a Muslim understanding of God, but the language certainly has those echoes, enough to make me want you to clarify this further. Yes, God is transcendent and utterly holy, but we shouldn’t stop there in our (Scripturally based) description of Him.

    3) I could go on for a while, but I’ll stop with just one more. I don’t know that I’d say this particular worship/teaching style, the kind complete with an altar call, is so much “wrong” as it is a cultural expression of a certain form of Protestantism. The gospel takes root in all sorts of cultures and therefore is expressed in all sorts of cultural ways. Some may deviate too far from Scripture (and you ought to hear the altar-call types at my church scorn liturgy as “dead liturgy!!”) and we ought to want to worship as scripturally as possible. But I’ll guess that your current church doesn’t look too much like what the first century believers experienced either because it is situated in a certain cultural and historical context as well. We ought to rejoice over and learn from the various forms that worship can legitimately take.

    Comment by Barbara — June 18, 2007 @ 5:39 pm

  5. One day, while living knee deep in sin, I cried great tears of repentance to God, and my life was radically changed forever. And after that day, I went about trying to earn my own salvation by works, deliberately so. Of course there was good fruit, as far as outward appearances go. Sure my family noticed a change.

    But here is the change that took place: I went from not caring if God approved of me or not to trying to earn his approval through my works.

    Just as faith without works is dead, so too we need to be careful to look ONLY at works and outward appearances as the PROOF of a conversion. One must also inquire as to the state of the person’s faith, and for that, you must hear their confession.

    Had you looked at my life at that time, you would have seen the change and recognized me as a true believer, who had been converted. Had you asked me what I believed about how to get to heaven – you would have shuddered.

    This is not directed at anyone in particular, and I leave the application to you.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 18, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  6. Re: 4 – Thanks for the comment and the interesting angles you have presented. Your points help me to think this thing through further something I a keen to do, since I have a lot at stake here – i.e. sanity, peace of mind etc.
    I have written a brief article here about an experience that I actually had. So, theories as to what happened have to be brought out with regard for the facts. I have been trying to be precise both in my writing and in my recollection. And the fact is that I wasn’t looking for mercy at all, and there was no Christ, Jesus, mediator involved at all. So, nuancing flavors of revelation has to take that into account.
    When you say that the Spirit mediates God to us in a revelational sense, don’t you mean to say that he does this when we hear his word? With that I would agree. But as there was no Christ involved, neither was his word, the two being equated.
    As for Jesus being the essence of the Father I haven’t heard that one before. We do know that he is the “ikon” of the Father. His being the essence of the Father I would think would lead to some interesting nuance of the Trinity that may have problems.
    I can’t so easily conclude that “he met me personally” given what happened. You see, I <b>can’t</b> beg the question since whether he met me personally is the assertion that needs to be proved (or needs to stand the test of scripture) and I have to run that assertion through the gauntlet of <b>all four</b> defeaters of the assertion, not just any one of them.
    From some evidentialist angle, that I was “led to scripture” may or may not have been true. It could easily have been the case that I was motivated to read what I did of scripture simply because the “burning in the bosom” or the “bucket of honey kicked over in my heart” as they say, felt pretty good. However, it certainly didn’t result in anything near the degree of studying scripture that has happened when my spiritualism collapsed into virtual atheism. “It feels good” doesn’t produce the kind of fruit that “it hurts” does.
    <blockquote>The gospel takes root in all sorts of cultures and therefore is expressed in all sorts of cultural ways.</blockquote> There you go again. The gospel is not something that we express. It is a promise that is proclaimed verbally by preachers speaking for or in the place of Christ with words that our ears hear.
    The altar call is wrong in a Christian worship service only because Scripture does not command it. Cultural issues are a red-herring argument. I could just as easily make that same argument of yours this way “the gospel is expressed differently depending on differing levels of education so altar calls aren’t wrong but pop up where people aren’t very smart i.e. don’t know scripture”. Why then is your version of the argument OK but mine isn’t.
    Anyway, thanks for helping me hash this out further. I haven’t written this article just to continue to prove that I am still a smart-aleck (an assertion that doesn’t need to be proved). I am truly wrestling with this. I have purposely left out quite a bit of some pertinent information so as not to let this get out of control. Email me if you want it.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 18, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

  7. I will be go back to my Trinitarian reading and be prepared to nuance or retract the Jesus is the essence of the Father. Thanks for the caution. In the “icon” language too, however, a person can experience the Father through him.

    If you substitute your whole def. of the gospel into my sentence about taking root, I don’t see how it then not true. Scripture doesn’t command organs or keyboards or collection plates or vestments or passing the peace or “a time of greeting” or a praise band or a sound system or liturgical banners or dancing (such as in my sis-in-law’s church in I.C), etc. The list can go on and on. If a church is trying to put into practice the Acts 2 characteristics, then it should be ok. Well, I am just thinking out loud here….

    Comment by Barbara — June 19, 2007 @ 4:22 am

  8. Whoa, I’m just seeing all of this now — I’m printing out this thread to read on the plane, and I’ll doubless have something to say next week…

    Comment by RubeRad — June 19, 2007 @ 6:50 am

  9. What is commanded to take place in the worship service?

    “Scripture doesn’t command…collection plates”

    1Co 9:14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

    So while maybe it isn’t a command to have “collection plates”, nonetheless, there is a command here for ministers to make their living from the gospel. And if you look at the context, the rest of this chapter, you’ll see that it’s pretty clear that what he should make his living from is the offerings and gifts brought by the people in worship.

    2Ti 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

    So the preaching of the Word must take place. No one would disagree with this, because all Christian churches have sermons. But we have sermons based on Scripture because God has commanded us to.

    1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    When Jesus says, “Do this”, he isn’t saying, “if you feel like it, you MAY do this”. He’s saying, “Do this”. He isn’t giving us a choice. As believers, we don’t have a choice whether or not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We HAVE to do it.

    So here are three things that are definitely commanded to be done in the worship service. Clearly.

    However, I’ll make one more addition:

    Rom 10:14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    The preached Word of God, properly centered on Christ, always has the fruit of faith. Therefore, it’s completely appropriate to confess our faith in response to the preached Word.

    So here you have the elements of the worship service. Word, sacrament, and confession (including bringing free will offerings as a confession of gratitude for what Christ has done for us; prayers are also confession).

    Word, sacrament, confession.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 19, 2007 @ 9:15 am

  10. Bruce, I thought you were going to share the “angel” experience you had on Interstate 8? Darn, I love that story.

    Who would have guessed that it was going to take you that many years for God to reveal himself to you?
    The thing to remember is we are mere humans and we like to look for the “signs and wonders”, or some “fresh” revelation of who God is. It’s not in our nature to want to “see” God through His word. It’s much less exciting I have to admit. I absolutely love how Paul summarizes the gospel in Ephesians 2:1-10:

    Ephesians 2
    By Grace Through Faith

    1 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.

    Comment by Alex — June 19, 2007 @ 9:29 am

  11. Um, Echo, didn’t you forget dancing? 🙂

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 19, 2007 @ 9:30 am

  12. This gets away from Bruce’s point in this blog entry, but in response to gospelordeath, yes, all worship should contain the elements you mentioned. Nothing I said implied that they are negotiable. However, I’ve been trying to stay away from the word “must” or “ought” or “command” for fear of opening myself to the accusation that I am compromising the gospel by conflating it with commands. P.S. Our church doesn’t take up a collection during the service but we have boxes in the narthax for folk to put their tithes and offerings.

    Comment by Barbara — June 19, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

  13. Barbara,

    There’s no problem using the word “commands”. We are commanded certain things. But those commands are not the gospel. They are law.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 19, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

  14. Bruce, I apologize for this comment in advance. It’s basically me thinking out loud. I have no definite conclusions I’m simply trying to grapple with your situation….

    Your comment #3 is where your conclusions hinge…
    “I don’t know what happened, to answer your other questions vaguely. All I know is what didn’t happen or couldn’t have happened. To state otherwise would be to contradict scripture.”

    You’ve now come to the place where you can definitively state that “scripture does not allow for God to reveal himself to anyone personally.”

    I don’t think you’ll disagree with that. But the problem is that you must patently deny your own experiences to come to that conclusion. In doing that however you also alienate a large segment of your friends and family. This is indeed a conundrum.

    I admire you for your candidness but I pity you for your situation.

    If only you weren’t convinced that it “didn’t or couldn’t have happened”. But then that would require the altering of your current scriptural conviction.

    Prayer, Study and Suffering.

    I am sure you have done these things now, though then you despised them, but how can you be certain that your efforts to pray, study and suffer now are not leading you to the same false security you had then?

    What I mean is that you were convinced for 20 years that your “experience” was genuine. Now you are convinced that your “experience” was false. What convinced you? Scripture you say? are you sure it was scripture? maybe it was study? Is there a difference?

    I liken your situation to a man seeking a way out of a marriage.
    “I loved her”
    becomes
    “I think loved her”
    becomes
    “I thought I loved her”
    becomes
    “I might have loved her”
    becomes
    “I loved her ‘but'”
    becomes
    “I didn’t love her”
    becomes
    “I couldn’t have loved her”
    becomes
    “I never loved her”

    “Convince me so I know that I’m convinced.”

    It seems to me that you took that cry and went around looking for someone willing to take the challenge.

    It seems to me you found them in your current situation (seminary/OPC).

    Feels better doesn’t it? or does it? I don’t know. Only you know.

    I’m sorry that LWC wasn’t up to the challenge because you’re dearly and truly missed by many here.

    Comment by danielbalc — June 20, 2007 @ 9:03 am

  15. Interesting comments there. I am at work and can’t give it the thought or time it requires. Later….

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 20, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  16. Obviously, you realize that I preach and teach on a weekly basis that we really can have personal encounters with Jesus Christ. I want to KNOW Christ just as the Apostle Paul did, and Paul placed “KNOWING” Christ higher than any other desire.

    To deny this is to believe kind of a strange form of deism — that God interacted directly with the prophets and the early church, but now, since we have the Bible, He doesn’t bother with personal interaction anymore.

    Again, if I can put my Dr. Phil cap on (and you will love me anyway, right?), I think the tragedy you experienced sent you reeling, and you found comfort in your new theological grid. It’s interesting to point out, though, that many others who have gone through similar tragedies, have been even more convinced of Jesus Christ’s personal touch in their lives (i.e. the Hoopers), and felt no need to embrace a whole new theological package that apparently doesn’t allow for God to personally interact with people.

    I think it would help tremendously if you would one day be able to express gratefullness for all the years of fellowship, love and ministry at both BMT and LWC.

    My prayer is that you could restore many severed relationships and friendships, because, according to John, that’s the real sign of a believer, that we have love one for another.

    Anyway, you know I believe we are still brothers and I appreciate at least having these forums to interact with you, even if we live too far apart to play 8-man hearts.

    Albino Cabrera

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 20, 2007 @ 10:54 am

  17. My prayer for you in the form of music can be found here. May the Spirit of the Living God continue to fill us all.

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 20, 2007 @ 1:08 pm

  18. I hope you can differentiate between what Albino and I are saying. I don’t share many of his sentiments.

    I think the situation is far more complex than simply expressing gratefulness and restoring friendships.

    This isn’t about something that happened 5 years ago. This is about something that happened 20+ years ago and something that is happening now to define/redefine what really was/is.

    That’s not a relational dilemma (though it may produce some) it is a spiritual dilemma. It is a truth dilemma.

    Your testimony, your story, is your own. I find it strange that you are seeking someone or something to change it.

    Comment by danielbalc — June 20, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  19. Re:

    I find it strange that you are seeking someone or something to change it.

    I can sneak this quesetion in quick-like:Could you explain that statement? I don’t get it.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 20, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  20. Maybe I would have better said “define it”.

    I can’t seem to get past your “all i know is what didn’t happen” premise.

    Your story has been changed (or redefined) on the basis of now that you know what it wasn’t. Or at least think you know what it wasn’t. See what I’m getting at?. You alluded to an expectation that the “mojo would fizzle out”. meaning you were never satisfied with how you defined yourexperience and were looking for something to define it.

    It seems like you think you’ve found it now, errrr you’ve found that it wasn’t what you thought it was.

    seems like story changing to me

    Comment by danielbalc — June 20, 2007 @ 3:32 pm

  21. OK. I get your drift.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 20, 2007 @ 3:33 pm

  22. I’ll sign a golf ball for whoever guesses the singer who’s song I linked.

    Comment by Rob Johnson — June 20, 2007 @ 3:47 pm

  23. Um, that wasn’t Rob Johnson 🙂

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 20, 2007 @ 3:48 pm

  24. I feel that the true subject has drifted quite a bit.
    In an attempt to take the subject of the thread seriously and to keep it on task, here’s what it’s not:
    1) I was not asking to know Jesus. I was asking God to reveal <b>himself</b> to me.
    2)Cessationism – I am firm in my resolve not to go there. My contention, if you read closely, is that God does not reveal <b>himself</b> ever, cessationism or not. In fact, the kind of revelation I am driving at in this post we won’t even have in heaven.
    3)Comfort – or my “new theological grid”. To suggest that the death of a child can be comforted by a theological grid is not your best effort to date. I grieve like someone who believes the promise that we will be caught up together with them in the air, where <b>them</b> refers to those who are asleep in Christ. But I do grieve. Like DBalc said, this is about something that happened 20+ years ago. How I got on this kick is incidental and one I probably won’t get into in a blog. But I will if I get enough requests.
    4) My weak faith in comparison to some others. Again, not one of your best efforts.
    5)That I am an ingrate.
    6)Severed relationships. I don’t know of any of those. Drifted apart, sure. But severed is a pretty strong word there.
    7)The veiled charge that I am not a true believer because apparently I don’t love people.
    8)The charge of alienation (I guess with the meaning of ostracized or estranged) I don’t buy. I don’t feel alienated at all. I don’t believe that any of my family feels this way. I am pretty sure though that I would be barred from preaching or teaching bilious Reformed doctrine at 99% of churches in America. Maybe you mean something like that we don’t see eye to eye on things. That would be very accurate.
    I am truly sorry that contentious tones have crept into what I hoped could be a discussion of reformed ontology and epistemology (without having to use those terms – but there you are).
    I will be back to address the bits that are pertinent. Gotta get something to eat.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 20, 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  25. Luk 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 20, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

  26. =================================
    not asking to know Jesus. I was asking God to reveal himself to me.
    ============================
    Not trying to be argumentative at all here. I really am trying to understand what you mean. Didn’t God reveal Himself to you with a personal touch of Jesus Christ in your life? You always seemed to me like you knew the Lord Jesus, and if you’ve seen Him, you’ve seen the Father. Unless you really didn’t know Him. I’m confused.
    ==============================
    My contention, if you read closely, is that God does not reveal himself ever
    ================================
    Not even to Paul on the road to Damascus? Don’t you believe that Jesus is, in fact, God the Son?
    =================================
    3)Comfort – or my “new theological grid”. To suggest that the death of a child can be comforted by a theological grid is not your best effort to date.
    ==================================
    This is me dropping the chalupa and backing away.
    ==================================
    4) My weak faith in comparison to some others. Again, not one of your best efforts.
    ==================================
    Again, I take it back.
    ==================================
    5)That I am an ingrate.
    ==================================
    Just hoped to see somewhere in there appreciation for those who shared Jesus with you when you were on drugs.
    ================================
    6)Severed relationships. I don’t know of any of those. Drifted apart, sure. But severed is a pretty strong word there.
    ================================
    Ok.
    ================================
    7)The veiled charge that I am not a true believer because apparently I don’t love people.
    ===============================
    Not what I was trying to imply, but I see how you could make that connection.
    ===============================
    8)The charge of alienation (I guess with the meaning of ostracized or estranged) I don’t buy. I don’t feel alienated at all. I don’t believe that any of my family feels this way.
    ==================================
    Ok; I guess you totally accept the Body of Christ of all denominations and embrace all born-again Christians as your brothers and sisters in Christ. Doesn’t really come through in the writings, but maybe you just don’t touch on those themes.

    =============================
    I am pretty sure though that I would be barred from preaching or teaching bilious Reformed doctrine at 99% of churches in America.
    ==============================
    I have had Presbyterians and Reformed fellas preach from my pulpit, as long as they preach Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead, and don’t push issues that divide us.
    ===============================
    Maybe you mean something like that we don’t see eye to eye on things. That would be very accurate.
    ===============================
    You think?
    ===============================
    I am truly sorry that contentious tones have crept into what I hoped could be a discussion of reformed ontology and epistemology (without having to use those terms – but there you are).
    ================================
    Maybe I’ll just refrain from commenting and send you private emails from now on. I’m really not trying to poison the well.
    ================================
    I will be back to address the bits that are pertinent. Gotta get something to eat.
    ================================
    Fish tacos or Oscar’s chicken?

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 20, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

  27. Echo,

    Very helpful verse there, brother. If you are interested, I will email you the exegisis of that verse…it may not mean what you think it means.

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 20, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

  28. I tell you what. My comment #24 got seriously messed up by WordPress. And then when I tried to fix it you see what it looks like above. What a mess.

    Whose idea was it to get me off Blogspot and switch to WordPress anyway?

    Let me off for now on more exposition of the distinction I am making when I talk of God revealing himself to me versus knowing Jesus. I’ll get back to it later. I’ve got more Calvin’s Institutes to memorize.

    It was a Carl’s Jr. low carb lettuce-burger. (Which they sell as a combo with fries and a coke)

    Comment by ineedsheetmusic — June 20, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

  29. One last thing:

    Maybe I’ll just refrain from commenting and send you private emails from now on.

    I am not really in favor of this approach. If it can’t be shouted from the rooftops, then it shouldn’t be shouted at all.

    Comment by ineedsheetmusic — June 20, 2007 @ 8:54 pm

  30. Albino,

    Why not, right here, tell me what you think I meant by it, and then proceed to tell me why I was wrong. I don’t understand why you need to send me an email about it. Your cryptic comment, I fear, may only lead to confusion here, even if you and I straighten it out behind closed doors.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 20, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

  31. Ugh, now I’m the one that sounds like a parrot. Hahaha…

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 20, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

  32. Albino,

    If you’re going to refuse to answer here, I’ll settle for the email.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 21, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  33. Bruce, do you really get my drift? I don’t feel like you’ve addressed my comment number 14. maybe you have and I just missed it (24 perhaps?). Maybe I muddied the waters with comments 18 and 20 but your comment number 15 “Interesting comments there. I am at work and can’t give it the thought or time it requires. Later….”

    Has left me waiting in anticipation.

    Comment by danielbalc — June 22, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  34. Yeah, no kidding. There’s quite a lot of unfinished business on this thread that everyone seems to be ignoring.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 22, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

  35. Ok, my daughter’s bday party with 70 of our closest friends starts in 1 hour, but VERY quickly: Jesus obviously didn’t mean for us to literally “hate” our mother and father, just like He didn’t mean for us to “pluck out our eye”. My take on this hard saying of Christ is that our love for Jesus should be so great and over-arching that our love for family looks like “hate” in comparison. Just like “plucking out your eye” is talking about taking drastic measures so as not to sin.

    John clearly tells us that the sign that we are Christians is the love that we show to one another (this is how they will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another).

    We must show love to the body of Christ…this is an indicator that we are Christ followers.

    Your “hate mother and father” injection here, therefore, is a red herring.

    Now I must inflate the moon jump and fill coolers with lemonade. If I had the faith of Elijah, I would pray for the rain to stop, but this party might get chased inside.

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 22, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

  36. Well, Albino, I think you’re barking up the right tree or whatever, but I think there’s more to this story. You’re right, our love for Christ should be far greater than our love for our family and friends, so much so that if family and friends are trying to come between us and Christ, then for the sake of Christ, we let them go and cling to Christ instead.

    Jumping back in time to the ancient era, it means if the head of your household, your father, demands that everyone that lives under his roof must sacrifice to Zeus, but you won’t do it because of your faith in Christ, and he says that you must do it or you cannot live there anymore, and you cannot be a part of his family, then the proper and appropriate response is to walk away and follow Christ. Yes it is painful, yes it is suffering, but this is what Jesus commands us to do. Let the dead bury their own dead.

    In the same way, today, if our friends are trying to suck us into their idolatry, then maybe they aren’t really our friends after all. No one has the right to ask someone else to violate their conscience. Try to win them to your way of thinking, ok, but no one has the right to ask anyone to do something they think is wrong.

    Here’s why this isn’t a red herring, and how it is relevant to this discussion. From the perspective of an outsider looking in, and you will have to decide this for yourselves, because I’m not really a participant in this discussion, but from the perspective of an outsider, it really looks an awful lot like you guys are lumping a whole lot of guilt on Bruce, and appealing to ties of friendship/brotherhood. You are rebuking him as if he doesn’t love the body of Christ, accusing him of sin, and you are demanding of him that he accept your views simply because you claim the name of Christian and he’s therefore obligated to love you. You particularly, Albino, are demanding that he recognize the legitimacy of churches that he is no longer convinced are legitimate, and you are demanding that he recognize the legitimacy of experiences that he no longer thinks are legitimate, having been convinced, at least in his mind, from Scripture, and your argument is all based on the fact that he should love these people who have done so much for him and loved him. You are asking him to more highly value the love that some people have shown him than the love Christ has shown him. Whether you see it that way or not, that’s what’s happening here. If Bruce is convinced, right or wrong, that these people had sucked him into an idolatrous form of Christianity, then he is not bound by his love for them as brothers to compromise his views and recognize them as legitimate. His loyalty to Christ is great, and it ought to be greater. This is why I posted this verse. Sometimes it hurts us and sometimes it hurts others when we follow Christ. Now maybe Bruce is wrong in all his judgments. But until HE becomes convinced of that, he’s doing the right thing by doing the best thing he knows to do, showing the most loyalty to Christ and the most obedience to his Word he knows how to do.

    I think all of this is very unfair of you, and I find it a bit disturbing. If he has become convinced of something from Scripture, right or wrong, he’s got to be obedient to that. Try to change his mind if you must, but I think it’s very unfair, even hitting below the belt to appeal to these grounds – even not shrinking from bringing the death of his daughter into it – in order to force him to compromise his position in order to prove that he really does love other Christians like Christ commanded. Don’t ask him to compromise his theology or his faith or what he has been convinced of. Try to change his mind, but you have no right to ask him to compromise his views. You are asking him to sin, because anything not done in faith is sin, and when someone compromises their understanding of Scripture, right or wrong, they sin.

    If you really care about Bruce and desire to love him as your brother in Christ, find out if he agrees with me on all of this before you lay into me and charge me with all sorts of things as a result of this post. I don’t know if Bruce agrees with me or not, but I can’t imagine he disagrees. So if you lay into me about what I have said here, think about whether or not Bruce will feel like you are also attacking how he feels, though hasn’t said.

    And by the way, I love my father and mother. Only the worst kind of hyper-literalist, anti-intellectual, uneducated, irrational individual would hold the view of this verse that you assumed I held. I assume you know that, and I have not failed to grasp the implication of your assumption.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 22, 2007 @ 9:09 pm

  37. Bruce,

    Finally got a chance to read this. Great assessment of the situation and loved the quotations. God’s providence is truly amazing.

    Mike

    Comment by msamudio — July 29, 2007 @ 6:27 am

  38. […] critiquing these errors in the sixteenth century Martin Luther (second quote in second bullet) made an insightful observation, “All of you scholars and monks […]

    Pingback by How does our view of the “ladder” affect our Christian life? (Lesson 5: Question 9 Answer) « Standing Solus Christus — February 21, 2008 @ 12:00 pm


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