Friday, November 6, 2009


Lewis says,
God’s greatest miracle.

Word made flesh
John one

I used not to believe
In the Trinity;

It was against my family creed –
No affinity

For Tertullian’s ‘three-ness’
Or Athanasius.

One God
Three distinct persons

Jesus the Son
Holy Spirit

How could I not revile
After Armstrong

And his influence on Granddad
Teaching had

Been passed on through my father, so
I didn’t know

Begotten God
John one eighteen

Start in Matthew
Read “Emmanuel”

I would tell my friends, “God is One,
Jesus? God’s Son.”

Not thinking that every offspring is its parent’s kind
I was blind.

One day I decided to see what the Bible said.
I read.

Of godliness
Timothy Three Sixteen

“Lord and God”
Declared Thomas,

I discovered what Trinitarians claim concerning Unity
And Diversity.

Jesus was clearly God in John
Chapter One

And so many other places, too
It was true.

Jesus, like God
“I AM”

Three fourteen;
John eight fifty-eight

My world was transformed, my Savior seen as splendid
When I assented

Things got a little hard at home when it was God we talked about –
Shouldn’t shout.

I am still learning, and God is doing tremendous things in my family.
I’m happy.

Waves and particles
Exist simultaneously

Just don’t
Do justice, though

Because it seems illogical, we’re confused,
Not used

To things being so complex in existing.
Minds resisting

Even though we shouldn’t expect God to be simple, dissectible –
That’s unacceptable.

Hebrew Scriptures too
display differentiation

God’s fullness
To earth coming

And though I don’t fully understand it and recognize it as complicated,
It’s also necessitated.

It is only because Christ is God the Infinite that His singular sacrifice
Makes right.

We need an eternal sacrifice, for sin against God is of eternal weight and wear-
Christ can bear.

Model of community
Ultimate love

Perfect Union
Father, Son, Spirit

Monday, November 2, 2009

Loaded Language

I was thinking about Puritans a couple of hours ago, Jonathan Edwards in particular.

I wonder what his home was like. Was it hospitable? Was his family loving? Was there noise?

I know that he invited the dying (from tuberculosis) David Brainerd into his house.

I know he was a prolific writer of philosophy as well as theology. He was a preacher, the icon of a puritan in American minds today.

I know him from what’s written and spoken of him. Yet these do not capture the full essence of his life or character. Certainly he had daily routines, favorite meals, and adventures with his children that we can’t grasp centuries later.
After all, puritan life couldn’t have been as cardboard as some history book summations entail.

Imagine how our world will appear in a history book. War, political scandals, dying newspapers, flummoxed economists, globalism, redefinition of societal roles, etc . But these are not our existence. These are not what we eat for breakfast or to whom we say “hi” on the way to work and school. I am a person with a myriad of experiences and faculties.

I thought these things, and then I was reminded of a lingual critique of the Bible that flowed along the same lines.

“Certainly the Bible cannot contain everything there is to know about God!”
“God is so much bigger than that – you cannot possibly claim such knowledge.”
So I chewed on these questions. Do they present grounds for dismissing biblical truth claims?

I don’t think so. Here’s why:

I agree that the Bible does not present total truth about God, just like a biography of Jonathan Edwards doesn’t present total truth about his life. That being said, an accurate biography will still contain truths about the person in question. The Bible may not reveal everything about God, but it does reveal truths about Him and how we should respond to Him.

The Bible never claims to reveal everything there is to know about God. In fact, some passages indicate the opposite.

First Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

The Bible, what Christians call “God’s word,” is a light to our paths here on Earth, guiding us into right relationship with God. The truths presented in the Bible (that God created humankind for His glory, that humans sinned, that God sent a law through Moses to guard them and teach them about God’s glory and their depravity until Christ appeared, that Christ died for the sins of the world, that He rose again and will return to judge the earth and bring his faithful into an eternal kingdom, etc.) help us to know and follow God.

There are other truths about God not contained in the Bible, but that does not mean that the truths about God not contained in the Bible will contradict the truths of God that are contained in the Bible.

God is infinite, and the joy one receives as a consequence of knowing Him deeper will only grow the more we know and experience an eternal God during an eternal stay with Him in heaven. This is a relationship we can begin today, grow in through the Bible, and continue on through eternity by God's free favor.

Rejecting the biblical truths, according to the Bible, will deny us access to this glorious communion. Such that do will know God as judge for an eternity apart from Him, devoid of love.

By accepting and obeying the truths presented in the Bible, we will enjoy the fullness of God that exists in a direct personal relationship with Him as King and Savior and Friend.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Culture: Secular or Pluralistic?

I just returned home from a science and faith conference held in Fort Worth, TX.
At the end of the first day, my friends and I were able to spend some time with one of the speakers, Stephen Meyer.

I respect Dr. Meyer. He is a man who is passionate about his particular field (intelligent design, namely biological information), but who invests time in the work of others. He delights in answering questions, and refrains from blustering or bullying those who disagree with him.

He seems like he has nothing to hide.

One of the statements he made in our conversation really stood out to me. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with it or not, but I thought that it was very important to understand.

Here’s what he said:

“We are not living in a pluralistic society, we are living in a secular society.”
A pluralistic society is one in which a variety of traditions and ideologies are able to coexist. This word can also mean that varieties of ideologies are all equally valid.

A secular society is one which pushes a naturalistic worldview. This is often seen not only in what said society propagates but in what it attempts to disallow to propagate.

Why does Meyer’s statement matter?

Is it accurate?

I think that Meyer’s remark is pertinent to the discussion of religion and state today. Even if found to be not entirely accurate, the words of this seasoned cultural observer reflect at least a shift in American worldview.

As a religious studies major, I encounter a lot of thought directed against my position of the exclusivity of Christ. Professors teach the values of other religions from the standpoint that all religions are equally valuable. Students who disagree are misinformed at best.

One would suppose that this is a product of extreme pluralism in the classroom, which is probably very true. But I think that Meyer’s words carry gravity even in my comparative religions class. We are taught to evaluate religion through a post-modern lens of relative truth (meaning and truth are separate from facts).

This sounds very much like pluralism, but there may be a naturalistic heart keeping this teaching alive. We are taught not to esteem one religious tradition above another because we are all just people reaching above to Ultimate Reality, but this supposition, even though it acknowledges the supernatural, is effectively established upon secular principles.

This is so because some pluralistic camps of thought encourage us to assent to the idea that the supernatural has its hands tied behind its back (so to speak). It does not reach out to us in such a way that we can definitively know it, which means that our religions are symbols, compasses pointing toward magnetic north at best.
Pluralism is certainly not dead in America, but I think it owes much of its success to naturalistic thought.

Thus, when Meyer’s says that we are living in a secular society as opposed to a pluralistic one, I think he is right insofar as secular ideologies are permeating culture even to the religious sphere. (This phenomenon may be much more noticeable in spheres outside of religious studies, like the sciences.)

The strange relationship between secular and pluralistic ideologies hinted at by Meyer’s comment is sure to change in the future.

I do not know if religious pluralism will replace naturalistic secularism or vice versa. Perhaps these will coexist in a merged form or be divided into a Schaefferian two story dichotomy.

Granted, these are not the only worldviews in the fray. My own Christian faith is still to be counted.

And if both religious pluralism and secular thought are mistaken, the Christian God is still to be counted as well.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Passion of the Christ

I just watched the Passion of the Christ.

I've seen it before, but not like this. Just me and two other friends.

We talked while it was playing. "What does this mean?" "If Jesus was God's Son, why would He let Him die?" "That part's not in the Bible."

The Passion. That's a good adjective for Jesus' work. He was passionate.

During the opening scene Jesus prays "not My will but Yours be done." I've heard that before, thought a lot about it, been encouraged to do the hard, right thing because of it. But there it was in graphic display: "I will die if You want Me to. I don't want to. If there is any other way then do that. But if it's Your will, let me be killed."

Christ lost His life literally. Can I part with public praise? acceptance? desires of my heart?

He did. He died.

Then He rose.

His obedience resulted in the greatest exaltation imaginable (see Philippians 2:5-11). He left all and got more. If I leave those little things I cling too, I will get more as well.

I have seen this proven true in my life.

So it was good to be reminded of that and of the gospel, it’s incredulous but real and perfect.

We talked about sura 4:157-158 while we watched it. That Qur’anic verse depicts the traditionally held Muslim belief that Jesus was never crucified, but that Judas was made to look like Jesus and crucified while God took Jesus into paradise.

“If Jesus was God’s Son, why did God let Him die?” That is the question arising from the aforementioned ideology.

In the Bible, it actually says that it pleased God to crush Him. It pleases God to exterminate sin and save people. On the cross Jesus “became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21)” so that we could have Jesus’ righteousness accredited to us after He took our punishment.

God punished sin and was pleased. God enabled us to come to Him and was pleased.

Jesus dying was not against God’s will, it was why He came.

He chose to die.

His passion to glorify God in obedience and thereby extend eternal salvation to the world would let Him do nothing else.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


We have been talking a lot about beauty in my English class lately.

Because the class is about textual arguments, we dissect ad campaigns offering airbrushed icons of femininity and counter campaigns that attempt to expand the definition of beauty to make it more accessible to women.

A few of the articles we have read draw on the work of evolutionary psychologists to explain that the paradigm of beauty (or attractiveness) is hard-wired into us by natural selection’s shaping of our faculties to hold an affinity for members of the opposite sex whose features happen to coincide with a high fertility rate.

One author suggested that this means the unattainable standard of beauty will remain such – it’s in our genes – and that by striving for it we can develop a better quality of life.

I think that cognitive psychologists would tend to disagree. Certainly they may yield to the assertion that we are influenced by our genes, but they would assert that we have a say over what we value through our cognitive processes.

I have been trying to think about beauty through a biblical lens. Not necessarily is some poignant, philosophical ponders on aesthetics, but just, “what does the Bible say about beauty?”

In the Bible, beauty is neither good nor bad. Beauty is just a noun and beautiful just an adjective.

Some righteous women are called beautiful, as are some evil women.

Physical beauty is not a goal to strive for (which doesn’t mean don’t take care of yourself, there are lots of exhortations to avoid laziness, etc.). Finding worth in our appearance is understood to be the wrong source of joy (the correct source is Jesus).

There is one beauty that is extolled: inner beauty. You can find this in passages of scripture like 1 Peter 3.

Proverbs 31:30 says “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

Finding value in obedience to God is the remedy for our shallow, super-model exalting perspective.

It would help girls overcome eating disorders, etc., to know that to be loved does not mean to look like a celebrity.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Poem About Suffering

Why is it allowed that a child would suffer
Some sort of chronic disease?
That sallow skin would be wrapped around cancer
Within her body devoid of ease?

While mother cries
And the corners of eyes
Fill with diamond drops,
We look to the sky
And wail and cry
Asking “Where is God?”

Does it stand to reason that a Being
Benevolent in nature would permit
Such evil striking young and old
That some may die, others in mourning sit?

Some say “trilemma-
God’s dilemma”
While others bow to weep.
Others confused
Bearing wounds
Just wander in the depths of grief.

So many turn from Christ as King -
Claiming him inexistent -
Unwilling to fathom that love may just live
In Him toward Whom they’re most resistant.

Those that weep
When they’re bereaved
Are not the only ones;
Would comfort be gained
By turning in pain
To a Father who also lost a Son?

Others contend that there is no good, powerful Father
For One such would never permit the tragedy we saw,
But arguing He breaks a moral standard (goodness)
Demands His existence because it requires a Law.

In a moment
Of vicious torment
We can understand the value of Life.
Suffering’s a tool
For us who are fools
To be conformed to the image of Christ.

And there is none so intimately conscious
Concerning the dagger drove by great loss or anguish
Because He took the punishment for our sin, a mauled body,
A separation from God, unable His form from sin to distinguish

Suffering shows
As God knows
That we needed that sacrifice.
Pain’s a symptom
Of rebellion
A megaphone screaming “seek freedom from vice.”

How do we respond to the suffering plaguing
People around the world? Will we strive to heal to the point of dying?
Throwing up our hands saying, “where is God striving?”
Not realizing He did EXACTLY that… Himself denying

Two words kept:
“Jesus wept”
Shows His discontent
Determined to heal
With love that’s real
And action consequent

And because of the Cross the world will be redeemed.
Reality will once again be consummated in glory
Death shall have no sting, sin no power
In wake of the true redemption story.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Physical Things in Heaven: A Divine Dilemma?

This morning I read a verse in the eighth chapter of Hebrews that really got me thinking. It read that certain things on earth, particularly the tabernacle of ancient Jews, are earthly representations of heavenly things:

“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” – Hebrews 6:5
At first the shook me a little bit. Here’s why:

If earthly things are a “shadow” of heavenly things that would mean that some sort of tangible or physical reality must exist in heaven.

But isn’t that less glorious than the heaven I’ve believed in? Heaven is supposed to be a transcendent reality, spiritual, with no strings attaching it to this lower, polluted plain. Right?

Well, I realized that that was my preconception, and that supposition caused me to question what I was reading. But if you ask legitimately, you tend to receive.

I asked myself, “What warrant do I have for devaluing this scripture because it shows that the spiritual does not exclude the physical?” I found I had none. I was falling victim to the same false dichotomy that led Gnostics to believe that matter was evil and needed to be escaped. They could not see that is was sin, a moral ailment with spiritual and physical ramifications, was the evil that needed to be killed.

There is nothing unholy about a perfected reality. In fact, it’s validating. It provides significance for certain things on earth, and alludes to the Genesis statement of creation being “good.” The existence of a heavenly cup does not delegitimize heaven’s existence, it shows that physical actions like eating and drinking are good and should be exercised with responsibility and joy with the assurance that something so much greater, yet similar, exists in eternity.

C.S. Lewis depicts this in his short novel The Great Divorce. In almost a Platonic sense, the present is shown to be vague reflection of the more real, more solid divine existence.

Islam is often criticized for the Qur’an’s carnal depiction of the afterlife – namely that certain faithful men are rewarded with virgins for their enjoyment, and I thought that the New Testament heaven may fall into the same criticism. But the Christian heaven depicts our connection with Christ as the ultimate union: we are wed to Him. The spiritual/physical elements present are good because it is in that solid plane that we act out our devotion, gratitude, and love toward God and others.

That revelation rendered my dichotomy fallacious. There is nothing inherently “de-motional” about physical things. The premise that the spiritual and physical exist in tandem renders existence in a sense “amphibious” (to borrow a description from Lewis’s Screwtape Letters).

This grand restoration of things will make them whole. It will supplement reality with a weight of glory lost in the Fall.