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Author Archives: Pastor Pete

A good read called “Losing Faith in Church”

December 12, 2018 | Rob Barrett

Losing Faith in Church

A young man in the circle decided to be vulnerable: “I have never seen an example of a Christian life in church that I want to follow.” What happened next shocked me. One by one, the others in the circle nodded their agreement. I shook my head in astonishment and they shook their heads in wonder that I found this unanimous sentiment surprising.

We had gathered a group of young people to talk about their experiences of church.

The conversation had started off with the expected themes: the sermons, the music, the youth group, and the conflicts. But the mood changed when the “I have never seen…” voice spoke up. I reflexively brought up mental images of the many faithful exemplars who had invested in me. I couldn’t imagine my own life apart from all that they had taught me by their (very different) examples. So what was I to make of this poor young man who hadn’t been steeped among such saints? Was he just blind to what surrounded him?

One of the “me, either” voices elaborated on the theme: “It’s not just church. My parents are Christians, too, but their messy divorce said something very different to me.” Stories and experiences began to flow, with one common element: The Christian lives around them hadn’t reflected the words preached, the Scripture read, and the professions spoken. These young people perceived that something was terribly wrong with the faith spoken or the faith lived…or both.

(Im)plausibility Structures

Christian doubt doesn’t always stem from intellectual puzzles or encounters with evil. Those sorts of difficulties are real and serious, but I focus here on a different, and perhaps more pressing, reason for doubt: disappointment with lived examples of the faith. Something was missing around the circle that evening. There was no compelling vision for Christian living. These representatives of the next generation were looking for a pattern to step into, and what they saw as available to them, both individually and corporately, was unconvincing.

Upon hearing such complaints, it would be easy to accuse them of hypocrisy or laziness. Shouldn’t they attend to their own spiritual lives rather than judging those around them? We might do well, however, to listen carefully and ask ourselves how their doubt could be a gift that challenges us to live a more plausible faith.

In a recent book, Walter Moberly incisively explores the importance of the lived existence of the church as a plausibility structure for faith.[1] Drawing on Peter Berger’s sociology of knowledge, Moberly argues that the church “is indispensable for giving content to, and making accessible, the enduring and universal significance of the biblical witness.”[2] For us to become Christians in the first place, there must be a community that persuasively embodies the faith. We come to faith not merely by evaluating the Christian worldview as philosophically viable, but through significant people in our lives who live it out in rich, compelling, and beautiful ways.

Beyond our entrance into the faith, these models are also required for remaining in the faith. As Berger puts it, “To have a conversion experience is nothing much. The real thing is to be able to keep on taking it seriously; to retain a sense of its plausibility.”[3] For the young people in that circle, the church’s performance of the faith was a crumbling plausibility structure.

One doesn’t need to look far for possible sources of disappointment in the church. We are assailed almost daily by headlines of sexual abuse by Christian leaders from all strands of the church. As horrible as the abuse itself is, the more damning parts of the story are the follow-on efforts at keeping everything quiet, image control, and protecting leaders and institutions. As the holy-sounding words of confession, repentance, and forgiveness are trotted out, young people are watching carefully, and they have sensitive baloney detectors (to put it mildly). When the secular media lead the way in caring for the downtrodden and naming the problems, and when the state decides it must enact mandatory reporting laws to force church leaders to do the right thing, is it any wonder that these other secular structures of life have more plausibility?

While not everyone has a connection to sexual abuse (though far too many do), most young people today have LGBT friends. They know that many Christian sexual minorities are struggling to faithfully bring their inner experiences into harmony with their religious commitments. Are the adults in their churches offering a pathway to Christian flourishing for these friends? Dogmatic proclamations must sometimes be made, but also important is the manner of life that leads up to, through, and beyond such proclamations. If the church fails to provide a plausible vision for these friends, no wonder doubt about its plausibility for one’s own life, which is similarly complex in its own way, might not be far behind.

Examples could be multiplied. Research by the Barna Group has revealed six themes young people cite in their explanations for their disconnection from the church. They characterize the church as overprotective, shallow, invalidly exclusive, anti-science, simplistic and judgmental about sex, and intolerant of doubt.[4] One way of drawing this together is that they find Christians unwilling to engage the complexities of the world as it really is.[5] What do they see Christians doing when the uncertainties and pressures of life mount? Do we, at that point, leave our faith at the door and tap different resources to make sense of the world and guide our action? If we do, we inadvertently testify to the implausibility of our faith.

A Way Forward

In such times, what might it look like to testify to the adequacy of Christ? Has God truly given us everything we need (2 Peter 1:3), even when facing the truly complex challenges of life?

If it is indeed true that the lived experience of the Christian community is important for making the claims of the Christian faith plausible, then our first responsibility to those doubting their faith is clear: We must be the church. We must live as the Christian community we claim to be. If we are to be persuasive about the truth of the Christian faith, we must live true, persuasive lives.  But what could this possibly mean?

Our first reaction to such a mandate might well be to humbly confess that we have both failed to do so and, then, that we cannot help but fail. A truly faithful life “worthy of the calling with which we have been called” (Ephesians 4:1) might well seem to be beyond our grasp and even our comprehension. Who can live out the mandates of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)? When has anyone lived up to the “simple” command to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34)? Which Christian community has fulfilled Paul’s summons to “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” as he emptied himself and became a servant unto death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-11)? If the plausibility of the faith depends on our performance, we may well wonder if the faith must remain forever implausible.

However, the challenge we face is not to become what we cannot be. Rather, it is to speak honestly as we continue our pursuit. We can speak truthfully because we are confident in Christ, not ourselves. That the church is filled with flawed disciples should surprise no one. That such a church might dare to tell the truth about it, just might.  Moberly acknowledges that the people of God make the faith plausible despite how “disappointing and frustrating their performance often is.”[6]

Where does that leave us? If we accept our first obligation of “being the church,” our second obligation is then to invite others, perhaps especially the doubting, to observe and participate in this life of the church. As Moberly observes, this shared life of the church will always be under negotiation,[7] which is a nice way of saying it will be filled with conflict. If our faith is to truly intersect with reality, the complexities and conflicts must be received as part of that truth. It must be that Christ will, somehow, graciously glorify himself exactly there. We don’t have the option of inviting doubters into an unspoiled church, only a conflicted, challenged one. This is exactly the place where plausible testimony to Christ originates.

The New Testament church was filled with conflict and failure. Even a quick scan of Acts and the epistles reveals this plainly. The scriptural testimony assures us that Christ isn’t defeated by conflict within his body. Rather, his presence in the midst of it opens up new possibilities for witness even amidst the brokenness. Indeed, perhaps the beauty of the gospel shines most brightly in the midst of our conflicts handled openly and honestly, with full trust that God will work alongside us to restore what we have broken. Recapitulating the examples above, perhaps Christian faithfulness is not negated but becomes apparent particularly in the midst of our pained attempts at responding honestly to the plague of sexual abuse within the church, our faltering handling of our sexuality, and the crucible-intensity that can arise within marriage. In our hard-pressed situations, the life of Jesus is revealed, if only we will testify truthfully (2 Corinthians 4).

I was formed as an adult Christian in a church where it was well-known that marriage was a difficult road. This was talked about in sermons and by couples who were taking it one day at a time. Marital challenges were one of many places where Christian commitments became decisive on the journey of life. This was important to me, not only to prepare for marriage, but as a plausibility structure for the way of Jesus, which sustains the inevitable collisions between covenant love and human sinfulness.

What shouldn’t be an option for us is lying and covering up the difficulties and conflicts. The real church—the one that gives plausibility to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—is messy, complicated, contested, and plausible. My mother likes to tell the story of my 5-year old commentary on her scurrying around to tidy the house for guests. I am said to have asked, “Why don’t we let them see how we really live?” Yes, why not let the doubters see how Christians really live?

Even if this sounds like a good direction, in my experience it is always difficult at any given moment to take a step toward vulnerable transparency. Each messy situation has its own excuse. “We should wait until we know better what we are doing.” “Being honest about these particular things would only tear people’s faith down.” “There is too much at stake in this case to say what is truly going on.” But it is exactly in these toughest of situations that the opportunity is richest. Are we willing to testify to the difference the way of cross and resurrection makes when we are facing our own crucifying challenges?

For some reason, we too often think that faith is bolstered by hiding the difficulties Christians face. Quite the opposite. Young people can sniff out hypocrisy from a mile away.  The world is filled with people offering quick fixes and easy answers. Christian communities have the possibility of offering a richer vision of human flourishing, one that rings truer. When we confess our lack of easy answers and vulnerably invite others into our difficult places of struggle, the difference the gospel makes becomes apparent. The little miracles we so often overlook—humbly asking for forgiveness, praying without seeing results, receiving communion, caring for an ailing spouse, and on and on—become apparent as the miracles they are when they flow from Christ’s presence in our midst, especially when we’re simply doing what Jesus commands and not trying to impress anyone.

When we invite doubters to “come and see,” to come up close and inspect the body of Christ, wounds and all, we offer a testimony that is more than intellectual argument and manicured image. We offer an example of Christian faithfulness fit for the real world. Such a faith marks out a pathway worth following as it points forward to Christ as the only one truly worth following.

[1] R.W.L. Moberly, The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith (Baker Academic, 2018). This concept was suggested earlier by Dennis Hollinger, “The Church as Apologetic: A Sociology of Knowledge Perspective,” Christian Apologetics in the Postmodern World, ed. Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm (IVP Academic, 1995), 182-93.

[2] Moberly, 101.

[3] Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Anchor, 1967), 158.

[4] David Kinnaman, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church . . . and Rethinking Faith (Baker Books, 2011), 91-93.

[5] Kinnaman, 98.

[6] Moberly, 101.

[7] Moberly, 153.

 

Rob Barrett is the Director of Forums and Scholarship at The Colossian Forum.

 

 
 

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Seeing a juxtaposition in recent articles in The Christian Courier

This is in response to three items recently published in The Christian Courier

I need to start with a friendly shout out to Ken: Hi Ken Benjamins! It’s been a while!

Now, a parable:

A little Italian Restaurant has been operating at the corner of x and y streets. Started by an immigrant couple, it served authentic Italian dishes to the community for 4 decades. The neighbourhood has changed, and is now gentrifying. None of the children of the owners–though they grew up helping out in the restaurant–had interest in taking over operations. When the parents reached their mid sixties, and felt the fatigue of serving even the few customers that still came, they were faced with the question of what to do… They have a family meeting… Dad says if we just repaint and redo the menu the people will come back and we can make it work. Mom says if we redo the kitchen and put some modern equipment in and have live music… The kids try to explain that the customers have no appetite for what is being offered, so deal with it.

As Peter Schuurman mentions in his response, “How Do we Reform the Church” reads like a lamment–a legitimate one. The changes and losses are real. The church as we know it is not faring well in the culture. Part of that could well be “mediocre faith at home that’s equally reflected in the life of the church.” Except, to me, it is more that the forms of faith expression of the past do not speak in today’s culture. So to call us back to them rings hollow and unmotivating. And I mean “forms” as particular practices, such as devotions at meals and attendance at church services. The “principles” of having personal spiritual disciplines and coming together in worship of God are sound and solid. But living out the principles has become too tied to particular ways of doing them. To call people back to those particular ways sounds like a call to come live in a living museum. 

As principles, I support a call to Commitment, Literacy, Family time and Finding our true Identity. Yet each of those are really, when well motivated, indicators of something deeper in a person: A relationship with God. That is of core importance, not the particular practices. In the language of leadership culture today, they are technical expressions that are presumed to indicate one’s heart has changed. But they will not necesarily grow a person spiritually if no one has taught them about having the relationship first. Calling people to double down on those practices without deep heart-changing relationship with God through Jesus can create an active looking Christianity that is really at its core a mediocre faith in action. In the same way, in the parable I give, revamping aspects of a restaurant that offers items no one has an appetite for is futile. The restaurant must adapt to a new reality, and let go of the past, even as it lamments that those days are gone. The church needs to find out how to meet the spiritual appetites that everyone has with the gospel message in a manner and place that connects. We reform by finding different forms of living out the principles we hold dear.

In my experience people quite like to hear the kind of lament pastor Benjamins voices. They like it especially when accompanied by calls to return to faithful institutional practices of yore. The crying out about the lost past seems to comfort them in an odd way. Could it be so because it leaves them less responsible for the problem or it’s solution? I wonder, do they like the helplessness of lamment more than the difficult task of  trying to comprehend new ways of connecting with ‘outsiders’ and pre-believers (not ‘onze’=”our own culture and kind of people”). Such opportunities are right under our nose and on our doorstep.

And that is where the Jordan Peterson phenomenon rises to the foreground for me, and where the interview with Paul VanderKlay is such a refreshing juxtaposition. Here we have a professor who is not necessarily our kind of Bible believer who has tapped a nerve in our culture which has a lot of people saying ‘ouch.’ The ouch from many of the young men that are attracted to what he says is a painful one to behold. There is a known new intrigue and interest by that wounded, incomplete identity group, motivated by the pain of trying to figure life today out as guys, and there is a new openness to the Bible and the gospel of forgiveness and grace and of taking responsibility while relying on Christ, that we do well to jump into instead of waiting for people to come back to the pews. But it will be messy. We have an opportunity to create new forms. Lets roll!

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Sometimes…

Sometimes it is the book you pick up on a whim at the library that grabs you more than the one you went there for. This is what I’m digesting today. It speaks to the US situation but has application in Canada as well.

Quote begins:

…once we begin to notice the new forms that mystical feeling has taken, we can see their impact almost everywhere.

As it happens, we often fail to recognize the effect as spiritual, because American history has led us to expect our national spirituality to be explicitly religious, tied to the nation’s churches. These new supernatural entities—or, at least, these new manifestations of the enduring human desire to perceive something supernatural in the world—have broken away from the theological understandings that would once have helped corral and tame them. We are like a people who dismiss ghosts as archaic, superstitious nonsense, even while we imagine that all around us are ectoplasmic projections of the dead we just happen not to call ghosts. Spirits and demons, angels and demigods, flitter through American public life, ferrying back and forth across our social and political interactions, the burdens of our spiritual anxieties.

Think of it this way: We live in what can only be called a spiritual age, swayed by its metaphysical fears and hungers, when we imagine that our ordinary political opponents are not merely mistaken but actually evil. When we assume that past ages, and the people who lived in them, are defined by the systematic crimes of history. When we suppose that some vast ethical miasma—-racism, radicalism, cultural self-hatred, selfish blindness—determines the beliefs of classes other than our own. When we can make no rhetorical distinction between absolute wickedness and the people with whom we disagree: The Republican Congress is the Taliban! President Obama is a Communist.’ Wisconsin’s governor is a Nazi!

We live in a spiritual age, in other words, when we believe ourselves surrounded by social beings of occult and mystic power. When we live with titanic cultural forces contending across the sky, and our moral sense of ourselves—of whether or not we are good people, of whether or not we are saved—-takes its cues primarily from our relation to those forces. We live in a spiritual age when the political has been transformed into the soteriological. When how we vote is how our souls are saved.

Through the long centuries after the Middle Ages, the combination of liberal Protestantism and scientific materialism slowly drained Western civilization of its metaphysical density: devils, specters, elves, magic, all fading away. The disenchantment of the world, the sociologist Max Weber called it, and by the late 1800s, most educated Americans probably had no strong belief in any supernatural entities beyond the bare Christian minimum of the individual soul, below, and God, above.

The otherworldly genius of the nation, however, would not leave it so. Over the last hundred years, America’s metaphysical realm has been gradually repopulated with social and political ideas elevated to the status of strange divinities: a scientifically acceptable re-enchantment and supernatural thickening of reality—born of the ancient religious hunger to perceive more in the world than just the give and take of ordinary human beings, but adapted to an age that piously congratulates itself on its escape from many of the strictures of ancient religion.

Quote ends
Preface
“An Anxious Age; The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America” by Joseph Bottum
published in 2014.
 
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Posted by on August 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The big reveal

Some of the stories I share are stories based on various real events from various places which are combined and told in a way to make a point, not to report exactly what happened.

* * *

In an amalgamations-of-memories church I’ll name “Amalgam Reformed,”1 on Lord’s Supper Sunday, on entering the worship space, any regular attender could visually tell something different was going to happen. One could see the normally near bare table at the front which was draped in a white cloth. Another sign came when the Elders came into church behind the pastor. They were dressed better than the Friday office-casual that was the standard Sunday wear, they were in suits & ties. Instead of sitting with their families as usual, they would march to the front and sit there.

The service would begin, and then it would come to the song before communion. At the end of the song, two of the Elders would come up to the table, and as the accompaniment faded to silence a hush would fall over the congregation as these Elders meticulously made the “Big Reveal” of what was under the cloth. Breathing was abated as the cloth would be folded in a manner similar to the way the military has a procedure for folding flags. A serious solemnity would hang over the actual sharing of the elements of communion. Such Reverence seemed fitting for those other events in the worship. “The Big Reveal” seemed to be unduly serious and sacred.

So the Elders were asked why this and some other things were done. “What is the theological and/or spiritual significance of the reveal?” The significance of of other parts of the service were more obvious, and some were even explained, such as the taking of a piece of bread and of a bit of the fruit-of-the-vine as symbols of Christs body and blood sacrifice. But what of the removal of the cloth? No one had an answer beyond “We do it because it adds to the special feeling of it all.”

So we dug back in history together. The question was asked: “when the first church building was built, what was the next building over?”

The answer was “The horse stable”P1000927.JPG

“What byproducts come with having horses nearby?”

“Manure, smells, and flies.” came the responses.

“Was the first church building tightly sealed?”

And as this question was asked some recognition begins to show on faces. A few begin to chuckle. “You mean this started out as a practical thing to keep the flies off and we’ve made it into a sacred moment?”

Yes.

* * *

This story is to me a very good example of why we need to make it a habit in the church to re-examine the meaning of most of the things we do and the way we do them from time to time, otherwise we leave for our children mere patterns of behaviour that they might simply repeat even when the purpose is lost. Seems a good thing to reflect on as Reformation Day approaches on the calendar.

1This story is an amalgamation of experiences from several different churches

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

I’ve been long wondering about the corelation between emotional maturity and spiritual maturity. This talks about that:

quoted from an electronic edition of

EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY

by Peter Scazerro

Chapter 9

Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult

[People] need practical skills incorporated into their spiritual formation to grow out of emotional infancy into emotional adulthood. It is easy to grow physically into a chronological adult. It is quite another to grow into an emotional adult. Many people may be, chronologically, forty-five years old but remain an emotional infant, child, or adolescent.

The question then is: How do I distinguish between them? The following is a brief summary of each.

EMOTIONAL INFANTS

  • Look for others to take care of them

  • Have great difficulty entering into the world of others

  • Are driven by need for instant gratification

  • Use others as objects to meet their needs

EMOTIONAL CHILDREN

  • Are content and happy as long as they receive what they want

  • Unravel quickly from stress, disappointments, trials

  • Interpret disagreements as personal offenses

  • Are easily hurt

  • Complain, withdraw, manipulate, take revenge, become sarcastic when they don’t get their way

  • Have great difficulty calmly discussing their needs and wants in a mature, loving way

EMOTIONAL ADOLESCENTS

  • Tend to often be defensive

  • Are threatened and alarmed by criticism

  • Keep score of what tehy give so they can ask for something in return

  • Deal with conflict poorly, often blaming, appeasing, going to a third party, pouting, or ignoring the issue entirely

  • Become preoccupied with themselves

  • Have great difficulty truly listening to another person’s pain, disappointments, or needs

  • Are critical and judgemental

EMOTIONAL ADULTS

  • Are able to ask for what they need, want, or prefer—clearly, directly, honestly

  • Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings

  • Can, when under stress, state their own beliefs and values without becoming adversarial

  • Respect others without having to change them

  • Give people room to make mistakes and not be perfect

  • Appreciate people for who they are—the good, bad, and ugly– not for what they give back

  • Accurately assess their own limits, strengths, and weaknesses and are able to freely discuss them with others

  • Are deeply in tune with their own emotional world and able to enter into the feelings, needs, and concerns of others without losing themselves

  • Have the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that consider the perspectives of others

… … … 

Emotional Maturity and conflict

Ignoring Conflict–False Peacemaking

A tragically misinterpreted verse in the New Testament is Jesus Proclamation: “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Most people think that Jesus calls us in this verse to be pacifiers and appeasers who ensure that nobody gets upset. We are to keep the peace ignoring difficult issues and problems, making sure things remain stable and serene.

When, out of fear, we avoid conflict and appease people, we are false peacemakers.

… … … 

The problem … is that the way of true peace will never come through pretending what is wrong is right! True peacemakers love God, others, and themselves enough to disrupt false peace. Jesus models this for us.

Embracing Conflict–The Path to True Peace

Conflict and trouble were central to the mission of Jesus. He disrupted the false peace all around him–in the lives of his disciples, the crowds, the religious leaders, the Romans, those buying and selling in the temple. He taught that true peacemaking disrupts false peace even in families: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, daughter against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law–a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household'” (Matthew 10:34 – 36).

Why? You can’t have the true peace of Christ’s Kingdom with lies and pretense. They must be exposed to the light and replaced with the truth. This is the mature, loving thing to do.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus explains to us the characteristics we need to display if we are to engage in true peacemaking–poverty of spirit, meekness, purity of heart, mercy, etc. (Matthew 5:3-11). He also follows the call to true peacemaking by stating that persecution will follow for those of us who follow him in this.

None-the-less, unresolved conflicts are one of the greatest tensions in Christians’ lives today. Most of us hate them. We don’t know what to do with them. Instead of risking any more broken relationships, we prefer to ignore the difficult issues and settle for a “false peace,” hoping against hope they will somehow go away. They don’t. And we all learn, sooner or later, that you can’t build Christ’s Kingdom on lies and pretense. Only the truth will do.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

“There are some good things there ain’t no app for.”

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Theology of right/wrong better/worse – basis in Gen 3

In my intro post I quoted a piece in which Syd Hielema suggests a particular posture toward difficult questions and issues. He calls it “Holy Uncertainty.” Syd goes on to suggest the “better/worse” moral compass supercedes the “right/wrong” one in most cases.

I stated that behind this problem is the false belief that it is our job to identify right and wrong, white and black. That is my current “operating theory” and I want to test it out publicly.

My theory began to take form when I was in a time of personal reflection and healing, and was further shaped when I worked as a chaplain/spiritual director in an addiction treatment center. It is centered on the question of what “knowing good and evil” is.

I was introduced to the concept and behaviour of “black and white” or “all or nothing” thinking in addicts. Addiction to a substance or activity changes the way the addict sees the world, and the way they think. They move to extremes in their thinking. They cannot understand shades and nuances. I saw that at my work there.

But I also have seen it in the church. I vividly remember the time in the early 80’s when an elder interrupted a council meeting by standing, throwing the King James Bible on the table, and as he marched out saying “If ve can’t all aggrree dat dit is de one en only trrue vord of Godt, den I can’t be wit you anymore!” Looking back with my new knowledge, I can see that this man saw only one version of the Bible as “white” or “good” and felt strongly and fearfully that the newly introduced NIV was moving toward “black” or “evil.” One illustration will have to suffice to illustrate this point. More are possible.

So where do we as humans and as Christians get this idea that we are to be arbiters and declarers of what is actually and ultimately good and what is ultimately evil?

Some years ago I did a quick study of the combination of the words “good and evil” in scripture. The first place you end up is in Genesis 2 verses 9 and 17 where the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil is mentioned. The next mention is this one, with the serpent speaking into Eve’s ear:

“God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 NIV

To know good and evil, to eat the forbidden fruit, is to be reaching for something that is to be God’s alone: the knowing of what is ultimately good and what is actually evil. Mankind were exiled from God’s presence for doing this! They, to use 12 step language, made themselves their own highest power, thereby breaking relationship with the Creator.

To me now, whenever I displace God as my highest power, I am again partaking in fruit that is forbidden, and repeating what Eve and Adam did. All that works ok for me in my mind, but the next step is the challenge. Maybe we have no business at all trying to decide and discern what true good is. Maybe we are called to do our best with the Spirit’s help to keep moving toward the gate that Jesus opened, the path back to walking in the garden in the cool of the day in full fellowship with a God who we leave that kind of knowledge to. Meanwhile, on our journeys, we let better/worse be our compass, because ultimate right/wrong is not an area we were given dominion in. Nor should we. We are to acknowledge how veiled our certainty really is, and we are to hold sacred the space where our certainty ends and God’s knowledge begins.

Thats my operating theory at this time.

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Uncategorized