Friday, January 29, 2016

The one who rules over all

God's people in our day have no revealed mandate to swing the actual word sword of God's justice at contemporary pagans. But the principle remains - we must retain a distinct separation from our culture while mounting an active opposition to it, else we will blend with it. We are still called to this separation from and combat with our own godless culture.

Time was when we used to smile a bit at the fundies who denounced television and the cinema (I mention these because they are very 'Canaanite' in their sexual preoccupation), but the more recent pornographic explosion has sobered us. Celluloid is a powerful cultural medium, fully as dangerous to the Christian mind for what it suggests as for what it preaches, as perilous in what it finds laughable as in what it seriously propounds. But that is simply one aspect of our secularized culture. [The explosion of pornography on the Internet since these lines were written only confirms what he says.]

The church needs not only saints who live godly lives but also saints who develop godly minds and thereby critique and expose the whole gamut of the godless culture in which we live, minds that can not only recognized false doctrine (whether it comes via advertising, education, or government pronouncements) but also unmask the assumptions behind Antichrist's propaganda. Is this not our mandate? 'Instead of being moulded to this world, have your mind renewed, and so be transformed in nature, able to make out what the will of God is, namely, what is good and acceptable to him and perfect." (Romans 12:2 Moffatt)

One word more. If the church is going to do this we must cease thinking that God calls only missionaries and pastors. We must ask God to call believers to be artists, journalists, politicians and historians. That is, if we are to produce an effective counterculture we must begin by holding that all of life belongs to Yahweh (Baal has no royal rights at all in any compartment of Yahweh's universe). Our congregation has produced a brochure which we give to people we visit, part of which summarizes our beliefs. Among our essential convictions we include that 'God rules over all of life: nothing is outside his dominion - whether business and politics, economics and education, science and sex, history and harvests, art and affliction, music and marriage. All of life is holy and must be submitted to his reign.' That will not solve our cultural problem. But if we make any progress it must begin with that conviction. If we assume Baal has a corner of farming and sex, then we have already given the crown rights of Jesus to Antichrist.

From Such a Great Salvation - Expositions of the Book of Judges, by Dale Ralph Davis. pages 34/5

At this point in the book, Davis is discussing how Baal was worshipped for his supposed control over harvests (hence the reference to farming), and within the worship was temple prostitution, which the Israelites got themselves involved in, to their peril. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hardening of the heart

By moral necessity, humanity ever stands before Christ’s judgement seat, and one day all humanity will know it. Concerned that he may here be misunderstood, Forsyth makes the following statement in an Addendum to his fourth lecture in The Work of Christ: 

Weigh, as men of real moral experience, what is involved in the hardening of the sinner. That is the worst penalty upon sin, its cumulative and deadening history. Well, is it simply self-hardening? Is it simply the reflex action of sin upon character, sin going in, settling in, and reproducing itself there? Is it no part of God’s positive procedure in judging sin, and bringing it, for salvation, to a crisis of judgment grace? When Pharaoh hardens his heart, is that in no sense God hardening Pharaoh’s heart? When a man hardens himself against God, is there nothing in the action and purpose of God that takes part in that induration? Is that anger not as real as the superabounding grace? Are not both bound up in one complex treatment of the moral world? When a man piles up his sin and rejoices in iniquity, is God simply a bystander and spectator of the process? Does not God’s pressure on the man blind him, urge him, stiffen him, shut him up into sin, if only that he might be shut up to mercy alone? Is it enough to say that this is but the action of a process which God simply watches in a permissive way? Is He but passive and not positive to the situation?

Goroncy, Jason: Hallowed Be Thy Name: The Sanctification of All in the Soteriology of P. T. Forsyth, pp. 70-71

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Opposite poles

"I don't approve of mixing ideologies," Ivanov continued.  "There are only two conceptions of human ethics, and they are at opposite poles.  One of them is Christian and humane, declares the individual to be sacrosanct, and asserts that the rules of arithmetic are not to be applied to human units.  The other starts from the basic principle that a collective aim justifies all means, and not only allows, but demands, that the individual should in every way be subordinated and sacrificed to the community--which may dispose of it as an experimentation rabbit or a sacrificial lamb.  The first conception could be called anti-vivisection morality, the second, vivisection morality.

Humbugs and dilettantes has always tried to mix the two conceptions; in practice, it is impossible.  

--Ivanov, Rubashov's interrogator.  Arthur Koestler, Darkness at Noon--"The Second Hearing"

Saturday, January 02, 2016

How do we understand God in this?

“Oh yes, I’ve had it with the prophets who preach the lies they dream up, spreading them all over the country, ruining the lives of my people with their cheap and reckless lies. “I never sent these prophets, never authorized a single one of them. They do nothing for this people— nothing”! God's Decree.
“And anyone, including prophets and priests, who asks, ‘What’s God got to say about all this, what’s troubling him?’ tell him, ‘You, you’re the trouble, and I’m getting rid of you.’ ” God's Decree.
“And if anyone, including prophets and priests, goes around saying glibly ‘God's Message! God's Message!’ I’ll punish him and his family.
“Instead of claiming to know what God says, ask questions of one another, such as ‘How do we understand God in this?’ But don’t go around pretending to know it all, saying ‘God told me this … God told me that ’ I don’t want to hear it anymore. Only the person I authorize speaks for me. Otherwise, my Message gets twisted, the Message of the living God -of-the-Angel-Armies.

From The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (p. 1053). NavPress, by Eugene Peterson. Jeremiah 23: 35-6