Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Post Laodicean Adventism

In my church the Laodicean message is brought up now and then.

However, might not the church as a whole be evolving towards an unnamed Post-Laodicean church, in effect, an 8th church? Instead of focusing on its lukewarm condition it looks ahead to a grace-induced condition.

I've thought that if one focuses on being lukewarm year after year, one might just get one's wish and stay that way.

Please visit Sherwood Cox's post,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Christian Belief is Divine Madness

Yes, the Christian life has much to offer, but it also requires a lot from the believer. One really has to be experiencing a form of divine madness in order to continue to meaningfully live and benefit from the Christian life.

Recently someone said that the Christian life is generally for people in great debt, stress or need. The rest, it seems, have other priorities as they don't experience these as much. However, anyone--whatever their socioeconomic situation--can experience these unpleasant situations in varying degrees.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Abraham, Isaac & Jesus' Death

The ire of God killed Jesus, our substitute. Abraham stands for God and Isaac for Jesus. Abraham did not get to kill his son. God, whom Abraham symbolizes in the incident where Abraham was instructed to kill his only son, Isaac, did kill Jesus. It doesn't sound pleasant to say it, but when you analyze this particular story and think about the fact that God is able to take the life of sinners since he is the life giver, it make sense.

The good news is that in spite of killing or letting his only son die, God was able to save mankind.

It's seldom said, but God did not have to resurrect Jesus. He very well could have let him remain dead. Jesus was also the beneficiary of God's forgiving love.

Also, Jesus risked a lot in dying for humanity because he could possibly have failed and then not only humanity would have been lost, but Jesus as well. Had that happened, would God have found another solution? Who would then have to died to save both Jesus and humanity had that become necessary?

The similarities between the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham and what really did happen to Jesus have other dimensions, as well. Isaac almost died and should have died if Abraham would have gone through with it. Paul mentions that Abraham hoped that if he did kill his son, God could potentially bring him back to life. Christ, in fact, did die, but not for very long. In three days' time God brought him back to life. In this regard he is like Isaac who almost died, but was saved just before the knife came down.

There is no feminine principle in the Godhead, but if there were it would have to be either Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. In this story of Abraham and Isaac, the third person, Sarah, was left in the dark lest she influence the sacrifice of her only son. Not much is said in the Bible about how the Holy Spirit felt about Christ's approaching death. We can only assume that he too was pained by it though supportive of it, nevertheless.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mysteries of the 7th-Day Sabbath

Something as important as the 7th-day Sabbath was not kept by many Christians for almost two thousand years. Yes, there were pockets here and there, e.g., the Waldenses, but here's the problem.

Christianity was blessed with the rest of the commandments during the time the Sabbath was not as widely kept as it is today. 12 million Adventists, as well, as others, keeping the Sabbath can be considered a mark of popularity for the 7th-day Sabbath when compared with the centuries when it was seldom, if ever, kept. Perhaps not until the Reformation, were one or two other commandments not kept either, e.g, the first and the second commandments. (See Exodus 20)

It sometimes bothers me that something as important as the 7th-day Sabbath should have been re-introduced back into mainstream Christianity earlier than sometime in the 19th century. Jews, of course, continued keeping the 7th-day Sabbath as they had done during their entire history whether by the nation as a whole or by a remnant during periods of captivity by other nations.

It is almost as if for some reason, the gift of the Sabbath was removed from the world until modern times. Why would something apparently so important as the fourth commandment be withheld from Christians the world over? Of course, it really wasn't withheld since humans themselves decided to worship on another day. Had they wanted to they could have taken a long hard look at the 4th commandment with different eyes. Was all of Christianity blinded so they couldn't see the mystery of the 7th-day Sabbath? Are there cases where one wants to see something familiar in a new and essential way, but is kept from doing so? By circumstances, by people, by over-familiarity with the status quo?

This set me to thinking if some other nameless blessing that humanity once had access to and, with nothing more than restudy of the Bible, could once again be brought to light? Perhaps I'm hungering for new light or rediscovery of old, forgotten light? Perhaps we have to await Present Truth as it brings something equally important to Christians and humanity as a whole, at some point in the near future.

Let's hope our wait for this now hidden light or truth is a short one.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Evangelism and the Male Homosexual

First of all, you need to see yourself as that homosexual sinner that you are trying to bring to the cross of Jesus Christ. You cannot hope to reach him if you see yourself as superior to him in any way. You may have a lovely Christian home. You may have a wonderful Christian spouse. You may have children who love you dearly. None of this, however, carries any wait with the homosexual sinner you are looking to lead to the power of the cross of Jesus. Unless you identify with the homosexual or gay person, your efforts will fall short of the mark.

Only God can help you see yourself as God sees that person in need of the cross of Jesus Christ. God sees you both in the same light. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. AND all have been freely justified [considered fully forgiven and saved] by the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Book of Romans. The only difference between you and the homosexual or gay person is no difference at all. You may say that you don't do the things he does. You don't go to the places he goes. What difference does that make in the final analysis? Both of you can only depend on the grace [loving kindness] of Jesus Christ. Were it not for that marvelous grace both of you would be eternally lost. So what is there, really, to boast about?

There are some matters to consider, however, when endeavoring to bring homosexuals or gays to Christ. First of all you have to realize that most, if not all of them, will never lose their attraction for their own sex in the same way that you will never lose your attraction for the opposite sex. The only difference is that you are either married or have the potential to get married someday. Few, if any, homosexuals or gays that come to Christ can have that guarantee. What then can a life in Christ offer them that would convince them that a sexless life with Christ is better than a sex-filled life without him?

You may speak of eternal glory, a home with the saints and other worn expressions that Christian evangelists have been using for decades. This will rarely appeal to the man (or woman) who may actually have a rather enjoyable and well-balanced life that includes a partner and a group of supporting friends. Why would such a person want to leave that all behind in order to come to Christ? Why would they want to suffer being ostracized in a congregation of mostly married church people with their children by their side? Why would they want to exchange feelings of self-confidence with feelings of self-doubt and of inferiority when they seek to compare their sexless and now-solitary life with the one that you enjoy with your spouse and children?

Some might say that there are no honest answers to these questions. Others might say that it is a matter of faith. If the newly repentant homosexual or gay person "looks to Jesus as the Son of God and believes in him ..." John 6, he will feel that nothing else matters because of the excellent reality that is that life of one who is hid in Christ.

Unfortunately, this is not always the panacea that many seem to think it is. What then can the Christian life offer the homosexual or gay person that he or she doesn't already have?

For one, it offers them freedom from potentially damaging multiple sexual relationships. In this regard the unconverted heterosexual and his/her homosexual counterpart are in the same situation. Both can suffer from the psychological wear and tear of going to bed night after night with different people in the belief that this will somehow relieve the burning desire to experience sex to its highest degree and to perhaps bask in the intimate afterglow that sometimes follows the heat of passion. Like anything carried to an excess, this constant nightly sex is as addictive as any drug or habit.

When Christ comes into the sinner's heart, be he homosexual or heterosexual, the non-stop need for sex and more sex and more post-coital intimacy when it does arrive briefly, then gradually ceases to assert itself in the person's life.

Some may point out that there are committed homosexual and heterosexual couples that do not live a life of "quiet desperation", Thoreau, and to these folks it is hard to present this argument. The problem presents itself differently in those cases. While it may be true that you can love only one other person and not be married to them, be they gay or heterosexual, since there are no matrimonial constraints, there is always the possibility that someone else may appeal more to the momentarily dissatisfied person and unless conscious of the slippery walk they have undertaken, they could very easily fall into the revolving door of nightly trysts in search of a replacement of the loved one that they were unfaithful to.

Needless to say, a legitimate marriage does not prevent either spouse from being unfaithful to each other, either. Sex and its temptations, whether in or outside of traditional marriages, is the great equalizer. For those who do not have the marriage contract, however, it is easier to dissolve the bonds that held them together. All cases, whether homosexual or heterosexual, have the potential to hurt those they love by the tragedy of sexual infidelity.

What then can the heterosexual Church member offer the justified homosexual or gay person that they did not have before, outside of the sheep fold of Christ? They need to be both friend and family member (or the next best thing to that ideal) to the now solitary and hurting person who gave up a caring partner and/or community of gay friends, in order to come to the fellowship of Christ. If the heterosexual Church--into which a newly converted homosexual or gay person has come seeking the saving balm of Christian fellowship--cannot offer the support, love and encouragement that he or she had in his or her previous life, then the evangelistic goals of that church are a sham and do not deserve to use the name of Christ when seeking to benefit those who are outside the church community.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Trembling Before G_d

My local library had this dvd on the shelf and I thought I'd give it a go to get insight into something a bit different for a change.

Trembling Before G_d is a documentary about Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are also gay and lesbian and married for the most part.

Instead of finding more celebration--as most films of this type seem to do--of sexuality and acceptance of what most people will tell you cannot be changed or cannot be changed often, this film was more about the pain that comes from family and fellow worshipers rejecting gays and lesbians. One Orthodox lesbian took the final solution to its extremes, poor woman, and ended her life rather than face the disapproval of her family.

There were some sympathetic rabbis--very few, really--but all of them either recommended therapy, change therapy, or celibacy. They did recommend that the supplicant continue coming to God because the "answers are in Judaism" and not outside of it.

If Adventists ever made such a film, who would see it? Most people don't even know Adventists exist. Others could care less. Perhaps it would be shown in universities, or perhaps on the Internet. Perhaps such a film already exists. Surely SDA Kinship must have attempted to film such a documentary, but finding funds for such a film would be problematic. Some would wish such a film would never be made. I'm sure it would have an audience, at least in film festivals if it were done in a unique way.

After seeing the film the thought came to mind of how those punishments for many sins, including same-sex relations, specified in the Torah, were not applied to the same-sex converts that Paul mentions in one of his letters to the Corinthians. Had they been applied, then most of the former Jewish or gentile adulterers, homosexuals, temple prostitutes, and a host of other sinners would never have gotten the chance to come to Christ and find salvation.

It appears to me that, at least in this regard, the Bible does change the way it presents the solution to a sinner's behavior. The New Testament provides forgiveness and a chance for the sexual sinner to live a new life. The Old Testament, on the other hand, recommends death to root out the evil from among the Israelites. I may be missing something here, or perhaps I've just seen the light, however dim it may be shining in this particular area.

Related sites or blogs:
Trembling Before G_d site
Trembling Before G_d blog