Posts Tagged ‘theology’

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So, I’m reading along in the second day of the M’Cheyene Bible Reading Plan (that I wanted to start in January and totally messed up on but moving on) and it happens that one of the chapters to read is Romans 12.  I’m reading along, and I’m reading along, and I’m reading and I’m all innocent and making notes ‘gifting, yes that’s nice, Pastor Riddell touched on that last week and that’s kinda cool to be here again’ I’m la-laing along as I do when I’m reading and enjoying the Scripture and then this happens:

Bless those that persecute you; bless and do not curse

*wthwap* right between the ole’ eyeballs, it hits like a pebble.  So I rub the bridge of my nose, and continue onward, a little more cautiously this time.  I know better than to be running pell-mell through the chapter once one verse hits. Conviction and these suckers travel together, and where one convicting little pebble verse is, there are sometimes, most times, others.   So I continue reading, rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, nothing too pebble-of-conviction like there. And then, it avalanched  straight onto my soul.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to hat is honorable in the sight of all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written ‘Vengence is Mine and I will repay’ says the Lord.

To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry feed him;

If he is thirsty, give him something to drink;

Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.

Ow. Ow. Ow. OW. Ow.

Yeah, apparently there’s going to be more to this “loving my enemies” for six days than I thought. Oh, I’m all ready doing it, but the way. Through gritted teeth, and  with labored breath with sweat pricking along my forehead, but I am doing it. It’s not pretty taking a long sobering look at the ugliness of my own flesh (I’ll spare you,  no need to  terrify you)

I do think, however, Jesus is pleased with His Valentine’s Day gift. And really, that’s all that matters.

What about you, scribes, when was the last time you OUCHED over something in the Bible or the Holy Spirit pricked your spirit with an admonishment? C’mon now, I’ve shared some of my ugliness. I promise, no one will be surprised at yours. We all share the same nature, sadly.

Coram Deo.

I’m working on a post, documenting some of the fantastic things  that happened during the grief whirlwind at the funeral of my Uncle, but it’s taking a while to get the thoughts together. I want to write the things down, because I want to remember. I want to remember how the Lord met me in a place that was one of the darkest and most chaotic I have ever been in; I want to share it with you but I want to write it for me. This is how I get through the hard times, I think back to the times that were just as hard and remember how He carried me through.

There’s actually a Biblical model for this, found in 1 Samuel 30:6. David wasn’t king of anything at this point (except vagabonds and outcasts) His camp had been raided while he and the outcasts were out scouting. Their wives and children and supplies had been carried away.

I can’t imagine the horror of coming back and finding my house on fire, but worse still would be the knowledge that someone had set it on fire and taken my spouse and kids, and was planning to do horrific things to them.  The not knowing who had done it would be bad enough, but then if my neighbors suffered the same fate, and held me responsible because it had been my idea to go out and scout? I’d be looking for a way to change my name and enter a witness protection plan.

David had no such luxury.    His men were tossing around the idea of stoning him.  They were grieved, and they were furious, and he was in their cross hairs. All that anger and all that adrenaline had to go somewhere.  David didn’t run away, and he didn’t hide. Instead he  encouraged himself in the LORD. While the scripture isn’t specific about how he did that, I’ve a good idea.  I am pretty certain he took several breaths,  stepped away from the chaos that wanted to consume him, and he  remembered.

He remembered when he was a boy and the warm breezes and smell of new grass, the contented sounds of sheep eating, were shattered by their panicked cries as they scattered and the snarls and roars of a bear.  He remembered the terrified bleat of a lamb and the long white incisors of the lion that pinned it  to the darkening ground. He remembered  the taunts of the Philistine’s champion, and bending and picking up five smooth stones at the brook.

He remembered how Yahweh had brought him victory over the lion, over the bear, and over Goliath. How by His power, David had hidden from Saul. He remembered those things. And then he turned back to Him, and inquired “All right, Lord. How now am I going to have the victory this time?” and Yahweh answered.

I’m working on remembering too.  Hopefully later this week the post will be up. But while I’m honing my remembering skills, I’m also decorating. Look for another post, tomorrow, and some festive  decorations I’m rather proud of. Until then,

Coram Deo

Working in a Christian bookstore, I hear all the arguments against Speculative Fiction.  It is too far on the margins of fiction, it deals with the what if and presses the boundaries of belief, it is full of heresy.  Most of the time I just keep quiet, as I really love Speculative Christian fiction and even write it myself. But today, something happened that brought me up short.

I ran into an author, who under the guise of Speculative Christian Fiction, is spreading a heresy.

Granted, they had some help from CNN and their recent article on a fragment of Coptic Christian writing, but that’s all they had, some help. What were they saying about this?  The gist of it is this: It makes no difference if Jesus was married or not.  That is a lie, it makes a big difference.  What is the truth? If He had married, it would have been mentioned and He would be the Messiah.

No where in all of Scripture is it mentioned at any time, that the Messiah would marry  or that Jesus married.

No  Nicene Creed agreeing evangelical, liturgical, or charismatic  church has ever  espoused that idea.  This makes that thought a heresy.

That’s a pretty stiff word,  heresy. What does it mean exactly?

HERESY

1. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology)

a.  an opinion or doctrine contrary to the orthodox tenets of a religious body or church
b.  the act of maintaining such an opinion or doctrine
2. any opinion or belief that is or is thought to be contrary to official or established theory
3. belief in or adherence to unorthodoxIt’s  not a light charge, and I don’t make it lightly either. To believe that Jesus would marry, would have children with a woman, and would live as a common man of sin strikes at His divine nature.

For a full look at the heresy and the rebuttal to it, please click here and see what the Ankleberg Theological Research Institute says about this heresy.

 

Why am I bringing this ugly topic up?
Speculative Christian fiction, by its nature, pushes to the edges of what might be and what could be.  There is a danger, a grave danger, in pushing too hard and too far.  When you write what might be and what could be, be wary of the borders you warp and the thoughts that you put between the sentences of your stories. If a NYT’s best-selling author can fall into heresy, then so can the rest of us. They are not the first, either, to spread heresy through what they write.

 I don’t say this to discourage you from your chosen genre;  I want to make you sober and vigilant.  I strongly suggest every Christian author that chooses this genre should also pursue Apologetics, and  spend time like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), searching the Scriptures to make certain that what they are saying, matches up with it.What do you study or read, to keep yourself fixed on Christ and how do you check that your flights of fancy do not violate the tenets of  our faith?

It’s been a month of lousy weeks, and lousy books to review. So I decided I was going to switch some around and treat myself to  Kerry Nietz  The Superlative Stream  this week. I was really enjoying it, until I slammed imagination-first into a simple sentence of theology.  After the stars cleared out of my minds’ eye, I gave a sigh and stared down at the print, willing the words away.  They didn’t go anywhere.

This is the power of Science Fiction, and the danger of it, it’s chalk full of ideas. Ideas are dangerous, especially if you don’t  recognize them for what they are; a set of theories, not facts, held to by an person or group.  The sentence that stopped me cold is this one, on page 16:

For a young star, Betelgeuse is highly irregular. An enigma. Though only a few million years old, the number of years it has before going supernova could be just thousands.

Did you see the idea in there? And catch the theology behind it? It’s right here, and looks as innocent as a kitten (if you think kitten are innocent looking, I think the look like they’re plotting world domination):

For a young star, Betelgeuse is highly irregular. An enigma. Though only a few million years old, the number of years it has before going supernova could be just thousands.

Why is this such an issue? Well because the idea that the universe is millions of years old is in direct conflict with what I believe (and numerous  prominent Christians scientists believe*) the Bible  and the testable evidence  of created matter says about creation.   An old earth, and old universe directly effect the salvation message.

That one fragment of sentence there, is a rather hefty little thing.

It’s a world-view and a theology point.  It sits there as innocent as a world-domination plotting kitten, in a book written by an author I admire.   And, it’s slid in there as if it is fact. It’s not fact. The whole idea of light-year as a measurement of distance and how light travels is still in the realm of theory.  Most of science (not that any one will admit this) is highly educated guess-work.  There’s so much we don’t know about everything, and starlight and our universe is included in that everything,  that it’s  startling to me to  see ‘millions of years’ plunked down in a book written by a Christian, and  presented as fact.

Does this mean that I’m not going to finish, or like the book?

No. 

Does this mean my opinion of Kerry Nietz has changed?

I’m reserving judgement until I’m done with the book.  I’m a little heart sore. I trusted him.  Hopefully he pulls off some amazing writer’s tricks and I wind up posting about how fantastic this book is as well as  A Star Curiously Singing. 

Does this mean I now have my imagination  sieve/filter at its highest setting to guard against other theology ninjas trying to slide by me in his work?

Yup. 

Which books have surprised you, Scribes, by a stray theory/theological point  that was submitted as truth?

*Here’s a list with some links to bios

For those interested, click here for some of the issues  with the idea of ‘old stars’  and some of the assumptions that you must make if you keep the light year as a consistent unit of measurement. 

Tomorrow  is St. Patrick’s Day,  which will be celebrated by people getting drunk and acting the fool while wearing green and yelling “Kiss me, I’m Irish”. What does this have to do with St. Patrick?  Not a single thing, and that is what makes me so sad,  and more than a little angry.

Here are some things that the world at large will not tell you about St. Patrick; most likely because they don’t know themselves.

1.) Patrick of Ireland wasn’t Irish. He was Welsh, and the son of a Noble family

2.) Patrick of Ireland was taken  by Irish raiders when he was 16 years old.  He was stolen away from his grandfather’s estate.

3.) Patrick  of  Ireland was a slave  for six years.  According to Patrick he was “naked, hungry, abused, and in terrible want” during that time.

4.) Patrick of Ireland found Christ through suffering. Later he would write that when he was tending sheep as slave, he prayed to the Lord more than a hundred times a day.

5.) Patrick of Ireland was rescued by God’s miraculous intervention.  Patrick had a dream where the Lord told him what route to take, and when to leave his master. There was a ship going back to Patrick’s home, but at first the sailors wouldn’t take him aboard. After he prayed and moved back to where he had hidden/stayed in the harbor, they called out for him to come that they would take him after all. 

6.) Patrick of Ireland was not educated. He trained  as Bishop to take up orders in the church but the Lord interrupted his schooling and he never completed his formal education (he could barely write in Latin).

7.) Patrick of Ireland was slandered  by those in his own church. In several of his letters he writes to tell them that he isn’t coming home to answer the charges they have erroneously brought against him. They can figure out what he is (a Bishop or not), and when they know they can write and let him know.

8.) Patrick of Ireland spoke out about injustice he was very vocal about the mistreatment of women, children, and slaves in Ireland.

How do I know these things? Well for one thing I’ve read about Patrick in books like How The Irish Saved Civilization  by Thomas Cahill and St. Patrick of Ireland by Phillip Freeman. I highly recommend both. However, I’ve gone one further than that, I’ve read what Patrick said about himself That’s right, some of Patrick’s words remain today. The most common one you can usually find at the library is called Confessions of St. Patrick. Don’t worry, it’s not some true-crime tale (which is what I thought it had to be when I first heard of it ).  In Patrick’s day, when you wrote your  Confession it was your testimony you were writing. At that time, confessions were usually penned towards the end of a  Christian believer’s life with the intention of encouraging and exhorting those you were leaving behind. Rather a sweet tradition, I think.   Patrick also penned it as a last defense against those who were slandering him.

Here’s part that really struck home to me, I’ve taken it from St. Patrick of Ireland, and this is Philip Freeman’s translation of the Latin. I love the frank and earnest tone he gives Patrick. In Philip Freeman’s notes on his translation, he says that is really what he wanted to come across to the readers; Patrick’s Latin isn’t high Latin of the Church, it’s “street Latin” if there could be such a thing.

Here’s  Patrick, in his own words:

I am Patrick, a sinner. The most unsophisticated and unworthy among all the faithful of God.  .. .I am very ashamed and afraid to show just how awkward my writing is. I am not able to explain things in just a few words like those who can write briefly. My mind and my spirit can’t even work together so that my words say what I really feel inside….Listen to me well, all of you, great and small, everyone who has any fear of God–especially you wealthy landowners so proud of your education—listen and consider this carefully: God chose foolish little me from among all of you who seem so wise and so expert in the law and so powerful in your eloquence. He picked ignorant Patrick ahead of you all—even though I am not worthy—He picked me to go forth with fear and reverence—and without any of you complaining at the time—to serve the Irish faithfully.

St. Patrick of Ireland, pgs 144-145

Now, I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of Christian I’d like to meet, and buy a pint and the local pub.  He loved Christ greatly. His words and his life agree with one another, and he had no grand airs.  Remember this Patrick, not the too-serious saint you might see in pictures, nor the strange fellow beating a drum and chasing out the snakes (that never happened), but this Patrick.

This is Patrick of Ireland.