Fantasy: A Door That’s Closing—And Why We Should Keep It Open

This past weekend, as part of our plans to insulate our attic bedroom, I was searching out the “art” part of the project and stumbled upon these lovely works from England.  They’re part of a folklore, fairy tale genre that hints at a different world—they’re not the world itself, but just a hint of it, a marker pointing us in a direction beyond what we can touch, taste, and feel in this here and now.  As Lewis says, they are “only the scent of flower we have not found, the hint of a tune we have not heard, the news from a country we have never visited.” Lewis proposes that our love of fairy tales reveals that we’re made for more than this life, more than buying and selling, living and dying, watching Glee and filling our our March Madness bracket.  He proposes that the fairy tales themselves point towards another part of our world, invisible yet real.

As Dennis Haack writes, “Right up to the medieval age, the church believed that fantasy creatures, sorcerers, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts were as ancient as creation.  Their inclusion reminded everyone that humans are more than mere mortals or machines.”  Fairy tales hint at the grand meta-narrative that permeates the universe, the cosmic struggle between good and evil.  This is why Christians like CS Lewis, JR Tolkien, and yes, even JK Rowling, tell fantastic tales, and it’s why nearly everyone’s a fan of at least of one of these authors.

During the Victorian age though, much to Lewis’ dismay, fairy tales were sanitized and moved from the parlor to the nursery.  Twentieth century evangelicals have taken the whole thing a step further, often vilifying Harry Potter and Halloween, rather than leaning into to the truths contained therein:  there are powers beyond this physical realm—real evil exists in the this world, and real good. Honor, sacrifice, and courage are things that matter, as does beauty and our longings to be caught up in a story larger than our sanitized lives.

Some of this stems from our desire to protect children from the realities of this cosmic struggle.  I understand the desire to shelter, but hear this: Life is not safe.  Following Christ is not safe.  Confronting evil in the world, whether in our own hearts or in the power structures around us, is not safe. But neither is it boring.  In our attempts to make our faith safe and sane, we’ve created a Precious Moments version of Christianity, with pastel figures splashed across the pages of our children’s bible, highlighting our sanitized view of the faith.  There’s pastel Noah entering the ark with all the happy animals (but no drowning masses).  There’s the pastel version of David strumming on his harp (but no picture of him cutting off Goliath’s head).  There’s no pastel Tamar, disguising herself as a prostitute and sleeping with Judah either.  (Did you know that in the original version of sleeping beauty, the princess was wakened, not by a kiss, but by giving birth to twins, conceived while she slept as the prince…well, you know how these things happen!)

We’ve sanitized it all, sort of pretending that there is no cosmic struggle, that there are no powers higher than our college degree and credit card.  The result is often, as Dennis Haack says, a church that offers a “therapeutic God and advertises church as a ‘safe’ place.”

What’s needed is the recovery of our authentic sense of mysticism, our sense that the world is bigger than what we see and touch, that the invisible forces of evil in our world are real (because they are), and that we’re invited into God’s story, even more so than Edmund was invited in by Aslan.  This is the kind of life I want to live—saturated with mystery and glory, right in the midst of bill paying, shopping, and yes, even insulating the attic.

What are your thoughts?  Have we sanitized our gospel too much?  How about our fairy tales?  Why are Christians afraid of Harry Potter but not CS Lewis?

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • http://www.meettheblochers.blogspot.com Chrissie

    I love this thought. I do think we as Christian often become so afraid of being ‘polluted’ by culture we limit our Christian experience to something far from the extravagant life God intended for us.
    We fuel our illusion of control with rules and limitations that were not asked of us, and resist the freedom we are called to live in – at our own expense.
    There seems to be a fine line is allowing kids to believe in the possibility of mystery and dreams beyond what they can see and preparing them for the ‘real world’ – I feel like this is a big debate around the issue of to ‘Santa’ or not to ‘Santa’ at Christmas.

  • Ken

    Funny that you should post this just as I am finishing reading N.T. Wright’s book, “Surprised by Hope”. I have the overwhelming sense that there is a man steeped in fantasy background (and perhaps even some of the best sci-fi) to draw some of the amazing illustrations of what he believes is really happening all around us. Exactly where and what are heaven, hell, paradise, purgatory and our relationships to them but more importantly what is man’s relationship to the Creator and what are we called to be. Having always had a great love and fascination with fantasy works has really helped me grasp his message in the book and to better grasp our place in this world.

    • raincitypastor

      Love NT’s book on Hope (and have referenced it a few times in my own upcoming book “The Colors of Hope” due out soon). Yes! Our sanitized and utilitarian culture needs to recover it’s love of beauty and mystery. But then, telling this to someone who loves fine woodcraft really is preaching to the choir!

  • raincitypastor

    Father Christmas — the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe. Lewis warns that we take care not mistake the shadow for the greater reality, but I suspect there are some who don’t really see the greater reality at all for fear of the shadows. This too is a danger. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Bryce Schober

    Great points, Richard.

    It seems that in fearful reaction to anything hinting of dark spirituality, much of mainstream Christianity tends to avoid fantasy at the cost of practically denying the supernatural. It’s too dangerous to contemplate the mystery of God – it can only be approximated by getting our minds out of the mechanical world that we live in and into a world of fantasy.

    This reaction to the fear of the unknown could even be the principal reason that we tend to put God into the little boxes of “the friend in my head” or “the vending machine in the sky”.

    This seems to do as much service to Atheist thought as it does a disservice to Christian thought.

  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    This is a great post. As a life-long Christian who grew up reading fantasy, science fiction, and even playing role-playing games (actually, I still do all of these things), I’ve always been mystified by the fear that manifests about this stuff, and really about anything imaginitive or creative that falls outside the narrow definition of “acceptable”. A good work of fantasy promotes thought, speculation, exploration, creativity and imagination. Those are all good things for Christians and they do provide that connection to something bigger and greater than mundane existence.
    There’s so much that I could say about this topic, but the discussion of the reality of what is described in the Bible bringa to mind a thought that I had back when “The Passion of the Christ” came out. While I realize that the film had some stereotypical imagery that smacked of anti-Semitism, I found myself liking the realism. It was hard to watch, but it was supposed to be. It would be interesting to see a larger work, or series of works in Christian media that tells the Biblical narrative and does not sacrifice depictions of the real violence and evil…they are part of the story and part of it’s greatness…for the sake of a family-friendly rating. None of it should be gratuitous, but there’s a value to realism.

  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    This is a great post. As a life-long Christian who grew up reading fantasy, science fiction, and even playing role-playing games (actually, I still do all of these things), I’ve always been mystified by the fear that manifests about this stuff, and really about anything imaginitive or creative that falls outside the narrow definition of “acceptable”. A good work of fantasy promotes thought, speculation, exploration, creativity and imagination. Those are all good things for Christians and they do provide that connection to something bigger and greater than mundane existence.
    There’s so much that I could say about this topic, but the discussion of the reality of what is described in the Bible bringa to mind a thought that I had back when “The Passion of the Christ” came out. While I realize that the film had some stereotypical imagery that smacked of anti-Semitism, I found myself liking the realism. It was hard to watch, but it was supposed to be. It would be interesting to see a larger work, or series of works in Christian media that tells the Biblical narrative and does not sacrifice depictions of the real violence and evil…they are part of the story and part of it’s greatness…for the sake of a family-friendly rating. None of it should be gratuitous, but there’s a value to realism.

  • Kari

    On the whole, i agree with what you said Richard. As a parent, the part you wrote about how you present the bible to your children is something I have thought about a ton the last five years and something I rarely hear discussed.

    We actually did have a children’s bible that mentioned cutting off goliath’s head – and I was reading it to my three year old when I stumbled across it. It suddenly dawned on me how odd it was that “David and Goliath” would even be thought of as a “kids story” and be in a bible book targeting kids under five.

    For me, there is something terribly precious about a very young child’s innocence to the cruelty and evil in the world and I haven’t been in a huge hurry to force its introduction, even through the bible. I have sort of come to the conclusion that I would rather skip some of the more difficult to understand parts of the bible until my children are old enough to understand it more, rather than gloss over it and make it “pastel” as you mentioned. At five, I do believe my son is fully ready for goliath and all it entails. At three….not so much.

    Just as I would never think of reading to my child about a prostitute until he at least understands what sex is, I would not read to him about killing a giant until he at least has some understanding of what death is.

    As my kids grow up, I have no intention of sheltering them from the things you mentioned and I completely agree that I would rather have them understand the full shocking picture rather than some sanitized version. But at the same time, I wish our culture valued a child’s innocence a little more, slowed down their introduction to sex & violence, even in the church.

  • Kari

    sorry, that was a bit off topic, its just something I’ve been thinking about a lot. :)

  • Kari

    sorry, that was a bit off topic, its just something I’ve been thinking about a lot. :)

  • Jamie

    Here’s an interesting article from a South African context. It argues that the story of the “Rape of Tamar” should be included in children’s Bibles in an effort to confront gender violence and rape:

    http://ujamaa.ukzn.ac.za/Files/tell%20it%20like%20is%20it%20is.pdf

  • http://highdefculture.wordpress.com highdefculture

    Why do a couple of commenters use the word “fear”? Why can’t it be that we parents who tell our kids they cannot read Harry Potter simply have a disagreement about what is acceptable to read and what isn’t, and call it a disagreement rather than fear?

    • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

      My use of the word refers to the context in which people believe that fantasy and the like are going to cause their children to engage in witchcraft and the occult. There’s always a place for parental judgment in what we choose to expose our kids to. There’s even a place for rational fear. But the idea that reading Harry Potter will cause an otherwise normal child to actually practice the occult spills over into the realm of irrational fear.

  • http://highdefculture.wordpress.com highdefculture

    Why do a couple of commenters use the word “fear”? Why can’t it be that we parents who tell our kids they cannot read Harry Potter simply have a disagreement about what is acceptable to read and what isn’t, and call it a disagreement rather than fear?

    • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

      My use of the word refers to the context in which people believe that fantasy and the like are going to cause their children to engage in witchcraft and the occult. There’s always a place for parental judgment in what we choose to expose our kids to. There’s even a place for rational fear. But the idea that reading Harry Potter will cause an otherwise normal child to actually practice the occult spills over into the realm of irrational fear.

  • thefoutz

    When I was a child and my father was a pastor I would watch some of the videos he had on the evils of rock and roll, mostly because I was fascinated by the music. One of them was called “Hells Bells” and spent four hours attempting to vilify rock and roll music. The men who made the tape seemed to have this belief that merely by listening to this evil music – AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Metallica and even the Beatles – one was opening himself up to the powers of the occult, as if Jesus wanted his children to live in the mountains, away from every cultural influence.
    I see the same kind of attitude towards Harry Potter. Parents feel that letting their children watch or read these stories would merely open up the doors that would eventually lead their children to the occult. Watching someone use a magic wand is only going to lead to actual wand use, apparently.
    Personally, I love the stories of Tolkien, Lewis and Rowling. Fortunately, my father didn’t shield me from these stories and eventually eased his hard stance on rock and roll. I hope someday that I can read LOTR, The Chronicles and Narnia and Harry Potter with my own children.

  • Claudia Rengstorf

    A wonderful book discussing the same topic is
    Telling the Truth – The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale by Frederick Buechner
    Thank you Richard – I always learn from your blog. . . . .

  • Josh

    Richard, I really like this post and hope my comments add to the discussion!
    The key point from Lewis may be “fairy tales themselves point towards another part of our world”. I don’t think the main worry is Christians “fearing” a cultural fantasy that will harm us. I think the problem is Christians adopting our culture’s secular model of a multi level universe that says the fantasy world is not part of our world. The physical world is the main storey or level. The fantasy world, heaven, and hell are all on other levels. They may exist, but that’s not the reality seen around. The secularist hopes that from time to time God may come down from his second storey to visit, instead of seeing that God is already here. The secularist multi level universe may encourage imagination but wants us to be realists. The one-storey universe helps us become saints adventuring through a world drowning in sin and death, yet bathed in the love and blood of God. Accompanied by angels that grieve over the slimy sins that entangle and that rejoice as steps are taken towards holiness. And demons await nearby for an opportune time to strike seeking to divert and destroy the path to the one story of Jesus that offers all salvation.
    Many Christians around the world still believe and witness things that many american Christians would call ‘fantasy’. For more on a one-storey universe, hears the podcast I took it from http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/freeman/christianity_in_a_one_storey_universe_part_1

  • raincitypastor

    Thanks for this very well articulated response. the key is that we see our world as one fabric, as you say. It’s hard to do here, but a starting point is acknowledging that we breath very materialist air here in the west, and must swim upstream against it.

  • raincitypastor

    Thanks for this very well articulated response. the key is that we see our world as one fabric, as you say. It’s hard to do here, but a starting point is acknowledging that we breath very materialist air here in the west, and must swim upstream against it.

  • Ken

    I find it fascinating how often believers throw up walls building defenses against the world often in all the wrong ways. Sadly we live in fantasy all too much of the time. Darwin comes up with a theory of evolution in the 1800′s so Christians come up with a theory of a very young earth to thwart Darwin’s requirement of an old one. Now two centuries later honest scientific evidence has shown evolution to be a sham and yet by fantastical faith scientists still cling to evolution while many Christians still cling by fantasy to the young earth in spite of science pointing ever more solidly at the complexity of the universe defying chaotic chance origin. I don’t really want to start that discussion here in this context, but use it simply as an example of how even the most staid of us often hold to fantasies without even consciously realizing it. It comes in so many forms and creeps into our lives constantly.

    I have long loved fantasy for the very reason that it opens my mind to possibilities outside of the “normal” structure of life. By so doing I find myself more pliable to God’s leading and personal growth in understanding His purposes for all of this often crazy and puzzling existence.

    • Roy

      “Now two centuries later honest scientific evidence has shown evolution to be a sham…”

      o.O

      • Ken

        Parable of the Archeologist

        Once there was an archeologist who had a fascination with time pieces. He collected and studied them from the earliest known to the most modern. The day came for him to present his findings to an international gathering of archeologists. He stood at the podium, fired up his power point presentation and outlined his theory of timepieces. With meticulous detailing he worked through the most intricate attributes of all his specimens. In the end he presented his “Theory of Timepieces”. He began by showing how a random monolith stone erected by chance at just the right angle to project the sun’s shadow offered the crudest of time tracking by early observers as to the time of day. Then perhaps, by chance mind you, a nearby volcano ejected stones that happened to fall in just the right positions around the monolith to mark the hours of the day. And so on through the eons chance upon chance just the right events occurred to bring ever more complex minerals together to form ever more complex timepieces. Finally now here in the 21st century was the crowning achievement, a timepiece so precise it tracks not just time but the date, moon phase, star positions, leap years, receives GPS information from mankind’s inventions to track its location and always give precisely the correct time for its location on the planet. In fact its capabilities go even further to making mathematical calculations, measuring the temperature and barometric pressure and altitude, and further still to making and receiving phone calls and text messages, able to interact with the World Wide Web and download books for reading. As the wide-eyed archeologist completes his enthusiastic presentation of the amazing “naturally” occurring timepiece his audience sits for a long moment in utter disbelief at what they have just witnessed. Then erupting in hysterical laughter they leave the meeting wiping tears from their eyes commenting to one another about their colleague’s insanity.

        Amazingly enough this is precisely what the biologist pushing evolution of an infinitely more complex machine called life expects his audience to believe in. It all just happened by chance. Good luck with that.

  • Josh B

    Hi Richard,

    I personally enjoy reading fantasy novels and can appreciate your post for revealing the benefits and the truths that these novels can contain about good vs. evil, mysticism etc. However, I usually view these novels as “escapist” type of literature that I read only for pleasure and to “get away” from everyday life. I must admit that I don’t typically analyze or think about the theological themes, even while reading something as obvious as Aslan’s death and resurrection.

    When I have kids I will certainly let them read Harry Potter and the like, but I wonder if it will only leave them wishing they had magic wands to make life easier? :)

  • Josh B

    Hi Richard,

    I personally enjoy reading fantasy novels and can appreciate your post for revealing the benefits and the truths that these novels can contain about good vs. evil, mysticism etc. However, I usually view these novels as “escapist” type of literature that I read only for pleasure and to “get away” from everyday life. I must admit that I don’t typically analyze or think about the theological themes, even while reading something as obvious as Aslan’s death and resurrection.

    When I have kids I will certainly let them read Harry Potter and the like, but I wonder if it will only leave them wishing they had magic wands to make life easier? :)

  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    Re: The Parable of the Archaeologist.

    Ken,
    Your analogy fails for the simple reason that your befuddled archaeologist is ignoring the observable fact that all randomly occuring time pieces were created by people. The key here is observability, the basic requirement of the scientific method. A scientist who claims that there is no God or that God had no hand in creating the world is polluting the scientific method by injecting his or her pre-conceived religious/philosophical notions into the process. Science cannot claim that there is no God. The same is true of the claim that God does exist. It’s one thing to say that life would not exist in the universe if a given variable fell outside a given narrow set of parameters. It’s an entirely different thing to say that because said variable falls within said parameters it proves that God created the universe. The religious scientist is making the same mistake as the atheist. I don’t believe that science can ever prove or disprove the existence of God and his hand in the universe, and I believe that God intended it that way. As Christians we are called to faith, to believe in the unseen. I happen to believe in evolution; more specifically, I don’t see any conflict with evolution and my faith. Science doesn’t kill God. Science reveals God to be creative beyond human understanding. But the more we learn, the more we can be in awe of the natural systems God put in place.

    • Ken

      Thank you. You made my exact point. It is an observable fact that everything had a Creator. “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what he has made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:19,20. So you have shown again my observation that people engage in fantasy all the time. Ignoring both the blatant reality of a Creator and the basis of evolution having at its core the proposition that life came to be spontaneously and without an outside force is yet another fantastical imagining. Why would God need to use evolution? Why hide His power behind or within such a ridiculous and far fetched man made invention. Simple mathematics tells us evolution is impossible and so does God.

      • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

        We may be talking about two different things. Evolution, that is the Theory of Natural Selection, has been proven by scientific observation. That observation can neither prove nor deny the existence or role of God in the process, but we have seen genetic mutations account for the survival of members of a species. We’ve seen anti-biotic resistant bacteria. We’ve even observed continental drift, erosion, and other geological phenomena that shape the world, sometimes violently, sometimes gradually. The origin of the universe is another question. The Big Bang Theory, aside from being an amusing, nerd-friendly sit-com, is just a scientific theory. It does not claim to prove or disprove God. It is certainly in conflict with a literal interpretation of Genesis, but you yourself have distanced yourself from Young Earth Creationists. But until we find a way to see outside our frame of reference, that is until we find a way to see outside the space-time continuum, we cannot prove Genesis. We cannot prove The Big Bang.
        I’m conflicted about the debate, because it’s a fun one. How often do we really get to imagine looking beyond space-time? At the same time, is it that important? Whether the Truth is your interpretation that God spoke the world into existence as it is (I know, I’m oversimplifying) or mine that God set the natural world into motion and that He can and does intervene whenever He sees fit, does it change our calling as Christians to share the Gospel, to feed the hungry, heal the sick, clothe the naked?

      • Ken

        I agree this is primarily a fun debate issue and little more in the significance of what the Gospel and our hope is really about. You are precisely right in that, so see we agree on something here completely. But natural selection does not equate to the theory of evolution, just says that species adapt. Evolution posits that species turn into other species for which the “evidence” is thin to say the least. Just because life is made of chains doesn’t mean the chains must be inter-linkable or that there are or ever were missing links to join them. That’s the key element of evolutionary theory and the one for which proof is void and even common sense weighs against. A commonality to the pattern of life does not prove links between species. My worry for believers agreeing to evolution is the dilution of the Creator’s touch and leaning to the world’s alternative explanation for life having no need of a Creator.
        My archeologist parable is still appropriate precisely because he comes to his conclusions because of his love and obsession for timepieces apart from all else. In that place of obsession rationality often vanishes replaced with what we want to believe about the object of it.
        The issue Richard raised was what has happened to fantasy in our current culture and like most things I believe it hasn’t gone anywhere just evolved into other forms and expressions. So even I agree evolution exists!
        Quite seriously I don’t have the answers here. It humors me when I encounter those that are certain they do. I think God must have a sense of humor about our boastfulness. “Believing ourselves to be wise we became fools.”
        Thanks for the respectful discourse. I hope I haven’t offended anyone too badly myself. I can do that sometimes.

    • Lamont

      Andrew/Ken

      Personally, I think you both fail.
      Apart from the Triune God of Christianity you can know nothing for sure. The ultimately personal, triune God of the Christian scriptures “alone” can create with order and purpose, and contains the only “necessary precondition for all knowledge, logic, meaning, morality, uniformity of nature, destiny… and can exercise sovereign control according to His exhaustive will.

      Furthermore, the atheist/unbeliever knows that God exists, but suppress’ the truth! It’s not my job to convince, but to “Expose” the truth they’re denying, by the word of God (sword of the Spirit)written on their hearts (minds)!

      Rom 1:19b-20 because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

      2 Cor 2: 4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy ARGUMENTS and EVERY LOFTY OPINION raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

      We don’t wage war like the world Andrew, but, that’s what you are doing!

      For the word is the power of God unto Salvation. Not scientic, “my scientist/philosopher can whip your…

      My two bits.

      Soli Dei Gloria!

      • Ken

        I pretty much agree with all you’ve said there Lamont. Thanks for even quoting the same passage in Romans that I did. What’s funny in this was a friend posting a blog from our scientist/church elder at

        http://antiochapologetics.blogspot.com/2011/02/green-toothpicks.html

        on Facebook this afternoon. This believing scientist shares an illustration from a biology course in college and how it fails to capture the workability of evolution and he goes on to modify the picture much like my parable of the archeologist to explain why.

        Fantasy lives on and helps us see the Kingdom more clearly. That was the original point of this string.

      • Lamont

        I enjoyed his article. THX!

      • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

        Lamont,
        First,the only way I am waging war against God is if I believe that evolution and scientific inquiry are in opposition to God. I’ve stated that I believe no such thing. I believe that science reveals God as bigger than anything that can observed by our mortal methods. The fact is that we cannot empirically prove or deny the existence of God. You and I have faith that The Bible is true. Others do not believe so. The mistake that we tend to make as Christians is to assume that the realities in which we believe are self-evident. They are not. If you look at Christianity from a lens other than that of a believer, it does not make sense. It is irrational. It is implausible. It is to live counter to the way the world works in the hope of an eternal reward that we can be certain of only by faith.

      • Lamont

        Andrew.
        I didn’t say you were waging war against God. I said you are waging war (like many X-tians do) like the world does. Christians should not wage war the way the world does.

        For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy ARGUMENTS and EVERY LOFTY OPINION raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ… 2 Cor 2: 4-5

        For instance, do human arguments have “divine power to destroy strongholds?” Doesn’t the scripture above also tell us to: …take every thought captive to obey Christ?” We can only learn Christ through the word. We are told to “sanctify (set apart) Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence… 1 Peter 3:15.

        When it comes to the “way of the world” the Bible say’s “you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. (Eph 4:17b) … vs 20 “But that is not the way you learned Christ!”
        How did we learn Christ? By the scriptures! For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation… which is a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the gentile.

        “I believe that science reveals God as bigger than anything that can observed by our mortal methods.”

        Science is a mortal message.

        The bible states: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom (SCIENCE) did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor 1:21).

        Lack of knowledge isn’t the unbelievers problem! His problem is spiritual death! He needs to be born again (from above). “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Rom 8:7 & 8.”

        “The fact is that we cannot empirically prove or deny the existence of God.”

        For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Rom 1:20

        God see’s it differently!

        Again, the unbeliever knows that God exists, but they suppress the truth in unrighteousness Rom 1: 18 ff. Our job is to expose the truth using Gods word, not worldly “evidentialism.”

        “You and I have faith that The Bible is true.”

        Correct Andrew! It was granted to us (by God) to believe!
        Phil 1:29 “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe…”

        “The mistake that we tend to make as Christians is to assume that the realities in which we believe are self-evident.”

        Again, Rom 1:20. They are self evident! God has made it evident to them! They have the law written on their hearts. They have a spiritual malady. They won’t come into the light because their deeds are evil. But they know, and are w/o excuse.

        “If you look at Christianity from a lens other than that of a believer, it does not make sense. It is irrational. It is implausible.”

        No, I’ve already dealt w/that. No, their problem is moral. Like a rabbit, won’t eat meat because it’s an herbivore, unless its nature is changed. A sinner won’t desire what is Holy, unless its nature is changed, i.e. new birth, circumcision of the heart, and only the creator can do that.

        Thank you Andrew. I look forward to your opinion on what I’ve said.

        Soli Dei Gloria.

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  • Brendan Thatcher

    In response to your question at the end of your blog entry, I think C.S. Lewis is accepted by conservatives because the allegory is clear. However, Harry Potter deals with witchcraft and magic, traditionally seen by conservatives as tools of demonic activity. I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but neither do I think Harry Potter is in some way evil.

    Great post! I agree that the church has killed the power of story to tell the gospel. I once heard a speaker ask the question, “Why are pagans better at telling God’s story in film than Christians?” It’s a thought provoking inquiry.

  • Brendan Thatcher

    In response to your question at the end of your blog entry, I think C.S. Lewis is accepted by conservatives because the allegory is clear. However, Harry Potter deals with witchcraft and magic, traditionally seen by conservatives as tools of demonic activity. I’m not a Harry Potter fan, but neither do I think Harry Potter is in some way evil.

    Great post! I agree that the church has killed the power of story to tell the gospel. I once heard a speaker ask the question, “Why are pagans better at telling God’s story in film than Christians?” It’s a thought provoking inquiry.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/jadeejf Beth

    Richard- I wanted to say thank you about a million times for today’s sermon. I wish I’d heard it years ago :) It was really encouraging, and struck at some really core issues I struggled with when we were in the midst of that season. I’m so thankful for your wise words, and how God speaks through you to your congregation :) So… thank you!

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/jadeejf Beth

    Richard- I wanted to say thank you about a million times for today’s sermon. I wish I’d heard it years ago :) It was really encouraging, and struck at some really core issues I struggled with when we were in the midst of that season. I’m so thankful for your wise words, and how God speaks through you to your congregation :) So… thank you!

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  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    Hmmm…I wish I knew why some of the comments have reply options and others don’t. Oh well…

    Lamont,
    I think we’re approaching this from different angles. Your arguments work fine if we’re talking about the spiritual side of the equation. I don’t have any particular argument there. I’m looking at the way we present our faith to those who don’t share it.
    In that context, just as my computer is running millions of calculations to let me put these words on the screen, the Holy Spirit is fighting a spiritual war in the background of the conversations we have with other people we interact with physically. But that does not mean that we cannot or should not meet people where they are and try to bring them to understanding by relating Gospel Truth to their lives as they know it. Paul did this in Athens, using their monument “to an Unknown God” to spread the Gospel. I guess what I’m saying, in it’s simplest form, is that using the Bible as it’s own proof is problematic if the person you are trying to prove the Bible to does not believe in the Bible. If they are not there yet, we need to meet them, and through relationship with them bring them to a point where they are willing to look at The Bible as more than a book of myths. These conversations may take place over days or weeks or even decades, and we know that they take place in the midst of spriritual warfare, even if the person we are talking to doesn’t know or recognize that fact.

  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    Hmmm…I wish I knew why some of the comments have reply options and others don’t. Oh well…

    Lamont,
    I think we’re approaching this from different angles. Your arguments work fine if we’re talking about the spiritual side of the equation. I don’t have any particular argument there. I’m looking at the way we present our faith to those who don’t share it.
    In that context, just as my computer is running millions of calculations to let me put these words on the screen, the Holy Spirit is fighting a spiritual war in the background of the conversations we have with other people we interact with physically. But that does not mean that we cannot or should not meet people where they are and try to bring them to understanding by relating Gospel Truth to their lives as they know it. Paul did this in Athens, using their monument “to an Unknown God” to spread the Gospel. I guess what I’m saying, in it’s simplest form, is that using the Bible as it’s own proof is problematic if the person you are trying to prove the Bible to does not believe in the Bible. If they are not there yet, we need to meet them, and through relationship with them bring them to a point where they are willing to look at The Bible as more than a book of myths. These conversations may take place over days or weeks or even decades, and we know that they take place in the midst of spriritual warfare, even if the person we are talking to doesn’t know or recognize that fact.

  • Lamont

    Andrew.
    “Hmmm…I wish I knew why some of the comments have reply options and others don’t. Oh well…”

    You can respond to anything I wrote. I encourage it!
    But, it looks like you took the safe route, and didn’t interact w/anything I said.
    Apart from a reference from Paul in Athens (Acts). I see no effort to support anything else w/scripture. The Holy Spirit works through the word of God, not worldly scientific refutation, or waxing eloquence of quantum physics. If He does, give me a reference, and don’t say “Paul quoted a poet” please.
    Please defend your apologetic method.

    Thank you for responding.
    Soli Dei Gloria!
    Lamont.

    • Ken

      Lamont,

      “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:11,12

      I’m not so sure we can make the proclamation that the Holy Spirit works “only” through the word of God. The more the years pass the more it seems I am amazed at just how many ways the Holy Spirit works. We bring such a multitude of preconceived ideas to our views of who and what God is about in this world that often our “absolutes” today (if we remain teachable throughout our lives) will be seen in a very different light years down the road. My own greatest inspiration comes from the few teachers that manage to remain teachable and open to the Holy Spirit’s many voices weighing with great discernment new perspectives.

      As my first post here mentioned I have just finished reading N.T. Wright’s book “Surprised by Hope.” Not an author someone like me from a much more fundamentalist background would normally read. But to my great surprise it turned out to touch on points of Truth that have long puzzled me and has in turn richly strengthened my Faith. Not direct Scripture, but a theologian’s learned teaching of it led by the Holy Spirit.

      I would guess you have not personally come to the strong determinations you have about theology purely by reading Scripture yourself. Indeed I am certain you have listened to many other teachers and theologians offering their interpretations of what Scripture says. And further I would guess that there are many people and events outside of Scripture that have shaped your thinking about God and His created world whether you choose to acknowledge them conscientiously or not. To ignore all that God and His Holy Spirit have to offer us and indeed the unbelieving world as well beyond the written Word is putting limits on God that I have come to see as rather shortsighted. I pray I don’t come to a place in my life where only my own personal reading of Scripture reigns supreme. There be dragons. Oops, fantasy again.

      • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

        I have to agree with Ken. I would simply add that, as a Christian who has many close friends who are not Christian, but with whom I discuss religion and morality. If I simply attack them and call them fools, or insist that they are actively rebelling against that which I claim they know based on a text that they do not consider authoritative, the conversation will end fruitlessly and the relationship and the possibility for it to bear future fruit will be threatened. If I approach them in genuine love, friendship and respect and cultivate that which we have in common, then those relationships can bear fruit, even if it’s in the form of small steps.

      • Lamont

        Ken.

        “If I simply attack them and call them fools, or insist that they are actively rebelling against that which I claim they know based on a text that they do not consider authoritative, the conversation will end fruitlessly and the relationship and the possibility for it to bear future fruit will be threatened.”

        Where does the Bible tell us to attack unbelievers and call them “Fools?”
        They are rebelling against God! The Bible teaches this, so evidently God want’s us to know this don’t you think?
        And, of course they don’t think it is authoritative! But it is, because it is from God! You have know authority apart from it Ken! They will reap judgement for rejecting it, and they need to know this! The person who has heard the gospel yet rejects it will incur a greater judgement then they who have not!

        “…the conversation will end fruitlessly and the relationship and the possibility for it to bear future fruit will be threatened.”

        Ken. “THE FRUIT” is not up to us! Our job is to give them the gospel! Some may want to “KILL YOU” for preaching it! They may just “HATE YOUR GUTS!” And Christ say’s your blessed because of it!

        “If I approach them in genuine love, friendship and respect and cultivate that which we have in common, then those relationships can bear fruit, even if it’s in the form of small steps.”

        When Peter preached the sermon at pentecost, how much time did he spen “building a loving relationship” with them? Or, did he preach the gospel?

        The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness’ and on, and on, can preach this same message of “Love and friendship in relationships” they feed the hungry, pray for people showing their “Love!

        Only We have the truth. Preach it in love, defended accordingly!

        God will use us where we are! For by Him, through Him, and to Him are all things! For He, is the Author and finisher of our faith!

        Soli Dei Gloria!
        Lamont.

      • Ken

        Lamont,

        I think you were aiming that last blast at Andrew’s response not mine. But you do raise an interesting point that I had overlooked in this discussion. My church is becoming more and more involved with aspects of Justice in our approach to the world and I had forgotten here again Justice is a key element. My home group just last night in our final discussion of N.T. Wright’s book found itself at odds with a few members (who hadn’t finished reading the book by the way) that our “job” is purely to preach the gospel. That flies in the face of Jesus’ life of reaching to those in need around Him and the early church life showing itself to be a continuation of that ministry. The new Kingdom of God began with Christ’s resurrection, instituting the beginning of the new creation. I appreciated the best illustration being one of us as the people of God being woken in the night.

        “Get up, the new day is upon us!” the Holy Spirit tells us.

        “But it’s still dark,” we reply.

        “No the dawn is still coming, but the new day is already here. The work begins now. Care for those in need, share the good news, let’s begin to right the world now.”

        It was saddening to see some that didn’t respond to that message but instead chose to look forward to this world being swept away and our business was to write fire insurance policies for others. Literally some insisted that our sole mission is to preach the Word “in love”, not feed and cloth and rescue the least of these. How is that we come to separate Love from Justice? That words are our calling, but actions are not. This is scary territory. Faith without works is dead. Words without action are dead. How’s the saying go? They won’t care about our Love until they know we care. Will they know we care by our merely sharing words while they suffer and die in a broken world? Believers that I know who share your views are a difficult group for me to relate to and understand. I am at a loss to find a genial way to describe the position. So I must be silent or risk making judgments God has not called me to make. Thank Him for that.

  • Lamont

    Ken.
    “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities…

    Have a been brought before a synagogue, Rulers, authorities?
    This verse deals w/persecution. Not garden variety witness’ and defending the faith by giving a reason for the hope.. 1 peter 3:15/2 Cor 2:4-5.

    “I’m not so sure we can make the proclamation that the Holy Spirit works “only” through the word of God.”

    With all due respect Ken, your not sure at all. The only thing we can be sure of is God’s word. For why does Paul state: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Rom 1:16)
    Again, their problem isn’t knowledge, it’s “sin.” Einstein couldn’t find Christ! (lack of scripture refernce noted.)

    Pro 26:4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
    (this is what happens when we use worldly arguments instead of standing on the only foundation that exists. God’s word.

    Pro 26:5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.
    (this is the X-tian who argues according to the only necessary precondition for all knowledge, logic, reason, morality… God’s word. For in Christ are hidden are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… Col 22-3ff. Where does man get his kowledge? Meaning? Purpose? Name another worldview that can explain this?

    “I would guess you have not personally come to the strong determinations you have about theology purely by reading Scripture yourself.”

    Of course not! But that is the source, the word of God, and not a physics book, math book, art, literiture, though he gave us those to enjoy and glorify Him. “And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers…” 1 Cor 12:28.
    I never said anything to the contrary! We’ve probably both ran in to people who say “The Bible Alone!” Evidently they skipped 1 Cor 12:28. Some Christians disdain the Augustine’s, Calvin’s Spurgeon’s, etc… but will flock around the Hinn’s, O’steen’s, Copeland’s thinking it X-tian.

    “And further I would guess that there are many people and events outside of Scripture that have shaped your thinking about God and His created world whether you choose to acknowledge them conscientiously or not.”

    Of course! But only the Bible has the correct view of Him, and “ALL EXPERIENCES” must be viewed in light of His Word to be correctly translated into our lives, don’t you agree?

    “To ignore all that God and His Holy Spirit have to offer us and indeed the unbelieving world as well beyond the written Word is putting limits on God that I have come to see as rather shortsighted.”

    Uh… show me where I said such a thing? I must have missed the quote? If you think you can argue an unbeliever into the Kingdom (which is what I’m talking about)of God, by using the “light of creation” or, methods other then which God has ordained…. then read Pro 26:4.

    “I pray I don’t come to a place in my life where only my own personal reading of Scripture reigns supreme.”

    I do! Because God’s word is eternal! The rest will perish along w/the dragons!

    May God Bless the reading of His Holy Word!

    SDG
    Lamont

    • Ken

      All that I could think to reply to such a narrow vision of God’s work in this present world is to praise Him that he has multitudes of true believers that are free of such restraints and that are sharing the gospel in a kaleidoscope of ways and when necessary they even use words or The Word. Thank God that no where in Scripture do I read that only the literate can be saved and that through the reading and comprehension of God’s Word. I can readily imagine where your mind is racing to now, but rest assured I have engaged in this discussion before and have little doubt that neither of us will come to agreement. Again I say, praise God that He’s greater than that. Sorry so many fail to see it.

      • Lamont

        Ken
        1. I take note that you support “nothing” with scripture?
        2. Where’s the quote that I “EVER” said illiterates can’t be saved? Pure “strawman!”
        Ken, if it wasn’t for “GRACE ALONE” no one would be saved!

        “Faith comes by “HEARING” and that by the word of GOD!
        Did you know that John the baptist had the Holy Spirit in the womb?

        Ken said, Quote:
        “Thank God that no where in Scripture do I read that only the literate can be saved and that through the reading and comprehension of God’s Word.”

        Ken, ever read 1 Cor 2? “14But a natural man DOES NOT ACCEPT the things of the Spirit of God, for THEY ARE FOOLISHNESS TO HIM; and “HE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THEM,” “BECAUSE” they are “SPIRITUALLY DISERNED.”

        “…because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for IT IS NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO…” Rom 8:7 & 8.

        Stop putting your presuppostion on scripture, and let the Bible speak for itself!

        “I can readily imagine where your mind is racing to now”

        to quote Martin Luther: “Yes, Ive had many a eat imaginations in the wine cellar…”

        Maybe you could point out something I’ve actually said instead of your “Strawmen?

        May God Bless the reading of His Holy Word!
        SDG
        Lamont.

      • Ken

        Well I have no delusion that somehow I will change your mind on this. A few years ago I went round and round with another friend that really tried his best to explain the Calvinist position to me. After countless hours of discussion, scripture references, prayer and struggle we simply had to come to a place where we agreed to disagree. We’re still friends but there’s always that third rail that we are careful not to touch when we get together. It was interesting that I spoke on the phone with him just the other day after he had attended a justice conference my church had a major hand in putting together. Although he had never read any N.T. Wright books (who evidently has gone many rounds with John Piper, modern day Calvinist hero) my friend was interested in the point of the book I’d just finished and how it seeks to reconcile the two poles of the Church, Fundamentalists and Liberals. In spite of his longstanding insistence that if I’m not at his end of the spectrum I must certainly be at the other, he was receptive to the message that the two extremes are possibly missing some key aspects of our current calling. What really grabbed his attention and my own was the purpose of our life before death beyond mere obedience to one of true communion with Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in beginning the healing of this world. I challenge you to stretch yourself and give it a read with an open heart and mind. Don’t look beyond the main point and allow yourself to get hung up on side issues. He comes from a very different place from my own fundamentalist background, but I was “Surprised by Joy” to find some amazing Truth in his teaching.

      • Lamont

        Ken.
        You did not engage with even “one single scripture ref” that I used as I made painstaking efforts to support the position I held. You can call it “Calvinism” if you wish? I guess if “Calvinism” refers to somebody that actually uses and trusts the Bible, then… Right-on!” I’m a Calvinist to the “enth degree!”
        You made no (not one!) attempt to show that I took scripture out of context, contradicted scripture, pretext, “nothing.” Neither did You use scripture to support your own positon. You just argued from your own presupposition of what “you believe” scripture says, attempt to “know what I’m thinking,” build “strawmen” by thinking you demolished a view I don’t even hold (again w/no ref that I said or hold it?), then throw you hands up in the air doing a victory dance.
        The one verse I recall that you used, Luke 12:11-12, I pointed out that the “context” had nothing to do with our discussion, but with with persecution, and you said… “nothing?”
        What I find w/you “new arminians” (which are nothing new) is what I found here. Even w/Richard Dahlstrom, when I’ve called him on errant interpretations, and contradictions, he’s “too busy” (or some other excuse) to engage in the exegesis of scripture to support his position. Some people, even pastors, don’t have time for the truth.

        Lastly.
        Though N.T. Wright certainly has some good things, only someone who has good spiritual disernment ought to read his stuff, as he is bordering on heresy, if not a heretic, w/his “New Perspective on Paul!”
        My mind already changed. I wasn’t satisfied the shallow knowledge of scripture that I had. God not only gave me the desires (hunger and thirst for more) but also provided, through providence the means, teachers, and ability to to comprehend. W/o Him, I wouldn’t know what I know.

        I’ve got many Christian friends that disagree w/me, and we get along fine.
        the Lord said: “…Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do “IF GOD PERMITS.”

        May God Bless the reading of His Holy Word.

        SDG

      • Ken

        Lamont,

        I have long ago found it pointless to get into scripture reference contests with people such as yourself. Scripture is open to interpretation and once someone has come to the position that they alone know with certainty all there is to know of scripture then such contests serve no one. So let me try to appeal to very simple logic.

        If I accept all of your position as true it raises this primary problem for me. We cannot preach this Truth to non-believers because they can neither understand it (as you’ve stated) nor could it have any possibility of winning over a non-believer. I mean what non-believing person when being told that they can do nothing to be saved would give any further consideration to whatever more you have to say? There would be no point in it. You have lost any voice in that person’s life. If the story is that we are saved by Faith and that Faith only comes as a gift from God and there we place a FINAL AND ABSOLUTE PERIOD, then all the striving of our life is completely and utterly pointless. Every thing in every way is God’s divine and very sadistic puppet show. What then is the point of doing anything beyond pure obedience to a puppet master God. He condemns and kills on one whim and saves on the next whim. Evangelism becomes merely a form of obedience because our words are useless. Serving the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien are merely for obedience because they are useless to move anyone to see God. Likewise are all of the gifts pointless but most especially love because we are compelled by God to either love Him or hate Him. Faith actually becomes a hollow, empty thing absent of any meaning because we have been compelled to believe or not.

        Here is how I have come to reconcile that problem with all the scripture you’ve quoted. The FINAL AND ABSOLUTE PERIOD isn’t there. By that I mean that there is infinitely more to the story. To even begin to open that subject here is not possible. But throughout my life I have seen many people reach a place where they believed they had all the knowledge, all the answers. The more years that pass the more I realize how very little of the mystery of God’s plan for mankind I may understand and yet I know He loves us beyond our understanding and that He is just and true. I am equally certain this is no puppet show. His plan has us fully involved in ways we will never fully comprehend in this life. Does that mean I believe God has not ordained it all? No quite the contrary I fully acknowledge He’s completely in charge. And yet somehow He has allowed us to partake in that divine plan and our Faith is real beyond compulsion. If not, then this is indeed the most pitiful reality.

        I don’t suppose you to be moved here, but perhaps someone else might be that’s listening to our conversation that has struggled with these sorts of topics. And just perhaps they may be encouraged to look beyond the constricted vision of so many of our learned teachers and open their hearts to the Spirit’s leading and go beyond that teaching to show our Savior to a world in such dire need of one.

    • Lamont

      Ken…
      Upon further review, I will rephrase my answer to your comment:

      “I pray I don’t come to a place in my life where only my own personal reading of Scripture reigns supreme.”

      You obviously came to the place where you can insinuate error w/a “faint” at humility w/o “ever” showing that what i’ve stated was my own “personal view,” and not the veiw the N.T. church from the beginning?

      Thank God your not like that… Tax collector Lamont!

  • http://onfacebook Diane M. Stemen

    WELL DONE….angel unaware*

  • http://onfacebook Diane M. Stemen

    WELL DONE….angel unaware*

  • alison

    I think this might be the first time I’ve ever commented on a blog post (one I appreciated and agreed with, for the record). Just wanted to say that I think it’s important to call rape what it is, even when it occurs in literature. Sleeping Beauty getting pregnant wasn’t just a “these things happen” kind of thing… it was something else entirely that deserves to be named, not trivialized.

  • raincitypastor

    Love NT’s book on Hope (and have referenced it a few times in my own upcoming book “The Colors of Hope” due out soon). Yes! Our sanitized and utilitarian culture needs to recover it’s love of beauty and mystery. But then, telling this to someone who loves fine woodcraft really is preaching to the choir!

  • Ken

    Parable of the Archeologist

    Once there was an archeologist who had a fascination with time pieces. He collected and studied them from the earliest known to the most modern. The day came for him to present his findings to an international gathering of archeologists. He stood at the podium, fired up his power point presentation and outlined his theory of timepieces. With meticulous detailing he worked through the most intricate attributes of all his specimens. In the end he presented his “Theory of Timepieces”. He began by showing how a random monolith stone erected by chance at just the right angle to project the sun’s shadow offered the crudest of time tracking by early observers as to the time of day. Then perhaps, by chance mind you, a nearby volcano ejected stones that happened to fall in just the right positions around the monolith to mark the hours of the day. And so on through the eons chance upon chance just the right events occurred to bring ever more complex minerals together to form ever more complex timepieces. Finally now here in the 21st century was the crowning achievement, a timepiece so precise it tracks not just time but the date, moon phase, star positions, leap years, receives GPS information from mankind’s inventions to track its location and always give precisely the correct time for its location on the planet. In fact its capabilities go even further to making mathematical calculations, measuring the temperature and barometric pressure and altitude, and further still to making and receiving phone calls and text messages, able to interact with the World Wide Web and download books for reading. As the wide-eyed archeologist completes his enthusiastic presentation of the amazing “naturally” occurring timepiece his audience sits for a long moment in utter disbelief at what they have just witnessed. Then erupting in hysterical laughter they leave the meeting wiping tears from their eyes commenting to one another about their colleague’s insanity.

    Amazingly enough this is precisely what the biologist pushing evolution of an infinitely more complex machine called life expects his audience to believe in. It all just happened by chance. Good luck with that.

  • Ken

    Thank you. You made my exact point. It is an observable fact that everything had a Creator. “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what he has made, so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:19,20. So you have shown again my observation that people engage in fantasy all the time. Ignoring both the blatant reality of a Creator and the basis of evolution having at its core the proposition that life came to be spontaneously and without an outside force is yet another fantastical imagining. Why would God need to use evolution? Why hide His power behind or within such a ridiculous and far fetched man made invention. Simple mathematics tells us evolution is impossible and so does God.

  • Lamont

    Andrew/Ken

    Personally, I think you both fail.
    Apart from the Triune God of Christianity you can know nothing for sure. The ultimately personal, triune God of the Christian scriptures “alone” can create with order and purpose, and contains the only “necessary precondition for all knowledge, logic, meaning, morality, uniformity of nature, destiny… and can exercise sovereign control according to His exhaustive will.

    Furthermore, the atheist/unbeliever knows that God exists, but suppress’ the truth! It’s not my job to convince, but to “Expose” the truth they’re denying, by the word of God (sword of the Spirit)written on their hearts (minds)!

    Rom 1:19b-20 because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

    2 Cor 2: 4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy ARGUMENTS and EVERY LOFTY OPINION raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

    We don’t wage war like the world Andrew, but, that’s what you are doing!

    For the word is the power of God unto Salvation. Not scientic, “my scientist/philosopher can whip your…

    My two bits.

    Soli Dei Gloria!

  • Ken

    I agree this is primarily a fun debate issue and little more in the significance of what the Gospel and our hope is really about. You are precisely right in that, so see we agree on something here completely. But natural selection does not equate to the theory of evolution, just says that species adapt. Evolution posits that species turn into other species for which the “evidence” is thin to say the least. Just because life is made of chains doesn’t mean the chains must be inter-linkable or that there are or ever were missing links to join them. That’s the key element of evolutionary theory and the one for which proof is void and even common sense weighs against. A commonality to the pattern of life does not prove links between species. My worry for believers agreeing to evolution is the dilution of the Creator’s touch and leaning to the world’s alternative explanation for life having no need of a Creator.
    My archeologist parable is still appropriate precisely because he comes to his conclusions because of his love and obsession for timepieces apart from all else. In that place of obsession rationality often vanishes replaced with what we want to believe about the object of it.
    The issue Richard raised was what has happened to fantasy in our current culture and like most things I believe it hasn’t gone anywhere just evolved into other forms and expressions. So even I agree evolution exists!
    Quite seriously I don’t have the answers here. It humors me when I encounter those that are certain they do. I think God must have a sense of humor about our boastfulness. “Believing ourselves to be wise we became fools.”
    Thanks for the respectful discourse. I hope I haven’t offended anyone too badly myself. I can do that sometimes.

  • http://bluedrew.wordpress.com Andrew

    I have to agree with Ken. I would simply add that, as a Christian who has many close friends who are not Christian, but with whom I discuss religion and morality. If I simply attack them and call them fools, or insist that they are actively rebelling against that which I claim they know based on a text that they do not consider authoritative, the conversation will end fruitlessly and the relationship and the possibility for it to bear future fruit will be threatened. If I approach them in genuine love, friendship and respect and cultivate that which we have in common, then those relationships can bear fruit, even if it’s in the form of small steps.

  • Lamont

    Ken.

    “If I simply attack them and call them fools, or insist that they are actively rebelling against that which I claim they know based on a text that they do not consider authoritative, the conversation will end fruitlessly and the relationship and the possibility for it to bear future fruit will be threatened.”

    Where does the Bible tell us to attack unbelievers and call them “Fools?”
    They are rebelling against God! The Bible teaches this, so evidently God want’s us to know this don’t you think?
    And, of course they don’t think it is authoritative! But it is, because it is from God! You have know authority apart from it Ken! They will reap judgement for rejecting it, and they need to know this! The person who has heard the gospel yet rejects it will incur a greater judgement then they who have not!

    “…the conversation will end fruitlessly and the relationship and the possibility for it to bear future fruit will be threatened.”

    Ken. “THE FRUIT” is not up to us! Our job is to give them the gospel! Some may want to “KILL YOU” for preaching it! They may just “HATE YOUR GUTS!” And Christ say’s your blessed because of it!

    “If I approach them in genuine love, friendship and respect and cultivate that which we have in common, then those relationships can bear fruit, even if it’s in the form of small steps.”

    When Peter preached the sermon at pentecost, how much time did he spen “building a loving relationship” with them? Or, did he preach the gospel?

    The Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness’ and on, and on, can preach this same message of “Love and friendship in relationships” they feed the hungry, pray for people showing their “Love!

    Only We have the truth. Preach it in love, defended accordingly!

    God will use us where we are! For by Him, through Him, and to Him are all things! For He, is the Author and finisher of our faith!

    Soli Dei Gloria!
    Lamont.

  • Lamont

    Ken…
    Upon further review, I will rephrase my answer to your comment:

    “I pray I don’t come to a place in my life where only my own personal reading of Scripture reigns supreme.”

    You obviously came to the place where you can insinuate error w/a “faint” at humility w/o “ever” showing that what i’ve stated was my own “personal view,” and not the veiw the N.T. church from the beginning?

    Thank God your not like that… Tax collector Lamont!

  • Lamont

    Ken
    1. I take note that you support “nothing” with scripture?
    2. Where’s the quote that I “EVER” said illiterates can’t be saved? Pure “strawman!”
    Ken, if it wasn’t for “GRACE ALONE” no one would be saved!

    “Faith comes by “HEARING” and that by the word of GOD!
    Did you know that John the baptist had the Holy Spirit in the womb?

    Ken said, Quote:
    “Thank God that no where in Scripture do I read that only the literate can be saved and that through the reading and comprehension of God’s Word.”

    Ken, ever read 1 Cor 2? “14But a natural man DOES NOT ACCEPT the things of the Spirit of God, for THEY ARE FOOLISHNESS TO HIM; and “HE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THEM,” “BECAUSE” they are “SPIRITUALLY DISERNED.”

    “…because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for IT IS NOT EVEN ABLE TO DO SO…” Rom 8:7 & 8.

    Stop putting your presuppostion on scripture, and let the Bible speak for itself!

    “I can readily imagine where your mind is racing to now”

    to quote Martin Luther: “Yes, Ive had many a eat imaginations in the wine cellar…”

    Maybe you could point out something I’ve actually said instead of your “Strawmen?

    May God Bless the reading of His Holy Word!
    SDG
    Lamont.

  • Lamont

    Ken.
    You did not engage with even “one single scripture ref” that I used as I made painstaking efforts to support the position I held. You can call it “Calvinism” if you wish? I guess if “Calvinism” refers to somebody that actually uses and trusts the Bible, then… Right-on!” I’m a Calvinist to the “enth degree!”
    You made no (not one!) attempt to show that I took scripture out of context, contradicted scripture, pretext, “nothing.” Neither did You use scripture to support your own positon. You just argued from your own presupposition of what “you believe” scripture says, attempt to “know what I’m thinking,” build “strawmen” by thinking you demolished a view I don’t even hold (again w/no ref that I said or hold it?), then throw you hands up in the air doing a victory dance.
    The one verse I recall that you used, Luke 12:11-12, I pointed out that the “context” had nothing to do with our discussion, but with with persecution, and you said… “nothing?”
    What I find w/you “new arminians” (which are nothing new) is what I found here. Even w/Richard Dahlstrom, when I’ve called him on errant interpretations, and contradictions, he’s “too busy” (or some other excuse) to engage in the exegesis of scripture to support his position. Some people, even pastors, don’t have time for the truth.

    Lastly.
    Though N.T. Wright certainly has some good things, only someone who has good spiritual disernment ought to read his stuff, as he is bordering on heresy, if not a heretic, w/his “New Perspective on Paul!”
    My mind already changed. I wasn’t satisfied the shallow knowledge of scripture that I had. God not only gave me the desires (hunger and thirst for more) but also provided, through providence the means, teachers, and ability to to comprehend. W/o Him, I wouldn’t know what I know.

    I’ve got many Christian friends that disagree w/me, and we get along fine.
    the Lord said: “…Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do “IF GOD PERMITS.”

    May God Bless the reading of His Holy Word.

    SDG


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