Attached is a quote from my friend David Wayne, the Jollyblogger. He was discussing a recent post from Michael Spencer’s wife (link available from David’s post, read his first then Denise’s). Keeping the balance between false triumphalism and wrong-headed fatalism is not easy. Consider these two post as a blog against triumphalism, but don’t allow it to drive you to fatalism!
All of this kind of stuff mirrors what Denise was trying to convey. She didn’t put it this way, but Christians know the glory story but they don’t know the cross story. The glory story is that the Christian path is one of glory, observable, overcoming, obviously seen glories as the Christian triumphs over all his enemies. Thus, the Christian has ears to hear the stories of miraculous healings and beatific deaths because those are glory stories. These people live in a world where we can practice a mechanistic kind of magic with God. For the health freaks, if I would just I would just imbibe a magic potion concocted by nutritional wizards then like magic I would be healed. In the spiritual version, a performance of certain rituals of self-exam followed by the prescribed repentance and obedience would free me from my physical ailments. In any case, whereas doctors are reticent to describe what brought on the cancer simply because the factors that can contribute to any given cancer are innumerable, the glory-story folks know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I brought this cancer on myself and it is up to me to reform myself physically or get right with God. In each case, suffering is not something a Christian should have to endure and God’s only role in it His deliverance of us from it, if we will meet the conditions.The cross story says that suffering is the path of the Christian. If you are a Christian, more than likely you will not go gently into that good night, and I am not using that phrase in its original context. In the original context Dylan Thomas urges us to rage and fight against death until the last moment. What I am saying is that if you are Christian your death and maybe even the years leading to it, may not be gentle.
That is the ugly truth I want to write about and I will try to write some more about in coming days is that we still live in a fallen world. We should no more expect an easy life and death than did the apostles who often died gruesome deaths, nor should we expect greater ease than the many Christians throughout most of history who have met Christ face to face at the end of starvation, disease, or persecution.