Parchment and Pen Blog http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog Making Theology Accessible Fri, 14 Aug 2015 08:16:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Copyright © Parchment and Pen 2009 michaelp@reclaimingthemind.org (Parchment and Pen Blog) michaelp@reclaimingthemind.org (Parchment and Pen Blog) 1440 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/images/localresouces/TTP-Certificate-Logo-small.jpg Parchment and Pen Blog http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog 144 144 Just another WordPress weblog Parchment and Pen Blog Parchment and Pen Blog michaelp@reclaimingthemind.org no no Selling Fetal Body Parts is NOT the Primary Moral Issue http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/selling-fetal-body-parts-is-not-the-primary-moral-issue/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/selling-fetal-body-parts-is-not-the-primary-moral-issue/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 08:16:19 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17226 The post Selling Fetal Body Parts is NOT the Primary Moral Issue appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
The post Selling Fetal Body Parts is NOT the Primary Moral Issue appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/selling-fetal-body-parts-is-not-the-primary-moral-issue/feed/ 0
Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone and Mormon Origins: A Matter of Transparency http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/joseph-smiths-seer-stone-and-mormon-origins-a-matter-of-transparency/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/joseph-smiths-seer-stone-and-mormon-origins-a-matter-of-transparency/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 02:50:56 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17221 The post Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone and Mormon Origins: A Matter of Transparency appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
The post Joseph Smith’s Seer Stone and Mormon Origins: A Matter of Transparency appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/joseph-smiths-seer-stone-and-mormon-origins-a-matter-of-transparency/feed/ 0
Apologetics Unplugged – Gender Identity – Part 2 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/apologetics-unplugged-gender-identity-part-2/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/apologetics-unplugged-gender-identity-part-2/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 06:03:07 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17207 Listen in as Michael, Clint and Carrie wrap up their series covering issues surrounding gender identity. Is gender determined by the individual? If not, and someone identifies with a gender other than what they are born with, what causes it? Is the root cause a psychological disorder? Or is it something deeper?

The post Apologetics Unplugged – Gender Identity – Part 2 appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
"Itispat" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Itispat.jpg#/media/File:Itispat.jpg
Listen in as Michael, Clint and Carrie wrap up their series covering issues surrounding gender identity. Is gender determined by the individual? If not, and someone identifies with a gender other than what they are born with, what causes it? Is the root cause a psychological disorder? Or is it something deeper?

The post Apologetics Unplugged – Gender Identity – Part 2 appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/08/apologetics-unplugged-gender-identity-part-2/feed/ 0 0:27:07 Listen in as Michael, Clint and Carrie wrap up their series covering issues surrounding gender identity. Is gender determined by the individual? If not, and someone identifies with a gender other than what they are born with, what causes it? Is the[...] Listen in as Michael, Clint and Carrie wrap up their series covering issues surrounding gender identity. Is gender determined by the individual? If not, and someone identifies with a gender other than what they are born with, what causes it? Is the root cause a psychological disorder? Or is it something deeper? The post Apologetics Unplugged – Gender Identity – Part 2 appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog. The post Apologetics Unplugged – Gender Identity – Part 2 appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog. Apologetics michaelp@reclaimingthemind.org no no
What Happened to the Emerging Church? http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/07/what-happened-to-the-emerging-church-2/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/07/what-happened-to-the-emerging-church-2/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 05:25:21 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17199 New Post a New Site…Please redirect your RSS Feed http://credohouse.org/blog/what-happened-to-the-emerging-church  

The post What Happened to the Emerging Church? appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
New Post a New Site…Please redirect your RSS Feed

http://credohouse.org/blog/what-happened-to-the-emerging-church

 

The post What Happened to the Emerging Church? appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/07/what-happened-to-the-emerging-church-2/feed/ 1
Can Gays Be Saved? http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/can-gays-be-saved/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/can-gays-be-saved/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:44:46 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17190 A new blog post at the new blog: Can Gays Be Saved? http://credohouse.org/blog/can-gays-be-saved  

The post Can Gays Be Saved? appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
A new blog post at the new blog: Can Gays Be Saved? http://credohouse.org/blog/can-gays-be-saved

 

The post Can Gays Be Saved? appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/can-gays-be-saved/feed/ 2
6 Reasons Christians Should Not Be Too Alarmed About Gay Marriage http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/6-reasons-christians-should-not-be-too-alarmed-about-gay-marriage/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/6-reasons-christians-should-not-be-too-alarmed-about-gay-marriage/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 08:42:08 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17187 New Blog at New Site! http://credohouse.org/blog/6-reasons-christians-should-not-to-be-too-alarmed-about-gay-marriage

The post 6 Reasons Christians Should Not Be Too Alarmed About Gay Marriage appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
New Blog at New Site! http://credohouse.org/blog/6-reasons-christians-should-not-to-be-too-alarmed-about-gay-marriage

The post 6 Reasons Christians Should Not Be Too Alarmed About Gay Marriage appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/6-reasons-christians-should-not-be-too-alarmed-about-gay-marriage/feed/ 0
In Search of True Evangelicalism http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/in-search-of-true-evangelicalism/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/in-search-of-true-evangelicalism/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 14:39:20 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17168 While it is hard to define the word “evangelical,” there are characteristics of evangelicalism that can be understood so that we can communicate who we are. Evangelicals are doctrinally focused, engaging in society and gracious in their attitude.

The post In Search of True Evangelicalism appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
Evangelicalism

I could go through and trace the common accepted academic definitions of “evangelicalism.” They are out there. There are some great contemporary historical treatise on the subject. But that would be detractive and be an adventure in missing the point. Well, shoot. . . I suppose I will go on this adventure, but only giving the cliff-notes.

David Bebbington’s Evangelicalism

David Bebbington has created what has become the most accepted definition of Evangelicalism out there today. It is often called “Bebbington’s Quadrilateral.” Here are his four main criteria of what it means to be evangelical (it’s hard to know when to capitalize this darn word):

  1. Biblicism: Don’t you love that word? This simply means that evangelicals take the Bible seriously as the authoritative word of God.
  2. Crucicentrism: Try to pronounce that! This is a focus on the centrality of the cross of Christ and its atoning value for mankind. For evangelicals, the cross is the central event of all theology.
  3. Conversionism: Evangelicals believe that people need to have some type of conversion “event” where they accept/trust Christ as their Lord/God. In other words, without a true conversion to Christianity, people are lost.
  4. Activism: Evangelicals are, well . . .  evangelical. We believe that the Gospel needs to be spread in definite encounters through the various cultural means.

Book Recommendation: The Dominance of Evangelicalism by David Bebbington

 

While I believe that the characteristics of Bebbington listed above are all true, I am going to hopefully extend and (if possible) simplify our understanding of Evangelicalism by breaking it up into three areas: 1) Evangelical Doctrine 2) Evangelical Actions, and 3) Evangelical Attitude. All three are necessary to understand Evangelicalism as both a twentieth-century American Christian movement and as an historic representation of Christianity.

1. Evangelical Doctrine

Evangelical doctrine is simple and straight-forward: Evangelicals center on the person and work of Christ and the authority of Scripture. Most of the details are left open for debate.


Evangelicals center on the person and work of Christ and the authority of Scripture
Click To Tweet


Evangelicals believe that Christ is the second member of the Trinity, eternally sharing in the one Divinity. He became fully man in order represent man. In this, Evangelicals are Nicene and Chalcedonian Christians, believing in the central confessions of the Council of Nicea (325) and Chalcedon (451).

Evangelicals also believe in the authority of Scripture as God’s revealed word to mankind. While there is some debate as to whether inerrancy (the belief that the Scriptures do not have any errors, historic, scientific, or otherwise) is central to the evangelical confession, there is no debate about the authority of Scripture.

Other than this, evangelicals come in all shapes and sizes. Evangelicals can believe in young earth creationism or be theistic evolutionists. We can be Calvinists or Arminians. We can believe in padeo-baptism or believers-only baptism. Evangelicals distinguish between essentials and non-essentials, cardinal doctrines and secondary doctrines. We have a concentric circle of importance, like this represented below.

ConcentricCircle

This does not mean that evangelicals believe that non-essential issues are non-important issues. Indeed, evangelicals such as myself can hold very strongly to secondary doctrines and defend them with great resolve (as I do with Calvinism and complementarianism). But, when push comes to shove, we know that, as Paul said to the Corinthians, there are issues of “first importance” (1 Cor. 15:1-3). If this is true, it is like Reese Bobby said to his son Ricky Bobby, “You can come in second, third, or forth. Heck, you can even come in fifth.” Suffice it to say, while my Calvinism and complementarianism are important to me, they are certainly not in first place. I will not break fellowship with you if you don’t agree with me on secondary issues. You have the right to be wrong!


This does not mean that evangelicals believe that non-essential issues are non-imortant issues.
Click To Tweet


This is in contrast to some traditions who have very long lists that you have to commit to in order to be accepted into their fold. For example, Roman Catholicism has a very long official catechism that has an all-or-nothing price-tag. Fundamentalism has a very long list of spoken and unspoken rules and doctrines. Here is a comparison chart (I love charts! . . . although loving charts to not essential to evangelicalism):

creeds-evangelical

Notice how the creeds and confessions almost invariably grow extensively. The original creeds of the church, such as Nicea and Chalcedon list the essence of Christianity (the regula fide or “rule of faith”) and could fit on one page. Now the Roman Catholic catechism is nearly one thousand pages!

Further Reading: Essentials and Non-Essentials in a [somewhat lengthy!] Nutshell

Related to this is the fact that evangelicals believe that there are degrees of certainty in our beliefs. In other words, not only are some doctrines more important than others, we are more sure about some things and less sure about others. We have a gradation of conviction based on the clarity of God’s revelation. This chart might help:

Chart-of-Certainty

For example, I am much more certain about the universal sinfulness of mankind than I am as to what the “mark of Cain”is in Genesis 4:15 (which I have no clue what it is and neither do you!). And although I believe in both, I have a much greater degree of conviction that Christ rose bodily from the grave than I do that the millennium is a future event (premillennialism) rather than an idealic or perpetual reality (amillennialism).

The point is that evangelicals have a doctrinal heirarchy and our theology is essentially Christocentric.

2. Evangelical Actions


Evangelicals believe that if people don’t trust Christ for the forgiveness of sins, they are…
Click To Tweet


Bebbington talks about this when he describes a key aspect of Evangelicalism as being evangelical. Evangelicals believe it is necessary to share the faith and call on people to “convert.” Evangelicals believe that if people don’t trust Christ for the forgiveness of sins, they are destined to the eternal judgement of God.

But a key aspect of evangelical actions is that not only do we engage with individuals, sharing the Gospel with them, but we engage in society and the world illustrating God’s universal redemptive purpose. The universe and all that it contains, even on this side of eternity, is the Lord’s and needs to be redeemed in many ways. Whether it be commerce, entertainment, love, sex, leadership, education, science, or politics, it is the Lord’s and is enjoyed most fully in recognition of him.

In our actions, Evangelicals are not separationists. Think of it this way (and forgive me for pointing out the obvious): when people become Christians, we don’t have a state that is a Christian land that we move them to (although I think many of my Texas buddies think that that is precisely what Texas is!). We stay in our own respective countries and states. Likewise, evangelicals don’t separate and start their own communities, armies, telephone companies, pharmacies, and airlines. We don’t create an us/them dichotomy. All things are God’s and when people engage in all activities, they are doing so due to the grace of God. Evangelicals recognize this and work hard within the industries that are God’s to begin with. We don’t have to start Christian Taco Bells to compete with the “secular” Taco Bells.


For if one is truly an evangelical, they don’t start their own movie studios, education systems,…
Click To Tweet


Again, so far this seems self evident, I know. But it is not always the case. For if one is truly an evangelical, they don’t start their own movie studios, education systems, and music industries. When such things happen, this is due to a more fundamentalistic mindset of separationism rather than an evangelical mindset of redemption. If a school goes bad and no longer recognizes God, we don’t kick the dirt and start our own school in protest by default, but we do everything we can to get an evangelical representation in that school. That is where we can do the most good. If the world talks about sex and enjoys it, we don’t shut up about it and act as if it is a necessary evil. When those without God are advancing in medicine to help people control depression, we don’t leave science in their hands as if science was not God’s to begin with. When Hollywood is making movies that bring about entertainment and laughter, we don’t create our own movies that bring about education and sadness. God owns entertainment and he created laughter. He is pretty good at it.

In other words, evangelicals see themselves as those whose actions are engaging in the world redemptively, not separating from it. We show how life is best lived with a recognition of God’s design. We show how commerce is God’s and how generosity brings about more satisfaction than hoarding. We show how monogamous marriages are so much more fulfilling than sexual promiscuity. We show how to enjoy alcohol in moderation rather than abuse it as a destructive escape mechanism that fuels depression. We show how there is a time to laugh, cry, and mourn with a great hope that transcends everything we do (1 Pet. 3:15). In short, we show how the earth and all that is in it is so much more satisfying when we listen to and believe the One who made it. We spread the word that God does not tell us to keep from sin in order to make our lives miserable, but to make it completely fulfilled.


God does not tell us to keep from sin in order to make our lives miserable, but to make it…
Click To Tweet


3. Evangelical Attitude

Finally, we come to attitude. Evangelicals have an attitude of grace and mercy, both to ourselves and to others. The opposite of an evangelical attitude is one that is prideful and haughty in spirit. It is not only that we stay in the world, but that we are engaging others who don’t think or act like us with grace.

If there is an evangelical creed out there, it is this: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity” -Rupertus Meldenius. This expresses a general disposition that evangelicals have of conviction and passion mixed with grace and love. It is so easy to have one to the neglect of the other. It is so easy to choose to be a kingdom of priests or a holy nation (Ex. 19:6 and 1 Pet.2:9). It is very hard to do both. Funamentalists have conviction, but often lack grace (holiness without priesthood). There is an old saying: What is an evangelical? A nice fundamentalist! Why? Because evangelicals believe very deeply, but this conviction is accompanied by grace. Because we recognize how much God is our only hope, we can’t look down our nose at others.

Further Reading: “Four Characteristics of Legalism

As well, evangelicals don’t go to the opposite extreme and take on a liberal anything-goes approach. Though we have great understanding of sin and how hard of a battle it is, we don’t say it doesn’t matter what you believe or how you behave. It does. We can look at the world and its sexual perversion, destructive selfishness, and neglect of hard work and stand up against it. Yet we do so with the attitude that outside of God’s grace we would be caught up in the exact same destructive patterns as those who we seek to help. And we also know that we are pretty messed up ourselves. We are, at best, sinners coming to the aid of other sinners.

Follow me on Twitter: @cmichaelpatton

Conclusion

Of course, I would hope that we would all strive to be more evangelical. Indeed, there are so many of these things that all Christians would agree with. After all, don’t all Christians believe that we should be gracious. No one is trying to create a Christian state (that I know of), and I don’t know of anyone who would separate with someone else if they don’t agree with them on what the “mark of Cain” is all about (although I am sure they are out there). But evangelicalism is different. These three hallmarks, doctrine, action, and attitude, are not just the periphery of what evangelicalism attempts to be after their morning devotionals, they represent the essence of what it means to be an evangelical.

I know a lot of people and organizations who claim to be evangelical, but do not meet the qualifications as I have described them. I don’t normally name names in my blogs, but I think that this is important right now, so please forgive me. People like John Macarthur, Ken Ham, Albert Mohler, James White, Norman Geisler, Roger Olson, Wayne Grudem, Rachel Held Evans, Tony Jones, Hank Hanegraaff, Richard Muller, and Ray Comfort, many of whom I respect a great deal and have learned so much from, are not really evangelical (at least in attitude), are they? I am open to correction here. (And I know that not all of them would necessarily claim the name “evangelical” in the first place.) Heck, just about all my hard-line Calvinistic brothers and sisters would not fit the bill!

But there are so many of out there who I do think are truly evangelical. I think of people like Charles Swindoll, Billy Graham, Michael Horton, Darrel Bock, Tom Schreiner, Justin Taylor, Thomas Oden, Dan Wallace, Dan Kimball, Justin Brierley, Os Guinness, Scot Mcknight, Mark Noll, Mary Jo Sharp, Ed Komoszewski, Mike Licona, and Paul Copan. It is interesting that most apologists tend to be more evangelical as it is their mission to defend the essence of Christianity, leaving the details to the theologians!

I think the word “evangelical” has lost so much of its meaning that it had in the 1940s and 50s. Maybe it is time for a new designation. After-all, when people hear the word “evangelical” they think a variety of things. Some have no clue what it means. Others think that it is another word for closed-minded fundamentalists. Some think it means “liberal Christian.” Or what about those who think it means “the Republican party at prayer” or homophobic Christians?

There will never be a perfect word that does not get tainted. Some would just rather get rid of any descriptive handles altogether. But we need to have a way of distinguishing ourselves. I am not sure what the solution is, but, for now, this is what I believe to be a proper understanding of the word “evangelical.”

What do you think? Do you agree with these three aspects of evangelicalism/Evangelicalism?

The post In Search of True Evangelicalism appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/in-search-of-true-evangelicalism/feed/ 19
Why is God Silent? A New Look at an Old Problem http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/why-is-god-silent-a-new-look-at-an-old-problem/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/why-is-god-silent-a-new-look-at-an-old-problem/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 07:07:36 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17153 I have never seen, heard, smelt, tasted or empirically experienced God.I have groped for a sign of his presence, love, even his very existence! Angels, Jesus, a sound, or some type of miracle would be sufficient. I remember two years ago when I was going through my depression. . . . Wait. I am getting […]

The post Why is God Silent? A New Look at an Old Problem appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
Silence-of-God

I have never seen, heard, smelt, tasted or empirically experienced God.I have groped for a sign of his presence, love, even his very existence! Angels, Jesus, a sound, or some type of miracle would be sufficient. I remember two years ago when I was going through my depression. . . . Wait. I am getting ahead of myself. . . .

Here is a question I got through an email a while back:

The Question

Mr. Patton,

I have been a believer for quite sometime – since I was eight. It’s a miracle, however, that I believe at all. I grew up in a Oneness Pentecostal home that was very legalistic and rigid. Since then I have changed a great deal in regard to my beliefs. I very much believe in the Trinity, justification by faith, etc. So you could say I’m pretty much orthodox now.


I don’t see the point in prayer because I feel like he doesn’t answer.
Click To Tweet


But with all that said, I have been having a bit of trouble with my faith. I’m kinda having a hard time believing in God or praying to him because I just don’t see the point in it anymore because I feel like he doesn’t answer. In fact I feel as if it pointless because he isn’t here – right here, spatially – to speak with me. I dunno I just feel like with all that I have happening in my life a face to face relationship – a person to person conversation – is what I need from him. And I can’t have that. I mean it is as if God is a distant uncle to whom I send letters (prayers), and he sends a postcard. Is it enough to just say that God has spoken through his word so he doesn’t need to speak now? I don’t feel like it. Why couldn’t Jesus have just stayed here, albeit in a ubiquitous form? That way I could talk to him. I know he is the Father’s representative to man and for man so why not stay here where he can be physically accessible?


It is as if God is a distant uncle to whom I send letters, & he sends a postcard.
Click To Tweet


Response

__________________________________

My friend,

1. Your Problem is not Uncommon

Thanks so much for writing and for your honesty. Your thoughts, it might comfort you to know, are not uncommon. The problem you speak of is called the “hiddenness of God” in theological circles. Why is God so hidden? It is hard to know exactly why, but the fact of his hiddenness is something the Bible speaks to very clearly. In Acts 1 the angels say, “Why do you stare into heaven. . . He will come back just as you have seen him go.” In other words, you will not “see” him again until he comes back. Christ told his disciples in the upper room before his death that it is “better for you if I go because I will send the Comforter.” I often think “it is NOT better for you to go because I cannot see or hear the Holy Spirit.”

2. God is “Silent” in My Life

I believe that naked belief (i.e., without empirical experience) is what God calls on us to have right now. We do have to “limp” through this life without having seen God or Jesus, yet believe in him. I don’t have any perfectly sound theological reason why God is not more empirically evident in our lives (though I will give some thoughts below). My more charismatic friends would disagree, as you probably know. However, I have called and called to God to show himself to me. In my darkest times (and against my better theological judgement), I have groped for a sign of his presence, love, even his very existence! Angels, Jesus, a sound, or some type of miracle would be sufficient. I remember two years ago when I was going through my depression. I stayed up all night crying, sitting in my car in the garage yelling at God, asking him to just do something – anything! The silence at that time was deafening. It was painful. It hurt my feelings at a very deep level that the all-powerful God would not perform the simplest of tasks. I thought, “God, if you are so great and love me so much why are you so silent? Why now? Why when I am this depressed? Just do something!”

3. We Only Have Rumors of Another World

But I think the empirical silence of God is normative for the Christian life. Philip Yancey says that we have to work with “rumors of another world.” In fact, ironically, if God were not empirically silent, the Bible would be in error. Peter says, “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:8-9; emphasis mine). You see, Peter here assumes that those in his day – even those so close to the life and death of Christ – have not seen Christ (or God or the Holy Spirit). Peter’s point would be moot if he did not mean to include all other forms of experiencing God empirically. The fact is that when Christ ascended into heaven, that was the last we have seen or heard from him in such a way. The door to the “other side” was shut.

Book Recommendation: Rumors of a Another World by Philip Yancey

4. We Should Never Expect to See or Hear God

If Peter’s statement was not enough, the Apostle Paul also says that the Christian life is a life following after the unseen: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:18). He goes on by telling us that we “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Christ even told Thomas, who needed to see him before he believed, ”Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29; emphasis mine). The “those who have not seen” are us, and we are many. John could not be more clear here: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20, emphasis mine). John does not say, “whom he has probably not seen.” He works under the assumption that everyone reading his letter has not seen God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and (if I can be so bold) the “other side.” Finally, the author of Hebrews defines faith as something hoped for which is not seen: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1; emphasis mine). The very definition of our faith is that we have conviction about truths that cannot be empirically verified. This does not mean that faith is irrational. It just means that we should not expect to have it verified through our senses.


Faith is not irrational; but we should not expect to have it verified through our senses.
Click To Tweet


5. We Should Expect to See and Hear God

I am not saying that I have not seen God work in my life. I certainly have. However, my thinking and interpretation of his “movements” is possessed by my belief that he is moving in my life in non-dramatic ways. I see him in everything. I see him even in this email you sent to me. I believe that it is a “God thing.” Why? Because I am convinced of the central truths of Christianity and the reliability of the Bible. I feed off of this (even though I would rather have a periodic conversation with Christ face to face). We work with what we got: trusting God knows what he is doing. So we should expect to see and hear God if it is through his movements.

6. We Need an Empirical Breach from God

However, I do believe that the silence of God serves a definite purpose. God’s silence, ironically, may serve to keep us productive in this life. It may keep us from (and I am getting dramatic here) committing suicide. Let me illustrate (as I have done before) by referencing my favorite show Justice League! It was an episode where Flash went so fast that he actually began to die and cross over to the “other side.” The molecules in his body were completely unstable and he was stuck between this world and the next. When prodded to come back, Flash had a hard time. He said, “But it is so beautiful over here.” Watch it here:

You see, the lines were blurred between this life and the next and Flash wanted to go to the next. He could not concentrate on this world any longer due to his exposure to the next. In other words, he wanted to die due to his empirical experience on the “other side.” He needed to have an experiential breach between this life and the next in order to remain here and accomplish his mission (gettin’ them bad guys). When “rumors of another world” turns into “experience of the other world,” we lose sight of this world.

I don’t think this story is too far from reality. You and I also need an experiential (empirical) breach from the “other side.” We need not to see Jesus. We need not to talk to Jesus. We need not to hear Jesus.

7. The Disciples Knew Jesus (And Wanted to Die with Him)

Let’s look at the example of the Disciples of Christ. The Disciples, understandably, did not want Jesus to die. When he spoke of his death, they were so bold as to desire to die with him. When Thomas – doubting Thomas, of all people! – thought Jesus was going to die, he said to the other disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). I love it! A call for death in the name of the Lord! What a simple faith this expresses. Peter was no different when he said “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”(Lk. 22:33). All who were with Jesus had empirical evidence of the “other side” in the person of Christ and they were not willing to let that go, even to death. In Acts 1:6, they still had hope that Christ had blurred the lines permanently: “Is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” But they had to watch as Christ was taken into the sky, never to be seen again until his second coming (Acts 1:9-11). The point is that the disciples would have gladly gone on a suicide mission with Christ if it meant a continuation of their exposure to the “other side” in the person of Christ.


The disciples would have gladly gone on a suicide mission with Christ.
Click To Tweet


8. If God Were Not Hidden, We May Want to Die

You and I would do the same. Were God to show himself in the ways we so often think he should – were he to do things the way we would do them – we would probably never be able to accomplish our mission. We would continually be wanting to die in order to cross over. We would be like Flash, having empirical involvement in the world to come, but still having one foot in the current world. However, unlike Flash (who had Superman and Wonder Woman pulling him back!), we most definitely would cross over. Why wouldn’t we? The mysterious would be unmysterious. The lines between this life and the next would be so blurred that we would not hesitate to take that extra step of death, even by our own hand. At the very least, if God were to talk to us face to face, we would never get enough.


if God were to talk to us face to face, we would never get enough.
Click To Tweet


While I don’t claim to have all the answers as to why God does not allow us to experience him in such empirical ways, I suspect there is some truth to what I have said here. It is odd to say, but God’s silence may actually preserve his mission for us. The ability to be stable here in this life is actually facilitated by God’s (empirical) silence. I am not saying this is the only reason God is silent, but it does make sense.

Most importantly, while we should not expect to see God with our eyes nor hear him with our ears, God is not ignoring us. His presence is evident and he is not silent. He just moves in very unconventional ways!

Keep the faith my brother. If Christ rose from the grave, then we will one day see him face to face. Until then we must fight the good fight and run the race with our eyes set on the future.

Book Recommendation: Now that I’m a Christian (my book that has a long section on doubt and suffering)

The post Why is God Silent? A New Look at an Old Problem appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/why-is-god-silent-a-new-look-at-an-old-problem/feed/ 14
Sanctification and Holiness (Part 2) – Theology Unplugged http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/sanctification-and-holiness-part-2-theology-unplugged/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/sanctification-and-holiness-part-2-theology-unplugged/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17141 Tim Kimberley: Fellas it’s great to be back with you guys. We had a lively discussion last week around sanctification, around holiness and we’re narrowing in… Michael Patton: Tim, Tim how are you? Are you more sanctified today than you were a week ago? Tim Kimberley: Alas. You know what brother. I think based on […]

The post Sanctification and Holiness (Part 2) – Theology Unplugged appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
Tim Kimberley: Fellas it’s great to be back with you guys. We had a lively discussion last week around sanctification, around holiness and we’re narrowing in…

Michael Patton: Tim, Tim how are you? Are you more sanctified today than you were a week ago?

Michael Patton Recording Theology Unplugged at Credo House

Michael Patton Recording Theology Unplugged at Credo House

Tim Kimberley: Alas. You know what brother. I think based on our discussion I’m not sure because I do feel like when I look at my life it doesn’t feel like it’s a trajectory going up, but JJ gave the yo-yo. So I think my yo-yo has kind of… its on its way up maybe but hopefully the Lord walked up the stairs.

Michael Patton: I think…

Tim Kimberley: Is that obscure enough?

Michael Patton: …you look better.

Tim Kimberley: Thank you. I feel like I’m just going to start crying and mumbling stuff here any moment.

Sam Storms: I think people…we left them last week crying and mumbling. I think they were pulling their hair out.

Tim Kimberley: That’s right.

Michael Patton: I think everybody needs a hug.

Tim Kimberley: Well, God though throughout church history and many of us are lovers of church history, it seems like He puts signposts along the way. That the Holy Spirit works through people who love Jesus, love the Bible, and put sign posts along the way that say don’t go this way, don’t turn here, stay the course, stay the course. It seems like he puts ditches and sometime uses scripture to build ditches to say don’t fall this way. But then if you go to the other side of the road He says don’t fall into this ditch either. And so in this issue we’re in agreement that there are ditches and their are signpost that have been laid out that say as you think about what it means to grow in Christlikeness throughout a lifetime don’t think this way.

JJ Seid: In the words of Martin Luther the church is like a drunken peasant who in order to save himself from falling off one side of his donkey promptly falls off the other.

Michael Patton: I interrupted Tim earlier and we are talking about sanctification. We are talking about growing in the Lord.

JJ Seid: What’s that word mean? That’s a $10 word.

Michael Patton: To become more Christlike.

JJ Seid: Except when it means something else.

Michael Patton: To become more set apart. To become more holy.

JJ Seid: And what’s the other way it’s used in the Bible? Two senses right?

Michael Patton: I don’t know.

JJ Seid: We used the word positional and progressive last time. So it’s good for people to know that in a sense…

Michael Patton: I wasn’t listening.

JJ Seid: …we’re drilling down into looking at progressive sanctification. Progressive sanctification is something that can only happen to somebody who’s already been, in the past, positionally sanctified. They’ve been made holy in one sense, where their status before God is holy, righteous, and blameless, and yet in another sense they’re being called to act what they are. To steal a phrase from one of my professors.

Michael Patton: That doesn’t sound like what Sam said last time. Sam really messed me up and I am less sanctified this week than I was last week because of Sam. And I’m… just been struggling with his statement…

Sam Storms: I am the Holy Spirit in your life buddy. I am there to probe and to convict and to unsettle your soul.

Sam Storms Recording Theology Unplugged at Credo House

Sam Storms Recording Theology Unplugged at Credo House

Michael Patton: Well there are certain things that we’re gonna, maybe, disagree about later but there are things that we agree about that are really, as we said, Tim or JJ said, ditches that we need to avoid. What is the primary ditch that I think everybody in the church would agree we avoid. And I’m talking Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, some Protestants, all agree, avoid this ditch.

Sam Storms: I think the one that I would immediately identify is this idea that I can exert power from within my own self by my own will independently of and without assistance from the grace of God. This kind of pull yourself up by your bootstraps, self help transformation, that one of the biggest, as well all know, one of the biggest controversies in the history on the church was between a man named (everybody known) Augustine and Pelagius. Back in the later part of the fourth early part of the fifth century. Pelagius basically said when Jesus made this statement in Matthew 5:48 You must be therefore perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He said that necessarily implies that I can be perfect and I don’t need the internal…

Michael Patton: That’s what you sounded like.

Sam Storms: Yea… that I don’t need the internal grace of God to help me do that.

Michael Patton: So you are not Pelagius.

Sam Storms: Here’s the illustration, a guy said, what Pelagius would argue is this, we’re at a track meet and a guy is running let’s say the mile and he’s on his third or his fourth lap and God plays the role of the coach and all he can do is stand on the sidelines and cheer you on and tell you how you’re not running in good form and you need to change your stride, and you need to lift your arms, and you need to slow down your pace or increase the pace, but that’s all that God can do. He’s pretty much an external coach or cheerleader. As over against the idea that God can actually enter into the very body and soul and sprit of the athlete and energize him to finish the race and win. And so what Augustine said in sanctification God is actually in us. Grace is an internal energy and power than enables our wills to make right choice. And propels us forward in conformity with Christ. Pelagius and those who followed him in the history of the church said “No. We don’t need that. We’re not so bad off in our fundamental moral nature that we require God function within us. All we need him to do is give us his law, tell us what to do, and then it’s left up to us to figure out how to obey it.”

Tim Kimberley: That has massive ramifications in the church I would say because, in the illustration I use, I mean I think the track illustration is amazing, but I think like when I think Pelagius I think of like of like the soul aisle at Home Depot. And Jesus has built that aisle. God has stocked that aisle up. And you can go down that aisle when you need to. What Pelagius would tell you if you say “I want to look more like Jesus” he’d say well go down to that aisle and you do that stuff. And, you know, do it. Just do it. But Augustine, I think probably something that frustrated Pelagius was when Augustine wrote command what you will, will what you command. So God, whatever you ask me to do you’re going to have to do it. Whatever you want me to do there’s no chance I’m going to be able do it unless you actually do it through me.

Listen to the full episode using the player below…

Subscribe to Theology Unplugged in iTunes.

The post Sanctification and Holiness (Part 2) – Theology Unplugged appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/sanctification-and-holiness-part-2-theology-unplugged/feed/ 0 0:24:37 Tim Kimberley: Fellas it’s great to be back with you guys. We had a lively discussion last week around sanctification, around holiness and we’re narrowing in… Michael Patton: Tim, Tim how are you? Are you more sanctified today than you were a week a[...] Tim Kimberley: Fellas it’s great to be back with you guys. We had a lively discussion last week around sanctification, around holiness and we’re narrowing in… Michael Patton: Tim, Tim how are you? Are you more sanctified today than you were a week ago? Michael Patton Recording Theology Unplugged at Credo House Tim Kimberley: Alas. You know what brother. I think based on our discussion I’m not sure because I do feel like when I look at my life it doesn’t feel like it’s a trajectory going up, but JJ gave the yo-yo. So I think my yo-yo has kind of… its on its way up maybe but hopefully the Lord walked up the stairs. Michael Patton: I think… Tim Kimberley: Is that obscure enough? Michael Patton: …you look better. Tim Kimberley: Thank you. I feel like I’m just going to start crying and mumbling stuff here any moment. Sam Storms: I think people…we left them last week crying and mumbling. I think they were pulling their hair out. Tim Kimberley: That’s right. Michael Patton: I think everybody needs a hug. Tim Kimberley: Well, God though throughout church history and many of us are lovers of church history, it seems like He puts signposts along the way. That the Holy Spirit works through people who love Jesus, love the Bible, and put sign posts along the way that say don’t go this way, don’t turn here, stay the course, stay the course. It seems like he puts ditches and sometime uses scripture to build ditches to say don’t fall this way. But then if you go to the other side of the road He says don’t fall into this ditch either. And so in this issue we’re in agreement that there are ditches and their are signpost that have been laid out that say as you think about what it means to grow in Christlikeness throughout a lifetime don’t think this way. JJ Seid: In the words of Martin Luther the church is like a drunken peasant who in order to save himself from falling off one side of his donkey promptly falls off the other. Michael Patton: I interrupted Tim earlier and we are talking about sanctification. We are talking about growing in the Lord. JJ Seid: What’s that word mean? That’s a $10 word. Michael Patton: To become more Christlike. JJ Seid: Except when it means something else. Michael Patton: To become more set apart. To become more holy. JJ Seid: And what’s the other way it’s used in the Bible? Two senses right? Michael Patton: I don’t know. JJ Seid: We used the word positional and progressive last time. So it’s good for people to know that in a sense… Michael Patton: I wasn’t listening. JJ Seid: …we’re drilling down into looking at progressive sanctification. Progressive sanctification is something that can only happen to somebody who’s already been, in the past, positionally sanctified. They’ve been made holy in one sense, where their status before God is holy, righteous, and blameless, and yet in another sense they’re being called to act what they are. To steal a phrase from one of my professors. Michael Patton: That doesn’t sound like what Sam said last time. Sam really messed me up and I am less sanctified this week than I was last week because of Sam. And I’m… just been struggling with his statement… Sam Storms: I am the Holy Spirit in your life buddy. I am there to probe and to convict and to unsettle your soul. Sam Storms Recording Theology Unplugged at Credo House Michael Patton: Well there are certain things that we’re gonna, maybe, disagree about later but there are things that we agree about that are really, as we said, Tim or JJ said, ditches that we need to avoid. What is the primary ditch that I think everybody in the church would agree we avoid. And I’m talking Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, some Protestants, all agree, avoid this ditch. Sam Storms: I think the one that I would immediately identify is this idea that I can exert power from within my own self by my own will independently of and without assistance from the grace of God. This kind of pull yourself up by your bootstraps, self help transformation,[...] michaelp@reclaimingthemind.org no no
Credo Links: Interesting Stuff Out There http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/credo-links-interesting-stuff-out-there/ http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/credo-links-interesting-stuff-out-there/#comments Sat, 13 Jun 2015 01:51:04 +0000 http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/?p=17150 10 Ways to Help a Hurting Pastor’s Wife (after her husband and her leave their church) Drunk Christians (just read it!) The coming “transanity” How Science and Reason Created and Age of Unbelief (in science and reason) (good quick explanation of the reason people have no belief today) Isn’t True Faith Blind Faith? (J. Warner Wallace) […]

The post Credo Links: Interesting Stuff Out There appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
10 Ways to Help a Hurting Pastor’s Wife (after her husband and her leave their church)

Drunk Christians (just read it!)

The coming “transanity

How Science and Reason Created and Age of Unbelief (in science and reason) (good quick explanation of the reason people have no belief today)

Isn’t True Faith Blind Faith? (J. Warner Wallace)

Why Church Discipline Goes Awry (but none of us can really deal with the sticky question of What is worthy of church discipline)

How Not to Invoke the “Genetic Fallacy” (how much I wish someone would have taught me the basic rules of logic when I was young—though I would not have listened)

Long Distance Dating (for some reason, it still surprises me when a married couple says to me “We met online)

The post Credo Links: Interesting Stuff Out There appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

]]>
http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2015/06/credo-links-interesting-stuff-out-there/feed/ 1