Post by metalikhan on Feb 26, 2013 13:19:30 GMT -5
RE: the idea that someone might write something that (gasp) I don't agree with.
Do we really believe what Jesus said about not Judging each other, but rather being instruments of God's Grace in everyone's lives? ...
The fact He showed me is that we humans have no such thing as Theological Certainty since theology is a creation of man's depraved intellect attempting to categorize what we know about God. It may be "Useful" in certain contexts but the only Certainty we have is our own direct experience of God Himself in Salvation, upbuilding, maintaining our faith and leading us in the practical things of life.
Isn't God bigger that what any or all of us collectively can understand. He told me to let Him be God and just walk in the truth which He has blessed me to understand. Faithfulness to our own duty is our only qualification. How far did Peter get when he asked Jesus about what John was supposed to do.
Personally, I am content to encourage anyone who is trying to work for God, however they perceive their calling and duties to Him. The Judgemet will sort out all the questions, I have all I can do just to keep myself in the center of His revealed will for me.
Just let Go and let God run things; believe Him to make His will triumph in the end after we've done what we could.
I've been watching this discussion because lately I've been fielding emails from writers wounded by fellow Christians telling them the ONLY way to honor God is to declare the gospel in their writing, that it's the only
reason a Christian should
be writing. And, although it lost the sting a long time ago, I remember being told that when I mature as a Christian, I'll write devotionals, study guides, and Christian self-help books (now there's an oxymoron!).
We can each have strong ideas about what does/doesn't constitute writing that honors God, but do we allow each other the liberty to do it in the way s/he feels is compatible with who s/he is in Christ?
Over the last several weeks, I've encouraged one so verbally battered by his fellow believers, he's seriously thinking of giving up writing -- a shame because he's very good but his writing doesn't fit the narrow confines of evangelical writing. One gal is questioning her faith and salvation because of the 'holy' abuse she's faced for writing mainstream. I've seen glimpses of some of the bile-filled, combative posts a publisher received before she deleted them; she's Christian but the focus of what she publishes is literary, not evangelical -- you can bet she takes a lot heat for that! (Aside: I think for a writer seeking publication, that's called burning the bridge you hope to stand on.)
I've had to defend one of my own stories against the accusation of promoting pantheism and universalism because some folks didn't see the scriptural symbolisms and themes I used in that story. ("Stigmata of the Green Flame", in The Cross and the Cosmos Anthology) My accusers weren't stupid people, but they were so rigid that anything outside of what they knew
a Christian should/shouldn't write was un-Christian.
But just as disturbing -- once judgments like that are passed on the stories, the judgment seems to automatically extend to the writer. How can you be a Christian and write a story like that
? You're obviously
not saved. You're obviously
a heretic. You're obviously
in league with the enemy.
The same seems to apply to what might be construed as theological or doctrinal errors.
A story that seems to promote pacifism? What if the writer is exploring the theme "Blessed are the peacemakers" and not referring to a Colt .45?
A story that includes Catholic references? What if the writer is applying fresh understanding of that denomination's practices in the context of a story?
A story that seems to be about dedication to a job? What if the writer is weighing themes of "working as unto the Lord" versus idolatry (the job becomes a god)?
Perspective -- interesting word, isn't it. And when we allow our personal perspectives to theologically batter others, how different is that from the old conversions at swordpoint or Inquisitions for perceived heresy?
Post by newburydave on Feb 28, 2013 11:38:58 GMT -5
So glad my post struck a responsive chord.
An old Alliance preacher by the name of DeBrine had a radio show called Songtime. He was the first pioneer in Christian radio Broadcasting way back when he was Pastoring a Baptist church in Boston.
He didn't preach on the radio he just played Christian music interspersed with Aphorisms, many of them were original to him I believe.
One of his favorites was:
"God called us to Catch Fish, not clean out the fishbowl."
I think that captures the core of an essential truth that too many professors of religion ignore.
My own stab at that concept came to me in a poem several years ago.
The Spirit's web runs deep and wide,
the world He sweeps to find a bride.
Redemption Hunts the broken soul,
The Spirit yearns to make them whole.
And I; what little can I do
your providential quest toa aid?
He whispers son, you must be true,
you have a part, be not afraid.
Lord make of me a faithful thread
withing your net of providence,
Bound fast to others, knit in Love,
that perfect bond of wit and sense.
May I some hurting soul compel
to see the Saviors blessed face,
and make their stubborn spirit sing
Another sinner saved by grace.
(Matt.13:47; 24:14; Rom.10:15-18)
I really think that God is grieved by our theological divisions, even though He still chooses to work in us and through us. I found it interesting that He has worked most powerfully to reach the lost through those who tried to heal the divisions between the different communions.
If you have read "Ecclesiastical History" by Eusebius of Ephesus, the official imperial chronicle of the first Council of Nicea in 325AD, I hope that you noted Eusebius' comments about the Excommunication of the Arians, followers of the teaching of Arius of Alexandria (not Adolph Hitler) who was condemned as a heretic by this and following councils.
The conflict was about the nature of Christ before the Creation of the Universe. It was a Philosophical/Metaphysical cum Theological difference which really had no practical manifestation in terms of Saving Faith or practice.
The Arians were the most agressive evangelistic group in the church up till that time. After their "condemnation to hell for heresey" they went on to evangelize through Persia, turned modern Afganistan into the missionary capital of the world, spread the Gospel into much of India and managed to convert a third of the Chinese population to Christianity. (an intentionally overlooked piece of history which had a tragic outcome when the Portuguese missionaries reached China in the 1400's)
Eusebius interjected his own lament into the record after he documented the results of the vote. He said that though this was the decision of the council it was not according to the sacred tradition of the church where the simplicity of the Apostles Creed had been the only test of orthodoxy for the first three centuries of the church's existence. He commented that many of the Holy Martyrs from the times of persecution were stripped of their Saintly crown and consigned to hell as heretics by this decision.
My sister, I think you do well to counsel and comfort these who have been wounded in the house of those who should have been their friends. You can tell them from me that these attacks are nothing but attempts from the Enemy of our Souls, working through misdirected souls, to try to get them to turn back from their calling.
IMHO Sectarian (read Theological) bigotry is one of Satan's most effective tools to stop the church from accomplishing the Great Commission that Hell has ever deployed against the kingdom of God.
On a persona level, when we were first starting out in the Christian way, our first pastors told us that if we ever wanted to amount to anything for God one of the things we would have to die to was the opinions of other Christians, even those we esteemed as spiritual. Sometimes God would call us to do things that no one else approved of. We needed to be able to make sure it was His voice and settle it to obey Him alone, regardless of what anyone else said in opposition. The underlying truth behind this is that God doesn't tell another person what you or I should do, He tells us and that has to be sufficient.
Write on my sister, and help the fainting along the way;
helping our brothers and sisters is a universal calling.
As Mary told the servants at the marriage at Canna, "Whatsoever He tells you to do, Do It!"
Post by fluke on Feb 28, 2013 12:39:03 GMT -5
I don't want to start a theological argument here, but according to Harold Brown in Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church (Grand Rapids: Hendrickson, 1988), pg 117, at the Council of Nicea, the Arians presented a statement of beliefs that flatly denied the deity of Christ. They believed (like modern JWs) that he is the first of creation and not divine. So contrary to the NT, Christ is not the fullness of god in human form. In fact, He is inferior to the Father according to Arianism.
That's going to have huge ripple effects through the rest of theology, including soteriology.
Post by newburydave on Feb 28, 2013 21:09:38 GMT -5
I understand the Theological issues, but that is the issue is it not? Do we divide over theological/philosophical reasoning or do we love and try to work with all who are saved by faith in Jesus as their atoning redeemer?
We may debate vigorously but we are forbidden to divide over our reasoning. None of us have sufficient knowledge or wisdom to judge and excommunicate another believer. Jesus said to let the Tares grow with the Wheat and let the angels separate them at the last day. Dare we usurp the job God gave to the angels?
Post by fluke on Feb 28, 2013 22:47:20 GMT -5
All who are saved by faith in the God-man Jesus Christ as their atoning redeemer, yes indeed. Arians don't qualify.
The Arians denied the divinity of Christ. Thus, He is not part of the Godhead, which they also denied. They claimed that Christ was created by the Father.
In Isa 43:11, God tells us "I, even I, am YHVH, and there is no savior beside Me." Lest any accuse me of prooftexting, there are other verses to prop this up.
If Jesus is not part of the trinity, then He cannot be savior. If He is not savior, then He certainly did not save us. This rather goes against the unanimous witness of the New Testament. At this point alone it is enough to say that the Arians are not NT Christians.
You ask if we have enough knowledge or wisdom to excommunicate another believer. If we believe that God has made Himself clear in Scripture, then yes, we do. Not over minor matters, and that may be where we disagree on what makes a major vs. minor matter, but certainly over major matters such as the divinity of Christ. Jesus Himself gives instructions on excommunication in Matthew 18:15-20. Certainly He would not give instructions on the proper method of excommunication if He didn't think we should follow them.
I have family who loves Jesus and serves Him, but they believe certain gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased with the death of the last Apostle. I am Pentecostal; I believe the opposite. Are they less Christian because of it? No. Do they think I'm deluded? Probably. We also part ways over eternal security.
In the NT, we don't see Paul and the other Apostles letting just anyone who claims to believe in Jesus be pat of the community. There are traditions that one must take to heart (such as Jesus not thinking it robbery to be equal with God). Paul also teaches that believers can be excommunicated for living in sin (1 Cor 5:1-13). The man in question apparently repented, and Paul urged the church to restore him to fellowship (2 Cor 2:5-8).
It may be said that the Arians lived virtuous lives and would not fall under this. While I will not debate their living, heresy is like cancer. It spreads. And, like evil, it is never content to remain level. It goes ever down to the next heresy. In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas divide (the Greek word used here) from other believers who are preaching that Gentiles must follow the Law of Moses to be saved. Paul and Barnabas were not content to agree to disagree and let the tares grow with the wheat. They went to Jerusalem and a council was called to determine which doctrine was correct.
The intent of the Jerusalem Council was that none be lost due to false teaching. It was the same at Nicea. The goal was unity. The Arian controversy was already splitting the church and that schism had to be healed. After the Arians declared that they did not think Christ was divine in the same manner as the Father, they were voted against (and contrary to The Da Vinci Code
, it was not a relatively close vote) and most were allowed to remain in the church on the condition that they recant and stop spreading their heresy.
Some refused. Over the next centuries, the heresy continued to make inroads until the church had no choice but to excommunicate those who were teaching false doctrine and defying authority. Titus 3:10 teaches that those who remain heretics after the first and second admonition are to be rejected.
Where the essential doctrines of the faith are concerned, it is better to be divided in truth than united in error (e.g., Gal. 1:6-9 ; 2:11-14; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; Titus 1:9; 1 John 2:19). A good (but long) article over the biblical and historical practice of excommunication (when and what for and how) is here
Post by Resha Caner on Mar 13, 2013 8:26:54 GMT -5
For my part, my interest in the Anomaly simply rises and wanes over time. Like the tides. Sometimes I'll be here, answering every thread that comes up. Other times I merely crawl on, half-heartedly read a few threads and ooze off.
I know the feeling.
@resha: I feel that I understand most of your points, but I'm going to quote a Christian brother whom I know and respect who said something pertinent to the situation.
”I hope you realize that I don't feel obligated to agree with your opinion.” ~ Resha Caner
np. I'd rather hear you than listen to a silence that pretends agreement and peace.
We may debate vigorously but we are forbidden to divide over our reasoning.
I agree with the sentiment of what you're saying.
Where the essential doctrines of the faith are concerned, it is better to be divided in truth than united in error.
And I agree with this as well. As such, I don't expect I'll ever find resolution to certain questions in this life. Rather, I journey on.
Post by newburydave on Mar 15, 2013 10:02:15 GMT -5
I think it interesting that that you mention the "Tares and Wheat".
Unless my memory and eyesight (I looked it up recently) deceive me the Landowner [God] specifically forbade the workers to try to root up the Tares because the workers could not accurately separate the Tares from the Wheat until they were all fully ripe. He said that in their ignorant zeal they would root up some of the wheat with the tares.
Apparently God/Jesus wants all of the Wheat so much that He is willing to suffer the Tares until the Harvest (final judgement I assume) so that none of the Wheat be lost.
When the Lord put a stop to my "Tare Rooting up career" the means he used was to merely convict me (reveal to me) the depth of my ignorance and show me that despite all my education and experience I was unable to discern correctly since I couldn't see the end from the beginning. I guess some people are just a whole lot smarter than I am and can see the future reliably.
In my early years as a Christian I was so messed up that if I'd listened to the Tare Rooters in our church (or if they had the kind of positional power they pretended to hold) I'd have been cast out to be burned long before I ever got my feet down in Christ.
I've been "Excommunicated" and branded heretical so many times by so many Church Bosses (usually because I wouldn't compromise Biblical principle to suit their agenda) that now I just let it roll off and don't let it bother me anymore.
But Jesus has never given up on me or let go of me.
I think it is well to remember that God's essential Holiness is revealed to us as Christlike Perfect Love. We experience this, are saved because of it, suffered and forbourne by the Holy One through our lives of ignorance and error, and will ultimately be Glorified and added to the Bride He seeks because of the depths of His Perfect Love and desire for us.
There is no other standard of Holiness. His Graciousness, Justice, Wisdom, Knowledge and all of His other revealed activities spring from this one truth that God in His essence is Love.
In my experience if we will sincerely love even tares some of them will be converted into Wheat by God's grace, and the rest of them will become exasperated with us and seperate themselves from us (excommunicate us from them).
The greatest sin that Paul rebuked the Corinthians for in his epistles was their divisiveness. That violated the essential nature of the God they all claimed to worship.
If you read the whole context and understand the central thread of Paul's reasoning about Communion; the unworthiness he warned against was coming to the communion table with division and grudges against your brother and sister (ref. the teaching about bringing offerings to the Temple to sacrifice when you had something against or someone had something against you).
Paul's admonition was to be reconciled to your brothers (tarry for one another - KJV) lest your partaking of communion become a curse to you instead of a blessed means of receiving grace.
Because of God's specific dealing with me I prefer to be a helper of other peoples faith rather than a Tare Rooter. I guess I had a bit of a Roger Williams moment, and it changed me.
(Ref. Colonial Massachusetts history and the the beginnings of Rhode Island. Williams was a rigidly exclusive Puritan minister North of Boston.)
Write on my Brother, win the soul winner's crown.
Post by cdeb on Mar 19, 2013 8:22:56 GMT -5
I've followed this debate and it reminded me of something one of my favorite authors, Gene Wolfe, said in an interview..
" If you are a Christian you cannot help writing as a Christian. You can disguise it, but there are still acute people who will see through the disguise and say, "Aha, back in here is a Christian background." You see this in quite a lot of his fiction.
My take on God's involvement in my writing is to focus on Him and then write, what's inside should come out organically. This is also a personal challenge when what comes out is not as Godly as I thought it should be!
My current aims are quite modest. When Christians appear as characters they should be real and not conform to the many horrible caricatures you find in so much SF** and secondly, there should be a real sense of hope in what I write. I also want to suggest that there is more to this world order than the just the concrete and material (though this obviously only applies to straight SF). These things I find most lacking in the secular SF... I have tried to write allegory, imitating Lewis. But when I discovered that the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe sprang from images in Lewis's imagination (the faun and the lamp post, for example) and not from some deliberate didactic purpose, I found that liberating. I believe he didn't even spot the Christian Allegory element until somebody pointed it out, as one of his longstanding interests was the Dying God myth, which he discovered to be true in Christianity.
My wife just read secular fiction which she found darker and darker, often detective stories. She then started reading Christian fiction and found it uplifting and encouraging (Yada Yada Prayer group, in fact). She now reads both.
Her experience made me realize the value of Christian fiction at a personal level, and now I have also started to read more specific Christian Fiction courtesy of Marcher Lord Press, although I am not writing myself specifically for the Christian market. I really believe there is value in both approaches, as does, I believe Jeff Gerke.
**PS I was presently surprised recently when I read the new novel (The Great North Road) by Britain's bestseller SF author, Peter F Hamilton. Early on he introduced two "Christians" from some kind of apparently rather keen and possibly extreme group. All through the book I was expecting some really negative pay-pack knocking Christians, and right wing American Fundamentalists in particular. But it never came...it would spoil the plot to say what happens, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, its a pretty isolated occurrence
Post by fluke on Mar 19, 2013 9:33:52 GMT -5
I very much agree with both of these statements. It's what my wife and I were talking about the other night. When a Christian writes a story, the result will be different from what an unbeliever would write. They could start with the same story line but the final result of the story will be in some way different.
Post by Christian Soldier on Mar 19, 2013 14:26:11 GMT -5
When you see the volume of stories that I do, you see this very thing. Christians tend to be inherently hopeful and it comes out in our writing, even when not writing specifically Christian works. That's why I don't require works submitted to TC2 to Scream that they are Christian. I don't want sermons, I want stories. But they should be hopeful in overall context. That's actually where I took a serious risk with the upcoming "New Life" by Frank Luke over there, as the first story is very dark, but the character, the world, and the sheer power of the writing pushed me to ask, "What happens next?" Everyone else will too, this I know.