Monday, September 20, 2010

Organic God

I did not realize that the roots of postmodernism are firmly in the Romanticism of 19th century Germany (and elsewhere).

"Postmodernism is a reaction against Enlightenment rationalism... and the sense of alienation that came from urbanization. This sense of alienation included a desire to connect with nature. Germany after World War I was characterized by a desire to reconnect with nature that included a desire for pagan religious ideas that were linked to nature...

"This same sensibility characterizes postmodern thinking today which, as I have claimed in another work, is a resurrected version of Romanticism. People want to be connected to nature and to react against the Enlightenment; to do so involves making decisions on a basis other than logic and rationality. Most people would be shocked to realize that their postmodern inclinations are those of fascist ideology which led to [the rise of] Hitler."

~ From the internet article "Ideas Have Consequences: A Partial Paraphrase and Review of Modern Fascism by Gene Edward Veith" written by Bob DeWaay and found here.

If that idea sounds far-fetched, you need to read Bob DeWaay's paper, as it really does help explain a lot. We tend to think that postmodernism is a truly new way of looking at the world. But we know from God's word that there is nothing really new.

"What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9
There is no new truth and there is no new error. The Bible tells us everything we need to know to be equipped with knowledge in both categories, if we'll just read it and understand it. Farther down in DeWaay's paper was this:

"Again Veith explains: 'Fascists seek an organic, neo-mythological unity of nature, the community, and the self. The concepts of a God who is above nature and a moral law that is above society are rejected'" (Veith: 17).

The word that jumped out at me is "organic," which is a term growing in popularity in the emerging/postmodern/church-growth movement.

As in, for instance, "The Organic God." This "video driven Bible study" promises to get us in touch with Mother Nature, er, God as we've never known him/her before. A video trailer on the website plays haunting, Chris Isaak-esque "I Don't Want To Fall In Love Again" music as a female commentator speaks:

"Imagine if we could simplify our faith---strip it of all the pollution and additives--and know God for who he is... natural, pure, essential, organic.

"Imagine if we could experience his big-hearted love... his    surprising talkativeness... it would change us--forever.

"The organic god. It's like falling in love all over again."

I wonder if the "pollution and additives" the author wants to strip out of our faith are doctrine and theology. With those out of the way we can be really free to imagine this talkative God. At about two-thirds of the way through the video--I'm not kidding about this--a rock (?) shaped suspiciously like a woman's breast and dripping water from just where you'd think (pure, essential and organic water, I'm sure) appears. God as Nurturing Mother, maybe. It's earthy, it's sensual, it's organic. I'm telling you, somebody's buying this stuff at $159.99 a pop. (I suppose I must provide a link to the video so here it is. I hate to send anybody around this stuff.)

This is simply one more way to by-pass the Scriptures in order to find a better way to know God. The fact is, though, there is no other way to know him. Any God we think we can imagine or cobble together outside of his revelation of himself in the Bible is a false god. And happily, the true God of Scripture is so much better than an organic image we could fashion for ourselves.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tuesday Texting--Paul's Limited "All"s

Paul (and other writers of Scripture) use the word “all” in ways that might be initially confusing to our Americanized ears and eyes. For some reason in our reading of the Bible we take this word, when we see it in reference to people, to mean “every person ever born.” But what it actually means, many (or most) times, is “all people in a certain category” or “all kinds of people.” Sometimes “all” means both Jew and Gentile (i.e. the promises are not just for the Jews anymore). Sometimes, like in the text we’re looking at today, it means all the people Christ died for.

But wait, you might say, that’s everybody; that’s every person ever born. Well, not in this passage or others like it; in the context of who Christ died for, “all” is a limited category. A look at this today’s text makes it clear.

[14] “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; [15] and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).

You see right away that the “one” of verse 14 is Christ. Then who are the “all” that Christ died for? Before you answer, “everybody ever born duh,” see the whole line… “one died for all, therefore all have died.” The "all" who died are the same "all" Christ died for, and they are also "those who live" (verse 15). They are a special category of people!

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).

So that’s how Paul’s “all”s are often limited. When it says that Christ "died for all," it isn't saying that Christ died for everybody ever born. Rather, he died for all who have died and now live again in this way… in the Colossians 3:3 and the Romans 6:11 and the Galatians 2:20 way. And they not only died, but now they live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for their sake and was raised.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Only Question

"Our missionary activity, our church activity, everything we do ought to flow from the theologian and the exegete, the man who opens up his Bible and only has one question: 'What is Thy will, O God?' We are not to send out questionnaires to carnal people to discover what kind of church they would attend. A church ought to be seeker-friendly but a church ought to recognize there's only one seeker--His name is God--and if you want to accommodate someone, accommodate Him and His glory. We are not called to build empires, we are not called to be accepted, we are called to glorify God."

Paul Washer, "Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church"