Here is the video they have shared:
It seems to me there are three primary meanings to the statement, “You’re not listening to me!”
There are probably more, but I think these are pretty common. Which have you heard? What have you said?
Commenting on Romans 5:12 (some paragraph breaks added) –
Death is the supreme law of the world in which we live. Of death we know nothing except that it is denial and corruption, the destroyer and destruction, creatureliness and naturalness. Death is engraved inexorably and indelibly upon our life. It is the supreme tribulation in which we stand. In it the whole riddle of our existence is summarized and focused; and in its inevitability we are reminded of the wrath which hangs over the man of the world and the world of man.
So completely is death the supreme law of this world, that even that which, in this world, points to the overcoming and renewing of this world, takes the form of death. Morality appears only as the denial of the body by the spirit; the dying Socrates is the only fitting emblem of philosophy; progress is no more than a restless negation of the existing natural order. No flame – except the flame of the Lord! (Exod. iii. 2) – can burn without destroying. Even the Christ according to the flesh must die that He be appointed the Son of God (Rom. i. 3, 4).
We too must pass through death, if we are to render unto God the honour due to Him. We have to learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We would like to turn our backs on all this, if we could. We would like to protest against death in the name of life, if it were not that the protest of death against our life is far more venerable, far more significant. We try to bury out of sight the suspicions and reservations which accompany every unbroken affirmation we make, and to protect our eyes against the grey light of the final negation which is preceded by a whole host of preliminary negations. But we are unable to persist long in our attempt; for it is all too evident that the grey light does not proceed from our caprice, but has a primary origin. It envelops our whole life (Rom. i. 10), for there is no vital and creative human action which is not born in pain and revolution and death.
We are powerless; we are lost. Death is the supreme law of our life. We can say no more than that if there be salvation, it must be salvation from death; if there be a ‘Yes’, it must be such a ‘Yes’ as will dissolve this last and final ‘No’; if there be a way of escape, it must pass through this terrible barrier by which we are confronted.
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the golden lampstands.'”
[To the church in Smyrna] “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) …”
[To the church in Laodicea] “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
These verses from Revelation demonstrate a couple of important things about church – that church is all about Jesus, and that church appearances can be wrong.
Firstly, church is all about Jesus being present. In Revelation, the image of seven stars and seven lamps symbolise the seven churches. No church is defined by its building, its programmes, its leadership, … It’s a church because Jesus is there. Take away Jesus and you have no church.
But secondly, church appearances can trick us. The church in Smyrna was described as poor – yet Jesus’ point of view was, “but you are rich”. The church in Laodicea was very confident that they had everything, and more than enough. But Jesus’ words could not be more different: “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”.
So how should we speak about churches? I reckon we speak in two ways: one way for our church, another way for other churches.
Talking about other churches: humility
The way to speak about other churches is with humility.
We have good reason to speak about other churches – it’s not gossip! I want to hear about churches. I try to listen and remember what I hear about churches. If I know someone moving to a new town, I want to be able to say, “Hey, when you move, try out Church X.”
On the flip side, it’s a great help to know if a church might be going astray. If I meet someone from there, or they move to my area, this knowledge gives me a head-start on what issues to be wary of, and what conversations to have.
And yet …
And yet appearances can be wrong. Reputation might be inaccurate. So while I argue that we can talk about other churches, we must be humble. In others words, we admit that we don’t know everything – only Jesus does – and we might be plain wrong.
Talking about our own church: not humility
But when we speak of our own church, let’s drop the (false) humility. If we are part of a church, it should be because we are convinced that Christ is with us by his Spirit. A church with Jesus lacks nothing.
In short, we know our church as a real and living church because of the presence of Jesus – no matter what the appearance may be.
So let’s speak up confidently!
Let’s forget the, “We’re not doing much. Nobody really knows us. You’re probably not interested in this, but I’ll invite you anyway …” Instead, we remember that Christ walks among us!
Write Around the Murray is an annual festival in Albury. With writers. And writing competitions.
One competition – excellent in particular for schools – is the Nano Story. Fifty words, exactly, and including a theme word. The 2016 word: forget (or a version of it: forgets, forgot, …).
I entered. I tried something tricky, which didn’t really work. Can you spot it?
“Remember”, you said, “Always.”
We lie in a little, create moments.
“Promise lasting joy with me no matter what. Forget dreams – others exclude.”
“Won’t you accept our word: memory fails that mind – yes, you.”
Bereft. Sadness. Temporary denial.
Time destroys. Immense the truth they never heard, “I forget.”
My hint if you’re interested – you could perhaps call this story tidal.
Here’s the lesson: learn what God calls true blessing, and ask for that.
An example from inside the Old Testament. Early on, while Moses is still alive, the Lord tells Moses to pass on a message to the priests.
Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
“The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you:
the LORD lift up his face upon you and give you peace.”‘
Later on, Psalm 67 takes this instruction and makes it a prayer.
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all generations.
The psalm is not word for word – it’s not a magic incantation! But the blessing from Numbers is definitely in the mind of the psalmist.
If God says something is true blessing, we can be sure he wants to give it – and that he wants us to ask for it. Give it go in your prayers.
A good thing about buying a book that really is a book is that you get a sense of what kind of book it wants to be. A 600 page treatment is a different beast from an 80 page piece – neither is necessarily better, but the aims will differ.
With an ebook, this is harder. And, perhaps, easier to be disappointed. ‘I thought this was going to be in-depth, but it’s only a brief guide.’ Or, ‘I just wanted something simple, not the history of the universe.’
So let’s explain the intangibles of this book. A Reformed Approach to Science and Scripture is a big title, huge. Science! Scripture! Reformed! Wow. Yet it’s not broad, deep, and exhaustive. It is a short work, so does not aim to cover all things.
Even more important, it’s not even really trying to be a reformed introduction to the philosophy of science. (Which I thought it might be – my mistake.) Instead, it is an expansion on some comments made by R.C. Sproul. At a conference, Sproul was answering the question, ‘How old is the universe?’
Sproul’s answer is wonderful. He did not merely indicate young or old, but in a few sentences touched on science, Christianity, and the relation between them.
The answer is quoted in full (tidied up a little for publication purposes). Sproul notes some of the issues:
* The Bible does not state how old the earth is, but some hints suggest it’s young
* Science has plenty to say that is relevant: expanding universe, astronomical dating, etc
* All truth is God’s truth, scripture and nature
* God’s revelation in scripture is infallible as also God’s revelation in nature is infallible
* We know times when natural revelation has corrected the church’s understanding of special revelation
* Nonetheless, that which is definitively taught in the Bible is never overthrown by science
* That is, scientists can be wrong, theologians can be wrong, and we privilege neither
* In conclusion: ‘I don’t know how old the earth is.’
This book by Mathison expands on these points. It has some theological points (eg, Augustine, Aquinas). It has some history (eg, Calvin and Luther on the geocentrism). It does not have much science or philosophy of science.
The crux of the book – and of Sproul’s answer – is the double infallibility of God’s double revelation, special and natural. This is, I think, both the strength and the weakness of the book’s argument.
It is strong, because it highlights the unity of all truth in God. Let God be true, though all men be liars (Romans 3:4). The saying catches it nicely: all truth is God’s truth.
Yet there are problems with the book’s argument. I think these are in the theological terminology used, as well as it’s application in the book. Imprecision is introduced: it does no real damage to this book’s argument, because it has a narrow focus. But such imprecision is problematic if it flows through the (huge) scope of science-theology understanding.
The problem: Mathison persists in speaking of natural revelation, when I think he would do better to speak of truth.
In speaking of natural revelation, Mathison has in mind the knowledge of God accessible to all humans through creation. As Romans 1:19-21 indicates, this knowledge is about God, and it makes us without excuse, because natural revelation cannot save. He helpfully quotes and alludes to Romans 1.
But the book then slides from this knowledge about God to science, without any reason put forward for the connection. Yet it is not evident that knowing more about the planets’ arrangement adds anything to natural revelation. We know more truth, certainly, but no more about God.
In other words, Mathison makes no convincing argument that the theological category of natural revelation also applies to science.
This imprecision has other effects. I note just one – the use of infallible.
Mathison return more than once to a group of seminarians asked two questions by Sproul.
“How many of you believe that God’s revelation in Scripture is infallible?” They all raised their hands. I then asked, “And how many of you believe that God’s revelation in nature is infallible?” No one raised his hand. It’s the same God giving the revelation.
Two helpful and provocative questions to put! Natural revelation is, indeed, infallible – it does not fail but achieves its purpose. The purposes of natural revelation succeed: people of faith praise the Lord (Psalm 19:1), and rebels against God find they have no excuse (Romans 1:20).
Infallibility is a term of theology, and relates to God’s purposes in his revelation. But Mathison, having assumed a tight link between natural revelation and science, has thereby partly imported infallibility into science, where it does not belong.
Now, that’s a long discussion about being precise in terminology. So let me emphasise this: I think this work well worth reading. Have a read, think well, and thank God that all truth is his.
Mere Orthodoxy has a long, worthwhile read, Why We Should Jettison the “Strong Female Character”. The topic is, simply, female characters in movies. Less simply, and more accurately, it’s about how today we publicly talk about men and women.
The piece nudged me into writing this much shorter post about a thought I’ve had for a while – that ‘egalitarian’ moves to help women often undermine women.
Taking the lead from Mere Orthodoxy, we can see this at work in movies and TV shows. Modern video drama has to have dynamic, active female leads. Any category of film needs such women – be it kids’ flicks, teen stories, or adult drama.
These women will, often, be aggressive, rebellious, problem-solvers, sometimes reckless, gifted in combat … winners on all fronts. And they help women, it seems, by breaking the stereotype.
Except that they don’t break type at all.
Look at that list above. It’s as stereotyped as they come – it’s the (formerly) male pattern of dramatic behaviour. That is, for women to have success, they need to become more manly. How does that free women from oppression?
The supposed sin is in thinking there are two ways of being human, male and female. It’s beyond thought now to suggest that men and women are are different enough to be distinct. But the new orthodoxy suggests there is but one way of being a successful human – and it’s the manly way.
The Mere Orthodoxy piece notes the change in Disney Princesses.
Within the kickass princess trope lurks the implication that, to prove equality of dignity, worth, agency, and significance as a character, all of a woman’s resolve, wisdom, courage, love, kindness, self-sacrifice, and other traits simply aren’t enough—she must be capable of putting men in their place by outmatching them in endeavors and strengths that naturally favor them, or otherwise making them look weak or foolish.
If equality means its not enough to be a woman, then equality has a problem, don’t you think?
And it’s not just the movies. Consider the sexual revolution. As a generalisation, the sexual revolution has produced an ethic that promotes wide-ranging experimentation and minimal commitment. Men play that sexual game, and women are ’empowered’ to do the same.
But that game is the stereotypical dream of the faithless male roué: easy and frequent sex, with no cost. The sexual revolution makes it easier for men to fulfil that dream, and tells women that it’s wonderful that they can be the same.
Welcome to the glory of freedom, where your equality is defined and measured by being a user, a Lady Casanova!
So we see a double insistence that women copy men: positive and negative. Movies urge the more positive characteristics, and the bedroom is where to copy the negative and selfish.
This places some expressions of egalitarianism in a mixed-up place: a good aim (honour women), with a poor method (be more like a man), based on a wrong idea (men and women are the same).
What should a Christian do? I’d say we should hold firmly to the right idea, and let methods and aims flow from that.
So, for instance, the biblical teaching honours the complementarity of male and female. There is difference, without separation. Male and female in Genesis 2 are both required, and not interchangeable – a reality that the Bible never abandons. The idea matters, because truth matters. As to a method of living out this reality … well, I promised a short piece – so that’s for another day!
The prevalence of pornography in our electronic age is an important matter for the whole of society, and even more so for Christians who know that sexuality is a wonderful gift from God that can be awfully twisted into ugliness.
Chester is not all about ‘a technique’ to stop porn in one’s life. But he does not mock techniques, either, but places them in a better whole-of-life context. Use the skills (like accountability software, etc), but use them as tools in the bigger picture of life with Christ.
Chester’s five broad topics are, in my words: hate porn, love God, trust God, actively avoid porn, get help. As is clear, there are reasons why, and there are tips how. And both are important.
Chester quotes extensively from people who completed an on-line survey for him, and this illustrates his points nicely while introducing a chatty feel to parts of the book. This complements the parts which are more solid sections of thoughtful argument.
I have a few criticisms, but none of them are major.
But to finish with negatives would be way off – this is a good book, on an important topic, written with gospel-shaped truth, which shows love to all touched by the damaging scourge of pornography.
But if you want to achieve something, be positive.
Influence is easy when you’re a critic. Dissatisfaction spreads like an infection. Look at the way of social media – posts get shares if there’s a government to complain about, a group to parody, or an opinion to twist. Likewise, the comment section of on-line news items is the best place to find new and creative insults (within the flood of predictable and misspelled old insults).
But it’s not just the on-line world. I’ve noticed that ‘negative vibes’ get traction in almost any group: sporting, community, workplace. Unlike physics, negative attracts negative.
If you want to be negative, the great thing is that there are two ways to choose. The obvious way is to openly complain, ‘Our manager has no idea about the work we do.’ Not bad for beginners.
The second way, and far more elegant, is stealth. Say nothing, but be a black cloud hanging over the group. No gossip, lies or statements, just a grumpy attitude. It’s almost guaranteed that people will catch your infection. And they will go with you in negativity. Congratulations, you’re a leader!
Therefore if your desire is to lead, the easiest option is to carp and criticise. If you want influence – and nothing more than influence – be a cynic. People will follow you, you will be an individual of influence.
On the other hand, if you want to make something happen, you will need to be positive. You will need to communicate a direction and a pathway ahead.
It’s positive to say, “We’re going to make this orchestra even better,” or, “We can get some more funding for this charity,” or, “Let’s use more of the skills in the team.”
This involves leadership, but not leadership for its own sake. It’s leading for the sake of the team, for the sake of others. Leading is tool for love.