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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Malcom Ponders the Origins of Evil

When God completed the physical creation as detailed in Genesis 1 He concluded the chapter with the words “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

So if every thing was hunky dory – why, apparently more or less immediately, did He let the serpent in on the action? (The serpent is defined in Rev. 12:9 as the devil or Satan)

There are only two choices – 1) He couldn’t stop him (which makes Satan more powerful than God,) or

2) He allowed him to entice Adam and Eve.

Now since Jesus walking the earth as a human –defeated Satan (albeit in a titanic struggle)– it hardly seems likely that Satan was able to impose his will at the beginning against God in his power and glory. So it appears God allowed the downfall of man , despite the immense cost to himself

For we read in Rev. 13:8, Jesus described as “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."

Whenever the foundation of the world was, it had to be before the first man and woman – so God knew what was going to happen – that Jesus would have to die for mankind on the cross – and He knew it at “the planning stage”

So perfect as the physical creation was, it was not the ultimate objective.

The ultimate objective seems to be Phi 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

We are to become like Christ – as Christians we are described as the body of Christ, and are also (as a church) described as the future bride of Christ, gifted with eternal life through the saving work of Jesus.

We are to be raised from death (or transformed in the twinkling of an eye) to have a spiritual body as Jesus did when resurrected. We are to live with God in eternity!

It’s just the bit in between the perfect physical creation and the final perfect spiritual creation that is a bit of a puzzle! And that is where we are now.

That’s life! – and fortunately Jesus is master of it!!


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Father Elijah writes on God's relationship with the Ancient Hebrews

The strange thing is that God starts a dialogue with that bunch of savages. He gets close to them, too close it seems. He sometimes seems to agree mysteriously with the violent wars of men and with the jealous intrigues of women…

Those Pharisees and other hypocrites who accuse Jesus of talking and eating with sinners, they should not have been surprised at all – God has been behaving scandalously for centuries! And amazingly, He actually did get somewhere with those savages. Slowly, always respecting their freedom, He managed to change their hearts and minds, thus preparing them for the Messiah and the final revelation of His true self. And then, in a very mysterious way, He took the total responsibility for His involvement in the dialogue when suffering atrociously on the Cross…

He sort of ‘over-wanted’ the will of His people, by seeing all things in an unknown eternal light, that was revealed at a horrible moment of darkness. His part in the dialogue of violence ended on the Cross where He was tortured to death by His own weight. And His final word about sexual abuse was a silent, deformed naked corpse – showing what abuse really means. I can only be astounded by God’s willingness to dialogue with His folk, and amazed by His strength to bear the consequences of their misunderstanding. It’s completely mad – it can’t be anything else but LOVE.

That’s why He is our Lord, at least my one. Because He dialogues with us today, much in the same way as He did before. He dialogues with the poor and the rich, with the whores, the thugs and also with the normal hard working and loving people. And moreover, with the light we have received, He now sends us to do the same as He did. Of course we think of ourselves as being more civilised as our forefathers. We damn well should be: with all we have received from our God and also from them… But anyway, we’ll need the same kind of dialogue as our forefathers. And we’ll have to look at our crucified Lord if we do not want to go insane. Or should I say: if we want to go mad with the same love as He did?

By the way, this is, objectively speaking, what I miss in the Koran – dialogue. The book of the Muslims is a monologue of God to men without questions. I don’t know what it means, but I just can’t believe in it as Gods word, and therefore I can not recognize the divine authority of Mohammed. But I do respect Muslims. I started to respect religion when I shared a dormitory with a fervent Muslim. He provoked me in a way Christians no longer dare to.

Here in the Caucasus the voice from the mosque of Nalchik, inviting to prayers, is extremely impressive. For me it’s the cry of Saint John the Baptist in the desert. It makes me want to go alone into the beautiful mountains to pray – which is just what I will be doing tomorrow.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Keith writes on Prayer

I have always found prayer problematic as there is no way of knowing whether there is any point to it, particularly intercessory prayer. Jacques Ellul, the great French philosopher/theologian, published a book on it where he came to the conclusion that we pray because we are commanded to. I found that helpful.

However, I try and pray every day for the people on my list. Yancey's insight about praying about what we should pray for is very relevant. As Christians, we should be praying that any situation will work itself out on the dual principles of love and justice. So often we pray for self-aggrandisement. I wrote a song on the working of the Holy Spirit. I said "It's not my social status or my bank account that grows when the Spirit moves." I was making a point against prosperity doctrine. You can quite definitely be praying for things that are against God's revealed principles on how he wants the world to operate. Such prayer I would think is a waste of time.

For myself, I pray for what I want, but more that I will be the person that God wants. A good part of my prayer for myself over the last two years has been that I would be able to forgive someone who wronged me. I did this because a friend waited a decent interval for my initial anger to receed and then challenged me; "And how are you going on forgiving him, Keith?" Very good question. Definitely God speaking through him.

There are different types of prayer. Some is formal. I read a Psalm and pray through a list, trying for at least every second day. Then there is the conversational prayer we do from moment to moment as situations arise. But I've also recently discovered the benefit of retreats and silence to let God speak. That takes a larger chunk of time and a bit of organisation.

The important thing to keep in mind is that we can say anything to God. There are no right or wrong prayers in that sense. As far as I know, the writer of Lamentations was not blasted for saying that God had taken his face and ground it into gravel, and the writer of Psalm 137 was not condemned for saying "Blessed is who takes the Babylonian child and dashes its head upon a rock." Theologically you can say that there are "wrong" prayers, but there are no wrong prayers emotionally. God will take and process all we can give him.