Monday, August 26, 2013

The plague of Pentecostalism

I was thinking about this interesting thing that's sweeping not only the New World, but has overtaken Africa with full force - Pentecostalism.
Forty years ago something like 3% of Christians in Brazil were Pentecostals, now it's up to something like 30%.
But is this really a wave of true Christianity sweeping over them, or is it merely a reaction against a Catholicism culture? I wonder.

It used to be that you paid monies to the Church in the form of tithes, indulgences, etc.
Now make God pay you! He's concerned about not just the eternal, but the here and now right? He wants us to be happy and have stuff.

It used to be that you looked forward to heaven, and regarded the eye blink of life with suspicion and patience.
Now that's all well and good, but shouldn't we also let the good times roll?!

It used to be that you had to empty yourself of your own evil passions and sinful desires, and press toward the goal.
Now forget that empty business, just pour in the good stuff and don't worry about all that stuffy repentance business.

It used to be that you said quiet, and overly still, and had to exercise tremendous self control.
Now you don't have to do any of that, if you want to bark like a dog, go ahead. If you want to roll around on the floor, go ahead. Let it out.

So I'm not a Catholic, and I'm not an Charismatic either. While I'm at it, I'll just go ahead and admit I don't fully understand either from the inside. But I do wonder if this surge of popularity is one part a cultural change like a pendulum swinging, and one part a result of making the gospel more attractive in all the wrong ways.
Now it might be that the Spirit of the Lord is moving powerfully among them, in which case they will begin to export excellent theology, deep sermons, and tremendously Godly pastors to minister to the world. But I have my money on it being a culture change that's tantamount to running in place.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Do it, if you can Abraham

Genesis 15:5 - And He brought him forth abroad, and said, "Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them."
And He said unto him, "So shall thy seed be."

There is an important pause here that merely looks like bad story telling when you read quickly.
I've inserted a line break to show the pause that indicates Abrahams obedience and reflection. He was given a command by God: consider, count, try.
And Abraham is completely unable to do it.

Now I think that the point of this passage is not on the number of offspring, but on his total inability to do the task. He flatly can't count that high and obey God. It's beyond him, above him, and God knows that. And in that way, that humble, hopeless way, his offspring shall come. Not by human ability, nor scheming, but by God's power. Abraham is being told of what is to come, not so much of how numerous his offspring would be, but of how the Messiah would come into the world, and into hearts. And once Abraham got that, once he pondered it and understood his helplessness, God told him the rest, "so shall thy Seed be."
 We are like Abraham in the same way that we can't do it. Justification is not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit. And once we understand that, we have Jesus right there to save us.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Man by nature

Men are born with two arms, two legs, two eyes, a mouth.
We have a propensity to wiggle, to look, to yell, right from the womb, putting these things to use instinctively as soon as we are able.

And just as surely as there are physical characteristics that make up a man there are invisible ones. By nature we all have a conscious to tell us right from wrong. We have natural language skills, able to grasp symbolic concepts by the combination of sounds. We are free moral agents, we cannot be coerced by others, our will is our very own. We have eternity put in our hearts by God, it causes us to see Him and known that at our deaths we will see Him for good or ill. We resent and despise authority, we go wayward speaking lies. We have lusts for sin. We are by nature little rational beings who over time come into full use of our faculties.

And this must be understood to rightly raise children. The crooked things must be straightened, the natural blessings must be fanned into true gifts. It is dependent on us as parents to treat them as the adults they will one day become, and give grace until they do. This is our calling.

Orthodoxy Chapter 5 - The Flag of the World

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