Year End E-Letter #3 – To Our Congregation

January 4, 2008

Dear Church Family,

This is the third in a series of year end reflections. I meant to get this out by the 1st. Oh well.

When I pause to think ahead into a new year about Covenant Fellowship, I do “wish” to see the things that I spoke about before in the first reflection, all of which amount to a thriving and fruitful small church ministry. OK, so I liked EF Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful,” I confess).

But when I stop to ponder the “why” question, the reason I would wish to see these things, it is the idea of giving “gifts” that comes to my mind mostly. We have, both individually and corporately, an opportunity to give many very important things to our community and our world. I think of these things as gifts. What are some of these “gifts”?

First and foremost I think we have the opportunity to give the gift of truth. I know it is culturally uncouth to suggest that one adheres to the truth, since that implies something about what others are adhering to, but if we are Christians we do by necessity believe that. We believe it humbly. We do not deserve to be “in the truth” or guardians of it. It is a calling we perhaps did not fully understand when we signed on so to speak. But in fact there is only one reason to be a Christian, and that is because Christianity, or the word of Christ, is true, that the Bible and the Scripture speak real truth from God to us and to the world. God has given us a great gift, this gift of truth, and he wants us to cherish it, to revel in it, to love it, and to share it.

Of course many of our dear friends, neighbors, workmates, and even family members bristle (or roll their eyes) at our claim to have access to true truth. Many believe that it is the height of hubris to make any philosophical or theological truth claim. I wonder if their deeply held agnosticism is held under the same scrutiny. It should be.

When I speak of the gift of truth I personally speak of the truth of the historic orthodox Christian faith as we have received it from the apostles in the word of our New Testament Scriptures, in the great historic ecumenical creeds which we share with our conservative Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox brethren, and in the corrections and adjustments gained in the period of the reformation. There is the basic biblical story of Creation, Fall, and Redemption. There is the ordered presentation of the person and work and nature of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. There is the invitation to seek the kingdom, the life of discipleship, justification, sanctification, and glorification, and so forth.

My dear brothers and sisters, with much sadness I have to say that even in the evangelical community itself, adherence to the truth of the word of God is slipping quickly, and even in our very own community there are deep threads of seriously bad stuff going around. Church growth schemes, prosperity gospels, Gnostic tendencies, and puny views of sanctification abound. I say none of that with any spirit of superiority or competition. I wish it weren’t so. But it is so, and thus we have a responsibility to be ambassadors of the biblical gospel all the more. We must be committed to be good and faithful stewards of what we have been given and to bear witness to the truth in our individual and corporate life. It is a gift we must give.

The second gift which we have to give is the gift of time. God has established the structures of creation by which we measure and think about time, and He has given to us insights as to how to redeem, or buy back from futility, the time we are given. Covenant Fellowship has a simple structure and fewer activities so that we may be free to give the gift of time to others.

Of course we want to see you use this opportunity to spend time with God. We want you to take time to rest. Of course we want you to spend time with your families. All this is part of life lived under the Lordship of Christ day to day. We also want to see you spend time with your friends, your workmates, and your neighbors. Being a “really serious” Christian does not equal never-ending busyness and frenetic lives on the treadmill of “Christian” activities. How can we be salt and light if we are not in the world, and if we do not give others the gift of our time? We have a longer gathering on Sundays, and fewer gatherings generally, for a reason, and that is, so we can – BOTH AT THE SAME TIME – have the ability to love and  to minister to one another, and still have enough time and energy left over for our families and neighbors. This time is a gift we have to give.

The third gift is related to the second. It is the gift of love and service. How do we redeem back time from futility? We love. We serve. Love and service in Christ’s name or motivated out of love for Him and reverence for the image of God in others. Live lived for Christ in love and service is life purchased back from the futility of the fall and the curse. It follows us forward into our future with Christ. And the difference it makes in the present, in the lives of others, is a real and truly substantial difference.

You know, when we came to name this new church the name with the second most “votes” was “Salt and Light” church. Now I am glad we didn’t adopt that name but the idea behind it is central. And I have to say, it is way easier to talk about than to do. Really reaching out to and loving and serving others, and in that is included the poor and needy in our community, is always easier to dream about than to do in real time. As has been said, it is easier to love the idea of humanity, or to daydream about some wonderful act of service, than it is to do it in reality. In reality it is work, day in and day out, necessary, crucial, and significant work. We are meant to have and to take the time for this work. We do this work day to day in our families, in and through our relationships with our neighbors, and in and through our vocations, and in and through our avocations and serve in the community, and even in and through the time we give to help and love those far away.

The fourth gift which we have to give to the watching world is the gift of our own community life. That is, we as a community following after our Master as He taught us to do. This gift is given through our love, mutual service, and forbearance and forgiveness one-to-another. Jesus said “love one another as I have loved you and by this the world may know that you are my disciples.” Related to that he prayed for us that “we would be one” and that in our oneness the world would see that Jesus is from the Father. This is serious business. In our mutual love and unity we show our community in a very real and tangible way the reality of our own profession as disciples, but more importantly, the reality of the person of Jesus as being from the Father. In giving this gift we are involved in calling the world back to its real humanity. That is what we are seeking to exemplify in our life together. We are seeking to reflect redeemed human life (which can only be reflected in community) and in and through that the person and nature of our Master, the true image of God. Because of the manner in which our culture now processes ideas or propositions (not very well), for many people it is only the tangible example of a different way of being human persons that gets through. And this is really the point. We are meant in our community as we follow Jesus together to be also showing to ourselves and others what it means to be a human being. Wow.

Even when we fail, and we hurt one another, we are given the chance to show others what difference life in Christ can make. We repent. We forgive. We have to stand against the tide of self oriented consumerist living, and we do this in our service to others outside the church as well as in our love to one another inside. We don’t walk out on other people because they are difficult or because they inconvenience us. We don’t market Christ to a small specially selected subgroup of people. We love and respect people of all ages, and honor their contributions, and their spiritual temperaments and gifts. I would mention our intergenerational emphasis here. It is not some gimmick we created to try to be different. We cannot imagine real Christian community apart from it. It is profoundly counter cultural even within the culture of the church these days. It is part and parcel of loving one another as Jesus first loved us. Being intergenerational means that everybody has to give a little and no one gets everything their way. It is the way of Jesus I believe, and the watching world needs to see it in action.

The fifth gift we can give is the gift of our worship.  The apostle Paul speaks about what non believers see and experience when they worship in our midst. Interestingly his comments are “seeker sensitive” and yet about as opposite to the seeker sensitive approach to worship these days as one could possibly imagine. He wants the church in Corinth in their gathering together to have such a transparent sense of seriousness and adoration of God and willingness to confess and repent of their sins, such a deep commitment to speaking and sharing the truth, that the watching unbeliever will be struck deep in his conscience by the truth of the gospel, brought to conviction, and caused to bow and give glory to God.

We never ever know who may show up when we gather. We are to be deeply honoring and appreciative of any who join us. We are to love them. We are not to put on a show for them. We are to do what is right to do when we gather, to do it with joy and seriousness, not to show off but to be what we are called to be. We are to worship with earnestness. People sense if we really mean it or not.

I would add that our Open Time offers unique opportunity for us to model the kind of dynamic we see in 1st Corinthians 14. I continue to pray and hope that we could see that time as being as significant as the rest of our time together, not just for sharing needs, though that is important, but also for giving thanks, making testimony of God’s work in our lives, sharing insights from Scripture, confessing our sins, seeking forgiveness, and all sorts of other things. We should never forget that people are watching and listening. It is right that they do. We do not live our lives before Christ off in a corner. We want people to come and worship with us and see that we really mean business before our great and wonderful God.

I know, I could name other gifts. But these are the five that come to my mind as I look ahead to the opportunity that God has given to us by giving us another year of life and service together. We are not given another year before Him just to kill time until He returns. Our lives, and our lives together, are filled with purpose. Let us redeem the time together, buying it back from futility, and go into this new year of life bearing gifts.

In Christ,

Joel

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Year End E-Letter # 1 – To Our Congregation

January 4, 2008

Dear Congregation, 

If you would be so kind as to bear with me, and read these reflections, I feel led to offer a few pastoral thoughts at the close of 2007. Some relate to our future together, some to my past as a Christian, some to our personal and collective habits. Most include a little of each. This is reflection number one!

I wanted to talk a little in this message about giving, but not really for the reasons you might think. I realize that we have an elder reminder out there as to our year-end finances, and I do hope we can, together,  heed those words, but that’s not what this message is about.

We are a giving body. This has shown itself over and over again in a multitude of ways. Christians are to be a giving people. There are so many people and ministries and needs that pique our giving interest. I give thanks for how giving you are.

People often ask me about tithing. I have expressed my views on that subject a multitude of times, and for clarification have attached the outline of a sermon I did on the subject June a year ago as I was finishing up the series on the Ten Commandments.

You know, whatever our view about tithing, the New Testament calls us to a much more radical kind of sacrificial giving. So, however we understand tithing and its application in the church today, it is pretty much a minimum in the New Testament approach to giving.

I cannot myself say with assurance, so as to bind the conscience, that specific Old Testament tithing laws carry over to the New Testament era. However, I do strongly believe that the idea behind the tithe, that of “first fruits giving” is timeless. I spoke much of that in the attached outline.

The common practice all over the world, supported by churches of all sorts, including para-church ministries and mission agencies, is that tithing 10% to the local church provides a good solid basis (and beginning) for how we may give, and also provides a foundation from which we may expand outward in giving to include giving to the poor, giving to missionaries, giving toward special congregational needs, etc. Tithing 10% as a basis for giving has been my life practice, and I commend it highly no matter where you live or go to church. The core spiritual benefit of giving away the first tenth (as a kind of “first fruits” giving) is that of relinquishing control, of giving a thing over to God, of “letting go” of the first and the best as a symbol of God’s ownership over the whole. Thus in the OT we see the tithe being taken into the temple storehouse. In the NT we see a similar thing as people laid their gifts at the feet of the apostles to distribute as the apostles discerned need. In terms of our first fruits giving, I don’t think it is in our spiritual interest to be over calculated or meticulous about it.  Just give it up, let go of it, and let God have it. The general wisdom of the church for a very long time has been to do this “first fruits” giving via giving to the local church.

I see this level of giving as just the starting point. More and more in my life I want to see my “above and beyond” giving grow and grow. How often do we take extra income and just convert it to higher spending. I think God wants us to establish a humble basis point for our own needs, and to give generously and joyfully beyond that into the wealth of opportunities that are out there. For myself this means true sacrifice in the present as our family tries to cut back in order to be better stewards of what God has given to us. I know many are in the same boat.

A conversation recently caused me to reflect on what I would like to see in our collective future as a local church. I wrote some things out, and then realized that a good deal of it had to do with opportunities for ministry (and for giving more to others) that would be there for us if we were a little larger in people and in offerings. And no, I am not talking about a building fund or my own salary.

I think we need to do a better job communicating our official church vision, not only to people who have never visited, but also to our own congregation. Currently our church vision is being updated, and one goal of that will be to compose a summary statement that enables everyone to be able better to articulate what we’re about.  I also refer to communicating better as to the things we as a church may really want to be able to do, any or all of which may require both more people and (gasp) more money.

But what I am talking about right now, though it may overlap with the official church vision, or what the church may need to better communicate on an ongoing basis, is a different sort of thing. It is more a personal mental picture of what I would like to see looking ahead.

I have written down my own “daydream” so as to give you a sense of what I have in mind. This is not official. It’s just stuff rattling around in my head. But these are some of the things I’d like to see or envision looking down the road a bit – things I would like to see in our church future – and things that I am personally inclined to pray for. Notice how “giving” connects with a lot of this stuff:

1. A church with an updated vision!

2.  A church with maybe 10 to 20 more families than now, as many as can reasonably fit into our present meeting place, or one of similar size (in case we ever get the boot!).

3. A church with the financial ability not only to support a pastor but also with the ability to significantly help sponsor or support one or two missionaries, give more generously to the ARP general fund, fund short term mission trips, have an Erskine tuition fund,  give generously to local ministries and needs, have the means to buy or develop material to better help equip our congregation biblically and theologically.

4. A church that still has the blessings that come with being a small church (such as being able to “do outreach” without regard to how it pays for the mortgage, and such as the relational advantages).

5. A church that is able to contribute significantly to the general cause of the historic orthodox Christian faith through books, writings, web sites, etc. of many of its members.

6. A church that publishes a CD of original worship songs as a gift to the general church at large.

7. A church that is more racially and ethnically mixed, with the various blessings that that brings.

8. A church that is a little less shy about being reformed (“reformed” in the broader covenantal and “Jesus as Lord over all of life” sense, and not just in the classic “five points” sense, though being less shy regarding a kindly JI Packer version of the latter would be cool too).

9. A church that makes a real difference and which offers real leadership in standing up for Christ and for Christian orthodoxy in a city whose evangelical church as a whole, quite frankly, and most sadly, a little theologically rotten. I am still trying to figure out the deal with Greensboro, and after 18 years here I am making some progress.

10. A church that can, through literature, consulting, and perhaps very direct aid and help advance the cause of small relational churches like ours.

11. A church where the pastor (and many others too) can more easily get away for teaching and equipping, such as going to L’Abri or Ligonier conferences, Regent or RTS or Erskine Summer Schools, etc.

12. A church that has the means financially to fulfill its vision in areas of worship (sometimes equipment is needed), evangelism (sometimes brochures and advertising are needed), teaching and equipping, (sometimes more books, videos, and access to online resources or software are needed), etc.

I am sure that 12 more things could come to mind. I imagine a bustling small church really, with the opportunities that having more people and more money bring, and yet also the blessings that being small and not having huge fixed facility costs bring, that is, the blessing of doing ministry in the community and world without care as to how it contributes to our bottom line.

So, that’s what I would like to see as I look ahead.

Thus ends year end refection number one.

Joel

 

 

 


The Christian Heresy of Antinomianism, Reprise

September 19, 2007

Well, after a long late spring/summer of relative inactivity on this site, it’s time to finish a few things previously begun. One of those things is a series I began in February on the Christian heresy of “Antinomianism.” I posted two general reflections on the subject in February, then got off on a tangent regarding Gnosticism and Antinomianism, and never got back to the general topic, which I now plan to do. But, to keep things current, I am re-posting the content of the first two writings again. They are below.

This week has reminded me afresh of the fact that this is THE central heresy of Protestant Evangelicalism in the early 21st century, and is profoundly rooted in Evangelical church in Greensboro, and I simply cannot sit on my hands and not address it.

Posted February 1, 2007

Back in the fall, before the election, in the aftermath of the sex scandal that hit the news regarding the evangelical pastor in Colorado, I framed that matter within the context of a heresy that has been running rampant in the evangelical church over the last decade or more, and which I described as the definitive Christian heresy of our day. I said I would go into it more later. Well, “later” is rather vague, and today qualifies as “later.”

This heresy is the heresy of “Antinomianism.”

The problem for me as I thought about writing on this subject on several occasions, is that Antinomianism is complicated. It has many forms. And, to make things more interesting it has wedded itself to a modern cheap version of good old fashioned Gnosticism. Add to that the fact that theologically “liberal” mainline chuches are almost all inherently antinomian, and one ends up in a complicated mess.

So I just decided, rather than developing some definitive outline, that I would just start writing and get to it all some how and some way.

Antinomianism has an etymological definition of sorts. It also has a particular definition within the stream of Protestant theology. And, it has kind of on-the-ground practical meaning. These all are related but different.

Etymologically of course the word just means “against-law” or “anti-law.” But because the word “law” itself is so terribly complicated, having so many different meanings (natural law, the moral law, the Old Testament “law” or Torah, the principle of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps in order to make God happy, etc.), I find even the word “law” not helpful in a contemporary context.

The basic idea of Antinomianism is this: a Christian is not required to be obedient to the commands of Christ and the apostles to be “saved.” Put another way, obedience is not a necessary part of Christian salvation. Put yet another way, one can be “declared righteous” without the need of “becoming righteous.”

In the Evangelical subculture and world view, that is, as it has been perverted and twisted by various forces of late, this means that there is a mindset regarding “knowing God,” “going to heaven,” and “being saved” that excludes the necessity of personal transformation. It involves a twisted and unbiblical view of God’s grace and its purpose and goal, and it creates a lingo maybe best articulated in various Nashville country songs that touch on Christian spirituality. It is amazingly parallel to declining standards in many other areas of our culture, such as in education, and as in cultural mores regarding sex and sexuality.

And lastly, for this first installment, it has devastated our own community, yes, the Evangelical community of Greensboro, and the possible greater positive impact such a community could have had on the city at large. It has been undermining many churches, ripping apart families, ruining pastorates, and rendering the collective witness of our Evangelical churches close to nil. It has undermined the ability of the Christian church to have any credible say in the important community-wide debates of the day. It has given permission to thousands upon thousands of Christians to be ignorant of their own Bibles and Christian theology in general, land azy as to understanding of the philosophical and cultural movements that impact Christianity. It has made Evangelicals as narcissistic and situational as the surrounding culture, and thoughtlessly accommodating of Christianized Madison avenue fads fed to them in Christian bookstores. This has all rendered the Protestant Christian church progressively more impotent and irrelevant.

And sadly, most sadly perhaps, it has left thousands upon thousands of people thinking they are Christians when they are not, and more thousands upon thousands of Christians without (paradoxically) deep assurance and power of witness.

There are so many subtle and complex nuances to this that it will take me many writings to bang it out as best as I can. I hope someone will throw questions my way as I go along, and I will do my best to answer them as I go.

Posted February 2, 2007

As we continue in this ongoing series on the Christian heresy of Antinomianism, I want to draw your attention to a short but excellent treatment of it in a well know evangelical book written in the 1990’s. 

J. I. Packer, in his excellent 1993 book, ‘Concise Theology,” still in print and available to purchase, devotes an entire chapter to “Antinomianism.” He does this in the section on the Christian life. He also has a chapter on “Legalism.” I find it interesting that of all the particular heresies of the church over the ages that he could have spent chapters addressing, he chooses these two. 

His chapter on Antinomianism is subtitled “We Are Not Set Free to Sin.” His chapter on Legalism is subtitled “Working for God’s Favor Forfeits It.” 

I have said that Antinomianism is a many headed monster, and is complex in its association with other modern cultural philosophical and spiritual tendencies. Hopefully I will get to all these in time. But I thought it would be worth noting the six manifestations of Antinomianism that Packer delineates. I will quote him in full as regards each manifestation. I will have much more to say later regarding each of Packer’s manifestations, and will throw in a few of my own observed manifestations as well. 

1. Dualistic Antinomianism 

“Dualistic antinomianism appears in the Gnostic heretics against whom Jude and Peter wrote (Jude 4-19; 2 Peter 2). This view sees salvation as for the soul only, and bodily behavior as irrelevant both to God’s interest and to the soul’s health, so one may behave riotously and it will not matter.”

2. Spirit-Centered Antinomianism 

“Spirit-centered antinomianism outs such trust in the Holy Spirit’s inward prompting as to deny any need to be taught by the law how to live. Freedom from the law as a way of salvation is assumed to bring with it freedom from the law as a guide to conduct. In the first 150 years of the Reformation era this kind of antinomianism often threatened, and Paul’s insistence that a truly spiritual person acknowledges the authority of God’s Word through Christ’s apostles (1 Cor. 14:37; cf. 7:40) suggests that the Spirit-obsessed Corinthian church was in the grip of the same mind set.”

3. Christ-Centered Antinomianism

 “Christ-centered antinomianism argues that God sees no sin in believers, because they are in Christ, who kept the law for them, and therefore what they actually do makes no difference, providing that they keep believing. But 1 John 1:8-2:1 (expounding 1:7) and 3:4-10 point in a different direction, showing that it is not possible to be in Christ and at the same time to embrace a sinful way of life.”

 4. Dispensational Antinomianism

“Dispensational antinomianism holds that keeping the moral law is at no stage necessary for Christians, since we live under a dispensation of grace, not of law. Romans 3:31 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly show, however, that law keeping is a continuing obligation for Christians. “I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law,” says Paul (1 Cor. 9:21).”

5. Dialectical Antinomianism

“Dialectical antinomianism, as in Barth and Brunner, denies that biblical law is God’s direct command and affirms that the Bible’s imperative statements trigger the Word of the Spirit, which when it comes may or may not correspond exactly to what is written. The inadequacy of the neo-orthodox view of biblical authority, which explains the inspiration of Scripture in terms of the Bible’s instrumentality as a channel for God’s present day utterances to his people, is evident here.”

6. Situationist Antinomianism

“Situationist antinomianism says that a motive and intention of love is all that God now requires of Christians, and the commands of the Decalogue and other ethical parts of Scripture, for all that they are ascribed to God directly, are mere rules of thumb for loving, rules that love may at anytime disregard. But Romans 13:8-10, to which this view appeals, teaches that without love as a motive these specific commands cannot be fulfilled. Once more an unacceptably weak view of Scripture surfaces.”

(Me here, not Packer) I will try to draw these out further and apply them to our current situation, as well as throw in some additional nuances, as I go along. Since 1993 the spirit of Antinomianism amongst Western Protestants has grown exponentially, absorbing and co-opting more and more anti Christian and anti-Biblical world views and perspectives, being aided greatly by Madison Avenue takeovers of Christian publishing houses, and of late the new and hip and trendy “emerging church” movement. All in good time….

 


Evangelicals and the Environment – Reprise

September 17, 2007

Quite a while back I published a piece entitled “The Christian and the Environment – Top Ten Reasons Evangelical Christians Should Care About the Earth, and All Things In It.”

I had planned to publish a separate post about each one of these ten points, and did publish one, but then I went through a blogging dry spell. The recent Haw River Park controversy has me in a bit of a lather, and I want to address that issue from the broader and more principled stand point of our shared human need for open space and unsullied environments. But before I did that I wanted to republish my “Top Ten.” Here they are, not really in any order:

“The Christian and the Environment – Top Ten Reasons Evangelical Christians Should Care About the Earth, and All Things In It.”

1. Love of God demands it. We must care for God’s good earth because God does. We cannot love God with all of our hearts if we mistreat His world in our sloppiness, carelessness, ugliness, and greed. Period.

2. Passion for God’s glory motivates it. Creation is God’s master work which He declared to be “very good,” and it is meant to reflect His glory; when we despoil it in our greed or carelessness or callousness we rob God of glory due His name.

3. Our stated life purpose requires it. We were given very clear instructions to be stewards of His earth. This is clear both in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. It’s like, duh!

4. Love of neighbor inspires it. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, which means that we care about his or her well being as much as our own. This includes what he or she has to breath, drink, look at, work in, or play in. We cannot love our neighbor and not care about the environment he or she has to inhabit.

5. Integrity screams for it. To act and live in integrity and love toward our descendants requires that we leave to them beauty, biodiversity, and ample resources for them to use and enjoy. Personally I am a little peeved at my ancestors for wiping out the Dodo Bird, the Wooly Mammoth, the Passenger Pigeon, and, possibly, the Ivory Bill Woodpecker. Shame on them. Why would I do the same to my children and my children’s children?

6. God’s love for all creation points to it. God so lovingly cares for all of His wonderful creatures – and we should too. ‘”If not a sparrow falls…” If you’re in doubt about this read Genesis One and Two, and then Psalm 104.

7. Spiritual health requires it. How many times have you taken a personal day, a day of spiritual retreat, and then set up a chair in a parking lot? Enough said.

8. Physical health requires it. I mean that not only in the more obvious sense that breathing foul air, eating lead paint, and drinking polluted water is bad for us. I also mean it in the sense that the chemicals and proteins found in a biologically diverse environment may well hold the key to curing all or most major diseases eventually.

9. Consistency demands it. How can evangelicals have any credibility as we strive to protect unborn human children if we are callous about the air children will breathe, the water they will drink, the poverty under which they will suffer, or the ugliness they will inherit and endure. The two go together.

10. Justice cries out for it. Those who suffer the most from foul air, foul water, and ugliness are those who cannot afford “alternatives.” Environmental degradation hurts the poorest people the most. Care for creation is a justice issue.

And that’s it!


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September 16, 2007

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So Says Screwtape

August 11, 2007

A friend sent this to me yesterday. It is worth a read, and consideration.

In his “Screwtape Letters”  the main character, the demon Screwtape, instructs his apprentice Wormwood as to why God sends us dry times.

“He [God] will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives.

“He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs; to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be.

“Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual temptation, because we design them for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better.

“He cannot ‘tempt’ them to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there, He is pleased even with their stumbles.

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”


I Suck at Blogging

August 11, 2007

 

I suck at blogging. Or maybe I just suck. Or maybe blogging sucks. Or maybe all of the above.

I can’t find traction. I am too disorganized. I can’t stay with things. I suck at this.

Yeah, yeah, I’m smart all that, and am good at cutting up stupid arguments. So what? I mean, is that a virtue?

This is the same dilemma I faced with my life when I was 20. Did I want to be a lawyer? Did I want to spend my life arguing?

What does God want me to do here with this? Anything? I mean, ideally I would like to make a positive contribution to the well being of the reader and the community. But who am I really to do that? Half the time I need the same lift I would want to give. It is a dry time, and I walk through a desert. I’d like some sort of meaningful dialogue that does not deteriorate into the usual left/right, conservative/liberal arguments. I just don’t know if that is possible.

It seems that you’re either really controversial and feisty, or at least highly engaged and on the cutting edge of the issues and arguments and controversies of the moment, and people read you, or you’re not and they don’t. Or you’re really good at surfing the internet for clever articles to back up your viewpoints. I am totally not into that. The talking heads put me to sleep.

I don’t feel like arguing. But then, I cherish that in which I believe, and it is very hard to just sit there while people take shots at it without check. I don’t mind reasoned critique. But there seems little of that online. Mostly worn out clichés.

I’m needing to decide if it’s worth the time and effort to keep this going. Even when I am doing nothing, the bare existence of a blog unused makes me feel guilty for not using it. And if I only write every few weeks nobody will read it anyway. So, what to do…