Thursday, June 27, 2013

Come let us reason apart...

The one thing that the Lord could count on from his fallen creatures was that we would not be able to cope with his presence and love, and that we would do everything within our power to escape them both, including twisting his Word into religions custom-designed by our fallen minds to keep the Lord at a distance.— The Shack Revisited, page 178

Where do your thoughts go?

Some, and I fear a multitude which no man can easily number, there are amongst us, who call themselves Christians, and yet seldom or never seriously think of Jesus Christ at all. They can think of their shops and their farms, their plays, their balls, their assemblies, and horse-races (entertainments which directly tend to exclude religion out of the world); but as for Christ, the author and finisher of faith, the Lord who has bought poor sinners with his precious blood, and who is the only thing worth thinking of, alas! he is not in all, or at most in very few of their thoughts.—George Whitefield

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Made in our image

In our pain, we, like Adam, have condemned ourselves, created a god in the image of our shame and handcrafted religions to go with it, all of which we project onto the Father and defend with a vengeance.— The Shack Revisited, page 172

<idle musing>
I'm proofreading a book on the history of Christianity right now, so I can verify that we defend false doctrine with a vengeance! : (
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

And what about the Fall?

The problem of the Fall, of evil and sin, is not simply that there has been disobedience to a divine command. The problem is that Adam is now so lost in his own fallen mind that he is utterly incapable of relationship with the Lord. How could he possibly trust the God of his broken imagination? Trapped in the tragic nightmare of his self-referential confusion, he has become the judge, and in his judgment, he believes that the Lord is the enemy to be feared and avoided. He is ashamed of himself and terrified of God. He hides.

The hiding of Adam—from the presence of the concerned and caring Lord—tells us that the Fall, at the very least, is about a terrible twisting of human perception, about an alien, ungodly confusion that so warped Adam's fundamental way of thinking that he actually hid from the greatest friend in the universe—and believed he was right.— The Shack Revisited, page 170

<idle musing>
And we still hide. We think that we can fix ourselves and then we'll be good enough for God. It doesn't work that way...we'll never be "good enough for God." And the wonderful thing is that we don't have to be; "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!" What a blessed promise that is!
</idle musing>

Monday, June 24, 2013

The effect of the love of Christ

is practical, as Finney notes:
Oh, when this love has taken its effect on our hearts, how deeply do we feel that we can not hate any one for whom Christ died? Then instead of selfishly thrusting our neighbor off, and grasping the good to which his claim is fully as great as ours, we love him with a love so deep and so pure that it can not be in our heart to do him wrong.—Charles Finney

What happened?

For Anselm, the problem of sin lay in the fact that it was committed against the great King, the eternal God himself, and therefore even the smallest sin necessarily carried the weight of an eternal offense. But in the Garden of Eden, it is difficult to find such an offended God, or to see sin being weighed over against God's eternal worth. We see the Lord, who by our way of thinking, should have been highly offended, and who had every right to curse Adam, and destroy him utterly—but he didn't. We see the Lord putting aside all his rights to abstract justice and punishment, and we see him more concerned about his lost and terrified creatures than he is about his honor.— The Shack Revisited, pages 169-170

<idle musing>
That statement is bound to get some people riled up! But, look at the text. As I've said for years now, God doesn't curse humanity in Genesis 3; he provides for a future and a hope of restoration in the forthcoming Messiah. It takes a while to get there, but Jesus' coming is there from the beginning...
</idle musing>

Friday, June 21, 2013


This is the problem with evil and sin. The impossible has happened: the truth about the love of the Lord is eclipsed, so eclipsed it has now become inconceivable. A profound blindness has taken over Adam's mind. He cannot see the Father's face. There is now a terrible incongruence between the being and character of God as Father, Son, and Spirit and the divine being that Adam perceivesand believes God to be. And for Adam, and indeed for all of us, the God of our imaginations is the only way God can be. Any other God is inconceivable.

From this moment, our shame will disfigure the Father's heart. The projections of our fear will rewrite the rules of his care. He will continue to bless us beyond our wildest dreams, but in our mythology we will never see it.— The Shack Revisited, page 166

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thought for today

What is it? Does it really lead them to purify themselves as Christ is pure? Nothing like it. It is not a hope that they shall see Christ as He is, and be forever with Him, and altogether like Him too, but it is mainly a hope that they shall escape hell, and go as an alternative to some unknown heaven.

Such professed Christians can not but know that their experience lacks the witness of their own consciences that they are living for God and bearing His image. If such are ever saved, they must first be convinced of the folly of a hope that leaves them unsanctified.—Charles Finney

The lie

He [Satan] confuses us so that we willingly, though perhaps unwittingly, give ourselves to operate in his diabolical matrix of unbelief, confusion, and meaningless darkness. And so he finds a place for his dastardly and perverse ways in the good creation of the triune God.

His chief deception is to invite us to doubt the Lord's goodness, creating insecurity and anxiety in us, which in turn drives us into independent action. All this is then shrewdly woven into the lie that we are separated from the triune God.— The Shack Revisited, page 164

<idle musing>
And it is terribly effective, isn't it?

Repeat after me, "God is love!" But do we really believe that?
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Idle musings on miscellaneous things

I was musing the other day about some of the thoughts that run through my head as I do the maintenance and housekeeping around here. It's interesting what happens when you cross my ANE/biblical studies training and background with "real" life; here's a sampling...

<idle musings>
This winter, while I was digging through a 3-4 foot tall, 6-10 foot wide snowbank, I kept reciting the Hezekiah Tunnel Inscription. It didn't make the shoveling any easier, but it made it seem smaller :)

Last week, as I was sweeping gravel off the driveway running between the cabins, I couldn't help but think I was fighting against Yammu, pushing him back into the sea. The words of Isaiah about setting a boundary for the sea kept coming to mind. At least we know that YHWH's decree stands. Mine, commanding the rocks to stay off the drive certainly won't!

Two nights ago, as I was forking a new bed for the garden, I hit an especially dense section of sod. As I pushed back on the fork, breaking the sod's roots, the whole section lifted up, well beyond the fork's tines! Reminded me of Amos 8:8, "The whole land will rise like the Nile" (and somewhere in Isaiah, too).

I guess I just think in mythopoetic ways...or maybe I have a misdirected sense of what's important? : )

Just some
</idle musings>

Thought for the day

How remarkable that persons will claim to be Christians when they have rejected every distinctive doctrine of Christianity. Indeed, such persons do sometimes claim that by thus rejecting almost the whole of the Bible, and all its great scheme of salvation by an atonement, they have become real Christians. Now they have got the true light. Indeed!

Sinners are very apt to suppose that they do believe the Gospel. They confound faith with a merely intellectual assent, and so blind themselves as to suppose that they believe God in the sense of Gospel faith.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
And it's not just sinners who "confound faith with a merely intellectual assent"! Would that it were, because then coming to know Jesus would cure us all!
</idle musing>

Center of focus

Without seeing Jesus as the center of all things, we are doomed to live without hope in an essentially joyless and meaningless cosmos. But seeing Jesus, and ourselves and all creation gathered in him, and included in his relationship with his Father and his anointing in the Holy Spirit, is seeing “the light of life.”— The Shack Revisited, page 159

<idle musing>
And who wants to live without hope?! Especially when the alternative is life with God!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thought for a Tuesday in June

So long as we think of God only as One to be feared, not to be loved, there will be a prejudice against Him as more an enemy than a friend.—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
With a God like that, you might want to be saved (just to avoid hell), but you certainly won't want communion and fellowship, will you? And, you won't believe that his plans for your life are happy ones...God's will for you will become something burdensome and wearying—just the opposite of what scripture says!
</idle musing>

A sad turn of events

When legal holiness became the foundation for our idea of God, the biblical story was reframed in terms of law, guilt, and punishment. God is holy (legally speaking). We have failed; there must be restitution. The story of Jesus' coming and death then followed this larger story, and his death was understood as God's punishment for our sins.— The Shack Revisited, page 130

<idle musing>
And that was a very sad change! It affects our theology to this day here in the west...
</idle musing>

Monday, June 17, 2013

Law or grace?

If relationship is not the deepest truth of God's being, then the holiness of God is not a relational idea at all. And if holiness is not a description of the utter uniqueness of the trinitarian life, what is it? The door is now wide open for our idea of holiness to be filled with all manner of notions. And that is what has happened in our Western conversation. The holiness of God was detached from the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and reconceived within the world of Roman law, becoming a legal idea. Instead of holiness being a name for the incomparable love of the Father, Son, and Spirit, it became a matter of law, morality, and ethical perfection...— The Shack Revisited, page 129

No magic pills...

You cannot buy your health; you must earn it through healthy living. Visiting physicians, acupuncturists, chiropractors, homeopaths, naturopaths, osteopaths, and other health providers cannot make you healthy. You can receive symptomatic relief for your condition, but treatments do not make you healthy.—Eat to Live, page 171

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Oh blessed thought

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. (Isaiah 43:25 NIV)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What a relief!

The doctrine of the Trinity means that God is a relational being—always has been, and always will be. Relationship, fellowship, self-giving, and other-centeredness are not afterthoughts with God, but the deepest realities of the divine Being. For the Father, Son, and Spirit it is always about love, relationship, and sharing life, not about what they can get from us. We were created that we could be, that we could live and share in the life and joy of the triune God. Jesus' Father is not holding his breath to see if we will jump through the right hoops before he decides our fate. There is no list. We are not here to “glorify God” by our religious performance. We are here to live “in the glory” of the blessed Trinity.— The Shack Revisited, pages 120-121

The evidence is there

Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supported in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) as their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study.—Eat to Live, page 101

<idle musing>
But it took about 40 years for people to accept that you shouldn't smoke in public—and cigarette smokers were in the minority! How long will it be before people are willing to accept a whole-foods, plant-based diet? I suspect never! Unless the unsustainableness of the thing forces the issue...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The great exchange

The Father, Son, and Spirit love us for our benefit, not for increasing their membership rolls, or for making themselves look good, or for anything they can get from us. There is no need in the blessed Trinity. It is an overflowing fountain of other-centered love. The shared life of the Father, Son, and Spirit is about giving, not taking; sharing, not hoarding; blessing others with life for their sake, not manipulating for divine control. The Father, Son, and Spirit are focused upon giving themselves for our benefit, so that we, too, can experience real life. They need nothing in return.— The Shack Revisited, page 120

<idle musing>
I like that! The terms of the exchange are great: They love us! And they give us love so we can return that love to them and to each other! What a God we have!
</idle musing>

And where do you eat?

In 1978, 18 percent of calories were eaten away from home; the figure is now 36 percent. In 1970, Americans ate 6 billion fast-food meals. By 2000, the figure was 110 billion.—Eat to Live, page xviii

<idle musing>
I wonder what the figure is now? It's definitely higher; the economic slump didn't keep people from eating out, it just caused them to transfer it to cheaper places...
</idle musing>

Monday, June 10, 2013


Are we loved for what we can potentially bring to God's table, or are we loved for our own sake? Does the love of he Father, Son, and Spirit come with strings attached? Is our existence about relationship, or is it about performance? Is the universe the product of divine self-interest, or need, or perhaps boredom? Are we here to do something for God, for God's benefit?— The Shack Revisited, page 118

<idle musing>
In some people's theology, that's the way we are viewed. It certainly isn't biblical, though...
</idle musing>

Things that make you go hmmm...

How many baked potatoes do you think you can eat to get the same amount of fat as in 1 teaspoon of olive oil? If you said 70, you are right. Which do you think will make you feel more satisfied, one teaspoon of oil or 70 baked potatoes?— Fasting and Eating for Health, page 189

<idle musing>
Indeed! What's for breakfast? 140 baked potatoes! Or a three egg omelet fried in 2 tablespoons of oil (which is about how much they use in a restaurant—believe me, I was a grill-fry cook!). I'll take the potatoes, myself—but that should feed me for about 4 months of wonder over half of Americans are overweight.
</idle musing>

What are you doing today?

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:8-11 NIV)

<idle musing>
As I read this today I realized how little I really love God. It should be my heart's desire to do this very thing. But is it?

Lord, kindle this desire within me!
</idle musing>

Friday, June 07, 2013

What is a person?

I suspect that part of the difficulty surrounding the Spirit is the way we in the West think of a person. According to Boethius's famous (or infamous) definition, a person is “an individual substance of a rational nature.” But what if instead of trying to fit the Holy Spirit into this definition of a person and finding her [he follows the Hebrew in referring to the Spirit as feminine] wanting, we reversed the order and let the Spirit expand our ideas of personhood? The Spirit is profoundly other-centered, humble, patient, and good. She loves communication, fellowship, and togetherness. Perhaps we need to modify our notion of personhood to include being a facilitator of fellowship. Perhaps a real person is not simply an individual substance of a rational nature, but one who loves bringing others together to share life, an individual who is other-centered, relational, and full of passion for communion.— The Shack Revisited, page 104

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Revelation (not the book!)

Revelation is not a thing or a doctrine, mere information that can be transmitted from mind to mind. Revelation involves the unveiling or uncovering of God's Self in personal disclosure. What one encounters in revelation is not simply facts about God, or even accurate information, but God in person. Revelation involves an encounter with the person beyond the words, and gives rise to communion.— The Shack Revisited, page 79

<idle musing>
I read a few years ago about a theologian who said we tend to think of people as "brains on a stick" and that was the source of our errors...Communion—fellowship, oneness, theosis—that's what God is all about! Give me more, Lord!
</idle musing>

People of the lie

The message that people hear is that it is okay to continue with their present diet, as long as they supplement with vitamin pills or other nutritional supplements. This is a powerful lie, but it is attractive because it is what people in general want to believe. However, you cannot achieve optimal wellness as long as present-day dietary habits continue— Fasting and Eating for Health, page 49

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

I believe in God the Father...

We're starting a new book today, The Shack Revisited. A few months ago, Debbie was in a big box retail store (not Walmart! We don't shop there...) and saw a book display. She picked up a few books, this one among them. When she brought them home, I started reading this one. I thought readers of this blog might enjoy some snippets...(by the way, if you don't like T.A. Torrence's Trinitarian theology, you won't like these excerpts; the author of the book did his Ph.D. under James and Thomas Torrence).
Jesus lives by relating to God as his Father, by seeking him and knowing him as Father and loving him with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength. His life is not really his at all; it is sonship. He never lives on his own, doing his own thing, following his own agenda. He has no self-interest.— The Shack Revisited, page76
<idle musing>
Mutual indwelling, the heart of the Trinity! And the heart of the Gospel, too—theosis anyone? : )
</idle musing>

Too much of a good thing

Sufficient amounts of protein are obtained when caloric requirements are met from wholesome natural vegetable foods. Plant products contain an abundance of protein, without being excessive. How else could the gorilla get to be 800 pounds of muscle, eating solely fruit and leaves? The main point is that we should be concerned about too much rather than too little protein. It is ironic that the chief argument used to promote the use of animal products—the idea that they are rich in protein—is a great reason to avoid them.— Fasting and Eating for Health, page 40

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Antibiotic use

More than 90 percent of all antibiotics produced are slated for animal administration.— The Pleasure Trap, page 128 (in CAFOs, etc.)

<idle musing>
I read in a more recent book (2012 publication), that the number is above 80 percent, not 90. But, what is more scarey was that the development of "superbugs" is almost totally because of the use on animals...we're killing ourselves by what we choose to eat and how we raise that food...
</idle musing>


The strong opposition of the biblical writers to necromancy can be explained by necromancy’s being viewed as a violation of YHWH’s sovereignty and denial of his being the only source of divination. Furthermore, the blurring of boundaries between the living and the dead must be taken into account, because interaction with the spirits of the dead is dangerous.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 494

<idle musing>
That's the final snippet that I'll be posting from this book. It's a monster of a book and I enjoyed it immensely, especially the sections on the names. That section could have been a book in itself.

Next up will be something a bit more theological—stay tuned!
</idle musing>

Monday, June 03, 2013

Whole? Not likely

Incredibly, less than 2 percent of the wheat products consumed in the U.S. Are “whole wheat.” This means that the majority of plant-based food products we wat have had some or all of their fiber artificially extracted.— The Pleasure Trap, page 78

They ain't gods, folks

One of the most important contexts for ritual activity other than the regular domestic cult was burial and post-mortem care for the dead. The significance of cultic activities for the deceased in Israelite religion has been a controversial subject of recent discussion (Spronk 1986: 247–50; Lewis 1989: 171–81; van der Toorn 1996b: 206–35; Niehr 2003; Schmitt 2007 et al.). We prefer the term care for the dead instead of terms such as cults of the dead and ancestor cults, because the latter terms imply veneration of ancestors similar to that of gods, and this is not attested in our sources. Care for the dead underlines the ongoing social relations between the living and the deceased members of a family, clan, or other community. Honoring and remembering ancestors were an important aspect of building and maintaining family identity in ancient Israel.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 493 (italics theirs)