The message of God’s prophets in the Old Testament amounted to this- God is not pleased with what you are doing. Repent. We miss that prophets were agents of grace as were the judgments promised. The purpose, in both instances, was to be a goad to repentance, a wake-up call. The same is true today as God works in and through providence. For the believer, judgment is always a work of God’s grace, a goad to repentance. Many Christians have bemoaned the destruction wrought by the Ashley Madison hack. The truth of the matter is that just as Ashley Madison did not create unfaithful hearts, so this hack did not create damning exposure. Rather for some it was a means of His grace.
If you are of a certain age and a certain temperament you may remember a sort of many boomlet in a particular style of books back in the late 80s and early 90s where there were a number of prolific authors in the realm of science books for regular people to read. Books such as The Universe Next Door, books from authors like Stephen Hawking, and books with this great interest, not just in general science, but also with what was called “chaos theory.”
Immanuel Kant, though a rather bright fellow, built an imaginary wall. He taught that there are two worlds, the noumenal and the phenomenal. The latter was that world which could be experienced by our senses, what we see, hear, taste, touch and smell. The former was where the actual thing-in-itself dwelt. God Himself, being spirit, resides exclusively in the noumenal realm, since the wall between the two worlds is unable to be scaled. According to Kant, you can’t get from the phenomenal world to the noumenal. Paul, inspired by the far brighter, indeed omniscient Holy Spirit, disagrees, arguing in Romans 1 that we know the unseen God by the things we see. But, being sinners, we suppress that truth in unrighteousness.
The Christian is engaged in a three-front war. The Bible, replete with martial language, bears this out. The great evil trinity against which we fight is the world, the flesh, and the Devil. In our day we have made friends with the world, and we have reduced our flesh down to a few psychological crossed wires. We have lost sight of these two battlefields precisely because we have lost sight of the third. In other words, we miss that we are at war with the world and our flesh because the Devil has defeated us in battle — we have forgotten that he exists.
We shouldn’t. Sorry to burst the bubble, but unless you are his family, his employer, his elders or his church, it’s none of your business. I am none of those things. Yet I find myself reading about it, praying about it, thinking about it. I get that people are interested. This, after all, is quite a moral train wreck. Given both the high public profile of the Duggar clan, given their public espousal of counter-cultural sexual ethics, and given the previous scandal it is no surprise that the world is fascinated by this. Indeed perhaps the most discouraging fallout for me has been watching the world dance around Josh’s grave like a pack of hyenas. Some believers, though I have seen precious little of this, seem to be so invested in the Duggars that they are utterly disheartened, or worse, desperately seeking some excuse, some rationalization.
It is time for another –ism, but before I give you the -ism I want to do a brief commercial. If you really want to understand what motivated me to talk about this subject, I encourage you to go visit Lutheran Satire where there is a wonderful little cartoon dealing with today’s theme: modalism. Now I suspect that of all the isms that we have done over the history of this podcast, this may be the one that is the least recognizable to most of you. It is a technical and a historical term, but it is an issue that remains with the church today. Modalism is an ancient heresy going back to the first half of the first millennium that affirmed this about God: it argued that God is One Person fulfilling three roles. Listen again carefully, it argued that God is One Person fulfilling three roles. That is…
Socrates spoke with great wisdom when he reminded us that before we can have a fruitful discussion it is always wise to define our terms. Today I would like to talk about the problem with preppers, but before I do I want to make a distinction between “preppers” and “preppies.” The terms are not synonymous, in distinction to the terms “trekkers” and “trekkies,” but it is an important distinction and I also note that preppies don’t actually have any problems. A preppy is a person who dresses properly, like I do. Preppers, on the other hand, are folks committed to doing a great deal of work and preparation for what they perceive to be some kind of soon-coming calamity; some great upheaval culturally speaking.
Cage-Stage describes an all too common phenomenon wherein a believer comes to embrace the doctrines of grace, and for a time becomes an obnoxious lout in defending the doctrines to all comers, whether they are interested or not. It suggests that such a newbie should spend some time in a cage until they calm down. If you are a Calvinist you likely have been through this stage. If you are not, you surely have encountered those who were infected.
I’m tired as I write this, but, I suspect, not half as tired as I will be as you read. 48 hours from now I will be just 8 hours into a 35 hour trip to Indonesia, 28 of which will be in the sky. I’m usually quite comfortable flying, avoiding the grouchiness that plagues so many frequent fliers. I’m quite comfortable as well on my morning walks. But I’m pretty sure a marathon would do me in.
We have already done 200 episodes of Jesus Changes Everything. But today we are not having a cast party, we are not breaking out cake, nor are we making a special retrospective episode of the podcast where we get snippets of all the “greatest hits.” Instead I want to take the time today, particularly because people come and go and we get new listeners, to try to explain again just what it is we’re trying to do with the Jesus Changes Everything podcast.