Thursday, February 24, 2005

Pray for Brian Welch

At we read that "Guitarist Brian "Head" Welch, a founding member of Korn, has left the band and has rededicated his life to Christianity, according to the group's management."Korn has parted ways with guitarist Brian 'Head' Welch, who has chosen Jesus Christ as his savior, and will be dedicating his musical pursuits to that end," a statement from the band reads. "Korn respects Brian's wishes, and hopes he finds the happiness he's searching for."" (2/22/05)
Now all those of us who believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior need to pray for Brian Welch, because the spiritual battle is on. Satan has lost his soul forever, but will work mightily to halt the spiritual progress in his life so that Brian might be rendered useless for the kingdom of God.
To gain extrabiblical perspective about such things as spiritual battle read, for starters, C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters, or Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness. As Christians we believe that this world is really about rescuing the souls of men and women. Satan, our adversary, could care less whether or not you and I succeed in life or fail in life, whether we are filthy rich or dirt poor, or whether we get an extreme makeover or not. Satan cares not one thing about us, except that we not get really interested in God and Jesus. It is precisely at that point that our enemy stands up and asserts "Thou shalt not pass."
The great satanic attempt to marginalize Brian Welch has begun. The American media will not hope for Brian's "happiness" as much as his former bandmates are. He will not be portrayed as some heroic figure but as a wacko.
Brian - welcome to Christianity in America. I am so very glad God has brought you to us. I will pray for you, that as you take your substantial talents and lead many others into the fresh light of Christ, Satan's marginalizing efforts toward you will fail. I now pray that God will so encounter you with the reality of his empowering presence that you will grow strong in the experiential knowledge of him. And I pray that you will be protected from the media feeding frenzy and quickly discover that quiet place in your soul that is created in God's image and finds its rest and deep satisfaction in him.
You don't know me. You will never read this. But prayer cuts through such things to the heart of the same God we now share. So get prophetic. Because there is a world of angry teens and disillusioned young adults who are now open to "finding their way out and seeing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Tsunamis, Paradigms, and Natural Evils

It all begins with a paradigm. With a worldview.

Things and events get interpreted as "facts" within paradigms. All "facts" are paradigm-laden. Which means there is no such thing as Cartesian objectivity (facts that are "clear and distinct").

A main reason for disagreement between an atheist and a Christian theist is: they have differing paradigms or worldviews. The basic issue then becomes: adjudication between competing worldviews. Why choose one worldview over the other worldview? Which worldview gives a truer understanding of experience and reality? Or, put another way, which worldview gives a more correct interpretation of things?

From a Christian paradigm (or any paradigm), natural disasters are interpreted in certain ways. The Christian paradigm begins with God. It is, according to a certain Christian worldview, rational to believe God exists, and that the attributes of God include "all-powerful," "all-loving," and "all-knowing."

Also - and this is very important - Christian theism holds that God has purposes for his creation that primarily have to do with him. God wants persons to love him and worship him. God wants persons to know him and be known by him. For all eternity. This present existence is seen as fleeting and hyper-miniscule in comparison to eternity with God. Because of the certain purposes of God, earthly suffering is viewed in certain ways. The purposes of any person's life do not necessarily include things such as "long life," "perfect physical and emotional health," and "personal wealth." (If you doubt that this represents Christianity, then I ask you to look at the physical sufferings of Jesus, the length of Jesus' life, Jesus' emotional agony in the garden, as well as the sufferings and distress of Paul and the apostles.)

Once a person accepts any worldview, then events and experiences get interpreted through the lens of that worldview. What, then, of the tsunami? To me, Christian theism says things like:

- Our entire world is subject to bondage and decay. We do not live in some naturally perfect world. The whole creation is fallen, and cries out for future redemption. So, we are not surprised by things like the tsunami.

- A life lived for 1 day is just as ephemeral as a life lived for 100 years when the denominator is eternity. How a life is lived is vastly more important than how long one lives on earth.

- The death of one person is as theologically significant as the death of 300,000 persons. Jesus wept at the death of one man Lazarus, and suffered and died on a cross so that all persons might live for eternity. How one person dies is theologically less significant than that persons die. Thus, we are saddened by the loss of any human life, and remain concerned about how each person lived their life while alive on earth.

- The loss of any human life is cause for weeping precisely because, on Christian theism, persons have been made in the image of God and have souls. Human life is thus especially precious and, literally, sacred. Thus we Christian theists are distinguished from philosophical materialists who hold that persons have no souls and are only animals. Grieving over the loss of any human life seems especially relevant on Christian theism. This is precisely because of the eternal worth of every human soul.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Exclusion, Embrace, and Our “Hotel Rwanda” World

Miroslav Wolf’s Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, provides a brilliant and much-needed message today. Sadly, it’s a “Hotel Rwanda” world out there. Ethnic and cultural differences divide even Christians from living out Jesus’ John 17 prayer “that we would be one, even as I and the Father are one.”
Volf shows how when religion is de-ethnicized, ethnicity can be de-sacralized (49). Put more simply, Christians must get out of their narrow little theological boxes and enter into a vast spiritual home where God’s grace has assembled a lot of really “different” people. Here is a place, a world, where differences can be acknowledged and our common identity in Christ allows us to embrace one another. If we, as followers of Jesus, lived this out not only would there be fewer global ethnic wars (in the name of religion), there would also be fewer marital divorces because so-called “irreconcilable differences” would be able to coinhabit within the household of God.
As Volf says, “When God comes, God brings a whole new world. The Spirit of God breaks through the self-enclosed worlds we inhabit; the Spirit re-creates us and sets us on the road toward become what I like to call a “catholic personality,” a personal microcosm of the eschatological new creation. A catholic personality is a personality enriched by otherness, a personality which is what it is only because multiple others have been reflected in it in a particular way. The distance from my own culture that results from being born by the Spirit creates a fissure in me through which others can come in. The Spirit unlatches the doors of my heart, saying: “You are not only you; others belong to you too.”” (51)