Category Archives: Theodicy

To Live Gently in a Violent World

To live Gently in a violent world

To gaze continually on the 

Beatific Vision 

Amidst ugliness and suffering

To experientially know the

Height, Depth, Width and Length of

Divine Cruciform Love in a 

World drunk with power

To Love 

God, 

Others, 

Creation, 

and Self

With all my 

Heart, 

Soul, 

Mind 

Might

Even in the thick of spiritual warfare.

To find my home in the

Heart of God, in

The Secret Place of the 

Most High

To Abide under the

Shadow of the Almighty

To Live in the

Holiest of All

Wherein lies all of 

Life, Joy, Strength, Guidance 

– for there is a highway within – 

To Create artesian wells in the

Valley of Weeping, satiating

Like Rain in a drought

Earth and People weary of

War, 

Poverty, 

Sickness,

Injustice

Liberty & Love: Run to Win 1 Corinthians Chapter 9

FIRE

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[1] Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[2]then you won’t become weary and give up.[3](Hebrews 12:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

In this section of First Corinthians, Paul is answering questions about liberty. Americans are all about liberty, freedom. Inalienable right. Liberty. 

Why is liberty inalienable, absolute, indisputable? Because it is given to all humans by the Creator God. We have freewill. We have liberty. God given liberty.

But!

Liberty must always be regulated by love.

Love is the highest virtue. Faith, hope, love abide forever, but the greatest is love.

Love: the New Testament Greek word is Agapé. Agapé is: 

Radical, 

Scandalous, 

Unconditional, 

Relentless, 

Self-sacrificing, 

Altruistic,

Other-focused,

Cruciform

Covenant 

Love.

God is Agapé.

Jesus is Agapé.

God is exactly like Jesus. There is nothing unchristlike in God.

But, how can God be love? Isn’t love a combination of emotions and actions? How can a Being be love?

Herein lies the essential difference between Christianity and all other religions. Many religions assert that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, and holy. 

Only Christianity asserts that God is Triune: Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

God’s eternal essence is a singular loving community, so united as to form a single being joined in an eternal love relationship.

All of our false concepts of God involve seeing God as a singular person: Angry god, judgmental god, distant god, kindly old grandpa god, Santa Claus god, vengeful god – all singular. 

The True and Living God who is pure love created us with freewill. Liberty. There is no real love without the freedom to choose. Law had to be given because of the abuse of liberty. 

But liberty must always be subject to love because love is the essence of God.

We are not at liberty to pollute or exploit the earth because God created the earth and pronounced it good.

We are not at liberty to enslave, use, abuse, kill, dismiss, manipulate, or disenfranchise people because people are created in the image of God.

Love must always regulate liberty.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks of his willingness to give up some of his liberty, specifically, in this passage, his right as a minister of the gospel to expect that the church will take care of his material needs.

He also speaks of being willing to give up anything that hinders the fulfilling of his appointed task.

What he absolutely refuses to give up is his authority as an apostle appointed by Jesus to carry the good news to the world. Paul’s eyes are fixed on the goal. Like an athlete training for the Olympics, he is disciplined, gives up whatever would hinder, and focuses on doing what God has called him to do. 

Paul determined to run the race of life to win. He was determined to lay aside every weight that would hold him back and run with endurance looking unto Jesus.

I am 68-years-old. I am determined to run with all my might for the rest of my life the race God has set before me. God has called and appointed me as a pastor-teacher. Nothing and no one will dissuade me. 

I intend to flameout for Jesus.

With a living coal from off Thy altar,
Touch our lips to swell Thy wondrous praise
To extol Thee; bless, adore Thee
And our songs of worship raise;
Let the cloud of glory now descending
Fill our hearts with holy ecstasy,
Come in all Thy glorious fullness 
Blessed Holy Spirit have Thy way.

Let the fire fall, let the fire fall
Let the fire from heaven fall;
We are waiting and expecting 
Now in faith dear Lord we call;
Let the fire fall, let the fire fall
On Thy promise we depend;
From the glory of Thy presence
, let the Pentecostal fire descend.[4]


[1]Or, leader and perfecter of our faith

[2]Some manuscripts read: Think of how people hurt themselves by opposing him.

[3]Quotations are from the New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

[4]Let the Fire Fall, by Henry Tee

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize (let nothing distract you) 1 Corinthians chapter 7

Judging Angels: 1 Corinthians chapter 6

Paradigm Shifts

My good friend Fred Coolidge, professor of psychology at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, has done research in paleontological psychology and discovered that at some point in human history, toolmakers began decorating their tools. Not only were they making useful things, they began to care about how those things appeared. It was the beginning of art and signified a paradigm shift in human development. 

Paradigm shifts have occurred throughout history.

They are often mentioned with regards to economics.  The shifts from hunter-gatherers to agrarian farmers, from agrarian to industrialization, from industrialization to information, and now from information to artificial intelligence are familiar examples of cultural shifts that had profound impact on humanity and nature.  

From a universal cosmic perspective, there have been three major paradigm shifts[1]:

  1. What is normally referred to as “the Big Bang” was the shift from nothing to something, from no matter or energy to the existence of matter and energy. That occurred about 13.8 billion years ago.
  2. Next, about 3.5 billion years ago, there was another paradigm shift from non-life to life. Living, reproducing cells began to appear and evolve by natural selection.
  3. Then, somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 million years ago, ancestral humans became self-conscious, able to reflect about life. 

None of these paradigm shifts can currently be explained by science, although speculative ideas abound.

We who are Christians need to be careful not to fall into the “God in the gaps” fallacy. The temptation is to plug God into anything we don’t currently understand. It is a logical fallacy because it is an argument from ignorance, assuming that God is the explanation for anything we don’t understand. Theologically, it presents a problem because as knowledge increases and fills in the gaps of knowledge, our “god” gets smaller and smaller. It is the basic problem with Intelligent Design.

Now, all Christians believe God exists and that God is intelligent and that God designed and brought about creation. But Intelligent Design (in capital letters as a title) refers to the pseudoscientific arguments of Charles Thaxton, A. E. Wilder-Smith, Michael Behe, and others, that attempt to prove the existence of God by reasoning that some things in nature are irreducibly complex and cannot be explained by evolutionary biology. 

Like all God in the gaps theories, it suggests that God must have caused something currently unexplainable to science. Time and again, evolutionary processes have explained that which was presented as irreducibly complex. Moreover, ID doesn’t do much for Christians because, even if you could prove the existence of a divine intelligent being, you still would not have proven anything resembling the God revealed in Jesus.

The fact that we have three major cosmic paradigm shifts (from nothing to something, from something to life, and from life to consciousness) that cannot currently be explained by science does not prove that there must be a God. We don’t need to stick God in the gaps, nor should we fear that scientific inquiry might someday provide a rational explanation for how nothing became something, or how inanimate matter became living, or how beasts became human. It doesn’t change our faith one way or the other.

Once living things appear on the scene (about 3.5 billion years ago), the evidence is overwhelming from multiple independent fields of study that evolution by natural selection is taking place. The fact that the building blocks of life – the genetic codes written into the DNA – are essentially identical in all living organisms, is strong evidence for evolution.

That bothers some Christians. It contradicts a wooden literalistic reading of the opening chapters of Genesis. And, the evolutionary science is complex and difficult for non-scientists to understand. On top of that, we have fundamentalist preachers insisting that if we don’t read Genesis in literalistic simplicity, we have to throw away the Bible.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no problem with the Bible. The problem is how we interpret the Bible.

The Bible is an amazing, God-breathed collection of 66 books filled with drama, poetry, sacred myth, folklore, biography, history, prose, parable, and apocalyptic genres. No one takes the Bible literally. No one believes God has wings like a chicken or that when we see Jesus He will look like a slaughtered lamb with seven horns and seven eyes. Without exception, every Bible passage leaps to life when we understand the context and genre. 

We stand in awe of a God who created matter from nothing, life from non-life, and human beings with freewill from beasts. How God did it is interesting but not vital to faith. 


[1]An interesting book on the subject is The Three Big Bangs by Philip Dauber and Richard Muller.

Excommunicated? Shunned? What’s Up With 1 Corinthians chapter 5?

Rest & Trust in God’s Character — Cruciform Love: 1 John 3:11-24

Murder. 1 John 3:11-15

The Unifying Dance of Fools: 1 Corinthians chapter 1

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