Things I Think

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73 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    #2

    When I see the the impact of Hurricane Harvey or of a brother going in for surgery, I hope that I see life, time and the present, as precious and to be purposeful.

    I can’t relive the past or predict (much less guarantee) the future, but I can live right now.

  2. Dan from Georgia says:

    Well-tempered words Michael. Gods blessings on your recovery from surgery.

  3. John 20:29 says:

    so glad that recovery is going well – take it easy for a while yet, nevertheless

    king of looks to me like your thinking this week is following the admonition given in Eph. 5:15-16

    2- can’t get my mind around what’s ahead yet for the Gulf area and, thus the whole nation… it just may be that God is reminding us who’s boss… whether we get the message is another question

    3-amen and amen and….

    5-anyone who isn’t thinking “incendiary words” about the mobs right now and the politics just isn’t thinking clearly – IMHO – and discernment ministries… BTW is there scripture to prove that discernment IS a ministry

    praying as best i can for the people, victims and rescuers in Houston – can’t quite get my mind around this overwhelming event… Oh, Lord, You know and we ask for mercies

  4. John 20:29 says:

    P.S. every time i look at that woodcarving i want one… beautiful rendering of perplexity IMV
    we’ve all had times where we’ve felt like we’ve been gutted … and i didn’t mean ‘king’ up there, should have ended in a ‘d’

  5. Josh the Baptist says:

    3 and 7 may be related.

    Essentially, systematic theologies start with one attribute of God and work their way out from there. For example, a Reformed Systematic may start with the sovereignty of God and have everything flow from that. An evangelical may start with the Kindness of God and work from that.

    I’ve been wondering lately if maybe we are thinking about God backwards. Perhaps our theology should start with how we treat other people? Heresy, I am sure, but I’ve seen theologians of every stripe treat people like garbage and still be admired for their theology. My guess is that if their study of God leads them to abuse their neighbor, then they probably messed up theologically somewhere along the way.

  6. DavidM says:

    Regarding #2: It seems that the longer I am in Christ, over 47 years now, I have more questions than answers. Yesterday, during prayer at church, someone prayed for the people of Huston. My thought was, what will this generic prayer do? The other day a friend asked us to pray for Hong Kong, as a deadly monsoon was about to batter the city. Same thought, specifically what will this generic prayer accomplish. If we didn’t pray for them, would anything be different? How do we know if those sweeping, generic prayers make a difference? I can pray for the individuals I know in threatened areas, but I have a hard time with any emotional investment of prayer in such matters.
    Nature reminds us that we have precious little control over our lives. In my thinking, a natural disaster does not mean that God is not good. It reminds me that the world in which we live is no respecter of persons. We, of course, will all die but I guess we hope our deaths will be at an old age, relatively painless, and nice and neat. But these natural disasters tell us something different.
    My heart goes out to those suffering. I will pray for those people I know or know of. But I still have lots of unanswered questions about prayer. I’ll try to keep learning.

  7. The New Victor says:

    @#5 JtB: “Perhaps our theology should start with how we treat other people?”

    “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

    I’m continually drilling this point into my kids, vis-a-vis defining what sin is.

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So a kind Jew, Muslim or Atheist have a Christian theology?

  9. JoelG says:

    “If we didn’t pray for them, would anything be different.”

    Perhaps prayer changes “us” as much as it does “them”. If we were in their shoes, what would we ask of God? Whatever that is, there’s a good place to start. I’m talking to myself here too.

  10. Xenia says:

    So a kind Jew, Muslim or Atheist have a Christian theology?<<<

    Actually, they do.

    We don't believe the image of God has been destroyed in humanity, only marred. There is godly goodness that remains in all people. When a Jew, Muslim, or atheist is kind-hearted they are demonstrating that glimmer of the Image of God that still remains.

    We don't believe in total depravity so we allow room for the goodness of God to shine, even through unbelievers.

  11. Josh the Baptist says:

    “So a kind Jew, Muslim or Atheist have a Christian theology?”

    Maybe better than you.

  12. Josh the Baptist says:

    🙂

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I, for one, don’t think it is heresy at all. In loving the neighbor, we become vulnerable. Perhaps that very basic human vulnerability is what we are meant understand in the calamities that come our way – personal, professional or, indeed even in the storms that batter a city. I’m reminded of the quote from C.S. Lewis –

    “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    What can I say when folks defend Christ deniers as having a Christian theology. And people wonder why I don’t commune with people who hold variant views such as these..
    This should say a lot – especially if one holds proper behavior over proper Christology.

    In my circles there is a saying “all theology is Christology.” it must not branch out elsewhere..

  15. DavidM says:

    Ironically, immediately after posting my previous thoughts, I received word of a family know in Houston, whose home is in one of the hardest-hit areas. But, they are on vacation in Oregon. They suspect their home is destroyed. Now, knowing them, I can pray for them specifically.
    Then, shortly thereafter, a friend on FB posted a large “Pray for Texas”, and, of course, I wondered what that means and how exactly can I pray “for Texas”.
    Yes, we do draw closer to God when we pray, but if I am offering intercessory prayers in order to get “closer” to God, then that is not really an intercessory prayer.
    I continue to work through how I pray.

  16. Xenia says:

    And people wonder why I don’t commune with people who hold variant views such as these..<<<

    And now you know why I won't commune with you.

  17. Xenia says:

    Anything and everything that is good comes from God is part of Christian theology. If an unbeliever does good, he is participating in one aspect of Christianity, even though it is not enough to save him.

  18. Jean says:

    “Anything and everything that is good comes from God is part of Christian theology.”

    Very true.

  19. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t know about that. Jesus seems to indicate that good works are defined as those that are done in faith and those that are done unto him.
    The counter to that is works not done in that manner are cast away as filthy rags.

  20. Jean says:

    #19,

    You’re confusing the two types of righteousness.

  21. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    That’s fine – I will leave it with Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation and others can just believe as they will.

  22. Jean says:

    “For the works which pertain to the maintenance of external discipline, which are also done by, and required of, the unbelieving and unconverted, although commendable before the world, and besides rewarded by God in this world with temporal blessings, are nevertheless, because they do not proceed from true faith, in God’s sight sins, that is, stained with sin, and are regarded by God as sins and impure on account of the corrupt nature and because the person is not reconciled with God. For a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, [cit omit], as it is also written [cit omit]: Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. For the person must first be accepted of God, and that for the sake of Christ alone, if also the works of that person are to please Him.” SD IV, para 8

  23. Xenia says:

    I will believe as the Church has believed for 2000 years.

    To be clear, I am not saying that the good works of unbelievers will save them. But any good impulses they have come from God because they still bear His Image.

  24. JoelG says:

    “I wondered what that means and how exactly can I pray “for Texas”.”

    Well, Texas is made of people like you and me. So maybe just ask God to help them??

  25. Xenia says:

    Just pray for Texas. If your prayers are sincere, God will show you what you can do to help.

  26. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia, that is not what was first contested. Your initial claim of good works by unbelievers was the equivalent of holding to Christian theology. I tell you that a Muslim doing works in the name of Allah contains no Christian theology.

  27. John 20:29 says:

    good works from a corrupt vessel is still a good work, but displaying a remnant of God in us? dunno … on this i’ll stand on MLD’s side of the theological fence

    somehow it seems strange to me that we’re concerned about whether or not our prayers for Texas are worth the effort…… thinking …… thinking ……

    God bless Austin, they need your prayers now for wisdom……. what was that song with the line, “the rest of Texas is a mess?”
    the whole southeast of Texas…… a humid area to being with, now pestilence central……
    pray indeed…. at least that’s better right now than talking to each other about the mess down there…. i’d be moving north, myself – the closer to the Rocky Mts the better….

  28. Xenia says:

    I did not say equivalent, as you well know. I used words like “glimmer.”

  29. John 20:29 says:

    funny thot… don’t Texans like to brag that “everything is bigger in Texas?” i love Texas, God help them now… that’s all i can pray

  30. John 20:29 says:

    maybe the English word “good,” like our word “love” is too broad a term for what is being discussed here?
    can’t anyone do good works, but fruit is a whole different type of production… ? ….

  31. John 20:29 says:

    well, i got my brain in gear and read Jean’s #22 (my head hurts now) and that pretty much settles the question of works… IMHO

  32. Nathan Priddis says:

    You people have it all wrong.

    ……Mr.Pesident, in the bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain Mr.President, when you came to the platform…..

  33. Xenia says:

    If a Muslim does a good work, and if “good” means “good,” and if every “good” thing comes from above, that, from God, then the Muslim has indeed done God’s work, demonstrating that even in his state of unbelief the Image of God can still shine forth. And the impulse to love one’s neighbor is the apex of Christian theology.

    God is everywhere. Even the flowers are fragrant by the power of the Holy Spirit. He can certainly demonstrate His theology of love through unbelieving vessels.

  34. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    Rahab would be a good example from the Bible of what you are saying.

  35. John 20:29 says:

    Mr. Priddis, there’s the gentle rain and then there’s the rain of the rainbow promise… i’ve been wondering how God felt about how some today have grabbed the rainbow as their symbol… maybe this is to let us know?…. just a little discernment ministering here – a little off the wall theological extrapolating 🙂

  36. Xenia says:

    Jean, yes, I think Rahab is a very good example.

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Rahab was a God fearer. Her proclamation of who God was, before she did the good deed, is what eventually brought her into the fold.

    I would need to go back and review the story, but it is possible Rahab was a believer before she hid the spies.

  38. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Rahab was a God fearer. Her proclamation of who God was, before she did the good deed, is what eventually brought her into the fold.

    I would need to go back and review the story, but it is possible Rahab was a believer before she hid the spies.

    My point is not to argue that good comes from God – but that somehow the Jew who opens a food pantry to the homeless is doing so in response to Christian theology – and that was the claim being made here – go back and read the first couple of comments after my first one.

  39. JoelG says:

    Thanks for these thoughts Michael. Good things to really think on for the week.

  40. Jean says:

    “Rahab was a God fearer.” LOL. Yep, they all were: “the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you.”

    “My point is not to argue that good comes from God – but that somehow the Jew who opens a food pantry to the homeless is doing so in response to Christian theology – and that was the claim being made here – go back and read the first couple of comments after my first one.”

    No one made that claim. Shame on you.

  41. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean,
    Xenia @#10
    “So a kind Jew, Muslim or Atheist have a Christian theology?<<<
    Actually, they do."

    Josh @#11
    "“So a kind Jew, Muslim or Atheist have a Christian theology?”
    Maybe better than you."

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    To make a claim that a non believer has a Christian theology without Christ is off the rails —- at least to me. If others are comfortable with that – hey OK.

  43. Jean says:

    Whether they “have” it is an entirely different matter than whether they “do so in response to Christian theology.”

    If you read what Xenia said, she meant that an atheist could serve his neighbor, could love his neighbor, and thereby bring God’s blessing to that neighbor, even though the atheist had no idea that he was working on God’s behalf.

    The atheist could subscribe the golden rule, which is a Christian theology, and this would be civilly righteous.

  44. Nayhan Priddis says:

    @John 20:29
    Didn’t see that coming. Very smooth segue. Sounds like we are both off the wall.
    OK….I’ll take the bait. What, or who, is the rainbow?

  45. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “Whether they “have” it is an entirely different matter ”

    But the replies to my question was that they do indeed have a Christian theology – so you would have to say that the atheist had a Christless christian theology.

    Your quote for the solid declaration stated it clearly, they may gain some common grace from the work they do to the neighbor – but – and this is the Christian theology – that work is done in sin.

  46. Duane Arnold says:

    I believe that we are talking about the nature of the Image of God in fallen humanity. The image is marred by sin, but capable of restoration in and by Christ. Nonetheless, the image, engaged in conscience and/or civic virtue remains. The works of charity, care for neighbor, etc., are remnants of this Image of God. Augustine was clear on this…

  47. Nathan Priddis says:

    Yes. I misspelled my own name. I’m choosing to blame mobile for that. It will make me feel better.

  48. John 20:29 says:

    #44 – i lose track of all the players here on the PhxP… who the teachers and pastors are…
    if you are Pastor Priddis, i apologize, if you’re not, then i don’t 🙂 LOL … that said, i wasn’t throwing bait into the waters here… those using the rainbow as their ‘righteous’ and poetic symbol today affirm things that God doesn’t, to say the very least… old news and not a productive discussion topic…

    but God may be dumping on Texas for a reason… i know He’ll be checking on our Christian charity and maybe those non-Christians who do good deeds, too… dunno… that’s a maximum inordinate amount of water…

    then there’s the missile that just flew over Japan and the antifa attack in Berkley… if we’re not doing so already, it is time to stop looking down our noses at Trump and company and pray for them… and the price of gasoline, if you drive a truck

  49. Jean says:

    Duane #46,

    I am not familiar with the Augustine position, but I could see someone coming up with that on the basis of Romans 2:

    “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”

  50. Steve says:

    Xenia @ 10 wrote “We don’t believe in total depravity so we allow room for the goodness of God to shine, even through unbelievers.”

    _______________________________________________________________________
    You appear to be conflating “total” depravity with “utter” depravity. Total depravity doesn’t mean one is as bad as they could possible be. That is “utter” depravity. Total depravity just means that every facet of a person has been affected by the fall with no part not needing redemption.

    With that in mind, I hold to the doctrine of Total depravity but I am also with you that all humans to some degree bare the image of God. This is where we must “honor” all people because every human being to some degree bares His image.

  51. one of the little people says:

    The prophecy sites have not gone away. Unfortunately. There is a plethora of false Trump prophecy around – Jim Bakker, Paula White, Prophets For Trump (Facebook Group), Rick Joyner.

  52. Xenia says:

    Steve, I’ve been corrected on my idea about what others mean when they say “total depravity” before and I concede that you are right but I also feel that a lot of people who speak of total depravity aren’t as nuanced as you are. I’ve spoken with people who seem believe “total” and “utter” are pretty much the same thing.

    I’ll try to be more careful in the future, though. Thanks.

  53. Xenia says:

    Duane wrote:

    “I believe that we are talking about the nature of the Image of God in fallen humanity. The image is marred by sin, but capable of restoration in and by Christ. Nonetheless, the image, engaged in conscience and/or civic virtue remains. The works of charity, care for neighbor, etc., are remnants of this Image of God. Augustine was clear on this…”

    This is what I was trying to say.

  54. Descended says:

    one if the little people

    You said:
    The prophecy sites have not gone away. Unfortunately. There is a plethora of false Trump prophecy around – Jim Bakker, Paula White, Prophets For Trump (Facebook Group), Rick Joyner.

    Ugh… it’s really unfortunate that folks lump those hucksters together with better, levelheaded teachers such as John Haller or Mike Clapham, under the term ODM or prophecy wonks. Much of my family is Brethren or comes from it, and prophecy has always been important. We’re just not idiots about it or profiting from it by selling survival gear at 50% markup after our latest “prophecy”.

  55. Descended says:

    #10
    For a while, the term “bitter root” was stuck in my head, and as I watched the world disintegrate as it proclaims peace (while destroying many) I now can’t get “revilers” out of my head.

    #4
    The loss of the ability to reason among certain of our culture has finally roosted in my family. I go outside and suddenly there’s a text on my phone. So and so’s at it again…

  56. Duane Arnold says:

    #53 Xenia

    A good, albeit imperfect, analogy is a that of a mirror. At creation the mirror was complete reflecting the Image of God. Sin was like a rock shattering the mirror. Nonetheless, there are shards of the mirror that continue to reflect, imperfectly, the image of God…

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am sure that it would come as no surprise that the Lutheran position is different. Our view is at the fall the image of God was not damaged, but lost.
    It is something that only Jesus through the gospel can recreate.

  58. Steve says:

    MLD,

    If there is nothing left from the image of God, than we would just treat non believers as wild animals or maybe in some instances domesticated animals. This is NOT what we are called to do. That is extremely disrespectful. We are to honor others more important than ourselves as Jesus Himself told us for no other reason than we were all created in the image of God. What we lost in the fall is our relationship with the maker which we can not restore ourselves but the hands of the artist who created are all over us.

  59. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve, as I said we have a different view. You have applied a much broader view to the image of God – which you can do.
    Do you consider ‘human’ as the image of God or did God create humans and breath his image in?

  60. JoelG says:

    “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    How many unbelievers have lost their lives in battle doing this very thing. This is a reflection of their Maker.

  61. Steve says:

    MLD,

    Yes, I think that is my point. Humans are made in the image of God. Everything from their DNA to their physical lungs, emotions, heart beat, and soul and spirit, etc..After all Jesus became a man not a dog or a horse. Did Jesus die for humans or just any animal?

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    If the the substance of man merely consists of Original Sin without, as Luther called it, “the root” of God’s creative power and image, we then fall into the Flacian error, which the confessions condemned.

  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Joel G,
    And this has been my objection, that we take verses like this, that speak of Jesus and apply them to Christless, spirit void people. At best, this can trickle down to believers as ‘friend’s. Check out the verse – who is Jesus speaking to and who is he speaking of?

  64. Jean says:

    While we could talk about the image of God in a wider and narrower sense, it is preferable to speak of man as the unique creature for whom Christ died in order to redeem man to once again bear His image in creation.

    When in Christian theology the Bible talks about justification a new birth (being born again) or in justification passing from death to life, we are describing “new” creation. Christians are baptized into the age to come in which Christ is the first fruits. There is nothing of the old Adam which will see the resurrection. Therefore, it is probably preferable to say that the image of God in the fall was entirely lost.

    However, because Christians are pro-life, we can also say that human life is sacred because Christ died for the sins of the world.

  65. Steve says:

    Jean, you raise some great points. First I’m not pro any life. I am pro human life. Yes life is sacred because Christ died for the sins of the world but what is so special that he died as a man for human kind? I guess this is the broader sense of humans bearing the image. When you say nothing of the old Adam will see the resurrection, you really need to define terms. There is a continuity of the physical with the spiritual. Even non believers will be resurrected from the dead to experience the great throne of judgement. We border on Gnosticism if the new creation is only spiritual with no continuity with the physical. Was Jesus simply a man who adopted God as a spirit inside him or was He God himself incarnate in flesh?

  66. Josh the Baptist says:

    If you’ll note my #5, I did not say our theology should end with how we treat people, I said maybe it should start there.

    It should be telling that we are afraid to love one another, because maybe Muslims do that and we don’t want people to think we are Muslim.

  67. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, you could do stand up comedy and probably draw a good crowd. So you are saying Luther’s position is in error and you liken it to the Flacian controversy and that the Book of Concord condemns this. Therefore the upshot of you analysis is that the Book of Concord is condemning Luther’s theology. The NoV taking Luther to the woodshed. 🙂

  68. JoelG says:

    MLD,

    Jesus is speaking of Himself laying down His Life for His friends, the disciples. That doesn’t take away the inherent virtue of laying down ones life for the benefit of ones friends, a virtue given to all men by God. The root of virtues is love. God is Love – hence a reflection.

  69. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    No, I’m not saying that Luther was in error (although I believe he was on some points). I’m saying that you are in error in your understanding the theology that stands behind both the Image of God and Original Sin – including substance and accidence.

  70. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, you make too great a leap. First I did not mention original sin nor did I expound on it by way of substance or ‘accidence’ (you read that in on your own) – although I realize that is the umbrella of the conversation. If you go back and read my original comment this morning, what I said was that Lutherans hold a different position than what many had already expressed here and however we define the image of God – our position is that it was lost and not just damaged.

    I don’t find anything worthy of confessional condemnation in that comment.

  71. Jean says:

    Steve,

    We don’t have a lot of Scriptural data on the specific nature of the resurrection. 1 Cor 15 is probably the best source for describing it:

    It reads in part:

    “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

    We also know that Jesus ate fish with the disciples in his resurrected body.

    The idea behind the term “old Adam” is the idea that our physical, mental and spiritual facilities are all corrupted by sin. Therefore, even the believer who now has been born again in Christ nevertheless still retains his old nature until death. This is why a Christian is simultaneously righteous in Christ and a sinner in Adam.

    Does this make sense?

  72. Steve says:

    Jean,

    It makes sense but there are other scriptures teaching about resurrection:
    In Acts 24:15 Paul says, “There shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” John 5:28-29 says, “For an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”

    So my question is why would an unbeliever be resurrected? My opinion is has something to do with the created order in that humans were designed to live forever. Maybe this is part of God’s image or maybe I am wrong.

  73. John 20:29 says:

    hmmm… image = reflection that makes sense… not quite the same as God breathing life into the clay, giving it a living soul…
    anything corrupted is ultimately not good, so a good deed would stand alone as such and not as a plus mark in the good and evil column of one’s justification…

    are we straining a gnats here a bit? … don’t think anyone’s swallowing a camel tho 🙂

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