What I Saw – October 9, 2018

I met with my pastors’ group for devotions yesterday.  Our text, taken from that days Moravian reading, was John 6:25-42.

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Our devotions leader grabbed the nearest bible, which was a 2011 NIV.

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I immediately saw several things in this passage.  The first was Jesus’ statement that the “work of God” is to believe in Him, the one sent by God.  This is immediately followed by a demand from the crowd for a sign which Jesus ignores.  I believed the reason Jesus ignores that demand is because He has already given them a sign.  He has given them several, in fact.  They have already been given enough to do what they are being asked to do, already been given enough to believe that God loves them.  I thought this was a call for me to “do the work” of believing that God loves me and has accepted me (something which is difficult for me).  This confused the leader at first; when I talked about “doing the work”, he thought I was talking about works or deeds (which, as we all know, are part of the Gospel system).  I explained that I was actually talking about the intellectual/emotional process of overcoming my belief that I am unaccepted/unacceptable and replacing it with the belief that I am accepted/acceptable.  This is a work in the sense that it is hard to do and requires me acting on the “signs” that Jesus has already given.  This idea was confirmed to me by Jesus’ follow-up statement that He will never drive away those God gives to Him, i.e., that I will not be driven away if I come to Him.  This was a great encouragement.

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Another great encouragement, though, was the way Jesus dealt with opposition.  I saw this as well.  I knew Jesus encountered opposition in this text; I learned that my first year of Bible college.  What I noticed this time, though, is that this opposition does not change Jesus or His message.  He does not allow Himself to get dragged into side-arguments (such as the accusation about His earthly parentage) nor does He adjust His gospel in any way.  He continues to proclaim the openness of God and the need to believe in the openness of God despite the crowd which is asking for bread and the Jews who grumbled against Him (we had some question during our time together about whether the crowd and the Jews were the same people or different people).  I take this as a model to follow.  I see that I must not get involved in the many arguments which are always erupting around me but must simply live by and present the good news that Jesus is our acceptor and savior.

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I further saw that Jesus lost by following this tactic.  The majority of the crowd abandoned Him that day, so this can legitimately be called a loss.  However, He won the war.  These people are not highly regarded today; no one is looking at them as a great example; in fact, most of us seem them as shallow and misguided.  Jesus’ truth, though, that He is the one sent by God to accept and save us, is highly regarded.  So Jesus lost the engagement but won the war. This is an encouragement to me as well.

And that’s what I saw in John 6:25-42.

Speaking Jesus

There’s a phrase that has come to my attention over the past couple of weeks.  More accurately, there’s a prayer that has come to my attention over those weeks.  This phrase is a prayer.  It is one petition in a longer prayer called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”, a prayer supposedly (but, alas, probably not) written by St. Patrick.  It goes like this:

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It is the second phrase there which has really caught my attention (though all, of course, are worthy of consideration).  Christ is the mouth of everyone who speaks of me.  I think I heard that phrase/prayer/petition years ago; I vaguely recall encountering St. Patrick’s Breastplate in my college years (though that might be a false memory, a Mandela effect).  But it has exploded across my radar recently.  Some of this is due to the Celtic Daily Office.  I use this office at least twice a week if not more during my own prayer time.  The morning prayer of this office references this statement, saying:

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Not only so, but Ransomed Heart’s Daily Prayer, which I also use two or three times a week, mentions something similar:

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Somehow I have combined these two or three sources into my own idea, which I phrase in this way: “Be in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me, and be in my mouth every time I speak.”

It is that second part that really convicts me.  The first part is a blessing I’m asking for myself, actually; I’m hoping that everybody who speaks to me does so as Christ, that is, speaks to me in the kind ways Christ would, doesn’t say anything that hurts me (yes, I know Christ challenged people but He never maliciously hurt anyone).  The second part, though, is a responsibility I need to accept.  It is a fair responsibility.  I firmly believe in “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”; I think I can make the case that is a biblical concept and that we thus shouldn’t ask something for ourselves which we aren’t willing to extend to others.  It is a good or noble responsibility; I’d be pretty honored if I knew that people felt I talked with them like Christ.

But it is also a difficult responsibility.  It goes contrary to my nature.  I think it does, anyway.  I always have a hard time separating nature from nurture.  But it definitely goes against nurture, goes against the way I was trained.  I was trained that you have to speak harshly.  Forget that, “Speak softly but carry a big stick” stuff.  No, speak heavy from the very beginning and don’t let up.  I was trained to believe that anyone who abridges you in word or deed must be immediately and fully smacked down in every way.  I was trained to believe that anyone who sends the slightest shade your way must be lit up hardcore.

Movies were a big part of this training.  In most (if not every) action movie (my favorites), there is scene early on in which someone braces the hero only for the hero to put them in their place.  I could give dozens of example, but my favorite is from the Chuck Norris movie Sidekicks.  Here is not Chuck but Mako who puts a man who braces him in his place (in case you’re wondering, this clip sticks in my mind because I was studying martial arts at the time; in every martial arts movie, the hero does some slight of hand in a situation similar to this, but this is the one in which my eyes were finally opened and I realized, “We’re martial artists, not magicians.  We can’t do stuff like that!”).

(I was totally surprised to find this clip on my first try.  I was also totally surprised at the racial slurs used.  Please remember this movie comes from a different time and that I don’t mean to offend anyone by using it.)

While I’ve never reached Mako’s level of putting people in their place, I have put them in their place nonetheless.  I have at least tried to.  It usually doesn’t work that well for me.  My mind doesn’t tend to insults (which I take as a good thing), and I usually don’t think of what to say to someone who braces me until much later.  I guess I’m like Marge that way:

(If YouTube removes that video, find it here: https://comb.qNnUSrio/)

But what I’ve discovered after reading and praying this phrase/petition, after seeing this incredibly beautiful idea of “speaking Jesus” to people (which is what I believe this is: not just speaking like Jesus but actually speaking Jesus), I am turning away from this training.  I am trying to, anyway.  I’m not sure what or how long it will take to be successful at this.  But I am sure I want to be successful at this.  Christ will not be in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me; that prayer won’t be answered at the one hundred percent level; people are going to brace me.  But Christ can be in my mouth whenever I speak to anyone.  The love of Christ can be all that is between me and everyone to whom I speak.  And I want it to be.  I’m praying for it to be.

What’s So Bad About Hope?

Ready Player One is coming out in a couple weeks.  I probably won’t see it in the theaters; I hardly see anything in the theaters anymore; it is too expensive, people talk on their cell phones during the movie, and now you have to pick your seats before entering the theater (what is that all about?).  I probably won’t even see it when it comes to Redbox.  I’m a child of the 80s and am still a big lover of the era, but it takes more than 80s nostalgia to get me to watch and/or love a movie, and it just doesn’t seem to me like Ready Player One has that more.

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I did read the book, though.  I read it a couple years ago when my sense of nostalgia was a little stronger (and I somehow had more free time than I seem to have nowadays).  I don’t remember the book addressing faith at all, but as I discovered in a recent Gospel Coalition article, it does.  At one point, the narrator/main character says this to himself and his readers:

You’re something called a “human being.” That’s a really smart kind of animal. Like every other animal on this planet, we’re descended from a single-celled organism that lived millions of years ago. This happened by a process called evolution, and you’ll learn more about it later. But trust me, that’s really how we all got here. There’s proof of it everywhere, buried in the rocks. That story you heard? About how we were all created by a super-powerful dude named God who lives up in the sky? Total [BS]. The whole God thing is actually an ancient fairy tale that people have been telling one another for thousands of years. We made it all up. Like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

And then a little later he tacks this on:

She [some other character, apparently; again, I don’t remember this passage from my reading] was always praying for me too. Trying her hardest to save my soul. I never had the heart to tell her that I thought organized religion was a total crock. It was a pleasant fantasy that gave her hope and kept her going—which was exactly what the Hunt was for me.

And there is a lot that could be said of Wade’s assessment of both faith and reality (and faith matching reality) here.  The assertion that evolution is proven by the fossil record is debatable; instead of finding life forms going from simple to more complex in the rocks, we find the Cambrian Explosion.  The “fairy tale” assertion is also debatable; the existence of an actual, historical Jesus is debated by very few people.

But what I really want to focus on is his assertion that “organized religion” (an ill-advised phrase that borders on if not crosses into the ridiculous) is a fantasy that gives people hope.  More to the point, I want to focus on his implication that people taking hope from a fantasy is somehow wrong or lowly.  I want to focus on the condescension he is pouring on people taking hope from a fantasy, and I want to focus on that within the worldview he has expressed.  I want to give him his worldview for the sake of argument, in other words, argue as if the materialistic worldview he expresses here is the correct worldview, the worldview which matches reality.  Because if we do that, we quickly see that the condescension he pours on “the religious” is unfounded, that everything he says here about “religion” is self-defeating and self-refuting.

Here’s what I mean: in Wade’s worldview, life is brutal.  Oh, there are a few people who have things alright for a little while, but everyone (rich and poor, strong and weak, loved and hated) eventually reaches the same bleak end: they cease to exist.  Many of them will cease to exist in a gruesome fashion, but all of them will cease to exist in one way or another.  The universe is, to paraphrase Richard Dawkins, “blind, pitiless, and indifferent”.   And there is no one countering that blind, pitiless indifference, no one fighting the universe on behalf of any individual.  Every person is eventually going to fall prey to the universe.  That is life in Wade’s worldview.

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Not only so, but there is nothing wrong in Wade’s worldview.  There might be things that are incorrect; people might think something is when it is not.  But there is nothing wrong in the moral sense of the world.  There is nothing people can do wrong.  There is nothing they can do right, either.  Wrong and right do not exist in Wade’s world.  There is no way that a materialistic worldview can produce an absolute right or wrong, and there is no way that worldview can produce a reason for people to submit to that absolute right or wrong even if it could.

So  my question to Wade is, “What’s so bad about having hope?  What’s so bad about people who are trapped in a brutal universe finding some way to find hope in that universe?  What’s so bad about people who are trapped in a brutal universe that has no right or wrong getting hope from a fantasy?”  I can’t see any way in which Wade can argue that it is wrong (if you can, please let me know).  I can’t see any reason why Wade should try to prevent people from getting that hope (which, to his credit, I don’t think he does) nor why he should pour condescension on people who get that hope in their chosen way (which, to his discredit, he does in this very passage).

This is particularly true considering two additional facts: 1) most everybody in Wade’s world in finding hope in similar fantasies, the 80s properties they are copying in their virtual reality world and 2) Wade, who says he finds hope in The Hunt, actually has a God-like figure directing his acts to a happy end: the author, Ernest Cline.  Not only is Wade’s condescension inconsistent with his reality, but it is hypocritical as well.

So that’s what I would ask Wade and that’s why I would ask it.  And if you are anything like Wade, if you share his worldview and his condescension of “organized religion”, I’d ask you the same thing.

 

Popes, Hells, And Good News

So the Pope said there is no hell.  Or maybe he didn’t.  The story came out one way one day and came out the other way the next.

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Now I don’t know if he did and I don’t know if he didn’t and I don’t care either way.  But I do know some in our modern times have said that.  A well-known and celebrated young pastor wrote a book which basically said that; the book argued for what is called universalism, that is, everyone is saved and “goes to Heaven” in the end (I think it did, anyway; I read the book but found the assertions vague).  There was a movie about Hell on Netflix which said that as well.   Most telling to me, a guy I was talking with once said the same thing.  A group of us were together.  One young lady in the group said she couldn’t believe in a God who would send people to hell.  This guy responded by saying, “I have good news!  There is no hell!”  This guy then proceeded to tell the young lady about annihilationism, the notion that people who don’t “go to heaven” are just obliterated rather than tormented for eternity.

So the notion is there.  And I have a few thoughts about that notion.  These thoughts don’t take that notion on directly; I’m not going to try to prove that Hell is real.  But they do contribute to a proper understanding of it the notion.  In particular, they show that the notion is meaningless, that it not good news and does not (or at least should not) affect the way a person lives and things.  Here are those thoughts:

1. Jesus’ message was not about escaping Hell and/or going to Heaven.  It was about the coming of the Kingdom of God.  Jesus’ first public message, which I call His “inaugural” or “thematic message”, was not that people could escape Hell.  It was also not that people could go to Heaven.  It was that this thing He called “the Kingdom of God” (“kingdom of Heaven” in Matthew, which is why some people mistakenly think He is talking about the life to come) being near (that is, near in space, not near in time).

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In the Model Prayer of Matthew 6, Jesus further defines this Kingdom of God concept:

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The “good news” or Gospel, then, was not people could go to Heaven/not go to Hell when they die.  It was that God’s perfect and good will was beginning to be done on earth (was invading and overtaking earth, actually), and people could be a part of that, entering and furthering that kingdom.  It was a good news not just for now but for later, not just for the hereafter but the here.

That is what the good news still is, and that is how the good news should be understood.  It should be understood more as a partnership than a business deal, more as marriage than as a beneficial arrangement.  My wife and I married in 2005.  When my wife came down the aisle, she told me she loved me.  Can you imagine if she said something else?  What is she said, “Now you’re sure that if I marry you I get to live in your house, right?  If I go through this wedding, I get to stay at your place?”  How mercenary and stupid that would be.  I wasn’t offering her a place to stay in return for her hand in marriage (though that of course did happen; she did come to live with me).  I was offering to share my life with her, asking her to join my in my life’s work (which she did!).

It is the same with God.  Going to His house after the wedding ceremony (that is, going to Heaven) and not being left outside (that is, going to Hell) are part of the process but not the parts that are emphasized that much.  They are givens.  What God really wants and really offers is something far superior: a chance to share His life and work.  To someone who thinks this way (that is, the proper way), the existence or non-existence of a Hell is really meaningless.  Such a person would walk with, serve, and obey God regardless of whether there really was or was not such a place.

2. There will be loss for those who don’t participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God whether they go to Hell or not.  Let’s say there is no Hell.  Let’s say there is no annihilation, either.  Let’s say everyone, from committed follower of Jesus to militant atheist and everyone in-between, gets to go to Heaven when they die.  That means everyone wins, right?  Everyone gets the same thing.

Not at all.  Those who have not walked with, served, and obeyed God as I described above, those who have not entered and advanced that Kingdom Jesus talked about, will still lose.  Even if they are in the same place as those who did enter and advance the Kingdom, they will lose.  I think Paul describes something like this in 1 Corinthians 3:

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Some think Paul is talking about “degrees of rewards” there.  And that may be true.  There may be such a thing as degrees of rewards in the life to come.  However, even if there are not such formal degrees of rewards (that is, even if God doesn’t put ten stars on one person’s crown (to use an old-time image) and only two on another person’s), there will still be some sort of informal degree of rewards.  Even if everything is the same across the board for everyone, there will still be those who enjoy or appreciate the life to come more than others.  A militant atheist, for example, would spend eternity with the knowledge that this eternity is the very thing he spent his life working against, while a person who entered and advanced the kingdom would spend eternity with the knowledge that this is the very thing he spent his life working for.

So even if Hell is off the table, there is still a risk of loss here.  There is still the reality that a person loses something if they don’t enter and advance the Kingdom as Jesus invited them to.  And thus there is still reason for a person to enter and advance the Kingdom even if universalism was true.

3. The idea that you would accept annihilationism rather than pursue eternity is bizarre.  This is a different train of thought, but one I find equally legitimate and convincing.  Whenever this notion that there is no Hell, even if the alternative to Hell is annihilationism, people seem to be relieved and comforted.  They seem to think annihilationism is an acceptable future, in fact.  They seem to say, “Hey, I won’t go to Heaven, but I won’t go to Hell, either.  I’ll just cease to exist, and I’m fine with that.”

My question is, “Who would be fine with that?”  Who would be fine with annihilationism, and why would they be fine with it.  The opportunity to exist forever in the paradise for which originally intended is right there.  It is not hard to seize that opportunity; all you have to do is believe in and love Jesus.  Why would anybody not do that?  Why would anybody choose annihilation over that?

Imagine someone went to the doctor and was told they had a disease that would kill them in six months but could be cured by a simple pill.  Imagine further this person said, “No, I’ve had 50 good years.  I’ll just take that and be happy.”  Wouldn’t we seriously question this person’s actions?  Wouldn’t we seriously question their thought process and value system?

It is the same here.  Shouldn’t we seriously question the thought process and value system that says, “I’m not interested in pursuing an eternal existence.  I’ll be happy to take my 80-or-so years and leave it at that”?  I think we should.  I think we certainly should question it if we are operating on it.

On the first day of seventh grade, my math teacher asked the class how many of us would be satisfied with a B.  None of us raised our hands.  He told us half of the previous class had raised their hands.  I couldn’t understanding being satisfied with less when it came to a grade or an academic career.  And I seriously can’t understand being satisfied with less when it comes to existence, to your very person and life.  It reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ famous statement:

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There is good news, but that good news is neither universalism nor annihilationism.  The good news is that Jesus has invited us not just to live in His house but to contribute to His kingdom.  He has called us not just to go to Heaven when we die but to join Him in bring Heaven to earth.

40 Hours of Prayer

I am part of a interdenominational church group called Church Without Shoes.  Every year, this group starts Holy Week with a forty-hour period of prayer.  We call this period “40 Hours of Prayer”.  Pretty straightforward, right?  The prayer is hosted at a church called Sanctuary Ministries, a church that is centered on worship, prayer, prophecy, and artistic expression.  This church has really put their talents into this forty-hour prayer period.  They divided the period into 40 1-hour segments, each led by a different pastor (I did two periods this morning as the pastor scheduled to take over for me couldn’t make it).  They further divided this hour into stations based on Jesus’ teachings in John 13-17.  I wanted to share these stations with you, so I took some pictures.  Here they are:

20180326_085651This is the first station.  I and the people I led repented here and reminded ourselves of God’s promise of forgiveness.

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This is the entry to the prayer room.  It is designed to replicate the door to a Jewish household on the night of Passover.  You can see the blood above the door (not real, of course).  The idea is that we were interceding for our valley (our area is a valley, and we pastors often speak of it in that way).  We were asking for the destroyer to pass over our valley and God’s blessings to flow in.

20180326_084204The first station.  We read Jesus’ “new command” to love one another.  We thought about someone who needed His love, wrote their name on a card, and asked Him to fill us with His love for them.

20180326_084216The second station.  We had the names of people suffering from anxieties given us by the churches over the past several weeks.  We asked that Jesus would comfort them in their anxieties (see the hands of Jesus coming out of the troublesome headlines) and then we moved their names into His green pastures beside the still waters (Psalm 23).

20180326_084225Third station.  We read Jesus’ teaching on abiding in Him from John 15.  We prayed for those who have lost connection with “the vine” and then connected their names to the vine.

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Fourth station.  We asked the Spirit to direct our attention to one of the pictures (all of which were hands in some state of action).  We then reflected on what God was saying to us in those pictures.  Some of us wrote what we heard down on paper and clipped it underneath the appropriate picture.  I heard God telling me to be more open to people, especially those that seem like “lost causes”.  (My paper is the second one under the picture of the open hands.)

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The final station.  We prayed for unity among all the churches in our valley, the same thing Jesus prays for in John 17.  There were church names on cards.  We each picked a name, prayed for that church, then attached it to the cross.  I did not know most of these churches.  Many of them were far different from my church (more ecclesiastical, more denominational, etc.).  I prayed for them anyway and ask for unity with them and with all followers of Jesus Christ.

20180326_084256We ended with communion.  I took communion three times with three different groups of people, and I loved Jesus every time.

40 Hours of Prayer is a highlight for me.  It would be even without all the artistry, but it is especially so with it.  I experienced joy, hope, peace, faith, etc. while leading people through these stations.  If you’re in our area, stop by before 5 PM tomorrow and pray yourself.  If not, pray where you are.  You may not be in our valley, but we want all of God’s blessings to be upon you as well.

God bless us all as we move to Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!

Science Tests Faith

 

Today I listened to an excellent podcast called Speak Life.  The episode I listened to was titled “Is Science The Enemy of Faith?”  It contained a short lecture delivered by a guy named Glen Scrivener.  The lecture was brilliant on several levels.

It started with a story  about a botanist named Betty who analyzed rather than appreciated a rose she had received for Valentine’s Day.  With this, Scrivener was showing that it is possible to understand the inner workings of the universe without understanding what the universe was for.  This is an idea that I’ve been mulling for about 20 years.  The idea first came to me when I saw a rainbow in the sky over Cincinnati during a snowstorm (yes, a snowstorm, not a rainstorm) and I realized that science could explain how that rainbow got there but could never explain why it was there or why it excited me so much.  I wrote a poem about this, in fact.  That poem is now lost, and probably for the better.  But Bettys (or is it Betties?) are still around, and every time I encounter them I feel like Ted Danson in this scene from Gulliver’s Travels:

 

Another great thing Scrivener said in the lecture was “scientism of the gaps”.  There was a question time following his lecture, and someone asked about Christians using “God of the gaps” arguments.  These arguments merely apply God to whatever is unknown, and for that reason they are not regarded very well.  Scrivener in reply said that some scientists are guilty of a similar poor argument he called “scientism of the gaps”.  As the name suggests, this is just applying some scientific principle, such as “natural selection”, or, even worse, some scientific fact which simply has not been discovered yet, to whatever is unknown.  I had never heard that phrase “scientism of the gaps” before, but I had encountered this type of thinking.  I particularly encountered it when I wrote a paper on the Cambrian Explosion in grad school.  At that time, I ran across this video:

Professor Valentine there states that there “must have been” the kind of biological build-up Darwinian evolution requires, and he admits that there is no evidence for that build-up, but still concludes that such a build-up is “probably right” and “must have been”.  I just don’t see the qualitative difference between saying something like that and saying something is because “God made it that way”.  It does seem like scientism in the gaps to me, and it seems as poor as God in the gaps.

More than anything, though, this podcast reminded me of a TV special that aired on Fox during my final year of Bible college.  The special was called Signs From God: Science Tests Faith and was hosted by Giselle Fernandez.

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For some reason I thought this was called “Science Vs Faith” and was hosted by Soledad O’Brien, which is why it took me forever to find.

I remember the special being promoted less as “science tests faith” and more like “science versus faith”.  And I remember thinking at the time, “What science?”  I probably could have also asked, “What faith?” as the “signs from God” being tested were not signs I would have based any of my faith upon.  Indeed, while the general consensus seems to be that all science is against all faith, a quick survey of the many branches of science shows that this is not close to being true.

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Not even close to being exhaustive, but the best I could do in the space I had.

Does geology argue against faith in any degree?  Or forensics?  Physics?  What about math?  Computer science?  Political science?  None of them do.  In fact, no true scientific fact (that is, an observation of the natural world) can argue against faith, and no scientific field does, either.  Rather, as Scrivener says in the podcast, what really argues against the faith (or tries to argue against it) is a scientific philosophy, a worldview or even religion which uses science and looks like a science and influences science but is not itself a science.  You can also call it naturalism, materialism, philosophical materialism, etc.  But you really can’t call it science.  It isn’t.

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That, as Alvin Plantiga says, is where the conflict really lies, what the conflict really is.  It is not science versus faith.  It is scientism versus faith.  It is not a conflict of “fact versus myth”, as some would like to present it.  It is a conflict of one worldview against another.

Scrivener ably defended my worldview in his lecture.  He left lots of room for true science (observation of nature) as well (indeed, based on his comments, there were lots of Christian scientists in the room with him).  He showed that science is not and really cannot be the enemy of The Faith and vice versa.  And I completely agree.

A Good Experience (One of Many)

Maybe this is apropos of nothing.  Maybe it isn’t.  In either case, I remembered something after I wrote yesterday’s post.  I remembered the one other time I missed a preaching engagement (the only other one I can remember).  It was Wild Card Weekend, just like this weekend.  In fact, I seem to often get sick on Wild Card Weekend.  I know I was sick the Wild Card Weekend before I married my wife (2005), but I think I toughed it out.  I did not tough it out this other Wild Card Weekend (2003, I believe); I was way too sick.  I can’t remember how the elders filled the pulpit for me (we had a fellow in the congregation who was a capable preacher, so he may have done it).  But I do remember the elders brought communion to me afterward.  I was still very sick at that point, and I hadn’t eaten anything.  I took communion and the elders left me with a couple football games I didn’t really care about.

A couple hours later, though, a lady from the church came by.  This lady was one of what I call “the fringe members of the church”; she and her husband regularly attended but they were not significantly involved.  She told me she heard I was sick and asked me if I needed anything.  I said I hadn’t eaten all day and was thinking some Gatorade would help me.  I also said I could use an electric blanket.  She then went out to buy both those things for me.  She may have had to go out and come back twice; that seems to be right, but the memory is hazy.  She also brought me some homemade Sloppy Joes.  I wrapped up in the blanket, drank the Gatorade, tried to eat the Sloppy Joes (I don’t think I made it; the appetite wasn’t fully back yet), and watched the I Love The 80s marathon on VH1 (that might have been the beginning of the nostalgia bent I’ve been on ever since).  And for the first time that weekend I started to feel better.

It was a terrible weekend (did I mention I had just broken up with a girl a couple weeks before that weekend), but that night was a great night.  It was a great night because of this one “fringe” woman who took it upon herself to help a single, rather stupid kid with his sickness.

And that is just one of many great experiences I have had with church people.   Now I know many folks have had less-than-great experiences with church people, and I further know that those less-than-great experiences are for them a reason to dislike the entire church.  But if those peoples’ experiences are valid data for evaluating the church, why are my experiences not also valid data for evaluating the church?  If they have rejected the church because of these experiences (and proclaim themselves right to do so), then why can’t (or shouldn’t) I embrace the church because of my experiences?

Apropos of nothing?  Maybe.  But maybe not.