Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fatalism and Sovereignty 

The believer in God's sovereignty is often called a fatalist or a determinist.  Sometimes Christians, stung by this criticism, react by somehow reducing God's control over all things, through language like "God allows bad things to happen" or similar ideas.  But the real difference between fatalism and Biblical sovereignty is merely this- fatalism teaches that all things happen for impersonal and abstract reasons, and we are simply caught in the machine.  One should not resist one's fate because there is no point.  The Biblical understanding of God's sovereignty, however, teaches that all things happen for the good of God's elect people.  One should not resist the will of God because there is no point, but also because the will of God is for my good, for my salvation.  Fatalism is impersonal, but God's sovereign rule is very personal and benevolent.  This is a world of difference.

Monday, October 17, 2011

This One Weird Old Trick 

I heard someone say the other day that you can understand a lot about a culture by looking at the advertising, which makes sense.  Advertisers need to connect their products to the values of their culture in order to sell their products.

What does it say about our culture that these "one weird old trick" advertisements have become so prevalent?  There seems to be this idea that there's some secret trick to getting rich, getting healthy, getting thin or whatever.  If only you were in on the secret, then you would have it too.  The assumption seems to be that success is the product of being in on a secret, rather than just hard work and character.

Maybe it's not as representative as it seems to me.  I just seem to see a lot of these advertisements, especially online, selling a wide variety of products- car insurance, diet pills, get-rich-quick schemes, etc.

I heard Dave Ramsey the other day saying, "Every time I've ever met good luck, he had work clothes on."  Success comes from diligence and hard work, not some "easy weird old trick".

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nibbling on the Hook 

Sin always starts out looking like something different than what it is.  Sin is always based on lies.  It starts out as something just a little bit "naughty", a little bit daring and attractive.  It's crossing the line a little, but it's not really "bad".  That's how it looks.  So we think we can indulge a little bit, just to edge out a little from God's law, just sin a little bit.  We're like fish seeing a worm and saying, we'll just take a little nibble.

But there's a hook.  There's something concealed in sin.  Jesus said, He who sins is the slave of sin.  The slavery is in this lie, this deception about the real nature of sin.  Surely David never thought that his little flirting with Bathsheba, just a little look at a bathing woman across the street, would end where it did, with murder, rebellion and the ruin of his kingdom.  Surely Esau never thought his little joke would end with the loss of the covenant blessings and alienation from his brother and parents.  Surely Eve was just exploring forbidden knowledge a little bit.  She never expected it to end with the ruin of the whole human race.  And Judas skimming a little bit of money from the offering plate ended with the murder of the Son of God.

It's always like this.  Every little sin has the potential to ruin your whole soul.  Only the grace of God prevents this.  Every little sin is a lie, that we can take God's blessings for ourselves without reference to God's truth.  Once I believe that lie there is no end to the destruction I can do to myself and those around me.  Every little nibble at that juicy worm has the potential for me cooking in the fisherman's frying pan.

How hopeless our condition is.  How truly dependent on grace we are, for every breath that we take.  How reliant on Christ we must be, for forgiveness and deliverance from this lie.  "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OWS- Modern day pogrom 

The Occupy Wall Street protests feel to me like the pogroms of the Middle Ages.  Some bad thing happens (drought, plague, subprime mortgage meltdown), and without any understanding of why it happened at all, people find some convenient group (Jews, Wall St bankers) to blame for it and call for them to be prosecuted and thrown in jail, or worse.  Right now, I'm willing to accept that it's a coincidence that many bankers also happen to be Jews.  But really, it's the same kind of ignorant foolishness, driven at least a little by envy.  I hear people saying that the country is suffering (true), and that many bankers are doing great (perhaps?  A lot of their stock prices are way down), and therefore it must be their fault somehow.  If so, make the case.  How is this their fault?  It's about as rational as saying, my crops failed and my neighbor's didn't, and therefore he must be in league with Satan and cast a spell on my field.

I'm not saying that all bankers are innocent.  Some of them probably should go to jail.  Angelo Mozilo, for example.  But the idea that this is somehow the fault of "bankers" is pointless.  If people have specific cases to make against specific bankers or corporations, make them, rather than this sort of blanket condemnation of a whole industry.  But of course if you make specific cases against specific bankers, like Mozilo, then that leads back to the real problem, which is the Democratic party.  And nobody wants that, of course.

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