I picked up the book on my kindle a few days ago, and had to finish another book before I could start reading The Shack. I started reading it today – and I’m half way done. It is a pretty amazing book.
I wanted to take a quick second to address a concern that I’ve heard about this book in it’s representation of the trinity. I don’t want to say too much, because I don’t want to spoil the book; but I’ll say enough that you’ll get some general ideas of what is going to happen, so if you haven’t read the book yet, and you plan to – don’t read ahead just yet.
I’ve heard some concerns that the representation of the Trinity in this book is “heretical”. There is a point in the book where the author very clearly addresses his purpose in having God appear as he does: a large African American woman named Papa.
Within the freedom of prose, in my opinion his depiction does no harm to the nature of God – in fact, up to this point in the book, I think it has a liberating effect in trying to pull free the shackles of peoples mind’s of what they think God to be.
While God envelopes Himself in the language of male in the bible, He is neither Male nor Female, although both genders derive their essence from Him (in some mysterious way).
I’m not suggesting that it is o.k. in a theologically sense to refer to God as a woman, I think there is a purpose in God choosing to be identified as a “He” in the writings of the Bible, but again, God does sometimes choose to reveal Himself in many ways, whether it’s a storm or a whirlwind a pillar of clouds or fire, a burning bush, or a dove or even something as unobtrusive as a small whisper in a person’s heart – why not a large African American woman?.
So far, this book seems to have an amazing story to tell when addressing the problem of human suffering – I can’t wait to see if it gets better!
Here is a brief video of some of the friends we met while in Haiti while there in Feb.
H.I.S. Home For Children is always in need of help and volunteers. They have a weekly food bill of around 2,000 and a rent for their two orphanage compounds of close to 2500$ a month, as well as so many other expenses and needs. If you are looking for ways to help, please contact us!
We are so blessed that the Lord has called us to be fellow workers in helping to meet the needs of these children in Haiti by showing them His love and compassion through our love and compassion.
One could ask: “How can it be considered Justice to allow one man to pay the penalty for another man”. The answer to how God can be both Just and Justifier can be found in no one but the person of Jesus Christ.
To start with, even in our human society there is allowances for legal representation of one person on behalf of another. In the concept of an ambassador, one person is placed in a position of authority to represent another. An ambassador has the right to speak and act on behalf of the one He/She represents.
Decisions an ambassador make are legally binding on those they represent. For example, my wife and I have signed a Power of Attorney for our adoptions, those that hold a power of attorney for us have the legal authority to make decisions on our behalf, and we are legally bound to those decisions and can be held responsible for those decisions.
Adam, as the first man, came under a covenant with God to represent all of mankind. And as our representative, Adam broke that covenant, and we took on responsibility for his actions. While this alone is enough to make us guilty, we also take on direct guilt, in choosing to stand with Adam in his disobedience through our own disobedience.
Then comes Jesus in the picture, as the second representative of mankind (the second Adam); his atonement was the result of Him taking on the legal representation for us; Jesus making a decision to honor an agreement between He and God the Father – thus allowing us through His representation to take advantage of this redemption by associating and coming into agreement with his decision to honor His covenant with God.
It is through this representative model that our penal system (and moral law) allows for the redemptive nature of Jesus. Adam as our representatives made us guilty, Jesus as our representative makes us redeemed.
However, this isn’t the end of the story. A second portion of this whole discussion comes into place when you look at what the purpose of a penalty is for.
In our country of the United States, legal penalties come about through breaking the law; and paying those penalties are to bring about restitution to those we have transgressed against. In our case, we transgress against our neighbor, which is transgressing against the local authorities, to state authorities, to governmental authorities, which in our country comes up to the President of the United States. In saying this, when we break a law in our country, we are transgressing the rule of authority of the President of the United states.
No one acting on behalf of the President of the United States has the right to forgive that transgression, however, the President of the United States (as the one who was transgressed against) does have a right to “wipe the slate clean” (we see this quite frequently with the concept of a Presidential Pardon). And yet, even in this case, it can be said that it is ‘unjust’ for the President to wipe away a transgression without proper restitution being paid, and yet, even in this injustice, our penal system allows for this.
So if we take this concept even one step further, any law broken, or any over-arching moral or universal law that is broken, transgresses the ultimate law giver: The Creator, and He and He alone has the right to pardon transgressions against Himself. The right… but not the requirement, God would be just in condemning all those who have transgressed his law, and yet, His love allows Him to pardon those who have transgressed against him. However, His justice requires that those transgressions be paid for with restitution, and this is where love comes in.
While God has the authority to wipe our transgressions away, His own nature binding Him to justice would not allow Him to let transgressions go unpunished (unlike our nature as humans that will allow this in the case of a Presidential Pardon as referenced above). Because all transgressions are ultimately against Him, He is the only one that can ultimately pardon those transgressions, and yet, because of the nature of our transgressions, we have nothing to offer in restitution to pay for the gravity of our transgressions.
Therefore, God showed both perfect love and perfect justice in providing of Himself for the restitution and redemption for His creation. And still those who do not receive redemption by bringing themselves into a state of agreement in the representation of the second Adam will still receive perfect love and perfect justice.
Oh, P.S. I sold my motorcycle, so I bought a kindle as a conciliatory salve. But to my (somewhat) utter amazement, I am now alight from the kindle (pun intended).
Even with hard-copy books sitting right next to me on my bookshelf, I’ve found myself starting to buy the Kindle compliment to read it on the kindle… I guess they were right, at least in my life for sure, it has been revolutionary!
In today’s milieu there is a popular idea going around in a movie called “Zeitgeist” (or Spirit of the Age) that works to try to discredit Christianity by claiming that the claims of Christianity are not unique throughout the world, that they are just some replayed propaganda created by humans to explain away the origins of mankind.
Well, surprisingly enough, there are stories spread throughout the whole world similar to those found in the bible, interestingly, sometimes even by tribes of people that have never had any contact with the Judeo-Christian teachers, sometimes tribes whose beliefs that are so similar to Judeo-Christian teachings and yet, pre-date Judeo-Christian writings.
I have just finished reading a book all about these types of occurrences, the book is called “Eternity in their Hearts”. The stories are all very similar: A Sky-God who is the one true creator of all things, creates a people, gives them a set of rules, they disobey the rules and come under punishment, until after many life spans these tribes forget how to worship that one true God. Some even talk about a lost book that contains the information on how to worship this one true God, and some have legends of a yet future revelation. In Zeitgeist the author goes even one step further to discuss the “redeeming son” that is sacrificed for the world (although a critical scholar would find many fallacious twists the author puts on some of these instances to try and make them look more similar to Christianity than they really are, but that’s out of scope for this discussion).
And yet, even without some of the manipulation of historical artifacts like those presented in Zeitgeist, this same theme rings over and over in human history, the similarities of the Christian gospel in religious folklore around the world; but let me ask: does this mean that Christianity is just a made up story, or perhaps, does this mean that God has been pre-evangelizing the world in general revelation to prepare the way for the special revelation made through the Abrahamic-covenant (and eventually Jesus Christ)? Don Richardson in his book, “Eternity in their Hearts”, makes a very strong and compelling argument for the later.
I’ve written many times enough about my beliefs and who Jesus is, and why. I don’t believe in blind faith! I believe in a well thought out and calculated decision. I look at Jesus Christ, and find Lewis’ epitome of the trilemma to speak mountains to this conversation: Jesus Christ was either a Liar, one that could be equated to a hellish devil, a lunatic equal to a man who claims to be a poached egg, or He was who He claimed to be – there is no room for this “great teacher who really wasn’t God”, and clearly, if you have read my blog before, you know that I am convinced of Jesus’ divine nature (I won’t go into the reasoning in this blog, but check back issues).
And speaking of C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, he talks about what he terms “Good Dreams”. Lewis states that all these stories that we find so similar to Christianity spread throughout the ages, shouldn’t bring us to a point of questioning the uniqueness of the gospel, rather it should bring us to a point of worship, in which we realize that all these stories are pointing to the one occurrence in the history of mankind where “He became flesh and dwelt among us”.
You see, these stories outline and pre-evangelize (or provide redemptive folklore as Don Richardson calls it) to the world, pointing to the one point in space and time when God would actually bring to a culmination all the ideas and thoughts He has been spreading throughout time. In this one time and historically verifiable individual, we find the final chapter written.
If you are at all interested in this (either because you find it a bunch of baloney, or because you are intrigued, and would like to be shown some serious evidence for these claims) – I HIGHLY recommend picking up and reading Eternity in their Hearts. I had a hard time putting it down!
Now, I’m reading another Don Richardson book about Head Hunting Cannibals who pride themselves in seeking friendships with people, just to “fatten them up with friendship for the slaughter”. Don went among these people to evangelize to them (omg!), and what he found…. well, you’ll just have to read it for yourself! 😉
If I wasn’t so worried about leaving my children without parents if something happened to me, I think I would be on the next plane to Haiti!
Skyping with our children in Haiti is getting a little easier. Settling back into the understanding that it is going to take time, a long time, and there is nothing we can do about it, brings almost a sense of relief in the acceptance. Please don’t misunderstand, it saddens me beyond words that it’s going to take so long, and I’m still resolved to do anything and everything I can to speed along the process, but, there is a certain pressure and pain in worrying about something you can’t change that is relieved when you finally accept that you can’t change something.
Instead, I realized today, I need to focus on what I can do. I can work to gain more financial independence so that I can give my five children an even better life. I can continue to work on being a better father and provider. I can pray without ceasing for the health and safety of my entire family (even with it being spread across the continent).
But I realized today too that I can’t be so caught up in getting my children home, that I forget to live my life with my children that are already home.
I think I really would be on a plane to Haiti tomorrow, if I didn’t have to worry about what would happen to my children if something happened to me…
Perhaps there is some blessing in how fast time flies… we are finishing up our Dossier within the next week or two – hoping that our lawyer can connect up with our Cresh, so we can get our dossier submitted – and then the long wait starts….
Jedidiah and Christella; beautiful and half a world away. I can’t wait to hold them again!
Saturday, March 14, 2009 Jediah Logiodice
I spent some time revisiting this topic for a class discussion I was having with the young men in our Church – I figured I’d post it here too.
Does God Really Exist?
What if someone asks you “Why do you believe in God”, but they don’t believe in the bible? Trying to prove the God who is revealed in the bible using the bible is a form of “begging the question”. An example of “begging the question” is as follows. Question: How do you know God exists; answer: because the bible tells us so. Question: But how do you know the bible is right; Answer: because God says it is!
You see, in this type of reasoning, you try to prove that God is real by using the bible, and yet, you use the bible to prove God is real. The argument is circular, and literally “begs the question”.
Remember, the Word of God is alive and sharper than any two edged sword (Heb 4:12, NIV), however, you can’t expect people to understand the power of the bible, if they don’t believe in the existence of God in the first place. So, what other kind of reasons could you use without appealing to the scriptures to show that God exists?
As we discussed in our class, here are some available options (although, this list is not complete, and is not as detailed as it could be):
Argument from Experience:
While you can’t see the wind, you can see the things the wind does and experience the feelings caused by the wind (e.g. blown hair, sand in your eyes, etc.). One argument for the existence of God is based on the things that we can see or experience as a result of God. The argument could go something like this: I have experienced God, therefore I know God exists.
While this argument is very powerful for the individual who has experienced God, it falls short of being able to convince someone that has never experienced God (i.e. How could you explain color to someone who is color blind, they would really have to have faith in you and your experience of color in order to believe in color).
Another reason to be cautious with the argument is that sometimes our feelings might not always represent reality (e.g. feeling like someone is watching you, when someone really isn’t [or at least as far as you knowJ]).
Teleological Argument (Or argument from design):
Another argument for the existence of God is based on the complexity of human life. The argument can be similarly compared to an argument set forth by William Paley that states an idea that if someone were to come upon a watch while walking, they would not assume that the watch ‘just appeared’ or ‘came to exist by itself’; logic would seem to dictate that there was a watchmaker that made the watch.
While some will find this argument to be very compelling; at the same time, there is a danger in appealing to the idea of a “God of the gaps”, i.e. invoking God for anything that we can’t understand based on our current scientific knowledge. The problem is that the more we, as humans, can understand based on continued evaluation of the natural laws, the less room there is for “God”, if “God” is defined as The Being that does all the things that we can’t explain.
Ontological Argument (Or argument from being):
The ontological argument is an argument that has been around for a long, long time. I enjoy Anselm’s version the most, and therefore will use it. The Ontological argument is a form of philosophical reasoning that tries to set forth a statement where the conclusion is true, as long as each of the individual statements is true.
Anselm’s argument goes something like this:
1. The definition of God means “The greatest thing”
2. Things that are outside the mind (in reality) are greater than things that are only in the mind (imaginary).
3. If God is only in the mind, then there would be something greater than God, that is, a God that exists outside of the mind.
4. Because the definition of God means “The greatest thing”, by definition, God has to exist outside of the mind, because He must be greater than the God that exists in the mind.
5. Therefore: God exists outside of the mind.
When discussing existence, the idea will inevitably arise that asks: “Why is there something, rather than nothing”. This question is phrased in such a way to show that the asker is searching for a cause or reason of existence; however, the question itself presupposes the idea that there really is something rather than nothing (that things really exist).
We’ll assume that everyone reading this agrees that things do exist (otherwise, you’re not really reading this, so it doesn’t really matter). So the next question is “Where did this something come from?”
From all that is known of science and philosophy, there is a premise that says “if there was ever a time in the existence of the world that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, than today, there would still be absolutely nothing, for out of nothing, nothing comes!”
Let me put it another way: If there was nothing, and something needed to make itself out of this nothing, then this something would have to be made before it could be made, that is, it would have to pre-date itself to create itself. This premise is logically impossible. In fact, even God, if He exists, can’t make Himself.
In philosophy, when discussing the concepts of existence, there are two primary terms that are put forth to identity existence. In existence, there are things that are contingent (i.e. things that rely on something else to create them) or there are things that are necessary (i.e. something in which its very essence is complete and existing with neither beginning nor end having no need outside of its own self).
While there is so much detail that can included on this one topic; the summary is this: things exist, and yet, to exist, there must be a cause, however, if there is a cause, there must be, somewhere in the history of past causes a very first cause. That very first cause cannot be caused, and cannot cause itself, and therefore the first cause must by necessary (as defined above).
In the end, the cosmological argument, can be understand in a very simplistic form which states:
· The world exists
· There must be a reason that the world exists
· The reason must be provided by something that is necessary, not contingent
· Therefore: A necessary being exists, and God is that necessary being.
Argument from Universals:
This is an argument that is used to help underline the existence of a universal idea, most often the universal of a moral value. C.S. Lewis pointed out in his book Mere Christianity that while people will often argue about that fact that a “standard of morals” does not exist, the very fact that they are arguing goes to prove that they both believe there is a standard that they are appealing to. I would never try and convince you of “right” versus “wrong” unless I had some standard of right to point at.
This argument is sometimes put forth in a similar fashion as was done by St. Thomas Aquinas:
· Something can be judged more or less good only if it is held up to a standard of that which is perfect
· Things are judged more or less good
· Therefore: a perfect standard exists, and that standard is God
In final, Pascal’s wager, which we really didn’t talk about in class, makes the argument that it is smarter and safer to believe in God than to not believe in God. While I don’t necessarily condone this type of reasoning (because it really doesn’t bring someone to a true faith in God), it certainly can be used as a means to get people thinking. Pascal’s wager goes something like this:
· If God doesn’t exist, but you believe in him, you will lose a little bit of time and money now, but nothing in eternity
· If God does exist, but you don’t believe in him, you will save a little bit of time and money now, but you will suffer for eternity
· Therefore: It’s a much wiser idea to believe in God.
Waiting to talk to Christella today was almost like waiting for Christmas morning as a little child; there was the excitement and the butterflies in the stomach, and yet it was somewhat a little different.
Looming in the air was a twinge of sadness, having reinforced that our relationship as father and daughter is confined to face to face 10 minute conversations twice a month and letters that we write to her (but won’t expect any back in return).
When we got done, I was emotionally drained. I felt like I had been crying for hours… pathetic I know – but that was the feeling. I had a headache, signs of high blood pressure, sick to my stomach and just very, very sad.
I’m so glad we get to talk to her every two weeks, but boy, oh boy, does it really hurt to see her and still know that it’s going to be a long time before she comes home.
It’s going to be a very long year…