‘Running To and Fro’, Gun Control and the Vanity of it All

I am amazed by the rapidity of this world. The Apocalyptic prophet, Daniel, wrote once:

4. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge. ~Daniel 12:4 (NIV)

obamagunIt is easy to be culture conditioned, and not realize how fast things are moving; since if we don’t move with it we won’t continue to have our being, it seems. But on reflection what Daniel wrote (had revealed to him) a couple millenia/+ ago seems to be ever increasingly true. One of the reasons I am reflecting like this is because I just came across an open source movement—in our gun control frenzy era—called Defense Distributed, they are intending on producing what they are calling a Wiki Weapon; a weapon that can be fully printed from your computer using a 3-d printer and plastic resin. The founder of this move is Cody R. Wilson, a University of Texas Law School in Austin Law student; and he seems to be motivated more by philosophical (and even chastened or principled anarchist) principles than he is by the actual production of the weapon. Indeed, his desire seems to be one that is shaped more by subterfuge than sales of weapons; his goal is to, apparently, tell the man that he has already lost. His aim appears to be one that says “so what” governments of the world; you can regulate and ban guns, but you can’t ban the ideas that produces guns. And ultimately, given the free access to the internet, Wilson seems to think that governments can’t ban the actual production of physical weapons/guns either. But I wonder what Wilson thinks about governments banning or regulating the internet; I wonder if he has pondered what would happen if these governments so clamped down that the free dissemination of information on the internet ceases.

Anyway, I just thought this was an interesting example of how fast information is exploding. There is a sense of empowerment that comes with knowledge and information; indeed, for Wilson and his cohort, it appears, this kind of information, philosophically, serves as horizontal salvation from institutionalized humanity. It is a statement of individual liberty, and even autonomy, that if collectively manipulated—by free autonomous individuals (like Wilson & co.)—can say ‘F*%$’ you to the man (and Wilson does in some of his interviews and at his blog). But the reality ultimately and inevitably is, is that knowledge untethered from reality is always already impotent to achieve the kind of principled anarchy and thus liberation that Wilson and cohort, and clans like theirs hope to actualize for the indomitable human spirit. This hope, this idea that is driving Defense Distributed is noble, but in the end its doomed. Not because it is not noble, but because it starts with the wrong supposition. It supposes that man and woman are essentially ‘free’. But if the cross of Jesus Christ has anything to say about that (and it does!), then what the cross says is that we are totally un-free and in bondage to our own wants (which is our perception of freedom … i.e. freedom from the man). Cody Wilson’s plans are full of idealism and horizontal hope, but they are ultimately crushed on the rocky shoreline of ultimate reality; the reality that there is no horizontal hope without vertical in-breaking and intervention, the kind that is extra nos (outside of us) and pro nobis (for us). The kind of hope and ideal that Cody is looking for, that we all are can only be found and actualised in and through Jesus Christ, Immanuel. 

This has been a rather strange rant, but it has been a strange day; so this post is fitting ;-).  C’est la vie

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Resurrection and Evangelism at Work

Okay, so I’m at work, right! And a coworker and I start talking—he’s a little older than me (maybe 10 years, I’m 37)—somehow we started talking about religion (I mean, really, Bobby Grow talking about religion … come on). Actually my coworker said he’s not religious. Of course for me that’s like an invitation. He said (my paraphrase), “yeah, I grew up Roman Catholic; but once I got to a certain age, I just couldn’t handle a God who predestines people to heaven or hell, and who knows everything before you do it (or basically determines.” He continued, “yeah, I am a pagan; I am part of a heathen belief system, I am an Odenite.” He explained to me what an Odenite [although I’m not totally convinced that he just isn’t a gamer] is (basically a Anglo-European belief system that is polytheistic, worships nature, and has some overlap with eastern monism, interestingly). I talked to him for a second about that, and then said I could say some things about Christianity that might challenge his belief system; but that I would refrain. He said, “no, go ahead.” So I did. Basically I just challenged him with the historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; I said, on historical grounds, it is irrefutable. Which of course egged him on to react. He tried to argue that the resurrection was the result of mass delusion; that there had been studies on mass delusion. I said so, you need to prove that that applies to the conditions present in the resurrection of Jesus account. I said just to make this assertion as an argument is ultimately a fallacy. Then we started discussing the credibility of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection; I used this to help substantiate the validity of the resurrection, I mentioned how the Apostle’s died for their testimony. Then he brought up how Muslims die for their belief all the time too; that doesn’t make it true. I told him how that is a false parallel, and thus fallacious; and therefore he needs to provide something more substantial than that. Unfortunately we had to get back to work, and that ended our little joust (which has been driving me crazy, because I don’t think he really wants to get into it anymore!). I had a bunch more I wanted to talk to him about; in regards to the resurrection, and what precludes his belief in historicity of the resurrection (i.e. his worldview or naturalist assumptions).

What I really wanted to get back to with him was what he had said originally about religion; how he rejected Roman Catholicism because it presents a God who predestines and knows and determines everything. What I wanted to say to him is that not all Christians believe this about God. I wanted to tell him that God is love; which would have brought us right back to the theological import of the cross and resurrection. I wanted to tell him that the God he rejected is the god of the philosophers and not of the God revealed in Jesus Christ. But, alas, I didn’t get the chance; and fear I never will. He still talks to me, but I can tell that he doesn’t really want to go there. Just pray that I can go there with him again sometime, somehow.

Here are a couple good videos on Resurrection from NT Wright and Richard Bauckham:

What If You’re a “Thinker” and an Evangelical?

My whole life has been in the halls of Evangelical Christianity; in fact it still is. What I have come to realize, in general, is that if your predisposition is to “think”—which might express itself by being a theologian—that there really isn’t much place for this kind of person in Evangelical Christianity.

Take myself, for example. I have formally studied theology and biblical studies; I have experience in various ministerial and teaching roles; and I love Christ’s Church and his people with a genuine passion. Yet, where this has taken me is nowhere; and I mean within the Evangelical Church. I think one of the problems is that I am a thinker; my tendency (or curse) is to think rather deeply (just how I am wired; can’t help it!). Within Evangelicalism, since it is typically defined by what I like to call—“Me and My Jesus Spirituality, Me and My Bible Quiet Times”—people who like to think and use “big theological words” aren’t usually given space to exercise their gifts in the church. Instead they are pushed out to be faculty (or something) at Bible Colleges or Seminaries (occasionally they will be asked to speak or teach a Sunday School class, if they are lucky). Here they can talk and think in sophisticated/deep ways, and that way the Church at large doesn’t have to deal with them. This works fine for a certain few, but unfortunately there are many many other people who sit in the pews of many Evangelical churches who have been placed on mute. And sense they think deep they are not really allowed to participate in the church that continues to be shaped by the kind of spirituality I mentioned above.

Or maybe us types just end up blogging. 😉

A pure and simple, rant!

PS. It used to bother me that theologians seemed to only talk amongst themselves; but I have come to realize why, in many instances, that this is the case — nobody in the church at large, wants to listen!

Why I Still Reject the Flower

I was just thinking, it’s not like me to not post on why I reject TULIP theology; and yet, I haven’t really posted any kind of provocative post in that vein for quite awhile — it’s like I’m almost going soft or something 😉 .

Let me just re-affirm for those of you whom may be starting to think that Bobby is in fact going soft on popular TULIP soteriology; I AM NOT! I still think the TULIP presents serious and terrible consequences for anyone who internalizes it, and understands its theological implications. One of my primary pastoral concerns about the TULIP, is that it fosters an introspective navel-gazing spirituality (historically known as experimental predestinarianism). This is the practice wherein a totally depraved, unconditionally  elected person seeks to verify that he/she has actually been limitedly atoned for, and thus a recipient of irressitable grace by discerning through their good works that they indeed are a persevering saint. If they reach a certain threshold, and sense that indeed they have met their perceived good works quota; then they can finally rest assured that they are of those who have truly believed, and have the assurance that they didn’t just receive a temporary faith, but a real and saving faith (practical syllogism). This is one of the main reasons, pastorally, that I believe that TULIP Calvinism is a blight on Christian theology. I know too many thinking, introspective Christians — who aren’t cock-sure types about their election — who have suffered psychological woes over the problem that this TULIP (and the Arminian FACTS) system has created. In fact, the fact that folks were having these psychological woes over this issue, because of the classical theistic paradigm, made me pause for a long time and take a good look at the heritage that this TULIP theology has handed to us. The reality is clear, there are pastoral problems, because there are dogmatic problems. TULIP theology suffers from a radically wrong doctrine of God, and since all subsequent theology flows from a respective doctrine of God; TULIP soteriology and thus spirituality is also heteropraxic. This is why I still reject the Flower. What about you, do you still like the smell of the tulip?

Here’s how a Purtian layman named Humphrey Mills felt once he found release from the TULIP theology taught to him by TULIP theologian par exellence, William Perkins (he found this release through the teaching of the Puritan, Richard Sibbes who taught a non-TULIP soteriology known as “Free Grace” or “Affective Theology”):

I was for three years together wounded for sins, and under a sense of my corruptions, which were many; and I followed sermons, pursuing the means, and was constant in duties and doing: looking for Heaven that way. And then I was so precise for outward formalities, that I censured all to be reprobates, that wore their hair anything long, and not short above the ears; or that wore great ruffs, and gorgets, or fashions, and follies. But yet I was distracted in my mind, wounded in conscience, and wept often and bitterly, and prayed earnestly, but yet had no comfort, till I heard that sweet saint . . . Doctor Sibbs, by whose means and ministry I was brought to peace and joy in my spirit. His sweet soul-melting Gospel-sermons won my heart and refreshed me much, for by him I saw and had muchof God and was confident in Christ, and could overlook the world . . . My heart held firm and resolved and my desires all heaven-ward. (Ron Frost. Kelly Kapic and Randall Gleason, eds., “The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics,” Frost is quoting from: John Rogers, Ohel or Bethshemesh, A Tabernacle for the Sun (London, n.p., 1653)

Caveat: To be very clear, I’m not attacking good Calvinist or Arminian people; I know there are sincere Christ loving people who are genuinely committed to TULIP Calvinism. In fact, my motivation and passion for this, is because I love these people, and I want to jolt them out of the slumberous spirituality that TULIP Calvinism leads someone into. Obviously, I’m very convinced that there is something really wrong with TULIP Calvinism; I think it fails on exegetical grounds as well as dogmatic/theological grounds, and thus impinges on people’s daily walks with Jesus Christ! TULIP Calvinism is much too popular in America for my liking, its over-communicated and under-communicated — just the fact that it’s communicated at all is a problem. My hope with posts like this, as snarky and punky as it is; is intended to provoke and pick a fight with anyone who endorses TULIP Calvinism. I want to fight over your doctrine of God and your subsequent view of salvation; I think it’s wacky, and (seriously) has real life consequences for folks that are not good (yet, it’s not the “consequences of belief” that shape my beef with TULIP Calvinism, it is TULIP Calvinism itself that is problematic). One more point: I am obviously not a pluralist or normative relativist (which qualifies my type of “Evangelicalism” 😉 ); I actually believe that there is a more right view and a more wrong view, guess which side of those that I think I am on 😉 ? I’m convinced of something, are you . . . ? [yet, I don’t also think I have it all figured out either]

Coming clean . . .

. . . we all need to do this, come clean that is. What am I talking about, you ask. I am talking about the idea that any of us read Scripture without “presuppositions;” this is just straight rubbish and pure slop, as far as thinking Christianly. And yet, it seems to me that most Christians, if they think about this kind of stuff at all, approach Scripture in this very way (that they are reading Scripture in a vacuum). How long must this nonsense go on? This reality holds true for all Protestant Christians — whether Confessional or Evangelical — we all do it! So what’s the remedy? It is to become aware of our presuppositions, and then once we take this step we need to ask if we have healthy presuppositions or unhealthy. The way we know this is by checking our presuppositions by the text of Scripture (of course this is a spiraling/dialectical process — a shaping and reshaping process). I don’t think anything irks me more — seriously — than the attendant naivete and arrogance of most Christians; when they assert and practice the notion that they approach Scripture without any presuppositions. This is a disease of epidemic proportions within Protestantism; and it needs to be dealt with . . . pronto!!!