The Christian Life: Sorrows, Griefs, Battles, and Victory

My current header picture is a rendition of Jesus’ wilderness’ temptation. It depicts, I think rather well, who the promised ‘Man of Sorrows’ would indeed be. It reminds me of the famed Messianic text of Isaiah 53:

53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

American, and Western Christianity in general, do not fellowship in sufferings; we do the opposite. We attempt to live a life of façade wherein we jovially smile and shake each other’s hands in the narthexes of our local churches. We pretend like the rest of the culture that we’re all put together, and that life is upwardly mobile. As Arthur McGill has called it, we attempt to be the ‘bronze people,’ with our bronzed bodies, and white veneered teeth. But in reality, the Gospel says that as we are participants with Christ, that we will constantly be given over to His death that His life might be made manifest in our mortal bodies. The Apostle Paul said:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3)

We’re in a spiritual battle. The ancient church recognized our stead here in these bodies of death as being the church militant. We wrestle against the principalities and powers, not because we’re special per se, but because we are participant in the life of Christ; a life characterized by sorrow and grief. As Christians when we step up, and are willing to enter the fight, particularly by living righteously and bearing witness that Jesus is Lord in all that we do, we step into this stream of spiritual warfare that is going on all around us every minute of everyday. And yes, we are on the triumphant side, but that doesn’t mean we don’t experience the serious heat of the armory we are facing as soldiers for Jesus Christ.

When Christians feel the pressure to hide what they are being assailed by, because they are genuinely Christians, it makes everyone feel isolated and alone. Instead we ought to be transparent about the battles that are pressing in on us, and thus come to have the capacity to bear each other’s burdens, by the Spirit, just as the church has been intended to do from its inception. We do ourselves no favors by living fake Christian lives, as if what that entails is ‘living our best lives now.’ That anecdote is about as antiChrist and demonic as it can get. We are living for Christ and His Kingdom now, and that involves the very types of things Jesus endured as He was in the wilderness for forty days, while He was on the cross feeling as if the Father had forsaken Him. Be in the fight, Christian! The LORD never disappoints.


The Personal Kingdom versus the Propositional kingdom: The Spiritual in the Words

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, … -II Corinthians 10:3-5

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. -Colossians 2:8

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. -Galatians 1:11-12

Each of the above passages all refer to knowledge of God, respectively. In this vignette of a post, I simply want to register something that I don’t think many a Christian, and definitely not many a nonChristian dwells upon very frequently; viz. that ideas have spiritual backgrounding, they are not merely naked symbols awaiting a purely human input. The way people ostensibly treat ideas, and the words that are used to signify those ideas, you’d think that they are merely feasting on a smorgasbord of utilitarian veggie trays and charcutier bars. But as Scripture rightly points out ideas have concrete consequences; and beyond that, they have antecedent sources, spiritual sources even. This is what I want to alert people to once again: we are in a battle, a spiritual battle, a battle that has been won by the triumphing roar of the Lion of the tribe of Judah; nevertheless, until the last enemy, which is death, is placed under the second Adam’s foot, we inhabit a land pulsated by serpentine ideas given in forked and various expressions all across the landscapes of people’s veritable affections and intellects.

The aforementioned realities are why when I do theology, when I write blog posts, when I walk outside and say hi to my neighbors, I do so fully aware that there is nothing innocent about anything in this world. We are in a raging battle, and the most purportedly dispassionate ideas, the most arcane academic balderdash, the most Stoic of expressions hanging off the philosopher’s beret are chalked full with spiritual ideation. Either an idea correlates with and bears witness to the reality of God in Christ (who is the ground and reality of everything), or it has come to be, instead, from the primordial goo of the satan’s green and stagnate breath of deceit and mischief.

Christian reality finds its genesis in God’s Self-revelation in Jesus Christ; it is a revealed knowledge enlivened by the breath of God as He hovers over the bosom of the Father for us. It seems, far too often, the theologian, let alone the Sunday Christians, simply presume that we have been naturally outfitted to just know God. As such the procedure comes to be one where the would-be knower of God looks out into the world, with a white slate, simply waiting to discover whatever they can of God by reflecting on His attributes as vestiges hanging in the trees and clouds. But the result of this procedure ends up producing a categorical godness, and a superstructure of ideas, as its consequents, that ends up only having corollary with the would-be knowers’ fertile imagination. It is these discoveries that then become the bases by which purportedly ‘orthodox’ ideas about God, and thus all subsequent theologizing, are developed. The point, either way, is that ideas have a spiritual substructure that most don’t seem to recognize. They simply presume that people are free in themselves to develop ideas from the nudity of their own unimpressed minds.

Rather than getting too deep in the theological weeds, as I noted earlier, I simply wanted to register the fact that ideas are necessarily spiritual. And that said ideas either stem from the Kingdom of the Son of His love, or they do so from the kingdom of darkness. We are involved in a battle, a spiritual battle, at least according to Holy Scripture. We don’t ever take a break from this battle, especially when we are in the business of supposedly developing theological ideas. There is no dispassion or disaffectivity available to the thinker, we are all embroiled in this great flambé of spiritual wane and tribulation. Even so, we live in a world, and from a revelation that has triumphed over the world of dark spiritual realities and ideas, by the personal reality of God in Christ who isn’t simply an idea, but who is a person. Indeed, the kingdom of darkness is disanimated by ‘naked ideas,’ but God’s Kingdom in Christ is invigorated by the personal weight of God’s flesh in the humanity of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of darkness floats and flutters upon the winds of the satan’s propositions, indeed, this was how he tricked himself into Eve’s and Adam’s Edenic world, he propositioned them. God in Christ reverses the proposition by His person, not a proposition. He doesn’t need our permission to, He doesn’t need to trick us with a slithery word, but He simply is and does, and invites us to His banqueting table of ‘righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:12

I Bobbylonians 1:1-8: On Spiritual Attack

1. The Enemy still desires to sift God’s servants as wheat. He knows that if he can get those who are stridently walking with Christ daily, if he can get them to fall hard, that he has just bruised (maybe destroyed) the faith of many. 2. He will play mind games, attempt to hit us where we are most sensitive and vulnerable. And he will do this most against those who are attempting to walk hard in righteousness with Christ. This is why most Christians “out there” don’t get this. 3. And yet we see sometimes high-profile Christians going to prison, or at least losing their lives and ministry for not recognizing these sorts of ploys of the Enemy. Then Christians walk away in shock wondering how someone “like that” could be so perverse, or whatever. 4. Paul said ‘we aren’t ignorant of the devil’s devices,’ but in my experience most Christians are. And this is precisely because they live such mediocre lives as Christians that the Enemy doesn’t see the need to destroy them and their witness in such radical ways. 5. This isn’t to say that every Christian who falls is walking in righteousness or in fervor before God. Indeed, if the enemy feels like it, he’ll go after the weak for sport. He knows they are already of no effect, but why not have some fun and literally destroy the person. 6. In my experience most Christians don’t experience intense heat and attack from the devil because they just aren’t walking hard with Christ. As such, they don’t know what the devices of the devil are. And so, when he does attack, they cannot recognize it as such. 7. They’ll often chalk it up as a mental illness, or some sort of weird disorder. The remedy then isn’t to repent and walk hard in the righteousness of Jesus Christ; instead, such people will often dampen the “attack” with drugs and psychotherapy. 8. This is exactly the way the Enemy would have it. Ie. A Christian who sees the world through purely materialistic eyes with no sense that the heat in their lives just does have an otherworldly source, albeit a dark rather than Light source.

The Headquarters of Evil: The Satanic in Christian Dogmatic Explanation

Sin by definition is irrational. More pointedly we could say sin is “disaffective,” that is in regard to sin’s relational nature as a rupturing of relationship between God and us. Ultimately, sin has no anatomy. We can identify what it does, but are unable to explain where it came from, per se. As such, attempting to answer theological questions based upon ostensible answers to sin’s “nature,” is always a fool’s-errand. Thomas Torrance avoids such foolishness, and instead explains the irrational nature of sin up against the order of God’s triune life, and how the latter provides for an ordered universe vis-à-vis Him. Torrance writes: 

Second, by its very nature, moral or natural evil is essentially anarchic. It is an utterly irrational factor that has inexplicably entered into the created order. Whatever else evil is it involves the introduction of a radical discontinuity into the world that affects the relation of mankind to God, of man to himself, and of man to woman and woman to man, and of course of men and women to nature. It affects the entire relation of the universe to God, infecting its contingent nature or the relative independence given by God to the created order. As such evil defies human comprehension and any rational explanation. It is a virulent, demonic force radically antagonistic to all that is holy and orderly, right and good. St Paul spoke of it as the mystery of lawlessness (ἀνομία) of a strangely personal kind, in fact a malevolent will. It was in similar terms that Jesus referred to the Devil as the father of lies, the Satan with whom Jesus himself struggled in his temptation. And it is in similar terms that the Gospels tell us of the conflict of Jesus with the demonic powers of darkness that infested people’s lives in mind and body, but which he denounced as the enemy, rebuked and cast out of people’s lives, thereby showing that with his presence the Kingdom of God had been ushered in and deliverance from the power of darkness had been brought about. The sharp personal conflict of Jesus with evil reveals it to be more than the hypostatisation of a principle of contradiction between God and the world, and to be in fact an organised kingdom of evil and darkness with a kind of headquarters of its own, the power house of an utterly rebellious evil will or spirit which the Holy Scriptures call Satan. We are unable to understand how God continues to deal with the forces of darkness, but we believe that as he dealt miraculously with sickness and death, miraculously brought the turbulent winds and waves under his command, ‘Peace, be still;’ so we believe that he will bring his divine peace and power to bear marvellously and triumphantly upon the physical conditions of human existence in history, not to be sure in accordance with our conceptions, but in accordance with his transcendent wisdom.1 

The description of sin by Torrance, and its incubator, evil, could not be more apropos for our current status in the world at large. What shouldn’t be lost is the point that TF rightly underscores: viz. “As such evil defies human comprehension and any rational explanation.” This is the all-important point in regard to not only the ‘noetic effects of the fall,’ but more significantly the possibility for humanity to identify their actual problem as they stand in this world order. Without the light of knowledge provided for by God in Christ, particularly in the Incarnation&Atonement, human depravity will continue to lead itself into its own self-possessed inborn sense of divinity. This is why theologies that are based in speculation and discursive reasoning about God, speculation that starts from an epistemological ingress-point abstract from a ground of God in Christ, are doomed to theories of God, and thus everything, that only end in the circle of self-projection. 

Beyond that, and to one of the primary points of TFT’s treatment, evil is personal. Not in an abstract sense, but up against the personal God of Jesus Christ. That is to say, evil, and its adjunct, sin, has a “personal” origination insofar as that is embodied by a literal Satan and his literal demonic coven. The modern world, in post-Enlightenment form, has sought to demythologize the world of monsters, demons, and the angelic just the same. This is rooted, following TF’s point, in fallen humanity’s propensity to ignore the reality of the fall, and thus live into it by elevating themselves as the gods of the universe. As such, the unseen world, the invisible world is not manageable to them, thus the need to demythologize, or ‘disenchant’ the world of things they cannot seemingly master themselves. The irony of this “fool’s-errand,” is that such people, the people in the ‘Broadway,’ are in fact mastered by this unseen world to the point that the satanic ‘headquarters’ convinces unregenerate humanity that it does not exist. One result is that such people, the massa, do the bidding of Satan as he, indeed, is their father:  

41 You people are doing the deeds of your father.” Then they said to Jesus, “We were not born as a result of immorality! We have only one Father, God himself.” 42 Jesus replied, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come from God and am now here. I have not come on my own initiative, but he sent me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot accept my teaching. 44 You people are from your father the devil, and you want to do what your father desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I am telling you the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Who among you can prove me guilty of any sin? If I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 The one who belongs to God listens and responds to God’s words. You don’t listen and respond, because you don’t belong to God.” -John 8:41-47 

The only remedy to this cosmic malady is for the person to repent and submit to the Word of God, rather than continuing to submit to the Serpent’s fake word. 


1 Thomas F. Torrance, The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being Three Persons (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016), 227.  



The Text and Canon of Christ’s Life: Holy Scripture

“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God”

The Bible, Holy Scripture, the Word of God is neglected at alarming rates by Christians; at least according to the polls, and based upon what the churches look like. I think and work in the ‘theological’ world, but for me this means being constantly bathed in the words of Holy Scripture. If Scripture is God’s ordained place for us to encounter His dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ, then it behooves the Christian to be saturated in its text; just so that they might be saturated in the very power of the resurrected Christ. Christ is the res (reality), and the text is the signum (sign) that points beyond itself (like Calvin’s spectacles) to its transcendent yet immanent reality for us in Jesus Christ. It is as the Christian inhabits Scripture that they are made aware of the reality and ground of their life in the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ; a life that is indestructible, and not only impervious to death, but an eternal life that has dismantled death from the inside/out. And yet this ‘last enemy’ remains; death that is.

The Apostle Paul was well aware of this last enemy, and he informs the Christians in Ephesus of the means by which they might confront death, and its minions, who is the satan and his fallen cohort. As the Apostle knew, while living in the far country of this world system, the Christian would be beat here and there by the darts and lies that the great deceiver would attempt to thrust at them; with the might of a dragon. God in Christ has provided for us (pro nobis) the means, through Holy Scripture, by which the Christian cannot just be an ‘overcomer,’ but be so through a vibrant life of participatio Christi (participation with Christ in the triune life of the living God). Jesus in His humanity for us understood the outright power of simply inhabiting Holy Scripture; of internalizing it, and organically living it out. We see this best in the satan’s attempt to tempt Jesus in the wilderness.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’ Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. –Matthew 4:1-11

As many of you already know Jesus is recapitulating Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness because of their failure to obey God’s Word. Here Jesus quotes Deuteronomy at the satan, from that very context, and prevails over the devil himself by the living Word of God; ironic, since He is that Word in Himself (in se). But this is how Christians ought to inhabit God’s Word, just as Jesus did. We need to inhabit, internalize, and deploy it (by the Spirit) in such a way that it is canonical and contextual. This means, in order to experience the power of the Word of God, as that finds its reality in Jesus Christ and the triune life of God, that we need to rightly divide it (II Tim. 2:15). We need to labor over it, and in it. We need to allow the canonical reality of the text itself, as that finds its life blood through Immanuel’s veins, to so flow through our lives that it might shine out of our broken bodies into a shadowy and dark world.

But I am afraid Christians are not being vigilant in knowing, inhabiting, meditating, and thus rightly dividing the Word of God which is truth. There is a raging spiritual attack to keep Christians from their primary means of offense (let alone defense), in regard to taking up the Word of God and reading it. The Christian will never experience the real power of God in their lives outwith an obsessive, even myopic focus on Holy Scripture. The very breath of creation and recreation itself underwrites the very ink and paper upon which God has chosen to disclose Himself to and for the world; indeed as that lowly paper and ink bears witness to the flesh and blood of God in Jesus Christ. The satan knows that if he can keep the Christian away from the text of Holy Scripture, OR if he can indoctrinate people with bad hermeneutics (i.e. which would mean that people mishandle Scripture for their own vein or misguided ends), that the Christian will have no power to be an ‘overcomer.’ Remember the seven sons of Sceva in the book of Acts? They attempted to do an exorcism, as the Apostle Paul and the other Apostle’s were known for, and the demons said they knew who Paul was, but they didn’t know these men; at which point the demonic power surged through their human dwelling place and beat the Scevans to a bloody pulp. This remains the reality today. Even if they aren’t always physically beating people up (although they still do that too), they most certainly are entrapping people, Christians, who do not know the reality of Holy Scripture.

Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy.

We Are in a Battle, But Most Don’t Know It

We are in a spiritual battle. If we don’t think in these terms we have already lost. We are born into a great spiritual battle. The whole Bible is dripping with this reality. Whether it be the Old Testament, and the battles of the nations against the covenant nation of God; whether it be Jesus coming and dying on the cross; whether it be the Apostles being martyred; whether it be Paul’s point about us being in a battle against the principalities and powers; we are in a damn battle!! Christians of all people ought to be able to recognize this. But here in the Western world most of us Christians are consumed by consumerism; we are consumed by creature comforts; we wouldn’t be able to recognize that we were in a battle even if the devil himself bit us on our asses. The Patristic church understood that we are in a battle; they labeled the church here, the church militant, and the church absent from the body present with the Lord, as the church triumphant. The early church martyrs recognized that they were in a battle, and they didn’t submit to the evils and darkness of this world system to the point of being shred to pieces by starving tigers, lions, and the tip of the Roman’s sword. Christians need to wake up!

There is a battle of darkness versus light right in front of our faces right now. But we have collectively submitted to our desire for peace and safety, and consigned our power as the people of God, and as a mass of people in general, to a small cabal of evil overmasters; overmasters possessed by the power of the Beast himself. If you’re still thinking myopically and in terms of Trump as some form of Hitler, you’re only illustrating how you have submitted to a lie. Trump is not the Savior, he is not the answer: Jesus is. But if you are only focused on him then that is to your demise, and to the rest of our demise. What Trump, as a figurehead is up against is the globalist evil that uses your health and mine against us. They create pandemics and diseases in order to create vaccines that are worse than the diseases they claim to be healing people of.

My only point with this post is to rant and vent. I simply cannot believe the utter foolishness and empty-headedness and laziness mainstreamed Christians are willing to live with (this applies to most evangelicals too). People don’t put in the work. People don’t even read their Bibles (so much for the Bible in the vernacular … thanks, Luther, but no thanks). Anyway, I am totally pissed. People are dying because most people are lazy and unwilling to fight this world system. This world system is the Beast that the book of Revelation refers to. Christians fight this system through the blood of Jesus and the proclamation of their testimony as that bears witness to Him. This means that the Gospel is all encompassing, and involves all-truth. We as Christians are to expose the darkness with the light of Christ. But if we have conflated the darkness with the light we have already lost the battle. To me it seems as if the church has lost her witness because she is simply part of the Beastly system and cannot make a distinction between the two. We aren’t even trying; that’s the demonic thing of it. /rant over

An Enchanted World: The Theologians’ Enlightened World

There is a lot of fog out there right now, I get that. But it is very disturbing to me to see almost all theologians and pastors out there simply writing off the idea that there could be an evil cabal of globalists attempting to steer the world toward a one world government as some sort of fanciful dystopian novel that only so-called conspiracy theorists could maintain. This is quite disillusioning to me, really. It’s as if all the talk that these folks do about the triune God, Jesus Christ, creation, the fall, human nature, redemption, the church, eschatology so on and so forth is merely a discussion taking place in a parallel universe. In other words, I am starting to think that most Christians, insofar as they follow the lead of many pastors and theologians, are in fact functional Docetists. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Docetism this way:

Docetism is not properly a Christian heresy at all, as it did not arise in the Church from the misunderstanding of a dogma by the faithful, but rather came from without. Gnostics starting from the principle of antagonism between matter and spirit, and making all salvation consist in becoming free from the bondage of matter and returning as pure spirit to the Supreme Spirit, could not possibly accept the sentence, “the Word was made flesh”, in a literal sense. In order to borrow from Christianity the doctrine of a Saviour who was Son of the Good God, they were forced to modify the doctrine of the Incarnation. Their embarrassment with this dogma caused many vaccinations and inconsistencies; some holding the indwelling of an Aeon in a body which was indeed real body or humanity at all; others denying the actual objective existence of any body or humanity at all; others allowing a “psychic”, but not a “hylic” or really material body; others believing in a real, yet not human “sidereal” body; others again accepting the of the body but not the reality of the birth from a woman, or the reality of the passion and death on the cross. Christ only seemed to suffer, either because He ingeniously and miraculously substituted someone else to bear the pain, or because the occurence on Calvary was a visual deception. Simon Magus first spoke of a “putative passion of Christ and blasphemously asserted that it was really he, Simon himself, who underwent these apparent sufferings. “As the angels governed this world badly because each angel coveted the principality for himself he [Simon] came to improve matters, and was transfigured and rendered like unto the Virtues and Powers and Angels, so that he appeared amongst men as man though he was no man and was believed to have suffered in Judea though he had not suffered” (passum in Judea putatum cum non esset passus — Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. I, xxiii sqq.). The mention of the demiurgic angels stamps this passage as a piece of Gnosticism. Soon after a Syrian Gnostic of Antioch, Saturninus or Saturnilus (about 125) made Christ the chief of the Aeons, but tried to show that the Savior was unborn (agenneton) and without body (asomaton) and without form (aneideon) and only apparently (phantasia) seen as man (Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., XXIV, ii).[1]

Even though, as this definition rightly notes, Docetism did not arise out of the church’s teaching, as a negation, it did penetrate the thinking of the churches in regard to the way some attempted to think the relationship between the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ. But I underscore this definition in order to use it as an analogy to help me think about the aloofness of the many pastors and theologians out there when it comes to concreto realities taking place in the socio-political spaces of our world system. It’s as if this class of people in the church cannot fathom, cannot imagine that just maybe what the Bible trades on over and over again, particularly in its Old Testament witness, just might be present and formative in our 21st century period.

What I have come to realize through this last year is that even those who claim to be theologians of retrieval, i.e. those most steeped in the desire to leap-frog the modern period, in regard to their theologizing, is that they are slavishly ensconced within Enlightenment rationalist categories. In other words, to refer to Charles Taylor’s category, they function within a disenchanted frame when it comes to thinking a God/world relation. It’s as if they cannot imagine a world, a modern secular world wherein devils and goblins still inhabit the heights and the depths of all that is and takes place in the world. It’s as if they cannot imagine a world wherein the darkness of the human heart is so great that it seeks space and power with the devil himself. It’s as if they believe sin and evil is a theological and abstract principle, a ‘Docetic’ principle that has no real life correspondence with the shape of this current world order. It’s as if they cannot imagine that Baal, Moloch, and a host of other Ancient Near Eastern deities, you know the ones we are confronted with constantly in the Old Testament witness, could be a real and present danger, not just theoretically, but concretely in the real and lived world we inhabit day to day. What kind of theology is this?!

Beyond this the Apostle Paul writes: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:13-15).” Is this merely a theoretical, a Docetic world that has no concrete contact with this world system? Did Jesus in the incarnation&atonement not enter into this world, in our humanity, into a world that was thoroughly ecclesiopolitical in the sense that the sacred and secular were so intertwined that they mutually implicated each other? In other words, did Jesus operate in a world just like ours, with the same satanic and demonic spirits that filled the world with their dark presence back then as they do now or not? When you read pastors and theologians summarily write off the idea that the rulers of this world system, the ones in flesh and blood, just might be operating in concert, quite overtly, with the satanic and demonic underworld that has always already been pervasive as the shape of this world system I have to wonder if these pastors, theologians, and the Christians who follow them actually believe that the reality of the biblical world is real or not. Jesus believed it was real, and He acted like it.

At the very end of the day why do these pastors, theologians, and Christians who follow them simply write off the possibility that our world system just might be EXACTLY like the one that shaped the Ancient Near East; save the fact that we live in a modern “enlightened” period wherein such ‘spiritualism’ has been superseded by the saeculum. But the secular hasn’t subtracted anything from the ANE understanding of the spirit filled world; instead it has materialistically collapsed and conflated that world into an ostensibly disenchanted world that in fact remains just as enchanted by satanic worship as was the ancient pagan world. And the people of God are no different now than they were in the Old Testament ANE context. The church and her leaders are just as syncretistic as the priests of Israel were. And the world leaders we have seated in the ‘high places’ are just as spiritualistically and syncretistically oriented as the ancient pagan world was; but just under the gloss of a materialist and secular world-frame. The idea that this is all a conspiracy theory—that there is a satanic world cabal that worships the creation and power (climate change) rather than the Creator, and that they are attempting to enact their vision of the world onto the world writ large—is a phantasmal world that only the overly educated could take seriously. In other words, you have to be into Docetism, and other abstractions (for whatever reason) to simply not see what is happening in the world right now.


[1] Catholic Encyclopedia: New Advent.

My Redline: A Soldier for Christ Until the Eschaton

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. –Ephesians 6.10-13

I still wonder, at times, why the Lord didn’t take me home through my incurable cancer; why didn’t he allow the statistics to hold true in my case with regard to the type of monstrous cancer I had. I usually arrive at a singular conclusion: it is because I am a soldier for Jesus Christ on this earth. It is because He desires that I would bear witness for Him, for the risen Christ, contra this evil age and its god, the devil. It is because He has prepared me to fight the good fight of faith through the hellish crap He has walked me through in many seasons of the past (and those He walks me through in the present). It is because He wants someone as weak as me to reflect His strength so that His manifold wisdom might be made known to the world, and the principalities and powers who seek to steal, kill, and destroy. I see myself, along with the rest of the communio sanctorum, as part of a great drama; a drama that transcends the seeming mundanities of the everyday world, and charges it with the life of the risen Christ. I see myself as dead to sin, and alive to Christ. I see myself as standing against the tide of evil and deception in this world as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Because of this I am not seeking to be your friend, but a true brother in Jesus Christ. I am not attempting to fit into the strictures that the culture[s] says are acceptable and fitting. I am simply a Christian who is here to bear witness to the fact that Jesus Christ has triumphed making a public spectacle of the devil and his minions (the losers!). I am here to remind people, along with the Apostle Paul, that we are in a great spiritual battle; a battle that shapes and implicates the political and cultural systems which we inhabit. I am here to bear witness to the fact that God’s Yes in Christ has triumphed, and in so doing has said No to the destruction of the devil and this fallen system he finds sustenance within; like a cancer feeding on acid. Once these tasks of mine are completed I fully intend on entering the presence of the Lord where there is peace and joy forevermore. Until then I fight along with the rest of the church militant. I am contra mundum (against the world) insofar as this world system is the haunt of the already destroyed devil and his serpentine minions. Screw you devil. Let God be true and every man a liar!

Defeating False Condemnation by Resting in the Humanity of Jesus Christ

Wanted to provide a brief word on sin, and being free from it and any sense of condemnation it might bring into our lives post-confession/repentance. I have past sins that the accuser of my soul likes to bring up at points. I have to dig down with the Lord in prayer, and almost mechanically/analytically work through what He has done for me and how that implicates who I am now as a new creation in Christ. Douglas Campbell highlights how sin functions in the Apostle Paul’s thinking quite well:

The seriousness of Paul’s account of human wrongdoing here needs to be noted. If sin is just a series of bad choices that proceed from a fundamentally healthy nature, then Jesus needs to provide only a clear example of how to behave, along with some additional teaching about right acting. That he had to die, executing our condition, then resurrecting human nature in a new form, suggests that there was something irredeemably corrupt and contaminated in the old one. As some scholars would put it, our problem is radical (from the Latin radix, meaning “root”), suggesting that our problem goes down into the very roots of our nature.[1]

The assumption of our humanity, by Christ, and then Him putting it to death suggests (strongly) that sin has penetrated our very natures (ontology) as human beings; that nothing short of that ‘old man’ being put to death and a ‘new man’ being re-created in the resurrection of Jesus Christ will do. It is only through union with Christ, through participation with Christ’s vicarious humanity that the Christian comes to have fellowship with the Holy and triune God. It is in this where the Christian lives into what it genuinely means to be human coram Deo.

With the aforementioned as the background let me provide a scenario. I’m humming along, all of the sudden the enemy pops up his grubby face and starts attempting to remind me of past sins. Before I knew how to handle this, this sort of accusation would trip me up very badly. Now I no longer fall for this, since I am not ‘ignorant of the devil’s devices.’ What I do when this happens is turn to the logic of Romans 8:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

1) I recognize that in my fallen heart I am even worse than what the loser enemy is accusing me of. 2) I recognize that ‘He who knew know sin became sin for me that I might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ 3) I recognize that Jesus Christ took that old man that the devil seeks to thwart me with, condemn me with, and has put it do death in His humanity. 4) I recognize that because I am ‘in Christ’ in His death and burial, that likewise I am always and forever in Christ in His resurrected humanity. 5) I recognize that the enemy is attempting to condemn a humanity that the living God of all creation took for Himself and me with Him. 6) I recognize that if the enemy wants to attack anyone He must attack and condemn the ‘Son of Man.’ 7) I recognize that that poser god, the devil, already tried to condemn the Christ, and all that resulted in was Jesus triumphing over him, and his minions, making a public spectacle of him at the cross. 8) I recognize that who I am is so inextricably bound to who Christ is for me that the enemy no longer has a target to hit in me. 9) I recognize that I am not in a place, nor is the sucker evil one to condemn anyone. 10) I recognize that God is the only One who can rightfully condemn anyone. 11) I recognize that the Judge became judged for me, that I might have and find my life in His. 12) I recognize that the enemy is a beaten foe, and a chump; I tell him to eat skubalon in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is the exercise I have been going through over the last couple of days. To God in Christ alone be the Glory!   

[1] Douglas A. Campbell, Pauline Dogmatics: The Triumph of God’s Love (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2020), 116, n.7.

Standing with the Biblical Prophets: In Kerygmatic Unity

Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be sharers with them, for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live like children of light— for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but ratherexpose them. 12 For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention. 13 But all things being exposed by the light are made visible. 14 For everything made visible is light, and for this reason it says:

“Awake, O sleeper!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you!” –Ephesians 5.6-14

I shared the following on my FaceBook feed earlier. It reflects things that are swirling in and around my head/heart. It is rather difficult for me to grasp how so many Christians are so lost in the maze of the so-called culture wars. None of what we’re experiencing right now has much to do with that charade; that is a side-show intended on keeping people divided. Unfortunately, Christians reflect the broader culture so much, we end up divided along the same fault lines as is the world. Personally, as a Christian, the sort of Christianity I intend on following, everything is about the truth. I’m not a skeptic like Pilate who lives under the relativism of: “what is Truth?” No, I am a person of the Way, TRUTH, and Life in Jesus Christ. As such, I am uninterested in being trapped-in by a group-identity, save the communio sanctorum as that is concretely established in Christ’s mediatorial humanity, and realized in the koinonia He has shared with the Father and by the Holy Spirit since time in eternity. What I am saying is this: I came to walk with Christ, and continue to, through radical and even apocalyptic crises in my life; I came to know Christ, as a man, just as I did as a boy: as the One who is Lord. I am subservient to no group; I am ready and willing to be considered a fool over and over again because of the truth; and all of this is so because my life is hid in Christ, as if in the very womb of Triune plenitude. If this sounds melodramatic to you, then you’re unaware of just how dramatic the life of God really is. So, I leave you with the following:  

This really isn’t about progressives versus conservatives. It is about a spiritual battle that transcends such categories. What’s at stake isn’t whether Trump gets 4 more years, but whether or not a greater darkness takes hold of the world than heretofore. There seems to be lots of muddled confusion among Christians in regard to political action, on all sides. We aren’t fighting for Trump, per se, the fight has to do with re-establishing an order that is closer to the light rather than further from it. What is going on in the world is a macro-struggle, that prior to Trump’s arrival, was working and moving forward unabated. Trump simply is not with and part of the plan, and as such is a literal monkey-wrench they don’t want. He is like a zapper that has drawn out all the bugs and crawlers that would’ve preferred to stay in the shadows but must now expose themselves for their survival. If you think that what I am saying here is a conspiracy theory, you are not paying attention. If you think Christians shouldn’t involve themselves with being informed about such particularities, and that we should simply be involved in superficially engaging with IDEALISTIC issues (you know like the term systemic or structural signifies), then you’ve lost the ball.

I do agree, the Christian’s primary job is to bear witness to Jesus Christ through proclaiming the Good News of the coming Kingdom, and the Kingdom come. But that proclamation has implications, it has a domain; and within its domain it exposes the darkness with the Light. Not in an abstract way, but in a concrete way. Concrete in the sense that the idealism so-called Critical Theory (CT / CrT) exposes us to does not touch; in fact it only helps to create an abstract battle with no concrete event-horizons wherein the people can know if the “battle” has been won or not.

Just speaking freely.

“Beware, Assyria, the club I use to vent my anger, a cudgel with which I angrily punish. I sent him against a godless nation, I ordered him to attack the people with whom I was angry, to take plunder and to carry away loot, to trample them down like dirt in the streets. But he does not agree with this; his mind does not reason this way, for his goal is to destroy, and to eliminate many nations. Indeed, he says: ‘Are not my officials all kings? Is not Calneh like Carchemish? Hamath like Arpad? Samaria like Damascus? 10 I overpowered kingdoms ruled by idols, whose carved images were more impressive than Jerusalem’s or Samaria’s. 11 As I have done to Samaria and its idols, so I will do to Jerusalem and its idols.” 12 But when the Lord finishes judging Mount Zion and Jerusalem, then he will punish the king of Assyria for what he has proudly planned and for the arrogant attitude he displays. –Isaiah 10.5-12