Friday, September 09, 2005

Now you see, this is what I was talking about

James White published a small blurb on his blog talking about his Internet broadcast The Dividing Line. The headline- "God is sovereign in the natural realm." This is part of the description:
"Commented today on Katrina and the simple fact that if you believe the Bible and follow its teachings, things like Katrina cannot be sloughed off into the "it happens" category."

And that was the whole reason why I wrote what I did about the flood- quite a few people who believe the Bible and follow its teachings are doing that very thing, either "sloughing it off" as White puts it, or asking the tough questions that other bloggers have written off as "dumb and intemperate." It's obvious that James White believes that the flood was all part of God's master plan (by his use of the word "sovereign") and that real Bible believers shouldn't ask why. Well... I most certainly believe that every believer should ask why. I think God is tough enough to handle my questions and see me through to the other side of them, even when I don't see a way out and may not want to see a way out. And I think the world respects us more when we admit we don't have an answer, instead of trying to invent one. But I'm repeating myself.

A bigger issue, one which I've blogged about before, is this idea that if you believe the Bible, you have to believe certain things, when the guy across the street believes the Bible and believes opposite things. And the guy on the next block believes the Bible and holds to a third set of beliefs. If the Bible is that clear, how do good God-fearing people come to such opposite conclusions and say that they are merely following the Bible? Anyone care to step to the plate and answer that one? One rule- you have to do it without using the words dumb, stupid or intemperate. Those have already been used- I'm still picking pieces of those words out of the wounds in my back.


Blogger Doug said...

Did you get a chance to read the David Hart article I linked to in the comments on one of your other flood posts? I'd be curious what you make of his view.

As for why do people who all claim to base their beliefs on the Bible come to different conclusions, I think the answer is fairly simple: because Sola Scriptura is a false doctrine (besides, it's unBiblical!) and leads to all kinds of fracture and confusion and turns every man into a pope, deifying and idolizing his own thoughts.

Scripture is authoritative, of course, preeiminently, so. But it's not a stand-alone. Scripture presumes the Church as the authoritative context for its authoritative word. It was written by the Church for the Church (under God's inspiration both in the writing and in the interpreting). Its home and context is the Church, the community of worship, the sacraments, and Holy Tradition.

Christ didn't come to give us a book or to inspire literature for us to argue over, after all. Christ our God came to give us Himself forever and to found His Church, the firstfruits of the Kingdom, the pillar and ground of truth (as per St Paul). Blindness to this is the disease of Protestantism, if you don't mind me saying so.

As for theodicy... Bad things happen because of sin. No doubt about it. It's wrongheaded, though, to cast blame on anyone but ourselves. Those people died in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast because I am a sinner. That's the truth. We were created to be kings and priests of creation, lifting it up as a eucharist to God and receiving it from Him as a blessing in turn. But in the Garden with our sin we failed in our role, failed in regard to God, in regard to each other and in regard to the world created and blessed by God and given to us as a gift. We broke the world and it groans under the weight of our sin even now. If it hadn't have been Adam it would have been me. At least he sinned in ignorance of the full consequences. I sin surrounded by the truth of the consequences. Whenever I sin I contribute to the brokenness and disease that afflicts the world. Every single sin is enough to break the world. That's why in the Orthodox Church at our Forgiveness Vespers service at the beginning of Lent we take time to individually ask forgiveness of every single member of our parish, in acknowledgment of that truth: that when I sin I damage the world and I damage you, whether I've sinned against you specifically or not. That's the ultimate truth about tragedy. Why do bad things happen? Why is their suffering in the world, violence and horror? Because I'm a sinner.

We don't have to look at these things and imagine that they have some deeper meaning or are part of God's plan in the sense that He needed these things to occur in order for us to come to live in union with Him. That's a lie. Things like this happen because I sin and because God continues to allow me to sin because without freedom I will never be able to come again into the union of Love with Him that I was created for in the first place. Violence, death, horror, evil, these things are not blessed by God. There is no deeper meaning in them that we have only to discover. God brings about good in the midst of these by His grace, yes, but God does not bless or condone these things.

4:57 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home