Monday, July 12, 2010

Spare Some Change?

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8
I've been meditating a lot lately on the concept of an unchanging God. God is the same now as he always has been and always will be. He is infinite, experiencing all past, present, and future in one glorious eternal moment. God doesn't change.

But we do.

We are finite creatures. We exist inside of time and space. While God sees all eternity laid out before him, we can only experience the tiniest possible fraction of that eternity at once. We can remember the past, and have expectations of the future, but even the past and future within our own lives is the barest portion of the fullness of God. Nobody looks at two separate pieces of the same puzzle and thinks the whole picture has changed. We cannot look at this moment in our existence and say "THIS is the true nature of God, and the only right way to understand Him." He is far too great for that.

All too often, people perpetuate traditions and habits, and when experience challenges or contradicts these traditions and habits, they refute them with a trite "God doesn't change." Using the immutability of God as an excuse for our own reluctance to accept change is just stubbornness. We were made to change, not just as individuals, but as a species.

Paul says "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man, I did away with childish things." (1 Corinthians 13:11) Each new generation is meant to surpass the last in understanding, and the stories our ancestors were told should take on new meaning to each passing generation. This is not to say the Bible should mean less to each passing generation. If anything, it should mean
more. Read deeper, pray harder, understand more, even if it means understanding things differently. A departure from tradition is not a departure from God, it's a departure from our own bondage to habit.

Every generation experiences an upheaval in the traditions of their forbears, and every generation has its Pharisees; people too blinded by tradition to meet truth where it lives. Jesus himself was revolutionary in his message, challenging these traditional interpretations. More than anyone in history he obliterated the status quo and reorganized our relationship to Scripture. This does not mean
God changed. It means He changed us, and continues to change us with every passing generation.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Don't Believe I Can Fly

If you’re anything like me, you know how powerful a strongly held belief can be. I’m not talking about faith; faith is different than belief. I have faith in Jesus. I believe Mac is better than Windows, the moon landing was not a hoax, and no matter what anyone says, whole milk is better for your health than skim. Beliefs are not necessarily attached in any way to our faith, but they often are. For example, a belief in the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) is a natural corollary to faith in God, but it is not the central issue of faith, and many people of faith disagree on what “gifts of the Spirit” even means. Faith is for God alone. Granted, if we have faith in God, then our most strongly held beliefs will be based on His Word. But what happens when these beliefs get challenged?

Today in church, Val spoke about seeing truth through our “cultural lens”. The beliefs and priorities that are the product of the culture we live in can refract and distort the truth. Thinking about this concept, I think the distortion that is the natural result of being corrupted creatures covers everything. This cultural lens can even include our own preconceived interpretations of Scripture. Since they are our most strongly held beliefs, they are also the most difficult to objectively examine. The interpretations that have been taught to us by our pastors and our parents and our grandparents are what we cling to, but how often do these traditions interfere with the truth in the words? Considering how many wars are fought and people are killed over this very question, I would say it happens more often than not.

There was a time in the not too distant past that I held a set of beliefs that were rooted in what I now believe was a misunderstanding of the nature of God's Word. They were common beliefs. I daresay many among my circle of friends hold many of them. Gradually, I found myself almost against my will, having my mind changed for me. As I saw this happening, I struggled with my faith. I worried that if I no longer held these beliefs, did that mean I no longer had faith? I opened myself up to God and begged for truth and understanding. He made me understand that a faith that is predicated on a belief in this passage or that passage being interpreted a certain way and no other is not really faith at all. It’s a belief in something that doesn’t exist. While beliefs may be predicated on faith, true faith is never predicated on beliefs. If our faith is in God, and we keep communication open, we have to be open to change everything we once thought was right, even if we thought those beliefs were rooted in faith, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6) I invited the Spirit to shift and change my beliefs and priorities and I wound up with an outlook drastically different from the one I started with. Could I still be wrong? Of course I could, I’m still only human. But now I realize and accept that my understanding is imperfect.

I realize this sounds like a condemnation of Scripture, and that is not at all what I mean. Scripture is vital to understanding the nature of God. But our interpretation of Scripture must always be suspect, for the very fact that it is us doing the interpreting.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Welcome to my blog! With so many blogs out there, why should you read mine? Well, I don't really care if you read it or not. I've got something to say, and even if I'm shouting at the wind, I am compelled to say it. The purpose of this blog is to explore the relationship between reason and faith. What's that you say? They cannot coexist? Au contrere! We were given incredibly and miraculously complex minds with which to do exactly that, and I argue that to neglect to use this God-given gift called reason is the height of disobedience, and the very nature of sin itself. If you are a faithful being, then you must accept that all of nature plays by the rules set out for it by God. When we explore and observe nature's rules-based behavior, we are committing SCIENCE! As science is the observation and description of the natural order of God's world, it can never really be in discord with the faithful heart and mind. True science and true faith can never be at odds, because they are different aspects of the same drive: to understand the universe around us. While the earthly practice of science and the earthly practice of faith (called religion) are often at odds, these arguments are nearly always a product of the human brokenness that compels us to make little tin gods of our own egos, agendas, and intellects. It is only when we step back from our own self-importance to think with rationality and objectivity, and to let the Holy Spirit move in us as He will that we can even begin to see glimpses of the beautiful complexity of Creation. And speaking of Creation...