Daily Journal, September 23, 2009
A few quick thoughts:
1.) Thinking about a book I'm reading...
I've got to get a book read to post a review by the end of this week. It's entitled If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil . It's by Randy Alcorn. I've read some of his fiction, but none of his non-fiction. So far it looks good. It is an attempt to help believers understand the purpose and use of suffering in this world. This is a thorny problem, because of the nature of our underlying philosophy of life in the Western World.
You see, ethical monotheism, the belief that there is a God of some sort who has morals, has been behind the educational, moral, philosophic, and governmental development of America, England, Scotland, France, and other Western countries for more than 1,000 years. It's become so fundamental in our understanding that we don't even acknowledge it. This thought pattern underscores why we believe in human freedom, human rights, and even right and wrong. It's just that we don't even really think about the idea anymore that good is defined by God, such that we have established those ideas of human rights, human freedom, and right and wrong, as being the fundamental. These ideas even apply to whatever God there can be.
In other words, we use the phrase that “God is good” to further our understanding of God, not of good. So, we expect God to fit in our definition of what good is. Only now, we've been living in a culture that denies eternity long enough that all good has to be defined within our lifetimes, and it just doesn't work. What Alcorn is doing here is good, and helpful, but will still have its detractors.
The truth, as I understand Scripture to speak on it, is that “God is good” or even “God is love” are not statements to help us know God, but statements to help us know “good” or “love.” God is not defined by His goodness, but rather to do good is to do what God would do. To love is to behave in a manner that God would behave. Do we understand it rightly? Not always, and so our definition of “love” or “good” turns out badly and puts us judging God for failing to love us as we want or to do the good we wanted.
But if God does it, it's good. If God treats us a certain way, it is loving to do so.
And I think this is where Alcorn's headed with this book, but we'll see.
2.) Otherwise, I'll be up soon at SBCVoices, which is kind of a combination blog aggregation site and a blog on its own of Southern Baptist life. We're doing some debates over current issues. I'm up to debate about multi-site churches . Which is kind of fun, since I don't have a multi-site church, and I'm arguing that they are an acceptable, and good, way of doing church. I'll post when I'm up.
Right now it's whether or not Baptism must be done under the supervision of a local church. There's some good arguments and reasoning for and against. I think the difficulty is that you don't want just anyone running around pushing people under the water and claiming they are now disciples of Christ, but that there are Biblical grounds that it's not just a preacher job. Things to think about.
3.) Also, Tom Ascol, who's a pastor in Florida, sent out an interesting comment on twitter last night. He asked if any of us pastors were taking particular precautions for flu with the Lord's Supper. I hadn't even thought of it, personally, but I can now see the potential problem. Now I wondering how many times changes in church practice have come from pragmatic issues like illness and such. Interesting part of history.