Market, Money, Time and Faith Porn Fiction

I am in the process of writing a very fun sci-fi suspense trilogy. I call it Pogland. Fun and challenging and time-consuming (which is why I’ve been off of social media). 

If you know me, you know I have some strong views on the role theology needs to play in fiction. I came across a Christian sci-fi/fantasy: “How to write and be published” video this morning which at first I was thrilled about, but soon found to be very disturbing.

I was flabbergasted! What a role money plays in the Christian publishing industry!

Now I understand not everyone can write just to write, or write what needs to be available. Or publish just any book. Publishing comes down to the bottom line, profit.

On a secular forum board recently a writer posted that they were nervous about having to write a sex scene for the very first time. Instead of just saying nothing, I replied. I suggested that he didn’t actually need to bend to the bandwagon. If he’d never felt the need to write such a scene before, he could still write an excellent book without it. And even appeal to a larger audience because he didn’t.

As a Christian, by my comment I meant so much more. But secular fiction is moved by secular values. And he wants to write what sells.

It’s the same for “Christian” fiction. Christian fiction is moved by Christian dysfunctions.

Now it might be true that dysfunctional marriages lead Christian women to escape into “Christian” romantic fiction. But that’s not always the case. Strong Christians read and write Christian romance novels.

Francine Rivers and Redeeming Love is the epitome of Christian faith fiction. I am also especially appreciative of authors Elizabeth Maddrey and Chautona Havig‘s real-life Christianity in the context of their romance stories.

But theirs is not the common denominator in Christian fiction. The common denominator is a dummied-down nominal Christianity. That’s where the money is.

  • For people who don’t want to grow in their faith through their time in fiction.
  • For people who don’t want to be challenged in their free time.
  • For people who want only to be entertained.

 .

Dysfunctional faith leads people to escape into borderline fiction.

Dysfunctional faith will earn a writer money. Take Love Comes Softly as an example. It’s a great series, but it’s great in a “it’s not dirty” kind of way. It’s wholesome. But is that what we should be doing? Is that ALL we should be doing? 

Just writing Little House on the Prairie Christianity? Wholesome fiction, get-away, beach-reads? Escaping from this world and its duties fiction? 

Case in point, alcohol is a gift from God.

The book of Proverbs and the gospels show us that wine is a gift for man to enable them to get a buzz, a bit of euphoria. That buzz helps us get through the low times of life, through the busy, hectic times of life. I live in Europe where the view on alcohol is not burdened by the judgmentalism of the Prohibition movement.

But while alcohol is a gift from God, we see as early as Noah’s time, that getting drunk is shameful. Too much alcohol is a sin. Elders and deacons and their wives are measured by this. And their standards are our standards. Not just “if” you want to be in leadership, their standards are the bare-minimum for the mature faith.

So too much alcohol–too much of this world–is a sin. Just as too much reading or too much entertainment is a sin. If it produces nothing but entertainment, it’s overdosing on buzz.

Do I have a Bible verse to back up this rant?

Yes. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sins of omission.

How is reading frivolous wholesome fiction a sin of omission?

Because you have not used those hours of your life for the betterment of your relationship with God, or the betterment of the world.

The two greatest commandments, upon which the Law and the Prophets rest

It’s like sleeping your life away, and while sleep is necessary, and we can even say rest is necessary, oversleeping is a waste of the most precious resource we have: Time.

On the interview I mentioned earlier, the publisher said they are not looking for books with overt Christian message, but only those with a hidden Christian message. They intend to be cross-over books. As an example, she says, read any of Christ’s parables.

We don’t want Christian words, she says, we don’t want Christian messages. No conversions. No preaching. We want…good wins over evil, and be kind to others. Oh, and werewolves and vampires are okay, as long as they are the bad guys.

I couldn’t watch the rest of the interview.

I asked my husband, why is it that they want books that do not grow the reader in their faith through fiction? Why do they want hidden faith, covert messages?

Money, he said. That’s where the money is. It’s how the market of Christian fiction has to function.

And so we come to the faith porn industry. To make money, Christians sell out message for money.

Well I suggest that when Christianity loses its message, it ceases to be Christianity. “Authors have to make a living,” they may say. So they prostitute the name of Christ, and promote a lie.

When the message is traded out for things that are universally acceptable, like “good wins over evil,” it takes the beautiful name of Christ and drags it into the dregs of common-ism. It makes light of the cross. It should cease to use the name of Christ in its label and should be honest and upfront. It is moralistic worldly wisdom. Humanism.

To use the parables of Christ as an example of how to hide the message forgets the very cut-throat effect of his parables.

  • I am the good shepherd, read the message: “I myself am Yahweh of Ezekiel 34!” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • A certain man built his house on sand, another on rock, read the message: “My words are equal to the entire Law and the Prophets, if you reject me you reject God himself.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • The prodigal son looked at the pigs around him and fled home, read the message: “You religious leaders have no compassion for the lost.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.

.

The parables are not happy wholesome secret messages. They are cut-throat. They divide between self-righteous God-haters and trembling beggars kneeling before God. Separation filters, each of them. Sorting people. Left and right, like sheep and goats.

Yes, we need more Christian science fiction and fantasy. But not by circumcising the gospel out of it.

I’m not saying I’m the best author who knows how to do this perfectly. I am not. I tried with Trunk of Scrolls, and for what it is I think my story’s beautiful.

But I have a vision, “I have a dream,” you could say, that Christian fiction would be a way for Christians to use their down time to be entertained into new growth in their faith. New avenues they hadn’t considered. New insights into the beauty of Christ.

I know it’s not only me who talks with others about these things. Bringing Heaven’s eternal conversations into the here-and-now.

I know what it’s like to build faith in someone face to face. Can’t we make the Christian fiction industry into THAT kind of thing?

So I’m starting a list of writers whose works are not ashamed of the Christian message and promoting true Christ-loving life. Please post the names of this caliber of author below along with titles you recommend, and add a blurb about why you think this qualifies. 

Thanks! 

–Darlene


“I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” Jewel the Unicorn in C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

You Are What You Do

SEPARATING SHEEP FROM GOATS

Separation filters are things in this life that prove what you are. They are tests, opportunities, situations, scenarios that require you to take a step one way or another. The step you take shows what you are.

In Biblical Hebrew there is no distinction between the being and the doing. How we BE is WHAT we are. And we ARE what we DO. Food for thought.

Habakkuk 2:4

“Behold, his soul is puffed up;
it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.

The righteous shall live by his faith—each of these words work together to emphasize the deep point of this verse. It is so significant, it is quoted three times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

1. THE

THE righteous (as opposed to those whose soul is puffed up) is the one who is humble, who trembles at His word. Not A righteous man–meaning anyone who does things that would be considered right. A pulls the point away from the covenant context.

Instead it says THE–as in the ones we have already spoken of, the ones the entire Bible is speaking of. God’s ones.

2. RIGHTEOUS

In this passage especially, the righteous refers to those who are NOT the cause of the punishment on Israel. The RIGHTEOUS is used as a noun and an adjective. The adjective represents the class of individuals. This class is known by their deeds. 

“In Western thought, we are taught to make a distinction between what a person does and who he is. However, in Hebrew, it is difficult to articulate that distinction.” (Rabbi Berger) You are what you do.

3. SHALL

This form is often used by Jesus when referring to things that will happen anyway. It is a statement, not a command. If you love me, you will keep my commands. You will certainly. See John 14:12, 23-24 compared with John 15:10–the keeping and the doing are connected with the essence of the person. As Jesus said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him [the Father].”

Shall-“used to say that something certainly will or must happen, or that you are determined that something will happen.” The separation filter pivots on this word. The righteous will be this way, sure as the sun will rise. (See above).

4. LIVE

How does one live? Shall-live is actually the Hebrew word. So what is meant by living? As seen above, living is the way we exist. What we do, in life, is what we are. How we BE is WHAT we are. Living is abiding, it is the use of our breath and heartbeat. A tree exists, and does what a tree does.

There are ultimately two kinds of people, God’s people and not-my-people. The righteous-being  and the unrighteous-being. So what of those who live righteously before men but not humbly before God? Are they righteous or unrighteous? This is where the next section comes in.

5. BY

There are many angles that can be represented with the word “by.” The agent, the method, the position, not-later-than, part of a measurement, during or within.

Agent: by VanGogh, by a thermostat

Method: by train, by herself

Position: by her side

Not later than: by five o’clock, by dinner

Measurement: ten by ten, by the hour, minute by minute

During, within, according to: by night, by nature, fine by me

So how does one live “by faith” Which kind of by?

Is faith the agent, the faith enables the living?

Is faith a method, the faith brings the person to living?

Is faith a position, the person lives next to the faith?

Is faith a goal, in that a person finishes living if he arrives at faith point?

Is faith a measurement, in that living happens from faith to faith?

Is faith a comparative measure, in that the action of living happens within the state of faith?

In Hebrew, the proposition is connected to the word faith. It is not a separate word as it is in English. So “by-his-faith” is one word.

6. BY-HIS-FAITH

Interestingly, the exact same phrase by his faith occurs only in one place in Scripture, and this is a very relevant place.

Ps 96:12-13: “let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness

Here, it’s a measure by which something is judged, and it is a state of being and a means. In Ps 96, the peoples will be judged by means of God’s faithfulness and because of God’s faithfulness.  Of Ps 96:13, Matthew Poole in his commentary writes, “With his truth; or, in his faithfulness, i.e. so as he hath promised to do. He will certainly and abundantly fulfil all God’s promises made to his people.”

Using the same implications, the righteous will live by means of their faithfulness. The righteous will live in the state of fulfilling their covenant-promises.

The righteous shall live-by-faith.

The righteous ones will most assuredly be characterized by a certain manner of faithful-covenant-keeping-abiding.

New Testament Ethics

Jesus Christ lived-the-faith God required, for me. He said, “I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

And since he also died the death-I-deserved, for me, my faithful-covenant-keeping-abiding in Christ will count me as one of “the righteous.”

This is why Paul said that Abraham was justified by faith…

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin” (Romans 4:3-8).

But James as well can say the seeming-opposite, that Abraham was justified by works…

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God (James 2:18-23).

The righteous are saved by their faithful-covenant-keeping-abiding in Christ.

Flee the Wrath to Come!

Flee!

If we have learned anything from these warnings, EVACUATIONS for Hurricane Irma and Pac NW Fires, it is the reality and mercy of the urgent need to…

“Flee from the Wrath to Come!”

Do you hear the alarm? Do you not worry about the God of Nature? Why does he stir up the storms? Why the earthquakes? Why the fires? Why so few lives lost? What mercy, what strength, what warning.

______
Hear Charles Spurgeon’s words:

“Flee from the Wrath to Come!”

“Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” [Matthew 3:7]

“Who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us.” [Hebrews 6:18]

I. First, dear friends, let us think of THE TREMENDOUS DANGER which overtakes all men and women who do not flee from it.

1. I remark, first:, that this “coming wrath” is absolutely just and necessary.

2. Nor is “the coming wrath” any the less sure because it is delayed.

3. I tremble as I try to speak of this “coming wrath” because, when it does come it will surely be something very terrible because divinity enters into the essence of it.

II. Now, in the second place, I want, just; for a few minutes, to tell you about THE MEANS OF ESCAPE. John the Baptist said to the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”

By this question, he seemed to imply that there is no way of deliverance from “the coming wrath” but by fleeing from it.

1. First, we flee from the coming wrath by taking immediate action.

2. Fleeing means, not only immediate action, but swift action.

3. To flee also means to run directly to your object.

Notice how John the Baptist explained to those Pharisees and Sadducees the way in which they had to flee. He told them,

1. First, that they must repent.

2. Secondly, that repentance must be practical.

3. Then John went on to say to the Pharisees and Sadducees that they must give up all the false hopes which they had cherished: “Do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.” �

How does Christ deliver us from “the coming wrath?” He does it by putting himself into our place, and putting us into his place.

((These are Spurgeon’s outlined points: See the detailed sermon here:

http://www.biblebb.com/files/spurgeon/2704.htm

 

A World Without Anthony

antony2We called him Anthony. People who knew him called him Tony or Antony. But for some reason our family called him Anthony. He was one of my husband’s best friends. Antony Simon was the pastor of our sister church in Jerusalem. He was always busy in evangelism and deeds of charity. Always moving. He died Monday night running across a street.

But Anthony’s death is proof that God doesn’t need us.

Everyone wants to feel needed. That they are indispensable to the world. Or that, somehow, it pleases God to need us. But that’s not true at all. He does not need a single person.

It’s a bit discouraging to realize this, but at the end of the day, it’s an essential of Christianity. God is all-sufficient. He did not create man because he needed something from them. He doesn’t need praise. He doesn’t need works. He doesn’t need our love. He doesn’t need to watch us enjoying his creation. He is perfectly satisfied without us.

In the eternal-time before time, God was perfectly content without us. And if he had never created the universe he would have continued perfectly content.

But as we always tell our kids, there’s a difference between need and want.

An artist doesn’t need to paint a single painting, and a potter does not need to spin a single pot out of clay. (Even if you think they need it for money, they don’t. They could instead plant some wheat or hunt for food and clothing.) Art is not a need, but a want. And artists want to create.

God wanted to create a universe, and to put mankind into this universe. And as the newly discovered Anthropic principle of science shows, the whole universe is set up for life to be on Earth.

The Why of him wanting MAN points to relationship.

The Almighty did not need to have a relationship with mankind. He chose to have it.

This dovetails into Anthony.

Anthony was a man who could not sit still. He was always busy about the work of the Lord. If it was in Jerusalem, he was on the streets telling nominal Christians about Christ, telling Jews about Christ, telling Muslims about Christ.

He had a method of evangelism he called “drive-by Bible distribution.” He would be driving, see someone on the side of the road, pull over, and grabbing a copy of the Bible in their language, would hand it to them and drive off before any argument. Not that he was afraid of confrontation, either. He could hold his own against all arguments. Facing off with anyone over the truths of Scripture. All for one purpose: that they would enter into a relationship with Christ.

antony3

His latest projects included regular trips to help the homeless war-stricken Syrian refugees in Iraq. He took blankets, food, supplies, Bibles and audioBibles to these people. It was on one of these trips, late Monday night 5/29/17, that he was taken home to be with the Lord. A car slapped the life out of him.

As anyone who knew him will tell you, Anthony always wanted to walk. No taxis for him. He said you meet more people when you walk, and the more people you see the more chance you have to share Christ with them. His fearless conversation starters intimidated me. Anthony’s concern for the eternal state of each individual made him disregard the walls of propriety and dive into conversation about Christ. Who knows how many people were shaken from complacency by hearing him speak of Christ’s work on the cross? It was just after refusing to take a taxi that he ran across the street and was hit by a car.

A recipient of Antony's gift
[A recipient of Antony’s gift]

I do not want to live in a world without Anthony. I hardly even knew him, but as his friend on Facebook I lived vicariously through his brave, single-minded devotion to obeying the Great Commission. I saw in Anthony the way we all should be, and used him as a personal model for what I wished I could be if I weren’t so timid.

In reading the responses of others likewise shocked by his death, I see I am not alone in feeling this way. He lived the way we all should live. What does it mean that God takes a man like Anthony?

And yet God took him, in the prime of his ministry. God took him. He didn’t need Anthony to keep doing that. Anthony was living how we all know we should be living, but God did not need that to keep going.

I find it hard to live in a world without Anthony because it means it’s not about me. God doesn’t need me to do anything. In God’s all-wise plan, good men die. 

And Anthony, though he certainly had sharp edges still, was doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with his God. No one is good but God alone, yet in Christ all our deeds are now good. But Anthony’s good works were no longer wanted by God.

So then what does this mean for me? The early death of obedient Christians teaches us one significant lesson. God doesn’t need me to be a mother. If I am not here, he will be my children’s mother. He doesn’t need me to be a wife. If I am not here, he will be the help and comfort to my husband. He doesn’t need me to be a teacher. If I am not here he will teach my children and those under my care at church. He doesn’t need me to DO anything because he is fully capable of doing it all himself.

Christ will build his Church, and neither the failures of the church nor the gates of hell can stand against that. So our failure to live with Anthony’s boldness does not hinder God.

But what of our good deeds? If they are not needed by God, why do we do them?

God does not need us, but the world needs us. As we bear others’ burdens we fulfill the law of Christ. As we go into the harvest field, his Word is scattered and the harvest is reaped. We are the Body of Christ acting on his Word to bring about what he wants. We are the means God uses to build his Church, but it is not us building that Church.

This idea could send us into a spiral of self-doubt and depression: God doesn’t need me? What am I, a pawn?

Or it can relieve us: He will build his Church, and I won’t be able to fail him. Nothing I can do can fail God!

What about you? Do you find your meaning in “helping” God? Or do you find your meaning in relationship? in being his child? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” As you BE his child, in your acts of justice, kindness and mercy, in your compassion and peace, in your praises, you are glorifying God. As you BE learning who he is, through reading it in Scripture and declaring it through prayer, you are enjoying him forever.

He doesn’t need your works. He doesn’t need you.

But you get to pour out his compassion upon a hurting world.

You get to be his tool.

You get to speak forth truth.

You get to teach and train and comfort and hold those struggling to survive this broken world.

You get to rest in knowing your God and Savior.

My husband laughed as he considered Anthony in heaven, not sitting still, probably wanting to take audio Bibles to those in hell. What is this world without Anthony?

It’s a world where the Church is still “about its Father’s business.” It’s a world that is not diminished, but brighter. His death flared up that steadfast courage into the hearts of those left behind. We are different having known Anthony. We needed Anthony.

>>  See Anthony’s Video Message here  <<

antony[Antony on his last day, waving from Erbil Iraq]

Yes, we are timid. Yes, we are not as bold as he was. But God is not disabled now. The same God will bring about his same purposes to its appointed end even through Anthony’s death. It should relieve us that God is all-sufficient to bring about his purpose.

It should enable us to open our eyes to our small corner of the world.

How can we bring honor to Christ’s name as we interact with those under our influence?

How can we make minor changes to our schedule to create more time to meet people?

How can we bravely disregard invisible walls that come between a person and their eternity?


We only have TODAY.

Remember this and stand firm,

recall it to mind, you transgressors,

remember the former things of old;

for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me,

declaring the end from the beginning

and from ancient times things not yet done,

saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

and I will accomplish all my purpose….’

I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;

I have purposed, and I will do it.

Isaiah 46:8-11


Update 6/1/17 << Read Anthony’s Testimony Here >>

Update 6/2/17 (TO GIVE DONATIONS FOR HIS WIDOW & FAMILY–CLICK HERE)

Gerstner and Trunk of Scrolls

Trunk of Scrolls is infused with John Gerstner. The questions he poses in his Handout Apologetics are the ones philosophers have been debating since the beginning. And yet, Gerstner and Trunk of Scrolls provide hope for those answers. As should be clear by the very focus of my website, “Promoting Intelligent Christianity,” it is by reasoning through things that Truth will be found.

Reason, or philosophy, was given by God as a means to find Truth, and reasoning done in the light will always find what is True. If the premises are true, and reasoning is solid, the conclusions will be correct.

This is why it is essential to teach logic and philosophy and to train children how to think through things. Trunk of Scrolls is the story of one family’s exploration of the questions that have always been here–about reality, about suffering, about God, about finding what is true. And hat-tip to Gerstner who so succinctly and amiably presented this at an accessible level. I hope that Trunk of Scrolls will likewise be for each reader an accessible, entertaining and challenging exploration of this historical pursuit.

Trunk of Scrolls available in Kindle and ePub & paperback

believebyzia2

The Persians at the GATE

The Name

Caesar Augustus, of Bethlehem Nativity fame, 15th_century_map_of_Turkey_regiondied in 14 AD, when Jesus was a teenager.

Archelaus, besides being the son in law of Herod the Great (of Nativity infamy) was also the Last King of Cappadocia. A Roman vassal, he was active in the political game, so when Caesar Augustus died, he renamed his city after the dearly departed. It thus became Caesarea in Cappadocia.

Cappadocia played a great role in the growth of Christianity. During the half-century after Christ, the Apostles went to and fro on the earth, preaching and teaching and writing. The Scrolls they left behind became the Bible we have today.

The Persecutions

In the post-Apostolic times, that is, after John died in 90 AD, the next generation of church leaders went forward with the Scrolls left by the Apostles. They hid the scrolls, and they hid themselves, in caves as they faced the persecutions over the next 250 years.

64 AD

  • Nero
  • Domitian
  • Trajan
  • Hadrian
  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Septimus Severus
  • Maximinus the Thracian
  • Decius
  • Valerian
  • Diocletian
  • Galerius

313 AD

With the signing of the Edict of Milan in 313 the widespread persecution of Christians ended. Then when the Arabs invaded in about 1080, it was renamed Kaisariyah, an Arabic form based on the Latin (Kaisar=Caesar, meaning emperor). And as you know, Kaiser is the German (Dutch-root) name for emperor.

Now the town is called Kayseri.

Enter the Persians

In Trunk of Scrolls, the characters have concern over the “Persians at the gate.” The Persians and Byzantines were always at odds with each other. In fact, a war broke out between the two soon after the events described in Trunk of Scrolls.

What is interesting is how the Persians won. Especially today.

A few days ago, I heard from an Iranian (Persian) believer about an Iranian Christian refugee church in Kayseri. One of several Iranian refugee churches in the town.

–>This ONE CHURCH has more Christians in it
than TOTAL Christians in many big Turkish cities.

Finding this out floored me. The Persians at the Gate.

The Byzantines slowly left the “fold.” The beginning of the end was the Schism of 1054, but even before this the Monophysite Controversy weakened them. They did not understand the significance of Church unity on the Identity of Christ, which set the stage for a weakening empire and a slipping faith.

RaviZachariasSome people say that theology is not important. They say that God doesn’t care what you believe as long as you love Jesus. Or they say that theology divides but the Spirit unifies.

In fact, the Spirit of God divides the church by his WORD. Truth and error are separated when compared with Scripture. And Scripture principles are what “theology” is in the first place.

Theology, or the “Study of God,” means knowing who God is, what He is, how He is, what He does, what He wants from us. These are all that theology is the study of.  There is a GREAT difference between the God of Persia (Zoroaster) and the God of the Bible.

The Persians got what the land of Anatolia lost.

ACTION POINT: What about YOU? Do you care to know God for Who He IS? Studying a comprehensive catechism, like the Westminster Shorter Catechism, can help you be grounded in Truth. The truth can set you free. Please share your experiences or thoughts about this in the comments below.

John Gerstner and the Reasoning Mind

When I get to heaven, one of the big things on my list is to find John Gerstner. What a jewel. I just want to meet him.

I was introduced to him last year through a Ligonier video series he did in the 90’s called Handout Apologetics.

The kids and I just finished watching the series again as part of this year’s Apologetics course, and again I remember my plans to find his mansion when I get there.

I want to thank him. You might have noticed that the Sola series I have on my blog has a broken link for the Sola Fides section. This is due to John Gerstner. The picture I have on there is from Indiana Jones stepping out over the chasm in The Last Crusade. After the Apologetics course last year I rethought everything I believed about faith. So consequently until I redo that webpage I have taken it offline.

[update 1/5/16- Sola Fides ONLINE now!]

Faith is not what I thought it was.

So I would like to recommend the same
Handout Apologetics that changed my life.

You can watch the series for free on Ligonier.org. (click the picture below).

More on Apologetics later. Meanwhile, enjoy your visit with my (someday) friend, John Gerstner:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 5.04.00 PM

The first four lessons are REASONS AGAINST REASON that Christians tend to use. Wow! God bless you in your pursuit of FAITH.

COMMENTS:  What about you? Do you think faith requires reasons? OR is faith an end in itself?


Update July 2017: In their discussion on Natural Theology, or evidence of God through the natural world and philosophy, White Horse Inn Podcast gave a significant hat-tip to dear John Gerstner. Please listen to this episode:

WHI 1372 | DOES FAITH CONFLICT WITH SCIENCE?

Sola Gratia

WHY ME?

To say Grace Alone (Sola Gratia), we are saying that the CAUSE of our salvation is the Grace of God alone.  We did not “do” anything to earn his favor.  God did NOT “look down the corridor of time” and find that we pleased Him, and so choose us.

In fact, His selection of His own rests in the perfection of His will, His goodness, His Justice, His Satisfaction in Christ.  Nothing about us, all about HIM.

The question is asked, “if you were the only person on earth, would Christ have died for you?” It’s a false dilemma, not worth even thinking about.

Before the creation of the World, God chose us in Him.  Before he said “let there be Light” He had Himself a BOOK, and He wrote the names of His own in that book.  WHY?

GRACE ALONE

For some reason he chose a select few to not get the just consequence they deserve.

What does this mean for us?

There is a story of a servant who owed his master beaucoup bucks.  His master called him in for payment. and he could not pay.  His master ordered that he and his family be sold in lieu of the debt.  The servant fell on his knees.  “Please give me time,” he said.  “I will repay you!”  The master had compassion on the servant, and he took the books and crossed out the debt.  For no reason except the compassion of the master.

Later that day, the servant goes out and hits up another servant.  “You borrowed money from me. I want it paid back!”  “I cannot pay, please give me time!” the second servant begs.  The first servant puts his chin up and says, “No.  I want it now.”  He calls for the police to take the servant to jail until he could pay.

Now the other servants of the household, who had seen what the Master had done earlier, run to the Master and tell him what happened.  So, again the first servant is dragged before the Master.  “What have you done?” he asks.  “I forgave your great debt just this morning! Why do you not have the same compassion on your fellow servant?  Because you have failed to pass on this compassion, I rescind my forgiveness of the debt.  I want you to either pay me off or be sold to pay the debt.”  And he was taken out to who knows what end.

We must be very careful to deal with others with the same measure of compassion as Christ showed us.  Turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, going the second mile, giving in secret.  All of the “secrets of the Kingdom” are meant to turn the tables on the way this world does things.  They are each ways to show generous, unexpected compassion to our fellow man. The Kingdom Way is approaching them with grace alone.

When we think of the GRACE of GOD, we should think of David.  He was a shepherd of a flock.  And yet when danger came against his sheep, he turned into a fighting machine.  The Lord is our shepherd.  He guides us in good things, and He taps us back on the road with his rod and staff.  His compassion has two sides: prescriptive and preventative.  His Grace is the way He brings us to Himself.

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE

This is a big part of the picture.   When He calls, we cannot but answer.  “Lazarus, Come Forth!” He called to His friend.  And Lazarus heeded and came.  He did not consider one way or the other. “I am ALIVE!  JESUS CALLS ME!”  We cannot but come.

IN THE BOOK: TRUNK OF SCROLLS

While Byziana and her family pursue the life the Scrolls speak of, they do not trust that God is their Shepherd.  They do not truly rest in the compassion of God.  When God shakes their world, they begin to walk toward a deeper understanding of the grace and mercy of God.

Sola Fides

https://tborash.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/screen-shot-2014-01-23-at-7-23-03-pm.png

BY FAITH ALONE

In the famous blockbuster Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, there is a poignant scene where Indiana Jones
1) reads there is a bridge,
2) hears that there is a bridge,
3) knows there is a bridge
4) cannot see the bridge.  He has to cross the bridge to get to the “Holy Grail.”

Abraham believed God.  And it was credited to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23)

But, it may surprise you–believing that “God is able to do what he has promised,” is NOT faith, –believing that God has spoken from beyond sight and beyond sense to give His Word is NOT faith.

Me? I do not believe in God.
I do not believe He made the world.
I do not believe Jesus died on the cross.
I do not believe he rose from the dead.

Why don’t I believe in these things? Because I reasoned them through. And I know they are true.

It is through REASON that I have come to KNOW that GOD IS. Through plain old common sense I can see the WORLD was created by His design. I don’t need to have some invisible faith to use my brain!

The death and resurrection of Jesus are also plain to an historian. Only approaching it as I approach any other event in history, I can see he died and he rose. I know He died for the sins of the world, because I approach it through reason. Evidence.

Natural Theology is how reason, the intellect, common sense and science work together to show us these things clear as day. I don’t need to hide behind the Bible.

There are only TWO WORDS I have to believe in.

These are the hardest words.

FOR ME.

We don’t have faith

    • that Salvation is in Jesus Christ.
    • that Christ’s perfect life, and dying on the cross satisfied God’s righteous requirement for us, or
  • that the Holy Spirit imputes righteousness to those who have been effectually called.

That is not faith. These there are also clear through reason.

If you take the time to think about it.

Let my FAVORITE TEACHER walk you through it, without requiring belief in the Bible…

otherwise, read a bit more.

Sola Fides

When we say we are saved by faith, Sola Fides, we mean…

It does not take WORKS.

We do not have to achieve perfection, or sinlessness before we can approach God. Not only that we do not have to, it means we couldn’t if we tried.  We could never meet the righteous requirements of God’s law.  Conscience and earthquakes prove that we’re broken and the world is broken.  It’s not the way it should be.

and we mean…

It does not take INTELLECT. 

If we could be saved through intellect, only the smart people would be saved.  So God evened the playing field by having salvation through faith alone.  A child or an adult.  A genius or a mentally handicapped person.  A reader or a non-reader. Salvation is free to all, based on faith alone.

But the phrase “Sola Fides” means that some volition is required. We must use our minds before it can reach our hearts.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.”  (Isaiah 1:18)

It does take thinking through a QUESTION: Was it FOR ME?

Objections to it being FOR ME:

It can’t be for me. What about Good People who never hear??

Many people deny that it was FOR THEM because they let go of reason when it comes to others. “If it is not FOR THEM too, I won’t have it,” they say. If God doesn’t let everyone in, he’s not fair.

Foolishly, they exchange REASON for an unproven faith in the inherent goodness of men. Do you really KNOW that mankind is inherently GOOD?? We WANT mankind to be good. But are we good at heart??

Everyone has conscience-pricks.

How do you explain conscience? Why did God put conscience into man? (If not God, where could such an immaterial alarm come from?) Why put a constant alarm when we cross the line? Why put an alarm unless there is a consequence for not obeying the requirements of God?

We are created equal. Very true. We all have equal access to Truth. Otherwise God’s judgment would not be fair or right. But unless persuaded by reason and common sense, people do not want the cross to have happened FOR THEM.

It’s a hard pill to swallow.

I want to live the way I want to live.

I want my goodness to be good enough. I’m as good as the next guy, so there you have it.  I don’t need anyone’s help.

If you think about it, only perfection could be allowed eternal access to God (or his presence would be tainted). And justice requires condemnation of all sin (or he would by his disregard be accomplice-before & after-the-fact).

If God is God, Judgment Day is coming. No one is good enough. Conscience tells us this. Reason tells us this.

Will you be one who thinks it through to the end?  Reason echoes it across time and space, and it so happens that the Bible agrees.

FOR ME holds in it the miracle of the incarnation,
the miracle of Christ’s death and resurrection.
FOR ME. To give me a way.

“For by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this not of yourself. It is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast”  Eph 2:8-9


Update (3/1/20)
I just came across this quote by Martin Luther where he says the same thing, in different and more eloquent words…

Who is this “me?” The beloved Son of God gave Himself for me, a most miserable and condemned sinner. If I could by means of any work or merit love the Son of God and come to Him, why should He given Himself as a sacrifice for me?
…because there was no price under heaven and earth for my release except that of Christ the Son of God. Thus it was supremely necessary that He gave Himself for me. What’s more, He did it all from His inestimable love, for Paul says, “Who loved me.”
Everyone who can say this word me and make it his with firm faith and confidence together with Paul will be a good lawyer against the law, for He did not give sheep, bulls, gold, or silver, but God Himself in all His divinity. He did it entirely and fully “for me.” Yes, this “me,” a miserable sinner under condemnation.

-Martin Luther, Commentary on Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (1535)

IN THE BOOK: TRUNK OF SCROLLS.

Marcellus and Byziana struggle with what God requires from us.  Does he want sacrificial acts, like standing on pillars?  Is this what pleases God?  In the story, they learn about faith, and how faith working with reason results in our actions and in our relationship with God. They learn this through the power of the Scrolls in their life.