During my recent blog hiatus, I was not doing several things. I was not vacationing; I was not sleeping all day; I was not climbing Mount Everest.
Instant Gratification – a real temptation
Hundreds of advertising messages bombard the average American each day. The pressure to buy (and buy now!) is practically unavoidable. Manufacturers spend billions each year to convince us that we need their newest and greatest products; they want us to believe that our lives will be incomplete until we buy what they are selling. Marketing pushes us to pursue instant gratification.
No, it really doesn’t. But that’s a criticism that comes up occasionally. If you challenge a slightly careless or assumptive interpretation by pointing out what the verse specifically means in context, you’ll find that some people will defend the poor interpretation based on their belief that it needs to apply to something (usually outside the boundaries of the context). Phrases like “the appearance of evil,” “the day the Lord has made,” “the nation whose God is the Lord,” “stumbling-blocks,” “a new song,” “owe no man any thing,” and numerous others find themselves often abused by over-broad interpretation. Are we losing something valuable if we limit those words to what they actually mean in context?
If there were one word I could expunge from Fundamentalism’s vocabulary, it would be the word “association.” Actually, that might not be at the head of the list, but it would definitely make the top ten. “Association” frequently serves as a smoke screen to cover unnecessary and unbiblical separation. For the sake of “guarding associations,” Scripturally mandated unity finds itself discarded as the body of Christ suffers great mutilation. If we are going to demonstrate God’s glory through the Church, we need to make admissions and change our thinking about associations.
While preaching about the early church fathers’ understanding of the Gospel recently, Ligon Duncan opened his message with a lengthy quotation from C. S. Lewis’ introduction to Athanasius’ On the Incarnation. I realize this is a lengthy quotation, but I found it very challenging: it certainly motivates me to spend more time with older sources, it gives a broader perspective to the mental blinders that every generation wears by default, and encourages the humble teachability that theological studies require. I’m sure you’ll find it profitable as well!
I’m excited – today we get to quote Ps. 118.24 with its full and real meaning! It’s worth much more than a mere “don’t complain – God made today” rebuke.
I don’t condone vain speculation; I seek to guard against intellectualism; I love studying the Word in order to minister to real people! But I can’t accept this piece of advice: “Don’t spend your time on theological arguments that have no answers.” That bit of well-meant counsel has the adverse potential to cripple the practice of serious theology.
Another high-profile American has been shocked to have the hidden details of his personal life public paraded before the nation’s eyes. Responding to a woman’s accusation that they carried on a two-and-a-half year affair, Tiger Woods apologized for not being “true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.”
In Genesis, God created Adam and Eve and spent time dwelling with them in the garden. After their sin, they hid from God’s presence and God banished them from the special location of his dwelling with them (Gen. 3.23-24). The patriarchs occasionally experienced God’s visitation in physical manifestation. Particularly instructive is the account of Jacob’s experiencing God’s presence through a dream and naming the location “House-of-God” (Gen. 28.10-22). A house is a place where one dwells. In the wilderness, God instructed Moses to construct the tabernacle for this reason: “that I may dwell in their midst” Ex. 25.8). After the conquest, God gave instructions for the construction of a temple in which he would “dwell among the children of Israel” (I Ki. 6.13). The tabernacle/temple actually played the sanctifying role for Israel that indwelling plays for New Testament believers (I Ki. 8.57-58).