Category Archives: Theology

the soup that keeps on giving

Back in the late 1950s, Sophie Muller, a blue-eyed, single woman with a background in journalism and art, traveled the rivers and jungles, spending several days each month in each village.

Travel meant sitting on the rough wooden bench of a dugout canoe for days on end, sometimes under the hot tropical sun and other times enduring torrential downpours. At times travel by river was followed by a trek through the dense jungle.

Beyond the mere inconveniences, there was real danger. At one village, the witch doctor cooked up a chicken stew for Sophie with a little something extra added. The villagers watched as the unsuspecting Sophie ate the soup laced with the most potent poison known in the jungle, a poison known to kill a person within five minutes.

The villagers watched and waited for the inevitable – but it didn’t happen. Though Sophie experienced some vomiting, she did not die. And that didn’t make sense. Could the witch doctor have failed? Hadn’t the witch doctor added enough poison to kill five men? Or could the poison be flawed?

If any questions were raised about the potency of the poison, they were soon dispelled when some of the village dogs found Sophie’s vomit and did what dogs do, after which they promptly fell over and died.

God’s protective power was evident, and the witch doctor who had prepared the soup turned from witchcraft to God. Sophie became known as the daughter of God and was allowed to travel safely in the jungle wherever she wanted.

Rosie Cochran, Discipleship Done Well, Ethnos360 Magazine, March, 2018

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the final judgment gives us hope

If we believe that the Resurrection really happened, then Jesus Christ has, as it were, made an opening in the barrier between the ideal and the real. The downtrodden of the world can say, “Now I have got something, I have a hope. I have a hope for the future.” Middle-class people can get excited about philosophy and ethical principles, but not the masses, not the people who are really stuck in the darkness of this world. The Resurrection, not taken as a symbol but believed as a concrete fact, will lift up the downtrodden, and will change the world. Belief in a final judgment gives us enough hope so that we will neither resort to violence to bring in justice nor give in and collaborate with injustice.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 172.


pervasive moral schizophrenia

This schizophrenia does not exist only in academic circles. It is now pervasive, especially in the day-to-day lives of younger adults. Sociologist Christian Smith found that younger American adults held two views of morality in sharp tension, even contradiction. Most are relativistic, not believing in abiding moral absolutes. And yet they have many very strong moral convictions, which they insist others should honor. When asked how they knew if an action was moral or not, most said that the “automatically know . . . what is right and wrong in any situation. When asked how they would explain to someone else why they should do or not do some action, they repeated insisted that “everybody already knows” what is right and wrong. But there is no set of moral values that is self-evident to all people.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, page 180.


fight for other people’s children

We need to . . . think about what we can do in our everyday lives for the people who aren’t our neighbors. We should be fighting for opportunities for other people’s children as if the future of our own children depended on it. It probably does.

Matthew Stewart, The Atlantic: The 9.9 Percent
Is the New American Aristocracy
, June 2018


“good” and “bad” based on purpose

All judgments that something or someone is good or bad do so based on an awareness of purpose. If you know what that purpose is, then your moral evaluation of something can be a factual statement, a truth that exists apart from your personal likes and dislikes. You may not like watches for some reason, but if it is a good one, you will have to acknowledge it to be so. If you know the purpose of a farmer is to get a crop out of a piece of land, but she does not get any yield at all, year after year, then you know she is a bad farmer, however much you may like her personally. If, however, you have no idea of the purpose of an object, then any description of it as “good” or “bad” is wholly subjective, completely based on inner preferences.

How, then, can we tell if a human being is good or bad? Only if we know our purpose, what human life is for. If you don’t know the answer to that, then you can never determine “good” and “bad” human behavior. If, as in the secular view, we have not been made for a purpose, then it is futile to even try to talk about moral good and evil.

Timothy Keller, Making Sense of God, pages 186-187.


impersonal spiritual life force cannot love

Eastern religions today teach that after death our souls merge with the All-Soul of the universe. Just as a drop of water returning to the ocean loses its individual nature in the whole, so we become an impersonal part of the impersonal spiritual life force knitting all things together. But if after death there is nonexistence, impersonal existence, or in any case nonconsciousness, that means there is no love, because only persons can love. If we are not a self after death, then we have lost everything, because what we most want in life is love.

Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 167


forever enjoyment of love

In addition, we will never again fear separation from those we love. Disrupted love, the greatest sadness that earthly life contains, will be gone forever. In heaven “they shall know that they shall forever be continued in the perfect enjoyment of each other’s love.” All things there “shall flourish in an eternal youth. Age will not diminish anyone’s beauty or vigor, and there love shall flourish . . . as a living spring perpetually springing . . . as a rive which ever runs and is always clear and full.”

Tim Keller, Making Sense of God, p. 169

Quoting Jonathan Edwards, Heaven is a World of Love, The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader.


most romantic place on earth

“I often say that the most romantic place on earth is the pulpit. I ascend the pulpit stairs Sunday after Sunday; I never know what is going to happen. I confess that sometimes I come expecting nothing; but suddenly the power is given. At other times I think I have a great deal because of my preparation; but, alas, I find there is no power in it. Thank God it is like that. I do my utmost, but He controls the supply and the power, He infuses it. He is the heavenly physician and He knows every variation in my condition. He sees my complexion, He feels my pulse. He knows my inadequate preaching, He knows everything.”

Martyn Lloyd Jones, Spiritual Depression, The Final Cure, pp. 299-300


civilian or soldier

“What we need to ask ourselves today is, ‘Am I a civilian or a soldier?” This is how a civilian thinks: ‘God, I want to do this for you. I have these gifts, these talents and I’m this old and I want to do this for you, God. I love to play music. I want to play music for you.’

“But a soldier says, ‘Tell me what to do with my life. I don’t care what it is. Whatever you want me to do, I will do it.’ There is a tremendous difference.”

David Pierce, Rock Priest, page 254


affirming takes heart out of culture

If an African were to go to one of the great secular universities of the world, the professors would tell her that the solution to her fears was to see that there are no spirits, evil or good, that everything has a scientific explanation. Not only that, but all moral standards are person specific and relative to culture, and all moral values have to be self-authorizing. Ironically, her professors would say they wanted to affirm her culture and hear her “voice,” yet at the same time they would be taking the very heart of her Africanness out of her.

Christianity, Sanneh says, took a very different approach. It answered the challenge so that the existing African “framework was reconfigured without being overthrown.”