I hope the post isn't too mocking in tone...
A comment at the above post was written, and I missed it. I've answered it.
THE FAITH PURE, BOLD, PRACTICAL
Fear God, it is the beginning of wisdom.
When you fear only God you don't fear man
(and man's opinion of you),
which enables you to pursue wisdom.
What are the conditions of admission into Christ's Kingdom? Simply practical recognition of the authority of the sovereign.
- A. A. Hodge
A comment at the above post was written, and I missed it. I've answered it.
[This was an email in a long, on-going conversation about the Christian faith with people who are in various stages of being introduced to Reformed Theology and the 'power of Reformed Theology'...]
When you catch on to the complete picture you realize how much of the spirit world is involved in everything going on around you. Obviously currently it is the Kingdom of Satan and those powers and principalities that are most active in terms of numbers, but that's because God's people are mostly currently sleepwalking and taking other things more seriously (being in strong identification) with various illusion and vain things. Once you awaken in the moment you are actually used, can be used, by real will (God's will), as a participant in the battle and the development (the harvest is big, the workers are few) of God's Kingdom.
There's an on-going analogue in the spirit world with our physical presence in this world. Our spirit, which is part of our soul, is connected to a source of life in the spirit world. Our spiritual body exists in the spiritual world and what happens to it is reflected in what happens to us in the physical world and vice versa.
Biblical doctrine is the truth that we actually wear in the spiritual world. Our understanding determines the extent of our apparel in terms of it being armor of light/armor of God. A novice perhaps only has a plain white garment. A fully developed knight with great understanding has the full armor of God and a strong, battle-tested horse (horses always symbolize emotion and in this sense emotion under control and higher emotion).
Before regeneration our spirit body is in Hades, or in the part of Hades that the devil controls, or is allowed to control. Regeneration then makes our spirit body actually move out of that dark place into the light, or the part of Hades (or maybe even out of Hades altogether now that Jesus led captivity captive at his death on the cross), and we see this process happen in how the world reacts to it here in the physical world. We're now behind enemy lines here. But we have the armor of God. By degree. And understanding which is sort of the temper of the metal of our armor.
In this all there is a lot of grinning that is done by the spiritual children of the devil, especially the hardened ones, the old veterans in this world (I'm thinking of some wizened yogis as they look about at the children of the west, for instance). They grin at the naivete. The continuing naivete. The innocent stupidity. Maybe we're not so innocent if we are able to act from God's will even just a 'little bit', and sometimes seeming innocent and naive is a defensive stance, but you know what I mean.
In other words, it's all around us, it's obvious, and we are asleep. We are sleepwalking through it all. And still demanding and arguing for the various illusions and fake light shows of the devil's kingdom.
The phrase 'seeing the power of Reformed theology' has to do with seeing all this, the parts in relation to the whole, and how the connection to the Kingdom of God and having the armor of God and seeing our true nature, and seeing the plan of God is all power for us. It is against human nature, or the human nature that is our fallen nature. Christianity is the only teaching that goes against our fallen nature. This is the strong connection with the Work teaching. It is against our features of false personality, against Imaginary 'I', against self-will. It's about inner re-orientation from self-will or self-centeredness to God's will (Real Will) or God centeredness. - C.
(This was an email...)
[Don't skim this, the paragraphs follow on each other...]
In that book Saved from What? Sproul wrote about the singular thing most of us think about. How people have a hard time seeing why they need to be 'saved'. He says people don't feel they need a fireman if their house isn't on fire. And it's the same with being saved from their 'sin'. If they don't have a vision of sin, or evil, in the world and in themselves of course they don't feel a need for a savior from it. And even further, even if they *do* see sin and evil in the world and in themselves why should they associate it with a plan by God or the Fall in the Garden or original sin, or see it in the context of it being a barrier to them getting into heaven, etc., etc.?
So there is a divide here. The faith - Christianity - is a *revealed* religion. You can't know about the plan of God from the book of nature or human nature or general revelation. You need special revelation of which the Old and New Testaments are the supreme example (technically special revelation also covers true prophetic utterances and theophanes, i.e. whenever the Second Person of the Trinity appeared to man as an angel or a pillar of fire or smoke, or most notably in His incarnation as a human being; miracles also are in the category of special revelation, but the engrafted word is special revelation par excellence now).
Atheists will explain evil and sin (or bad behavior) in evolutionary terms or whatever other terms they can think of. Most people just seem asleep to the most obvious examples of human evil and sin in history, recent history even, and in individuals, unless perhaps they experience it first hand.
The idea that God is holy and He can't or won't have beings who are not holy in His presence is not a thought that comes naturally to people either.
So it's all really sort of intellectual and derived from God's *revealed* teaching He presents in the Bible. C. S. Lewis said he became a Christian because finally it was Christianity that *explained* what he saw in the world and in himself. That is an intellectual process there. Of course he also needed the Holy Spirit in him to see that, but the process seems intellectual to us.
This is why it always seems a bit shallow or unbelievable when Christians seem to have a purely emotional take or understanding of the faith. At least to me, and I suppose a lot of people. And at the same time a purely intellectual take seems a bit dry and unreal.
THE PROCESS OF DEATH DOESN'T EVEN SEEM TO BE A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM REGARDING GETTING THE MESSAGE. The atheist will go into that dark night as atheist as he's ever been. The sleepy person as sleepy as they've ever been. (And I'm perhaps hearing here a Bible passage that may or may not? be relevant... Let him that is holy be holy still, and him that is sinful be sinful still, and him that is in rebellion be in rebellion still, and him that is asleep be asleep still - I'm paraphrasing - ... I'm not sure what that verse - Rev. 22:11 - alludes to or means. [I know what the commentaries say, but there may be a deeper meaning there is what I'm saying.])
A parallel, I sense, to this theme of Christianity being an intellectual process of seeing the truth (or perhaps 'thought out *realization*' is a better way to say it than just 'intellectual') is the foreign-to-human-nature thing we call 'self-motivation.'
We are used to acting and thinking based on external stimuli and shocks and what not. But to form an actual thought or to articulate an actual thought solely from ourselves is not something we do very often. Mechanical shocks are the currency of sleeping beings. Conscious shocks - much different and more difficult - are the currency of awakened beings. - C.
"First, it is certainly true that America is not a Christian nation." - Michael Horton
First, this can't simply be ignorance on the part of Michael Horton. Although I've read enough confessions from late 20th century graduates of institutions of higher learning (like Oxford) who state that they weren't once asked to read a single work of history in all their time in said institution. But I'm going to assume Michael Horton knows this nation was not founded by Hindus or Muslims or Jews or Buddhists or Sikhs; and certainly not atheists or agnostics or some definition of humanists or secular humanists. I'll also assume - but this is a less confident assertion on my part - that Michael Horton knows what law is at the foundation of our Constitution and that it's not the laws of Manu.
What we see actually in Michael Horton's statement above is the *fear of man.* It is the statement of an academic theologian who does not know the fear of God alone and is clearly in bondage to the fear of man.
Look at this post by Michael Horton:
It's exactly what you would expect from him. He sees a news event, a subject that Christians feel strongly about, and so he decides to write something *from an angle* where he gets to a) be his usual troll to Christians in general (he does that by his general use of 'evangelical'), and b) hide behind a plausible motive of just being smarter than the usual theologian (he does have a degree from Oxford, you know, which is, he will explain to you, in England).
None of it is serious. He even avoids taking any concrete stand on the issue one way or another. He just subtly yanks chains, trolls his usual victims and straw men, and generally has a good time with it in his usual way.
When a self-identified Christian behaves this way it's a sign they have no love for other Christians. Michael Horton sees Christians with convictions who suffer when they see the Devil winning battles around them, and because Michael Horton isn't a true believer he gets to laugh at it all and belittle it and mock it in his usual passive-aggressive way.
This is from a Wikipedia article on some ideas of a German guy named Carl Schmitt. He's not interesting, or he is not why I'm sending this, I just thought this sentence was interesting:
"Schmitt criticizes political "radicals" as basically ignorant, deluded, pseudo-messianic in mentality, and oblivious to the stark, hard knowledge of unveiled human nature, its esse, encoded in ancient theology, wherein Original Sin held central, axial place..."
"...the stark, hard knowledge of unveiled human nature, its esse, encoded in ancient theology..."
[the above was an email]
"I fear the prayer of John Knox more than the combined armies of Europe."
- Mary, Queen of Scots
I have to be careful because long ago I said I shouldn't come down on theologians I basically agree with 99%, so I'm not really doing that, but... I think that what annoys me about Michael Horton can be traced to his upbringing, or more his reaction to that upbringing. He apparently grew up in a fundamentalist church and environment. And then he grew, or developed, away from it. So far, so good. I'll get to what it is he does based on his past, but some of what annoys is also a degree of academic elitist silliness he possesses. But that aside. Here's my point. His reaction to his past can be seen in 1) his general tone of voice (including how he writes), and 2) his use of the straw man fallacy, which he uses to the degree of a bridge troll.
The tone of voice is as if he is always speaking to young kids, though obviously his audience is made up of young and mature adults. He obviously takes great pleasure in using this tone of voice. "I went to Oxford. That's in England." Ahh. OK. I just got a buzz cut at the barber and was drinking a bottle of Coke while in my white short sleeve dress shirt waiting for the Preacher to arrive, and I was just wonderin' where that Oxford place was.
Then the use of the straw man. Here's a typical intro to a White Horse Inn podcast: "How many times have we heard Evangelicals say, "If I just carry this cross in my pocket, and even kiss it a few times, money will rain down upon me from the sky?" "Um hm." "Yep!" His cohorts chime in. "Or what about this," Horton continues. "If I just read the Bible hard enough, and think about God hard enough, I won't have to die. I'll be taken up into the sky like Enoch or Elijah. I won't have to suffer either. Because, you know, Christianity isn't about suffering, right?" "Noooooo..." "Just tell that to Stephen!" "Ha, ha..." the cohorts again.
Wow. You convict me, Michael. I'm just as stupid as your fundamentalist uncles whose heads all exploded when they heard you got a degree from Oxford, even though they didn't know where Oxford University was. And thanks for talking to me like I'm six years old. Otherwise I wouldn't understand anything you are saying, rather than just not understanding about ninety percent, which is about as much as any lay person can approach in their understanding of what you say to begin with.
I'm not slamming Michael Horton though. I guess I'm questioning a bit his maturity and seriousness, but I'm not slamming him as a theologian.
The childhood baggage, though, and the Oxford degree... He needs to become a man, and put away childish things.
[This was an email.]
I'm not recommending these books, I havn't even read them complete, and they are not cheap, I'm just mentioning them to show that there is more involved - historically - in the subject matter that we talk about in the context of Work vis-a-vis Christianity:
Union With Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St. Bernard - Dennis E. Tamburello (1994)
Calvin's Ladder: A Spiritual Theology of Ascent and Ascension - Julie Canlis (2010)
At the beginning of the Tamburello book (you can use the 'look in book' feature at Amazon to see the Canlis book) he gives a lot of context of why mysticism and the Reformation seemed to be at such odds. Here's a good quote:
'According to Ritschl, "wherever mysticism is found, the thought of justification no longer retains its true significance and the key to the whole domain of the Christian life."'
I.e. the reality of sin and the need for solving the problems of guilt and pollution due to Adam's fall and the need to satisfy God's justice gets left in the dust, so that in effect sinners engaging in mystical practices try to get into God's Kingdom, or Heaven, by illegally jumping the fence.
The quote goes on to say that the preached (or read) word and biblical means of grace are seen to be transcended and get forgotten.
Remember in this email I am giving the historical reasons why mysticism has been rejected by mainstream Protestantism. Of course the term 'mysticism', as Tamburello goes on to speak about, is very ill defined, yet still it's good to see why it is rejected. Here's another quote getting at another central criticism:
"But Ritschl reserves his most incisive critique for a discussion of Bernard's notion of mystical union. The fact that Bernard's conception centers on love makes it totally unacceptable: 'For love very distinctly implies the equality of the person loving with the beloved. St. Bernard, who gave to the world the pattern of this species of piety, expressly states that in intercourse with the Bridegroom awe ceases, majesty is laid aside, and immediate personal intercourse is carried on as between lover or neighbors.' In contrast, the Reformers shifted to faith, which 'denies the possibility of equality' with God." [One note: it is weak language to say they "shifted to faith" as if that is an equal choice. Salvation is by faith alone. Love would be considered a 'work.']
One more quote to show why traditionally mysticism in general is rejected by orthodox (small 'o') Christianity:
Here are five assumptions the critics of mysticism have about mysticism in relation to justification:
(1) It is inherently individualistic. A mystical conception of the scheme of salvation "completely isolates the individual from connection with the Church."
(2) It is quietistic [I think this just means withdrawn from the world and involved in self-annihilation and contemplation of God solely to an absolute degree, it also means other things.], and therefore opposed to the ethical thrust of Reformation thought.
(3) It is elitist, because it tends to be a phenomenon restricted to the monastery.
(4) Mysticism is a form of works righteousness, particularly with respect to the various disciplines associated with the contemplative life.
(5) It is the antithesis of evangelical doctrine in that it expressly speaks of a kind of "equality" with God. Thus Ritschl comes to his conclusion that mysticism and a sound theology of justification are totally incompatible.
Tamburello then uses the rest of the book to defend St. Bernard from most of these accusations saying they are simplistic criticisms and so forth. He also shows how Calvin adopted similar mystical thought in his Institutes, though while not mentioning it explicitly. (Calvin quoted the mystic St. Bernard extensively in his Institutes.)
This is what I've seen in Calvinism, or Reformed Theology. I just think *hard truth* on-the-mark biblical doctrine is 'mystical' by nature. It effects, when it is discerned *and accepted*, internal reorientation from being man-centered to be God-centered. But that is using the word 'mystical' in a unique way and one can see how confusing the topic is when no one has a clear definition of 'mysticism.' There is also the 'ascent' aspect of mysticism that Tamborello and Canlis discuss in their books.
But anyway I just wanted to quote Tamburello's book some to show just why orthodox Protestantism has historically rejected the notion - the general notion - of mysticism or mystical practices. It gives some understanding in the Work [Fourth Way] vis-a-vis Christianity discussion. - C.
I just listened to some academic theologians talking about how the law drives you to Christ, and...they didn't know the first thing about the subject. They've never experienced it. They've never been confronted by the Devil or the world or their own fallen nature. They are living in and swimming in the direction of the easy current of the world. They talk of the subject at the level of theory and it's empty.
Here is how the law drives you to Christ.
There is the pure law of God. That is what we find in the word of God.
Then there is the distorted, twisted law of God. That is what we find coming from the Devil, the fallen world (humans as a group or mass force), and our own inner, fallen nature.
This is the distinction that the academic theologians miss.
It is the distorted, twisted law of God that drives us to Christ.
It happens this way.
The moment you are regenerated by the word and the Spirit, and actually prior to that in all the ways the Spirit is working in a person bringing them to the light, even before they ever are able to read the word of God or hear it, you are in that process getting 'out of place' in the world. You are becoming a rogue cell in the body of the world. And you are now noticed.
The Devil notices you. He doesn't care about tame slaves in his kingdom who are willingly going with the easy current of the world. He notices those who are waking up. Being woken up.
The world notices you. People as a mass force notice you. They begin the process of first trying to get you back in line. When they see that won't be possible they try to destroy you usually by getting you to destroy yourself. You're like a member of a Muslim family who converts to Christianity. First they plead, coax, tempt. Then they break out the knives and the stones.
Your inner fallen nature takes notice as well. It fights for its existence. That makes it sound like you've got a foreign presence in you. You do. It's the Old Man in you.
What these three new enemies do is accuse you; shame you; abuse you; make false witness against you; but the focus is on accusing and shaming. What they are doing is *projecting* their own inherent guilt onto you. Unwittingly. But the accusing and shaming is based on the upside-down distorted notions of the law. Worldliness is good. Evil is good. Resentment is good. Who are you to go against these *holy things*? Who are you to no longer be interested in what interests us all in this world? You mock our religion. Our movies. Our activities. You have no interest in sex (though we can still see you secretly struggle with that, and we *accuse* and *shame* you).
This is the law that drives us to Christ. This entire show, this mass face, this ever-present dark force that manifests in all circles of the life of the Christian including the family life (actually most strongly in the family life).
Why does this force drive us to Christ?
Because it gives you nowhere to go. It won't allow you to even live. You can't evade it or escape it. You can't move left or right or forward or backward. It is there.
*You only have one move.*
That is going upward. You escape it by moving towards and connecting with higher influences than the world or the devil or your inner fallen nature has to offer. And ultimately it is in this direction that you are led to the word of God.
This is how you are driven to Christ by the law of God.
*Not* by the pure law of God ("Oh, but don't you understand, you can't do the law therefore you break down in tears because you can't dot all the 'i's and cross all the 't's..." Yes, academic theologians, we all understand our standing in regards to the law after the fall of Adam. But that is not what drives us to *anything.* As a fallen human being - *and* - as a in-the-process of being regenerated human being *we couldn't care less about the law in that sense.* WE FEEL NOTHING about the law in that sense.)
Yet we do experience the law as it is distorted and twisted by the Devil, the world, and our inner, fallen nature.
Now, since the main thing academic theologians have to do is maintenance their vanity, they are thinking of a defense. "Well, we've been shown up pretty good here. We don't really even understand what this person has just said, yet we sense there is truth here that is foreign to us. How do we maintain our vanity and pride in the face of this situation? Here's how we'll do it. We'll say this person is just really rehearsing an age-old juvenile notion of the world being against them. You know, people are stupid and the world is stupid, and I, the sixteen-year-old, have it all figured out, but they hate me because I know more than them, etc. Yes, that is how we will see what has just been presented to us."
You do what you have to do, before you go off to eat your ice cream (because, when it comes down to it, academic theologians, what you really want is just to eat some ice cream. Or, let's put it this way, all this talk of salvation, justification, atonement, covenants, blah, blah, blah, when what you are really interested in and what you really want is a shiny new car, right?).
But if God, in His will, takes hold of your life, you'll then *know* how the law drives one to Christ.
Pondering the mark of Cain I concluded that it was something God did to Cain to disguise him from his family which he was no longer welcome in, and Adam being ruddy complected and all it seems that the mark of Cain was to make him black. Then I also connected that to the curse of Ham in various ways. Seemed to fit. Being naive I then went to Google to see if others had come to that conclusion, and I found out how ignorant and racist (and stupid for reading the Bible to begin with) I am.
So here's the punchline.
I went to the *Urban Dictionary* and looked up Mark of Cain:
1. Another word for niggers. He killed his brother Abel and was banished. Nature would no longer support him. The blackness of the nigger is the mark of cain.
OK. So far so good. So then I looked up Curse of Ham in the Urban Dictionary:
"Most believe that it comes from the Curse of Ham...Others believe it is the lack of knowledge and education inside the Black Communities...The word is derived from manditory greed and selfishness instead of selflessness..Concentrated areas with African Americans and heavy hopelessness to the point of laziness and irrational thought proccess leading to no greater progress and success....Examples of this would be as follows: Trash everywhere in the set environment including near sewage drains by homes, Having no interest in reading any books besides Sports Illustrated and Ebony,Believing the only way to "Getting Rich" is through activities that dont require much brain power like Music, Sports, and Drugs, Creating fixes for oneself including Drugs, Fancy Cars, and "spotlight" attire before having the proper financials, Always working against ones brother leading to "Crab in a Bucket" Theory, and still blaming the Caucasians for every problem or issue that happens in there lives."
So all I got from the white people was: "Racist!" "Garbage!" "We are ALL God's children, and He loves all of us, creep!!!" "We're all one color just different shades! Go back to your KKK meeting!!" "The Bible's garbage!"
Yet from the Urban Dictionary "another word for niggers" and "coonery curse."
You come to your own conclusions. Young Earth Creationists have a problem with the races, it seemeth to me. Micro evolution would need more time to create such wild differences as Caucasians and Negroids and so forth. Ham's wife is a culprit here (if you're thinking about post-flood). Yes, it's what the Mormons believe, or used to believe, but so what, you don't have to be a Mormon to be a racist, KKK, ignoramous, creep.