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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Monday, January 04, 2010
Christian Folklore
Follow me in my math here:


512
x 33
======
1536 (2x3=6, 1x3=3, 5x3=15)
1536
======
16896 (16,896)


Like the colors? I put them in to show the flow of my logic. I expect most of you have done multiplication before, so I don't think I am actually teaching you anything, but rather reviewing again with you a few things we take for granted.

Note that in order to find the product (16,896) of the two factors (512 and 33), we simply multiply each digit in the first factor (5 "hundreds", 1 "ten", and 2 "ones") with each digit in the last factor (3 "tens" and 3 "ones") then add the products so that the "hundreds", "tens", and "ones" all line up together. The sum of these two addends (1536 "tens" and 1536 "ones") is the product of the original factors (512 and 33).

Typically we don't bother memorizing the fact that 512 x 33 = 16,896 - but we do memorize the method we used to derive that answer - and prior to even attempting to solve this equation, we are presumed to have memorized a simple multiplication table (often the first ten or twelve digits).

In other words we don't solve the "5 x 3" equation by writing out "3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 15 - rather we memorized this fact long ago. If in our youth we failed to memorize our multiplication table, we would have had a great deal of difficulty solving these more complex equations. Most of us however have memorized these tables, just as we have memorized "how" to do more complex multiplication.

What I want to point to is the fact that having memorized the multiplication table, we no longer "solve" for simple products, but instead recall (and rely upon) our previously established convictions. Nine times nine equals eighty-one. I don't bother solving it all over again, I just remember that I have solved it, then use the information I already possess to solve more difficult problems.

We do this in reading too. We don't actually read every letter and pronounce them - we see the whole word and immediately the thought represented by that word is impressed upon us. The first time we read words like "naive" and "cliche" and "clic" we might be inclined to pronounce them phonetically - to sound them out, because we don't know how they are supposed to sound. We don't recognize the word, and so we actually read the letters and try and piece it together. Once we "know" the word, we don't bother sounding it out anymore, now we see it and just read it they way we remember it. Can yuo raed waht I am wirting, or beter yet, can yuo udnerstnad it? Did you have to sound out each word and try and reason to yourself what I was saying, or did you read it only slightly slower than you would read anything else? That's because you know how language flows, and you recognize all the letters and where they are (more or less) placed. You have committed the words themselves to memory, and no longer sound them out - you just know them.

This is just another example of the way we retain information. We learn a fact, then when we have learned it, we don't bother learning it again each time we use it, instead we retain only the end result and the methodology by which we came to that result.

Here is another example, from my own personal experience. About ten years ago my son received a Noah's Ark (complete with animals, Noah and his wife) for Christmas or his birthday, I don't remember which. You will recall that scripture fails to tell us the name of Noah's wife, so rather than calling her, "Noah's wife", I remembered a silly play on the words of the King James version of Genesis 6:8, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" - and so we called the plastic figurine, "Grace".

The years rolled by, and the name for Noah's wife was passed from my eldest to his sister, and then as she grew it was passed to her sister, and along the way the playful twist began to be understood as a "biblical given" - that is, my younger children having heard the Noah's wife toy referred to as "Grace", began to presume that this name was not just some family invention, but the actual name of Noah's wife. I found out about this when one of my children refused to back down from an argument with a Sunday School teacher about the name of Noah's wife - my child insisted her name was Grace! I probably wouldn't have heard about it except that during a visit this same Sunday School teacher happened to ask me (the child's father), what Noah's wife's name was.

Of course I answered without thinking: "Grace"

Thankfully I was very gently reminded that the bible doesn't say any such thing, and to my embarassment and amusement both, I realizembered (a cross between realized and remembered) that "Grace" was just a silly made up name. I laughed at my own folly till tears came into my eyes. I can be so full of myself sometimes, this was quite a reminder that I shouldn't just blindly parrot things, not to my children, and not to myself.

And we could at this point embark on a well primed discussion about being humble when we hear something that disagrees with what we have already established to be true. The worse errors we make as Christians is to assume that because we are sincere, and because we are willing to be instructed by God's word - that everything we believe and have believed is therefore settled. That is not merely close-minded, it is pig headed. We ought to be as the Bereans whenever we hear any teaching - both if it agrees, and again if it strikes us as wrong - we ought to let scripture decide.

But I am not going to follow that angle here. Here instead I plan to speak about a particular way in which both Christians and non-Christians have taken an idea that isn't biblical, and have repeated it so often that it has become a matter of Christian folklore: going to heaven when you die.

The bible doesn't say that anyone goes to heaven when they die. Not the elect, not anyone. It says that God is going to destroy the heavens (plural) and the earth, and create new ones, and that those who on judgment day are found to be in Christ Jesus, and thereby spared God's wrath - these same will not enter into the old heaven, or the new one - but will reside upon the new earth where Jesus Himself will also reside. Jesus did not leave to prepare a mansion for us in heaven, but to prepare a place for us on the new earth.

I have known this for years, and yet even I still speak of "going to heaven" when I die. I am speaking metaphorically about dying and passing through judgment and being allowed to enter into God's rest - a rest that scripture tells us will take place on the new earth in the New Jerusalem.

I often have to correct myself and others about the notion of going to heaven when we die. God dwells in heaven, men dwell on earth, so it is now, and so it will be when there is a new heaven and a new earth. We will receive new bodies etc. but that doesn't mean we will live in heaven with God, rather God will live (in Christ) on (the new) earth with those who have turned to Him in faith on this side of judgment.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:36 AM  
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