H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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.
My complete profile...
The Buzz

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.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[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.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Sunday, June 21, 2009
Father's Day thoughts that have nothing to do with Father's Day.
Happy Father's Day all you dad's out there.

There, now that hallmark has had it's way, let's move on.

One of the most difficult things I find, when giving my endorsement of a book, is that there are very few books that I can say that I wholeheartedly agree with everything the author has written. When I was a younger in the faith, and my pride was not quite as obvious to me, I used to think that was because all of Christianity was more or less off in some small way - myself included - and so I chalked these disagreements up to a sort of theological uncertainty principle which, in my pride, really mean that everyone else was theologically uncertain.

As I have grown in my faith and in my walk,presuming of course that I have and that this is the reason my perspective has shifted, I have learned that it is more likely that sometimes I am not so much disagreeing as unable to endorse a thing, because my own opinion in the matter is still undecided.

In Canada we have a multi-party political system. There are three main parties however, basically a (far) left wing party, a liberal middle, and a moderately right wing party. Our family was poor, and my father consistently voted for the party that was most likely to hand out ...well... hand outs - the left wing party. The year I turned old enough to vote, I voted for the same party my parents always voted for, and this only because I had been raised in a home listening to a lot of rhetoric and criticism about the various other parties. As I grew however, and especially as I moved away and was no longer bombarded by such rhetoric, I began to think for myself - to listen to what was said, evaluating each party's platform, and how that fit into my own life - and again, as my own agenda changed, I found myself moving steadily to the right, until now I lament that even our right wing party is more middle than right.

My point is that when I was young I hadn't learned to think for myself yet, but my certainty that I was right in whatever I thought had a blinding effect in me. I presumed that since I was sincere, and reasonably bright, if I disagreed with someone it was because they were dumb, deceived, or insincere. They didn't "get it" like I did, and if they did, they would surely agree with me.

But as wisdom begins to creep in, on the wings of humility, I see that perhaps it has not been their ignorance or guile, but rather that there are some things in the Christian faith that I simply haven't given as much thought as other Christians have. I want to be careful too, having suggested in the previous sentence that I am both wise and humble, that I only mean I have learned from hard experience that I am more sinful than I ever thought, and so weak that unless Christ holds me up, I am certain to fall every time. That kind of knowledge is wisdom, and it has a humbling effect, not because of some great character facet in me, but because of the greatness of our God who opens the eyes of the blind.

I am beginning to see that while it would be foolish and irrational to agree with everything I read, I really do need to consider that even if all things were black and white, not all things are clearly seen; that is, I need to be honest about whether I simply haven't enough experience or knowledge to give a well thought out opinion. I tend to agree or disagree, then move on. I don't find any virtue in the gray area, and I don't think there is any virtue in prolonged ignorance, willful or otherwise. I am not saying, therefore, that I suddenly think it is holy and good to stop forming opinions, or to presume myself correct in what I believe - for that kind of thinking isn't wisdom, it is just fence sitting. But I do need to be honest with myself, being less than omniscient, I must hold some uninformed opinions, and if I am not diligent in examining my opinions as I express them, I am in danger of agreeing or disagreeing with a teaching, not because I have given it any thought, but because I have an opinion that was formed before I gave the thing any thought.

The only "mystical" Christian experience I have every had in my waking life happened the moment I was born again. When I say mystical, I mean something experientially took place that wasn't normative. I didn't hear voices, I didn't see visions, but I did find myself suddenly a new man - united together with God's Christ, and I knew it experientially. Since that day I have never had anything even remotely close to it. My faith has come exactly as scripture said it would - by hearing, and not by feeling. I have tried many times in the infancy of my faith to squirm out from under the necessity of trusting in God directly, and to instead trust in some visible/tangible pointer that "proves" there is a God, and that He is there, and that He hears me, etc. I have longed for some experiential fetch, as it were, that I could look to - for I was no better than the Israelites who preferred a golden calf that they could touch and see to the living God, in that I too longed for a more visceral and tangibly present God. Yet in a day full of grace, the Lord gave me strength to set that aside, and I no longer desire such trite, in fact I abhor the thought, for I have found much strength in faith that would not have been found in sight.

So I am somewhat at odds when a Christian writer or teacher dips into mystical things. Impressions from God being one such area. I am entirely convinced that the Lord is able to give people impressions, but I am just as convinced that God doesn't work that way on purpose, since no man needs to receive an impression who is saturated by God's word and in-dwelt by God's Spirit. The Spirit of God works this way in me: He causes me to want to be pleasing to Him. I know this because God's word says that it is impossible to please God in the flesh - so that when I want to be pleasing to God, I am informed by scripture that my flesh cannot want such a thing, for it is sinful through and through. Thus I understand, not by mystical feelings and impressions, but by a biblically informed conscience, that my desire to be pleasing to God must be coming from Him who dwells in me, and not being generated by my own imagination - if my desire to be pleasing is legitimate. Thus when I want to obey what scripture has informed my conscience to be right and proper for me, I am not following some mystical impression, I am following a biblically informed and spiritually trained conscience - just as the Lord has intended and supplied.

When I hear or read another Christian talk about how one is lead by God, I am careful to filter what is said through what I understand. There are whole Christian denominations out there that are dedicated to knowing the will of God through experiential promptings, and while they talk about the sufficiency of scripture, they (more or less) they often mean that they are using scripture to interpret or validate some experiential, personal revelation from God. They are seeking a tangible God, and think they are being biblical because they use the scriptures - only they are really using the scriptures to frame their experience - like a medium uses the letters on a Ouija board to hear from demons. I use an occult image, not to make what they do seem more wicked than it is, but to show that God's word can saturate one's religion even in a religion where one is looking for personal, experiential revelation rather than being satisfied with faith.

I do believe that God prompts me throughout the day, but such promptings rise from an informed conscience, and not from a personal intervention. I don't get feelings, I just become aware that a thing I am doing is acceptable to God or not, and I know the difference because I know (and believe) the scriptures, and have a desire that I know comes from God, to live pleasing to Him.

When a Christian writes about God's will, this area is sure to come up, and I expect that most of us want to be careful not to say any more or any less than we ought to. I mean, maybe I am simply not spiritual enough to receive constant, individualized, feedback from God in the form of mystical impressions? Okay, seriously, no. Not even in jest. If God were going to give Christians such personalized revelation about which underwear they ought to put on today (or not), the bible would be pointless wouldn't it? I mean why should I study God's word to know Him and know His will if He is supposed to be micro-managing my life through direct intervention in the form of mystical impressions? That would make me more spiritual the more inclined I am to follow impressions. That's find as long as these impressions don't require guess work... but they always do, don't they?

So when a Christian writer broaches these kinds of things, I suspect he or she will want to allow for the possibility that there is more to Christianity than perhaps he or she has personally experienced. That strikes all of us as far more humble that taking a bold stand on some point that one is unsure of. When I wrote than in my infancy I was more inclined to bold stands, but am now finding myself more commonly inclined to anticipate my own possible ignorance, yet in spite of that I find myself quite bold when it comes to the whole point of personal revelation.

I want to honor God by leaving the door open - yes, God can make the sky yellow and black striped on Tuesdays. My God is able - yes, He can give direct personal revelation... But I don't think He does, and even if I am wrong, and God does give such revelation - I am convinced it wouldn't be something flighty, vague, or the kind of thing that would be left open to interpretation. God doesn't mumble. I don't think I am being a spiritual humbug when I say that I am unconvinced of personal revelation, whether that takes the form of a mile high Jesus having breakfast with us in the morning, or imagining our own thoughts are actually God trying to communicate with us if we would only listen.

Have a blessed Lord's day today, and I hope your pastor forgets that it is Father's Day and preaches a message that will be edifying because it suits where your congregation is at spiritually rather than where we are on the calendar, which is just a personal gripe of mine :P

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posted by Daniel @ 7:12 AM  
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