CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

When Sloppy Thinking Abounds

Nov 19, 2019

Believers can do a better job of thinking straight and thinking biblically:

I sometimes despair of writing any more articles – articles which are hopefully carefully crafted, thought through thoroughly, and biblically based. No matter how hard you try to offer a balanced and nuanced piece, you will still get plenty of critics attacking you for it.

The worst bit is, it is clear that at least half the folks having a go at you have not even bothered to read the article in question! They simply launch into assault mode, pushing their agendas without extending to you the courtesy of first reading the piece carefully before blasting you and it.

One of course expects all this from non-Christians. But far too many Christians will come along with their heated rants as well, demonstrating not just sloppy thinking but often theological illiteracy. The latest example of this was my newest piece on Israel Folau and the issue of drought and bush fires, and any connections to national sins like abortion.

He wanted to make a connection there, while I said at best it is possible. God does indeed use natural disasters to get our attention and lead us to repentance. So it is possible that Folau is right. But plenty of believers went ballistic at him, at me, and my article. Again, most did not even bother to read the piece first before emoting and sending in the attack dogs.

Yes, thankfully there were some believers who offered criticisms who had legitimate concerns and were trying to think things through carefully. So it was a mixed bag. But let me deal with a few of these objections, and how I responded (or wanted to respond), either on the social media, or elsewhere.

Many Christians still have rather careless thinking when it comes to God and judgment. Too many claimed that only the Old Testament God judges, not the New. I of course have dealt with that falsehood numerous times already. See this for example: billmuehlenberg.com/2014/07/15/divine-love-and-anger-grace-and-judgment/

Here is the short reply: God in his attributes and who he is does NOT change. He is the same in both Testaments. Thus in both he is fully gracious and loving, but also fully holy and opposed to sin. That does NOT change. What can change between the Testaments is how God deals with people. So not everything Yahweh did with ancient Israel is necessarily done with the church today for example.

But the truth is, God has not stopped judging. And judgment in the NT is not just confined to the cross and the final judgment. Because God is always actively involved in our world and our lives, there is judgment taking place all the time. Consider some New Testament examples: God struck down non-believers in the here and now (such as Herod in Acts 12:22-24) and God struck down believers in the here and now (such as Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10).

Related to all this were a number of comments from folks that went like this: ‘I think Israel Folau only needs to preach the love of Jesus and that Jesus is the only way.’ My reply to this is straightforward: There is no love of God without his wrath against sin – it is a package deal. And to say Jesus is the only way is to say those who are on other ways are under his judgment.

Another oft heard complaint was that Folau should stop making these public comments. But as I had to keep reminding folks, his most recent remarks were made at his own church! Others said he is now in the public spotlight, so he has to watch what he says.

Well, yes and no. We all need to be wise and careful in anything we say. But we must not go too far here, or it would mean no preacher in any church should ever preach biblical truth because some hostile reporter might be there trying to find something to run with in the media. The world is out to get us, and pulling back on proclaiming the Word for fear of what men might do is NOT the Christian response.

One might as well tell me to stop preaching biblical truth because I have too many enemies who are monitoring my every word, and my ministry is now too public. Sorry, but I am not backing down in fear and cowardice to please the militants and the secular left media. We must get real here: we are in a war, and wimping out is not an option at this crucial time.

Another set of objections had to do with immediate causes as opposed to ultimate causes. Thus many flippantly said that arsonists (or policies of the Greens) were solely responsible for the bush fires, not God. Um, as I have said often, Christians are not deists.

We believe God is actively involved in this world. Yes, there is a large theological discussion about how human responsibility and divine sovereignty relate. But all biblical Christians know that both are at work. If an arsonist started some of these fires, he IS responsible, and he should face the full force of the law if caught.

But that does NOT mean that God cannot be involved in this as well. God for example used the evil Assyrians to judge Israel. God called them “the rod of my anger” – yet God held them responsible for their actions! The cross is another obvious case: the immediate cause of the death of Christ was decisions made by Roman and Jewish leaders. But God of course was fully behind it all for his purposes.

All biblical Christians believe that there are always interplays between human actions and divine actions. And a third set of causes may be considered – the works of Satan. There is nothing too difficult to understand about all this. Human beings can do bad things, but God at least can use their actions for his overall purposes.

Another criticism heard by some was this: If it was judgment, why were farmers impacted by the fires, and not our Parliamentarians. God missed his target! This is a rather silly and unhelpful objection for several reasons. First, the concept of corporate responsibility is a fully biblical concept, whether folks like it or not. Consider Achan’s sin: God judged many more people than him for his own particular sin (see Joshua 7).

And when God judged the world with the flood, were farmers and political leaders and others swept away? Of course. Only eight righteous people were saved and the rest were judged. The same with Sodom and Gomorrah: five cities on the plain were all wiped out, with just Abraham and a few others saved. In each case women and children and others were included in the judgment.

Again, pagans may fully object to such things, but I am really confused when people claiming to be Christians have such a hard time understanding this. Yes they are complex issues, and they do raise moral considerations, but the concept of corporate responsibility is nonetheless a biblical reality which we cannot shy away from.

Getting back to Folau: In the case of homosexual marriage, it was sadly the Australian people who voted this in. It was not just a handful of politicians or judges bringing it in. But the Bible knows nothing of innocents anyway. We are all sinners, we are all guilty, and we are all under the just judgment of God.

So whether God brings judgment now, or in the future, he is sovereign and he is entitled to do so. Making wisecracks about God missing the target does not help this discussion – it just shows misunderstanding of how God operates in this world.

And then I had folks saying if we are not absolutely certain something is of God, then it must not be. Good grief. The fact that WE may not know for sure if something is of God does NOT mean it is not of God. It may indeed be of God, but we finite creatures still see through a glass darkly. Our knowledge is always imperfect and partial, even with the help of the Holy Spirit.

It is simply the case – as I stated – that I cannot know for certain if these current fires and droughts are God’s particular judgments. That is where I differ with Folau. But the fact that I may not be 100 per cent sure if it is divine judgment does NOT mean it is not. God’s activities are not determined by my mere understanding or comprehension of them.

God’s ways ARE often mysterious and hard to fully fathom even at the best of times. Indeed, God often DID make things deliberately ambiguous and elusive, as when Jesus spoke in parables. And what God does often seem to be ambiguous. But that is our fault as fallen and finite creatures who do not have full understanding of all things. It is not God who is ambiguous, but us in our limited knowledge.

Plenty of other less than useful objections and criticisms have been raised here. But it should be pointed out that I am NOT here to defend everything someone like Folau says. When he or others get it radically wrong, I will disagree. When they are more or less right, I will agree.

But biblical and theological truth does need to be affirmed, shared and explained. And there is one thing I sure wish would happen a lot less: Christians who do not think as straight and biblically as they should, and who often just emote and carry on like trolls. I can do without them to be honest.

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18 Responses to When Sloppy Thinking Abounds

  • Let there be no mistake!
    Whether we believe it or not we are being left to fend for ourselves against all the powers of darkness. Without Heaven’s help we are lost and cannot save ourselves.
    We asked for this to happen after we gave up trusting Jesus and God and stopped believing in the Church and marriage and the Ten Commandments, and family life and motherhood… and so much else.
    Because we thought we could manage without them.
    Now we are without our usual protections and any limits on our propensities for evil.
    Darkness has known this all along; that when humans shed their Godly protections they are at the mercy of evil Darkness.
    Has then God forgotten about us?
    The healthy pastimes of my youth in the nineteen fifties are passez (boring) and unappealing to today’s youth whose brains have been taken over by drugs, electronics, violence, and permissiveness.
    No longer is just being adventurous enough, now one has to be far more than that, live on the edge, take crazy risks, shock and scare people – whatever it takes for a thrill.
    This is going too far, don’t you think?
    Turn back before it’s too late
    Or, do you want to see yourself and your country destroyed?
    Turn your risk-taking to good use.
    If I believed in God and repented, would my life – and my country – be any better or worse?
    Why don’t I try it for a change?
    We lived in our Christian society in the fifties and sixties. And we didn’t do too badly.
    We even stood up for the National Anthem in cinemas, and for ladies in trains and buses.
    Things have gone downhill ever since we decided not to believe that God exists.
    Would God accept us as true believers again, after turning against Him?
    We can only try. Anything would be better than utter ruin.
    Darkness is perverse, it bends error into fact, making plausible fables from just consequences.
    We turned our backs on God’s laws and we got this drought. Oh yeah? The Left says, this dry weather is caused by climate change which is caused by burning fossil fuels.
    I want to try an experiment. If God has withheld rain because of sin, would rain fall again if we repented and sought to be forgiven?
    At the last major drought, that is exactly what happened.
    Let me correct that statement. We have given our allegiance to Darkness. Now Darkness destroys God’s blessings; Rain is one of God’s abundant blessings.
    This is a much worse drought coupled with catastrophic fires, so we will need to seek forgiveness more earnestly than before.
    Sincerity is called for, not penance, pure simple unadulterated sincerity in repentance is what’s needed.
    Let us not say, Climate Change has caused this drought. Let us face the truth; we have sinned against God and ourselves. We have chosen pleasure, greed, and selfish passion above holiness, purity, compassion and love for our neighbour and God, so God has had to turn His face away. He cannot look upon corruption. And that’s what has caused this drought.”
    “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5: 17-18 NKJV
    “The prayer of faith will save the sick and the Lord will raise him up and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” James 5:15-16

  • Clear and concise as usual Bill.

    The original article was exactly in accordance with Scripture.

    Disagreements may be due to a lack of reading comprehension, having been taught incorrect doctrine, or both.

    At the very least the disagreements made could have been published with the same amount of care and attention to detail you put into your articles.

    Either way, this article surely settles the matter… If not – I’d like to see some counter arguments, with Biblical examples and support from the Holy Church Fathers…

  • Again, thank you Bill.
    You present the clear, balanced, Biblical, Christian view.
    I appreciate it so much when so many Christian leaders either present a worldly view or just keep silent.
    Israel Folau finished his message with Isaiah 58:1.
    I think it is appropriate.
    Jesus finished His message to the Church with Revelation 2-3.

  • Clearly , as a matter of obedience
    1. Do not worry Luke 21 5-19 Talk of catastrophe
    2, Study to show yourself worth listening to 2Tim 2 ; 15
    3. Let your work and care be where you are Luke 10 :
    My testimony

    No one of us who ever worked together for the PROTECTION of the environment would have ever expected the blatant ignorance of regenerative ecology to last so long, let alone become entrenched in the dumbing down of government ; and the wasteful reactive business of just firefighting.
    Timber is just one resource they have stuffed up. How much did Lisa Neville’s use of her new tax go to filling up our reservoirs? How far has our $150 fire levy gone in decreasing damage and discouraging high risk takers?

    Wise use of our resources now comes last to appeasing the false guilt of consumers.and covering up the dumb decisions. Instead of wisdom we get waste and the misdirected empty headed arrogance of wannabes : http://muddiedwater.blogspot.com

    The great jobs our children might have had in making scientifically safe sustainable decisions are now lost to nature worshipers and big nobs playing horrendously expensive games with helicopters.

  • Thank you for your balanced comments. May I draw the attention of your readers to a powerful series of sermons by Pastor Al Martin entitled: Message to our nation. They are located on Audiosermon. Pastor Martin deals with the matter of natural disasters and the moral decline in America. While he does not claim to speak “as a prophet”, he does draw very challenging applications and associations. I believe that Israel is quite correct, however one must be careful to making unjustified and authoritative pronouncements. God most certainly does try to get our attention! Our problem is that most pulpits do not boldly proclaim the wrath of God, but prefer to hide behind moralistic preaching that does not offend anyone…and therefore is pretty useless. No wonder non-Christians are confused. May the Lord give this generation a Knox!

  • I share your frustration – esp with adults .
    Few of us are getting the interaction that makes for the consensus and reconciliation with the truth we seek . God bless you for your diligence . Christians education of their children leaves a lot to be desired. As Luther found, brute behavior and logic abound. We only think we are well educated . http://thinkhebrew.blogspot.com

  • A media commentator on Chris Kenny’s Sky News show today came up with the old chestnut i.e. “Talk of an angry God and punishment for sins and sinners is so Old Testament” – implying naively that the “judgement of the living and the dead” is in opposition to the allegedly “boundary-free love” of a “more enlightened” New Testament… Leon Morris, in an excellent passage on the relationship between the wrath and the love of God writes of …”a wrath which is the reverse side of a holy love, a flame which sears but purifies…” The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, 3rd edn, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1965, p. 177. Just a page or two before these words, Dr Morris surveys the love and wrath of God towards Israel as presented in the prophecy of Hosea… the same Hosea from which Mr Folau quotes in his most recent controversial sermon…

  • We are all so blessed to live in this wonderful country, Australia. If we continue to shake our puny fists in the face of Almighty God, however, we ought not be surprised if the time comes when God withdraws His blessing.

    Our family have been given tickets to be part of the live audience for a current affairs television programme being produced tomorrow night in a beautiful former church – built and consecrated to God little more than a century ago in 1905, but which for some years now has been an entertainment venue. Our sense of grief and unease is very real.

    Yes, Bill and Mr Lovett, we need to be on our faces in repentance before the Lord. (II Chronicles 7:14)

    In the crisis facing his people long ago, King Jehoshophat
    “set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” (II Chronicles 20:3)

    King Jehoshophat declared to his people:
    “If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in Your presence before this temple that bears Your Name and will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear us and save us.” (II Chronicles 20:9)

    “Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.” (II Chronicles 20:18)

    And God honoured and blessed Jehoshophat and his people.

    God would look very differently on a country with leadership like that!

  • Bill,
    I’m so glad that you stand firm on Biblical truth. The Law Council of Australia published their Religious Freedom Review on-line and in Marriage Equality section 46 stated,”…the Law Council supported the protection of religious freedom and considered it reasonable to allow ministers of religion to conduct religious marriage ceremonies in accordance with the tenets and doctrines of their religion. However, the Law Council did not consider that this “EXEMPTION” should be extended to civil celebrants…” In other words the Biblical definition of a marriage between a man and woman is an “EXEMPTION” in the Australian 2017 amended Marriage Act, and it is obvious that this “EXEMPTION” is similar to the Family Law Act had made an “EXEMPTION” for defacto and polygamous relationships to be treated as a marriage for the purpose of legally dissolving them. The new “2 People Marriage” (2PM) now prohibits all civil celebrants from declaring a marriage is between a man and woman. The word “people” doesn’t mean a man and woman. Why would a Christian married couple identify their marriage with this secular idea of a 2PM practice?

    There are some Anglicans who believe that God can now bless a 2PM because the marriage law has been changed within Australia. The Family Statistics – Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) responded to my email and confirmed that “we define the variable Registered Marital Status as a persons relationship status in terms of if they ‘have had a legally registered marriage with another person with whom they hold a valid marriage certificate.” I informed the ABS that I have never been forced to purchase my valid NSW marriage certificate with a number on it because this isn’t my one flesh, covenant relationship between a man and woman for life. I have a certificate which was issued by the church on the date of our wedding ceremony and this was between a man and woman and isn’t a 2PM. My marriage meets the same criteria as my german forefathers and all marriages in NSW from 1788-1856, because the NSW state marriage certificate never existed before 1857 as the NSW public marriage registry was only established on a change to British law which punished the harm of adultery and breaking a marriage oath. I recently went to a 2PM service and the civil celebrant declared that the wedding rings are their marriage, but my dad doesn’t have a wedding ring so it is obvious that this practice isn’t the same as a Biblical marriage. I was shocked when the groom suggested to the young people in the room (including my son and his girlfriend) that they’re young enough to get married and divorced in order to have a second marriage, so I won’t be attending another 2PM as it is too self-focused. A 2PM can’t protect people from a divorce, domestic violence nor child abuse.

    I am extremely concerned that Australians have moved further away from God’s laws as the 2017 amended Marriage Act removed sexual intercourse from marriage, and the Victorian Birth Certificate removed the sexual function of a sexual organ from sex because people can now choose their sex/gender. Australian laws have redefined body parts, such as a scrotum can be surgically changed into a “legal vagina.” Therefore, the Australian laws can now legally redefine other body parts as a sexual organ, as well as a sexual organ no longer needs to be located between someone’s legs because females can now believe that their finger is a male sexual organ in order to claim their right to “legal intersex” or “self-partner.” The Victorian courts will soon prohibit anyone from swearing on the Bible to tell the truth because they will want them to swear on the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriage Certificates in order for people to make up their truth like a gender identity, 2PM or VAD (Voluntary Assisted Dying).

    Victorians are currently living in a real fantasy world which is similar to Disneyland, and the Victorian government wants to ban conversion practice to protect current LGBT people, but this will deny the identities of ex-LGBT people, Orthodox Christians and healthcare professionals/ counsellors who believe in nature, nurture & science. The Victorian government has suggested that they could criminalise and punish religious people, healthcare professionals, counsellors who pray, counsel or scientifically inform current LGBT people against their self-identity by not affirming the sexual orientation and gender fluidity theories. This means that healthcare professionals who understand the differences between the sexes must legally believe that people’s gender is fluid, such as females have a higher risk factor of falls than males, but they must legally believe that a biological female can now self-identify as a “male” by recording this legal fact on their medical history, and this allows them to be legally treated with the same risk factor as other males. The Bible warned about this type of legal deception as John the Baptist lost his head over declaring King Herod’s adulterous marriage with his brother’s wife. I’m sure that God will be getting our attention to this legal matter of redefining words because people do lose their life over deception. We have all been warned that “Pride comes before a fall.”

  • Yes, I have good Christian friends who insist that God does not work in New Testament times, as He did in Old Testament times. In other words we are no longer dealing with a vengeful god of wrath but a god of love. They also say that God no longer sends prophets to warn the nations. There is not longer a prophetic ministry, such as that of Elijah. How does dispensationalism fit in here, Bill?

    David Skinner UK

  • “And there is one thing I sure wish would happen a lot less: Christians who do not think as straight and biblically as they should, and who often just emote and carry on like trolls. I can do without them to be honest.”

    Ignorance and stupidity – these are the hardest things to combat, because those that suffer from these are self-satisfied in their rightness. Ignorance and stupidity are both a choice, and invariably encountered in group think. Mob activity is driven by both.

    As Bonhoeffer detailed…
    “Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenceless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed- in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

    Ignorance and stupidity can be overcome by studiously educating oneself: We have the scriptures and those who are believers have the Holy Spirit to renew their mind and guide them in the truth. So have we studied them first to see what they say, or have we just googled something? We have two thousand years of theology from great minds, past and present, to help guide our thinking – maybe we should make some effort to refer to these sources before we open our mouths about a topic? And exactly what are our beliefs actually based upon… one pastor’s interpretations? popular opinion? mainstream media (secular and Christian)? what?

    There was a time when I was just like this… believing I was Christian and self-satisfied in my ignorance and stupidity. But I came to realise that most of what I believe, most of what I thought I knew, I had heard from sources which I came to realise were not truth or even worse, were only part truth (since it is the devil who is expert at using part truth to sow the greatest lies).

    I’d put it to Christians to ask themselves do they suffer from either ignorance or stupidity? We have no excuse.

  • Hello Bill
    Love your work, God bless you.
    Would you consider looking more in depth at what defiles/pollutes the land? Perhaps an expansion of what you wrote regarding the conquest of Canaan?
    I found this ‘Christian-Torah-centric’ view with lots of refs/verses:
    http://www.setapartpeople.com/defiled-land
    applicable: ‘Particularly when ‘the concept of corporate responsibility is nonetheless a biblical reality which we cannot shy away from.’
    I see this in terms of “God’s order”, eg “God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap”
    Sow any of idolatory, sexual sin, bloodshed, or broken covenants; then your land will suffer accordingly.
    God bless, Eddie Ventley

  • Garth, I have never been able to articulate what Bonhoeffer so neatly says about stupidity. It is the stupid who are more dangerous and liable to rage and tantrums than the straightforwardly delinquent. Thank you for that. I shall bank it. But as you say, when we review our own past, there is much stupidity and blindness which only God’s grace has revealed.

    David Skinner UK

  • Thank you!!!

    Thank you so much for putting things into words that so many are thinking.

    Claiming that the God of the O.T. is different to the God of the N.T. is a very obvious heresy. If the claimed two God’s are different then obviously one must be a false God – God does not change. Jesus, of course, confirmed the God of the O.T. and reiterated that the God of Israel is “one” ( Mar 12:29) so this only leaves the fact that these people must be preaching a false view of the claimed “N.T.” God. Clearly the God they are worshiping is different to the real God. As I have pointed out previously, this means their worship is in vain (Mar 7:7).

    People completely misunderstand. Jesus’ death (as phenomenal as it was) was essentially a legal transaction that paid the sin debt for those who God has seen have come to repentance. Jesus paid that debt under the authority of the religious leaders and the worldly, secular leaders (and not just directly to The Father) because this debt needed to be paid under all the authority that had previously been given. Jesus’ sacrifice covered absolutely all the legal bases.

    Without this sacrifice it would not matter that we came to repentance, the sin debt would still remain as would our death sentence. Jews would still have the provision for animal sacrifice previously provided, which they probably no longer have because these now insult Jesus’ sacrifice and so just bring more condemnation onto themselves (Pro 15:8, Isa 1:13, Psa 20:3), but Gentiles would be left with simply no means of having sacrifice cover their sins.

    If we continue in sin then Jesus’ blood will cover us in the short term simply because of God’s mercy, God loves mercy, but Paul was clear that if we deliberately continue in sin (i.e. stop being repentant) then the blood of Jesus no longer covers us (Heb 10:26).

    What could confirm that we (as a nation) intend to willfully continue in sin more than the fact that we have enacted laws that sanction the taking of innocent lives in the womb, the encouraging and facilitating of the elderly to take their own lives, our constant promotion and facilitation of adultery and the elevation of what God calls an abomination to the level of what God calls sanctified and holy? As I have pointed out before, homosexual “marriage” is precisely an abomination standing in the holy place.

    It should be clear and patently obvious to all that Jesus’ blood covering of our nation is being removed, exactly as the scriptures said would happen. Do people honestly not believe what the scriptures plainly and clearly say?

    This nation has gone from a God sanctioned and honoring state, covered by Jesus’ blood, to a willfully sinful state no longer covered by Jesus’ blood. Never in the history of this nation has the need for repentance ever been greater.

  • I always enjoy your writing, Bill! And this article was by no means an exception. Its balanced and thorough. Thank you for sharing.

  • Well said Thomas R Lovett, 100% agree, yes I too stood up for ladies & stood up for God Save the Queen, life was pretty good back then.

  • What is the basis of sloppy thinking in Christians? (In this instance using the loosest sense of the word). Is it Christians who have either never read God’s Word, or don’t recall what it says? Is it Christians who have been taught that God’s Word doesn’t mean what it says? Or is it Christians who’ve decided they don’t like what they read and would prefer to remake God in their own image? Any of these three would present as Biblical illiteracy but stem from very different causes.

    Many here will of course say that one or more of these groups aren’t actually Christian, that the loosest sense of the word confuses goats for sheep, and that’s certainly true, but the MSM don’t care about that distinction, and all too many who call themselves Christian are firmly wedded to being goats rather than sheep. How do we deal with people who insist on using the term Christian but mean goat\wolf in sheep’s clothing?

    Am I simply recovering ground Bill has written about in the past? 🙂

  • Mostly all very helpful and well said, by everyone, .

    There is another factor that has hardly been raised clearly in this discussion, though some of the problems of misunderstanding it have been addressed.

    The issue is that though God does not change, the way He has dealt with people and nations has. We may need to adjust our thinking to allow for this as we discuss any disaster.

    God’s Old Testament covenants with Israel as a nation (the chosen people of God) are largely no longer valid, and have often been superseded by His relationship to the body of Christ as the people of God, ( a kingdom of priests). By saying this I am not at all propounding the “replacement theory” let alone shades of “British Israel” & etc. There are some elements of “Israel as a nation under God” that are still valid I believe, e.g. “All Israel will be saved,” (I got into trouble over that one) and it seems evident that there remains a blessing for those who bless Israel today.
    Israel is no longer the “sacral” society as intended for the Mosaic and later periods.
    The intimate promises, blessings, and cursings relating to national Israel in the OT do not directly apply to any nation/state group of people today, and we need to be circumspect about how we appropriate them for ourselves and our nations, especially popular passages from that time such as 2 Chron 7.14.

    Similarly, the covenants with individuals have changed substantially in expression, and even though the core ideas of faith, imputed righteousness, and transformation of the heart are firmly in the OT, our ideas of each of those, have been transformed by Jesus, the age of the Spirit and NT teaching.

    The personal covenant now, is based on “call on the name of the Lord”, repent, believe the gospel, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world, and risen from the dead, etc etc and that we are to make disciples of all nations, and be salt and light, love one another, & etc etc. .. You know what I mean!

    There are many places in the OT that talk about God being near, (intimately involved) with the righteous etc. and this is repeated as a promise in the NT and typified in Rom 8.28 Matt 6.33 John 15, 1Cor 11.32 and Heb 12.5-11.

    Similarly God “appears” distant and often “uninvolved” in the affairs of the wicked. The NT affirms this and the classic passage is Rom 1.17-32. He allows them to “lie in the bed they have made for themselves” or to “stew in their own juice”. God wants everyone to repent and he will attend to the prayers of those that call genuinely on the Lord.

    Both sides of these principles effect not only individuals put also each portion of society from families to nations. Prov 14.34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” is not a Mosaic promise but an cosmic principle, and we trust in that principle as we attempt to be salt and light in whatever group of people we find ourselves in.

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