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Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Deep End

O LORD, how great are Your works!
Your thoughts are very deep. (Psalm 92:5)
When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon,“Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4)

For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:10b)

There are many people who are content to paddle around in the shallow end of the Christian Church. They prefer this child's depth but they will not see that even a child, after it has learned how to swim, will immediately seek out the deep end of the pool for a richer experience. Those who stay in the shallow end are denied this richer experience and by denying themselves the skill of strong swimming they can compromise their own safety and the safety of others who one day might need saving.

The parallels with the spiritual life are clear. God does not intend us to waste our time and spiritual capacities in shallow believing and living. He yearns for us to get closer to Him, to "dive in." Of course, to do this one needs confidence in Him to make this commitment. We need to trust Him that the deep of His Love is a safe plunge; safe that is in terms of being held securely by Him. It may not, though, be without risk for the giving and receiving of Love is never immune to rejection and criticism.

Jesus knew all of this of course when he instructed his disciples immediately prior to his Passion. He strengthened and emboldened them by reminding them that if the world hated Him it would hate them also, (John 15:17-19). It's good to be realistic about the cost of this deeper walk with God but we really do not have an option as Christians. We must walk this road or else we shall be in parlous state of those who, seeking to save their lives, lose them. It's "dive in" or get "washed up."

Shall we, therefore, now and without delay, dive in to the deeper end of God's love? Shall we resolve to give more and receive less, to worship more selflessly, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to strike out for God where others have feared to tread? Shall we? He waits on our answer. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Jesus is Coming ... Armageddon Anyone?

61 years ago this very day, the obscene atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and cursed huanity with its diabolical light. Today is also the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ when saints Peter, James and John beheld the divine saving Light of the Saviour. Today also in the middle east the conflict escalated even at the same time as the great powers dithered with their fine sounding UN resolutions signifying in terms of justice ... absolutely nothing.

The present crisis in the Middle East, however, cannot I believe be truly understood without addressing the phenomenon of Christian Zionism, particularly as expressed in America.

There is a thinly concealed infrastructure problem to Christian Zionism ... the post Darby resurgence of chiliasm ... the supposed 1000 year reign of Christ ON EARTH before or after his second coming. Some early church fathers used this to combat a world hating over spiritualised eschatology they encountered with the gnostics but when this battle had been won, chiliasm was abandoned for its weaknesses had been exposed as a rehabilitation of the Jewish idea of a very earthy messianism contrasted with the Orthodox doctrine that the resurrection is a NEW creation ... not this one tarted up a bit after a bit of death and destruction. Don't get "left behind" and all that!

The 19th century recovery of chiliasm in America was really an attempt to recover an ALLEGED more Jewish type of authentic Christianity whereas in fact the polemic against Hellenism and dualism was way off mark. Arguably this was in part promoted by the Catholic medieval west which had indeed imbibed elements of pagan pre-Christian Hellenism through the classical component of the Renaissance and the west's love affair with Aristotle. These 19th century American revivalist Protestants hadn't a clue though what Orthodox Christianity was really about so they ended up compounding one error with another.

My main point is that chiliasm opened up the unholy love affair between Christian Zionism and Jewish Zionism (largely a secular phenomenon) since on the Christian side, the return of Israel to the Promised Land was held to be the essential trigger for Christ's second coming, the 1000 year reign and Armageddon.

The political fallout of this has been devastating in the Middle East. The European sense of the need for reparation after the Holocaust coincided with American need to get the Jews back to "biblical Israel." Who gives a damn though about the Arabs and pre-Islamic indigenous non-Jews who had lived in Palestine for nearly 1300 / 1900 years respectively, (both Christian and Muslim)? ... Europe must deal with its conscience and America it's eschatological planning.

All you need to do then is characterise any dissent from this programmme as anti-Semitic and you have the seedcorn for a conflict that I truly believe could escalate to a Third World War and the brutal repression of both Christianity and Judaism by militant Islamism seeking restoration of the caliphate and revenge against the infidel, (and, no, I am not Islamophobic either ... I just recognise how aggrieved humans tend to react).

America (and Israel) believe that you can solve the problems of "Middle Earth" (the "arc of extremism") by "shock and awe" (stick) and democracy and dollars (carrot). What they don't realise is that the Arabs ain't frightened any more nor can they be bought off. For them this is a matter of justice and ideas - and death is an acceptable price in the pursuit of these goals; even if this includes the death of fellow Muslims in ideological purges and the settling of old scores (Shi'a - Sunni).

Curiously, therefore, I believe that an ideological and theological front has to be opened against Christian Zionism in revivalist America. Sadly, I think that it might be already too late for that. Some of these nutters are actually looking forward to Armageddon, God help us, (literally).

For an excellent critique of chiliasm by a more orthodox preterist Protestant theologian ... go here ... (his position is very close to that of Orthodoxy as far as I can see).

"Why the Early Church Finally Rejected Premillennialism" Posted by Picasa

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