Posts Tagged ‘god’

The Mountain of Faith

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 by Wolfgang Vondey

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus promises that “if you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Who doesn’t wish to have that kind of faith? The problem is, nowhere in Scripture do we find anyone moving a mountain. There is no record in history, that anybody ever moved a mountain. Jesus is not speaking about moving literal mountains–Jesus is speaking about spiritual mountains.

We all have mountains in our lives that need to be moved. Watch the video below and follow Moses as a guide up the mountain to learn how to move the mountains in your life and what it takes to have faith as a mustard seed. Your mountain will probably still be there, after these 30 minutes, but I pray that the word of God will give you hope, courage, and determination to change your circumstances and to learn that the only way to move a mountain is up!

 

Unseen & Evil

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 by Matthew Brake

The more I talk to friends who do not share my faith and who lean towards critical realism, empiricism, and logical positivism, the more I realize that there are two problems with my faith.

1. I can’t see God.

I can’t prove God exists. I can infer that God exists because of the grandeur of the universe, but an atheist looks at the vastness of the universe and sees a cold, harsh place that doesn’t seem to point to a personal God.

I can appeal perhaps to personal religious experiences which have been formative for me, but when I look at many of those experiences, while they were personally encouraging to me, they could be as open to interpretation as the ending ofPan’s Labyrinth. (Was she crazy or did she see something? Who knows).

I can appeal to the miracles that friends of mine claim to have performed/seen–but am I unspiritual to wonder if they’re exaggerating?

Even if they were, I can understand the incredulity of someone listening to a third person account of such an event.

The biblical writers seem to ponder the invisible nature of God (warnings against idolatry, Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians 4:18, Hebrews 11:1, etc.), but is that enough when you’re trying to have meaningful conversation about God with friends who only trust the scientific method (which evaluates the physical seen world)?

 2. The universe is harsh.

Evil, pain, and suffering exist in the world, and if you buy into theistic evolution and an old earth (disclaimer: I do), then you’re left with the problem that for 100,000 years before Abraham, people were dying at 25 of hunger, disease, and brutality.

 Does this point to a loving and benevolent God?

The Hebrews had a couple of different ways of processing evil in the world.

One way was proverbial wisdom (if you do right things, life goes well. If you do bad things, not so much).

Another way of dealing with evil was contemplative wisdom.

Contemplative wisdom acknowledges life as it actually is.

It readily admits that sometimes, no matter how many right things you do, good people still suffer.

Ecclesiastes pretty much says, “None of this makes sense. Obey God anyway.”

Job concludes, “Good people suffer. If God’s real, then shut your mouth.”

This can help one to see that the Bible (thankfully) offers no pat answers to the problem of evil, but it can leave a person dissatisfied.

 Now What?

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Upgrading to God 4.0

Monday, July 5th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

What have you upgraded in your life this year? If you have an iPhone, you are probably running OS 4 by now, or perhaps you pre-ordered your new iPhone. If you have a PC, you probably upgraded you Windows software, perhaps also your office productivity programs. If you play games, you probably upgraded to the latest version. Got the newest game console, a new TV, a faster computer, a better mp3 player, a new cable box, ebook reader, camera ….  Upgrading is what we do. As a TV commercial has it, your equipment is obsolete the moment you drive off the parking lot. We have made upgrading a part of our technological culture. And I can’t help but think that some are waiting on an even bigger event. The inevitable. The inconceivable: Upgrading God. What would such an upgrade look like? Why would it seem necessary? Is there any evidence of past upgrades that would support the idea? What would you expect from a new upgrade? Read the rest of this entry »

Good Sex, Bad Sex: What Is Permissible for Christians?

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

Sex has a bad reputation these days in Christian circles. No wonder, with a church plagued by sex scandals, pornography, soaring divorce rates, teen pregnancies, and increasing social pressures, one might almost be tempted to reject sex as inherently evil–the hissing snake destroying the harmony of the garden of Eden, the rotten fruit in a life of bliss that opened human eyes to each other’s nakedness. In response, the answers are often sought in a life of abstinence and celibacy.  But sex in itself is not bad. The tempter in the garden did not introduce sex to humankind but the knowledge of good and evil. And as the story shows, both dimensions apply immediately to human sexuality.

The apostle Paul offers some advice in 1 Cor. 10:23-33 on discerning the good or evil in the context of eating meat bought in the market place. The options are either that no such meat should be eaten, since it may have been from a sacrifice made to idols, or that all meat can be eaten, since the manner of its use is of no significance. In response, Paul provides an important answer: meat itself is neither good not bad; what matters is the manner in which we engage it in relation to our neighbor! “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (v. 31). In using this analogy, I am deliberately reducing human sexuality to the idea of the flesh—-at least for a moment. As far as our bodies are concerned, no part of our flesh is bad. We are at liberty to have sex as long as it is for the glory of God. Read the rest of this entry »

God is Deep: Are You Ready to Go Deeper?

Saturday, May 15th, 2010 by Jason Wermuth

Dr. Charles Fox, Jason Wermuth & Dr. Archie Wright

Last Saturday I participated in the second commencement of my college life, this time walking across the stage to receive my M.A. in Biblical Studies. It was only three years ago that I walked across the same stage at the Regent library square to receive my Bachelor’s degree. The road has been long and filled with ups and downs, but there are few experiences I have enjoyed more than my three years studying in the School of Divinity. That is why graduating is bittersweet.

For the past seven years my identity has been wrapped around being a student, a job that I have thoroughly loved. Soon, my identity will change in that I will no longer be a matriculated student, but there is good news. The good news for anyone feeling like me (probably few) is that we don’t have to stop being students. Part of being a disciple of Christ means always being willing to learn new things and be stretched in ways that hurt but help us to grow. The fact is, the depths of God’s person and glory are infinitely deep. As Christian’s we are all called to be explorers on the search for God. As a student, I was trained to research for myself, to plumb the depths of scripture, tradition, nature, humanity and all of creation to find God in surprising places. It is this mission that I have been trained for: to seek the Father, Son and Holy Spirit wherever I can find him. While I am no longer a professional student, I conclude my seminary training with a new way of thinking and a raging fire to know God more. Whether or not you will ever attend seminary or study theology academically, we as Christians are all called to plumb the depths to find God and to worship him with our whole being. As my life as a seminary student draws to a close and my life as a disciple of Christ just gets roaring, the words of the Psalmist sum up my thoughts about the past three years:
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Extra-marital Sex: Marriage’s Greatest Enemy

Monday, May 10th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

Sex outside of marriage is a common form of sexual behavior. Masturbation and pornography are two forms of extra-marital sex I have discussed in previous posts. Both of these forms of sex focus primarily on oneself. A more significant form of this kind behavior is the actual sexual activity with another person that is not one’s spouse. Among these activities, pre-marital sex doubtlessly ranks highest, while extra-marital sex with another person by those who are already married is no less a concern. Extra-marital sex is sex outside of marriage, but it has everything to do with marriage. In fact, extra-marital sex is marriage’s greatest enemy.

As I have outlined in previous posts, the importance of Christian discourse about sex is that we bring God into the debate. Extra-marital sex is no exception. Sex outside of marriage is sex for the sake of sex. Its primary scope is physical, its duration temporary, its goal the fulfillment of one’s own desires. Extra-marital sex distorts the image of marriage. Its widespread practice has undermined the public idea of marriage to the extent that one might think marriage had nothing to do with sex. Stand-up comedy portrays marriage as the problem of sex. The laughter of the audience betrays that many people find truth in that caricature. Unwittingly the comedy act betrays that everyone is in on the joke; it is confirmed by their own experiences. Marriage is not sex, but it has everything to do with sex. In fact, sex within marriage is marriage’s greatest ally.

Sex outside of marriage separates the idea and the act of sex from the idea and practice of marriage. Reduced to a self-rewarding, physical act, it is discovered that sex works—without marriage. The powerful idea that sustains sex outside of marriage is the actual lack of any idea of marriage. Pre-marital sex, often seen as a testing ground for the “real” life of marriage, actually becomes a counter-practice that contradicts marriage. Extra-marital affairs, sometimes seen as an escape from married life, are more than that: they destroy marriage. More precisely, sex outside of marriage destroys the purpose of sex.

As Christians, we have to find the purpose of sex in the human relationship with God. Even in Christian families, sex is often reduced to the human spouses. The good or the bad of married sex are directly related to the good or the bad of husband and wife. What is missing in many Christian bedrooms is an understanding of marriage that is not consumed by the human persons. Augustine’s classical theory of love may again be helpful here: “Now love means someone loving and something loved with love. There you are with three, the lover, what is being loved, and love” (On the Trinity, VIII, 14). We may adapt this idea and speak of three things in marriage: husband, wife, and marriage itself. It is the latter that marks the purpose of husband and wife. All things are directed not only toward the spouses but towards the marriage. To put it bluntly, marriage is the purpose of sex.

This definition of the purpose of sex requires a thorough dealing with the Christian image of marriage. A simplistic idea of marriage as an end in itself must be avoided. A biblical image of marriage includes the union of husband and wife, physically and spiritually; it includes a covenantal relationship between the spouses ordained by God. It includes the importance of intimacy and the joy of the consummation of the physical and spiritual union in the sexual act, not to mention the possibility of the procreation of another human being as a result of the openness and commitment of husband and wife to become father and mother. In short, marriage involves a commitment to the other person because of and beyond the reality of sex. Put differently, sex is a significant part of marriage but it does not exhaust marriage. Marriage is everything that sex cannot be. Marriage is what allows us to bring God into the bedroom.

In Augustine’s view, love is the Holy Spirit. It is a gift of God in which God gives of himself. The biblical view of marital love shows clearly that it is intimately connected with sex. And yet, we hesitate to call sex a gift from God. More importantly, it is not a gift that God simply left on our doorsteps, anonymously. In the gift, God is still present. It is forever God’s gift. The separation of love and sex in extra-marital behavior is itself an act of separation, and it carries this separation into marriage. Whether due to shame, guilt, ignorance, or willful repression, the married couples who engage(d) in extra-marital sex are separating themselves from God and from each other.

What do we have to say about this in our churches and academies? What do we say to the large group of singles? How do we bring healing and restoration to marriages that suffer as a result of extra-marital sex? How do we bring God back into the bedroom?