Fidelity

In a relationship, we often think of the person who leaves or wants to leave as the unfaithful one. The one who has the affair, the one who rails and sows nothing but discontent. But what about the husband who refuses to lead, who brings things into his home that destroy the intimacy and the purity of the relationship with his bride, who damages his and his wife’s soul with what he lets his eyes gaze upon. What about the wife who refuses to follow her husband’s leading, who seeks her emotional fulfillment in movies and novels and online relationships, who continually chooses to believe that romance is love and duty is tedious?

Is this not just as unfaithful? Is it not just as fatal, but in tiny, tiny increments?

Christ’s Death: A Solution to an Unexpected Problem?

 This will be a short post, but here’s a question for you:

Was Adam born to die?

Personally, I find it hard to believe that he wasn’t. If Jesus Christ’s earthly existence could be so determined, if we can say of Him that He was sent as a man, born to die, why is it any less insulting to think that Adam’s life could be described in this way?

Looking at Christ’s death as if it was a thought-up solution to the problem of Adam’s sin is like suggesting that a man who designs a battery-operated toy might have done so without understanding before the fact it’s need for a battery.

What do you think?

[Updated!] Could Christ Have Sinned?: The two Adams

This will be a relatively brief post, but as we’re talking about temptation and Christ and whether or not he could have sinned, I thought I would ask a question that I’ve been thinking about:

If we believe that we (or any other man or woman) would have sinned had we been in Adam’s place, then what is the difference between the first and second Adam? What is the difference between Adam and Christ?

One of issues that I had in answering this question was that I had some wrong ideas about what a perfect man would look like. You see, in my mind, before Adam sinned he was Super Adam (with capital letters, and a cape, and everything), able to leap Antediluvian trees in a single bound, with skin that could stop bullets, completely impervious to disease, unable to be killed, etc. But this just doesn’t work. Reading through Scripture, I get the impression that even a perfect man is a fairly frail thing.

And this helped unseat another false idea that I had. You see, I’ve heard pastors talk about what the end-result of glorification is going to be like, and while there is definitely some uncertainty on their part, I often get the idea that what we end up being is much like Adam was in the beginning. “Salvation begins the restoration of our relationship with God,” they say, “glorification gets things back to the way they were in the beginning.” I no longer believe this (at least not in the sense that things are just restored to where they were)

As proof, read what Paul has to say to the Corinthians about the resurrection and the nature of our glorified bodies:

But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
(1Co 15:35-58)

Or in other words, the difference between the two Adams is that the first was just a man, the second Adam was both God and man. The first Adam was a thing that could not stand on its own, the second Adam could not only stand, but could save all the rest of us as well.

Anyway, criticisms, comments? A special thanks to Randall for his thoughtful comments which helped me in thinking through this issue. If any of you are up to it, feel free to add something in the comments below or on your own blog (if you do post on your own blog and it doesn’t show up here automatically, leave me a comment with a link and I’ll put it in the body of the post)

A Poem for Sunday: A fragment of Easter

I wrote this about fifteen years ago, shortly after reading that Edgar Allen Poe occasionally wrote the middle of his poems first and then worked backwards and forwards from that central thought. Sadly, his technique did not work for me. Meant to be the centerpiece of an Easter epic, these two stanzas are instead, the complete unfinished work.

“Speak Eminence, your power is diminished,
Your time has come and Creation seals your fate,
You’ll take a place in a Hell of your devising,
And I will sow, this world with my hate.”
Christ breathed once more, his bloodied body rising,
And spoke the words of beginning, It is finished.

Satan roared and laughter rang loud from his throat:
“No, not yet finished, until I hold the throne,
They’ll come the third day to the grave with spices,
And when they do, they must not find him gone.
The die is cast, there can be no more devices.”
His laughter ceased, he would wait till then to gloat.

As always, comments are appreciated.

mourning

I have never been anything other than a man
and so I cannot know how women mourn
and whether it is the same, or different

I have seen the mother, the wife, the girl,
sitting at her bedside, her dead child in her hands
weeping on his upturned face.
There is nothing selfish there.
She is broken, and weary.
She is full of pain, and strangely, guilt.
It is something that I can barely know.

I am most familiar with the man in the room
the one who stands behind her,
who believes that because she is broken, he must be whole,
who cries, but silently
who looks down through tear filled eyes,
and loves them both.

Protecting your family

There are certain Bible verses that stay in the forefront of my thoughts. They are typically verses with strong imagery, with straightforward application, the sort of verse that you can see in action around you practically anywhere you look. I Peter 5:8 is such a verse:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour

I think about this a great deal lately, about the last five words in particular. I know people who have been devoured by the adversary, people who have been eaten and metabolized by the awful work of sin. We think of being devoured as being destroyed, but nothing eternal can be destroyed, it can only be changed, and we all know people who bear the marks of such a transformation. To some degree, we all bear such scars ourselves.

I think about these things when I look at my children, when my daughter is squeezing my hand and looking up at me with large and innocent eyes, when my son is standing in the center of our living room staring up at the television and drinking in whatever we have chosen for him to see, when my wife is at home and I am at work and she is facing the dark thoughts of a dreary afternoon. I think about these things, and I wonder what, if anything, I have done to keep this beast at bay. Some days, I know and fear the answer to that question.

But I should be clear here, we are not to fear Satan. There is only one thing that we are to fear, and that is not fear itself, but God Almighty. For Satan, we reserve our vigilance. For Satan, we reserve our seriousness and our sobriety of mind. And we know what this means. It means no more laughing at little sins, at cute wickednesses and clever blasphemies. It means being wise and alert and sleeping with one spiritual eye open. It means going through our homes and looking at everything with an air of suspicion, with an air of caution, with the thought in the back our minds that our families and our own lives may depend upon it. Because whether we like to think about it or not, there is a beast out there, and he is hunting for more than just you.

Why is that man smiling: Reason, Insanity and Pleasure

About ten years ago, on one of the first nights of my EMT/Paramedic clinicals, we had a mental patient in the ER for a few hours. He was a little fidgety man that smiled a lot, muttered under his breath constantly, and made little jokes about being restrained and about sneaking out of the hospital. He was, in many ways, the traditional comedic psych patient as seen on TV, and as I was young and naive (which might be redundant, but there you go there), well, I was completely disarmed by him.

It was sometime after midnight as I was leaving his room, that the doctor that was proctoring me at the hospital stopped me and said quite simply, “Charles, I would not, at any time, turn your back on that man. You don’t know anything about him, and he may be quite dangerous.” And I did what any young, naive fool would do: I said, “Yes sir” and “Thank you” and immediately forgot what he had said.

Continue reading “Why is that man smiling: Reason, Insanity and Pleasure”

Taking Issue with C. S. Lewis

I’m treading on dangerous ground here, but I think C. S. Lewis has something wrong. In The Weight of Glory we come across this passage, which also appears as an excerpt in the Wikipedia deinition of Sehnsucht.

In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

My issue with Lewis’ thinking here is that it conflicts with my understanding of the depravity of man. I have no problem with the idea that what every man needs is Jesus Christ; what I do have an issue with is that a man without Christ has any concept of his need for Him (and I realize that Lewis is almost saying that, but not really). Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Lewis in essence, but when he says that we misidentify Nostalgia, Romanticism, and Adolescence for that longing for another country, he misses the point. I would contend that the only reason that anyone in England had a past that contained elements that could be called good was because of the influence of Jesus Christ upon English culture. If Mr. Lewis were to consider a cannibal in the darkest parts of Africa, which aspect of his life would be the mistaken longing for heaven? One could argue, I suppose, that even his depravity is that mistaken urge, and I would be more inclined to that argument, but I don’t believe that’s the argument made here. When Lewis says, the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience, I do not think he would attribute to our cannibal’s depravity the idea of a sweetly piercing secret.

I also can’t find a place in Scripture where Christ calls someone to Him, by telling them that He was that thing they always wanted. Instead, He calls men to repent and to escape the coming judgement, He calls men to fear a God that has the power to cast their body and their soul into hell.

I should say this: I love this passage by Lewis. It does speak volumes to me, but it speaks to me as a Christian, and on some level, I think it would speak to men who were raised in a nation built around the morality of Jesus Christ. And that is where I think Lewis misses the mark. If we read this passage (as I originally did) and come away from it with a method for speaking to sinners, we have cheated ourselves. “There is a city for which you have been longing” is not the message that we see in Scripture. Instead we are told to speak to men who are damned and to show them a Savior. And once they know Him, they can rightfully say that now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

As always, comments, critiques, and outright criticisms are welcome.