“Faith is not a conclusion you reach…it is a journey you live.” A.W. Tozer
“Hans Urs von Balthasar maintained that the best evangelistic strategy is to capture people with the beautiful, then enchant them with the good, and then lead them to the true.” — Robert Barron
In a day in which we are urged to pamper ourselves, the biblical message is to do the opposite. Self denial through the power of the Holy Spirit is the means by which the believer may remain devoted to Christ. We are to be transformed (replacing self) and live a life worthy of our position in Him. - Dr. Dennis Dieringer
The Bible can be described as a mirror, as it can easily reflect what we are like. For example, Jeremiah 17:9 describes the condition of the human will and emotions, called the heart. Here the prophet states that the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick. Also see Romans 3:9-20.
This is a picture of what God sees in us outside of Christ.
Even still, we know that this nature, while conquered, is a part of us that is with us through-out this life. The work of the cross has given us freedom to overcome this nature. We must actively pursue denial of the self. We can do this by focusing on Jesus.
When we turn to the Bible, it also acts like a mirror in the way that it reflects what God is like. This is the message of Romans 12:1-2, where the apostle Paul tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, not focused on the things of this world, but to allow our transformed minds to discern the will of God so that we can determine what is good and acceptable and perfect.
God’s Word is the mirror.
Further, we must deny ourselves so that the authority of our life changes. God desires for us to say no to ourselves so that He can be the one who controls us.
We can not win the battle of the flesh by ourselves, we must take up our cross daily to be a disciple of Christ, so that we may be led by the Spirit. The only way to do this is to say no to yourself.
When we walk in the Spirit, we can experience pure devotion to Christ. In this way, his disciples become like the virgin bride presented to her husband, pure and clean, awaiting Christ return. Paul describes this in 2 Corinthians 11:2, where he relates to the Corinthians as their spiritual father; that is, he was like a father who presented them to Christ on the wedding day. This, by way of metaphor and simile describes the work of sanctification. When we walk in the Spirit and focus our lives on Jesus, we are also like a pure and perfect bride.
We can’t win the battle between flesh and Spirit alone.
The cross is the answer.
It is how we are saved and how we grow in Him. This is lived out through the Christian virtues… meditation, Scripture reading and memorization, Church assembly and corporate worship, study, and prayer. Our focus must be there!
The Roman Governor was moments away from sentencing Truth itself, who had come in the flesh to dwell with human beings.
And this haunting question echoes down the corridors of history, and grows louder even now. For we live in a culture that tolerates all truth except for the idea that there is such a thing as Truth.
And yet, what must deniers imply by rejecting truth? That is, to deny truth, one must say that its true that truth doesn’t exist. Is that not nonsense?
All one need do is go back to Pilate’s question to understand that its not about a lack of knowledge, but a desire.
For those who deny truth desire that it doesn’t exist, so that they may have complete freedom to do whatever they would like to without consequences. But low, the Son of Man comes quickly, and on this Truth He shall reign in Heaven and on Earth.
Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your Holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (From the Book of Common Prayer)
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
The pridefulness and arrogance of the Positivists, going back to the Enlightenment but very apparent in today’s milieu of Scientism, is most apparent when they use their reductionistic epistemology to proclaim that their projects are untethered from Religion and Philosophy.
There are several reasons why the study of theology is important for Christians but it seems that in today’s times, it is more important than ever so that Christians do not fall into false teaching, and propagate misinformation as truth.
One giant reason for studying Theology is to develop the skill of discernment. Discernment is a skill expected of mature Christians (1 John 4:1); but without at least a basic understanding of Theology, testing and discerning is highly unlikely.
There are literally hundreds of Christian books, podcasts, blog posts, and groups - all claiming Christianity. Without a solid foundation of Theology, it will be very very difficult for the Christian to sort through this massive amount of Christian targeted information, and be able to take what’s profitable and discard the rest.
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Seminary states, “Christians in the 21st century, as never before, must know what they believe and why they believe. They must be able to define and defend the faith.” In essence, defending the faith is the subject of apologetics, and defining the faith is the essential idea behind the study of Theology.
Also, there is a gap in the Church-at-large’s understanding of basic doctrine and the gospel message. This can have devastating consequences for the spread of the gospel message, and we should know better as Christians. Jude admonished early Christians in a letter stating “although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” (Jude 1:3-4). He then describes the false teachers invading the church as “ungodly people” and equates them with Sodom and Gomorrah, and that they will suffer punishment in the same way. This is very dangerous because if a Christian doesn’t understand what it is that they believe, they are liable to fall for anything- including false teaching.
Without a firm grasp of basic Theology, false teaching can, has, and will continue to seep into the church, and souls may be at risk. We can refer to the Ligonier Ministries State of Theology Survey in 2020 to confirm that many evangelicals seem unaware of basic foundational theological issues. (1)
26% of evangelical Christians “strongly agree” with the statement, “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.”
It may be unsurprising that the majority of the general U.S. population rejects the deity of Christ, but now almost a third of evangelicals agree that He was merely a great teacher.
33% of evangelical Christians strongly agreed with the statement, “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.”
This one is astounding because it comes from a group that is supposed to be identified with their strong belief in the authority of Scripture:
God tells us that we “shall have no other gods” before Him, and He commands us to keep ourselves from idols, which include deities that are not the one true God revealed in the Bible (Ex. 20:3; 1 John 5:21). He is against false prophets and the worship of false gods, and He commands all people to repent and to trust in Christ in order to escape His judgment (Jer. 18:15; Ezek. 13:9; Acts 17:29–31). God does not accept any worship unless it is offered in spirit and truth, which is worship that approaches the one true God through Christ the Mediator (John 4:24; 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 7:25), so God does not accept the worship of all religions but accepts only the worship offered in Christianity.
62% of evangelicals strongly agreed with the statement, “Jesus is the first and greatest being created by God.”
The fact that evangelical Christians who affirmed this statement align their views with the Arian heresy is astounding. It is likely that most who affirmed this would be shocked to know that they have accepted the doctrine of Christ accepted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
These examples show why, more than ever, the postmodern view of truth and the Bible must be answered with solid mature answers guided by a rich and firm grasp of basic foundational Christian doctrine.
On one side,
“Why do you like to kill babies?”
On the other,
“Why are you trying to control my body?”
Yes, the abortion debate is filled with white-hot rhetoric by all sides.
Endless red herring questions are thrown out, along with other logical fallacies including the slippery slope and ad hominem (the shift of subject to the character of the person). From print media to social media, the topic boils over till all that is left is anger, spite, and sometimes hatred.
Given that this issue has now become the center of most political debate makes it much worse. For is there anything more divisive in America and the west than politics?
But, there really is only one question that needs to be asked in the abortion debate.
While some will tell you that it is complex and nuanced, I would suggest those are distractions. Yes, there are big issues that need addressed concerning human behavior, but abortion itself is only complex if you ignore this question. The answer to this question settles the matter to one side or the other.
And that question is:
If the unborn is not a human being, then there are no arguments needed against the idea of abortion. It should be legal and be left to the autonomous decision making of the woman involved based on the advice she receives from her chosen healthcare providers.
But if the unborn is a human being, then there are zero reasons for abortion to be legal or morally acceptable, because it is the ending of a human being’s life without input from that human being.
Before we ask the question,
I want you to objectively consider these questions concerning human beings.
Is there ever a time where it is morally correct for:
For one human being to take the life of another human being based on race, ethnicity, gender, or age?
For a doctor to violate his oath and do nothing to save a human being’s life?
For one human being to decide that another human being’s life may be terminated without the consent of that human being (prior or otherwise), when that human being has a life to live?
For a human being in need of care to be abandoned by another human being because the task is going to cause hardship?
For the life of a human being to be terminated based on their location?
For the life of a human being to be terminated because of any lack in physical or mental ability?
For one human being to own another human being, and have complete control over their life or death?
While we could go on, it should be easy to see that none of these scenarios are morally acceptable. The right to life and liberty for all human beings are God-given and inalienable; no one has the authority to take them from you (unless you have willingly relinquished your individual right by violating another human beings right to life or liberty- that is by taking the life of or liberty from another human being).
So, if the unborn is not a human being, then NONE of these questions or scenarios apply. But, if the unborn is a human being, then it should be illegal and considered a violation of all rights to perform an abortion on the unborn. Thus, this one question defines the actual debate.
Is the unborn a human being?
There is overwhelming support for affirming the fact that the unborn is a human being. Consider the following 3 examples of the multiple lines of evidence affirming the humanity of the unborn:
All human beings since the dawn of time have given birth to human beings. Thus, if at birth ‘the born’ are human beings, it is certain that prior to birth ‘the unborn’ are human beings too.
Embryologists confirm the fact that the unborn are human beings: “Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”- The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, Keith Moore and T.V.N. Persaud
Even human interest pieces in the mass media recognize that the unborn are human beings. Consider this recent article from the Washington Post (a media outlet that isn’t known for a pro-life position): “A pregnant woman with Covid-19 was dying. With one decision, her doctor saved three lives”- Now, it is important to note that the article’s headline implies that the unborn in the scenario are human beings whose lives are worth saving.
There are many other lines of evidence that suggest that the unborn are human beings, but these three cover the realms of common sense, the scientific, and the existential.
Now, it is possible that one may argue for abortion based on size, level of development, viability, physical capability, or other reasons which are arbitrarily assigned. But none of these are morally appropriate for taking the life of a born human being, therefore, they are just as inappropriate for an unborn human being.
Given the evidence that the unborn are human, and the unholy amount of abortions that occur every day, then abortion is the greatest human rights violation in the history of mankind! Once again, the question you have to ask yourself is: are the unborn human beings? The only reasonable and logical answer is, yes. Now we need to do something about it!
Neil Postman Inadvertently Predicted the Internet Age When He Wrote About the Shift in American Thinking That Came From Television.
In his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, Neil Postman states that Television - as a medium of communication - has changed the way that Americans literally think about all topics and that it has fundamentally shifted the American worldview. In the introduction to his book, he contrasts the two dystopian worlds of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley… And he argues that the technology-driven culture we live in now is an indicator that Huxley’s picture of our future might actually be the true future we’re headed towards.
While this book was written in the 1980s, the truth revealed in it is directly applicable to today’s social media culture.
Postman states that the goal of television programming is not to create reflective thinking, but merely to seek applause for its ability to captivate the visual and auditory senses and to entertain people, even if for a short period of time. To Postman’s point, had I not read this book, I probably would have denied this view of TV programming, citing the amount of “edutainment” available on T.V. However, Postman’s conclusion that TV (and, most definitely, the Internet / social media) has created a terrible anti-intellectual shift in our society is well supported.
Prior, I thought that this problem is to blame on junk T.V. and mindless social media usage. Postman says that this isn’t the real problem with mass communication (Television), and for us, that would be the internet and social media. No, the problem is deeper!
Prior to reading Postman’s book, I wouldn’t have accepted his premise that the medium itself has caused the issue. However, it is now easier to see that the medium has led to the need of Americans to be entertained in every way, including education, religious activity, and public discourse.
What I mean, and following Postman, is that all activities in today’s society are boiled down to their entertainment value!
This need for entertainment value has created a void in intellectualism, proper reasoning, ability to understand and empathize with others; further, it has created an inability to spend long periods of time concentrating. Reading Postman today is as if he is directly indicting the internet and social media rather than the medium of television. It is important to remember that this book was written in the ‘80s, well before social media and widespread internet usage. Postman describes the beginning of the problem with the inventions of the telegraph and photograph and finding its completion in the age of television. However, Postman didn’t foresee the coming age of the Internet.
The age of television (Postman’s “age of show business”) has found its absurd postmodern fulfillment on the circus stage of the Internet, specifically on social media.
On social media platforms everyone has now become an expert on every subject matter to be discussed. However, almost 100% of these “expert opinions” are the result of an emotional heavy-handed response in which the person in question has done little-to-no research on the topic being discussed. And the crazy part of this issue is that we accept it as normal. Our society doesn’t even realize that there is a real problem… much as Postman described concerning the “Iranian Hostage Crises” during that time on Television. (Postman, 107) Yet, under-girding the issue is an unconscious awareness that we’re involved in absurdity. Even popular memes highlight the issue: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet’- Abraham Lincoln
So, yes, we don’t realize the problem on the surface. But we are cynical enough as a culture to recognize the pattern of the ridiculous and yet, continue to contribute to it. Just as Postman disparages the rise of T.V. evangelists, this age of “entertain me first” has serious implications for evangelism, preaching, and Christian education. From an evangelistic perspective, even though our gospel message is simple, it is exceedingly difficult to capture the attention of someone’s mind even for a minute (i.e. to think about their ultimate future).
Furthermore, popular views gained through a largely uninformed secular audience has led to individuals believing in supposed errors in the Bible. Here they are, spouting nonsense on social media about their view of Scripture, and yet, they’ve haven’t actually taken the time to read the Bible for their own self.
How many Christians have read the Bible through?
How many Christians can properly articulate what it is they believe and why?
How many Christians seek their fulfillment on how “good” the worship service was instead of taking the message home and reflecting and studying the passages discussed?
How many Christians would rather log into Facebook instead of spending the same amount of time reading from the Bible?
I ask these to merely state that the answers would probably lead us to conclude that American Christians aren’t much different than American society as a whole.
J.P. Moreland uses the term, “the empty self” to describe a culture of people devoid of the life of the mind. The traits of such an individual (someone characterized by “the empty self”) include self-absorption and slothfulness, and someone who is engaged by images and pictures rather than the written word.
In effect, the world we see unfolding because of the electronic medium seems to be driving our culture to embrace these traits, as if they are traits of excellence. In this new “age of show business”, another effect of the empty self is the soothing that comes from our electronic entertainment machines- designed to keep a person distracted from the concerns of life. Such a distracted Church will struggle doing the work of the Church and practicing Christian virtues.
It seems that Postman was properly concerned about electronic media becoming the pleasure deriving “soma” of Aldous Huxley’s overstimulated dystopian future. It may, in fact, be the reality we’re presently experiencing. What feels good seems to be our society’s main motive and highest value, coupled with an irrational sense of personal entitlement and intolerant tolerance. I don’t think the Church is immune to this. Many are in fact demonstrating the very clear signs of ‘the empty self’ described by Moreland.
Sometimes an idea can be carried too far, and we’ve seen the influence of TV and social media captivate every household and every facet of the American way of life. There are consequences to ideas but that seems lost on the American mind. Our only hope is in the gospel message, not only in bringing salvation, but with it, a different worldview restoring a desire to seek out the truth.
As for the starting place, I think the only way we can see change is to change the Church itself. We must remove these distractions from the Church, and teach Christians to become men and women of the Book. Our go-to media needs to change. Further, Christians need to be able to articulate what and why we believe what we believe. Restoring the intellectual tradition in the Church will have an impact on our society. We must reverse the trends of anti-intellectualism and hedonism from within first.
There is always hope and it comes from Christ and His Church. Christ is Risen!
“Plato dreamed of a moral community that he was never able to actualize, but now this dream of a community had burst into reality. The center of this community was not, however, a philosopher from Athens. It was a Jewish teacher from Galilee whose works revealed him to be God enfleshed and who had now sent his Spirit to create the kind of community that Plato never could.” - Timothy Paul Jones
There are two views on human origins. One is high, the other is low. The high view has a poem that summarizes who human beings are:
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
The low view has its own poem:
Once I was an amoeba
Beginning to begin
Then I was a tadpole
With my tail tucked in
Then I was a monkey
Hanging from a tree
Now I’m a college professor
With a Ph.D!!!
There is a certain modern sentiment held by the cultural nominally religious, and even by the modern / postmodern Christian, that perceives of miracles as the idea that God intervenes in the course of natural events, and such events are unexplainable by scientific methodology or human reason making them violations of the law of nature. Atheists, of course, rail against those who accept this definition suggesting that it is nothing more than a “God of the Gaps” theory….and for a good reason. It is decidedly not Christian but pagan.
Classically, miracles are those events that spark wonder. The Christian response to this understanding is that miracles are those events that are accentuated distinct events of what God is already doing (and has always done) that produce awe in human beings for the purpose of bringing glory to the Father. Biblically, they are called signs and wonders. Functionally, there is no difference between God healing a man through the means of prayer than what God already does through the means of human beings who practice medicine. He is the author of both.
Augustine declared, “If Plato and the rest of the philosophers … were to come to life again and find churches full and temples empty… they would say, ‘This is what we didn’t dare teach to the people!… With the change of a few words and sentiments, they would become Christians”
“For man is said to be from soul and body as a third thing constituted from two things neither of which he is, for a man is not soul nor is he body..”— St. Thomas Aquinas (1)
“There are two things in the world I can’t stand: people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures…. and the Dutch” – Nigel Powers.
In a rather silly, raunchy, double-entendre loaded, pop-culture spoofing, James Bond satire, the father of Austin Powers (played by Michael Caine) makes this ridiculous statement demonstrating a negation in communication.(2) Obviously, he couldn’t stand himself if both parts of the statement are true. The problem is that, although this absurd statement is stated for audience amusement, it represents the way language is adopted to separate biological life from human value, of human being-ness from personhood. Language has been used to assert a contradictory worldview.
What began with Descartes’ philosophy of distinct mind-body dualism found its secular fulfillment in the Enlightenment split of facts and values, and the reductionism of the human being.(3) Following Cartesian Dualism, the body began to be thought of as a vehicle for the real person, dubbed, “the ghost in the machine.”(4) Later secular philosophers would expand upon this idea, separating the body out as an amoral part of nature in which the will of the true person inside could use it to whatever end desired; the body became nothing more than a vehicle to be used and exploited for the real inner person’s private needs.(5) This dualistic language is used ever-the-more-so in the abortion debate to differentiate between biological humans and persons. Unfortunately, this philosophical commitment and abuse of language provides no satirical amusement, but real life-ending consequences in the form of legalized abortion.
Personhood theory is the dominate view of pro-choice advocates and ethicists. Because the scientific consensus has concluded that a fetus is human from conception, the only way for abortion advocates to maintain that abortion is morally neutral (or even a moral good) is to adopt the aforementioned dualistic view of separating the human body from the person inside.(6) On this theory, “persons” have freedom and moral dignity, but “humans” are disposable machines.(7)
With this understanding the critical moral criteria for abortion comes from defining when the fetus becomes a “person.”
One problem for personhood theory is that different ethicists disagree on the factors and on when a fetus becomes a person. Some abortion advocates suggest that personhood begins at birth, or at the first signs of movement; others suggest that it occurs with brain development, when the fetus is viable, or even when the ability to perceive or have desires emerges (extending personhood acquisition to after birth).(8)
Every one of these positions draw the line of distinction between human being and person at different places. They are based upon private, arbitrary values and personal choices. In a related controversy, it is these same criteria that are used to promote euthanasia, and the horror becomes real with involuntary euthanasia which occurs under the assumption that, because an individual is unable to consent, they are no longer persons.(9)
It is because of the arbitrary criteria that the contradictory nature of personhood theory is exposed. This arbitrariness exposes an inconsistency in naturalist thinking: the pro-life position appeals to an objective criterion found in biology but the pro-choice position rests on the subjective view of individuals who disagree with each other.(10)
Personhood theory also requires indiscriminate deadlines; it requires a random cut-off time in which it is assumed that a fetus has transitioned to personhood or an older person has transitioned out of personhood.(11) The contradictory nature of this theory compounds because “a vision of personhood that rests on the arbitrary decisions of the powerful against the weak cannot be in conformity with the demands of justice or equality.”(12) Why that is contradictory is because the idea itself extends from an ideology that also believes that it is universally immoral for the powerful to dominate the weak. Personhood theory is as radical as the indiscriminate criterion that were invented by the despots of the 20th century who oppressed and killed those whom they deemed less than human. Personhood theory opens this door again, and the right to dignity and life are denied once criteria are set to establish some human beings as “non-persons.”(13)
In contrast to Personhood theory, the pro-life position is the more inclusive and provides the more holistic position that one could have in this debate. Again, the contradictory view of Personhood theory exposes itself because it extends from those who hold to a high moral value on inclusion. Yet, Personhood theory excludes some and extends personhood to others. But the pro-life position is different. If you are a member of the human race, then you are considered a person; you do not get more inclusive than that when it comes to determining which humans are persons.(14)
Furthermore, the Biblical worldview asserts that human beings are a unified whole and that the body has intrinsic worth. Thus, there is no room for the false dichotomy raised in the post-Cartesian project to separate human being’ness from personhood.
Finally, it is wrong to challenge personhood based on arbitrary criteria. Even on the assumption that the human/person dichotomy exists, we have no real way of determining the cutoff line and, therefore, it is immoral for us to adopt Personhood theory.
However, it is morally appropriate to assume that human beings are always persons. In the end, equating human beings as persons also matches the reality we live in and our lived-out existence. Outside of personhood theory’s dehumanizing markers, in reality you, as a human, are a person no matter what your location is, what size you are, what desires you have, what your mental abilities are, what level of feeling or thinking you have, or even how mature you are.(15)
Beyond the zealous defense of labeling abortion as a woman’s reproductive rights shouted by the most vocal of abortion advocates, the most common defense for abortion is real-life difficulties faced by the mother.
Christopher Kaczor states that these can include, among other things, “broken families, drug abuse, crushing poverty, abusive relationships, incomplete education, fear of public humiliation, antagonistic partners, and failed love.”(16) Not only would these issues provide difficulty for a woman to carry a baby during pregnancy, but the difficulty multiplies once the child is born under these circumstances.
However, the issue here still comes down to the main question about personhood- is it moral to distinguish some humans as less than persons? As I’ve argued, it is not.
But we can always apply a bit of logic to the scenario as well. If we apply the difficult circumstances above to a woman who has a six-year-old, no one would suggest killing the child to ease the burden; instead, they would suggest any and all means to help the woman successfully live through the difficulty.(17) They would do all that they can to ease the burden by providing support and help. Help on this definition includes help for the mother and the child but does not include resorting to killing the child.
Thus, an answer now arises to the dilemma of a pregnant woman who has extreme difficulties and an unexpected pregnancy:
We do all that we can to give aide to help her with these life difficulties (which exist with or without a child) and all that we can to help her with raising her child, or we find an alternative place for the child to be raised. Difficulties do not provide justification for terminating a life, but they do provide justification for exercising compassion and loving your neighbor.
Jay Roach, Austin Powers in Goldmember, 2002. Note: I no way am I endorsing this movie, but I have viewed it in the past and remember this silly quote. The movie itself is full of sexual innuendo and blatant immoral behavior that was part of a series of raunchy comedies released in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The interesting thing about these movies is that they assume the very issue being discussed here- a reduction of the human being into a meat machine, with a very low view of human sexuality.
Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Books, 2017), 51-52.
Christopher Kaczor, The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice, 1st edition (New York: Routledge, 2010), 38.
“And so sovereign Providence has often produced a remarkable effect–evil men making other evil men good. For some, when they think they suffer injustice at the hands of the worst of men, burn with hatred for evil men, and being eager to be different from those they hate, have reformed and become virtuous. It is only the power of God to which evils may also be good, when by their proper use He elicits some good result. -Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy
Standing at the end of his quest, peering into the fires of Mount Doom, Frodo failed. For all the long journey, he did not accomplish the mission.
He couldn’t destroy the ring. He wanted the ring for himself.
It was only a matter of sovereignty and providence that saved him and middle earth. In a fateful twist, Gollum was spared from death decades before because of the compassion that Bilbo had for the creature. Inadvertently, Gollum became the agent that destroyed the ring in a violent final attempt to posses it for himself. What Frodo couldn’t do, Gollum accomplished it, but not of his own will. Evil intent was transformed into a great good. The fate of the world hung on a divine insight into the darkness of a creature; the transformed conscience of a Hobbit who had compassion on a monster.
Interestingly, Gollum’s actions were prophesied by the wise old wizard Gandalf earlier in the adventure when Frodo laments that Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum:
“Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise can not see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill…”
Indeed, all humans are like Frodo.
No matter what journey we must take in our lives we desire to cling to the selfish desires within us. We are concerned about justice- for others, but would prefer not meeting our own. Outside of Jesus Christ, there is no hope for mankind.
But God has provided and the prophets of old were given the foresight to announce the coming of the King who would sacrifice himself for our benefit.
Through his sovereignty and grace, you can be saved through the work of Jesus Christ. What he accomplished on the cross covers your sin.
That is the good news for your story. What must you do?
One must repent, believe, and confess Christ as Lord, and then be baptized.
And what shall we know about evil?
Like Gollum, it is worked out through divine providence where the creature means their works for evil but God uses them for good, for the saving of many lives. That is sovereign grace! It is always in his hands. To him be all glory and praise.
Image Credit: Image by Pau Llopart Cervello from Pixabay