Omniscience of God?

When it comes right down to the basics of my faith, I admit to being Bible based as far as my intellect allows, so it may appear to be a bit old fashioned to some. It seems to be going out of style, but I hold to the ‘Omnis’ of the Christian faith but I notice they are being questioned, if not attacked, by the very church leaders who should be protecting them.

 

You see, I believe in, and defend the fact that God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnipotent. The one which is mostly under attack by some academics and theologians, is the thought that God isn’t really all knowing (Omniscient). It is only a matter of time and circumstance when others will fall under the academic gaze and red pen of the professors of liberal theology who want to carve out a name for themselves and make unnecessary changes.

 

Do you remember the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes? It is based on the fact that although the Emperor was in his underwear, the inner circle of the royal court kept telling him that his imaginary fine clothes were real and exquisite. It was in these royal courtiers’ interests to bask in the reflected glory of the Emperor, and as long as they could convince everyone else that their leader was dressed in the best, their place was secure.

 

It took a child who was innocent of the selfish game being played on his Emperor, to shout that the nation’s respected leader wasn’t wearing any clothes! The game was up for those who led the Emperor into his mistaken and false identity. So, why tell that old story? Because there are students and professors of theology who want to be seen as clever as their theological peers and heroes who claim that the outlandish theology of Omniscience is actually untrue and outdated, and that we have been labouring under a falsehood for a long time. The thing that troubles me most, is that the basic belief of free will, held by the majority of Christians, is used to disprove the omniscience of God.

 

What about you? Do you believe that God is omniscient? Or do you believe our free will means that God is like us in that He only knows those things that He CAN know, and only then after we have exercised our free will? It is a serious question that I believe needs an answer at both personal and corporate church level.

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Elitism?

Christians are a funny lot. No, make that a strange bunch. We have those on the fringes of faith who barely know much about the Bible, but their hearts are soft, safe and pure. They may be poorly educated but they are the salt of the earth. Then at the other end of the spectrum we have the well educated academic and the well read Bible scholar, different people but both of whom see themselves as elite, and better than most Christians. They are very different people, but each one will feel elite, whereas the soft hearted Christian is lowly and humble.

 

So, why am I saying this? It’s because recently I came across a Christian who falls into the well read Bible scholar, and who has decided that he must take the Bible literally. That’s ok I hear you say, but let me continue. We all know faithful ones who may differ on their beliefs about the Garden of Eden, and if it was an apple or a fruit that Eve took. Literalists and those who take that part of the story as picture language, seem to get along fine because we can see where they are coming from.

 

BUT (big BUT) what if the literalist believer says that the earth is really flat, and then rolls out many verses of Scripture to support that belief? In order to hold the flat earth principle, many things have to be thrown aside as conspiracies of the devil. Things like, man never being in space and certainly never walking on the moon. The curvature of the earth’s surface first calculated around 300BC is a lie of satan and we have all been deceived by the master of lies by devilish conspiracy theories. There was much more as I listened to my friend expound his own late belief that the earth is flat, but the main thing that came across was the elitist way he spoke. Those who didn’t believe like him were not as Biblically wise as he is. They had not properly studied and believed the Word of God, and so were not in the place he was. Make no mistake, there are many others like him across the world. The small group of Christians with me who listened, heard him in respectful silence, but wore a confused smile of disbelief. I say that because we found his new found ‘discovery’ to be harmless because he still fully believes Christ as Saviour, and all the other main characteristics of salvation.

 

However, having said all that, I find the educated, academic scholar to be more dangerous in their elitism. They use bigger words and advance their own theories about interpretation and many times do not back it up with Scripture, whether understood literally, pictorially or even in poetic form. As new ideas emerge from their theses or dissertations, it can puff up and produce a sense of worth which shows them above others. Sometimes then, basic and fundamental tenets of our faith are questioned, and we are prone to accept them because they come from a lettered theologian that we are expected to respect.

 

Give me those Christians who enjoy a simple faith every time, who barely know much about deep theology, but who read the Bible with a clear head, and an open heart which is humble, soft, safe and pure. Turns out I know just one Christian who believes in a flat earth, but what about you? Do you or anyone you know believe in the flat earth theory, Christian or not??

Nearly

Having been around churches of various denominations throughout my life, I can usually recognise the differences, and even appreciate the things that separate us in theology and practice. I’m not going to argue that we have more in common, than that which separates us, but make another observation which has been growing in my mind over the recent past.

 

The one thing we all share, is the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ. Or it should be a common thread running through all evangelicals to some degree.

 

It concerns me that we are becoming ever better at talking about what the gospel is, than we are at preaching it. We have become clever and intelligent as we learn more about Bible times, and how the early disciples changed the world. Armed with this great knowledge, why do we not preach the gospel instead of talking about it? I see a real and fundamental difference, and in this case ‘nearly’ is not good enough for all and any of the mainstream church denomination family.

 

I well remember the induction service of a new pastor, and an old saintly pastor, close to retirement after many good years in the pulpit say to the new minister, “The pulpit is not here to have a conversation with your congregation, it is here to preach the Gospel”. The words were spoken many years ago, are true today, and nearly is still not good enough.

Blogger’s Block

You have heard of writers who get writer’s block, well its distant cousin is Blogger’s Block. There is little known about what causes it, but apparently it can be a small thing. I don’t know how you deal with the things on your mind, for my part I tend to write it down. I suppose that makes me a blogger of sorts. Not so much to get a response, but as a kind of therapy to face the issues that mean something to me.

 

I usually end up writing about matters of faith, because that is the subject that means the most to me, and in a normal week about 2 or 3 blogs will be written and possibly published on a couple of systems. Responses are good for the most part, and even those who would not claim to be of the same church or faith group will be positive in their comments. So, what has happened during this month’s dry spell?

 

When something rocks the foundation of your belief system, it drags you down, and in dragging you down you stop doing those normal routine things. The bottom line is that you don’t see a way to work through your ‘problem’, and so the Blogger’s Block happens. Fortunately this doesn’t happen often, and my solution is to give it enough time to percolate through my subconscious and convince myself the thing I worried about was never really a problem in the first place. Was it? Or is it still there?

In Common

A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 NIV

 

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. Acts 2:44 ESV

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4

 

Jesus gave the commandment to His disciples, and yes it is a command, but how did the early church do this? How did they put Jesus’ words into practice? Come to think of it, the commandment applies to us too, so how do we manage to cope?
I am familiar with the sharing of food, goods, money, trades, and all the practical things which make life easier as you become an integral part of a shared community, but is that as far as it goes? I don’t think so. People have other needs which are not as easily seen, like feelings, emotions, and anxieties, so I would suggest that Jesus meant us to ‘be there’ for our friends in Christian love. If that means sharing food and work, that is good, but we miss something when we don’t recognise that we also share in each other’s lives in full. If one of our group is absent for a week or two, do we notice? Perhaps we conveniently assume they are on holiday, or away for the weekend. I would suggest that we should care enough to check if they are ill, or going through a tough time before we make any other assumptions. Why should we do this? Because the Word of God says: so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4. I suggest that is reason enough.

Take a Knee

If you haven’t heard the phrase ‘Take a Knee’ then you have been asleep, or in a TV News-free Zone. It’s everywhere. The protest is against alleged unfair USA police brutality aimed at the black community. These allegations have been around for a long time, and it’s not for me to pass any opinion on whether there is any truth in them or not.

 

For now, all I see are black millionaire NFL sportsmen protesting with their brothers in solidarity. But they are a million miles from the poverty which is claimed to be at the root of the problem. It’s like poking the bear, because President Trump then weighs in and takes centre stage (where he likes to be), calls the protesters an unholy name, and shouts that they should be fired. I get the impression he thinks he is still on the set of the Apprentice, passing his own style of TV justice on the unsuspecting victim of his wrath. As another rich but white millionaire, he is also far away from the reality of the poverty experienced by the youth of his country, both black and white.

 

So, the protesters ‘take a knee’ instead of standing during their country’s national anthem. Let me get this right. You make that protest against the nation that you are so unhappy with. The nation that has made you millionaires. The nation that has given you celebrity status, wouldn’t it be best to show that you mean what you say by finding another place to live? Another country where there is no  segregation, or discrimination, or apparent, alleged unfair police treatment against your brothers? Ah, but there’s the rub. That would mean turning your back on the source of your wealth and  status. My guess is that the NFL players would not want to go that far. They know which side their bread is buttered, and anyway such a nation does not exist.

 

I hate to be so obvious and transparent, but there is only one person who is fair in all deliberations, and He is the only one that is worthy to take a knee for. Take that in two ways. We can use one or both knees in prayer because God is a sound judge, and you can also ‘take a knee’ when the final curtain of life is drawn, either of our life here, or the end of the world as we know it. The wisdom of the old prophet said it long before it was obvious to anyone else. His peers probably thought he was crazy, but the prophecy in the Old Testament is clear:

 

By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Isaiah 45:23 ESV

 

By the way, the knees that will bow will include those millionaire NFL Sportsmen, both black and white, plus Kings and Presidents across the globe. Humbling isn’t it?

Berean?

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Acts 17:10,11 NIV

 

I’m one of those annoying people who treats their faith as important. It is important on a surface level as I sit in a pew, sing the songs, pray, and soak in the sermon which has been prepared by a Godly pastor. But it’s more than that. If I am going to believe in the Gospel that my church teaches, and that it is truth, then for me it is important enough to know why I believe it. So, the theology behind the doctrine is important too because it must be in harmony with the Bible.

 

The result in my case is that I will look into the beliefs closely, and check them against Scripture and only then what other commentators say. The reason is simple. When we do anything else in this life, or buy into any secular scheme, we do it with much care. This is more important than choosing my next car, so it must be even more important that I get my theology right.

 

So far, so good, but there can be a problem that comes with the quest. While chasing up, and checking out the truth of doctrine, I find myself asking other pastors and leaders whom I respect, what they think, and more importantly, believe. This can come across as questioning their own faith, and that is far from the truth. I am not in college or university, so I don’t sit at the seat of learning to sharpen my faith. I have to do that part by bouncing my thoughts off other human beings, and I try to choose carefully. Unfortunately, I have found to my horror that I have unwittingly offended as I chase the importance of my church’s theology.

 

After all, each church has its own take on interpretation, so do I just stick a pin in a sheet of names and go there? Do I blindly accept the doctrine of the church I attend, or do I find out why? Eternity is real, so my thinking is that the articles of faith I accept are important. I trust I will be like the Bereans and examine the Scriptures first and foremost.

 

Question: How do you and I confirm the beliefs that are important to us and our church?