EChurch@Wartburg – 2.10.13

Welcome to a Gathering of EChurch@Wartburg


Here Is Our Order of Worship

If you are new to E Church, please click on this link for an explanation

Prayer on the Beatitudes Link

Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Keep us from being preoccupied with money and worldly goods, and with trying to increase them at the expense of justice.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth." 
Help us not to be ruthless with one another, and to eliminate the discord and violence that exists in the world around us.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Let us not be impatient under our own burdens and unconcerned about the burdens of others.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be filled." 
Make us thirst for you, the fountain of all holiness, and actively spread your influence in our private lives and in society.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."
Grant that we may be quick to forgive and slow to condemn.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God."
Free us from our senses and our evil desires, and fix our eyes on you.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." 
Aid us to make peace in our families, in our country, and in the world.
Lord Jesus, You said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for the kingdom of heaven in theirs."
Make us willing to suffer for the sake of right rather than to practice injustice; 
and do not let us discriminate against our neighbors and oppress and persecute them.
In Jesus name

This is a prayer from the church father Irenaeus (died 202 BC) Link

"Give growing maturity to beginners, 
O Father; give intelligence to the little ones; 
Give aid to those who are running their course. 
Give sorrow to the negligent; give fervor of spirit to the lukewarm.
Give to the mature a good end; for the sake of Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:5-6 (NASB Bible Gateway)

and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

A Prayer of Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) Link

O merciful God, fill our hearts, we pray, with the graces of Your Holy Spirit, 
With love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. 
Teach us to love those who hate us, to pray for those who despitefully use us,
That we may be the children of our Father, 
Who makes Your sun shine on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 
In adversity, grant us grace to be patient; in prosperity keep us humble; 
May we guard the door of our lips; may we lightly esteem the pleasures of this world, 
And thirst after heavenly things; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Benediction: Jude 1:24-25

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling
And to present you before his glorious presence without fault 
And with great joy to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, 
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! 


EChurch@Wartburg – 2.10.13 — 58 Comments

  1. Okay. This is a very tough one for me. I only made it through half of the sermon. The passage has been used to justify abuse. The portion I was able to make it through still caused me to shake and cry. Wade, I have a very serious question for you. How does a child who is abused interpret this teaching? Are you saying that the physical, emotional and sexual abuse I experienced as a child was of God for the purpose of teaching me a lesson? Please know this is not meant to be antagonistic are flip? It is a serious question I have wrestled with for years that, for me, goes to the very heart of the character of God.

  2. Jeanette,

    I totally understand your question. When I was 12, I was in a horrific car accident. My friend and I were going to Myrtle Beach with her parents for the weekend, and we were struck head-on by a drunk driver. Both vehicles were traveling about 60 mph.

    My friend’s parents were thrown through the windshield and killed instantly. None of us were wearing seat belts because it wasn’t the law at the time. If the car had struck our vehicle at a slightly different angle, I’m fairly certain I would have been the one who was thrown through the windshield.

    I thought about that life-altering experience as I listened to Wade’s sermon. Maybe in eternity I’ll understand why my friend’s parents were taken away in a split second. I am grateful that they were both Christians.

  3. Jeannette,

    A very, very difficult question for which I cannot in good conscience give you a trite answer. All I can say is, at some point, God will reveal how He can orchestrate eternal good from something so hellish. By the way, the death of Christ was done with “wicked hands,” but it fulfilled the purpose of God. The most difficult theological knot to untie is how God can be sovereign and work all things for our good, hold the wicked accountable, and not be the author of evil. There are times when listening to a sermon like this is one is not best for the listener, and that may be true of you. I would not finish it, but know that I am praying for you (and I mean it).

  4. I have wrestled with this verse. When I look the Greek word mastidoo in verse 6, it translates, even in non-religious lexicons, as scourge.

    The definition of scourge (as a verb): punish severely; excoriate whip; The religious fanatics flagellated themselves; cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly; The enemy lay waste to the countryside after the invasion; scourge; This does not sound loving and confuses the hell out of.

    Being whipped with a belt was part of my childhood – was used as a part of my potty training. I cannot bridge the gap between the humiliation of being whipped like this and being loved. If this is what love is, it loses meaning to me.

    How do I know God loves me? In those moments when I believe he does, it is not because he scourges me, it is because he spoke the words so clearly that my physical ears heard him – "Daughter, I love you." Being scourged only communicates to me that someone is pissed off. And I really don't know what to do with this verse.

    Scourge means what it means. And it sounds an awful lot like the willow switch – or, in my case, the leather belt, to me. If we take Paul's writings as sacred, then this must apply to everyone. So, I should expect to be whipped by God because that is how he shows his love. If I don't gratefully accept the scourging, I am illegitimate – not really a child….so….submit to being scourged or you are in rebellion and not his child.

    This breaks my heart. I want to be his child. Most of the time, I believe I am. But this……if this is what is expected, then why do we call parents who whip their children abusive? I know you probably don't have an answer. Some tell me the answer is that God isn't real I know that is not the answer. But from where I am right now, either my knowledge of God on a personal level is wrong or this verse is wrong (or mistranslated or…).

    Sorry for rambling on about this, but it is a very personal sore spot….

  5. A correction: the Greek word is mastigoo.
    Also, a thought on comparing to what Jesus suffered: I in no way wish or intend to minimize what he went through. But this is another thing that has been used to minimize the voice of victims. Here’s the thing for me. What Jesus went through was horrific. But he chose to do it. That fact makes it all the more amazing. But to compare the two overlooks the fact the I did not have a choice.

  6. Jeannette,

    Good point about Jesus choosing. However, in the garden of Gethsamene He specifically asked that He NOT go to Calvary. The thought of the cross was repugnant. He did not want to go through what He went through and “sweat blood” in His pleading to have the cup of death removed. But then, in His wrestling through His circumstances, He said, “Nevertheless, Thy will be done.” So, He did choose the cross, but it wasn’t because He wanted the cross.

    In terms of the word “scourge” I understand exactly what you are saying. However, I do NOT believe this word represents beating, flogging, or whipping (the way most translate scourge). I TOTALLY reject that interpretation. I, like many commentators, simply see scourge as a synonym of discipleship. The illustration I used was a loving teacher who is teaching his students a lesson, they don’t get the lesson, so the teacher stresses the lesson further. It has nothing to do with any anger in the teacher, but the difficult nature of the lesson. The lesson, in our case, is learning what it means to live selflessly, and that is sometimes a difficult lesson to learn.

    Anyway, you are making excellent points, and I admire you and the way you are working through the difficult nature of this verse.

  7. Jeanette

    I have just returned from a medical fellowship meeting. I want you to know I am praying for you and will respond to you later tomorrow.


  8. Wade, I understand what you are saying. The Garden of Gethsemane is one of the most important parts of Jesus story to me. The fact that he chose to go through with it, even though he didn't want to – even though he begged for there to be another option. I have heard some say that Jesus had no choice and that Gethsemane was just a following through of the preordained plan. I say that takes all meaning out of what he did. Even in the Garden, where he is struggling with what he has been asked to do, at the end of the struggle, he chose to do what God asked. I would never diminish that. It is central to my trust of Jesus.

    Still, even in that, he chose. When I was 2 years old, I did not choose to be whipped because I had an accident. I did not choose to be molested. At two years old, I could not have even comprehended what the choice was. Personally, it feels like comparing child abuse to what Jesus suffered diminishes what Jesus did and who God is. It implies that what Christ suffered is comparable to child abuse and that is not a message I can embrace…it implies God is abusive.

  9. Jeannette,

    Any thought or message that God is abusive is a thought or message rightly rejected.

    Listen to this verse: “Him (Jesus), being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain…” (Acts 2:23).

    This scripture says that the people who put Jesus to the cross did so with wicked hands. I am not saying I fully understand how the cross can be part of God’s “determinate counsel” and those who put Jesus on the cross will be held accountable for the act of killing God’s Son, but I am saying that an EVIL act done by wicked men can ultimately be part of God’s plan. Child abuse is horrific. Child abuse is evil. Child abuse is performed by WICKED men whom God will punish in righteousness in hell. HOW the abuse in your life winds up being part of God’s GOOD plan for your life — I can’t answer. I think anybody who tries is being stupid. All I can say is that somehow, someway, in surprising mercy, the abuse in your life will be orchestrated by God for your (and others) ultimate good and His glory — while at the same time the WICKED MEN (or WOMEN) who perpetrated the abuse against you will be punished by a righteous God in hell. So… abuse is not FROM God, but it is somehow, someway, part of God’s “counsel” (like the death of His Son), and will somehow, someway, ultimately be orchestrated for an eternal good. Child abuse is evil. Child abuse is not from God. It is a wicked act. Just as was the death of Jesus a wicked act — yet ultimately orchestrated for our good.

  10. Wade

    The way I look at it is maybe too simple but here goes. Take a person who has been abused as a child. I want to have hope that God can take the pain heartache and  sorrow and turn it to something for good in that person's life. If He does not do that, then the abused person has no hope for anything in life but recurrent pain and suffering to no end. 

    There is a young woman who survived a saline abortion. Here is her story. Her life began in terrible pain but she has turned it, with the help of God, into helping others. He didn't cause her mother to have the abortion. yet he took that little baby and allowed her to turn the evil into a great message of hope for others.

  11. Wade Burleson wrote:

    Child abuse is evil. Child abuse is not from God. It is a wicked act. Just as was the death of Jesus a wicked act — yet ultimately orchestrated for our good.

    To me, this sounds like you are saying God orchestrates evil. I have had someone else put it a bit more bluntly – God ordained the abuse for your own good or the good of someone else. That sounds a lot like the abusive parent whipping and saying they are doing it for your own good.

    Did God orchestrate the cross? Absolutely. But again, to equate Christ’s suffering with God orchestrating child abuse is problematic for me. The men who carried out the arrest and murder of Jesus were wicked. Their punishment is between them and God. But again, this was something that God (the Father and the Son) chose. To me, saying that God orchestrated my abuse in the same way he orchestrated the cross reduces the cross to near meaninglessness. It suggests Jesus had no say in any of it which really to me, would nullify the whole purpose.

    Will God take the evil events in my life and use them to work good? Yes – I have seen evidence of that. But please don’t tell me that he orchestrated the abuse – because that would mean that the abuse was his will and that would mean that he is abusive to children….and that, to me, would make him unworthy of worship.

  12. @ Deb:
    and @ dee:
    Deb, no words would really be adequate – at least I can’t think of any that don’t sound trite. Just a hug…..

    Dee, I look forward to your response.

    I don’t intend to be disruptive or annoying, but this issue is foundational to my faith….

  13. I think a distinction has to be made of trials one goes through volitionally vs acts that one encounters without one’s choice in the matter. Of course, also a distinction has to be made of choices made either poorly or rightly, of whose consequences one does not know apriori. Either way, it is hard to understand and accept that God allows bad acts. But they do happen. Such is life.

  14. Jeanette,

    You write: “this sounds like you are saying God orchestrates evil”

    It’s all in the definitions. Define orchestrate. If you mean God CAUSED evil–the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. If you mean God uses evil for a story that has ultimate good – ABSOLUTELY YES.

    Dee – Well said.

    Thy Peace – You write: “Either way, it is hard to understand and accept that God allows bad acts. But they do happen. Such is life.”

    Good thought. I agree with the word allows. Some who think that allowing is the same thing as causing (because if He COULD stop it He WOULD stop it) come to the place of denying God’s ability to know the future because they can’t reconcile how God can allow evil and not be the Author of it. It seems you have landed on the Scriptural view – God allows but doesn’t cause, and anything He allows He orchestrates for His peoples’ good and His ultimate glory. A minor note played by itself in an orchestra full of instruments sounds awful, but within the concert of a full symphony, minor notes somehow work together for a beautiful musical story.

  15. So, Jeanette, in summary:

    You write: “Will God take the evil events in my life and use them to work good? Yes – I have seen evidence of that. But please don’t tell me that he orchestrated the abuse.”

    Again, I think are misunderstanding what I am saying the Scripture teaches. God orchestrates THE GOOD out of the evil. He USES the evil – HE DOES NOT CAUSE THE EVIL. God cannot be the cause of the abuse that occured against you, but He is not unaware or powerless.

    Sometimes a victim of abuse needs hugs and no answers. I am only responding to your questions, because I much prefer to be silent in the midst of pain. So… know that my prayers are with you.

  16. Wade,

    I agree with your explanation that God allows evil, but doesn’t cause it. That’s the only interpretation that makes sense to me.

    Thank you for your ministry here at TWW. You are such a blessing.

  17. Thanks for that clarification, Wade! I agree that God does not CAUSE the evil in our lives, but makes all things work together for good.

    Mary Ann

  18. Jeannette- fellow wounded heart here – I don't have answers for you, but I stand in solidarity with your questions and I will pray, and if OK sending a hug from my heart to yours. (I know I am a stranger)

    My EX pastor insisted that I give God thanks for my abuse – that is a long story. I have wrestled with God, not that I am a Jacob, I have at times screamed at the heavens, such was the pain I was in. When I told my EX-pastor that I thought I might be angry at God, I was scolded for striving with my Maker. duh – like God doesn't know every word on my tongue and my every thought.

    My dad beat us kids and my mother, o my poor mother, he chased us with guns telling us he was going to kill us all, and there was sexual abuse, and forever stamped on my heart, was being told almost every day, that I was a G** D*** idiot.

    So, there were years in my prayer life, my struggle to maintain my sanity, that I asked Jesus in anger why my family – why did I come through them… Did I get answers, not really, but for me, I have found that I can ask, beg, scream, and fight if I need to with the Lord and he can take it, since there is no searching of His understanding.

    I am sure you know all that & hope it doesn't come across as a holier than thou let me fix you… Nah, that isn't my intention, but things don't always translate via the internet.

  19. Wade,

    Is it the blessing & the curse of having free will? God is not the author of the evil I experienced, I know that now, yet on this road to some baby steps of recovery, I wondered why in the world would God have allowed me to undergo such a difficult childhood.

    And then ending up in a spiritually abusive church caused me to question His goodness and His promise to direct all my steps… My dad had a free will to chose and he chose what he knew – he was abused as a child. I am off to church and a busy day, so if you respond and I am slow to answer I will be back.

  20. @Jeannette –

    I am so sorry for the abuse you suffered. I can totally see how this message would be triggering for you. Thank you for your honesty.

  21. Gail,

    One of the things I appreciate about TWW is the fact that there are many remarkable men and women who have overcome so much stunning evil perpetrated against them. Whether it be physical or sexual abuse, church abuse, spiritual abuse, etc… TWW is filled with people like you and Jeannette who are trophies of grace. Gail, your ex-pastor said, “Give thanks for the abuse.” I think I understand what he was attempting to say, but might have said it a little differently: “Thank God for the good that comes from the abuse, not the abuse.” It’s a little bit like thanking God for cancer, or thanking God for being robbed, or thanking God for anything else that is contrary to the nature of God – you don’t thank God for something contrary to His nature. But I think you can thank God for the fact He works all things for good according to His purposes. Notice, not all things ARE good (child abuse is wicked and evil), but God works good from all things (as both you and Jeannette point out).

    Thanks for a healthy and lively discussion. In the theological world, some have come to the place of denying God’s foreknowledge and omniscience because they don’t want to have to say God knows evil will occur. They desire God to be as surprised by it as we are. I can’t go there because I don’t see Scripture going there. It is not easy to see a loving, good, benevolent and all-powerful God in a world filled with evil, but my prayer is that we see Him as Scripture reveals Him to be.

  22. I believe God grieves at the cruel treatment of His children just as we grieve with one another. He longs to comfort us as He said to the children of Israel. Isaiah 66:13

  23. Jeannette & Gail,
    In my own faith journey, and bear in mind I can speak only for myself. I have learned that there’s a gulf of difference between the god in the bible, and the God of the Bible.

    If you want a good portrait of the God of the Bible, check out Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean in a film version of Les Miserables, and watch how he rescues Fantine from her abusers and takes care of her. That’s a picture of the real God of the Bible, not the cruel Javert, or the great and powerful OZ demanding that Dorothy bring him the witch’s broomstick.

    Like I said, I can only speak for myself when I say that I know which one truly loves me baby.

  24. Jeanette/Wade

    I thought some more about your situation. Evil is here because of the Fall and the angel’s rebellion. That means we will all be impacted by evil, some far worse than others. I thought of a little girl who was abused and died at the age of 4. Did she die alone and forgotten? Did her little life mean nothing at all in the big picture? This is what the atheists would tell me. She basically had a horrible short life. Too bad. Maybe someday mankind will change.

    I reject that! I believe her life had infinte meaning and not just in the hereafter. I see a God who believes that little girl was important and her life had meaning, both now and in eternity. Perhaps the story of her short life stopped another person from doing the same thing which spared the life of another child. Maybe her story inspired one woman to become a guardian ad litum and advocate for other  children.  Another family is now sensitized to abuse and reports an abusive situation. It goes on and on.

     One day, in heaven that litte four year old girl will be seen in all of her marvelous glory and attached to her name will be the good God allowed to come out of her sad, short life. God knows there is evil. He is prepared for that evil and He will redeem and conquer over that evil. Satan, who think he won with the death of that child will be shown to be the utter failure that he is.

  25. Hey, all. First, thanks for your prayers, Truly.

    Gail – thank you…hugs back to you.

    Muff – I agree with what you said. 🙂

    Eagle – definitions…that is a main point of this discussion, I think.

    Wade – to get back to the sermon, itself, what was troubling to me was the statement that trials are ‘of God.’ It still sounds an awful lot like saying that God sent the abuse for the purpose of teaching a lesson. Again, definitions…

    Orchestrate: plan and direct ; he masterminded the robbery

    When it is said that God orchestrated the abuse, I hear that he masterminded it – it was/is part of his plan. This concept is what leads to the teachings of men like Piper and Mahaney; if it happened, then God wanted it to happen because nothing happens unless God wants it to, so quit complaining and just accept that it is his will.

    I reject this. The God I know is not like that. To be honest, I spent a great deal of my life (all of my childhood) scared – not in awe, but terrified – of God. Jesus was like a big brother who protected me from the angry father. I recognize, as I write this….it is an image of an abusive family where the oldest child often plays buffer between the abusive parent(s) and the younger children. I did that for my little sister.

    Now, I understand that the Father and Jesus are not so separate as that. I understand that Jesus was/is the human expression of the Father….that if I have seen/know Jesus, then I have seen/know the Father. The God that I have heard taught in every church I have been in is not the same as the one who reveals himself through the Son.

    Dee – yes. Evil happens because men have the freedom to choose evil. Maybe because of what I have experienced, I have given this a lot of thought. The bottom line is that to prevent all evil, God would have to eliminate all free will…which would, in a way, be evil itself. If you do well and love because you have no freedom to do otherwise, it has no meaning.

    Thank you all again for letting me speak.

  26. Jeannette,

    I love the fact that you are speaking; and speaking very wisely.

    (1). “What was troubling to me was the statement that trials are ‘of God.’It still sounds an awful lot like saying that God sent the abuse for the purpose of teaching a lesson

    I understand. I was making the distinction between an affliction being “from God” and an affliction being “of God.” If the use of “of God” causes you to feel that abuse is “originated” by God or “caused” by God then I must use a different phrase. To my mind, “from God” speaks of God sending something. “Of God” speaks of God being in control, even when evil is perpetrated by wicked men. But I sure understand the confusion.

    By the way, Jeannette, my immediate family is not unfamiliar with child abuse. My brother-in-law has spent the last two decades in prison for sexual abuse of my niece. I love my niece a great deal, and the pain she has experienced because of her abuse is enormous. I have never thought nor said to her that God “sent” the abuse (it is not from God), but I have often said that her life, the good that God orchestrates through the abuse, and the ultimate control of the entire situation is “of God.” We understand the language we use, but I agree with your statement to Eagle – it is all in the definitions.

    (2). “Orchestrate: plan and direct ; he masterminded the robbery

    No. No. No. No. 🙂 He orchestrates, plans and directs the good that comes from the robbery. He redeems evil. The robbery is evil. He does not send it, but He is not surprised by it, overcome by it, or desparate to figure out a way to stop it. He orchestrates good from evil, while at the same time punishing the evil doer.

    (3). if it happened, then God wanted it to happen because nothing happens unless God wants it to, so quit complaining and just accept that it is his will.

    I reject this

    I understand. I think if somebody said to me “God wants the abuse to happen” I would reject it too. If, however, someone said to me “Don’t loathe your life because you were abused, but learn to trust that your heavenly Father who will orchestrate good from the evil perpetrated against you” I would say “Amen.”

    (3). The God that I have heard taught in every church I have been in is not the same as the one who reveals himself through the Son.

    That’s sad. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us.

    (4). Evil happens because men have the freedom to choose evil

    Amen, and Amen.

    I would just close by saying God also has the freedom and the power to redeem every act of evil and bring from it good for His people and glory to His name.

    How? I don’t know nor propose to know. That He does I receive by faith.

    Enjoyed the conversation Jeannette! Thank you for your great thoughts.

  27. Thank-You Pastor Wade for your willingness to listen, dialogue & explain… Your engagement in the discussion without seeming defensive is remarkable to me. I sure don’t feel like a trophy of God’s grace, but it is a encouraging & kind statement.

    Bless you Jeanette for pursuing this.

  28. Eagle,

    Great thoughts!

    One of the things I love about Christ is that He was full of “grace and truth.” Word order is important in Scripture. Grace is far more important than truth. Meaning, I care much more that Jeannette knows I care than I do that Jeannette knows what I think I know.

    To me, that is the prescription against toxicity–being people full of grace.

    Have a great evening Eagle.

  29. @Jeannette & Wade –

    There is another way to use the word “orchestrate” that is maybe more like what Wade means. A musician can take a melody and arrange it for a group of instruments, thus making something better and more beautiful than the original. Does that help?

  30. Jeanette,

    I have a totally different take on what the Hebrews passage is about and disagree with the application of the passage in this sermon. I really hope it is ok for me to mention this here. There is no way to do a missive on this here but I will touch on a few things that I hope will bring another way of looking at this.

    I can totally understand your problem with how it was presented as for your own good.

    I think context is everything. What little we know about Hebrews makes it harder but we can ask the basic questions:
    Who is speaking, who are they speaking to and what is the occasion? Here we know the author is speaking most likely to Jewish (diaspora?) believers (all that focus on high priests, quoting the Septuagint, author is speaking their language etc). The occasion is that persecution for their belief in Jesus Christ had begun. Most likely around AD 64 before the temple was destroyed or it probably would be mentioned in this context. And probably before real violent persecution started but it was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for them (esp Jewish converts–see history of tht time) and they were starting to slip back as believers. We know that Timothy had just been released from prison. This book was to be both a warning and an encouragement to them plus a reality check about what it takes to follow Christ. What was going on historically in AD 60-68? Here are a few highlights:

    Death of Peter – James, brother of Jesus and head of the church in Jerusalem is stoned and clubbed to death. Great Fire in Rome; Nero blames and executes Christians, First Jewish Revolt against Rome. A feud between Jewish and Greek factions in the city of Ceasarea leads to fighting that quickly spreads throughout the region.

    It was not a great time to be a “Jewish” Christian if you get my drift. They were no longer real Jews, either.

    I emphatically reject: Every affliction in your life is “of” the Lord”. I do believe this is part of the determinists God paradigm where God controls everything but is not responsible for evil. I think it leaves out that fact of a fallen world and Satan who does roam this earth like a roaring lion. Satan does have “some” power. We forget that.

    I do not believe that the command to have dominion over the earth in Gen was rescinded after the fall. I believe our ability was corrupted by sin but not taken totally away. I believe humans have a choice and a free will. Jesus Christ redeemed us but we still live in a fallen world where Satan roams. I think a huge problem for many believers is they are waiting around for the determinist God to have good come out of what is evil. They say God “allowed” it to happen but that is not a great comfort is it? I would always wonder why He did not seem to like me as much as He seemed to like some. But I had a wrong view of God and His “Kingdom” on earth. We ARE God’s Kingdom on earth. God is NOT micromanaging the world, controlling every molecule. Adn that does not mean I do not believe He is Sovereign. I just define it differently. I believe He is Soveriegn enough to give man free will.

    A horrible evil was done to you by evil people. It was NOT for your chastisement or for “good” to come out of it. In fact, if any believer knew it was going on at the time, as one in God’s Kingdom on earth, they should have illegally taken you to safety…putting themselves in danger. But here we are today so where does that leave us?

    What “good” can come out of such evil? We are to minister to you, help you heal, providing safety, mercy, and understanding and seek Justice for you. There is NOTHING evil about wanting that. The people in God’s Kingdom on earth long for justice against evil oppressors. Believers were nursing those who had the plague while most fled to safety. They were not telling people it was God’s chastisement and good would come from it. They knew real evil roamed this earth and we are to fight it here and now… knowing that one day, God will renew this earth as described in Revelation 21. In the meantime, we are to put feet to our prayers “be” the Kingdom on earth (as it is in heaven). As believers we are not to remain totally depraved waiting around for God to force us to do the right things.

    The Hebrews passage on chastizement has nothing to do with your horrible treatment…it has to do with being persecuted for believing in Jesus Christ. And when that day comes, it will be a great comfort for us.

  31. @ Gail: Thank you. To further the discussion….

    Wade, I'm sorry for what happened to your niece. I'm glad that you have an understanding between you on the meaning of words and phrases. I think that's probably true in most families. It doesn't always carry over well to an audience without the same history. 🙂 It has been my experience, being a part of 10 different churches over the years, that many within the Christian culture have this unwritten belief that visible blessings are a sign of God's favor and visible calamity is a sign of his punishment. This is a paradigm I am still working on shifting. Of course, different doctrinal branches are more or less blatant in the expression of this concept, but it seems to be a universal (in my experience) Christian Paradigm.

    The problem is, the Bible seems to support this in some places and contradict in others. I spent seven years immersed in a Word of Faith church (with its own special dysfunctional twists). I certainly know the passages that are used to support a "God blesses the faithful" party line. Six years out of that church and a year out from any involvement with anything resembling a church, I find I am still relating to a quote from one of the daughters of Fred Phelps who was recently quoted concerning her escape from Westboro Baptist (paraphrasing): When you leave the church/system your were raised in, in order to escape, you have to take the brick fortress that was built around you by others and dismantle it, one brick at a time, examining each to see if it is worth keeping or needs to be thrown out.

    I have been doing that for 6 years and I thought I was done, but the past year – especially the last few months – I have realized I am only done with the more accessible parts. Now, I am beginning to look at more foundational bricks and it is hard – frightening – disconcerting – necessary.

    Here are a few things I see at this point.

    * Most of the Christian Industrial Complex behaves toward victims of trauma (any kind) the way Job's friends did. This is not good.

    * The Bible needs to be taken off the pedestal of being Divine in its own right. It is not part of God. It should not be elevated to a place of worship. Divinely inspired? Yes. Divine in its own right? No. Get it out from between me and God.

    * A person's present circumstances are not a valid barometer of their standing with God. Job's friends implied Job's situation was because Job was hiding sin and God was punishing him. Actually, they did more than imply it. This kind of ticked God off….to the point that he required that they bring sacrifices to Job and ask him to forgive them….. Also, in Luke 13, Jesus is asked about some Galileans that Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices.

    Jesus understood the question to be "were these people worse sinners and being punished". His answer was no, they were not, nor were the 18 who were killed in Jerusalem when the Tower of Siloam fell on them. Another place is in John 9, where the disciples ask Jesus if the man born blind was born that way because he sinned or his parents. The question itself reveals the belief that sickness was punishment for sin.

    As an aside, it seems ridiculous to suggest that God would cause someone to be born blind because they were going to sin after they were born. By that logic, we should all be born blind. Jesus, however, rejects the whole premise. He says the man was not born blind for the sin of anyone. Now here is a place where translations cause a problem with understanding. Let me put the quote from Jesus on this up with two different translations:

    John 9:3-5 "3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”" – NKJV "3 Jesus answered, `Neither did this one sin nor his parents, but that the works of God may be manifested in him; 4 it behoveth me to be working the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night doth come, when no one is able to work: — 5 when I am in the world, I am a light of the world.'" – Young's Literal

    The difference in these two translations makes all the difference, for me in understanding Jesus' answer. The NKJV (and many others) place a period at the end of verse 3, which seems to imply that the reason the man was born blind was so that God could manifest his glory. This always bothered me because it seemed to imply that God would inflict pain and suffering on people for the purpose of proving a point. That seems to be the opposite of a loving parent…

    However, when I look at this in Young's, the period is replaced with a semicolon…the meaning shifts to this: the man was not born blind because of his or his parents' sin (this is significant, by the way), but (the why being left behind now) time is short, so let's use the time to show God's glory by fixing what is broken. Whole different perspective…. So, just some things I have studied on in the last few years…..

  32. @ Fendrel:
    Fendrel, I left a comment for you on the “Breaking News” post, a more appropriate place for this type of material than this thread.

  33. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    * The Bible needs to be taken off the pedestal of being Divine in its own right. It is not part of God. It should not be elevated to a place of worship. Divinely inspired? Yes. Divine in its own right? No. Get it out from between me and God.

    Jeannette, I concur, but with pretty much the same proviso Erasmus used when he said that even though the Scriptures must occupy first place authority, there are other sources in art and literature that are also divinely inspired.

  34. @ Muff Potter:

    Hmmm….in retrospect, I wonder about my wisdom in including that statement in my list. It can be so easy to be misunderstood through typed words. Based on your comment, I don’t think you did. 🙂

    I have been accused of not believing the Bible, throwing the Bible out and making up my own rules…I have been called heretic, blasphemer, apostate, unregenerate, baclsliden, deceived and going to hell. The truth is, I greatly respect the Scriptures, believe they are divinely inspired, and have studied and will continue to study them. But I am coming out of a tradition that elevates the Bible to a place on the throne as a part of the Godhead. They don’t say it that plainly and would deny that’s what they do, but nevertheless…

    For me to reach the place where I could really hear God’s voice again, I had to put the book on the shelf for nearly two years. It should never be allowed to take the place of God in our lives. Ironically, that is idolatry. Not sure if this clears up my thoughts on this or not. It probably reinforces the perception that I am a heretic or something. But I will not allow it to be used as a weapon against me again and I will not allow it to get between me and my God again.

  35. @ Jeanette

    I absolutely get where you are coming from regarding the bible being divinely inspired but not divine. The reformed baptist church I was in before I became a contented member of the nones, paid lip service to the Holy Spirit and instead elevated the bible to His place in a believer’s life. To them, THEIR interpretation and application of the scriptures WAS God’s Word.

    I was only in that church for two years, but it took about three years before I could happily read the bible again.

    I really appreciate you starting this discussion and have found your thoughts and perspective extremely helpful.

  36. Unlike the Muslims who worship their Koran, we do not worship the Bible, but the One whom the Bible reveals.

  37. I agree.
    @ anon 1:

    I do not believe that it is necessary to believe that God controls everything, that God has ordained everything in order to trust that God is completely trustworthy and that God is the ultimate all Supreme Who will never be defeated by evil.
    I believe that Jesus experienced far worse than most of the passion stories let our minds in on. I believe that not only did he take away our own sin but he also experienced the sins against us. I was never able to trust Jesus until I believed this. I used to fight with Jesus over the scripture that says he was acquainted with our grief. I used to tell him that there is no way he could touch my wounds since he (God) came to experience human life in the male human form. I still don’t understand why God doesn’t stop certain evils and I get angry with God about it every time I hear of another horrific story. But I now believe that God understands how I feel. Even though we experience good and evil, God knows how to draw us to find our eternal rest in God through Jesus. But still, just merely hearing about another aspect of God or Jesus’ sacrifice doesn’t calm the turmoil within, there is an understanding that dropped in my soul and spirit that is just too deep for my mind. Too many of Calvin’s teachings cause unrest not peace in my soul.
    I get the feeling though from many Calvin followers that they would still serve God even if God himself turned to evil, they are just so on the edge of saying that God is the author of evil. Driscoll comes to mind when I say that. While some would say look how he cares for the lost by how he tears up when talks about them, but they miss the point he is making that he doesn’t want to stand before God to hear God say ‘not well done thy unfaithful servant,’ once again making it all about himself. Since I have been born again of the spirit I have had such a hunger and thirst for righteousness and holiness which includes zero desire to ‘teach anyone a lesson’ and if God did turn evil, I would reject him. I do not believe that he ever will turn evil but Satan still tries to get us to believe that God has evil intentions. If a translation or interpretation makes God out to be evil then we need to examine the writings. With all due respect, I do not care for the platitude ‘we see through a glass darkly.’ we have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know evil when we see it. How can we say that something is not evil just because something is from or of God? That would make God evil.
    I guess I say all that thinking about you Jeanette, that God would reveal in some way that will reconcile the contradiction that God understands when Jesus did choose to be abused vs. someone, especially a child, not having the choice. Since God answered my contradiction, I pray that God will answer this one and answer it on this side of the ‘dark glass.’ I pray the same for others who live with or experience different evils than we know that seems like Jesus cannot touch.

  38. God is sovereign. However, when he created the world, he provided certain processes that, in the normal course of events, can result in calamity, such as volcanos, tsunamis and earthquakes. He also gave mankind the freedom to choose to love and obey him or not. A way to think of this is that he has the power to be a tyrant but chooses the path of love rather than the path of tyranny, and, since the way is love and love cannot be coerced, he has to allow choice, which means he allows humans to do bad things, and those bad things often create victims. He then can extend his redemption to the victim as well as the doer of evil.

  39. Jeannette- I echo MM “I really appreciate you starting this discussion and have found your thoughts and perspective extremely helpful” Thank You all for sharing a few more scales have fallen off…

  40. Gail, MM and all,
    Thank you. I’m glad the discussion is helping. 😉
    Its helping me, too. Talking about it is important.
    Thanks to Dee & Deb for the space and Wade for the willingness to dialogue.

  41. Patti, I did not communicate well at all. One huge problem is taht folks take a text out of a book and apply it generally overall. Each book is written to a specific audience. That is why you can see a tention between the Book of James and say, Galatians.

    The audience for Hebrews were Christian Jews. There was quite a bit going on during that time and the book will make a ton more sense application wise if we understand that. Not all evil, pain, suffering is a chastizement from God. All affliction is NOT from God. That is what really concerned me and the book of Hebrews can be made to look like it supports that view if we do not consider the historical context. Have we considered there is a reason the author is anonymous with no real salutation as we see in these letters?

    I sincerely apologize if I have offended anyone with my input. I was hoping that I could just bring another view using historical context instead of the application to everyone for whom evil has been done to. I can see where listening to the sermon they would walk away thinking abuse was chastizement and that God meant it for good.

  42. Anon 1,

    You have not offended anyone by your input. Rather, I am glad you have chosen to comment and appreciate your thoughts. You write: “The audience for Hebrews were Christian Jews. There was quite a bit going on during that time and the book will make a ton more sense application wise if we understand that.”

    That is an excellent observation! Let me describe what some of these Hebrew Christians were suffering:

    (1). Some were being tortured for their faith.
    (2). Others were being imprisoned, stripped of all belongings, and starved.
    (3). A few were put to death.
    (4). All Hebrew believers in Christ were tormented for the cause of Christ.

    In my book, that’s abuse. So, when you write: “I was hoping that I could just bring another view using historical context instead of the application to everyone for whom evil has been done to. I can see where listening to the sermon they would walk away thinking abuse was chastizement and that God meant it for good.”

    I am of the opinion abuse is abuse, whether it happens to you or someone else. The Hebrews suffered abusive treatment. The abuse was evil, undeserved, and painful.

    That, as you point out, is the historical context. How is what they suffered, in your opinion, NOT abuse and NOT evil? And, is the point of the text (in historical context) that God works good out of our suffering?

  43. @ Anon 1:
    I apologize for not responding sooner. The things you said in your first comment were important to the discussion. anon 1 wrote:

    A horrible evil was done to you by evil people. It was NOT for your chastisement or for “good” to come out of it. In fact, if any believer knew it was going on at the time, as one in God’s Kingdom on earth, they should have illegally taken you to safety…putting themselves in danger. But here we are today so where does that leave us?

    What “good” can come out of such evil? We are to minister to you, help you heal, providing safety, mercy, and understanding and seek Justice for you. There is NOTHING evil about wanting that.

    This part got to me and took a while to process. I have discovered recently that there were people in our church when I was a kid who saw the way I was treated by my mother. They didn’t know about the sexual abuse.Few did. But they, to use their own words, saw that “I wasn’t being mothered.” And these church leaders did nothing. I really don’t hold anything against them, but it still hurts, when I go back in my mind to the place I was when I was 8 yrs old – the fear and pain and aloneness and confusion. On one hand, it hurts knowing there were those who saw and didn’t reach out – knowing how much it would have meant to have someone intervene, even a little. But it is also a relief – validating – to know that other adults at the time could see it, so….

    The other part to this is how difficult I find it to process kindness. It catches me off guard and I rarely know how to respond or what to do with it. A deficit in my social development. I am learning….thank you.

    As to what you say about context both in the written piece and as a cultural setting, is important. I agree with you on that wholeheartedly. I always read your comments with interest. You have much to contribute to these discussions, so please continue. 🙂

  44. Anon 1,

    I also always read all your comments with interest and value your contributions to these discussions.:-)

  45. Jeannette Altes wrote:

    …then God wanted it to happen because nothing happens unless God wants it to, so quit complaining and just accept that it is his will.

    Right, because “everything happens for a reason” or “it was necessary” and “had to happen” because there was something I/we/you/she/he/they needed to “learn” etc. So. Incredibly. Maddening!

  46. All of the above is why i believe that Piper et al. are heretical in their teaching, because it diminishes God by making him the author of evil, which he is not.

  47. Wade, I just listened to this sermon….I am systematically going down through all of your sermons….I loved it…thank you for this balanced, wonderful, truth-filled sermon… there any way I can email this somehow to my son?
    I’m new on TWW…perhaps I should ask Dee or Deb…

  48. “How is what they suffered, in your opinion, NOT abuse and NOT evil? And, is the point of the text (in historical context) that God works good out of our suffering?”

    Sorry I missed this before. Jeanette was not abused for believing in Christ as is what Hebrews is focused on. She was a little innocent child. I simply had a problem with mapping what is being taught in the book of Hebrews to all evil. And in light of that had a problem with this: Every affliction in your life is “of” the Lord”.

    There are many situations as you know around the world and in history that NO good comes from the evil done. Especially if that evil is done to someone who never becomes saved or in the Calvin view…is not elected. A good CAN come from an heinous crime and evil if one is saved and has hope of dwelling with Christ one day. But here and now it is our responsbility to love, protect, help heal, etc. To tell someone that all of it is “of” the Lord is not what that is teaching. (In Hebrews some were turning away from Christ because of the persecution)

    I realize you have quoted “of” but I don’t think that matters much. It is still the determinst God paradigm of Him controlling everything yet at the same time man has free will. So God is controlling it all or not? Are you speaking of a free will as in free to be depraved as in acting their natural depraved selves and they have no choice but to be evil? That is how I have known the Reformed to teach free will.

    Evil exists because of Free will of fallen angels and fallen humans. That does not make God not sovereign. Jesus Christ wept over Jerusalem when He could have forced them all to repent and believe. He could call down leigons of angels but He did not. Free will.

  49. “The other part to this is how difficult I find it to process kindness. It catches me off guard and I rarely know how to respond or what to do with it. A deficit in my social development. I am learning….thank you.”

    Jeanette, I hear this a lot from those who have been abused. it is something we must be aware of when dealing with the abused and their PSTD.

    As to the other part of your comment, I read something the other day taht made me see red. Frank Viola, who I have respected in the past, wrote an article about gossip he got from John Zens. A commenter asked him about suspicions of child abuse and what to about it if one had no evidence. He said one had to have evidence or it would be gossip.

    See how this works? I bet the pedophiles loved that one! There might not ever be real evidence for some types of molestation without getting too descriptive about it. That is why evil can work so well. Christians teach things that are so contradictory. You know, we have been given intuition…it can be wrong but it is there adn the Holy spirit can be an advocate for us in guiding us. We need to be vigilent in protecting the innocent. I would rather err than ignore.

  50. Hey, Anon 1, thank you so much for your 6:47 PM comment. I agree with every word. You literally spelled out my own jumbled and troubled thoughts, and it’s such a huge relief to read them put together in a manner that makes sense.

  51. @ Anon 1:
    Thank you for getting it. And that disappoints me about Frank Viola. Sounds like he drank some Pi;er/Mahaney Kool-aid….

    @ Anon 1:
    Free will. That is at the very heart of things. And I agree with what you wrote….