Travels of a Generic Christian

A Christian shares the joy of his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Friday, October 01, 2010


I used to have this quaint notion that righteousness looked like a good little boy, with his hair combed and perfectly parted, sitting in a chair with good posture, an almost blank smile on his face and hands folded in his lap.

Recently, I have come to realize that nothing could be further from the truth. Real righteousness--Christ's kind of righteousness--is wild, untamed and spiritually violent (see Matt. 11:12). This helps explain why the Christian life is an utterly new kind of life which always leaves the old (natural) life in shambles.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Natural Disasters and Suffering

Something has been bothering me recently about Christian discussions on why the Haiti earthquake occurred. Such discussions are generally of great interest to me, but for some reason I’ve been feeling unable to really engage in this one. I’ve wanted to, but it just hasn’t been working.

Then last night I realized something. Looking back on the tragedy of my mother-in-law's sudden death it seems to me that suffering, though it may occur to a large group of people at once, is ultimately felt by individuals. And unless we would-be commentators are either one of the suffering or a genuine prophet, our duties are to keep our mouths closed, help when possible and, if God grant us the grace to do so, simply weep with the wounded. To analyze the cause of others’ pain from the outside is to engage in an academic exercise that switches the focus from those in need to the curiosities of a comfortable outsider. It’s hard to think of anything more insensitive, self-serving, and utterly unchristian… Forgive me Lord for how I’ve mishandled these situations in the past!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The following is an excerpt from a journal in which I occasionally make entries about life experiences or concepts that are noteworthy. It happened nearly a year ago. I'm not sure why I'm finally posting it now, but here it is:

CHRISTIANS AND CREATION: To my Christian brothers and sisters: Tonight I explained to my three year old son that, “God made him and put him in Mommy’s tummy.” There is absolutely no untruth in that explanation as told to a three-year old. However, to older people with more highly developed intellectual prowess, not to mention knowledge of basic reproductive biology, this explanation is at best insufficient, at worst flat-out misleading and wrong.

Why is it then, that we as Christians insist on clinging to an explanation for our origins that was given to intellectual and scientific 3-year olds? We have no problem accepting the explanation that I gave to my son, but we all realize that when he gets older, that explanation will not suffice. Later in life he will learn a better, more detailed description of how babies are made.

But, imagine for a moment that no one tells him and that he eventually does the research and figures out the whole story for himself. How many of you would think it right of him, in light of painfully obvious evidence to the contrary, to insist on keeping for his whole life the explanation that I gave him tonight, reasoning to himself, “…because he’s my daddy and he told me so”? None of you, I imagine. I personally would be disappointed with him for doing such a thing. He ought to know better.*

So I ask you, why do we do this to our Father? Now that we are old enough to have figured out the finer details of the story of creation for ourselves, I assert that it is intellectually irresponsible, if not dishonest, to relentlessly cling to an explanation designed only to satisfy a toddler.

* Likewise, if he were to “lose faith” in me because of the “lie” that I told him as a three year old, I would be just as frustrated; either way he would have misunderstood my character and intentions.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, states at the beginning of every episode that no dog is too much for him—that is, too far gone for him to rehabilitate. If a human can say that truthfully about dogs, how much more can our Father say that truthfully about humans. Do we think that God does not care to rehabilitate every last one of us? For some it may take hellfire, but He will make us Human.

Why is it that most Christians speak in one breath about the infinite grace of God, but in the next speak about how most people will end up in hell—and, what’s more, describe hell as being a place of eternal torment? As Christians, do we think that our great God will mostly fail in His efforts to redeem humanity? And not only mostly fail, but inflict punitive punishment—not just discipline, but punishment in its most fruitless possible form—upon those whom (arguably, especially if you subscribe to strict doctrines of predestination) He has failed to rehabilitate?

It’s true that Jesus said that many are on the wide road to destruction. But that’s exactly where everyone must go if they are to be saved! As Christians, have we not joined Christ in death? Is the old man not crucified with Christ and alive no longer? (Romans 6; Galatians 2)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that hell is empty. But I am saying that hell itself will eventually be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20). Doesn’t this statement from the Bible imply that hell itself is a tool of God that will eventually no longer be needful?

And no, I cannot agree that hell is a tool that God uses to torture people until He finally kills them off. That’s sick. I cannot get around the conclusion that to embrace either the doctrine of eternal torment or this last thought is to both contradict the Bible (the wages of sin is death (Romans 6)—not eternal torment) and call darkness light. Likewise, denying the possibility of near-complete if not complete redemption of humanity seems, to me, to call light darkness. I’m sorry, but I must trust the Life that now lives in me above some people’s (perhaps most Christian’s) interpretation of Scripture. I trust my Father will do as He should (and that is best!) with regard to the fate that comes to me as a result of this decision.

Do my arguments lead to human license, or leave only a weak need for evangelism? I think no more so than the Calvinist doctrines of predestination—and explanations abound on these topics.

Yes, I believe that the vast majority of people, if not all, will eventually repent and turn to God—and that those who don’t will eventually fritter away their last remnants of humanity; simply disappearing from existence by their awful writhing attempts to avoid repentance.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Comment on Pascal's Wager

A highly distilled form of Blaise Pascal’s famous “wager” may be stated as follows:

If God exists then we have everything to gain by believing that He exists, but we have everything to lose if He exists and we decide that He does not. Naturally, if God does not exist then there is nothing to be gained or lost by either believing or not believing in Him. Therefore, the wise, no-brainer “wager” is to believe in the existence of God and act accordingly.

… Uh, actually, I just found out that what I was going to say has already been said better by others. What I was going to say was that the desired/induced result of Pascal’s wager is no belief at all: it is merely lip service. But, like I said, this problem has been nicely addressed by many others, see, for example:'s_Wager#Does_not_constitute_a_true_belief

Full Circle

It seems to me that one of the big problems that atheists have with religion is that most, if not all of the world’s major religions claim that you have to know and accept the right things about God in order to be “saved”. And as we all know, each religion offers its own set of beliefs about God, tacking onto the end of them (in one form or another) that warning that if you don’t exclusively accept their set of beliefs, you will be condemned by God. I think religious outsiders looking in have a legitimate gripe with this scenario: if there is a God, how are they ever supposed to choose the right set of beliefs ‘from the outside’? It isn’t fair: if they happen to end up adopting the wrong set of beliefs, God will say to them, “Oopsy… wrong choice—you’re toast.”

Atheists therefore make the assertion that even if God does exist, he certainly isn’t a good God, worthy of worship; if he were, he wouldn’t condemn someone who was honestly seeking the truth, but just happened to get it wrong.

I agree with the atheists in this assertion, but I recently discovered something that is overlooked in the argument: We are simply incapable of utter honesty. (Until just a few days ago, I didn’t recognize this and felt that utter honesty was the ultimate thing that God asks of everyone. But, for a Christian, that’s the wrong answer—one I couldn’t get around.) Even hardened, atheist-scientists fully recognize our incapability of utter honesty as evidenced by their affinity for double-blind experiments. The design eliminates (to the greatest extent possible) any subtle, even unrealized, bias in the human experimenters.

So where does this leave our atheist friends once they realize that they can’t even be honest in their assessment and digestion of the evidence regarding the ultimate nature of reality? I suggest that if they really are open minded and are willing to consider that there is an ultimate, conscious Truth (albeit a Truth/God different than all the caricatures painted by the world’s religions—including, sadly, Christianity), then the only thing left for them to do in order to have a chance of being right with this Deity is to realize that they have no other options and simply throw themselves out into the emptiness of metaphysical space, trusting that the Truth, whatever or whoever it may be, will eventually draw them into Itself.

But wait! That’s the Gospel of Jesus! He said, “I AM the Truth”! Once we realize that we are utterly incapable of knowing, finding, achieving, or acquiring the Truth ourselves and finally, in philosophical desperation, fling ourselves into the insanely unsafe abyss--that which is anything and everything EXCEPT ourselves--trusting the Truth to draw us into Itself, then we have accepted the Christian Gospel. No wonder Jesus said that there were those who were not of “this fold” who would see the Kingdom of Heaven.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Follow-up to May 4th's Post

A couple days ago I was pondering a quote containing these lines:

"Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person..."

Surely these attributes of love describe the purest, truest, most God-like form of love. Such a love sees a relative and, rather than saying, "I love her--she's my granddaughter." It says, "I love her--she's
Ruthie!" Between friends, rather than saying, "I love him--he's my friend." It says, "I love him--he's Tom!"; better yet, "I love him--he's ol' Tommy Boy!"

It's a kind of love that sees the very person rather than the relationship held between the lover and that person; the latter kind of 'love' is prone to self-centeredness but the former is not. Something tells me that young children have no familiarity with the kind of love that sees the relationship and not the beloved; they can see nothing but the beloved--which, given what Jesus told us about children and the Kingdom of Heaven, suggests to me that this kind of others-fixated love is that which bubbles forth from the very Life and Soul of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

One Thing I Know

For all the countless Biblical interpretations and theories about God, none of them matter one lick unless the mind in which they are being considered has been born again. For outside of this passage from darkness to light, no theory--be it right or wrong--can make a lasting existential difference to the soul. The foundational question is, "Do I know God?" Are we satisfied with anything less; worshiping Him with weekly church attendance and uncontemplated, mindless prayers as if, in the words of George MacDonald, '...He were a heathen deity'? Come to Him--come to know Him through whatever means necessary and the troubled ponderings of your heart will transform into the very joy of life's existence--the very means by which you enter deeper into the joy of knowing Him better.