Coffee, Theology, and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

#icebucketchallenge #alsicebucketchallenge #strikeoutals

So, if you have logged onto social media in the past several weeks you have seen copious amounts of videos of EVERYONE dumping buckets of water on their head.  By now, we all realize that this is about raising awareness of ALS and promoting donations to ALS research.

I am certainly glad that this horrible disease is getting so much attention as it is 100% fatal with no cure.  However, as Christians we don’t just follow social trends and go along with the crowd.  I have been challenged to do this multiple times at this point and have politely declined and given my reasons for abstaining.  Here are some of them:

  1. The ALS Association is an organization that supports and performs embryonic stem cell research. While you can elect that your donation dollars not be spent to fund embryonic stem cell research (and the major study going on now is funded by a particular donor interested in such research) ALSA does state that it will not hinder future research of this type.
  2. Social gratification. I can’t speak for anyone else but when I was first challenged my first thought was “oh man let’s do something big so people will notice.”  The whole reason it is viral is because it plays into the instant social gratification veiled as altruism.
  3. Dumping 5+ gallons of clean, fresh, ice water on your head is degrading to countries and people who don’t have even a single glass of clean drinking water. Our water is so abundant and free that we don’t think twice about dumping it on our heads.  Now don’t get me wrong, we also water our lawns and wash our cars (while most people don’t even own a car or have a lawn).  But I don’t think we should be going around making a show of it either.

As a Christian, my giving should never be fueled by emotions.  Commercials can be very good at getting us to feel a certain way.  Marketing is all about stirring emotions to drive an end goal.  To me, my donations or charity should be done in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It is HIS money after all, right?  Again, I’m not saying that all of this money going to ALS research is a bad thing but I wonder how many Christians have donated to a cause simply because of a challenge without being burdened by God that they should give God’s money to ALSA (or some other foundation/organization).  This isn’t just applying to ALS but to every donation I make.  Everything I give should be in accordance with what God wants me to do and where God wants me to donate (whether it is money or time).  My challenge to you is not to follow a social trend and make donations to the popular place but to pray and be open about what God has you to do.  For me, I wasn’t lead to give to ALS research for the reasons I listed in this post.

I will tell you about a charity that I do support and that God has laid on my heart.

Charity: Water

I’m not seeking to challenge anyone into giving.  I had originally included a paragraph about life in a third world country but realized that wasn’t appropriate.  Pray about it.  I know some of our readers do regularly give to charities that they feel strongly about.  I personally have been burdened by resources in other countries and love that charity: water gives 100% of donation dollars to the projects (not administrative costs).  Research charity: water and if this is something you want to support click the link below!

https://my.charitywater.org/coffee-theology-jesus

As a side note: for those that are burdened about ALS, I did find an alternative place to ALSA that conducts biblically ethical research:
http://www.jp2mri.org/capital-campaign.htm

Thanks for reading!  As always if you have any comments please let us know!

Rob

Sin… Suffering… Savior – Rob

This is something that I have actually been tossing around in my mind for some time. I am no scholar and would love input on my thoughts as well. Perhaps I am in fact incorrect in my thinking.
These thoughts were originally brought about after multiple discussions I have had with some strong Calvinists. The “L” in the T.U.L.I.P. acronym most would know as “Limited atonement.” This would teach that Christ only died for the sins of the “elect.” Obviously if Christ only suffered for their sins then it would in fact be impossible for anyone else to be saved. I think this stems from a misunderstanding of sin, Christ, and the work of salvation.

Sin- at its core sin is the disobedience of the commandment of God. Some of the definitions:

  • Transgression: an overstepping of the law
  • Iniquity: an act inherently wrong
  • Error: a departure from right
  • Missing the Mark: a failure to meet the divine standard
  • Trespass: the intrusion of self-will into the sphere of divine authority
  • Lawlessness: spiritual anarchy
  • Unbelief: an insult to the divine veracity

Sin originated with Satan (Isaiah 14:12-14), entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12), and is universal (except for only Christ).

Scofield gives a summary of sin as threefold: An act, the violation of obedience to the revealed will of God; a state, absence of righteousness; a nature, enmity toward God.

In the garden the commandment was to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam, who up to his point had no sin, was given that choice and a free-will to obey or disregard the commandment of the Lord. When Adam chose to disobey, the entire human race fell as a result because he was the “head” of the created world. Now, Adam knew good and evil (which goes against the T of Total depravity). The sinful nature was born and plagues every human because of the fall of man. The result being seen in Romans 5:12. Sin is a problem which the human mind cannot fully comprehend. Sin has separated God from His creation and must have righteous judgment by the very nature of the God of eternity. A misunderstanding of the severity and depths of sin is the start of the misconstrued ideology behind the death of Christ. Sin has affected the entire creation, which will all be redeemed as seen in Revelations.

Christ- the divine, transcendent, eternal Son of God, who was manifested into a human body. A misconstrued idea of Christ would cause a huge error in the understanding of the death of Christ. I do not, and cannot, completely comprehend how God can become a man (hypostatic union), but it doesn’t change the fact that Christ was and is God. The transcendent nature of Christ is vital to begin to understand His death/suffering. How can there be an infinite payment of sin in a finite amount of time? Because of the transcendent nature of God. Outside of our realm and our understanding the God of the Bible dwells. That is the Christ of whom we read “took upon him the form of a man” and “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”. A transcendent, eternal, supernatural God in the body of a man.  I have found myself wondering about Hebrews 4:15 often; how Christ was “was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”  I think the English language doesn’t do justice in times like this.  Temptation has the negative connotation about it.  I believe the word in Hebrews 4:15 would be better translated as “tried.”  Why are we tempted? Because our sinful nature is appealed by the sin surrounding us.  Ever notice that the moment you stop enjoying God like you should, you stop reading as much as you were, get lazy about your prayer life, and stop having good community with fellow Christians that sin is much more enticing?  I have! This is because the sinful nature inside of me is enticed by sin and when I am not battling that nature/desire it becomes stronger.  Was Christ then ever “tempted?”  I would say no, because He did not have a sinful nature that was enticed by sin.  He understood sin at the deepest level and was utterly disgusted by it.  However, He was tried by the same things we are.  For instance, women still walked in front of His eyes, those certain magazines were still on the shelf at the Wawa in Israel, and the internet was still full of those pages in 20 A.D.  This things all still were in front of Christ and “trying” Him but to no avail because He had no sinful nature to entice.  We are “tempted” to do wrong because our sinful nature desires to do wrong.  Now we can see that Christ not only had no sin; He was incapable of sinning.

Salvation- the payment of sin. May we first marvel at the plan which upholds the requirement of the punishment of sin while setting the offender free! “Who is a pardoning God like thee, or who has grace so rich and free?” As I understand it, one sin will never be unjustly punished twice. This would go against the character of God and the requirement of punishment. If Christ suffered for each sin as if God had a list and laid each one on Him, then we would be correct to assume that only certain people can be saved. However, I do not believe that is how the work of salvation was completed. When Christ suffered in those three dark hours there was an infinite payment to God that was sufficient to cover the entire judgment for sin. The moment of salvation is when I accept that the judgment Christ bore was for my personal sin against God. Therefore I could never tell an unsaved person “Christ died for your sins”. That would lead them to the conclusion that their sins are already paid for and there is no way they would have to pay for them again so they need not even have to believe. The work of salvation was an infinite and not “one-for-one substitution” redemption work. If the work was only sufficient for the elect then the non-elect would have an excuse for their unbelief in that “whosoever believeth” was not applicable because of the insufficiency of the atonement to cover their sin. This is what I see to be a huge misunderstanding of the work of salvation. Christ is an infinite being who paid the sufficient price to cover the full judgment of sin. However, the forgiveness offered is a gift and if the gift is not accepted than the work of salvation does not cover the sins of the rejecter and that individual will pay for their own sins as they did not come into the good of Christ’s sacrifice.

I pray that I was able to convey what I have been thinking about in some logical manner and am certainly open to any correction in my thinking.
-Rob
Perhaps in the future I’ll more solidly lay out the views of Calvinism and Arminianism and explain why I think both are faulty 🙂  Not to say there aren’t true Christians who hold either of those doctrines (there certainly are as I fully believe there could be true Christians in ANY religion).