Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our Unselfconscious Addiction to Dispensationalism.

Dispensationalism, with it's complex premillinarian designs, it's hankering for sensationalism, and ridiculous charts is a hugely dangerous distraction for the Christian community. Primarily because it is so accepted as truth, it is not even considered among believers.

It is just adopted. Simply raise one legitimate question about the theological (not political) viability of present day Israel and you'll know whereof I speak.

Even the smartest simply take it as "gospel". In fact it takes more mental effort to disengage from it than it does to discover and adhere to it.

Like a fly you keep swatting that never seems to die, it shows up everywhere. Few actually realize that it is in fact a recent, modern day novelty developed in the mid 1800s. Yet it has affected almost everything Christians have to say. And if you differ from their millenarian conclusions you are immediately held suspect in the court of their minds, if not judged, sentenced and dismissed altogether.

Even if one does not subscribe consciously to the distinct tenets of Dispensationalism, it's end-time scenarios still plague the minds and shape the thinking of the major slice of the professing believer pie.

The scourge of this distraction has caused the focus of otherwise serious, sober-minded believers to veer off course from Jesus to modern-day Israel, left-over Hal Lindsey-ism (the books, movies, media) and the sensational news stories of the day.

Yet one more fatal symptom of the bigger issue of the heart - distractionism and leaving the centrality of Christ for a cheap substitute.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Music - Either Random or Reflective. It Can't be Both.

We know what music we like and do not like, but we seldom ask the deeper question, "why?" Not "why do I like this or that particular kind of music?", but why music at all? What is in music that resonates with my humanity on such a deep level?

Essentially, why does music "sound" good to us? Melody, harmony, tempo, etc, why does it "resonate"? And why does a discordant, dissonant cacophony of chaotic, clashing "noise" create an urge to run, to block it out, jamming our fingers in our ears? Why are flats flat, sharps sharp and disharmonious distasteful? Is it just chance? How did we humans develop a taste for the harmonious and a disdain for the discordant?

Maybe chance. But It is far more likely that harmony, beauty, symmetry, balance exists in a universe of intelligent design than in a universe ruled by almighty Chance.

Perhaps music is reflective of something much, much larger - a harmony of intelligent vastness, larger than ourselves, so that when we hear it's resonance the inner ear of the heart says "yes"! "sounds like a friend, comfortable, 'home.'"

Something's just right about music.

It is much like the conscience, the inner moral man of the heart, of who we truly are, both right and wrong, dark and light, and able to know the difference.

Random? Or reflective? Reflective of what? Or of Whom? Yes, troubled, dark and sinful. Sinfully fallen but still reflective of the God in whose image we are made.

Otherwise music, like morality is merely an "accident." Same with art, math, logic and so many other basic life realities that have a footing in transcendence. A universal transcendent narrative. A story the universe tells, in music, in resonance, in song.

Christianity (along with Judaism) is unique among the world's religions for it's honorable and exalted place of music. Music is there at the center of heaven (Revelation 5, 6) as it is there echoing in the midst of the heart, (Ephesians 5:19).

Contrast this with the standard Muslim perspective on music, "Fellow Muslims! It is a great error on the part of anyone who claims to have knowledge and Eemaan to hold that listening to music with its instruments is permissible, considering that it contain every conceivable form of evil.
As a matter of fact, music is a satanic voice that deeply penetrates the human heart and stimulates in it destructive lustful desires, wreaks havoc on mans’ body and soul and fills his ears with obscenities.". (Khutbah No. 2031 - Forbidding Music)

Im glad its Jesus and not Mohammed who is situated in the center of the universe, His musical genius pulsing through the very fabric of His creation, resonating with a song of praise in our hearts. We give him praise not just for music that directly worships and focuses on Him, but on all music that has harmony, melody, passion. It is all reflective of Him and the harmonious perfection of His Being.

So many great musicians along with their appreciative audiences just don't realize they're engaging in a strong argument for the existence of God. They just never think to ask the question that lays just under the surface of style, tempo and harmony. They know it sounds "good". They just don't know why. They've never stopped long enough to ask the deeper question. Compounding the irony, musical theorists (like mathematicians and logicians) may even be atheists, if you can imagine that!

Oh how they love to borrow capital from our worldview!

Our universe is far too beautiful for harmony to be random, accidental, the result of chance. Our surroundings as well as our story are both tragic and beautiful at the same time - just like music. Tragic because we are fallen. Beautiful because He IS, and He is the Master Musician.

It's Okay to Look Yourself in the Mirror. If...

Brutal self-honesty. I've had those in my life who genuinely modeled this - at times to their own peril.

It's hard to be honest, truly honest with one's self without going dark isn't it? Being self-critical by nature, many if not most of us have to be very careful. It's like having a ticking time-bomb in our laps.

Of course the alternatives are crazy too. Things such as:

-Self-deception, (toward the up side) or as Paul warns, "not to think more highly of yourselves then you ought to."

-Non-reflection. Either you "just say NO" to thinking about self, or you drown out reflective thought by multiplication of distraction, movies, music, work, games, etc.

-Substance abuse. Ingestion of non-reality or a false reality by altering your own mental processes via chemical substance.

All of these are done for the sake of survival. It's just how we've learned to cope with our own tragic existences.

No wonder Paul strove for "the mind of Christ". Philippians 2 and 3 are pretty crucial texts in this regard. So is that strange but necessary self-analysis in Romans 7, especially v17 & v20, "it is therefore no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells in me"??????

Gotta be a place for that somewhere, huh? Identity shift. Not blame-shift, but identity shift. I know that is true, though I've seldom been able to actualize it in my own experience.

But this I know - if you have those in your life who know you and yet love you anyway regardless of your screwed-up self then be grateful - they are Christ's gift to you, a reflection of His own love, eternal, unconditional.

"...for I will never leave you or forsake you". (Hebrews 13:5)