At church the other night a guest pastor came and drew our attention to the persecution of Christans around the world, especially in Muslim countries. There is petition to save the life of Asia Bibi, who is under a sentence of death by a Muslim theocracy. Her crime? Being follower of Jesus Christ. Please cut and paste-I do not know how to make links that work.
I urge everyone reading this blog to contribute.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Whisper a Scream is a Christian horror novel by Pete Turner, a friend of mine. The story concerns Solomon Noche, a man with a haunted past and an uncertain future. I'm not sure on just how much the author drew from his own experience, but Noche is a psychologist and a former Christian rock singer, the same as the author. But unlike Turner himself, Noche is suffering from deep personal loss: his wife and children died in a terrible accident, and Noche has never quite come to grips with this dreadful tragedy. In the prologue, we are treated to a flashback sequence in which, while in his father's church, the young Noche witnesses a man becoming possessed by a demon who identfies itself as "Miyah." The incident hints that Noche may harbor some type of sixth sense, as he is the only one who sees what's really happening. As a grief-torn adult, Noche finds himself blaming God for his family's loss (a coping strategy that is, unfortunately, quite common, even among Christians), and, in spite of his own psychiatric training, now finds himself drifting away from his relationship with Christ.
His real desscent into darkness begins, however, while routinely mowing his front lawn. He uncovers the entrance to an underground passage in his front lawn, which, naturally, he sets out to explore. What he uncovers is evidence of a sinister Druid-like cult which once throve in his isolated town of Retesville, including a sacrifical dagger, an pagan altar, and a strange journal belonging to a minister named Elija Darius. Excerpts from said journal are interspersed throughout the novel, giving tantelizing clues to the past. The cult is of Dagon, an ancient near-Eastern fertility god opposed by Yahweh, and who demands the blood of children. The journal reveals that Darius has witnessed these very atrocities. Has Noche really uncovered as sinister chapter in Retesville's history, or is his sanity, loosened the loss of his loved ones, finally beginning to slip?
There is an interplay between dreams, visions, and reality here that is never entirely clear. Are these visions merely products of a disturbed mind, are they truely demonic manifestations, or is Noche somehow experiencing the literal past? Noche also becomes haunted by visitations from a creature identifying itself as Miyah, which resembles a hideously deformed child. While the back-cover blurb is ambiguous as to whether Miyah is good or evil, the demonic nature of this creature is fairly obvious almost from the first time it shows itself. Both the Dagon cultists and Miyah refer to Christ, derisively, as "The Nazarene," and boast of the their power over him. Noche's bizarre experiences take on an increasingly real quality, until he finds himself facing what might be the ultimate nightmare for a Christian. Rest assurred, Noche DOES make the correct moral choice here, but on second thought, he is spared what might REALLY be the ultimate choice--if it were his family, not himself, that were threatened. If that had happened, I'm afraid I'd be rather confused, and I'm somewhat grateful Sol was spared that. I'm convinced Christ would not ask us to give up the lives of anyone else. On the other hand, He did ask us to deny our own lives, including our families, for His sake!
But now I've gone off on a tangent, as the story does not address that issue. What it does address is Sol's ability to renew his own faith in the Lord. At one point, he prays, saying in effect that there must have been a reason for the Lord's taking them. This of necessity assumes that God WAS rsponsible for the deaths, but for a higher purpose tha we humans, with our flawed wisdom, are unable to discern. This, in itself, is a matter or controversy tying in witht the "problem of evil"--does God control everything that happens, including all natural catatrophes which result in the loss of human life (even to the point of banishing free will, as the Calvinists beleive)? Does he simply not interfere (as a rule) in the natural world. This explanation actually works for me, becase if God were continuely suspending the rules of nature to save lives, the world could not function! I'd say that God basically leaves things alone--but back to the review.
The ending to the story is entirely unexpected, and it really came as a shock. I won't reveal anything here, except to say that it emphasizes that Noche's entire experience was indeed ultimately to bring him back into God's grace. The incident which occurs in the very last paragraph left me slightly confused, though. Part of the message that I got here was that Noche's allowing himself to blame God had damaged his relation with Christ, and had thus left him open to demonic attack. Now that the has renewed his relationship with Chirst, how do you account what occurs in the final passages?
All in all, this was a very thought-provoking read about the reality of spirtual warfare.
Buy the book on Amazon.com:
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I was reading the other day a book by the author David Platt called Radical. I thought the book was so good I bought it--but I ended up being disturbed and shaken by it. Most of the book I am in much agreement with. He decries the poor state that much of modern Christianity is in nowadays. Especially how most preaching puts the self smack in the center of things. Most popular spirtual books constantly appeal to the self. What can Christ do for YOU. How can God get YOUR life in order. But Platt reminds readers that true Christianity is about denying the self and sacrificing one's worldly possessions for the sake of the Lord. He tell us that Christ's teachings about denying the world, disowning even one's family for Him were indeed very radical.
And it made me wonder too: would I be strong enough to deny anything, if the Lord were to require it?
I was actually cheering him on throughout most of the book. Until I got to the chapter on the unsaved. Platt basically argues with an equal egree of passion, that those who have never heard of Christ are necessarily damned. A common beleif, but also an obviously controversial one. Platt beleives those who have never heard the
gospel are subject to a different sort of accountability than those who have and willingly rejected Christ. But they are denied Heaven nonetheless. To support his postion he gives the example of an innocent tribal bushman who dies without knowledge of Christ. Would he go to heaven? Platt answers "Yes," then turns that answer upon itself. The key word here is "innocent." The innocent man, according to Platt, does not exist. In other words, we're talking about the whole idea that God demands absolute perfection, which, of course, is impossible to live up to, and the only answer is Christ.
To show that Heaven as a default destination for the pagan will not work, Platt puts his readers in the position of a missionary who tells a potential convert who previously has not heard of Christ, that before, he had an automatic ticket to heaven, but now that he's heard, he might go to hell! This last is a straw-man argument. I am not, and I doubt others are, suggesting that a person who has never heard that actual facts of Christ's life, death and resurection is going to heaven by default. Imagine: would King Montezuma of the ancient Aztecs go to heaven, after they sarificed hundreds upon hundreds of people to a pagan deity? What about Caligula, not to mention the other corrupt Romans who were into all manner of cruelty?
The inevitable reponse from a lot of Christians can almost be heard already. The moment you bring that up, the common response is, in general, that Christianity has nothing to do with behavior and everything to do with beleif. The whole "saved by grace, not works" thing. If you're an OSAS beleiver, then IF King Montezuma or Caligula had heard the right facts, and DID have a fleeting moment of genuine faith, then they both would be in heaven, and niether would even have had to repent! These two examples, the Aztecs and the Romans, show very clearly cultures dominated by sin-nature and in need of redemption by Christ. When it comes to those who have never heard, there is more of concern to missionaries -then promoting Christianity as a get-out-of-hell-free ticket. Which, by itself, will only appeal to self-interest.
But that's really the point, as far as Platt is concerned. What is really at stake when it comes to the position of Inclusionism (the belief that some may be saved apart from hearing the actual facts about Christ), is the fear factor. In other words, what really worries Platt and others like him is not so much that souls of the pagan will be otherwise lost, but the future of Christianity and Christian
culture in this life. If we were to tell a potential convert, for example, that he really should accept Christ, but he still can get to heaven if he doesn't, is he still apt to convert? Humans by nature, are conservative. And let's face it, the world is becoming increasingly secularized. The fear that one's culture is imperiled is understandable. However, Christ did not call his followers to be cultural warriors, and it is the fear of cultural anhililation that is, I beleive, behind the renewed insistence that those who have not heard are necessarily lost.
I have long taken the position of C. S. Lewis on this on. Lewis was an inclusionist, who took the position that virtuous pagan who ernerstly sought truth would make it to heaven, even if circumstances determined that he lacked the correct facts. In other words, it is the condition of one's that determines salvation, not access to the facts. The Word of God is written on each of our hearts as well as in the Bible.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Unfortunately, I haven't had time lately to post more topics--and there's a lot more I want to write on!
But The Freethinker's Child has been published. It is now available fromm Amazon.com:
Copy and paste this link:
The Freethinker's Child
Authored by Sean Phillips
List Price: $9.99
5.25" x 8" (13.335 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on White paper
ISBN-13: 978-1453737156 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
BISAC: Fiction / Christian / General
David Louther is a college grad with a promising career future ahead of him. But the isolated Montana small-town of Carlsville, where David's Bible-believing cousin, Richard already resides, proves challenging for a young man with doubts concerning his own faith. Carlsville is a rigidly pious, god-fearing town, even by Bible-belt standards. Except for the presence of one small atheist family, whose presence is an enigma. Then David meets Jebson Proust, the charismatic pastor of Carlsville Faith Community Church, a man of dazzling persona who virtually owns the town and its budding university. Holding an immediate interest in the young man and his prospects, Proust eagerly draws David into the community. But all is not as it seems in Carlsville; the town holds a darker secret, which even most of its inhabitants are unaware of. David is about to learn Proust's idea of what it means to be "Eternally Secure" in Christ.