Category: Wonderings


I recently blogged about the dangers of what has been called the “Prosperity Gospel”. In it I took exception to the idea that we should assume material blessings are automatically mandated for those who have enough faith to claim them from God. I think idea this both unscriptural and unwise, since it promotes what I’d consider a shallow, materialistic theology.

But does that mean God wants us to be poor?

NO.

Christians are to be diligent in business, working with all their hearts (“for you serve the Lord Christ”) and that we are to strive for justice in the world; and that this, more often than not, means economic justice.

Our modern society has produced more safety, more comfort and security, better access to education and health services, than any society the world has ever seen, and is founded largely on Christian principals. But we are seeing a shrinking of the middle class, as increasing amounts of society’s wealth is held by fewer people, at the expense of the rest of us. This is a bad thing, from both a practical and moral viewpoint. Something’s got to change.

God cares for the poor, and wants those who have enjoyed material blessings to share what they have; we are to work for a society that is fair and offers the most opportunities for a decent living to as many people as possible. The Bible tells us that God hates oppression and injustice, and that especially includes unjust economic structures. The balance, I think, is wrapped up in the scripture, “and having food and clothing, we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8)

In a fascinating talk given on TED talks, gazillionaire Nick Hanauer talks about the importance of a thriving middle class to our society. He’s talking mainly from the viewpoint of enlightened self-interest, but I think he’s spot on anyways. Check it out at http://bit.ly/1taBBpm

Advertisements

How and Why

“Science has disproved religion”. I’ve heard this again and again. Faith is held to be the antithesis of reason, but is that itself a reasonable statement?

We must not forget that science deals with the “how” of the physical universe. It uncovers physical process and in doing so extends mankind’s reach and ability.

But of truth, morality and beauty it can say nothing. Those who feel it can weigh in on such matters are out of their depth and are speaking as amateur philosophers rather than scientists.

Science works on the assumption – a faith statement, really – that we can count on our reason, that what we observe tells us something real that we can then use to build a better structure, to navigate the globe, to split an atom or cure cancer.

But if the universe is truly random, how do we really know that for sure? We must hold that some truths are true beyond all opinion, real and absolute for science to be of any use.

Religion deals primarily with the why, with questions of value, love, moral truth. It works on the assumption that value is an absolute: that matters of right and wrong are likewise true and not merely opinion. Justice can only have meaning if people have an inherent value that can be offended against.

If (and let’s use our reason here) right and wrong are real and true in an absolute sense (i.e., not a matter of opinion), then a giver of value, the Creator of the moral order is inferred: in a word, God.

The two disciplines are complimentary; if we ignore either we will never understand life as it really is.

Thoughts on a Dock

I love moonlit nights. There’s a special magic, the peaceful solitude of being alone on such evenings. God seems especially present at such times.

I was visiting my sister recently, who was living with her family in a lovely rented house on the shores of the Shuswap Lake. I went for a walk in the moonlit yard after everyone else had gone to bed and was immediately taken by the calm beauty of my surroundings. It was perfect: the lapping of the water against a dock, the willows just up from the beach, all bathed in glorious moonlight. I wanted to own a piece of it. What wouldn’t be more natural than to possess something so lovely, to have access and control?

But then the thought struck me as idolatrous. We have to let go of everything eventually; certainly our possessions, eventually our youth and health, the people in our lives, and sooner or later, life itself. We will have to say goodbye, whether these things leave before or after us.

Think of the misery people have created for themselves so they could control something a little longer; more and more debt, both parents working longer hours when time could have been spent with the kids. Missed mealtimes together, learning of the day’s activities, laughing, growing, living a life together – all for more toys. I am sometimes tempted to regret lost opportunities for accumulating wealth sooner, forgetting the blessings I’ve enjoyed by the course I have in fact lived. Is knocking myself out for more or better toys worth the toll exacted on my joy?

One of the stupidest things we can say is “MINE”. It is the ugliest word in the English language, and we learn the spirit of it long before we can speak the word. We want control, we want access on our own terms – often even at the expense of others. God sends blessings into our lives for a season, to be enjoyed and released when their time is past. Perhaps to make room for more good things He wants to pour into our lives. We need to always keep that thought before us.

I believe now, more than ever, that God loves me, and that my own fear often keeps me from enjoying more of what He has in store. There has to be a receiving, and there has to be a letting go. But there are exceptions: I don’t have to let go of joy. Or goodness, faith, love, trust.

It’s said that your heart will be where your treasure is.