Friday, July 3, 2009

Beyond the Infinite

‘Prophecy Son of man, prophecy to these dry bones’

All of man’s wisdom, all of man’s knowledge, all of his greatness, his achievements, they are all but dust, and man is but dry dusty bones. We seek meaning in wealth, in fame, in drugs, alcohol, sex! But not just in what the world would call darkness, but also in that which claims to be light! We seek meaning in work, in good deeds, in love, music , peace, nature. We seek meaning in so many things, but it is all vanity.

Modern man is the epitome of vanity. No afterlife, no eternity, everything has a beginning everything has an end. We have characterized and set bounds on the infinite, we have probed the depths of the see and the heights of heaven. Modern man the pinnacle of history, modern man the pinnacle of emptiness and vanity. All that exists is before us, all the mystery has been boiled down into theorems and conjectures. We have conquered we have won! No more subject to the hocus pocus and the superstitions of the past.

The modern church bends to the vanity, bends to be relevant, throwing out mystery for logic and proofs. Angels and demons, heaven and hell, these must be sacrificed in an age where everything is quantified and understood. Science tells us that if prayers aren’t answered there either isn’t a God, or God doesn’t answer prayer. The only faith worth having is one that has visible signs and benefits, there must always be proof.

When we look to the stars no longer do we see spheres controlling fates, nor the rings of heaven. No more do we hear the music of the spheres, or fear the dryads of the woods, or the demons of the deep.

We have pulled leviathan out with a fishhook, have seen Pleiades and Orion bound, and know the ordinances of Heaven. We were there when the foundations of the universe were laid, have walked the depths of the sea, and broken the gates of the dead.

Modern man has grasped the infinite, and has tamed it, the universe is bound to our whims, to our wills…or is it?

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.

The stars shine above without our willing them, the days go by without our influence. We have become complacent in assuming that the mere knowing of how something works means we have power over it. And so we have sought so desperately to know, to understand and claim power. But in the end, all human knowledge crumbles all thought fails and we realize there is no answer to that three letter question: why? It is a question of infinite iterations, an uncountably infinite question, and only a being beyond the finite, a being beyond the infinite can know and comprehend the answer, only such a being can be the answer.

All of modern thought and science, all logic and reason, all human endeavors fall flat and die upon the question why. Hear O Man! Thou art but dry and dusty bones in the valley of the dead, and the power of the Lord alone can give you form and give you sinews, the breath of the Lord alone can give you life.

The actual infinite arises in three contexts: first when it is realized in the most complete form, in a fully independent otherworldly being, in Deo, where I call it the Absolute Infinite or simply Absolute; second when it occurs in the contingent, created world; third when the mind grasps it in abstracto as a mathematical magnitude, number or order type. ~Georg Cantor

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Living Among the Bones

In my time here at WSU I often wonder what the entire point of this endeavor is. It’s certainly not money, as I will probably never be paid well. It is certainly not pleasure as graduate school is one of the most sadistic things you could do to yourself. Is it knowledge? I came into grad school thinking knowledge was the point of this endeavor, but now I realize differently. WSU certainly has the knowledge, there are a lot of great physicist here, but they have all missed the point. My experience here has been one of great amounts of knowledge but no understanding.
WSU is one of those bastions of secular thought, an Athens, full of all the modern science and modern ways of thinking, very progressive and on the cutting edge, but for all this they miss the point entirely. There is no understanding.
“Have you not heard? Have you not seen?” For all the proof, for all the glory, all the wonder that is revealed in this place of research and study, those here miss the Truth shouting at them. It depresses me how modern mans distrust and loathing of faith has made it impossible for them to see reality through the eyes of faith. They do not see the beauty, the life, the Divine Harmony in reality. All they see is atoms and molecules, numbers and figures. The universe is dead in this world view, a bland set of rules and matter that exists and acts for no reason and no purpose.
Why have I come to WSU? Why have I come to Athens? I doubt there are many schools that are different from WSU. The dead universe is the prevailing world view in academia. How can there be life in a worldview that rejects the Life? Why am I here in this dead place? To share the Life.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." Eze 37:1-6

God grant me the patience, the faith, and the perseverance to prophesy to this valley of dry bones, that your abundant life may flow into them and let them live. Amen

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Ecclesial Depression

I continually find myself frustrated and aggravated with modern Christianity. It is not one specific denomination or group, it is a predominate reality that very few people are educated about the Church. This often leads to false perceptions and expectations of God, and leads those outside the Church astray into believing that the Church is something its not. There are many reasons for this mistaken view of the Church, but the one that I believe is the most dangerous, and damaging is the individualization of faith.
Individualism was one of the great triumphs of the renaissance and modernism. It is wonderful to consider individual rights, and treating everyone with proper respect and dignity, but as with all ideas, there is a dark side tagging around. Individualism no longer means that each person has inherent dignity, now it means that the highest good is the individual. A long list of societal and political woes can be made because ‘I’ and ‘me’ have become our most favored pronouns, but my concern is with the Church. Individualism has crept into the Church in the form of individualizing God and our relationship to Him. The view of ‘me and my god’ is overwhelmingly present in the Church, at least in America. Congregation’s have begun to cease the proclamation of the Gospel and who God is, and instead now proclaim an individualized god, an individualized gospel. I have had the odd chance of traveling a lot and experiencing congregations across the US and it disheartens me the number of congregations that get the individualized gospel of “believe in God and he’ll make your life turn out alright”.
Christians have forgotten what it means to be the body of Christ. We have forgotten what it means to have a communal faith, a faith shared by the saints in heaven and here below. Faith is now about myself, in a room with my Bible and God, about praying and having God answer with warm tingly feelings. And if we cant get those experiences we cry to God and ask what is going on, why is my ‘individual walk with God’ going so rough. The reason is, there is no ‘individual walk with God’! The road of Faith is one filled with the communion of saints, it is one populated by those who have gone before us, those who come after us, and those who walk with us. When we suffer the body suffers, when the body suffers we suffer.
A few years ago I was suffering severe depression after my grandmother’s death, and I told my pastor that I wasn’t planning on coming to Church because I couldn’t bring myself to sing songs of praise when all I was doing was mourning. He replied that even when we cannot seem to sing praise, and we are in mourning, the Body is there to lift up songs of Praise, songs of Mourning and songs of intercession on our part. The One True Faith, is one shared by the body of Christ. It is not some individual path. God is not revealed by sitting alone with a Bible in some wilderness, God is revealed in the assembly, proclamation, and work of the Church. It is when we assemble and hear the Word proclaimed to us and for us that God is revealed.
There is a lack of strong Ecclesial theology in the Church in America, and not only does this lack harm the Church’s members by not doing its job of proclaiming Christ crucified for us, it also hurts its mission to the world. Individualism is a plague upon the Church, and its cure is for the Church teach and educate its members in its ecclesial nature. The American Church must reform or else it will follow Europe to the same depressing end.
If the Church is to survive and succeed in its mission of proclaiming Christ crucified we must stop going along with society and falling into all the popular ideologies. The Church plagued by individualism, must start healing by having individuals reject the lie that the self is the most important thing. Only by the death of self will the individual find life.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

While Christians slept: The Washington Euthanasia Initiative

In the elections of last November an initiative to legalize euthanasia was passed in Washington State, making it the second state in the United States to do so, Oregon being the first. Below I post the wording of the initiative:

Initiative Measure No. 1000 concerns allowing certain terminally ill competent adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.

This measure would permit terminally ill, competent, adult Washington residents, who are medically predicted to have six months or less to live, to request and self-administer lethal medication prescribed by a physician.

The passing of such a bill in a liberal state, with a predominately secular population is not terribly surprising. The surprising aspect of the situation is the somnolence of Christians in the face of evil.
Neither before the elections, nor after elections did I hear the initiative discussed in Churches. There were no protests, no petitions, no signs of Christians even knowing or caring what was going on. It was as if the Church in Washington fell asleep while the roots of evil were passed into law.
Now you may think I am overreacting, I mean the bill is for euthanasia lite, but in the face of evil there is no such thing as overreacting. Certain nations in Europe passed similar laws many years ago. The allowance of those first laws has led to a situation in which doctors in much of Europe can kill anyone, even against there will, if the doctor deems their quality of life to be inadequate. Think I am still overreacting? Sociologists commonly say that the United States tends to follow trends in Europe with regards to society, laws, etc. If this is true, then one day in the near future, you may go for a doctor visit because of a runny nose, and the doctor will lay you, say that the runny nose makes your life quality poor, and kill you with a lethal injection, no matter how much you protest. If we do not stand now and root out the evil, then it will spread, and doctors may become dealers of death.
We legalized abortion in certain cases, and now women can kill their babies at any point in pregnancy: million of children have been murdered. We are legalizing killing the elderly, soon there will be no retirement as we kill off anyone over 60. And after that? Who is left but those in the middle? If life is not sacred at the beginning or the end, then it isn’t in the middle either, and murder at any state will be legal.
I leave you a poem by Martin Niemoller:

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Call to Arms

The world is doomed. The armies of satan are matching over the earth, and most Christians are off hacking at the branches of even, and only a few, if any are striking its root. Injustice, poverty, the legalization of sin, are all branches from the same tree of evil. It is truly good and holy work to be just, charitable, and supportive of holy legislation, but that cannot be all we do. If all we do is help the poor, we are just pruning a branch off evil, while ten more sprout up. We, as the Church must unite and storm the bastions of the devil on earth, overthrow them and trample them to dust in the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.
‘What are these strongholds of sin, death, and the devil?’ you may ask. They are the philosophies, ideas and constructs which deny Christ as Lord, and attempt to make man into his own gods. These fortresses were constructed starting with the enlightenment when mankind proudly proclaimed that we can know everything, we are enlightened, and we will be able to do away with God and become our own lords and masters. Parts of the enlightenment were not bad of course, but deep within it was the ever present sinful desire of man to be god. Ever since Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil mankind has been trying to be god. It is our oldest, and deepest sin. Humans want to be god, they want to be their own master, and so throughout all time we have sought ways of abolishing God and setting ourselves up as gods. The enlightenment did not turn out any differently. Mankind set themselves up as gods in the enlightenment and Marxism, fascism, individualism, modernism, and a dozen other philosophies which are hostile to the Gospel sprang up.
In the enlightenment the forces of evil declared open war on the Church, no longer was it hidden and covert, now it was mainstream, the norm. The forces of evil which are hateful of the Gospel are in control, are ruling our society, and the church for the most part still doesn’t seem to realize there is a war going on! Many church bodies have already succumbed and fallen to the enemy and let the Gospel be distorted and destroyed by the philosophies hateful to it. And those churches which have not succumbed and hold fast to the Gospel are all busy hacking at the branches, or secluding themselves in order to remain untainted!
If the Gospel is truly all powerful as we believe, if demons truly will flee at the name of Jesus as we say, why do we still doubt and hide behind stained glass curtains and never engage the world and be the church militant? Rise up you redeemed! Rise up the baptized believers, incensed by the call of the Spirit to defend the Holy Church! Now is the time for battle, now is the time to engage the enemy strongholds; else the Church will fall in western society, and what was once a bastion of Faith will be claimed by the forces of the devil.

Eucharistic Fellowship

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a Benedictine monastery. It was a wonderful experience, as usual, but with one hijink: it was Catholic. Since it was a Catholic monastery and I am a Lutheran both my governing body, and their governing body forbade my sharing in the Eucharist. Both the Catholic’s and Lutheran’s(LCMS and WELS) practice close communion.
Now some of those who know me may be rejoicing thinking that I have changed my stance on close communion, but I have not. I still support and believe in close communion, but I find terribly frustrating and depressing the reasons we need close communion, namely the schismatic nature of the church. Eucharistic fellowship was never a question in the early centuries of the formal church (after council of Nicea to about the 11th century), there was one catholic church, and therefore no need for close communion in the modern sense. It wasn’t until the east west split, and later the reformation which necessitated the institution of the modern form of close communion. Before the schisms close communion merely meant withholding from the unbaptized and uninitiated, but after the schisms the meaning was changed to being: withholding Eucharistic fellowship from those who believe differently than us.
You may want to argue whether or not close communion is right, but I am not here argue the validity of close communion. I am a supporter of close communion who is here to mourn the necessity for it. Every time we close off the Eucharist to a fellow Christian of a different denomination we are announcing the disunity of the body, and the terrible reality of sin within the Church. I am not saying that all Christians are the same, if I did I wouldn’t support close communion, but I am saying that Christians should be the same. Some of the strongest condemnations in the New Testament are against those who would divide the Body of Christ. It is a sad reality that the Body of Christ is divided, whether by politics, theology, or practice. This does not mean that we should forget all differences and make a goopy form of Christianity, which is a mixture of all. Quite a few denominations stand diametrically opposed to one another on certain issues, and it would be unwise to throw out such distinctions just for the sake of unity.
I desire unity for the Body of Christ. I dream of a day when we can over come schisms and meet in a catholic Church, one in which Christ is present and the True faith is taught unadulterated by the fashions of the times. Such a day may never come this side of eternity, as sin distorts and corrupts the thinking of the faithful, and heresies run rampant and seek to destroy the church. But God in his odd ironic way has turned the plethora of denominations into modern day Athens in which we can argue and discuss the faith, and ever strive toward the perfection, which is the One True Church. We may never be able to realize a true catholic faith this side of eternity, but we can certainly try.