With the escalation of terrorism running rampant across the West, Britain suffered its third major attack in the past three months, Bastille recuperating from the eighty-six massacred, Paris, Normandy, Stockholm, Brussels and Berlin all under surveillance from terror attacks and civil unrest – just to name a few – the atrocities committed by such extremism seem to be snowballing by the day. It is easy for us to forget what Jesus Christ said when attacked: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” (Matthew 5:43-46) Summarized on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). I’m sure at times we wish that claim were circumstantial at best, yet it remains an important reminder that there is something greater than this world, and the actions we take here affect there (John 18:36). This does not suggest however we wait around and twiddle our thumbs. Far from it! It means given the situation at large, act in the way that will substantiate the greater testimony to the unbeliever – since it is their soul at stake, and not the believer – this is the crux of the Great Commission.
It goes without saying, the dedicated Christian regards the Holy Bible as the supreme governing authoritative text and absolute go-to. Part of the Bible’s divine genius is that it resonates well across many intellectual and emotional waters for it is relevant as a compass is relevant to almost any given situation, at any given point in time, in any given context, young or old, male or female. Just one example of its genius is the intentional and unintentional parallels one can draw by comparing and contrasting book to book, chapter to chapter. It is remarkable in its unique design when one thinks those parallels exist within the intricacy of powerfully placed words, elegant patterning of verses, the ways the chapters weave in an out from one heart issue to the next, its almost melodic rhythmic structure, all working together to compel the believing reader to keep on dedicating.
It has been said, again and again, that ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder’. Because our perception and response to beauty is somewhat unique to individual observation and appreciation, it can be tricky to articulate why we perceive something (or someone) as beautiful and something else as ordinary. Although beauty itself cannot be measured the characteristics that make something beautiful are very real. We can perceive them from all our senses. For instance, our eyes recognize patterns, bright colors, curves, blending or a combination of these attributes. The debate surrounding beauty is not if it exists but why it exists. At the time of creation Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,” [emphasis added]. The beauty that covers our world is, in my view, irrefutable evidence of a Creator and Scripture tells us He designed it intentionally.
If one is a young-earth creationist it is easy to imagine from the title, without knowing much else, that the beliefs which come out of that worldview might not marry well with Darwin’s brand of evolutionary science with his theories on the origin of species and traits – marrying the two would result in a paradox being born, leading to an assumption that the world and the human existence therein is a violently spinning phenomenon.
In early October, the Hembree boys and I had the opportunity to commemorate the Protestant Reformation 500 Conference at Wycliffe College in the heart of downtown, Toronto. Chocked full of Reformation scholars, each presentation respectively and diligently underscored contextual juxtaposition between the contemporary, or better, modernized sense of Church theology and Protestant tradition to its intellectual forefathers: the sixteenth century scholarship of John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Huldrych Zwingli, William Tyndale, Erasmus of Rotterdam, among others. Unlike today, in 1517 Europe the Church and State were married, for better or for worse. The Catholic Church had its hand in every back pocket and its face in every bedroom, so the level of impact that the Reformation had on the social, political and economic scale, and especially that of Christian missiology, was colossal. Now with the Gospel in every hand and household, propagation was personal and easily accessible. For those who, perhaps, have never been acquainted with the term missiology, it is a branch of practical theology that explicitly deals with a wide variety of evangelism from interpersonal to mass forms of communication. In laymen, it is known as the Great Commission; in scholarship, its core concept is referred to as the Missio Dei (“Mission of God”), where the sole purpose, mandate and duty for each missionary is to spread the Gospel: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) as well as “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20). As simple as this may sound, its scope is so pervasive that people often get their knots tied up on how to do it right, specifically in relation to God’s Will in the Old Testament. And, like most Reformation scholars, temptation to isolate the Epistles in place of the Gospel and favour theology over the historical narrative is readily available.