Sunday, April 03, 2005

Some Important Foundational Thoughts

A significant and increasing aspect of the vision of ATI involves an emphasis upon building or rebuilding the theological / doctrinal foundation upon which we represent God and Christianity; upon which we proceed with the mission of the church to make disciples (evangelism; bringing people to Christ) and to teach them to observe all He commanded (discipleship). I have long been interested in revival, renewal, reformation and restoration. It seems, however, that the effects of revival will be short lived if there is not reformation and restoration on the foundational level referred to above. In light of this particular vision and interest, I am encouraged when I read perspectives like the ones alluded to in the quotations that follow. It is with this backdrop that I offer the following quotations from Dr. Gregory Boyd.

“When people believe that everything is already part of God’s ‘secret plan’, they won’t work with passion and urgency to establish God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Rather, as much popular Christian piety reveals, they resign themselves to all that happens as coming ‘from a Father’s hand’. They pray for the ability to accept things more than the ability to change things. They seek the power to comfort more than the power to deliver. This quasi-peaceful resignation expresses the kind of piety sought throughout history by pagans – ancient Stoics, practitioners of most Eastern religions and adherents of all forms of religious fatalism. But it definitely is not the kind of piety Jesus encouraged us to seek.” (Is God to Blame?; p.74)

“The blueprint worldview also has contributed to passivity in the church.” (Is God to Blame?; p.59)

(The church) “…is to be about what Jesus was about: aggressively breaking down Satanic fortresses wherever we find them. In people’s lives, in families, in churches and in society at large, the church is to expand the rule of God on the authority of Christ by binding evil and setting people free. In a word, our charter is to live a theology of revolt, throwing all we are and all we have into guerilla warfare against the occupying army, the tyrannizing powers of darkness. When the church opts instead for a theology of resignation and thus attempts to accept from God what Jesus fought as coming from Satan, the church exists in radical contradiction to its defining vocation.” (God at War;pgs.217-218)

“When we trade our mandate to revolt against Satan for an attitude of resignation, we end up accepting things that come from Satan as coming from the hand of God! We trade in a perfect peace (that motivates us to fight) for a worldly peace (that leads to passivity). We tarnish the character of God by confusing His activity with Satan’s, and we undermine the mission of the church. We trade the legitimate challenge to overcome actual evil for the illegitimate challenge of accepting that God’s will is ultimately behind every evil event.” (Is God to Blame?; p.75)

“God’s plan has always been that we would align our will with His will. But because His plan is a plan of love, this alignment could not be preprogrammed or coerced. The possibility of rejecting it had to exist. If love is the end, freedom must be the means to that end.” (Is God to Blame?; p.70)

Let me close with a reflection concerning the relationship between “sovereignty” and “love”. It is often a concern that an emphasis on the free will of man will infringe upon God’s sovereignty. This is largely the result of assuming that sovereignty is somehow associated with God getting His way or controlling all things that happen. It is also widely recognized that love requires a free reaction and expression of appreciation and cannot be caused or, in the final analysis, guaranteed. In the same way that one might be accused of denying sovereignty when emphasizing man’s free will, others can be accused of denying love when emphasizing sovereignty to the exclusion of human freedom since love requires this free reaction and expression.

Let us pray that this age will be remembered for a major breakthrough in many of the foundational perspectives from which we operate; that a powerful Biblical theology will prevail over the theology that has been largely handed down to us by way of the Greek philosophers, laying the foundation for a revival of revolutionary and long standing results.


Pat Henry said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pat Henry said...

Dear Mr. Wolfe,

I know your choice to quote from pastor and Bible college teacher Rev. Dr. Boyd will provoke some people, simply because of the bad things that have been written about him by those who think anyone who deviates from the Westminster Confession has veered from the truth. This is oddly ironic, since most of those who hold to the view of God and salvation that Westminster held up, nevertheless do not agree with the truly Calvinistic viewpoint that all civil government must rule in accord with Biblical norms, including the civil provisions of the Law given to Moses.

To second your comments about the need of a theology that recognizes God as the "dynamic" I AM (or, also in accordance with the Hebrew, I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE), I would like to direct your readers to another book. The author who goes by the name Brother Andrew not only helped Corrie ten Boom (in his younger years) to hide Jewish people persecuted by National Socialists and "Homeland Security" (the translation of "SS") under the pederast Hitler (see The Pink Swastika, 3rd ed.). The author of this other book -- which I have given to our prayer supporters (as we translate the Bible in a previously unwritten language among an unreached people group) -- later smuggled Bibles into Communist countries, at great risk. More recently, he has been speaking to armed, radical Muslims, and they give him a hearing. I take these kinds of "point man" or "front line" actions as credentials beyond the good thinking of the classroom (which Dr. Boyd does very well, both at philosophical and popular levels).

Brother Andrew's book is called _And God Changed His Mind_. It was most recently updated and reissued in 1999. I read it in the 80s, and it is in accord with the dynamic view of a God who hears and answers prayer, and expects us to participate in His mission in the earth. It deeply influenced me. Having reread it prior to our first furlough, and having given it out at my own expense to as many pastors and supporters as I could afford to, I have no hesistation in commending this book to every Christian, which costs less than two theater tickets or a single dinner out. It is well worth reading, along with Rev. Boyd's exegetical defense of the same position in _God of the Possible_. It should perhaps strike us as amazing that we must "defend" the viewpoint that the Lord actually hears and answers intercessory prayer!