It’s been an active week at this blog, so it’s time to catch up on the “mailbag” so to speak.
It’s been a long time since a piece I’ve written has gone so viral as this one. Based on the response I’ve been able to see, there are two reasons:
- We in the church need to understand that we don’t live in an environment driven by purely “religious” forces. Our ministers are wonderful at trying to get us lay people out of our comfort zone until we return the favour, and going at a topic in this way surely does that. And we, bombarded by all of the talk of change in our society, need to understand that we cannot understand where we are going if we don’t understand how we got where we’re at. But perhaps more of us are realising that we really do need to look at things in a new perspective.
- As Americans, we are finally coming to the place where we need to have the conversation about class and upward social mobility and respond with more than knee-jerk shame-honour stonewalling. People are finally coming to the realisation that the system is profoundly “rigged” and that economic failure isn’t an automatic sign of being a “bad person” (I hate that term, who is good but God?) In a church environment where we talk endlessly about material prosperity and developing leaders, we’re missing where many people are at these days. It’s kind of like our political situation: our approach a) has not worked and b) is not Biblical.
The Baptists, Cessationism and Ben Bogard
Took long enough, but got this comment from one Phil Cate about my posting of the McPherson-Board Debate:
ABA Baptists certainly DO believe in the healing power of God, but not the glorification of His servants…Baptists…have no logical reason to compromise with latter-day sensationalists who demand signs from God instead of standing on faith.
I heartily agree that more prayer for divine healing should come from individual believers rather than overpaid “sensationalists”. Unfortunately, that’s not Dr. Bogard was affirming in this debate. He was affirming the following:
Miracles and Divine healing, as taught and manifested in the Word of God, ceased with the closing of the Apostolic Age.
It doesn’t matter if they take place at the hands (literally) of believers in a small group or church or aforementioned sensationalists: if they’ve ceased, they’ve ceased, and if they’re for today, they’re for today. This is what happens when we attempt to solve a pastoral problem with a doctrinal solution. If we want to attack people’s ministerial methodologies, that’s one thing, but Ben Bogard was attacking the whole idea of people being healed by divine action whether he wanted to admit it or not, thus my question re why Baptists pray for healing.
Are We Up to Our Constitution?
David Wainwright proposes some interesting changes to our Constitution in response to my piece Proroguing Congress: From Unconstitutional to Funny. But both he and others are merely tinkering with the document when a more profound question needs to be asked: are we still up to keeping this government going properly within the framework of our current constitutional system?
Our current constitution requires two things: a people with a substantial level of personal responsibility and a political/civic system with a fairly strong consensus. Looking at the latter first, when this breaks down in this country, things get especially ugly, as we found out with the War Between the States, and we are finding out now. The basic problem is that the system, in common with its British counterpart, doesn’t accommodate multiple parties (it was designed with none in mind) at all, and so smaller groups end up with no effective voice in the system. With a multiple party system, stability can be a problem, but at least everyone is at the table in one form or another.
The responsibility thing is, in some ways, a bigger problem. As NJ Governor Chris Christie pointed out:
…”the country is in danger of becoming a “paternalistic entitlement society” where people sit on the couch, “waiting for the next government check.”… “It’s because government’s now telling them, stop dreaming, stop striving, we’ll take care of you. We’re turning into a paternalistic entitlement society. That will not just bankrupt us financially, it will bankrupt us morally”…
Our current system will neither accommodate this gracefully nor survive it. Our Founding Fathers knew that too. We as a society are profoundly changing; much of the punditry these days is based on a country that really doesn’t exist any more.
Although the current status of their own social model isn’t very good, with where we’re at we would be better off with a system closer to what the French have. Or perhaps we need to just split up for a new arrangement for this continent. But you start thinking along those lines when you read subversive books.