Before I get to the pre-written stuff, a link to Keaton’s gallery – where I’ve uploaded a small set of new photos.
OK, here goes a house cleaning: all the “God” tagged drafts I’ve had lingering rolled into one entry, cleaned up as much as I could stand before I got tired of re-writing months old ideas, and published as one. Some of this stuff is pretty good, some isn’t as developed as I’d intended… but here goes.
Ever wonder why God doesn’t do miracles anymore?
Oh sure, every day, on the 700 Club, God’s modern-day miracles are enumerated and trotted out for applause: seven puppies saved from a burning building, a child’s cancer going into remission, a twisted I-beam from the World Trade Center rubble takes the shape of a cross. But I’m not talking about those kind of miracles. No, I’m talking about the kind of miracles designed to convince people that a) there is a God, and b) He’s a powerful God to be feared and worshipped. Miracles, I mean, like those described in the Bible: burning bushes, making the blind see and the lame walk, parting seas, and booming voices from the skies – to name a few. Where are those miracles? Doesn’t God love us enough anymore to give us those slaps in the face and wake up our faith? To use a bit of Paul’s own logic: If 1st century Christians needed miracles to help them believe in and fear God, how much more do we, two-thousand more years removed from the events, need them?
Why don’t people receive visions and revelations directly from God or angels? Why don’t they have inspired dreams or waking conversations with the Lord, why are there no more prophecies? Why has God stopped talking to the people he created, the people he loves and desires to come home to him? Why end it all X years after Christ fulfilled the ultimate prophecy? Why not keep talking, nothing new to reveal? OK, fine… but what about a, “Hey, Mr. Believer, it’s God here. Just wanted to talk to you and let you know I still love you. Don’t forget to spread my gospel, OK? Alright then, bye.” Christians usually explain this by saying the revelations and prophecies of old were simply to “start” the church, to get the ball rolling. Once the Bible was assembled, believers had it as the ultimate truth – and could no longer be fooled or taken in by false prophets. Thus no need for any more direct communication from God. But even with the Bible… wouldn’t the occasional communique from God help bolster faith, help confirm he’s still out there?
Most modern Christians will tell you that, even though there were many amazing miracles in the Bible designed to spread belief in, and fear of, God – that belief model wasn’t working. They’ll say, despite the wonders performed, the people still doubted God, still wondered if He existed, still disobeyed His commands. They’ll most likely tell you that a faith based on miracles is a hollow, easily forgotten, faith. These are all good points, I guess… a faith where you have to believe of your own accord, without fireworks and fanfare, that’s much harder to swallow – and therefore much more devout, right? Bah, I still argue that stopping the sun in the sky tomorrow would cause some currently doomed souls to stop and question their disbelief, would plant a see of doubt into their hardened hearts. And, wouldn’t God want that? Sure, a faith based solely on miracles could be a shallow faith, the believer always left wanting for the next big magic trick to keep them faithful – but does mean that a good old fashioned miracle has no value? I say no.
You’ve heard the saying, “There’s no atheists in a foxhole,” right? Absolutes are always tough, but I do think it’s true that a lot of folks tend to call on God in the thick of it, believing in Him or not. And, while it’s surely not true that there’s never been an atheist in a foxhole, I’d bet more than a few in-a-foxhole non-believers end up calling on God as mortars whiz by. I would submit that, likewise, there’d be a similar amount of atheists-turned-theists at the local God-does-miracles show.
So let’s stop all this, and take the explanation that we simply don’t need miracles anymore. We have the inspired Word of God, and that’s enough to win souls – and anyway, a faith based on the teachings of the Bible alone would be a stronger faith than one based on witnessing miracles. So, sometime shortly after the events of the New Testament, God stopped performing miracles, stopped sending prophecies to his people, stopped casting spirits and demons out of the spirit-plagued and possessed. But, if God stopped all this, particularly the casting our of demons and spirits – one of two things are true. Either people are, to this day, still getting possessed by demons and plagued with spirits while God simply ignores them – or the Devil stopped sending said demons and spirits to possess and plague.
But, are we also to assume that Satan, God’s nemesis, also decided to stop possessing people with demons, stopped afflicting people? The church has no problem saying that Satan is still “tempting” folks these days, they say such things all the time. If Satan can still reach into this world enough to effect temptation on mankind – are we to believe he’s simply “limited” himself to that? No more demon possessions, no more spirits? I hope not, because the power to lay hands on the afflicted supposedly died out with the apostles – and, anyway, God doesn’t need to do miracles anymore – so you’d be on your own should you get “demons.” I guess the Christian defense of this could be twofold: either there are no more possessions, for whatever reason; or, if there are, you can simply pray them away. I think I’m getting too far off into the weeds here… I’m gonna reign it in a bit.
So you say modern-day miracles would only cheapen peoples’ faith in God? I say bull-puckey. Modern-day miracles would wake some people up, reaffirm faith in some, and, in the least, get people talking. Modern-day miracles would be a good thing for God and Christianity, there’s not a doubt in my mind.
So again, ever wonder why God doesn’t do miracles anymore?
One of the things the church Sharaun and I go to regularly is big on is not “adding to” or “subtracting from God’s word.” For the religiously uninitiated, this means that the church is a self-professed “Bible-based” institution – using only the Holy Bible for all creeds, rules, and procedures. It’s not an uncommon view among Protestant religions, especially those born out of the Protestant Restoration in the early 1900s. Ignoring some of the many things that could be said about this, I wanted to, instead, concentrate on the use of this idea as a basis for “ignoring” or placing a zero-value on the many historical and apocryphal writings that have survived time and are available today. I think this is bunk, and is probably one of the most selfishly-motivated misinterpretations of a couple straightforward verses:
Clearly, John is referring only to the “book” that he has just finished writing – his Revelation. He doesn’t want anyone adding to, or subtracting from, that particular book. We can be ultimately sure of this because of a couple things: Firstly, at the time John wrote Revelation, there was no bound collection of writings called a “Bible.” The Bible as we know it today didn’t even exist, so John couldn’t possibly be referring to our modern-day canonization. Second, John makes it explicitly clear that he’s referring the book of “this prophecy.” He limits the scope of his statement to the prophecy of the Apocalypse he’s just given, simple as that.
Here, Moses is revealing God’s law to his people – and the context couldn’t be more clear. In fact, using this Old Testament verse in application to the entire Bible is more ludicrous than doing it with the verse in John’s Revelation. Deuteronomy is the last book of Moses, and not only was there surely no bound book called a “Bible” at the time, but there were many more Old Testament writings yet to come, not to mention the entire New Testament. If we think of these writings on a timeline, any post-Deuteronomy writings would technically be additions. The statement here is obviously in reference to the Mosaic Law, not some yet-to-be cobbled-together book dubbed “the Bible.”
So, church, open your eyes and minds; don’t be afraid. The usage of these two verses to limit potential inspired or relevant text to the Bible only is narrow-minded and a stretch of interpretation. I completely disagree with any interpretation of these verses which focuses on “limiting” information sources to a Bible that didn’t even exist at the time.
Last up, a religion link rodeo. Just to close things out.
Check out this super-interesting (to me) analysis of the problem of “fit” in regards to Noah and his ark. Two animals of every kind, on a boat – I’ve often dismissed it as fable for reasons of practicality, but the detailed look provided in the previous link does a good job actually trying to affix some measurements and numbers to the whole deal. It’s worth a look, if you’ve ever wondered about it.
Lastly, some good reading on the endlessly-interesting Mormons.
Goodnight folks, sorry to get all God on ya again.