Murray and Carol 1976

Murray's Blog 2020

Occasional reflections on the Journey...

January 22, 2020

What do Old Testament scholarship and Near-Death Experiences have in common?

What can we know with certainty? Some will say, nothing, but that's not true. We may not know every detail but we can be certain of foundational truths.

In reflecting on Psalm 78:9 today I wondered whether the verse referred to Ephraim’s retreat in battle or to their retreat from God’s covenant. An internet search reveals details of scholars’ debate regarding the Old Testament but little on which to build. In recent decades scholarship is taking place in silos of what seems minutia without consensus, even publicly acknowledging a descent into name-calling unworthy of |the art (link, page 212f). This may result from the frustration of having to accept limits to knowledge to be gained from archaeology interpreted different ways and variants based on presuppositions about dating textual sources. As one author put it, if we were as skeptical of everyone in society as we scholars are of one another’s work, we would be unable to exist as a society.
 
Perhaps those of us who study the content of the Old Testament rather than questions of which verse was written by whom are better off. We can then ask, “What is the message of the OT as a whole, in its current form?” Few would deny the core message is included in Psalm 79: “Trust Yahweh, the creator of the universe and saviour of those who take refuge in him.” The more important question is then, What is our response to the only one and true living God and how do we live it out?
 
This is a more fruitful approach preparing us for the question of trust and allegiance to his Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
It is fascinating to me also that while many parts of history may be difficult to reconstruct to the level of detail desired by scholars, there is an interesting new approach to the future of our relationship with the LORD and his Christ (Rev. 11:15). This flows from the ability to interview thousands who testify to ‘near death experiences’ (NDE), testimonies which bring increasing clarity to reality beyond this life. Like interviewing multiple witnesses to a car accident or other tragedy, the composite picture brings events to greater clarity and certainty. One good place to start, if you’ve not read in the area, is John Burke, Imagine Heaven (Thomas Nelson).
 
This approach enables us to interview living witnesses rather than reject the witness of OT saints who have gone before. The fact is, these ever-clearer views of heaven, paradise and hell gained by interviews with those having NDEs confirm the images and testimony of scripture. This also makes “keeping the main thing the main thing”  far easier.
 
The goal of determining the “main thing” is of great value and applies both to study of the Bible and to conclusions drawn from interviews with those who have seen the future reality of heaven and hell. In each case we can debate and choose to get lost in details to avoid coming to a conclusion in this life or focus on main themes and live faithfully into them and Him who has revealed them to us.

 It brings me joy also to affirm these main themes of Biblical testimony and NDEs are the same: trust in the LORD and his Messiah and give utter allegiance to Him in this life and the next.

April 17, 2020

The ever current Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley was a "high" churchman in the Anglican communion, his brother John a "low" churchman traveling broadly to bring the Gospel to the common person at the time far from Christ. They didn't agree on ecclesiology but teamed to bring a renewal to England often credited with saving the land from the desolations of the French Revolution. I often reflect on Charles hymns in my "quiet time" with the Lord. Charles is estimated to have written 6500 hymns, many now lost to all but those who seek them out. (More on Charles Wesley's life here.)

 

Why do I value them? Here is a simple example of truth and challenge never out of date:

 

LORD, IN THE STRENGTH OF GRACE

Charles Wesley

Lord, in the strength of grace,

with a glad heart and true,

myself, my residue of days,

I consecrate to you.

 

Your ransomed servant, I

restore to you your own;

and from this moment, live or die

to serve my God alone.

 

April 26, 2020 (with later additions)

Weighing in on COVID-19 - and concerns more to the point...

Does anyone need one more opinion on Covid-19? I recognize the overload of medical and political opinion but I will wade in nevertheless.

No one doubts that COVID is highly infectious or that it can, especially in combination with underlying health threats (diabetes, heart issues, obesity) kill, especially the elderly. A couple months in I expressed the view that

1.) social distancing slows but doesn't change the spread of COVID, it only affects how rapidly it happens. Sweden, which didn't social distance, and the rest of Europe which did, are having similar outcomes in terms of deaths-per-million.

2.) the impact on society, given millions of people get it, is similar to that of a bad flu season: with few expectations the same compromised people who die of flu die of COVID-19.

3) Our overreaction doesn't stop people with compromised health from dying (now or during the next flu season) but keeps people who need to go to the hospital from doing so, decimates the economy (especially in developing nations where the poor don't have the luxury of lockdown), not to mention the unintended consequences of increased domestic abuse, suicide, mental heath issues.

4.) While erring on the side of caution made sense 3 months ago, on sober reflection using the best data we have, it doesn't make sense now. All we are doing is playing into the hands of those who like authority to use it more stringently next time.

Six months in it is becoming increasingly clear the challenge isn't in fact as much medical as it is political. I'm not American but appreciate an succinct analysis of it's government's handling of the challenge: https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/four-months-unprecedented-government-malfeasance/

Sadly, the use and abuse of political power is wider and actually began earlier. In January 2020 globalist leaders met in Davos, Switzerland recognizing an opportunity. Remnant TV lays out the implications: https://youtu.be/sb9jRqgDOJ8

There is more to say. There are implications that are medical, political and economic. There are implications for mental health and spiritual and family life. Please shift over to Covid19.
 

August 16, 2020

Religion - what's that all about?

There is debate about whether the Good News of Jesus Christ is simply "one more religion" or if the revelation of God-in-Christ is unique.

There are some who claim all religions are the same.

A helpful place to begin may be the term itself. Richard Rohr suggests:

"...religion, as the very word religio indicates, is the task of putting our divided realities back together: human and divine, male and female, heaven and earth, sin and salvation, mistake and glory." (Everything Belongs p.136)

Humans have long sought to understand the universe, spiritual and physical as one. Thinkers in various religious streams agree humanity if broken and have tried also to bring about a restoration.

Science and philosophy and politics have also sought to understand and mend what seems broken.

The interesting and critical thing however is that it is not the broken (us) who can fix themselves but God, who became broken on the cross to restore us. In this the Gospel of Jesus Christ is unique. It is God-in-Christ who puts us back together again. It is not our concerted efforts as suggested by teachers in other religions.

Yes, even in the divisions of Covid. No, it is not a man-made religion. No, it is not the UN. It is the gift and grace of the cross, of Jesus risen and coming again.

September 5, 2020

Political Labels Need Definition

It's interesting to me how different media outlets use political labels. I notice one outlet typically uses two labels: "center-left" or "far-right" when speaking of a group or position. It seems to me, as I observe political movements and engage in conversation with a range of people, there must be more categories than two. Here is my sense of the political categories which flow out of one's worldview:

Far Left/Marxist - Willing to consider use of violence to achieve ends or condone or depend those who do.

Left/Progressive - urgent for change, not really able to give serious consideration to other views and generally not able or willing to accept the people who hold them. Unwilling to use violence to achieve ends.

Classic Liberal - broad minded and generally open to change, even eager to move forward. Able and willing to listen, dialogue and accept people of other categories even if not accepting all their views.

Classic Conservative - recognizes that change is constant but wants to preserve/conserve the best of the past rather than assuming everything will or most change. Able and willing to listen, dialogue and accept people of other categories even if not accepting all their views.

Right - wants to go back to a place in history that no longer exists and are generally not good listeners and not generally able to accept people of other categories or their views. Unwilling to use violence to achieve goals.

Far-Right - want to go back in history and willing to consider use of violence to achieve goals or condone or depend those who do.

I'm still in process thinking this through but am inclined to call it, along with further detail following:

Model of Political Value Clusters (Moerman, 2020)

Political Orientation

Ultimate Reality

Relation to Monotheist Religion

Value of the Individual

Freedom of the Individual

Marxist

No belief in afterlife or accountability to God

No influence by religious values

Low to no value of human life/rights. (State is infinitely precious.)

No freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion.

Progressive

Low belief in afterlife and accountability to God

Very low influence by religious values

Moderate value of human life/rights

Limited freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion.

Liberal

Moderate-to-low belief in afterlife and accountability to God

Low influence by religious values

Moderate value of human life/rights

High value to freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion.

Conservative

High belief in afterlife and accountability to God

Highly influenced by religious values

High value of human life/rights

High value to freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion.

Right

High belief in afterlife and accountability to God

Highly influenced by religious values

High value of human life/rights

High value to freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion.

Far Right

High belief in afterlife and accountability to God

Highly influenced by religious values

High value of human life/rights. (Individual infinitely precious.)

High value to freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion.

 

Political Orientation

Size/Power of Government

Role of Constitution, Rule of Law and Judiciary

Ultimate Responsibility for the individual

Core Intention (sometimes unstated)

Marxist

Unlimited government

(the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen)

Rule by party fiat. Party leader changes constitution at will. Judiciary serves

Individual exists to serve the state

I’m going into a different future and will take you with me.

Progressive

High government control.

Constitution viewed as ‘living’ (changing) document. Primarily rule of judiciary.

Society serves the individuals society values.

I’m going into a different future and you are coming too.

Liberal

Large role for government.

 

Society primarily responsible for care of individuals.

I’d like to see change for the better

Conservative

Small role for government.

Judiciary supports constitution. Rule of law.

Nuclear family primarily responsible for care of individuals.

As society changes, I’d like not to lose the best of the past

Right

Very small government control.

Judiciary supports constitution. Rule of law.

Nuclear family primarily responsible for care of individuals.

I very much want change back to traditional values and practices.

Far Right

Highly limited government role.

(the larger the citizen, the smaller the government)

Constitutional government, Judiciary ensures constitution is upheld.

Individual primarily responsible for care of self

I’m going to take as many of us as possible back to traditional values and practices.

Please let me know your thoughts, critiques or suggested refinements.