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Serving Christ & the world through liturgy, mission & community.

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Two Testings

I came across these thought-provoking comments by S.G. De Graaf in volume three of his work Promise and Deliverance.  The comparisons between Adam’s testing in the garden and Jesus’ testing in the wilderness are particularly insightful.

Adam was once our head.  He was put to the test to determine whether he truly wished to devote his whole life to the Lord.  Adam became unfaithful and rejected the Lord’s favor.  When the Lord Jesus took Adam’s place as our Head (of the covenant), the temptation had to be renewed since satan was bent on destroying the covenant.  In this temptation Christ not only had to show obedience but also had to justify and reconcile what Adam had ruined.  Therefore the temptation came to Him under different circumstances than it had to Adam.

After Jesus had been baptized and anointed, the Holy Spirit led Him out into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  The desert was quite a different place from the paradise in which Adam had lived.  In Paradise everything testified to God’s favor and communion, while the desert betrayed that everything had been forsaken by God and man because of our sins.  Everything had been in Adam’s favor, while Christ had everything against Him.  Despite the isolation of that forsaken place, Jesus had to hold on to God.

Off the Shelf: Fiddler’s Green

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I am finding these book recommendations/reviews more difficult to write.  I simply want to say, “Read the book,” and for you to understand that I really mean it.  As soon as I try to put into the words the things that I liked about the story, or the themes that especially stood out, it feels as though I’m trying to tear something away from the fabric that has been beautifully woven.  I enjoyed Pete Peterson’s first installment of this two-part adventure, The Fiddler’s Gun. Fiddler’s Green is even better.  This story will shock you; make you laugh; and possibly make you cry.  It is unmistakably a story about redemption, but fashioned in such a way as to gradually carry the reader along like a vessel upon the sea.  Perhaps what stands out to me the most is the character development that Mr. Peterson achieves in this work.  Though fictitious, these are real people.  These are people that you and I know.  People that you and I are.  And if what I’ve said doesn’t convince you, my wife loved it, too.

Hospitality vs Tolerance

litandtheoIn a past post I introduced Dr. Ralph Wood’s excellent book, Literature and Theology, in which he examines upon a number of literary works, and their bearing on the Christian life.  In his chapter on G.K. Chesterton’s The Ball and the Cross, Dr. Wood delves into the effects of the Enlightenment’s promotion of tolerance, and how the antidote is true Christian hospitality.  Here is an excerpt that gets to the crux of his challenging thesis:

Hospitality of a Christian kind does not entail a smiling kind of niceness, a prim-and-proper etiquette, or even a gracious capacity for party giving.  The word derives from hostis, a locution originally meaning not only “host” but also “stranger” and even “enemy.”  Hospitality thus becomes a Christian practice and discipline, a fundamental responsibility regarding those who are alien and perhaps even antagonistic toward us.  It requires, among other things, the willingness to welcome the gift that others represent – not the gift we expect or desire from them, but their often surprising and troubling gift, especially when others have convictions that are fundamentally hostile to ours.  The word “tolerance,” by contrast, originally meant “to endure pain or hardship,” and it eventually came to signify “putting up with opinions and practices of others.”  There is a decisive difference.  Tolerance somewhat condescendingly declares that we will “put up with” others, even when their views and habits are noxious to us.  Hospitality, by contrast, offers to “put them up” in the old-fashioned sense: we will make even our enemies our guests and thus our potential friends.  Hospitality thus becomes an earthly analogy to the gospel itself.  Just as we were once strangers and enemies whom God has patiently taken into his household (Rom. 5:10), so we must be willing to offer hospitality to those who are alien and hostile to us.

Hospitality must not be romanticized and idealized as a simply or easy practice.  It does not mean, for example, that we draw no distinctions among competing truth claims, as the proponents of tolerance often profess to do.  Such subtle inhospitality actually despairs of the truth.  If all claims are true, then none is true.  As Chesterton was fond of saying, “morality is very much like art: it consists of drawing a line somewhere.”   Christian hospitality is willing to draw a line, but not to raise a bar that cannot be crossed.  On the contrary, gospel hospitality is willing to hazard two radical risks regarding opponents.  On the one hand, it must take them so seriously that not only can they recognize themselves in our representation of their own most basic convictions but also that we ourselves must be susceptible of conversion to their faith.  Yet on the other hand, we are also called to demonstrate the case for Christianity so persuasively in both act and judgment that we help create the possibility of their conversion as well.  In either case, we will not have merely tolerated each other: we will have exhibited the hospitality that eagerly engages the other (55-56).