Monday, September 30, 2013

Seven Deadly Furrs: Musing through October's Tabletalk

My schedule changed where I have less free time.  I got a job at LifeWay.  No, not the one in Conyers where I live.  The one in the south of Atlanta that is 45 minutes away.  That means I drive there 6 days a week.

The good news: God is leading me to something amazing.  And also: I can still blog.

Today, I will write about the articles in this month's Tabletalk magazine.  The theme: The Seven Deadly Fears.  I thought it was sins at first, but no, it's fears.  Before I try to read these articles to my husband like I did last month when it was about the 13th Century, I will try to make a compact description of them all.

There is the opening page by Burk Parsons who edits the magazine, "All My Fears Relieved."

  • The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, the Proverbs tells us, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of the end of all other fears.  
This is the only fear that leads to life.  All other fears rob you of life and eventually distract you from the only thing that matters: God.
  • Fear often takes the form of anxiety when we worry about things that have already happened to us.
  • Whenever I encounter someone who claims not ever to worry about anything or who claims not to have any fears, I conclude one of three things: they are lying, they are self deceived, or they have grown so callous and complacent to their own hearts that they don't care about anything or anyone and are, thus, blindly self-absorbed.
I face fear all the time.  I know the Lord Jesus and have solid hope in him.  However, I still can't see him or understand what he does in my life.  How worse is it for someone who refuses to study Jesus in his Word.
  • We cannot rightly fear God if we don't know the God of the Bible.
The more we know our sovereign God, the more we will laugh at our fears, and we will find strength to fear him.

"Answering Evil" by R.C. Sproul

RC recalls his mentor, John Gerstner and the time he confided that "I thought the problem of evil is irresolvable."  Gerstner replied in a rebuke.  "Perhaps you or another thinker are the one God has appointed to solve this issue."

After all those years, Sproul says: "I haven't changed my opinion on the problem of evil since that conversation.  In the many years I've taught philosophy, apologetics, and theology, and in the many conversations I've had with hurting people, a full answer to the problem of evil remains elusive."

  • Putting a human face on evil can make it more understandable -- it's no surprise that evil people do evil things.
The problem is, God is all perfect and all good, but he allows evil in the good creation that he made.  Philosophers suggest that we live in the "best of all possible worlds," or that "evil is necessary to make us virtuous people or to preserve the reality of free will.
  • I don't think God has revealed to us a full and final answer to the problem of evil and suffering.
Indeed, we will not solve this paradox until we see Jesus face to face.  RC does offer helpful guidelines.

1. Evil is not an illusion -- it's all too real. Don't just ignore it.  It is real and you should cry over it.  Jesus wept.  He suffered for our sins.

2. God is not capricious or arbitrary.  The book of Job and the story of the blind man that Jesus healed in John 9 show that God allows bad things to come.  It's not for no reason.  Job suffered because God was proud of him.  He wanted to show that Job loved God even in the hard times.  Jesus showed his glory in healing the blind man, and the man became a follower and witness of Jesus.  None of this ultimately solves the problem, but it does show that there is a purpose in all things.

3. This isn't the best of all possible worlds.  Gottfried Leibniz suggested that we live in the best of all possible worlds.  I don't know how he came to that conclusion, but he's wrong.  God created a perfect world, but people sinned, and it has been cursed since.  Not all suffering is a result of sin, but because of original sin, all people and creation will suffer until Christ returns with his new creation.

4. Evil is not ultimate. It is not the end.  The demons get their comeuppance and Christ, the Christus Victor, stands risen from the dead and permanently alive.  He is the end of all things, and he is full of joy and hope.

Tabletalk lists seven fears, but the infinite number of them are deadly, not just the seven in the articles.  This issue deals with fear of Death and Disease, Job Loss, Men, Self, Failure, Loss, Future, and God's Sovereignty.

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