21/12/2007

God is NOT dead

Some time in late 2001, early 2002, while most of the Christian church was campaigning against Harry Potter, I was reading the third in a series of three "children's" books. Towards the end of the book, I read the following:

" Will cut through the crystal in one movement and reached in to help the angel out. Demented and powerless the aged being could only weep and mumble in fear and pain and misery...

'It's all right,' Will said, 'we can help you hide, at least. Come on, we won't hurt you.'

The shaking hand seized his and feebly held on. The old one was uttering a wordless groaning whimper that went on and on, and grinding his teeth, and compulsively plucking at himself with his free hand; but as Lyra reached in too to help him out, he tried to smile, and to bow, and his ancient eyes deep in their wrinkles blinked with innocent wonder.

Between them they helped the ancient of days out of his crystal cell; it wasn't hard, for he was as light as paper, and he would have followed them anywhere, having no will of his own... But in the open air there was nothing to stop the wind from damaging him, and to their dismay his form began to loosen and disolve. Only a few moments later he had vanished completely, and their last impression was of those eyes, blinking in wonder, and a sigh of the most profound and exhausted relief.

Then he was gone... "

(Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass, Scholastic, 2001, p 431-2.)

This is the third book in the series that begins with The Golden Compass (or Northern Lights in the UK), which has recently been released as a film. Many believers have called for a complete boycott of the film because of the books' athiestic film.

The above extensive quote gives an idea of the sinister storyline of the trilogy and, while Philip Pullman himself has more recently denied the charges that he is out to destroy God, his agenda is still very clear. This is what the British Daily Telegraph said:

"To the charge that he has set out to destroy Christianity, Philip Pullman has a devilishly smart stock answer. 'Nonsense,' he will reply. 'God died a long time ago.' " (Telegraph, 30 November 2007)

These are serious issues and are a real challenge to the Church and for us to stand up for the truth, but how should the Church handle such things? I have been working on this post for a few weeks now, and so it has come out a little late - but I still hope this is a helpful contribution to the discussion.


Separation?

Is it right to respond with a boycott?

I am old enough to remember the furore over films such as The Life of Brian, The Last Temptation of Christ, Jesus Christ Superstar, and more recently, the opposition to Harry Potter. I have to ask the question - what does a boycott achieve? Will anyone be saved by a boycott? Rather, won't a boycott simply confirm the suspicions of the supports of the film that Christianity is a bad thing, that the church is a kill-joy and that God is to be avoided at all costs?

Also, won't a boycott leave us completely ignorant as to the real content of the film and of the books and leave us utterly unable to engage in any form of competent discussion with friends, family and colleagues who have watched the film and received its content as the truth?


Engagement?

Perhaps, then, the answer is to make ourselves aware, to watch the film and/or read the books. Certainly, organisations such as Damaris, are devoted to engaging with the culture and writing books and study guides to help equip believers. Al Mohler has written an excellent blog on The Golden Compass. Among other helpful things, he says:

"Christian parents must be informed about His Dark Materials and inform others. We must take the responsibility to use interest in this film to teach our own children to think biblically and to be discerning in their engagement with the media in all forms. We should arm our children to be able to talk about this project with their classmates without fear or rancor."

Whether part of being informed is to see this movie, and read the books, is a matter for each individual parent and pastor. However, I do still have a concern, which was expressed by Dan in a comment on a post of mine back in May: we can end up getting too caught up in defending truth, rather than publishing it. Many books were written against the Da Vinci Code and against Harry Potter. Was that a good use of resources?

I once heard UK Christian youth leader Mike Pilavachi say: "People are sick of hearing what the church is against, they need to hear what the church is for." In our engagement with the culture, it is not simply about saying "no" to Golden Compass, rather it is about speaking, and showing the truth.

So I have one more point to make...


Demonstration

The apostle Paul did reason, but he also demonstrated the power of God. Jesus taught, but he also showed that the kingdom of God had come upon them (Luke 11v20).

God is NOT dead, He is very much alive. Smith Wigglesworth said, "It is the people of God that He will use to make the world know that there is a God."

Yes, we show that God very much alive by declaring with full confidence what He has said, and with the beauty of transformed, Christ-centred lives. But "the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power" (1 Cor 4v20, NIV). We will demonstrate that God is alive, by displaying His glory.

As Dan shows in a quote from Rob Rufus, believers want to experience God:

“You know the George Barnea Research went to thousands of non-Christians in America and said, “What would make you go to church?”. They said, “If we could experience God!”. Then they said to pastors that this is the number one thing people are asking for. The pastors got all indignant and said, “We talk about God every Sunday!”. But we are not talking about academic information about God but God Himself coming!".

This is the need of the hour. We must follow in His footsteps. God is very much alive - let's pursue Him in the glory cloud, and demonstrate His awesome power.

2 comments:

Dan Bowen said...

Amen! As you know too well, I completely 100% agree with this wonderful statement of truth. Re; the hunger for the demonstration of power - I wonder if the Reformed brothers and sisters among us react to a statement like this because they think that "demonstration" leaves out theology and truth and doctrine.

But surely throughout the Bible whenever God DEMONSTRATED Himself in manifest glory, the people who witnessed the said demonstration had absolutely no doubt about the theology! As Rob Rufus said "Theology Himself has shown up!!".

Have we nutured a culture of "talking about Jesus Christ" because the manifest Presence OF Jesus Christ isn't welcome in His Church?

But wait a minute ... John the Baptist broke 400 years of silence (and presumably God's people spoke much about Him) and heralded Jesus's arrival and He wasn't welcome in Israel! So why should we be surprised if God Himself is manifesting Himself in power like never before and He isn't welcome in His own church because we have got so adapting to talking about Him?

Peter Day said...

Thanks, Dan. You know, I don't think we can pursue Him too much. We can never be too hungry.

Yes it is great to talk about the Lord, but isn't it better to talk and taste? David said "I'll become even more undignified than this!" That must be our attitude no matter what people think.