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Why pray through history?

My little corner where I pray. 2016. (Yes that’s an original print of Koko Taylor shot by acclaimed photographer and blues archivist Marc Norberg.)

Pray Through History: A New Way of Looking at History

Though this post mostly portrays my theology and touches on historiography, I want to bravely lead out with baring my heart. I pray through history out of love of Our Father. I pray because it is a calling. I’m incensed at the wrongs our human race commits towards Him. I’m humbled at my own betrayals of myself, my G-d, and others. We spend so much time academically threading the needle of who is offended by whom at what time in our past, but we rarely, so rarely, if ever look above the heads of our beloved enemies to see the offenses and betrayals committed against the “I AM”. How will we move forward as the human race if we maintain permanent grudges against each other? How do we heal the huge chasms caused by deep and real wounds, “ethnos to ethnos”, if we do not have a way to forgive, and an academy too often stuck in the same trap?

Dear and Holy Messiah, how grateful I am that You made a way! You literally gave Your blood and yielded Your life so that when we, too, are falsely accused and crucified by our neighbor(s); we also will rise again! Forgiveness may be the most costly of all the virtues You exhort us to live by. It is not a feeling that can be manufactured. It is not a commodity that can be bought or sold. It is not an exercise of the mind, or an intellectual “ism”. It is a habit of Your Kingdom; of those eternally committed to unconditional love. It is an impossibility without Your impartations of humility, revelation, and a new heart to replace our hearts of stone.

Though not in Scripture, You crystalized this human condition through the pen of English poet Alexander Pope. About 1711, he wrote a powerful poem entitled so appropriately “An Essay on Criticism, Part II”. What did You speak to us through this beautiful man’s mind but ‘To err is human; to forgive, divine’?!

May You be honored by our repentance, Eternal Father. May we break off the bitter branches of this tree of humanity. May we prune our own branches so that our neighbors may again enjoy Your light! How we love You, and need You this day to survive! Your adoring adopted son, James

A PRAYERFUL MODEL TO ANALYSE HISTORY

I. THERE ARE SPECIFIC ‘MOMENTS OF SEPARATION’ IN HUMAN HISTORY.

> For example, the Seljuk Turks attack Jerusalem.

II. ACTION-BASED JUDGMENTS IN PRESENT TIME.

> Jews to Seljuks, Jews to all Turks, Jews towards any outsider

> Seljuks to Jerusalem’s Jews, Seljuks to all Jews

III. FUTURE JUDGMENTS ARE FORMED BASED ON MEMORY, PERCEPTION, AND BITTER ROOT JUDGMENTS ARE SOLIDIFIED.

> Transference on a cultural scale.

> Perpetuation of offense.

IV.  PARTIES ARE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS AND JUDGMENTS IN THE LORD’S JUSTICE.

> Even righteous anger betrays the victim. Even if the victim is a city, culture, tribe, or nation. We have been forgiven all, and therefore must forgive all. (This is not easy. The decision of the will may be simple, but the maintaining a heart of forgiveness is divine. )

> This is not an endorsement of living without boundaries, especially personal boundaries. Rather, it is a challenge of the rights of a human being to hold another prisoner by the maintenance of an offense.

V. WE CAN REPRESENTATIONALLY ACKNOWLEDGE HISTORICAL SIN BEFORE OUR LORD.

>  Through Christ we have access to his Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence. He is present to all history, the present, and future events. He is within time, and beyond our comprehension of time. He knows all and can guide us to pray representationally, (intercession) for events of history, the present, and the future. He truly has unlimited power to forgive, heal, restore any human condition! 

>His only limitation is self-imposed: He is a gentleman with boundaries. He believes in good and evil, justice and injustice, lightness and darkness, separateness and relationship.  Isaiah 5:20 “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” We can trust in distinctions because He trusts in distinctions. Denial of sin within the context of our relationship with Him or others offends God because it denies our condition of separateness, or that we may have a need to address. Denial allows us to keep our pride, hold a grudge, or maintain anger. To use an old Baptist analogy,

“The whole world stand under the Niagara Falls of the Lord’s love. Some have their cups turned up and are filled. Others, although they under a deluge of love, can’t seem to keep a drop because their cups are turned upside down.”

VI. THROUGH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF HISTORICAL SINS, WE SET THE PROCESS OF RESTORATION IN MOTION.

A. We become aware of historical sin through experience or education.

B. We confess it to the Lord. This is a legal admission of guilt.

C. We pronounce the Lord’s forgiveness of confessed sin. (1 John 1: 8-10)

D. He will guide it through the full process of restoration.

1. Confession leads to remorse.

2. Remorse leads to repentance.

3. Repentance leads to reconciliation.

4. Reconciliation leads to restoration.

VII. ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURAL PRINCIPLES OR MANDATES THAT OUTLINE OR AUTHORITY TO PRAY THROUGH HISTORY.

A. “It is never the will of God that the judgment due the wicked should come upon the righteous.” pp 14-15 citing Genesis 18: 23,25 NIV

1.”Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” v. 23 Abraham asks.

2.”Far be it from you to do such a thing-to kill the righteous with the                 wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” v. 25

B. “Every Christian has dual citizenship.” pp 32-35

1. “By natural birth he is a citizen of an earthly nation, and he is subject to all the ordinances and requirements of his nation’s lawful government. But by spiritual rebirth through faith in Christ, he is also a citizen of God’s heavenly kingdom. This is the basis of Paul’s statement, already referred to in our previous chapter: “We…are citizens of heaven.” Philippians 3:20 NEB

2. Example of dual citizenship: Jeremiah 1: 5,10 NIV  

-”I approinted you as a prophet to the nations.” v.5 

-”See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” v.10

– Jeremiah was subject as a citizen of Judah: “he did not “preach or      practice political subversion or anarchy. Nor did he ever seek to evade or resist decrees made by the government concerning him, even though these were at times arbitrary and unjust. Yet on the spiritual plane to which God elevated him through his prophetic ministry, Jeremiah exercised authority over the very rulers to whom he was in subjection on the natural plane.”

Derek Prince, Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, (Springdale, PA: Whittaker House,1973)

Mark 2:1-12 NIV 

v 5. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “ Son, your sins are forgiven.”

v 10. “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”He said to the paralytic, v11. “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

“It is interesting to note that in John 20:22-23, Jesus breathes upon his disciples to receive the Holy Spirit, and then pronounces, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”  Jesus is giving the church the authority to announce His forgiveness in the lives of those who come to Him in faith.  We do not have the innate ability to forgive anyone’s sins against God, or to withhold God’s forgiveness of sins from anybody.  But Jesus has given the church the authority to act as His regents or representatives in the world, and to speak on His behalf.  We can declare that “God forgives you” with all the authority of Jesus, because we are not declaring our forgiveness, but rather His forgiveness in Christ.  We are merely pronouncing the forgiveness made possible by the sacrifice of Christ.” 

Timothy Tennent, President Asbury Theological Seminary

http://blogs.asburyseminary.edu/global-talk/the-temple-is-here-mark-21-12/

His Holiness John Paul II, First Sunday of Lent, “Day of Pardon” Presentation

Vatican Basilica

 12 March 2000

I. The meaning of the celebration

1. On 12 March 2000, the First Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father will celebrate the Eucharist with the Cardinals and will ask forgiveness from the Lord for the sins, past and present, of the sons and daughters of the Church.

The celebration of the Day of Pardon was expressly desired by the Holy Father as a powerful sign in this Jubilee Year, which is by its very nature a moment of conversion.

“As the Successor of Peter, I ask that in this year of mercy the Church, strong in the holiness which she receives from her Lord, should kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters. All have sinned and none can claim righteousness before God (cf. 1 Kgs 8:46)… Christians are invited to acknowledge, before God and before those offended by their actions, the faults which they have committed. Let them do so without seeking anything in return, but strengthened only by the ‘love of God which has been poured finto our hearts’ (Rom 5:5)” (Incarnationis Mysterium, 11; cf. Terno Millennio Adveniente, 33).

2. Consequently, the Church, in a Eucharistic celebration at the beginning of her Lenten journey, and thus in an act of thanksgiving to the Lord, confesses, proclaims and glorifies God’s work within her during the past two thousand years of Christianity. The Lord has been living and present in his Church, and through the Saints he has demonstrated that he continues to be at work in human history, in the midst of his community. Certainly, Christians, as pilgrims and wayfarers towards the Kingdom, remain sinners, frail, weak and subject to the temptations of Satan, the Prince of this world, despite their incorporation into the Body of Christ. In every generation the holiness of the Church has shone forth, witnessed by countless numbers of her sons and daughters; yet this holiness has been contradicted by the continuing presence of sin which burdens the journey of God’s People. The Church can sing both the Magnificat for what God has accomplished within her and the Miserere for the sins of Christians, for which she stands in need of purification, penance and renewal (cf. Lumen Gentium, 8). 

3. “The Church cannot cross the threshold of the new millennium without encouraging her children to purify themselves through repentance of past errors and instances of infidelity, inconsistency and slowness to act” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 33). Consequently, a liturgy seeking pardon from God for the sins committed by Christians down the centuries is not only legitimate; it is also the most fitting means of expressing repentance and gaining purification. 

Pope John Paul II, in a primatial act, confesses the sins of Christians over the centuries down to our own time, conscious that the Church is a unique subject in history, “a single mystical person”. The Church is a communion of saints, but a solidarity in sin also exists among all the members of the People of God: the bearers of the Petrine ministry, Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

http://www.catholiclinks.org/sacramentoperdondiadelperdon.htm

Nehemiah 9:33

“In all that has happened to us, you have been just; you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.” Nehemiah 9:33

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20th Century, Faith, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Science, Uncategorized

William Bell Riley: Minnesota’s Link to the Scopes Monkey Trials

riley_at_desk

July 21, 1925

“William Bell Riley was the pastor of First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota from 1897 until 1942. Riley was a theological conservative and advocate for the New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833.  In 1919, he founded the World Christian Fundamentals Association as resource for the Church in an era of modernism. In 1947, Riley persuaded Billy Graham to become president of his university and seminary; the Northwestern Bible College (University of Northwestern-Saint Paul).” *

According to William Vance Trollinger Jr., author of God’s Empire: Wiliam Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism. (1990, The University of Wisconsin Press.), Riley was “…the dominant figure in American fundamentalism in the first half of the twentieth century. More than any other individual, it was Riley who, in the decade after World War I, marshaled the fundamentalist forces into crusades designed to purify both American Protestantism and American culture in general”. “Riley was the founder and leading spokesperson of the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association (WCFA), the first organization that attempted to unite conservative Christians of all denominations in an international association. An indefatigable polemicist, he was one of the most active and effective debaters among American antievolutionists”.***

Given this stance, it is no surprise that he was aware of a small trial developing in Tennessee that would become a touchstone of controversy in American culture; the evolution of man vs. the creation of man. Riley responded by tapping, perhaps, the greatest orator of the 20th century to defend the Church; William Jennings Bryan. It also bode well for the Fundamentalists that Jennings was a man of influence: lawyer and three-time Democratic presidential nominee, former United States Secretary of State, lifelong Presbyterian, and a man of the people.

The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a famous American legal case in 1925 in which a high school teacher John Scopes was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. It became a national show trial highlighting the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. Famed orator and politician William Jennings Bryan argued the Fundamentalist position that the Word of G-d revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. Clarence Darrow, a powerful defense attorney and labor lawyer, argued the Modernist position that evolution was not inconsistent with religion. It became a theological contest between the two camps as to which should be taught in public schools.**

In Your mercy, Lord hear our prayer. We, the State of Minnesota, being comprised both of people of faith and those who believe in the supremacy of science have judged You. Our greatest offenses to You, perhaps, are judging Your ability to create, that You are not the author of all science and natural laws of the universe, and indirectly, by attempting to usurp Your benevolent moral authority as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending of all. We, who live in the dusty bookshelf of our observations within linear history, do not comprehend the Ancient of Days, the Eternal Now, the I Am. Great One, will You forgive us; back then in 1925, now, and into the future?

Will You have mercy on the beliefs and misbeliefs of William Bell Riley, the WFCA, and the Fundamentalist movement of this era? Their root fears, in this case, likely would be that teaching evolution alongside creationism would cast doubts on the truthfulness and historicity of Your Word. To amplify further, public schools may eventually abandon teaching the Bible at all, based on the premise that it’s “unscientific” where it addresses science, and that it’s values are static rather than evolutionary. Though one needs to understand it to thoroughly grasp the greatest writings of Western civilization, it could also be deemed untenable as literature. 

Granted, their fears have come true in less than 90 years. We do not currently rely on the Bible for any use in public education in Minnesota. Yet, where they closed their ears to Your voice spoken through science and evolution, will You have mercy? Will You forgive where fundamentalists’ fears may have blocked the growth of students eager to study a species’ curious abilities of adaption?

Similarly, will You have mercy on the beliefs and misbeliefs of the modernists and evolutionists of this era? They likely feared that their students would subject their minds to the shaky traditions and teaching of Your Word without the ability to “scientifically” test them to be credible. Were their suppositions of the infallibility of the scientific method and reproducible experiments even the correct means to assess any book, let alone Your Revealed Word written over a span of 2,000 years by forty different authors from three different continents? What are the correct means of testing the reliability of writing?*****

First, does a book of antiquity pass the basic principals of historiography: the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test? What type of manuscript evidence exists? How many extant copies of the book do we possess, and how close are these copies to the date of publishing? These are useful questions our educators have failed to ask of Your Word. Have mercy on our lack of curiosity!*****

Next, does archaeology support or refute the claims of the Bible? Below, two giants in the field give their testimony on the subject.

Nelson Glueck, the renowned Jewish archaeologist said, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” *****

“There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament tradition.” William F. Albright ******

Again, were the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in Christ? Below is a brief list of Old Testament prophecies and their New Testament fulfillment:

  1. Born of a seed of woman – Galatians 4:4
  2. Born of a virgin – Matthew 1:18
  3. Son of G-d – Matthew 3:17
  4. Seed of Abraham – Galatians 3:16
  5. Son of Isaac – Luke 3:23
  6. Son of Jacob – Luke 3:23,34
  7. Tribe of Judah – Hebrews 7:14
  8. Family line of Jesse – Luke 3:23,32
  9. House of David – Revelation 22:16
  10. Born at Bethlehem – Matthew 2:1
  11. Presented with gifts – Matthew 2:11
  12. Herod kills children – Mathew 2:16
  13. His pre-existence – Colossians 1:17
  14. He shall be called ‘Lord’ – Luke 2:11
  15. Shall be Immanuel – Matthew 1:23
  16. Shall be a prophet – Matthew 21:11
  17. Priest – Hebrews 3:11
  18. Judge – John 5:30
  19. King – Matthew 27:37
  20. Special anointment of Holy Spirit – Matthew 3:16,17
  21. His zeal for G-d – John 2:15-17
  22. Preceded by a messenger – Matthew 3:1,2
  23. Ministry to begin in Galilee – Mathew 4:12,13,17
  24. Ministry of Miracles – Mathew 9:35
  25. Teacher of parables – Matthew 13:34
  26. He was to enter the Temple – Matthew 21:12
  27. He was to enter Jerusalem on a donkey – Luke 19:35-37
  28. “Stone of stumbling” to Jews – I Peter 2:7
  29. Light to Gentiles – Acts 13:47-48
  30. Resurrection – Acts 2:31
  31. Ascension – Acts 1:9
  32. Seated at the right hand of G-d – Hebrews 3:1
  33. Betrayed by a friend – Matthew 10:4
  34. Sold for 30 pieces of silver – Matthew 26:15
  35. Money to be thrown in Temple – Matthew 27:5
  36. Price given for potter’s field – Matthew 27:7
  37. Forsaken by disciples – Mark 14:50
  38. Accused by false witnesses – Matthew 26:59,60
  39. Dumb (silent) before accusers – Matthew 27:12
  40. Wounded and bruised – Matthew 27:26
  41. Smitten and spit upon – Matthew 26:67
  42. Mocked – Matthew 27:31
  43. Fell under the Cross – John 19:17
  44. Hand and feet pierced – Luke 23:33
  45. Crucified with thieves – Matthew 27:38
  46. Made intercession for his persecutors – Luke 23:34
  47. Rejected by his own people – John 7:5,48
  48. Hated without cause – John 15:25
  49. Friends stood afar off – Luke 23:49
  50. People shook their heads – Matthew 27:39
  51. Stared upon – Luke 23:35
  52. Garments parted and lots cast – John 19:23,24
  53. To suffer thirst – John 19:28
  54. Gall and vinegar offered him – Matthew 27:34
  55. His forsaken cry – Matthew 27:46
  56. Committed himself to G-d – Luke 23:46
  57. Bones not broken – John 19:33
  58. Heartbroken – John 19:34
  59. His side pierced – John 19:34
  60. Darkness over the land – Matthew 27:45
  61. Buried in a rich man’s tomb – Matthew 27:57-60

Professor Peter Stoner used these claims as an exercise in probability. If we used only eight items in this list, …”We find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.” If we increased that number to forty eight prophecies, …”We find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10 to the 157th power.” *******

All this to say that using the suppositions of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, and or any other scientific method is an incomplete assessment of the truthfulness of the Bible, or the proper yardstick to judge any book. Your revelations in scripture are scientific where it applies to science, but how would Darwin’s method be meaningful across all time, beyond time, and to all subjects?

Human beings are not present to all time, therefore, is it possible that modernism falls apart due to lack of presence to observe, test, and record the conditions of reproducible experiments and their results? Will You forgive these judgments based on our infinitesimal comprehension of time, or the concept that time is a creature under Your control?

Ultimately, modernism has taught us that we are a chance, therefore, not subject to the moral laws of any deity. If we are the beginning, then we are then end. If all morals are subject to the forces of evolution, then all values are the determination of each human being.  There are no distinctions between lightness and darkness, cruelty and love; there is only survival of the fittest. The ends justify the means.

Mercifully, You are the Alpha and the Omega. You are not offended by our quest to understand the universe. We know love because You have demonstrated love through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We know hate because we have experienced the absence of Your presence. We have worth built on the stability that we are declared worthy by the King of the Universe. That worth will go on after modernism, fundamentalism, or any ‘ism’ is no more. 

Lord, we thank You that our society wrestled with the question of origins in the Scopes Monkey trial. In spite of its upheaval in the world of education, we have still remained a people. Will You give us the grace to continue to wrestle with our existential questions in the future? Will You bring Your Presence to all students in Minnesota? 

1Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2“Who is this that obscures my plans

with words without knowledge?

3Brace yourself like a man;

I will question you,

and you shall answer me.

4“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

5Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

6On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

7while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?****

*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bell_Riley

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial

***http://faithful-nation.com/2017/07/14/william-bell-riley-and-fundamentalist-anti-semitism/

****http://biblehub.com/niv/job/38.htm

***** Rivers in the Desert; History of Negev. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1969, p33.

****** Albright, William F. Archaeology and the Religions of Israel. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1956, p1.

******* McDowell, Josh. Evidence that Demands a Verdict.Nashville, Atlanta, London, Vancouver: Thomas Nelson, 1979.

 

 

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