Monday, February 29, 2016


While theology answers the “what” question – What are we to believe? – apologetics answers the “why” question: Why do we believe what we believe? But is apologetics – the rational defense of the faith – biblical? It certainly is! In fact, we find apologetics in all of the evangelistic sermons of the Book of Acts!

Notice how Peter answered the “why” question. The crowds had heard the Apostles speaking with the supernatural gift of tongues. Some of the crowd concluded that they must be drunk. However, Peter used this phenomenon to demonstrate that this represented a fulfillment of prophecy and, consequently, a proof for the faith:

  • “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.’” (Acts 2:14-20; ESV) 
Peter understood that this fulfillment of the prophecy of the Prophet Joel was evidence supportive of the new Christian faith. However, Peter was on an apologetic role. He now centered his proof of the faith on the resurrection:

  • “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’” (Acts 2:22-28)
First, Peter mentioned the miracles. They all knew about these, but didn’t the crucifixion put to death this Messianic hope? No! By quoting Psalm 16, Peter tried to prove that the resurrection had been prophesied and had turned everything around. Peter then explained the meaning of the Psalm and how it pointed to the resurrection:

  • “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:29-31) 
Peter then offered testimonial evidence of the resurrection that anyone could ascertain by speaking to the many witnesses. Then, he cited another Psalm (110) that the Israelites also regarded as Messianic:

  • This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:32-36) 
According to Peter, the evidence was enough to produce certainty.” What was the result of such apologetic preaching?

  • So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41) 
Admittedly, argumentation alone does not save anyone, but neither does any salvation message. Both must be accompanied by the work of the Spirit in changing hearts.

During Paul’s first recorded evangelistic message, in Antioch in Pisidia, Paul also brought forward evidence to establish the Person of Jesus:

  • Of this man’s [King David’s] offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.  And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’ Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. (Acts 13:23-31)
First, Paul identified Jesus as David’s promised offspring, in accordance with prophecy. Then he cited John the Baptist’s testimony, followed by allusions to prophecies of the death of the Messiah. This, of course, was followed by the evidence of the resurrection – eyewitness testimony of those who are still alive. He was now ready to provide the Scriptural evidence for the resurrection:

  • And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’ And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’ Therefore he says also in another psalm [16], ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. (Acts 13:32-38)
Again, both of the quoted Psalms were regarded as Messianic. This would avoid any controversy as to whether or not prophecy was fulfilled by a Messiah. Meanwhile, God too had been providing His own evidence:

  • So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. (Acts 14:3)
If God provides reasons-to-believe, we should not be hesitant to also provide reasons.

In Athens, Paul reasoned with them as Gentiles. He appealed to argumentation and reasons that might make a difference to them. Therefore, it does not seem that he cited Scripture. Instead, he appealed to what they already knew and valued – their own thinkers:

  • Yet he [God] is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. (Acts 17:27-29)
Paul reasoned from what they knew to what they didn’t know – that the Athenians should not worship idols, their own creations. Even their own poets had asserted that we are His offspring. If this is so, then God cannot be “an image formed by the art and imagination of man.” Instead, He – the Cause – must be greater than we, the result of His work.

Apologetics, the “why” of belief, is woven into the very fabric of Scripture. It had also been integral to the Hebrew Scriptures and the experience of Israel, as Moses had reasoned 40 years after the Exodus:

  • “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live?  Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him. (Deuteronomy 4:32-35)
Israel had no reason for their unbelief and rebellion. They knew better. Jesus was also cognizant of our need for evidence and even evidential reassurances. After John the Baptist had been arrested, he underwent a crisis in faith. He had declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God:

  • John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.” (John 1:15-16)
However, John now instructed his disciples to find out if Jesus is truly the One. When they found Him, Jesus could simply have told them, “Tell John to just believe.” However, He provided them with evidence to reassure John:

  • And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:4-5)
We need food for both our hearts and our minds. Consequently, Jesus never instructed His followers to turn off their minds but instead to love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds (Matthew 22:37). We too must love Him accordingly.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


A Bible-study leader had been concerned about one of her group who was reluctant to study Scripture but instead was determined experience it. She had been practicing a technique called Lectio Divina (LD) and wrote me for whatever insight I might have to offer.

I consulted Wikipedia and found that:

  • In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word. It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word. 
  • Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.
  • The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you" an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. But in Lectio Divina rather than "dissecting peace", the practitioner "enters peace" and shares in the peace of Christ.
We all have our own ways of approaching Scripture and prayer. We find that certain ways work better for us than others. I have my own methods. I like to pray as I am walking. Praying on my knees is a sure prescription for discomfort, while praying in bed guarantees sleep. Walking helps me focus on my Savior.

However, I would never suggest that you have to pray as I do in order to receive prayer answers from God or to experience Him. However, this tends to be what a wide variety of mystics claim – that if you don’t use their techniques, you will miss out on the blessings of God.

Implicit in this insistence is the denial of the sufficiency of Scripture:

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17) 
In many ways, Scripture informs us that God has given us all of the counsel we need to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” However, the mystics, in claiming that we require their techniques, deny this truth.

However, the LD practitioner would object:

  • This isn’t a matter of promoting our techniques but rather the teachings of Scripture.
Perhaps I’m being a bit picky here. While Scripture does require meditation on Scripture (Psalm 1), it does not seem that Scripture requires LD meditation. In this regard Wikipedia claims:

  • When the passage is read, it is generally advised not to try to assign a meaning to it at first, but to wait for the action of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the mind, as the passage is pondered upon.
Although traditional Christians all acknowledge the vital role of the Spirit in illuminating Scripture (1 John 2:19-20, 23-27; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 3:14-18), non-mystics trust in this illumination and guidance apart from any practice of waiting, listening, sensing or silence.

However, this not what should cause any alarm or division. Rather, it’s LD’s insistence upon approaching Scripture apart from mental understanding. Can Scripture benefit apart from understanding? Not according to Paul! Even speaking in unknown supernatural tongues, if not accompanied by understanding, was useless for spiritual growth:

  • Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? (1 Corinthians 14:6)
Can the Spirit illuminate while the mind is trying grasp the meaning of a passage? There is a mistaken assumption that the Spirit cannot illuminate our minds while our minds are actively engaged in thought and prayer. However, in many ways, Scripture shows us that the Spirit is not sidelined by our thinking. Rather, He works in conjunction with our mental activity:

  • Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2) 
Knowing God’s will or leading is not a matter of turning our minds off but of transforming them. We therefore cannot separate the serious study of the Scriptures from the Spirit illuminating Scripture. They go together.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Do Doctrines Divide? Do Mystical Experiences Unite?

Many in the Western church are choosing mystical experience over doctrinal truth. Why? They insist that doctrines divide us, while common mystical experience can bring us together. Mysticism is now touted as the means to directly experience God, making our “divisive” doctrines unnecessary. These experiences are achieved, not through believing the truth or even living the truth, but through techniques available to us all, irrespective of our religious orientations.  In this regard, sociologist Tony Campolo writes:

  • A theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God…I do not know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystical experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism. (Roger Oakland, Faith Undone, 108)
According to Campolo, we can plug into God through mystical techniques and experiences, and this common experience can become the basis of a “common ground” among the various religions. He claims that he has been able to achieve “intimacy with Christ” through “centering prayer” (113). For him, this involves the repetition of the name of Jesus. However, he suggests that Muslims – and probably others – may also be able to achieve this same “intimacy with Christ” through the use of similar mystical techniques. If this is so, then theology and doctrine are no longer important. Instead, they build walls and present obstacles.

This raises the question, “What is an ‘ecstatic union with God?” The Bible makes no mention of such a thing. This Biblical silence speaks loudly, especially since Scripture claims to provide everything that we need for a relationship with God:

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
If mysticism and “ecstatic union with God” are the means for world unity and peace, we should expect that Scripture would say something about this! However, Scripture insists that, for spiritual matters, we mustn’t go beyond it (Isaiah 8:19-20; 1 Cor. 4:6)

If anyone had experienced an “ecstatic union with God,” it was Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. However, instead of teaching His disciples about how to have an “ecstatic union with God,” He instructed them to not tell anyone about what they had seen (Matt. 17:11). If there ever had been a teachable moment to introduce mystical methods, it was then!

Moses also had a fantastic mountain-top experience, through which his countenance was transformed. However, instead of telling the Israelites about how they too could experience God, he directed them to God’s words (Exodus 34:29-34). Rather than focusing upon having an experience, Moses placed the emphasis upon the Word of God.

Campolo fails to recognize that there is a prohibitive price to be paid for genuine experiences or revelations from God. God had taken Paul on a journey to heaven. However, lest he become proud about what he had learned and experienced, God chastened him severely (2 Cor, 12:1-10)!

However, it is important to realize that each one of these transformative experiences had been the product of God’s initiative and not human manipulations. In fact, the idea that we humans can coerce an “ecstatic union with God” is sheer arrogance.

At a low point in his ministry, Moses did request a divine revelation: “Show me your glory” (Exod. 33:18). However, God delivered in the form of doctrinal content rather than an ecstatic experience. He placed Moses in “the cleft of a rock,” while “His glory passed by” (33:22) and He honored him with His Self-disclosure:

  • And he said [to Moses], “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Exodus 33:19)
  • The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6) 
But do we really encounter God through mystical techniques, and what assurance do we have that we aren’t really plugging into something malevolent? The mystic:

  • Richard Foster claims that practitioners must use caution. He admits that in contemplative prayer “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” and that sometimes it is not the realm of God even though it is “supernatural.” He admits there are spiritual beings and that a prayer of protection should be said beforehand – something to the effect of “All dark and evil spirits must now leave.” (Roger Oakland, 99)
Foster is presumptuous if he thinks that just a “prayer of protection” will suffice.  In view of these spiritual threats, he should be asking whether or not he has taken the wrong path, an unbiblical one, one that has taken him outside of the parameter of God’s protective hand! In view of the fact that the Devil poses as an agent of the light (2 Cor. 11:14), what guarantee does Foster have that he hasn’t been deceived?

This leads us to the next question: “Can people of other religions employ mystical techniques to experience God?” For one thing, God is the last Person that the unredeemed wants to experience. Naturally speaking, we hate God (Rom. 8:8:6-7) and can’t stand His presence:

  • This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)
Even the children of Israel couldn’t tolerate His presence:

  • When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” (Exodus 20:18-19)
The last thing they wanted was a more intimate encounter! Surprisingly, God was pleased that Israel had this fearful awareness and, therefore, wouldn’t try to pursue a mystical union with Him. Without the redemption of the cross, He too didn’t want to be in Israel’s presence. He explained that He might destroy them if He came into their presence:

  • I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:2- 3) 
Campolo suggests that the Muslims might also be experiencing God, apart from faith in Christ. However, if they were to experience God, they would be experiencing His wrath:

  • The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. (Romans 1:18)
It is only through faith in Jesus that we have been redeemed from the wrath of God: It is only through Him that we can enter boldly into His presence:

  • Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Mysticism would not be quite so offensive if it only claimed to influence our personal experience. However, it also claims to influence God! Campolo writes:

  • The constant repetition of his name clears my head of everything but the awareness of his presence. By driving back all other concerns, I am able to create what the ancient Celtic Christians called “the thin place.” The thin place is that spiritual condition wherein the separation between the self and God becomes so thin that God is able to break through and envelope the soul. (114)
Campolo claims that “constant repetition … to create…the thin place” out of a thick separation between he and God, enables his less-than-omnipotent god “to break through and envelope the soul.” In essence, Campolo has become the prime agent of reconciliation, since God, by Himself, is unable!

However, Scripture assures us that God already lives within us to such an extent that we can confidently say:

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)
Mysticism preaches a different Christ, one who is not omnipotent and cannot break through to us without our mindless repetitions or other profane techniques. Besides, Scripture teaches us that we need not create the “thin place” so that God can break through. Instead, as He had explained to Abraham, every place is a “thin place” for our God:

  • The LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”( Genesis 18:13-14) 
Jesus even warned us against this practice of vain, meaningless repetitions:

  • And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7) 
Repetitions might make us feel connected, but they have nothing to do with our relationship with our Savior! Instead, God wants truth, not repetitions, in our inmost being (Psalm 51:6). This truth should entail contrition and repentance and not ecstatic union!

Perhaps most troubling of all, Campolo claims that, through his “centering prayer,” he is the one who has removed or thinned the separating barrier between him and God. However, God claims that this is a barrier that He has eliminated through the cross, renting the separating temple veil in two! Of course, this is not to deny that we do erect barriers through our sins. However, we address such barriers through confession and repentance and not mystical practices!

In general, the mystics teach a different Christ, a Christ who is not so much concerned about truth, faith, doctrine, righteousness, repentance, obedience, and holiness as He is about learning techniques – repetitions, centering prayer, imaginations, visualizations and practicing silence. These are practices that find absolutely no biblical support.

Nevertheless, experience is essential to the Christian life. However, we enjoy this experience through the blessings of learning about our Lord (2 Peter 1:2-3; 1 Cor. 3:18; Jer. 9:23-24).

Our experience/feelings reflect what we understand! Having experienced decades of depression and self-loathing prior to coming to Christ, these tendencies had been deeply engraved within my flesh. They were so deep that I even felt that God loathed me. It seemed that God had created humanity for His own sadistic entertainment – plenty of laughs. However, one evening, He made very real for me the cross, His own suffering and compassion (Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 63:9). My tears of gratitude have not ceased flowing since!

Sometimes, Divisions are Unavoidable, even Necessary

In the church, we are to avoid divisions. The Apostle Paul pleaded for us to maintain our unity:

  • Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:2-6)
However, we can only preserve unity where there is already a basis or foundation – Jesus - for that unity. We cannot create bonds of brotherhood where there are none. Nor can a skilled midwife bring forth a baby where there is none already waiting in the womb. Instead, we are called to be separate from the world:

  • Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)
It is Christ’s unity that must be preserved and not a unity of our own invention. Instead, we must not compromise our relationship with our Savior with “fellowship bonds” that will lead us into compromise.

This doesn’t mean that we cannot love and befriend those who do not share Christ with us. We certainly must, but these bonds cannot be such that they will diminish our life with the Lord. We cannot be yoked together with unbelievers in a way that compromises our supreme marriage but must be scrupulous about anything that might harm the Body of Christ. “A little leaven [sin] leavens [corrupts] the whole loaf” (Gal. 5:9).

In the Book of Revelation, the Holy Spirit provided the churches with the results of His theological evaluation. The church at Ephesus was even commended for its intolerance and willingness to risk divisions:

  • I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. (Revelation 2:2-3)
Sometimes intolerance, division, and excommunication are commendable. There are other times when the churches were too tolerant, too concerned about achieving an unbiblical and superficial unity, that they were castigated by the Spirt. This was the case with the church at Pergamus:

  • Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! (Revelation 2:14-16) 
Evidently, the church at Pergamus lacked an adequate understanding or appreciation of God’s truths and concerns – theology! This was also the case with the church at Thyatira:

  • Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. (Revelation 2:20-21)
Excommunication seems so archaic, intolerant, and unloving to modern ears. However, we are instructed to pursue this form of church discipline, not only for the benefit of the church, but also for the offender. Paul mentions two such offenders:

  • Timothy… fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20) 
For their own welfare, Hymenaeus and Alexander had to be taught to not blaspheme. To accomplish this, strong measures are sometimes needful to bring about repentance. Paul also advised excommunication for an unrepentant man having sex with his father’s wife:

  • When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:4-5)
Paul was not only concerned about the church but also the salvation of the unrepentant.

We Christians are often told that, “You shouldn’t judge.” However, when our critics judge us in this manner, they are being hypocritical since they too are judging. This should demonstrate that there is no way around judging and making divisions. They are a necessary part of life.

Mystical Experience and Peace

Can mystical experience unite the world and bring the peace that Campolo hopes for? I don’t see how! Already, we share many common experiences – fear, desire, family, children, friends, anxiety…  The list is almost endless. However, these haven’t brought peace. Why then expect that another common experience might bring peace?

My wife and I share many common experiences. However, we have to strive to maintain peace. How? With God’s theological truths! These instruct us how to please God and to love others:

  • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
These truths take precedence over all over our feelings and experiences, as they should! However, when we get our theology down right, the proper feelings will follow.