Category Archives: Theology

Is the World of “Beowulf” More Christian than America Today?

Every person and every age has its own understanding of the relationship between good and evil. America is known as the great “melting pot,” indicating the infusion and assimilation of many people and ideas from the entire world into one country. This has led to the diversity and breadth of beliefs that can be seen in America today, most of them unbiblical. Writing in a likely unchristianized Britain in the late first century, the “Beowulf” poet, seemingly as a Christian, held a view of good and evil that was probably not typical of the time. Although his view may not have been typical of the age, the “Beowulf” poet’s view of good and evil is more Biblical than that of American culture today.

To understand where the poet and the culture aligned with and have strayed from the truth of the relationship between good and evil, a study of truth itself would be in order. The Bible repeatedly states that God and God alone is perfect – every aspect of His nature is wholly and utterly good. This means that anything contrary to His nature is not good, for it is not God. Humanity cannot hope to meet God’s standards. As Romans 3:10 states, “No one is righteous, no not one.” Humanity is fallen and incapable of doing any good, and when life is over, God will judge our lives and we will see that our supposed “good deeds” are as filthy rags in His sight and really worth nothing at all. Only by salvation through His Son may we escape eternal judgment. As C. S. Lewis once said, “No good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights.” Such is the standard that humanity can never attain – if our good deeds are as rags, what must our wicked deeds be in His eyes?

The culture has many points of view on the relationship between good and evil – as many, it seems, as there are people who make up the culture. However, there are some predominant themes that seem to rule American culture as a whole. In a relativistic society, there is no true meaning to the word good, as there is no meaning to the word evil. Good seems to mean something that helps others, promotes popular causes, or supports popular ideologies. In America today, it seems to be very hard to do anything evil at all. The end justifies the means in our world – if the end result was “good”, it doesn’t matter how one gets there. This belief is reflected widely across our culture though the various forms of entertainment, specifically mass entertainment. As long as one doesn’t hurt another in the process, it never was really bad in the first place. However, as askew as America is today, it is not completely off the mark. A corrupt politician exploiting the citizens of his district for financial gain and power plays is universally disdained. Nothing is more despised than one who hurts another for his own personal benefit. An overwhelmingly large percentage of Americans believe in some kind of eternal reward, but the popular conception of heaven is not quite the paradise as described in the Bible. “As long as I’m not terribly bad, or at least more good then bad, God wouldn’t send me to Hell,” they say. Yes, the culture does acknowledge Hell, but they reserve it almost exclusively for the Hitlers and Stalins of this world. As can be seen, the culture has strayed dramatically from the Biblical view of good and evil and is not likely to return anytime soon.

The “Beowulf” poet had a view that is more similar to the Bible’s as compared to that of the culture’s perspective. “Beowulf” does not deal so much with goodness as much as the evil that dwells within this world. Within humanity, the poet frequently calls people “good” when referring to their physical or behavioral characteristics. People that are “good” within the poet’s story are those that are strong and powerful or good to others, most notably those who are unselfish, self-sacrificing, and generous. The poet also acknowledges that God is both sovereign and powerful as well as good on many occasions. The poet also has a very well-defined view of evil as well. The list may seem rather similar to the culture’s list: murder, cruelty, and other things that seem to unjustly hurt others. Then a surprising addition pops up. According to the poet, striving against God is a terrible evil (lines 106 – 114) and condemns worship of idols, calling Satan “the killer of souls.” Regarding eternity, God is the judge of the deeds of mankind, says the poet (lines 180 – 188), but we are left to guess whether or not the God of the poet’s world is as just as the God of the Bible or if it rather like the wishy-washy god of the culture.

God alone is the standard of perfection and the judge of all things. While the culture takes an elastic stance on the issue, the Biblical standard of good and evil is inflexible and unyielding. “Beowulf” falls somewhere in between The “Beowulf” poet seems rather undecided – sometimes mirroring the Bible and other times mimicking modern culture – and eventually lands with view of good and evil that is markedly more Biblical than that of American culture today.

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God’s Sovereignty in the Book of Esther

I know that I haven’t written in a while! Sorry…! I have decided to try to get back into the habit of blogging, especially because school has slowed down a bit.

In Sunday School, we have been doing a series on the book of Esther. In this book, there are so many things, as you clearly pointed out, Mr. Stern, which would seem to be remarkable “coincidences” and “good luck” to the world. However, even though God is never mentioned in the book, we know these to be sovereign acts of God and not just mere chance. To get a glimpse of how many of these “coincidences” there are, I thought that I would list some of them:

Xerxes just happens to throw a big party. At this party, his wife, Queen Vashti, just happens to refuse to show up. This just happens to make Xerxes really angry which just happens to make him want to “fire” her from her Queen-ship. Xerxes just happens to want another wife. Esther is a girl who just happens to be extraordinarily beautiful. She also just happens to be a Jew. Mordecai just happens to have adopted her after her parents just happened to die. It just so happens that Xerxes loved Esther more than any other woman and just happens to want her as his wife. Mordecai just happens to overhear a plot to kill Xerxes and his name just happens to get recorded in the records book but it so happens that Mordecai never get rewarded for his service. Haman’s lot just happened to fall on a date that was almost a year away. Mordecai learned of Haman’s plot to kill the Jews and it just so happened that he knew the queen, who was also a Jew and his niece. Esther just happened to find favour in the sight of the king and was able to invite him and Haman to two consecutive banquets, which the just happened to want to attend. The king just happened to be unable one night and learned the Mordecai had never been rewarded for saving his life. Haman just happened to build a gallows to hang Mordecai on. Haman just so happened to be hung on this gallows when the king learns of the plot to kill the Jews instead of Mordecai…

The list goes on and on…

Is it not amazing to know that the God Who can sovereignly ordain these things is in control over all the circumstances that we face every day?


The Day after the Election – A True/False Quiz

This is very much preaching to myself. It is so easy to get wrapped up in post-election depression, but this really puts things in perspective. My aunt sent this to me and it was a convicting read.

1. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.
2. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.
3. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.
4. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order: (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.
5. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.
6. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.
7. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.
8. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)
9. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see abortion ultimately overturned will still be winning men and women to a high view of life through the gospel of Christ.
10. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see gay marriage ultimately defeated will still be winning men and women to a biblical view of marriage through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
11. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.
12. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, “Jesus Is Lord” will still be the greatest truth in the universe.
13. True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.


I know that, at least for me, I have a bit of a mindset change to go through!

Also, I just want to thank everyone who posts/reads this blog regularly – I really appreciate your comments and support! I know that it can be hard to set aside time to listen to what a teenager has to say, but I certainly appreciate it nonetheless!


Who Knows What Tomorrow Holds?

We know that God is all-powerful, and we believe it, but sometimes we act as if we are more in control of our circumstances than he is, or at least that he is really not totally in control. We know that God is able to do all that He pleases, but we too often take our situations into our own hands (e.g. Abraham and Hagar). I catch myself all the time, when I am praying, saying (literally), “I know this is a lot to do, so I’m sorry…” than I catch myself and think “what am I thinking?” There isn’t a task that is too hard or complex or even remotely difficult for God to handle.

Hebrews 1:3 says that Christ is continually sustaining all things by His powerful word. If everything is held in place by His word, why should we fear that God is not in control? I know that, especially with the election occurring as I write, it is so easy to get caught up in everything and forget that God is really in control of everything that goes on tonight and for forever. We feel like, if the guy we want to be elected (which, in my case, is McCain) isn’t, the world as we know it will fall apart (but, given who he’s running against, it just may). We forget that God is able to do whatever He wants through whomever He wants. As my friend Jonah pointed out on Saturday, God used pagans to do His will. We must trust that whatever happens is in God’s will, no matter what the outcome. If God can continually sustain all things by His powerful word, how much more can we trust Him with our little, day-to-day problems. Think about it.


At the Back of the North Wind

I’m reading At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald. I was reading and I stumbled across this part (that is to be expected – I was reading and it came next). The North Wind periodically takes Diamond, a little boy, when she does her work. On this trip, the North Wind’s job is to sink a ship. Diamond doesn’t want her to do this and this is where the dialogue picks up. I know that it is a bit confusing to read, but I hope that you can muddle through it. I put my own little additions of words in there to help for clarity of reading.

“But hadn’t you better get into my hair? Then you would not feel the wind; you will here.”

“Ah, but, dear North Wind, you don’t know how nice it is to feel you arms about me. It is a thousand times better to have them and the wind together, than to have only your hair and the back of your neck and no wind at all.
”But it is surely more comfortable there?”

“Well, perhaps; but I begin to think that there are better things than being comfortable.”

“Yes, indeed there are. Well, I will keep you in front of me. You will feel the wind, but not too much. I shall only want one arm to take care of you; the other will be quite enough to sink the ship.”

“Oh, dear North Wind! How can you talk so?”

“My dear boy, I never talk; I always mean what I say.”

“Then you do mean to sink the ship with the other hand?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not like you.”

“How do you know that?”

“Quite easily. Here you are taking care of a poor little boy with one arm, and there you are sinking a ship with the other. It can’t be like you.”

“Ah! But which is me? I can’t be two me’s, you know.”

“No. Nobody can be two me’s.”

“Well, which me is me?”

“Now I must think. There looks to be two.”

“Yes. That’s the very point. – You can’t be knowing the thing you don’t know, can you?”

“No.”

“Which me do you know?”

“The kindest, goodest, best me in the world,” answered Diamond, clinging to the North Wind.

“Why am I good to you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Have you ever done anything for me?”

“No.”

“Then I must be good to you because I choose to be good to you.”

“Yes.”

“Why should I choose?”

“Because – because – because you like [to].”

“Why should I like to be good to you?”

“I don’t know, except it be because it’s good to be good to me.”

“That’s just it; I am good to you because I like to be good.”

“Then why shouldn’t you be good to other people as well as me?”

“That’s just what I don’t know. Why shouldn’t I?”

“I don’t know either. Then why shouldn’t you?”

“Because I am.”

“There it is again,” said Diamond. “I don’t see that you are. It looks quite the other thing.”

“Well, but listen to me, Diamond. You know the one me, you say, and that [me] is good.”

“Yes.”

“Do you know the other me as well?”

“No. I can’t. I shouldn’t like to.”

“There it is. You don’t know the other me. [But] You are sure of one of them?”

“Yes.”

“And you are sure that there can’t be two me’s?”

“Yes.”

“Then the me you don’t know must be the same as the me you do know, – else there would be two me’s?”

“Yes.”

“Then the other me you don’t know must be as kind as the me you do know?”

“Yes.”

“Besides, I tell you that it is so, only it doesn’t look like it. That I confess freely. Have you anything more to object?”

“No. no, dear North Wind; I am quite satisfied.”

“Then I will tell you something that you might object. You might say that the me you know is like the other me, and that I am cruel all through.”

“I know that can’t be, because you are so kind.”

“But that kindness might only be a pretence for the sake of being more cruel afterward.”

Diamond clung to her tighter than ever, crying – “No, no, dear North Wind; I can’t believe that. I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it. That would kill me. I love you, and you must love me, else how did I come to love you? How could you know how to put on such a beautiful face if you did not love me and the rest? No. You may sink as many ships as you like, and I won’t say another word. I can’t say that I shall like it, you know.”

“That’s quite another thing,” said North Wind; and as she spoke, she gave one spring from the roof of the hay-loft, and rushed up into the clouds, with Diamond on her left arm close to her heart.

This reminded me of camp (Taste and See that the Lord is Good). So far, I would highly recommend this book. I guess that you probably read the speech I gave of him (George MacDonald) a few posts back. He writes in a simple way that communicates such great truths, as you can see from this excerpt.

Thanks!


A Thought for Today…

Here’s an insightful quote from my brother’s friend, Travis Mitchell. Thanks, Trav.

It is not beyond a loving God to so orchestrate two people’s days such that one will be given an opportunity to transfer some part of himself onto the other, and vice versa. The highest demonstration of love is evidenced when one’s “wonderful day” is brought humbly underneath the other’s “dreadful day” so that the effect produces in both a deep joy in God’s sovereign goodness.


I Surrender… Almost Everything…?

I wrote this a while ago, but I wanted to re-post it because no-one read my blog way back when.

I hope that you can kind-of get what the sermon was about. Although I did enjoy the sermon, what convicted me the most was the song we sang beforehand: “Surrender All”. I was blindly singing along, and then I had a thought. When we sing songs of that nature, do we really think about what we are singing and agree with it? If we knew that God would do exactly what we asked him to do in our singing, would we still sing the song or would we have second thoughts? Are we ready to accept the consequences of what we asking God to do in our lives? To see what I mean, listen to the song “Surrender All” (don’t sing – just listen to the lyrics). I guarantee if you actually listen to the lyrics, you will find at least one thing that strikes you in a way that you think I want God to change this about me, but, in my sinful human nature, do I really want that change? If you take that approach to all songs, you will never sing a worship song in the same way.

Also, again, PLEASE comment. Comments really mean a lot to me (not to push you or anything…). Thanks as always for reading!

Thanks.