Christian Apologetics Alliance

Christian Apologetics Alliance
Member: Christian Apologetics Alliance

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The year of Living Precariously (dealing with the problem of evil in real time, 2014)

It's that most "wonderful" time of the year again.

You wonder where all the cars come from that clog all the roads, making a fifteen minute trip last at least forty five, complete with honking, snarling and imagined mayhem in the minds of most drivers. 

Not to mention crowds everywhere and countless compelling invitations to attend Christmas gatherings where too much food is served, and eaten.

And so this is Christmas.

Another year past and you can now breathe a sigh of relief that it's finally over.

This year end couldn't have come to a gratuitous fini sooner for me.  It was my year of living precariously.  An earthquake and devastating typhoon in the last quarter of last year left me practically destitute as work opportunities disappeared and savings went the same way even faster.  Being in the corporate event organization business, after those kinds of tragedies that wreck venues and cause large corporations that normally hire you to run their events for them to realign their budgets for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects, is not a good place to be, I found out - the hard way.

For a guy that prefers to work hard and pay his way, it was a very difficult time.

And no amount of reviewing the arguments on the problem of evil could erase the doubts I had about the goodness of the Living God that I thought I really believed in.

Remember, this is a student of Christian apologetics that's going through the wringer now. 

Someone who, or so I thought, followed hard after the Living God.

And yet, this still happened.

It's different when you have the logical arguments in your head, yet you can't convince yourself about the convincing truth of the argument.  Because no solution is in sight.

And it was going to be quite a while before solutions would present themselves later in the year. And you bet I didn't know it. Worse, I didn't know anymore if there would actually be any solution.

Looking back at those months that had passed - agonizingly slow at the time, yet so fast in hindsight - I realize how the Living God really was there all along, as now, I'm in a position where I'm doing something different, capable of paying bills, and FINALLY beginning to pay off huge debts I incurred because of acting on my own instead of waiting on the Living God to make His move in my behalf.

And all these happened because of responding to other peoples' request for assistance and help as well.

It was a chance to become close to another friend, who I now represent, doing strategic process consulting and deriving very good insight from his mentoring - rethinking my own life and strategizing as well. Because as he said: "...doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result is another way of defining insanity."  Thank you, Sun Yee Ho for your wisdom.

By God's grace, and through the prayers of online and very good friends who prayed and supported me and my family in various ways, including financial assistance in various amounts and forms - we were sustained.  But I look forward to paying back and paying it forward as well.

In all this, I am convinced that the people praying for me and my family were heard, and because of that, the prayers were answered, resulting in my doing other things than usual. And the light at the end of that dark tunnel has finally shone through. 

We're not yet there, but we're getting there.

What did I learn from all this?  First of all, that we truly should steel our minds to really know and remain convinced in the goodness of the God who is There, because He truly is, and does care for us in minute detail.

This is something that's been lost, perhaps because of the deist influence of most Western influenced Christianity that draws their core beliefs from the Reformation, and partly even from the Enlightenment.  This is why I have begun to throw out much of what I've absorbed from these influences and seek out what can be recovered from those that understood what the Risen Jesus meant when He started saying: "The Kingdom/basileo of the Heavens is now here".

Furthermore, I refuse to continue taking in popular apologetic personalities' views hook, line and sinker and subject their cliches to both exegetical scrutiny and the consistency of what I've been through.

For instance, I've heard it said time and again that we cannot appropriate Jeremiah 29:11 for ourselves simply because it was addressed to the exiled tribe of Judah in Babylon.

While I may concede that it may be wrong to appropriate it directly to myself, I can say with finality that it is also wrong for these dogmatic people not to allow me to draw comfort from understanding the character of the Living God here, who assures us that He indeed has a plan for good and not for evil, intended for us. The corollary in the New Testament is in John 10:10, where the Lord Jesus tells us that He came that we may have His intended life NOW and not later. (Review the greek text in Biblehub to get what it means.)

These are the times when I ask myself if we’ve become the new set of Pharisees – who missed it by at least a thousand miles in 1st century Israel. 

How so? 

Let’s review what happened.

In a tension filled Jerusalem, a brigade sized contingent from Persia arrives and leading it are Zoroastrian priests that we now know as Magi. 

Several things get lost here.

A well armed force travelling at least a thousand miles (from Parthia - a region never conquered or subjugated by the dominant Roman Empire) is bound to catch attention. And when it marches into the capital of Roman controlled 1st century Israel, they're really going to raise a bit of a concern among the rulers.

They seek an audience with an Edomite pretender to the throne of the Davidic Kingdom and ask “Where is the newly born King of the Jews?”.

The implications to this question are astonishing and frightening.

Keep in mind that this is the Roman ruled territory of Israel, that had propped up a Herod who had no scruples about murdering his own family members in order to keep the throne his father had negotiated with the Romans for.  Furthermore, if you review the possible reasons why he chose to rebuild the Temple which did not contain the Shekinah glory of the Living God, you see that he was motivated to legitimize himself as one of Israel’s great rulers – even if Herod was a) not an Israelite (he was an Edomite) and b) he was not of the line of David. – seeing as Solomon, the “wisest” of them all, built the first one.

You can imagine the Herod the great (as he was known at that time) was probably livid with rage and did all he could to contain himself while asking the Zoroastrian priests to let him know if they find Him "so he could worship Him as well". Fat chance that was going to happen.

Small wonder why Herod, upon learning of the exit of the Magi, decided to have all male babies, two years and below, put to death. He would have no real threats from any legit claimants to the throne of David.

And guess what? No complaints from the learned scholars of the day. Well, they probably put out a position paper.

The worst part of it is, when the learned scholars of the day in the Temple were asked by Herod where the King of the Jews was to be born, they knew exactly where to look – they found the reference in Micah, which indicated He was to be born in Bethlehem. And they showed it to him as well!

Yet, the spiritual leaders of the day were not looking.  They probably didn't want to rock the boat.  Too much at stake, they probably thought. (Sounds familiar?)

And it had to take the powerful priests of Persia that used astrology to divine out who were going to be the next great kings that they were provide counsel to, and seek them out first, so they could be on their good side early on.  (By the way, Deuteronomy reveals how the Living God finds this practice abhorrent and specifically tells His people to veer away from this practice.)

And they did find Him. And did due reverence to the one they regarded to be the "King of Kings". This term, they did not use loosely - this was the term accorded the ruler of Persia at that time, and Caesar Augustus, who ruled the Roman empire then.

There also exists a theory that the Magi knew of this possibility due to narratives relayed from the chief of all the Magi in Babylon over 400 years before to the generations of magi that followed - a man they knew as Belteshazzar. His Jewish name was Daniel.

The Living God of Israel used this very same abhorrent practice to reveal Himself to a people that were not His own, and looked for Him and found Him. And not in a manner that the Israeli priests were expecting Him to show Himself to the nation that had felt that they had been abandoned by God for close to five hundred years already.

Have we now, fallen into that trap and become so absorbed with our traditions and concern to preserve the status quo, that we have become blind to what the Living God wills and has already revealed in His word? 

Are we still looking, in the first place?

They had their own problem of evil, and it was a tough one. But were they looking for the God who is there in their time? Or sticking to the paradigm that they were used to and insisting on how they thought that God would reveal Himself and missed it by at least 1,000 miles?

The problem of evil in real time is a tough one to contend with.  And though we're coming out of it, I get this feeling that we're still going to be subjected to other circumstances that will be similar in difficulty, involving other circumstances.

And yes, no matter that some people cannot see how the Living God can allow human evil to bring about a good, I can only refer to Joseph of the technicolor dreamcoat in Genesis, who told his scheming and possibly repentant brothers at that time - that what they had intended for evil, God intended for good.

Why the Living God wants to allow these to happen, I still cannot figure out.

Yet, from this year's learning, I know now that I must be stubborn in being strong in my pisteo - insufficiently interpreted as "faith", I found out that the dynamic word includes the view of being "loyal" or "faithful" to the King I have chosen to subject myself to.

It's truly a matter of fealty to Him who we who have sworn our allegiance to, and not to subvert our loyalty to the deceptive one who seeks to capture our following, only for us to be led to a similar destiny of destruction which he is headed for.

In all this, I found other friends who I also committed to praying fervently for, as they themselves were going through their own "valleys of shadows of death" involving different circumstances, yet resulting in almost similar agonies.  One, my Fil-Am apologist student in Illinois, Marc Gaerlan lost his job, his home and his vehicle where he lived in to a reckless mechanic that destroyed his engine, causing him to live just about anywhere.

And this year, we saw it restored to him, in a way that was deeply encouraging, again allowing us to hope in the goodness of God through people that displayed that goodness by collectively helping him pay for it's repair without expecting to be repaid.

My own remains unrepaired, but I remain steadfast that the Living God will provide the transportation solution for me and my family sometime (hopefully in the near future) because we need it.  We are just truly thankful that now, we're able to meet our needs and are able to slowly pay back what we owe, though at a pace that our creditors would wish would be a bit faster.

I still hope that He will hasten that pace. In His time.

Truly, there is much to be thankful for despite corrupt and inept government leaders in most of our countries, horrible traffic and insanely stupid people, that we have a legitimate right to despair about.

But the God who is There has shown Himself to me and my family again this year.  We started the year anxiously, and we end it with a bit of relief.

I still pray for the friends whom I hold dear - Max Lewis Andrews, Dr. Douglas Groothuis and his dear wife, agonizing over her present condition. Byron Gary, waiting for the US government to finally issue the papers that will allow him and his daughter to be reunited with his wife.

"For I know that the plans that (HE) has for you: plans for good, and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future".

And I don't give a hoot what these psuedo theologians think. (The descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did NOT have a theology. They had a correct view of the Living God – a view I’m trying to recover now through understanding their history, culture, philosophy and exegetical methods.)

They can shove it where the sun don't shine because I have tasted and have seen that the Lord truly IS good.

This will be my last post on apologetics.

I have shifted to recovering what we can about what we can believe of what we should believe that Our Lord has told us to.

And this will be the beginning of Recovering Pisteo.

As we say in this part of the world, Maayong Pasko kaninyong tanan. (Merry Christmas to all of you in Visayan.) I truly wish a happy one for all of you.