Archive for May, 2007

Utmost importance

“God is of no importance unless He is of utmost importance.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

There is no god but God

Missionaries to Muslims (few though they be) sometimes argue over whether “Allah” is different from God. However…

  • “Allah” comes from the same Semitic root words as “elohim,” “El Elyon,” and “El Shaddai.”
  • Even before Muhammed came along, Arabic Christians (and they were not few) called God “Allah. They still do. I’ve heard them do it myself.
  • The Qu’ran says, “We believe in what has been sent down to us and in that which was sent down to you; our God and your God is One; and we are submitted to him”. Surah 29.46
  • To Muslims, “Allah” means the Creator of the universe. There is only one of those.

The problem is that Muslims talk about God in ways that we disagree with. But so do other Christians.

The root of all knowledge?

“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Sung’s Razor

Let’s call him Titus Sung. When I met him, he was a young student who had already spent a year in prison in his native China because of his Christian witness. Yet his face showed peace and joy that is rare among American Christians.

I’ve thought much about Titus’s background. Why was his faith stronger and more effective than almost anybody I’ve ever met in church? Did he attend a better Bible college? Had he seen better Christian videos? Listened to more anointed cassettes? Owned better worship CDs? Attended more conferences? Sat under a more gifted singles minister?

It caused me to formulate a principle I’ll call “Sung’s Razor,” a subset of Occam’s Razor.

Means of sanctification should not be multiplied beyond necessity.

That is, if the Chinese Church doesn’t need it to be like Jesus, why do you need it? If it doesn’t make the Chinese Church more like Jesus, is it possible that it doesn’t make us more like Jesus?

As William of Occam is supposed to have said, “It is vain to do with more that which can be done with less.”

Endless youth group

The typical American youth ministry of the baby boom generation resembled an animal feeder (or maybe an animal trap). It was attractive as long as the bait didn’t run out. It was assumed that youth wouldn’t follow God without bribery, and even then, that they wouldn’t follow God very far. In a youth-obsessed, youth-glorifying society, the youth ministry was a holding tank for large children, with the vague hope that they would grow up someday, probably, inexplicably. But not now.

The lesson of recent history, however, have shown that baby boomers do not necessarily grow up. They may become politicians or even parents, but that doesn’t mean they become disciples. After being taught to live for themselves, to give God his fair share, and to keep the rest, they continue to follow the teachings of their youth. The church has become an endless youth group.