This post is a companion piece to Podcast Episode #6: Reflections which can be seen here: https://youtu.be/K0UKgBk6eQA
"28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. 29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. 32 Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them." ROMANS 1:28-32
Over the first month of Ministry Misfits, I have had the opportunity to appear as a guest on a few shows. In this post, I wanted to highlight and lowlight a few of these appearances, and the Three Tier Model pieces I got out of doing these interviews.
The first one, is much more difficult than the rest, and deals with the verses at the top of the page.
What is a GOD-HATER?
One term listed in this list in Romans 1 has always stood out different from the rest. In verse thirty Paul uses the word θεοστυγής (theostugés). Romans 1:30 is the only place we find this in scripture and it is translated most often as “God-hater.” Typically, when I have encountered people that would describe themselves as such, after talking with them it quickly is realized by both of us that it is not actually God that they are mad at, but someone else that was “acting on behalf of God.” A pastor that said something or did something that was harmful for example. This was what I had always assumed that would be the case and what Paul was referring to, but I have a new and more depressing understanding of that now after my appearance on the atheist show “The Bible Says What?”
(This show is not necessarily family friendly, in that the host puts a lot of emphasis into some of the more graphic scenes in Scripture and occasionally swears, but if you are interested in listening to the episode I did with him message us on Twitter or Facebook and I will send you a link.)
The first Theological Truth that was expanded by this appearance, is what Paul was referring to as a God-hater was much more serious and devastating than I had been reading or preaching in the past. When you actually look at the definition given in Strong’s Concordance, we find that a better understanding would be “People who ABHOR God’s will and completely turn away from Him.”
For the first time, I fully heard and saw this in a person, when the host flat out said that even if Yahweh physically showed himself, and attempted to force him to bow the knee, he would refuse to do it, on the grounds that God is an immoral child killing monster.” There was no hint of doubt or second guessing in his face or voice. He Abhored God and had completely turned away. Not because of the actions of another human being, but because of how he viewed God and God alone in Scripture. This broke my heart to see that kind of attitude in anyone.
His reasoning for this came out of his own reading of the Bible. He had been a Christian most of his life and even thought Sunday school as a young adult. However, he struggled when it came to reading certain stories, primarily Old Testament stories, about God, God’s actions, and the sacrificial system. He found the actions of God, particularly during the Plagues in Egypt to be absolutely unjustifiable and unforgivable and fully offensive. This leads into the second theological truth that came out, I agreed fully with Him that Scripture is offensive and that if you disagree with that, you either haven’t read the Bible or didn’t pay attention.
2. Scripture is offensive and it's supposed to be!
Everything about the Gospel and Theology is offensive and it is supposed to be. If it was not, then there would be no need for the Spirit to bring us to a place of humble conviction. Out of context, the death and destruction from supernatural judgement is fully offensive and seems unneccessary. And then when you truly think about how offensive it is to suggest that
1.Life is not about us (Daniel 4)
2. Mankind is utterly sinful and hopeless (Jeremiah, Romans, Genesis)
3. We are incapable of helping our own situation
4. We have to fully rely on God for everything
5. Only God can save us from ourselves
6. The only way to do that is because of a death that we caused.
7. The only way to receive salvation and life is to give up ours and commit to Jesus alone.
This stuff is offensive to everything it means to be a self respecting human. The thing that separates out though the God-haters from the righteous boils down to how you respond to the offenses. Will you be so offended that you want nothing to do with a God like that and walk away forever, or will you respond humbly and ask why it is so offensive. When you respond humbly and begin to look inward, that is where we discover that is offensive because we know deep down that it is 100% true, and that if I were Adam, I would have eaten the fruit too.
This then lead to another piece that I think deserves its own post and so I just want to ask this question now and give you a chance to ask it of yourself and process it. If there was no promise of heaven for believers, would you still be a Christian?
Ultimately this appearance lead me to fully believe that #theologymatters and that we need to understand why it matters all the more. If you choose to listen to this episode, you will hear me early on point out that it was not really possible to talk with him Theologically because he had dismissed the Theology of God outright from the start, and so the majority of how I thought and processed thoughts would not make sense to him. Theology matters because without a Christ Centered Theology of Who God is and how God works in our lives, we cannot truly have an understanding of the world around us or the events that take place.
I also had an opportunity to go on the show Fatherhood Friday’s and talk with Chalmer Williams about the tragedy of losing a child. In November of 2019 my wife and I lost our second daughter at 35 weeks to a rare and unexpected complication with the umbilical cord. That event highlighted two Theological truths that we had known about but never really understood until we went through the experience.
“God never intended it to be this way” Gen 3
I have preached Genesis 3 and John 11 multiple times and written Sunday school and Bible Study lessons on the ideas of Original Sin and its consequences. Most Christians have this sense of understanding when bad things happen that God was not the cause, and that it just is the way of living in a sinful world. However, the reality of God never intended it to be this way, and that God grieves over the consequences of our sinful nature never fully clicked until we had to experience the empathy of God during the loss of Karsyn. This was also experienced in the second Theological Truth we grasped.
The truth of Job 1:21
Again, I have preached and written on this story and verse countless times. Ive heard countless sermons on this verse as well, but it wasn’t until I received my own news that my child had died that I fully understood the real weight and order of this verse. Typically, we hear about the first section of this lament as the focal point “Naked I come, naked I return, The Lord Gives and The Lord Takes Away.” And it is an important thing to understand when we look at the nature of Who God is and wrestle with things like stewardship, supremacy, or predestination. However the last piece of this verse often gets treated as an add-on to the main point “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Its an amazing thing that Job still praises God and is a Spiritual slap in the face to satan. What we learned during this time though, was that this understanding is completely backwards. Blessed be the name of the Lord is the entire point of Job’s lament, and the rest was a poetic add-on.
The Theological Truth that allowed Job to deal with the news he received and that allowed my family to begin to heal after Karsyn was not that God gives and takes, but that the one constant in the universe is that Yahweh’s name is Blessed. The Theological truth that GOD is GOD is what allows for us to Philosophically deal with the loss of a child, and the supposed horrors of the OT. Its not about the stuff God gives us or takes away from us, but it is fully about GOD being GOD and Him allowing us to Bless His Name because He deserves it and His GLORY demands it in all circumstances.
I would encourage everyone to go listen to this episode of Fatherhood Fridays, and its also a good one to subscribe to, Chalmer has some amazing insight and awesome guests talking about the role of Fathers in a Biblical mindset. (https://open.spotify.com/episode/40GfqE9a90w1FlzlK6FY2N?si=ovgcCcH6RxC-4_TrprefPg)
One other side note from what we learned, is that Fathers are somewhat forgotten about when it comes to loss of a child. Their are a lot of good resources for mom. Hope Mommies is the one that my wife uses, but dad doesn’t have anything really. Churches, this is an area that you can step in and make a huge difference. We are currently looking at potentially starting something in that area, and if you would be interested in helping support that kind of ministry contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org.