Adorable Dogs Wearing Headphones

I think there needs to be a round of applause for bank holidays. How excellent has this weekend been? If you are reading this from Norn Iron, let this be another reminder, as if one was needed, that Restoration is a good idea. Restoration seems to me to be a nicer word than assimilation, which is what we are all planning. Home Rule is Rome Rule!

So the long wait has ended and our Messiah is going to return in 2007. By which I mean, the Pixies are getting back together to rehearse new material for an album in January. You can call off the 24 hour prayer meetings.

The Rest Of This Post Is For The God-Botherers
I’ve been having a brief chat over semaphore with a friend of mine from Cork about how Christian organisations sometimes pursue diametrically opposed goals. For example, the Anglican church have a considerable presence in Jerusalem and they seek earnestly to alleviate the suffering there and to bring about a lasting peace settlement. Central to their desires would be that the Palestinian people would have a homeland that is secure and sustainable. Many American dispensationalist organisations (dispensationalism, is believe it or not, an Irish invention that says time is broken down into 7 epochs and God requires a different response from us in each epoch) believe that the political state of Israel and the worldwide population of Jews are central to the “End Times”, which they believe will involve some combination of 7 years of violence concluding with the rise of an Anti-Christ figure a showdown where Jesus gives the Anti-Christ an almighty slap down and then 1000 years of peace. Sometimes the order is back to front, depending on who you are talking to. If the political state of Israel must return to the borders that it held over 2500 years ago when Solomon reigned that means the Palestinians have to pack up and move off. In the sea or Turkey or wherever. Just not where they have been for generations because God doesn’t include them in his plan.

Are you starting to see the difficulties with this?

So the question Jurgenator, my Corkonian ally asks is, how does God view these competing movements since we must take at face value that they are both sincerely working for Him? Does God favour some churches or organisations or charities over others? Here is my stab at an answer. As I once heard a great black American church leader say it, “God is no respector of persons”. By that he meant, all the credentials in the world aren’t going impress God, who invented methyltheobromine and therefore has trumped you. I used to work for a worldwide organisation that historically has been the soil in which the great Christian leaders of our day first blossomed in. It has a remarkable history over the last 80 years of breeding and encouraging the great theologians, church leaders and missionaries of the world, from NT Wright to Tim Keller to well, me of course. But I don’t think God considers that when he looks at what the organisation is doing now. He looks instead at what the organisation is doing now.

I work for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Today, the PCI, at least in my experience, is a vibrant, faithful, risk-taking church that earnestly seeks to do its part in rolling in the Kingdom of God- whether that is in the care of orphans, the relief of 3rd world distress, reconciliation initiatives in Norn Iron, sharing the Gospel in dark godless feckless places where nothing good can come out of like Cork, working with, praying for and helping other churches or through teaching people what the Bible means and who Jesus was; all these things are things we value. Sure, I hope they are convinced in the coming years that environmentalism and the promotion of credible artistic contributions from the Christian community are also important but my point is, the PCI is doing great work. I think God looks at what PCI is doing now. He isn’t saying, “well they spent a large part of the 20th Century fecking around with stupid God-diminishing theology and the rest of it cosying up to sectarian bitterness and violence instead of making a prophetic stand. I’ll leave them to stew for a while until they learn their mistake”.

Now individual members of the Presbyterian church definitely still haven’t woken up to the fact that God calls us to be subversive revolutionaries, not culturally British political activists. God doesn’t look down at someone mistaking Unionism for the Gospel and say, “Well he is working in the PCI and I respect them”. He leaves that guy to his own devices and maybe sends him a message every now and again on his answerphone to wake him up.

So to get back to the Jerusalem issue- the Anglican church has chosen the better part, methinks. God is a reconciling God. He is concerned with how we are living now. There are 2003 references in the Scriptures to social justice. The Palestinian question matters to God. I don’t think you can give the Bible to someone who knows nothing about it and expect them to discern the 7 dispensations. I don’t think that Judaism represents the chosen people of God. To get Biblical for a second, I think Jesus replaces the Temple and the true calling of the people of Israel is to follow Jesus. Those who follow Jesus, according to himself, are the real people of Israel.

But within the Jews for Jesus organisations there are tonnes of people who sincerely follow God and do so with love and grace. God doesn’t ignore anyone who tries to follow him but he isn’t especially impressed with human innovation at the same time. Our ideas of what God wants are unlikely to be better than God’s own ideas about what he wants. So I disagree with the Jurgenator, as strange as that sentence sounds in my mouth. God doesn’t view all organisations and efforts equally. He endorses the work that he is about and he nudges everyone else back on track. No one is ever fully on track and that is why he is always nudging us in prayer or in prophesy, which I think is just as likely to come from Bruce Springsteen or Damien Hirst as it is from that slightly crazy old lady who always dances in church.

The emerging Irish theologian Paul Hewson put it well in his National Prayer Breakfast address. He spent a whole lot of time trying to get God on board with what he was doing. Things only started moving for him when he decided to get behind what God was doing.

Your Correspondent, Filling the trench dug within his heart

4 Responses to “Adorable Dogs Wearing Headphones”

  1. Ortho says:

    This post was a welcome read. I work for an organisation that believes in culturally British political activism but not the type you refer to. I really do struggle with the whole middle east issue and it’s always refreshing to read ‘evangelical’ (if you don’t mind being referred to as such!) views on this issue which are not all about scary end-times scenarios involving the military and territorial expansion of Israel. You mentioned God guiding us by ‘prophesy’ and I think this is where a lot of problems arise. A lot of these ‘dispensationalist’ churches rely heavily on prophesy – i.e. God speaking to us right now as opposed to the prophesies written in the bible – and most of this prophesy is categorically pro the state of Israel and anti-everything Arab. It sounds remarkably like US foreign policy most of the time. I would love to be able to dismiss all these present-day prophets as loony tunes but it’s just not easy, especially if one is of the belief that God does speak to us today. If He does indeed speak to us personally today, how can a person say they believe God is calling them to something, or telling them to do something in particular, and then dismiss what other people are saying God is speaking about as wacko? I don’t thing I’ll ever reach a comfortable position on this.

    -doubting Ortho

  2. zoomtard says:

    Thanks for the comment Ortho.

    I don’t mind being called evangelical. It makes a welcome change from having evangelicals tell me I am not an evangelical. 🙂

    God speaks to us today; to say anything less than that I think is to move out of the realms of Christianity and into Deism. But I think his major voice is Scripture. (See just how evangelical I am at heart!) The only basis we have for judging alleged prophesy is the basis Scripture provides us- itself. The proof-texting of the Bible that we habitually do allows us to believe things as long as there is a verse to attest to it. The Bible is 750000 words long though so you’ll find a verse to support anything in there. Instead, we should base our assessment of the prophesy against the whole of the Bible.

    If we do that, I think it is firm ground to say that whatever God thinks about the political state of Israel (I’ll pretend for a moment I don’t mind the people who deny that Jesus created a new Israel), he certainly passionately cares about Palestinians.

    Argh. I don’t know! I’ll think about it. You think about it. Blog about it over on your site and I’ll see if I get inspired over here.

  3. Greymalkin says:

    Hey Zoomy,

    This Jurgenator sounds smart if he’s battling with you and actually made you think.pray tell…….i liked the answer-not short and snappy,but long and thelogical-so not zoomy.i’m blabbering here but good answer,God’s always much bigger than we think-even for you!

  4. zoomwinded says:

    You should get to know the Jurgenator. You should also remember there are some weird people who feel a need to explain their viewpoint thoroughly and not just compress it into feelgood soundbytes, like they do say, in Munster…. 😉