Ethical Vengeance – Christian Ethics and the Imprecatory Psalms

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Jesus once said that we should pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), but is it ethical to pray for them to die? God is “not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness,” said David (Psalm 5:4 [KJV]). Paradoxically, in the same Psalm, he also prays for his enemies, saying, “destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own councils” (v. 10). In Psalm 5, David is asking God to lead him in His righteousness; in Psalm 139, David is confessing God’s attributes and one of his roles, mainly, that He is the Creator. With a confessional tone, David seeks for holiness and at the same time asks God to destroy his own enemies—for according to David, they are enemies of God as well. Imprecatory Psalms are known for awakening emotions and desires that Christians seem to suppress. Some argue that those Psalms are just a type of sub-Christian ethic (liberals), while others, like John Calvin, firmly believe that David is not praying out of his selfish desires, but praying as one who has a “holy zeal for the divine Glory.”[1] However, after a careful analysis of these two Psalms, readers will be able to recognize specific details about David and God himself, and because of that, will affirm that those Psalms harmonize with the Christian ethic of love and charity for three reasons: the tone in which David prays reveals his zeal for something higher that mere personal vengeance, these Psalms provide internal evidences that David’s prayers were not violent or negative, and the content of these Psalms is reaffirmed by Jesus.

David’s attitude was not fueled by a sense of revenge, since he was well acquainted with Deuteronomy 32:35. He believed that to God belongeth vengeance to the point that he prayed instead of taking action himself. Being a military leader himself, he had the motives and the means to accomplish personal vengeance, but that was not his desire. David knew that God “wilt slay the wicked” in the last day (Ps. 139:19), and because he knew that, David opts for prayer (as he has done before).[2] David starts his prayer with deep sadness and crying, and he directs his prayer directly to God (Ps. 5:1-3). Why would he pray directly to God if he was sinning?[3] “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (v. 4). David prayed directly to God because he knew who God is. Allen P. Ross, Professor of Old Testament at the Beeson Divinity School, writes on the metonymy of cause (throat, in verse 9) and the metaphor “open grave” explaining that both terms were used to indicate that what those people were saying left “death and ruined lives in their wake.”[4] David was not praying for God to destroy his personal enemies who were bullying him, nor was he “using” God as a slave who obeys what the master says, but he prayed from a desire that burned inside the man after God’s own heart: the vindication of God’s name.

In Psalm 139 David glorifies God as the Creator. Besides glorifying his attributes, he recognizes that God is the only one who knows him perfectly. Michael E. Travers, Professor of English at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, argues that in this Psalm, David is praising God’s omnipotence (vv. 1-6), omnipresence (vv. 7-12), omniscience (vv. 17-18), and righteousness and holiness (vv. 19-20).[5] This Psalm could be considered a hymn, and godly men like R. C. Sproul Jr. have recognized that “imprecatory Psalms are particularly helpful to prayer life.”[6] Psalm 139 seeks to glorify God’s attributes and praise him through a hymn, and verse 19 indicates that violence is not in the mind of the Psalmist. David is sure that God “wilt slay the wicked.” He is so sure that he asks God to depart them from him, a request that would make no sense if he was planning to slay his enemies all by himself. Timothy Keller rightly said that “if I don’t believe that there is a God who will eventually put all things right, I will take up the sword and will be sucked into the endless vortex of retaliation. Only if I am sure that there’s a God who will right all wrongs and settle all accounts perfectly do I have the power to refrain.”[7] David’s prayer now becomes internal evidence that he was not violent, and that God is a loving God that will right all wrongs in the end.

What David is asking in both Psalm 5 and 139 is for God’s kingdom to come. When the reader faces the sentence, “thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Ps. 5:5), he or she must remember of Zechariah 14:9: “And the Lord shall be king over all earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.” When God’s kingdom come, all workers of iniquity, whom God hates, will receive their just condemnation, and God will be glorified through that.[8] David’s prayer is aligned to Jesus’ methodology of prayer from the Sermon on the Mount. “Thy kingdom come,” is more than a longing to see God in full (Matt. 5:10), it is a request for the whole book of Revelation to be actualized by God. All the works of the Devil will be destroyed (1 John 3:8), and since David hated those whom God hates (Ps. 139:21-22), both David’s and Jesus’ desires will be satisfied.[9] David’s tone and imagery foreshadow Jesus’ request in the Lord’s prayer, corroborating Jesus’ words on the inspiration of the Psalms (Matt. 5:44).

David sang his longings for God’s kingdom to come fully; Jesus taught us to pray for the completeness of His kingdom. God is not a God that has pleasure in wickedness, and that is the reason of why David prayed instead of acting: praying means trust in God’s character, while acting would be wickedness in God’s sight. Few things are more ethical, Christian, and loving, than trusting in God’s future justice, and both Psalms 5 and 139 point to this direction. Once again, David proved to be the man after God’s own heart by trusting in the promise of Deuteronomy 32:35. Christians should follow David’s example of trusting in future justice, rather than taking vengeance themselves, for that is wickedness at God’s sight. God’s justice is perfect because his authority is greater than ours, because those who are condemned are condemned under a perfect and just verdict, and because God’s justice comes to the advancement of benevolence. No outraged and uncontrolled emotions are spoken by David in both of these Psalms, just a high-principled zeal for God’s majesty to be displayed to all, both saved and unsaved people.


[1] John Calvin, Commentary On the Book of Psalms (Michigan: Grand Rapids, 1949), 3:67.

[2] See 2 Samuel 24 and 26.

[3] This phrase must be understood with Jesus’ exegesis of the sixth commandment found in Matthew 5:21-22.

[4] Allen P. Ross, A Commentary On the Psalms, Kregel Exegetical Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic & Professional, 2011), 252.

[5] Michael Ernest Travers, Encountering God in the Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2003), 308.

[6] R. C. Sproul, “Standing Fast,” Tabletalk, October, 2000, 2.

[7] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, 2008), 75.

[8] See Romans 9:22-23.

[9] Which should not surprise us, since David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

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Going Down the Path of Life (Jonah 1-2:10)

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During the reign of Jeroboam II, king of the Israel, Jonah was called by God to prophesy against the city of Nineveh (Jon 1:1-2). Jonah was the son of Amittai and was living in Gath-Hepher when God spoke to him.[1] Regardless of God’s crystal clear command, Jonah wanted to follow his own ways. Instead of going east towards Nineveh, Jonah went west towards Tarshish (4:2). God, on the other hand, was not satisfied with Jonah’s disobedience. Through a “great wind upon the sea,” God prepared a scenario that ended up frightening everyone on board of the ship (1:4). After a short discussion, Jonah explains to the reason this storm is taking place is himself (v. 12). The prophet then asks to be picked up and hurled into the sea, and his wish is fulfilled (v.15). As Jonah entered the water, a giant fish swallows him, and inside the fish’s belly Jonah repents and calls out to the Lord. After his prayer, Jonah is vomited upon dry land.[2]

The main point of this passage is to show that is impossible to run away from God.[3] In Isaiah’s words: “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed and I will do it” (Isa. 46:10b and 11b [ESV]). Jonah tried to do his own way, but God’s plans regarding Nineveh could not fail.

Something that struck me in this passage is the geographical idea behind the author’s words. As soon as Jonah decided to reject God’s command, he started to go down in his life. When he found a ship to Tarshish, he went down into it (1:3). When the storm was taking place, Jonah went down into the inner part of the ship to sleep (v.5). After telling the mariners that he was fleeing from the presence of God, they threw Jonah into the sea—Jonah went down into the sea (v. 15). Jonah cried that God had cast him “into the deep, into the heart of the seas” (v.3). Jonah strongly stressed this “down” idea when, in verse chapter 2, verse 2, he puts himself crying “out of the belly of Sheol.” Again, Jonah cries out to God saying, “I went down to the land,” (v. 6, emphasis added by me). For the last time, Jonah declares that the Lord had brought up his life when he was in the pit—the lowest place one could be (v. 6b).[4] It seems that, after Jonah rejected God, he went down on the path of life. Interestingly, when Jonah repented, the fish vomited him out upon the dry land, and from that point on, Jonah’s life starts to build up again (v. 10).

The pattern used by the author made me think about what happens people reject to follow God’s orders and flee from him. Jonah’s life went down and only got worse, not because God was trying to punish him somehow—even though I would restrain from saying that punishment was not intended by God—, but because away from God’s presence, there is only one way: down. Sheol is used by Jonah to explain where he was, and if someone wants to argue that this is just an allegory, one would have to correct Jesus as well.[5] I would apply this passage by reflecting if I am following God’s commands as they should be obeyed—i.e. diligently (c.f. Ps. 119:4)—, or as Jonah, who was told to arise and go to Nineveh, but who rose to flee from God’s presence. It also makes me think that trying to do something necessarily and inherently impossible is foolishness; Jonah was not able to flee from God, and David would agree that flee from God’s presence is an unreasonable task.[6] To accept his ways is the best thing I can do, for His ways are higher than my ways (Isa. 55:9).


[1] C.f. II Kings 14:25 and Joshua 19:13.

[2] If it was immediately after his prayer or not, this is not specified in the biblical narrative. Fortunately, this information is not necessary to interpret the passage correctly.

[3] One could argue that Jonah did in fact run away, but the end of the story would argue otherwise.

[4] I do understand that my point is not the main idea of the passage, and some would say it is an allegory. However, I think the writer did not emphasize those words by mistake.

[5] C.f Matthew 12:41, when Jesus referred to Jonah as a real person in history.

[6] C.f. Psalm 139:7-12.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PETER’S CONFESSIONS IN THE GOSPEL OF MARK (Context, Commentary, and Application)

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This post is part of my series on Peter’s confession in the gospel of Mark. I have already presented the historical background, an outline of the passage, and the main idea of the text in part I (so if you haven’t read it, go ahead and get acquainted with my thesis before moving on).  Now I will move on to the literary context, a brief commentary on the passage, and some applications. Sem mais delongas, let’s move on.

Literary Context

The passage starts when Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida.[1] Before that, Jesus cast out an unclean spirit from the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30), in the regions of Tyre and Sidon, which are the banks of the Mediterranean Sea. After performing such deed, Jesus “returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Decapolis” (7:31-37). In that location, Jesus heals a deaf man. Among that region, Jesus fed four thousand people, before going to the district of Dalmanutha with his disciples.[2] On the southwestern side of the coast of the Sea of Galilee, in Magdala, Jesus used his last miraculous event as a hook for his next teaching (8:14-21). Interestingly, before healing the blind man at Bethsaida, the disciples had already forgotten what Jesus had done in the multiplication of bread (8:17-21).

Bethsaida was a fishing town on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Philip, Peter, and Andrew used to live in that location.[3] Caesarea Philippi, on the other hand, is located at the foot of Mount Hermon, a possible site of Jesus’ transfiguration, found in chapter 9. The reader may conclude that Jesus was containing his ministry in Gentile territory, provided that he keeps in mind the geographical locations from previous events. Interestingly, Caesarea Philippi was the capital of Herod’s tetrarchy; the place where “Herod the Great built a grand marble temple to honor the emperor,” observes Arnold.[4] Lane adds, “The area was thus dominated by strong Roman associations, and it may be theologically significant that Jesus’s dignity was first recognized in a region devoted to the affirmation that Caesar is Lord.”[5]

James A. Brooks, the commentator of The New American Commentary, provides plausible information, regarding the setting of the events from chapter 8, when he relates the two-stage healing to Jesus’ rebuke of Peter.[6] Obviously, the writer did not wrote these events randomly. The reader can also note that the disciples misunderstood what Jesus was trying to convey in 8:14-21, yet clearly understood the Christological aspect of Jesus’ life a few verses later. Right after Peter’s Christological confession, Jesus predicts—for the first time in the book of Mark—his redemptive plan, which is possibly an indication of the Messianic aspects within the personhood of Christ.

Since the first verse of the gospel of Mark refers to Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, one can conclude that all accounts of Jesus in this book are reflecting to what the Son of God is like. His identity is expressed by his actions. DeSilva, on the other hand, believes that “The dark, strenuous and demanding presentation of messiahship and discipleship gives the Gospel a tragic dimension, in the most stately sense of the word—a tragedy that becomes good news.”[7] Of course, the good news are not contained in the fact that people failed to recognize the true aspects of Jesus’ messiahship, but in the “redemptive purposes of God for a new people through Jesus’ death and in God’s final word of vindication, both on behalf of Jesus in his resurrection and on behalf of Jesus’ disciples at the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven.”[8]

Boring explains that in this section, “The disciples, supposedly initiated into the secret of Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God.”[9] It seems that even though the disciples had discovered Jesus’ Messianic nature, they were supposed to keep it secretly. Just as the healed man was told not to go into the village, but to keep that information in secrecy.

Is also important to say that the healing of the blind man occurs only in the gospel of Mark. The healing of the deaf man in 7:31-37, is also exclusive for this work. The way Mark organized this passage should not be discarded. The healing of the blind man, and the healing of the deaf man, are both done in very unusual forms are are certainly connected somehow.

Literary echoes are very present in this narrative and can be easily identified. In 8:19-20 Jesus recalls when he fed five thousand and four thousand (6:30-44; 8:1-10); Peter’s confession sheds light in chapter 6:14-17, regarding Jesus’ identity; Jesus’ upcoming passion is predicted three times throughout Mark (8:31; 9:31; 10:32-33); and the phrase “don’t you understand?” is also repeated in a very close context (8:17 and 21).

 

Interpretative Analysis: Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida and Tells Him Not to Enter the Village (8:22-26)

The healing of the blind man starts a change in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was focusing his teaching on the crowds, but now Jesus’ is focusing his ideas and philosophies with the disciples. The shift is not only on the recipients, but Jesus’ teachings become focused in his identity and redemptive plan. Brooks perfectly puts: “In the first division only the demons recognized the true identity of Jesus; in the second the disciples started to understand, although their comprehension was still inadequate.” [10]

When Jesus came to Bethsaida, some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him (8:22). Jesus takes the man out of the village, probably to avoid the crowds, as he had done before.[11] Mark records this healing with exotic details. Jesus spit on the blind man’s eyes to heal him. Interestingly, when Jesus healed the deaf man in the region of Tyre, he also used different methods.[12] It is important to note that these physical acts are not the cause of the miracle, for Jesus had healed before without physical acts.[13] Why Jesus used spit is debatable. Dr. H. van der Loos, in his book “The Miracles of Jesus”, argues that spittle was regarded as a remedial force in Jewish and Hellenistic cultures.[14] If Jesus was trying to establish a relation with the blind man or if he was using mythological elements to ascertain his authority among Jews, the readers will never know for sure. As Micklem comments, “Jesus was not a miraculous therapeutic machine: He dealt with individuals individually and personally, and not in a mechanical way.”[15] This healing occurs in a two-part way. Firstly, the man comes back to see partially, like trees. Secondly, He sees perfectly again.[16] As said before, this process is not due to the lack of power in Jesus, but Jesus is illustrating the condition of the disciples, who had already been touched by Jesus but were still living with a fuzzy vision (v. 21).

Jesus’ story is not merely historical, but also theological. When Jesus healed the blind man by his own authority, he was corroborating his deity, since is “the Lord [who] opens the eyes of the blind” (Ps. 146:8). In one miraculous act, Jesus exemplified the disciples’ condition, used Jewish elements to restore his authority, and advocated for his deity. Only inspired Scripture could capture so much inside so little.

 

On The Way to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus Inquires His Disciples Regarding His Identity and Peter Confesses Jesus as The Christ (8:27-30)

Right in the center of his work, Mark narrates Peters recognition of the Christness of Jesus. Lane comments, “The pivotal importance of this moment is indicated by the fact that already in the first line of the Gospel the evangelist designates Jesus as the Messiah.”[17]

Jesus asks his disciples regarding his identity. Answers are given according to what other people have been saying about who Jesus was. Jesus did not accept such answer, for Jesus he is interested in individuals. “You are the Christ,” Peter answers. Now everything is changing. In the healing of the blind man, Jesus’ identity was demonstrated; in Peter’s answer Jesus’ identity is recognized. Back in the Sea of Galilee, the disciples asked who was Jesus, but no answer was given (4:41). Instead of providing a spoken answer, Jesus worked out his identity through his life to the point that his disciples were now able to answer their own question. In 8:17-21 Jesus was inciting that answer, but only after his illustration through the healing of the blind man they were able to penetrate the veil that was covering them in ignorance. Before this, Jesus was concerned with the masses, but through this confession he switches the focus to his disciples.

 

Jesus Foretells His Suffering and Redemptive Plan to His Disciples (8:31-38)

Since the disciples were now convinced of the Messianic character of Jesus’ identity, Jesus predicts, for the first time, his redemptive plan. Is like if the disciple’s minds were now open and able to receive this whole new level of information. The removal of the characteristic veil, enables the disciples to grasp the totality of the redeeming plan of the Son of God. A multitude of spiritual truth can now be digested by their minds, and Jesus finally can demand from them serious responsibilities.

Immediately after Peter’s confession, Jesus starts to foretell his suffering and death. It must have been shocking for his disciples, who had just recognized who Jesus really was, to hear that the elders and the chief priests and the scribes were going to reject him. And not only that, but that after that he would be killed. Jesus, however, made it explicitly clear that after three days he would rise again from the dead. Peter, however, takes Jesus aside and rebukes him. Evidently, Peter had not completely understood Jesus’ plan. Is as if he did not listen to the last part when Jesus tells them that resurrection is certain. As Paul warned the Corinthians, for many, “the word of the cross is folly” (1 Co. 1:18). Probably, Peter remembered of the law’s requirements concerning crucified bodies.[18] To admit that Christ would die on a cross would mean that Christ would be cursed by God, what made no sense to their minds in that moment. The idea of torment and the King Messiah were not compatible in the minds of Jews. That is so, that the Targum to Isaiah 53 applies the blessings to the King Messiah but not the sufferings; the suffering was applied to people alone.[19]

Jesus’ strongly censured Peter’s words (8:33). Not because he was possessed or had incorporated a demon, but because his response to Christ’s atonement is correspondent to Satan’s. If Peter had been successful in his attempt to stop Jesus, Satan’s goal would have been accomplished. Not God’s. Peter’s action was, probably, fully emotional, yet Jesus distinguishes Peter’s temporal desire to be with him, to the eternal plan that God had for him.

Christ calls everyone that is around him to hear a great revelation: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 34). Jesus’ words might not have been understood at the moment, but when Simon of Cyrene took Jesus’ cross and came after him, the idea could have gained life in the disciple’s minds (15:21). The conditions to follow Jesus are stated, and the cost is high. Jesus speaks paradoxically into the minds of his followers; to loose life is to gain life, and to gain life is to loose life. Jesus explains these apparent contradiction extricating body from soul. To win your life is to gain the whole world; to lose your life is to save your soul. To win your life will result in loss (forfeit his soul), but to lose your life for Christ’s sake and for the gospel’s is to save your own soul.

Jesus also demands his followers to be unashamed regarding his death. But see that Jesus is asking them to be shameless regarding a man who would be cursed by God himself. His speech is enticing a sense of revolution in his disciples. The old law is not important anymore. Jesus, God himself, has came down from heaven and is describing God’s character straight from God’s mouth. No prophet brought this message, but God himself.

Lane defends that “verse 38 is parallel in structure to verse 35 and complementary in intention.”[20] Jesus really makes it an unequivocal statement; those who are ashamed of him in a perverted world, because of debauched people, will not taste the shameless glory of the Heavens, given by a supremely Holy God. Considering this demand, Paul boldly states: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16).

 

Application

The first part of the passage indicates that even people who know Jesus can have difficulty to see things clear. Those who claim to be his followers ought to ask Jesus and beg him to touch their eyes to see the glory of God. A fuzzy vision did not delight Jesus, and Christians should keep in mind that spiritual fuzziness is not gratifying to God. A desire to clean the fog in our understating should flourish from our hearts as this passage is read.

Jesus demonstrated a specific interest in Peter’s words. A multitude of people had opinions and ideas concerning who Jesus was, but Jesus was captivated by what his real followers had to say. The recognition of the Messiah is an individual task, and every Christ-follower must inquire himself regarding who Christ is for him. Peter’s confession resulted in a different type of relationship with Jesus. Who we say Jesus is, exerts great influence in our relationship with him. The more accurate the confession, more of God will be given to us.

To assume that Jesus is the Christ is a confession that has responsibilities. To recognize Jesus as Christ in the midst of this adulterous and sinful generation is to be willing to give up on your own life. In the same way, to be ashamed of Christ’s straightforwardness in his message is to declare bankruptcy to your soul. Those who are eager to confess with their mouths that Jesus is the Christ, as Peter did, should not be less enthusiastic about professing this affirmation through the deliverance of earthly affairs. The physical ambition is the cross; the metaphysical objective is Heaven. Let us confess, like Paul, that we are not ashamed of the gospel, and let us substantiate this immaterial affirmation through sufferings and afflictions for Jesus’ sake and the gospel’s.


[1] Specifically, Bethsaida Julius. Located many miles north of the Sea of Galilee and east of the Jordan River.

[2] Some manuscripts use the words Magadan, or Magdala.

[3] Thomas V. Brisco, Holman Bible Atlas (Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, ©1998), 220-221.

[4] Clinton A. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Background Commentary, 254.

[5] Lane, The Gospel According to Mark, 289.

[6] James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, vol. 23, Mark (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1991), 132-133.

[7] DeSilva, Introduction to The New Testament, 201.

[8] Ibid., 201.

[9] Eugene Boring, Introduction to The New Testament, 518.

[10] Brooks, The New American Commentary, 131.

[11] C.f. Mark 5:40 and 7:33. In view of 1:23-28; 3:1-5; 9:14-17, it gets difficult to identify Jesus’ modus operands regarding isolation or public manifestations.

[12] C.f. Mark 7:33.

[13] C.f Luke 4:38-40 and 14:4 for a brief example.

[14] H. van der Loon, The Miracles of Jesus, (Netherlands: Leiden, EJB, Tuta Sub Aegide Pallas, 1965), 307-310.

[15] E. R. Micklem, Miracles & The New Psychology: A Study in the Healing Miracles of the New Testament (London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press), 102.

[16] The use of words “back” and “again” are intentional. Since he recognized a “tree” shape from distance, this can be an indicator that he was not blind at some point in his life.

[17] Lane, The Gospel According to Mark, 288.

[18] C.f. Deuteronomy 21:23.

[19] J. F. Stenning, The Targum of Isaiah (London: Oxford University Press, Amen House), 178-181.

[20] Lane, The Gospel According to Mark, 310.

Why Communism Cannot Be Actualized

Before I start my text I would like to show my appreciation to Amanda Aucoin, professor of Western Civilization at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, from whose class notes I borrow most of what I present in this text. 

The 19th century was a thriving time for political “isms” to flourish. Edmund Burke sparks Conservatism, John Mill gives birth to Liberalism, Tomas Malthus has a strong influence in Economic Liberalism, and our friend Karl Marx comes up with Communism.

The West Germanic exile compiled a small booklet to be kept in the worker’s pocket at all times–the Communist Manifesto (1848). While in his exilic times in Belgium he began to solidify the ideas that would turn socialism into communism. But beyond story-telling, my goal is to give a fairly simple response to a complicated question: “why did communism fail to become actual?” I believe actualization never came about because Marx’s predictions were simply mistaken.

Marx, in his hate for religion, rejected human depravity and believed that humans have an inherent power to change. [In the perfect society], “we will have from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” which really sounds good and I believe anyone with a good heart would love this idea to actually come about. The problem number 1 is, Marx was wrong about humanity. Humans are not good, and education after the “revolution” would” not exclude the need for government while we all live in the happy land. But we will get there soon.

Of course, I do not believe in economic determinism; I do not believe the sub and superstructure can be as easily defined. But Marx was not trying to present a system for 21st-century people like us, he was talking to 19th-century workers! His system, in the way he intended, would never come about in our good America.

The base of Marx’s system is this: in the base (sub), the bourgeoisie exploits the proletariat, and it does so by owning the means of production. Here is where a great name, often forgotten, comes into play: J. W. F. Hegel. Hegel believed in the Idea of the Dialect, which basically affirms that society thrives and determines its history in the notion of opposition. This dialect of going back and forth with ideas is the engine in which we drive our world. Marx simply changed that to class struggles. And class struggles is the false vacuum that will eventually come to a resting point in the true vacuum of Communism.

The synthesis, unless the one of Communism, always has an antitheses. It, then, generates a new thesis. This new thesis, the synthesis, is now capitalism, and the proletariat and working classes are the antitheses. The new thesis to solve this? Communism. And from this point on there is no improvement because we are in the true vacuum–all are satisfied with Communism (in Marx’s head).

How will this new synthesis come about? Through a revolution. The International Associations of 1864 and 1889 debated this with high hopes. Marx believed that Capitalism was dying, that the middle class was declining, and that the working class was languishing. Based on these beliefs is his idea of Communism coming about. If his ideas on this are correct, then Communism can come about successfully. The problem is, his presuppositions and predictions are as bad as Malthus’ predictions of world hunger. Workers would eventually rise up because the working conditions would only get worse. Problem is, they did not. Vacations were implemented, less working hours were granted, higher wages,  work safety policies, higher class housing, in summa, everything got better. Why would the working class rebel with better conditions? In fact, do you know what better conditions mean? It means the working class was moving up on life. Exactly, the proletariat was now closer and closer from becoming the bourgeoisie. What’s the suggestion, Marx? Rebellion against one’s own status?

Marxism was intended to be implemented naturally from the bottom up. And every time Communism was “implemented” it fail to have both essential properties: it was not natural, and it did not start from the bottom. It started with greedy people who realized they could become powerful and implement the dictatorship for as long as they want. According to Marx, they will eventually be educated and understand that Communism is the way, right? No, they can not because Marx was wrong in his anthropology. And they will not, because the Leviathan’s desire (sorry for that, Hobbes) is not to educate, but to perpetuate his dictatorship.

Marx was wrong in his presuppositions, his anthropology, his sociology, and his understanding of what was going in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Things did not get worse, things got better, and because of this the proletariat would never revolt. To hope for a worldwide “working class conscience” in good conditions is foolishness. Marxism wanted heaven on earth, but the Industrial Revolution showed that people can be content with less that perfection. The “proletariat” now have much more to lose than its own chains, Mr. Marx. Not only this, but such state of affairs proved his view on Christianity to be wrong because people were still not working for heaven on earth, but simply for stability. A revolution would never happen, and this is why Communism has to be implemented from the top, which is contrary to Communism’s own premise!

A system that works against its own premises? Sorry, I’ll pass.

The Significance of Peter’s Confessions in the Gospel of Mark (Introduction)

Mcr-Fishes

Introduction

The book of Mark, second book of the New Testament, is a document which focuses on the proclamation of the Gospel.[1] Because of this verse, the R. C. Sproul suggests that “Mark may have been the first to assign the title ‘gospel’ to a written document.”[2]

All of the New Testament Gospels are anonymous, including Mark.[3] Boring and Craddock explain that “neither the author nor the readers personally experienced the original events.”[4] The events were transmitted through oral tradition, a variety of a chain effect in which the history is “mediated to the author, to the original readers, and to us by the Christian community, the church. It is not a chain of individuals, but a community of faith, that mediates the gospel to later believers and inquirers.”[5] Some of the oral tradition was written down, as Luke admits when he declares that “many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the this that have been accomplished among us” (Luke 1:1 [ESV]). Even though John Mark was not an apostle, Scriptures record him constantly gathered with other apostles and early Christians.[6] The Scripture provides many references to a figure called John Mark, and to ignore those references as a possible connection to the author of this work would be, at least, naïve. Eusebius also provides reliable information concerning the authorship of Mark.[7]

Concerning the date of this work, is commonly accepted that Mark was written before A.D. 70. David A. DeSilva, author of more than twenty-five books, clarifies the argument of those who oppose such date writing that, “The primary reason many scholars tend to date Mark’s Gospel after A.D. 70 is the presupposition that Jesus could not foresee the destruction of Jerusalem—an ideological conviction clearly not shared by all.”[8] Craig S. Keener’s position on this topic is that “Mark wrote his Gospel to Roman Christians during the time of the great persecution in Rome, about A.D. 64.”[9] An unidentified spectator also provides firm support for the early date: “Mark recorded, who was called Colobodactylus, because he had fingers that were too small for the height of the rest of his body.  He himself was the interpreter of Peter.  After the death of Peter himself, the same man wrote this gospel in the parts of Italy.”[10] Irenaeus also confirms the Anti-Marcionite Prologue attesting that “after the death of these [Peter and Paul] Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing the things preached by Peter” (Irenaeus, Adversus Heareses 3. i. 2). On the other hand, Eusebius relates that Mark wrote his Gospel while Peter was still alive (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 2. 15). Some have tried to resolve this problem, but what is relevant here is that the book was written somewhere just before or just after Peter’s death. The issue of the date is directed to whether or not 13:5-23 is a reference to Nero’s persecution in A.D. 64. The book of Mark was used by Matthew and Luke, so a date between 60-70AD is potentially probable.

Passages like 7:2-4 support the idea that Mark’s readers were ignorant regarding Jewish traditions, what could attest to the idea that Mark did not write his Gospel in Palestine.[11] His references to members of the Roman church can suggest that this was written when Mark was present in Rome with Peter (1 Pet. 5:13).[12]  Mark also explains many Semitic terminologies to his audience, which would be unnecessary if his readers were Palestinians.[13] Occasionally, instead of explaining the meaning of the ancient word, Mark makes use of Latin expressions, which can also confirm that his audience knew Latin, as the Romans did.[14] The cabal evidence for this is found when Mark uses the Roman system of time as reference in his work.[15] In light of these internal evidences, the Roman audience must be kept in mind when scrutinizing Mark’s work.[16]

The book of Mark seeks to fortify the faith of believers who were suffering; to explain the current suffering of believers; to admonish “cross-bearing” as integral to discipleship;  to encourage believers with hope—in spite of their failures.[17] In Mark’s book, Jesus is presented as servant who came to suffer in their place (Mark 10:45), which could have relation to Mark’s persistent explanation for suffering among believers. Interestingly, the teachings of Jesus are not so emphasized as his miracles in this book. On the other hand, Jesus’ humanity is more stressed here than in any other gospel.[18] With this in mind, it seems that Mark was trying to help his readers to understand the Jewish tradition that was surrounding them, and accustom them with who Jesus was—both his deity and humanity.

Main Idea

The identity of the Son of Man as the Christ began to be recognized, and his redemptive plan is foretold to his disciples.

Outline

  1. Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida and tells him not to enter the village (8:22-26).
  2. On the way to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus inquires his disciples regarding his identity and Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ (8:27-30).
  3. Jesus foretells his suffering and redemptive plan to his disciples (8:31-38).

To be Continued…

On the following article for this II-part article I will present the literary context of the passage (how it fits in the overall scheme of Mark’s argument), a commentary on the verses 8:22-38, and applications for our lives based on this theological study.

Stay tuned!


[1] Mark 1:1 starts with this affirmation: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Greek word for “gospel” is εὐαγγέλιον, which means “a good message,” according to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries (G#2098).

[2] R C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version, 3rd ed. (Orlando, Florida: Reformation Trust, 2015), 1727.

[3] Many take for granted the English title “The Gospel According to Mark” as the final answer to the issue of authorship of this book. However, Boring explains that “The question of authorship could not be discussed intelligently as the first issue; one must first get an idea of the nature of the document before asking the question of authorship.” Cf. M Eugene Boring, An Introduction to the New Testament: History, Literature, Theology (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), 521.

[4] M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock, The People’s New Testament Commentary (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 6.

[5] Ibid., 6.

[6] Peter went to Mark’s mother’s house to pray (Acts 12:12). Mark helped Barnabas and Saul (Paul) in their ministry (Acts 12:25). 1 Peter 5:13 could be implying that Peter and Mark were together in Rome. Paul also expressed his approval regarding Mark many times (Col. 4:10 and 2 Tim. 4:11).

[7] Eusebius explains that in the beginning of the second century, it was widely acceptable as tradition that the author of the book of Mark was the Biblical John Mark, who was friends with Peter and Paul (See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.15).

[8] David Arthur DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods and Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, Illinois.: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 196.

[9] Keener adds a relation with the content of the book and the end of the Judean-Roman War in A.D.66-70. Cf. Craig S. Keener, The Ivp Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, 2nd ed. (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 126.

[10] The Anti-Marcionite Prologue can be found here http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/anti_marcionite_prologues.htm.

[11] In Mark 15:42, Jesus not only seems to be explaining the meaning of the word “Golgotha,” but also acquainting his readers with Jewish tradition.

[12] C.f. Mark 15:21 and Romans 16:13.

[13] C.f. Mark 3:17; 5:41; 7:11 and 34; 10:46; 14:36; 15:22 and 34.

[14] C.f. Mark 5:9; 6:27; 12:15 and 42; 15:16; 15:39.

[15] C.f. Mark 6:48 and 13:35.

[16] More could be said to support such claim, as the fact that few references to the Old Testament are made, or the fact that Mark uses the words “Kingdom of God” instead of “Kingdom of Heaven,” what would be offensive to the Jewish audience.

[17] These key themes were extracted from Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, ©2002), 205.

[18] His emotions (Mark 1:41; 3:5; 6:34; 8:12; 9:36), his limitations (Mark 4:38; 11:12; 13:32), and other human characteristics are well emphasized in this book (Mark 7:33-34; 8:12; 9:36; 10:13-16).

μάρτυς, Starbucks, and Disney – A Reminder

In Second Isaiah (40-55) we face the description of the suffering servant, who serves YHWH and is willing to lay down his life like the One who actually did so. Psalm 44:22 talks about the sheep who every day give themselves up to a Greater Cause. Daniel tells us that the Jews were forced to violate God’s covenant (Daniel 11:21, 29-32). Those who remained firm in the Rock of Israel suffered greatly (vv. 33-34). Daniel and his friends were faced with the threats by Nebuchaddnezzar. And he boldly replied, “we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up” (3:17-18).

Even the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha are full of examples of faithfulness in face of confrontation and daily suffering. John the Baptist died in such a way. Stephen and James were killed for their faithfulness.They attempted to kill Paul several times. In all of those occasions, he did not back down. Most importantly, Jesus was killed for doing God’s will.

Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24; John 15:18-20; and many other passages in the New Testament explicitly teach something that many have never heard before (or at least many act like they never did). What I want to show you is that denying yourself means more than not having sex before marriage and/or not cursing ur “using God’s name in vain.” Obedience to God means dying for the self.

If you come after Jesus that means you have denied yourself when you took up your cross. The problem is many people falsely believe you can come after Jesus without self-denial. They are willing to deny things they normally wouldn’t do anyways. Their parents don’t like them to curse, so they don’t. Their parents are very strict about dating, so they have a (mandatory and exteriorly) “pure” dating life. But as Jesus said, you cannot go after him without the denial of self. The people I cited before knew that, and that is why they did not deny Christ even in extreme situations.

What has happened to us, then? We are not being forced to anything. Believers have the option Daniel did not have. And yet, even without pressure or threats to our lives, we happily surrender ourselves, our whole family, our country, our culture, and the cultures to come to Satan and his servants! All the work believers have done for decades in the U.S. is completely disregarded by most when they are faced with some challenges. They can either abstain from the idolatrous ideologies they are being presented with (thus, obeying God), or they can surrender to the devil and their own carnality.

We are quick to act on homosexuals who are pressing their agenda on the church, yet we have no desire to attack those who disagree with us but somehow we love them. I believe many have acted and spoke against the LGBTUVWXYZ(etc, …)’s disgust and not out of faithfulness to God. I know that because Disney World just announced their gay kissing in their movie and cartoon and some Christians could not care less. I know that because Starbucks’ CEO told us he does not want to make business with people who support the traditional family, and many don’t give a crap about it.

Sorry for being aggressive. But it bothers me that we are willing to traumatize people who are trapped in their own bodies because of our “commitment to Godly principles.” Godly principles my butt! Our God is this country, and we serve him because we love our culture. “Is our culture shaped by heterosexualism? Then we should keep it that way. Did Disney shape my childhood and other kids in my country can recite the whole thing? Then why in the world would I speak against it and abstain from watching something Disney has produced? Doesn’t every basic girl and boy drink overpriced coffee to look good, get some likes, and taste something you could taste at any other coffee shop and pay less? So why would I stop going to Starbucks?” Our God is conservatism, not YHWH.

YHWH demands us to speak against our culture (Ephesians 5:11), but conservatism tells us to keep things the way they are. For the disgrace of the church, sometimes what we have preserve coincide with God’s nature, and because of that coincidence we believe we serve God. How dare we? If I am terrible at throwing darts and somehow I hit the bull’s eye once you would not credit me as being skilled at it. “It was luck! Pure coincidence,” you would say. Of course, because getting things right without intentionality is not valid. In the same way, all of our efforts to ban homosexuality out of public schools are worthless if we sell out to the Devil as soon as God’s Word does not fit our culture anymore.

Christianity has never been of the culture (with the exceptions of most modern churches, of course). Billy Graham once wisely said that believers should not attract by their similarity to the world, but because of their difference. Unfortunately, I believe here in America we don’t have many martyrs (μάρτυς) today. Martyrs were those who were willing to obey God even under extreme situations. Funny fact for you: the word martyr means “witness.” When believers were called martyrs they were being described as witnesses of God. Isn’t it funny how submission to the Lordship of Jesus under any circumstance used to mean “witnessing”? I think it is interesting and funny because nowadays many think they can witness (that is, be a martyr, AKA “be a Christian”) without having to sacrifice his self.

God calls you to sacrifice anything for his glory. How dare you tell God where he can and can’t be Lord over? Jesus Christ is lord over all, not only over the sins you dislike because of your culture. I said in the beginning that believers who are not responding to the threats made by sons of Satan to Jesus’ bride are not only destroying their own lives, but their families and generations to come, and I will explain how that is the case. Starbucks’ CEO and Disney are making a statement. They are saying, “we are against Christian culture. We are against Christians. And we are not afraid of saying so.” I believe they are not afraid because believers have become pacifists under the name of “acting like Jesus” and/or “submitting to the authorities/pastors/blah-blah-blah.” These mega companies are free to act against Christian culture because they know we worship them.

I remember going to mission trips with Americans and listening to them talking about Disney for hours. Of course it was a mission trip! We had the nice shirts, money from people from our church, the corny songs, the singles who can’t date, the boardgames, the food. I mean how could that not be a mission trip? No we would not pray for a few hours at night nor in the morning. We would not have extended reading time. Why would we? This is a mission’s trip lol Who does that? Serious missionaries. Serious missionaries do that. Teenagers don’t (and here I am quite intentional to point out that leaders can be 147 years old. If they don’t act like a mature believer they are teenagers).

Disney is almost connected to Christianity to some people. Same goes for Starbucks and other tons of things. Companies can threaten our beliefs and corrupt the culture Jesus’ bride has been trying to change because, despite our commitment to meet on Sunday’s, we worship other gods on the side. “What can they do?” they think. “Nothing! They will not stop drinking our coffee or watch our movies just because we actively attacked their God.”I mean that is not enough reason, right?

Our past generations taught us that we must submit to God’s in every area of our lives. They might have committed mistakes, but they taught us that God is the only King we serve. What are we teaching our kids? What will you tell your kids? What is the message the church is sending to the present culture when they willfully submit to Satan’s “lordship” over media and popular companies?

Brothers and sisters, I urge you to think about this. Could Paul or Luke write about your reaction to Disney and Starbucks today? Could they make an example out of you? If not, I must say you need to repent and reevaluate some things. Jesus died on the cross and bled for his children. The biggest political act of rebellion was already done when Jesus refused to obey Pilate’s command to stay dead and out of his way. Jesus’ love for his people implies that he protects them, that he cares for them, and that (sometimes) he will frustrate our plans to disobey him.

Will we dare to stand against Jesus’ love for his little ones?

Will we dare to let something else take our Jesus’ throne in our culture?

Who will we obey?

Which God do we serve? Culture or YHWH?

Let us think…

Christians and Christmas: A Brief Observation

For some people Christmas is the most beautiful, joy giving, soul filling event of the year. It brings families together, it allows you to post good pictures of you and your family, and you can give gifts and receive gifts. On Christmas we have this warming sensation that we ar all love—everything and everyone ought to be loved because December is December. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against that. Put your ugly sweater on, spend your income on gifts, have your happy white elephant time with your small group, and watch the same movies you have been watching for about 10 years. It is tradition, right? This is where the problem is, I believe.

Most believers have no freaking idea of what Christmas means. “Jesus was born,” they will say. But they are so theologically ignorant and so intellectually dead that the words “Jesus” and “was born” mean absolutely nothing. Jesus is a cool guy who came to make us happy. Is that not the truth? Of course they recognize that Jesus is God and God became flesh, but they have no idea of what that means. For some “Mary Did You Know” is the deepest theological doctrine they will ever receive during Christmas. Which, by the way, SHE KNEW! An angel spoke to her before she was pregnant for God’s sake!

We have bought into the consumerism religion. Why on earth would we spend all that money if the meaning of Christmas is Jesus and his birth? Tell me, do you spend more time thinking about what you are going to cook for Christmas Eve or meditating upon the doctrine of the incarnation? Do you spend more money on gifts or giving to the needy? After all Jesus came so that we could go! Do you worry about your sweater more than you worry about not being able to explain Jesus’ birth to a 10 year old? Clearly, we missed the point of Christmas.

I honestly could not care less if you watch Elf or if you put a Santa figurine in your yard, that is up to you. But it saddens me and it breaks my heart to know that Jesus’ bride have absolutely no flipping idea of what Christmas means. I wonder if you who can recite your favorite Elf lines can tell me, by memory, the main Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. Let us make this easier for you, after all you have been in church for only 20 years, you had no time for God. I will let you explain me what is the significance of the coming of the Messiah. Too hard? Just explain to me what is the Messiah and why it is important for Jesus to be the Messiah. I bet you have been too busy in your Christmas traditions, you probably had no time to think about Jesus…

Most of you will have kids, and you are growing in a poor theological church who still teaches that Jesus is a cute little wrapped gift you chose to accept in your heart. The combo of poor theology, high emotionalism, and the pagan traditions you have adopted will do well in your children’s lives in the future. Your kids will die of starvation, as you probably are dying too. Their spiritual lives will shrink because you will have no spiritual authority over them. Just like every other brain-dead believer you will embrace the very culture that is killing us. For the love of Jesus, become a Christian!

Listen to your Christmas songs with no biblical support, enjoy the time with your family whom you haven’t called nor spend time with in a year, post pictures of you and your family who is clearly divided—enjoy modern-day Christmas time! Numb your soul with tons of food, live as if you were made to eat and that only, spend your God-giving income on anything but the Kingdom of God. Embrace this culture, do not make a difference. But then question yourself, why on earth should I consider you a Christian? Because you repeat the empty words every Christian is taught to repeat? Because you know how to spell Jesus’ name while have no idea of what he means? 

Christmas is a time of joy, but since we never preach about sin and never confront our brothers and sisters, we are doomed to embrace the pagan festival of Christmas. See that I distinguish between Christmas and pagan Christmas. Believers should celebrate Christmas, but unfortunately many will not. Jesus came to set the captives free, but who are the captives. Captives to what? He came to give sight to the blind, but who is blind? Can’t everyone clearly see what is going on? He came to establish the Kingdom of God, and that is the point of Jesus’ coming. He did not come to give you chocolate or ugly sweaters, he came to give you life! The only reason you can enjoy Christmas with some delight is because if the incarnation. Make sure you tell other people that and start living for others—live to make Jesus known and clearly understood by all people around you. That is the greatest Christmas gift you could ever give.

Self-Punishment By Offense

“You’re an idiot, a prideful prick, and useless jerk who can not even think straight!” Said Jorge’s beautiful wife, who married him a few months ago. Interestingly enough, a few months into dating and in the moments preceding such commmitment, in Johanna’s eyes Jorge was a godly man! He would work as hard as he could to pay his bills, would visit his mother in the hospital, donate some money to the poor, and even sing at the Church’s choir. “Such a dedicated man,” is what Johanna used to think about him. Admittedly, some times he thinks that, but those thoughts don’t last… Why?

It happens that Johanna was passionately in love for Jorge. Her hormone levels were not as they used to, and consequently, her mind was just not thinking straight. How does one goes from godly man to useless jerk? Easy answer! They got more intimate and her hormone levels went back to normal (which sounds very much like an oxymoron when we are dealing with females but whatever). All the suspense, the curiosity, the desire faded away. Of course he would still visit his mom in the hospital, but only now she realized he does so begrudgingly. He still donates his money to the church, but man that guy spends tons of cash on Xbox games too! Sure, he sings at church, but now she knows he actually hates the guy who leads worship and thinks he is a jerk! Now, she sees his flaws. But that is not all, that is not the point.

Johanna now, unconsciously, sees what will be with her for the rest of her miserable life. One day she will be the one in the hospital, will he visit her with joy or will he feel that is a burden? His Xbox games are so stupid! Of course he should spend that money on clothes and makeup for her! And since he has some issues with leadership, how will he handle issues with her when she is the one in charge? No, she is not perfect either. She graduated in psychology so she thinks she knows everything about his life and how he rationale works. Since she was always a natural leader and people everywhere (normally people who were not under her charge) encouraged her about her natural skills, and now she has problems with him. Why? Because since he does not respect his church leader, how will he respect her? I know you might be thinking, “isn’t she the one who is suppose to submit to him?” Well yeah, but remember, she is perfect, he is the “useless prick.”

What she is facing is not his problems, but hers. What she is dealing with is not with his personality, but how his personality will have an affect on her. See? Is not about him, is about her? Guess who is the prideful one now, huh? See the thing with couples is that it really seems like a bad joke. God changes your hormones so that you do not see the other person as she is, but as you wish they were. I mean, you have got to fulfill your mom’s wish list for your husband and your have got to win your daddy’s approval right? How could you live without someone’s approval? That would be terrible… for your ego… Anyways, once God puts you in this unchangeable matrimony he opens both of y’all’s eyes and now you both see how terrible the other person is. “It was the wife/husband you gave me that did that, Lord.” Isn’t this a sick joke? Well, the issue, again, is that we do not think that.

We rightly recognize that God does not have anything to do our hormones, and he does not “open our eyes” when we start living with (what used to be) our loved ones. We are to blame! We did not analyzed the other person carefully enough, we were the ones who projected someone else into that person. Actually, we are to blame even more, for we all need to recognize that we lie and fake our lives to an extend in front of those whom we are trying to conquer. Is a fight thing, we try to look bigger, more confident, but in real life we are just skinny, broken, and scared teenagers. So she is even more angry not because Jorge is a prideful prick, but because she married a prideful prick! I really laugh at this, and this is why I do not plan on being a counselor. When you call your spouse _____ you are also admitting your stupidity, for you married a _______ person! See how life works? It always slaps you in the face, whether you like it or not, honey.

So we have one big pile of messiness in a house, and after dinner you both need to go to the same bad. Johanna is mad because she is stupid. I mean she married a sinful person, how dumb is that? And Jorge is mad because she can’t even see her flaws, is like she’s blind or something; just as he was for her before they got married. Guess what? Jorge is mad at himself too. Both of these useless pieces of brainless beings need to go to bed together, they need to eat breakfast together. And for real, even if they avoid each other’s presence, they will have to face each other at some point. Now here comes the sick joke:

Johanna and Jorge are Christians. They are going to Church next morning. They need to smile, and they will. They need to “worship” (term used in churches with bad theology referring to singing songs about how much God loves them, followed of several bridges, guitar solos, and “ohhhooohhooohhh” moments), and they will. They will fake their lives to their bones. Both of them will now, together, fake together. The beautiful union initiated by God and a priest is now a union of both people sinning together. How gorgeous is that? No, no, my dear friend. Marriage is messy, it is not what Instagram shows you, so get out of there! Rousseau was right! Comparison screwed us over! This fake couple will go to church and look at other couples and see how happy they are, and remember how happy they used to be. What they do not know is that those cute couples walking around your mega church o Sunday morning are as messed up as you are. We are all lost. We are just to afraid to admit. I mean, what if God actually decides to heal us?! That would be terrible, for we would have to deal with our problems. And we live in the XXI’st century, we don’t do that. We check social media, we listen to music, we watch Netflix, but heck no! We do not solve things between each other!

What can this and all the other couples on earth do to solve their problems with each other? You are with a sinful person. That sucks, I know. But remember, you are sinful too, and I bet you can’t stand yourself and your sin more than your spouse can stand his. Why would you throw his flaws on his/her face? Do you assume he/she is comfortable with his sins just because sometimes he/she doesn’t seem to work on his problems? I guess you always look like you are trying so hard to improve, right? And if you do, I bet that is so because your goal is to please God, and not to preserve your good image in front of other people right? You are worried with what God thinks about you, not other people, right? Let’s us both cut the crap. Jorge and Johanna, you guys suck. You both do, and you both know it. I have an idea, do not throw each other’s problems on each other’s faces. I’m pretty sure that will work well. And if you go back to acting like a stupid child with no control over your tongue and no care for your loved one’s heart, read some James. Your tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness, and it has the power to send your spouse to hell (James 3:5-12). If you fail to think about each other with love, repent and pray together. That sucks, I know. It hurts your ego, ashames both of you, and make you both feel like you are naked in front of each other. But that is the goal. For happiness in a shameless physical relationship in your bed will only happen when you both are comfortable with each other’s flaws: both physical and behavioral flaws.

Do you want to lose your relationship and destroy your spouse? Keep up, my friend. Do not admit your flaws and move on with your game. You are too good for this anyways. I am pretty sure you are amazing and you will find a thousand of girls/boys in a snap of a finger. And they all will be even more amazing than your spouse. “Trust your ego,” isn’t that what Jeremiah 17:5 says? Well, if you don’t want to lose your spouse, but want to lose your ego, because God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6), then humble yourself before the mighty hand of God and at the proper time he will give you favor (1 Peter 5:6). And after cooling down and praying, go talk to your spouse. Fix things with your loved one. That is how relationships persist. There is no short-way for growing. It is painful and slow. But don’t worry, God is with you.

C. S. Lewis and the Atonement

 
     Lewis affirms that Christ gave his life as a ransom for many, which Christians should not be worried to affirm as well. Lewis’ view, however, would differ to what most Christians in our days would be willing to affirm. In his work, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lewis sets forth the ransom theory of atonement as an explanation for Christ’s expiation.
     Peter, Susy, Edmund, and Lucy (which also happens to be his goddaughter’s name, to whom he dedicated this work to), discover the incredible world of Narnia through a wardrobe found in professor Kirke’s house. They enter a land of fantasy, that has a lot to teach us. In this land, Lucy meets Tumnus, a faun, that explains her a that the Which, Jadis,  has dominium over Narnia. The Witch hated the sons of Adam, and it was a rule that every one of them should be delivered to the Witch. When Lucy brings her siblings to Narnia, Edmund is persuaded by Jadis, and becomes her prisoner. Ms. Beaver, a beaver, rescues the boy, but Lewis’ idea is already explicit: the Witch has dominium over the sons of Adam, and she keeps all of them under her feet. Jadis, appears to, in some way, be willing to prevent the prophecy to become true. The prophecy is that when the two sons and two daughters of Adam will become kings and queens over the kingdom at Cair Parvel. This seems to mirror God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 that salvation would come through human lineage.
     Aslan, the gutless lion, steps in after being away for long. Edmund is a prisoner, and all the other kids should be too. The Witch, then, rightfully demands that the children must be delivered to her. Aslan decides to step up and prevent that from happening. After a brief conversation with Jadis, Aslan quietly decides to give his own life as a ransom to the Witch—it is important to note that the Witch had the right to do that according to Narnia’s law. During that night, Aslan is killed by the Witch at the Stone Table, and all who belong to the Witch’s kingdom celebrate, whilst those who appreciate Aslan are found in despair. Aslan, then, after being abandoned by the Witch—who was confident about her victory over the prophecy and therefore was ready to wage war against the sons of Adam—returns to life. Aslan tells his followers that the Witch was fooled, for she was ignorant regarding the deeper magic that would bring Aslan, an innocent, back to life. Aslan joins the battle and kills the Witch, restoring the peace in the kingdom.
     Theologically, the Lion represents Christ, and the Witch the Devil. The kids represent humanity that is being held captive by Satan, who, having dominium over the earth, demands his rights before Christ. What seems to be taking place here is an inversion of values: Satan is now in the throne demanding what God should do in order to save the very same creatures he created. During the fall, God completely loses control over his creation, and now is subject to Satan’s demand to be able to bring his creatures back to him. The Witch demanded Aslan’s blood to set her prisoners free; Satan demands God’s blood to save his creation. Other problems arise with this view. One of them is that Aslan, being the omniscient God, trusted the Witch’s rightful demand for her rights. However, after Aslan’s death, the Witch did not set the captives free, but started a war against them. Aslan, being God, then, fails to see the whole picture, and seems to have trusted the Witch’s word that promised freedom to Aslan’s friends. If God trusted a lie by Satan, how does that make God any better than Adam and Eve when they trusted Satan’s lies? It is also worth mentioning that Aslan deceived the Witch. She thought everything was set for her, but she did not know of the deeper magic behind the prophecy; Satan did not know of Jesus’ divinity hidden underneath his flesh and bones. Salvation, to Lewis, is not a rightful sacrifice that Jesus, the Light of the World, engage in, but a misleading and deceitful “appears-to-be” sacrifice—it seems that a lie or at least half-truths were needed in order for God to reconquer his creation.
     To summarize, Lewis’ view is the same of Origen, Tyrannius of Rufinius, Gregory of Nissa, and even Augustine. The Ransom over Satan was the main theory during the first 1000 years of Christianity, which in itself is not an argument for why one should hold a given view. Christ’s cross is a commercial transaction paid by Christ to Satan in order to set captives free. Humanity was so fallen in sin that God lost his rights over his creation to the point that Satan now holds complete authority over God’s creation. This view seems to fail to represent God as God and ignores his rights due to his authorship of creation.

On Self Love and Loving

Have you ever fell in love with someone, and at the moment they fell in love with you everything changed? The person was perfect, the ideal “one” you sought your whole life, but as soon as they started caring about you, your mind just changed. Why? How does that happen? Scarlet Parke, on Don’t Tell Me, makes a valid point that might start clearing things up a little bit. She sings, “maybe we are running from ourselves, chasing something else when all we need is who we are.” One might love another not because they are free to do so, but because they are running from themselves. How so?

A flawed, imperfect, empty, boring guy finds the most awesome, perfect, fulfilling, and energetic girl he has ever met! Yes, they are complete opposites! He, to be honest, is a very nice guy. Solid job, values family, loves kids, healthy guy, enjoy arts, and has a Bible-saturated mind. He, of course, does not realize that. He thinks he sucks. This guy, then, pursues the girl of his dreams. In doing so, he becomes a “better him,” pushing himself further and further for his damsel’s heart. Until one day, *trumpets sound*, she realizes he is, in fact, an awesome guy and starts showing him some love. What happens to our lovely friend now? He starts feeling disgusted and miserable. She is not all that perfect anymore. Why would she get involved with a man like him? “How could she? Her standards were so high, I guess I was wrong,” concludes our lonely friend. The opposites are so strong, at least in his mind, that he cannot conceive of such a perfect girl giving attention to a guy like him.

Self-Love and Being Loved

For a relationship to work, both will need a degree of love for self. If you don’t consider yourself worth of the next person, you will likely discredit them for liking someone like you. If one does not feel worthy of being loved, one will refuse every attempt one makes to love them. As The School of Life  teaches, “without love for self, the love of another person will always prove sickening and misguided.” Such an unconscious mental rebellion will destroy three in one: the person loved, the one loving, and the potential relationship. These kind of people are like those who get an A+ on a test they cheated, they don’t feel like they deserve it. These kind of people, I must add, normally enjoy falling in love with self-loving pricks who don’t give two baby back pork ribs about them.

Loving

Some people, on the other hand, had lever left their childhood behind. Normally, you learn about your self-worth in the early stages of life. Some folks, however, never move on. Meaning, they never go from being loved to love. They developed what I call the “love-me” disease. These people think of themselves as the next Pope or Jesus’ co-redeemer. They are so great, so fantastic, so awesome, that being loved is good to a degree, the impersonal degree. As soon as love gets close to them they act like porcupines repelling it. Why? Because they lack love for self? No, no, they are the very opposite of self. Being (kinda) sober-minded, they know the butterflies in their stomachs are ready to go out and make someone else happy. The problem is, these people are so used to being loved that they actually do not know how to love someone the proper way. Perfectionists, in their majority, they internally affirm some sort of ideal of love that, if not met, fails to be love in every form. For them there are no corollaries, love is not peripherical, but ideal and formless. Being formless, the form in which they feel they should love fails to hit their standard. The result? These people can’t love! Put a person who cannot love and one who cannot feel loved together and you will have a fun experiment. Whilst the former example needs to learn his/her self-worth in Christ, the latter needs to let go from their desire to be loved, which is safe, to actively love, which makes one vulnerable. Being a perfectionist myself, I know the struggle. And although the explanations above do not perfectly account for my own experience, they are right on point.

We Long for Love

What the latter example means by this is, “I long to be loved in a non-demanding type of relationship just like the one I had with my parents when I was younger. They used to love me and spoil me, hold back some words, not care about themselves, all that so that I would be happy. From me, nevertheless, nothing was expected. I was just a child and therefore was not obligated to love back. Can I please have that again? Or will I be in love with my parents and only my parents for the rest of my life?” On the other hand, however, the former example means, “I long for someone to love me as my parents did. Not loving deeply, but superficially. I long to love them and dedicate my life to them so that they might see my worth, yet I do not want them to recognize that. Even if they do, I won’t, so it doesn’t make a difference.” Do you realize how “being in love” is different for everybody? I could cite 150000 more examples but two will suffice for now (from what I see in life, these two are the majority).

The latter needs to move out of the child’s position and step up as a parent, if one wants to be in a fruitful relationship. The former needs to learn to be loved, and in doing so experientially learn the doctrine of the imago Dei. Whilst, one needs to become an adult, the other needs to be a child; whilst one needs to love, the other needs to accept love.

On a next text I intend to expand the reason many fear intimacy and don’t enjoy being overcome by their feelings. That will set up the foundations for me to be able to start working on “what is love”. But first things first, so stay tuned :)

God bless you!