THE AWAKENING TO THE GOD-GIVEN FAITH

     The Third Great Awakening will involve the awakening to the fact and reality of the God-given faith.   In Mk.11:22 the KJV, ESV, and many other versions render the phrase as, “have faith in God.”  However, the form in the Greek is in the Genitive-Ablative case (if you use A.T. Roberson’s eight case declension of nouns and adjectives or the Genitive, if you don’t).  The Genitive, of course, refers to the source of faith, that is, a faith that is from God or a God-given faith.  Interestingly enough, I first encountered this in a center column reference in one of my KJV Bibles many years ago.  As I checked it out in the Greek, I became convinced that that is the best rendering, that it tells us the kind of faith we are supposed to have, the faith that comes from God.  A sermon which I have preached on the text bears the title, The Right Stuff.

This goes along with a number of other references in the Bible.  We find Philippians 1:29 clearly sets forth the idea that believing is a God-given trust  in Christ.  And in Ephs.2:8, about which there is much controversy, we find that there is reason for asserting that faith is the gift of God.  However, as a seminary president was once reported to have said, concrete nouns, the relative pronoun that is ordinarily feminine, whereas  the abstract nouns like faith use neuter in the pronoun..  However, even a feminine concrete noun can use a relative neuter.  Funny, thing is that even A.T. Robertson could have lapses,  He asserted the neuter demonstrative that in Eph.2:8 does not refer to the noun faith.  Dr. Gordon Clarke points out that in Robertson’s A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p704 , lists six exceptions to the common rule that adjectives agree in gender with their nouns.  Interestingly enough,  I Peter 2:19 had demonstrative neuter pronouns with feminine nouns (twice), a parallel to Ephs.2:8.  (Biblical Predestination. Phillisburg, N.J.: Bible Presbyterian and Reformd Pub. co., 1969, p.103, fn.1).

In Mk.9:14-29 the father of the child admitted that he was unable to believe.  He even cried out, 9:24, “help my unbelief.”  In other words, help me over come my unbelief, my inability to believe.   It is the neglect of the fact that God requires the impossible as our Lord clearly demanded in Mk.10:17-27, when He called for the rich young ruler to sell all he had, give to the poor, and follow Him.  That that was impossible is plainly stated by our Lord to Peter in 9:27.  Our Lord plainly teaches the inability of man to produce what He requires, Jn.6:44, 65.  When I was a child in elementary school, the teacher pointed out to me that the difference between can and may is the difference between ability and permission.

Why this demand for the impossible?  It is to bring the sinner to the end of himself or herself so that the only thing left is to cast one’s self upon the mercy of God for help to do that which could not otherwise be done.  For 42 years I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening, and one of the prerequisites to such a visitation is the realization that mankind’s only hope is the mercy and grace of God – not some act or decision or choice he or she can or might make.  In other words, the sinner is brought to the feet of Christ begging for the mercy, the grace, to respond as the Lord desires and demands.   In short, we invite the sinner to do the impossible, when we invite such to believe and to trust, to repent and turn, to cast one’s self upon God’s great mercy and grace for salvation.  As Jonah said, “Salvation is of the Lord.”(Jonah 2:9).  As one evangelist put it, salvation is of the Lord in its inception, application, continuation, consummation.

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AWAKENING TO A NEW SCIENTIFIC METHOD

About nine years ago, I was engaged in a discussion with a woman who was the science educator for county school system.  At that time she was working on a Ph.D. in science education and the state’s leading university.  During the conversation I said to her, “You know there is a problem with the present scientific method, namely, the null hypothesis.  What does one do, when the null hypothesis is also true.”  She looked at me with a startled expression: “How did you know that?”  After all, I was a poor dumb preacher, and what is he supposed to known?  I went on to explain that I had stumbled across the problem, while writing a master’s thesis in American Social and Intellectual History some 35 years earlier. It had turned out that both my thesis and my null hypothesis were true.

The problem with the present method is that it is too analytical.  As one preacher declared some 8 years previous to my thesis, “We suffer from the paralysis of analysis.”  We are good at breaking things down into bits and pieces, and we can analyze a subject to death.  The big issue is how to deal with more than one thesis (the null hypothesis is one, especially, if it happens to be true).  What we need is a more synthetical method.  The Puritans use to have their lists of contrarieties.  However, the best summary I have seen from the early period was made by a theological educator, so I understand, who was a great influence on the Puritans.  He is reported to have said, “If the rule is true, and the exceptions are true, then the truth is both the rule and the exceptions.”

     I might add that two poles, negative and positive, constitute an electric field, and two poles of a two sided precept or idea or doctrine sets up a tension in the mind of the believer which enables one to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic or, in short, a mature believer, God’s best subliminal advertisement for the attractiveness of the Gospel.  It is regrettable that we have turned from the intellectual aspect of the Christian Faith, for we really need it now that we are on the verge of paradigm shifts the likes of which have never been seen or imagined.  An old Puritan is reported to have put the problem for us in these words with reference to the word, “Our difficulty with the word lies in its perspicuity.”   In other words, the clarity of the word is a real problem for us.  Being clear and simple and plain, we think we have to understand it.  The hard reality is that we have no depth perception in spiritual truths. 

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AWAKENING TO HISTORY, PERSONAL, NATIONAL, ECCLESIASTICAL, AND OTHERWISE

Americans, for all of their illustrious past, have little sense of their history.  The subject is often presented in a boring manner in the schools, and the students are ill-prepared for a subject that requires concentrated study and reflection.  And because such is the case, the people are easily duped.  Consider how one African American High School Student stood up to a misrepresentation that none of his fellow students caught.   The lesson was on the Pilgrims, and the text and the teacher, apparently, declared that the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for their meal.  While it is likely that they thanked them for their contributions to the thanksgiving feast, the student caught the fabrication (what was cover for what was being left out).  He stood up and said: “I know that’s a lie! They gave thanks to the Lord!”

Right now the judicial system is promoting the biggest lie of all, along with the executive branch, and the legislative branch is going along with deception, that is, “the wall of separation between State and Church.”  Using a quotation from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to a Baptist Association, one having to do with keeping the government from interfering with religious freedom or threatening the church, the government is moving against religious liberty, driven, in part, part by the big corporations of America.  The ACLU has been using threats of lawsuits to drive the church from the public arena, threatening local town councils and other governmental organizations with legal action, if they have a minister speak or pray at the opening of their sessions. Such actions are the forerunners of tyranny, a change in our whole society and government which will lead to the abyss of mass exterminations (cf. the Georgia Guidestones), and the end of civilization as we know it.  Behind the scenes are the those who pull the puppet strings, and their aims are inimical even to the puppets, people, and even the string pullers themselves. 

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in 1892 that this is a Christian nation.  All they meant by that statement is that the laws of this nation were founded upon Christian teachings and, more specifically, the Bible.  It is from this milieu that religious liberty came.  In fact, the first implementation of religious liberty in precept and practice in the New World occurred in the colony of Rhode Island, the work of Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke, both Baptists in their sentiments (and saying Williams was a Seeker will not dismiss the fact that he stated in his works that he still held to his Baptist views near the end of his life.  What he sought was someone with the authority to baptize).  In any case, they succeeded in establishing religious liberty in that colony, and the first synagogue in the New World was built in Rhode Island.  It is still in use according to the last account I had of the matter.

God calls on His people to remember, and how will they do so without keeping records?  Well, there are records, but who studies them.  I began taking notes in church history, specifically with reference to the Baptists in 1963 and continued to do so for six years.  That research helped to earn a Master’s in American Social and Intellectual History, and, if I had been able to return, it would have helped me to earn a Ph.D. from an Ivy League University, a Ph.D. in Black History, no less.

What is really crucial, however, is the fact that the theology and the experiences of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions exist to be mined for the very purpose of praying for and seeking after another Great Awakening, one that will reach every soul on earth in one generation and continue to do so for a 1000 generations and reach from one end of the starry heaven to the other, all to guarantee that there will be enough of the redeemed in heaven to meet the innumerable number called for in Rev.7:9.  What we need now are some devoted Bible believers willing to pay the price and do the research that is basic to such a resurgence.  Personal, national, and ecclesiastical history are all a part of the process.  Are you willing to pay the price of such an effort as well as keeping up a worshipful service and evangelistic effort at the same time?

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AWAKENING TO A SCIENTIFIC METHOD TAKEN FROM THE BIBLE

     We are suffering from the paralysis of analysis.”  So declared a leading Southern Baptist pastor in 1963.  What he meant was that our whole approach is based upon a present method of science which is analytical.  However, analysis is not all there is to science or the scientific method. While writing a thesis for the Master of Arts in American Social and Intellectual History, I came to realize what that minister was saying.  My thesis involved a two apparently contradictory ideas, namely, the hypothesis which was regarded as true and the null hypothesis which, in this case, was also true.

Fast forward to 2006.  I encountered a science educator who was in charge of science education for a county school system and who was working on her Ph.D. in that field at the state university.  I happened to say to her that there was a flaw in our present day scientific method.  She looked at me as if I were someone who should not be saying such things (after all I was a dumb preacher and what do they do know besides faith?).  I proceeded to inform the lady how I run into the problem in 1970-71, when I was writing my thesis.  In all the years since, I have been writing and thinking about this issue.

Slowly I began to explore the possibilities.  One of my professors at Liberty had demonstrated the fact there was a one shot case that followed the present methodology of science.  Hypothesis, experiment, null hypothesis (proven false), and the conclusion that the hypothesis was true followed by a resulting practical action.  Study Daniel chapter one, in the case of Daniel and the King’s food.

As I worked my way through the process, I came to the realization that the Bible presented another method also, one that was also synthetical, that is, a method able to consider two apparently contradictory but true realities at the same time and how that brings one into a more accurate perception of what is taking place in life.  I would use a number of terms to describe the method that developed from my struggles with the issues involved.  One is scriptural or biblical, since that is the source from which began to lay hold of the problem.  Second, This involves the intellectual aspect, that is, the use of the mind to formulate ideas that reflect situations as they truly exist.  Third, there is the hypothetical reflection, the interpretation which needs to be examined.  Next, we have the experimental, the testing of the ideas, and this involves the synthetical, the apparently contradictory ideas.  Basically, we are dealing with something that fits this digital age in which we live.  This leads, in turn, to the asymmetrical nature of ideas, and the practical application of it where and when appropriate.  More could be said, but for now we will wait on reflections of those who might be attracted to method of science which is much more appropriate for dealing with the problems that we face in a world that is changing at a speed beyond any thing experienced previously.

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AWAKENING TO THE BIBLICAL REALITY OF A NEW SCIENTIFIC METHOD

     “Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word?”  That remarkable question by the Rev. John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims, reminds us that there are depths to Scripture which we have yet to plumb.  I can remember when I was working on the problem of how Sandy Creek Baptists could have “Eldresses”, that I begin to become aware of the fact that in our study of the issues of biblical interpretation we lacked a method that was truly synthetical, that is one that could take in a two-sided truth, one that could enable students to be able to give full faith and credit to the profound two-sidedness of Holy Writ.

     In any case, there were texts in the Old and New Testament which actually presented men and women as equals, and the difficulties have to do with how we handle negative comments one way or the other.  For example, the comment in I Cors. 14 concerning women not being permitted to speak is in the context of a man speaking in tongues without an interpreter, and the same language is used.  Obviously, this does suggest that the negative precept has a limited application.  Even more suggestive is the fact that “Eldresses” is used a number of time in I Tim. 5, and if the man is an elder then it should follow that the women are eldresses.

     I once argued with a fellow who was very committed to the idea that women were not permitted to have any leadership role in the church or, practically, any where else except the home.  I said, “If I can provide you with an example of a woman being named in a leadership role in the Bible, what will you do?”  He responded, “I will eat my words.”  Then I showed him Micah 6:4, “I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”  He had to admit that the text did present a woman in a leadership role, but he would not eat his words.  I guess the serving was not savory enough.

     I use the case concerning women not to cause controversy, but to awaken interest in how the Bible has a depth  that our present methods of study and understanding cannot plumb.  Due to our lack of adequate intellectual methodology, we are subject to theological manipulation.  An excellent illustration of such efforts can be found in church history.  Prior to the Reformation, the Waldensians charged Rome with being the Antichrist.  After all, they were acting like such, persecuting and putting to death those who did not submit to Rome’s rule.  The Protestants took the same approach, and then an Archbishop wrote a work on the issue, focusing on the idea that one person would be the Antichrist.  Today, we have many who look for a person who is the Antichrist, while institutions manifest the spirit of that nature. 

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