Friday, May 25, 2007

Name-it-and-claim-it!

The sun begins to set on the Yellow Sea as a black-sailed galleon slowly treads the port. Clad in the red of his country's rising sun, a solitary figure watches the ship with narrow eyes and furrowed brow. The slanting shadows of rooftops hide his presence among the jittering lines of the city's skyline. The soft murmur of the ocean slurping against the dark sand of the bay is eclipsed by the dull roar of a distant thunder.

The time came. Red Ninja noted the distance between a loading crane and the crows nest of the foreboding ship were close. He darted to the side of the roof he had been inhabiting, hurled his sickle/rope at the end of the crane and in one deft movement swooped onto the top of the main topgallant mast. Perched silently, he scanned the deck for his opponent.

Suddenly a cutlass glanced off the beam next to him. In an eye blink the ninja had drawn his katana and spun around to see a gnarled pirate with a gleam in his one good eye. He knew this was to be the confrontation that he had been longing for these past 11 years.

And so, the debate about name-it-and-claim-it theology was begun…

RED NINJA: So God never wants any Christian to be sick?

SCURVY PIRATE: Yes. He will heal you if you have enough faith.

RED NINJA: So every person who has a physical ill is lacking faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: Yes.

RED NINJA: Death is a physical ill, right?

SCURVY PIRATE: I suppose.

RED NINJA: Everyone dies, right?

SCURVY PIRATE: I don't think I like where you're going with this.

RED NINJA: So does that mean no one has faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: I guess not enough to never die. But God has decreed that it is appointed unto every man to die.

RED NINJA: So God wishes a certain physical ill for every human?

SCURVY PIRATE: … Well, we need to die to go to heaven.

RED NINJA: Did Enoch or Elijah have to die to go to heaven?

SCURVY PIRATE: No. They had so much faith they didn't have to die.

RED NINJA: Ok. Fair enough. So God wishes that everyone had that much faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: Yes, God wants us to have as much faith as possible.

RED NINJA: So He appointed everyone to die, but hopes that they won't?

SCURVY PIRATE: er… something like that.

RED NINJA: Oh really? How do you get faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: You believe. You just have to believe.

RED NINJA: Do you believe you are going to avoid death?

SCURVY PIRATE: I don’t have that much faith.

RED NINJA: But you have enough to keep yourself from getting cancer or bird flu?

SCURVY PIRATE: I hope so.

RED NINJA: Well don't you think you better get more faith so that you won't get cancer? You owe it to your family!

SCURVY PIRATE: I try to have as much faith as I can.

RED NINJA: Do you know where the Bible says you get faith from?

SCURVY PIRATE: Of course; you ask God and He gives you faith.

RED NINJA: So if you got cancer you could just ask God for enough faith to be healed?

SCURVY PIRATE: I believe He would.

RED NINJA: What if you were 110 years old and got cancer? Would God still keep you alive because of your faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: Uh…

RED NINJA: Do you think it's interesting that Paul always says that faith is given by God? Like Rom. 12:3 – "each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." Rom. 12:6 –"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;" Eph 2:8 – "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Does that sound like anyone has to meet a standard before God decides how much faith He will give them?

SCURVY PIRATE: No. You just have to believe.

RED NINJA: So it's a simple on/off switch? You believe and God gives you faith, you don't believe and He doesn't?

SCURVY PIRATE: You just have to believe.

RED NINJA: But how do you account for the difference of faith that is apparent in the body of Christ? I have a pastor who is dieing of cancer. According to your view he must not have enough faith to be cured. Are you saying this is because he doesn't believe?

SCURVY PIRATE: No… he just needs to have more faith.

RED NINJA: So does he get more by believing more?

SCURVY PIRATE: By asking for more.

RED NINJA: I'm pretty sure he has done that multiple times. So there is only one option left according to your view. He must not believe, thereby cutting off any faith that God would give him. So you think that my pastor does not believe in God?

SCURVY PIRATE: He might believe, but he needs more faith.

RED NINJA: So it's not an on/off equation. You can believe… but have little faith or lot's of faith, right?

SCURVY PIRATE: Yeah.

RED NINJA: So once you believe, how do you get more faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: You ask for it, and God gives it freely.

RED NINJA: Then you can ask God for enough faith to keep you from dieing until the second coming, and He'll freely give it to you?

SCURVY PIRATE: Only if you have the faith of Enoch and Elijah!

RED NINJA: Which we have just established is available to every believer by a simple request, right?

SCURVY PIRATE: It's not that simple. Faith takes time to grow and you must go through a lot of trials to get it.

RED NINJA: Could physical illness be one of those trials?

SCURVY PIRATE: … Uh… well, God doesn't want anyone to suffer. But… He may let them if He knows they will get faith from it.

RED NINJA: So it's possible that I have to get really, really sick for a long time to get the faith I need to keep from dieing? Sounds like a fair trade.

SCURVY PIRATE: God doesn't make deals like that!

RED NINJA: Oh right… sorry. So on what does He base His decision to give lots of faith to some believers, and only a little bit to others?

SCURVY PIRATE: Their willingness to trust Him and believe in Him.

RED NINJA: So some of us believers don't have as much belief as others?

SCURVY PIRATE: I suppose so.

RED NINJA: And how do we get belief?

SCURVY PIRATE: We choose to believe.

RED NINJA: We can choose to believe?

SCURVY PIRATE: Of course!

RED NINJA: So if I choose to believe in Santa Claus, you think I can actually, whole-heartedly believe he exists?

SCURVY PIRATE: I suppose you could fool yourself into believing that.

RED NINJA: So in your experience, you have found that belief is a volitional act of self will?

SCURVY PIRATE: Yes, you can choose to believe or not believe.

RED NINJA: So belief is an act? It's something you do?

SCURVY PIRATE: Sort of.

RED NINJA: So when Paul says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works…" he is sort of right?

SCURVY PIRATE: No. He's totally right. We don’t have to work to be saved.

RED NINJA: But we have to believe?

SCURVY PIRATE: Obviously.

RED NINJA: And we determined that you have to do something in order to believe. (Choose to.) So we do have to do something on our own to be saved, right?

SCURVY PIRATE: Well, maybe a tiny bit. But it's so small compared to what God does for us that it really isn't anything. He reaches 99% of the way to us, and we just have to barely move our hand to reach Him.

RED NINJA: But we still have to do a little something to achieve salvation, belief, and faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: God doesn't ask too much of us.

RED NINJA: So if my pastor dies of cancer it's because he didn't have the will power to make himself believe enough, so God didn't give him the faith required for healing?

SCURVY PIRATE: In a way… yeah.

RED NINJA: So he didn't earn healing?

SCURVY PIRATE: You don't earn healing. God grants it to those who believe.

RED NINJA: But didn't we just agree that we have to do something in order to believe? And if we don't do that something, then we don't get belief. And once we believe, if we don't do something to believe enough then we won't get the faith we ask for. Doesn't that make it all come down to something you do?!

SCURVY PIRATE: God does most of it.

RED NINJA: Does that change the fact that we still have to do something?

SCURVY PIRATE: I guess not.

RED NINJA: So those that suffer ill are really to blame for their problems because they didn't do the right thing?

SCURVY PIRATE: It's not much. You just have to believe.

RED NINJA: If it's that easy why does such a large percentage of Christians suffer from illness and death?

SCURVY PIRATE: Because they don't claim the promises in the Bible.

RED NINJA: Why do such a large percentage of Christians in the name-it-and-claim it churches suffer from illness and death? They have the vital information they need, and know that it is very easy, right? (I'm not even going to ask where it says in the Bible that God promises us we will never get sick.)

SCURVY PIRATE: Sometimes it's hard to believe that God will actually do what He promises.

RED NINJA: I thought you said belief was easy So if it's sometimes hard to do, doesn't that make those who have the strong belief and faith extra special?

SCURVY PIRATE: It means they have a lot of faith.

RED NINJA: Did they have to work hard to believe what they believe… to earn their faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: I already told you, you can't earn faith!

RED NINJA: But you said many people find it hard to believe enough to be healed. Once they achieve that belief through self will, how is that not earning faith?

SCURVY PIRATE: Because it's such a tiny thing compared to what God does to reach out to us.

RED NINJA: But it's not tiny by our human standards, since we see such huge diversity of faith levels out there, huh? By God's standards it's practically nothing. But since we only know of two humans who had enough faith to not die, that must mean there is a steep curve to climb if we want to compare with that kind of faith.

SCURVY PIRATE: Maybe. …God works in mysterious ways.

RED NINJA: Indeed He d...

Having been so intent on their conversation they hadn't noticed that it had started to rain. Their location on top of a mast, and upraised swords made them obvious targets for the 94 kiloamp lightning bolt that struck them, instantly searing their bodies.

The End.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Alexander said...

Thank you, that was a very interesting combination of Socratic method, sound Biblical doctrine, and high adventure.

9:40 PM  

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