Wednesday, September 28, 2005

An Open Letter to Dan Edelen

This was going to be a comment on Dan's latest post, His Winnowing Fork is in His Hand, but it just grew and grew as I thought it over, and I decided it would best take up large amounts of space here than at his blog.

As always, his posts make me think, even when I have to disagree with them in part.

I want to come at this from two angles - related to his "sensation" of coming judgment, and his assesssment of our readiness for it.

First, his assessment. I will be the last person in American Christianity to disagree with him about our general situation. The American Church is sated, lazy, caught up in itself, focused on (depending on your persuasion) uncharitable doctrinal purity, building mega-church complexes, winning elections, feeling better about ourselves, ad infinitum ad nauseam. I will also not disagree that God's primary motivation in ordering the world is not our comfort or our present well-being. God desires His people to depend solely on Him, to exhibit His holiness, to be ready for whatever He may bring. We ain't. And God almost always, eventually, does something about that. And that OUGHT to give us pause.

Where I pull back and have my doubts is about what significance to attach to his "sense" that there's "a bad moon arisin'". I hesitate for two reasons - one personal, one evidential.

First, the personal. I empathize with his sensation. I get things like that all the time. I constantly sense what God *could* do with us and with the world. I always feel like "somthing wicked this way comes". The problem is that I know, with me, it's psychological. I'm a chronic depressive. I've *always* felt this way. I've had such feelings for decades. And 99% of the time, the things I was sure were going to happen, did not. (And I ought to be much more grateful to God that they do not.) This was one reason I sought refuge in Reformed rationalism - I wanted a surety and a faith that was divorced from my emotions, that could remain uninfluenced by them and *objectively* true. It is true that I am no longer the rationalist I was - but I still distrust hunches.

Now, I will indeed grant that this is *my* problem, and that it does not invalidate what Dan experienced. His background is probably not like mine, and his experience cannot be explained away psychologically. I willingly grant that. And that brings me to my second point - that I've seen many others make such predictions in the past, and thus far they have not panned out. I remember vividly having a discussion with a woman in a bible study in which she expressed her conviction that American Christiand would be actively persecuted within a decade. She made that prediction in 1992. And I can't begin to count the number of failed end-times predictions I've seen come and go. Anybody who's been an evangelical more than 5 years can tell you any number of such stories. So, what do I make of this? Dan is a wise, godly, and articulate man. Yet I still have a hard time giving credence to "prophetic episodes" like this. Yet, by the inexhorable laws of History (or rather, the will of the One who molds history), every civilization has it's eclipse. The problem with predicting bad things is that, eventually, *somebody* is going to be right. The question is, how do we know?

I make no claims of prophetic insight, but in my mind, a slow anemic slide to spiritual irrelevance by the American Church is at least as probable as a "winnowing". God has *abandoned* churches, as well as chastised them. Frankly, I find neither option appealing.

But whatever God has in store for us, what should be our response in light of our situation? Not to blow my own horn, but I touched on this in an earlier post. I'll repeat it here.

Now that I've disagreed with Dan, it's my turn to agree with him. I think he's spot on about American Christians not being prepared to suffer. American evangelicalism is a theology of glory, not of the cross. Americans have largely forgot that the human condition is to suffer. Hence, when any little thing goes wrong, we throw a conniption fit and call our lawyer. Yes, we ought to prepare for evil times - not because of some coming "judgment", but because it is wise. Evil times are the mark of this age, and we have deluded ourselves into thinking otherwise.

That said, how to prepare? By stockpiling food and water in our basements? (Fat lot of good that would have done the folks in New Orleans.) Buy guns and train ourselves in their use? (That would provoke a good discussion about the proper use of defensive force for Christians, a topic for another day.) My point is, all the physical preparations a person can make may be of no use when the crunch comes. How should we then prepare? By learning to worship God, and learning to recognize our fellow Christians as our brothers and sisters, no matter their location, race, or denomination. What one person cannot do, God and the Church can do more and beyond what is required. So let us learn to worship God aright, give to our brethren in need, and rest in the Gospel. Then we will be prepared for whatever lies ahead.


Blogger Dan Edelen said...


Thanks for the link and comments.

I do not claim to be a prophet. No one should consider me one. I make no claims on divine foreknowledge. Yes, I feel like God is doing something, but I do not know what that something is. Sorry for the vagueness. Again, I am not a prophet.

I think that much of what I felt was a reiteration of the truths that there is a great separation and that all believers in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution. As you noted at the end of your post here, what we need to do to get ready is to hew more closely to God. Still, I think we need to strengthen our ties to other Christians so we better learn how to lean on each other and the Lord in tough times. God uses the Church to work His will; we can't escape that responsibility.

As far as the rest goes, all I want to know is if others are experiencing the same thing I did.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

I quoted this post on my blog today. Peace.

1:43 PM  

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