Explorations in Theology

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OK… so why?

Now we have the right question. I remember going to Wales with a prayer team some 20+ years ago. We were hosted in a local hotel and as I walked through the door I said ‘this place is haunted’. A few wide eyes from some of the team with me, and we walked to reception, where there was a little note – our hotel is the home also of xxx who walks the corridors of this hotel…’

What should we do. My response was, ‘I am here to sleep, if there will be any disturbance it will be me disturbing this spirit.’ [Now some 20 years later and having dialogued with [Anglican] advisers to bishops on the para-normal I might have a few more ‘categories’ than I had back then. Back then, pentecostal boy, saw everything not of God as demons.]

I have been privileged to be asked into homes of those who are not ‘believers’ (but if invited in are they not at some level a ‘believer’?) to deal with doors banging randomly, apparitions manifesting etc.. I remember in Leatherhead my neighbour talked to me over the fence asking for some help. I went round and said – ok come with me, and together we will sort this out. At the end he crossed himself the way I do as he was from a Catholic background, she went the other way as she was from an Orthodox background – I didn’t, as back then I did not cross myself. Not sure if I would do it differently now – back then it was simple, this is a demon that is attached to the house due to the trauma left from a previous owner.

So back to yesterday’s post… Paul what did you do?

Three months later we set sail on a ship that had wintered at the island, an Alexandrian ship with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead (Acts 28:11).

Twin brothers – the gods / semi-gods Castor and Pollux. OK bring it up to date. We go buy a car, and the salesperson proudly says – you have a great vehicle here and we have dedicated this car, complete with naming ceremony to the god who oversees all travel. What would we do? Refuse to buy it? Cast out the demons? Take it to the local church and ask them to sprinkle it / submerge it fully? Although a little humorous I think such a car would create a few questions for us.

So Paul what did you do?

Wrong question.

He might have emabarked with a good old ‘shaba dabba’ and confronted the powers behind the image – after all he said images are nothing, but behind them lie demons. Or he might have simply cast them a sideways look, went to his bunk and slept, not even giving them the time of day.

The Bible doesn’t tell us cos it would be so detrimental – we would do what he did. Not a good idea. We need to do what we need to do, and as far as possible for the same reason as Paul did what ever he did.

I wrote to a group recently about a shift in a situation from ‘heavenly warfare’ to the entrance of the warfare on the earth – always a key transitional moment. I said for some it might mean intense prayer, for others a glass of wine.

Not… never what… always why.

6 thoughts on “OK… so why?

  1. I agree we cannot use the bible as an instruction manual because we would be possibly be doing some pretty heinous things if we followed the leadings of Joshua for example and his actions in Jericho (as an example). Therein lies the one of the issues with inerrancy and ‘sola scriptura’ etc. I think that being brought up as reformed Protestants when everything has to be biblically tested etc. we really do want to use it like that. The Eastern Orthodox approach is very different where the bible is used and applied to faith but along with many other teachings like ecumenical councils and the lives of the saints and the divine liturgy etc. I think as you suggest that the bible leaves much of the everyday activity of the apostles out of the text. The implication is that we need to use our own discernment based in the essential tenets of the faith and the biblical trajectory I suppose?. The problem comes if we are not sufficiently able to discern and work out our own way of praying or warring or decreeing or whatever. I think then we can fall back to some extent on the actions of Jesus and pray as he did because that seems a safe bet to me anyway. Things like the elders or leaders anointing people with oil for healing seems a good instruction to follow if they are sick etc. perhaps as Paul instructed perhaps – what do you think? I suppose we are on a journey that Paul and the other apostles started but as you suggest we were never supposed to merely mimic them but learn from them. The ‘why’ is interesting it would be good to be able to ask him!!!

    1. In your example of ‘anointing with oil’, I suppose in the light of what I wrote it would be also asking ‘why are we doing this?’ and ‘how should we position ourselves as we do this?’ rather than some vague hope that could be little better than a ritual. Rituals that move toward ‘appeasing the gods’ is not a good move!
      Great example as I now need to think about my activity and go a little deeper.

  2. Humans learn easily by imitating others. But by never questioning the ‘why’ often simply repeat mistakes. There is the classic example of a woman who always cut off the end of a ham before baking it. Why? Because her mom did and she imitated her mom. Why did her mom do it? She had never asked. Turns out the pan her mom used was too small for the hams and which meant they always needed to be trimmed to fit. Imitation without real learning. Often the reason for doing something is not easily understood or clear within the action. So we simply, somewhat lazily, repeat it. Repeat it well and you get a pat on the head for good job done.

    1. I so love the pat on the head!!! Thanks for the kick up another part of my anatomy!

  3. I love ‘why? questions because they stir the pot. Back in the day asking why? might get a clip round the ear rather than a pat on the head? and I rather think asking why still isn’t the safe option. It has the potential to shake what we don’t want to shake. On several occassions I have done brain storming sessions with students around evangelism and church and I have never got a why question until I ask them why are there no why questions! For example there will be many ideas around how/where/when to plant church,but none that ask why should we plant a church- maybe it’s obvious,but not to me. I think Paul certainly presents himself as one who imitates Christ and lives a model of a way of life to be imitated (not the same as copied), but I imagine him being exasperated by those who won’t think/act for themselves. Thank goodness I didn’t baptise most of you he (roughly) says at one point with people claiming to follow or belong to him. As to the ship, I would be more interested in the weather forecast rather than distracted by figureheads.

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