Gerhard O. Forde on the erosion of language in theology:

It is evident that there is a serious erosion or slippage in the language of theology today. Sentimentality leads to a shift in focus, and the language slips out of place. To take a common example, we apparently are no longer sinners, but rather victims, oppressed by sinister victimizers whom we relentlessly seek to track down and accuse…

We no longer live in a guilt culture but have been thrown into meaninglessness—so we are told. Then the language slips out of place. Guilt puts the blame on us as sinners, but who is responsible for meaninglessness? Surely not we! Sin, if it enters our consciousness at all, is generally something that “they” did to us. As Alan Jones, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of San Francisco, put it once, “We live in an age in which everything is permitted and nothing is forgiven.”

During our Eschatology Lecture last Saturday with Pastor Noel Landicho, a victory group leader approached me with an interesting question. He asked why we need to study the end times in the first place. To him, it sounded like all these things all boil down to having head knowledge.

I can understand where the question was coming from. If you’ve attended Victory for quite a while, you must have noticed that we always trumpet relevance and practical application in our preaching. Even our church events (like Marriage Boosters or Finance seminars) all point back to how we can apply the Word in our lives today. We are a church that doesn’t spend much time speculating the nuances of doctrines. Instead of debating the validity of, say, infant baptism, we’d rather go and preach the gospel to the nations.

So why preach on eschatology now? Where’s the practical application in that?

Three major things I learned during our Eschatology Lecture last Saturday:

First, when you talk about the second coming of Christ, it is better to focus on positive application. Anything that produces fear and panic doesn’t come from Christ. And anything that comes from Christ builds up faith.

Many people have the tendency to make eschatology morbid and terrifying. This is not the way of our Lord and His apostles. When the Bible talks about the end of the world, it also talks about the bigger themes of hope and eternal life. In 2 Peter 3:11-13, Peter emphasized that our knowledge of end times should challenge us to live holy and godly lives.

Second, eschatology is a broad and, errr, difficult (read: confusing) topic for most people. The abundance of symbolism in Daniel, Joel, Ezekiel and Revelation doesn’t help much. I mean, seriously, does anyone know what the dragon, the seven vials and the seven hills mean?

People are not going to embrace theology unless it makes their heart sing.
Any method of theological training that does not result in both right thinking (orthodoxy) and right living (orthopraxy) is not proper theological training.

[This] verse is not describing a super-sinner class. No, it’s a mirror into which every human being is meant to look and see himself. It is capturing in a few powerful words what theologians call “total depravity.”

Now, total depravity doesn’t mean that as sinners we are as bad as we could possibly be. No, what it actually means is that sin reaches to every aspect of our personhood. Its damage of us is total. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, motivationally, socially, we have been damaged by sin. Its ravages are inescapable and comprehensive. No one has dodged its scourge, and no one has been partially affected. We are all sinners. It reaches to every aspect of what makes us us.

Sadly, when each of us looks into the mirror of Genesis 6:5, we see an accurate description of ourselves.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, their eyes were opened and they knew what was good and evil. This does not mean that they acquired new knowledge in addition to what they knew before.

The “knowing” what is good and evil signifies a complete reversal of man’s knowledge. Up until that moment, all Adam and Eve knew was God and everything good. Yes the devil has already fallen at that time and he may have been creeping around finding a way to destroy God’s creation. But until Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation, their focus was solely on God and His presence.

After the fall, their first realization was their nakedness. They knew right away that something was missing.

scarletScarlet cord on the window. A symbol only Rahab and the foreign spies understood. For everyone inside the safe walls of Jericho, the cord was just one of the many unusual things about the infamous prostitute. For Rahab, it was a promise of safety, of deliverance, of salvation, not just for herself but for her entire household.

The conditions of the promise were interesting. Rahab had to tie the cord she used for the spies’ escape on her window, her family had to stay indoors during the invasion and she had to keep their espionage a secret. The last two conditions were fine; it’s the flapping red cord on the window that intrigued me.

I recently got my copy of Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris more than a week ago. I didn’t know what the book was all about, I just picked it up from OMF during the Manila International Book Fair simply because I knew the author and the Rumspringa story in the first chapter caught my attention.

Joshua Harris was the guy behind the I Kissed Dating Goodbye fame. Whereas most people would associate his name with the love and courtship genre, he is actually more than that. The first few chapters of Dug Down Deep would show that he has matured into a well respected pastor and writer with so much to share to the body of Christ.