THEOLOGY & Is COVID-19 God’s Judgment? Helpful Insights by @KenSchenck @HoughtonCollege @WesleySeminary

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: About this time last year at two of my client churches, the lectionary required that I speak on the Book of Job. Subsequently, I preached a sermon titled, “Why bad things happen to good people.” My friend and colleague, Dr. Ken Schenck, delves into this topic deeper, but clearly, in his post today. For an introduction to the differences between God’s permissive will and God‘s directive will, take a look at his article.

by Ken Schenck, The Common Denominator, 3/22/20.

…Here is a good illustration of growing precision within the pages of the Old Testament. “God has no grandchildren”–our eternal fate is a matter of our individual relationship to God, not that of our parents. It goes the other way as well–our eternal judgment is not a matter of our parents either.

There are still consequences to sin in this life, of course. If a mother takes drugs while pregnant, God may not intervene to protect the unborn child from the consequences. The child of an alcoholic parent may still have to deal with the psychological consequences of growing up in that environment.

The book of Job brings out the complexity of the situation. Job suffers even though he has not sinned. He never finds out why in the pages of the book. God comes to him at the end and basically tells him that understanding the situation is above his pay grade. Here is the final answer to the problem of suffering. God is in control. God is good and knows what is happening. We will never fully understand. We must simply have faith that “the judge of all the earth will do what is right” (Gen. 18:25).

Of course we know that Satan has made a wager with God from Job 1-2. Job never finds this out. In my Wesleyan theology, this is a good example of the fact that much of the suffering that happens in the world is a matter of God’s permissive will rather than his directive will. That is to say, God does not directly order everything that happens.

God is sovereign. Nothing happens without God’s permission. God is in control. God signs off on everything. But God gives some degree of freedom to the creation. God gives some degree of freedom to humanity and to the natural order. God knows what will happen, but he does not dictate everything that will happen.

There is of course a competing view, the idea that “everything happens for a reason.” There is the Calvinist view that God specifically directs everything that happens. In my view, this makes God the author of evil. It makes the statement that God is love meaningless.

… In all this I remember that death is not so powerful in the face of Christ. Death has no victory over us! In my own journey with the problem of evil and suffering, a key conclusion has been that I give too much credit to death and suffering, as if they are a big deal.

God is a big deal. I am only a big deal because God loves me. My death is only a big deal because I am one of the sparrows God watches over.

So I will take precautions. I will be vigilant. I will heed the advice of experts. I will pray for my leaders. I will pray for others.

But in the end, “The LORD is with me. I will not be afraid what a mortal [or a virus] might do to me.”

Read Dr. Schenck’s three more points at … https://kenschenck.blogspot.com/2020/03/is-covid-19-gods-judgment.html?m=1

THEOLOGY & Ken Schenck explains for Reformation Day how Wesleyan theology is a “middle-ground” between Catholic & Lutheran theologies.

by Ken Schenck PhD, 10/31/19.

Happy Reformation Day!

I like to remember today that the Wesleyan tradition comes from the Church of England rather than the high Reformation path of the Lutherans and the Reformed. The Anglican tradition has often viewed itself as somewhat of a “via media” or middle way.

1. So with regard to sola fide, we are often accused of believing in works because we believe you can fall away. We are both James and Paul. (which fits with recent scholarship)

2. With regard to sola scriptura, we often speak of a quadrilateral, where some would say prima scriptura is a better description of us. (which fits with recent hermeneutics)

3. With regard to sola gratia, we fit well with recent scholarship suggesting that grace involved a reciprocal, even if disproportionate relationship between giver and receiver.

4. With regard to solus Christus, we are in agreement, but we recognize that the way of Christ is more a confession of the heart than a mere cognitive assent with the head.

5. With regard to soli Dei gloria, it is technically true, but we would emphasize God’s response that we mean everything to

– Ken Schenck

WESLEY & His Oxford Sermon on His Pre-conversion Journey: “I Was Almost a Christian”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “I recently spoke at a conference in Orlando, and described John Wesley’s conversion this way: Wesley decided that rather than live a fair-weather, ‘summer region’ … he was now: all in. Afterwords two pastors told me they had recently preached sermon series on the theme ‘all in,’ and wished they had known this about Wesley. To help pastors preach such sermons, here is my colleague’s analysis of Wesley’s Oxford sermon, where Wesley explains to his colleagues that though he was once an Oxford student and instructor, he was really only “almost” a Christian. Now Wesley realizes an ‘almost Christian’ (or what some today call a ‘cultural Christian’) is insufficient to attain eternal life, but an ‘all together Christian’ (or as might be described in modern language as being all in) is what God expects.”

The Almost Christian by John Wesley, Oxford, 1741 (click link for entire sermon)

Analysis by Ken Schenck Ph.D., Wesley Seminary, 2/12/15.

This is a masterful little sermon. Wesley preached it at Oxford in 1741. It is masterful for the way it fits its context and for the way it builds its rhetoric.

The text is incredibly clever, Herod tells this to Paul in Acts 26, that Paul almost convinces him to be a Christian.

What Wesley does is he describes a very religious person, a very pious person. Indeed, he is describing himself as a “methodist” in the Holy Club when we was at Oxford before. How wonderful if we had lots of people in our churches who were “almost Christian” like he describes!

He builds to the “altogether Christian.” This is the person who loves God and neighbor truly. And at the climax of the letter he gets to the main point. This is the person who is justified by faith.

I wonder if today we should almost preach the sermon backward, since we have plenty who are justified but are hardly as dedicated as the almost Christian he describes.

Read more at … http://nblo.gs/13gSqQ