I realized I can’t buy a house.
It’s not that I can’t afford it, although that’s also true. But it probably won’t always be true. It’s just, working out the financial details, I realized that I would be a slave to it. If I did buy a house, I’d be a slave to the mortgage payments forever, and wouldn’t be able to do things like go back to school, or try something radical careerwise. I’d be a slave to having to make money, to pay off the house.
That’s not good. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the standard I’ve developed for buying stuff is that I can only buy it if I won’t be a slave to it. That is, if you were to take it away from me, I won’t be bothered by it. So, like everything I have, that’s how I feel. You could take away my CDs, and it wouldn’t kill me. You could take away my TV, my guitar, my whatever, and it wouldn’t bother me that much. Because they don’t really cost that much, relatively, and you know, I actively seek to not be enslaved by that.
I think that’s why I’ve held back in buying a nice acoustic guitar, or even buying one period. The only acoustic I ever bought cost about $100 including the case. A genuine Hohner, made in Korea. And that’s also partly why I won’t drive a nice car. I’m driving Corollas and Civics the rest of my life. Well, I might buy a low-emission car, but that’s another story.
Anyway, I would be a slave to a house if I bought it, maybe not a slave to that particular house, but it would dominate me. Meaning, I’d have to make money to pay it. I don’t know, I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, and I don’t want to be enslaved like that.
So, unless my company does extremely well, which is uncertain, I’m going to be renting for a long time. I don’t know, maybe Henry can show me where I’m wrong with this analysis. I just don’t want to be in a situation where I can’t just pick up and do something radical some time in my life. I just have a feeling that’s what my life is going to be like.
The rest of this entry is kind of about theology, so it might be boring for some of you, particularly if your name rhymes with Talejandra Lim, because it involves thinking. Just a warning.
Let me explain a type of theology I don’t like. Generally, that is. I don’t like it when people start with a theology, a mindset of things must be, and then interpret the Bible through that. Does this make any sense? It’s backwards. You should start with what the Bible says, then figure out what must be true because of that. I mean, that’s just a general guideline, but you know what I mean.
I don’t know, I’ve just come across a lot of liberal theologians that just bother me, because, to use a phrase that a lot of people say, they make God in their image. Like, God made me gay or lesbian, therefore God wants me to be gay or lesbian, therefore, those passages in the Bible that talk about homosexuality aren’t really what God means. I know this is controversial, and I’m not against gays and lesbians, and I’m not saying they can’t make valid arguments from the Bible about what they believe. What I am saying is that a lot of gay and lesbian theology that’s out there is just kind of messed up, is all. You can’t assume your subjective experience is true and then interpret the Bible in light of that. Other arguments might be valid. But working backwards is something that just bothers me a lot.
Anyway, this is actually something that bothers me about some hyper Calvinists also, if you can believe it. It’s just, well, I should start by saying I find all of their positions admirable. I think they desire God’s glory. It’s just, I don’t like positions that, no matter how admirable, move from believing something must be true just because, and then intepreting the Bible in light of that. Or weighing tradition more than the Bible itself.
I don’t know if this is a strictly Calvinist position. But I think it’s a reformed view. Anyway, the view is that all Scripture points to Christ. And, you know, I agree with that. It’s just, some hard core people insist that the primary point of every book in the Bible is to point to Christ. And I don’t know if I agree with that. Well, in the New Testament, I definitely agree. It’s just parts of the Old Testament.
It’s clear that the primary points of some parts of the Old Testament are to point to Christ. Primarily many of the prophecy books, and like Daniel (is that a prophecy book) and stuff like that. But I once got into an active discussion with this guy I really respect, but he was insisting that the primary point of Song of Solomon is to point to Christ. And you know, I absolutely believe that Song of Solomon can be seen as a metaphor for Christ and the church. But, I don’t know if that’s the primary point. Have you freaking read the book? I’m reading a book right now that draws principles of love and marriage from Song of Solomon, and there’s just some explicit passionate stuff in there that doesn’t make sense if it’s meant to be primarily a book about Christ. My opinion is that it’s a view of marriage as God intended, including the passion that it should contain. And I also believe that parts act as a metaphor of Christ and the church. But, it’s just hard for me to reconcile parts of the book with the view that the book was primarily meant to point to Christ.
And like, the book of Esther is kind of weird like that too. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but while I absolutely recognize the presence of Christ in the Old Testament, I still don’t think it’s necessary to believe that the main point of every single Old Testament book is to point to Christ. I believe that’s the general point of the Old Testament. But not necessarily the main point of every single book.
I’m beating this to death. I hope you get my point, and you might not. Anyway, what bothered me is not that he felt that way, but that the guy pretty much thought I was a heretic for believing otherwise. That just bothered me. Again, while I think it’s an admirable interpretation, I feel like it’s one that comes from outside, not inside the Bible. Somewhere someone decided that the primary point of every book must be about Christ. And so, they intepret Scripture in light of that. Again, it’s just my opinion, but to me that’s backwards. It’s not looking at Scripture and drawing conclusions, if that makes any sense.
And, you know, honestly, I’m not settled about whether it’s true. But, in my readings, I don’t see where it says in the Word that every passage is about Christ, even those that talks about lovers loving each others’ body parts. And, it might be true if you show me from the Word how it is. But that’s the whole point. I just believe that you should back things up primarily from the Word, when you’re talking about interpretations and such. When I was talking with this guy, he was stating the interpretation as true, and arguing from that, whereas I was looking at stuff from the Word itself. I’m not saying I was right, just that my reasons were better. I was getting them from the Word, whereas he kept appealing to the interpretation, which was decided beforehand that it must be true. And I was the heretic.
Again, it’s not the position taken that bothered me, it’s just the way it was argued.
Anyway, I mentioned previously this whole debate between John Piper and Greg Boyd, about whether God knows the future perfectly. And, I’ve read both sides, and I don’t think it’s clear to me. I would probably lean more towards Piper, however. But, what bothers me is how Piper et al have argued and proceeded. Boyd in his arguments has consistently argued from the Word alone. Whereas, his critics consistently appeal to tradition. They don’t ignore the Word, certainly not, but a big thrust of their argument is based on an appeal to tradition.
Anyway, it seems to me they want to kick him out of the denomination and pretty much think he’s a heretic. That’s the other thing I don’t like – when people can’t distinguish between what’s an essential of the Christian faith and what’s not.
I’m rereading R.C. Sproul’s Essentials of the Christian Faith right now and it’s quite good. He points out very observantly that people get really passionate about theologically things because eternity hangs in the balance. It’s about the most important things, so people get passionate about it. But, he says it’s important to separate the essentials from the non-essentials.
I don’t know, maybe I have a different idea of what’s essential and what’s not. But, it seems to me that the hyper Calvinists have a skewed view of what’s essential. Like, when I was a sophomore? Or was it junior. I think it was junior. As a junior, Pastor Harold led the Stanford people through a Bible study called the Essentials of the Faith. Except, it wasn’t that. It was pretty much a study in Reformed Calvinism. And, of course, Arminius was a heretic, Arminianism was heresy, and so forth.
So, I’m just going to say it – that Bible study was wrong. Why? The way it was presented gave precedence to theology over the Bible itself and reason. So, supplementary materials like from the Westminster Catechism were included. Which isn’t bad at all. It’s just, the theology wasn’t understood by the leaders enough to correctly explain things to the satisfaction of the people who appealed to the Bible and logic. So, we would get into these absurd discussions and reach absurd conclusions. And it was called Essentials of the Faith. All I know is that to a lot of people, it discouraged them more than it helped them, and it almost presented Christianity as requiring you to turn off your brain.
I have nothing against the Reformed view. I am probably more sympathetic to that than other views. But, you just can’t think in reverse, starting from that particular interpretation of Scripture without being able to logically defend it from Scripture itself, or you get into absurd situations.
And anyway, like I said, I think it misses what’s essential and what’s not. Arminius as he’s presented by Calvinists was probably a heretic. But, what he actually believed, I don’t know if it’s heresy. To say it’s heresy is to believe that anyone who was/is an Arminian is not a Christian and acts against the kingdom of God. And hyper Calvinists would argue that Arminianism just puts you down that slippery slope until God’s glory is diminished on this earth.
But I don’t know about that. What about famous evangelists like Charles Finney who are Arminian? Or great evangelists today like Billy Graham who seem to be more Arminian than Calvinist? Are you saying that they’re heretics and everything they’ve done has run counter to the kingdom of God? That Billy Graham is a heretic? And that all his crusades are the work of the devil? That as Calvinists, we can’t rejoice in those works as building up the common body of God? That just seems absurd to me.
My point is, history doesn’t seem to back that up, that it was essential to God’s glory. So, in my view, being a strict Calvinist is not essential. These ideas that people worried would destroy what is Christianity hasn’t seemed to. In fact, many people who espoused these ideas seem to have increased God’s glory on earth, bringing many to Christ. Unless you want to deny that what people like Billy Graham have done is the work of Christ. But to me, that just seems absurd. So, it wasn’t an essential. God’s glory hasn’t been diminished because of it.
Anyway, this was a random rant. Just, if you argue about the Bible, I think it’s good to argue from the Bible. And I implore you – if you think I’m wrong, please let me know about it. It’s important to me.