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I am fascinated with Oshea Davis’ take on the sovereignty of God and the issue of evil in one of the forums at Facebook. He was kind enough to synthesize his comments, which I later understood to be a portion of the discourse in the book ‘Divine Decrees’ based on the Sermons of Jonathan Edwards.  Davis is the editor of this book. 

To embark on a study on this topic, I took the liberty to start research on the same subject and arrived first to a lengthy and scholarly article at Monergism.com written by William G. T. Shedd.  A section in the afore-mentioned article is appended hereunder which, I believe, is vital in the understanding of the issue.  To read the full article, please follow this link. My prayer is to be enriched further on the glorious subject of the sovereignty of God. And through His Son and my Lord – Jesus Christ – am I utterly thankful that none of the minutest details of my life were ever out of His sovereign hands even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14)

-EmmausTrekker-

 

Characteristics of the Divine Decree (excerpt from William G. T. Shedd’s article The Divine Decrees)

 
The following characteristics mark the divine decree:
1.      The divine decree is founded in wisdom. This is implied in saying that God’s purpose is “according to the counsel (boulēn) of his will” (Eph. 1:11). There is nothing irrational or capricious in God’s determination. There may be much in it that passes human comprehension and is inexplicable to the finite mind, because the divine decree covers infinite space and everlasting time; but it all springs out of infinite wisdom. The “counsel” of the divine mind does not mean any reception of knowledge ab extra, by observation or comparison or advisement with others; but it denotes God’s wise insight and knowledge, in the light of which he forms his determination. It is possible, also, that there is a reference in the language to the intercommunion and correspondence of the three persons in the Godhead: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever” (Ps. 33:11); “with him is wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13); “the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21); “he has done all things well” (Mark 7:37); “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
2.      The divine decree is eternal: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18); “the kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34); “he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4); “God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation” (2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7); “the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8); Christ as a sacrifice “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:20). This characteristic has been defined in what has been said under attributes respecting the simultaneousness and successionlessness of the eternal, as distinguished from the gradations and sequences of the temporal.
3.      The divine decree is universal. It includes “whatsoever comes to pass,” be it physical or moral, good or evil: “He works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:10–11); “known unto God are all his works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18; Prov. 16:33; Dan. 4:34–35; Matt. 10:29–30; Acts 17:26; Job 14:5; Isa. 46:10):
(a) The good actions of men: “Created unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10);
(b) the wicked actions of men: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; Ps. 76:10; Prov. 16:4);
(c) so-called accidental events: “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Prov. 16:33; Gen. 45:8; 50:20); “a bone of him shall not be broken” (John 20:36; Ps. 34:20; Exod. 12:46; Num. 9:12);
(d) the means as well as the end: “God has chosen you to salvation, through sanctification (en hagiasmō) of the Spirit” (2 Thess. 2:13); “he has chosen us that we should be holy” (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:2); “elect through sanctification of the Spirit” (Acts 27:24, 31):
The same divine purpose which determines any event determines that event as produced by its causes, promoted by its means, depending on its conditions, and followed by its results. Things do not come to pass in a state of isolation; neither were they predetermined so to come to pass. In other words, God’s purpose embraces the means along with the end, the cause along with the effect, the condition along with the result or issue suspended upon it; the order, relations, and dependences of all events, as no less essential to the divine plan than the events themselves. With reference to the salvation of the elect, the purpose of God is not only that they shall be saved, but that they shall believe, repent, and persevere in faith and holiness in order to salvation. —Crawford, Fatherhood of God, 426
(e) the time of every man’s death: “his days are determined” (Job 14:5); “the measure of my days” (Ps. 39:4); the Jews could not kill Christ “because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). It is objected that fifteen years were added to Hezekiah’s life after the prophet had said, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live” (Isa. 38:1, 5). But this assertion of the prophet was not a statement of the divine decree, but of the nature of his disease, which was mortal had not God miraculously interposed.
4.      The divine decree is immutable. There is no defect in God in knowledge, power, and veracity. His decree cannot therefore be changed because of a mistake of ignorance or of inability to carry out his decree or of unfaithfulness to his purpose: “He is in one mind, and who shall turn him?” (Job 23:13); “my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). The immutability of the divine decree is consistent with the liberty of man’s will: “God ordains whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature; nor is the liberty, or contingency, of second causes taken away, but rather established” (Westminster Confession 3.1). This is the doctrine of Christ. He asserts that his own crucifixion was a voluntary act of man and also decreed by God: “They have done unto Elijah whatsoever they pleased (hosa ēthelēsan): likewise shall the Son of Man suffer them” (Matt. 17:12); “the Son of Man goes as it was determined (hōrismenon), but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed” (Luke 22:22). In Acts 2:23 it is said that Christ was “delivered by the determinate counsel of God” and “by wicked hands was crucified and slain.”

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WIRED FOR INTIMACY How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain

Reviewed 03/01/2010 by Tim Challies.

Recommended. An investigation of the brain’s role in pornography addiction without the “my brain made me do it” defense.

I read recently of a researcher who wanted to study the effects of pornography on young adult males. He carefully built the structure for the study, determining how he would compare young men who had experienced pornography with a control group comprised of those who had never come into contact it. Tragically this researcher had to cancel his study. He found that he was unable to put together a control group; he could not find young men who had not discovered pornography. The experiment was impossible to conduct.

That is the kind of society we live in today, a society that is absolutely overwhelmed with pornography. The lure of porn is almost irresistible, particularly to young men. If the devil wanted to find a way of destroying young men, of impacting the ability for men to relate properly to women, of disrupting families and hardening hearts, he could hardly do better than this.

Much has been written in recent years about pornography. But new to store shelves is a book that is different from all the others, at least all of the other books targeted at a Christian audience. William Struthers’ Wired for Intimacy looks not primarily to the heart but to the brain. He shows how the male brain is hard-wired for intimacy and relationships and how pornography affects the male brain. He says

Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and has a long-lasting effect on their thoughts and lives…When we better understand the devastating spiritual, psychological, social and biological reality of how pornography violates our unique position in God’s creation, we will be better able to minister to those who have been wounded by it.

What he provides is a well-rounded understanding of how pornography affects men. He looks beyond the usual–beyond the moral and ethical and legal and even spiritual. He shows that pornography is also a physical matter, “rooted in the biological intricacies of our sexual design.” Though there is value in books that look from the other angles,

calls to pray harder, move the computer to the living room and get plugged into an accountability group only go so far. They come across as hollow to many men whose brains have been altered and rewired by their experiences with pornography. They have trained their brains to respond sexually to the pornography they consume.

Though there is value in reading this entire book, the heart of the book is the brain. In one chapter right in the middle of the book Struthers provides a primer on the brain and shows both how sexuality is hard-wired into the brain and how pornography can disrupt that God-given capacity. He shows that in many ways the male brain is built as an ideal receiver for pornography; the capacity of the brain to pursue intimacy with a wife is very easily disrupted and perverted by a desire to look at pornography. The wiring that ought to be used to pursue intimacy with one woman can easily be disrupted and used to pursue a kind of false intimacy with an endless succession of women. Men who have become consumed with pornography will have to admit with the author that

they have unknowingly created a neurological circuit that imprisons their ability to see women rightly as created in God’s image. Repeated exposure to pornography creates a one-way neurological superhighway where a man’s mental life is over-sexualized and narrowed. It is hemmed in on either side by high containment walls making escape nearly impossible.

What Struthers both claims and (at least to my mind) proves is that looking at pornography and acting out to it creates neural pathways that disrupt the “normal” pathways. As pornography use and acting out to it become habitual, the pathways become more and more pronounced and, therefore, more difficult to overcome. Soon a man has rewired his brain in such a way that true intimacy becomes a challenge. Pornography addiction and sexual compulsion is built in the brain and involves “the visual system (looking at porn), the motor system (masturbating), the sensory system (genital stimulation) and neurological effect of orgasm (sexual euphoria from opiates, addictive dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and reduced fear in the amygdale). They have now begun to store this pattern as a reinforced neurological habit.” Seeing how he gets here and seeing how the various parts of the brain work together to make a man desire sexual fulfillment is well worth the price of the book.

The author’s work in showing how the brain can be rewired (and miswired) through pornography is undoubtedly the most important contribution of the book. But I found great benefit in looking at his description of the sexual nature of the brain outside the context of pornography. Here we see how God has fearfully and wonderfully constructed human sexuality and has deeply integrated it into the inner workings of the brain. This section proves that a man’s desire to make love to his wife is not purely psychological or even mental, but something that is deeply neurological. I hardly even know how to describe it except to urge you to read this book and discover it for yourself. You will stand amazed at what God has done.

Before I close let me say that some Christians may be tempted to assume that Struthers will defend men who look at pornography claiming that “their brains made them do it.” But this is not at all the case. While the male brain does predispose men to be drawn to nudity and drawn to images of sexuality, this does not provide an excuse for indulging. To the contrary, it challenges men to be exceedingly careful about what they view and it makes them doubly responsible before God for images they’ve consumed. The implications of the neurological basis for human sexuality call men to purity before God in a whole new way.

Wired for Intimacy is a book we need. With pornography increasingly reaching epidemic proportions, this book helps us understand it at a whole new level. And it calls us to deal with human sexuality in a way that acknowledges all of its dimensions–moral, ethical, psychological, spiritual and physical. I give Wired for Intimacy my highest recommendation.

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This is a very great burden to some earnest people. They go from convention to convention, from one speaker to another, notebook in hand, so eager to get the blessing (as they term it) and often thinking more of the rapture of the gift than of the person of the Giver.  And because they hear others having experiences that they know not, they carry heavy burdens of disappointment and self-reproach.

Equally well might a child in kindergarten fret because he is not entered in the higher classes of the school.  But why should he worry about his future progress?  His one business is to acquire the lessons set him by his teacher.  When those are learned it will be for the teacher to teach his pupil more and to advance him to positions where quicker progress may be made.  Lord Jesus sets before us day by day, leaving Him to lead us into the fuller knowledge and love of God.

Thomas was one of the dull pupils in our Master’s school.  He could not see what was clear to all beside. But instead of chiding him and leaving him to grope in the dark, the Master paid him a special visit and made the glad fact of His resurrection so simple that the doubter was able to rejoice with the rest.  Don’t worry about your dullness; it will only mean that the dear Master will give you longer and more personal attention.  Mothers give more pains to the sickly, weak, and slow among the children.

 

This is the 2nd excerpt taken from F. B. Meyer’s book on The Secret of Guidance, under the section on Burdens, and What to Do With Them – EmmausTrekker

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By Dr. Albert Mohler

The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante’s Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist.

The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims.

Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and densely populated villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere’s most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic.

In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism — mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult.

Haiti’s history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation’s fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history — including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010.

Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment.

God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now.

A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening.

God’s rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment.

The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake — at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense — in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption.

Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?

Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts — there would be no hope.

The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe. The entire cosmos awaits the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out for the hope of the New Creation.

In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti — and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.

Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ’s people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ’s people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti?

If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God’s message to Haiti.

 

 

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Book Review: The Truth About Man, by Paul Washer


At the beginning of his classic Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin heads his very first paragraph thus: “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God”. This observation is strikingly true, and if one would take the time to discuss the gospel in depth with the definite majority of American citizens living today, he would doubtless find that the one great obstacle preventing them from prizing and embracing the gospel of God’s grace is a faulty view of self. The gospel is not for people who are basically pretty good, but just need to believe in themselves, build up their self-esteem, and pick themselves up by their bootstraps. If there is one problem that consistently hinders my attempts at gospel-witnessing, it is that. Oh, for a tool that would give the true picture of man in his sin and helplessness, and so pave the way for a true picture of God in his holy justice and limitless grace! Paul David Washer’s biblical study, The Truth About Man, is just that tool, and I enthusiastically recommend it.

The Truth About Man, many of you may already know, is a sequel to another excellent biblical study, The One True God; the two of them are laid out in much the same way, not so much as doctrinal treatises but as guides driving the students to encounter and interact with God’s own testimony from the scriptures. But more than this, the two of them are complementary, each causing the truth of the other to shine forth with a more brilliant and stunning clarity. Without the biblical knowledge of the immense holiness and majesty of God, we cannot know the loathsome horror of our reprehensible rebellion; and without the knowledge of our immense sinfulness, we cannot appreciate the depths of God’s grace and the perfection of his justice in his response to sin, whether shown in Christ our substitute or upon Christ-less sinners in hell.

That is not to say, however, that The Truth About Man may only be used effectively with Washer’s other study. Anyone may benefit from The Truth About Man, from the seasoned and well-rooted Christian who wants to be overwhelmed once again by the staggering greatness of God’s grace to the average person who knows nothing of the content of the gospel, and needs to be made a sinner before he can be forgiven. This isn’t a book to be handed out on the street corner to anyone who passes along – it demands too much from the reader, its profitableness will be lost upon someone not willing to study, to think, to wrestle with the hard truths of the bible. It is designed that way intentionally, which in my estimation is a good thing. But for anyone who is genuinely willing to search for the truth, even if it means hard work and humility, the reward will be great. And that includes believers who long for a better glimpse of the gospel, as well as unbelievers who are willing to consider at length just what Christianity proclaims.

What scope of material exactly is covered in the book? Well, it is basically about man in his state of sinfulness – the “non posse non peccare” (“not able not to sin”) of Augustine. Beginning with God’s creation of man and his blessed estate in the Garden, it moves quickly to the devastating first sin, and the vast and universal consequences of that first sin for all humankind. The rest of the study lays out fallen man’s estate very biblically and accurately, ending with his final, certain destiny in hell. The topic of man in his redeemed or glorified state is beyond the scope of the book.

Reviewed by Nathan Pitchford

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Foreword: The question above was answered briefly by Donald A. Carson and the original videoblog can be accessed here.  I have transcribed his response and appended it below.

EmmausTrekker

*     *     *     *     *

 

That’s a very good question. Right on the top, when we have to say that many of those who have fought God all of their lives, wouldn’t at all be that happy in heaven, it seems to me.  If the enjoyment of God’s holiness and the praise of His Name and the wonder of His character, if these things are not really precious in the first place, then why on earth would such a person want to go to heaven?

But there are more fundamental answers. It really is important to see that hell is not a place where there are a lot of deeply sorrowful, repenting sinners who really want to repent from their sins and get out. The bible speaks of hell as a place where those who are filthy, are filthy still. It’s an alarming picture. There’s no evidence anywhere in the Bible that people come to hell and actually repent and want to turn to the living God. Rather it’s going to be a place for all eternity where these people are still defying God, still hating Him, still justifying themselves, still tearing down relationships, still being resentful, still nurturing self-righteousness, in an endless cycle of brokenness and shame and guilt and defiance that shows no repentance ever.  In that sense there is an ongoing cycle of guilt and punishment that is part of what individual sinners still want.  It’s painful to say it but it’s the truth.

Whereas the very nature of biblical Christianity is that God intervenes and breaks the power of this sinful cycle, and gives a new heart and transforms people, frees them from their guilt, gives them His Spirit so that there is a beginning of new life, new desire, new orientation, new hungers, finally consummating in the new heaven and the new earth – the home of righteousness.

So you cannot really answer the question why does God ever consider putting people into hell unless you put it within the much larger question of “what is righteousness?”, “what is sin?”, “what is the connection between shame and punishment?” And within that framework, what will be clear from all eternity, both for those in heaven and even for those in hell, is that God is just and is seen to be just. Even those in hell will acknowledge that for all eternity.

URL: http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/2009/11/don-carson-how-can-god-be-loving-and.html

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Foreword: Here is another interesting article by Albert Mohler concerning R. Crumb’s project of cartooning the narratives in the book of Genesis.  You can reach the original article through this link.

My very first encounter with the Bible wherein I had very vivid memories has to do with a cartoon-style frame by frame presentation of main narratives of the Bible.  It was a thick book, colored cartoons and as a young boy then, just like any other kid, cartoons was a medium of learning things. In fact my first vivid memories of divine judgment was a cartoon frame in Noah’s narrative in that particular Bible. But, as again, I was about 7 years old then and was not concerned about the revelation of God but rather the pleasure of reading cartoons.

In this article below, we learn why cartooning God’s holy book is not a good thing.  Please read on.

EmmausTrekker

*     *     *     *     *

Cartooning the Word — R. Crumb’s “The Book of Genesis” by Dr. Albert Mohler

In all likelihood, most people would never even imagine a cartoon version of Genesis. Nevertheless, the cartoon version has arrived, and it is attracting no small amount of attention.

The Book of Genesis Illustrated is by famed cartoonist R. Crumb. Famous among cartoonists for his work as far back as the 1960s, Crumb has always combined cartoons and a social/political agenda. As David Colton of USA Today explains, Crumb is known for “subversive, turn-of-the-century linework, untamed libido, and obsessive social commentary.”

Indeed, Crumb personally attributes aspects of his style to experiences with LSD in his younger years. He became known for his “Keep on Truckin'” and “Fritz the Cat” cartoons. Disillusioned with the United States, Crumb took his family to France, where they now live.

Somewhere along the way, Crumb decided to take on the Bible, starting with Genesis. That is no small ambition. But why?

Crumb seems attracted to the book of Genesis as a collection of narratives with deep influence in Western culture. “I’m a spiritual guy,” he told USA Today. “I’m not an atheist, more an agnostic. I don’t doubt the existence of God. I just don’t know quite what God is. It’s a question that will challenge me until the day I die.”

As for the Bible, Crumb does not take it as the Word of God. He said, “I don’t believe it’s the Word of God. I believe it’s the words of men.” He added, “I’m just another human interpreting the story.”

In other comments about the project, Crumb has been a bit more forceful. He told Peter Aspden of the Financial Times that working on the Genesis project “nearly killed me.” Working through Genesis “ruined my health. I’m in recovery.”

He also spoke straightforwardly about his view of the Bible:

“I am completely sick of the Bible. I began to hate it as I worked on it. I’ve had my fill. The idea that millions of people have taken it so seriously — it is totally nuts. The human race is crazy.”

His Genesis project did not lead him to admire the Bible. “It had the opposite effect on me. . . .  I saw what a primitive, backward morality I had to deal with. It was a good way of exorcising the power of the Bible.”

Crumb’s distinctive cartoon style plays out across the Genesis narratives. The front cover of the book promises “nothing left out.” Very little is. Readers will find cartoon depictions of everything from Creation and the Fall to the curse of Onan. Reading The Book of Genesis Illustrated does reveal the power of this artistic expression (as in the sacrifice of Isaac), but mostly its severe limitations.

Christians coming across the Crumb project may wonder what to think. After all, this is a project that is attracting significant attention. Millions of Americans buy comics and pay close attention to the world of cartooning. Crumb’s new work has gained the attention of the nation’s major newspapers and the digital world.

For one thing, Crumb’s work reminds us that God gave us words, not images, as His means of revelation. The prohibition against images is not just a divine preference, it is a command. Looking at Crumb’s work makes the force of this prohibition all the more clear. Crumb interprets (or misinterprets) with every image and characterization. His style dominates the narrative — which is precisely the danger. And Crumb insists that he tried his best to restrain himself. “I’m not ridiculing it, just illustrating the exact words that are there.”

Another key insight from the project is this: The Bible always demands a judgment of the reader. The Bible cannot be read simply as literature of historical importance. Any reader sees it as far more than that. In fact, the Bible presents such straightforward claims about both God and humanity that it is either loved or hated, seen as the Word of God or as a poisonous chronicle of the human religious imagination.

In that respect, Crumb’s declarations about the Bible make more sense. His experience of drawing the narratives from Genesis led him to hate the Bible. He is offended that so many millions have taken it seriously. “To take this as a sacred text, or Word of God or something to live by, is kind of crazy,” he told David Colton. “So much of it makes no sense. To think of all the fighting and killing that’s gone on over this book, it just became to me a colossal absurdity. That’s probably the most profound moment I’ve had — the absurdity of it all.”

R. Crumb reveals a great deal about himself in this project. His project also reveals once again why God gave us words, and not images. Crumb’s newest work may be described as a triumph of the human imagination — and that is precisely the problem.

The Bible always lays claim upon the reader. The Book of Genesis demands a decision. The God who reveals himself in these words is not only the Creator of the cosmos, but the judge of every human soul. Genesis not only begins the Bible, it reminds us of our need for Christ. Every single narrative Crumb depicts finds its ultimate meaning in the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ.

But that great fact cannot be reduced to a cartoon. It was never meant to be.

_____________________________

David Colton, “Illustrator R. Crumb is Drawn to God with His Latest Project,” USA Today, October 19, 2009.

Peter Aspden, “A Bad Boy and the Good Book,” Financial Times, October 4, 2009.

 

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