Category Archives: Hermeneutics

Don’t Believe the Hype: Violence Not Tied to Video Games

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By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

On September 16, 2013 at approximately 8:16 am, Aaron Alexis opened fire with a Remington shot gun in the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Before the bodies of the victims had even been buried, media outlets had already cast violent video games as the real culprit. The Telegraph, for instance, ran the following headline less than twenty four hours after the shooting: “Aaron Alexis: Washington Navy Yard Gunman ‘Obsessed with violent video games.’” Video games also took a hit after the Aurora Theatre and Newtown shootings of the past year.

Although the media has already chosen its side, not everyone is sold on the evils of violent video games. Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor at Texas A&M University, for one, dissents. In his article “The School Shooting/Violent Video Game Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?” Ferguson argues that there is no definitive relationship between violent video games and mass shootings.

Ferguson begins his argument by providing an overview of the current research done regarding violent video games and then breaking that research down into two separate categories: experimental and correlational.3 Experimental research, the most common, typically amounts to taking subjects and exposing them to violent video games, then having them complete a series of tests to evaluate for aggressive behaviors. It is often unreliable and has only yielded mixed results. Correlational research. on the other hand, is even weaker due to the fact that it often does not take into account third party factors such as the subject’s upbringing. Those correlational studies that have tried to account for third party factors have determined that there is no link between violent video games and mass shootings and in some cases that violent video games actually reduce aggressive behavior.

Ferguson then addresses the data on school shootings over the past several years. He focuses primarily on an FBI report put out in 1999 and a Secret Service report completed in 2002. The FBI report concluded that violent video games can have a negative effect, but only if the participant was mentally unstable. Ferguson states that the results of the Secret Service report were even more striking: “Only 59% of perpetrators demonstrated ‘some interest’ in violent media of any kind, including their own writings. For video games, the figure was even lower—only 12%.” These reports are interesting because they are so contrary to the conventional wisdom conveyed by today’s media.

Lastly, Ferguson tackles the issue of why popular news media has turned video games into a scape goat the last few years. He attributes it to a moral panic that has resurfaced many times throughout history. In his own words, Ferguson defines a moral panic as one that occurs “when a segment of society believes that the behavior or moral choices of others within that society poses a significant risk to the society as a whole.” For example, media cried foul when the popular board game of the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons was released, with some researchers claiming it would lead to violence and Satanism. The same issue occurred in the early 19th century when journalists and misguided researchers claimed women would suffer from reading novels. Ferguson proceeds to reestablish his thesis that no evidence connects violent video games and school shootings, giving another more evidence showing shows that in the recent years while violent video game numbers have skyrocketed, youth violence has declined dramatically. Ferguson suggests that in a few years once it comes out there is no real evidence supporting claims that video games lead to shootings, they will eventually fade away.

In conclusion, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 68% of American households own a gaming console, and millions play violent video games every day. Aaron Alexis was one of those millions, but his gaming habits did not cause him to shoot up a government complex any more than playing the Legend of Zelda makes me want to start mixing potions.

Lewis and the Proof of Prayer

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by Ethan Shaw, Class of 2015

cslewisPrayer has been on the minds of Christians since the inception of the church. The ultimate question one asks regarding prayer is whether man plays any role in ordering the affairs of God (that is, the fate of the universe). Although certainly a baffling question on the surface, this is one that naturally arises in the conversation between philosophy and theology. Boethius, a sixth century Neoplatonist Christian philosopher, notes the following: “The hopes which we rest in God, and the prayers addressed to him, are not in vain; when they are righteous, they cannot be ineffectual.” Following a lengthy attempt at reconciling divine foreknowledge with human free will, Boethius supposes that man possesses certain free will which enables him to produce righteous and effective prayer. Even so, he rigorously maintains an understanding of complete divine foreknowledge. Boethius’s central assertion to this end is that a partnership exists between the divine and human wills because God exists in an eternal present moment while man does not, allowing the two conflicting realities to exist simultaneously. To a less philosophical end, C.S. Lewis also examines the divine-human relationship by way of prayer in his essay “The Efficacy of Prayer.”At the start Lewis takes up the question of whether the efficacy of prayer can be empirically proven at all. For our purposes, prayer can broadly be defined as the means of communication in which man comes into agreement with God’s will. Lewis is centrally concerned with whether this communication, then, actually produces the desired effects. Following several anecdotes regarding miraculous occurrences, he notes, “Even if the thing were indisputably miraculous it would not follow that the miracle had occurred because of your prayers.” Lewis thus stresses it is impossible to prove a causal link between prayer and subsequent events, miraculous or otherwise. Furthermore, he notes that prayer is by nature request and therefore will not always necessarily be granted. After demonstrating that any attempt to truly test the efficacy of prayer is doomed to fail, he concludes that “empirical proof and disproof are…unobtainable” (380). Effective prayer, Lewis argues, must be sincere. Therefore, true prayer must be grounded in personal relationship and conversation with God.

From this point, Lewis puts forth a number of key arguments that can largely be divided into two categories: the nature of prayer and its general purpose. Regarding the nature of prayer, Lewis observes, “Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person” (381). Put simply, if prayer has any real effects at all, then these must exist in a very personal and relational sense. Lewis further states that the idea of prayer is much more of an all-encompassing category than is typically assumed. Next he thus defines prayer’s central purpose as a cooperative effort: “‘God,’ said Pascal, ‘instituted prayer to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.’ But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity.” Lewis maintains that prayer is merely one facet in which God cooperates with man toward the execution of His will. This comprises the “dignity of causality” described by Pascal. In closing, Lewis draws out the implications of prayer on the divine-human relationship as a whole. He specifically illustrates the inherent paradox visible while Christ prays during his final hours at Gethsemane. God, he argues, clearly has no so-called court favorites when it comes to answering prayer. Altogether, considering Lewis’s statements on both the nature and inherent purpose of prayer are valuable in ascertaining his position.
man-in-prayer

A discussion of the nature of prayer provides the foundational basis for reaching a verdict on its efficacy. Lewis rightly places this first in the structure of his essay; and, as aforementioned, he focuses on the relational component of prayer. He then notes the diverse aspects which prayer entails: “Prayer in the sense of petition…is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us” (381). Here Lewis marks prayer as a revelatory act on God’s behalf and an act of communion on behalf of man. He rightly identifies prayer as a multi-faceted reality that defines all aspects of communication with God. Thus it cannot be seen as a mere robotic function but rather as a living and active discourse in which God brings man into agreement with His purposes. The idea that God answers prayer still remains as a corollary; however, this relational understanding replaces it as the central criterion for determining effective prayer. Lewis persuasively and logically articulates this theologically sound recasting of the age-old query “Does prayer work?” by shifting the focus from perceived temporal results of prayer to divine encounter.perates with man toward the execution of His will. This comprises the “dignity of causality” described by Pascal. In closing, Lewis draws out the implications of prayer on the divine-human relationship as a whole. He specifically illustrates the inherent paradox visible while Christ prays during his final hours at Gethsemane. God, he argues, clearly has no so-called court favorites when it comes to answering prayer.

The second critical step remaining is a proper consideration of the cooperative purpose of prayer. In quoting Pascal, Lewis depicts prayer as God’s way of granting His creatures active participation in determining outcomes. Like Boethius he seems to accept free human will to a certain extent; thus Lewis claims that this view of prayer should come as no surprise when it is seen in the same light as other human actions. Lewis further remarks that such prayers “have not advised or changed God’s mind—that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of his creatures” (381). Much like Boethius, Lewis seeks to reconcile the coexistence of God’s sovereignty with human action logically. He does so by contrasting what he calls “a sort of divine abdication” with our human propensity “to wield our little tridents.” However, the language of this latter comment has an uncanny resemblance to that of Boethius; this is later found when Lewis describes how “God makes something—indeed, makes gods—out of nothing.” Although prayer certainly involves a substantial measure of divine power granted to man, Lewis seems to go too far in borrowing the Neoplatonist language of Boethius to describe this. God seeks to cooperatively partner with mankind through prayer, not simply to pass all divine power into the hands of mortal men.

C.S. Lewis’s exploration on the effectiveness of prayer provides a much-needed emphasis shift. In truth, understanding the effectiveness of righteous prayer (as detailed by Boethius) does more to illustrate God’s relationship with man than the way in which the world works. Prayer cannot simply be understood through the lens of a cosmic machine, simply because God is fundamentally relational. Therefore prayer, as His means of communication, must be a fundamentally relational activity. By keeping the relational God as our focal point, it becomes much harder to get lost in the vain quest for universally answered prayer. Despite this deeply personal aspect of prayer, it can still fairly be said that prayer does not depend on the person praying. Ultimately God has no “court favorites” because prayer is ultimately about aligning oneself with the will of God. Lewis clearly demonstrates this paradox through the example of Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane. He remarks, “When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need” (382). Ironically, greater spiritual strength thus seems to lend itself to being further forsaken by God, at least on the surface.

Reference List

C.S. Lewis. “The Efficacy of Prayer.” The Essential C.S. Lewis. Ed. Lyle W. Dorsett. (New York: Touchstone Books, 1988).

Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. P.G. Walsh. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Parable and Paradox: Rethinking Predestination

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By Heath Padgett, Class of 2016

In the New Testament, one of the most common and effective ways Jesus explained various truths was through parables. A parable, as defined by the Webster’s Dictionary, is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle. Thus, when it comes to the proper balance between freewill and predestination, a great way to understand the concept is through parables. Since both ideas are implicitly and explicitly revealed through Scripture, Christians must not believe in only one yet not the other. Instead, a Christian must believe first that God chose him and that he must also choose God. How is it, though, that both coexist so perfectly? The simplest way to describe the belief is through a parable:

A man gives all women a chance to marry him as long as they get to know him on a personal level. He also determines ahead of time how and whom he will propose to. He knows for certain his future bride will love him with all her heart, for he would not ask if he knew otherwise. As a result, he proposes. The woman has the freewill to say yes during the proposal and is held fully responsible for her actions.

Now, as was done by Jesus after the Parable of the Sower, this new parable must be explained. Predestination is the belief that events in the lives of humans have been planned out ahead of time by Yahweh, while freewill is the ability to act as a result of one’s own choice. This idea of predestination is demonstrated by the man planning out the event of his and his bride’s future marriage. Following this, all people have a “choice” or freewill to choose God if they desire to know Him on a personal level just like the man in the parable. However, if a person is not first chosen by God, then that person will not be the “bride” of Christ. God’s elect resides in those whom He knows will love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds. Likewise, a man usually does not first choose a wife unless he knows the same. Also, it is the full responsibility of the wife to choose her husband, even though she has first been chosen by him. If the wife does not say, “I do,” then the marriage cannot go forward. The same is true with Christians. Christians must accept Jesus as their own and place all their trust unto Him.

Although this exact parable is not stated in the Bible itself, the Gospels repeatedly refer to Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church. Furthermore, the parable, although it does not completely explain the ideas of predestination and freewill coexisting, aids in understanding the basic existence of the two.

Out of Control: How Cultural Values Encourage Unbelief

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by Josh Moore, Class of 2014

In modern culture, the existence of God has become quite controversial. Many deny the existence of God, and instead accept the implausible existence of evolution or aliens. Why does today’s society so reject the concept of a higher power?

One major emphasis in today’s society is the concept of control. People enjoy “controlling” their own lives, enjoying the feeling that they can do as they want without the help or guidance of anyone else. This selfish desire for control shows up in all stages of life, from a two year old demanding that he can do everything by himself, to an elderly woman insisting she can drive, despite the fact that she failed the drivers test. Society has reared multiple generations who believe that they can successful control their own lives.

The concept of God threatens this desire for control. If there is a being who is not only more powerful than humankind, but created man for his own purpose, that means control of every life should be in His hands. Since He is supposedly the creator of all, everything, including personal ambitions, belongs to him. Therefore, humans should have no control over their own lives. Evolution, or even aliens, provides a much more comfortable explanation, because control is still personal. Why then should anyone believe in God, if they can instead reject Him and keep the feeling of control?

Ultimately in today’s society, comfort is valued over reason. This is why explanations for creation such as evolution and aliens hold prevalence, even though they seem absurd to a logical person. Truth has become relative; whatever feels best and is most comfortable must be right. The concept of God is not comfortable or pleasurable, therefore God must not exist. The entire point of Christianity is relinquishing control to God and following his plan and call. Furthermore, Christ says in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12).” The history of Christianity, as well as many other religions, is not one of worldly comfort and pleasure, but instead one of intense persecution. This concept threatens society’s emphasis on comfort and frightens many people today. But instead of recognizing the truth, they instead turn to foolishness.

Comfort and control have become the gods of today’s society. American culture centers on giving people whatever they want and letting them do whatever they want. This is why entertainment businesses succeed so well. Television, movies, books, video games, and all other forms of entertainment pull people into another world, which is much more controllable and comfortable than reality. The desire for control and comfort that runs modern culture is not necessarily a verbal objection to God; instead it is a major cause of all other vocalized objections. People aren’t willing to voice their fear of losing control and comfort, so they develop other means of rejecting anything that threatens them. Society has been blinded, and it will take the work of God to make them see.

Ecclesiastes – Patrick McGucken

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Patrick McGucken

Mr. Herring

Hermeneutics 10B

February 1, 2013

Ecclesiastes

In the movie The Green Mile, Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks) plays a security guard for death row inmates. Paul has the monotonous job of leading inmates to their death. He then encounters a prisoner like never before, John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan). John Coffey is an angel, who can sense evil in the world. This movie shares some of the same themes from Ecclesiastes. The Green Mile includes many acts of evil, John Coffey’s death being the most important. Coffey can see the evils of the world, and tries to right them. In the end all is vanity because Coffey could not change anything, and is probably forgotten after a couple of months. The Green Mile shows the world like Ecclesiastes does. In Ecclesiastes, there are many different messages that can be summed up in one phrase. It does not matter what you do, because in the end you will be forgotten, so make the most out of your life. This message can be taken out of context to mean drink as much as possible and have equal amounts of pleasure. However this is not what the verse means; it simply means that people should try to enjoy their lives. The purpose of Ecclesiastes is to encourage people to fear God. It may not seem like it, but the author uses depressing terms to show the one meaningful thing in the world, fearing God. Although it is hard to see at first, Ecclesiastes contains good news. Throughout this paper the term “good news” will refer to any information that gives hope to the readers.

Ecclesiastes was written during the time of Solomon. The book begins with the quester telling the readers that nothing matters. He then shows many examples of ways things do not matter, and tries to interpret the meaning of life. In the end, he discusses how the people need to fear God.  There are many messages that are prominent in Ecclesiastes. One of the key messages is that life is smoke. “Smoke, nothing but smoke. There’s nothing to anything-its all smoke,” (Message pg. 1). The term smoke does not simply mean the thick gas that flows from fire. Smoke in this case refers to something being meaningless. Another theme is that there is nothing new. In Ecclesiastes, it talks about how there is nothing new under the sun. He also includes that nothing changes, and that everything is boring, (Message pg. 1). The final prominent message in Ecclesiastes is that with knowledge comes suffering. “Much learning earns you much trouble. The more you know, the more you hurt,” (Message pg. 2). This verse shows the author’s negative view on knowledge. He continues the thought, and says that people who die young are lucky because they do not know much. This is because not all knowledge is beneficial to everyone.  Overall, there are many prominent themes in Ecclesiastes.

Furthermore, the purpose of Ecclesiastes is to encourage everyone to fear God. The author accomplishes this by showing how terrible the world really is, and how anything a person does is forgotten. That is except fearing God. The author writes in the final chapter that the only purpose to life is to fear God. “The last and final word is this: Fear God,” (Message pg. 16). The quester makes it quite clear that there is only one thing important to do on earth. Although the author encourages the people to live life to the fullest, he acknowledges that it will not matter in the end.  The author writes that the world is terrible and meaningless, to show what is really meaningful.

Finally, there is good news in Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes although depressing, shows some sign of hope for the future. Many believers look forward to being brought home to Heaven. Ecclesiastes shows this in many occasions. “And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil,” (Message pg. 16). Although this does not sound pleasant, it means when people die they will be with God. Even though God will judge them, they will spend the rest of eternity in Heaven with God. Another glimpse of hope is that God made people out of love, (Message pg. 10). This is important because earlier when the author mentioned God it was not so caring. He described God as someone just waiting to punish everyone for his or her sins. This verse however shows that God has a special connection with the people and will remember and care for them. Overall, even though Ecclesiastes is a depressing book, it has a few glimpses of hope for the future.

Carter Lemons – The Bad News of Ecclesiastes

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Carter Lemons
January 30, 2013
10A Hermeneutics
Ecclesiastes

According to a study by Emory University, an average of 864,950 people attempt suicide every year. This means that one person attempts suicide every thirty-eight seconds. This alarming statistic shows how many people see life: pointless. They see good people suffering while the wicked thrive, and a plethora of other travesties that exist in the world. The book of Ecclesiastes seems to provide some insight into this grim matter. It conveys that life on earth is absolutely meaningless, that it is all smoke, so people should enjoy all that God has given. However, the purpose of the book is to warn God’s people that, even though they should enjoy themselves, their actions will be judged. For God’s people, there is really no good news.

Ecclesiastes opens with a description of the world. “Smoke, nothing but smoke. [That’s what the Quester says.] There’s nothing to anything- it’s all smoke.”1 The author believes that everything on the earth is useless, and finds that there is nothing new. He goes on to address the fact that life is futile, and everything people do on earth is vanity. The Quester talks about how he built great houses and vineyards and parks but then realized that it was vanity.2 It was smoke. Another message conveyed in Ecclesiastes is that no one will be remembered. The Quester tells a story about a wise man who saved his small village from an attacking king. Despite the victory, the man was forgotten.3 The Quester’s conclusion in regard to all the vanity in the world is that people should just enjoy themselves. At the end of chapter five, the Quester states that the best way to live is to make the most of what God gives. People should have a good time. To quote the author, “That’s the human lot.”4

Given the grim message of Ecclesiastes, it is no surprise that the suicide attempt rate is as high as it is. A life with no higher purpose is hardly worth living. However, there is a purpose to the book. While Ecclesiastes is not meant to depress people, it serves as a warning to them. The final two verses clearly state, “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”5 The Quester warns the people of Israel that, while everything on earth is ultimately vanity, God will hold them accountable for all their actions. Reflecting on his own experience throughout the book, the author hopes to prevent God’s people from making the same mistakes he did.

While the warning was beneficial to Israel, there is really no good news for them in Ecclesiastes. As a matter of fact, it was bad news that God was going judge everyone’s actions. It is impossible to keep the multitude of Jewish laws, so everyone would suffer from God’s judgement. Ecclesiastes is just another reminder to the 864,950 people who attempt suicide and to everyone else of the grim fact that the world is fallen. As a solution, the Quester encourages his readers to enjoy life, but remember God’s coming judgement. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”6

 

Footnotes
1 Ecclesiastes 1:2
2 Ecclesiastes 2:4-6
3 Ecclesiastes 9:13-15
4 Ecclesiastes 5:18b
5 Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
6 Ecclesiastes 12:13

Ethan Shaw’s On Sanctification

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Ethan Shaw
Sophomore, Westminster School at Oak Mountain

John Wesley was a man whose understanding of the gospel profoundly focused on holiness. He stressed the vigorous, personal nature of the Christian life and the need for individual piety. Ultimately, this emphasis resulted in his doctrine known as Christian perfection. In describing a “good Methodist,” he remarks, “All the commandments of God he accordingly keeps, and that with all his might; for his obedience is in proportion to his love, the source from whence it flows.” Critically, he linked a believer’s growth in faith to increased obedience. He thus hypothesized a state in which a believer achieves freedom from willful sin and complete holiness in thought and deed. Although this assertion may appear far-fetched to many, one must understand this simply represents one man’s attempt to explain the mystery of sanctification first outlined in Jesus’ final prayer for his disciples, asking the Father to “sanctify them in the truthi.” Overall, the New Testament portrays sanctification as the Spirit’s work of leading the believer to walk in the hope of salvation in Christ. Sanctification is thus a paradigm for the present tension of redemption: it is initiated with Christ’s work and will be consummated at His Return.

The foundational perspective on sanctification views it as a goal wholly achieved through Christ’s redemptive work. During His manifestation on the road to Damascus, Jesus commissions Saul as a minister to the Gentiles so that “they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). The language here is transformational, pointing to the moment of repentance and conversion that effects salvation. Interestingly, its result is forgiveness as well as a sanctified status before God. Paul later states agreement with the Lord’s view of sanctification accomplished at conversion. He tells the Thessalonian church, “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth…so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14). Paul explains salvation as a two-way affair wrought both by individual faith and the Spirit’s sanctifying graceii. Even so, he seems to indicate that the purpose of sanctification is somehow connected to the eternal perfection to come, in which the believer is made like Christ Jesus in totality.

Sanctification is also described in terms of a process that spans a period of time. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul remarks, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (6:22). Importantly, he links freedom from sin to sanctification. Since fruit refers to the ongoing attitudes that result from this freedom, sanctification must be a process. It is completed when a believer dies and enters into eternal life. The epistle to the Hebrews clarifies this process even more: “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (10:15). In this age the believer stands in the tension of an already-not yet Kingdom. Christ has already made His chosen perfect in the eyes of the Father. Yet they also hope in the promise of total glorification to come and remain in the struggle with sin.

Practically, sanctification should be much more than lofty theological jargon in the eyes of the average believer. It defines the way Christ’s Kingdom operates in this age and how He relates to His church. It illuminates the way in which a believer should live his daily life. In truth Christ is sanctification incarnateiii. The believer’s task, then, is to love Jesus wholeheartedly and embrace Him as the hope of holiness. The relationship between Christ and the church incorporates both aspects of sanctification. Paul states that Jesus died “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor…that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:26-27). Believers are yoked with the man who is the very definition of holiness. As the church grows in her union with Him, she takes on more and more of His character and is continually perfected by the Spirit. Sanctification means death to sin, because “God has not called us for impurity but in holinessiv” (1 Thess. 4:7). It occurs not as a result of human striving but instead flows from the Spirit’s grace and the natural obedience that follows. It is cultivated in the place of personal intimacy with Christ Jesus, experienced through faith in His past work (redemption) and hope in His coming (glorification). In this way, one should never disregard Wesley’s Christian perfection as myth altogether. Each believer will certainly be made perfect; he might have just been wrong as to when it will take place.

 

i Taken from John 17:17. This and all other Scripture citations throughout the essay are cited from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
ii Furthermore, Paul even seems to equate sanctification with redemption. He states, “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

iii See 1 Cor. 1:30. Paul states, “…you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…”
iv In this context Paul specifically is referencing freedom from sexual immorality, but this principle applies much more broadly to freedom from sin in general.

Katie Brooks Boone – Adventure Without Redemption

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When I opened my eyes there was darkness, thick, black, silent darkness.  A putrid scent of body odor and blood engrossed my nostrils as I gasped for air.  It was consciously hard to breathe, wherever I was at that moment.  The last thing I remembered, I was exploring a cave I had found while rock climbing that beautiful summer afternoon.  After I heard an ear-piercing crash, my memory was no use.  Everything went black, and my state of mind with it.  The times I tried to recount any more details of what happened next, I was only frustrated with no success and a nauseating headache.

Everything was just black, utterly and hopelessly black.  The darkness a thick curtain in front of me, it seemed as though my fingers could move it out of the way and let the light in.  Then the thought occurred to me, have I died?  Did I have some kind of accident in that cave and that was it?  The icy fingers of fear and worry suddenly gripped me.  Who will take care of my wife and children?  Will they ever know what happened to me?  Is anyone going to look for me?  The questions didn’t stop coming.  All I knew at that moment was that wherever I was, I could not move.  Every time I tried to shift my body an overwhelming pain rushed to my legs and ankles.  As I tried to feel my surroundings, cold, hard surfaces came in contact with me everywhere I frantically felt.  It soon became clear I was pinned under a massive stone and trapped in the cave somewhere.  Panic set in my bones as my situation became real.  I knew there was nothing I could do for myself; I was trapped, helpless.  At that point I tried to sleep it off and hoped that I would not wake up and this nightmare would be over.

Surprisingly I did fall asleep, and when I woke up, there were no bright lights and shiny people, just more of the same endless black.  And the more I rubbed my eyes hoping for a different scene, that abyss continued to swallow me in its darkness.  My stomach began to growl, my mouth became noticeably dry, and I wondered how much time had passed since that afternoon I ventured into the cave.  Food had been the last thing on my mind, but since I had settled in to my hopeless surroundings a little more, I was able to recognize my hunger and thirst.  Water was just about the only thing on my mind at that time, and I wondered why I had not felt much pain in my obviously injured legs.  Endorphins were the conclusion I easily settled with.  Once again, my mind wandered on the unanswered questions of my situation and I fell back asleep in my dark little nest of rocks.

The next thing I remember, I woke up to a loud crack, crumble, and crash.  My arm was in excruciating pain as another rock had fallen on it, pinning my body even tighter to the wall of that bleak cave.  It seemed as though my entire body was throbbing under that one rock through my arm; the pain was unbearable.  I must have passed out from the pain, because I woke up for a third time to a more subtle slow throb in my arm and a headache that seemed to just squeeze the life out of me.  My hunger and thirst started to be more uncomfortable and at that point, any pain I had previously felt in my legs was an old and seemingly unimportant worry compared to my overall situation.  Just as I started to give up hope, I heard what sounded like a yell in the distance.  My explanation was delirium until I heard it again and again, louder and louder.  As the voices grew nearer, I could clearly hear what they were saying.  Someone was calling my name.  Derrick, Derrick!  Are you there?  Can you hear me?  Derrick??  My heart leapt with joy and my stomach knotted in excitement at the thought of rescue.   With all of the energy I had left, I called out for help, in some attempt to be heard.  But the more I yelled, the further away the voices got.  Gasping for air and straining to yell, my throat grew sore and it became increasingly difficult to breathe in that tight pocket of air.  Eventually the voices died away and I ceased my calls for help.  There was no hope for me.

Now, I sit on the same rock against the same wall in the same cave I stumbled upon that beautiful summer afternoon.  I no longer feel my legs or arm, and my head spins whenever I try to turn it.  Delirium has set it; the rocks echo the voices of my imaginary rescuers as time passes by, but then again time is irrelevant at this point.  I do not know how long I have been here, and I do not know how much longer I have left.  I am recording everything I remember on the video camera I brought with me hiking that day, and hope one day someone will find this and let my family know what has become of me.  Though this is not how I wish to go, I will settle for my fate.  I’m Derrick Leeland, and as the battery flashes red on my camera, I will conclude with my remaining memories of the day I set out for this cave, the cave that will be my resting place.  The beautiful sun shone across a cloudless sky, glittered on a crystal clear pond, and glistened on the fresh dew that dripped from the grass under my feet.  Harmonious melody could be heard from the birds as a light breeze engulfed my nostrils.  I took a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air and set out on that summer afternoon, embarking on the journey that would end my life.

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