Tuesday, June 7, 2016

He Isn't a Tame Lion

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

Recently a good friend wrote a blog post discussing Word Faith in the light of a more acceptable, traditional Christian understanding of this modern American phenomenon. His understanding of theology and Church far surpasses mine, so let me just link you to his blog article.

Word of Faith Theology and Jesus

Needless to say, this is a subject that is of interest to the author of a Christian personal finance blog. I have touched on the problems with Word Faith on a number of occasions, but have never written an entire post on the subject.

Basically, Word Faith teachers offer some variation on the Health and Wealth Gospel. They believe that all Christians who exercise enough faith should be prosperous and physically sound. The more venal engage in a modern electronic form of simony, the exchange of money for ecclesiastical privileges. “Send $1,000 to my ministry to break the back of poverty in your life.” Yes, I actually heard a late night televangelist make this pitch to his audience. He even suggested putting your donation on a credit card.

May God have mercy.

Word Faith Lite is closer to orthodoxy and a bit more realistic. One of the preachers who promote this version correctly states that he isn’t teaching a prosperity gospel but he certainly has no intention of preaching a poverty gospel. They acknowledge that they don’t understand why some things happen to good people trying diligently to walk in faith and do the right thing.

We live in a complex world that has, like us, been corrupted by the fall. I frequently state that I can make no promises. I can only offer behaviors that over time tend to lead to financial freedom. This is basically a cause and effect universe that contains an element of randomness. As you sow, so shall you reap is a principle, not a guarantee.

In the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis tells the tale of the interactions between a number of children and animals, with Aslan the lion, serving as a metaphor for Christ and his work in our world. “He isn’t a tame lion.” Is one of the statements frequently made about Aslan by various characters throughout the seven volume series.

God is not a cosmic vending machine. There is no guarantee of a quid pro quo for your actions, but He’s good. That is why we Christians pray for jobs, for freedom from debt, for enough money or a scholarship to send our children to college, for health when we are sick, and even for a parking place every now and then. There are more than enough Scriptures and even a few experiments that indicate that prayer to our good God makes things better.

Faith helps. Visualization helps. Planning your work and working you plan helps. Consistent right effort helps. Knowledge helps. Prayer helps.

But He isn’t a tame lion. No! He’s the King.

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