Archive for May 14th, 2009

I believe this to be one of the most beautiful paragraph of words I have ever read in my life. It is profound; mind-boggling. Grace and Peace.

“If we fix our eyes upon the place where the course of the world reaches its lowest point, where its vanity is unmistakable, where its groanings are most bitter and the divine incognito most impenetrable, we shall encounter there—Jesus Christ. On the frontier of what is observable He stands delivered up and not spared. In place of us all He stands there, delivered up for us all, patently submerged in the flood. And if He was delivered up, how much more are we all submerged with Him in the flood, dragged down into the depth, and included in the ‘No’ which God utters over the men of this world and from which there is no escape! How much more are we led to the place where we stand under the universal judgment of God, where, embarrassed by the conflict between righteousness and sin, life and death, eternity and time, there remains naught but the existentiality of God. But the transformation of all things occurs where the riddle of human life reaches its culminating point. The hope of His glory emerges for us when nothing but the existentiality of God remains, and he becomes to us the veritable and living God. He, whom we can apprehend as only against us, stands there—for us. That Christ, who deprives us of everything but the existentiality of God, has been delivered up, means—we must dare to say it, dare to storm the fortress which is impregnable—and already capture!—that God is for us, and we are by His side. Christ who has been delivered up is the Spirit, the Truth, the restless arm of God. If so be that we suffer with Him, how can it be that we should not also be glorified with him? If we die with Him, how can it be that we shall not also live with Him? If God has delivered us up with Him to the judgment which threatens us all, how should He not also with Him give us all things, and thus secure that all things should work together for our good? All things—freely! Concerning the dawn upon which we have gazed, we are able neither to speak nor to be silent.” (Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 327)

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There’s an Arabian proverb that says that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  It’s an idea that’s older than dirt, but was more recently ascribed to Saddam Hussein.  One would have to think a bit about anything that came out of that man’s mouth (maybe even use a bit of discernment), yet it seems that many people are very anxious to live by this nugget of “wisdom”.

A couple of examples:
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I recently had an exchange in the meta of another blog.  The blog owner, Lanny*, said several things about Steve (another blogger), one of which was that Steve had allegedly stated that Lanny wasn’t a Christian — a certainly valid complaint on Lanny’s part.  A third blogger, John, agreed with several things that Lanny was saying about Steve and unequivocally stated that Steve was not a Christian.  Lanny made no move to correct John for engaging in the same sin as Steve, but basically high-fived John and went on with the conversation.

I called foul.  After several rounds of dodging my actual point, Lanny finally pulled out the “big guns” and accused me of believing the exact same things as Steve.  This was interesting as (1) I hadn’t raised any issue of beliefs, and (2) I actually believe very differently than Steve on a great number of issues.  My point was the double-standard that Lanny and John were employing.  Not surprisingly, my comment pointing out these issues was never approved, and so it never saw the light of day on Lanny’s blog.

In the context of the Arabian proverb, by stretching the term “enemy” to include someone that you disagree with, and the term “friend” to include someone that you agree with:

  • Lanny had set himself up as an “enemy” of Steve
  • I set myself up as an “enemy” of Lanny
  • Lanny assumed that I was a “friend” of Steve

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Recently, another blog was critical of a proposal that came from the Obama administration.  A writer on this site proposed that maybe the other blogger’s interpretation of the proposal was not reflective of what was intended.  Within just a few comments, the writer and several others on this site were labeled as “Obama fans”.

Using the same terminology as before:

  • The writer on the other blog set up as an “enemy” of Obama
  • Our writer had set himself as an “enemy” of that writer
  • It was assumed by defenders of the first writer that our writer was a “friend” of Obama

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OK, time for a geek lesson.  At its core, all data is represented by a 0 or a 1.  The numerical system behind this is called binary.  If something is not a 0, then it must be a 1.  And vice versa.  And so if something is “not not 0″, then it must be “not 1″, or 0.

This is the only environment in which “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” can hold true — in a binary world.  Or to put it in less geeky terms, in a (literally) black-and-white world.

But this is not the world in which we live.  If it was, then Paul was clearly in error when he wrote Romans 14, the Bible has errors in it, and we’re all doomed.

Are there black and white issues in this world?  Certainly.  But are those the only colors in this word?  Certainly not.  If they were, then God was clearly in error when He created the rainbow, God is imperfect, and we’re all really doomed.

So why are so many people so eager to doom themselves?

* Names are all changed, as it isn’t necessary.  I know this will upset those that insist that we always “name names”, but seeing as how they expect nothing but bad things from this site anyway, who am I to disappoint them?

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