Saturday, November 28, 2015

Missions

Over the years I have had many stances on missionary work. I would have to say I was all for it until 2009 when my then reality was crushed. I have written on my rejection and idolatry previously, so I will not write on it here. (Though, I do want to mention that after my discovery of my position on the Autism spectrum, I wonder if it was actually idolatry or simply perseveration.) After that time of being full on gung ho, I turned to apathy. Yet, perhaps not actually apathy but rather a complete pushing away from the idea. Which may or may not be the same thing. As an example, I once was partaking in buy one get one free night at a local bar. A guy and I were talking about school and what we were studying. At this point I was not enrolled in Ozark, taking a break from pursuing the Bachelor in Christian Ministry with an emphasis in Cross Cultural Ministry. As he asked my field, I felt I wanted to distance myself (or maybe just to not be judged for imbibing.) I said I was a Marketing major with a minor in Anthropology.

Post-mire I moved from apathy to tentative eagerness. I felt like I was ready to get back on the wagon. My life (or rather, our life, as Casey and I began marriage) seemed to be moving again in a forward direction. We were even looking at NMSI apprenticeships in Europe! Unfortunately this fell through, but we started a local apprenticeship at the church we attended. This was great, until Dante came into our lives. We ceased our progress. I refuse to blame Dante. The growth he has caused in our lives is beyond amazing. However, it caused confusion. The thought of missions was still in our minds. For me, I searched for positions at churches across the country. I was (and still am) desperate to use my education for the good of the kingdom. As Casey, Dante, and I moved cross-country several times, I kept searching.


Through different jobs and even job interviews I tried using my knowledge. At Verizon Wireless, I was on the global support team and I got to talk to people as they travelled to other cultures. At Seattle Pedicab, I got to give rides to people as they came from those cultures. I always loved meeting people with limited English and seeing how to best communicate with them. Even as I attempted to be a police dispatcher, I believe my cross cultural training helped me stay in contention. However, at times this enthusiasm seemed even to me to be a fa├žade. Whether it is from my Aspergers or simply a part of my personality from my experiences as an adult, I am not a glass half full or half empty. I am half empty with a leak. When I look at the situation (for lack of a better term), I feel hopeless. There are over seven billion alive now with millions cycling through daily. Many are living and dying far out of the church's current reach. If you consider those who are going as missionaries, or those who are already in those countries, my mind sees an impossibly situation. 

This is what got me reading David Bentley Hart over the past half year or so. My mind cannot comprehend God allowing people to live with such terrible odds stacked against them being able to hear the Gospel. I am still struggling with the thought. Some days I find myself debating between universalism, purgatory, and traditional be baptized or burn. No, I am not questioning God's existence. The laws of thermodynamics answer that for me, as a start. However, this is why I found myself looking further into Theodicy now than I did as an Ozark student. Wherever I land, I remain convinced that as those who swear allegiance to Christ, we must go in some way or another because that is His command. If we are to love and follow him, we will obey. Not out of blind obedience, but out of desire for others to know the truth and beauty of Shalom before the other side.  

5 comments:

Christie said...

As always, I appreciate your honesty and willingness to let people into your thoughts. I think most Christians have similar thoughts at some point. One thing that helps me is to focus on individual efforts. I cannot change the world. But I can affect a life. "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"

It also helps for me to think of life with an eternal perspective. Our time as mortals on earth is so brief when compared to eternity. The suffering faced here seems so horrific but I have to believe heaven is worth any suffering. This is touching briefly on a deep and sacred doctrine, but we believe in proxy ordinances. We believe people on earth may be baptized on behalf of those who left this life without the opportunity.

Karl said...

Thanks Christie, also as always. Where is that quote from?

Also, I've heard of the proxy baptisms, but have never looked into it too much in depth. I would have a hard time accepting it as it's nowhere in the NT or OT. Which is also why I have a hard time with universalism and purgatory, since neither are explicit in the Bible.

The Administrator said...

Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/18.15?lang=eng

D&C is part of our church cannon (which of course includes the NT and OT).

We use the KJV but check out 1 Corinthians 15:29. I know Kirk uses ESV: http://www.esvbible.org/1+Corinthians+15/

I've heard other denominations interpret it differently, but a good argument could be made that proxy baptisms were performed during the time of Christ according to this scripture. He seemed to think his audience would know what baptism for the dead meant.

The Administrator said...

And that was me Christie. I'm on Ryan's computer ha.

Karl said...

Haha, I was wondering about the username.

Here's input on that passage from Craig Keener, a historical scholar:

"Here “baptized for the dead” may mean that a Christian friend was baptized for symbolic effect on behalf of a new convert who had died (perhaps by martyrdom, although we know of no major persecution in Corinth; or perhaps on his or her deathbed, thus allowing no time for baptism) before being able to be baptized. (Although there is no evidence of vicarious baptism in ancient Judaism, posthumous symbols could be employed. For instance, if someone was to be executed, Jewish teachers said that his death could atone for his sins; if he died before he could be executed, however, the people placed a stone on the coffin, symbolically enacting his stoning so that his execution would still count with God.) Or this expression may refer to washings of the dead before burial, a standard Jewish custom; religious groups in the ancient Mediterranean supervised the burials of their own members. It could also be a roundabout way of saying “baptized so as to be able to participate in eternal life with Christians who have already died,” hence baptized in the light of their own mortality as well. Many ancient pagans sought to honor the dead, for example, by putting meals at their tombs. To whatever practice Paul alludes, it is not clear whether he agrees with the Corinthian practice; even if he does not, however, he can use it to make his point."

Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (1 Co 15:29). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

As mentioned, it may or may not have been widespread. And, even if the practice was widely used, it doesn't have any other backing in Scripture to seem to make any theological sense. I would absolutely love to be able to accept such a teaching, similar to universalism, annihilationism, or purgatory. However, it has such a lack of Scriptural support I cannot believe it.