Monday, December 22, 2008

Harold Best on "Satan and His Double Lie"

I sometimes fancy myself a deep thinker, then I run into someone like Harold Best. It's like thinking the ocean is deep while looking at the ocean floor on the continental shelf, then discovering what deep really looks like. I'm slowly working my way through Best's book "Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts" ... I say slowly because I can only wrap my brain around a couple of pages at a time. It's extraoridinarily deep stuff. A couple of days ago I read the following in the chapter titled Worship and Witness. It's under the heading: Satan and His Double Lie. It's the second of three issues relating to what Best calls the thinning out of the gospel. You see, with Best it's layer upon layer upon layer, and to understand some of the things he says, you have to read several other things, each of which is intertwined with several other things ... that's why it takes me so long. I'll not go into the other issues. This one just hit me where I could understand it and I thought it needed to be shared. There are at least three regular readers of my blog who will likely resonate with it.

The second issue relates to the work of Satan. We all know too well that he is incapable of telling the truth. This is eternally impossible. He can use truth upside down and is enormously skilled in making wrong appear to be right and right, wrong. Whatever he does is a lie and whatever he says is a lie, from beginning to end. But when it comes to his dealing with the church and the world, I believe he can lie in two opposing directions at once. Here is what he, coming as an angel of light, may say to the church: "The average human being is fairly slow, culturally encrusted. People like things that are palatable and light. So be palatable and light. And for goodness' sake, don't go into the primitive stuff -- the blood of Christ or the realities of lostness throughout eternity." Here's what he says to the unconverted: "You're too smart for the gospel. Look at how so many of its trappings are second-rate knockoffs of the real stuff you can find around you in the theater, in deeply thought-through books, in higher education. Notice how much more of your mind is demanded even in your daily work than at church. You're ahead the way you are."

So between those two lies he goes about his business. The church buys into the simple-minded, smoothed-over approach; the world continues its assumption that there is, after all, a certain thinness to Christianity. In the middle of this gulf there stands the Savior, asking both the church and the world for entrance and holding out only one truth to each. Nearby is the Holy Spirit in his tenderness, on a holding pattern, with nowhere to alight, while we parade our artificial paracletes: methods, style, surveys, misinformed sensitivity and soft talk.

Harold Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003), pp. 89-90.

That's more than enough to think about for now.


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