I think if Dutch theologian Hendrik Berkhof were still alive, he might say that AMC’s big hit, Breaking Bad, just may be the perfect parable on the powers. His little book, ,Christ and the Powers, was translated into English by John Howard Yoder and serves as a foundational work for Yoder’s theology as well as the unique work of Walter Wink. I think it would be fascinating to reflect on this drama with the three of these great thinkers – now all dead (which, considering the tone of the show – seems kind of fitting).
Berkhof was one of the first (maybe the first?) to take a critical look at just what the Apostle Paul was talking about in the New Testament when he referred to “powers, principalities, and authorities.” Essentially, he goes on to suggest, they are the unseen forces that are at work in our world. This particular realm of discussion always makes me think of this scene from School of Rock – you may not understand the language of Powers – but everyone knows who “The Man” is:
I’ve never seen a more vivid commentary on the Powers than in the storyline of Breaking Bad. Hollywood has long wrestled with the dark realities and crises of sin through the genre of horror (a personal favorite!). Coming to terms with the reality of sin through the over-the-top nature of the the likes of Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers is less threatening to our personal faith than what we encounter through Breaking Bad. It just doesn’t seem that threatening to talk about what we would do if a mass murderer ever broke into our homes or dreams.
Maybe it began with the Saw movies – or maybe it was Se7en - but somewhere along the line the audience wasn’t allowed to simply watch idly by as a terrible tale unfolds and project ourselves into impossible scenarios. Instead, these new movies invite us into more realistic moral quandaries – what do we do when our only choices are between two evils? To what extent are we willing to participate in the fallen state in order to maintain our self-preservation? Just how entangled are we in the sinful work of the Powers?
In the beginning, of Breaking Bad we meet Walter White – an under-achieving chemistry genius who teaches high school science. Providing the plot lines to the program, Walter faces the Powers up close and personal through disease (cancer) which plunges him to face other realities that we all face: economic Powers, the Power of health care, the illegal drug world, and on and on the story goes delving more and more deeply into the interconnected world of the Powers.
What begins as a somewhat light-hearted traipse to the dark side of the law, continues to grow darker with each episode. It’s as if we the viewer are invited to witness the degree to which Walter becomes entrapped by the Powers in order to reflect upon our own life and the degree that the Powers have entangled us. As the story develops, the audience is forced to wrestle with the reality that the chief “hero” of the story, is slowly becoming baptized by the Powers and turning into the nemesis. This couldn’t resonate more directly with Berkhof’s teaching on the Powers: created as good, but fallen with all of creation and now ruling instead of serving.
This Father’s Day is little bit more special to me than others. It will be the last Father’s Day where I don’t have a child of my own. I am excited to bring my little companion into this world, and also a little bit scared. I was the youngest child in my family, so I had no baby brothers or sisters to look after, my sister has no kids yet so I have no baby nieces or nephews, no baby cousins. I’m new to this whole “baby” thing (though, Lisa has promised to teach me everything I need to know).
There are a bunch of things I’m excited to do with my first born. I am excited to watch The Brave Little Toaster with them (my favorite). I’m excited to introduce them to the world of Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, and MegaMan. I’m excited to read bedtime stories to my child and watch their imagination race. I’m excited to teach my child the truth of the Gospel, and I won’t be scared that secular universities will steal their soul.
I’m excited to send my kid to camp for the first time, and see him fall in love with it. I’m excited to talk to them and share ideas and know what they will be passionate about. I can’t wait to know my child.
“Since no sin is actually forgiven until one believes in Christ, this would include the sin of unbelief. As with all other sins, Christ’s payment alone for sin does not save a person until he puts saving faith in Christ. Only when the Spirit regenerates a heart which then gives rise to that person repenting and believing in Christ – only then is that person saved. So, sin is actually, existentially, personally forgiven when one trusts in Christ. That’s true of all sin, including the sin of unbelief.
What do you do with the double payment defense by five point Calvinists? Yes, there is indeed a double payment – simply because the payment made by Christ was not accepted by the non-elect, and hence they retain their own responsibility and obligation to pay for their own sin.
But this “double payment problem” (as it were) is also true for the limited atonement position. See if this makes sense: an elect person is born into this world with two things simultaneously true of him: 1) Christ has died for his sin (remember, he’s elect, so all would agree on this), and 2) he is obligated before God to pay the penalty for his own sin, and hence he stands under the condemnation and wrath of God (e.g., Rom 5:16, 18; Eph 2:3). So, this elect person (prior to his being saved) is obligated to pay for the very sin which was paid for by Christ – double payment! The only reason why this elect person doesn’t actually make his own payment for his sin is because, in God’s grace, God has chosen him to become a recipient of the benefits of Christ’s death paying for his sin, which he receives (personally and existentially) at the point that he believes.”
-From Dr. Bruce Ware (Four-Point Calvinist)
I disagree with that position. Limited Atonement, or perhaps “Definite Atonement” really does line up with scripture and make much sense in my opinion. In short, it says that Christ definitely accomplishes what he sets out to accomplish. He definitely saves those who are his.
There is a sense in which we are in Christ before we are Christians. That is election. Look at John 6:37.
Also in Romans 8, specifically verses 23-26, we see that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We see also that the reason that God could bear with us for a time and not send instant judgment was his divine forebearance. He was waiting for the time of Christ, which proves him to be two things. Just – in that the reconciles to us only through the death of Christ. In other words, our sins were paid for. And he is also the Justifier. He is the one who is the judge, requiring the justice, and he is the one who is cleaning us up, and applying Christ’s righteousness to us in order to save us and justify us.
It is clear that Christ does not do this for everyone, or else everyone would be justified and everyone would be saved. Because salvation is not universal, and we do agree on that, the atonement cannot be universal. Finally, verse 26 says that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ Jesus. Not of everyone.
Also, in John chapter 10, Jesus is talking about how his sheep know him and hear his voice. They don’t hear his voice and become sheep, they are sheep, and recognize their shepherd. Not everyone is a sheep. In verse 11 Christ describes himself as the good shepherd who lays his life down for his sheep.
Finally, lets look at the Trinity. God the Father elects. He is the one that has chosen who will be saved from the beginning of time. This is clear in John 6:37-39. The Holy Spirit sanctifies, guards, produces fruit, intercedes for us, etc. in genuine believers. Not everyone in the world has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Son is killed for the forgiveness of sins. Now, if the election of the Father is not universal, and the work of the Spirit is not universal, why would the atonement of the Son be universal? That would place the Trinity at odds with itself!
I think Bruce Ware is a brilliant guy, but I think he’s just wrong about this. There is much joy to be found in understanding this doctrine too. Because basically it means a cross that will definitely save those for whom it was intended. It doesn’t mean, as Arminians and 4-pointers would say, that it simply makes salvation possible.
These last couple of months have seen to go by so fast. It seems like just yesterday I was living in Portsmouth as a full-time college student. Fast forward a couple of months and now I am engaged to a beautiful young woman, whom I love very dearly. Although the first few months were hard because I saw many friends I’ve had since Freshman year of college stop texting and calling me to hang out. It seemed almost as if they no longer wanted to hangout with someone who was in a serious relationship. But, I was okay with that because I know that she’s the woman I’m going to spend the rest of my life with and have beautiful little kiddies with one day.
A few more months go by and I’ve become a college graduate and moved back home to Columbus. I have had a couple of interviews with one of the major pharmaceutical companies in the mid-west that offered great pay and great benefits. After I get my 3rd interview, it turns out that they decide to hire someone with more experience than I and I’m back to square one. I have several interviews and no job. I look into a few temp agencies and they are all real shady and never gave me a job that lasted longer than one day. So here I am, in late July, 3 months out of college with no job, and 3 months away from being married. People keep telling me to get a job in fast food but I know that’s not going to pay the bills and it’s not where God wants me.
Finally, I get a job working for Verizon doing over the phone tech support. Hours suck but the pay is decent. After 7 weeks of training, I get onto the “floor” and I absolutely hate it. I loathe this job with every fiber of my being. But I’m getting married in a couple of months and can’t just up and quit the only steady job I’ve ever had, so I bite my tongue and keep going to work.
On October 20th, 2012 I married the girl I waited my entire life for, a woman who I was beginning to think didn’t exist. It was the happiest day of my life. Although, it did sting quite a bit that a lot of people who I dearly love, look up to, and consider pretty big mentors in my faith did not attend for various reasons. None the less, nothing could take away from the joy of that day.
The first couple of weeks and months were hard for both myself and Lisa. My hours at work kept getting cut beyond my control. It was bitter-sweet because while I hated my job, it did pay the bills as I was the only one working full-time at that time. On one of the days I got sent home early from work, I basically broke down to Lisa and told her how much I hated my job and how I get physically sick whenever I even think about work. Lisa knew I didn’t like my job but I’m not sure if she really knew how much I hated it. To many people’s dismay, I decided to quit my job. Let me tell you, quitting your job when you’re the only one working consistently is a pretty stressful thing. I’m certain that it was even more stressful for Lisa.
Eventually, Lisa got a job at a high-end fashion store (where she is quickly moving up the ladder). It took me a little longer to find work. Again, I had several interviews and looked into several temp agencies but nothing came to fruition. I had an interview with Ricoh USA for a position at BMW Financial Services. I felt great about the interview and really loved everything about the company. A couple of weeks went by and I did not hear anything back from Ricoh and I started working a seasonal job at Macy’s in the same mall Lisa worked in. After my first day, I got a call from Ricoh, they offered me a job in a different department (higher pay to boot!). I immediately accepted the position and anxiously waited to tell Lisa the good news when she got off from work.
Fast forward two months and here I sit today, at work, writing this blog. I really am loving my job. I have great bosses and great co-workers. I get paid well and have great benefits. I have recently found out that my company will pay for me to finish my Bachelors and my Masters (in what, I’m not sure of).
It has been a whirlwind couple of months here in the Linley household, but I am certain that I am where God wants me, and I am grateful that he has provided myself a job where I can support my wife and future family with to the best of my abilities.
Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Here’s a little list of albums that have gotten over looked and missed in 2012.
10) “Developer” – Social Studies
9) “Snaxxx” - Mike Mictlan
8) “Sexy But Not Happy” - Museum Mouth
7) “The Sister” - Marissa Nadler
6) “I’m Not Alone” -Flashlights
5) “Whatever Brains” - Whatever Brains
4) “Dark Shores” - Strand of Oaks
3) “Live at the All Hands House” - Woodsy Pride
2) “Scorpion” - Will Johnson
1) “Shake My Head” -Spider Bags