The writings, spiritual vision, and legacy of George MacDonald & Michael Phillips

The writings, spiritual vision, and legacy of George MacDonald & Michael Phillips

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The Legacy:
Who is George MacDonald?

The Future:
Who is Michael Phillips?

George MacDonald's Writings:
A Historical 19th Century Bibliography of His Published Works

George MacDonald’s Writings: “The New Classics”

Michael Phillips’ Writings: A 20th and 21st Century Bibliography of His Published Works

Leben: The MacDonald/Phillips Magazine
Availability and Ordering Information
“Dear Michael Phillips…”: Responses From Readers
“Dear George MacDonald…”: Responses From Readers
From the Heart of George MacDonald: A Selection of Quotations

George MacDonald’s Scotland

George MacDonald’s Faith in Historical Perspective
Leben - The MacDonald/Phillips Magazine

Leben - The MacDonald/Phillips Magazine >> The magazine dedicated to the legacy of George MacDonald and the spiritual vision of Michael Phillips.



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Statement of Purpose
A bold thinking other-worldly citizenship

        As can be said for the adherents of other world religions, Christianity is for many a system of belief. Though they view it as the only true faith, it is nevertheless for them a "religion."
        Such is the case for more Christians than recognize that fact. Because of its uniqueness and the dynamic nature of their church life, as well as what they consider the vibrancy of their personal experience, many of these never perceive to what an extent the mentality of a "religious system" infects the theological dogmatism accompanying this seeming reality. Even the most lively and apparently energetic Christianity is invisibly subject to the universal human propensity toward systematizing spiritual perspectives into doctrinal rigidity.


        Christianity, however, does not merely place us in uniquely personal relationship with God the Father and his Son-something no other religion offers or can produce. Christianity is not defined by its ideas or by various spiri-tual experiences. It is not comprised of study, service, evan-gelism, knowledge of Scripture, good deeds, ministry, or fellowship. Nor are its truths plumbed by regular practices and a continually renewed sense of worship, devotion, and prayer. The totality of the Christian faith cannot be understood even on the basis of the fact that God offers to live, by his Spirit, in our very hearts.
        Christianity may incorporate all these into it, of course. But its foundations lay elsewhere.
        The fundamental essence of the Christian faith reduces to how one thinks and behaves. How one lives. At root, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ involves a revolutionary way of ordering one's thoughts, attitudes, priorities, perspectives, actions, responses, and moment-by-moment affairs. Only in the daily practice of obedience and a dedicated and total commitment to selfless Christlikeness does it avoid the fatal tendency toward religiosity.
        Leben is committed to exploring this life of Christianity-the applied, practical, obedient life of which Jesus spoke and which he came to example to us.
        To be his disciple-and thus to call oneself a Christian (literally, "a follower of Christ")-is to become a citizen of a kingdom that is not of this world. Leben will seek to explore (through didactic, devotional, literary, and fictional means) various aspects of what comprises the nature of that unusual and non-worldly citizenship.

    "When a man more powerfully stirred than the rest steps forward in our age, a man who sets the price of being a Christian at only a fifth of the price the gospel puts on it, everyone cries, 'Look out for that man! Do not read what he writes-above all, not in solitude. Do not talk with him, least of all alone-he is a dangerous man."

        -Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), For Self Examination

        Because of its revolutionary nature, and the revolutionary worldwide impact of its Founder, the man who claimed to be God's Son and who rose from the dead to prove that claim, from its inception Christianity has been a bold and vigorous thinking man's religion. Many of the greatest minds in history have been Christians. Through the years, however, its precepts have too often drifted into dogma, with the result that many of its followers have forgotten how to think, and to think boldly, about their faith. This is one of the predictable and unfortunate results of religiosity in all forms-the loss of the capacity to think with courage and originality-and that even more grievous hallmark of the religious mind that goes with it, fear of ideas that fall outside the theologic borders established by traditional orthodoxies. This doctrinal orthodoxy is rooted more than we have allowed ourselves to recognize in occasionally erroneous traditions passed down by the elder-gurus of our faith.
        Leben is also, therefore, dedicated to the principle of "Bold Christianity." It will offer a forum to challenge readers toward the intellectually integritous foundations of the other-worldly citizenship to which our Master called us when he said, "Follow me." Gleaning from the example of our mentors and friends C.S. Lewis and George Mac-Donald, whose legacies we honor, we will not be afraid to ask hard questions and ex-plore thorny is-sues. We will do so even when they perhaps go against certain cherished dogmas that have come down through the years but which may not reflect the intended teaching of our Lord and Savior.
        Scripture will be our guide, but not always as interpreted by doctrine, tradition, or those who would prevent bold thinking. We seek truth, we seek practicality, we seek reality.
        Leben is produced in conjunction with the publishing ministry of Michael and Judy Phillips and will reflect the spiritual vision inherent in their writings. Neither they nor Leben are affiliated with or supported by any church or denomination.

        Unless otherwise noted, all articles are by Michael Phillips. .

George MacDonald Speaks on Practical Faith

Excerpts from Wisdom to Live By,
A new anthology of selections from
all the works of George MacDonald

GOD HIMSELF is man's birthplace. God is the self that makes the soul able to say, I too, am.

GOD'S LOVE is ever in front of his forgiveness. God's love is the prime mover, ever seeking to perfect his forgiveness.

DOES IT SEEM INCON-SISTENT with the character of God that in order that sin should become impossible he should allow sin to come into the world? Is it not possible that, in order that his creatures should choose the good and refuse the evil, in order that they might become such with their whole nature infinitely enlarged, as to turn from sin with a perfect repugnance of the will, he should allow them to fall? Why would he not, in order that, from being sweet childish children they should become noble, childlike men and women, let them try to walk alone?

GOD IS TENDER-just like the prodigal's father-only with this difference, that God has millions of prodigals, and never gets tired of going out to meet them and welcome them back, every one as if he were the only prodigal son He had ever had. There's a Father indeed!

THE ONLY POSSIBILITY of believing in a God seems to me in finding an idea of God large enough, grand enough, pure enough, lovely enough to be fit to believe in.

THE MOST MYSTERIOUS of all vital movements, a generation, a transition-how initiated, God only knows-is that of being reborn from above. The change is in the man himself; the birth is that of the will. It is the man's own highest action, therefore all God's.

THIS IS and has been the Father's work from the beginning-to bring us into the home of his heart. This is our destiny.

TO BECOME God's true sons and daughters are we created; it is the one end of our being.

WHERE A MAN would make a machine or a picture or a book, God makes the man that makes the book or the picture or the machine. Would God give us a drama? He makes a Shakespeare. Or would he construct a drama more immediately his own? He begins with the building of the stage itself, and that stage is a world-a universe of worlds.

FATHERHOOD is the last height of the human stair whence our understanding can see God afar off.

HOW INDIGNANT would many be at the mere suggestion that they are, after all, only idolaters, worshipping The Church instead of the Lord Christ.

TO HIM WHO OBEYS, and thus opens the doors of his heart to receive the eternal gift, God gives the Spirit of his Son, the Spirit of himself.

A FAITH can have no existence except in obedience-faith is obe-dience. To do what Jesus wishes is to put forth faith in him.

TO FULFILL THE VERY NECESSITIES of our being we must be God's children in brain and heart, in body and soul and spirit, in obedience and hope and gladness and love. Then only is our creation fulfilled-then only shall we be what we were made for, and what we are troubled on all sides that we may become.

IT IS HIS CHILDLIKENESS that makes him our God and Father. The perfection of his relation to us swallows up all our imperfections, all our defects, all our evils. For our childhood is born of his Fatherhood.

JESUS CHRIST has a right to our absolute obedience.

IT IS MY BELIEF that the main obstacle to the growth of the kingdom is first the unbelief of believers, and next the way they lay down the law. Before they have learned the rudiments of the truth themselves, they begin to lay the grievous burden of their dullness and their ill-conceived notions of holy things upon the mind and consciences of their neighbors, trying to keep them from growing any more than themselves.

HE WHO FOLLOWS the opportunities for helpfulness that are given him will find that his acquaintance widens and grows quickly. His heart will be full of concern for humanity, and his hands will eagerly help. Such care will be death to one's own cares, such help balm to one's own wounds.

OBEDIENCE IS THE ROAD TO ALL THINGS. It is the only way to grow able to trust him.

IT WOULD BE BETTER for a man to hold the most obnoxious untruths and opinions, if at the same time he lived  in the faith of the son of God, than for him to hold every formula of belief perfectly true, and yet know nothing of a daily life and walk with God.

FOOLISH IS THE MAN, and there are many such men, who would set the world right by waging war on the evils around him, while he neglects that integral part of the world where lies his business, his first business-namely, his own character and conduct.

The Creation in Christ

An excerpt from Unspoken Sermons, Third Series,
by George MacDonald. Edited by Michael Phillips.
All things were made by him, and without him
was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 
                        -John 1:3-4

        It seems to me that any thinking lover of the gospel, and especially one accustomed to the effort of communicating ideas with clarity, can hardly have failed to feel something of a dissatisfaction with the close of the third verse of the opening chapter of John's gospel as the Authorized Version presents it to English readers. It seems to me in its feebleness, unlike, and rhetorically unworthy of the rest.
        Perhaps it is no worse than redundant, and therefore unnecessary. But that is no satisfaction to the man who would find, if possible, perfection in the words of the beloved disciple who was nearer the Lord than any other. The phrase that was made seems, from its uselessness, weak even to foolishness after what precedes it: "All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made."
        My hope was great, therefore, when in reading the Greek I saw that the shifting of a period would rid me of the surplus words. If by such a change any precious result of meaning should follow, the change would not merely be justifiable-seeing that mere points of ink on ancient texts are of no authority with anyone accustomed to the vagaries of scribes, editors, and printers-but one for which to give thanks to God.
        Indeed, I found the change unfolded such a truth as to show the rhetoric itself in accordance with the highest thought of the apostle. I was so glad of the sudden new meaning that it added little to my satisfaction to discover the change actually supported by the best original manuscripts and versions. Furthermore, I learned that the passage had been a cause of much disputation in light of the two possible renditions. And the ground of argument on the side of the common reading of 1611 seemed to me worse than worthless.
The Creation in Christ        Let us then look at the passage as I think it ought to be translated. Then let us seek the meaning for the sake of which it was written. This meaning is by no means solely dependent for its revelation on this single passage. Indeed, its truth belongs to the very truth as it exists in Jesus. But if I am right in the interpretation which suggested itself the moment I saw the probable rhetorical relation of the words, then we find that truth magnificently expressed here by the apostle, and differently from anywhere else.
        I will now set down the passage recast into two sentences distinct from the above, with the separating period differently placed:
        "All things were made through him, and without him was made not one thing. That which was made in him was life, and the life was the light of men."
        Note the antithesis of the through and the in:
        "All things were made through him...That which was made in him..."
        In this grand assertion seems to me to lie, more than merely shadowed, the germ of creation and redemption-of all the divine in its relation to all the human.
        In attempting to set forth what I find in it, I write with no desire to provoke controversy, which I loathe, but with some hope of presenting to the minds of those capable of seeing it the glory of the truth of the Father and the Son, as spoken by this first of seers in the grand fashion of his insight. I am as indifferent to a reputation for orthodoxy as I despise the championship of novelty. To the untrue, the truth itself must seem unsound, for the light that is in them is darkness.
        I believe, then, that Jesus Christ is the eternal son of the eternal father. I believe that from the first beginnings of all things Jesus is the son, because God is the father. This statement is imperfect and unfit because it is an attempt of human thought to represent that which it cannot grasp, yet which it believes so strongly that it must try to utter it even in speech that cannot be right.
        I believe therefore that the Father is the greater, and that if the Father had not been, the Son could not have been.
        I will apply no logic to this thesis, nor would I even now state the above but for the sake of what is to follow. The true heart will remember the inadequacy of our speech, and our thought also when it turns to the things that lie near the unknown roots of our existence. In saying what I do, I only say what Paul implies when he speaks of the Lord giving up the kingdom to his father, that God may be all in all.
        I worship the Son as the human God, the divine, the only perfect Man. He derives his being and power from the Father, and is equal with him as a son is both the equal and at the same time the subject of his father. Yet he makes himself the equal of his father only in what is most precious in the Godhead, namely Love. This is indeed the essence of that statement of John the evangelist which I am now considering. It is a higher thing than the making of the worlds and the things in them, which making he did by the power of the Father not by a self-existent power in himself. For this reason, the apostle, to whom the Lord must have said things he did not say to the rest, or who was better able to receive what he said to them all-says, "All things were made" not by, but "through him."
        We must not wonder things away into nonentity, but try to present them to ourselves after what fashion we are able-even though these attempts will be but shadows of full heavenly truth. For our very beings and understandings and consciousnesses, though but shadows in regard to any perfection either of outline or operation, are yet shadows of his being, his understanding, his consciousness. He has cast those shadows. They are no more originally our own than his power of creation is ours.
        In our shadow-speech then, following with my shadow-understanding as best I can the words of the evangelist, I say:
        The Father, in bringing out of the unseen the things that are seen, made essential use of the Son. All that exists, therefore, was created through him. What may be the difference between the part in creation of the Father and the part of the Son, who can understand? Perhaps we may one day come to see into it a little. For I dare hope that, through our own willed sonship, we too shall come far nearer ourselves to creating. The word creation applied to the loftiest success of human genius, seems to me a mockery of a humanity which is in itself still in the process of creation.
        Let us read the text again.
        "All things were made through him, and without him was made not one thing. That which was made in him was life."
        Do you begin to see it? The power by which he created the worlds was given him by his father. But he had in himself a yet greater power than this. Something else was made, not through but in him. He brought something into being by himself, not by virtue of the father working through him. In this other thing he creates in his own grand way-self-generated from within his own being-as did the Father. And John tells us exactly what this other thing was.
        "That which was made in him was life."
        What does this mean? What is the life the apostle is speaking of? Many forms of life have come to being through the Son. But those are results, not forms of the life that was brought to existence in him. He could not have been employed by the Father in creating, except in virtue of the life that was in him.
        As to what the life of God is to himself, all we can only know is that we cannot know it. Even that, however, is not absolute ignorance. For no one can see that, from its very nature, he cannot understand a thing without therein approaching that thing in a genuine manner. As to what the life of God is in relation to us, we know that it is the causing life of everything that we call life-of everything that is. In knowing this, we know something of that life by the very forms of its force.
        But there are two great mysteries that lie absolutely beyond us. I presume that, in fact, the two actually make but one mystery. It is a mystery that must be a mystery to us for ever, not because God will not explain it, but because God himself could not make us understand it if he tried to explain.
        The one interminable mystery is first, how he can be self-existent, and next, how he can make other beings exist. Self-existence and creation no man will ever understand.
        Again, regarding the matter from the side of the creature-the cause of his being precedes that being. He can therefore have no knowledge of his own creation. Neither could he understand that which he can do nothing like. If we could make ourselves, we should understand our creation, but to do that we must be God. And this, of all ideas, seems to me the most dismal and hopeless-that I, with the self-dissatisfied and painfully limited consciousness I possess, could in any way have caused myself.
        Nevertheless, if I be a child of God, I must be like him, like him even in the matter of this creative energy by which we exist but which we cannot understand. There must be something in me that corresponds in its childish way to the eternal power in him.
        But I am forestalling.
        The question now is: What was that life, the thing made in the Son-made by him inside himself, not outside him-made not through but in him-the life that was his own, as God's is his own?
        It was, I answer, that act in him that corresponded in him, as the son, to the self-existence of his father.
        Now what is the deepest in God...his power?
        No, for power could not make him what we mean when we say God. As powerful as it might be, evil could, of course, never create one atom. But let us understand very plainly that a being whose essence was only power would be such a negation of the divine that no righteous worship could be offered him. It would be possible only to fear him. Such a being, even if he were righteous in judgment, yet could not be God. The God himself whom we love could not be righteous were he not something deeper and better still than we generally mean by the word. But alas, how little can language say without seeming to say something wrong!
        In one word, God is Love.
        Love is the deepest depth, the essence of his nature. Love is at the root of all his being. It is not merely that he could not be God if he had made no creatures to whom to be God. But love is the heart and hand of his creation. It is his right to create, and his power to create as well. The love that foresees creation is itself the power to create. Neither could he be righteous-that is, fair to his creatures-but that his love created them. His perfection is his love. All his divine rights rest upon his love.
        Ah, he is not the great monarch! The simplest peasant loving his cow is more divine than any monarch whose monarchy is his glory. If God would not punish sin, or if he did it for anything but love, he would not be the father of Jesus Christ, the God who works as Jesus works.
        What then, I ask again, is in Christ correspondent to the creative power of God? It must be something that comes also of love. And in the Son the love must express itself to that which already exists, namely God. Because of that eternal love which has no beginning, the Father must have the Son. God could not love, could not be love, without making things to love: Jesus has God to love. The love of the Son is responsive to the love of the Father.  ¨

THE CREATION IN CHRIST will continue in the next issue.

Why Reality Drifts Toward Dogma

A historical perspective as it concerns
the orthodox prophetic outlook

There are times in the history of the church when debate over a "specific" doctrinal or theological issue opens the door to more "general" principles and truths. The specific discussion prompts and stimulates larger issues to become clarified. The results of such new focus are unpredictable and take God's people in new directions. As a result, the Church is forever changed.
        Sometimes for the better. But not always.
         The Church is a dynamic, fluid, incomplete, growing, and extremely human entity, not a perfect one. Thinking Christians of all ages have looked back at the two thousand year history of the Church and said, "This was a positive development in our witness that furthered the cause of Christ..." while also admitting, "That was not such a good may have set our witness back a few generations, if not centuries." The crusades are the classic and oft quoted example of the latter.
        There is clearly much debate over which is which. Was the missionary fer-vor that accompa-nied  the 19th cen-tury colonialism of the west a posi-tive or a negative influence? Was the lasting impact of the charismatic movement of the 1960s and 1970s positive or nega-tive? With the advent of modern telecommunications as a tool for spreading the gospel, what has been the long-range impact of televangelism on the Church and how it is viewed by the world? And has the obsession with prophecy over the final three decades of the 20th century added to or detracted from an accurate awareness of how God works in human life and in human history?
        Obviously, it depends on whom you ask.
        The point is: The Church is constantly changing, adapting to shifts in culture, modifying its approach, rethinking its doctrines, widening its scope. In general this is a healthy tendency. The Church has to grow, and growth means change. Growth also means recognizing where we have had it wrong, and making adjustments-whether it be in doctrine, in theology, in response to the world, or in response to one another-so as to get it right.
        Change is part of growth.
        We have adjusted our approach to missions. Adjustments have come to the charismatic wings of Protestantism and Catholicism. Most would agree that the excesses of televangelism need some tempering.
        I have not seen, however, an inquiry of significant scope directed toward the veracity of our general prophetic outlook and what it indicates about our view of God and the Bible. I would say that our obsession with prophecy has detracted from an accurate awareness of how God works-shocking though that statement will be for many-creating a spiritual culture so immersed in an erroneous view of the future, singling our evangelical selves out as the only ones with the whole truth no less than the "elect" of Calvinism, such that we are thus less equipped to grasp God's higher purposes in our individual lives and in the Church as a whole.


        There is nothing so odious about admitting we've got something wrong. That's how growth occurs. The quickest way toward truth is to say, "I need more truth."
        When Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis upon Indulgences to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg in October of 1517, he was attempting to address two primary "specific" issues in the church-the system of indulgences, and the doctrine of justification by faith. But the debate sparked a revolution within the Church of far more sweeping scope that changed Christendom for-ever. Indeed, his actions opened the door to a dis-cussion of the very nature of how God relates himself to man. The specific discussion was of huge general import. By saying, "We have had it wrong on these two points," Luther led the Church into an explosive reformation of needed growth and change.
        I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ, as it was in 1517, is at just such a critical crossroads in these opening years of the third millennium since its Lord walked the earth. It is a crossroads when a revised general picture of God's work is required.
        A new overarching perspective of what God wants and is trying to accomplish on the earth through his people, and by what means, is required in our time. I believe God is anxiously waiting to illuminate this new perspective and bring the needed change to the Church that will accompany it. This refocusing period of adjustment may in time represent so significant a turning point in the development of the Church that Christians of the future will look back on this era of focus and debate as a "Second Reformation."
        One specific door which I believe may help open the way into this larger picture, this new focus of God's work, this wonderful new phase in the Church's effectiveness, will be a fresh debate about the second coming of Jesus Christ. I am speaking of a discussion energized by new ideas and interpretations-indeed, an altogether new paradigm by which we scripturally approach the subject of the parousia. And, once established, this new paradigm will give us fresh light to illuminate some of the Bible's high and important themes that cannot be seen any other way. Till now some of these high and important truths have remained unclear and unfocused by the obscuring fogs of the old paradigm-by a view of the second coming that may not be right at all.


        Now a monumentally important principle- grasped by few, probably admitted by fewer-is that to grow in truth requires recognition that we do not possess full truth and need more truth.
LOOKING BEYOND ONE’S OWN DOCTRINAL CULTURE        Put more simply: To grow requires the recognition that we can be wrong. It is the very unusual pastor or theologian who can make such an admission about long cherished doctrines. Most cannot.
        We are shortsighted. Steeped and immersed in the doctrines and traditions that surround us by our spiritual culture and environment, we make assumptions that are not necessarily accurate. The believers of Luther's day cannot all be written off as stupid, unenlightened, unspiritually responsive people. There were good, obedient, prayerful, Godly men and women alive then too, just as there have been in every era. And yet these good, obedient, prayerful, Godly men and women believed that God worked through the system of indulgences then prevalent in the Church. They were too immersed in the tradition and doctrine of the time to be able to see beyond it.
        That's an easy enough example for most of us to see. You and I are not culturally immersed in a spiritual environment where indulgences are the norm, so we can easily see beyond that particular doctrinal deficiency which bound the Church at a particular time in history. What is not so easy to see is that we are immersed in a spiritual culture that produces blind spots of its own. Surrounded by that culture, we accept the teachings and doctrines of our own spiritual teachers, priests, and pastors without asking if there is more truth to be had out beyond the borders of the accepted theology that we have been fed all our lives.
        Escaping the pitfalls of one's own doctrinal culture has been the Achilles heel of the Church since the apostolic age. We can't discern our own limitations any more than we can smell our own bad breath. Objective self-analysis has never been one of the Church's strong points.
        Are we really so very different than the people of Luther's day? We see the short-sightedness of their ideas about God's work. But we cannot see the shortsightedness of our own.
        That's why a fresh debate is needed, just as it was needed in 1517. We've got to look up and out and beyond the blind spots and doctrinal errors embedded and ingrained and produced by the spiritual culture of our own times. We are not so unique as we self-righteously like to think. We are faced with the same need as Christians of all eras. We are not immune to the same pitfalls.


        Some of you are probably squirming in your chairs. The especially theological among you will perhaps have begun to feel threatened by some of my words already. One of the remarkable and puzzling traits of the ordinary religious mind is its stubborn and argumentative inflexibility in the face of unfamiliar ideas. All my life I have found this tendency to be remarkable and bewildering. One would suppose that spiritual men and women would be more open to ideas than the average person of the world. But in fact, just the opposite is the case. Try as I might, I simply cannot understand this frustrating and, in my view, unChristlike phenomenon.
        We reject what goes against the familiar. The response that springs to mind when confronted with a new idea isn't, "Wow, what if it's true?" but, "It's unfamiliar, therefore I don't like it and reject it without looking into it further."
        Sadly, that's the kind of people we are. We dismiss the new because we have been so saturated with the traditions of our various orthodoxies. As spiritual men and women, we are conditioned to argue against in automatic knee-jerk fashion anything contrary to what we have been taught. Our spiritual leaders have schooled us in this response by their example. It is how they respond to ideas outside their scope of reference too. We have watched them so long that we think it's the right thing to do. It is absolutely foreign to the knee-jerk mentality to respond to new ideas with, " make a fascinating point...I had not considered that before...perhaps I have not seen this issue as clearly as I thought I had."
        When you have raised thorny questions or made probing suggestions about some controversial point to your pastor or Bible study leader, how often have you heard such words?
        How often has your pastor said, "You might be right, I might be wrong."
        On the other hand, how many times do you see touchy questions responded to with ready-made answers-push a button and out comes a pre-programmed response. Our teachers and leaders and pastors and priests are positively full of answers. One cannot help occasionally wondering if they ask enough questions.
        The dilemma before us really reduces to: What if the familiar doctrine is wrong? How ought we to respond? Should we respond with ready-made, push-button, knee jerk answers...or with openness to explore what might be God's deeper intent, mysteries hidden away in places that formula answers cannot penetrate? We mustn't forget the indulgences.


        The very suggestion of "new ideas" will no doubt have prompted some to put this magazine aside before now. Among them will be certain pastors, leaders, teachers, and priests who will warn their people, "Do not read that man's words." Others, however, may have long felt an undefined queasiness in their spiritual gut prompted by the inadequacy of the standard Lindsayian doctrine of the end times. These may be excited by new possibilities. Those pastors, leaders, teachers, and priests among this latter group will be those not satisfied with formula responses who will challenge their hearers with some important questions and principles seldom raised among their traditional thinking colleagues
        It is to this second group I write. There may not be many of you. In all times and in all ages the "accepted" doctrine, sanctioned, endorsed, and promoted by the theological hierarchy of the Church, is a doctrine from which people are afraid to swerve.
        Today the Church, being far from homogeneous, has many such hierarchies-Catholic, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, and others-each promoting its own accepted doctrines. But they are all alike in that the leaders of these hierarchies teach their people to fear inquiry by calling diverse doctrines "dangerous," and attaching the dreaded label "heresy" to the most far-reaching of them. In our time, one of the most scathing critiques that can be leveled by evangelicals against ideas they find threatening is to call them liberal. From the other side of the spectrum, no more damning charge can be fired than by calling an idea fundamentalist in nature.
        By a huge variety of subtle labels and tactics are believing men and women injected with fear toward any ideas other than what their own spiritual mentors deem appropriate. Most Church leaders, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and priests, therefore, do not encourage their listeners to think. To do so might undermine the dependence of the people on their own words of wisdom given out from week to week. Thus, teachings of doctrine and theology must never originate in the pew, they must only originate from the pulpit, whence springs all truth.
        The specifics vary greatly, but in certain ways we are not so very unlike that Church of 1517 before Martin Luther exploded it apart. We still look to our priesthood gurus to dispense doctrine for us, and we fear to think beyond the doctrinal boundaries they establish.
        Can you be one of the few capable of looking beyond those boundaries, beyond the old paradigm, beyond the cultural milieu of our own time?
        I do not intend, either now or in future issues, to tell you what I think you ought to believe concerning prophecy. I will instead challenge you to think, to employ your logic and common sense to get at the truth of the scriptures, in order to ask yourselves if the model so thoroughly popularized into the general culture with Left Behind, really holds water. Prophecy itself is not really the point anyway, but the larger issue of how one approaches truth.
        We are not going to try to come up with a different and equally flawed prophetic timetable. But we need to be asking some questions to determine whether perhaps the entire system needs an overhaul. It is not a new interpretation of Revelation we need, but a new approach to truth itself that employs new covenant principles rather than the Old Testament mentality that invisibly undergirds much of tradition-bound, old paradigm thinking.


        Those thinkers among you-both you who sit in the pew and you who occupy the pulpit-may be few. But you know who you are. You may not be many in number, but it is out of your courage to seek larger truth from God that the Second Reformation may well be born.
        It takes courage to start a revolution...usually the courage of one. Can you be that one? Can you summon the humility to look beyond the familiar of what you have always believed? Can you summon the courageous humility to seek truth from God rather than from what those steeped in the culture of traditional but possibly erroneous thinking say you are supposed to believe?
        Martin Luther began his exploration of the larger scope of God's work alone too. But fresh ideas that ring with truth-however unfamiliar they may be at first hearing-cannot be stopped. Luther opened the door in his time, and the groundswell grew until it was a flood.
        So too, you few humble courageous souls who determine to explore God's larger purposes may face criticism and condemnation just as he did. Yet from your ranks the groundswell of new truth may grow in our time, as it did in Luther's, as one shares that truth with another, here a courageous pastor willing to put his future on the line, there a stout hearted Bible student eager to probe the larger intent of the Scriptures, until...the dike breaks and new truth from God breaks upon the Church.
        So take heart, you who are still with me. God's Spirit is speaking. We must quiet our hearts and hear his Voice. The future of the Church may be at stake. We have to hear him aright. .

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