The Theology Of Distinctions
January 12, 2009
By Rev. Michael Bresciani
In America anyone who knows the biblical subject of eschatology (the last things) has been warning that all the signs of the last days are culminating in this generation. Who is listening and what does it mean besides a lot of trouble?
As America starts off in a new walk down secular liberalism's all new and shiny path many people who knew that this nation alone once stood out as the most uniquely different nation in history are concerned, afraid, and in some cases even panicky.
Morality started a high speed nose dive with Hollywood's help about forty years ago and today there doesn't seem to be any way to pull up out of the dive. Now all media, TV, news broadcasting, games, print publications the internet and of course academics are leading the way. Now with "The One" at the helm of government we can't expect much resistance to the onslaught of bad behavior emerging from realm of the lowest common denominator.
As some have pointed out, the product of 14,000 hours per child of secular education has produced a totally secular byproduct, a generation that may happily walk the nation into the most severe tailspin it has ever known. It is not surprising that recently one former lifelong teacher and educator wrote that sending our children to public schools in many areas of the nation is equivalent to criminal negligence.
The views and subsequent emails to my website written with genuine concern have increased about six times over in the past year. People want to know how they should approach the coming changes especially those who have faith in God. For both Catholics and Protestants I start with the simplest message, continue to have faith in God. After that I am compelled to remind them that our God is not just the God of the good times but he is the God of all time.
Anyone who has read the Bible's book of Daniel knows that God can save you out of the fire but he is also capable of saving us in the fire. Put simply that means that God doesn't always deliver us out of our troubles but he carries us through them safely. This is born out of a biblical theology of distinctions. Put simply, God knows his own even if they are immersed in a crowd of strangers and he is not hindered from leading them in spite of the turbulence raging around them.
The theology of "differences" is seen as far back as 4,000 years ago and is found in the book of Exodus. With a final plague about to drop on Egypt for their unwillingness to let the Hebrews go free, God announced that not one hair from their heads would be touched even though the Egyptians were about to undergo the loss of every firstborn child in the land. "But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel." (Ex 11:7)
Throughout Israel's history this principle has been applied even to the present day. The entire world can see that regardless of the fact that Israel is surrounded by enemies that outnumber them by about sixty to one, most all who are sworn to Israel's destruction, they carry on undaunted. Their reserve and composure is evidenced as in the recent attacks against Hamas. After being pounded with over 4,000 rockets since 2005 they have finally struck back. This gives new meaning to the word 'patience.' It is also the assurance that there is a higher power involved in the rebirth and the preservation of the State of Israel. That's distinction.
The psalmist not only defined the theology but has provided a single verse of writ that has comforted, sustained and guided countless people over the ages. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." (Psalm 91:7)
The theology was refined by the psalmist to show that God was able to specify what kind of difference he would make. Whether it was war, evil or famine he was able to sustain his own in the worst of times. "They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied." (Psalm 37:19) These verses of scripture are the hallmark of God's promise to make a distinction between his people and the rest of the world.
The natural inclination is to reject the idea that God would make such distinctions. It is the refusal to accept this theology that gives rise to the false idea of the universal brotherhood of man and the universal fatherhood of God. It is the erroneous theology that says you need not be 'born again;' you only need to be born.
This is also what gives rise to the idea of total religious diversity where God is a nebulous all loving sort of dopey God who allows everyone to eclectically choose any old way they imagine to arrive at salvation. It is the ancient notion of universalism that gives birth to the modern idea of ultra religious tolerance and PC bent religion where anyone's perception of God is as good as another's.
Not only could God be charged with monumental inefficiency but one could say he was a bit foolish to send his only begotten Son to die for the sins of the world when any old religious notion could get you a ticket into the kingdom. It is man's pride that assures us that our own idea of him is as good as the revelation he gave of himself. It is what Evangelist Ray Comfort calls obedience and worship to the god of our own imagination rather than the God who actually created us.
When God makes distinctions between his people and others it is a way of saying they are separated from others. The religious term for that is 'sanctified' and it is one of the peculiarities of God that has long been established in scripture. "But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself" (Ps 4:3)
Another kind of separation has been going on in this generation that also figuratively separates men not for God, but from Him.
After landing on the moon and throwing all their faith on the musings of an obscure scientist who galloped across the Galapagos returning with a whole new idea about our origins, now men have one eye on the stars and the other on the chimps and baboons they think they descended from. This is a separation, a distinction; some would say even a "sanctification" that leads men not toward but away from God.
God does and always has made very specific distinctions between the saved and the lost, the wicked and the holy and the protected and the judged.
God not only makes distinctions about his people but he is also very clear and distinct about how salvation is to come to the world he created. Jesus summed it up in a single sentence, "...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)