For the Intersection of the Everyday and the Sacred

Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Science and Religion Friday: Origins of the Conflict model

Origins of the Conflict Model

Well I’m beginning this series by exploring the validity, or rather lack thereof, of the so-called conflict model. The conflict model of the relationship between science and religion has its origins in the late 19th century. During that time two books were put out. One, by John William Draper, was initially very popular, but it was primarily focused on a particular attitude of, as he saw it, Roman Catholic opposition to scientific advancement, and did not cite other sources for support. The other, which was initially very unpopular, was by Andrew Dickson White, the first president of Cornell University, likely had more lasting influence.

White’s position was that religion, though primarily Christianity, could only stifle religion. The book was entitled History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, and was published in 1896. He cited numerous sources and this helped to give his position credibility. Throughout his later life he seemed to make this a priority, often giving speeches in support of religionless academic inquiry, often referring to Cornell as a “haven” away from such limitations.

Even though his book has had lasting influence, most modern historians of science do not take his position, nor the arguments made, seriously. In other words, those who are trained in this field do not believe there is, or ever really was, a conflict between science and religion

This conflict view became even more popularized following the infamous “Scopes Monkey Trial” where a teacher intentionally violated a ban on teaching Darwinian evolution to force a trial. Through the course of the trial the fundamentalist position of anti-evolution was portrayed as more and more ridiculous, but I’ll talk about that incident in detail later. Despite this, the question of religious interference was not actually considered serious by most Americans. It was the dramatic portrayal of the events, however, in Inherit the Wind that solidified this moment in some American consciousness.

It should also be noted that, at the turn of the 20th century, and well in to the middle part of the 20th century, there was a philosophical movement opposed to religion generally, not only on scientific grounds. This was known as logical positivism. Logical Positivism certainly produced a lot of interesting philosophy, but they believed that problems in the world could be solved if the correct language to address them was discovered. I’ll also say more about this later, but the positivists failed in the primary objective, and also failed to demonstrate the reasons why religion should be excluded from any conversation, in a rather famous self-critique that I will also reference later.

The Logical Positivist position has, unfortunately, experienced something of a revival among the highly vocal, and somewhat rude, group known as “the new atheists.” While their arguments are certainly not new, the type of combative, proselytizing, and arrogant attitude that most of their followers have is (it should be noted that the name “new atheists” was given to them in an article in slate by another atheist who sought to distance himself from what he recognized as a different movement. It was not intended to be a derogatory term put on them by Christians, despite what is sometimes given in forums). Unfortunately some scientific heavy weights are included in this group (most notably Richard Dawkins, pictured left). While they may be (or have been) good scientists, they are terrible philosophers and none of them seem to care much about the history of science or the philosophy science. Even though they would like to dismiss both of them, in a later post I’ll demonstrate why both the history of science and philosophy of science are not only valid, but quite useful.

In summary, the conflict model has had a long history that has managed to embed itself in many people’s cultural unconsciousness. Unfortunately, it is a highly flawed model that no serious academic of the subject takes seriously. Next week I’ll begin dismantling the conflict model in more detail by looking at the major historical episodes upon which it tends to focus, beginning with the Galileo Affair.

Question: Do you think the Conflict Model is Valid? Why or Why not? If you don’t, have you encountered it in your daily interaction?

Church History Minute: William Carey

Who was he? He’s known as the founder of the Modern Missions Movement (the first serious effort for Protestants to send missionaries outside the standard area of Christendom).

Carey was a rather unassuming Baptist preacher in Britain during a time of extreme hyper-Calvinism, of the sort that thought evangelism was unnecessary. Carey, though, was overwhelmed with the lostness of those who had never heard the gospel. When he was asked to preach at the annual meeting of Baptists he preached what is called his “deathless sermon” from Isaiah 54:2-3 in May 1792. It had two points 1) Expect Great Things from God 2) Attempt Great Things for God. After a final plea to the other members, the Baptist Missionary Society was formed and Carey was selected as one of its first missionaries.

After convincing his, rather reluctant, wife to join him they set sail for India. Unfortunately his wife lost her mind when some of her children died there and spent the rest of her days in an asylum. Also Carey worked for several years before his first convert. His efforts did not prove successful until he teamed up with two partners and formed a thriving mission in Serampore.

Where might I have heard of him? In many discussions of missions, especially the history of Baptist missions.

Fun Fact: Prior to leaving for India, Carey, who was a preacher and a cobbler, also was a teacher. He taught Geography using a globe he constructed from extra scraps of leather lying around his cobbler shop. He would often become over whelmed and need to stop Geography lessons when talking about the “Pagan” nations.

Why should I care about Carey? Well Carey Pioneered the system of missions dominant in the modern era. It can be summed up through the acronym STAMP, emphasizing the five things he felt were necessary for effective mission work. Schools for children to teach literacy, but also other educational enterprises (up to and including colleges and seminaries). Translation of the bible into native dialects (something Carey had a knack for). Agricultural methods should be shared if they could improve crop yield. Medical aid should be provided. And finally Preaching should be a regular fixture. It is important to note now that many missions organizations have begun to deemphasize one or more of these prongs, despite the wild success they have had. In particular, when the IMB of the Southern Baptist Convention pulled out of schools it was cause for significant alarm among many missionaries. They have, recently, begun to slowly ease back into schools abroad.

Difficult Passages: Jephthah’s Faithless Vow

Last Week, I talked about an episode at the end of Judges. This week I’m going right into the middle of it. Someone from Facebook suggested I look at Jephthah. This passage, along with last week’s and a few others I’m going to attempt to tackle, was first brought to my attention as a problematic passage through the book, by Phyllis Trible, Texts of Terror. There are a few things you should know about that book before you go out and buy it. 1) She is incredibly detailed ad technical author. 2) She is a feminist theologian, which puts her theologically left of center. 3) Despite being a feminist theologian she does not seem ready to simply discredit or neglect the biblical text. In fact, she seems to take it very seriously and refuses to simply state it is “hopelessly misogynistic” as some of the more radical feminist theologians do. In the book, then, she reads the stories of four women who have somehow been mistreated in the text, and examines the story from their perspective. The result is that the passages seem very troubling and tragic. Rather than offer an easy solution to the texts, she simply leaves it there, having told the woman’s story. In the vein of the numerous responses to that book, I am attempting to broaden the perspective and demonstrate that the texts are, while still tragic, at least are not out of step with the rest of Scripture, and in particular the gospels.

Today’s Passage

Today’s passage is the episode involving Jephthah and his unnamed daughter. It can be found in Judges 11. Here’s the summary. Jephthah has been appointed judge over Israel, despite being rejected by his own family earlier. Although he is reluctant, as many judges were, he accepts the post and, following negotiations that breakdown, heads into battle. Prior to any action taking places, the text clearly states that the “Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah.” In the Old Testament, the Spirit of the LORD would only come upon one person (at Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes upon the entire Church). Particularly in the book of Judges, this was an indication that whatever task the judge was about to do would be successful. So Jephthah already had victory.

It is at this point that Jephthah makes a faithless vow. He does not seem to believe God will let him win until he makes a foolish and rash vow to sacrifice whatever comes “out the door” to greet him upon his return. It seems the indication was that he would be killing some person, which is a clear violation of the law. Although vows were intended to be kept, only vows that the LORD would honor would fall into this category, not such rash and criminal vows.

So, Jephthah wins the battle and his daughter comes out to congratulate him. For some reason, Jephthah feels he is bound by his vow and so sacrifices her. In light of what I said last week, that the judges are not to be held as models to emulate, we might be tempted to interpret this passage the same way. However, we have an additional hiccup. Jephthah is mentioned again in the New Testament. Specifically, he is mentioned in Hebrews 11 in the section that is known as the “faith hall of fame” by many. So how is it that a faithless man is counted in this cloud of witnesses when Hebrews is talking about keeping the faith? Is his sacrifice somehow good? Can we trust such a God who would condone, or even honor this behavior?

How I’d suggest looking at it

Well, I’ve already said something about the passage in itself as far as the character of Jephthah. We do need to look at what it means for him to be included in Hebrews 11. Does his inclusion there say that his actions were therefore correct? Well, let’s look at who is included in Hebrews 11. The characters mentioned there are by no means of sterling character. They all did something great for the Lord, but they weren’t perfect, and often made large mistakes. And yet, they are part of the people of God, the great cloud of witnesses, and are examples of faith, even if we don’t emulate them in every way. Not to single Jephthah out, because this could be said about anyone, but he is fallen and flawed to the core. His vow was a faithless vow. It seems as though the writer of Hebrews might be indicating that even someone like that is included as an example of faith. Why? Because ultimately faith is not about you, it’s about God. People are faithful, not at least all the time. We are fickle and easily prone to emotional shifts. Yet God is faithful. Maybe it’s not as important that you are faithful to God, but that God is faithful to you. Maybe faith is really about mercy and God’s grace. Maybe Jephthah did make a mistake, but God used him anyway, in the midst of his error. If God could do that, maybe he can use you too. It’s not about your faith, but God’s faithfulness.

Science and Religion Friday: An Introduction

Ok so this will be the last of the long running series I am introducing. I think this will give a nice structure to the blog. I’ll have a regular standing series on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, leaving Tuesday and Thursday (and weekends) open for other more occasional posts. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this going.

Where the idea for this came from

Well this involves two things. First, my own area of study is largely within the realm of science and religion. Particularly I am concerned with physics as it is interpreted philosophically and what that can say to theology (and vice versa). So it makes sense for me to feature a section of this research here, since that is, after all, what I’m focusing on.

Second, I chose Friday specifically to parallel the “Science Friday” segment from NPR’s talk of the nation. When I was in Divinity School, I got in the habit of listening to NPR when I drove to and from work and school. This was probably more motivated by the fact that they played fewer commercials than anyone, but I’m sure part of me wanted to be informed and didn’t want to pay for a Newspaper. Now, I doubt I’ll be interviewing anyone exciting related to this, but I always liked that segment and so Friday, to me at least, seemed like a good day to place it.

What you can expect

Well, there are a few things I would like to commit to doing.

1) I will attempt to avoid technical jargon and complex equations, though if I use them I will always try to explain them (and if I don’t call me out on it in the comments).

2) I am not a true scientist in that I have never done experimental research and never been on the forefront of theoretical research. I have been trained as a philosopher and a theologian. For that reason, I will primarily be examining science from the perspective of a philosopher of science and not as a scientist. (This will likely ensure the technical stuff is kept to a minimum). I may need to say a word about philosophy of science in a later post to defend its legitimacy.

3) I do not believe there is any genuine conflict between science and Christianity. I am unapologetically Christian (and if you’ve been reading a while you should know that), and I believe that all truth is God’s truth. If there is an apparent conflict, either someone has misinterpreted Christianity, misinterpreted scientific data, or is not doing science properly.

4) I have focused more on physics than on biology in my study. This blog will reflect that. I will likely not spend much time on biology, controversial as it is.

With that said, next week, when the series begins in earnest, I will begin by starting to look at the supposed history of conflict between science and religion (and in particular Christianity) assessing how valid such a point of view really is. After I do that, which may take a few posts, I’m going to dive right into where physics is today and how its claims might impact theology (or vice versa).

Church History Minute: First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea

Early Icon of the First Council of Nicaea

What was it? The First Ecumenical (all the churches) Council, convened by many Bishops at the Request of Constantine, the newly Christianized emperor, in 325. It dealt with the problem of Arius, who had been condemned by local councils, and Arianism. Arianism (not to be confused with its homonym Aryanism, a racist position) is the belief that Christ was not equal with God, and instead was his first Creation. Thus he was near God, but not on the same level of God. This was rejected in favor of a Christology that saw God as the same as Father and Son who were “co-eternal.” Thus the Son was not “begotten” in time, but “eternally begotten of the Father” meaning the “begotten-ness” is the characteristic of their relationship, not a temporal event.

Who was involved? Between 300-400 Bishops attended, together with the priests they brought with them, some counts exceed 1200. Although many important people were there, probably the most influential was Athanasius.

Where might I have heard of it? Pop culture, especially pseudo-historical fiction such as Dan Brown, likes to mention it, since it was the first council, and claim it said odd things. In fact it said little about the Trinity, nothing about the canon of Scripture, and nothing about the role of the Roman Emperor.

Fun Fact: It also established the dating of Resurrection Sunday, relative as it is now to the Jewish lunar calendar.

Why it was important? Well it was the first council, which makes it pretty important in that it was a cooperative effort. Essentially, it formally acknowledged what Christianity was going to be. The Nicaean/Arian controversy would dominate the early church for decades, also establishing the agenda for other important historical moves. Also, it recognized that in Jesus, God himself came to meet us, and did not send a proxy. Thus Jesus is rightly praised and we are rightly humbled by his action. It also gave us the Nicene Creed, which many churches recite from time to time.

How’d I do? Any topics you’d like to see compressed down? Longer discussion allowed in the comment

New Series Starting tomorrow: Church History Minute

At the suggestion of my wife, tomorrow I’m beginning a new series. I’m calling it the Church History Minute. Every Wednesday I will try to give a bit sized chunk of Church History. At least at the beginning, rather than just give a random fact, my hope is to give you a significant event or person in the history of the Church. Then I will give a brief description of it. State why you should care about it now, and if space allows of its appropriate, give a random fun fact not as widely known. I hope to do all of this in under 500 words (Way under if I can manage). Hopefully I’ll at least get close most of the time. Again these aren’t detailed analyses, but short bite sized history-in-a-nutshell type of things. The idea is that you get a better picture of where the Church has come from, without feeling like you need an advanced degree to do it.

Admittedly, coming from a baptist background, baptists may occasionally feature more prominently than others, but I will try to resist that urge. So, if you’re interested, come back tomorrow, and every Wednesday, for it. First up, not holding anything back, the First Council of Nicaea.

Difficult Passages: The Levite’s Concubine

At the suggestion of a few people, today I’m beginning a long running series. Every Monday I’m going to try to tackle a different difficult passage of the bible. If you have come across a difficult passage in the bible and didn’t know how to handle it, maybe we can tackle it together (leave it in the comments).

The Passage and Problem

So, today’s passage is on the episode in Judges 19.

If you haven’t read it (and can’t click the link above) here’s the summary w/ some brief commentary: A Levite has a concubine, definitely not married but sleeping together, who runs away. Clearly something’s amiss in the relationship. So the Levite goes after her, finding her with her family. Rather than letting the woman have a say, the Levite and the father bargain over what seems to be a fair price and she is forced to go with him. On their way, they stop in a town in the midst of the tribe of Benjamin’s territory and intend to stay in the town square. One person in the town knows most of the citizens are up to no good and offers them shelter. The Levite accepts, but that night, the townspeople are having none of this kindness. In an episode clearly reminiscent of Sodom, the townsfolk show up at the door and demand to rape the visiting Levite, suggesting they’ll break down the door if he’s not let out. While the host is attempting to reason with them (unfortunately in very similar terms to Lot’s bargaining), the Levite, without saying anything puts the concubine outside with the men.

The men, as is expected by this point in the story, rape the woman all night before letting her go and leaving. Exhausted and violated she collapses on the doorstep of the house. In the morning the Levite, seemingly annoyed, tells her to get up so they can go. She doesn’t respond. It’s unclear whether she is unconscious or dead at this point, but the Levite throws her on his donkey, takes her home and then he cuts her into pieces, mutilating her body (and possibly killing her in the process).

In the following chapter, it’s revealed that this causes the 11 tribes of Israel that are not Benjamin come together to nearly annihilate the tribe of Benjamin. Apparently they don’t leave the women or children alone since once the war is finished, there some concern that the tribe of Benjamin will completely die out, and soon. The solution is for them to kidnap a group of women in order to repopulate the tribe. The result is that the victimization of one woman results in others being victimized. To make matters worse, it seems the “judge” of this particular narrative is meant to be the Levite. What in the world is going on?

How I’d suggest looking at the passage

Let me be upfront about one thing in this series. The main guiding principle I have for dealing with most difficult passages resolves about 90% of the problems up front. Here’s the principle that I’ve learned from my hermeneutics instructor: There is one hero in the bible, and it is God. No one else is hero or a model to be perfectly imitated. Everyone else makes mistakes and shouldn’t be considered the hero. Instead, they are fallen characters in God’s story.

This passage is clearly no exception. No one here seems to be very moral, least of all the Levite. Understand that, particularly in this part of judges, that’s kind of the point. Judges opens after the conquests of Joshua when nearly all the land was taken. The problem was that the people failed to take all of the land. They had, in effect, already rejected the direct rule of God and, it seemed, needed a human intermediary to serve as king. The book of Judges, in part, tries to help the reader see why the king was necessary. This was the period without a king (a point that judges brings up again and again). In the absence of a human king, people sinned freely. The immediate result was that God sent a group to come punish the people (such as the Philistines).

The people would cry out for help for their immediate needs and God would send a deliverer, the judge, who would temporarily rule over the people. This was the immediate effect of the people’s rejection of God as king and the lack of an immediate human king. Long term, however, Israel began a downward spiral as things got worse and worse. This is reflected in the series of the judges. The cycle of rebellion, punishment, cry for help, God raising up a judge, redemption and then rebellion again takes place throughout judges. However, it also becomes a spiral. The first judges are downright admirable. The final judges less so. Samson, who appears not too long before this, isn’t just a strong man. He also systematically breaks every single aspect of he Nazarite vow. The hair was just the last one. He has no moral fortitude (an irony juxtaposed against his physical strength). Thus, when we come to the end of judges, we should expect to find the most morally repugnant of the judges. This is what happens in the absence of a king, the text seems to tell us, nearly smacking us upside the head with that point in the opening line “in those days Israel had no king.” The Levite is not the hero, but the problem. He’s why a king is needed.

In order to drive this point home further, when one looks at this instance there is no outside oppressor (as is the case with the other judges). The Philistines neither attempt to rape the Levite nor do they nearly destroy the tribe of Benjamin. Israel is its own oppressor. So in summary here is the best way, I think, to deal with the difficulty in this passage.

This was a terrible incident in the history of the world. It merely highlights how sinful we are and how much we need redemption, not only from sin, but also form ourselves. Historically it also highlights the need Israel had for a human king, one who would be provided in the best way as David. The incident of the Levite’s concubine is recorded in the bible to remind us how wicked we are capable of being, but how good God is nevertheless, and thus how little we deserve the grace that is poured over us, in spite of ourselves.

What do you think? Any thoughts you’d like to add, or any other hard passages you’d like to see covered?

Waiting with Purpose

The Men’s Olympic Marathon Runners (first pass)

Well we finally saw an Olympic Sporting event live. On Sunday, the last day of the Olympics, we were able to go watch the Men’s Marathon along part of the unticketed route (for those wondering, only the area around the start/finish was ticketed). We weren’t sure we would go to it or not, in fact we had all but decided against it for various reasons. But Sunday morning we got up, with every intention of going to Church mind you, and my wife and I looked at each other and both said “I really want to do this.”

So we packed up things for the kids and headed out to go watch the Marathon. Since we had been talking about going earlier in the week, I already had looked up where the route would be and where it would be both easiest to get to and we would get the most action. So we went to Waterloo and walked across the bridge there (which I think has one of the best views in London) and took the stairs down to the Victoria Embankment. We arrived early enough that we got a reasonable spot, nearly an hour before the race started and about an hour and fifteen minutes before the runners would first go by the area. And we set up waited.

Now, when I started to write this post, I thought about saying something about running the race, or striving toward the goal. I thought about things like how life is a marathon and we need to finish well. While all of those are true, and certainly have their place, they weren’t my experience that day. I wasn’t in the marathon. I was a spectator and my experience was significantly different. Most of the time this was our view:

The empty racecourse, waiting for its runners

There was nothing going on. We were waiting. As I reflected on the day, though, I didn’t think it was boring, even though we waited for over an hour before the first runners came through, something about it felt exciting. There was an anticipation as any moment the runners could come around the corner.

We did other things. We talked, we played with our kids, read them books. We looked around and took pictures of the empty street, and the London backdrop that we would be leaving before the end of the year. It was enjoyable and we liked the other things we did. We met knew people (whom we would likely never see again) and made a good day out of it. Still, we had a purpose to be there. We were there to see this:

And it was certainly exciting. Now, I want to be clear on something. If God has given you a specific purpose to do something right now, you shouldn’t wait around to do it, but go out and immediately take care of it. Still, as I reflected on our waiting in anticipation, I thought about our day to day lives as Christians. We don’t go on a mission trip every day. Even though we talk to other people about Christ, we aren’t only evangelists. There are other things to do every day. We go to work. We pay bills. We drive around and go grocery shopping. Sometimes we just take time with family. There are periods in our life where we are waiting. Waiting for the next big thing.

Too often, though, we wait without anticipation. The lack of anticipation, or purpose to our waiting, changes it from something exciting and enjoyable to drudgery. Waiting on a bus is different from waiting for an exciting, rarely seen event. God is going to do something, and instead of drudgery in the mean time, there should be an anticipation for it. It changes the intervening activities. While we waited for the marathon, our conversation was about how exciting it would be, about other things in the Olympics. We talked about how wonderful it would be for our kids in the future. We got them excited. There was a purpose to our waiting. In any other context it would have been dull and mundane. On that day, in that location, though, it was purposed. So while your waiting on the next thing to happen, get some anticipation for it, even if it’s not entirely clear what that is. And add some purpose to your waiting. A trip to the grocery store is mundane, but the same trip taken with the knowledge that the King of the Universe could be coming any minute, and, well, that’s a lot more exciting.

A Great Cloud of Witnesses at a Stadium

Keeping our Focus

The Olympic Rings from inside the Olympic Park

So a friend gave us their tickets to the Olympic Park here in London for about a week and a half ago (they had unexpectedly acquired tickets to an event, which automatically gives access to the park). I took the day off and we had a good time.

The Entry Gate to the Park

There were many interesting things to see. When we first arrived we were greeted by a rather imposing gate which marked one of the few entry

points to this park that was walled off within the city of London.

There were of course the largest McDonalds in the world (and the one where we ate, but still had to wait for an hour to get our happy meal:) ). The tallest Art Structure in Britain, called the “Orbit” which promised panoramic views of the city.

Or the many, many odd depictions of the rather odd Olympic mascots (in keeping with tradition).

But the thing that everything in the park was centered around, the thing that really drew our attention, was the Olympic Stadium.

The Olympic Stadium

Now, we weren’t able to go inside because they were rehearsing for what I assume will be the closing ceremony, and the athletics events didn’t start until Friday. But as I looked at the stadium and then at the massive crowds of people around, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the words from Hebrews.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

The cloud of witnesses Paul is referring to is, of course, different from spectators who pay to come watch other athletes. Rather than those who could not do what the other runners (and other athletes) do, these are those who have already competed. Rather than competitors, though, these other runners are cheering the us to go further, faster, and better than they did. To perform the race in a more admirable fashion.

If you look at runners in the stadium, you can notice many things in common about their technique. I’d just like to focus on one. Their heads. For the majority, if not the entirety, of every race, the runners look straight ahead. They don’t look behind them or to the side, and they certainly don’t look at the crowds. If they do, they almost always begin to lose ground compared to the other runners. Instead they focus on what is ahead. For the Christian, what is ahead of us, the goal that have in mind, is Christ. To look elsewhere is to lose ground, to become hindered. We don’t focus on the accolades, instead our goal is on the cross. Not praise, as the Olympic athletes receive, but humiliation, so that God might be glorified.

A Good Response to Massive Loss

I want to take a break from the Olympic mini-series I’ve been doing to talk about an old friend of mine, and possibly raise some awareness, and hopefully help him and his family out.

A friend of mine from back in my college days has recently met with disaster. We knew each other primarily through being in the same men’s chorus (the Bison Glee Club of Oklahoma Baptist University), which ended up functioning as a close knit brotherhood (that tends to happen when you tour around on a bus during spring break, several weekends, spend hours rehearsing for shows etc, and have an amazing yearly retreat). At any rate, he, along with his wife and two kids, live in Oklahoma. His name is Tony Cobb and he’s a youth minister in Edmond. If you live in the US, or you follow the news there, you may have heard about the devastating wildfires sweeping throughout large parts of the US, likely as a result of the record heat levels coupled with the already dry and flat landscape (making it easier for the the fires to spread).

When I lived in Edmond, I saw the wild fires that year (since this sort of thing happens somewhat frequently) get uncomfortably close to our apartment at the time, and I knew a few people who had close calls with their own property. Still, I never really knew anyone who lost everything in such an event so randomly and indiscriminately destructive as these wildfires. I can no longer say that. The Cobb family barely made it out of their home with each other. They have lost virtually everything.

Yet throughout this event, they have been a picture of the proper Christian response to these events. You can read about the attitude they have taken to this event in part on his wife’s (Rachel’s) blog here. They are a model to keep in mind in the face of adversity and have served to remind us that though it is tragic to lose things, particularly the personal and irreplaceable things, all is well in God’s hands. God is not the author of our tragedy, but he is nevertheless sovereign in the midst of it. I ask that you pray for the Cobb family, especially during this difficult time.

Finally, and the real reason I wrote this blog, someone has set up an indiegogo website to act as a donation for the Cobb family. While there are some things that can’t be replaced, there are nevertheless many basic needs that must be replaced (things like beds and basic furniture). Although not many read my blog, I do know that most of those who do probably don’t know the Cobbs. So if you’ve watched what has happened in Oklahoma (or other areas) and wanted to help, but didn’t know how, here is one way to do so. Go to the site below and donate money to help the Cobbs replace some of what was lost. If you don’t have any money to donate, spread the word (the website) to others who might. You can be the body of Christ to those who need it:

Blessings for Tony and Rachel Cobb (Indiegogo donation site)

Their Church’s webpage

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