Issue #25

Your Physical Body Matters, Lessons for Disagreement, Seven Christians Who Wrestled with Doubt, and more...

Issue #25
Photo by Anton Ivanchenko / Unsplash

Themes of Jonah, Part 4: Why Do You Hide, Jonah? 📃

One of the first things readers notice in the book of Jonah is Jonah’s flight from God. “That’s silly Jonah! Don’t you know that you cannot hide from God?”

I think that Jonah does, in fact, know that he can’t physically hide from God.

[Jonah] answered them, “I’m a Hebrew. I worship the LORD, the God of the heavens, who made the sea and the dry land.”
— Jonah 1:9 (CSB)

Jonah knows Genesis 1. He knows that God is the creator of all things and that no one can truly hide from him. I don’t think that his flight from God was because he thought that God wouldn’t be able to see him.

But then this raises the question: why run at all?

Jonah is a mirror. The book is designed to show the people of God their flaws in Jonah’s sins. The book wouldn’t be a very effective mirror if the point was, “don’t physically run away from God.”

Instead, I think the book is using Jonah’s physical flight from God as a way to highlight the ways that we run from God.

We Run Because Honesty Is Hard

We run from God because approaching God requires honesty and humility. God exalts the humble and resists the proud (James 4:6). One of the most difficult things we can do is be honest with ourselves about our own sins. We are not good enough.

... Keep Reading→

Read and Reflect 📖

Three Myths About Christian Doubt | Jimmy Wallace 📃 →

Wallace works through three commonly held beliefs among Christians about doubt that are actually untrue.

Myth #1: “Doubt is the opposite of faith and is actually unbelief.”
…While Abraham clearly had doubts about the Lord’s promises to him, Abraham was never considered by scripture to be an unbeliever. Instead, scripture treats Abraham as a great man of faith who experienced repeated moments of religious doubt. While doubts can lead to unbelief, the two are separate and distinct concepts which should not be mistaken for one another.
Myth #2: “Doubt shouldn’t be admitted or discussed since it is basically a character flaw.”

God wants honesty from us. We work through doubts in conversation with God and one another. If you’re having a conversation with someone dealing with doubt, your job isn’t to solve the problem, but to be there and point them to Christ. Give them resources and answers if they want it and ask, but your first job is to display Christ to them.

Myth #3: “Doubt never produces positive results.”

This certainly wasn’t the case for me. I never took my relationship with God too seriously until I faced a period of doubt. Walking through that doubt was the best thing that could have happened for my faith. Doubt means you have questions. As you walk through doubt, you learn that God is trustworthy again, and again.

For More:

Christianity Is True ✝️

Physicist Michael Strauss Responds to @Holy Koolaid "Debunking" The Fine-Tuning Argument | Adherent Apologetics 📽 →

Amateurs can give good arguments and professionals can give bad ones. I link to apologetics videos from Christian amateurs regularly. However, I do think that atheist Holy Koolaid’s video is full of misconceptions. Christian experimental particle physicist Michael Strauss joins Zac Sechler to discuss the video and where he thinks Holy Koolaid gets it wrong.

For More:

Challenge Your Brain 🧠

The Cracks in Our Debates: Lessons from Lewis on Disagreement | Joe Rigney 📃 →

Over and over, I was struck by how participants in these debates so often seemed to miss each other. They didn’t just disagree; they seemed to find their opponent’s position incomprehensible, like they were each speaking a foreign language. The frustration was palpable. Beneath the animated discussions seemed to run this sentiment: “Why can’t this person see what is so obvious to me?”

At one point last year, I was relistening to a collection of essays by C.S. Lewis. A particular essay jumped out as particularly relevant for the present moment. The essay is called “Why I Am Not a Pacifist.” In the essay, Lewis does eventually explain the reasoning behind his position. Before he does, however, he spends the first part of the essay explaining what moral reasoning is and how it works. In other words, he puts on a Moral Reasoning Clinic, one that I found to be accessible and clarifying — and one that may help us break through the various impasses in our friendships, families, and churches.

I’ve felt this, both from myself and from others. Then we talk past one another, no one changes their mind, and we go away angrier than we came in.

But Jesus tells us that anger against a brother is as bad as murder, and the world will know that we are God’s people by our love for one another. That doesn’t just mean that we should agree on everything. Jesus means that we should disagree so well that the world is stunned by our capacity for dealing with disagreement.

C.S. Lewis is so insightful and helpful here.

In our moral debates, correction comes via argument. Argument may correct our facts; things that we believe to be facts may (in fact) not be facts. Or argument may correct our reasoning; we may have made an undue jump from one claim to another. Argument may also help us to make intuitions easier and conclusions more compelling. But, importantly, Lewis notes that you don’t correct intuitions via argument, because our intuitions are what we argue from, not what we argue to.

This last point is crucial. Lewis insists that we must distinguish our inarguable intuitions from our debatable conclusions. Our intuitions are very basic, so basic that only lunatics and psychopaths can be said to lack them. The trouble is, as Lewis notes, that “people are constantly claiming this unarguable and unanswerable status for moral judgments which are not really intuitions at all but remote consequences or particular applications of them, eminently open to discussion since the consequences may be illogically drawn or the application falsely made” (69).

This is absolutely right. We have confused our conclusions from reasoning with our intuitions. We cannot understand why someone else disagrees with us when we hold our (possibly wrong) reasoning at the same level as intuition.

Learning how to argue and love one another is so important in this increasingly divided age. Please read and consider this article.

For More:

If this ministry helps you, please know that while we offer it for free, it is not free to run. If you are financially able and you would like to support us, you can purchase products through our store, join our membership program, or give a one-time donation. Visit the Supporting Us page to find out more about these options.

This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Real Racial Reconciliation (with Derwin Gray) | Sean McDowell 📽 →

This interview might be divisive. I know the comments on the video think it is. However, I think that there’s a lot of good in this interview. I think this interview is probably somewhat divisive because Dr. Gray pushes back on the narrative that the Christian church’s hands are entirely clean in the race discussion.

The statistics on ethnic division in the church and history books will tell us that is not true. As Christian brothers and sisters, we need to be listening with open ears to voices that are telling us not just what we are doing right, but what we may be missing too.

How can white churches and black churches become multi-ethnic churches? By not trying to assimilate our brothers and sisters into our culture, but by building churches that can celebrate multiple cultures and the beauty of our varied ethnic human bodies.

For More:

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Why Your Physical Body Matters to God (with Sam Allberry) | Crossway Podcast 🎧 →

Many Christians don’t find much importance in our physical bodies. After all, as the old hymn says, “I’ll fly away, Oh Glory, I’ll fly away.” What is the point of our bodies if we’re just going to fly away?

Here is one short excerpt:

Matt Tully
How does that fit with this deemphasizing of our physical bodies as core to who we are? Is it just that they then become primarily viewed as a canvas, so to speak, for expressing our individuality, our identity as internal beings?
Sam Allberry
I think that’s exactly right. The real contradiction here is that on the one hand we culturally think we’re secularists and materialists, but on the other hand we’re putting all of our focus on the non-material understanding of who we are. We’ve come up with this concept of an autonomous self that is separate from our physical bodies, and the point of our bodies for many people is simply to make them reflective of our inner self in some way. So, inasmuch as we’re attentive to our bodies, it’s not because they have any intrinsic value and meaning in themselves, but we need to attend to our bodies so that people can see who we are and what kind of person we really are.

For More:

If you've enjoyed reading this letter, please share it with others and help us grow. We exist to help Christians grow in their faith and to make the name of Jesus Messiah glorified in all the earth. We grow thanks to readers like you sharing what we do with others. Thank you!

Explore the Scriptures 📖

The Ten Commandments: A Guide to the Perfect Law of Liberty | Peter Leithart 📚 →

I really enjoyed this little book from Dr. Leithart. His short exposition of the Ten Commandments and their relevance to us is penetrating.

You know them. But do you understand them?
The Ten Commandments have become so familiar to us that we don't think about what they actually mean. They've been used by Christians throughout history as the basis for worship, confessions, prayer, even civil law.
Are these ancient words still relevant for us today? Their outward simplicity hides their inward complexity. Jesus himself sums up the entire law in a pair of commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.
Peter Leithart re-introduces the Ten Commandments. He shows us how they address every arena of human life, giving us a portrait of life under the lordship of Jesus, who is the heart and soul of the commandments.

For More:

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Seven Prominent Christian Thinkers Who Wrestled with Doubt | Jesse Carey 📃 →

Continuing the conversation on doubt from Wallace’s earlier article, Carey’s article talks about the doubts of seven Christians many of us will recognize.

If you doubt today, let the wrestlings of these great Christians encourage you that you are not alone. If you've thought deeply about your faith, you've wrestled with doubt. Carey walks through seven great Christians who did much for the kingdom, who also wrestled with doubt. Doubt is not a moral failing. Be honest with God and take it to him. Let this article encourage you.

  1. C.S. Lewis
Lewis warned readers of the hazards of relying on intellect—particularly apologetics—over spirituality, writing, “That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality — from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. That also is why we need another’s continual help—a [‘Let us pray for each other’].”

2.  Mother Theresa

She frequently wrote of loneliness, not hearing from God, personal hypocrisy and doubts about her own faith: “Darkness is such that I really do not see—neither with my mind nor with my reason—the place of God in my soul is blank—There is no God in me—when the pain of longing is so great—I just long & long for God … The torture and pain I can’t explain.”

3.  Martin Luther

At one point, the crushing doubt in his calling led to such an intense depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.’”

4.  Charles Spurgeon

“I think, when a man says, ‘I never doubt,’ it is quite time for us to doubt him, it is quite time for us to begin to say, ‘Ah, poor soul, I am afraid you are not on the road at all, for if you were, you would see so many things in yourself, and so much glory in Christ more than you deserve, that you would be so much ashamed of yourself, as even to say, ‘It is too good to be true.'”

There is much more to this article than I'm clipping, and I’ll leave the last three for you to find at the link.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:14-16 (CSB)

I will be praying for you this week.

Yours in Christ,
Joel Fischer