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April 24, 2009

Ask Miley. Or Don’t.

Miley "I want to be a role model," Miley Cyrus told the L.A. Times. "And my job is to be a role model. But that shouldn't require me to be a parent. I'm going to make mistakes. While your kids are growing up, I have to grow up too."

That's advice blogger Perez Hilton should have kept in mind before asking Miley to weigh in on Miss California Carrie Prejean's comments on gay marriage. In a Twitter to Hilton, Cyrus wrote:

Jesus loves you and your partner and wants you to know how much he cares! That's like a daddy not loving his lil boy cuz he's gay and that is wrong and very sad! Like I said everyone deserves to be happy. I am a Christian and I love you — gay or not. Because you are no different [than] anyone else! We are all God's children!

Of course, at this, everyone's hands fly in the air. Here we go! Another teen star gone south (or, at least, liberal). Another one who's lost forever.

Since when did we ask the 16-year-olds in our lives--pop star or not--to offer an authoritative opinion on gay marriage, or really anything, for that matter? Furthermore, Miley's comment to Hilton was not offered in an official interview or public statement. It was over Twitter!

Now, I'm not saying that I agree with Miley's position or that she should have offered it. I am saying that we ought to examine whether a Twitter sent from a teenager ought to achieve newsworthy status, and whether we ought to give gravitas to a 16-year-old's opinion on the issue anyway. Nor can we conclude that this opinion is Miley's hard and fast stance on the issue from now until the grave. She's 16, folks.

I just took an 11-year-old friend to see Miley's new movie (yes, I was silently kicking and screaming), Hannah Montana: The Movie, and walked away pleasantly surprised. It was a girl-rediscovers-her-roots-and-what-matters-most-in-life saga. Nothing too profound. Mostly edifying and family-promoting.

Like Miley of the movie, real-life Miley is living out the bumps and inconsistencies of a teenage-hood. In my opinion, she's a wholesome girl, a little naive and unthoughtful, who has a long way to go in growing up, like she, herself, puts it.

Let's give her the space to do that!

(Image © Elisabetta A. Villa for Getty Images)

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Joe Wisnieski

While it might be foolish to view Miley Cyrus as a role model or standard bearer, she is a cultural signpost. Her statements are another indicator of how our culture has shifted. Her views on same sex unions seems to be the default position for most of our young people, including those who profess a Christian faith.

What I found far more distressing was Rick Warren's inexplicable comments on the Larry King show. It is a peculiar time we live in when a beauty pageant contestant, Carrie Prejean, is more willing to be "Biblically correct" on this issue than a pastor of a church.

Dan Gill

If you actually look at Miley's statement, the only thing that is wrong is "Like I said, everyone deserves to be happy." God does love Hilton and his partner. We are all supposed to love Hilton and his partner.

Sure, Miley may have meant that she didn't thing homosexual activity was wrong, but she didn't actually say that.

I think she did a pretty good job of dodging the question for a 16-year-old.


I totally agree with you about the sixteen year old part. Her comment doesn't really bother me though. It's vague at best and compromised on the controversial issue part at worst, but ... God does love His children unconditionally.

Now, whether His children accept that, embrace the atonement, submit to His authority as Lord and allow Him to sanctify them through direction and obedience ... that's a continuation of the story.

But all of that is only empowered by God's love and grace.

This is probably something a sixteen year old is probably not going to be able to articulate very well in general and especially limited to 140 characters.

Steve Rempe

Perhaps it's just semantics, but it seems to me not everyone is a "child of God," but only those who have been "adopted" by God through his act of atonement. Surely, we are all God's Creation, and we are all loved by him as such, but only those redeemed by God can rightfully claim to be His "children."

Sorry, a pet peeve of mine. Really drives me nuts when clergy use this language.

jason taylor

Everyone deserves to be happy? Why does everyone deserve to be happy? I can think of quite a few people who certainly don't deserve to to be happy and I can think of a few others who cared more about whether others were happy then about whether they deserved to be happy.

Rachel Coleman

That's a good question, Jason. As far as Miley Cyrus being a "signpost" or indicator of the culture at large, this is the part of her statement that makes my red flag go up.

I don't think God promises, expects or necessarily intends that we should be happy, now that sin has polluted the world. If we're happy, that's a gift, a mood, an ephemeral thing. As sinners saved by grace, we certainly don't *deserve* happiness.

Now joy is something different. It can actually be present in our hearts in the midst of grief or weariness. Joy, to my mind, is a choice.

Mike D'Virgilio

Steve, you are absolutely right. Paul says that by nature we are all objects of God's wrath, his judgment. In fact, Paul further says we are basically in our hearts at war with God in our sin, and Isaiah says we have hearts of stone. So we are decidedly not all God's children just because we have been created by him. It is definitely not semantics.

And does Jesus really love everyone? I know it's incredibly not PC to say that God doesn't love all human beings the same, but how could he? I don't have any idea what God "feels" for people who reject Christ, but I think thoroughly modern Miley doesn't quite understand that God's love is an act in the person of Christ. Those who accept him are loved by God, or as a more Reformed Christian would put it, God's love irresistibly draws those whom he loves to accept Christ.

Gina Dalfonzo

I don't think it's PC to say He loves everybody, Mike, I think it's biblical. As for how He could when we can't . . . well, we're human, and He's God. He can do a lot of things we can't. :-)


Mike D'Virgilio wrote: "thoroughly modern Miley"

Now, that's just plain hilarious. Good one, Mike!

Mike D'Virgilio

Gina, very interesting. Could you explain to me how you think God loves everybody, biblically? And what exactly that means to you? I'm sure this is a theological issue and perspective, but I'd be interested in your take.

And thank you, LeeQuod. I was pretty impressed with myself on that one.

Jason Taylor

As it happens, "God is not willing that any should perish"

"God so loved the world..."

But Mike, isn't the burden of proof on those who would prove that God does not love everyone? The Bible certainly does have great emphasis on God's love. Our natural instinct insists that God loves everyone, and the idea that there are men that God does not love rather grates, and certainly creates a new picture. Shouldn't it be proven that there are men whom God does not love?


"Jacob I loved, Esau, I hated" always gives me food for thought but then again, I am certain that God gets fed up with man as in the days of Noah, or of Sodom and Gomorrah. He is slow to anger, quick to forgive
Interesting , the comment on "everybody deserves to be happy". We are expected to be holy and happiness in being holy is a most joyful side effect knowing we please God (often in the midst of unspeakable pain)... ask any martyr if suffering for Jesus was a "happy" time. Not here perhaps, but then again, the hope we have is for an eternal happiness that only God's presence can provide


Ahem - C.S. Lewis said there were four loves. We do each other a disservice to use one English word to describe all four, then argue amongst ourselves whilst each thinking of a different one of the quartet.

God does not necessarily love all of us fraternally, or erotically, or due to longstanding familiarity. God certainly does love all of us sacrificially - as he demonstrated.

Jason Taylor

In that context it means Esau have I rejected(I.E. in preference to another when a choice is needed). Just as we are not really commanded to "hate" are mother and father in the modern sense.

Mike D'Virgilio

I agree that the English word love can confuse the issue. Scripture is very clear about common grace, that God's favor rests on his creation regardless of the state of a person's soul. But love in the sacrificial sense is clearly not available to all, because not all are saved.

I don't want to get all theological on you, but as I understand God's salvific love, his love for HIS people, it is completely efficacious. In my reading of Scripture, God doesn't love someone and then sit around hoping they will reciprocate. When HE loves, HE gets results. HE turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh, HE raises us to spiritual life when we were DEAD in our sins. Not sick, but DEAD. HE adopts us and makes us his children. We only call him Father because HE had made us his child.

I know most Christians don't like this kind of talk. The modern mind is offended that God would make distinctions, make choices, would choose to save some and not others. I really don't like it either, but he choose Abraham, not every other person who lived in the world at that time.

If God loves someone who is going to hell, then what does love really mean, however you define it? When Paul describes love in I Cor. 13, it is utter action. Love keeps NO record of wrongs. Outside of Christ the record stands. Love never fails. If that is true, how can God love someone and let them perish?

Now I'm not saying we can't tell someone "God loves you and he died for your sins," because if they accept it he did!

BTW, this is not argument. This is enlightening discussion among people of good will. I love it!

Gina Dalfonzo

"In my reading of Scripture, God doesn't love someone and then sit around hoping they will reciprocate."

But then, how do you explain the father in the Prodigal Son parable, who stayed home and waited for his son to return?

Or the fact that we're specifically told that Jesus "loved" the rich young ruler, and yet He stayed put and watched him walk away?

Mike D'Virgilio

Great questions, Gina. Of course I would not presume to have any definitive answers, but I can speculate out of my limited knowledge and massive amount of ignorance.

I would say regarding the parable that Jesus was speaking from our human perspective and not addressing how God deals with the human race in the process of salvation. One of the beautiful things about theology is it takes the whole testimony of Scripture and seeks to systematize doctrine based on that. You can take any isolated verse or whatever and come up with any conclusion you want based on that. But when you take into account all of God's verbal revelation you are able to put isolated incidents or verses into context. Very important if we are to interpret correctly the whole counsel of God.

From our perspective of course it looks like God is hanging out waiting for us to come back from our own prodigal ways. From our perspective of course we have to make a choice, we have to be confronted with the claims and hope presented to us in the gospel. But our perspective is not God's.

Also, the parable says that there was a man who had two sons. So I'm not sure one can read salvation into the story. It could be read to say that God's son's will always find their way back, even as if it appeared as if they were dead.

As for Jesus loving the rich young ruler, I'm not sure what Greek word is used there. My Greek bible is buried in a box somewhere, but this is where the Greek might help us understand the context of Jesus' love. But I would have to say Jesus was fully man and fully God. It could be the man Jesus "loved" him, but yet the God Jesus knew he was not one of his. Of course, we don't know the rest of the story and what may have happened in this man's life subsequent to his encounter with the creator of the universe.

And Jason, you have some great questions as well. Indeed it does grate the idea that God doesn't love everybody, and I would concede your point that the burden of proof is on those who see it like I do. What I'm talking about is a Reformed theological perspective of Scripture. I'm not as hard core as I was when I went to seminary 20 years ago thinking that I was right and all other Christians were blind, not even close. But when I look at the whole of Scripture it just makes a whole lot more sense then any other view.

I know this is way long, but your two quotes are excellent. "God is not willing that any should perish." My question is what does the "any" refer to. Every human being on earth? If that is true God's will, the sovereign, almighty, omniscient, omnipotent will of God is not very effectual. In Matt. 1:21 it says that Jesus came to save HIS people from their sins. I connect "any" to "his." None of those who are HIS will parish because God wills it.

As for "God so loved the world," again does this mean every person? This could mean that "whosoever believes" are those he loved. I repeat, our first impression of a verse may not be accurate in context of the entire scope of redemptive history.

One more thing then I promise I'll shut up. It so happens that I caught Chuck Swindoll recently on the radio preaching on Ephesians. He said he had struggled for years with the plain meaning of this letter of Paul and the hard doctrines it seemed to espouse. But over time he just could not deny what it said. And of course he put it all so well. I think if you take into consideration what Paul says as you read all of God's Word you may just find yourself coming to agree with Pastor Swindoll.

OK, I'll shut up now.


Ah, yes, the neverending story:
- a hyperCalvinist states that God don't need no steenkin' love for the non-elect;
- Gina or someone else tries for 3.5 points of TULIP and is told in no uncertain terms that only 5 out of 5 is acceptable;
- labrialumn wonders aloud what's wrong with the Centurions program;
- someone starts dropping h-bombs, accusing non-hyperCalvinists of being heretics;
- Gina pleads for reason and warns that she has a big stick;
- everyone agrees to disagree, but the hyperCalvinists quietly memorize how Calvin treated Servetus, to make it easy to repeat if the opportunity presents itself;
- the issue goes dormant for a while;
- some agnostic or atheist points back to the brouhaha, saying "See? I'm not a Christian because you can't even agree on what you believe, and you spend most of your time fighting!";
- Some other blogger posts a post about the wonderful work Christians are doing somewhere, that atheists aren't;
- everyone generally agrees that even with all its contradictions, Christianity beats the alternatives all hollow.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

God must *really* love us, to keep tolerating this behavior.

Gina Dalfonzo

Ah, LeeQuod, you know us all far too well. :-)

(Except that on the last point, the atheists and agnostics never reach agreement with the Christians!)


Remember the old film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"??? It's TRUE...Aliens have taken over----the so-called serious reporters!!! Now they report gossip...

The National Enquirer & STAR mags (you know, the mags at the checkout which always talk about "Aliens abducted me & then dumped me back on earth") --- have truly---TAKEN OVER!!!)

Yes - these GOSSIP RAGS have taken over the minds of most so-called serious journalists...

(who now "seriously" report about Miley, Paris (0r Perez) Hilton, and teenage children of far Northwestern American politicians they seek to destroy out of meanness...

...instead of actual news about oh, I don't know ---um...

- maybe world piracy, the situation in Iran, worldwide human trafficking, the STD caused cervical cancer epidemics hitting young women, what WWII vets have to say...and even the missile shot from North Korea at ??? us???

Rolley Haggard

Editor’s note -- The never-ending story has an end. “There is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11)

Regardless of what McInnes says.

Rolley Haggard

Who is McInnes? I thought you’d never ask.

But in truth, he goes by many names….

Rolley Haggard

The Preacher Likes the Cold
-- © Rolley Haggard

Randy took a seat in the first empty pew he found. Fortunately it was in the back of the old greystone church, so he didn't draw too much attention even though the service had already begun. An elderly woman with veins all over her papery white hands scooted down to give him more room, or maybe, to get away from him; he couldn't tell. Her brow was bunched and the corners of her mouth were turned down in what looked like a scowl. But maybe that was the way she always looked. Randy was determined to put everything in its best light one more time.

He kept his head down, not wanting anyone to see his tear-reddened eyes. The seat was cold, but it beat standing outside in this weather. It was half sleeting, half raining, and the wind made you feel like your skin was being peeled and salted, especially if, like Randy, all you were wearing was a worn-out windbreaker. It wasn't even his windbreaker, no more than the other ill-fitting clothes he'd gotten at the shelter. He was, as they say, down on his luck, or maybe more like at the end of his rope. But in spite of it all, he couldn't give up, couldn't bring himself to despair. He wanted to -- give up, that is. It would be easier in a lot of ways. Just to go to sleep and not wake up, not have to worry about where to get the next meal, or the next hit, or the next anything. Not have to be hassled by the cops, or the gangs, or the fair-weather friends who put up with you only when it suited their own interests. It wouldn't be easy, just easier than this hell called life.

But he had never tried church. He needed to try church. Some of his old friends and acquaintances had gotten off the streets by getting religion. Shelley had. Duncan had. Randy wondered where Duncan was now. Last summer the two of them had been approached by a nerdy-looking guy handing out tracts on Main Street. Something in the tract got to Duncan, and he stopped hanging out. He even tried to get Randy and some of the others interested in his new thing. But Randy was skeptical of Duncan's new-found experience. The way Randy figured it, religion was a lot like drugs: another way of escaping reality by creating a more palatable world.

The minister called for a hymn, number 172, "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded". He asked the congregation to stand. Randy, seeing those around him reach for hymnals in the back of the pews, took a forest-green book with gold lettering from its little rack and paged absent-mindedly to the chosen number. His eyes wandered timidly around the congregation. It was a small church, maybe only eight or ten short pews on either side of a narrow center aisle, dimly lit in spite of an impressive old chandelier hanging over the dais where the minister, garbed in a traditional black gown, led the singing without ever lifting his eyes from the page. Most of the communicants still wore their drab coats, shawls, and wraps, and even though their backs were to him, Randy could tell they were all elderly, and guessed they had probably attended all their lives and would be just as curious about his visit as seemingly the old woman on his pew had been. He took a quick glance in her direction and caught her looking right at him, sizing him up, unaware that he was looking her way. There was no mistaking the disapproval and even disgust in her face, and Randy felt grief and shame -- and rage -- and wondered for a brief instant whether or not he already had his answer. "I'm in God's house, by God!" he shouted soundlessly within himself. "Cut me some slack, already!" And then, as if she had heard his thoughts, the old woman's eyes jumped to his, and their gazes locked together for an ineffable, timeless moment of mutual revulsion. The woman, unable to cope with this visual confrontation, made an involuntary motion with her hands, nearly dropping her hymnal, then twice opened and shut her mouth like a small animal gasping for breath. "Serves you right, dirt-bag," Randy thought to himself. But then, perhaps because of where he was, he felt an odd sensation, and knew it was guilt and forgiveness flowing, mingled, through veins that for twenty-three years had known nothing but the agony of empty longing for...for what? He didn't even know what he was longing for. He only knew he'd know it if he ever found it. If. His eyes reddened again.

They were already on the third stanza. The organist played skillfully on an old, yet surprisingly serviceable, pipe organ. The music was beautiful and made Randy think of the long-forgotten Christmas songs he used to hear as a child, and would occasionally still hear over supermarket muzak. The hymn itself was so quaint, so archaic, and yet so poignant, and in some mystical way so relevant, Randy knew he'd never forget it. He didn't have a good idea what it meant, but he knew he'd never forget it:

"Be Thou my Consolation,
My Shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy Passion
When my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee,
Upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfold Thee.
Who dieth thus dies well."

Randy wasn't even aware of what his own thoughts were at that moment. He rarely evaluated his thoughts. He didn't think about them or philosophize over them. He just had them. In the span of one more enigmatic stanza, he repeated the words "remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh", and did not know it was a prayer.

The congregation sat. The minister remained standing. For reasons not directly connected with his physical surroundings Randy felt warm for the first time. Old women notwithstanding, he decided he'd probably done the right thing to come in here. He also decided he would listen carefully to what the minister said. "Just so long as he doesn't put me to sleep."

He didn't. The man was a surprisingly good speaker. Right off, Randy was riveted to every word. Here, it seemed, was a hidden talent that no one had discovered (as if Randy were a competent judge of such things), and, if age factored in (the man was at least sixty-five), no one ever would. McInnes (the minister's name, according to the program) was talking about the power and greatness of God. The words ‘sovereignty' and ‘predestination’ were often used. His deep, rich voice, and careful, (one could almost say choreographed) style of delivery made his every word a delight to Randy's ear:

"In our Confession, which is the most perfect expression of the Reformed Faith," he said in delicious tones, " we read: ‘God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.'"

The word ‘whatsoever' seemed to Randy unusually comprehensive, and he waited for some qualifying remark. Surely God did not create evil and suffering and hell and wrong? He heard what he felt must be a brief disclaimer of some sort, allegedly excusing God from being the author of sin, but he wondered as McInnes continued:

"God is the great and mighty King who has appointed the course of nature and who directs the course of history even down to its minutest details, including every event in human history from the creation to the judgment, and all the activities of saints and angels in heaven and of reprobates and demons in hell."

Randy felt vaguely shocked, and wondered if anyone else in the congregation was similarly affected. He looked around, half expecting to see someone rolling their eyes in disbelief. But the only eyes he saw were either completely shut, or struggling mightily to stay open.

It didn’t seem possible, but it was hard to avoid the conclusion that McInnes was speaking in all seriousness. He kept quoting "confessions" and "doctrinal statements" and citing references from "the Reformers" and "the Church Fathers", ostensibly to demonstrate the historicity of his outline. This left Randy with the odd feeling that he had misunderstood religion, or at least Christianity, more than he’d ever realized.

McInnes cleared his voice and continued his oration. "Calvin has said (Randy had heard of John Calvin), ‘Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He has determined in Himself, what He would have to become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some and eternal death for others. Every man, therefore, being created for one or the other of these ends, we say he is predestinated either to life or to death.'"

"And Luther has said (Randy had heard of Martin Luther, too, although he was thinking of Martin Luther King as he listened to McInnes go on), ‘All things whatever arise from, and depend on, the divine appointment; whereby it was foreordained who should receive the word of life, and who should disbelieve it; who should be delivered from their sins, and who should be hardened in them; and who should be justified and who should be condemned.'"

Randy was grimly fascinated with what he was hearing. On the one hand he was totally incredulous, and didn't really think anyone believed what this learned man was preaching. On the other hand, Randy felt acutely his own inadequacies. What if it was true? If this is really the way it all works, then what's the point?

"The way of salvation described in our Confession," McInnes declared, "holds that as a result of the fall into sin all men in themselves are guilty, corrupted, hopelessly lost, totally unable to repent and believe; that from this fallen mass God sovereignly elects some to salvation through Christ, while passing by others; that Christ is sent to redeem not all people, but specifically, His people, His elect, by a purely substitutionary atonement; that the Holy Spirit infallibly, efficaciously applies this redemption to the elect; and that all the elect are infallibly brought to salvation and everlasting bliss. This view alone is consistent with Scripture and what we see in the world about us."

Randy shifted uncomfortably. As if on cue, McInnes added, with considerable inflection, "Some people are uncomfortable with these doctrines. But reflect a moment on what our own knowledge and experience teach us. We readily see that so far as the pleasures and joys and opportunities in this world are concerned the heathen are largely passed by. On the same principle we would expect them to be passed by in the next world also. When God places people in such isolated regions as Western China or the heart of the Amazon or the jungles of New Guinea, we may be sure that He has no more intention that they shall be saved than He has that the soil of northern Siberia, which is frozen all the year round, shall produce crops of wheat. Had He intended otherwise He would have supplied the means leading to the designed end."

Randy did not hear the rest of the sermon. There wasn't much left, maybe five minutes. Surely that could be forgiven. In the stillness of the dimness, he recalled the strange, familiar litany of the Byrds: "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." There was room in his heart for religion, wasn't there? In spite of all the imperfections, he never saw himself as evil. And yet he could not deny the distance between him and the Church, between him and McInnes, between him and those who were content with life, who seemingly possessed enough insight into the grand riddle to know that, whatever happened to others, they themselves were safe. Randy closed his eyes tightly and tried for a brief moment to visualize the face of Jesus. Instead, with the clarity of a revelation, he saw himself and a figure resembling McInnes standing on opposite shores of the same vast, windswept ocean, and somehow knew that there could be no propitious journey.


The old woman looked down the pew once more. She had not seen him leave. She had not seen him attempt a weak smile at her as he rose during the benediction. She saw that the seat was again empty and cold. She sighed, like a weary traveler home at last.

Randy stood before the old oak door of the church and braced himself for the frigid blast. The organ was playing again. He did not recognize the tune. It was majestic and terrible, like a dirge for a king. Somehow it reminded him of his favorite color, crimson.

As he pushed open the door, he said, "Pray for me, Duncan," and then he stepped out. It was night, and all the stars in heaven were twinkling as they ever had since time began.


*Note: Almost every word of McInnes' sermon was extracted verbatim from a very well-known and respected Protestant book on predestination.

Rolley Haggard

Randy, I love you, even if God hates you.

(So much for, “a servant is not greater than his Master.”)

Rolley Haggard

If it is true that “we become like the God we believe in”, shouldn’t we dwell on this question a long time before we make a choice that is going to influence the way we view and treat others for the rest of our lives? An awful lot is at stake.

With all due respect to “theology”, we all already know what the world needs because it’s the same thing we needed – love, forgiveness, and Fatherly nurture. We found all of that and more in Jesus. The world needs the same thing. We Christians were once “the world” ourselves. Have we forgotten? Having freely received are we going to presume that it is permissible to harbor suspicions that perhaps God loves some and blithely passes over others? I certainly hope not. And yet I speak as one who did just that for years and who therefore knows firsthand the seductive power of systematic theology of a certain stripe that gives a strong appearance of being thoroughly biblical. There is not room here (and even if there was, I’ve still got Gina to contend with) to expound on the universe of reasons Calvinism as embodied in TULIP is bankrupt. But if nothing else, please note that at least one thinking Christian has examined it and found it in need of a second Reformation (which was supposed to be continual thing all along anyway).

The world needs Jesus because Jesus is God and God is love. People – non-Christians, atheists, pagans, agnostics, whatever label “fits” -- all need love with a capital L. Listen to their plaintive cries for Love/God. They know they can’t talk openly about it without being branded as bigoted religious idiots, so they don’t talk about it because the last thing they can endure is more rejection. But they sing about it all the time. Listen to their anguished cries for Love/God. Love/God is what we can give them through the incarnation of Love in our bodies – if, indeed we believe such incarnated Love is a reflection of the God we worship. If.


“Falling Down” -- by Oasis

The summer sun
It blows my mind
It's falling down on all that I've ever known
Time to kiss the world goodbye
Falling down on all that I've ever known
Is all that I've ever known

A dying scream
It makes no sound
Calling out to all that I've ever known
Here am I, lost and found
Calling out to all

We live a dying dream
If you know what I mean
All that I've ever known
It's all that I've ever known

Catch the wind that breaks the butterfly
I cried the rain that fills the ocean wide
I tried to talk with God to no avail
Calling my name from out of nowhere
I said 'If you won't save me, please don't waste my time'

The summer sun
It blows my mind
It's falling down on all that I've ever known
Time to kiss the world goodbye
Falling down on all that I've ever known
Is all that I've ever known


“You Found Me” – by The Fray

I found God on the corner of 1st and Amistad
Where the West was all but won
All alone, smoking his last cigarette
I said, "Where've you been?" He said, "Ask anything."

Where were you, when everything was falling apart.
All my days were spent by the telephone that never rang
And all I needed was a call that never came
To the corner of 1st and Amistad

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

But in the end everyone ends up alone
Losing her, the only one who's ever known
Who I am, who I'm not and who I wanna to be
No way to know how long she will be next to me

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

The early morning, the city breaks
And I've been calling for years and years and years
And you never left me no messages
You never sent me no letters
You got some kind of nerve taking all I want

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, Where were you? Where were you?

Lost and insecure, you found me, you found me
Lying on the floor, surrounded, surrounded
Why'd you have to wait? Where were you? Where were you?
Just a little late, you found me, you found me.

Why'd you have to wait, to find me, to find me?


I get this ache, a kind of loneliness, when Rolley isn't bouncing around The Point making jokes and posting poems.

I have to learn, and remember, that when he's not bouncing, he's actually coiling like a powerful spring, ready to launch something heavenward - something of incredible power and beauty.

Thank you, my friend, for bouncing back.

Rolley Haggard

Last time I “launched something heavenward” was in flu season and --- well, you don’t want to know.

But thanks, LeeQuod, for the kind words. Next time I’m in Washington State the Milk Duds are on me. Literally.

(I told you you didn’t want to know).


I'm not sure how a post on Miley Cyrus morphed into a debate about predestination, but, oh well, I'll go with it.

Mike and Rolley, thanks for both of your thoughtful posts. I can resonate with both at some level.

I was an avid Calvinist in high school, who found pleasure in debating the subject with classmates in Bible class, thinking myself somehow superior because I "rightly" knew that God most certainly chose some for Himself and most certainly did not choose others.

I've long since abandoned that concern.

I read about Esau and Pharoah and Romans, and I see all of my old arguments staring me back in the face. And there probably is something to that mystery of God choosing or not choosing.

But somewhere along the sidewalk, staring into faces, observing the messiness of lives broken by sin, doubt, and fear, there's a word that always rings truer and clearer than "to choose or not to choose."


Last week, I stared into the face of a friend who fears the worst--that she could possibly be on the "not chosen" side of the fence. As I looked into her tear-filled eyes, something (Someone) inside of me seemed to say instead (of course, I wouldn't want to put words into God's mouth, but there are those moments where the Spirit talks and we listen), "If only she knew how much I loved her."

Is she chosen? I don't know.

Is she loved? If only she knew how much!

Perhaps there is a place for the "chosen" questions. But sometimes I wonder if we care about them more that He does.

Rolley Haggard

Zoe said, “I'm not sure how a post on Miley Cyrus morphed into a debate about predestination…”

Maybe it was the subliminal power of anagrams, Zoe. With perhaps a tad of irony, Miley Cyrus reconfigures to “Cry Elysium”.

Or, in keeping with the songs by Oasis and The Fray, “Use My Lyric”.

And interestingly, “predestination” can be rearranged to spell “Oriented in Past”.

Jason Taylor

Actually Zoe, I read once that the idea of "The elect" was to convey the idea of being an elite(albeit by grace)not to convey the corralary of reprobation.

Furthermore Roman's could be interpreted as saying, it is not really our business. It does not say God made "vessels of wrath." It says WHAT IF God made vessels of wrath.

Arminianism, though more paletable at first glance does not allow for the problem that there are a lot of people who are not really in a position to become Christians except by miraculous means. It is far more harsh a doctrine then it seems at first glance.

In anycase the interrelation of Free Will and Predestination is complex. Smeagol did not choose to become Gollumn. He did choose to murder his best friend the first time he saw the ring. Whereas Borimir at least resisted for six months as well as repenting immiediately. One could say that Smeagol's fate was also one that he had earned.

Which sounds like Calvinism. Except Smeagol, though he didn't choose his fate, chose the act that brought it upon him. And Borimir chose a lesser sin. And repented of it. And recieved only the punishment of dying the way he would have preferred to die anyway.
The problem with Calvinism is that it makes the relationship between Free Will and Predestination mechanical and weighted in favor of the later and emphasizes sovereignity at the expense of love. It tends to plumb to deeply into a mystery that was likely meant to be a mystery.

Which are some reasons why it does seem that it is best simply to accept our own ignorance in certain circumstances.

Jason Taylor

Onne thing I always wondered about Calvinism is why people seem so enthusiastic about it; it does seem a rather gloomy creed.

One partial answer is the genetic fallacy. Calvinism came when the chief threat was-man. In the seventeenth-century Anglicanism was the religion of aristocrats. Quakerism was the religion of runaways who just wanted to be left alone(it is a dirty secret that a good part of Pennsylvania's success was because Scots-Irish just happened to settle between the respectable folk and the Indians). Calvinism was to a large degree the religion of rebels. And of course what better way to dodge the stigma of being a rebel then to emphasize a higher authority even then the King? Even though they did so in such a way as to make Him sound not to different from the human King.

Of course that implies that Calvinism was the excuse rather then the cause. Which is patronizing as the people there certainly wouldn't have thought so.


Zoe wrote: "I'm not sure how a post on Miley Cyrus morphed into a debate about predestination"

I think you're not sure, dear lady, because based on your other writings you're far too tenderhearted to relate to what's really at work here.

One of the key elements of genocide (as, I'm sad to say, you've had to witness in a very personal way) is to dehumanize the enemy. So the propagandists claim "those people" are actually vermin, in need of extermination.

Conservative Christians can't readily get away with this, due to that pesky "created in the image of God" idea. (Liberal Christians can claim that the enemy is insufficiently evolved from primate ancestors.) But a separation into "elect" and "non-elect" works almost as well.

This is applied in the culture wars to mean that clearly Perez Hilton and his ilk are damned to Hell and always were, so all we need to do about them is keep them from doing further damage to the Kingdom. I'm not saying that anyone in this current thread is believing that to be true, but I've certainly encountered it elsewhere.

As both you and Rolley brilliantly indicate, we're given no Scriptural indication that we are to love any differently based on a person's standing with God. (I believe Gina has indicated the same, in question form.) And that should be both current and future standing.

Nor am I saying that there are not good logical arguments for 5-point Calvinism. I very highly respect men like Charles Swindoll and R.C. Sproul. I'm more concerned about people who don't have the level of education and experience of those two. Calvinism can be used to develop the left side of the brain at the expense of the right - to expand the head at the expense of the heart.

I myself am a 5-point Calvinist, but only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays I'm a committed Wesleyan-Arminian. On Sundays I heave all that on the altar. (And yes, Rolley, I saw your comment about launching.)

My bottom line on this issue comes from recalling a story told of W.A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas for many years. The area around the church began to be run down, so the church doors were locked and chained shut to prevent anyone from getting in and vandalizing or camping out. One day Dr. Criswell arrived at the church to discover that a homeless person had frozen to death just outside the door. He directed that from then forward, the doors would always be unlocked, 24x7, irrespective of the cost.

I would be as horrified as Dr. Criswell was, if the public expression of my theology froze someone out of eternity. Try as I might, I can't risk the soul of Andy or anyone else who visits The Point and professes unbelief. (I'm more bothered by those who read but never post.) I don't want anyone's misunderstanding of my beliefs, or even my own misunderstanding, to be so costly. I love Randy, too, in spite of McInnes.

And not to put you on the spot, dearest Zoe, but I'd hope that there's more than one award-winning book to come from Rwanda. Maybe someone needs to explore how it is that an unexamined belief, protected in an ivory tower and not exposed to the grubby realities of day-to-day life, can lead a person to kill their neighbor and their neighbor's children. Or, as in this current case, to argue that God doesn't necessarily love everyone and therefore I'm off the hook to try to love them myself.

I am praying right now for your friend, Zoe.

(Aside to Mr. Haggard: Hmm, I guess the Rol-Adys weren't as effective as hoped? One of the joys of electronic friendship is no fear of protein spills on one's shoes.)


Jason Taylor wrote: "(it is a dirty secret that a good part of Pennsylvania's success was because Scots-Irish just happened to settle between the respectable folk and the Indians)"

Hey!! I resemble that remark! (grumble, pout,...) "... respectable"! Hmph!!

Oh, wait - Rolley quoted Romans thusly: "There is no partiality with God." Not even against Celts? Sweet! I'm gonna go read T.M. Moore's latest email.

(Aside to Zoe: Now you can watch this morph into a discussion of the roots of prejudice within peoples like the Anglo-Saxons, who invade, take over as the majority, then push out the minority. Sort of a common theme, but I won't try to tie it to Perez Hilton himself; that's an exercise for the readers.)

Jason Taylor

Actually, for me the problem is not believing "elect and non-elect" is true so much as fearing that it is. It is less of a problem then it used to be though.

Rolley Haggard

Jason, you needn’t fear regarding your election if you know you are “in Christ”, for your election is “in Him.” (Ephesians 1:4). Election has nothing to do with you and everything to do with Him. If you are “in Him” via faith, then you are “elect in Him.” If you are trusting in Christ alone for your acceptance with God, you have nothing to fear, for Christ is God’s Elect; and if you are in Him, then you are elect – “in Him.”

There is only one Person who is God’s Elect – Christ (Isaiah 42:1, 45:4, 65:9). We are elect only if and when are “in Christ”. And we get “in Christ” through faith.

Again, we individually are elect “in Christ”, not in ourselves. That means no one is “among the elect” until he/she is “in Christ” – i.e., not until we put our faith in Him, for faith puts us “in Christ.” Since Christ is “The Elect” par excellence, we are “elect in Him”.

Grandma’s old needle-point had it right – even as we are

…………..“Accepted, not in ourselves, but in the Beloved”, ……………..

so are we

…………..“Elect, not in ourselves, but in God’s Elect/Chosen One.”…….

Jason Taylor

I wasn't much afraid of my salvation(however analyzed in scholarly fol de rol), curiously enough. I was afraid I was the servant of a tyrant. Yeah, I know, that's the devil talking. But so it goes.

Rolley Haggard


I had the same fear. You may recall my ruminations on that theme over here - http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/03/theology-puzz-1.html?cid=106539026#comment-106539026 (click link, then page down to the short piece titled “Abba! Monster!”)

But that fear is totally groundless. God is not like that AT ALL. The only ones that need to fear Him (with the terror kind of fear) are those who are in utter, deliberate, high-handed rebellion against Him, which I know you are not.

This is what helps me – I ask myself, had I been living in the time of Jesus, being the same person that I am right now, would I have run FROM Jesus in terror, fearing that He might be a tyrant? Or would I have run TO Him, seeing Him as the sinner’s best Friend?

That’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? Well, here’s additional good news --- Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Paraphrase – “Want to know what God the Father is like? Look at Jesus. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE.”

Jason Taylor

Actually what helped me is something of session in socratic logic.

If God is God He must be GREATER then anything conceivable. In which case He must be greater then me and not merely more powerful then me; if he is merely more powerful then me he is merely Jove and not God.

The desire not to be a servant of a tyrant is a good desire not a bad one. If even I can have that desire, then in fact God cannot be a tyrant.

Oddly enough that whole chain of reasoning punctured that fear very efficiently. I don't know why it worked like that. Maybe it was just time for the fear to end.

Rolley Haggard

And maybe because He who strung your DNA knows what information to feed to that History Channel computer between your ears to give you “peace and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

Gina Dalfonzo

I think some of you will appreciate this! :-)


Jason Taylor

Yes Gina, but did they choose to drink coffee or was that all planned from the beginning?

Rolley Haggard

No comment. Except….

If you drink, don’t drive. Please. Caffeine tends to make one hyper. And goodness knows we’ve had enough hit and runs.

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