As a young believer in Sunday school I was taught rather straightforwardly that the gospels were written by real, historical persons with a direct relationship with Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John told their story just as it was lived. The Gospels (and all of Scripture) were divinely inspired and as such were inerrant and authoritative.
Once, I was watching a prominent Charismatic evangelist on a Christian network preach a message on salvation and healing. As he preached, I listened attentively. I thought, “He’s really doing a good job presenting the gospel.” Then, he gave the altar call. He said, “If you’re ready to receive from God, come now and sow your $1000 seed faith gift into our ministry.” I wish I could say that I was surprised, but I was not. This is all too common in contemporary Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. And frankly, it is appalling. Salvation and healing are the free gifts of God. Jesus paid it all!
In a recent episode of Curiosity (Discovery Channel) the question is asked, “Did God create the Universe?” In that episode Stephen Hawking suggested that there is no need for a Creator. The universe began as a primeval black hole that contained within itself all the necessary stuff to cause the big bang and set the evolutionary process in motion. Eventually the universe will collapse into itself forming another black hole. These black holes are so dense that nothing may escape – not light or even time. So, according to Hawking’s view of physics there is nothing before the primeval black hole and nothing after the eschatological black hole. The concept of a black hole from which there is no escape seems to me to be a scientists concept of hell, a place of utter despair. While I appreciate the role of science in unlocking the many mysteries of the universe I am compelled to wonder, “Why have humans always looked up?”
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I was sitting in class at Pentecostal Theological Seminary. During a break, someone told me that a jet had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. At that point I thought, “What a terrible accident.” Later, back in class, someone interrupted the class to announce that the Pentagon had been attacked. We were still in the dark, but we knew a horrible tragedy was occurring. Classes were dismissed and the entire student body gathered in the chapel to pray. Later, someone brought a television to the student center and we all gathered to watch the events. It was there that I saw the towers fall.