Cornelius Plantinga on “what the Hebrew prophets call shalom”

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“The prophets dreamed of a new age in which human crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise, and the wise, humble.

They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would run with wine, weeping would cease, and people could go to sleep without weapons on their laps.

People would work in peace and work to fruitful effect. Lambs could lie down with lions. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder.

All humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God, and delight in God.

Shouts of joy and recognition would well up from valleys and seas, from women in streets and from men on ships. The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom.”

– Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, p. 9-10

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Cornelius Plantinga: Christianity mainly about celebration, fun, personal growth, self-esteem and entertainment?

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“When television-saturated worshipers attend their local churches or wonder how to draw secular seekers there, it’s not the songs of Zion they want but the songs of Babylon and Hollywood– or something like them. People attend worship with expectations shaped by television, and evangelical preachers try to meet them.

In such cases worship may degenerate into a religious variety show hosted by some gleaming evangelist in a sequined dinner jacket and patent leather dancing slippers who chats with celebrities and introduces for special music a trio of middle-aged women in pastel evening gowns with matching muffs for their microphones.

He may also include, or even perform, certain eye-popping acrobatics or karate moves. Each act in the show is pre-timed, including estimates of the length ofaudience applause. Imagine a High Five for Jesus replacing the Apostles’ Creed; imagine praise time beginning when the evangelist shouts, ‘Gimme a G! Gimme an O!…’

Naturally, services of this kind give an impression of a religion somewhat different from historic Christianity. One could imagine a visitor walking away from such a service and saying to himself:

‘I had it all wrong. I had thought Christianity included a shadow side– confession, self-denial, rebuke of sin, concern with heresy, a willingness to lose one’s life for the sake of Jesus Christ. Not so, apparently. The Christian religion isn’t about lament or repentance or humbling oneself before God to receive God’s favor.

It’s got nothing to do with doctrines and the struggle to preserve truth. It’s not about the hard, disciplined work of mortifying our sinful self and learning to make God’s purposes our own. It’s not about the inevitable failures in this project and the persistent grace of Jesus Christ that comes so that we may begin again.

Not at all! I had it wrong! The Christian faith is mainly about celebration and fun and personal growth and five ways to boost my self-esteem. And, especially, it’s about entertainment’.”

– Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, p. 192-193