What Pelagius did or didn’t teach.

by K.W. Leslie, 12 October

Not that people aren’t gonna try to debate the idea.

Last week I wrote about Pelagianism, the belief humans are inherently good. It’s a common and popular idea, but it’s heresy. The ancient Christians condemned it at the Council of Ephesus in the year 431.

For good reason. If humans are fundamentally good—not profoundly corrupted by selfishness and sin—in theory it’s possible for one of us to live an uncorrupted life. Without sin. And in so doing, merit heaven all on one’s own. Without Jesus. After all, what might Jesus add to one’s inherent goodness? Nothing but a rubber stamp.

Well. Once the article went live, it annoyed various Pelagians. Some of whom had no idea they were actually Pelagian! They always presumed humans are basically good, and hate the idea we’re not. Likewise they hate the idea they’re heretic, ’cause too many Christians wrongly think “heretic” means “going to hell.” So them’s fighting words.

I didn’t write the article to pick a fight with Pelagians. I wrote it to inform. Most TXAB readers aren’t wholly up to speed on theological ideas like Pelagianism, so I figured I’d write about what it is and why it’s a problem. If any of you were leaning that direction, my hope was you’d pause and say, “Oh so that’s why Christians teach what we do,” and correct yourselves. We’re all wrong in one way or another, and could always stand to make mid-course corrections like that.

But what do people usually do? Exclaim, “No you’re wrong,” then take potshots at the messenger. If we bother to do any homework on the issue, it’s only to marshal arguments so we can take better potshots. I confess; I’ve done this too. It’s jerk-like behavior so I try not to. After all, I might be wrong! But old habits die hard, y’know.

Anyway. The Pelagians mustered the usual arguments, the ones I brought up in the article: They don’t believe humanity is totally broken. All have sinned, Ro 3.23 and they’re willing to admit they’ve sinned too: They’re hardly worthy of heaven on their own merits. But they can’t stomach the idea of humanity gone totally wrong. After all, they know good pagans! Nobody but the most hardcore pessimists and cynics are gonna say good pagans don’t exist.

True. But have any of these pagans achieved heaven-level goodness? Well no; nobody can imagine ’em being that good. Because nobody but Jesus is that good. Because total depravity: Not one human but Jesus, in our every last action, has acted wholly selflessly and sinlessly. Sin is like the sand on a beach: It gets everywhere, and you’re still finding it in your stuff and your cracks weeks after you visited the beach. Sin’s totally corrupted everything. It’s total.

Pelagians’ other hangup is that word depravity. It’s the right word; it means “moral corruption.” But I think most of ’em have it in their heads it means something dirtier, more perverted, more nasty. It doesn’t really. If they wanna quibble about vocabulary and use different words, that’s fine; depravity has synonyms. Still, we’re talking about moral corruption: Every single human but Jesus compromises what “goodness” means in order to defend ourselves, feel better about ourselves, and justify ourselves. But we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. Ro 3.23 We’re all morally corrupt. Or depraved.

All that aside, one odd argument I heard in defense of Pelagianism is that Pelagius of Britain never actually taught what we call “Pelagianism.” It’s all slander. Against a perfectly good and upstanding Christian.

My big ol’ introduction aside, that’s actually what I’m gonna rant about today.

Fake joy, evil joy, and joyless Christians.

by K.W. Leslie, 11 October

There are a lot of joyless people in the world. Sometimes it’s a clinical problem; I’m not talking about them today. If you need medication, get it. Same as if you have too much joy.

Nope; today I mean the fruitless Christian who rarely experiences great happiness, the proper definition of joy, because their fleshly attitudes simply don’t reflect the attitudes the Holy Spirit brings out in us. Instead of joy, they’re angry, argumentative, bitter, divisive, envious, faultfinding, hateful, humorless, pessimistic, and unforgiving. When they encounter joy, they’ll actually try to stamp it out.

What do they do instead of joy? As is typical of fruitless Christians, they’ll find something else in their character which they’ll try to pass off as “joy.” If they lack fruit, fake fruit will do them.

The most common false definition of joy is “a state of well-being.” It’s not happiness; it’s being content, comfortable, okay with the way things are. Happiness is fleeting, they explain. Contentment isn’t.

This redefinition has even wormed its way into dictionaries. Most of my Greek dictionaries correctly define hará/“joy” as gladness, great happiness, delight, gladness, merriment, cheerfulness, and the opposite of sorrow; which it is. But one of ’em also defines it as “a state of being calmly happy or well-off.” Which it really wasn’t. As Ceslas Spicq put it,

The proclamation of salvation is one of great joy, which contrasts with the pessimism and despair of first-century paganism. This explains why a large proportion of the occurrences of hará in the papyri are of Christian origin, why pagan occurrences of the word are so rare, and especially why pagan joy is never that of the soul. Rather, it is the pleasure felt by a traveler returning to his homeland, fervor in spreading false news, rejoicing at a welcome, especially at the good Nile floods, or popular jubilation; hence there is no religious parallel to the NT.

Theological Lexicon of the New Testament at hará

You wanna know why Christians misdefine joy? ’Cause they’re still kinda pagan.

(I have heard people attempt to defend the misdefinition by claiming the root-word of hará is heíro/“be well,” commonly used as a greeting. Of course words evolve, so to say they both kept the very same meaning after centuries of common use (kinda like our English words “hello” and “hail”) is naïve. Watch out whenever somebody tries to claim such things about ancient Greek: They don’t understand how languages work, and aren’t always coming to that conclusion for the noblest of reasons.)

Are Mormons Christian?

by K.W. Leslie, 10 October

I’ve written more than once that we’re saved by God’s grace—which means we’re not saved by our orthodoxy. There are a lot of Evangelical Christians who’ve got it into our heads that we’re saved only once we have all the correct beliefs; a situation I call faith righteousness.

Faith righteousness is easily disproven by the fact God saves new Christians. Does any newbie hold all the correct beliefs about God? Of course not; they don’t know anything yet! None of us did. (Some of us still don’t.) But we’re pursuing a relationship with God, and as we screw up time and again, God graciously forgives our deficiencies. Might be moral deficiencies; might be doctrinal deficiencies. Makes no difference. Grace covers all.

Of course, when I teach this, people occasionally wanna know just how far they can push God’s grace. They wanna know just how egregiously they can sin before God finally says, “Nope; you’ve gone too far; you’re going to hell.” Not necessarily because they wanna sin (although let’s be honest; sometimes they totally wanna). The idea of unlimited grace sounds too good to be true. Nobody else offers unlimited grace. Even when commercials claim a company gives you unlimited stuff, there’s always fine print. Always.

Same deal with Christians who are fond of, or fixated upon, doctrines. They wanna know how heretic is too heretic. How far can we go outside the boundaries of historic Christianity before we’re simply not Christian anymore? So they wanna know about groups which call themselves Christian, but embrace heretic beliefs. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are Arian; like the Oneness Pentecostals, who are unitarian; like the Christian Scientists, who believe reality is a mental construct.

So let’s talk about the Mormons.

A small number of ’em aren’t okay with the term “Mormon”; they prefer “Latter-day Saint,” or LDS for short. These tend to be the older Mormons, ’cause back in the 1970s, when I first encountered them, one of their leaders apparently had a hangup about it. (It’s sorta like referring to Christians as “New Testaments.”) Nowaday’s Mormons are used to it.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the biggest of the heretic churches. For this reason I interact with plenty of Mormons; we have four of their churches in my city. I first learned what they supposedly believe when I went to Fundamentalist churches, who taught me to shun and fear them. A lot of that was hearsay from ex-Mormons with axes to grind. Since then I went to journalism school, and learned to always go to the source. So I did. Whenever the Mormons wanna evangelize me, I seize the opportunity and ask a ton of questions.

In the ’70s and ’80s, Mormons were kinda secretive about any of their beliefs which were outside the Christian mainstream. (No doubt they were made gunshy by all the hostile Fundies.) I guess somebody in their leadership realized how that came across, and got ’em to cut it out. So now they’ll tell you just about anything you wanna know. Including the weird stuff, which makes ’em a little uncomfortable, but they’re good kids and try to be honest. So if you wanna know about Mormons, don’t be afraid to ask Mormons.

God-mindfulness. ’Cause he’s always here.

by K.W. Leslie, 09 October

’Cause it might help to constantly remind yourself God is here.

SHE. [only just noticing me] “When’d you get back?”
ME. [confused] “I didn’t go anywhere.”
SHE. “I thought you left for work.”
ME. “Nope. It’s my day off.”
SHE. “Well good; I have some chores for you to get done.”

Yep, that’s how my days off tend to go.

And y’know, that’s how our relationships with God tend to go. At some point we learned he’s omnipresent—he’s everywhere at once, in all of space and time—but that’s a bit of data we filed in the back of our minds, and the rest of the time it’s more like “Out of sight, out of mind.” If we don’t see God, or don’t feel God, we presume he’s not around—even though we still have that omnipresence idea rattling around our brains somewhere.

When we talk about God’s “presence,” we usually mean when we notice he’s here. Again, God hasn’t gone anywhere. But something made us aware—more aware than usual—he’s in the room. He did something, like empowered a miracle or gave a prophecy. We felt something, like joy, or like feel peace, and realize God’s behind it. Or the church’s sound guy finally turned on the subwoofers.

More commonly, we pay attention to God’s presence because somebody simply reminded us he’s here. Like me, right now, with this article. Now you’re remembering God’s here, and paying a little more attention to his presence, aren’t ya? We’re imagining his presence—we know he’s here somehow, but we don’t know how, so our brains are filling in the blanks.

I bring this up because typical Christian behavior is to not notice God’s presence till something triggers us. We’re reacting to the knowledge of God’s presence: “Oh yeah, God’s around.” We briefly stop taking his ubiquity for granted.

But it passes, and we go right back to forgetting he’s here.

Well what if we didn’t go back to that?

Seriously. Because a lot of Christians try, and succeed, in constantly reminding themselves God is here. In constantly acting like God is here. In pretty much talking with him all the time, ’cause he is here all the time; it feels kinda rude to ignore him. (No, it’s not how we pray without ceasing, though some Christians done this for this reason.) Historically it’s been called “the practice of the presence of God,” after Brother Lawrence’s book, but I swiped one of my pagan friends’ words and call it God-mindfulness.

Pray for everyone—and pray for Paul.

by K.W. Leslie, 08 October

Ephesians 6.18-24.

As I said in the piece on God’s armor, we’re wearing God’s gear to fight the devil and its temptations. And while we’re at it, we’re praying prayers and requests at every moment in the Spirit. You know, like Paul wrote in the next verse:

Ephesians 6.18-20 KWL
18 Through it all, as you’re praying prayers and requests at every moment in the Spirit,
as you’re staying alert about it, always staying on it and making requests for all saints—
19 and pray for me, so a word would be given to open my mouth,
to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel.
20 Because of the gospel I’m “the elder in chains,”
but it’s so I can boldly speak of it, like I have to talk.

’Cause in this fight, we gotta stay in contact with our commander. We gotta stay alert, ask for support, ask for aid for our fellow Christians in the battle… and ask help for Paul too, while we’re at it.

Yeah, I know Paul‘s been dead for nearly 20 centuries now. But Paul wrote this letter in part so all the churches this letter went out to (Ephesus among them) would pray for him. He was wearing God’s armor too, and resisting the temptation to keep his mouth shut. He needed to boldly preach the gospel; he needed to not keep his mouth shut. It was for the sake of the gospel Paul was in house arrest, awaiting a hearing before the emperor: It was so Paul could share Jesus with Nero Caesar, plus everyone else in that court, and win some of ’em into the kingdom.

Though Paul has since passed on, there are plenty of other Christians in dire circumstances, who also need our prayers as they resist the temptation to keep their mouths shut. Not so they can be bold Christian jerks; hopefully they’re way more fruitful than that. No; it’s so they can share Jesus like he deserves to be shared—with conviction, with faith, without hesitation, without fear, with love.

And to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel—but Paul already gave away that mystery in Ephesians 3: Gentiles inherit the kingdom too. It’s not just for Israel anymore. It’s for Romans, for Europeans, for Africans, for Asians and Australians and Pacific Islanders, for North and South Americans, for everyone. God wants to save the world, and that’s good news.

“I’m ‘the elder in chains’ ” is how I translated presvéfo en alýsei, which the KJV renders “I am an ambassador in bonds.” The verb presvéfo/“I’m old” can be interpreted “I’m an elder” or “I’m your elder”—implying you gotta listen to such a person, ’cause he’s seen some stuff, and presumably gained some wisdom. Herodotus wrote of the ancient Greeks using elders as ambassadors and peace negotiators, so the KJV’s translators went with that. But I went with a more literal translation mainly because I expect Paul, having been in and out of house arrest so often, had a reputation—which he used to his advantage. Who’s the old guy in chains? Well, let him share his testimony; it’ll blow your mind.

How does one answer a fool?

by K.W. Leslie, 05 October

Proverbs 26.4-5.

Whenever someone claims the bible never, ever contradicts itself, I like to take ’em to this pair of proverbs.

Proverbs 26.4-5 KWL
4 Don’t respond to a fool’s foolishness, lest you be compared to them.
5 Respond to a fool’s foolishness, lest they become wise in their own eyes.

Thing is, whenever I do this, the person immediately attempts to explain how they don’t contradict one another. Oh, they’ll do a terrible job of it. It’ll get ridiculous and illogical. But they do try.

Because at some point in their past, they heard the bible never contradicts itself. They liked the idea. So they made it a core belief: One of the things which defines their Christianity, which defines their trust in the bible, is this ground-floor idea it never contradicts itself. Shake that belief and now they gotta rethink their belief system from the ground up.

But there’s something in human nature where it’s just easier to go into full-on denial: “No it doesn’t contradict itself, and here’s why…” Instead of deal with the problem, they’d rather pretend it isn’t there.

Except it is. And it’s gonna bug them. And it’s either gonna unravel their Christianity, and even their trust in God; or it’s gonna kill their faith altogether, and they’re gonna pretend they trust God, but they no longer do.

Or, which is wisest, they’re gonna deal with the contradiction. ’Cause the editor of Proverbs put these two proverbs of Solomon right next to one another for a reason. And the reason is really simple: Depending on the circumstances, sometimes we follow verse 4, and sometimes verse 5.

Yep. The editor was trying to teach us situational ethics. Something a number of Christians insist isn’t a biblical idea; insist it’s even antithetical to the sort of absolute truth in the bible. Well, it’s not. And it’s probably a good idea to start doubting those absolutists, ’cause not everything they claim to be absolute, is. They’re way too quick to build their houses on sand.

Pelagianism: “Humanity’s not all that bad.”

by K.W. Leslie, 04 October

When Christians imagine we’re good enough for heaven.

PELAGIAN pə'leɪ.dʒi.ən adjective. Denies the Christian doctrines of original sin and total depravity: Believes humans are inherently good, able to make unselfish choices, and can be worthy of heaven on our own merits.
SEMI-PELAGIAN sɛm.aɪ.pə'leɪ.dʒi.ən adjective. A Pelagian whom we kinda like.

Every once in a while somebody, usually a theology nerd like me, is gonna fling around the terms Pelagian and semi-Pelagian. Hopefully they know what they’re talking about. Many don’t, and are just using those words to mean heretic. ’Cause in the year 431, the Council of Ephesus declared Pelagianism to be heresy—so whether critics understand Pelagianism, councils, or heresy, what they’re really trying to say is the person’s wrong, and any label will do.

So let’s back up a bunch. A Pelagian, like I said in the definition, believes humans are inherently good. Children are born innocent, and if nothing upends that natural innocence, stay good and wholesome and benevolent. They grow up to be good people. Good enough for heaven.

It’s what pagans believe. Optimistic pagans, anyway; there are a lot of cynics who think humanity totally deserves hellfire. But a lot of us like to think the best of people, and give ’em the benefit of the doubt. Myself included. I’m not unrealistic: I know evil people, and I know even good people screw up, or have times when they act selfishly or deceptively. When they do so, it doesn’t blindside me. But just about everyone believes in karma, the idea our actions have repercussions in the universe and on our afterlife. So many people—unless they’ve quit trying in despair—are usually trying to be good. Or good enough. Or settling for explanations why they’re kinda good enough.

But the scriptures teach otherwise. The first humans were created good, but sinned. They passed down that sinful, self-centered nature to their descendants, us:

Romans 5.12 KWL
This is why it’s like sin enters the world through one man; and through sin, death;
and therefore death comes to every human—hence everyone sins.

Therefore humanity is inherently selfish and sinful. It’s why we need Jesus! We can’t save ourselves, can’t earn salvation, can’t accept God’s love, can’t follow God’s laws, without his help. We gotta depend on grace. Which God provides in abundance, so no sweat.

But if you grew up believing people are inherently good, the idea we’re inherently not is gonna bug you. Humans don’t like to think we’re corrupt or flawed; we like to imagine we’re good! And if it helps to imagine everybody else is good deep down too… well then we will. Even though we’ve tons of evidence of human depravity. We’ll just keep insisting evil is the exception. Something humanity can evolve past.

Hence Pelagianism. Pelagius (390ish–418) was a Rome-educated British monk. He was hardly the first guy to float the idea, but it nonetheless gets named for him: A Pelagian believes humans aren’t inherently sinful. We’re good. So be good!

Bear in mind Pelagius was dealing with a lot of slacker Christians. Fellow Christians and fellow monks would blame our sins on our sinful nature. (Still do.) They’d insist we can’t be good; we’re just too corrupt. We can’t help but sin. And if this is the case… why try? Why make the effort to do better, to be better, to be like Jesus, when our very nature rebels against the idea? Best to just give up, stay the same ol’ sinner, and depend on cheap grace.

Pelagius hated this idea. I hate this idea. Any reasonable Christian should. It’s not biblical!

Romans 6.1-2 KWL
1 So what are we saying?—“Continue to sin, for there’s plenty of grace”?
2 Never gonna happen. We died to sin. How could we live in it?

But Pelagius’s correction went too far: He rejected the ideas of human depravity, and of Adam and Eve’s original sin affecting humanity. He insisted anyone can stop sinning if we just make the effort. That’s what he taught his monks, and that’s what his monks taught Christendom. Particularly Celestius of Rome, Pelagius’s disciple.

Being strong and courageous.

by K.W. Leslie, 03 October

Joshua 1.9.

One of my biggest peeves about the way Christianity is practiced in the United States has to do with the way certain Christianist men’s groups regularly twist the scriptures in order to justify culturally-defined “masculinity.” Not masculinity as Jesus demonstrated it, nor even as the fallible men in the bible practiced it: Masculinity as defined by popular American culture. With, frequently, a lot of chauvinism and sexism mixed in.

A lot of these men have taken their cues from the 1990s’ mythopoetic men’s movement, which author John Eldredge repackaged for Christians so we can do the same thing. They scoured myths, legends, and fairy tales for clues as to what’s really true about masculinity. Took a lot of those old stories out of context, in so doing. Eldredge prefers pulling his ideas from the bible and Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, but he makes the same mistake of overlaying his prejudices on them, then claiming his prejudices came from them. Or are at least supported by them.

So men nowadays, claim Eldredge and the sexists, are too effeminate. Cowardly, wimpy girly-men. Our culture requires men to suppress our manly urges and behave ourselves. But, they insist, our urges are natural and good: Men were meant to be wild, free, and fighting. Not just fighting randomly in bars and sporting events, but fighting for noble causes—for truth and justice, to tame nature, in the defense of loved ones, in the cause of Christ, in certain political venues, to pretty much punch anyone who dares challenge our prejudices…

Really, any excuse will do. So long as we get to do some fighting.

For fighting, they insist, is the deep down—but suppressed!—desire of a man’s heart. Men fought throughout human history. Men needed to fight, ’cause noble causes. They claim God gave us this desire to fight, smite, scratch, and bite. And God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, right? Ps 37.4 Yet our culture keeps trying to “civilize” us. So fight that culture; it’s all pagan and secular anyway, and feminists took it over back in the ’70s or something, and now they’re turning us into wimps. Fight back. Be a man. Kick some ass.

This verse is their mantra:

Joshua 1.9 KWL
Don’t I command you? Be tough! Be strong! Not afraid, not shattered.
For your LORD God is with you everywhere you go.”

In the NIV it’s “Be strong and courageous,” and Michael W. Smith wrote a song about it, so that’s how we tend to hear it in the United States. And this verse is used to defend “masculine” behavior—legitimate and not.

I write all the time about how people bring our prejudices with us into Christianity, project them upon Jesus, and pretend he endorses all our beliefs—that we got ’em from him. Unfortunately, those who don’t really know Jesus, like pagans and newbies, fall for this. And either they recoil from this fraudulent Christianity in horror… or they fall for it, ’cause it fits so well with their own prejudices, and become twice the sons of hell as their forebears. Mt 23.15

So if men are competitive; if they enjoy rough, violent sports and video games; if they love the idea of standing their ground and shooting bad guys in the head, Jesus must approve, right? These violent urges must’ve been put into us by God, right?

Not in the slightest. They come from our selfish, violent, corrupt sin nature. God never put that in us; sin did.

The “Where are you?” prayer.

by K.W. Leslie, 02 October

God’s always there. But when we don’t feel him, it helps to acknowledge this.

Ordinarily, God is invisible. Can’t see him.

So we compensate by trying to feel him. Sometimes by “practicing his presence,” of constantly reminding ourselves he’s here, including him in our actions, talking to him… and discovering he talks back. Other times, and less legitimately, by psyching ourselves into feeling him—and all the problems immediately caused when we confuse happy thoughts with the Holy Spirit.

But sometimes we can’t feel him. Either those feelings are drowned out by our other feelings, ’cause we’re going through a crisis, or mourning, or something else is creating a whole lot of emotional noise, making God (or “God”) harder to detect. Or we’re depressed: We feel nothing, lest of all God.

And sometimes God’s totally behind this. Because we’ve taken to trusting those feelings instead of him, and he wants us to follow him. He tolerates our immature methods of “hearing” him for only so long, and it’s time to grow up.

So the next step for us Christians is to read our bibles—and to start praying what Richard Foster, in his book on prayer, calls “Prayer of the Forsaken.” I’m not fond of that title, ’cause it makes it sound like we somehow are forsaken, and no we’re not. Instead I call it the “Where are you?” prayer. When we can’t detect God anymore, we need him to show us how to hear him. We’re kinda praying the equivalent of a lost cell phone connection: “Hello? Are you still there? I think we were cut off.”

Well, we were cut off from the warm fuzzy feelings. But relax: God figures we’re ready for next-level communication.

The armor of God.

by K.W. Leslie, 01 October

Ephesians 6.10-17.

Christians are fascinated by the armor-of-God metaphor which Paul used in Ephesians 6. Sometimes a little too fascinated.

Jesus teaches us to foster and encourage peace. Mt 5.9 Of course, our sinful human nature would much rather fight, and kick ass for Jesus if we can. So the idea we get to wear armor and play soldier really fires up certain Christians, who’d love to engage in a little testosterone-fueled warfare, and find this passage an excuse to indulge their blood-soaked he-man fantasies a little. If only metaphorically.

For such people, God’s armor is never for defense, Ep 6.11 only offense. Those who fancy themselves prayer warriors love to talk about how to attack with the armor. Christians even make plastic armor for children to play with—including a sword of the Spirit, Ep 6.17 which kids can use to smite one another. In so doing they learn—wrongly—the word of God is about hurting people.

But just because God’s word is sharper than a sword He 4.12 doesn’t mean we’re to wield it in any such way. Using it surgically is the Holy Spirit’s job. When we use it, we’re not so expert; without his guidance it’s a blunt instrument, used to maim our foes, not cure them.

But as part of Paul’s inventory of God’s armor, properly it’s used for defense—to parry our opponents’ swords, just as Jesus did with Satan. Our Lord quoted Deuteronomy in order to defeat the devil’s, not to sin, but to promote himself. And sometimes we gotta do likewise: We know what God’s told us—assuming we do, and aren’t just projecting our own will upon him. So it doesn’t matter what devils and nay-sayers suggest: God’s will and motives win.

Paul actually borrowed the idea of God’s armor from Isaiah 59.17, and expanded it a little:

Ephesians 6.10-17 KWL
10 Lastly: Get powerful in the Master, in the authority his strength gives you.
11 Wear all God’s gear, so you’ll be able to stand fast against the devil’s tactics,
12 because we aren’t in a battle against blood and muscle:
We’re against types of authority, power, things which govern the dark places in this world,
types of supernatural evil in the high heavens.
13 This is why you put on all God’s gear,
so you’ll have a fighting chance on the evil day. You’ll be entirely ready to stand fast.
14 Stand: Belt your waist with truth. Wear a vest of righteousness.
15 Lace your shoes in preparation for the good news of peace.
16 Carry at all times the shield of trust in God,
which you’ll use to put out every flaming arrow of evil.
17 Accept the helmet of your salvation
and the machete of the Spirit—which is God’s spoken word.

And pray at all times in the Spirit Ep 6.18 —but I’ll discuss that another time.