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Hallowed be thy name.

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Matthew 6.9, Luke 11.2.In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to ask our Father to ἁγιασθήτωτὸὄνομάσου/aghiasthíto to ónoma su, “sanctify” or “make holy” or “hallowify” (to coin a word) “the name of yours.” The Book of Common Prayer and KJV went with “Hallowed be thy name,” which means the same thing, but Christians commonly misinterpret it to mean “I sanctify your name,” or “I praise your name.” We think this is praise and worship on our part. It’s not. It’s a request for our Father to make his own name holy. For him to act.Part of our presumption comes from a way-too-common Christian misbelief that our prayers aren’t really about asking God to do anything. Because, the attitude is, God doesn’t actually answer prayer. He sits on his heavenly arse, watches us humans stumble around, reminds us to read our bibles, but isn’t gonna intervene in human affairs till the End Times—if they even ever happen. Besides, he’s already planned out everything he’s gonna do, so all our after-the-fact pray…

Nontheism: When pagans don’t believe in God.

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NONTHEIST'nɑn.θi.ɪstadjective. Believes no such thing as God, gods, a universal spirit, a universal intelligence, nor a supernatural higher power, exists. (A catchall term for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and others who are skeptical of God and religion.)[Nontheism 'nɑn.θi.ɪz.əmnoun.]Y’know, for the first couple centuries of Christianity, we Christians were called atheist.See, Greco-Roman pagans believed in gods. Lots of gods. Not just their own gods—and the titans, demigods, and daemons in the Greco-Roman pantheon. They also accepted the existence of the gods of other pantheons. They didn’t presume they knew them all. So whenever they encountered an unfamiliar god, they accepted it. Even added it to their pantheon, which is why they had multiple gods of the sun (Apollo, Helios, Hyperion) and war (Ares, Athena, Enyo, Polemos).Sometimes they figured it was just one of their gods with a different name: The Latins worshiped a Deo Pater/“Father God” (which later got contract…

Our Father who art in heaven.

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Matthew 6.9-10.The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew begins with πάτερἡμῶνὁἐντοῖςοὐρανοῖς/páter imón o en toís uranoís, “our Father who’s [located] in the heavens,” Mt 6.9 ’cause we’re addressing—duh—our heavenly Father.Matthew 6.9 KWL“So pray like this: Our Father who’s in the heavens! Sanctify your name.”Some Christians wanna make it particularly clear which god we’re praying to. Partly because some of ’em actually think they might accidentally invoke the wrong god (and y’know, if they’re Mammonists or some other type of idolater, they might). Sometimes because they’re showing off to pagans that they worship the Father of Jesus, or some other form of hypocrisy. But Jesus would have us keep it simple: Just address our heavenly Father. There’s no special formula for addressing him; no secret password we’ve gotta say; even “in Jesus’s name” isn’t a magic spell—and you notice “in Jesus’s name” isn’t in the Lord’s Prayer either. You know who he is; he knows who he is; he knows what our relationsh…

Short, potent, authentic prayer.

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Matthew 6.7-8.In his Sermon on the Mount, right after Jesus taught his followers to keep their prayers private, he added,Matthew 6.7-8 KWL7“Petitioners shouldn’t be repetitive like the pagans:They think they’ll be worth hearing because of their wordiness.8You shouldn’t compare yourselves with them:Your Father has known what you have need of, before you asked him.”The Pharisee view, one we Christians share, is our God is the living God. Whereas other religions’ gods aren’t. They’re blocks of wood, stone, and metal; they’re abstract ideas without any intelligence behind them; they’re devils tricking people into worshiping them. When we speak to our God, he speaks back. When they speak to their gods, they don’t. They can’t.Yet instead of realizing, “Y’know, since our god never, ever responds to us, I wonder whether she’s real to begin with?” pagans just shove that idea right out of their minds as if it’s doubt or blasphemy, double down on their beliefs, and come up with a bunch of justif…

Hal Lindsey and Al Hartley.

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Since I’m writing about the comic book version of Hal Lindsey’s There’s a New World Coming, I should introduce you to the authors. Starting with Hal Lindsey.
Hal Lindsey. IMDBHarold Lee Lindsey, born 23 November 1929, is a former Coast Guard tugboat captain turned evangelist. He and his second wife Jan began working with Cru (then called Campus Crusade for Christ) in the 1960s, and he got his master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. I’m not sure whether Lindsey got his theological outlook from DTS or brought it with him; not that it matters.The school was founded in 1924 by Lewis Sperry Chafer, a Darbyist who authored an eight-volume Systematic Theology which taught God from a thoroughly dispensationalist point of view: God, he taught, used multiple systems of salvation throughout human history, and the system he uses in the Christian Era is grace. But the systems of previous era were largely based on karma—on obeying your conscience, obeying your patriarch, obeying the Law, a…

The Holy Spirit reminds us what Jesus taught… assuming we know what Jesus taught.

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John 14.25-26.Most Christians figure Jesus’s students followed him three years. It might actually have been longer than that.The idea of three years comes from the fact three Passovers get mentioned in John, Jn 2.13, 6.4, 11.55 the last one being the Passover for which he died. But just because John mentioned three particular Passovers doesn’t mean these were the only Passovers which took place during Jesus’s teaching time. Coulda been nine for all we know.No I’m not kidding:7 BC: Jesus was born.24 CE: Jesus’s 30th birthday. Luke states he was ὡσεὶ/oseí, “like,” 30 when he started teaching. Lk 3.23 Didn’t say exactly 30, but let’s start from there.33 CE: Jesus died. And woulda been about 39.Time for some basic arithmetic. If Jesus started teaching in the year 24, and “like” just means he was a few months shy of 30, by the year 33 he’d’ve been teaching nine years. If “like” instead means he was already in his thirties; say 33… he’d’ve been teaching six years. (Still more than three.)…

The Holy Spirit of truth… and dense Christians.

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John 14.15-17.Christians take for granted that we receive the Holy Spirit by virtue of being Christian: When we say the sinner’s prayer and claim Jesus as our individual savior, we individually, automatically get the Holy Spirit to indwell us and guarantee us an eternal place in God’s kingdom. Right?Right. But the assumption Jesus makes when he says as much to his students in John, is his students don’t just passively believe in him. Don’t just passivelybelieve all the correct things about him, and have the proper “faith”, and that’s what saves us. And once we die after a lifetime of taking God’s grace for granted, we get to use the Holy Spirit as our entry fee to heaven.The Holy Spirit’s been granted to us to help us continue to follow Jesus.John 14.15-17 KWL15“When you love me you’ll keep my commands,16and I’ll make a request of the Father, and he’ll give you another Assistant,because he’ll be with you in this age:17The truthful Holy Spirit.The world can’t comprehend him, because it…

He lives within your heart.

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INDWELLɪn'dwɛlverb. Be permanently present in someone [namely their soul or mind]. Possess spiritually.[Indweller ɪn'dwɛl'ərnoun.]There’s a hymn we sang in my church growing up; “He Lives” by Alfred Henry Ackley. Chorus goes like yea:He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow wayHe lives! He lives! Salvation to impartYou ask me how I know he lives; he lives within my heart’Cause that’s the common Evangelical belief about where Jesus currently is: He’s in our hearts.As a boy I was taught Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts, asking to come in. (Much later, I read that particular bit of Revelation and found out it doesn’t mean that. But anyway.) Once we permit Jesus entry, he takes up residence in our hearts. As kids a lot of us took this literally: We imagined a tiny Jesus taking over one of the chambers of our cardiac muscles, and even moving a bed and furniture into it. Bit cramped. One kid even told me the reason…

The street-corner show-off.

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Matthew 6.5-6.Throughout history people have prayed publicly for various reasons. Some noble, some not.And a regular problem throughout history has been the person who gets up and prays publicly, not because they legitimately wanna talk with God, or call to him for help. It’s because they wanna be seen praying. They wanna look religious. Usually so they can look more religious than they actually are. In other words hypocrisy.Nothing annoys Jesus like hypocrisy, which is why he tries to discourage his followers from doing this. Although you know some of us do this anyway.Matthew 6.5-6 KWL5“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites who enjoy standing in synagogues and major intersections,praying so they might be seen by the people. Amen! I promise you all, they got their credit.6When you pray, go into your most private room with the door closed.Pray to your Father in private. Your Father, who sees what’s private, will credit you.”Standing was how the ancients prayed. They didn’t kneel, bo…

Charity for God, versus charity for public approval.

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Matthew 6.1-4.Starting the second chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. It begins with this teaching, only found in Matthew:Matthew 6.1 KWL“Watch out to not do your righteous acts before the people to be seen by them.Otherwise you won’t get credit from your heavenly Father.”The term Jesus used is μισθὸν/misthón, “compensation.” It’s a synonym for wages. But it gets translated “reward” by various bibles (KJV, ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV), which gives people the wrong idea. When the King James Version was published in 1611, “reward” meant something you earned through your efforts. Today it means a prize you get for stumbling across a missing person or thing. But a misthón is earned, like Paul said. Ro 4.4 Laborers don’t win their wages; they deserve ’em. Lk 10.7, 1Ti 5.18Various stingy Christians claim God owes us nothing when we do good deeds. ’Cause we should be doing ’em anyway, right? True. But they’ve got the wrong mindset. We’re not just God’s kids, who work for him for free: We’re his emp…

Spirituality. Which leads to religion.

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SPIRITUALITYspɪ.rɪ.tʃu'æl.ə.dinoun. Being concerned with the human spirit, as opposed to material things or the material world.2. [Christianity] Following the Holy Spirit.[Spiritual 'spɪ.rɪ.tʃ(.u)əladjective]I regularly meet pagans who consider themselves “spiritual, but not religious.” I sometimes like to poke back at ’em by describing myself as religious, not spiritual.Of course pagans and Christians have very different definitions for these words. By spiritual they mean they’re trying to be mindful of their spirit. And they have some idea what a spirit is. They know it’s the immaterial part of themselves. Frequently they mix it up with the soul, and use those words interchangeably—and to be fair, so do many Christians who likewise don’t know the difference. If they believe in afterlife, they figure their spirit lives on when they die. Otherwise… they kinda associate everything in their heads, which they think is immaterial, with their spirits. Namely their thoughts. Particu…