The Stuff of Martyrs

by Darrel Cline

Introduction

Emergency Room
Only Those in Pain May Enter Here
(All Others Please Take a Seat in the Hall)

Everyone has a basic way of thinking about God. We don't all know what ours is, but we all have a God-concept. The study and development of this God-concept is called doing theology, something many of us only do unconsciously. Most of us do it in pain. Since the prospect for our world is greater violence, more meanness, and greater pain, the issue at stake is the identity and character of God as He relates to me in my present or future pain, i.e., God as the Doctor in the emergency room.

There is a God

The issue of this god-notion that resides in everyone's inner core is, ultimately, who or what is it that exercises the final authority and control with respect to me and my life? Because everyone subscribes to the reality that someone or something is in control, everyone has a core theology.

He's Not Well Known

But, at this point, the common road diverges into a myriad of highways, county roads, pathways and ruts. Though everyone subscribes to the notion of an ultimate controller, not everyone agrees on what, or who, this god is. Some call it fate. Some call it chance. Some call him Allah. Others call him Jesus Christ. Others say there is a pantheon of deities who raise havoc with the children of men, but even these normally have a supreme god among and above the general run of gods. Some call him Buddha; others say there is no god, but these simply make themselves their own god. Something, or someone, is surely determining the things that are coming down the pike.

The fact that decisions have consequences makes debate over whether there is a controller moot. There is a Controller. Who he/she/it is is the debated point.

So Confusion Reigns

The point of all this is that there surely is a fair reason for the amount of confusion that exists in our world today. However, it is not necessary for us to be overwhelmed by the confusion that presents itself to us. The One True God has revealed Himself in history, word, and active work. Those of us who know Him relationally, know that He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This book is written for the sake of those who know God through Jesus Christ. It is written because there is a great deal of confusion even under the reality that God has revealed Himself in Christ. Many are the believers in Jesus Christ who have no sure grip on what they know and believe about His Father and ours. I do not mean that they do not think they know; what I mean is that when the pain gets intense, most of us get very confused about who the doctor is, or if not that, what His prescription will be for my pain. This confusion reveals the fact that what we think we know is not the same thing as what we believe. For this reason, this book has been put together. It is an attempt to give a degree of clarity to what God has said and done, with the result that His children will know better what to expect from Him; those in E.R. can expect some effective treatment of their pains.

Our Calling is to Know Him Better

We have been called to live by faith, not in what men have told us about God, but in what we have come to know is true. The central thesis of this book is that God began in Genesis to reveal His commitments to His children--and then spent the rest of the Book building a body of revelation designed to clarify those commitments. There is a core of theology in the Bible that remains in fuzzy focus for most people. This book is my attempt to bring some definition to the focus. If you want to be able to believe God more decisively, perhaps this book will help.

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