King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
- 2 Chronicles 10:18-19
The king sent this reply:
To Rehum the commanding officer, Shimshai the secretary and the rest of their associates living in Samaria and elsewhere in Trans-Euphrates:
The letter you sent us has been read and translated in my presence. I issued an order and a search was made, and it was found that this city has a long history of revolt against kings and has been a place of rebellion and sedition. Jerusalem has had powerful kings ruling over the whole of Trans-Euphrates, and taxes, tribute and duty were paid to them. Now issue an order to these men to stop work, so that this city will not be rebuilt until I so order. Be careful not to neglect this matter. Why let this threat grow, to the detriment of the royal interests?
- Ezra 4:17-22
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
- Romans 7:14-20
“We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are, as Newman said, rebels who must lay down our arms.”
- C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
To get the title out of the way, I saw this quote years ago and the more I researched the name, the more frustrated I got. Tomorrow, the Philosophy posts will take a more theological turn. I will be using Tony Lane’s A Concise History of Christian Thought. Tomorrow we will talk about a lack of rebellion, as the C. S. Lewis quote states about Newman. In the book, under Christian Thought in the Modern World, subset The Roman Catholics, the first among the theologians in that subset is John Henry Newman. Newman was raised evangelical, but as a teen, he was converted to Calvinism, joining the Presbyterian church. But then in college, he was swayed toward Catholicism. Rather odd, since most heart-felt, true Christians these days, at least those who wander to find the “right” church, often take the opposite approach, in those two or more steps.
In the NIV, there are 170 references to the word “rebel” which includes the verb form in various tenses and “rebellion.” Only 10%, exactly, are in the New Testament. But looking through the history of the Israelites, they were in rebellion from early in their existence as a people. And they eventually went into exile as a result. Why not have the word in 23 of the 39 books. Oddly, Judges does not have the word, but rebellion is expressed as everyone going their own way for there was no king… Yet, it is in the book of Judges that the Rebellion, Punishment, Repentance, and Deliverance cycle is repeated constantly through the book. They just never quit rebelling when they got a king, mainly since their “King” was God prior to having a flawed, human king.
The Scriptures from the Old Testament talk of Israel and Judah rebelling against God. The Apostle Paul, then, writes in Romans that we are, in essence in rebellion with our inner sin nature. But then, Paul follows this with Romans 8, a chapter dedicated to Grace. Our war against sin cannot be successful, but we no longer have to fight that battle alone. Jesus has already defeated sin on the cross. We just must endure the battle and rely on the strength of God to see us through.
So, who is Newman? Someone who hit the nail on the head. We are not simply imperfect creatures. God might only chisel off a rough spot or sand down one place or another if there was simply an imperfection. No, we must lay down our weapons of rebellion. First, we must understand that we are in rebellion against God.
Then we repent, which means turning from the sin.
Don’t worry; God will catch you in His arms.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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