An Integrated Understanding of Earth History, Divine Initiative, Diabolical Factors, and Our Mission in This Life

In his brief essay "Basic (recent) Insights," originally written in September 2002, Ralph Winter listed some of his early tentative observations as he sought an overall understanding of the story of life on this planet and the apparent contradictions to that development. He hoped this understanding would challenge the common perspective that God is the author of disease and suffering. Some of these thoughts are secular hypotheses. Others are distinctly Biblical and/or theological convictions. They are by no means all equally credible or substantial. Yet he collected them because he felt that they all seemed to contribute in some way to a single integrated understanding of earth history, divine initiative, the diabolical factors, and the meaning of all this for our mission in this life.


Basic (recent) Insights

Photo Credit: Flickr/Shubham

Posted on March 23, 2017 and filed under Blog, Fifth 30.

God is Deeply Concerned about Disease and Suffering

In the face of dreadful news such as a cancer diagnosis, many sincere Christian friends come to our side in comfort. “We don't know all of God’s purposes,” they'll advise, “but we need to be able to say, ‘Thank you God for this disease.’ The challenge is to believe without knowing all the answers.” Others will urge us to recognize that “God knows what he is doing,” as if cancer is God’s mysterious initiative. Yet others will suggest that suffering is deserved, either as punishment, or to improve us, or both.

The principal concern in all of this for us in the Roberta Winter Institute is the distortion in many people’s ideas about God. We are convinced that God is deeply concerned about disease and suffering, and not in the business—perish the thought—of inflicting us with pain to deepen our spiritual lives. “If that is God's initiative,” Ralph Winter once asked, “why did his Son go around relieving people of pain and suffering?”

Read more: The Why of the RWI

Posted on March 21, 2017 and filed under Blog, Fifth 30.

What is the Task of Humans who Accept Christ as Lord and Savior?

The Bible makes it clear that our mission is to glorify God among all peoples and that this is essentially a battle against darkness and evil. “The chief end of man is to glorify God” goes the familiar catechism, but to do that requires us, together in mission with the Son of God, to “destroy the works of the Devil” (1 John 3:8). Thus, the task of humans who accept Christ as Lord and Savior is to discover God’s glory through His Word, and through His works (nature, science, history), appreciate it (worship) and to join Him in mission to declare that glory by seeking to destroy the “works of the Devil.”
Read more: " The Story of the Battle for Our Planet"

Posted on March 18, 2017 and filed under Blog, Fifth 30.

Demonstrating God’s Will

By Beth Snodderly

“In a cosmic battle for the rulership of this planet, God is deliberately overcoming evil with good until, in the end, Jesus will reign in his Kingdom of shalom. But until God ushers in that final perfect new heaven and new earth, there is a need for believers to engage intentionally in efforts to demonstrate God’s will for people, for societies, and for God’s originally good creation. Jesus’ followers serve as God’s display window, showing what Jesus’ reign is meant to look like. As pastor-theologian, Gregory Boyd, says,

As Christ gave his all for us, so we are called and empowered to give our all for others. As we abide in Christ and participate in the love of the self-sacrificial God, our lives are to manifest the self-sacrificial love of God to others. See “Living In, and Looking Like, Christ,” in Servant God: The Cosmic Conflict Over God’s Trustworthiness (Loma Linda: Loma Linda University Press, 2013), 407.    

Read more excerpts from my book, Chaos Is Not God’s Will at: Introducing International Development as Cosmic Battle

Posted on March 15, 2017 and filed under Blog, Fifth 30.

When Satan Turned Against God Precisely What Kind of Destruction Did He Set Out to Achieve?

By Ralph D. Winter

The respected Dutch theologian Berkouer made the rare comment that “You cannot have a proper theology without a sound demonology.” Another theologian dared to suggest that Satan’s greatest achievement is “to cover his tracks.” Note that if Satan has, in fact, skillfully “covered his tracks,” all of us are likely to be extensively unaware of his deeds. Isn’t that logical? Paul suggested that we are not to be ignorant of his devices. We are told that Satan and his angels once worked for God. If so, I ask, when Satan turned against God precisely what kind of destruction and perversion did he set out to achieve? Where would we see evidence of his works? Would he set out to pervert the DNA of originally tame animals? Would he employ powers of deception so that we would get accustomed to pervasive violence in nature and no longer connect an intelligent evil power with evil and suffering? Worse still, would Satan even successfully tempt us to think that God is somehow behind all evil—and that we must therefore not attempt to eradicate things like smallpox lest we “interfere with Divine Providence”?

Read more at: A Blindspot in Western Christianity?: Its Meaning for Mission and the Basis for Two Institutes

Posted on March 10, 2017 and filed under Blog, Fifth 30.