“Simon, Simon, behold Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32).
While in Seminary, I was unaware of the fact that so many of my professors served also as pastors. I knew that my Old Testament Professor, Dr. John Waters was Pastor to the Solid Rock Baptist Church and that my Mission of The Church professor, Dr. George Thomas was Pastor to the Shaw Temple (Faith) AME Zion Church (both in Atlanta) because each had invited me to preach on special days at these two Churches. But of those who had pastorates out of town, I had no first hand knowledge. I discovered my Old Testament professor, Dr. G. Murray Branch’s pastorate while reading a magazine and seeing a full page ad of him standing on the steps of the Dexter Avenue (King Memorial) Baptist Church in Montgomery (not the Sixteenth Street Church in Birmingham as previously stated). Luke’s eleventh and final use of ‘pistis/faith’ in his Gospel; the discussion on ‘satanology’ as informed by Dr. Branch’s course on the Book Of Job.
To understand God as the author of both good and evil is to stand deep and strong in the heart of the Old Testament faith tradition. I like the analogy of the pyramid as an image for seeing that there are two points to every side which progressively come closer together until the top reveals a single, solitary point! This point, alone, is a God that is omnipotent (having all power); who is omniscient (knowing all things); and who is omnipresent (actively present in all times and in all places). I am convinced that it is by ‘choice’ that one comes to see God at this highest level of life! Revelation, yes (chicken or the egg?). But, when you choose to sit on ‘The Mourners Pew’ and choose to stay there long enough— revelation will come. Som’in ‘bout ‘that pew’ that leaves it empty in most every Church that I go into for services in our times. There is no longer the teaching nor the practice. The vitality of this ‘born againness’ pew, this deliverance pew, this revelatory faith tradition his been lost on the Church.
You can chose god at any point of the pyramid image, but any point below THE single and solitary TOP, will require you to work out and rationalize your opposite point— your (god’s) ‘enemy’, your ‘satan’. (Kinda’ schizophrenic by nature? Do you want to be made whole?). In my Philosophy of Religion course I used an interview done on Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz entitled ‘The Vertical Adventure’ where the Rabbi speaks of our inheriting a ‘skyscraper’ and our choosing to live on the ground floor and basement rather than make our way to life at the top.
Som’in about this spiritual— “I’m gonna lay down my (burdens) my sword and shield, down by the Riverside…! I ain’t gon study war no more!. I ain’t gon study war no more!. I ain’t gon study war no more!”. Our newly elected President has inherited a ‘complete curriculum’ of war and his (and our) expectations of “Change” condescends to the demands now placed upon his life— ‘to study war!’
As for me, it’s a conscious decision— at THE TOP is ONLY GOD! I ain’t gon study satanology no more!. In this small, atomic, neutronic space in time in which I live it will forever be “God (that) made me do it!”
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