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Can Scripture Teach Gen Zs To Be Godly Parents? Part 2

This post was originally published on this site

The good news is that Paul faced the same evangelical problem in his ministry to the Pagans, where their presuppositional belief system was strongly anchored in the worship of idols (likewise, our Gen Z’s worship the self). His success and failures are recorded in Acts, thus providing us with a very practical and proven strategy for evangelizing idol worshippers.

In Part 1 [1], the evangelical challenge in ministering to the Gen Z cohort was identified: Simply Gen Z’s do not consider God’s Word as authentically relevant having adopted moral subjectivism (“You have no right to tell me what I can or can’t do”) as their defining belief system. The question now: Is an evangelistic entry-gate still available in order to effectively minister to self-defines, turning their hearts towards being godly parents?

Second in a Series of Four

Today’s evangelizing challenge is not unlike the one the disciples faced after Christ’s Accession — Peter facing Jewish rejecters, and Paul facing Pagan disbelievers — both situations foreshadowing today’s younger generation. As Christians, each of us has the biblical obligation (Matt 25:29; 1 Peter 4:10) to evangelize. Just as Tim Keller summarized in his keynote address [2]: “In the early church, ordinary Christians evangelized. Perhaps this approach needs to be revisited.”

Fortunately, we are greatly assisted in fulfilling this obligation by the Barna Group, who has extensively studied this Gen Z cohort (ages 18-29 in 2018), their main finding being that roughly 70% of high school students who enter college as professing Christians will leave with little to no faith. These students usually don’t return to their faith even after graduation, as Barna projects that 80% of those reared in the church will be “disengaged” by the time they are 29 [3], [4], with only one-in-ten remaining faithful.

How can this finding help? Buried within the details of Barna’s findings as to why Gen Z’s leave the faith, we will discover clues suggesting a possible evangelistic entry-gate. Combined this with Paul’s evangelical efforts ministering to hard-core Pagan disbelievers (not unlike our self-definers), a strategy emerges, a strategy anchored on sound theological foundations.

The “drop out” percentage of 59% in the 2011 Study reflects a cohort that is 100% sampled from the millennial generation (the parents). In the 2018 Study (noted in Barna’s graphic as 2019), the “drop out” percentage has increased to 64%, which is likely driven by the fact that the study cohort now samples some of younger-aged Gen Z’s, the generation “obsessed” with authenticity, and thus are in denial that God’s Word has any relevant meaning in their lives (moral subjectivism).

Given this generation of new parents, having been raised in the image of their (millennial) parents, and are now self defining rejecters of God’s Word (evidenced by the increasing drop out rate and that fact that only one-in-ten remain in the faith), traditional church methodology in teaching God’s guardrails governing good parenting skills will be totally ineffective.

The good news is that Paul faced the same evangelical problem in his ministry to the Pagans, where their presuppositional belief system was strongly anchored in the worship of idols (likewise, our Gen Z’s worship the self). His success and failures are recorded in Acts, thus providing us with a very practical and proven strategy for evangelizing idol worshippers.

Recognizing that we all are interpreters, meaning that we discern exactly what our perception of reality is by comparing it contextually with our presuppositional beliefs, Paul demonstrated that he was able to “break-thru” hard-core presuppositions. How? Paul presented himself in a way that he would first be perceived as an authentic person. In other words, Paul presented himself in harmony with the belief system of those he ministered to. This way, Paul earned the listener’s trust. Thus his evangelical message, when he revealed it, was now perceived as an authentic message.

Paul’s “learned” this new strategy, literally, the hard way – Paul, having employed what we can call “the traditional Christian approach,” ended up being stoned by the Lystrians because he refused to accept their conclusion that he and Barnabas were their incarnated gods.

By Paul’s example, Scripture informs us that we must know our counselee well (the Gen Z’s) before we can evangelize this cohort into being godly parents. Knowingwell starts by understanding the Fall, specifically just what was the nature of the alliance Satan (the author refers to Satan hereafter as “Evil”) offered Adam and Eve. Knowing this, we as counselors, can discern the probable presuppositional parenting desires of Gen Z’s. Perhaps, without quoting any scripture, we can then, like Paul, earn their trust, not their rejection. Then upon “raising the curtain,” our evangelizing message will be accepted as authentic, that parenting God’s way is the best!

HOW SPECIFICALLY DID PAUL EVANGELIZE?

Paul, in Athens (Acts 17:16-34) successfully modeled his new strategy, which actually was a procedural reversal from what he had tried and failed when in Lystra (Acts 14:8-20).

What was Paul’s evangelizing strategy in Lystra? First Paul established a reference point that exhibited God’s providential grace and loving care (Paul, having been given the Theophanic power of the Spirit; Acts 26:12-18) healed a man who was lame from birth by calling him to walk. Paul’s intent was to link this reference point to the Lystrians own life experiences, so that by analogy, the Lystrians would equate the reference point with God’s Provincial care for them — “God healed the man thru me so now, having opened your eyes, ‘see’ how he has cared for and loves you – rain from heaven brings a crop to provide you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy[5].

Paul expected that the Lystrians, upon recognizing this analogy between God’s healing and their abundant crops, would respond to his evangelical message gratefully and with thanksgiving, thus enabling the Spirit to convict the Lystrians for not having been thankful before, existentially turning them from idol worship to worshiping the true source of their Providential benefits. [Note: Paul’s expectation was undoubtably modeled after Genesis 1, the chapter where God explained Creation to the ancients in analogically understandable ways.]

Paul chose a theophany (see the theological discussion below) to express the Trinitarian character of God. The Lystrians’ reinterpreted this theophany contextually by their deeply held religious presuppositions. Even though their reaction had been foreshadowed when the Pharisees accused Jesus of being an incarnation of the pagan god Beelzebul (Matthew 12:22-37), nonetheless, Paul and Barnabas were similarly accused of being incarnations of Hermes and Zeus.

Both Paul and Jesus’ experiences are very important teachings, for they explain why evangelizing, by quoting “parenting Scripture” (that’s employing Sola Grata; while their examples used analogous theophanic healing), to Gen Z’s will fail.

  • PAUL: EVANGELIZING SELF-DEFINERS IS ALL ABOUT MANAGING THOSE PESKY PRESUPPOSTIONS.

What was Paul’s evangelizing strategy in Athens? In Athens, Paul reversed his approach by not revealing his analogically godly reference point until the end of his message. This reversal gave Paul time to secure the Athenians’ trust – that’s being perceived as an authentic Pagan. Then his message would be accepted, not reinterpreted by their deeply held presuppositions.

Like Lystra, residents of this Athenian city deeply held Pagan presuppositions, as evidenced by a city replete with a multiplicity of idols, one for every possible occasion. While carefully reviewing these objects of their worship, Paul noticed one bearing the inscription: to an unknown god. This “idol” was Paul’s Ah-Ha moment; he had discovered his entry-gate that he could leverage into being authentic. The Paul could use jiu-jitsu to leverage and defeat Satan!

How Paul applied his jiu-jitsu leverage: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious [acknowledging their strongly held presuppositions]. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you …” just who you have missed!

  • Graciously, as an authentic Pagan, Paul would help the Pagan Athenians complete their belief system.

Once trusted, Paul had gained the jiu-jitsu opportunity to “reveal” his evangelical message; his needed this reference point established, being the idol inscribed to an unknown god, so Paul could link-in, analogically, his evangelizing message being God’s Provincial care (Acts 17:25b).

Even though some in the audience sneered upon hearing Paul speak of the resurrection, others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject – Paul had authentically connected, and some became followers and believed. Paul had chosen wisely his evangelical entry-gate. Athens ended well.

PAUL NOW PROMOTES HIS NEW EVANGELIZING STRATEGY

Paul’s Athenian success so convinced him that authenticity was THE strategy for evangelizing those holding hard and fast satanic presuppositions, that in his first letter to the Corinthians, written just three years later, Paul would recount his continued, positive results employing authenticity (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

  • This Letter grounds our biblical model as to how we are to evangelize the Gen Z’s to become godly parents.

Paul actually lays his biblical foundation in Chapter 8 where he is describing just what is an “idol” — “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one” (v. 8:4b), following-up with added advice in v. 8:9 to be strong in faith, for this strengths is what enables us to be BOLD (recall that Keller, in concluding his keynote address, called for all of us to be evangelically BOLD [6]), to be perceived as authentic before non-believers.

Some Christians question the ethics of Paul’s stance. So in v. 9:1 Paul restates v. 8:9 in the form of a question: “Am I not free?” — v. 9:1 is Paul’s preamble to the rendition of his new evangelical successes, which are detailed in vv. 9:19-23, a rendition of Paul’s on-going positive results duplicating his Athenian success — restating: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (v. 9:22b).

  • Paul delivers this identical message of authenticity to husbands in Ephesians 5:33: Love your wife authenticity (referring to the husband’s need to welcome the wife’s natural desire to return, as ordained in Genesis 2:22) and you will be richly rewarded emotionally, having gained her respect.

WHAT IS OUR EVANGELICAL MESSAGE ON GODLY PARENTING?

Scripture sets forth some parental guardrails:

  1. Colossians 3:21 – do not embitter your children
  2. Ephesians 6:4 – do not exasperate your children
  3. Titus 1:7 – do not be overbearing towards your children
  4. Proverbs 12:18 – do not speak punitively to your children
  5. Ecclesiastes 6:11 – frame your advice to your children with care
  6. 1 Peter 5:2 – children belong to God, shepherd accordingly as his Ambassador

These six guardrails informed the heading of this Series: Parenting is the godly maturing of the child’s brain, God’s way.

The first four guardrails engender within the child, feelings of embitterment, exasperation, and being dominated and unforgiven by his parents — all feelings that reflect induced stress. And why does this happen?

God designed-in a 20 year time-line for full brain development, meaning that during this pre-adult developmental period, kids are unable logically to “connect the dots” between their behavior and parental consequences (thus the feeling: “I just never can to anything right!” – a basic feeling of exasperation).

Exasperation reflects stress. The greater this accumulated stress, the more regressive their thinking and behavior. The more regressive becomes the kid’s thinking and behavior, the greater becomes parental disciplinary pressures, inducing more stress — a disastrous positive (amplifying) feedback loop is now working.

Continued parental violation of these guardrails piles-on more and more stress — accumulated stress eventually turns into trauma [that’s CPTSD or, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, which is the consequence of an inability to physically “escape” [7] the source of the induced stress, which is — the parents].

  • Disaster: Children with a history of trauma are less capable of concentrating in the classroom — and trauma also causes brain damaged adults! Yes, actual damage to God’s structural design of our brains.

For example, the hormones induced by stress, upon entering child’s blood, over time, actually kill brain neurons, a scientifically confirmed cause of narcissistic adults. [Note: Ownership Parenting by millennials is what induces their Gen Z children to adopt selfish belief systems (i.e., self-definers).] That’s why God’s “way” of parenting uses lots of mercy and grace — after all, the parent is God’s stand-in, called to the sole task of anchoring the hearts of his children in Living Water. Misbehavior is a heart issue, not a disciplinary issue!

RETURNING TO THE BARNA STUDY

A five-year study completed in 2011 and headed by the president of the Barna Group, David Kinnaman, explored faith development among teens and young adults within our rapidly shifting culture. The study cohort was comprised of those who were regular Christian churchgoers during their teen years; yet they fell away from the church after age 15.

Barna summarized six reasons [8] those in the study group cited as to why they fell away. One reason given, significantly, speaks directly into why Scripture has parenting guardrails — the prevention of parental brain damage of his children.

Any why is this interesting? Barna’s reason #3 is: The church’s antagonistic view of Science. In detail, this how Barna’s Kinnaman summarized the effects of this perception in spurring fall-aways:

One of the reasons young adults feel disconnected from church or from faith is the tension they feel between Christianity and science. The most common of the perceptions in this arena is “Christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a Christian background feel that “churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%). Another one-quarter embraces the perception that “Christianity is anti-science” (25%). And nearly the same proportion (23%) said they have “been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” Furthermore, the research shows that many science-minded young Christians are struggling to find ways of staying faithful to their beliefs and to their professional calling in science-related industries.

Christianity is anti-science: This presuppositional viewpoint held by Gen Z’s may very well be our evangelizing entry-gate: “How to avoid damaging the brains of your children.” Will knowing how to avoid brain damaged kids appeal to Gen Z’s own parental selfish desires? — Enabling us to evangelize from a perceived anti-Christian posture thus harmonizing with their presuppositions? — Offering an ability to capitalize on the Pauline jiu-jitsu strategy of authenticity?

WHAT GEN Z PARENTING DESIRES FLOW FROM THE FALL?

After the Fall, although we still retain imago Dei, we did loose our covering — that’s the ethical component of imago Dei. We were stripped of our former righteousness, holiness, and the love of truth, which has ben replaced by nakedness and shame (Genesis 3:7).

The serpent appeared before Adam and Eve in a counterfeit theophany event, functioning as the mouthpiece of pure Evil, offering Eve (and Adam) a counterfeit covenant. What Evil offered, documented in Genesis 3:6 [NKJV], is: So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant [both a practical and desirable thing] to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one WISE, she took of its fruit and ate [by eating she formed a “covenant” alliance with Evil and, in return, received Evil’s “wisdom”]. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Our ancestors’ in sealing their alliance with Evil, was an act of “vainglory” (aka, intellectual gratification – having atheistic and practical benefits). In return Evil gave both his brand of “wisdom” – to be like God, knowing good and evil. [ESV]. The Hebrew word for “wise” in Genesis 3:6 is Strong’s #H7919, sakal [9].

JUST WHAT IS EVIL’S BRAND OF “WISDOM?”

Broadly, Evil captured their hearts [10]. Genesis versus, while being sparsely painted word sketches, do tell us that Adam and Eve were to be on the same level as God in terms of knowledge, at least that’s what Evil implied in forming the alliance. But Evil is a liar, a truth twister, and an exceptionally skilled con artist (Genesis 3:1). So how did Moses, who authored the Pentateuch, reveal through his contextual usages of sakal, the meaning Evil’s “wisdom?”

Moses used sakal only three more times in the Pentateuch, translated by the KJV as guiding in Genesis 48:14 (Jacob deliberately placed his right hand on the younger boy Ephraim, passing down his legal safeguard, a blessing opposite Joseph’s wishes, suggesting Evil’s covenant keepers are adept in getting their own way). Then in Deuteronomy 29:9, sakal is translated as prospers (contextually meaning “keep my covenant and prosper in all that you do”), and again in Deuteronomy 32:29, sakal is translated as understood (contextually indicating the Evil’s covenant keepers, being rebellious children, will have a ruinous future — that’s from the translation of the Hebrew colloquialism for “latter end” – see NKJV verse note).

  • Moses called it! Taken together, Evil’s covenant offers alliance keepers great prosperity by being adept deceivers [moral subjectivism], but in the end, you will have ruined their life.

LADY WISDOM LINKS MOSES AND JESUS IN CONDEMNATION OF MORAL SUBJECTIVISM

Moses’ point: Accepting Evil’s covenant is to choose a life of adept deception. Lady Wisdom cites no less that 13 more interpretations of sakal, as translated by the KJV. Key aspects are explained here [11]. For example, Proverbs 17:8 speaks directly to the deceptive use of bribery as an effective tool in acquiring ill gotten riches (Evil’s brand of prosperity, Proverbs 15:27), and in the NT Jesus admonished such a lifestyle, as told in Luke 16:1-9, The Parable of the Shrewd Manager — the polar opposite of Joseph’s story in his management of Potiphar’s Egyptian household.

In Jesus’ Parable, the business owner accuses his manager of mismanaging his wealth (apparently customer’s were extremely slow in paying their bills). The manager’s immediate response to the accusation was to call himself a “pity party,” to label himself a victim! — That’s demonstrating his inability to take personal responsibility.

Having extended credit by “double billing” a highly illegal 100% usury fee (likely feeling entitled, he skimmed the usury fee into his own pocket), the manager chose to save his hide by acting quickly to recover the owner’s principle. Contacting each customer, he offered them the opportunity to pay-up, sans the usury fee, and then, having a broken moral compass, destroyed all the original invoices (destroying evidence to cover-up his skimming). Jesus tells this Parable as his direct condemnation of moral subjectivism.

  • Note the parallels betwen the manager’s behavior and today’s culture.

THE SINFUL OUT WORKINGS OF OUR ANCESTRAL ALLIANCE

  • Moral subjectivism, the Worldview that morals are the individual’s right to self-define, a view held tightly by our younger generations and hallmarked by feelings of discontent (detached, stressed, short attention spans, unfocused) and entitlement (the polar opposite of gratitude),
  • Vainglory is exemplified by the intellectual gratification practiced by Ownership Parents – that’s parents who lean towards finding their own identity in the success of their children, relishing in and rewarding their kid’s achievements in academics, sports, etc.

Together, the broad acceptances of these sinful behaviors speaks of Evil’s acquisition of a very large and commanding cultural alliance base, and giving the devil some due, illustrates the effectiveness of his catechizing social echo chamber [12].

VAINGLORY AND OWNERSHIP PARENTING

Vainglory is known as one’s “desire for approval” — and its sidekick respect — is a natural need that compensates each of us for our post Fall “shame.”

Ownership Parenting is the “father knows best,” “do as I say,” or a rules-based parenting that lacks in mercy and grace because it doesn’t recognize the truth that God designed–in that long time-line for a kid’s brain to mature.

The evolution of these “ownership feelings” originates in a desire for approval/respect. It’s a heart-felt desire that morphs into a “need,” and a need that then morphs into a “demand,” and then a demand morphs into control, which is the “tool” for satisfying the demand — because the demand has now become the heart’s idol.

Simply, Ownership Parenting expresses control in order to satisfy what their sinful heart worships. Children become “controlledproxies (pawns) in order to satisfy the parent’s original desire for approval/respect — this is vainglory working to compensate for their acquisition of shame handed down from the Fall.

  • Morphing happens when parental hearts are not rooted in Living Water, and consequentially the status of the spousal relationship is disharmony. [13]
  • Vainglory is the Gen Z version of the Athenian idol named: to an unknown god, Paul’s Ah-Ha moment, his entry-gate. Likewise vainglory is our Ah-Ha moment, our entry-gate.
  • Millennials were Ownership Parents; Gen Zs are their children, “discipled” in their image.

PART 2’s FOUNDATIONAL THEOLOGY

Dispelling the viewpoint that Science is anti-Christian: Science cannot exist outside of God’s Providential maintenance of his created regularities ­– imago Dei

Van Til, in his discussion of the Creation Doctrine [14], argues in support that Science, founded upon created regularities and thus being derived from one created aspect cannot be diminished from other aspects as the Trinity is the harmonizing agent of the “one and the many: … If the creation doctrine is thus taken seriously, it follows that the various aspects of created reality must sustain such relations to one another as have been ordained between them by the Creator, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. All aspects being equally created, no one aspect of reality may be regarded as more ultimate than another. Thus the created one and the many in this respect be said to be equal to one another; they are equally derived and equally dependent upon God who sustains them both.

Theophanic Glory: To understand Paul’s usage of healings, we must visit the essential Biblical Doctrine of Theophanic Glory, a doctrine central to Christian hope. Paul employed Theophanic Glory in Lystra, unfortunately only to fail strategically because the Lystrians reinterpreted Paul’s healing and thus his and Barnabas’ presence were viewed as incarnations of their Pagan gods.

Theophanic Glory is the intensive form of God’s larger pattern of Creation, Providence, and Consummation. In general terms, Theophanic Glory normally describes instances when God appears to his people, visibly or in dreams. Theophanic Glory is the most important manifestation of God’s Spirit existentially working within the midst of his people.

  • Author’s Definition: Theophanic Glory, as this author extends its meaning within the context of the Indwelling Spirit, becomes the reflection of God’s work within each of us — and is the SOURCE of our work in meeting our obligation to evangelize — specifically, how we reflect the Trinity to others.

How often have you ministered to another and then observed the Spirit’s work? That response is how this author sees his extended meaning of Theophanic Glory. We have observed this happening in Paul’s evangelism, for example, when he healed the lame man in Lystra.

Here are three traditional references on the Doctrine of Theophanic Glory: [15], [16], and [17]. In the OT, Theophanic appearances were seen in Exodus 16:10; Numbers 16:19; and in general, Psalm 97:1-6. These OT appearances speak of the lovingly protective care of God.

In the NT, Theophanic Glory is even more apparent (John 1:14, 18), and by placing our faith in Christ, Theophanic Glory has taken on the form of the works of the Indwelling Spirit, and ultimately will reappear very dramatically at Consummation (Revelation 21-22:5).

The Book of Acts (aka, the Gospel of the Spirit) informs us that Theophanic Glory embolden the disciples: e.g., Acts 2:5-6 – they heard Peter speaking in their own native languages; Acts 8:26-39 – the conversion of the Ethiopian; Acts 22:17-21 – Paul was in a trance and he was told to depart; and Acts 26:12-18 – the conversion of Paul.

The Spirit’s Existentially Sanctifying Role: The grace of God, the purity of Christ, and the sanctifying work of the Spirit all need to work together within us as we respond to theophanies (in this author’s broadest sense), to respond positively to the calling that redeems and restores our ethical glory (Ephesians 4:1-5); more specifically: Ephesians 4:24/Colossians 3:10 – the putting on of the new self; Romans 12:2 – renewal of one’s mind; and 2 Corinthians 3:6-8 – the Spirit, through common grace, restores our ethical glory. BUT, deeply held presuppositions, as both Jesus and Paul encountered, can effectively negate this calling (that’s the presuppositions held in harden hearts, by which all telephonic ministry is reinterpreted).

The Spirit also Provincially Delivers Admonishments: One example is Stephen — in Acts 7:51 (2 Chronicles 24:20) Stephen was “full of the Holy Spirit” (v. 7:55). Note the reaction of the Sanhedrin (v. 7:54) when Stephen called them out for hating the Spirit, acting just like their ancestors did: “When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.”

These members of the Sanhedrin foreshadowed the behavioral reactions of today’s self-definers: the members exhibited moral subjectivism in viewing Stephen as a threat to their belief system, and then obliterated Stephen in order to “feel safe” again.

Examples of Theophanic Glory: The Spirit, being the divine agent of both Creation and Providence, led Israel through “a barren and howling waste” (Deuteronomy 32:10) on their way to Canaan, likened in v. 10 to that of an eagle hovering protectively over its young, spreading out its wings to support them, and guiding them on to maturity. (We can view the Spirit as the “creating agent” of Lady Wisdom, who guides us to maturity: See Proverbs 8:22-36, in particular v. 8:23 I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.)

And the Spirit not only reveals God in Theophanic Glory, but also works boldly through mankind, Provincially executing his loving care (e.g., Acts 8:26-40; 9:17-18; 10:44-46; 16:6-8). The Indwelling Spirit also strengthens us to have a greater regard for the Word of God, thus strengthening our faith [18]. Example: Acting through the disciples, the Spirit strengthened (Strong’s #G1991) the souls of the brethren throughout the churches in what’s today Syria and Turkey (Acts 14:21-22; 15:30-32; 15:41; 18:23).

Patterns: Unsurprisingly, God’s works of Creation established patterns that he maintains by Providence. God created his earth to be our Home – a Home with three rooms – the sky was filled with birds (specific furniture); the land was filled with creatures and animals (specific furniture), and the water was filled with fish (specific furniture), all according to its kind, to be fruitful and increase in number.

Now Consider God’s Tabernacle: The Tabernacle replicates this three-room pattern [19]: God’s dwelling place in Heaven (the cloud-waters above – Most Holy, the sky or firmament – Holy, and his footstool Earth). The Tabernacle’s three rooms are: the outer court, the inner court (Holy Place), and the Most Holy Place, each room being filled with room-specific furniture.

And each Tabernacle room was accessible only to a specific Holy Class (purity) of his people who performed room-specific rites of worship within each, with The Holy Place possessing attenuated holiness and rites compared to the Most Holy Place, and the Court reflecting further attenuated holiness and rites with respect to the Holy Place.

We see this same attenuating pattern (a hierarchal pattern) in the relationship of humans having command over animals, and animals being able to live off the Earth’s provisions (Psalm 104) — and by masculine husbands (modeling themselves after Christ) being the spiritual leaders and holistic protectors of feminine wives, and their family.

How God’s Beauty is Reflected in Symmetry: The Tabernacle exhibits consistent dimensional ratios. The Holy Place (middle room) is the same width is the Most Holy Place, but twice as long. Its length and breadth are the ratio of 2 to 1; breath and height are the ratio of 2 to 3; and length and height are the ratio of 4 to 3. The first room, the Court, is 5 times the length of the Holy Place’s two cubits, maintaining a length to breadth ratio of 2 to 1, and so forth.

  • Proportionalities express the principle of imaging [20]. God has revealed his beauty and harmony (imago Dei) in terms of the Tabernacle’s symmetry and proportionalities.

God (in the form of the Spirit acing with God’s Wisdom) is the creator of music (Genesis 4, imago Dei). Simple harmony is produced again by the ratio of 2 to 1. The frequency of a note “one octave higher” has twice the frequency. Both our physical ears and the neurological process that God designed into our brains are such that we can sense (via hearing) when tones reflect proportionalities (harmonious sounds), or we can sense when the tones are not in proportion – that’s when we “hear” unharmonious dissonance, [21] and by God’s designed, we avoid dissonance.

Proportionalities in Science: Newtown’s 3rd Law reflects proportionalities – to every action there is always opposed an equal and opposite reaction. Likewise, when we turn back to human nature, we also find Newtonian-like proportionalities (recall the Spirit’s creations are imago Dei): There’s Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly representing equal and opposite forces that attract or distract us children, and there’s Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 representing the opposing life issues that we all face.

Progressively Revealed Scientific Wisdom: Providential Wisdom, reveled progressively by the Spirit, guided Einstein in refining Newton’s assumption that physical interactions propagate at infinite speed, with the refined theory that energy actually propagates as gravitational radiation (just like electromagnetic waves propagate by radiation) but at the speed of light. One hundred years later, science acquired additional revealed Wisdom and gravitational waves were measure, proving Einstein’s theory.

Providential Wisdom also has provided for the invention of smart phones, 5G Internet speeds, and wrist watches that perform EKG-like heart rhythm monitoring.

Within Providence, the Wisdom to specifically conduct human life is contained in Proverbs 8. As She did in the introduction to the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 1), Lady Wisdom tells us that the true answer to the human’s quest for all knowledge and understanding is found in the fear of the Lord (not terror but reverent awe in worship), for as we live in keeping within the order of God (in Providence), we will learn, grow, and thrive. Living outside of Providence, we die (Romans 8:13).

SO HOW DOES GOD GOVERN? – THE THEOLOGY OF PROVIDENCE

God’s Providence is his maintenance of Creation along with his protective care of mankind, with the Spirit being the common dominator of both Creation and Providence, and through Providence, the Spirit reveals God’s Wisdom.

Although the word Providence is not found in Scripture, the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563, Question 27 (What do you understand by the providence of God?), [22] provides a complete definition as discerned from Scripture itself, thus becoming an essential biblical motif:

God’s providence is
his almighty and ever present power
, [Jeremiah 23:23, 24; Acts 17:24-28]whereby, as with his hand, he still upholds
heaven and earth and all creatures
,  [Hebrews 1:3]and so governs them that
leaf and blade,
rain and drought,
fruitful and barren years,
food and drink,
health and sickness,
riches and poverty
,   [3 Jeremiah 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Proverbs 22:2.]indeed, all things,
come to us not by chance
  [Proverbs 16:33]but by his fatherly hand.   [Matthew 10:29]

CREATION THEOLOGY OUTLINED

  1. The Spirit is the Agent of Creation: The common dominator linking Creation and Providence is the Spirit. The Spirit, and Lady Wisdom, were present at the very beginning when God Created earth, the cosmos, and mankind:
    1. Genesis 1:2 — Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering [rachaph/Strong’s #H7363] over the waters.
    2. The Spirit of God, hovering over the waters is the archetypal pattern, a Creation agent, for the earth, its provisions, for mankind — all Creation.
    3. The Spirit, working in the image of God, imago Dei, created everything.
    4. Example: Psalm 104:30 “When you send your Spirit, they [contextually the “they” is animals] are created, and you renew the face of the ground.”
  2. The Works of the Spirit Accomplish Providence, God’s Loving Care and Protection:
    1. Rachaph uniquely reappears [23] in Deuteronomy 32:10-11 (the Song of Moses) — In a desert land he found him (the Israelites [24]), in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers [rachaph] over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.
    2. The Spirit revealed itself as the pillar of cloud and fire that lead the way for the Israelites while affording them overshadowing protection (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19, 24; 33:9-10) and then communicated with Moses (Exodus 33:9-10).
      1. God describes himself as bearing Israel on eagles’ wings (Exodus 19:4).
      2. Through Providence, Wisdom is revealed by the Spirit’s channeling of Lady Wisdom (Exodus 33:9-10).
  • Today, all Christians have been given the Indwelling Spirit. Thus, Providence works directly within and through us, providing each of us with his loving care, protection, and the ability to systematically learn and grow in Wisdom, all through the Works of the Spirit ‘s divine or saving grace, sola Grata, channels the Spirit’s existentially redemptive Wisdom and Grace thru us into others.
  1. Provincial Maintenance: A simple example of providential maintenance is the regularity of the properties of water; regularities being the foundation of ALL science:

Water is always what we call wet. Cooled below 32 degrees F at sea level, you can always count on water turning into a solid, called ice. Heated to 212 degrees F, and again you can count on water turning to a vapor, called steam. Should the vapor encounter a cold plate, you can count again on it becoming a liquid.

Also through provincial maintenance, rocks stay hard and the earth revolves around its axis with a provincial regularity of 23 hours and 56 minutes (a sidereal day). Also our earth orbits the Sun at an average distance of 149.60 million km (92.96 million miles), with one complete orbit taking 365.256 days (1 sidereal year), a provincial regularity such that mankind, and all the animals, are never fried nor frozen.

  1. Spirit at Creation: God first created the Heaven and Earth (Genesis 1:1) and through the Works of the Spirit (Genesis 1:2), as commanded by God’s Spoken Word, the Spirit shaped Earth into three rooms (air, land, and sea), provisioning each room uniquely, and when Earth was ready, God commanded the Spirit to help “make mankind in our image “ (Genesis 1:26).

NOTE: The Spirit’s creation of mankind also is found in Matthew 1:18 and Ezekiel 37:1-14. Also in v. 37:9, the “four winds” refers to the Spirit [25].

  • Theology Restated: Commanding the Spirit through his Spoken Word, God created the earth, it’s provisions, and mankind all in his image, imago Dei, which is a covenantal event [26] – that’s his creation of a Home for his children, a Home that his Providence maintains through the continuing works of the Spirit. So doing, the Spirit continues to reveal his Wisdom. Importantly, the Spirit maintains the Home’s regularities and lovingly cares for all of God’s children living within (common grace). In return God asks only that his children prosper by living their lives as his Ambassadors, and by managing the details of HOME as Co-Regents (the covenant of Genesis 1:28-29).
  • Theological Conclusion: The Spirit was the Agent of ALL Creation, including the creation agent of Science (Wisdom) derived from created regularities – the point that was explored in great detail because, culturally, Science is viewed as being devoid of God. And since the Spirit emboldened the disciples in Acts (where we see instances of the Glory-Spirit working through the disciples to strengthen the brethren in churches throughout what’s now Syria and Turkey) we can expect the Spirit to again work through each of us, evangelizing within the midst of his people as we apply Science to facilitate self-definers’ change-of-heart.

RECAPING

Series Part 1 [27] proposed that the solution exhibit the following attributes:

  1. A solution that emphasizes the Existential Slavic (redemptive) Grace of the Spirit,
  2. A solution that can be presented cloaked by Paul’s Doctrine of the Authentic Person – an absolute necessity if you wish to gain the trust of others (1 Corinthians 9:20-23). [What follows below is a specific explanation as to why authenticity must characterize the entry-gate to Gen Z hearts.]
    1. Sometimes, retail-marketing strategies can offer insights into human behavior. Retail marketing illustrates Gen z’s passion for authenticity, their need to resonate with the real McCoy. That’s why many Gen Z’s have left the church [28], rejecting God’s Word because they view God’s Word as unauthenticlly irrelevant when applied to today’s culture.
    2. com highlighted Gen Z’s desire for authenticity by citing successful business examples on how to close sales with Gen Z customers. Quoting [29]:

“You probably already know that millennials prefer brands that champion transparency and share their values. But Gen Z is even more obsessed with finding brands that feel authentic. For example, a shop that offers decor for small spaces found that by showing before and after photos shot by real customers, instead of [professional] photo-shoots, has brought the most success. Similarly, American Eagle shared that its no-Photoshop policy has deeply resonated with younger teens who don’t want to see content that feels too fake or staged.

  1. A solution that avoids being just another rendition of paint-by-numbers homilies,
  2. A solution that will reveal what’s pleasing to God in a way that encourages delight by those hearing the message – that’s those millennials still parenting, and their children, the Gen Z’s, who just now are becoming young parents.

The Barna study, along with Paul’s teachings on how to evangelize worshippers of the self, have pointed the way to a likely and profitable Scientific pathway for turning the hearts of Gen Z towards godly parenting, an strategy that’s well grounded upon a theological foundation.

COMING UP IN THIS SERIES

SERIES PART 3: Having chosen Scientific information as the principal delivery platform in convincing parents to loving mature the child’s brain God’s way, it’s too be delivered in the context of a trinitarian-based pedagogical model. The model itself is demonstratively based upon the solid theological foundations of Van Til, and being trinitarian, the model teaches in a theologically balanced approach.

The Existential instructional pathway (used to convey science) is the prime delivery channel. Science is readily perceived as authentic (per Paul). Existentially, science (imago Dei) also carries along the Slavic (redemptive) Grace of the Spirit. Thus, Science is easily perceived as authentic information – information that can grab parental hearts and motivate a turning towards Ambassadorship Parenting.

SERIES PART 4: Understanding that God designed our brains such that as our parents disciple us according to the Father’s principles, our brain is likewise maturing in accordance with his plan. Consequently, our adult behavior will naturally coalesce around his Word. Using selected examples, Series Part 4 populates this trinitarian pedagogical model of Part 3, incorporating a mix of both biblical principles (the Normative pathway) and extra-biblical Scientific material (the Existential pathway), along with selected books (and illustrative Scriptural guardrails) forming the Situational pathway.

Hank Miiller lives in Newton, Penn., attends the Riverstone Church, Yardley, Penn., and is a Biblical Marriage Counselor specializing in helping those in abusive relationships.


[1] SERIES PART 1: https://www.theaquilareport.com/can-scripture-teach-gen-zs-to-be-godly-parents/

[2] VIDEO: Dr. Timothy Keller’s Keynote at the DTS Hendricks Center 30th Anniversary Gala:Dallas Theological Seminary, Hendricks Center 30th Anniversary Gala  March 26, 2019 | Dallas, Texashttps://lp.dts.edu/hendricks-center-video-watch-1/

[3] Vaneetha Risner, Will You Lose Your Faith in College? desiring God blog, August 23, 2018, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/will-you-lose-your-faith-in-college

[4] Barna Group Study, Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64%—But What About Those Who Stay? September 4, 2019 https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/

[5] Scripture is from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.

[6] See VIDEO, ENDNOTE #2; see also discussion of Keller’s keynote in SERIES PART 1, ENDNOTE #1.

[7] Accumulated stress builds unresolvable frustration. Unable to physically escape, kids devise various manipulative strategies to “escape,” like becoming a pleaser, or withdraw, etc., in order to lessen their adverse feelings. However, these manipulative strategies carryover only to emotionally cripple them as adults.

[8] Barna Group, Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church, September 27, 2011, https://www.barna.com/research/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church/

Here’s the list as follows:

Reason #1 – Churches seem overprotective.
Reason #2 – Teens’ and twentysomethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
Reason #3 – Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
Reason #4 – Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
Reason #5 – They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
Reason #6 – The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

[9] The Hebrew word for to make wise (KJV) used in Genesis 3:6 is a verbal noun expressing a causative action (Strong’s #H7919, sakal).

[10] In Genesis 3:14-15a, God graciously converted the depraved woman’s affections from Satan back to him: So the Lord God said to the serpentAnd I will put enmity [bitterness, resentment, aversion, hate, etc.] between you [serpent] and the woman [Eve].

Encountering God, Eve was still recalling pleasurable feelings from her having experienced intellectual satisfaction during the formation of her alliance with the serpent. God now, by direct intervention, transformed her pleasurable memory into a hateful memory. Hereafter, upon remembering the event, she’d feel a strong sense of aversion, a super yuck!

[11] In Proverbs, sakal appears some 13x: vv. 1:3; 10:5, 19; 14:35; 15:24; 16:20, 23; 17:2-3; 19:14; 21:11-12, 16. Important are vv. 1:3 (sakal translates as wisdom), 15:24 (sakal translates as wise), and 21:16 (sakal translates as understanding) — taken together these three versus contextually inform us the Wisdom reflects God’s design, that by following Wisdoms’ counsel we conform to God’s Providence, and (IMPORTANTLY) to forsake Wisdom means that we reject God himself, becoming self-definers.

Also, rejection (not acceptance) of Wisdom reads upon Gen Z’s feeling of ENTITLEMENT, namely, v. 10:5 states that poverty is due to laziness (sakal translates as wise) — aka, “I’m entitled!”

[12] See VIDEO, ENDNOTE #2

[13] Hank Miiller, Satan is Attacking Ephesians 5:33, The Aquila Report, August 13, 2019, https://www.theaquilareport.com/satan-is-attacking-ephesians-533/

[14]The Trinity becomes the answer to the philosophical problem of the one and the many,” John Frame, Van Til the Theologian, p. 5, https://frame-poythress.org/van-til-the-theologian

Three Key Supporting Points: Van Til points out in his THE DEFENSE OF THE FAITH that:

1)  “If the creation doctrine is thus taken seriously, it follows that the various aspects of created reality must sustain such relations to one another as have been ordained between them by the Creator, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. All aspects being equally created, no one aspect of reality may be regarded as more ultimate than another. [Science, founded upon created regularities thus being derived from one aspect of creation cannot be diminished from other aspects.] Thus the created one and the many in this respect be said to be equal to one another; they are equally derived [Science being derived] and equally dependent upon God who sustains them both [created regularities, the foundation of Science, are sustained by Providence]. The particulars or facts of the universe do and must act in accord with universals or laws.” Cornelius Van Til, THE DEFENSE OF THE FAITH, P&R Publishing, Fourth Edition, 1967, p. 50.

2) “What we have said about man’s knowledge of God is really determinative for what we have to say about man’s knowledge of the universe. By the term “universe” we now mean the whole of the created world including man himself and his environment. Van Til, ibid, p. 65.

3) “God is man’s ultimate environment, and this ultimate environment controls the whole of man’s immediate environment as well as man himself [via Providence]. The whole of man’s own immediate environment as well as man himself is already interpreted by God [that’s because Wisdom was present at Creation, with the Spirit being the creating agent, and creating at the direction of God’s Word, doing so with Wisdom]. … For that reason we cannot know ourselves in any true sense unless we know God [via the works of the Spirit, representing the Trinity as the integrator of the one and the many, the agent of Providence, the revealer of Wisdom]. Van Til, ibid, p. 66.

[15] Meredith G. Kline, IMAGES OF THE SPIRIT, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1999. Chapter 1, pp. 13-34, Creation in the Inage of the Glory Spirit can be found on-line here: https://meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/creation-in-the-image-of-the-glory-spirit/ and Chapter 2, pp. 35-56, A Priestly Model of the Image of God, can be found on-line here: https://meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/investiture-with-the-image-of-god/ and Chapter 4, The Spirit-Presence and His Parousia-Day can be found online here: https://meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/primal-parousia/

[16] Vern S. Poythress, THEOPHANY, Crossways, 2018.

[17] Mark Karlberg, The Theophanic Glory, Christian Study Library, https://www.christianstudylibrary.org/search/content/Mark%20karlberg. The above referenced article is third from the top of list.

[18] Jonathan Edwards, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God: Section II, Part III. http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/je-marksofhs.htm

[19] Note the PATTERN OF THREES. Throughout Scripture, when something is repeated or referred to THREE TIMES, we are being called to pay very close attention. E.g. Revelation 4:8.

[20] Vern Poythress, REDEEMING SCIENCE, A God-Centered Approach, Crossways, 2006, p. 286-289.

[21] Dissonance produces a feeling of mental discomfort leading to an avoidance of disharmony. For a resource on “cognitive dissonance,” see Saul McLoed’s paper here: https://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive-dissonance.html

[22] See http://www.heidelberg-catechism.com/pdf/lords-days/Heidelberg-Catechism.pdf

[23] The third and only other appearance of rachaph is in Jeremiah 23:9 where the Spirit’s grief is expressed embodied as physical distress; Jeremiah says: “My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble [rachaph] …” The prophets were uniquely called by God and through the Spirit given messages to pass on as the conscience of Israel, calling Israel to repentance. They also functioned as prosecutors of covenantal infractions, serving subpoenas on the nation for violating covenantal terms.

Being filled with the Spirit, it was common for the prophets to express the Spirits distress in response to Israel’s transgressions: In Ezekiel 6:9 he expresses grief for their adulterous hearts; Habakkuk in 3:16 tells us that his head and heart are pounding, his lips are quivering because Israel’s Judgment Day is coming. Similarly, Jeremiah is being shaken [rachaph] like a drunk because for the land is full of adulterers, consequently the pastures of the wilderness are dried up (v. 23:10a).

We can conclude that the Spirit’s “dissonance” was what was being reflected in “bones trembling,” the “pounding heart and quivering lips.” See ENDNOTE #21, for our feelings of dissonance often reflect a message form the Indwelling Spirit when we engage in sinful behavior.

[24] See NKJV verse note.

[25] See John 3:8 — The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. The Greek for Spirit is the same as that for wind.

See also: Bruce Waltke and Cathi Fredricks, GENESIS: A COMMENTARY, Zondervan, 2001, p. 92.

[26] See IMAGES OF THE SPIRIT, ENDNOTE #14, pp. 50-53.

[27] See SERIES PART 1, ENDNOTE #1.

[28] See Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church, ENDNOTE #8.

[29] Heike Young, Millennials vs. Gen Z: How are they Different? April 8, 2019, Salesforce.com blog, https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2017/10/how-millennials-and-gen-z-are-different.html