Message From the Editor
In the scientific thriller, The Matrix, human reality was the construction of a computer program. Humanity was imprisoned by its thoughts. Abnormal thoughts were erased by the program through its generation of sentient hitmen. The movie's plot revolves around a few rebels incorporating the protagonist, a hacker played by Keanu Reeves, into engaging the program in a one-on-one confrontation to determine who can overwrite the other. Human liberation comes from one man defeating the machine.
One Spring semester, I asked my students to use the movie's central metaphor to discuss the reality of the war to liberate Iraq, since none of them were familiar with Shakespeare's King Lear, where the external and internal landscapes merge when the storm rages in the old king's mind. The assignment was less successful than I had hoped. Even after seeing The Matrix, they were unable to appreciate the possibility that their thoughts were culturally, or even biologically manipulated. Yet most of these students regularly attended religious services in which, apparently, they had not heard, "[T]he god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (1 Cor 4:4), or if they had, the passage made little sense to them.
If the gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing (1 Cor 4:3); it is veiled through Satan reigning over the mental landscapes in which human thoughts sprout, grow, and mature. Long ago, he broadcast the spores for a fungus of rebellion that prevents the germination of "desire" to obey the laws of God. Only when God the Father draws a person out from under Satan's reign (John 6:44, 65) will the person begin to be spiritually minded, begin to want to obey God (Rom 8:7), and to keep His laws.
Water & Fire, a journal where mental landscapes merge, had to begin somewhere, at sometime, by somebody, for within its pages will be discussions about the liberation of the mental landscapes of humanity from a real Adversary, who reigns at the pleasure of God the Father. A surprising statement? Lucifer was apparently the pinnacle of directly created beings: concerning the spiritual king of Tyre, YHWH said, "You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God" (Ezek 28:12-13), and, "You were blameless in your ways from the day that you were created until iniquity was found in you" (v. 15). Evidently Lucifer's perfection and beauty were his undoing.
If a perfect, directly-created being could not be relied upon to remain perfect, then God would use this rebelling being to produce beings like Himself through indirection. He could give a created being eternal life, but He couldn't create the "will" or desire or habit to always do that which is right. Righteousness, which is always doing what is right, is God's defining characteristic. Love is the application of righteousness. And this habit of always choosing to do what is right in every situation cannot be directly created. The power to follow though on the decision to do what is right can be given, but not the determination. If it could be, then Lucifer would not have rebelled, and there would be no need for God to create heirs from fallible human beings.
To create the habit of always choosing to do what is right, a person needs a myriad of occasions where choices are made, with wrong choices or poor choices not being terminal as long as right choices are being made with increasing frequency. The person needs a foil that will force choices to be made. Satan is such a foil, for apparently the angels under him were unable to resist his broadcast of rebellion. Likewise, a person's physical body serves as a foil, as Paul discovered. So the human who fights on the side of God for control of his or her mental landscape will increasingly choose to do what is right, thereby developing the character of choosing to do what is right. When this person is glorified, God can rely upon this person to do what the person knows is right. This person will not rebel, for this person has already had the chance to oppose God and has rejected that choice.
Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). It is the rejection of God's laws that, as a condition of the eternal covenant, are written on the hearts and minds of drawn disciples. It is what must be overcome if a person is to develop the habit of choosing to always do that which is right (Rev 22:11). Therefore, drawn disciples, as evidence of having been drawn, will desire to keep the laws of God. But many such disciples have been told that their desire to obey God will become legalism (used pejoratively) if they attempt to keep the laws of God. Their teachers, their pastors-all who spread such swill-are comfortable with Satan being their mental landlord. They do not understand that they are like the characters that walked the streets of the city in The Matrix. They are imprisoned by their thoughts, which are theirs and which are the only thoughts able to germinate in the stony soil beyond the walls of Eden. They will believe that they are spiritually minded, but until they have their mental landscapes liberated, they have no conception of what thoughts occur in those who truly are spiritually minded. Perhaps, just perhaps, they can briefly think those thoughts as they read the pages of this journal. My desire is that they will want these thoughts to be their own enough that they begin obeying God. Open salvation exists for those who will obey by faith. . . . Homer Kizer, Editor.