Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thinking and Praying for the People of Venezuela

The situation in Venezuela has gone from horrible to catastrophic. The descent into a totalitarian dictatorship is now in full force. The Maduro dictatorship is arming its thugs with automatic weapons to counter the peaceful demonstrations of the Venezuelan opposition. There had been some talk of a “humanitarian intervention” led by the US, Mexico and several other countries, but the Trump administration seems uninterested. The Venezuelans will have to continue into their nightmare of politically induced famine and Communism.
President Chaves giving an anti-American diatribe a the UN
Image result for chavez at UN
In a sense the Venezuelans are reaping what they sowed. For decades the Universities were Marxists and spewed hatred towards the “bourgeois” and blamed the US for “imperialism” and every evil imaginable. This became government doctrine under the Chaves regime starting 20 years ago. Their anti-Americanism was especially ludicrous during the Obama years, as that administration tried specially to avoid any interference in Venezuela. But alas, the Marxist need a demon to fill in for their own spiritual emptiness.
The Chaves/Maduro Government’s war on its own “bourgeois” and local “capitalist exploiters” resulted in a shut-down of many Venezuelan companies, and wrecked much of its agriculture. Thus under the Chaves/Maduro regime Venezuela became a country that totally depended on oil exportation for its wealth. They are now paying for these delusional and evil policies. To be specific, the Marxist misunderstandings of the sources of wealth and economic growth, and the role of the bourgeois/merchant are not only mistaken and economically destructive, but sinful. Marxist thought and ideology is in large part a system of exaggerated or totally false accusations on others, without consideration of its own faults. In his many writings, the Russian prophet Alexander Solzhenitsyn described the effects of the sins of Marxism on the people of Russia. The pattern is similar to what has, and is, happening in Venezuela.
The implosion of the Venezuelan economy in the last years makes a vivid contract with the country of Colombia, which is right next door, and which has only a tiny fraction of the oil resources of Venezuela. The people of Columbia rightly discerned, after more than 50 years of guerrilla war by the Marxist FARC, that communism is a fraud, as they saw the guerrillas morph from revolutionaries into kidnappers and drug dealers. Again it was the sin issue, Marxists, as atheists, cut themselves off from grace, since they do not pray, and slipped into ever greater evils regardless of their original intentions. Colombians have developed a robust economy with healthy agricultural and industrial components.
In Venezuela, the Maduro administration was particularly corrupt from the beginning. With the luxury of the $100 per barrel price of oil, the Venezuelan lower classes, which benefited from a new, and indeed excellent, national health care system, did not mind.
But now it has all come to roost. The Venezuelan companies that used to gather, distribute and market local produce are no longer there. There is famine. With the big money gone even the health system is in ruins.
Looting a grocery store in Venezuela
According to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict, markets throughout the country have been looted over 50 times in the first half of the year.
It is difficult to discern how to pray for the current situation. Certainly we all want the best for the Venezuelan people. Should we pray that the Trump Administration move away from its “America First” and lead an intervention? We should certainly pray that the opposition be protected from the armed government goons. We should also pray that in this moment of national despair and chaos, the Venezuelan people turn to God and experience revival. Sadly, the Catholic Charismatic revival of the 1970s to 1980s made little impact in Venezuela. They were mostly content with their nominal Catholicism, and many slipped into “liberation theology” which made it easy for Maduro to slip in his Marxist-populism. The current moment may be a point where Venezuelan Christians, both Catholic and Evangelicals realize that they need the Holy Spirit in their denominations to lead them out of the current sin-laden morass.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Niebuhr vs Hauerwas views on war, a review.

This reproduces a review article first posted in Pneuma Review on April 8, 2017  and accessed HERE. (If you wish to cite it in a paper it is better to do so from Pneuma Review,)

Roger E. Olson, “Reinhold Niebuhr and Stanley Hauerwas: Can Their Approaches to Christian Ethics be Bridged?” Pathos, Posted Feburary 27 and 28, 2017.
Reviewed by William L. De Arteaga

This two-part article by the noted Evangelical scholar, Roger Olson, should be of interest to practically most Christians. The article deals with two prominent theologians of the modern era who espouse very different views on the morality of the Christian’s participation in war. Olson’s article masterfully summarizes their opposite theologies. The first is that of Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) who formulated a modern variant of the Christian “just war” theology that traces its roots to St. Augustin (354-430). Olson then summarizes the Christian pacifist theology of Stanley Hauerwas (b. 1940) which has garnered a wide following in recent decades.

Olsen is well credentialed for his attempt at describing these opposite positions. He is professor at Baylor University, and has been editor of Christian Scholar’s Review and Christianity Today, and as such is well acquainted with Christian thought of all persuasions.  Olsen declares he loves and has been influenced by the theology of both Niebuhr and Hauerwas. He admits it is a seemingly impossible task to reconcile these two theological views, but makes a valiant effort at it.

File:Reinhold niebuhr.jpgTo summarize Olson’s summary: Reinhold Niebuhr was the most widely read and influential Protestant theologian of his generation. He was pastor and then professor at Union Theological Seminary for decades immediately before and during World War II. As a young pastor in Detroit he fought for the rights of the auto workers to unionize. At the same time, he noted the rise of Fascism and Communism and the genocidal outrages perpetuated by the totalitarian dictators. In Niebuhr’ most famous book Moral Man and Immoral Society, he argued against pacifism and for the position that the state may use violence to limit injustice, conquest and tyranny.[1] He strongly advocated for American entry into World War II, and later supported America’s Cold Wars.

For Niebuhr, war is a tragic necessity and never completely successful. Man’s sin nature would ensure that mistakes would be made in the course of the war or in the peace process. In fact, nothing would be definitively just until the Second Coming. Yet inaction and pious pacifism would lead to catastrophe. When Niebuhr began airing his view on war and the use of force, it was contested strongly by other pastors and theologians, as many were disillusioned by the failed peace after World War I. However, as the tragic history of World War II unfolded, his arguments seemed self-evidently true to most Christians.

All to the contrary, a resurgent Christian pacifism has been elaborated by the Duke University theologian Stanley Hauerwas.  Hauerwas came to maturity during the Vietnam war, when the Barragan brothers, two Catholic priests, were formulating a pacifist argument against the Vietnam War. For many, Vietnam seemed anything but a “just war.”  Hauerwas was especially influenced by the Mennonite theologian Howard Yoder who preached a form of Christian absolute pacifism and non-violence.

Hauerwas centers his understanding of Christian life and ethics on the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus indeed counsels non-violence and non-resistance to evil. This means, for Hauerwas, that no Christian should participate in any civil organization or group that uses or threatens to use coercive force, as in police and courts, and of course the military. Rather, Christians are called to form “witnessing communities” within the general society where they practice non-violence and non-resistance, even at considerable cost.[2]

So how does Oslon reconcile two such antithetical theologies? He does so by pointing to individuals whose lives have bridged the differences. He cites the life of the German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another German pastor of earlier times and healing minister, Christoph Blumhardt, and several others including William Jennings Bryant, the secretary of state under Woodrow Wilson.   

William Jennings Bryant’ life is especially attractive to Olson’s bridge position. Bryant was a devote Christian and pacifist. In 1914, at the start of World War I, he used his position as Secretary of State to encourage peace negotiations between the Allies (Britain and France) and Central Powers (Germany and Austria). However, those negotiators failed, and President Wilson began favoring the Allied side. Bryant feared the US would eventually enter the war. Indeed, that happened, but Bryant resigned from the government before that as a protest to Wilson’s tilt. In any case, Olson considers Bryant’s public life a “bridge” person between the Niebuhr and Hauerwas positions. He was a man of pacifist persuasions, and served the government with all his strength as long as he could in good conscience.

Similarly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer worked practically all of his adult and ministry life as a dedicated pacifist and advocate of non-violence. However, when he saw the monstrous evil of the Jewish Holocaust, and German atrocities to other peoples and enslaved POWs, he was forced to reconsider his position. He joined the German Army’s intelligence branch (which was heavily Christian) and assisted the July 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler and his generals. That cost him his life.

A Charismatic Perspective and critique:

It seems to me that Olsen’s good intentions of bridging Niebuhr and Hauerwas don’t quite succeed. That is especially clear in the example of Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a pacifist most of his life, but a “just war” participant at the end of his life. But he was not both at the same time. A bridge holds both ends at the same time. Bonhoeffer’s eloquent and inspiring story as pacifist opponent to Nazism has become a heritage story to Christendom. But Bonhoeffer’s ultimate resort to arms indicates the weakness of pacifism in the face of catastrophic evil. His attempt to kill Hitler and his generals was no different morally than the typical American GI who enlisted out of high school in 1942 because he saw and understood the evil of Nazism via newsreels and the newspapers, and wound up fighting in several campaigns – perhaps even being involved in a tragic “collateral damage” incident. (The tragedy of war, as Niebuhr would point out).

But beyond the weak logic of Olson’s argument that lies a hidden hermeneutical problem in the Niebuhr-Hauerwas debate. It is that both men, but especially Hauerwas, did not consider Paul and his epistles sufficiently in their theology.  

This comes in the form of background to both theologians, whose base theology was in Protestant liberalism. That tradition fundamentally discarded both the Old Testament and Paul’s writings as true vehicles of God’s revelation. The base claim of much liberal theology was that Jesus was a simple Jewish itinerant preacher and great ethical teacher (who probably did no real miracles) but that Paul exalted him into a divine person.[3] This form of apostasy began in the Nineteenth Century with some liberal theologians and became a major element in Protestant academic and liberal theology. Evangelical theologians have mostly resisted the tendency, but now it is making inroads among Evangelical theologians.[4]

This liberal apostasy is similar to the theology of the heretic Marcion of the 2nd Century.  Marcion, the bishop of Synop (near Rome) did not like the Old Testament with all its gore, as in the automatic execution of murderers, or killing of the Canaanites and other peoples in the Promised Land at God’s command. So he concluded that the god of the Old Testament was not the “Abba” God of Jesus.  Thus the OT is a false gospel.[5] For Marcion, the true Bible was the Gospel of Luke and most of the letters of Paul – period.  In fact, Macion edted Luke and Paul to eliminate any positive mention of the Jews or of the Mosaic law – he hated both.

Harerwas’ theology seems to follow this Marcion pattern. I would call Hauerwas’ system of liberal biblical interpretation the “hermeneutic of annihilation.” Like Marcion, it discards the Old Testament as a guide to God’s character and activity, especially in regards to God’s demand for justice. The Old Testament becomes little more than a background document to the New. Its laws as reflecting the mind of God for human righteousness are made obsolete by the cross. Some element of that is true, as the Cross did indeed absorb God’s wrath on our sins. But the fallacy is to believe that the wrath of God, and the use of violence to execute the wrath of God for justice or punishment was totally cancelled. Rather, the wrath of God is constant in the Bible from the Babylonian destruction of the Temple, to the blinding of the sorcerer Elymus by Paul (Acts 13).

Hauerwas focus on the Sermon on the Mount wipes out the opportunity of understand God’s intentions and commands for mankind as an eternal continuum from the earliest text of the Old Testament to the last written New Testament document. For Harerwas, only God’s love and forgiveness needs to be considered in theology and in the life of the Church. In relevance to the present discussion, Hauerwas’ theology is particularly lacking, and in fact distorting, of the role of the state in using cohesive violence to enforce justice.

One only has to look at Paul’s epistle to the Romans, especially chapters 12 and 13 to understand that Nieburh was right and Hauer is in error. There Paul affirms and encapsulates the ethical demands of the Sermon on the Mount as normative to personal behavior (yes Hauerwas is correct on this) but continues on with a discussion of the wrath of God as a spiritual reality and constant.  Paul goes on to declare that agents of the civil government are be executors of God’s wrath for the sake of justice and punishment.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rms 17-24
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves... For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Rms 13: 1-5)

Ultimately, though Olsen is a great teacher and wonderful blogger, his quest to bridge the Niebuhr - Hauerwas divide is futile. It is an attempt to connect a theology that incorporates the fullness of scripture, and understand the present tragic dilemmas that man must live with, with a system that seems Christian, but it ultimately unbiblical.

[1] Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study of Ethics and Politics, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932). It is still in print, but also available online as a free PDF download.
[2] Hauerwas has written many books, but a quick way to understand his theology it is by accessing an anthology of his works, The Hauerwas Reader, Eds. John Berkman and Michael Cartwright (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001).  His single most important work on Christian pacifism and non-violence is Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (Nashville: Abingdon, 1989). 
[3] Contemporary scholarly example Barrie Wilson How Jesus Became Christ (NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2008) 
[4]Scot McKnight “Jesus vs. Paul” Christianity Today. Posted Dec 3, 2010.

[5] For a brilliant and readily assessable explanation of these difficult issues, see the recent article in First Things by James R. Rogers “Death Penalties and the Divine” Posted, March 28, 2017.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quantum Physics, the Meltdown of Realist Materialism and Its Significance for Christian Theology

The Discovery of the idealist basis of the universe[1]  

            In the nineteenth century, just when Christian realism and secular materialism were most influential, the very foundations of these philosophical systems were being undermined. This was not done by academic theologians or biblical scholars, but by scientists. The emerging discipline of subatomic physics (quantum physics) was at the center of this revolution. Discoveries in this field made realism and materialism obsolete as descriptions of the physical universe. In fact, what the physicists discovered was that that the foundations of the physical world were “idealist,” – mind interacted with matter.
            This astounding discovery has tremendous implications in reference to Christian Science and the various New Thought groups we have been discussing.  Although the new scientific discoveries in no way justified their claims that matter was unimportant, they were closer to the truth (“partially true”) than their orthodox Christian critics imagined.
            The quantum physics revolution began as a result of attempts to study the nature of light. Early experiments had demonstrated that light was a wave. Later, however, other experiments demonstrated that light also behaved as a particle. It soon became apparent that light could be proven to be either a wave or a particle, depending on the experiment that was structured.
            The investigation on the nature of light led to the simple but significant two-hole experiment. This demonstrated that a beam of light projected against a photographic plate would appear on the plate as a wave if passed through two holes at the same time but would show as a group of particles if passed through one hole. This concept, that something can manifest in a seemingly contradictory manner, was called “complementarity.” It became a fundamental concept of the new quantum physics.
             Through further experiments several astounding discoveries were made. If any person observed the beam during the two-hole experiment, the wave manifestation collapsed, and the light became a particle merely by being observed. The presence of the observer changed the results of the experiment! Without observation the beam of light existed in a ghost-like state, with potential for either a particle or wave but settling in neither. It would eventually manifest as a wave if it remained unobserved.[2] This all but shattered the fundamental assumptions of materialist-realist science (and Christian realism) that nature operated independently of the mind.   
     Mathematical and experimental work done by Max Planck, one of the pioneers of quantum physics, discovered that the power of the mind to influence matter by observation had a mathematical expression in the central equation of quantum physics: E = ħ f. The critical item of this equation is the ħ, the energy value of mind-observation that breaks the wave manifestation of light into a particle. The ħ is also called Planck's constant, and its value (wattage) is one of those tremendously small numbers only mathematicians understand, but real nonetheless.
            Later it was realized that the universe could not exist as we know it with much variation in ħ. If ħ were a smaller value, the wave function would not break, and this would make, among other things, vision impossible. On the other hand, if the value of ħ were slightly higher, then every thought would dramatically and dangerously alter matter. That nature is so delicately balanced for our good is now called the “anthropic principle,” or sometimes “the fine-tuned universe.” It seems that from the very instant of the Big Bang (the assumed moment of creation) many things went exactly right to allow for intelligent life on earth.[3]
            Another blow to the realist/materialist view of nature came when it was discovered that radioactive decay, the release of particles from the interior of elements such as uranium, was totally a random, unpredictable event. This was given mathematical definition in Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty and was discovered to be as fundamental an element of the universe as complementarity. This too shattered the materialist dream that the course of the natural world could be determined precisely, as Newton had determined the course of the planets.
            By the 1920s there was a great debate among informed scientists as to what the discoveries in quantum physics meant. The mathematical equations which demonstrated these findings were producing startling advances in electronics and physics. In fact, the electronics industry would not have come about without quantum theory. However, many of the scientists who were at the forefront of these discoveries were disturbed by the philosophical implications. They had been educated as materialists and realists, yet everything in quantum physics suggested that at the atomic level the universe operated by idealist principles— that mind had influence on the behavior of matter.
            Erwin Schrodinger, one of the great scientists and mathematicians of the era, explained the idealist conclusions of quantum physics with a parable which came to be known as “the paradox of Schrodinger's cat.” A cat was placed in a sealed box with a vial of poison gas, and the gas had exactly a 50 percent chance of being released and the cat killed. Schrodinger explained that before the box was opened the cat was in a ghost-like state, neither dead nor alive. The event of opening the box and observing the cat created the definite dead or live cat, just as the observer triggered the light wave to become particles in the two-hole experiment.

Image result for schrodinger's cat 

            Albert Einstein disliked the implications of quantum physics, Schrodinger's cat and all, though he participated in many of the initial experiments and discoveries of the era. He particularly disliked the principle of uncertainty. His famous rejoinder to it was “God doesn't play dice!”
            Looking at the equations developed in quantum physics, Einstein found that one of the implications was that particles generated from a single atomic source, such as two photons (light particles) coming out of the same atom, would be united in a special way regardless of their distance from each other. Any change on one particle would be instantly duplicated upon its twin. This would occur faster than the speed of light. This peculiar property of quantum physics was called “nonlocality.”
            To better understand nonlocality let us imagine a “quantum billiards table.” On it are balls of different colors, but only two are red. These red balls are from a “single source.” If I take a cue stick and hit one red ball, the other, for no apparent reason, will move in an identical manner with the first, as if an unseen force had duplicated my shot. Einstein's own theory of relativity, which was also yielding excellent results, stated that no event in the universe could take place faster than the speed of light. The prediction from quantum physics that particles could interact instantly was thus in conflict with relativity. This conflict was called the EPR paradox. With the instruments available at the time, Einstein's objections could not be tested.

Idealism and the Copenhagen Interpretation:

            The scientific debates about quantum physics reached a climax at a conference in Dr. Niels Bohr's institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Dr. Bohr (1885-1962) was brought up in a devote Lutheran household, and later was deeply influenced by the writings of the Danish Theologian, Soren Kiekagaard. Bohr created at his physics institute a place that reflected his Christian character. It was an institute of the greatest scientific excellence and integrity made possible by cultivating an atmosphere of openness and communication. At Bohr’s institute conflicting ideas and theories could be debated with great passion, while maintaining mutual respect and fellowship. The scientists and their graduate assistants would even take time during the yearly conferences at his institute to do witty dramatic skits to poke fun at each other and enliven the sessions.[4]

 Niels Bohr's institute

            In 1927 the chief physicists and scientists of the era met again at the Bohr’s institute and discussed the meaning of the new physics. Bohr was an enthusiastic supporter of the idealist implications, regardless of how little “sense” the discoveries made in terms of traditional Western realism. Bohr's view, called the “Copenhagen interpretation,” steadily won the arguments among scientists by virtue of its mathematical and experimental triumphs.
            Modern scientists now side with the Copenhagen interpretation and accept, to one degree or another, the idealist view of matter as interactive with the mind. Fresh experimental evidence continues to be found verifying the importance of observation as a factor that influences matter.[5]   Interestingly, the EPR paradox was finally tested, and nonlocality was proven true. This was done in the 1980s by a team of French scientists who bombarded calcium atoms with a laser, releasing twin photons from the target atoms. Measurements on the escaping photons done with extremely accurate instruments did in fact show duplication of movement for the pair of photons as nonlocality predicted. Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation won over its major objection.[6]
            However, many scientists are wary of attempts to expand the discoveries of quantum mechanics from atomic and subatomic interactions to the ordinary world. The argument from these scientists is that there is no direct evidence that ordinary matter – matter made up of billions of atoms together - can operate with the laws of subatomic particles. Similarly they claim that expanding quantum rules to the realm of psychic or spiritual events is not legitimate.[7] This line of reasoning is advocated by those scientists of the realist materialist tradition who are still disturbed by any evidence that calls into question the assumptions of a mechanical and God-empty universe.
            On the contrary, the evidence is mounting that under some circumstances ordinary matter operates with the mystical properties of quantum physics. For instance, scientists have designed certain electronic devices of up to a half-centimeter long to operate as a single atomic entity.[8]

Quantum Physics as Natural Theology:
Johnpolkinghorne.jpg            Some of the theological implications of quantum physics have been slowly making it into in mainline Christian literature.[9]  In the last decade the writing of noted physicist and Anglican priest, Fr. John Polkinghorne, on the theological implications of quantum physics, have gained wide credence and circulation (see below). This came, unfortunately, half a century after the main discoveries of quantum physics were clarified in the Copenhagen interpretation.

            Even worse, these Christian writings were published after non-Christian writers launched several popular explanations of quantum physics based on Eastern mysticism. The most important of these was Fritjof Capra's best-selling work, The Tao of Physics, published in 1976, which became a best seller.[10] This book drew explicit parallels between quantum physics and doctrines of Eastern mysticism. This book, though filled with many useful insights, gave the impression that quantum physics is a branch of Eastern occultism. Several other books in this vein have followed.[11] When the first edition of my work Quenching the Spirit was undergoing translation into Spanish (1993), its first translator resigned from the project when he saw my chapter on quantum physics, believing the book was thus necessarily occultic!     
            Even secular critics have observed that this crop of quantum-physics-as-Eastern-mysticism has been little more than speculative. What has really been accomplished in the quantum revolution has been the destruction of the traditional naive realism of science.[12]  These Eastern interpretations should be viewed as temporary hypotheses (similar to heresies “first hypothesis”) to fill in the vacuum in spiritual understanding created by Western materialism.
            The importance of the observer has produced some wildly speculative theories in these writings. Some researchers now claim that the universe is only possible because we observe it, and even its creation was due to our present observation of it![13] Another example of speculative interpretations is the “many universes” theory. In this view every time a person makes a decision, as in opening the door to Schrodinger's box, the universe splits into both possibilities, one with a dead cat, another with a live one. This happens in infinite repetition as each human being creates new universes every time he makes a decision.[14]
            The Eastern mystical interpretations given by Capra and others are plausible because the spiritual implications of quantum physics are of a general nature. They can be interpreted in terms of many religious systems and belong to a category that the Christian tradition calls “natural theology.” That is, theology that can be discerned without specific recourse to revelation, as Paul indicates in Romans 1: 19-20.[15]  By its very nature, natural theology is incomplete and subject to misguided interpretations. For example, Paul pointed out that creation points to a creator (Rom. 1:20). Yet creation gives only a natural theology of God, not the specifics of God as a loving father. This comes from revelation. Natural theology without the specific correction of scripture can drift into incorrect conclusions or dangerous models, as in the Greek father-god Zeus who lusted after, and fought with lesser gods.

Quantum Laws and Biblical Spirituality:

            Thankfully, Christian theologians are finally dealing with the theological implications of quantum physics. As a result, new areas of understanding and appreciation of the scriptures have opened. However, to claim that quantum physics proves this or that doctrine of the Bible is to err in the same way that the Eastern mystical school of quantum writers has erred.        The theories of quantum physics simply show that the philosophy of radical materialism, which has been used to support cessationist theology, is inadequate to explain reality. However, to view miracles simply in terms of quantum physics misses the point.
            What follows must be understood to be analogies based on the natural theology of quantum physics that have been extended and corrected through confidence in biblical revelation. Analogies suggest but never give proof. For instance, we can now understand that most miracles come about as God's will and power cooperate with man's mind, and its capacity to interact with matter, through faith. This could be understood to mean that faith increases Planck’s constant – the energy available of mind to move matter.[16] Some miracles however, as in the original creation, are purely the sovereign work of God.

Complementarity Nonlocality and Christian Doctrine:

            Complementarity was the first quantum principle discovered, and it serves well as another point of analogy to the spiritual life. Recall that complementarity deals with a reality that can have more than one manifestation, as light being both a wave and a particle. Because complementarity is so alien to ordinary logic, it is almost impossible for the human intellect to understand complementarities. A complementarity is not so much understood as true as it is accepted as true.[17]
            In biblical revelation there are many such fundamental complementarities, traditionally called “mysteries.” For example, Jesus is both man and God, or man is free to choose his spiritual destiny, but God has predestined those who enter into the kingdom.[18] These mysteries might be understood as complementarities.
            It is also easy to see that nonlocality has analogies in the spiritual world (when a change in one particle is duplicated in its twin from the same source). I have seen many examples in Christian literature that demonstrate this. By divine coincidence, as I was working on the first draft of this chapter, I read Charles Farah's From the Pinnacle of the Temple, which has a chapter called “Marty's Death.” There Farah recounts how his local church prayed through the cancer of their pastor's wife, Marty. In Marty's case there was no physical healing in spite of an heroic prayer campaign. However, in a dramatic manifestation of spiritual nonlocality, many of the prayer intercessors acquired the pains of the cancer victim and consequently relieved Marty of her horrible terminal pains.[19] Something very similar happened when C.S. Lewis's wife, Joy, was dying of bone cancer. Like Marty, some of Joy's agony was relieved when Lewis prayed that he could receive some of her sufferings. The materialists may still choose to disregard such accounts, but they no longer can claim that such phenomena are alien to the fundamental laws of nature.
            Paul's description of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper also demonstrates principles of nonlocality.

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

            The ability of a sacrament to mediate nonlocality in the form of harmony and love among the members of the body has been noticed by the English scientist-theologian John C. Polkinghorne in his book One World: the Interaction of Science and Theology.[20] Polkinghorne (b.1930) was for many years professor of particle physics at Cambridge University. There he played a major role in the discovery of the quark, an elusive sub atomic particle.  But in 1979 he resigned to become a priest in the Anglican Church. He is now a master Christian apologist to the scientific community in Great Britain. His books on the interface of science and religion have won wide recognition and respect. He gave the prestigious Gifford lectures on science and religion (1993) which became the book, The Faith of a Physicist.[21] Fr. Polkinghorne’s works deal with quantum physics as making the spiritual world understandable and plausible, and affirming the existence of God with the evidence of the anthropic principal. They unfortunately have little to say about answered prayer and healing.[22]

God as the Prime Observer:

            While the natural theology of quantum physics suggests that observation is necessary for the world to come into being, revelation tells us who that mind is. No less than seven times in the first chapter of Genesis a conjunction is made between God creating the universe and affirming it by observation. Genesis 1:31 is clearest on this: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” With this we can see that the ultimate source of stability and continuity in the universe is God, not man.[23]
            The critical question in quantum theology is this: Why does ordinary matter not manifest the mystical properties of nonlocality and responsiveness to the mind more easily? Paul addressed this problem nineteen hundred years before the scientific issue could even be defined. He saw that God masked the spiritual behavior of the ordinary world for the purposes of His overall plan. But in the fullness of time, ordinary matter will be bestowed with its true spiritual functions.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now (Rom. 8:19-23).

            In quantum terms, this passage means that God created the universe with a low h in part for our safety. He knew that before mankind came into the full conformity of His Son a higher h would lead to the chaos and mind wars of flying chairs and tables at every disagreement. As the elect become “in Christ” and have the “mind of Christ,” such disharmony ceases to exist.

Lost Opportunities:

            The work done in the last decades by Christian scientist-theologians might well have been done in the 1930s or 1940s, as F.L. Rawson had pioneered, but it was not. The reality of the spiritual world and the miraculous might have been proclaimed with renewed force to a generation of European and American intellectuals seeking answers from fascism and Marxism.
Instead mainline Christian theology from 1920 to 1980 went through its most apostate and heretical period. The mainline seminaries in the United States followed European fashions and adopted what is called “higher criticism” of the Bible (that the miracles was myths), combined with various forms of Nietzschean or Marxian philosophy. These theologies assumed a materialist worldview and proclaimed that modern man could not believe in miracles because miracles were incompatible with modern science. When I studies at a prestigious mainline seminary in the 1980s, the chairman of the New Testament department would routinely dismiss miracles as pious myths and cite the famous theologian Rudolph Bultman, “If you use a light bulb you can’t believe in miracles.” This awful marriage of 18th Century scientific/philosophical assumptions and theology have remained normative in the seminaries for a century after they were scientifically obsolete.

The Miracles and the Hermeneutics of Christian Idealism:

            Let us turn to several Bible miracles to see how helpful the analogies of quantum physics and its idealist implications are in understanding several Biblical miracles. The first miracle is an example of faith unsustained, Peter's aborted water-walk (Matthew 14:28-31). In this incident Peter initiates the miracle by asking Jesus to call him. Jesus calls, and Peter does walk on the water, “But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out....” After Jesus saved Peter, He rebuked him with the words, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
            This incident is especially instructive because it is fatal to the “sovereignty only” theory of Christian materialism. Although God's sovereignty and power (through Jesus) were the basis of Peter's water-walk, it was Peter's mind, acting in faith, then fear, which determined the outcome. If the only important factor in the miracle was that God sovereignly decided that Peter could walk on water, it should not have mattered that Peter feared, nor would Jesus' rebuke make sense.
            Similar conclusions must be drawn from Jesus' failed ministry in His hometown of Nazareth (Matt. 13:54-58, Mark 6:1-6, Luke 4:16-30). Matthew summarized: “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Again the sovereignty-only theory fails. A miracle begins with a promise or covenant relationship with God, but must be completed through the mind operating in faith.

Faith and the Resuscitation of Schrodinger's Cat:

            Quantum physics suggests that observation finalizes the structure of matter. The Bible demonstrates that faith, or anticipated observation, not only finalizes but changes the course of events. Note the central New Testament definition of faith (Heb. 11:1): “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Two resuscitations, one in the Old Testament and another in the new, demonstrate this quite clearly. They also indicate that Mary Baker Eddy’s method of negation and affirmation a has biblical merit (she was “partially right”).
            The first one is the resuscitation of the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:8-37). The story began when Elisha and his servant Gehazi repeatedly passed in front of this unnamed woman's house. She discerned that Elisha was a prophet, and had a guest room built especially for him. Elisha reciprocated her kindness by praying for her to become pregnant, as she was childless and her husband old.
            Within a year she gave birth to a son. Later, the boy became feverish and died on her lap. Her immediate actions are most revealing. The woman told no one, quickly laid the dead boy on Elisha's guest cot, closed the door to the room and rushed to get the prophet. Her husband asked why she was leaving, and she replied, “It will be well.” (v. 23). Before she arrived at Elisha's residence, the prophet sensed that something was wrong and that she was in distress. He sent Gehazi to inquire. When Gehazi asked as to her family, she replied, “It is well” (v. 26). At the feet of the prophet she did not blurt out, “The boy is dead!” With circumspection she reminded the prophet that his prayers had been responsible for the lad's birth.
            Elisha understood at once, but did not speak out the problem. He sent Gehazi ahead of him to place his own staff on the boy's body and followed with the mother. Before Elisha and the woman arrived, Gehazi returned with the news that the staff had not helped yet and that “the lad has not awakened” (v. 31). When Elisha got to his guest room he closed the door behind him, prayed to the Lord and twice stretched himself out on the boy. The boy came to life and was restored to his mother.
            From the perspective of Christian realism the actions and dialogue of the incident are incomprehensible. The Shunammite woman was deluded or spoke a lie; things were not “well.” But with an idealist understanding of the spiritual power of anticipated observation (faith) to change events, both the dialogue and the actions make perfect sense. She affirmed a good, and negated the finality of the present negative situation.
            Notice that no one in the incident ever proclaimed the death of the boy. The actions of the woman certainly took it into account, but she did not say it in spite of her anguish. Similarly, neither Elisha nor Gehazi used the words death or dead. When Gehazi had to report that his master's staff had not resuscitated the boy, he used the phrase “not awakened.” He was reporting that the dunamis of God in the staff was not enough to accomplish the miracle. Elisha continued, and the miracle was completed by his prayers (the one element of the whole incident understandable in Christian materialism) and by stretching out on the boy so that even more of the dunamis of God would flow from him into the lad.[24] By revelation from the Scriptures (not by the natural theology of quantum physics) we can understand that speaking is an powerful form of completing observation.
            A similar sequence of events took place in Jesus' ministry in the resuscitation of Jairus's daughter (Matt. 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56). Matthew, Mark and Luke give varying details about the incident, but the sequence is quite clear. Jairus meets Jesus and requests that He come to the bedside of his dying daughter. Jesus starts on the way, heals the woman with the issue of blood, and continues. News then comes that the girl had died. Jesus reassures Jairus: “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50).
            At Jairus's house Jesus tells the crowd, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep” (v. 52). They howl in derision, but He puts them out and enters the girl's room with His disciples and the parents. Jesus then takes the girl's hand and commands her to arise. Luke writes: “And her spirit returned, and she rose immediately” (Luke 8:55).
            The sequence of events and statements is again unintelligible and contradictory from the perspective of Christian materialism. Jesus said the girl was sleeping. This could be interpreted to mean that with divine wisdom Jesus knew the girl was only in a coma. Also the crowd could have been mistaken because of the limited medical knowledge of the times. However, Luke makes it clear she was really dead—“her spirit returned.” Thus in the Christian realist interpretation Jesus was either mistaken or lying.
            Obviously those alternatives were not intended by the Gospel writers. The crowd and messenger were right, the girl was observed as dead. By saying she was asleep, Jesus was affirming that the initial observation of death could be overruled by the power of God mobilized by the mind acting in faith, just as the Shunammite woman trusted that the power of God would overrule the death of her boy. Jesus was not misjudging the issue or lying, nor was the crowd mistaken. Rather Jesus used His words as part and parcel of the miracle event.[25]
            One can note the vast difference between our hermeneutic (moderate Christian idealism which is buttressed with the analogies of quantum physics) and the hermeneutics of Christian materialism. Whereas the understanding of the materialist forced a radical discontinuity between spiritual activities and the material order, those discontinuities have now evaporated. The spiritual order can now be understood to operate in harmony, not in contradiction, with fundamental laws of the universe. The analogies between quantum physics and the spiritual life reveal a continuity of intention in the mind of the Creator. God intended the universe to be spiritual from subatomic particles to archangels. His laws for subatomic particles are the first level of a universe created for spiritual ends. We can reverse Bultman’s infamous quote and boldly proclaim “If you use an electronic device, you should believe in the biblical miracles!”
            It should also be made clear that we are not implying that Christian spiritual life is a mechanical execution of the laws of quantum physics. Rather, what we have done is outline an moderate idealist hermeneutic which is useful in describing biblical spirituality. At the core of the Christian's life is the covenant relationship of creature to Creator, of dependent child to loving Father, which is intensely personal, not mechanical. Being a Christian involves the directing of the human mind and spirit to worship, repentance, praise and love, all of which are activities of the will which have nothing to do with mechanical applications of laws or principles.
            In the hermeneutic we presented we used the vocabulary and imagery of modern physics, but the critical element is its Christian idealism. Here we again must affirm that Mrs. Baker had it “partially right.” Negation and affirmation is a form of miracle producing faith. Just as with the heretic Marcion, this does not mean her exaggerated doctrines that matter is unreal, etc., were valid. But she was partially right in precisely the area where traditional Christianity was disastrously wrong.
            We have also seen in how New Thought writers already began to filter the extremism out of Christian Science.  We will study the further corrections and “biblical filtrations” of Christian Science and New Thought, and that came through the pioneer Christian faith idealists such as E.W. Kenyon, Glenn Clark, Agnes Sanford and other in the following chapters.
            Now we need to return to New Thought and show the other “partially right” aspect of its theology, a recovered Hebraic perspective on success in life and prosperity.

[1] For readable introductions to the concepts discussed in this section see: John Gribbin, In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1984); Fred Alan Wolf, Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981). For an historical overview see George Gamow, Thirty Years that Shock Physics (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1966), and Gino Segré, Faust in Copenhagen: A struggle for the soul of physics (Viking: New York, 2007). For an excellent general discussion of how discoveries in modern science have challenged the materialist and atheistic assumptions of 18th and 19th Century science see: Steven M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003). A most interesting article on the theological implications of the “uncertainty principal” is Elizabeth Johnson’s, “Does God Play Dice? Divine Providence and Chance,” Theological Studies, 57 31 (March 1991), 2-18.  
[2] Explained clearly in Gribben, In Search, 166f.
[3] See J. Leslie, “How to Draw Conclusions From the Fine-Tuned Universe,” in: Robert J Russell, et al., Physics, Philosophy and Theology (Vatican City: Vatican Observatory, 1988), 297-312. The primary book on the discovery that our universe if “fine-tuned” for our benefit is: The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, by John d. Barrow, Frank J. Tipler, and John A Wheeler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). This book is written in mathematical language with equations that only a scientist or math major could understand. For a detailed review in understandable English of this most important source for the idea of “intelligent design,” see: Fred Halberg, “Barrou and Tipler’s anthropic cosmological principal,” Zygon, 23 #2 (June 1988), 139-157.
[4]On the wonderful openness and playfulness of Bohr’s institute see: Gino Segré, Faust in Copenhagen: A struggle for the souls of physics (New York: Viking, 2007).
[5] Robert Poole, “Quantum Pot Watching,” Science 246 (17 Nov., 1989), 888.
[6] Nick Herbert, “How to Be in Two Places at the Same Time,” New Scientist, 21(August 1986), 41-44. And more recently: David Z. Albert and Rivk A Galchen, “Was Einstein Wrong? A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity,” Scientific American, (March 2009). On line at: (2009)
[7] Alastair Rae, “Extrasensory Quantum Physics,” New Scientist, 27 (Nov. 1986), 36-39.
[8] Gribben, In Search, 23ff.
[9] See the lead article, “A Dissenting View of God’s Creation: Faith in the Crucible of the New Physics,” Christianity Today (Feb.1, 1985). The presentation was sketchy and timid.
[10] Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boulder: Shambhala Publications, 1975).  
[11]For example, Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An overview of the new physics (New York: William morrow & Co., 1978)).
[12] Dawne McCance, “Physics, Buddhism, and Postmodern Interpretations,” Zygon 21 (spring, 1986): 287-296. Zygon is the premiere Christian journal dedicated to studying the relationship between Christianity and science.
[13] Tony Rothman, “A “What You See Is What You Beget  “Theory,” Discover 8 (May 1987), 90-99.
[14] Gribbin, In Search, chapter 11.
[15] See a Jewish interpretation of quantum physics in Philip J. Bentley’s “Uncertainty and Unity, Journal of Judaism 33 (Spring 1984), 1919-201.
[16] When I teach on this topic before a live audience I tell them say to each other, “Planck’s constant is not!”
[17] Some of the complementarities of Christian doctrine have been noted in John C. Polkinghorne’s, The Way the World Is (Grand Rapids: William B. eerdmans,1984), 67ff, and note that John Honner, S.J., has drawn attention to the fact that Karl Rahner, one of the preeminent theologians of the Catholic Church, has used the concept of complementarity in his theology of Christ. See: Honner’s, “Unity-in Difference: Karl Rahner and Niels Bohr,” Theological Studies 46 (September 1885), 4890-506.
[18] Pointed out in Werner Schaafs’, Theology, Physics, and Miracles, trans. Richard L. Renfield (Washington, D.C.: Canon Press, 1974), 81-83. This is one of the best works on quantum physics and Christian theology to date.
[19]Charles Farah, Jr, From the Pinnacle of the Temple (Plainfield: Logos International, 1979), 177-178.
[20] John C. Polkinghorne, One World: The intersection of Science and Theology ((London: SPCK, 1986), especially chapter 7.
[21] John C. Polkinghorne, The Faith of a Physicist: Reflection of a bottom-up tinker (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1994). He was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 2002 and. was knighted by Queen Elizabeth as testimony to his great contributions.
[22] This in no way diminishes the value of his work as a modern day apologist of the basic Christian faith. Polkinghorne sees his book Quarks, Chaos and Christianity (London: SPECK, 1994) as his best general introduction to his writings. See also his autobiography: From Physicists to Priest: An autobiography (London: SPECK, 2007).  A briefer source is the autobiographical articl: John C. Polkinghorne, “The Life and Work of a Bottom-Up thinker,” Zygon 35 (Dec. 2000), 947-953.
[23] On this see: Philip Yancy, “Insight on Eternity From a Scientific View of Time,” Christianity Today  (April 6, 1984), 26.
[24] We will refer to this miracle later in reference to the healing miracles facilitated by Agnes Sanford (see chapter 00).
[25] In fairness we should note a contrary example, the resuscitation of Lazarus (John 11). In this miracle Jesus begins with the Old Testament pattern of declaring that Lazarus was “asleep,” but not dead. But his disciples did not understand the point. Jesus speaks plainly that Lazarus is dead, then He goes to resuscitate Lazarus. Why did Jesus break the earlier pattern? Probably because a t this stage of His ministry the principal concern of the Father was that Jesus be glorified, and in this miracle teaching the disciples was no longer necessary. Note that Peter’s resuscitation of Dorcas in Acts 9:36-43 and Paul’s resuscitation of Eutycus in Acts 20:7-12 take a middle course between the older Biblical model and Jesus’ resuscitation of Lazarus.


The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4

This is the linkto my most popular work, Quenching the Spirit, Still in print since 1992 HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.