#8 God Loves All of Creation

WE NEED TO THINK more now about the meaning and significance of God’s love. Through the first seven chapters, the love of God has been discussed only briefly. But the Bible is very clear: “God is love” (1 John 4:8 and 4:16).

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#7 The Kingdom of God is More about Society than about Individuals

WESTERN CHRISTIANITY, AND IN in many ways Western thought in general since the time of the Enlightenment, has generally focused more on individuals than on society. Christians, especially in Protestant and even more in evangelical Protestant forms of the faith, have primarily interpreted the message of the Bible in individual terms.

[To read the remainder of this chapter, please click here.]

#6  The Main Characteristic of the Kingdom of God is Shalom

IF GOD’S DESIRE IS the realization of the kingdom of God, as articulated in the previous chapter, there are ample grounds for claiming that the main characteristic of that kingdom is shalom. The chief task of this chapter, then, is to unpack the meaning of that Hebrew word—and the Hebrew word is used for there is no English term that comes close to embodying all the richness of that Old Testament term.

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#5 God’s Main Desire for the World is the Realization of the Kingdom of God

WHY DID GOD CREATE human beings and what is God’s desire for the humans created in God’s own image? The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) is “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” It is interesting to find that on www.IslamWeb.net a similar answer is given: the “essential purpose for which humankind was created is the worship of God.” But was that really the purpose of creation and does that continue to be God’s main desire for us humans?

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#4 The Holy Spirit is God’s Universal Presence in the World and is Not Limited to Those Who Know Jesus

PERHAPS THE GREATEST THEOLOGICAL deficiency of most people, Christians and non-Christians alike,  is in their understanding of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, it is hard to get a handle on the Spirit. As is widely recognized because of the third chapter of John, there is a close relationship between wind and Spirit (see v. 8). Just as it is hard to hold the wind, it is difficult to grasp the meaning of the Spirit.

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#3  God is Fully Revealed in Jesus, but the Christ is not Limited to Jesus

THE TWO PREVIOUS CHAPTERS have emphasized the greatness of God. But if God is so great and, indeed, greater than we think or even can think, how can we possibly know God? While most would readily agree that we humans cannot know God completely, can we know God partially? While we looked at this matter briefly in the previous chapter, let’s consider this question more fully now.

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#2  The Better We Know God, the Broader and Deeper Will Be Our Understanding of the Universe and Everything in It

MANY PEOPLE SEEM TO think that embracing a religious faith narrows one’s understanding of the world. Some people have even jettisoned religion because they wanted a broader worldview. Such people have viewed belief in God as a straitjacket that limits thought about the world in which we live. But are such views well founded?

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Preface

GORDON LIVINGSTON WAS AN an American psychiatrist and the author of the bestselling book Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now.[1] It is a very helpful book, one that I enjoyed reading not long after my wife, June, and I returned to the United States after living in Japan for thirty-eight years.

Reflecting upon Livingston’s book one day while jogging, it occurred to me that there are many “true things” of a religious/spiritual nature that present-day people also need to know now, so I began to envision this book. Livingston (1938-2016) was a psychiatrist who wrote for the general public. I am a Christian minister and professor who taught Christian Studies and theology for several decades, and I wrote this book primarily for Christian believers but also for thoughtful people who currently have no, or no longer have, any particular religious faith.

Just as there are likely some psychiatrists who would question whether some of the “thirty things” Livingston wrote about are actually true or as important as he claimed they are, there may well be some theologians and other educated Christians as well as intelligent “non-believers” who will question some of the thirty things presented in this book as being true and also important. That is all right; there is rarely universal agreement about anything. But these assertions about the “thirty true things” have not been made lightly; they are the result of more than a half-century of studying about, teaching and preaching about, and seeking to live the Christian faith as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ—as well as always seeking to be a person of intellectual integrity.

Since coming back to live in our home state of Missouri, I have written two books: Fed Up with Fundamentalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Fundamentalism (2007) and The Limits of Liberalism: A Historical, Theological, and Personal Appraisal of Christian Liberalism (2010). Before the latter was published I decided to write the present book, starting it in earnest on November 1, 2009. Although I finished the book several years ago, I am just now getting it out to the public.

This new book is intended for a broader audience than the first two, which are both close to 300 pages long and contain numerous footnotes. TTT, which I use as the abbreviation for this book, contains thirty short chapters and the footnotes are few and brief.

I hope this book will be read by busy pastors and active laypersons in the churches as well as those who are not, or no longer, Christians but who are interested in thinking deeply, and honestly, about matters of faith. My desire is to help pastors review important aspects of the Christian faith that would be helpful in sermon preparation and church education programs as well as to help laypersons understand aspects of their faith that they perhaps have not grasped adequately to this point—as well as to help those who are not Christian believers gain new insights into important matters of Christian faith and practice.

In my considered opinion, all of the “thirty things” presented in this book are both true and important. They are all, I firmly believe, things that present-day Christians—and others—need to know now, for their own sake and for the sake of the world around them.

Even though I have not presented extensive biblical studies, Bible passages verses that are cited throughout the book are from the New Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted. And although I am, of course, aware of the scholarly work that raises legitimate questions about what can actually be called the “words of Jesus” or the “words of Paul,” in this book I mostly accept the general position that the words in the New Testament attributed to Jesus are his words and the words in the letters attributed to Paul are his words.

I remain grateful to those who aided me in completing the manuscript for this book. Dr. Kenneth Chatlos, retired professor of history at William Jewell College, carefully read each chapter and made many valuable suggestions—as well as corrected some factual material that I had included either through carelessness or lack of knowledge. June also read the manuscript and suggested many changes in the choice of words and in the syntax. While I accepted, with gratitude, the corrections and many of the suggestions made by Ken and June, any remaining errors or obtuse sentences are totally my responsibility.

During the years I served as chancellor of Seinan Gakuin, an educational complex in Japan with more than 10,000 students, I emphasized four Christian concepts that begin with the letter L: life, love, light, and liberty. Since returning to the States, I have conducted my public activities as part of what I call 4-L Ministries. This book is presented with the prayer that it will help those who read it understand how to embrace the type of life God wants to bestow upon all people, to express the kind of love taught and demonstrated by Jesus, to walk in the light provided by the Holy Spirit who leads the way, and to enjoy the liberty that comes from being children of God.

It would be a pleasure to hear from readers of this book; I am open to receiving words of criticism as well as positive words. As much as possible, I will respond to those who chose to write me at the USPS or email addresses given below.

Leroy Seat, Ph.D.
4-L Ministries
1307 Canterbury Lane
Liberty, MO 64068
LKSeat@4-L.org
LKSeat@gmail.com


[1] (Marlowe & Company, 2004). The sequel to Livingston’s book was published as And Never Stop Dancing: Thirty More True Things You Need to Know Now (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2008).