I went to the “Word of Faith” church and the Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Here are some notes:
A. Eschatological hope was a theme in both services. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church was talking about how this world is not our home and cannot bring us fulfillment, and how we would be naked and “not us” without bodies, explaining why we will have new bodies at the resurrection. The pastor at the Lutheran church was preaching about I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Paul’s exhortation that Christians not grieve the dead as if they have no hope (which is not to say that they should not grieve, but that they should have hope in their grief). During the children’s part of the service, the youth pastor was saying that being a Christian means never having to say “good bye.” There is an afterlife.
B. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church said that young people look at elderly people, notice their pain and disease, and wonder why the elderly people would want to live, with all the bodily problems that they have to endure. The pastor said that such young people will feel different once they become elderly: those who reach that age want to live every extra day that they can.
C. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church asserted that sexual promiscuity is a misguided search for home, which only Jesus can fulfill. He provided a quote by John Steinbeck in East of Eden, which said that the brothel and the church attempt to satisfy a similar need, an escape or a relief from the burdens of life. Steinbeck may have a point. Is sexual promiscuity necessarily a search for home, though? I can picture it not being that: it could be based on attraction or appetite. For some, though, it may be searching for love in the wrong places.
D. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church was talking about the Garden of Eden. It was a sanctuary for God, but Adam and Eve were expelled from it on account of their sin. Later, God dwelt with Israel through the Tabernacle, which was decorated with images of fruits and cherubim, perhaps echoing Eden. While God dwelt with Israel and blessed her, access to the Tabernacle was limited and required a strict decorum, due to people’s human limitations and sinfulness. In the eschaton, God will dwell with people more fully and directly. A lot of Christians believe this. It makes sense, but I wonder if it can be consistent with the Documentary Hypothesis. Maybe it can, if P (who wrote of the Tabernacle) knew of J (who wrote Genesis 2-3).
E. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church said that, had Adam and Eve stayed in the Garden of Eden in their sinful state, they would have been on a futile search for home for all eternity, devouring the fruit from the Tree of Life. It would have been a bottomless pit. Still, the pastor said that Adam and Eve, after their expulsion, should have stayed right by the Garden of Eden, affirming that God was the home that they desired.
F. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church interacted with Hebrews 11:9-10: “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (KJV). The pastor was saying that Abraham did not just want land: he wanted God as his home. At times, the pastor said something else: it’s not so much that God belongs to us, but we belong to God.
G. The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church was talking about his personal walk with Jesus. He testified that Jesus is not some dictator towards him. Rather, Jesus often asks him, “What do you think you should do?”