Some Religious Points I’ve Been Mulling

A couple of Christian-related things I’ve been mulling over recently:

First, Karl Barth, a twentieth-century theologian, said, “No harm must be done to the critical choice.” This is interpreted by Rev. Earl Palmer as, “No harm must be done to our freedom, and no harm must be done to God’s freedom.”

Second, Karl Barth talks about prayer, saying, “He is not deaf, he listens; more than that, he acts. He does not act in the same way whether we pray or not. Prayer exerts an influence upon God’s action, even upon his existence. That is what the word ‘answer’ means. … The fact that God yields to man’s petitions, changing his intentions in response to man’s prayer, is not a sign of weakness. He himself, in the glory of his majesty and power, has so willed it.”

Finally, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22:

19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.

I stumbled upon this passage when we were going over Matthew 7:1-6. Matthew 7:1 reads:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

The footnote in my bible for 7:1 says:

The Christian is not to judge hypocritically or self-righteously, as can be seen from the context (v. 5). The same though is expressed in 23:13-39 (cf. Ro 2:1). To obey Christ’s commands in this chapter, we must first evaluate a person’s character – whether he is a “dog” (v. 6) or a false prophet (v. 15), or whether his life shows fruit (v. 16). Scripture repeatedly exhorts believers to evaluate carefully and choose between good and bad people and things (sexually immoral, 1Co 5:9; those who masquerade as angels of light, 2Co 11:14; dogs, Php 3:2; false prophets, 1Jn 4:1). The Christian is to “test everything” (1Th 5:21).

The Christian is to “test everything”. I’m relishing 5:21. The footnote in my Bible for 5:21 reads:

Test everything. The approval of prophecy (v. 20) does not mean that anyone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord is to be accepted wihtout question. Paul does not say what specific tests are to be applied, but he is clear that every teaching must be tested – surely they must be in agreement with his gospel.

I wish that more people would be objective, in general.

Lost, Angry, Confused, Helpless, Hopeless


Thursday, October 30

Scans yesterday revealed that the cancer in Ben has aggressively progressed since the end of July. There are four new tumors – three on his brain and one on his liver.

We will be starting full brain radiation tomorrow at UW Hospital. They will do this for two weeks – in the hopes of reducing the swelling in Ben’s brain and slowing the cancer from metastasizing to his other organs. In two weeks they will scan him again and from there we will make some very difficult decisions.

We are lost and in complete despair. At this time we ask that you please respect our privacy. We will not be taking visitors. Thank you.

Jeff and Carin

Lost, angry, confused, helpless, hopeless. Just some of what I’m feeling. I really don’t know where to begin.

1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
2O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer;
And by night, but I have no rest.

-Psalm 22:1-2

For a long time, I’ve dreaded the though of seeing a post:

“Ben passed away last night…”

This isn’t that post. In some ways, though, I think it’s worse. I don’t think people are afraid of death, people are afraid of dying…the process of death. The process is what haunts us. If we just went to bed one night and the next morning we woke up in heaven, I think everyone would be pretty happy with that. So to see a post like this, that is what makes me sad. Ben is dying.

How can I keep putting off the what is surely the inevitable? I’m having to reject every ounce of logic in my being just to hold out hope for Ben.

What do I pray for now? A miraculous healing? A merciful and peaceful passing?

What do I do?

Post script: The world seems very small now. Politics. War. Homework. School. Halloween. They don’t seem relevant now. For God’s sake, a child is dying! How can anything else matter?

Prayers for Protection

The youth pastor at my home church has a son, Ben, who was diagnosed with a Neuroblastoma almost two months ago. He’s only two years old. It’s sometime been difficult to be so far away from them; not that I could do anything, but I still feel helpless.

Yesterday, Ben began his third round of chemotherapy treatment with a drug called Cisplatin(cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II)).

Ben’s Mom writes in their blog:

While this drug has proven in the past few years to be an extremely important drug in treating NB [Neuroblastoma], it will most likely damage his hearing. 3/4 of all NB kids will suffer hearing loss – the extent to which varies depending on the child. We have been told that the “best case scenario” would be just the loss of high frequency pitches but we won’t know for another six months (approximately) what the ultimate damage has been.


The ototoxicity of…cisplatin may be related to [its] ability to bind to melanin in the stria vascularis of the inner ear or the generation of reactive oxygen species.

I thought about this for a second, and I thought about how I might feel. Giving my son a drug which I know has a good chance of causing him to be disabled, causing him to miss out on parts of life.

Then I thought about the doctors who are researching cancer how hard they must fight everyday to try and develop better, less detrimental, drugs and treatments.

It almost makes me want to be one. Knowing that there is so much good that could be done, so much suffering that could be eliminated.

If I even get bored of engineering, I’d probably become a doctor.

However, I’m not a doctor. There is nothing I can do, save pray.

…we hope for a miracle – that for some reason outside of medical science his ears are protected. Or that whatever loss there may be, it will be minimal. So we ask you to please pray for him. Please.