Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Snakes, Scorpions and Satan

Hello my intellectual internet friends,

I'm preaching through the book of Luke these days (actually the last several years), and this last week was on Luke 10:17-24. In this passage the 70 disciples that had been sent out by Jesus returned and were joyful because they were able to cast demons out of people. Jesus responded, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." He then adds, "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy..." (vs.18-19).

Now, I didn't preach on this, but I find it interesting that snakes and scorpions seem to be grouped in the same category as "the power of the enemy." This in turn suggests that these creatures are not entirely the handiwork of the all-good, benevolent Creator. If the creation hadn't been corrupted by the "god of this age" (2 Cor 4:4) and "principality and power of the air" (Eph 2:2), it seems these creatures would look and behave very differently from the ways they now look and behave (by the way, my paparazzi messy-room hater lard friend Marcia was stung by a scorpion in Costa Rica last year...and she would definititely attest to the demonic nature of scorpions).

If this line of reasoning is correct, this passage lends further support to my Satan in Nature (S.I.N.) hypothesis. Nature itself has been corrupted by Satan and the rebel Powers. God's beautiful creativity is still present throughout nature, but it's also resisted by the destructive forces of rebel spirits. So everything that has evolved reflects God's handiwork but also contains some element of Satan's corrupting influence. This, I argue, is why the animal kingdom is so full of violence - despite the fact that God originally created the world entirely free of violence, according to Genesis 1 (vs. 30). It also in part explains why nature often acts in massively destructive ways.

The one who holds the power of death (Heb 2:14) together with his minions has corrupted God's good creation. But someday, praise God, the entire creation will be redeemed. Lions shall lay down with lambs, and snakes and scorpions will play with mice.

Think about it.


"The universe that suckled us is a monster that does not care if we live or
die--does not care if it itself grinds to a halt. It is fixed and blind, a
robot programmed to kill." Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p. 179.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lessons on the Non-Violent Atonement

Hi Folks,

Crazy last 9 days for me!
*Last Friday through Sunday participated in a conference on faith and politics in Kansas.
*Monday was in meetings all day at Woodland Hills Church.
*Tuesday worked 14 hours on my book Revolting Beauty.
*Wednesday and Thursday was in Detroit, Michigan, preaching and conducting a Seminar on Imaginative Prayer
*Friday participated in an all day conference on "The Non-Violent Atonement."
*Saturday prepared and preached a sermon at WHC.
*Sunday preached twice at WHC.
*Monday was in meetings all day at Woodland Hills Church.

In the midst of all this I had to read Tony Cross' great (but difficult) book Cross Purposes as well as Christopher Hitchen's interesting (and angry) God is Not Great.

I love everything I'm doing, but I'm tired. The light at the end of the tunnel is mid-November. Lord help me hang on!

I want to share a bit about the Non-Violent Atonement Seminar I participated in last Friday. It was really interesting. The Seminar was sponsored by an organization called Preaching Peace headed up by Michael Hardin (editor of Stricken By God?). He was joined by Denny Weaver (author of The Non-Violent Atonement) Tony Bartlet (author of Cross Purposes) and myself (I argue for the Christus Victor view of the atonement in The Nature of the Atonement, eds. P. Eddy and J. Bielby).

The one thing all of us have in common is a concern about the dominance of the Penal Substitutionary theory of the atonement. This is the view that the way Jesus reconciled us to God was by becoming the object of God's wrath against sin. We don't deny that Jesus "died in our place" and "as our substitute." Nor do we deny that we're reconciled to God only "through the blood of Jesus" or that Jesus died as our "atoning sacrifice." We just have serious reservations about the Penal Substitutionary interpretation of this substitutionary and sacrificial language.

For example, if God punishes Jesus for our sin, does God really forgive anybody? If you owe me a hundred dollars and I won't let you off the hook till someone pays me, did I really forgive your debt? Why does God frequently forgive people in the Bible without requiring a sacrifice? So too, are sin and guilt the kind of things that can literally be transferred from one party (us) to another (Jesus)? Where is the justice in God killing his innocent Son because of what we humans did? Does Jesus reveal God's love for us, or placate God's wrath towards us? And doesn't this way of thinking presuppose that you can attain a good, loving result through violence? Does the end justify the violent means? Isn't this the sort of thinking that has fueled the endless cycle of violence that's characterized human history? (I address other concerns in the Q &A section of my website).

As I traveled to this conference Friday morning - having just flown back from Detroit the night before - I was tired, grouchy, and wondering why the heck I said "yes" to doing this. But once the conference started, and especially as the day progressed, I was glad I was part of it. I learned a lot - particularly from Tony Bartlett. Among other things, Tony taught us a lot about Rene Girard's mimetic anthropology and his scapegoat theory. I wasn't clear about any of this before the conference.

I also gained some insights into aspects of the Bible's sacrificial language I wasn't entirely clear on before. For example, one of the main texts used to support the Penal Substitution view of the atonement is Romans 3:25 where (in many translations) Paul says God put forth Christ to be "the propitiation for our sins." Penal Substitution theorists argue that "propitiation" means something like "appeasement." They hold that Jesus appeased (or "satisfied") the Father's wrath against sin. Tony presented a compelling argument that the word for "propitiation" (hilastarion) actually means "a place for atonement" - referencing the mercy seat in the ark of the Old Testament. So Paul is simply saying God presented Jesus to be the place where we receive mercy.

Good stuff. My "flesh" may be fatigued but my mind and spirit are soaring.

And now, on a totally unrelated note: half of the small group I'm a part of is in Haiti right now engaging in some incredible ministry with my good friend Dr. Jen. They're journaling on line, and it's frankly beautiful and powerful stuff. (Though they've been off line for a couple days because of Tropical Storm Noel). You can check them out HERE.

Peace on all of you


Monday, October 22, 2007

It turns out I'm a Mennonite!

Hello internet friends,

I spent the weekend at a conference at Heston College, a small Mennonite college located just outside of Witchita. I and John Roth, a Mennonite historian, held several sessions and participated in workshops on faith and politics.

The Mennonites are heirs of the Anabaptist Reformers (including Menno Simons, from whom they derive their name) in the 16th century. The Mennonites are completely orthodox in all their beliefs, but with a few very noteworthy distinctives. One core aspect of their faith is the conviction that the Kingdom of God is radically different from all versions of the Kingdom of the World. The Kingdom of God is about sacrificially serving others while the Kingdom of the World is always about lording over others. They have held that citizens of the Kingdom of God must be wary of participating too much in, or trusting in, any government or nation. Traditionally Mennonites have refused to say the pledge of the allegiance, since their only allegiance is to Christ. Another core aspect of their faith has been the conviction that followers of Jesus are called to love, bless, pray for, and do good toward their enemies (Lk. 6:27-35). They have thus refused to fight in wars or kill for any reason.

The Anabaptists were the one group everybody loved to hate during the Reformation period. The Anabaptists wouldn't recognize a State Church and would not baptize infants (which was understood to be an initiation into both the Church and State). Consequently, Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Melancthon and many other Protestant Reformers as well as most Catholic leaders believed they should be imprisoned and executed. Almost all Anabaptist leaders were executed within a decade of when the movement began (roughly 1520). But, to their credit, the Anabaptists never fought back (with the exception of one messianic looney tune who thought he was ushering in the end of the world.)

In any event, I've admired the Mennonites from a distance for years, but this was the first time I'd ever taught among them or fellowshipped with them. And, on a deep level, it kind of felt like coming home. I gave several seminars, based largely on my book The Myth of a Christian Nation, and they were enthusiastically received (though John Roth, who responded to each presentation, offered good critical insights on points that "need further exploration"). They also asked me to lead a discussion on Open Theism, and even that was enthusiastically received. I had eight people (I counted) who told me they'd basically always thought this way but just didn't have a name for it. It confirmed something John Roth had told me: most Mennonites are Open Theists but simply don't know it.

But there was another very interesting thing I learned about the Mennonites: they're in trouble. I heard this from a number of people, including John Roth. One man literally wept as he told me how he's been grieved seeing Mennonites abandon their core vision of the Kingdom and core convictions over the last several decades. They're loosing their counter-cultural emphasis and becoming "Americanized" and "mainstreamed" (as various people told me). Consequently, many Mennonite leaders are getting involved in partisan politics in a way that goes against the Mennonite tradition. While Evangelicals tend to be co-opted by Right Wing politics, these leaders are being co-opted by Left Wing politics. They're basically defining Kingdom social activism as supporting radical democratic policies. Yet, three fourths of Mennonites are Republican. Hence there's growing tensions between the leadership and the body of the Mennonites.

One person told me the reason my talks landed so well was because "we see you passionately running toward the vision of the Kingdom we've always embraced, while many of our own people are either running from it or have grown apathetic about it." Another person told me I was "more Mennonite than most Mennonites today."

My whole time at this Conference had a prophetic quality to it that I hadn't anticipated -- calling Mennonites back to their beautiful, biblical, core convictions. The conference left me excited, because I felt like I found a tribe I could passionately embrace. But it also left me unsettled, seeing that this tribe is in the process of loosing its identity. My heart was strangely warmed and unusually disturbed. I'm going to be praying about what this all means.

Blessings on you!


Monday, October 15, 2007

Capitalism and the Danger of Greed

Here's a thought:

It’s hard to deny that capitalism is the best economic system around. It creates wealth far better than feudalism, communism, socialism or any other system one could name. But for all its advantages, capitalism has one major drawback that Kingdom people need to be concerned about: it needs people to stay perpetually hungry for more. If Americans as a whole ever followed Paul’s instruction to be content with basic food and clothing and not pursue wealth (1 Tim. 6:6-11), the system would come to a grinding halt. The undeniable truth is that capitalism runs on greed.

So it’s not surprising that people raised on capitalism tend to be greedy. We of course don’t think of ourselves as greedy, for it’s hard for fish to notice the water inside their own aquarium. But the evidence is all around us.

For example, Americans enjoy a lifestyle that is about four times the global average. Yet we on average spend 97 to 98 percent of our wealth on ourselves – despite the fact that close to a billion people live on the threshold of starvation with 40,000 dying each day of issues related to poverty, malnutrition and preventable or treatable disease. This is greed. We are hoarding resources while neighbors lack adequate food, shelter and medicine.

This should greatly concern followers of Jesus, for Jesus had a lot to say about greed and the need to care for the poor. Jesus lists greed as a sin right next to adultery (Mk 7:22). He criticized the religious heroes of his day for being preoccupied with maintaining a nice religious exterior while their hearts were full of “greed and self-indulgence" (Mt. 3:25; Lk 11:39). These people meticulously followed religious rules, but because they loved money (Lk 16:14) they “neglected the more important matters of the law” which include “justice” and “mercy” (Mt. 23:23). In other words, their religious appearance notwithstanding, these people hoarded resources and didn’t share with the poor. For Jesus, this omission rendered the rest of their religious behavior irrelevant.

Along the same lines, when a man wanted Jesus to settle a legal dispute with his older brother over how much of the family inheritance he should receive, Jesus said, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbitrator between you” (Lk 12:13-14). He was basically asking the man, “Do I look like your lawyer”? (Notice how Jesus refused to get pulled into politics!) He then warned the man, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (vs. 15). “However you work out your legal and political issues,” Jesus was saying, “never let greed get lodged in your heart.”

Jesus then drove the point home further with a parable about a farmer who “yielded an abundant harvest” -- so abundant that he didn’t have adequate storage space for it. After thinking about the matter, he decided he’d simply tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store his surplus food. He could then “[t]ake life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (vss. 16-19). In other words, with his stored-up wealth he could retire and live “the good life.”

I suspect most of us Americans would have thought the same way. The man frankly seems to be guilty of nothing worse than being a good capitalist! You come upon some extra cash, so you enjoy life more and retire a little early. It’s called “the American dream.” What’s the big deal?

Yet, Jesus taught that God called the man a “fool,” for it turned out this man was going to die that very night. And then, most ominously, Jesus said, “This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich towards God” (12:20-21).

The problem was not that the man happened to get wealthy. While riches are considered dangerous and the pursuit of wealth is forbidden (I Tim. 6:9-10), neither the Old nor the New Testament takes issue with wealth as such. The problem with the wealthy farmer was that he was not also “rich towards God.” He didn’t submit his (God-given!) wealth to God but instead considered only how he and his family could benefit from his fortunate harvest. In other words, he was greedy.

Jesus tells us that unless we give up all our possessions we cannot be a disciple of his (Lk 14:33). I don’t interpret this to mean that we can’t legally own anything, since most of the disciples he was speaking to continued to earn money and live in houses. But it does mean we can’t consider anything we legally own, or any money we legally earn, to be our possession. They belong to God, and as such, we are called to seek his will as to how our wealth should be spent. Whatever he allows us to enjoy, we should enjoy (I Tim. 6:17). But whatever he leads us to share with the poor and invest in our churches, we must obediently let go of.

There is no fixed percentage given in the New Testament about what percentage of a person’s wealth they are allowed to keep. But given that most of us Americans are the wealthiest people on the planet, and given that we’re surrounded by people who are starving to death, we need to seriously question whether we’re really listening to and obeying God if we’re keeping 97% of our wealth for ourselves.

Think about it.

Peace on you (unless God starts convicting the daylights out of you for how you steward his resources!)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Wow, did I have a great time at the Faith and Politics Conference at Yale (it was actually called "Voices and Votes")!

It was quite an experience returning to my Alma Mater after 25 years. Sitting in the chapel, looking at the pulpit where I preached my first (terrible) sermon 27 years ago for a preaching class gave me a real poignant sense of the passage of time. Sitting outside the dorms where Shelley and I lived for the first three years of our marriage had a certain bittersweet quality as well. It was all a bit surreal. Sometimes life feels like a dream.

Hanging with David Kuo was a riot. We've been corresponding for the last several months via e-mail, but this was the first time we ever actually met. Some friendships take several years to get off the ground, others several seconds. Ours was definitely in the second category. I think we were throwing out jabs at each other about four sentences after saying "Hi, I'm...."

For example, after my panel discussion David came up to me and said, "You totally sucked!" To which I responded, "Well at least I had the gonads to say something unlike some weenies I know!" (He hardly had a chance to say anything on his panel). It's that kind of friendship, and I love it. It's our way of saying to each other, "Man you were great!"

One of the highlights of the Conference was David and Tony Hall sharing their very different experiences as Christians working in the White House. David headed up Bush's Faith Based Initiative and Tony Hall is a Congressman and heads up the Foreign Aid committee. David's political experience was in the end quite negative and has led him to stress the importance of Christians making a clear distinction between their faith and politics. Tony Hall's experience has been very positive and has led him to believe that Christians need to be heavily involved in politics. It wasn't a debate, but simply a sharing of different experiences, and it was fascinating...and moving. Both David and Tony were asked to share how trauma has impacted their faith. David shared about his ongoing struggle with brain cancer, and Tony about his experience losing a 14 year old son to leukemia. After a day of academic sparring, this gut level dialogue was powerful!

I also enjoyed having my ideas challenged. Probably not surprisingly, the most animated and beneficial engagement, from my perspective, was with my friend Jim Wallis. We especially sparred over whether the Church is called to be "the conscience of the state." Jim thinks we are, I think we're not. Jim points to the example of the role Old Testament prophets played in confronting various kings in the Old Testament. I argued back that this was done in a theocratic context in which it was understood that prophets were supposed to confront kings, but that this didn't carry over into the New Covenant -- which is why Jesus and his followers never confronted kings. (Yes, John the Baptist confronted Herod, but that's because Herod was a Jewish King. John the Baptist never confronted a pagan King).

Through the discussion, we almost came to see eye to eye. I can grant that there's one sense in which the church is to be the "conscience of the state" -- because I see one way in which Jesus was the "conscience of the state." Jesus never acted like he had any superior wisdom about how the world should run, and so he never advised Caesar or Pilate about governmental matters. So I don't think we who are his followers can claim any special wisdom about governmental matters. (History I think is on my side here). But, Jesus did expose the injustice of Caesar's program by his willingness to suffer at its unjust hands. The cross is Jesus' protest vote to the injustice both of Caesar's government and Ciaphas' religion. This, I think, is how we're supposed to protest injustice -- not by superior wisdom, but by voluntary self-sacrifice.

This is why both Jim and I can approvingly point to Martin Luther King.

Finally, I have to say I was impressed with Tony Hall's testimony about how he feels God has used him in Congress. For example, one time a massive amount of funding for famine relief was cut. Tony at one point felt led by God to go on a 20 day fast to get this funding back. Word got out and many others joined him. He ended up getting more money back than was cut! Thousands of people were fed who otherwise would have gone hungry. Here's a beautiful example of what can happen when we enter into solidarity with those on the loosing end of injustice -- as Tony did with the hungry who needed this relief. This testimony helped me see how God really can use people in government who strive to hear and obey God's voice. My general cynicism towards government can easily blind me to this.

At the same time, as David Kuo point out in his response to Tony, we need to be careful. Tony's obedience to God was obviously a beautiful thing. But as he and Tony both know, Christians in the White House and elsewhere also claim to hear God about things like how people should vote on gay rights, on abortion, on tax increases, on Health Care, on stem cell research, etc...and when God is invoked on "wedge issues"this just gives a religious intensity to the vicious polarization of the political scene and it dishonors God.

So, as in many other matters, on the issue of Christians in politics we have to say, "yes -- but."

Keep thinking, growing and loving!


Friday, October 12, 2007

The Biblical Call to Justice?

Here are my thoughts for the day on the topic of JUSTICE. People so often say things like: "The Bible calls us to stand for justice" and "We need to live out the biblical mandate to live out justice." We will all nod our heads in agreement -- including me. Justice. Yes and Amen!!!

But here's what I'm wondering:

a) Do we need the Bible to tell us this in order to stand for justice? Don't non-Christians also stand for justice? Don't all decent people stand for justice? What's uniquely biblical about this?

b) What political mileage can you really get out of the Bible's call to stand for justice? For example, the main criteria for justice today centers on political freedom and personal rights. But where in the Bible do we find any interest in these concerns? Yes, everyone is made in the image of God. But nowhere does the Bible talk about people having "inalienable rights" because of this. (This was an Enlightenment concept, not a Biblical one). In fact, when the idea of political freedom and personal rights first began to be seriously considered in the Enlightenment period, it was mainly Christians who opposed the idea! How can anyone support the idea that people should have a say in who governs them when the Bible clearly says that GOD ordains the authorities that be (Rom.13). It's also interesting to realize that the same Bible that tells us God calls us to stand for justice is the Bible that endorses male domination, construes women to be property and encourages (in the OT) and allows for (in the NT) slavery!

So honestly, can you really base a modern ethic of justice on the Bible?

Now don't get me wrong, I BELIEVE people have inalienable rights. I believe justice includes supporting equal rights for all and personal and political freedom. But I believe this because I'm an American, not because I'm a Christian.

c) And third, what political disputes are solved by appealing to the biblical call to stand for justice? What's the point of appealing to "biblical justice:"? Are there political opponents out there that stand AGAINST biblical justice? Is there an "Anti-Biblical Justice Party" out there? No. EVERYBODY stands for "justice," they just define it and apply it differently. So everyone can appeal to the "biblical call for justice" for support, if they wanted to. Which means that appealing to the Bible's call for justice may make us feel like our views have more authority, but it actually gets us nowhere.

For example, I've recently gotten several mailings from left-wing Christian organizations asking me to stand with them for "biblical justice" and "peacemaking" by opposing the war in Iraq and calling on our government to pull our troops out now. Sounds righteous enough. Let's march!!! But, on the other hand, one could argue that this move might prove to be the most unjust and war-encouraging thing we could possibly do! Sure, it would save U.S. lives, but why think U.S. lives count more than Iraqi lives -- or even the lives of terrorists? So, in the name of standing for "biblical justice," one could argue that our troops should stay as long as needed to ensure stability.

Now, we could debate the merits of pulling out verses staying endlessly -- as with most other political matters. Fine. But my point is that appealing to "biblical justice" to support our views won't help the matter. To the contrary, it just invites the typical divisiveness of the world's politics into the Church.

So, it seems to me that trying to root your position in the "biblical call to stand for justice" is:

a) somewhat disingenuous, since you would have stood for the "justice" position you believe in anyways;

b) somewhat disingenuous, since the freedom and rights you're standing for aren't in the Bible; and

c) very unhelpful, since everyone on all sides of the debate can make the exact same claim.

I say let's just come clean and let common decency define "justice" and govern politics. And in the meantime, how about we followers of Jesus get around to doing the one thing we're supposed to be doing: imitating Jesus' self-sacrificial love to all people and at all times.

Whatever "justice" means, we'll certain get it covered if we are aiming at replicating Calvary.

Peace out


Thursday, October 11, 2007


Sorry. Sorry. Sorrrrrry! I know I know I know. Dr. Boyd is a bad bad blogger.
I've been completely and totally and unequivocally SWAMPED this week. Honestly.

Here's quick update for today and I promise to blog again tomorrow.

My daughter Alisha ran the Twin Cities Marathon last Sunday. Yeh Alisha! Shelley and I are so proud of her! Her knees started aching by mile 8, but she just kept going. Never walked. What a trooper!

Most of our small group came out to cheer Alisha on. Isn't that sweet! What a family!!

I've been running the last six months attempting to get my gut down, so I jumped in the race for a few miles to cheer her on. I was planning to run 3 miles, 6 tops. The energy of the moment got the best of me and I ended up jumping in at the 14-mile mark and running to the 26-mile mark. OUCH! There's just something about sharing pain together that bonds a father and daughter. I was thinking, "If Alisha is in pain, then I should be in pain too!" I loved it and we both agreed it was a great father-daughter experience.

My back, however, disagreed.

Also, the day before the marathon, Alisha informed Shelley and me that we will be GRANDPARENTS for the second time! Yeh Tim and Alisha! We're (again) so proud (and old)!

I'm now in Milford, Connecticut. Tomorrow I'm part of a Faith and Politics Conference at Yale. I just got back from a wonderful dinner with my new friend David Kuo (author of the book Tempting Faith) and we had a great time and great conversation. David and I will probably be the two odd ducks in this interface of faith and politics conference. We don't think there's much of an interface AT ALL. I'm on a panel discussing the theological foundation for Christian participation in politics, and my argument will be that there IS NO theological foundation for Christian involvement in politics. Our call is to build an entirely different kind of Kingdom.

It ought to be interesting.

I have thoughts on the topic of JUSTICE that I plan to share tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Psalm 139 and David's "ordained days"

Heh folks,

Just a reflection for the day.

One of the passages most frequently cited in attempts to refute the open view of the future is Psalm 139:16. Here David says that God viewed him while he was being formed in the womb (vs. 15) and then adds...

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be (TNIV).

It is argued that this suggests that "our days are numbered" before we're born. God knows exactly how long we're going to live, in other words. So, when someone dies, by whatever means (even murdered children!), people says, "It was their time to go." Moreover, since there are a trillion variables affecting how long a person lives, including the free decisions of other people, if God foreknows the exact time of our death he must foreknow everything.

The argument initially looks impressive, but there are, in fact, a number of strong objections against it. In this blog I'd like to address what I think is the most important one (for others, see my book, God of the Possible). In a word, the Hebrew in this passage is notoriously ambiguous, rendering a number of differing translations possible. The King James Version, for example, reads:

"Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. "

To modernize this translation a bit, the KJV is saying, "Your eyes saw my body when it was yet unformed. You recorded in your book all my body parts which eventually came to be fashioned, and you did this before they existed (as formed body parts).

The Jewish Publication Society (JPS) translation in essence agrees with the KJV. It reads:

Your eyes saw my unformed limbs;
they were all recorded in Your book;
in due time they were formed,
to the very last one of them.
How weighty Your thoughts seem to me, O God.

So the Hebrew is obviously sufficiently ambiguous to allow experts to disagree on what was pre-recorded in God's book. The issue of whether David's "days" or "unformed limbs" were pre-recorded in God's book must thus be settled on other grounds, the most important of which is the immediate context of the passage.

Given that this whole passage is about God's intimate knowledge of David when he's growing in the womb -- not about God's foreknowledge of David's life -- I would argue it's more reasonable to favor the translation that has God pre-recording David's body parts. If so, David is simply expressing God's loving care in making sure all that's supposed to eventually be part of David's body is in fact being formed in the womb. (By the way, it's important to remember that we're reading poetry here. It's thus a mistake to try to draw out metaphysical conclusions about what this implies for folks who are born with body parts missing or deformed!).

In any event, Psalm 139:16 clearly provides no objection to the open view of the future.

There's my reflection for the day.

Blessings on you