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Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Religion • Critic Slams Minister for New Year’s Story

ANTIOCH, CA (12/31/14-NEW YEAR’S EVE: The ink was not even dry on my New Years Eve story published earlier today, when an email was fired off objecting to my use of II Chronicles 7:14 in an invocation I gave at a big gathering. The critic is Kelleigh Nelson, a distinguished writer of News With Views and is actually a friend that I respect. Her powder was dry when she fired off her objections in her email below:

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“Although a lovely and honest prayer, there they go again, misusing the verse of II Chron 7:14, which in context is only to Israel, NOT TO THE CHURCH…we are to be the salt and light to the world and the pulpits have destroyed any salt and light we once had.  So many misuse this verse….It was a promise from God that if the Jewish people would turn from their wicked ways, God would heal their land.  These verses are so often taken out of context here in the US.  Many people apply this Scripture to the US, that if all the believers get together and really pray and repent, God will heal their land.  God made no such promise to any other people or to any other land than the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. “A text apart from its context is a pretext.” And this promise is specifically directed to the Jewish people and the land is specifically the Land of Israel.”

After catching my breath, I responded:

Dear Friend and Fellow Servant Kelleigh,

It is appreciated that you critique my writings, since I have always considered you the better writer than me…than I??..better writer than ‘me am’...better writer than “I am”...yes that is the correct one. Anyway, there has long been scholarly debate over II Chronicles 7:14 and both sides bring up excellent points.

Yes, the entire Old Testament was written to the Jews applying to Jewish life. HOWEVER the prophecies, several which were fulfilled in that period of time, spilled over to New Testament times when some were fulfilled with others yet to come. So that would apply to us as well as the Jews.

I took part in studies showing Jesus in the Old Testament, which is particularly evident in the Psalms. It is truly believed that David was hearing the voice of Jesus who addressed the Psalmist’s difficulties that would be important not only to him, but to readers of the future. Multiple Christians tell me how the Psalms comfort them. 

As for prophecy, take the 22nd Psalm. I always marveled at the detailed descriptions of events to come, including the crucifixion which had not even been invented when that psalm was written. From the time I was very young (yes I WAS young once) I would say to my mother, wouldn’t this be a prophecy?

Then when I did my study, it came to me that only the voice of Jesus could have inspired that psalm, especially the words, My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?

I thoroughly believe that the warnings God gave to Israel when they began to forsake Him was an example that we can clearly see today as a prophecy to us, since our circumstances so vividly matches those of ancient times and everything leading up to them.

Ishmael was conceived by sin (God had promised Abraham a son and that had not yet been fulfilled) so in a classic demonstration of lack of faith, Abraham listened to his wife and hopped in the bed with Sarah’s servant girl, Hagar, resulting in the birth of Ishmael.

OK, OK, I can make that a little classier:  Sarah gave her servant-girl Hagar to be his concubine.Better?

The Bible has a lot to say about Ishmael, with God calling him a “wild man” who would cause disruption and destruction. This blended into the Arab race which today has produced countless terrorists.

Back then, God would turn the people who had turned against Him over to their enemy to bring punishment, and, as described, the enemy would be a people of another tongue that nobody would understand, etc. Check Deuteronomy 28 beginning at verse 47.

That would certainly apply to us as well. The circumstances of our lives are almost identical to the ancient Jews with the same results. So I believe that those curses on Israel along with the reversal to blessings would also apply to the U.S. The message of The Bible is universal and constant.

Those Scriptures were written to be a guide for all mankind-womankind-and all the other kind for all time. 9/11/ comes to mind.

We need not only to take the warnings but the antidotes provided such as II Chronicles 7:14, which shows exactly what was to happen in America and how we can get back on track.

Let us not get into hostile debate over theology, which caused division and cruelty during the time of our early Church Fathers and still rattles cages today. Remember, John Calvin was responsible for the burning-at-the-stake of Servetus following a disagreement over doctrine. I earnestly hope that solution will not be employed today. Because of that, I stayed away from Calvin or any of his books. 

The best time of day for this unworthy Australopithecus [is] in my personal library reading the writings of the early church fathers. They wrote with such passion that exhibited such an intense love for God that it drives me to my knees to plead that I would have such deep feelings toward God.

Then it came to me. Sometimes one can be TOO passionate about God and theology which has so often compelled people to become fanatics and to draw swords. THAT is my problem with Calvin. His over-zealous passion for orthodox interpretation of Scriptures. But I finally began to read him.

His books that made their way into my library have become valuable resources. No, he is NOT excused from being so over-zealous that he caused a man to be burned alive. But I still want to achieve the love he and the others had for God and His Word. But I will never fan fanatic flames.

Again, thank you Kelleigh, for analyzing my writings and theology. Both of us have valid points in this debate. And may I wish you and your family a very happy New Year!

Blessings,
Rev. Austin Miles

Kelleigh did respond to the above letter stating that even though we disagree, she still loves me.

You can see the original story, Edgy Petitions for New Year, that stimulated this discussion, on this website: by going to:

http://revaustinmiles.com/index.php/more/670

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