It is impossible to preach Christ without declaring moral righteousness. Jesus Christ, and his Gospel of mercy, is a message based in God’s Law. It is a message of forgiveness for transgression. It is not a message of license. Jesus preached moral imperatives as God’s will for humanity. He was killed in large part because of his prophetic challenge of the society’s sin and injustice. One thing the authorities could not do was ignore his message. He was considered such a threat to the existing way of doing things that people in authority wanted him removed — permanently. His message eliminated the possibility of neutrality. You had to decide if you were with him or against him. There was no room for being "above the fray" by choosing the "higher ground" of political moderation.
By contrast, Christians today who preach the message of Christ combined with a call to social reform are largely considered irrelevant. One might say the only thing worse than being persecuted for your faith is being ignored. Prophets are persecuted, but the insane are dismissed. And madmen who insist on being heard are hated not because of their message but because of their obnoxious volume. No one considers the beliefs of the insane worthy of serious consideration, although they may be considered annoying. Like the insane, Christians are not considered a threat to the status quo because their views are seen as having no moral authority. They are not a threat to the political structure. While they have a right to speak their mind, these Christians have no "power" to speak to the culture with the authority of moral conscience. Their moral beliefs are personal matters. The most annoying thing about these "Christians, is that they think their private beliefs should be the basis of public policy." They are not hated because their beliefs seem to be true -they are hated because of their shrill insistence on being heard in public discourse. "They think their views actually matter. The problem is, they just don’t get it. Their views are irrelevant!"
What is this shrill cry that is heard as an annoying irritant? Why such a contrast between the culture and the Christian voice? Christians are operating under a different set of assumptions about the nature of truth and reality than the rest of the Western world, and because of this dichotomy, Christians are not speaking effectively to the culture. They speak a different language. What is the Christian worldview, the operating assumptions under which Christians approach public discourse?
Christians believe that God’s law is a universal law applicable to all humanity. Therefore, when a Christian votes for laws against murder, for example, he is not necessarily trying to establish a Christian State, he is just advocating justice for all people of all religious faiths. Those who advocate an end to abortion, do so because they sincerely believe that abortion is the unjust taking of human life — murder. It is not a religious principle; it is a principle of justice for all humanity.
However, Christian views on such matters are not heard as cries for justice. They are seen as the indignant ramblings of the slightly insane. How has the Christian voice been so easily silenced and dismissed? It has happened because the West has unconsciously cordoned off religious beliefs into the private, moral ghetto of individual conscience. The unspoken assumption is, "You can have your religious convictions, but your beliefs are irrelevant when it comes to matter of public policy and political law. The social contract has absolutely nothing to do with religion." What the West has done is put up a fence around the public square, and only those willing to shed their individual, religious beliefs and commitments may enter the arena to speak. Those who refuse to strip themselves of their faith-based commitments are considered protesters who have grabbed the microphone from the scheduled speakers and who have started to rant and rave about something totally irrelevant to the matter at hand.
The West has desacralized the public square and made it hostile to religious commitment. While there is a place for the public naming of God [as many political speeches end by saying, "God Bless America!"] that reference must be neutral and without specific content. Above all, it must be devoid of moral imperatives. It is what I call an appeal to the "Santa Claus god," who only brings presents and never scolds. There is no room in the Western political world for a God who speaks with a concrete moral conscience, or a God who judges. The religious prophets of the Old Testament, who warned of famines and wars as a consequence for corporate sin, would not be seen as moral agents of reform but as lunatics in today’s society. God is not believed to operate in human affairs or history. Therefore, Christians who insist that there is a divine consequence for moral indiscretion are also considered mentally unstable.
Why has the Church lost the ability to function as the conscience of the Nation? There are several reasons. I don’t want to perpetuate the lack of accountability in liberal largess, so the first reason for this deafness has to be the rebelliousness in the heart of the people who prefer sin and license to responsibility and righteousness. While that attitude contributes to the atmosphere of resentment towards the Church’s message, there is a deeper stronghold that has allowed the people a convenient excuse for closing their ears and shielding their eyes. It is a deep root. That root is the worldview by which the "god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers." [2 Cor. 4:4].
First, we will look briefly at the problem of the will, but it is the worldview and the remedy that will be the focus of this article.
Gen. 19: 5- 9 And they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally." So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, "Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! ...do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof."
And they said... "This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them."
Jud. 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
Pr 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
When I preached at my first church, it usually felt like a thick wall of fog would absorb my words before they reached the last pew. I was preaching in a room that was spiritually sound proofed. The hearts did not want to hear. Yet when I would go somewhere else, I would have a wide-open, power-charged time of ministry. It wasn't my devotion and desire that varied, it was the receptivity and desire of the people. I found out that if people are not crying out for God in their own lives, if they take Him for granted, the sermons fail, but if they are open and praying and crying out... then God will meet them through the preached Word. It wasn't me that was different; it was the environment.
If you look around at this nation right now and see what is happening, the wall of resistance is very strong and hunger for God is rare. The social order has adopted a libertine attitude of sexual license. Hints of persecution are rising against all who dare take exception to this new moral order. Banking institutions, corporations, and city governments are defunding the Boy Scouts and banning them from public places. Why? Because the Boy Scouts advocate traditional moral values. Traditional moral values are now seen as the enemy of the social order rather than as an essential part of a healthy community. Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin are classed as bigots and are painted with the same brush as the Ku Klux Klan. Not only are the media using propaganda to brand Christian values as evil, but corporations and governments are using the force of law and the power of the purse to conform the culture to a pro-homosexual worldview, as if it were the norm. [After all, there is money to be made from the pornography and violence of the big and little screen. And moral censorship threatens to diminish those profitable ventures.]
In a similar manner, those who believe that abortion is taking the life of the innocent are branded with a scarlet letter: "P" for Prejudiced. In biblical terms, this culture has almost committed the unforgivable sin [Mt. 12:31], calling good ‘evil’ [pro life and traditional morals], and evil ‘good’ [abortion and homosexuality]. It is the same reversal of values that took place in Sodom, where the love of sin caused the people to want to destroy the righteous. Rather than hear the appeal to justice and to treat visitors fairly, the denizens of Sodom justified their own depravity by calling the Righteous ‘judgmental.’ Simply for upholding a standard and for pleading with the people to do what is right, Lot was called presumptuous and haughty. The same is true today for the true Church, which upholds God’s moral law as a universal standard of righteousness. Labels are applied to those who believe God’s Word: "bigoted, prejudiced and narrow, right wingers."
The preaching of Lot had no effect - not because the words were not true - but because the people did not want to hear. It is the same today.
"Men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them." Romans 1:27-32, RSV.
The Nations of the West are refusing to believe the truth, but are taking "pleasure in unrighteousness," [2 Thess. 2:12]. They are angry with anyone who presumes to speak for God, especially if God is said to judge some behaviors as sinful. It may take the shaking of the nations to open their ears of desperation to the point where the people will be willing to hear the truth of God. All would seem to be lost, but there may yet be a mitigating circumstance — an excuse — for God to have mercy.
To reach any culture, you must be able to speak to it with authority, but the West does not recognize religious or moral beliefs as having that authority. The reason for this rejection of religious authority is because of the foundational principles and assumptions of the Western worldview. A worldview is part of a culture, and to reach a culture you must be able to communicate in the language of the culture. While we do not need to adopt or agree with a culture’s worldview, we at least need to understand it, so that we may speak to it effectively.
A worldview is the deepest set of core assumptions; often unspoken and unconscious, about what constitutes the nature of reality. Because these assumptions are often unconscious, individuals in a culture do not realize how their core values and beliefs are influenced and affected by this deeper substratum. For example, Western Civil Religion assumes that the triad of Democracy-Capitalism-Individualism is the best political-economic-philosophical and social system for all of mankind. It is the operative worldview for most Christians in our culture. Christians rarely challenge this value system, which draws some, but not all, of its roots from the bible. Rather it is assumed and acted upon as if it is the best of all possible worldviews and a faithful expression of Scripture. This unconscious assumption of the culture’s worldview makes it difficult for Christians to prophetically challenge the powers of this age that rule in opposition to Christ. In fact, those Christians who do challenge the worldview assumptions are often seen as enemies of the Church as well as of the state.
In the book, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader [Revised Edition, Ralph Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds. 1992,William Carey Library, Pasadena, CA] Lloyd Kwast draws a four-level model of culture in the article Understanding Culture [C: 3 — C: 6]. The diagram is a set of 4 concentric circles, each larger than the next.
The Western Worldview — Scientific Materialism. The Material World is a product of Chance, Natural forces, and Evolution without any divine involvement. The Ultimate truth is that there is no ultimate religious truth. Since there is no Creator, there is no purpose to life, there is no design, and there is no ultimate meaning to this world.
The Western Belief Structure- Scientific Empiricism. The Empirical Method defines the nature of ultimate reality. Reality can be verified through experimental demonstration. Anything that cannot be tested and demonstrated empirically is therefore uncertain and merely a hypothesis or opinion — hence untrue or of questionable value. Therefore, all spiritual and moral beliefs are made relative by the epistemological priority of doubt and uncertainty. Since religious claims cannot be verified, they are merely matters of human opinion or conjecture, and hence untrue or of only questionable value. Religious or moral truths are not matters of reliable certainty.
1) Since the truth of the material is known through reason and rationalism, the only way to know the truth is through the use of reason and the mind. Propositional knowledge, knowledge of facts, is the medium of discovering and expressing the truth.
2) Since knowledge of the real world of matter is dependent upon study and the ability to reason, education is the primary means of coming to know what is true.
The Western Value Structure — Individualism. Since there is no design to creation or ultimate purpose to life, we ought to be free to create our own meaning and identity. Therefore, no one has the right to decide what is good or best for any other individual. There is no standard of right and wrong. Each person is essentially responsible to himself. He is the god of his own life. What is good or best for the culture depends in large part what seems good to the individual. Since there is no ultimate standard by which beliefs can be measured for validity or priority, freedom of individual choice is the chief good for the social whole.
Subset: Man is basically good, and if just given the right information through study, he will not only know what is right, but will also do what is right.
The Western Behavior Model — Anything Goes [Libertinism]. By and large, all behaviors are acceptable or have the potential of being acceptable since they are the expression of individual choice, desire and preference. Since there is no standard of right and wrong aside from individual choice, almost all behavior is inherently presumed to be good and acceptable. However this presumption of hedonistic liberty is restrained by another cultural worldview and value system: individualism and individual human rights. One’s liberty cannot be exercised over against another individual without violating a liberal standard of tolerance. To ignore other’s rights to do as they please, and to trample those rights, threatens the social Value Structure. So murder is still unacceptable [except in the case of abortion, where the rights of the child infringe upon the right of the parent(s) to be free do as she pleases].
These views are the operative model for Western Civilization, even if they are not held by all. It must be recognized that these views are often held unconsciously and they are highlighted above by example in the extreme. In other words, if people thought through their beliefs and values, they many not agree with the conclusions or consequences. But they do act unconsciously as if these beliefs are true and universal. When the excesses of individual libertinism start to unravel the social whole, only then does the discomfort level rise to the point where people begin to question the underlying modus operandi.
After studying these cultural assumptions of Western world, you can see the reason why it is so difficult to speak of religious values. The prevailing worldview of the West is material and not spiritual. What is truth are facts. Facts are tangible and empirically verifiable through experiment and demonstration. Truth is whatever is a material fact. All truth is provable by material means. Therefore, what is material is what is "REAL" and constitutes the Real World. Everything else is just a feeling or an emotion without a basis in concrete reality. Such feelings or beliefs may be personal or individually true, but they are not universally true.
Religious insights are not verifiable and hence are a matter of speculation and hence only opinions and relative and cannot be, by their very nature, normative for the culture or for determining right and wrong. They can only be privately held beliefs or preferences. Hence, moral considerations, like pro-life beliefs and sexual mores, can be held privately, but cannot be imposed upon the culture as a whole. To do so would impinge upon another’s freedom and rights. Since there is no verifiable claim to truth and no authority there can be no way of proving one belief right or wrong. There is no way the culture can value one truth claim over another. There are No absolutes! And in the secular arena, there is obviously no way to judge the claims of one religious belief over against another. All religious beliefs are private opinions or speculations, and hence no single belief can be considered as the only truth, way, and life. Certainly it would be wrong to use any religious system as the basis for laws or running a culture. The West must take a stand of "neutrality" on such matters.
It is quite obvious however that such a stand of neutrality is in fact a stand for the agnostic secular state. That agnosticism, is really a stand for secular, Scientific Materialism, and it is totally congruent with the culture’s worldview.
I have found most debates about the truth to be fruitless exercises, which only fan the flames of competing egos. The problem is that most debate takes place on the home turf of the Scientific Materialist. Truth is not determined by an appeal to divine revelation or supernatural knowledge. No, it is decided by what appears to be reasonable, logical, and materially verifiable. Divine Words are made subject to the judgment of the Court of Human Reason. That court becomes the final arbiter of matters of The Truth. God has been weighed in the balance of the scales of Human Reason, and has been found sorely wanting.
The home turf, the playing field, of Scientific Materialism is rationalism, intellectualism, propositional debates. If you want to enter into debate, you must play on their field with their rules. So, if one declares the Word of God is the Only, absolute truth, the position is immediately discounted. An opponent falls back to the relativism of the cultural worldview about what is "really" Real. Religious beliefs are by definition only matters of opinion, not matters of right and wrong. In other words, the one who disagrees can dismiss a biblical argument, not by appeal to a higher authority or by appeal to a divine and universal standard, but by an appeal to the universal lack of any ultimate standard!
If one insists on arguing that the bible or a moral value is God’s absolute truth, the debate degenerates very quickly into a rational argument that does not penetrate the worldview. It becomes a surface debate. Usually, one’s opponent finds many reasons to see himself as "enlightened" and "more caring and tolerant," while believing that anyone who disagrees is obviously ignorant, lacking compassion, or is some kind of racist bigot. In short, there is no "Authority" to prove or show that one speaks with divine sanction. Rather, he appears to speak merely of his own accord. Without a divine backing or seal upon the confession, it quickly becomes a hopeless political debate to be decided NOT by right and wrong, but by majority rule. One’s beliefs are merely a matter of opinion. And since they are just one individual’s opinion, they can safely be ignored. What is more, such beliefs can safely be regarded as irrelevant in determining social or political policy.
Likewise, a political pluralism is reigning in many of the mainline denominations today, where traditional moral teachings and values are under siege by those who openly advocate homosexual lifestyles as acceptable norms. What is true in the denominational debates is that the hermeneutical key for determining truth [and hence what the policies of the church should be] is not what the bible actually teaches, but what is established through majority rule. While conservatives look to the scriptures for their fulcrum of truth, the liberals look to political majorities and cultural values. Neither side agrees with the other on what constitutes truth or the authority for determining right and wrong. It is as if they are playing on two different ball fields. One is playing baseball and the other is playing soccer, and both are insisting that they are right. It is no wonder that the denominations are subject to the spirit of division and party spirit. There is no basis for harmony or agreement, since neither side shares the same authority.
"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'" John 15:20-25, RSV.
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father." John 14:10-12, RSV.
"But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me." John 5:36-37
The mindset and the worldview of Scientific Materialism are so deeply and ingrained in the educational system and the culture as a whole, I can only see one solution: the divine intervention of God. To escape the morass of rationalism, which equates truth and reality with logic, what is needed is an encounter with the Divine Presence. The lie of the culture is that "There is no God and that is why God does not act in the world or do miracles. Therefore, Jesus could not be raised from the dead because it is a physical impossibility. "
Because the mindset of materialism is a direct rejection of God’s supernatural authority, power and ability, there is only one way to shatter the materialist worldview of secularism — through signs and wonders. The secular challenge is not a challenge being directed against man and morals, or even the Church’s witness, it is a challenge being issued directly against God and against the truth of his Sovereign governance of the Universe. It is like when Sennacherib challenged Hezekiah [2 Kings 18-19], saying that Israel’s God was not able to protect them. Hezekiah’s response was not to argue and say, "he is too!" Rather, Hezekiah went before the Lord God in the Temple and delivered the letter of accusation to God:
Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Incline thy ear, O LORD, and hear; open thy eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Of a truth, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone; therefore they were destroyed So now, O LORD our God, save us, I beseech thee, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou, O LORD, art God alone." — 2 Kings 19: 14-19
Hezekiah decided that since the charge was against God and God’s divine majesty, only God could respond to this challenge.
Today, the lie is that God is dead and is not involved in human affairs. Because God is said not to be involved in violating the known order of the natural world, only God can answer this charge against his divinity.
Miracles are the only thing that would shatter the confidence of the Scientific Empiricist. Signs and wonders violate the known laws of the causal universe, and the Scientific Materialist rests his confidence in the regularity and predictability of the causal world. God can be dismissed because he is sure that miracles do not exist. The Materialist’s reasoning is well known: "Miracles are the product of the superstitious and primitive mind. The stories in the Bible and other religious documents are merely the myths and legends of the ignorant, pre-modern, pre-scientific man who needed to create an explanation for things he did not understand. God was invented to explain the forces of nature. But there is no God and there are no miracles." Only if the Materialist is challenged with evidence that he cannot refute, dismiss, or explain will the challenge to his worldview be sufficient to enable him to consider faith. And I am not speaking merely of the hardhearted scientist, who is angry with religion and violent in hatred towards God. I am speaking of the average citizen who has unconsciously adopted the worldview of this culture — where God is excluded without much thought. Only by a large scale, public intervention of God through healings, signs, and wonders as testimony to His Son, can the public mindset be shaken to the point where faith is now truly and option.
One might say that this intervention of God in the midst of an unbelieving populace is not the will of God. God does not need to prove himself. But I would say that the scriptures give ample evidence of God’s righteousness being proved again and again by God by giving witness to himself. In fact, most of the prophetic examples from Genesis to Malachi are records of divine intervention through miracles of deliverance or famines of judgment. In each case, God testified of his right and power, of his truth and his ability, to work on the earth. In fact, Jesus said that his witness was confirmed by the miracles that he was sent to do. Jesus said that if he hadn’t done these miracles in the presence of his enemies, they would have an excuse for their unbelief and their sin, (see quotes at beginning of section). He confronted the Powers of this Age with the Power of God. Jesus spoke as one with Authority not as one of the scribes [Mt. 7:29]. He also had the power of the Father confirming that He had been sent by the Father [John 5:36-37].
Paul was faced with a similar situation in Athens and Corinth [Acts 17 —18]. He tried to argue with philosophical rhetoric in Athens, but his reasoned approach led to only a few converts and the scoffing of the majority. Their worldview was not shaken or shattered by the crazy man from Jerusalem. But he changed tactics when he got to Corinth, deciding that even the best, reasoned arguments are inadequate compared to the need for a genuine encounter with the Spirit of Truth. So he wrote:
"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, NIV.
"The things that mark an apostle--signs, wonders and miracles--were done among you with great perseverance." 2 Corinthians 12:12, NIV.
Without the Power to demonstrate that we do indeed speak for God... if God does not deign to back us up with his seal of authority and commission, there is little we can do to persuade men of the truth of what we say. More than ever, the Church needs the power of God and the confirming witness of the Spirit — that He is the One, acting through the Church to give testimony to Jesus, the Son of God. Without the power of the witness, we are powerless in the face of the adversaries of God and the stronghold of the secular worldview. We are as powerless as Hezekiah was in the face of that vast army of Assyria, an army that was defeated not by men, but by a miracle of God [2 Kings 19:35].
It would seem that what I’m asking is outlandish, but it is within the purposes of God, and perhaps it is even his preferred will. In speaking of the Church and the Church’s role on the earth, Jesus said:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son," John 15: 12-13
"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. John 17:20-23
Jesus said that through the works of miracles by the Church, the Father would be glorified in the Son. Jesus gave his glory to the Church so that the world might know that Jesus is sent by the Father. It does appear that Jesus’ intention was for the Church to walk in the same manner and power in which he walked on the earth, so that the testimony of the Church about Jesus could be confirmed by the divine manifestations of the supernatural.
While some have suggested that miracles are not needed today, I would counter that the world has never seen as strong a mindset that is developed by the force of logic combined with scientifically agnostic empiricism. What is in reality rebellion and unbelief appears to be so ordinary and logically correct. The conflict between this worldview and God’s governance is so profound that the god of this world has made all matters of faith seem childish, foolish, irrational, narrow and prejudiced. Merely by comparing the absolutist claims of conflicting religions [such as Hinduism, Islam and Christianity], the empiricist has been able to undermine and negate them all. Now, more than ever is the active divine Word needed to speak to this culture and destroy the stronghold over the minds of men. Only God can make foolish the "wisdom" of this age. Since Jesus considered it necessary to give a testimony of the truth of himself through the miraculous works and confirming words, lest unbelievers be left with an excuse, so today does God’s integrity demand that he give a witness of himself, so that all will be left without excuse. By striking at the heart of the worldview and by shattering its smug self-confidence in bold unbelief, God can bring about repentance. By miraculous signs of divine power, all people will know that the greater truth is not in matter or in the physical laws of nature — but in the Creator who made those laws in the first place.
Therefore, I say, if the day is to be won, "Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered," Psalm 68:1. This battle for the souls of men is the Lord’s, and we are just his foot soldiers. The Commander in Chief needs to supply the necessary armament for us to be able to win. That can only be done by the testimony and the witness of the Holy Spirit, who gives evidence of the Truth of the Word and of the Son of God.