Top Post Views in 2022

It is November 18, 2022, so I reckon it is late enough in the year to note the posts most viewed this year. I made some minor changes to some of them to make them more useful. This year has been the best year for views on this website with over 20,000 views. That is hardly impressive but as one who just writes what I feel like writing about with little to no attention to SEO, or even common-sense ideas to draw people in, I am happy. <Not that it matters, but the numbers below show views based on unique selections, not views from scrolling through contents.>

#1. Sodalities and Modalities in Missions. (568 views this year) I happen to like this post but I am shocked that it was Number One. I have written on sodality and modality structures before without much interest from others. This was an early draft of a section of my book on Missions Theology (“Walking With” as Metaphor for Mission Theology). I think one of the values of this post is that it also gives a bit of a hint at why Protestants were so slow to get active in Christian missions (beyond the more obvious). I added a couple of diagrams to this post because the book has them.

#2. Critique on Evangelism, Part One. (306 views this year) This is an old post of mine but I still agree with it. I do believe Evangelism is important but there are deep problems in the underlying theology as well as the methodology of it. Much evangelism probably is not even evangelism—- but just getting Christians to change denomination or affiliation. I added links so that subsequent parts of the post series can more easily be found.

#3. Non-violent Response and Self-Purification. (305 views this year) This is a quote, with comments, of a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. I believe MLK is a good example for Christians in how to behave transformationally in a diseased culture. It seems like Christians (in the US at least) seem to think that riling themselves up is how to get change. Maybe it is… but it is not the right change.

#4. Cultural Perspective and the Prodigal Son. (288 views this year) I did not write anything particularly original here, but noted findings of others as to how much one’s own cultural worldview colors how we interpret the Bible. It is a massive blindspot, and blindspots can only be managed if they are acknowledged.

#5. Medical Mission Events in the Philippines, Part One. (283 views this year). Many years ago, my wife and I were part of a team that organized dozens of medical mission events in the Philippines. My dissertation was based on doing medical mission events in the Philippines. This post and the follow-on posts are from the dissertation. I modified this post so that it links to the other posts more efficiently. The dissertation was also modified into a short book that is available by CLICKING HERE.

#6. Three Stages of Prophecy and Word. (261 views this year). Some years ago I did some teaching in Biblical Theology (NOT my specialty). I noted that from the time of the Northern and Southern kingdoms through to the Intertestamental Period there is a transition from reliance on the spoken word (through prophets) with limited reliance on written text to gradual reliance on the written text. Prophecy was not seen as completely disappearing We see a gradual lessening of the role of prophecy but not its eradication. However, what disappears is oral prophecy seen as authoritative or “canon.” We see the same thing in the 1st century… transition from oral canon to written canon. I think the post provides a middle ground perspective between those who see Bible-era prophecy as both contemporary and fully authoritative, and those who see it as gone and never to be seen again.

#7. Problems with Spiritual Gifts. (252 views this year). I used to teach Spiritual gift assessments. I started out with the commonly accepted view of many that spiritual gifts are a major missing component in understanding of the functioning of the church. Over time I began to question a lot of what I was teaching especially as much of the information appeared to be simply made up. I don’t want to completely disrespect the idea (it is a Biblical term even if some of the interpretations don’t appear to be Biblical) so I just think of these issues as problems.

#8. The Missionary Journeys of Peter, Part One. (225 views this year). While Paul is the only missionary/apostle of the primitive church of whom we get detailed travel information over a sizable period of time. There are others such as Peter for whom we do know some regarding travels.

The highest number of views of a post that I wrote this year was “Is Kabunian Jesus? Part One”

Orality on Youtube

I have been watching some videos on the Orality movement, with focus on Oral Hermeneutics and Character Theology. It has been interesting. The hosts are Billy Coppedge and Ricki Gidoomal. The primary instructors are Tom Steffen and Bill Bjoraker. One of those videos, I was able to join as a (mostly) lurker. I have considerable interest in storying and narrative theology and contextual theology so I have found it interesting. If you are interested, I do recommend going to the video channel or the podcast channel. Below is the video that I was able to sit in on. Hopefully I will be able to join the next one.

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7qDsOdAVRN4Z9ravw5ddeg

Podcast: God Speaks: Lausanne Orality Network

New Article on Orality

I wrote an article for Bukal Life Journal. The journal is the publication of Bukal Life Care and Counseling Center, and deals with topics relating to pastoral care and counseling, and pastoral theology.

One of my favorite topics is looking at how Christian Missions and Pastoral Care intersect.

The article is titled, “

Theological Reflection through Storying in the Orality and Clinical Pastoral Training Movements

It is originally published in the 2022 edition of Bukal Life Journal, pages 27-42.

It is also available at academia.edu.

The link is here:

https://www.academia.edu/89426385/Theological_Reflection_through_Storying_in_the_Orality_and_Clinical_Pastoral_Training_Movements?source=swp_share

Cultural Relativism and Missions

I wrote a textbook for seminary students in the Philippines. I still use the book (“Ministry in Diversity”). However, I stopped selling the book because I wanted to make some changes.

One area I have been struggling with is the use of the term “Cultural Anthropology.” The term is used both by missionaries and (secular) cultural/social anthropologists. However, some firmly believe that the term cultural anthropology has the built-in presumption of cultural relativism. I am not totally convinced of this, but that did bring up the good question of what should missionaries hold to in terms of culture.

Upon reflection, I think there is value in separating between culture and religion. Now before anyone jumps all over me for this, I am only suggesting that there is some value in separating them even if one cannot truly separate the two.

If one pretends that one can separate religion and culture, then one can identify two spectra. One relates to culture ranging from cultural relativism (all cultures are equally valid and cannot be judged by outsiders) to cultural imperialism (all cultures can judged by my own culture and changed to be like my own culture). Religiously, one can see a spectrum from religious pluralism (all religions are equally valid and cannot be judged by outsiders) to religious exclusivism (my own faith/religion is the only one that is completely valid and is to challenge other faiths).4

Simplifying the spectra into two regions each, one can create quadrants. The Green Region I am calling “Civilizing” Missionaries. This goes back to many of the Great Century missionaries. Many were Religious Exclusivists and Cultural Imperialists. This makes me think of David Livingstone’s 3-Cs— Christianity, Civilization, Commerce. Such a model separates between religion and culture but still sees part of the missionary endeavor to change culture (“civilize”).

The Pink and Orange Regions are where there is Cultural Relativism. I am using the term “Presence” Missions here. This hearkens back to the developments especially associated with conciliar missions especially as popularized in the 1960s. Missions in this view was done by missionaries that would focus on a ministry of presence— often with the presumption that God’s work in and through the culture meant that the message of the gospel was unnecessary to be shared. I put out Presence Missions for both categories regarding culture. After all, in some forms of Christian community development, there may be a strong effort to change the culture even if religiously there is little desire to proselytize.

That leaves Transformative Missions in the Yellow region. There is an embracing of an Exclusive view regarding faith. However, the goal is not destroy culture. The hope, at least, is that the Gospel will fulfil or bring out the best in culture.

As I said, it is not realistic to separate culture from religion… but we do in many ways. We do separate Secular from Sacred… Holy from Mundane. Some of the boundaries are artificial, but Acts 15 (among other passages) do suggest the gospel transforms cultures without undermining them.

I need to make changes in the book but must figure out how to wrestle with this issue better.

Orality Webinar

I have been watching a series of Webinars on the Orality Movement. It is a partnership between Lausanne Movement and International Orality Network (ION).

The focus has been on the recent work of Tom Steffen and Bill Bjoraker, particularly in terms of Oral Hermeneutics and Character Theology.

It is available on Youtube at “Lausanne Orality”—- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7qDsOdAVRN4Z9ravw5ddeg/featured

It is also available in podcast form on some platforms under ‘God Speaks.’

I have watched all of the ones so far, and was able to participate live (although mostly as a lurker). For those interested in Orality, not just as a method for sharing the gospel with those who cannot read, but also in terms of communicating in a world that commonly learns without reliance on print media.

Preventing Theological Tribalism

Yesterday, I attended a theological seminar. I should do it more often. The main speaker was Dr. Federico Villanueva, a Filipino theologian of the Langham Partnership. He is an OT scholar with special focus on the Psalms of Lament. He presented a paper, but also made a strong appeal to the Filipino audience to develop not only localized theology, but localized theology in one’s own heart language.

After lunch, there was panel discussion with Dr. Villanueva, as well as Dr. Armand Canoy and Dr. Michael Janapin of Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. A lot of great questions were asked and answered. I will list two here.

  1. The first on was by me. I said something to the effect, “Catholic theologian Stephen Bevan’s says that one of the tests of good contextual theology is dialogue with the Universal Church— willing and able to both challenge or critique others as well as receive critique from outside. I believe heart language helps in developing localized theology, but it acts as a barrier to dialogue with the rest of the church. How do we find a healthy balance?” A shortened version of the answer given by Dr. Villanueva was “Yes balance is important. However, there is such a dearth of theology in Tagalog that it really needs to be encouraged to strengthen Filipino theology. Later, translations can be done for dialogue with the broader theological community.”
  2. Francis Samdao, a doctoral candidate at ABGTS had a follow-on question somewhat like mine but with a different focus. “How can one avoid theological tribalism, ignoring the broader globalistic community?” Dr. Villanueva (summarizing here again) said, “We always need to maintain connect to and learn from outside sources. I truly gained a greater understanding of my Filipino culture when I read theological works by Americans, British, Germans, and more. But before I did that, I first had to be well-immersed in my own culture and our history.”

I think these were good responses. Also, my wife and I are reading through a book the speaker wrote (in English) that we definitely would recommend.

An Evangelical Theology of Other Religions?

I will be teaching “Dialogue with Asian Faiths” in a couple of weeks. It is one of my favorite classes. I don’t just talk about the beliefs and practices, I also speak of the background associated with holding dialogue with people of other faiths. In this class I do talk considerably on various theological implications of living with those of other faiths. But I think I can do more.

I was reading Evangelical Mission Quarterly (Jan-Mar 2019, Vol. 55, #1). One article was titled, “Outlining a Biblical Theology of Islam: Practical Implications for Disciple Makers and Church Planting.” The article is written by Warrick Farah. It is an interesting article. I will admit that I think Farah was using the term “Biblical Theology” wrong, but that is hardly worth complaining about. Farah does a good job addressing several theological questions when it comes to Islam. He notes when dealing with the “Final Prophet of Islam” that in our theological reflection, we cannot simply embrace a traditional Christian attitude about him. We also would be remiss to simply react against “modern” Islamic views of their founder. We need to look at who he was, not just how he has been interpreted by his followers and enemies.

In line with that, we need a solid Theology of Other Faiths. Since I teach at a Southern Baptist seminary, this theology would be somewhat narrowed to be (mostly) Evangelical in terms of the lens used in the theological reflection. Some of the topics for such a theology could include:

  1. What do we say about revelations from other religions. This would include the revelations, how these revelations are handled, and the prophets/shamans behind the revelations. A lot of this has been handled before by Sir Norman Anderson. Anderson notes that broad views include (a) other revelations come from God, (b) other revelations come from the devil, (c) other revelations come from the hopes and aspirations of man, or (d) a nuanced combination of the above.
  2. What do we say about “other gods.” Are they devilish snares (or even ‘literal devils’), or can some descriptions (“god of the heavens” or “God above the gods”) point to the God who is, or even be said to be the same as. (This is especially relevant when it comes to the Abrahamic faiths. Is the God of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism the same? Or similar?)
  3. How should we, as Christians, relate to other religions, houses of worship, idols, religious leaders, and religious adherents. The Bible shows a lot of different ways that range from destroy all idols to respectful coexistence. Where are we supposed to fit into this spectrum?
  4. How does salvation relate to other faiths? This goes back to the common spectrum that utilizes three terms defined broadly— Exclusivism, Inclusivism, and Pluralism. One could add at the extremes, two more categories— Particularism and Universalism. Can other religions be a path to salvation? Are other religions a path to destruction? Is there a middle ground where (some) religions may help prepare people for the gospel? For example, some describe Sikhism as a gateway to Christianity. Some forms of Animism also seem to do this as well.

These seem like good topics to consider under the umbrella of Theology of Other Faiths.

Our Ministries

Over 19 years plus our work in the Philippines has been complicated. I decided to make a chart of all of the organizations we have been involved in. History is valuable for self-reflection. I think it shows at least two things. First, we had no idea what we were doing for many years. Second, God did have a plan to guide and sustain… but part of that plan involved experimentation and learning. There were relatively few FAILURES…but there were many opportunities to learn through mistakes.

The link to the chart is below.


bobandceliamunson.wordpress.com/2022/10/02/ministry-chart/

Contextualization as Finding Meaning

One of the statements given in missions is that contextualization or incarnational ministry is about “walking in another person’s shoes.” Clearly, this is a metaphor, but a metaphor that I think has value to us.

But how does one know that one is walking in “another’s shoes” or whether one is imagining the other of walking in “one’s own shoes”?

I think a bit of an answer exists in Pastoral Counseling. A principle in PC can be described as a formula:

Facts + Feelings = Meaning

I will use an example that I use is the book that my wife and I wrote (The Art of Pastoral Care), but I will do it as two different conversations… between Tom and Susan.

Conversation #1.

Tom: “Hi Susan. What is new?”

Susan: “Hey Tom. Well, my next door neighbor just died last night.”

Tom: “Oh my, Susan. I am so sorry to hear that. What can I do to help you? Please let me know what I can do to help you.”

Susan: “Uhh… no. That is not necessary. What’s new with you?”

Conversation #2.

Tom: “Hi Susan. What is new?”

Susan: “Hey Tom. Well, my next door neighbor just died last night.”

Tom: “Oh my, Susan. I had not heard. How are you feeling right now.”

Before finishing Conversation #2… we have to consider some of the possible responses from Susan.

Conversation #2— Feelings Options

Susan (A): “I am so angry. He threw away his life leaving his wife and two children.”

Susan (B): “I don’t feel much of anything. I hardly knew him.”

Susan (C): “I am devastated. He was like a father to me.”

Susan (D): “I am thrilled. He was such an evil man. I am glad he is gone.”

Each of these feelings give the first statement (death of the neighbor) greater clarity. Up until that point it was only a fact. Once the feeling is known, the meaning of that event for Susan is known. And, typically, once the feeling is known, this opens up the conversation for more facts that give the meaning context.

Obviously for conversation #2, Tom would need to respond differently depending on the feeling response of Susan. Suppose, for example, that the statement was option D: “I am thrilled. He was such an evil man. I am glad he was gone.”

Now, Tom must look at how to respond to this.

One option would be to reject those feelings and say something like, “Susan! You shouldn’t feel that way. That’s not very Christian…”

Another option would be to accept those feelings and seek to understand more the context. He could seek to (gently) draw out more from Susan regarding the relationship between her and the neighbor.

Conversation #1 is not contextualization. Tom does not try to “walk in her shoes.” Rather, the response could be one of two things. First, it could be a failure to understand her context. Tom could be thinking, “Well, I am pretty sure I should say something soothing because that is what people do when a person dies.” However, worse, a second option could be trying to “get her to walk in his shoes.” Perhaps, he had a neighbor who died who he was very close to. In essence, he is saying to her, “Your neighbor died so you must feel the same way I did when my neighbor died.” Both of these are a failure to contextualize.

Conversation #2 is an attempt to contextualize. Tom seeks to gain meaning as to what is going on rather than simply go with facts. That is good, but one can still fail. As I showed in one of the options after finding out the meaning that Susan gave, Tom judged her and said that she (as a good Christian) shouldn’t feel that way. While this MAY (or MAY NOT) be true, Tom is not really in a position to judge. He doesn’t know enough about the neighbor and his interactions with Susan to speak. He needs to gain a greater understanding. If he fully knew the situation, he may well have said, “Wow Susan. I am so sorry to hear that. If I was in your shoes I would be happy he is dead as well.” Of course, we don’t know because we still don’t know the context.

So what does this have to do with missional contextualization? In missions we need to know more than facts (observations and data). We need to know meanings. If someone says something or does something, if we don’t understand the meanings behind these what happens? Well, we supply our own meanings. In other words we think something like “If I did that, what would I be thinking and feeling in that situation.” That is not being incarnational or attempting to contextualize. That is trying to get them to walk in our own shoes.

However, once we find the meaning, we still need to delve deeper. We cannot simply go… “Okay, I understand the situation fully now. Now I can judge.”

The classic case of this that people use is the practice of ancestor veneration. We see a place in the house with pictures of ancestors, with incense and fruit and things. As an outsider, we might look at that and say, “If I had something like that in my house it would either be because I am worshiping” (like a household god) “or have an unhealthy obsession” (like stalkers who set up a “shrine” to whoever they obsess over). Either way one must talk to the person with this ancestor “shrine” to find out what it means. Is it a place of worship— drawing out feelings of religious adoration and awe? Is it a place of entreaty (seeking help from a family member, even though deceased)? Is it a place of honoring (like flowers placed at a gravesite? Is it a place of carrying out a family tradition, with little meaning beyond doing one’s cultural duty?

The truth is that even after one discovers what it means to a person, one is likely still not in a position to judge. As I have said in previous posts, when Jesus said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” I think it is more than simply a warning about being judgmental. I believe it is also pointing out that we lack competence to judge. We don’t get to “peek over God’s shoulder” (as Merold Westphal would say).

Incarnational ministry involves an active continual quest for meaning that searches beyond facts to feelings to meanings, and then from meanings to more facts that must be tied to feelings to new meanings.

Is a Theology of Luck Probable? (Part 2)

<Yes an odd topic. I strongly recommend reading Part 1 to make sure that when we both are using the word “luck” we mean the same thing.>

Now, you may not care for this language (luck, lucky, unlucky)— I am not sure I do either— but this definition of luck does have one advantage. It is phenomenal. That is, it looks at something as a phenomenon, without necessarily addressing the cause. So, for example, if John asked Tammy, “Do you believe in UFOs?” a reasonable answer might be, “Well, I certainly believe in UFOs as a phenomenon. That is, I believe there are things we see in the sky that appear to be flying that we are not always able to identify. However, if you are asking if I believe in alien technology flying through the skies with little green (or gray or reptilian) creatures, then ‘No,’ I need a lot more data to be convinced.”

So if we are looking at luck as a phenomenon of either (or both) variance from the mean, or being on the desirable side of probability of an event, I think we can make some tentative theological statements with regards to luck.

#1. God DOES play with dice. Supposedly, Albert Einstein, expressing his doubt of quantum mechanics, had quipped that God does not play with dice. (I did not take the time to try to verify the quote. Einstein has been credited for a lot of things, both wise and foolish, that he never said.) But at the quantum level there does appear to be true randomness built into the universe. On the macroscopic level, a lot of phenomenon are, at least on a practical level, appear to be random or at least resulting in a Weibull distribution of outcomes rather than a clearly predictable result. Whether there is true randomness in the macroscopic level is not certain… but what is certain is that we have a limited understanding of cause and effect, the underlying mathematics to create realistic models, and have a poor understanding of initial conditions. We are not really sure whether our own thoughts and actions are deterministic or not. Harvard’s Law (the less humorous form of this law is that that organisms do whatever they want to do regardless of our attempt to control their responses) suggests the answer is NOT— our ability to predict the future is often much poorer than we think it is. Desirable things happen and undesirable things happen, and this doesn’t always happen as we think or wish. The doctrine of Common Grace comes into play here. God gives rain to both the just and the unjust. That is, there is not always a causal relationship between things we consider as blessings, and the behavior or character of those who receive these blessings. Ecclesiastes likes to explore this point. The same might be suggested the opposite way. Abel died “before his time” while Cain lived a long life even though Abel was the one who found favor with God. And both Abel and Cain had great toil to survive in this world regardless of their righteousness or lack thereof.

#2. God sometimes uses loaded dice. God doesn’t always act on common grace (or common fall). He rigs the system sometimes. He sometimes “stacks the deck.” We sometimes describe this as a miracle. An interesting story in the Gospels is the case of the healing of the man blind from birth. People were asking whether this man had sinned or whether his parents had sinned. They were looking for a clear causal relationship. They were revolting against the idea that this man had the bad fortune/luck to be born blind. Jesus was unwilling to support either suggestion. He gave a different answer— he was blind to glorify God. This answer is very much open to interpretation. Does it mean that God purposefully made sure that he was blind for 20 or 30 years just so Jesus could heal him? Possibly, but Jesus had balked at simple causations elsewhere. In answering the question of whether those crushed by the falling tower of Siloam, or those sacrificed by Pilate were being punished, Jesus expressed this in doubtful terms, but then says to watch out lest worse comes our way. A reasonable answer to this might be— good and bad things happen. We don’t always have control over this and often cannot predict this. But God is ready and able to step in “with loaded dice” and act with intent in what otherwise may seem a chaotic world without clear meaning or structure. The blind man may not have been born blind for any satisfying reason. However, his blindness is given meaning with God stepping in to change things— acting against the odds. Some things do not have inherent meaning… but God can give meaning. This seems to be the idea of Paul’s statement that God works everything for good for those called according to His purpose. It is not that God makes sure that everything that happens is good for those called. Rather, things happen, random meaningless things happen, but God can step in and give these things meaning.

#3. We cannot always know the difference. When something happens we don’t know if it happens as part of the random and complex mechanisms beyond our ability to predict or control, or whether it is an act of Divine action. We don’t even necessarily know if our own actions bring results or whether it is a matter of luck (or Divine action). If I plant a church and you plant a church. If my church dies and yours flourishes, does that mean that you are better at churchplanting than I. It is definitely possible… but upon honest reflection, the best answer we could give is we just don’t know. As Merold Westphal would say, we are unable to look over God’s shoulder. We all are exploring a vast territory using a map with large pieces missing or illegible.

#4. This should increase our faith. Yes. This sounds backwards. The first and third points seem to drive us fear, doubt, and distrust. But do they? There is always a part of us that thinks that we can captain our own ship. We want a predictable world, with a predictable God, who we can predictably control/manipulate. Effectively, our faith is in own selves. However, if that is completely false. If we live in a thoroughly unknowable world with an unpredictable (although benevolent) God who we ask of but cannot control, we are left with few options. We can wander aimlessly in despair— not a great option. We can ignore this reality and pretend that we are in control. This option reminds me of a (very nice) lady from a church we attended, who would regularly tell us what God was going to do in a situation. When her predictions were (almost invariably) wrong, she seemed to never notice but confidently tell us what God was going to do in the next situation coming up. I suppose that option is better than the first. Some might even commend her for her faith. However, I would argue that her faith was in a god she created and felt that she either completely knew, or completely controlled. Sadly, this god rarely seemed to line up with the God who is. The third option would be to embrace our own inability to predict the future or control outcomes. We are walking into the future with blinders on. However, unlike a horse where the blinders limit vision to the sides, our blinders block vision straight ahead. We see what is around us, but not what is to come. We embrace faith— not a faith that that suggests that we can control the future, but faith that God ultimately will bring us where He wants to take us.

#5. We should be slow to judge. Jesus said that we should not judge unless we want to be judged ourselves. This verse, I believe, doesn’t simply say that it is unkind to be judgmental, but moreso taht we are truly incompetent to judge. Elsewhere Jesus notes that we see the external, unlike God who can see the heart. Related to this, while the terms “good luck” and “bad luck” have problems, they at least are prone to be less judgmental than terms like “blessed” and “cursed.” Job’s friends saw Job, sitting with him for 7 days. They decided he was cursed… and this, not surprisingly, led them to accuse Job of “getting what he deserved” since it must be that God did this for a reason that would make sense to people. Again, they thought that God was predictable, and that God was controllable. Suppose, on the other hand, Job’s friends decided that Job was unlucky— after all looking at luck as a phenomenon, not addressing issues of causation, he certainly WAS unlucky. Would this have been better. Actually, it probably would have been. We tend to be less judgmental of people we think are unlucky than of people we think are cursed. I think that using the terms “lucky” and “unlucky” can at times be quite problematic (the righteous person in Psalm 1 was more than just lucky, much as the unrighteous person was more than just unlucky). Still, at least the terms unlucky and lucky may at least give us a moment to pause— withhold judgments before trying to fit something into our own narrow perspective.

#6. Our eschatology should be based on the benevolence of God rather than our own ability to predict the future. The points up to now suggest that we are not particularly good at predicting the future… and further, it could be argued that God is good with that. We are called to faithful as we grope our way into the future. The parable of the faithful (and unfaithful) servant suggests this. The faithful servant does not know when the Master returns and this leads to an ethical response— doing the right thing every day. The unfaithful servant presumably thought he could guess or time the return of the Master. As such, he could live his life as he wanted and then fix things later. Perhaps that is part of the reason that Future prophecy is written in a way that is pretty hard to interpret. We are not meant to use it to come up with specific times and events.

Interpreting Biblical prophecy to work out exact dates, times, and events is a cottage industry for many Christian groups. In the past, Bible prophecy appears to make sense in hindsight more than in foresight. Some see this as a failing of, or a reading into, Scripture. I can see that particular viewpoint. However, if we are supposed to rely on God day to day, week to week, year to year, then we are not really supposed to know the future. And if that is the case, prophecies should be more ethical than predictive. For example, the Book of Revelation is a beautiful book that makes it clear throughout, that all followers of Christ need to be faithful to the end. God ultimately loads the dice to ensure that those who seek after God will experience God’s eternal favor, while those who don’t will suffer eternal loss. At the same time while these are the ultimate fates, in the short-term bad things will happen to all people, the just as well as the unjust. Revelation seems to have order and purpose and that which seems unfair and perhaps even random. We are left with trusting God. But some prefer to instead look at Revelation (and some other Scriptures) as a roadmap for the future. I feel like that is actually the opposite of the purpose of futurist Scripture.

Anyway, these are a few preliminary views on Theology built on a certain perspective related to luck.