June 19, 2021

The Rage

Everybody doesn’t need a school fight song to whip them up into the appropriate rage. But I may have one for you—if you need it.

Meanwhile, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Orange County, California, someone shoots at Joanna Cloonan’s car; a bullet entering from the rear kills her 6-year-old son, Aiden. His killing is called a “road rage” shooting.1

On the other side of the American continent, 26-year-old Sean Avon dies in what is again identified as the result of one more road rage altercation.2

Elsewhere on the globe, a new prime minister starts his first full day in office while enemies of his nation welcome him by calling for “a day of rage.”3

And if neither commuters’ hostility nor political cantankerousness is your favorite fury, then maybe you’ll find it in the enlightenment of higher education or on the field of sports. The two—sports and education—or better still, the three—sports, education, and fury—go together remarkably well. Witness Camp Randall stadium, the football residence of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, of which, irrelevantly speaking, my wife and I are both graduates. The word “rage” does not appear in our school’s fight song, but it isn’t hard to think of it when Badgers4strike up, “On Wisconsin!” The song is worked and played, roared and thundered through games and other school activities, establishing identity, infusing pride, and expressing loyalty, whether at home or wherever the campaign takes dedicated armies of season-ticketed Badger fans, ready, it seems, to follow their field warriors more or less “whithersoever they go,” across state, across country, into the ocean perhaps, more likely into Lake Michigan. One line of the song calls out the word “fight” four times. Not as a noun, but as an imperative: “Fight! Fellows! Fight! Fight, fight, . . .”

Evidently, UW-Madisonians are a current breed. Fighting is now the thing: fight the oppressor; oppose the tyrant; rage against authority: Fight! Fight! Fight! Fighting, rage, fury—that’s the life to live today. The life of fighting is the life worth living. Rage is for the loyalist; hostility against those who disagree is a badge of faithfulness, a statement of identity, and proof of relevance to the times.

We’ve Only Just Begun to Fight!

The life of faith is not the life of chance.

Recently, lawyer Jared Woodfill represented a group of unvaccinated workers protesting that their hospital was trying to use them as “human guinea pigs,” requiring them to be vaccinated in order to continue employment in the Houston Methodist hospital system. His clients spoke of guinea pig status because the vaccines being required are still at experimental sage. Woodfill said, “We believe that forcing an individual to participate in a vaccine trial is illegal.” When a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, Woodfill described it as only the beginning of the fighting, and said, “There are going to be many battles fought. Not just in this courtroom, but in courtrooms all across the state. There are battles that are going to be fought in the higher courts, the 5th Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court, even the United States Supreme Court. So this is just one battle in a larger war.”5

Woodfill’s group and the federal judge who ruled against them represent contrasting positions on a subject they are all committed to, viz. science. Their common enemy is persons who see science as the antithesis to genuine spiritual life. Such persons often consider themselves to be living the life of faith, and consider it their moral obligation to rage against science however they can; on social media, if nowhere else. They accuse scientists of trying to take the place of God. They ask: “Should we now depend on experts instead of God?”6

God the Gambler?

Within, but mostly beyond the camps of true or false science and true or false faith, there is a company of gamblers for whom life is a matter of fluke and happenstance.

Amazingly enough, committed God-followers populate all three of these groups.

The life of fluke is the life of luck and chance. Many people, some brilliant, others less so, think God is a gambler. They place inordinate confidence in guidance from whatever page their Bible opens to when it falls to the floor. Well employed or unemployed, there are numbers of us who live by such incidents and accidents, call the name of our God on their proceedings, and are ready with a spiritual, biblical challenge to rage against anyone, scientist or pseudo-Christian, who may not see everything their way. They point out that according to the Bible, time and chance happen to everyone (Eccl. 9:11). They note that the Bible says, “The lot is cast into the lap; but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33, NKJV).7 They find strengthened support in Taylor’s New Living Translation of the verse: “We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.”8

The Lord does have a clarification that such thinkers would do well to apply: it is that in creating us to be like Him, He endows us, each and all, “with a power akin to that of the Creator—individuality, power to think and to do.”9 He who is Lord of all does not will for us to go through life surrendering our cognitive faculties to whimsy or timidity, resorting to begging for signs and labeling it His work. Jesus did not humor His contemporaries who thought their spiritual business was to seek for signs to live by: “Some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them,‘An evil andadulterous generation seeks after a sign’” (Matt. 12:38, 39, NKJV). Time and chance may happen to all. But we are not meant to live by time and chance.

A Life of Science and Math

Besides those who live the life of chance there are those who live the life of science, the life of math. The life of math is the life of calculations—brilliant, meticulously careful, and ultimately tragic: these good folk argue that God made the rules of nature, and they choose to live by the rules of nature. For some, this means reliance mostly on special teas and other potions that are works of nature, while rejecting scientific research into how nature works. Others in this very camp stick with the science they can count, add up and subtract, divide and multiply, while rejecting the miracle-working power of the God of science. It is a tragedy for both options, a tragedy only redressed when they discover the wonder of the life of faith.

The Life of Faith

The life of faith is not the life of chance, though many who live by chance speak fervently of their faith in God. Neither is the life of faith the life of math, though every cognitive power of the soul of faith is permanently put to work, dedicated to the last degree of careful research and reflection, patient summary and conclusion, conscientious implementation and constant repetition of the full circle of the process of learning by research. The life of faith is the life controlled, not by occasionally fortuitous happenstance, or the limited expertise of electron microscopes, astronomical observatories, and big-data mining, but by “the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23, NASB).[10] It is a life whose principal focus is not ancient familial and cultural tradition, or the latest scientific explanations of origins, but Genesis to Revelation under the guidance of the Spirit who inspired all those books: embracing the fullness of God’s revelation of love while respecting any unique markers He has laid down for us so we may intelligently follow His footsteps here, until faith is swallowed up in sight and we get to follow Him in glory, whithersoever He may go.

Until then, He has a bit of counsel for all who follow and represent Him now, however much they may disagree with any of their fellow human beings: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9).

Lael Caesar is an associate editor of Adventist Review Ministries.

1 https://news.yahoo.com/suspect-alleged-road-rage-killing-164037149.html

2 https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/alleged-nj-road-rage-altercation-leaves-innocent-newlywed-dead/ar-AAL1R3H

3 https://news.yahoo.com/israel-pm-naftali-bennett-says-095556414.html

4 The badger, a short-legged, long-headed, small-eared animal belonging to the same family as otters and weasels, is the mascot of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

5 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-vaccine-lawsuit-dismissed-houston-methodist-hospital-system/

6 Selected from responses to online article by Peter N. Landless, “COVID-19 Vaccines: Should I or Shouldn’t I? https://adventistreview.org/2106-36.

7 Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

8 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

9 Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), p. 17.

10 Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved.