An Open Letter to the Church in the Wake of the Phillip Seymour Hoffman Overdose

Phillip Seymour HoffmanAnother senseless death. Another precious life ripped from this earth far before his time. As the news media played clips from his movies and actors and friends retold of his many accomplishments and shared some of his sweet stories, I can bet that much of the Christian community sat back in their chairs and uttered the phrase so commonly thought or spoken after a moment like this:

“I hope he knew Jesus.”

This is an understandable response, and, hopefully, it is laced with more empathy than sympathy. The life we live only lasts a mere 80 – 100 years if we are lucky (or we are Betty White), compared to the unfathomable expanse of eternity. We, as believers, are certain in the words of Jesus: we will either spend that time in the wonder of Heaven, or in a place that no horror writer could ever dare to imagine. But Jesus also stated that He came to bring us “life, and life more abundantly.”  Here. Now. Not in a future life, but on earth. And this is where the church failed Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the myriad of other well-known or never-heard-of individuals that bought into a lie that we are the only ones able to expose.

No, it’s not just that drug usage is a sin, and that God commanded us to abstain from sin with “thou shalt nots.” It’s bigger than our Holy Text. It’s bigger than our theology. It goes into an understanding of our WORLDVIEW, or better yet, into what our worldview unveils to the world. If the Biblical Worldview is the true worldview of existence, if God really does exist EXACTLY as He claims in scripture, then we have answers that no other worldview, no other belief system, can ever discover. Let’s look at six aspects of our Biblical Worldview.

  1. God is the creator of all existence and humanity.
  2. God made man in His image, bearing His likeness.
  3. Man rejected God’s plan for His creation, and, in doing so, invited evil into the world.
  4. The principal head of this evil is a fallen angel named Satan, who, since his fall, seeks to “kill, steal, and destroy” those bearing God’s image.
  5. Satan and his forces can work through the “sons of disobedience,” or prideful, fallen members of mankind, whispering inspirations and controlling systems and realms from behind the scenes, schemes most often oblivious to mankind.
  6. God sent his Son into the world, to abolish the works of Satan and his evil forces, and to liberate all who believe in him from the power of sin and death, offering them eternal life after this one passes.

On the surface, these six tenets appear to have the makings of a good fantasy novel. They are neither provable nor verifiable. On their own, they must be taken on faith. But to show how these six tenets expose the lie Hoffman bought into, we need to EXTRACT them from scripture. Let’s start with the first two tenets, for they uncover:

We were not simply created by an outside Force. We were created in that outside Force’s IMAGE.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27, NIV)

So our value and worth is not determined solely by the whims of our Creator; it is tied directly back to the value and worth that Creator places on HIMSELF. And the more one value’s oneself, the more one wishes for that which he creates in his own image to flourish and prosper. Which brings us to tenets three and four.

Man is not only made in the image of his Creator, but he bears the likeness of that Creator’s enemy…

Our Creator, who has made us in His image, desires to see us prosper and flourish as His “image bearing” creation. But Satan, His enemy, wishes to see us destroyed and decimated, for the very same reason: WE bear that Creator’s (his enemy’s) image… Everywhere he turns, Satan is faced with the image of his arch nemesis – the One whom he despises. The One he wishes to see destroyed. Satan can’t get at his enemy, but he can get at that enemy’s IMAGE.

Therefore, everyone is target.

Like the claim of a global crime scene, we are ALL in the crosshairs, whether or not we acknowledge – or even believe – It to be true. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was caught in the crosshairs last Sunday. Sadly, others will soon follow. Which comes to OUR ability for exposure. Which leads to tenet five. What is so critical about this fifth, supposedly fantasy tenet? This tenet shifts from the faith-laced assertions of scripture, into the tangible light of the real world. Let’s look at it again:

5. Satan and his forces can work through the “sons of disobedience,” or prideful, fallen members of mankind, whispering inspirations and controlling systems and realms from behind the scenes, schemes most often oblivious to mankind.

What does that mean?

Tenet five allows humanity the ability to gauge every technological, ideological, religious or philosophical offering strategically.

Everything created by man, from ideology to technology, starts first in the mind. Invention begins with an idea before it is ever put to paper or implemented into society. If there exists an enemy capable of whispering into the mind of the human Creator, as these tenets assert, then everything created can be studied to determine whether it has been designed, in some big or small way, for prosperity and flourishing (the desire of our Creator) or for destruction (the despotic intent of Creator God’s enemy). Not through its human inventor’s claims of purpose or use. And not just through its moral or spiritual implications.

But through its outcomes.

Up to this point, this has ALL been highly esoteric. So below is a small list of creations that are considered both for intended purpose and objective outcome:

Crystal meth was created for the intended purpose of euphoria, but its objective outcome includes serious brain defects and the loss of crucial brain chemicals, the deterioration of the body, the loss of sleep and food intake. Not to mention near-instantaneous biological addiction.

The intended purpose of promiscuous sex is physical and psychological elation, but the objective outcome can be venereal disease, cervical cancer, AIDS, depression and infertility.

The intended purpose of alcohol is physiologic stimulation, but its objective outcome can include depression, addiction, internal organ damage and, if driving is added, incarceration for DUI or worse: manslaughter.

The (somewhat) intended purpose of gambling is having a good time and potentially winning big, but the objective outcome is bankruptcy, poverty, the loss of job or family, depression and anxiety.

The intended purpose of pornography is sexual stimulation, but the objective outcome can be erectile dysfunction, divorce, depression and possibly even incarceration if children are involved.

The world is confounded by the debilitating outcomes of its actions, many of which are seen as humanity’s greatest “freedoms” (such as promiscuous sexuality). But the believer, equipped with these six tenets, can begin to see the outcomes of these actions, not as frustrating byproducts, but as their strategic intent. We can proclaim from the rooftop that alarming statistics of disease, addiction, alcoholism, depression and anxiety, STDs, etc., are not just the unconnected result of certain actions; they are the intent of these actions. God desires prosperity for humanity, his greatest creation. The enemy seeks to destroy that creation. And we can see the interplay of both desires occur through the outcomes of our actions.

And we hold true to the ONLY worldview that can…

All other religions and philosophical systems claim an enemy that exists inside of mankind, an enemy that is a portion of mankind (such as Israel to Islam), or is some missed attribute humanity has yet to evolve into, such as human ignorance and religious dogmatism (humanism) or un-enlightenment (many Eastern religions). Based on the foundational tenets of ALL other worldviews, there is no ultimate plan and purpose to our world, nor is there ultimate resistance. Therefore to all other worldviews, what happens in the world is simply happenstance. It is tragic, confounding and even caustic, but it is happenstance nonetheless.

But claiming an enemy OUTSIDE of mankind, with the capacity to INFLUENCE mankind, humanity was given the authority to “question” society’s alarming statistics. Only the Biblical Worldview allows us to hold everything up to the spotlight and see what also might be hidden in the shadows, to look at anything mankind has created, and state, “Maybe something bigger is at play” than just man’s inventiveness. Armed with these six tenets, we have an answer for the world’s puzzling tragedies, for we deliberately can equate initial actions with future consequences. It is as if God Himself is sitting like Morpheus in the high-backed chair and inviting us to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

So what does this mean for the Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s of the world? The world, at best, can claim that drug usage might lead to death. The church should be stating that drug usage is DESGINED for death. The original makers of these drugs, and the manufacturers of a host of other sins, designed them for PLEASURABLE reasons. But the pleasure of sin is not the intent of sin, it is SIMPLY THE MECHANISM powerful enough to eradicate (or decimate) God’s image without that image even being aware of the strategy. Sin, with death as is its intent, needs a “bridge” to take the individual from the order of life, to the intended chaos of destruction, death, and disease.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman thought he was going to just get a euphoric high one more time. Instead, the enemy finally accomplished what the “inspired” drug was created to do all along. Metaphorically, sin is shards of glass coated in chocolate, which taste wonderful in the mouth and then lacerate the organs on the way down. The typical response from the church is to attack people for eating the chocolate because God “said not to.” While the world sucks at the sweet coating and scoffs, “you’re missing out of some of life’s finest delicacies.” What the church should be saying is, “Of course it’s chocolate. You would never have swallowed the glass shards without it.”

That is a part of our lost role, lovingly exposing the enemy’s tactics (after all, “our battle is not with flesh and blood”), and then bandaging the wounds of those having bought into the lies. In other words, we need to show people Jesus with our actions, not merely tell people about Jesus with our mouths. We have the answers, both in the eternal future, and in the chaotic present. Based on the tenets of our worldview, we are the only ones that do.

As the church, we often think far too myopically. Instead of using our worldview, we have attempted to prove it and lord it over others. Rather than exposing and healing humanity from its outcomes, we have attacked humanity for its actions. The world continues to suffer, and the only worldview capable of exposing strategies against mankind is pushed further and further to the fringes.

While salvation is the ultimate solution for humanity, and Jesus is the final physician (the glorious reality of tenet six), that isn’t always the first step to a hurting culture. Our worldview is so expansive that it encapsulates ALL of existence. Before we tell them our worldview is better, let’s show them something better first. What did Jesus say?

“Taste and see.” Not, “hear and learn.”

The world can, at best, see its biggest issues “through a glass darkly,” but it cannot directly connect action to consequence. We can. And we must. If we are going to transform our western world, we must recognize that we have been given even more than a pathway into heaven. We have been given the “keys to the Kingdom.” For the sake of the Hoffman’s of the world, we need to recognize exactly what they open.

Live inspired.

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One thought on “An Open Letter to the Church in the Wake of the Phillip Seymour Hoffman Overdose

  1. David:

    Thank you this excellent distinction between the actions of sin, and their intended outcomes and results when dealing with the ultimate designs of the enemy. Hoffmann was a captive to an addiction but unless you understand potentially HOW and WHY addiction can occur and be so difficult to heal, you really do have to look under the hood. Your article gives us a great snapshot of the WHY. Strategically, the enemy wants destruction for individuals, families, and more. HOW it is achieved and how to heal from it is a very important subject of inquiry for any person, let alone a Christian who holds Jesus as their personal Savior.

    I am a father who almost lost my two daughters to a horrible mental illness that struck them both at the same time, an almost statistical impossibility. My church was clueless and the psychiatrists and their allied drug companies were so far off base as to the root cause diagnosis that they abused them and my wife and I further by issuing them a life sentence that they would never heal. After five years of searching, we found the root causes of their illness were spiritual in origin. And we deployed strong Christian healers skilled in deliverance, the oft forgotten or ignored 33% of Christ’s own ministry on earth and a key strategic foundation of the Great Commission.

    Outcome: they are well and healed and functioning as walking miracles but only when we fought the battle for their minds using spiritual means to address what was essentially an attack from outside spiritual forces (to use your terms) on them and our family. The intended outcome for these forces was the destruction of them and our family. And they were not successful.

    Let me say this to all fathers and mothers who read this and have the responsibility to provide protection for your family: what you can’t see, or don’t believe can exist, can really, really hurt you. It wants to hurt you. I know. We almost paid the full price like Seymour Hoffman. I am lucky and my family is lucky to all be alive.

    For those readers who want to be strategic Christians and understand the HOW to effectively fight dark forces that were acknowledged quite readily in our Lord’s time, but have duped church leaders and psychiatrists like the ones I consulted with when we were in crisis, I refer them to Peter Horribin’s book, Healing Through Deliverance.

    Get the memo. Get it now. God has a plan for YOUR life, and maybe, just maybe, there are forces that don’t want you to know it and live it. And if you are a parent, know How these things operate and what to do to counter them. Mr. Hoffman didn’t have the Memo, although he had an Oscar for excellence in one area of his life. I am sorry he did not know truly HOW to heal and Who that Healer is.

    Ed

    Like

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