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History, Not Abstraction

The Bible is no friend of abstractions or abstractionists.

  • Steve M. Schlissel,
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Beloved People of the Living God,

Greetings in our Messiah.

1. Have you ever considered how concrete our Christian faith is? The Bible is no friend of abstractions or abstractionists. In the marvelous providence of God, even the Apostles' Creed-- which our Heidelberg Catechism calls "a creed beyond doubt, and confessed throughout the world"--is given to us not as a series of naked propositions or even doctrinal statements, but as a history, a story. Careful now! I am not suggesting that we are not confessing necessary doctrine in our creed; I'm only pointing out that the universal Christian creed has come down to us in the form of a story, the story.

The control of God in history did not end with the ascension of Christ. Rather, it entered into a new phase in which our Lord assumed His mediatorial reign over all things for the church of all nations, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way (Eph. 1). This is important to remember today as God adds chapters to the story, chapters not easily read because we are watching the ink being laid down across the page and we lack the position and perspective to see and understand just what is being written. Many are the speculators who try. Yesterday I found on my windshield a sheet of paper telling me that the Trade Center tragedy had been prophesied by the Virgin Mary from heaven 20 years ago to her yielded servant, one Veronica. Right. And Nostradamus is riding another crest in popularity, as people continue to find esoteric superstition and unverifiable dogmatic claims more comforting than anything the Living God might have to say. For He, after all, requires a particular faith and specific behaviors, which many (most?) Americans find intrusive and unacceptable. We like our religion soft and cuddly: Pillsbury Doughboy-like. Jehovah is too demanding for our tastes.

The Trade Center tragedy was not a soft and cuddly message from heaven. It was an opportunity for us to examine where in "the story" we might be. Christ reigns. This we know. Christ has reason to be angry. This we also know. Islam is growing stronger while Christ's followers atrophy in chosen ignorance (as Joe Sobran said so insightfully, just compare the birth rates to see where the vitality is). Christians, even after September 11, are still insisting that all of life, including church life, remain easy, comfortable, accommodating. The Physician is telling us to get in shape but we just click the remote and change channels until we find a prescription — and a story — more to our liking.

It's time for Christians to smell the coffee. Events like those we've experienced since September 11 call for a return to the script God has given us. We need to humble ourselves before Him, pledge our faith and trust, and begin to live out the sharply defined Christianity He has given us in His Word. No other "brand" is true, no other model will survive, no other scenario offers a "happy ending" of the story for America.

2. The November 6 NY Times reports, "The terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center may have been trying to crush American capitalism and its masters of the universe on Wall Street. But the economic impact of the attack is felling a very different group of people: cooks, cabdrivers, sales clerks and seamstresses. Workers in traditionally low-wage industries, like restaurants and hotels, retailing and transportation, have been hit hard in the fallout from Sept. 11, according to a new analysis from the New York State Department of Labor."

The Christians among these people are the ones we are particularly eager to reach. We suspect that in the coming months we will see many more of these souls learning of us and benefiting from the help you have provided for them. But believe me, it ain't easy sorting through the chaos in this town. Nevertheless, we are praying for good progress at the next Job Fair to be held November 15. We are planning a street presence there and will be looking for Christians in need among the 10,000 or more expected participants.

3. We were able to bring relief to a Cambodian pastor who suffered from the 9-11 attack. A tentmaker who worked for 16 years for a cleaning company which had a contract at the WTC, the minister lost his job Sept. 11. He is married and the father of four. His income dropped almost $200 per week. Messiah's 9-11 Relief Fund gave him a grant for $2000 to help him meet living expenses through the winter. It is to be administered by a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Nyack, NY.

4. Here are the numbers through 11/08/01. In our last CityDate we reported domestic receipts of $173,956.91, plus foreign receipts which, after conversion, came to $27.27, yielding a total of $173,984.18. To this we add:

From Individuals/Couples/Families in the United States (amount of contribution followed by State abbreviation)

$10.00 - NY
$20.00 - PA
$25.00 - KS
$25.00 - MA
$25.00 - AL
$30.00 - CT
$50.00 - KS
$50.00 - IL
$50.00 - CA
$50.00 - VA
$56.27 - TX
$100.00 - TX
$100.00 - VA
$100.00 - NY
$160.00 - MN
$200.00 - NH
$200.00 - CA
$250.00 - VA
$500.00 - KY

From Churches/Organizations/Businesses in the United States:

$250.00 - WA
$500.00 - TX
$1,625.00 - NJ
$3,258.15 - MI
$5,000.00 - WA

This brings the total receipts to $186,618.60.

In addition, the following foreign donations were received:

From individuals/families:

$10.00 (US Dollars) CANADA
$45.00 (US Dollars) CANADA

From Churches/Organizations/Businesses

$690.56 (Canadian Dollars) CANADA
$725.00 (Canadian Dollars) CANADA

These foreign donations will be incorporated into next week's total after deposit/conversion.

We are grateful to the few who have also remembered the need of Messiah's General Fund. The offer we made before stands: those sending $250 or more to any of Messiah's other ministries (i.e., other than the 9-11 Relief Fund), may request Rushdoony's 2-Volume, 1300 page "Systematic Theology," an outstanding reference work. One way we can say thank you.

Here's another: Thank you and the Lord Almighty bless you.

Yours and His,


Rev. Steve M. Schlissel
Messiah's Ministries
2662 East 24th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11235

  • Steve M. Schlissel

Steve Schlissel has served as pastor of Messiah's Congregation in Brooklyn, New York, since 1979. Born and raised in New York City, Schlissel became a Christian by reading the Bible. He and Jeanne homeschooled their five children  and also helped raise several foster children (mostly Vietnamese). In 2003, they adopted Anna (who was born in Hong Kong in 1988, but is now a U.S. citizen). They have eight foster grandchildren and fourteen "natural" grandchildren.

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