Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow


About a month back I wrote a short story called Ariel. Out of everything short I’ve written to this date it’s probably favorite piece. It’s very symbolic. Unfortunately it’s rather vague and I never bothered to explain it. I think I’d like to do that now. So here’s the interpretation of my dream.

Ariel is a Hebrew name that means Lion of God. At one point in the Old Testament God laments over his people, calling them Ariel, because they are unfaithful. The narrator represents a spiritual seeker who comes in contact with the established western church, represented by the lady and the house. The woman claims to love her husband (Christ) but it becomes clear that her love is for the house. The first thing she does is makes the man remove his shoes (visible sins or vices) and pile them with the others. The dirty shoes are actually not dealt with, just thrown to the side so they are harder to see. The woman hears the voice of her husband calling her and sets off with the man in a search for him.

The photo room represents all that is prized by the church. An out-of-focus view of Christ may be found if someone digs deep enough.

The kitchen represents the work the church does for Christ. Unfortunately she has made changes. The sink used to flow with living water to refresh the woman, but a useless garden now takes up her time. She used to eat bread and wine, symbolic of communion with Christ, but now the wine is watered down, the bread is unused and she prefers whisky, an intoxicating substitute for the joy that can be found in Christ. Also she refuses to eat meat, symbolic of deep study into the character of God and his Word, preferring water-down milk and bumper-sticker doctrine.

The doctors’ notes are a picture of the messengers Christ has sent ot the church to warn her of her dangerous lifestyle and whorish behaviour. She prostitues herself after anything that is not Christ. The doctors are ignored.

The room where she spends time with her husband is actuall a place for her to be distracted, a picture of how the church no longer seeks Christ himself, but programs and stimilations to fill the gap that seems to exist within her.

The bell tower represents evangelism, a dead art.

And then we get outside. When we look outside we find out something shocking. This woman is not actually Ariel. She’s not actually the church of God. She’s something else. The real church of Christ is outside fighting a perpetual battle against spiritual foes. She is always pressed but sustained by her husband who gives her strength through his words, communion (wine), teaching (meat) and wonder-working power on her behalf (the breath of his nostrils). We also find out that Ariel does not yet have a house, but the lasting house is promised to her once this battle is over.

And then the woman in the house pulls the reader away from the scene and tries to disctract him with anything besides the battle outside, content to dwell in the house that she herself has built.

Doctrine and Devotion

I can remember way back before I went to KLBC. I remember a dear brother who had been there talking excitedly about some of the stuff he was learning. He talked about a weird system of thought I had never heard of before called Calvinism. He outlined the points and started telling me how wonderful yet controversial it was. I rolled my eyes. “What’s the point of all this?” I asked. It seemed so silly to cause conflict because of petty theological issues. Why make an issue? Why not just follow God? How can this sort of study actually help me? My friend looked at me blankly for a moment. “It helps you worship God better.”

I had such noble dreams about ‘cleaning up’ the theological community. I thought I’d enter it and show them that the words on a page didn’t matter. What matters is what you do with your life. How you help people. Stuff like that. I couldn’t see how a systematic study of the Bible or doctrine could be useful.

Until I really met God.

There is a lethal trend these days away from serious Bible study. I can’t imagine why. Perhaps in our consumer-based, fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, Big-mac-and-fries culture we’ve lost interest in things that are difficult to understand. Out with the systematic theology and in with the flashy, two minute devotional books.

I have found something. I get much more encouragement from meditating on the amazing doctrines God has revealed than from reading quirky, encouraging stories. The truth still stands that the easy things rarely benefit us much. If we want great encouragement in our faith we need to dig for it.

So back to what my buddy was talking about. A few years after the conversation I started to see evidence of his beliefs scattered throughout the whole Bible. It shocked me at first, but when the truth of it sank in it became a beautiful and precious thing. Think about it!

I was born with a broken heart (total depravity). From the time I could put a thought together my heart was trying to steer me down a path to destruction. I was born sinful in my entire person. I couldn’t even choose God if I wanted to. I hated him without knowing it. Every choice I made was an insult to his divine glory. Nevertheless he broke down the stony door of my heart (irresistible grace) and made it anew out of spirit and flesh. The scales fell off my eyes and I believed in what I could never have understood on my own. But it didn’t just end there, because every time I came near the brink of falling away to my old nature he was there to stop me (preservation of the saints). He has always and always will stop me from falling away, not because I am good, but because he has sealed me. I know that I’m secure because before the universe was made God said to himself, “I want Matthew Cook as my son” (election). Before the foundations were laid he saw the end from the beginning. He saw the day when I sinned the most and he still choose me and made me his own. Not because of anything that I have done, but according to his great mercy he saved me.

Am I a calvinist? I don’t rightly know what that word means. Nor do I really care. But I do believe that certain doctrines of grace like depravity, election, preservation, grace and atonement are true and beautiful things.

So what is the use of theology? What is the use of doctrine? How can we even know who God is without it? Without a thorough study of the Word he end up with a God of our own making. And the imagined God is far weaker and far less beautiful than the one who wrote us his autobiography. So read, study, write and dig. Be encouraged by hard doctrines, because easy things are rarely good.

Sporatic updating

I took some pictures. Wanna see them?

He’s Pakistani. He likes cricket.

Ruth’s mom and dad on Easter. Pretty.

I’m feeing pretty bad about Chai with Matt these days. Not much going on over there. It’s just way to hot for the creative jucies. In fact, I think the juices have mostly evaporated. Can someone give me any advice on how to feel alive in 40+ degree weather?