Prayer Mentoring: The majesty of casual prayer

DSC_0044The majesty of a solid prayer life is hidden in being casual. For some you’re thinking cool, others sacrilege. We think being casual isn’t godly because we view prayer as religious exercise not communication within a relationship. Prayer at it’s central core is communication with an all powerful God who is not just separate from creation, but also intricately involved in creation.

Casual as godly
Deep down in the recesses of our soul we struggle with the idea that a relationship with God is completely free. We think that there is still something we must do to merit our salvation. This is why preaching he Gospel to ourselves is important. Jesus died once for all sin. This concept that we struggle with in our soul shows up in how we prayer. We think that if we pray using the language and idioms of our day that we’re sacrilegious, undeserving of a relationship with God. Casual is godly because religiosity doesn’t save.

Godly as casual
Deep down in the recesses of our soul we struggle with the idea that God loves us as we are. So, in our prayer we mention God’s name… a lot. Some pray in what is thought of as King James English. A person’s godliness is often marked by the casualness of their prayer. Why? John tells us that perfect love casts out fear. The Bible tells us to boldly approach the throne of Grace. Godliness as casual means we understand who we are in Christ and the security we have in Christ.

CLEAR!
By now some may be having a pious heart attack. Let me get a spiritual AED for you. Humility, faith and servanthood are the keys to a dynamic prayer life, not the radiance (or what some think is radiant) of our prayers! Religious leaders of Jesus’ day pontificate in their prayers. Humble people approached God simply. Religious leaders of Jesus’ day worried about “purity.” Servant minded people sought to help their friends see Jesus. Religious leaders of Jesus’ day put him on a cross. A faith filled criminal understood who Jesus was.

Casual is not flippant
People who pray casually take serious grace and their relationship with God. It’s not a matter of being flippant, arrogant, or any other ‘ant’ word one can think of. What is central to such prayers is a relationship with a real God who loves us. Now, in fairness, some people are just brilliantly eloquent and classy in how they talk, and it shows up in their prayers. That’s awesome. Why? Because they’re approaching God in the way that he artistically designed them. If you’re a farmer then pray like a farmer. A poet, then pray like a poet.

Christmas Wars: Return of theology

My bottom line is this: The focus of the First Advent should be on Jesus humbly being born in the likeness of human flesh and that at second advent is in the near future when Jesus returns to make all things new. Rather, this season is marked by what I call the Christmas Wars.

Xmas controversy
Christian_Chi_RhoAs a child I remember being scolded out of the blue because I wrote ‘xmas’ on my paper. I was following in the evil pathway of removing Christ from Christmas. Being the reader (nerd) that I was, I looked it up. (Note, this was before the advent of wikipedia, so I had to use this thing called a card catalog and books.) What I found was this: The X was from the greek letter Xsi which is the first initial of Christ’s name, Xristos in Greek. X marked with another letter or part of the word was an appropriate abbreviation for Christ. There is no grand conspiracy to remove Christ from Christmas.

Mas controversy
Jesus died once for all sin. In doing research I found another interesting aspect: I don’t celebrate Mass. Mass is the liturgy surrounding the celebration of the Eucharist. The Eucharist views communion as becoming wholly the blood and body of Jesus. It’s a perpetual sacrifice. Hence, the symbol of the crucifix. While the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, it is through the resurrection that we’re saved. The Bible doesn’t teach a perpetual sacrifice but a single sacrifice at one point in time whereby the barrier between God and man is forever destroyed through the resurrection of Jesus. Communion then is a symbol where we proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns.

The First Advent
It is good to celebrate the First Advent. Why? Jesus demonstrated humility and a focus on people. My fear isn’t removing Christ from Christmas. My fear is not seeing Christ in Christians. Let’s be humble, friends. It’s what Jesus did.

The light of the World
It is good to celebrate Jesus as the light of the world. The real issue is whether we’ll accept by faith that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. Jesus died once for all sin, the just for the unjust. My concern isn’t removing Christ from Christmas. It’s removing Mass from Christ. Theology matters. We do not need to continually dip into a pool of grace to merit salvation. We need to simply accept God’s gift in Jesus whereby God lavishes his grace upon us! We don’t celebrate Mass, we celebrate a risen savior.

The bottom line:
As the Christmas wars heat up, again, let’s remember our theology. Ignorance is no excuse anymore as information is freely available and easier to access. The focus of the first advent should be on Jesus humbly being born in the likeness of human flesh and that at second advent is in the near future when Jesus returns to make all things new. Let us pray for and look to the Second Advent as we celebrate the humbleness of the first.

My guide to become a recovering fundamentalist: Part 1

“Hi, I’m Ty, and I’m a recovering fundamentalist.” The men in the room laughed, and the lead pastor stated humorously, “No, its true, he is a recovering fundamentalist.” I grew up in what I’d call a community church, but in college and through most of my ministry was a part of fundamentalist circles. There is a lot of un-health in fundamentalism, and this is the first in a series of posts.

What is a recovering fundamentalist
A recovering fundamentalist is a person who was/is part of a fundamentalism and wants to embrace the Gospel and chuck legalism. To use an old cliché, it’s to rescue the baby from the putrid bath water. Being a recovering fundamentalist means getting back to Scripture as guide, the Gospel as central and grace the a mandate. It’s a call to repent.

What it is not
If you want accolades in Christianity, just bash fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is a bit of a strawman (just like the word religion is). This isn’t a “Let’s bash fundamentalism” tirade. I’ve seen too much of that. It’s understandable that some do that, fundamentalism has casualties in its wake. Reacting can lead to just more problems and not health. Being a recovering fundamentalist is about acting, not reacting. It’s about healing and repenting, not another tirade.

Act don’t react
Act don’t react is a proverb I often go by. A pattern I’ve observed in human history, especially church history, is we react to a previous movement. Reactionary movements are inherently unstable and lead to error in a different way. Fundamentalism in large part was a reactionary movement. It centered on key “fundamentals” to the faith. This can be known as “historical fundamentalism.” What we have today is “hysterical fundamentalism.” Reactionary movements have a hard time discerning when the fight is over.

Patton
In the movie Patton a German officer is tasked with being an expert on General Patton. Germany lost and the officers are burning everything. The officer makes this statement as he lights General Patton’s picture, “The lack of war will be his end.” This plays out in the rest of the film… Historical fundamentalism won the day. Most of evangelicalism holds to the fundamentals of the faith. There will always be those who don’t, but essentially the battle was won. The lack of the fight lead to being hysterical.

Hysterical
Hysterical fundamentalism has two idols: 1) Separation and 2) Theological “correctness.” I say idols because the focus is on separation over mission under the guise of “purity”. I put correctness in quotes because the focus is on a particular articulation of theology, often lacking humility. As the doctrinal battle was essentially one, methodology took the banner. Given the protective and isolationist nature, there became uniformity of doctrine, but the challenge of one’s doctrine softened. So, a hysterical fundamentalist has to look, act and talk a certain way. This allowed legalism to take root.

The bottom line:
Being a recovering fundamentalist is repenting. It’s a return to the Gospel being central and the Bible as our guide. It isn’t about attacking fundamentalism, but it is recognizing a difference between historical (a focus on the Bible and the Gospel) and hysterical (focus on separation and a particular methodology) fundamentalism. In this call to repent the win is to live God’s instruction to Joshua: “do not turn from [Scripture] to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.”

Why not Wednesday? Buy a Mac

I was a Mac addict for as long as I can remember. When I attended college they would not support the simple, elegant and (far superior) platform, so for a time I used a PC. I wanted a Mac. Here are some ministry lessons from my love of all things Mac:

Form follows function, but it follows
Aesthetics mean something. While function is essential and a primary mover in what we do or develop, the form does not lose significance. In fact, sometimes the form is equal to the function. The form allows one to focus on the task at hand. God designed life with beauty of form, not just solidarity of function. Aesthetics matter. God is the originator of art and function and art can be one.

Simplicity and usability
The thing I love about Apple is they understand complexity and work hard to not pass that on to the end user. The minimalist philosophy of Apple develops into something that is usable. Less is often more. Apple does not shy away from complexity, but it understands where complexity should be and where simplicity should be. In ministry we often over complicate things such as the Gospel, a relationship with God, and worship. Less really does mean accomplishing more.

Build it well so it runs well
Mac’s do have a steeper price tag. The flip side is they are also built well. When asked why Apple doesn’t have an inexpensive entry level computer Steve Jobs quipped: “We don’t know how to build a cheap computer.” (At points a MacBook ran Windows faster than PC laptops.) Yes, there are Macs that have technical issues, they’re machines. Excellence is important.  Sometimes in the ministry rush we stick on a temporary solution that really becomes permanent. Taking time to build a solid ministry with excellence is counterintuitive. Build well to create well. Be aware of the proverb: buy cheap, pay twice.

You act based on what you believe
The Mac platform took a change from a “best in technical specifications” approach to a “usability” approach. You can have the fastest machine in the world but if you can’t use it well, what good is it? Apple called the Mac strategy the “digital hub.” Apple endured a few years of criticism over this approach as their machines were technically slower. Their strategy still holds, and speed is now a non-issue for the platform. Heavy criticism doesn’t always mean you’re wrong when you stick to your theology. Just be wary of arrogance and not continuing to develop your theology.

Think steps not programs
Each step Apple took with their platform lead into the next step. Each step built the infrastructure needed to move to the next step. Apple innovated more than created, as there were digital music players, smart phones and tablet PC’s prior to Apples (brilliant) incarnations. The success isn’t just due to Apple’s form and usability. There was an ecosystem (infrastructure) to support each new development. In ministry focus on building a church vs a mosaic of programs. It may be a slower process of growth and development, but it will be sustainable and grow well in the long run,

The bottom line
Buy a Mac. People looked down on the strategy over a decade ago. Over a decade ago people would say that Mac would never go beyond 4 or 5% market share. Dell even essentially said Apple should just close up shop. Apple took its time revolutionizing the “computer” industry. In ministry perhaps we should slow down and be more theological and methodical in our approach. The urgency of the Gospel does not mean we have to rush in building churches. After all, ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.

Manic Monday: Be real & listen

I watched a video with Fancis Chan, Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris. I’m not quite sure what the discussion was about, but Mark switched the topic to what Francis is doing. The conversation exemplified speaking the truth in love, asking hard questions, and theology. I encourage you to take the time to watch and listen here. It’s about 15 min.

Note these things:

1) A concern and valuing of a brother takes precedent over the agenda.

2) The issue was discussed in community at Francis Chan’s church.

3) The Bible and the Gospel drove the conversation and issue.

4) The spirit of love, concern and truth.

We need to be real with each other in a way that is gracious and loving while also being truthful and discerning. We also need to have theology be a driving force in our discussion processes. Too often we assume the theology and disguise our conversations as “general revelation” or “it’s not an “un-biblical” issue, just a “non-biblical” one. We act based on what we believe. This conversation is an example of that. We need more of this kind of talk in churches.

(especially on Monday)

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2010/08/30/what%E2%80%99s-next-for-francis-chan/

If you were God…

…How would you make yourself known? Would you even bother? Which would you chose?

Creation: Make a perfect paradise for all to enjoy!
(+) There are no struggles. It’s perfect. As God, you get to walk among the world without getting mad or frustrated at imperfection.

(-) People will reject you made it or will choose to focus on creation and not you.

Miracles:  Supernatural events that go against your created laws of science.
(+) There is clear demonstration of your power that also demonstrates your compassion for people.

(-) People will say ya right, attribute them to something else, or deny it happened all together. Those who benefited or appreciate the act done will soon forget it and move on, things getting back to normal.

Mass-disaster: This can take on a few forms, but it results in massive destruction and death.
(+)This approach clearly demonstrates your power, builds fear and in some ways, like the flood, cleans out most of the problem people. It satisfies your justice.

(-) Long term the reason behind the disaster is forgotten. Short term people will adjust out of fear or will just get mad and more offensive toward you. Injustice remains.

Chosen people: Choose a specific group of people to declare and prove your existence.
(+) There is a constant and tangible revelation of your existence. There is also a model of how you would like people to interact and live among each other.

(-) Your chosen people can become arrogant and/or stop doing what you ask of them. Eventually, people may grow tired of you all together. Your chosen people may not be capable of following your instructions anyway.

A special object: Create or decree a special object as pointing to your existence.
(+) There is a visible and verifiable object pointing to your existence that is more tangible than mere creation. It can become a focal point for people to come together in community.

(-) People will end up worshiping the object instead. Others will try to get the object and use it for their own purposed. Some will get tired of the routine and begin to ignore the object all together.

Become a man: Add to yourself humanity so you can live and interact among people.
(+) You demonstrate humility, a virtue you most admire. You can better claim empathy and sympathy for the plight of your creation. You are able to model and teach in a way no one else can, cutting out the “middle man.”

(-) Plato’s Republic said that if a perfectly just man existed, we’d kill him. Likely those who are in error will become jealous. People may just refer to you as a good guy or teacher. Other will accuse you of being divisive. Oh, and you have to walk among unholy imperfection.

A Book: Have people record who you are in a book by telling them what to write.
(+) Words transcend time. They cannot be completely blocked or stopped. It can act as a guide to how people should live, declare who your are, and give your perspective. After all, words and ideas started massive movements in human history.

(-) People will ignore it or say it is not accurate. Others will abuse it for their own purposes. Even if you divinely keep its accuracy, people will charge that since it was written by man it’s not 100% accurate, or since its details cannot be verified, it will be relegated as myth or primitive. Many will take what you say out of context.

The bottom line:
Place yourself in God’s shoes for a moment. You can choose to reject there even is a God. You can choose to reject absolute truth (doesn’t work in math). You can even chose to not bother to make yourself know. But… If you chose to make yourself know, how would you do it? Do you think it would work?

Maybe God isn’t the problem. God did all the things and people in history to now took the negative of each point… no matter how clear or vague the chosen route is.

The bride is not ready yet…

Jesus said the meek shall inherit the Earth. I feel as though we are not always meek, for sure I am not. It seems we are awfully arrogant, more than we would care to admit. This is not bad in the sense of being overwhelming to us. It just means God is not done perfecting us yet. Here are a couple of examples:

Jesus: Whoever is not against you is for you.
I remember sitting in class and the prof started to list out different movements in evangelism, their proponents, and the ensuing criticism. The discussion fascinated me. There wasn’t a linear progression of understanding. It was a cycle we were already repeating. The realization went like this:

“How many of you thought big-ten revivals were a good thing? Uh-huh. And the seeker sensitive movement? Not so many hands this time? In about 150 years evangelism in America came full circle and is now repeating the cycle.” Ouch…

Rather than criticize form we should learn from each other. A large part of a method’s success is its context: both historical and cultural. Granted every method, movement and church carries problems. The problems may be significant, but it doesn’t make them completely wrong nor completely right. We need to listen and discern better.

Paul: Instruct men not to teach strange doctrines…
God really does care about solid doctrine. Paul did not tell Timothy to remove, separate, ignore or burn the men of Ephesus at the stake. Throughout his writings Paul told Timothy to use love and patience, to instruct as a son to a father or a brother to a brother. Said another way, Paul sent a young guy in to help, clean up and correct the church by leveraging humility. Not exactly a quick, authoritarian method to clean up what was a doctrinal mess.

I sense as Christians we speak right past each other. We are great at making straw men and even better and beating them. Confidence of one’s doctrine and humility are not mutually exclusive. The elder professors I had in seminary were very confident in what they taught, but their humility was excessive. They listened and asserted, held firm but still learned with open minds.

One day I purchased a large number book and proceeded to move them to my car. One of the elder professors put his stuff down on the floor and helped me. He taught none of my classes at that point during seminary. I saw and better understood the relationship between confidence, faith and humility when I did have him as a teacher; all based on this event. We need to pursue humility as a path knowing God and truth.

The bottom line:
Other than Christ is it seems the other thing we Christians have in common is our arrogance. We all to easily forget that it is Christ who wills and works in us. It is He who will carry our work until the day of perfection. Christ washes and purifies the bride. In the arrogance we all have in common we can continue to act that way, get overwhelmed, or we can rest in the fact that God isn’t done with us yet. We call can improve in listening, discernment and humility while also laying aside our straw men.

I wonder if we lack peace in what we do because we don’t follows Paul’s instructions if Philippians 4. We are a very anxious people. Yes, there are differences in our churches. But, we can still be thankful and pray for each other. Yes as Christians we disagree on points of doctrine. We can still learn from each other. Christ leveraged humility in leading us, and we should do the same when interacting with each other.

God is not stupid

I understand the plight to focus on essentials and not have a hostile environment when it comes to theology or the deep questions of life. In these conversations I cannot help but sense an eerie feeling. Do we think God is stupid and or modern man is evolved and enlightened?

Creation:
Instead of creation described poetically, what if God poetically created?

The creation account is written poetically. Days 1-3 God creates spaces and Days 4-6 He fills them. Upon completion God creates rest on the 7th days, and hence our week. The debate over creation vs evolution within Christianity will likely not go away, and should always be congenial. I have to ask, why can’t God poetically create?

While we may not like the way some defend the young Earth view, creationists do show plausibility of a young Earth and catastrophism. Are all discussions sound, bulletproof and complete? No. Neither is evolutionary thinking, which has changed demonstrably since its inception. Early humans maybe naïve, but I don’t think God created humans as intellectually inept. Why do we often view earlier humans as incapable of clear or deep thought? Who is to say that God created in the way He did for no other reason than the discussions about origins today?

Bible:
If an all-etc being, can He not communicate both timelessly, accurately, and use man at the same time?

We act based on what we believe. I wonder if we truly believe God is all-powerful or all-knowing. I mention this because we don’t seem to apply that to the Bible. Why can’t God use fallen man to communicate accurately and sufficiently?

Words and language move people. How many movements start based on an idea? Putting ourselves in God’s shoes, if we wanted to communicate who we are with clarity, how would we do it? Based on history, it seems we prefer to write things down: narratively, poetically, playfully. We learn best through narrative, it gives context, tone, color, and a depth mere bullet points or technical writing cannot. Are not the best story tellers those who are both cunning and correct and the greatest of these stories true?

Grace:
Isn’t freedom of choice as much an act of grace as freedom from consequences?

In hard times we yell at God, asking why He could allow bad things to happen. He could have stopped tyranny, death, destruction, but He has not…yet. While Naive, knowing neither good nor evil, God gave Adam the ability of choice, much like a parent knowing what the outcome will be. There was revealed, demonstrable and verifiable evidence of God’s existence, and yet Adam chose pride. Would we do better?

We often think of grace covering the consequences of our actions, but grace also covers our choices. Even in good times we often forget where they come from or worse that we are deserving of them. God hates sin, but yet he allowed people to sin and create the mess we’re in today. Do we not value our freedom above all else?

Rights:
Why does pursuing our rights lead to so much frustration?

Over the course of human history we, both big and small, pushed for our rights. Wars and quarrels, pain and suffering resulted and resound over rights. We either vocally or deep down demand them. We feel entitled to them. We blame God for allowing the violation of them. If He is love and peace, then why…?

I sense we wish God was more like us. Maybe we should reverse that and look at how He wants us to be more like Him? God has the right to wipe us all out, but He patient. God has the right to shun accusations or anger towards Him, but He listens. God has the right of full worship, yet He came humbly and unjustly executed as a criminal. God has the right to make us all puppets, but He gave us a choice. Maybe the answer to much of our suffering isn’t for God to be like us, but for us to be like Him?

The bottom line:
God is not stupid. When discussing the deeper questions of life and theology, we must not forget that. Human depravity and naïvety is a variable, but truth and God are a constant. If God is truly who He claims to be, then perhaps He overcame people’s problems while still choosing to communicate through them. We may not like or understand how or why God chose the path He did, but we should remember that God is God and we are not.

Millennials: Hey world, I have a soul!

Millennials are about the rediscovering of the human soul. I read lately about “Millennials.” Depending on what definition you go by, I am one or I am not one; I consider myself one. Time tables are largely arbitrary. What amazes me about Millennials is the focus on significance and impact. There is more to life and its purpose then mere existence.

I am more than my parts
The problem with modernism and the industrial revolution? They reduced everything to a mathematical formula or chemical equation. Reason was supreme, science was king. Under this onslaught of reason on steroids I cannot help but notice- things got worse not better. Reason & science can build you a bomb, but it cannot tell you if you should use it. The atrocities of modernism should cause pause about being enlightened.

Here is what I mean: Technological progress and the acquisition of knowledge does not equate to human progress. Such ‘progress’ lead to events like Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, abortion on a grand scale, pollution on a grand scale, the break up on the family, drug abuse, etc. Modernity forgot something. I am more then my parts. I have a soul.

My soul is fallen
Anyone who states a person is inherently good never worked with children. People, by nature, are depraved. I often get tirades of pessimism when I state this, but it is the truth. If people are naturally good and education the silver bullet, then things should be getting better. They are not. Again, I cannot help but notice how things got worse or at best remained the same.

Millennials focus on social justice, significance and impact may be the realization of something far more critical: We have a soul and it is fallen. The human soul often craves justice. This sense of freedom and justice demands action. They are foundational to the meaning of life.

The law has failed
The rule of law and the destructive nature of religious fundamentalism did not solve the problems. Millennials crave spirituality, but often reject religion. It points to the argument Paul made in Roman’s 7: The law is good, but it cannot save nor sanctify us. (Romans 7 is debated passage. My take is that human nature is not the focus, but the role of the Law (Torah) is.) Milennials want to cut the fluff and get to the real answers.

The Gospel really is the main thing
The Gospel really is the answer to the questions Millennials are asking. Granted there are problems at home, in the work place, etc. We need help in learning how to handle our money, our relationships, our conflicts. The Bible teaches that it is the role of older generations to teach and pass on that wisdom. Millennials are a generation of wanting listeners. But, that wisdom is not the answer they are looking for.

Theology & exposition of the Scripture stands ands as the answer. For this gets to what should be the root voice and foundation for the church: There is a God who wants be known, make Himself known and the Gospel is the only way that can happen. God doesn’t want us to know about Him, in such case general revelation would be sufficient. God wants to be known in community with us. God is active and involved. The story of Jesus Christ is pivotal to the questions Millennials are asking. The answer results and demands action. The Gospel really is the main thing.

The Bottom line
Millennials are reminding human history that we have a soul. The best response to the questions being raised is the Gospel. Teaching theology as about God, or  teaching pragmatic & practical formulas misses the mark of what is asked. One is mere reason against questions of decades past, the other a softer form of legalism, both neglect that God created us with a soul. The Millennials questions bring us back to the main thing: That change occurs best from the inside out, and only the Gospel can produce that change. It’s as if with one voice they are shouting: Hey wold, I have a soul!

Book Review: The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Tozer’s book is incredibly technical and mysterious at the same time. He pushes you, hard, and asks very pointed questions about your belief in who God is. Often theology proper (the study of God Himself) is glossed over and assumed. Tozer implies throughout the book that maybe it should be first among the theologies.

God Speaks
The big thing that stands out is how God actively wants to communicate today, just as much as in times past. The very fact that God gave us the Bible speaks volumes on how God wants to actively pursue and interact with people. God is not a set it and forget it person. God speaks actively today as He did in times past. This includes authorial intent, what God spoke and meant then is what He is saying to us today.

“The Bible will never be a living book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in his universe…I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking.” (p. 71-72, Italics author’s emphasis)

More than Saved
We forget God the father. The book brings out something we too easily forget, lose, or never attained. God gave salvation as a means to pursue Him, not as a ‘get out of jail free card.’ The danger of viewing the Bible or Christianity as a psychological self-help community, or merely as a redemptive story is that both neglect the key to the Bible, to faith, to life, and that is a personal God. Jesus will and purpose was the will of the Father. We must get back to that.

Format
Tozer is hard to read. He writes in a way that we do not speak or think like today. This makes getting through the book a little difficult. It’s like reading someone’s journal. He is very humble and very pointed, but it is a chore to get through the book. I say this to be aware of it, not as a criticism. I wish I read this book long ago.

Tozer ends each chapter with what is a lost art in churches today- written prayers. His prayer for himself and those who read the book create a significant impact. One can develop a solid prayer life from the end of each chapter. We often view prayer as only genuine and heartfelt if it is spontaneous. A book of prayers may be helpful and a great resource for today. Each generation must speak to God. Being formal is just as genuine and heartfelt as being spontaneous.

Bottom line:
The Pursuit of God is on my “Must Read List.” It brings into balance that Christianity and the Bile is about God wanting and being known, and everything else is subservient to that foundational principle.