Tag Archives: Christianity

My People Perish

“They had zeal without full knowledge, hope without understanding, religious practice without clear theology.” ~ J. Julius Scott Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament

“My people are destroyed” said God.

While you could say the small prophet Hosea spoke to a different time and people, look around today and you’ll see it is still true. God’s people are destroyed. Beaten back on every front, surrendering left and right the ground of morality and decency and charity. Christian responsibilities co-opted by conniving socio-political systems that seek to enslave through manufactured need rather than free by salvation of the soul.

But why are God’s people destroyed?

It isn’t, as one would gather from visiting churches today and listening to the people and the pastors and reading the glut of how-to-fix-Christianity books, that they lack heart or soul, or truth or depth in their feelings of devotion. It has nothing to do with with a lack of action by them on behalf of the gospel. It isn’t that they are too involved in the culture, and it isn’t that they are too distant from it. It isn’t that they don’t read their bibles, or because they protest at abortion mills. It is not for any of these reasons that God’s people are destroyed.

No, it is because they lack sense. Because they are not intelligent about what it is they believe. God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Passing through a bookstore, do you breeze past the Theology section? Do you see a book titled “Systematic Theology” and your eyes glaze over? Do you come across a difficult section of scripture and you skip past it looking for greener pastures for your soul? Does the thought of countering charges of biblical inconsistency or addressing the basic points the foundational principles behind baptism cause you to shiver? Why is this? Do you fear that you don’t know enough about “those things”, that such things are better left to pastors and some nice but weird people who God has made specially for debating and defending the faith and that scary thing called “Apologetics”?

God may not have called us to defend our faith before a television audience with Larry King. He may not even care whether or not we show up at the local park and talk to strangers about Him. But He wants us to not be destroyed.

We avoid destruction through knowing, first and foremost, what it is we believe. And not in simple Sunday School terms that haven’t advanced since 2nd grade. It is the responsibility of each and every Christian, to the extent of their own ability, to know why they are saved, what they are saved from, who saved them, and how that salvation came to be. For most people, the extent of their own ability is far beyond where they are now.

We avoid destruction through also knowing why it is we believe what we believe. This requires knowledge of the history of the Christian faith. We do not live in the only important time. It is a general fault that the majority of each generation thinks only in terms of their own generation. But the world, humanity, and Christianity are all very much older than any one of us, and are likely to continue on much longer than any one of us. Those troubling issues we deal with today are in no way unique. Brilliant people have struggled and pondered and argued over every nitty-gritty detail of the various ideas that comprise orthodox Christian theology, and there are very good reasons why the most universal and general beliefs of orthodox Christianity are what they are today. Even a little knowledge of how we came to believe what we believe can help defend ourselves against the destruction of predatory and untrue belief systems and cultish ideas.

We avoid destruction, in short, by studying to show ourselves approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Can you rightly handle the word of truth?

I doubt I’ll ever be able to handle the word of truth. But that will not stop me from learning and honing and studying and growing in knowledge so that I may escape destruction.

Hosea 4:4-6
4 Yet let no one contend,
and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, O priest.
5 You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;
and I will destroy your mother.
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

2 Timothy 2:14-19
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene… 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

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The Book I Wanted To Write

The Book that Made Your World How the Bible Created the Soul of Western CivilizationI love books that give the big picture. I also enjoy books that give details and argue over interesting and important minutia. Books that do both tend to be hit or miss, in my experience. The Book That Made Your World does both, and does them pretty well.

The book is thick, but don’t let that deter you. Vishal Mangalwadi argues, in clear and concise prose, for the basis of many specific good attributes of Western Civilization upon the Christian Bible. Addressing the roots of liberty (government and morality), compassion (medicine), the free market (trust), missionary work, education, and several other key aspects of a successful culture, Mangalwadi shows how Western Civilization has done the best job of creating and growing these, and how their current forms and expressions (as distinct from what we may have considered their historic forms) are directly or indirectly attributable to the Bible and Christianity in general, and often, the Reformation in particular.

It has been a dream of mine to write a book arguing factually for the supremacy of conservative ideology and Christian theology and their connection and relationship. While not addressing conservative ideology specifically, by nature of expressing support for the primary forms of Western Civilization as being tremendously beneficial to the entire world, The Book That Made Your World essentially is a book of conservative thought. And by showing the basis of these systems of our culture in Biblical Christianity, Mangalwadi has written a book critical to our world and culture at this time.

Disclaimer added under protest due to the anti-free speech ambitions of the Obama administration: I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookSneeze.com in exchange for writing a review. They did not pressure me in any way to write a favorable review.

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Book Review: The Jesus Inquest

The Jesus Inquest by Charles Foster

X and Y duke it out in a battle for the minds and hearts of the readers of The Jesus Inquest. If you accept, as X does, that belief in the Christian is belief in a lie, and as both X and Y, that to believe a lie is a terrible thing indeed, you will fight wholeheartedly to convince those who believe this considered lie of the truth, as you see it. And Y is no less hearty in his defense of the same.

X and Y are figments of barrister (lawyer) Charles Foster’s literary imagination. Two fiends for truth who wage epic battle through the pages of The Jesus Inquest, arguing and counter-arguing the aspects of Jesus‘ death, burial, resurrection, and subsequent appearances and final ascension using logic, reason, evidence, history, science, and any and all other tools they can muster There can only be one victor, and on the outcome hangs the foundation of faith for billions of people through history and today.

The book began as Charles Foster encountered his own doubts and need to substantiate what he’d believed regarding the epitome of Christs life and all human history. In the truest sense, his heart cannot believe what his mind will not accept. And so he set out to research and investigate, beyond the just-so stories of  Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell.

As a barrister Foster is used to being able to see and argue both sides of an argument, and he brings this skill to good use through creating not a devil’s advocate, but two characters of reasonable intelligence with deep grasps of their respective positions, their strengths and weaknesses, and the others preferred points. These two characters, X and Y, meet in the pages of The Jesus Inquest. The arguments from the anti-Christian X always come first. Some may say this weakens him as the final word always then goes to the pro-Christian Y. Foster wrote the book for his own purposes and this structure affirms that.

The Jesus Inquest is clear and readable. In creating the two characters as he did, Foster saves the book from being a simple tit-for-tat straight and dry comparison of facts and arguments. The conflict between the two holds the facts and arguments to a narrative which remains interesting and engaging.

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Mea Culpa: Defining God

From http://hypernews.ngdc.noaa.gov
Image via Wikipedia

I have been guilty of a grievous error: I have thought it possible to comprehend God.

Reading Knowing God by J. I. Packer I have been convicted of my inability to logically comprehend God.

Let us say I compose a piece of music. I put into that music my heart and soul, my passion and creativity, a dash of pathos, and sprinkle of… whatever I’d sprinkle in a piece of music. As a composer that piece of music is mine. That music’s very mine-ness, though, prevents it from ever being me.

“Duh”, you say. But think of that concept applied to God.

God created the universe, the physical laws of the universe, all that we see and touch and hear and feel and experience. He also created how we experience. He created our senses and our minds and hearts and, listen carefully, the emotions and thoughts, the mental and spiritual and emotional mechanisms by which we experience. And, just as He created the non-physical mechanisms of experience, He created the non-physical mechanisms by which we ponder and manipulate creation.

By the very act of His creating the ideas of love and peace and justice and mercy He shows that he himself cannot be our human conceptions of these metaphysical entities. Our conceptions of these concepts are mere shadows of what He is. We can attempt to use words to describe and encapsulate the totality of the epitome of His characteristics, but the entire surface covered with books would still be too few words to describe Him in even only one of His aspects.

My big error was based on the idea that, as God’s creation is logical and can be understood to abide by laws and facts, God Himself must therefore be logical and capable of being understood by rules and facts. The inference was that those facts of human logic that enable and undergird much of our understanding of the world would be the same laws by which we would be enabled to understand God.

This cannot be further from the truth, and indeed it indicates some portion of my pride.

God, creating a world that can be understood by logic, which He then, by extension, would have created, is above and outside those laws and logic which He created. The creator of time cannot Himself be bound by time. He is not prevented from participating in it, but to do so requires a conscious intention and action on His part.

Let me not think of God as being comprehendable, in the abstract sense. Instead, let me see God as one far above and apart from me who, nevertheless, has chosen to make Himself known to me, involving me in the plans He is working out through all His creation.

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How Could A Christian Vote Democrat

christian communism
Christian Democrat

Professor Keith Drury, of Indiana Wesleyan University, penned an article in 2008 explaining his reasons for voting primarily for the Democrat ticket. He has several specific points which he believes show that a traditional Christian belief system will tend to support the Democrat ideology more so than the Republican.

I disagree. (Well, that’s the news today, folks!)

The Caveats

Keith begins with the points where he agrees more with the Right:

Free trade

I believe in free trade because I do not worry about what is “best for America” but what is best for all of the world’s people—that is the Christian view I think.  On this issue I often fall in with the Republicans, and disagree with the protectionist inclinations of many Democrats.

Fiscal conservatism

I see this stance based on a doctrine of stewardship…  I believe it is unwise to go into debt to live high now then make future generations pay the bill—whether to pay for welfare, for a war in Iraq, or for a tax cut giveaway to the wealthy (or even middle class). Generations ought to pay our own bills—I think that’s biblical, or at least good Christian sense.

Opposition to special rights for homosexuals

I believe it is wrong to deprive gay Americans (or Americans who commit adultery, get divorced or otherwise sin) of their civil rights—such a fair access to housing or jobs. But I reserve the right of religious organizations and churches to hire whomever they want to based on whatever lifestyle issues they consistently practice.

Opposition to abortion

If I was a one-issue voter and abortion was the only issue I’d vote Republican.  But I have other issues to consider, and I honestly don’t think the Republicans actually deliver much on this issue…what they deliver most is rhetoric.

The Argument

Then Keith gets into the meat of his argument, the points where he believes the Democrat party more closely aligns with his understanding of Christianity and the instructions of the Scriptures.

First up is the environment.

…if we truly believe God created the snail darter and spotted owl how could we be so casual about the death of something God purposely put on earth?  Can I so lightly destroy the Creator’s creation?  And this does not even get into the pro-life aspect of the environment—pollution kills people…slowly but they are just as dead as a fetus when it does its work. I am a radical environmentalist because I believe God is creator of everything we have and we should to care for it like a gift. On this issue I have much affinity with the Democrats—my only complaint is they don’t go far enough.

There problems here are several. First it is private ownership of property that best protects and preserves the environment.  This is an immutable fact, that people care for and practice stewardship of that which has value to them, personally. It is not selfishness or slavish allegiance to the almighty corporation to speak the facts. In societies where people have not owned property, there has always been excessive waste, extreme pollution, and all the attending problems. In societies where people own property and have sovereign right over that land you find sustainable forestry, attempts to prevent natural disasters such as wildfires, gardens and preserves and protected wilderness.

Second, the leadership of the Democrat party is no more environmentally minded than your opinion of the leadership of the Republican party. It is a historical fact that those leading the environmentalist movement are socialists who have found a group they can champion who cannot protest. The goal of modern environmentalism is the enforced government control of the means of production and the enslavement of any and all people under the heel of communist master minds in the hope of creating a worker’s paradise. The Nazis were incredibly environmentally conscious in their propaganda, turning being green into a religious paradigm. The goal is the enslavement of people, rationalized, this time, by the plight of the spotted owl.

Next, the poor.

Caring for the poor is not an option for anyone who takes a serious reading of the Bible—it is a demand and even a test of whether I am really a Christian… I still don’t want the church to do it all. Why?  I think rich non-Christians ought to pay their fair share too.  When I pay my taxes I pay them like I pay my tithe—some of that money fulfills Christ’s command to care for the poor.   Democrats help me fulfill this command of Christ far better than most Republicans do…

The problem here is one of responsibility and internal consistency. First, all God’s commands regarding are to the Church and to Christians. He does speak to the political nation of Israel regarding treatment of the poor, but this is during the time of their Theocracy, when they were directly ruled by God, and something Keith says earlier in his argument may help clarify this distinction. “In my tradition (the holiness movement) we don’t expect unsaved people to live holy lives,” Keith says. This is perfectly acceptable. The world is not to be expected to think or act like Christians are commanded to act. It would be the height of folly on our part to expect the unrepentant and the unredeemed to act as thought repentant and redeemed.

Second, Keith, you can’t have it both ways. Either it is the church’s responsibility or it is not. Or it is individual responsibility or it is not. I don’t pretend that non-Christians cannot be generous and well-intentioned. Many of them are, and in ways that would put many Christians to shame. But the commands of the Bible are directly applicable to individual Christians and the Church. Any shirking or enforced sharing of that responsibility is wrong.

Third, doesn’t Keith sound a little selfish there? “I think rich non-Christians ought to pay their fair share too.” Are rich non-Christians directly and personally responsible for the poor among us? And if God did not exempt the Christian poor from the command to give, and in fact clearly and explicitly praises and encourages the giving from want more than the giving from ‘got’, why should we exempt the non-Christian poor from such a responsibility? After all, the poor in America are only relatively so, and are in fact wildly wealthy relative to their counterparts the world over.

Finally, a distinct difference between a politically-Right view of alms and a politically-Left view of alms is the source of the responsibility. I am responsible for doing what I can to alleviate the condition of those God has called me to serve. To the best of my ability and with appropriate and applicable due diligence to ensure wise use of those resources I have. This gives me two sub-responsibilities, that I produce resources I can share of, and that I do so wisely, with the stewardship Keith praises in his fiscal conservatism. A politically-Left person, such as Keith, sees alsm as a responsibility of the Government. God will not judge governments before His eternal throne. He judges people, their hearts, intentions, and actions. You, Keith, are responsible before God for how you gather and spend your resources for the benefit of your fellow man. You are not responsible for how you spend your neighbor’s resources to help his fellow man.

Read part 2.

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