Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Language Lives, It's The Communication That Is Dying

In order for communication to happen the ideas the speaker has attached to words he is using ought to be the same ideas that are attached by the hearer.  If they are not the same ideas then I think it's safe to say that something worse than nothing happened.  It is not as if no communication happened but rather more like the wrong communication happened.  This is not good because communication is a key element for a functional civilized society.

I have discovered that there are quite a few words that have a habit of transforming between mouth and ear; so many in fact that it has become obvious that I live in a culture suffering from a language problem that may perhaps eventually rival the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel.

The point of this post is not to make the case myself that the West is suffering in communicating ideas, but rather to point out that there are others much smarter than myself who have been claiming the same thing for some time.  Below are some excerpts from some well known writers who get the same sense of things.

The first comes from the book,  "The Road To Serfdom" written by F. A. Hayek. Having lived through a society that had descended into Nazism once, he noted that the same things appeared to him to be happening again.  This fact helps to make his observations a little more compelling I believe.  He makes the following point in his introduction:
... [H]istory never quite repeats itself, and just because no development is inevitable, we can in measure learn from the past to avoid repetition of the same process. One need not be a prophet to be aware of impending dangers. 'And accidental combination of experience and interest will often reveal events to one man under aspects which few yet see. The following pages are the product of an experience as near as possible to twice living though the same period... While this is an experience one is not likely to gain in one country, it may in certain circumstances be acquired by living in turn for long periods in different countries. ...Thus, by moving from one country to another, one may sometimes twice watch similar phases of intellectual development. The senses have then become peculiarly acute. When one hears for a second time opinions expressed or measures advocated which one has first met twenty or twenty-five years ago they assume a new meaning as symptoms of a definite trend. It is necessary now to state the unpalatable truth that it is Germany whose fate we are in some danger of repeating.
He also had this to say on Page 174:
The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen. And most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.
And continuing on page 175:

If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates. It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible. And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional association which still adhere to them.
From Gresham Machen we get this insight as early as 1925 in "What Is Faith":
"It makes very little difference how much or how little of the creeds of the Church the Modernist preacher affirms... He might affirm every jot and tittle of the Westminster Confession, for example, and yet be separated by a great gulf from the Reformed Faith. It is not that part is denied and the rest affirmed; but all is denied, because all is affirmed merely as useful or symbolic and not as true."
Later in the mid twentieth century we see Francis Schaeffer complaining of virtually the same thing. In his book "Escape From Reason"  he points out that the parental communication being used to pass the Gospel along to the next generation is being retranslated by the "thought forms" that had been established by popular culture, media and the institutions of education:
"The reason we often cannot speak to our children, let alone other people's, is because we have never taken time to understand how different their thought-forms are from ours. Through Reading and education and the whole modern cultural bombardment of mass media, even today's middle-class children are becoming thoroughly twentieth-century in outlook. In crucial areas many Christian parents, ministers and teachers are as out of touch with many of the children of the church, and the majority of those outside, as though they were speaking a foreign language.
So what is said in this book is not merely a matter of intellectual debate. It is not of interest only to academics. It is utterly crucial for those of us who are serious about communicating the Christian gospel in the twentieth century"
And more recently yet we have John Piper who adds an interesting thought to this idea of language. He says that relativism allows one to conceal his heresies by confused language. He has this to say on page 109 of "Don't Waste Your Life:

One of the most tragic effects of relativism is the effect it has on language. In a culture where truth is esteemed as something objective and external and valuable, language holds the honorable place of expressing and transmitting that precious cargo of truth. In fact, a person's use of language is assessed on the basis of whether it corresponds to the truth of the reality the expresses.

But when objective truth vanishes in the fog of relativism, the role of language changes. dramatically. It's no longer a humble servant for carrying precious truth. Now it throws off the yoke of servanthood and takes on a power of its own. It doesn't submit to objective, external reality; it creates its own reality. It no longer serves to display truth. Now it seeks to obtain the preferences of the speaker.

This gives rise to every manner of spin. The goal of language is no longer the communication of reality but the manipulation of reality. It non longer functions in the glorious capacity of affirming the embrace of truth, but now it functions in the devious capacity of concealing defection from the truth"
In the grand scope of history I get the sense that this is a new thing, perhaps brought to us by the enlightenment.  The oldest excerpt is nearly a century old and yet I get no sense from today's average communicators of the Gospel, which would include pastors, but more importantly includes parents, that a problem even exists.  But even if there was an awareness that the ideas being communicated from the pulpit and by parents were being retranslated in mid-air, the solutions to this problem go much deeper than simply defining terms because the words used even to define other words are intertwined with deep seated ideals, belief systems and worldviews.

My sense of this reality is keen. While on the one hand I am relieved to discover that my experience on this matter is not new, on the other hand I find it increasingly difficult to have, not only civil discourse, but discourse period. It's good enough that we come to the table I suppose, but overcoming the fact that occupying the same space does not equal living in the same world when it comes to the ideas transmitted by our language seems to be an insurmountable challenge.  For an English speaker to learn French is something that can be achieved.  He has merely to learn new sounds for old meanings.  But learning new meanings for old sounds, and escaping the worldview with which the common language is intertwined in order to understand and communicate with another, is a much more difficult task.

Languages have died, to be sure.  But I'm not sure if a language has ever survived while the ideas that were conveyed by them died. Guttenberg may have done much to freeze words, but the printed word is powerless when it comes to freezing the meanings attached to them.  It is apparent to me, if at all possible, that we should become bilingual, as it were, as much as we are able to do so, so that we might continue to communicate the Gospel of peace to a world in desperate need of it, but more importantly yet, so that we might be able to communicate it to our own children. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Women Pastors And Galatians 3:28

This is not a post which makes a case for or against women pastors.  Not that I don't think scripture is clear on the matter, but I want to take a look at one favorite scripture used by some of my brethren who seem to be just as clear on the matter as I am, yet stand on the other side of the chasm.

Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  NASU
My point here is not to make a case for what this verse does mean, but to make a case for what it can't mean.  If we are going to approach scripture, we must approach it with consistent methods of interpretation, or hermeneutics.  We can't, for example, look at one passage written in the first century and dismiss it as pertaining only to first century culture, then use another scripture that can be applied to the same subject, and written in the same century, to make our case that the former ought to be dismissed.  Here is a case in point:
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (1 Cor 14:34-36 NASU)
On the one hand this passage is dismissed in our present day as a cultural issue of the first century.  OK, all well and good but we can't then look at another passage and interpret that passage as if it is timeless when applied to the same subject.  We must, it seems to me that logic would dictate, interpret these two passages in light of one another.  Either Paul was not making the case in Galatians 3:28, that he was wrong in 1st Corinthians, or, he was teaching two different and opposing truths in the same age.

There is a third choice that I can think of.  Paul could have been teaching one truth to one culture, Galatia, and another truth to another culture, Corinth.  But this choice is worse for this would imply that culture dictates the interpretation of scripture.  Western Culture, for example, has embraced homosexuality as righteous and good, and deems those who oppose it as wicked and evil.  If we were to buy into the "cultural-filter method of interpreting scripture, I must say, they would actually have a valid point.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Love And First Corinthians Chapter Thirteen

1st Corinthians 13 In Context

If one could point to an over arching theme in Paul's first letter to the Corinthian Church it would probably read something like, "Unity", or "Have No Division", a very popular expression these days.  Paul wastes no time getting to the point of his letter after his customary salutation.  In verse 10-12 he writes:
(10)"Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." 
Paul discusses a host of division-causing concerns in various places in this letter, among them are leader-worship, Intellectualism vs. anti-intellectualism, the Gospel,  worldliness vs maturity, acceptance of immorality, settling quarrels, legalism, foods sacrificed to idols, leadership, the sacraments, gender roles, spiritual gifts and future expectations and events for the believer.  Most, if not all, of the major divisions in Christianity can find their root in something on this list.  Now, while division is a topic worthy of discussion, let it suffice for this discussion for us to simply be aware that the "Love Chapter" is found in the context of a letter that is addressing this subject.

Chapter 13

In chapters 12, 13 and 14 Paul is addressing a specific issue, which is spiritual gifts.  It is noteworthy that chapter 13 is sandwiched between two other chapters that are addressing a singular topic. In chapter 12 we see content that is consistent with the overlying message of unity as it pertains to spiritual gifts:
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware... Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.  For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
In verses 4 through 7 of chapter 13 Paul, in a sense, departs from the subject of "gifts" in order to discuss "love".  But in verse 8 he gets right back on course with "gifts" and continues through chapter 14.  So why does Paul insert his chapter on love, which is really only a few verses if you remove the verses that are dealing with "gifts",  here? The answer, I believe, is because spiritual gifts were causing division in the 1st century Corinthian Church just as they are causing division in the 21st century Church.

So, with all of this in mind, let's look at the first section of chapter 13 that addresses spiritual gifts without love:
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give[ing] all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 
Paul is clearly telling the church here not to let gifts take precedence over love.  Let's face it, anyone can go into a church setting and speak indiscernible things.  In some settings these gifts will bring acceptance, in others it will bring rejection and division.  Here are a couple of things that ought to therefore be considered.

The first is a person's motive for speaking in tongues?  Is it pride?  Is it to provoke those who use scripture to reject the gifts in this day?  Is it to gain acceptance from those who see it as evidence that you have received (trumpet fanfare) a special blessing from God?  God only knows.  What we can know, and are in fact admonished to know in this scripture, is that the gift ought to be accompanied by the fruit of love inside and outside the church setting. If the fruit is not there it really doesn't matter how much or how loud anyone can mumble, in the same way it does not matter how much a person prophecies, or how much the person contributed to the New-Building Fund.

Second, there are those who reject the gifts as only available to the infant Church.  There are plenty of Christians who produce wonderful fruit who speak in tongues, yet they are rejected as heretics because they do not interpret scripture in the same way as the cessationist does.  A case in point is the recent Strange Fire conference organized by John MacArthur.  As for me I love John MacArthur, and I understand his complaint given some of the nonsense that has come out of the Charismatic community.  But Charismatics did not corner the market on nonsense.  We need look no further than the PCUSA , and other cessationists denominations, to see where worship of the intellect can lead.

But Paul doesn't leave us in the midst of "Christians" of every stripe gone bad.  He follows with a blanket treatise on what love looks like.  Keeping in mind that all scripture can have a general application, in the context of this chapter I believe the emphasis Paul is making is on internal relationships in the Body Of Christ concerning spiritual gifts.  So with "gifts" in mind let's take another look at the second section of chapter 13:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
In my experience with gifts these words speak volumes.  Unkindness, jealousy, bragging, arrogance, seeking one's own, all of these have I seen in connection with spiritual gifts.   But what about the cessationists?  To them gifts are provocative and there seems to be very little patience with those who believe they have received a special gift from God.

In addition there can be a tale-wagging-the-dog phenomenon that accompanies gifts.  If "speaking in tongues" means that a person has been baptized by the Holy Spirit, then that person has received a second blessing and is filled with the Spirit.  If this is true, (and I'm not ever going to contend that it isn't simply because scripture doesn't allow it) then that person might see himself as a notch higher than the one who has not received the second blessing. Furthermore, this person can also begin to proclaim special revelations that are validated by their gifts of tongues which, so the case is made is evidence of baptism by the Holy Spirit, and anyone who questions these revelations are dishonoring God.

This also sets up a tier system.  There are those who have received a gift, and then there those second tier Christian who have not.  And even if the person with a gift does not see himself as a first tier Christian, or intend to make the "second tier" person feel bad, the fact remains that those who believe that there is more could easily conclude that God is withholding something because they are failures.

The problem in Charismatic circles is the emphasis on the gift of tongues, which just so happens to be the easiest gift to fake, and it disregards other important passages in the three chapters, verses like:
 "Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues." (1 Cor 12:27-28)
 Notice the "prominence" of tongues:  And there is also:
"...desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself..."  (1 Cor 14:1-4)
The reality however is that speaking in tongues does not a prove anything at all, not does scripture explicitly contend that it does.  I relay an experience from a friend who was once married to a woman who encouraged him to pray for and to seek the spiritual gifts.  She herself claimed to have received the gift of tongues and was encouraging her husband to be prayed for to receive this gift.  My friend was very open to this because he was not a stranger to scripture.  Ultimately however she eventually left him for a married man, and after that man had left his wife she moved on into a lesbian relationship.  Her "tongues" were a clanging cymbal and her actions were destructive and painful to many people.

There is much more that makes this same point.  Here is an excerpt from a pentecostal website that looks very good on its face:
The Word of God teaches us that the Holy Ghost baptism is the "earnest" (down payment) on our redemption. It is only a small beginning to the great changes that will occur when we are resurrected from this sinful world and taken to God's new sinless world. Stop letting the enemy defeat your faith. Let God arise in your life! Be all that you can be, In Jesus name! Paul continues yet, he goes on to the fruit of a changed life: righteousness, rejoicing with the truth, bearing all things, believing all things, enduring all things.  Then he caps the whole thing off with "Love never fails".
The only problem is that it comes from this website.  To save you the trouble of clicking over, here is what the header of that site informs the visitor:
", Out, Proud, On FIRE For The Lord!
'And it shall come to past that in the last days I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh'. Acts 2:17"
This site begs for the defining of terms like sin, righteousness, fruit and, most of all, love.  If scripture is so malleable that it can be reshaped into anything we fancy to suit our times, then words like sin and love become hopelessly lost beyond the present moment and emotion, as does this great chapter in 1st Corinthians.  But if the person saying things like this has been baptised by the Holy Spirit, and he speaks in tongues as evidence of that baptism, who can question him?  The answer, of course, is that scripture can, and in fact it does.  But as it does, division ensues... and that is a good thing for God is the ultimate divider, and he will one day divide between the sheeps and the goats.

Still, chapter 13 is all about getting beyond division through the application of love.  However to do this the word "love" must be defined in timeless terms in a time that prefers unity through superficiality over sound doctrine.  That said,  "getting beyond division" deserves explanation, an explanation that I think Paul gives in this chapter.  Paul never commands that all manner of unrighteousness is to be embraced in the name of "unity" based on a mistaken or purposeful misunderstanding of words. Nowhere in this chapter are we called to remain shallow and ignorant regarding doctrine, or our times, nor to wink at sins, for the sake of unity.  And this applies to culturally acceptable sins in a world that shows nothing but contempt for a Church that does not buy into its empty secular humanist philosophies.  Paul is clear.  Love does not "rejoice in unrighteousness" but rather it rejoices in  the very thing the guiding philosophies of this age rejects: "the truth"

We are living in a modern-day Babel when it comes to our language.  The meanings attached to a speaker's words can be completely different than the meaning attached to the same word by the hearer.  Paul addresses this "communication gap" in chapter 13 as it pertains to the Gifts specifically, but as it pertains to love in general.  But in order to not make Paul say something he is not saying at all, many of the words he uses have been redefined, and as such deserve specific definitions based on other scriptures as opposed to finger-in-the-cultural-winds "theologians".

Paul is making the case that we are unified through love as different parts of one Body with Jesus as the head.  1st Corinthians 13 is a popular chapter in this age because it is emotionally uplifting.  But these emotions should not impair our ability to get to the truth it holds, truths that may not be all that emotionally uplifting.  One of the greatest of these truths is the nature of Jesus Christ, since his headship is key to understanding this passage.  If we miss this one truth by focusing in on a favorite passages like "Jesus dined with sinners", while ignoring his command to repent, it is very possible to turn Jesus into just another secular-humanist, material-obsessed liberal who cares nothing for souls and the destruction wrought on souls by sin, and who hates those who do.  But Jesus did care.  His message was a message of repentance.  If we miss this we will be confused by our times, and rather than functioning in a body unified in the life of Christ through love, we will end up in a body unified in whitewashed death whose love has grown ice cold.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shameless Post Modernism

Man wants so badly to make up his own morality but it puts him in such a quandary.  On the one hand, if he agrees that there are moral absolutes, then not only must he agree that there is an establisher of those absolutes who is above him, he must also consent that he is subject and accountable to the one who established them.  Rathering to hold to his own made-up whims, the idea of being accountable to a creator must be reject outright.

So, with the baggage of this quandary resting on his back, the modern man sets off endlessly to making the case that his moral whims are the right moral whims and those who disagree with his are not. However, no matter what he says about morality in his brave new world, he contradicts himself as he says it, and sadly his life reflects that contradiction .

The book "Morality For Humans" is a recent example of man's quest to have morality while not having morality.  Johnson assures us that moral absolutes are a sin against science, and I would suppose that he is absolutely sure about that, at least sure enough to write a book about it.

Because we are reaping so much fruit from this kind of thinking we might get the idea that it's new.  But it is not.  We must remember that half truths taught one generation become the whole truths of the next.  Generation after generation of this, and, well, eventually a whirlwind of lies and confusion is harvested.  C K Chesterton saw the early fruit of humanism among elitist over a hundred years ago, and he lays them out like only he could in "Orthodoxy":

For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women , and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and then blames the oppressors of Poland or Ireland because they take away that bauble. The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting , where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite sceptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines . In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything. 

As I learned of the last shooting I couldn't help but to wonder what old Dr. Mark Johnson would have to say to those of us who insist that one who kills women because they won't have sex with him, along with the men with whom they would, is absolutely wrong.  I can only guess that he would accuse me of sinning against his moral whims.  But then again, unless he is morally retarded, which is not beyond question, he would not say as much.

* Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2012-05-17). Orthodoxy (pp. 33-34).  . Kindle Edition.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Are Christians Called To Love Homosexuals?

To answer the title in a word, no. But don't go letting your head explode on me just yet. Keep reading please because I have two things to say to qualify that answer.

1. Nowhere in scripture are we called to "love the homosexual".  What we are called to do is to love our fellow sinners. To say that we are called to love the homosexual does two things. First, it gives a particular sin a feeling of specialness.   The special attention this sin receives is the result of bleed-over from our culture into Christianity.  Second, it allows the sinner to adopt his sin as an identity. What man, given the definition of adultery that Jesus gave, is not an adulterer? I'd say the vast majority are, given the low bar set by Jesus for becoming one. But I've yet to see anyone proclaiming, or demanding, that Christians ought to love the adulterer and stop judging him and to be more accepting of his special sin.

2. The second is more important. The command in scripture to "love" our fellow man, that is those who persecute us, those who are enemies of God, and a host of other sinners, ought to have us examining the verb "love". Scripture is not silent on this matter, but let me first say that nowhere does scripture confuse the word love with acceptance. The common mantra of our day is that Jesus accepts the sinner wherever he is. I don't think that's true. Jesus loves the sinner wherever he is, but he rejects his sin. For example, let's look at an occasion that does not carry the cultural baggage of the modernday homosexual; the rich young ruler.  Jesus did not accept this young man's sin of idolatry, yet the scriptures tell us "...Jesus felt a love for him... ". (Mk 10:21)

The modern Church is constantly admonishing us to love like Jesus loved.  But I can't help but to think that there is a difference between what we're being admonished to do and what scripture teaches us to do. From the beginning to the end of Jesus' ministry his sermons can be summed up by "repent for the Kingdom of God is near".  He did not preach "accept sins that are popular in your day".

To be sure there is a caricature of Christians who are pointing their fingers in angry self-righteous indignation and demanding repentance.  While I'm sure there are some who do this--and we are supposed to love them too by the way--this does not mean that we are to be more accepting of a popular sin in order to mitigate that caricature.  That would be folly.

In short, we are not to confuse love with acceptance.  While it is certainly possible to love without accepting there is a very real danger in our present age of unwittingly not loving while accepting.

So, are we to love the homosexual?  No, we are to love the sinner, every sinner, enough to call him to repentance in a compassionate and loving way.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How Does One Reconcile The Love Of God And Hell?

A dear friend of mine posted an article on Facebook that discussed "Chrislam", the blending of Islam and Christianity. As I read the article I encountered the usual, God-loves-everybody basis for rejecting any basis for anything. The modern day Christian lives in a dilemma as he contemplates his religion and his culture.  The dilemma is between having an internally consistent worldview and serving what his culture, and even possibly himself, sees as a monster God. The question in the title of this post highlights this dilemma, and it demands an answer!

To answer the question requires a starting point.  So we should start by ever distinguishing between cultural assertions and biblical truth.  The culture asserts that, as far as the "self" is concerned, it is sovereign. That is, the average individual we meet will reject the existence of an objective basis for  right and wrong. Just as in the days of the Judges, in which "every man did what was right in his own eyes", (Judg 17:6) right and wrong is currently said to be dredged up from between the ears of each individual.  In a culture that has embraced this view the individual finds himself floating on a sea of opinions based on personal feelings. The notion that "That doesn't make me feel good" carries the same weight in the mindset of each individual as "Thou shalt not commit murder". In fact, it carries more weight.  Unfortunately for the average individual, the mind adrift on this sea is easily blown this way and that by winds created by the rulers, the powers, the world forces of darkness and the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  (Eph 6:12)

So, for the average modern man to be told that he is not a good person, it is a full frontal assault on his sensibilities.  Any God that would say such a thing therefore must be the figment of the imaginations of little monsters.  Either that, or God actually is a monster.   If the reference point for right and wrong is self, how can any "self" conclude that it is wicked?  And if it is not wicked, how can it ever conclude that it is heaping up for itself the wrath of God?  This view of things poses a problem for the contemporary Christian because it is contrary to the message of scripture which asserts in no uncertain terms that man is wicked to the core, dead in his sins, unable to do anything to remedy that fact, and is in desperate need of salvation without which he will pay an eternal price.  That is the Biblical view of man.

But it doesn't end there.  The Biblical view of God, the true source of right and wrong, is that He is Holy and so is necessarily a God of wrath who sees all men as deserving of eternal damnation, yes every last man.  This puts the modern Western Christian in a very difficult We can begin to see the predicament in which the contemporary western christian finds himself.  He is afraid that if he presents the truth about God and man his religion will be rejected.  And he is right in thinking that, but wrong in moderating the message.

But this is exactly what happened.  Christianity began moderating the message in the past century by teaching half truths about the love of God. The wrath of God was ignored was ignored because it was unpalatable, and as went the wrath of God, so went the fear of God.  I will expound on this later, but the point I want to make now is that these half truths were not thrown into a static world.  Generations are ever being born and passing away.  A half truth with good intentions in one generation will become the whole in the next with the same cumaltive effects on culture as drinking saltwater.  And we all know that if anyone's thirsty, he should not drink saltwater because it only makes him more thirsty, and unless he gets pure water he will die.  And we are watching right now, and the article on Chrislam is just one piece of evidence of this fact, a culture die of thirst for the true Living Water.

These half truths ushered in the internally inconsistent Christian worldview that is best summed up with the expression that God loves everyone unconditionally.  I was born in the 1960's, back when people still talked about the Bible a little bit, and I knew that Jesus had quite a bit to say about lakes of fire and torment that never ever ended, and that sort of thing.  I rejected the notion of unconditional love because I knew that the person who told me that either worshipped a different God than his Bible proclaimed, or he was ignorant of what his Bible taught.  In either case both were equally pathetic and uncompelling.

This God-loves-everyone-unconditionally mentality eventually became the mainstream of Christian thought and it has gutted the western church of sound doctrine.  If Christianity either rejects, ignores, hides or is ashamed of a basic foundational component of its own religion involving man's condition and the attributes of God, what is left?  The answer is feel-good stuff like experience oriented worship, service and mercy oriented works that conveniently omit the gospel, and "grace" covered licentiousness at best.  At worst we see wholesale heresy with churches, church leaders and Christian pop-stars coming out of the closet daily publicly embracing what scripture clearly teaches is wrong... all under the umbrella of "God loves everybody unconditionally".  This can be seen clearly in a statement made by a "pastor" in the linked article that my friend posted.  "But lets make sure that we view God through the eyes of Jesus, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the beauty of a Savior, the loving open inclusive arms of a loving God."  We can be sure that whether Christianity is the synthesizing of the church and the world, or the religion with other religions, the root is tapped into the same soil.

So how is the love of God and Hell reconciled?  What is the whole truth?  When we elevate man to goodness with a few flaws, when we make good dependent on man's internal compass, when we make man's salvation an entitlement because it is "the right thing for God to do" , we diminish the love of God.  It is not love for God to do what is right.  It is duty.  On the same token, when we are ashamed of a God who would send people to eternal torment, when we reject the wrath of God against all unrighteousness, when we hide the fact that the just, right, and holy thing for God to do is to send all men to Hell, in short, when we judge God according to our own standard of righteousness, we hide the love of God.

Unfortunately for the western world being served by the western world, it is in the contrast of the total depravity of man and the holiness of God that God's love truly shines.  And to the extent that we miss that contrast in its stark reality, the true love of God is missed; the true love that a holy God would demonstrate to depraved man by sending his sinless Son to pay the price for their sins.  This is the condition that makes God's love conditional.  There are very many references to love in the New Testament.  It might surprise some to realize that the vast majority of those references are commands for us to love God, and to love others. As you read the New Testament take note.  Virtually every time God's love for man is mentioned, it is in the context of the cross:

John 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 
Rom 5:4-9 ...and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 
Rom 8:33-36  Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 
 2 Cor 5:14-15  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 
Eph 2:4-5 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him,
Eph 5:2  ...just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God ...
Eph 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, ...
Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior
1 John 4:9-11  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins
A study of the word "love" in the New Testament reveals a couple of things that might surprise the modern Christian.  1. Out of the hundreds of times the word is used precious few are a declaration of God's love for us.  The list above is not an exhaustive list of scripture telling us that God loves us, but I do believe it is the majority of the list.  2. God does not love us unconditionally, at least not in the way modern man understands "conditionally". Let me show why I say this:
John 14:21-22 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." 
1 John 2:3-5  By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.
1 John 5:3-4  For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 
1 John 2:29-3:1  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.  See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.
So this brings us back into a worldly question.  If I am saved by grace why is God's love conditional?  Therein we find the answer to the question of how the love of God is reconciled with Hell.  God's love is conditional in the sense that we were dead in our tresspases and He saved us still.  There was nothing we could do as a condition to bring that about.  But after being saved, our sanctifying process begins and we begin to grow into Christ-likeness.  In the same way that birds are not birds on the condition that they can fly but rather birds fly because they are birds, Christians don't obey God's commands as a condition of salvation, they obey His commands because they are Christians.  Therefore when we disobey God's commands, although we are heartsick, we are still in his love.  But as we disobey His commands, we realize even more the great love He has for us because we realize who we are, and what a great salvation it was that saved us, and we also realize God's holiness, and what a great work of love He accomplished on the cross.

But these are strange words in the ears of the modern day Christian.  There is no law and with no law there can be no lawlessness in modern times.  We are saved by grace, and can do anything we want except "judge" anything as unrighteous.  This complete disconnect from objective truth, which is that man has fallen short of the glory of God, and God's mercy, which is that he sent his Son to shed His precious blood for sinners, has set the vast majority of the western church adrift on the sea of opinions.  It should be no surprise that Husbands are abandoning their families to chase after temporal dreams.  Why not?  He is not under any law and God loves him unconditionally.  He can sow to the flesh in this world and reap a harvest of heavenly bliss in the next.  The same goes for wives abandoning their children, and for the murder of children in the womb, and for sending children off to anti-Christ institutions for their "education".  God loves everybody and we can do as we will.  We can celebrate when our children announce to the world that they are homosexuals or transgendered or whatever cause God loves this, He must because we feel so good about it ourselves.  And, back to the article linked above, we can turn Christianity into Christlam  because God is "inclusive" and loves diversity because diversity is love.

My nation is dying of malnutrition.  It is starving to death for lack of truth.  I think it is already under God's judgement, and all that we are watching take place that makes us sick is His hand administering that judgement.  Chrislam is but one symptom.  Time to pray, seek his face, and hunger for the bread that is His word!  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

WE Will Decide What Is Fair And Just According To OUR Whims.

According to The Daily Caller, Drew Sterrett was a typical University Of Michigan college kid who did the typical college thing and participated in a little "hook up" action in his dorm room. If Drew had taken the time to study his Maker's position on such things he might have discovered a little insight:
Prov 5:3-6 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey And smoother than oil is her speech; 4 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death, Her steps take hold of Sheol. 6 She does not ponder the path of life; Her ways are unstable, she does not know it.
His actions later began to bear a little fruit that the abortion doctor couldn't crush and dismember. From the Daily Caller article:
Five months later, while at home in New York for summer break, the university informed him that she had filed a rape complaint against him, according to The Michigan Daily.

He was told that if he spent any time trying to find an attorney, the university would proceed without him. Later that day, he attended a hearing by Skype in which he denied any wrongdoing, according to The Detroit Free Press.

“At no point during the call/interview was [Sterrett] given notice of the specific allegations which had been made against him,” the lawsuit claimed.

The investigation was halted in September after Sterrett’s accuser expressed second thoughts about having the details of their encounter made public. Sterrett was left in the dark about this, though he was warned to stay away from Mosher-Jordan, the residence hall where his accuser lived.

Ultimately, the university proceeded to adjudicate the matter. Administrators eventually informed Sterrett that he was found guilty of raping his accuser and creating a “hostile environment” for her, and would be suspended until 2016.

While our current culture might seem to the unwise and naive as a wonderland of sex and affluence, the truth is a different matter. That "wonderland" is filled with pits, misery and death. It's also filled with hypocrisy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Liberalism And Islam

Someone else said this, but it bears repeating:

Islam perfectly concentrates everything liberals say is evil into a single ideology (male dominance, abuse of women, imperialism, violence, religious fundamentalism, intolerance of perversion, etc.), yet liberals side with Muslims reflexively, elevating them even above homosexuals to the top of their caste system.


Friday, April 25, 2014

It's Raining Revelations

I was walking down a street in downtown Spokane on a misty day recently when I noticed a sign pointing down to the sidewalk.  The sign read: "weather report".  On the sidewalk was written "It's raining" with some sort of water repelling chemical. It was kind of cute I guess. The only time you can see the sign is when it's raining, as if it wasn't already obvious.

I am often reminded of that little sign in these days. I spotted an article today that reported yet someone else coming out of the closet on the gay marriage issue. This time it was the "front-man for the popular Christian band Jars of Clay", Dan Haseltine. These outings have ceased to be shocking or surprising. It seems in fact that they are precipitating out of the "Church" like rain.

But as this rain hits the real Church, that is the Christians whose worldview is informed by a serious view of scripture, it is repelled. The true Church is beginning to emerge as the fake church moves with culture into increased wickedness.  Persecution has begun, and it will increase because on the sidewalk of this world is written "You are not unaccountable", and the world and it's worldly "church" will do everything it can to scrub that message away.