Category Archives: Faith

…was crucified, dead and buried…

    I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth
    And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord
    Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary
    Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell
    The third day he rose again from the dead
    He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead
    I believe in the Holy Ghost
    I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints
    The forgiveness of sins
    The resurrection of the body
    And the life everlasting. Amen. [1]

The facts of Christ’s crucifixion are essential to Christian belief. “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried…” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4, ESV) I am not aware of any dispute regarding Jesus’ crucifixion. Even those who deny that Jesus was God, who claim that he was historically only a man, and maybe a Rabbi, generally will accept that he was crucified.

Most scholars in the third quest for the historical Jesus consider the crucifixion indisputable, as do Bart Ehrman, John Dominic Crossan and James Dunn. Although scholars agree on the historicity of the crucifixion, they differ on the reason and context for it, e.g. both E. P. Sanders and Paula Fredriksen support the historicity of the crucifixion, but contend that Jesus did not foretell his own crucifixion, and that his prediction of the crucifixion is a Christian story. Géza Vermes also views the crucifixion as a historical event but believes this was due to Jesus’ challenging of Roman authority. On the other hand, Maurice Casey and John P. Meier state that Jesus did predict his death, and this actually strengthened his followers’ belief in his Resurrection.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Historical_Jesus

As the above quote would indicate, the dispute about the crucifixion surrounds the historical context and, more importantly, the supernatural aspect of Jesus predicting it. Yet Paul states clearly that the death of Christ was “according to the Scriptures.” The Biblical test is the only one that really matters, unless we want to deny the inspiration of Scripture. (That is one of the amazing supernatural aspects to the Word of God. All Scripture is in harmony and few things are stated that are not repeated throughout.)

Peter is one who clearly states that Christ Jesus predicted his death and that the prophets knew of it by the Holy Spirit. “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:10–12, ESV)

Most would agree that the predictions of the death (and resurrection) of Christ throughout the Old Testament are plentiful. Isaiah 53 is a good example.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:3–6, ESV

The death of the Savior was predicted even within the curse from the original fall of Adam and Eve.

The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14–15, ESV

If you rule out the opinions of those who “search for the Historical Jesus,” I am unaware of any Biblical scholar who denies that Jesus was innocent yet crucified, that his crucifixion was the payment required by God’s justice for the forgiveness of sins, and that this is a real act in history with eternal and historical significance.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [2] by his blood, to be received by faith.

Romans 3:21–25, ESV

Why does the creed include he was dead and buried to crucified? I can suggest two reasons. First, over time, there have developed theories that Jesus did not die, but merely fainted or lost consciousness. Such theories are explanations for the resurrection which being a supernatural event cannot be historical as well.

Thus grew and thus died the theory of the rupture of the heart of Jesus. It is only an evidence that there is no proof in
the hands of the Christians that Jesus died on the cross, and like the drowning man they catch at every straw. But the proof is now complete that Jesus did not die upon the cross, and the tomb at Khan Yar is a living witness of this fact, the truth of which would soon be seen by the world.

The ‘Rupture of the Heart’ Theory of the Death of Jesus, The Review of Religions, May 1905, p. 191.

If you are interested, there are more recent articles that are similar here, here, and here. All of these articles come from the same source. However, they are representative of the overall theory that Jesus did not die on the cross. Yet, each one uses science as a credible proof of their point and they are still speculative at best. The creed takes into account the nature of human sin and it does not allow for theory. Jesus died according to all four gospels and all remaining New Testament writings.

Second, the strongest evidence for the death of Jesus is that he was buried. Mark wrote about the event this way, “And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.” (Mark 15:42–47, ESV)

Even before people thought to argue that Jesus did not die, Mark answers their objection. “Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.” Those who were crucified with Jesus had their legs broken to hasten the process. As long as someone on the cross still lived, the Roman guards had to stay so that no one could come and save them. Instead of breaking Jesus legs, they thrust a spear in his side. This too was to speed up his death. Speculation that following all of the physical suffering Jesus experienced before the cross did not significantly effect his death, and that the spear thrust itself did not hasten it is foolishness. If he did not die, then there is no Christianity, and I can’t help but wonder if this is the motivation for the argument.

We must note that the creed is not interested in speculation. It is doctrine, the teaching of the Christian Church from the beginning. It is a concise statement telling us what we must believe to be accounted members of the Way. It is truth physiologically and historically with enough evidence to verify it. Paul makes sure that we know there were many witnesses to the resurrected Jesus, and we are told that the disciple Thomas had his doubts answered by touching his wounds. The problem is not evidence, though. It is interpretation, and interpretation of something always begins with what the interpreter brings of his or her self.

The beginning of any belief system is one’s world view. Modern science is rooted in materialism. Modern education is a matter of indoctrination. All of the ideas of mankind begin either with God or no god. One is truth and the other is not. There are no options in-between, no compromises to be made. I believe…

[1] Historic Creeds and Confessions, electronic ed., (Oak Harbor: Lexham Press, 1997).

[2] PROPITIATION, n. propisia´shon. [Fr.; from propitiate.] The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious. In theology, the atonement or atoning sacrifice offered to God to assuage his wrath and render him propitious to sinners. Christ is the propitiation for the sins of men. Rom. 3. 1 John 2. Noah Webster, Noah Webster’s first edition of An American dictionary of the English language., 2006.

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I Believe Jesus Was Born of the Virgin Mary

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26–38, ESV

The virgin birth has been one of the highly disputed doctrines of orthodox Christianity. The spectrum of dispute is wide, from those who deny the teaching to those who have carried it all too far. They have made Mary divine, in a sense, and she becomes a mediator between man and Christ. The announcement from the passage above has become, in the Roman tradition, a prayer to Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace,  
The Lord is with you.  
Blessed are you among women,  
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.    

Holy Mary, mother of God,  
Pray for us sinners,  
now and in the hour of our death.  
Amen.

One of the most famous versions of the Ave Maria was composed by Franz Schubert. Classical in style, few have not heard its melodious verses.

Ave Maria! Maiden mild!
Listen to a maiden's prayer!
Thou canst hear though from the wild;
Thou canst save amid despair.
Safe may we sleep beneath thy care,
Though banish'd, outcast and reviled –
Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer;
Mother, hear a suppliant child!
Ave Maria

Ave Maria! undefiled!
The flinty couch we now must share
Shall seem this down of eider piled,
If thy protection hover there.
The murky cavern's heavy air
Shall breathe of balm if thou hast smiled;
Then, Maiden! hear a maiden's prayer,
Mother, list a suppliant child!
Ave Maria!

Ave Maria! stainless styled.
Foul demons of the earth and air,
From this their wonted haunt exiled,
Shall flee before thy presence fair.
We bow us to our lot of care,
Beneath thy guidance reconciled;
Hear for a maid a maiden's prayer,
And for a father hear a child!
Ave Maria...

You can listen here.

Does Mary deserve such treatment? Yes, and No. Luke specifically quotes Gabriel who says to Mary, “You have found favor with God.” It is important, though, that Mary does not claim to have deserved such favor. Neither does Gabriel suggest that God is blessing her for her good heart, or her good works. This is pure grace and clear election. The birth of our Savior was repeatedly prophesied from the fall of man. That Mary was chosen to be the vessel for the fulfillment of the promise had not been revealed. Even Isaiah 7:14 does not provide a hint. The closest we have is the very first promise of a Savior in Genesis. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, ESV) In this sense, Mary is the offspring of the woman through whom sin entered the world. This is not a good recommendation for the work she will perform, but it is a prerequisite.

So, the two extremes within the church should be checked. Protestants should not shy away from the honor with which God graced Mary. Catholics should stop praying to her and making her a mediator. There is only ONE: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5, ESV) There is no justification for elevating her beyond God’s blessing or denying her an honor distinct from other women.

The Creed comes straight to the point, “I believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who was born of the virgin Mary…” Nothing more and nothing less.

It appears to me that faith is quite simple, but we make it far more complicated than it has to be. “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:24, ESV) Can we really claim to be better than the Pharisees? We often don’t want to believe what God has said without knowing how such a thing can be possible. We want to know why God chooses to do something. What was going on in the mind of God? Oh, the sin of testing God and his Word. Seeking greater understanding is good. However, going beyond what God has revealed is not. If God wanted us to know more, he would have said more.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary. Now if we want to know how a virgin could conceive without mating with a man, the phrase just before says that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost. This is essential doctrine. It goes to the heart of the two natures of Christ Jesus clearly revealed in the Gospels.

Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24) We recognize the material wealth of the young man to who Jesus is speaking. But is it possible that there may be other kinds of wealth that can have the same effect? To suggest just one, how about the wealth of education and knowledge? Even the above saying of Christ has been picked apart by so called scholars so that the eye of the needle does not mean the eye of a needle. Supposed scholarship has denied the authorship of many portions of the Bible. It has convoluted the historical Jesus. It has said that virgin does not mean virgin. Scholarship tends to ask questions then seek evidence to confirm their presupposition.

True scholarship is good. Scholarship in this sense means to collect all of the evidence possible and let it speak. There is a reason theology has been called the Queen of the Sciences. Theology combines the disciplines of all studies and finds what is truth or not using the foundation of the Hoy Scriptures. The Bible is the beginning and the end of our knowledge. Not so with humanism.

Our medieval ancestors understood theology to be the queen of the sciences. Her twin sister Sophia (the Greek word for “wisdom”) was also venerated in the discipline of philosophy. It was hard to tell the two beauties apart, but together they once ruled the many domains of human knowledge. Philosophy and theology departments today, however, are increasingly irrelevant backwaters in the modern university, engaged in seemingly solipsistic debates. If they want to reclaim exalted status in the university and society, they would do well to embrace Big History as the primary “revelation” and the Great Matrix of Being as foundational knowledge.

Grassie, William, Metanexus Institute, The Queen of the Sciences, Huffington Post: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-queen-of-the-sciences_b_2876470

This is scholarship? It is nothing more than a humanistic approach to materialism. Such scholarship begins with a denial of Theology (the study of God) and substitutes the mind of man. Wealth is often viewed as power. Power either comes from God or it comes from man. If the former, power is regulated by the Law of God. If the latter, there is no meaning. God is the only meaning as he created all there is. Those scientists who are honest may not believe in the Creator God, but they know they cannot scientifically deny him either.

…the Fall was a claim by man to define good and evil autonomously, in terms of himself. It was a claim to the power of meaning, the power to define, to be the yardstick in terms of which reality is to be judged. All things are made relative to autonomous man and his will as the principle of definition. Because meaning and definition are made relative to man rather than God, they change as man changes. Situation ethics makes morality relative to man, because man is the new absolute and the source of all definition. In Scripture, ethics is relative to God, who is the source of all meaning, and man, as a creature, must conform to the absolute law of the absolute God. The power of meaning in Scripture belongs entirely to God who is the only source of definition and interpretation, and the only source of power. According to David, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God” (Psalm 62:11). Moreover, with respect to all powers within the universe, they are derivative. According to St. Paul, there is no power but of God: “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). Not only power but also meaning is derivative. The God who created all things is the only source of their meaning and interpretation. God Himself is beyond definition.

Rousas John Rushdoony, The Death of Meaning, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2002), 93.

What does this have to do with the virgin Mary? The autonomy spoken about it the quote above is to be independent of God. The church would be foolish to deny that there are those within her who have sought and grabbed this position of power over God. They can be found among those who oppose the doctrine of the virgin birth. Likewise, they can be found within the ranks of those who elevate Mary to give her greater status and honor than that which God bestowed.

Therefore, I don’t know how, but I do know why Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. God has revealed it, and anyone who cares to become a true scholar of the Word of God can know it too.

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I Believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14, NKJV

Throughout the history of the Church, the identity of Christ and the dual nature of Jesus have been disputed. The Apostles’ Creed uses three designations that the orthodox faith requires to be held harmoniously. First, he is the Christ, Greek for the Hebrew term Messiah. Second, he is Jesus, who is to be identified more specifically in the following statements. Third, he is the only begotten Son of God. Each must be believed, not only individually but altogether as descriptive of the one person who is the second member of the Triune God.

During his life on earth, Jesus was both received and rejected as the long-awaited Messiah of the Jewish people. Sadly, even his disciples did not fully comprehend what this meant. When Jesus fed the crowds by Galilee, there were many there who would have made him King of the Jews on the spot. The Messiah was one anointed by God to become King according to the covenant made with David. This does not mean that the Jews understood what was meant, even though the Old Testament prophets expressed it.

David was a conquering king. He defeated Goliath, the Philistines, and Saul who had been disobedient before God. He had been hand-picked by God through the prophet Samuel. Whereas God had warned Israel against a human king, Saul became the proof of the pudding leading the people away from obedience. David was God’s response. He was no less human than Saul, but he was a man after God’s own heart. Despite his failings, the Kingdom of Israel became one of the most powerful in all the world.

Nevertheless, David was not the ultimate king. One was to come after him who would reign over the whole world. When Jesus came to earth, Israel was subjugated by the rule of Rome. The people’s hopes rested in what they believed was the promise of God to rule the world. True enough, but the arrogance of the Jews caused them to believe that they would rule the world as all other conquering empires before them. Time and again, God addressed this pride. His covenant with Abram was that all the people of the world would be blessed through his people. This is a far cry from a promise of domination by force.

One of the curious episodes in the Old Testament is that of the prophet Jonah. I think it is unfortunate that the part about the great fish has overshadowed the theological significance of Jonah’s call to proclaim God’s judgment to the Ninevites. We don’t see why Jonah tried to run from his duty to God until the end of the story. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:1–3, ESV) Jonah was angry with God for being gracious to a heathen nation. Poor Jonah, he had not been trained theologically. He knew God was merciful. The problem is that God was supposed only to be merciful to Israel!

God’s people did not understand. God was merciful to all who would repent. Sadly, Israel did not bow in humble repentance for her sins against God. When exiled, they whined, “O woe to us! God has forsaken us.”

By the waters of Babylon, 
there we sat down and wept, 
when we remembered Zion.  
On the willows there, we hung up our lyres.  
For there our captors required of us songs,  
and our tormentors, mirth, saying, 
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 
How shall we sing the LORD’s song 
in a foreign land?  
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,  
let my right hand forget its skill!  
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,  
if I do not remember you,  
if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!  
Remember, O LORD,  
against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem,  
how they said, “Lay it bare,  
lay it bare, down to its foundations!”  
O daughter of Babylon,  
doomed to be destroyed,  
blessed shall he be who repays you  
with what you have done to us!  
Blessed shall he be  
who takes your little ones  
and dashes them against the rock!” (Psalm 137, ESV)

The Messiah had fed his people, and they sought to make him their King. Jesus had to slip away from them “for it was not yet his time.” Interestingly, the hopes of the people were the reason the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus. Their pride had become comfortable in their ruling over the people. It made them feel powerful, and they did not want to share the power they had acquired. Not much has changed over the millennia. Where are the righteous rulers of the people? As Ezekiel wrote, they were too busy eating the green grass and trampling the rest under their feet. They were too busy drinking the fresh water and fouling and muddying it under their feet.

Second, the Messiah is given a name, Jesus. How this came about is told in the gospels, and the creed goes into that soon enough. The fact that one appeared as a mere man claiming to be the Messiah was enough to raise doubt. The purpose of the miracles done by Jesus was to confirm that he was the Messiah sent by God. Jesus rightly pointed out that people seek a sign, but when they are given signs, they still do not believe. Signs are something material, tangible. How can the material prove the spiritual? This is why it is easy for people to con others into believing they have extraordinary powers from God. Ultimately, the false teachers are emperors running around with no clothes. Their riches amount to poverty, and their healings return only death.

An important aspect, though, to Jesus being a man is that he is also God. “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate…” (Historic Creeds and Confessions, electronic ed., (Oak Harbor: Lexham Press, 1997)). The Nicene Creed was a clarification of the statement in the Apostles’ Creed, though they were likely both written about the same time. Later, Chalcedon and the Athanasian Creed clarified the point all the more.

The problem was that men could not seem to wrap their brains around the two natures of Christ, both God, and man, divine and human. It’s not that I cannot relate to the difficulty. I cannot experience divinity, but I know all too well humanity. As much as the councils of the Church attempted to clarify the matter, the heresies of ancient times have continued in one form or another ever since. The term begotten does not mean born, though that is almost always what it means in the human world. In the case of Jesus Christ, though, begotten of the Father means that he proceeds from the Father, not that he was generated by the Father. Jesus was born of a woman, but he was not born of God in the same way. This will get clearer, or fuzzier, for that matter, as we continue with the creed.

However, the matter is not whether Jesus was born or not. The matter is that Jesus Christ is the ONLY Son of God. Yes, “…to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13, ESV) We have become children of God, but not begotten children of God. We have been adopted as his children, whereas Jesus is by nature the Son of God. On our best day, we can only claim to be created by God, not begotten of him. We are not deity. The closest we will ever come to deity is to share in our inheritance in Christ Jesus.

So, why all these definitions, details, and splitting of hairs? Because there is only one truth and thousands of lies. If we would know God, then we must know him as he is and as he has revealed himself to us. We don’t dare allow ourselves to create God in our image. We are created in his, and to know who we are, we have to know who he is.

It is not really about what we think we know, for if we are wrong, we can’t honestly believe.

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I Believe in Jesus Christ, 1

The second section of the Apostles’ Creed will take more time to investigate. The foundation of life is in the first: I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Without the knowledge of God as he has revealed himself, there is no life. I read a lot about a Christian World View. I cannot deny such a thing, and I would not even try. However, without the Father, there is nothing to follow.

There are many (too many to know) who believe in a god. Some even acknowledge the creator. Yet only a tiny percentage of those who have faith in God will say that God was revealed to humankind by general and special revelation. General revelation is the creation and the providence of God in caring for and sustaining creation. Special revelation is the Word of God, which includes his words and deeds historically and recorded in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, and the person Jesus Christ.

The Word of God is both the Bible and Christ, and both have been attacked throughout history. To say “I believe in Jesus Christ” has frequently been difficult. This is not because it is hard to believe but because of the persecution from the world that follows. “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19, ESV) Opposition to faith in Christ comes from atheists, scientists, politicians, scholars, educators, and even churches. The devious ways to eradicate Christ are the result of original sin. And I don’t use the word devious lightly.

First, I am convinced that many who oppose Christ don’t do it intentionally. They genuinely believe things that they have been taught. If schools refuse to teach creation and replace it with only one option, evolution, what will children believe? However, some intentionally use their scholarship, science, entertainment, and lifestyles to contradict the Word of God, and John has a name for them. “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22, ESV) John does not call one person with international power The Antichrist. He says there are many antichrists, those who lie and deny Jesus.

Therefore, to say “I believe in Jesus Christ” is a dangerous thing to do. The forces of worldliness have made their strides and have become vocal and violent. How did this happen within a nation that was founded on God and Christ? So, second, it is a subtle shift that began with some small things. For example, the beginning of public education was presented as a good thing, and it could have been. Yet, those who initiated it were socialists (though the term was not used at the time), and they knew that to transform the world, they had to indoctrinate the children. Horace Mann advocated for “free” public education with an agenda.

No one did more than he [Mann] to establish in the minds of the American people the conception that education should be universal, non-sectarian, free, and that its aims should be social efficiency, civic virtue, and character, rather than mere learning or the advancement of sectarian ends.

Cubberley, Ellwood P. (1919). Public Education in the United States. p. 167

Non-sectarian means no Jesus Christ. You see, Christ has often been viewed as a myth created by the religious sect called Christianity. It’s not that they wanted to exchange Christian faith for something else, at least in their thinking. But, there is no neutrality possible within a world created by God or came about in any other way. Either you are a Christian, or you are not. Either you profess faith in Jesus Christ, or you do not. Once that distinction is recognized, it becomes clear that the two options are all that is. To believe in Jesus Christ means to not believe in any system of thought that is contrary to Jesus Christ. And when I say contrary to Jesus Christ, just like with God the Father, he must be the Jesus Christ revealed in his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return as recorded in all of Scripture.

Any system of thought that is not Christian is thus of this world. If it is of this world, then it is a creation of the human mind. That is Humanism. Again, as with God the Father, humanism has no basis for its moral claims. There is no foundation for ethics apart from God, who created it all and judged those who came up with the first expression of humanism. And there is no solution to humanism other than Christianity.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:16–32, ESV

For me, this is one of the most powerful statements of the gospel in all of the New Testament. It at once presents the way of salvation then details from which people need to be saved. Use any metaphor you like. It all comes out the same. Drowning in the ocean comes to mind, for there is only one way to survive drowning. You must be grabbed and taken from the water and given proper treatment.

Why are we allowing our world to teach our children to drown? I need to re-evaluate my faith in Jesus Christ anytime temptation from humanism arises. I need to become deeper in my commitment and devotion to him. I need to focus on that which is truly good, not what looks good.

He must increase, but I must decrease. He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 3:30–36, ESV

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I Believe in God

The Apostles’ Creed begins where the Bible begins. “In the beginning, God….” Everything starts here. No God, no anything. Yet throughout the history of the world, humankind has worked diligently in denying God. Today, the common words in the effort are Atheists, Agnostics, and Evolutionists. There are many more, but I think these could be the big three. Why is there such a concerted effort to deny God? Because the original sin was the act of trying to be God. The knowledge of good and evil in the garden was more than merely knowing good and evil.

“God had given such a sacramental nature and significance to the two trees in the midst of the garden, that their fruit could and would produce supersensual, mental, and spiritual effects upon the nature of the first human pair. The tree of life was to impart the power of transformation into eternal life. The tree of knowledge was to lead man to the knowledge of good and evil; and, according to the divine intention, this was to be attained through his not eating of its fruit.”

Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 1:53. Emphasis mine.

Gaining eternal life was not achieved by eating fruit. It was, as stated above, sacramental. Likewise, knowledge of good and evil could not have been attained by eating fruit of a specific tree. The understanding of good and evil came from obeying the word of God, which was tested by NOT eating the fruit. It, too, was sacramental in nature. My point is that there is no knowledge of morality and ethical behavior apart from obedience to God’s word. We know that word is powerful, for the creation of all that materially exists came from God speaking, “Let there be…”

Sin runs rampant in the world because the world does not honestly know good and evil apart from the word of God. Good is who and what God is. Evil is who and what God is not. Humanity was created good. God said so. He even went into greater detail, saying, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:26–31, ESV)

In the beginning of all things, God displayed his might in creating by his word. I believe in God the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. And God also displayed his fatherly nature by blessing humanity and giving them purpose in maintaining his creation, expanding his creation, and using his creation to bring glory to God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Any denial through thought or act of this God is damnable sin and worthy of only one end, death.

This is why atheists who deny the existence of God, agnostics who accept the possibility of God but will go no farther, and evolutionists who claim that their scientific minds prove that there never was a God are to be condemned. (An important note, though, is that it is God who judges, not individuals. These God deniers, as with all God deniers, are created by God. Their very humanity grants them some dignity. However, their denial of God is a brutal battle that is waged within all they know in their being. As creatures of God, they deserve to hear the gospel offer of salvation, which to me means to oppose their positions without opposing their personhood.)

Within all of this, there is a cleverness to God. Everyone who exists only finds life and order because God the Father Almighty created them and the world in which they live. For example, anyone who follows the idea of evolution to its logical end must conclude that all morality is merely a convenience. There is no reason a stronger person should not swindle the weaker. In all truth, by evolutionary thinking, the stronger person should actually gain respect for exhibiting their strength. Experience, though, condemns the swindler as a criminal, deserving punishment for their theft of those who are weaker. If evolution is true, there could be no PETA because there could not possibly be an ethical reason to treat any animal “humanely.”

Every God denier lives their life on the borrowed principles of God the Father Almighty. This is the great deception. If science is really about discovering the workings of the world in which we live, scientists must acknowledge a creator-God’s existence. If they do not, the core principle of science, which is the verification of theory by repeatable testing, is just plain stupid. Why should anything repeat with regularity if our very being came from an unrepeatable event, so statistically impossible, end up creating an order in which we can trust the same outcome to be the result of a common cause?

The fundamental problem any God denier has is the inability to discover the first cause of all things. They can make claims to that end, but there is no evidence that can support their claims. This is because science only deals with that which is material. And the first cause of material is the word of God the Father Almighty. The business of science has devolved from investigation into attempts to control the material world. Scientists have become magicians who actually believe their manipulation of human perception is in itself reality.

Magic is very basic to modern science. The Biblical purpose of science is that man should seek knowledge in order that he might exercise dominion over the earth under God. Science in this sense is a necessary activity and sphere of knowledge for Christian cultures. But science today bypasses God and seeks to gain power without restraint and seeks knowledge as a tool of total power. Increasingly, science functions, not under the law of God, but as the new law of creation, as the new source of law and power. Instead of being governed by morality, science seeks to govern morality and to remake it in terms of its own standards. The purposes of science can be summed up as prediction, planning, and control. Science is thus a basic and essential part of the new politics, because their goals coincide; they are both clearly totalitarian. A scientific world is a controlled world, a world of experimentation, and valid experiments require a control of all factors. As a result, scientific society is a planned society, a society in which there is no liberty, because liberty is not possible in a situation of scientific planning. As a result, the more our culture is dominated by this new science, apostate science, the more totalitarian it will become. Modern science not only rests on magic, it is a form of magic; it is the belief that all things can be potentially or ultimately controlled by man.

Rousas John Rushdoony, Law & Liberty, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009), 70–71.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. This claim is not proof of the existence of God. Faith is the substance of life. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, ESV) The Greek word translated “assurance,” is hupóstasis. The verb from which it comes does not appear in the New Testament. Hupóstasis is “the essential or basic structure/nature of an entity, substantial nature, essence, actual being, reality…of things: among the meanings that can be authenticated for Hb 11:1 a strong claim can be made for realization.” (William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, 2000, 1040.)

In light of this meaning, I prefer the translation of the King James Version: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV 1900) Why do I prefer this translation? Because it makes Biblical faith, or saving faith, is more than simple belief. It makes faith the bottom line for all human beings. Faith is substance and evidence. Therefore, faith takes us to things that exist that are not seen, and it makes the Christian hope more substantial than wishful thinking. Faith is what it would take for Adam and Eve to fulfill their created calling and purpose. Faith is what it would take to grow spiritually by the sacramental eating the fruit from the Tree of Life and by sacramentally not eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

All of this is wrapped up in the first statement in the Apostles’ Creed. No one can comprehend this kind of faith who does not have it, and no one can deny it who has been granted such faith. What is difficult for all humans to fathom is that everyone who does not have this faith is morally accountable, but everyone who has such faith cannot claim to have achieved it through any effort of their own. Belief in God the Father Almighty is something that becomes ours only by God’s grace. Once again, Fatherhood speaks to this free gift by grace. As loosely paraphrased from Paul in Ephesians 2, faith cannot be earned by working for it, but it is given so we can work toward the godly domain over his creation.

I realize that this post is quite explanatory and didactic. Yet, I would suggest that we are called to know who God is and who we are in relation to him. Apart from that knowledge, we cannot possibly serve God’s glory. And, by the way, knowledge comes by not eating of worldly things but by feasting on the Word of God. By this, we are being recreated and restored to God’s image.

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I Believe…

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8–9, ESV

The earliest creed of the Church were the words of Christ in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is the core of the faith. Faith, as 

Paul says is confession and belief. I would say that without belief, there is no possibility of confession. And, without confession, there is no assurance of belief. This is why I believe that it is unlikely a person can claim belief in their salvation apart from their membership and attendance in a church. In the first place, all people believe false things. Belief must be founded upon something, and there is no other foundation than the Word of God. Yes, Jesus is the Word. But he does not walk the earth today as he did in the years from his birth to his death and in his resurrection. So, not willing to leave his Church without his physical presence, he gave us the gift of his authoritative Word in the Scriptures, and nowhere else.

How do we know these things? Because he says so in the Bible: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV) Returning to Paul’s testimony in Romans 10, how can a person believe if he does not hear. Thus, secondly, our understanding of what the Church is and does comes down to hearing and believing. “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” (Matthew 28:20, ESV) I conclude that one cannot believe what they do not know, and the way God has provided for this necessity is the preaching and teaching of the Word. Such is done in the Church and not alone. We give heed to the Holy Spirit as giving us understanding, but, this work is not done in a vacuum.

Third, confession is made by the mouth, i.e., speaking. This must be done in a public setting, for there is no profit in confessing to yourself. In the Church, we have been given a fantastic compilation of creeds and confessions that allow us to profess our faith. While it is true that various confessions are not equally helpful, they are, nonetheless, a systematic compendium of the things we are to observe. Being the creation of men, they are not infallible, and they may be altered if necessary. The key, though, is that creeds and confessions are not the work of one person but many. They have origin in the life and history of the church.

One such creed is the Apostles’ Creed. The evidence tells us that this creed was not authored by the Apostles. It is to me highly improbable that the Apostles wrote the creed and never recorded this in all of the New Testament writings. Certainly Luke would have included such an important event in The Acts of the Apostles. Nothing in that book even suggests such an event. Yet, over time, the Apostles’ Creed has been accepted as a brief statement of Apostolic teaching. Going back to Matthew 28, the first act of faith is baptism.

Christ requires baptism. Nowhere in Scripture is the sacrament of baptism with water defined as to how baptism is to be done, so all the disputes over this matter are frivolous wastes of time. Virtually all Christendom recognizes the symbolism of washing away our sins in baptism. And Christ said that baptism is a public profession of faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I would say, though the symbolism may be an assurance for the one being baptized, it is definitely a testimony to the Church that Christ washes away our sin. Every Christian needs this reminder often. Traditionally, prior to the baptism, confession is made of the faith. The most lasting confession for this has been the Apostles’ Creed.

The Creed is a confession that we believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Church is trinitarian at the core. Failure to believe the Trinity is a failure of faith. Included in our faith are statements identifying each member of the Trinity and their work in salvation.

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And (I believe) in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord;

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary;

suffered under Pontius Pilate;

was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell;

the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,

and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit;

I believe a holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints;

the forgiveness of sins;

the resurrection of the body;

and the life everlasting. Amen.

Daniel R. Hyde, Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims, (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010), 4.

I have not found a better account that includes the essentials of faith. The creed can be a starting place for the study of the Scriptures. There is a plethora of Biblical information teaching us each point. 

In my next blog, I will begin to address the theology encapsulated in the Apostles’ Creed. However, I encourage every one to become a member in a Christian Church and participate in worship that includes, at least some times, the Confession of the Apostles’ Creed. It reminds us of our faith. It teaches our children about faith. And in the process, we will be transformed into more substantial, wiser Christians.

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Fear

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:7–9, ESV

Fear wants us to give up. That is the easy thing to do. In the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the character George Bailey gets so pressured by a run on the bank that he fears losing the bank altogether. In his fear, he wishes he had never been born. That is the ultimate fear, one that brings us to the edge. George Bailey wishes he had never been born. Others who think they should never be born take it one step farther – suicide. Nihilism is giving up.

Nihilism (ˈnaɪɪˌlɪzəm) n 1 a complete denial of all established authority and institutions. 2 Philosophy. an extreme form of scepticism that systematically rejects all values, belief in existence, the possibility of communication, etc.. 3 a revolutionary doctrine of destruction for its own sake. 4 the practice or promulgation of terrorism. [C19: from Latin nihil nothing + -ISM, on the model of German Nihilismus] ▶ ˈnihilist n or adj ▶ ˌnihilˈistic adj

Collins English Dictionary, 2000.

Reading through this definition of nihilism, I concluded that this is what is being played out in America right now. I’m not claiming that people are running around saying they are nihilists. What I see, though, are the distinct characteristics of nihilism in the actions of many around us. The denial today goes beyond the “denial of all established authority.” It is a claim that all of the values of the past are evil. The word used most often is racist. The idea that all white people are racists because they are white is reason enough to “cancel” them. Thus, we are living in the chaotic waters of “cancel culture.”

Moreover, anyone who listens to the logic of white non-culture (because the whites got all their culture by stealing it from other cultures anyway) is a racist too. Lately, if you support Israel, you are reprimanded for being unsympathetic with Hamas. Nihilistic tendencies are not well thought out, and there is an emphasis on feeling over logic. The Church has been no help in preventing nihilism. Either she has been accused of being an authoritarian tool to manipulate non-white races and subjugate them, or she has joined the bandwagon by focusing self-centered worship focused on how you feel as you are walking out the door.

When I was younger, I couldn’t help wondering how a family could be so kind and encouraging while they were at church yet bicker and argue all the way home. I cannot tell a lie; I was one of them. Almost every time I went with my friend to his church, I was crying toward the end and dying to go forward for the altar call. Feelings don’t last. You can be happy one moment and outraged the next. Listen carefully to the crowd at a professional sporting event. When the home team does something great, there are cheers. A three-point shot goes through the hoop, and the people are thrilled. They didn’t hear the whistle of the referee calling a foul on the shooter. What do you hear then?

Against modern-day conceptions, Christianity is not a religion made by white people to enslave any other people group. Granted, there are many who, years ago, chose to be selective in the passages of the Bible they wanted to read and interpret. But that is no reason to say all people devoted to the Bible’s truths are wrong. Before and after the Civil War, plenty of men owned slaves and even defended this practice from the Bible. We can never forget that the Bible can be sliced up and interpreted almost any way you want. Many unscrupulous people in the church’s history have used the Bible for their personal gain. I think that is why Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42, ESV)

I believe that Paul is saying something similar when he writes to the Christians in Galatia, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows.” No matter what anyone says and no matter what anyone does, there is a consequence. The wisdom of this statement has been used in a shorter version, “You reap what you sow.” You sure do. And so do I. Sometimes we get a taste of the suffering we have caused while we walk this earth. Whatever the case, we will all stand before Christ, ad he will judge our works.

Therefore, the angels could say to God’s people, “Fear not.” You see, if you have given yourself to Christ, he has washed away our sin. How can this be? Indeed, I am as evil as the guy burning down a store enraged about something they never really experienced themselves. I tend not to show it that way, but my heart is the same. There is but one difference, Jesus has reaped what I have sowed. He took the righteous judgment I deserve and nailed it to the cross.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

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Humans and Humanists

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

1 John 1:1–4, ESV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come.

1 John 2:15–18, ESV

I came across something, quite by accident, that made me pause and think. It was an article about the service held for someone who had died and his friends and family, called a Humanist Funeral. I had never heard of this, so I began to search for what a humanist funeral is.

Humanist funerals and memorials are non-religious ceremonies supporting family and friends to mourn and celebrate the person who has died. They focus on the life they led, the relationships they forged, and the legacy they left. They are based on the humanist perspective that every life is individual and valuable.

https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/non-religious-funerals/

What caught my attention was that this funeral service is supposed to be non-religious, but the structure closely follows a traditional religious funeral and even ends with “the Committal.” To what or to who is the dead person committed since, for most Humanists, there is no afterlife (yes, there are exceptions, but those who think there may be an afterlife are religious to some degree). Additionally, the service is often aided in preparation and performance by a Humanist Celebrant, trained and certified to undertake the task. Aside from the attempted avoidance of religion and a god, this sounds similar to the Clergy.

Questions began to enter my mind. I know I have read about humanism before, but I never took the time to look into precisely what it is. To do so, I had to go to some authoritative source. Here is what I found on the American Humanist Association web site:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good.

American Humanist Association

Humanism is a democratic and ethical lifestance (sic) which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Humanists International

With a bit more research, I discovered that Humanists pitch is that religion is acceptable if you want it, but you are wrong to believe it. You can talk about a god if you like, but there is no God. The emphasis is logic and empirical evidence. There is nothing beyond that, including a morality based on societal needs and rational thought.

“Non-believers” do, of course, have many beliefs, though not religious ones. For example, they typically believe that moral feelings are based on treating others as they would wish to be treated (the ‘golden rule’ which antedates all the major world religions)… “Humanist” is used today to mean those who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. (https://humanism.org.uk/humanism/humanism-today/non-religious-beliefs/) A humanist may embrace all or most of the other approaches introduced here, and in addition humanists believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience in some way. Humanists base their moral principles on reason (which leads them to reject the idea of any supernatural agency), on shared human values and respect for others. They believe that people should work together to improve the quality of life for all and make it more equitable. Humanism is a full philosophy, “life stance” or worldview, rather than being about one aspect of religion, knowledge, or politics.

Hold on there. The ‘golden rule’? I have to challenge that there is no evidence that the golden rule “antedates all the major world religions.” This is quite a statement made with no rational or scientific support. The Golden Rule is religious. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, ESV). “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8–10, ESV)

The Golden Rule is not pure logic. Without the authority of God the Creator, thus Owner of the universe, there cannot be a morality of the Golden Rule. “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18, ESV, emphasis mine) Logically, without God, everything gets turned on its head. Why love my neighbor if cheating, stealing, or even killing him is to my advantage? What is to say that the morality of a serial killer is less moral than that of the Humanist?

The Humanist, the Agnostic, the Atheist, the Secularist, the Rationalist, and the Skeptic are all the most illogical people. Let’s start with the need for empirical evidence as the foundation for morality. Some things exist that cannot be empirically proved. No one can see or hear the thoughts I have unless I speak or write them or find another way to express them, such as art and music. Nevertheless, those thoughts are as real as I am. Therefore, to exclude things that are not empirical and not existing is not logical.

Then, there is the rational attempt to enforce any morality upon others without some basis for doing so. What the Humanist thinks is reasonable, there can be a multitude that thinks it is unreasonable. Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin thought genocide was reasonable and forced their morality upon whole nations. When they tried to spread their moral righteousness throughout the world, they discovered how many others disagreed. Ultimately, there cannot be any moral judgment apart from a universal foundation and source for morality. In that case, the Humanist can claim to be logical, but there is no logic to their worldview.

No system of morality can be based upon anything other than the order that the one God created. Any attempt to do so is like Eve, who, deceived by the serpent, reached out for the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, which is only God’s right. God has revealed what he wants his created humans to know and to do. So, God is good, and evil is anything that would set itself against God by claiming his goodness is ours to declare by fiat.

Then there is John. He was known as the one beloved by Christ Jesus. The Apostle answers the humanist in so few words. First, the evidence for the existence of God was seen, felt, and heard by all of the Apostles and many of the disciples of Christ. That God was the one who put on his creation and came to live in it. Second, some have and will arise in opposition to Christ, those that John calls antichrist. Any thought, system, worldview that would deny Christ is antichrist. It is evident that Humanists love the world and the things of the world. While so many Humanists celebrate the life and accomplishments of one who has died, I grieve because Humanists are dead already.

There is hope, though. The Gospel is available to them. If only they could see that their worldview keeps them from the promise of life that the God they deny offers them.

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Because I Said So

When I was a child, there were time I pushed the boundaries of logic with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, I was using child like logic that made sense to me. It’s like the kid who keeps asking the question, “Why?” after every explanation. My teachers and parents got frustrated with this tactic and would often try to end the circle by saying, “Because I said so.” If I could get them to this point, I was generally satisfied with myself having driven someone crazy with all my questioning. Not surprisingly, when my children were young, they did the same thing to me and I would catch myself saying, “Because I said so.”

I am significantly older now, and my children are adults with kids of their own. Yet, I have been reflecting on that childish logic. Maybe it is not so childish. The motivation of causing others’ frustration was certainly childish. But the logic is, I believe, sound. To be honest, I have never stopped asking, “Why?” The difference is that now, I really want to know the why of things. Over my lifetime, I have frustrated more people than not with my incessant questioning. Not that I want to over-generalize, but I think there may be two kinds of people: those who want to know as much as they can about this world and life in it, and those who are happy to just go along and accept things as they are. There is no moral judgment in my conclusion.

However, I cannot find satisfaction in the latter. I have to know, and I really have to know the reason. I suspect that those in the latter category are really of the former but have gotten tired of asking or convinced themselves that they really don’t want to know. For example, there are scientists that are so convinced that the theory of evolution is the way things came to be that they act as if it is not a theory at all, but a fact. Their science, then, is not an investigation testing the theory, but a philosophical religion. They mock religion as foolishness and not scientific and are not willing to recognize that their faith in materialism to the exclusion of anything else is a religious posture that needs to ask a lot more questions. In the end, evolutionists must become interested in asking why and less apt to support their theory with further theories. You cannot make the world fit your presuppositions, and neither can I.

In theology, the tactics I am describing are called exegesis and eisegesis. Exegesis required one to put aside their theological convictions and search for what the Bible teaches. Eisegesis reads into the text of Scripture my ideas of what it should mean. No matter how convinced theologians are that the former takes precedence over the latter, actual practice has demonstrated repeatedly that eisegesis is dominant. No one can approach Scripture without doing so within the framework of their presuppositions. However, serious students of Scripture are willing to acknowledge the influence of their world view and intentionally place it on trial seeking the truth.

So, let me get down to brass tacks, so to speak. I attended a Christian college steeped in the world of dispensationalism. I quickly learned that few faculty members were willing to field questions challenging that system of thinking. I also discovered that few pastors I knew were able to respond to such questioning. The whole system of dispensationalism is founded upon the shaky background of one man who popularized it. The first Bible my parents gave me was a Scofield Reference Bible. It didn’t take me long to develop a skepticism of any study Bible or thematic Bible. Human thoughts placed along side of Scripture encourage people to not ask why, but to simply accept as authoritative the conclusions of the notes in the margin. There is no difference, by the way, when people who like their pastor cling to everything they proclaim from the pulpit as the truth of the matter.

Asking questions is not to challenge another’s authority. No matter how studied a pastor is, he is not an authority on the truth. Jesus is the truth. The job of the pastor is to present, as best as he can the Word of God. He should also raise the inquisitiveness of the members of the congregation. Sadly, and I say this as carefully as I can, there are too many pastors enamored by the cult of celebrity and too many congregants desiring to have their ears tickled. You may say that this is just my opinion, but I would then suggest you challenge my thesis with questions that go deep into the where, how, and why I say this. Nevertheless, preaching is a good dose of teaching with application to life. Those who listened to sermons in churches influenced by the Reformation would hear a pastor preach for an hour or more. The sermon would not just be long, but highly detailed with Scripture.

It is my experience that if the entire service is longer than an hour, the pastor is on thin ice. If the message is full of Biblical information, it is called teaching, not preaching. And, if the message is longer than 20 minutes, people in the pews begin to squirm and wiggle because they just can’t sit that long. There are many reasons for this and the issue is more complex that I can go into now, but I wonder if the lack of intention span is partly due to a lack of hunger for knowledge. I never want to preach a “Because I said so” sermon. Popular or not, the truth is infinitely deeper than that.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.”

Psalm 8:3–6, ESV

I love these verses from Psalm 8 because they ask a question that forces self-awareness and deeper truth. “What is man that you are mindful of him?” Why would God care about me? Why should I care about him? Because he created me and has crowned me with glory and honor. Furthermore, he did not do this for me, but for the task he has asked me to do. I was mad to have “dominion over the works of [his] hands.” So have you. Our existence goes back to the ultimate why. Our purpose is to tend and expand the work of God throughout the earth. Fulfilling this purpose brings glory to him.

If I am not willing to ask the deeper questions, the questions that go to the heart of things, then I will never know all that God would have me know. None of us can reach the peak of inquisitiveness in this life. There are two conclusions, then. First, I my current estate, I will never be able to bring God the glory he is due. This is a quality issue, not a quantity one. Why? Because at any point that I stop learning about God and his creation, I stop glorifying him.

Second, the more I grow in the knowledge of Christ, the closer I grow in him, and the more prepared I am for eternal life with him. Humans were made to care for God’s creation. He called this caregiving dominion. We are the highest of his creation hear on earth. We were made to rule the earth. This reign is designed for the glory of God. There is no question that we failed. But Jesus came to pay for our failure, and to restore us to our job. We thus are to restore the glory.

By the way, the knowledge of this comes from our asking followed by our working. Why? Because he made it so.

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With Liberty and Justice for All

“You shall appoint judges and officers in all your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous. Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 16:18–20, ESV

For over a year, we have heard cries in the streets for justice. Justice for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and whoever is not White. Cities have been virtually decimated while the news outlets call the protests mostly peaceful. The rhetoric has dominated all media: America is systemically racist. Whiteness is a disease. I see no need to debate whether there is systemic racism or any kind of racism in our nation, our institutions, or in any sense. The point may be argued, but who will listen? Who is willing to sit down and calmly discuss the issues? Who actually cares enough to seek a real solution that results in justice for all.

How sad it is that whoever yells the loudest wins the argument? Even sadder yet is that those who yell the loudest are also the most ignorant, in my opinion. Yelling and screaming have overtaken rational debate. And this kind of silliness has been granted permission by none other than the President. Kate Slater wrote this:

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden became the first in U.S. history to explicitly name “the sting of systemic racism” in his inaugural address. With this deliberate and specific use of the term, Biden was drawing attention to the deep-seated racial inequities in America.

https://www.today.com/tmrw/what-systemic-racism-t207878

The debate is purely emotional. Not only is systemic racism a claim being made, but it is also a toothless claim. If there were evidences for the fact rather than emotional whining that the claim is valid, there would be a rational debate. But there is no debate. We are told to believe it is true just because. And we are expected to believe it is confirmed by the supposed victims of racism.

For example, the hollow organization Black Lives Matter has collected millions of dollars in donations to further the cause of defeating racism. Too bad. The donors were shellacked as the leaders frivolously spent the funds on themselves. So much for racism. The message is to the everyday person, “Every man for himself!” as the ship of truth sinks in the cold seas of empty rhetoric. It sounds nice. It even rings true. But the more profound lesson is that “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Confronted with the reality, the racism battle carries on.

Justice is more than an ideological option. Justice can be defined, and any discussion about the social conditions today that are called unjust cannot occur without such a definition. Every politician knows that definition of terms is the first thing to be scuttled if any campaign is to succeed. You do not need to speak the truth. Instead, you must sound like you speak the truth. Truth divides those who can hear it and those who cannot. To win elections, you cannot take a stand. Case in point: Joe Biden did virtually nothing to campaign for the presidency. He should have thought about that years ago. He may have become president sooner.

In Hebrew, the concept of judgment and justice is mostly commonly expressed with the term שׁפט (šāpaṭ), which means “to govern” or “to administer justice,” and its related noun מִשְׁפָט (mišpāṭ, “judgment”). Another set of Hebrew terms related to justice in the OT includes the noun צֶדֶק (ṣedeq, “righteousness”) and its related verb צָדֹק (ṣādōq, “to be or make righteous”). Depending on context, the Septuagint uses Greek words related to the terms δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosynē, “righteousness”) or κρίνω (krinō, “to judge”) to translate these Hebrew words. The NT mostly follows the Septuagint’s terminology for justice. For example, the NT uses terms derived from the δικ- (dik-) word group to express positive forms of judgment (e.g., “legally righteous,” “innocent,” or “justify”) and words related to κρίνω (krinō) to express more negative forms of judgment (e.g., “lawsuit,” “verdict,” or “condemn”). Neither set of words solely refers to negative or positive judgments; in each case, the context will determine the most likely connotation of a particular term related to justice. The Bible also contains many less-frequently used Hebrew and Greek terms that denote various persons and types of judgments.

Jeremiah K. Garrett, Lexham Theological Wordbook, 2014.

Justice, according to the Creator, is foundational to morality. It is about discerning right from wrong. We know that such discernment is difficult or impossible at times. Solomon could have simply given the baby to its mother, but he had to prove to the combatants who really loved the child as a wise judge. No matter how hard justice may be, it is an absolute necessity to any peaceful social system. From the earliest times in Jewish history, God has called for the appointment of righteous judges. There is no room for favoritism in justice. This is one reason that the arguments demanding racial justice fall flat today.

The initial solution to the racial question is that blacks are to be favored over whites. Blacks deserve such favoritism due to the injustice of slavery. It doesn’t matter that no black has been enslaved in America in their generation, or even the generation before them. We are told that the institution of black slavery has had long-lasting effects. Once again, claims are made from emotional rhetoric without solid substance. The is a gap between whites and blacks economically, it is said. The truth is that this “poverty” gap is not universal to the black experience. There are too many African Americans who did not join gangs or deal drugs. There are too many who worked for their education and worked for their advancement and position. There are too many successful African Americans. The same is true for every race in America.

Justice demands an objective moral standard. It cannot float along with every wind of change. The universal human experience is that life is change. We grow, we learn, we gain wisdom (hopefully.) Yet, the foundation must be a rock. Building on sand always ends in failure.

Moreover, the only rock worthy of being our foundation for justice is the Son of God, who suffered injustice greater than anyone on earth. He is the rock David sang about in the Psalms. He is the cornerstone of the Kingdom of God, according to Paul.

The painful truth is that injustice always cries out for righteous judgment. There is only one who is capable of such judgment, Jesus the Messiah. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV) “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12, ESV)

Anyone who truly seeks salvation from the humanistic problems of antinomianism and false faith in governments and people, turn to Jesus Christ, who knows your pain and frustration, and the only one who can do something about it. Stop listening to foolishness and seek wisdom and justice in Christ, which always results in freedom. “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, ESV)

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