Category Archives: Humanism

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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Everything is Racist?

“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 1:28–32 (ESV)

I can’t help but think that all of America has gone mad. Every day, someone somewhere claims that something in normal life is racist. For example, go here. Some of these sources claim to some sort of expertise whether as journalists, politicians, university professors, or theologians. Some of Paul’s inspired words for these people include envy, foolish, heartless, and ruthless. Their baseless claims are slanderous and come from their hatred of God.

One might wonder why the most patriotic citizens in our country came from other countries to seek freedom. Yes, the freedom they celebrate is the same freedom others so easily denigrate. The sad part of our freedom of speech is that so many use it to freely express their inventions of evil, or maybe it’s just their ignorance. So many victims born in the United States!

The liberty so many generations fought and died for is the freedom to work hard in order to provide for family and self. It is the freedom to help others in need and to be self-governing good people. It is the freedom to fail, get up again, and amend our ways. It is the freedom to forgive.

Some people say time changes all things. I say that it is not time that changes things, it is sin that takes all that is good and transforms it into everything that is bad. Freedom to be righteous has become freedom to be self-righteous. Freedom to make one’s way through life has become a desire for a free ride. True caring for the poor or the oppressed has become public theft through illegitimate taxation that people who choose not to be responsible are essentially paid to remain irresponsible.

Ultimately, the greatest deception of sin, in my opinion, is to make us believe that hatred of our condition is actually a love of ourselves. Equal opportunity has become equal outcome whether the outcome is earned or not. When the outcome is desired but not earned, it is tragically wasted. Working for something validates the value of the thing worked for. To receive something for nothing makes the something worth nothing. Liberty that does not cost a weighty price is not liberty. It is merely licentiousness.

God says through Paul that because people refuse to worship God, he gives them up to their own depraved thinking. Apart from submission to the Creator, there is no meaning and no value in anything. So, in the mind of those who deny God the status and glory that is his by right, everything is racist because “of no value, that which is worthless” is the real definition of the word racism. And Americans now reap what Americans have sown.

All value is derivative from the only One who is ultimately valuable, the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God has endowed his creation with value. This is especially true in regards to human beings, for we are created in God’s image. We were made to reflect the glory of God as mirrors of that glory. The image I see in a mirror is not me, but it is a representation of me. Therefore, we are not Gods but we were made to be representations of him. This explains why animals do not create things of beauty. We can see their beauty as creatures of God’s handiwork, but only human beings write poetry or great symphonies. Only those who bear the image of the creative God are creators of art, architecture, technology, and more. God gives us the raw material and using the knowledge, holiness, and righteousness within us we use this material to create wonderful things.

God’s goodness and grace are displayed in that even humans who refuse in sin to worship God use what God made them to be and create, rule creation, and work for one another. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous and waters their crops the same. At the same time, the wickedness of the unrighteous is also displayed when they oppress and murder, hate and destroy, cheat and steal. How do we know this? By the reality that God’s love, righteousness, and justice have never completely disappeared from his creation.

Moreover, God entered his creation in Jesus Christ and showed us once again how valuable his creation and his people are. Our value is the very life of Jesus, who was crucified to pay for our sin. His work was finished on the cross which was proven effective by his resurrection from the dead. The good news did not stop there, for, on his coronation day, he ascended to heaven to take his throne and fulfill his rule over the earth. (May the Lord forgive us for no longer celebrating Ascension Day.)

This is why Paul could boldly claim that haters of God deserved to die. He did not say it was our job to kill them, only that they deserved death. Denial of God is the denial of everything that is. Applying this to our country means that making claims of racism where no racism exists is proof of the rejection of God and his creation. Is there such a thing as racism? Has the government of the United States of America done injustice and evil? Yes, but the standard is the one set by the Creator and Law Giver to whom everyone and every institution owes obedience and worship.

Our judgment is not what condemns people, for only Jesus Christ has been given that function. Yet, we are to judge others’ actions so that we can strive to counter their wickedness with righteousness and justice. Please notice that I did not say “social justice.” Social justice is the creation of sinful man. It may be dressed up as God’s justice, but there is no substitute for the real thing. Social justice condemns. God’s justice displays his glory. God’s justice corrects evil, cares for victims of evil, and restores wholeness.

God’s justice has dealt with the injustice of racism. The United States paid a huge price for the lives destroyed by the legalized slave trade. But God’s justice prevailed and slavery was ended. Many black Americans paid a huge price for the Jim Crow laws. But God’s justice prevailed and discrimination was made illegal. In neither of these events did justice happen overnight. Today, there are still some vestiges of discrimination. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ rules from heaven and is recreating the earth according to the New Covenant. Now, as I see it, you can either scream about perceived racism and injustice, you can demand to get something for nothing, or you can actually receive something without cost, the grace of God in salvation from sin, and you can join the reclamation work of the Lord.

“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 kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17 (ESV)

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Cancel Culture

I just finished reading Gary DeMar’s latest article on American Vision. You can read it hear. It got me thinking, and I have come up with a few questions, some of which come from the article itself.

Why is it that it is acceptable for other religions to publicly display their beliefs but not Christianity? Why are atheists so insecure in their thinking that they feel the need to shut Christians up? Why are those who demand the Constitutional freedom of speech the same ones who would deny it for those who disagree with them? Why is it that a race of people who cannot get over the oppression of their descendants have no guilt or remorse for oppressing others in their quest for superiority? Why is it that companies and corporations believe that promoting deviant lifestyles will serve to increase their business?

Why is it that those who most hate being judged by their skin color hate others for theirs? Why is it that legal immigrants, many of whom came to America with much difficulty, love America and the Constitution more than many citizens by birth? Why do so many historians hate history so much that they are willing to make it up as they go along? Why is it that those who have not read an author’s work are often the ones who object so strenuously to its content? Why is it that the most ignorant among us can’t help but demonstrate that fact publicly? Why is it that institutions of higher education turn out so many poorly educated people?

Why is it that the people who object to the pledge of allegiance because we are not a nation under God are the ones who have no problem spending money with In God We Trust printed on it? Why is it that you can often tell the nature of one’s spirituality by counting how many times they take the Lord’s name in vain? Why is it that someone so quickly uses the words God and Jesus Christ as expletives, but no one uses the name Buddha or Krishna this way? Why is it that an organization that hates the gospel of Jesus Christ and deceitfully manipulates its members can call itself a church?

Without having any good answers to these questions, this middle-class white male is not giving up or giving in. After all, watching those who differ ideologically with me go ballistic when I defend my faith that, though there may not be a white culture, there is undoubtedly a Christian culture that for over two millennia has provided developments in science, medicine, technology, books, music, and so much more. Their screaming and antics are more fun to watch than anything on T.V. these days.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1–4, ESV

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Revelation 22:1–5, ESV

Then I fell to my knees, and looked up toward my Lord, and said, Thank you for answering all my questions. Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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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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The Sky is Falling, Again

It should not be necessary to rehearse the tale of Chicken Little. I have used it before, and I continue to stand by my conclusions then. Just because people run around worried about “the end of the world” coming, whatever that may mean, it does not mean they are correct. Should we be concerned about how we care for nature? Of course, we should. However, my concern is very different than the concern of the climate change chickens or the humane treatment of animals littles. My concern is and always has been the call of humankind to exercise dominion over God’s creation to the end of his glory. Think about it. To treat animals humanely is to elevate their created status to humanity. But, they are still only animals. Why is it not enough to teach our children to treat animals as godly caretakers? Why should we avoid destroying the earth so it will last longer instead of caring for God’s creation so that he continues to be glorified?

The answer is that sin controls humanity, and human beings continue to bow to the false god of their own desires. What makes this seem like the end may be near is that we are so good at justifying ourselves and imagining that we can be God. The more life crumbles around us, the more we need to hear and believe the truth. We are not God; we are not gods. Any time we attempt to control life and creation as if we are the creator, we pervert the true creation with our hubris and arrogance. If that is all that we can see, then the apocalyptic end is all we can conclude. We fight harder to control, and we die all the faster.

The current method by which a few are attempting to control the world is through what has been called Critical Social Theory and the child it has born called Critical Race Theory. The main issue I have with Critical Theories is that they tend to forget they are only theories and that those in the popular movements pushing them don’t really know what they are. Like other bandwagons, they may look good from the outside because the inside can be argued against. The forward to Voddie Baucham’s book “Fault Lines” presents a brief but solid history of Critical Theory and an explanation of just what Critical Race Theorists say they mean. The Church has erred because they have not recognized that Critical Social Theory is a worldview, and it is in conflict with the Biblical Worldview.

However, Baucham writes with an interest in what has become known as Social Justice. His metaphor of a fault line is to demonstrate that there such a line in the Church that, when the plates shift, there will be a chasm in the Church that the members of the Church may see coming. He writes:

Why are people and groups like Thabiti Anyabwile, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 9Marks, the Gospel Coalition, and Together for the Gospel (T4G) being identified with Critical Social Justice on one side of the fault, and people like John MacArthur, Tom Ascol, Owen Strachan, Douglas Wilson, and the late R.C. Sproul being identified on the other? These are groups and ministries that have embraced CRT, and those are problematic. But there is a larger group that is sympathetic to it because of their desire to fight what they see as a problem of racial injustice.

Baucham, Voddie. Fault Lines: the Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe. Salem Books, an Imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2021; pp. 2-3.

There are many reviews of the book online. This is not my purpose. The only point I wish to make is that Baucham does not believe that the issue in America today is ethnicity or politics. His thesis is that the problem we face globally and in the Church is the difference between Social Justice and Biblical Justice. I would not argue his point. Fundamentally speaking, the world has always faced the war between God and man, God’s justice or man’s justice. This has been my “bottom line.”

I do not write today to try to solve the problem between the world and the Bible. I write because I see this more significant problem affecting the Church. The reason is that there has been a change in the Church from the earliest days where Luke says, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, ESV) The first change is the lack of devotion to the Apostle’s Teaching. The sermon in our Churches has become a platform for psychology, good feelings, and being uplifted. What has become lost is that all of these can only be the result of devotion to the Apostle’s Teaching or teaching the whole counsel of God. Emphasis on preaching has become an emphasis on form, delivery, and the ability of the preacher to captivate the ears of those listening. The shame is that such an emphasis does not enhance listening. It deadens it because no one can captivate another all the time, and anytime someone fails to be engaged in what is being said, it isn’t easy to recapture their wandering mind. Furthermore, captivation often leads to tributary thinking, i.e., daydreaming.

Everyone wants to believe that Christ calls the imperfect and the weak to confound the wise and strong. This is a commonly accepted Christian truth, except when it comes to a pastor and especially when it comes to their preaching. For some reason, pastors receive the harshest criticisms from those who have not heard the sermon because they excuse their failure to listen to the pastor’s content or delivery. I have been in the same pew at times, but I know the truth that the content of the Word of God is what captivates and lifts my heart. On the other hand, my ears need to be disciplined and trained, two other functions of the Word.

Likewise, genuine fellowship suffers in the church. The feeling of being ignored is familiar. Even when greeted by others, the sense of true love is vacant. We live in a world where it is easy to smile and ask, “How are you doing?” never listening for an answer, never wanting one either. This has nothing to do with the size of the congregation. The group Luke speaks of began with about 160 and ended the day with 3,160! Fellowship is much more than a greeting, even by passing the peace. When Paul speaks of fellowship, he speaks of partnering in the ministry (Philippians 1:3-5). He shares a love that prays even when the other person is not there. John likens our fellowship to the fellowship we have with the Father through the Son (1 John 1:3).

Then there is the breaking of bread. I believe this refers to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In his Gospel, Luke writes of two discouraged disciples on their way home after the crucifixion. A stranger joins them, and they fellowship along the way. But when the stranger “breaks bread” with them, they suddenly recognize him as Jesus, the one who was crucified. This story demonstrates to us the power of the Eucharist. If the Sacrament reveals to us the presence of the crucified and resurrected savior, why don’t we make it the point to which all worship climbs? “If we take it too often it will loose its specialness.” How can the Eucharist ever lose its specialness? It is the remembrance of Christ, the Lamb of God slain for us. I make it irrelevant in my heart and soul, just as I make Christ irrelevant in my daily life.

The last item is prayer. Sometimes I think the death of prayer occurred when we made prayer a spontaneous activity. We don’t know what to pray because we don’t know how to pray, even though Jesus taught us how to pray. When I was in elementary school, I would walk up the street to my best friend’s house so we could walk together. I was always invited in, and their whole family, along with anyone else there, would hold hands and pray the Lord’s Prayer. His house, by the way, was the only one I knew that had a large picture of Jesus on the wall at the front door. Empty repetition? No. Training in righteousness. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been various disciplines for prayer. No one had to wonder what to pray for because they were raised with praying and prayers. My first experience with this was before I could read or write, but when I was tucked into bed at night, I would say, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”

Why do we struggle with discerning that which is just? Because we do not know what God calls just. Why do we think that God’s love is equally dispensed to all people everywhere? Because we do not know what God calls love. Why do we think we should favor stealing from one person to give it to another who is poorer? Why do we think guns are the greatest evil and should be kept out of the hands of good people? Why do we even consider that someone who has never been a slave and has not been related to a slave for a hundred years or more should receive special treatment from everyone else? What is justice? What is right? What is wrong?

If you are not interested in devoting yourself to Christ, to the Church, and to the ministry of the Gospel, then quit trying to tell me that I am unjust or a racist because I am a white male. My days are running short in this world, and I only care about one thing: Jesus Christ, who was crucified for my sins and who, by his Spirit and with his Word, leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. I will crawl through any valley because I belong to him. And he belongs to me. All who are Christ’s, come, let us crawl together planting the seed of truth along the way.

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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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Necrocracy

There are a lot of oddities in the world. Well, maybe not so odd when you consider the sin nature within all humanity.

A necrocracy is a government ruled by a dead leader. The Urban Dictionary defines necrocracy, “A system of government whereby the people are governed by the dead.” Now, some claim that North Korea is the only necrocracy in the world today. I haven’t taken the time to thoroughly investigate the claim, but North Korea is the most well-known necrocracy.

In 1950, Kim Il-sung led a revolution in Korea with the intent of establishing a communist government throughout the country. What has become known as the Korean War ended with no victor resulting in the current separation of North and South Korea. Kim Il-sung became the president of the North. Following his death in 1994, power was transferred to Kim Jung-il. But though the power transferred, the title of president did not. Kim Il-sung had created a nation that worshipped him (the demonstrative ego of all tyrants). In 1998, the Constitution of North Korea was re-written so that Kim Il-sung would be the Eternal President and the supreme leader of North Korea even though he had died. Kim Jong-il was made the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

Therefore, North Korea is a nation ruled by a dead man making its government a necrocracy. Reflecting on the way things are in North Korea, the government of a necrocracy seemed odd. However, the more I thought about it, the more I came to see that all governments are necrocracies. All governments rely upon the rule of human beings who are polluted by sin. According to the Scriptures, the plight of sin is the condition of being dead. This was the curse for the representative parents of humanity, Adam and Eve. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV)

A popular explanation for this state of death is that humankind has been separated from God. Though true, I think there is more to it. The consequence of sin goes far deeper than mere separation. It involves all of the laws teaching the Jews what clean and unclean are. It involves the actual death of people, tribes, and whole nations. Sin has touched ever aspect of our lives polluting our thinking, perverting our actions, and shattering the image of God within us. Our likeness to God has not disappeared, but it does not control us. The grace of God prevents all of us from acting fully in sin. The degree of evil in humans and civilizations is limited by God’s eternal rule.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Ephesians 2:1–3, ESV

So, the truth is that all human governments are ruled by sin and they all decay. Edward Gibbons’ series of books, “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” demonstrates the degeneration inherent in all human endeavors. But there is one government that is not human in origin, neither is it ruled by the dead. The government I speak of is ruled by the One who has risen from the dead, Jesus Christ. By taking upon himself the sin of the world, Jesus reconciled us to God and granted his sheep a new life redeemed and recreated in the image of God. Yes, sin doesn’t always act as if defeated by Christ, but we are assured it has.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1–2, ESV

The good news is that the King of all kings is the Lord of all lords as he was coronated by his ascension to the throne of God. And a consequence of this state of affairs is that human governments may also find redemption if submitted to Christ. God ordained government to rule the civil affairs of humankind. Government was established to restrain sin and evil natural to sinful people. This is the reason for the civil laws in the Old Testament. The Jews were a people promised to Abraham as a light to all nations. The moral law of God is the foundation of all law, for all creation reflects the nature of God. Apart from this moral foundation, there is no basis for morality at all which is one of the major flaws in evolution.

At least two things arise from the Gospel. First, sin and death have been defeated by Christ, and second, the righteousness of Christ is the requirement for all governments today. Many of our laws reflect God’s moral law, an no matter how much anyone complains that you cannot legislate morality, all legislation by its very nature is about morality. But, rebellion against the reign of Christ always results in the decay of life into death. Always! The farther any government disobeys God’s Law, the closer to extinction it becomes.

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 1:21–32, ESV

The spiral of sin as Paul describes is the downward spiral toward extinction, death. Yet, because of the graciousness of God, we have a benevolent King who watches over his own. “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.’” (Romans 1:16–17, ESV)

My sense that necrocracy is an odd form of government is, therefore, both true and false. The untrue aspect is that necrocracy is the most common form of human government and it has been from the original fall of our first parents. The truth is that there is no need for humans to live under a necrocracy. Necrocracy is odd because if you don’t need to die, why choose death? It all sounds so simple, yet it is not simple at all. If it were merely a matter of choosing to no longer submit to death, everyone would do it. But, just like in North Korea, there is no second option, and all means of discovering a second option is prevented by the state.

Never lose hope! The world once thought that the Soviet Union was a great power for death. The world didn’t believe that the Berlin Wall would ever fall. And, even God’s people to a large degree have missed the Messianic King they sought. Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus Christ does control the world, and the job of his people is to establish his reign throughout the earth.

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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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Shepherds and Sheep

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

Ezekiel 34:1–24, ESV

Ezekiel was a Priest in Judah and was carried off into exile by the Babylonians. Let’s clear up something from the start. Prophets spoke the Word of the Lord to the people of God. Sometimes this Word spoke of future things, as is evident in the above passage. But the Word given had to do with present circumstances. The Lord speaks to Judah through Ezekiel explaining why he has allowed the Babylonians to defeat them, destroy the Temple and Jerusalem, and carry them off to a foreign land. The message is clear. Those who were Shepherds over Israel and Judah, those who were leaders of the people, priests and kings, managed things for their own benefit and not for the sake of the people.

Those who are called to lead the people should be considered Shepherds. “Sheep were domesticated in the ancient Near East in 7000 BC. They are mentioned more than any other livestock in the Bible, indicating their economic importance as a source of food, wool, and hide. With the primary responsibilities of leading and protecting their flock, the occupation naturally lent itself as a symbol for those in leadership and God.(Matthew Montonini, The Lexham Bible Dictionary, 2016.) This description is important because the role of a shepherd was one of self-sacrifice for the sake of the sheep. The reason the “sheep” of Judah are in exile is because their shepherds failed miserably at their jobs. Furthermore, the job of a shepherd was God ordained. Priests were appointed by God from the time of the Exodus. Aaron was the first and the Levites were appointed for the perpetuation of the office.

The people were not innocent of sin. But the head of the people are those who led them into sin by their own sin. Righteous leaders lead righteously. Sinful leaders lead into unrighteousness. Righteous shepherds lead their sheep to safe and bountiful places. Unrighteous shepherds lead their sheep into unsafe places where the shepherds can feed their gluttony and avarice. Righteous sheep demand righteous shepherds, and when they cannot get them, they have the promise of the Lord that he will be their shepherd.

 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  
 He makes me lie down in green pastures.  
 He leads me beside still waters.  
 He restores my soul.  
 He leads me in paths of righteousness  
 for his name’s sake.  
 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  
 I will fear no evil,  
 for you are with me;  
 your rod and your staff,  
 they comfort me.  
 You prepare a table before me  
 in the presence of my enemies;  
 you anoint my head with oil;  
 my cup overflows.  
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me  
 all the days of my life,  
 and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord  
 forever.  
 Psalm 23, ESV 
 

The requirements of God have not changed. Neither has the promise. Today, we have shepherds who are ordained by God to lead us, protect us, and ensure that we can live as sheep are called to live. The most obvious shepherds are pastors, which title literally means “a helper, or feeder of sheep.” Pastors today are given this title to remind themselves and the people they lead that their role is to help them spiritually and to feed them the whole counsel of God. Though pastors do not literally prophesy, they do fill the role of the ancient prophets by declaring the will of God revealed to us in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. There are two major issues relating to pastors that I have seen today. First, there are pastors who sheer the sheep for their own personal gain. Contemporary media has made this easier for them to do, but it has been an issue from the beginning.

Second, there are sheep who resist the leadership of their good pastors. We all, in a sense, are sheep after this description. I don’t believe there is a Christian alive who has not and who does not resist the will of Christ. Paul presents his case plainly in Romans 7 that we are all trapped in this way. The process of sanctification (the process of salvation) is a life-long journey whereby the Spirit of Christ remakes us into people whose primary existence is to glorify God. However, there are sheep who resist on another level. These are the sheep who sit in the pews (or theater seats) demanding to be entertained, uplifted, and basically made to feel good about who they are. This is NOT the purpose or end of the Gospel. The goal of Christ in his work as our Great Shepherd is to make disciples who will obey all that he has commanded. All those things we want, peace, purpose, joy, pleasure, reside in discipleship. All those things are inward developments of disciples and not outward experiences.

Pastors who work for their own glory and ego, who seek to profit from their position, who seek personal gratification or a desire to “climb the ladder of success,” are Ezekiel 34 shepherds. Pastors who yield to the whims of their sheep, who design their services and their sermons to meet the demands of the sheep in order to fill the pews and grow in status are Ezekiel 34 shepherds. May God forgive me for all of these things, and may his forgiveness allow me to continually amend my service until I recognize my sheep are God’s sheep and not my own, but Christ’s, and that I do not determine what is good for Christ’s sheep, nor do the sheep determine what is good for themselves, but Christ alone is the God Shepherd leading his sheep. As a pastor, I have spent decades aware of the traps of ministry and prayed for the Spirit’s direction and help.

There are other shepherds, though. Every elected and non-elected official in government is a shepherd called and ordained by God. In America, our founding fathers wrote a document outlining the purpose of a righteous government. It is to protect the God given inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of these rights can be interpreted in the sense of one person’s rights denying another’s. None of these rights are absolute. Rights bestowed by God demand exercise under God’s rule and law. And, in fact, the drafting of the Constitution of the United States took this declaration very seriously.

Unfortunately, Ezekiel’s description describes many of these leaders and many of the people as well. Even though there are people and leaders who do not believe in Christ (though they may say they do), the end is the same. Evil leaders will receive their due from God. So will evil sheep. In the mean while, it is the work of Christ’s disciples to demand righteous leadership and to hold all government officials accountable to the law of God. It is not godly for the Church to avoid politics and it is ungodly for politicians to deny the Church’s involvement yet use the church to advance themselves. I spoke of the latter previously here. Those who think it is somehow dirty or beneath the Church to bring politics into the pulpit know little about the Word of God.

Every aspect of politics is about morality. Every law passed is a moral decision and demands a moral reaction. Abortion, gender reassignment or choice, discontinuance of capital punishment, taxation, debt forgiveness, capitalism or socialism, government “freebies,” and everything else are moral issues and should be topics for instruction in God’s Law. The character of individuals running for office is also a topic for preaching, if it comes from the perspective of God’s Law Word. I believe care should be taken to make sure any information about a policy or individual is correct is essential, for if it is incorrect, the preacher fails to present God’s Word. However, the unwritten rule that you cannot name names when addressing evil is not God’s rule, as evidenced repeatedly by the Apostle Paul. (There are plenty of ministries that should be called out and identified as contrary to Christ.)

My discussion can go on ad infinitum. And frankly, it should be just a beginning to the Church’s wrestling with the issues in which it finds herself. The bottom line, though, is the hope that Ezekiel gave the people of Judah which remains for us today. God is the ultimate Judge and he has given judgment over to Christ. The ungodly should fear this, and because they don’t, they are fools. The godly do fear this for disciples want nothing less that to be obedient to all Christ has commanded us. These two groups are called by Jesus the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the chaff. Where do I fall in relation to Christ? Where do you?

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