Category Archives: Scripture

This is why…

Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

      Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

      Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned. All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed. Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

      Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death. Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. – Joshua 11:1-20 (NASB)

Many of those who have no Christian belief, who are agnostic or atheist in their point of view, call the God of the Bible cruel and unjust. They use passages such as the one above to decry what they call the heinous nature of a God who would command the annihilation or utter destruction of people. It is there in the Bible, but there’s no reasoning with those who fail to consider why it’s so.

On many occasions the events of the day can give some enlightening reasons why God acted in such a way hundreds of years ago. All the world’s a stage, Shakespeare said, and all the men and women merely players. He said, they have their exits and their entrances, and whereas those whom Joshua came against in the power of God had their time at that time, there are more having their entrances even now.

ISIS thugs viciously murdered a young boy in front of his father, reports say. The vile terror group also raped women while crowds watched and prayed. “ISIS savages cut off a Christian boy’s fingertips in front of his preacher father before crucifying the pair of them, it has been reported. The terror group were trying to force Syrian Christians in a village near Aleppo to convert to their twisted interpretation of Islam. The boy, 12, was the son of a Syrian ministry team leader who set up nine churches in the war-ravaged country.

Though the cast of characters changes on this stage of life, as it were, the motivations don’t. Those gods of aforetime, Molech and Baal, just reinvent themselves into the modern equivalents. It’s the same evil driving different people. The Israelites didn’t eradicate the Canaanites as God had instructed them.

They did not destroy the peoples

as the Lord had commanded them,

but they mingled with the nations

and adopted their customs.

They worshiped their idols,

which became a snare to them.

They sacrificed their sons

and their daughters to false gods.

They shed innocent blood,

the blood of their sons and daughters,

whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan,

and the land was desecrated by their blood.

They defiled themselves by what they did;

by their deeds they prostituted themselves.Psalm 106:34-39

Just as they didn’t, and they paid the price of their disobedience, even so the Western world is paying the price of their disobedience. It’s really very simple. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. And just in case there may be some who believe the Bible isn’t the singular repository of spiritual truth that it is. That somehow the Koran has words of eternal truth as well.

The Islamic State’s use of crucifixion as a punishment stems from its fundamentalist interpretation of Verse 33 of the fifth book of the Koran.

The verse reads: ‘Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.’

‘That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.’

Despite this, ISIS chooses to ignore the next passage which emphasizes forgiveness and removes the imperative to use such a punishment, saying: ‘Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.’

With such contradictory ideas is it any wonder there are people who work the works of evil?

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Pulpitless Persuasions V: Women and the Church; An Introduction

Melissa Scott - Pastor of Faith Center of Glendale, CA... and a woman with a collar.

Melissa Scott – Pastorix of Faith Center of Glendale, CA… and a woman with a collar.

Someone has to do it. It’s truly arduous to fight against the torrent of popular opinion, to think for oneself, and to slice through the foolishness of modern thought. Before we lose all our sensibilities we should consider that some of the ideas of past generations were based on the honest realities of life. History can teach us. We often reject our ancestors’ ideas out of turn because we assume ourselves to be “enlightened”. Maybe, just maybe, they knew better than our befuddled contemporaries.

The arguments laid out in a previous post regarding egalitarianism were based upon such thoughts. It’s a troubling thing to observe over several years egalitarianism’s campaign of human equality moving into common thought. It has become an untouchable political reality, and a socially accepted premise to discussion. In media, social networks, and yes even in the church, it’s as if we are to accept the idea that men and women are thoroughly and completely equal. Now it seems is that time in human history when the evil of egalitarianism should awake from hibernation to enact an equality that has never before existed. It is in reality but a tenet of a godless faith. It’s the present day moral equivalent of the Tower of Babel.

It has found its way into Christian thinking. Christians, unfortunately but unexceptionally, have allowed egalitarianism to move the church toward a “progressive” role of women. One typical example is…

The Church of England finally voted yesterday to let women become bishops – to the anger of many traditionalists. The move was passed by a comfortable majority at a tense gathering of its parliament, the General Synod, in York. It ended 14 years of hand-wringing and faction-fighting, delighting Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and almost all of his fellow bishops. The decision freed the Church from the risk of intervention by politicians.

The Church of England is marking a new era in its history as the Rev Libby Lane becomes the first woman to be ordained as a bishop… The consecration marks the conclusion of a decades-long wrangle over the role of women in leadership in the established Church, the last great institution of British public life to open itself to full gender equality. Church leaders hope it will mark a moment of reconciliation between traditionalists and reformers on the issue.

This is but one piece of anecdotal evidence of the change wrought in the church. The fact that its influence has reached major Christian denominations shows its insidious extent. The attempts to placate feminist egalitarianism eviscerate the church. Compromise begets more compromise until the church of Jesus becomes nothing more than a social club. Any hope for reconciliation is mere fashionable modern liberal sentimentalism rather than adherence to the Word of God.

Their vision of equality of the sexes is but a fabricated notion outside of the Christian faith. The bible doesn’t speak of it. Church history doesn’t know it. In the last 100 years or so, however, feminism has become a social force with which to be reckoned. It’s been a matter of either the church clearly delineating the roles of the sexes or capitulating to the popular culture, with lately more the latter than the former.

Men and women are distinctly men and women. They are equal in their human condition, in their depravity before God, and in their respective need for redemption. They are, however, distinct in a plethora of ways, not the least of which is physiological. They are each created by God with traits and attributes which compliment the other (see Elmo’s Rule 8). Ungodly egalitarianism seeks to undermine that natural distinction.

To be clear, women have a long history of contribution to the Christian church. The issue raised here is not one of the general participation of women in the church. It is that through egalitarianism’s call women have usurped the proper authority within the church. In that, women have become a detrimental influence. Essentially, women aren’t to be in authority or exercise leadership over men. This is the biblical stance. Curiously, one particular instance of scripture addresses leadership thus:

Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Say to the righteous that [it will go] well [with them], For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! [It will go] badly [with him], For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead [you] astray And confuse the direction of your paths.  – Isaiah 3:9b-12 (Bold my emphasis)

Verse 12 might suggest “women” be interpreted either literally or figuratively, that is to say, it could literally mean women or speak in terms of “women” as in effeminate men. In either case, however, it is clear to be at variance with the LORD while leadership by men of character is in doubt, and the consequences are certain. This current sort of leadership has led the contemporary church astray. The reciprocal causes also precipitate the effects. Men who stay within churches which allow women leaders are ultimately driven toward emasculation. As egalitarianism takes hold and leadership roles become disordered it is often as much a matter of men relinquishing their proper role as it is women beguilingly assuming it.

In a view perhaps now considered more paternalistic, Jewish rabbis proverbially recognized the role of women as:

God had not formed woman out of the head, lest she should become proud; nor out of the eye, lest she should lust; nor out of the ear, lest she should be curious; nor out of the heart, lest she should be jealous; nor out of the hand, lest she should be covetous; nor out of the foot, lest she be a busybody; but out of the rib, which was always covered

Some consider the present day status of the equality of the sexes as improving. However, it is maintained that the egalitarian ideal still hasn’t yet been realized. What then is that ideal? It is an unbiblical mirage. The answer is ultimately when men are subjugated. Egalitarianism seeks an obliteration of God ordained gender roles. They seek not a validation of homosexuality or transsexualism, but a fundamental quasi-sexuality in which there is gender fluidity. It all stems from the fallen condition of humanity alluded to by God at the beginning of man and woman.

Masculinity in modern America has become a distorted. Feminist egalitarianism has marginalized the proper, biblical role of men. Nevertheless, scripture and experience can teach us what those of antiquity well understood if we will turn our minds away from the modern popular ethos. As one stated recently, it’s time to valorize masculinity. It’s unfortunate that the hydra of political progressivism or correctness manifesting its feminist head has corrupted the church.

The typical knee-jerk response to these claims usually draws the false implication that men are somehow superior. In the Christian world-view, however, authority is delegated by God and doesn’t imply any superiority. There is no lesser dignity of the woman to man. It is simply of a different kind. This is but one area of modern thinking which not only fails to grasp the biblical distinction, but mischaracterizes it to disseminate a falsehood. The sexes are distinct in their thinking, feeling, motivations and proclivities. Gender differences are as our Creator intended. There is that misguided sense of fairness which society and the culture seeks to inculcate upon the genders which emasculate men and gender-bend women. Fairness is a childish illusion. For example, some will accuse others who don’t allow women pastors of gender discrimination. However, gender discrimination is but the pejorative of feminist egalitarianism, wrongly elevated to morality. Everyone discriminates. Discrimination is not necessarily moral or ethical. The fact is that there’s no such thing as gender equality. It is an irrationality to usurp the God ordained role of the sexes while denying the many obvious mental, emotional, and functional differences which exist between them. Women aren’t intended for authoritarian roles, particularly in the church, and those churches which adopt egalitarianism do so to their own detriment.

As an aside to the suggested feminization of men in Isaiah 3:12, the condition of women and their natural inclination toward authoritarianism provides some understanding as to why the charade of homosexual marriage persists. Modern homogamy (homosexual marriage) has essentially been seeded out history’s recent egalitarian fruit. Curiously, homosexuals decry inequality when denied the privilege of marriage, but when given the opportunity to practice it they mimic the traditional dominant/subordinate marriage relationship. In such relationships the traditional roles of men and women are obfuscated by homosexual mental, emotional, and particularly, spiritual deviancy. In a similar fashion, feminist egalitarianism has obfuscated the clear roles the Creator God intended.

Some in major Christian denominations continue to adhere to a historically orthodox position of women in church leadership, that is to say a limited role at best, as demonstrated by the traditionalists response from the Church of England article above. Egalitarianism through the societal shift of popular culture, though, has put pressure upon the church to change its thinking and policy. Popular culture is certainly no repository of truth. Truth is or should be found within the church and not co-opted from without. The church loses by shunning a historically proven, classically orthodox position and adopting the post-modern egalitarianism of the day. At the very least, anecdotal experience from contemporary society alone should be a sufficient teacher that women in church leadership means trouble.

The paradigm that is the modern Christian church isn’t a scriptural one anyway, and is susceptible to encroachments of authoritarianism. An authoritarianism peculiarly pernicious when undertaken by women in church leadership.

The elephant in the room

But he [Pres. Obama] admitted that on Friday night he took a moment to enjoy what he called a “gratifying” week as the White House was lit with rainbow-hued floodlights in celebration of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision.

“To see people gathered in an evening outside on a beautiful summer night and to feel whole and to feel accepted and to feel that they had a right to love – that was pretty cool,” Obama said. “That was a good thing.

Interesting it is that the White House was bathed in the rainbow. The biblical rainbow was a sign of God’s covenant not to destroy the earth again by flood, with particular emphasis in scripture.

I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.” – Genesis 9:13-17 (NLT)

…but it curiously also recurs in Revelation…

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say,

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come.

– Revelation 4:1-8 (NASB) [Bold my emphasis]

It’s ironic that homosexuals have assimilated the rainbow symbol into their own culture. Earlier in Genesis, prior to God’s rainbow declaration, it states, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1) It was clearly His intention, just as it was at the beginning (Genesis 1:22), to have man procreate with woman. That is the design of marriage. Instead we have not only the deviance of men and women thwarting the Lord’s intentions sexually, but they throw it back in His face, as it were, by assuming the protection of God’s rainbow. For now they live in an absurd cocoon fashioned by their self absorption. By the vision of Revelation, they will revisit the rainbow as a sign of their own undoing.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Questioning immorality

Apparently there is some sort of issue currently, to which I had been unaware, involving homosexuals disputing the Christian claim to the Bible on a question of morality. Essentially…

How can you use a Bible that declares homosexuality to be immoral when that same Bible gives laws that sustain and regulate the immoral practice of human slavery throughout the Old and New Testaments?

The main issue with the question is that it is intended to undercut the standing and authority of the Bible. As Christians, we either stand by or relinquish this authority. There is no middle ground. Unbelievers have no basis upon which to question scripture simply because they have no foundation of truth.

In this instance, as in most any other issue of the sort, the question itself needs to be dismantled into simpler elements, examined and responded to in a fashion that meets the objection with the same fervor that is extended. Something I’ve learned to do to consistently respond to the arguments against the faith by unbelievers is this…

Elmo’s Rule #20 : Answer questions with a question.

On many occasions Jesus was questioned. He responds differently depending upon his questioner and the audience. Note the occasions when Jesus was confronted by the disbelieving with questions and how He responded. Luke 20:2-4 is a prime example. He responds with a question. Mark 8:11,12 is another example in which He responds to unbelievers with a question, gives a terse answer, then leaves. Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3 is a good example of His having an open, non-combative, honest conversation with someone.

Some people seek to argue for arguments’ sake. They are not the least interested in the answer. They’re already set upon what is good and evil in their own minds. The question at issue is most likely of that sort. One way to tell is by recognizing early in the conversation how people are responding to one’s own statements and questions. To begin with, “How can you use a Bible…” is contentious on its face. Besides that isn’t up for debate with someone sincerely open to the explanation, let alone a contentious unbeliever. It’s just a question of knowing the audience enough not to be casting the proverbial pearls before swine.

This question could be a problem for some Christian somewhere who thinks they might be faced with the prospect of defending biblical morality. I think the issue is quickly settled in a way that undercuts the argument entirely. Essentially respond…

“On what basis do you claim slavery to be immoral?”

Ask the question and say nothing, but wait for an answer and expect one. In the first place, any question puts the opposing party on the defensive. Secondly, it cuts to the real issue which is about that which they believe versus Christian faith. If they choose to ignore it and continue to argue, you always have the option to return to the question maintaining that it hasn’t been answered. Other than that simply end the conversation, take your “pearls” and walk away. It’s important to cut to the heart of the matter and move away from the particulars. None of the particulars, especially homosexuality and slavery, will make any sense to an unbeliever. That issue along with other such issues as why God commanded a people to be wiped out (1 Samuel 15:16-19) isn’t for the unbeliever to dabble. Lead the claimant back to the underlying point of it all, but if they won’t be led then leave.

Don’t let them turn the argument around into, “Isn’t slavery immoral?“, because that makes it a question of a Christian believer’s personal convictions which again aren’t the issue. The typical Christian should have settled the issue of slavery and its biblical treatment for themselves, but with regard to the original question, it has nothing to do with the authority of the scriptures. The real objective in the question posed is tying together the Bible, slavery and homosexuality into a seeming indefensible position. Undercutting the authority of the Bible is where no one has anything upon which to stand.

Pulpitless Persuasions IV: God doesn’t trust us.

Trust – (Merriam-Webster definition): belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.; assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something

Behold, He puts no trust in His holy ones, And the heavens are not pure in His sight;Job 15:15

But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men… – John 2:24

People are often told of God’s love. People sing about it and scripture declares it. Over and over again in the Bible God demonstrated His faithfulness, His love and concern for his people. His supreme act of love and faithfulness was the giving of His Son as a substitute for the penalty for our sinfulness. It was this horrifyingly, shocking act that was paradoxically intended to demonstrate the extent of His desire for intimacy with His creation since the beginning of mankind.

The original man and woman entered into sinfulness at the garden in a poignant moment in the beginning of humanity. Their violation of God’s command would break God’s trust in humanity. From the verses above one can see how Jesus Himself was in a difficult situation. He was among those whom He didn’t trust. From this perspective it becomes interesting to consider how Jesus handled the people with whom Jesus surrounded Himself. One Bible version says, “He knew their nature…” The nature of lies and deceit. The nature of pride and conceit. I imagine it must have seemed completely repulsive to Him. It’s a curious thing to consider how He must have slept knowing what He knew about human nature. If God doesn’t trust the angels in heaven who are in His presence, as the verse in Job shows, why should he trust any human being given our current condition? He is God, he knows the thoughts, intents and devices of all men, and He doesn’t trust us.

It may seem ironic, but the fall of mankind at the beginning left human trust as a nebulous thing. Trust became a relative concept, because it depends wholly upon truth. God is truth, immutable and timeless, and God submitted a trust before the first couple regarding a tree in Eden and it was broken. Apart from Him there is uncertainty and vacillation, ambiguity and chaos. This, other than the presence of sin and evil, is as much an outcome of mankind’s transgression. Moreover, it destroyed mankind’s ability to trust one another. Wisdom, like trust, is one of those ambiguous human intangibles, difficult to measure. We seem to understand when someone or group of people has more or less of it, but then that is an estimation based upon our own judgments. The first couple traded truth for wisdom. Trust was lost. Apart from God, love and wisdom fell into ambiguity. For love to flourish there must be trust, and it’s at this point that we pose the question, “If God doesn’t trust us, then how does he love us?”

I have known people I thought to behave with honesty and fidelity, only to have them demonstrate dishonesty and falsity. When God gave the first couple the command not to eat of the tree and they did, a trust was broken. Everyone has known that at some point in their lives. Adultery is a particular offense in which the sacred trust of marriage is broken. One reaction to the breaking of trust is to distance oneself from the other party. Once a trust is broken it becomes difficult to restore. Trust has to be earned and over time reestablished.

In the scriptures, humanity repeatedly demonstrates its untrustworthy character. At one point in the history of mankind, God’s reaction to the loss of trust (Genesis 6:6) becomes keenly apparent. God made man for fellowship with Him, but throughout the Old Testament the details of mankind’s untoward affections give good reason why God wouldn’t trust mankind.

To add insult to injury, humanity shows its contempt for God by asking Him to prove himself (John 2:18, Luke 23:39, John 8:13, Matthew 26:68) when we are the ones who’ve broken trust. And as it was then, so it is today. A little C.S. Lewis at this point may be necessary to illustrate that it’s God Who has all the control and that we are simply to trust Him.

“I do not think there is a demonstrative proof (like Euclid) of Christianity, nor of the existence of matter, nor of the good will and honesty of my best and oldest friends. I think all three are (except perhaps the second) far more probable than the alternatives. The case for Christianity in general is well given by Chesterton…As to why God doesn’t make it demonstratively clear; are we sure that He is even interested in the kind of Theism which would be a compelled logical assent to a conclusive argument? Are we interested in it in personal matters? I demand from my friend trust in my good faith which is certain without demonstrative proof. It wouldn’t be confidence at all if he waited for rigorous proof. Hang it all, the very fairy-tales embody the truth. Othello believed in Desdemona’s innocence when it was proved: but that was too late. Lear believed in Cordelia’s love when it was proved: but that was too late. ‘His praise is lost who stays till all commend.’ The magnanimity, the generosity which will trust on a reasonable probability, is required of us.” – C.S. Lewis

God doesn’t need to prove anything. He simply insists upon trust because that is what was lost at the beginning, in the Garden. He is truth and love. So we return to the question, “If God doesn’t trust us, then how does he love us?” How is trust restored so that He may love again? The answer is in one word, “covenant”. He declares He doesn’t change, and there is no inconstancy in Him. Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand. – Proverbs 19:21 (NASB) says. Human integrity is a fragile thing. His establishment of His covenant in Christ Jesus stands as a testimony of God’s steadfast love in spite of broken trust:

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” – Jeremiah 31:31-34

The covenant of Christ does for God of what we are incapable. In all our changing, He stays unchangeable. In all our untrustworthiness, He stays trustworthy. The trust set before mankind at the beginning was, “…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Then God the Father sends His Son as the Word to establish not a trust, but a covenant. It would be the covenant of Christ’s own blood. It heals the broken trust through the forgiveness of sin Christ paid for on the cross. No proofs, no conclusive mental assent, no compelling logical arguments are necessary. God wants mankind to trust His once established, firmly anchored, and eternally guaranteed covenant. In the final analysis, we trade back our wisdom for trust, truth and love and get them all.

From infallibility to insanity

Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis has said in his latest urging that people of all religions, and none, work together.

He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus. “Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.

What precisely then is the value or advantage of being Catholic? If atheists get to stay home on Sundays, watch football in their underpants, as Steve Martin would suggest, and be counted as good and redeemed by Jesus, why would any one want to follow the dictates and regimen of the Catholic church?

There is no one good. Not one. Yes, I know the Bible says it, but I think I could tell from empirical evidence. I think I can tell that there isn’t such a person on the face of this earth. We’re all sinful. Some succumb to evil more than others, and so are more inclined to evil works, but it’s simply stupid to consider people as good if they do good. I really don’t care how much money they’ve given to the poor or in how many soup kitchens they’ve worked.

The quality or condition or state of good is so relative in human terms as to be completely worthless. I prefer to observe what God calls good. If scripture is any measure of that then calling atheists fools leaves little doubt as to what category in which they fall. Let me just lay it out. The pope is a fool. Maybe even just as much a fool as the atheists he wants to coddle. Besides our duty isn’t to do good, it’s to be good. Scripture defines that quite well.

Playing both ends against the middle: Part II

Continuing the view into the “The Bible is NOT the WORD OF GOD”: A polemic against Christendom” blog entry from the Emergent Village Voice…

When we assert that the bible is the WORD OF GOD we are diminishing what it means to possess the WORD OF GOD.

An impressively pseudo theological way of saying nothing. Possess the Word of God?? How does one possess the Word of God other than going to a bookstore and buying a Bible? And his assertion that declaring what the Bible is diminishes possession is just ridiculous.

The Bible is not the WORD OF GOD. It has no special powers and it is not magic. Sacred scripture means nothing if it is not alive inside the individual. Embodied, fully embraced. This does not mean that we take apart or dissect the bible in such a way that we are able to extrapolate metaphysical truths about the world around us. That is not the intent of the bible. Rather, the intent of the bible is to provide context for who we are as human beings, who god is as God; and how God has acted throughout history. It is a testimony to our lord Jesus Christ.

Yes, the Bible is the Word of God. It expresses the eternal purpose of God the Father and it is the revelation of Jesus (Revelation 19:10), not just “a testimony” of Him. He’s correct in that it doesn’t have special powers. The Bible has transcendent quality. It’s all about Jesus (John 5:39).

There is the passage of John’s Gospel as he speaks of Christ and declares of the Word of God becoming flesh. This could and would only be accomplished by God in Jesus. Yet those who don’t consider the Bible to have special powers or metaphysical abilities seem to be presumptuous enough to think we can do what Jesus did.

Encountering the WORD OF GOD changes us – it makes us whole. It gives us strength and power. Words on a page do not give us strength; they do not give us power. It is only when we embody those words on the page that we truly become like the WORD OF GOD. It is what Jesus did. He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. That means he embodied the law. He was sinless, he was perfect. He embodied the law in the truest, purest form of what is meant by “the law”. Likewise, we must embody scripture. It must become a part of us, our lives, and our identity; for the truth of God was not found in words or propositions or abstract ideas, but in the truthfulness that exists when we live out the WORD OF GOD on the world stage. (bold emphasis and underline mine)

I suppose we can be magical or have special powers even if the Bible doesn’t by “embodying” the Word of God as Jesus did, whatever that means. I’ve read some amazing gobble-d-gook in my life. This is some of the gobble-d-gookiest.

He’s gone way off the farm, so to speak, and the reason has to do with his missing the forest for the trees. He’s interested in truth as evidenced by the points as underlined above. He correctly observes that the truth of the Bible isn’t found in the words, but neither is it found in his ridiculous “the truthfulness that exists when we live out the Word of God…” The truth of the Bible isn’t found in the accuracy of the text, but in its authenticity. Yes, Jesus was sinless, but then God’s perfection has nothing to do with human accuracy. So why should the orthodox christian believer consider the Bible the Word of God?

Remember Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:17, “…sanctify them through the truth, Your Word is truth.” The Bible declares “This God-His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true…” (2 Samuel 22:31) The Bible also says, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.” (Psalm 119:160; NASB version) And again, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7) Furthermore, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:25) I could go on citing verse after verse. The point is, how would mankind know this without the Bible? If the Bible isn’t the Word of God then what is it?

Jesus who testifies to the truth of the Bible, as in John 17:17, Himself declares “I am the way, the truth and the life…” He quotes it on a number of occasions. He doesn’t venerate it as deity. He affirms it’s place over and over. And, as the passages above point out, the Bible affirms itself. It is more than “a testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ”. It is a testimony of Him. The prepositions make a difference. It is genuine and authentically of God. It is the revelation of God. To claim the Bible isn’t the Word of God is to diminish one’s own Christianity, or their possession of it, take your pick.

Playing both ends against the middle: Part I

It wasn’t very long ago a fellow blogger wrote about Bible idolatry provoked by a sermon he heard.

I began to get very uneasy as he continued to exalt the Bible and blur the lines between what was God and what was the Bible. Finally, He held the Bible high in the air, quoted John 1:1-2 and said, “This is God, right here!” Wow. That was so wrong. Like so many Bible-idolizing preachers have done before, he took things way too far.

Intrigued by his take on errors in the Bible, I wrote the following:

The Bible is a book which is a collection of books by many different authors, but a peculiarity of the Bible is its underlying Authorship (Intentional capitalization). 2 Timothy 3:16 is a verse Christians typically refer to concerning that. Combined with other verses and theological reasoning, Authorship of the Bible is accepted as being God. All 66 books of the Bible are considered consistent with each other as sacred canon or authentic. It’s accepted, therefore, that the message, content and spirit of the Word of God (synonym of the Bible) speaks as God, consistently and without error. In John 17:17 Jesus refers to the Word of God as truth, and Psalm 19:7-14 gives further support to this. Essentially, to accept the Bible as having even one error would be a slope too slippery to overcome.

I’ll stand by that statement, and particularly because of the scripture references which bear special consideration as I continue. Mistakes in accuracy are one thing, errors as deviations from the truth are quite another. Some differentiate between Biblical inerrancy or infallibility, and some conflate them. There seems to be some confusion between the two, just as there is some confusion between the concepts of the immaculate conception and the virgin birth. Suffice it to say, I am of the opinion that the Bible is true in all points that matter, even though there may be particular inaccuracies or mistranslations which are but trivialities to the greater theme and points of faith. So I come to this point that the fidelity of the Bible as God’s word is, at least in my mind, without question.

On the other hand, there are those who seem to have proverbially thrown the baby out with the bath water, and believe me this is a particularly apt metaphor. Take note of the passage mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:16 above. It seems there are those who are opposed to bibliolatry, but for a completely different reason.

The bible is not the WORD OF GOD. And if we believe it as such, then we have made the bible into an idol. The bible has become the Church’s idol.

There are few things more fun than a frank discussion of theology. Fun as in how to pick a fight. Making it plain that the Bible isn’t the Word of God is a great way to start one. That is if the other person is a serious Christian believer who takes the Word of God seriously.

The ancient Hebrews had taken the God of their forefathers and formed him into their image. They made him take on their identity because they could not grasp to what extent the WORD OF GOD was present with them. Yes, indeed it has been said for thousands of years that the ancient Hebrews were fools for doing so, but my dear friend so are we.

Actually, the Hebrews didn’t form God into their image, they rejected God and formed another one out of an image with which they were convenient. Besides the gobble-de-gook about the “extent the WORD OF GOD was present with them” is just an attempt to make it seem spiritual.

Just as the Hebrews, we have made the WORD OF GOD into our image – the bible. And by doing so have not elevated God, but relegated him to the lowliest place. Our misappropriation of authority has inevitably resulted in our inability to distinguish between what we THINK God requires of us, and what God ACTUALLY requires of us. This misappropriation has resulted in our use of superfluous language.

His assessment is interesting in that it’s exactly what evangelicals, particularly of the emergent variety, have done with the Word of God. So in some convoluted respect, he’s right. The Bible gets eisegeted not exegeted. The Bible is best taken as a complete narrative from the context of the author(s), but this is too difficult a task to employ and it’s easier to eisegete what are misunderstood passages. They instead love to constantly allegorize from it, and THAT is what relegates it to the lowliest place. That “misappropriation of authority” he mentions conveniently fits that.

So on the one hand there are those who inappropriately exalt or deify the Bible, the Word of God, beyond its station, and on the other there are those who degrade it beneath its proper significance. As I’ve stated in the previous post, I’m of the belief that the Bible is the Word of God because of its Authorship, from Genesis to Revelation. An important point. I’ll continue to dissect this Emergent Village post in a subsequent one of my own.

A Review: A bible too far

Too far from the Christian worn path, that is. And I won’t dignify it by capitalizing the “B”, because a bible is defined as a text authoritative in its field, and this one is far from authoritative about THE Bible. The miniseries misnomered “The Bible” has so little to do with the actual Bible. The characters are the same, but that’s where the similarity ends.

I’ve watched as much of three episodes as I could tolerate before just giving up on the proverbial train wreck. There is so much Biblically wrong with it I’d need several blog posts to explain, and I’m not inclined to expend my time and energy dismantling it.There’s the complete bypassing of the story of Joseph, which is important to the biblical narrative as to how the children of Israel got to Egypt in the first place, let alone being a redemptive story in itself. At Jesus’ baptism by John, none of this “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16:17 NIV) happened, indicating non-trinitarian T.D. Jakes’ influence. Also, there is the first encounter Peter has with Jesus in which Jesus’ response to Peter asking Him what he is going to do if he follows him is, “Change the world.” Jesus didn’t come to change the world. He came, “…to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10) Essentially, it’s a historical revisionist’s dream, eliminating allegories and signs of redemption and steering the story into a series of banal leadership vignettes.

Suffice it to say three of the principal theological advisers to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s production were mega church pastors T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. That should tell the average believer enough about the obvious bias the series has toward modalism, the post-modern success gospel and Warren’s dangerous leadership principles which seem to have some basis in the führerprinzip.

Perhaps if The Bible miniseries led people to actually read the Bible for themselves it would be of benefit. Then people would realize how divergent not only the miniseries is from the real Word of God, but how far astray Burnett, Downey, Jakes, Warren and Osteen are from orthodox christianity.

Rant alert

Is everyone at Northpoint Church afraid of mentioning the name of Jesus, or is it just the people who lead from the stage for a service? Watching their online streaming of a church gathering gives me the impression that they intentionally avoid mentioning the name of Jesus in their songs, messages or even announcements. Sure, sure, all the mention of almighty God and the Father God is fine, but since we’re talking God why not be explicit and mention the God Who came to earth and lived among men? It is after all the One Whose body is the mystical church of God.

It annoys me that generally all of Northpoint Church’s speakers, Andy Stanley included, make so little mention of Jesus Christ. Their use of scripture is also incidental to the points their speakers convey as well. It’s as if they use scripture only enough to simply please anyone who has a real interest in the Bible. Otherwise scripture isn’t at all necessary to understanding life. Try listening to a typical Northpoint sermon from any of the pastors in their cycle of speakers and anyone who has a sincere interest in the Bible being exposited will be left with a dearth of spiritual nourishment. Scripture is only used in incidental ways to support the speakers’ overall points and isn’t delved into to uncover its meaning.

I suppose this is what people want because so many attend their network of churches. If pablum is what people want, then pablum is provided on a platter of pop culture. I know I shouldn’t waste my time with this sort of thing, but occasionally I’m interested in the behaviour of churches which broadcast live streaming to stay current. Northpoint is a complete disappointment for a believer of Christ.