Why Akathleptos?

Why Akathleptos? Because it means Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The term also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.

Why Patmos? Because the church is increasingly marginalized and exiled from the culture.

Why Pen-Names? So the focus is on the words and not who wrote them. We prefer to let what we say stand on its own merit. There is precedent in church history for this - i.e., the elusive identity of Ambrosiaster who wrote in the 4th century A.D.

“Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it." Blaise Pascal



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chesterton's Fence



Food for thought relating to the recent Supreme Court decision:

"In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion."

— G.K. Chesterton

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Christians Know What Is Coming"



At his DesiringGod blog, John Piper unloads with both barrels on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage. An extract:

"...  there was massive institutionalization of sin .... My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us ...... My reason for writing is to help the church feel the sorrow of these days. And the magnitude of the assault on God and his image in man .... Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions — they are all troubled because of our sins. The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them .... This is what I am writing for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction."

Must-reading in entirety.

"I Want The Three Of Us To Have A Baby"



This past Friday I was travelling when the Supreme Court announced its' tectonic ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. The day after, I was surfing the television in a hotel room and stumbled across a reality show about real estate brokers in New York City, depicting greed and audacious consumption at its' finest. It was quickly apparent the fantastic wealth of the Big Apple deluded sellers, buyers and brokers into a Fantasy-Land. Most telling was a jaw-dropping moment with one of the male brokers in a same-sex marriage, when a mutual female friend of the two "husbands" gathered them together and breathlessly announced to their excitement that she wanted the three of them "to have a baby together."

To see that on a cable television station in mid-afternoon, that allegedly focuses on "fine arts and film" and that almost 80% of all U.S. households with television currently receive, says far more on the state of the Union than the Supreme Court ruling did.

Welcome to the new world. Where anything apparently goes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"In 12 years of touring ... I would say maybe one in 10 Christian bands we toured with were actually Christian bands"



There is a noteworthy admission here by a noted "Christian" heavy metal rocker who admits to actually being an atheist who duped his fans in order to sell music - after being convicted of attempting to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife.

"Truthfully, I was an atheist,” Tim Lambesis, the lead singer and founder of As I Lay Dying told the Alternative Press in a recent interview. “I actually wasn’t the first guy in As I Lay Dying to stop being a Christian. In fact, I think I was the third. The two who remained kind of stopped talking about it, and then I’m pretty sure they dropped it, too.”

In this sad case (and many others, if we are to believe his testimony), Christianity is a facade to make money. The Christian entertainment industry is like politics in one dangerous sense; it's difficult to keep oneself grounded and avoid giving into the "Dark Side" of greed, fame and power. So many young Christians - who may be extremely talented and gifted, but are spiritually immature - are put up on a pedestal by the young church. Moral failure is almost guaranteed.

By their fruit you shall know them.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"In a world we create, nothing is inherently absurd"



Amy Hall offers some excellent wisdom on the Stand To Reason blog regarding the birth of what she calls "Transableism". (In fact, she mirrors my earlier post here on "Insanity Becoming Sane".) Her article is recommended reading.

An extract from her article ....

Because we, as Christians, think we were created by a Creator, we also think we’re bound to conform our thinking and actions to certain realities we have no right or ability to change (like the differences between the sexes and the moral truth that killing infants is wrong). But for a culture that believes human nature and society evolved—not by the reasons and purposes of Another, but by chance and human construct—there’s no human nature, moral reality, or created institutions to which we’re obligated to conform ourselves. Instead, we create our endlessly malleable identities and customs for ourselves.

Because of this basic difference in worldview, there’s no bedrock reality we can appeal to that would cause those who have this second view to rethink their preferences. Instead of following reality in order to refine their preferences, they follow their preferences wherever they lead in order to define reality. If our preferences bump up against an accepted “reality,” well then, we just change that reality to something we like better: Killing infants is okay because it means I can consistently approve of abortion. Gender-neutral bathrooms are great because they uphold my goal of not discriminating on the basis of sex in any situation. Doctors ought to cut off the perfectly healthy limbs of the “transabled” because our images of our ideal selves can never be wrong.

We can no longer appeal to absurdity in order to challenge our culture’s consistent conclusions, because in a world we create, nothing is inherently absurd. 

Her full blog is here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Off The Rails Of Orthodoxy Into Apostasy?



Philip Lee wrote on his blog here in Feb regarding the teachings of Andy Stanley, the wildly popular pastor of the Atlanta megachurch North Point. It is worth reproducing in entirety below.

Philip Lee writes,

What Andy Stanley is Teaching This Month and Why it Matters

I’ve listened to Andy Stanley’s most recent Sunday sermon three times now.  I watched the 9:00 AM service live online.  I listened to the download made available by North Point Community Church, which came from the second service and contains a few minor differences compared to the sermon I watched live.  Finally, I listened to Chris Rosebrough’s review of the sermon in the February 16 edition of Fighting for the Faith.

Why? I think what’s happening at North Point this month is going to have long-lasting effects on American, and even global, Christianity.

Andy Stanley is easily one of the top five most influential pastors in America, and maybe top 2-3.  It’s impossible to quantify such things of course, but it is easily seen if you pay attention to the broad landscape of American Evangelicalism.  It’s no secret that pastors around the country duplicate Stanley’s sermons and series, and there have been documented cases of pastors plagiarizing Stanley word-for-word.  Thousands and thousands of pastors around America and around the world look to Stanley as a leader and follow his teaching and methods.

Stanley is currently teaching a five week series titled Brand: New.  Stanley’s assumption is that Christianity has been corrupted by “Temple Model” thinking since the days of Constantine.  He defines the Temple Model as being controlled by sacred places, sacred texts, sacred men, and sincere followers.

His definition of the true Jesus religion comes from half a verse in Galatians.  In the ESV, Galatians 5:6 in its entirety reads, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”  In his sermon series, Stanley has repeatedly quoted the NIV’s translation of the second sentence of the verse which reads, “The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.”

Stanley is attempting to build a doctrine of Christianity on half of one verse.  And his version of Christianity is one in which it doesn’t matter what a person believes or does, as long as they love their neighbors.

In other words, Stanley is embracing theological liberalism.  Actually it might be better to say he’s no longer hiding his theological liberalism.

Three years ago Al Mohler asked, following an Andy Stanley sermon, if the megachurch is the new liberalism.  In that sermon, Stanley told the story of two men in his church involved in a homosexual relationship.  One man was divorced, the other still married.  Stanley told the congregation that the men were forbidden from serving in the church, not because they were in a homosexual relationship, but because one was still married and therefore committing adultery.  Many people questioned at the time if Stanley was signaling his approval of gay Christianity – the idea that a person can be actively involved in a homosexual relationship and a Christian.

When I first read about what Stanley was teaching in the Brand: New series I thought he was going to come out as gay affirming.  After listening to the first and third sermons in the series I’m not convinced he’s going to make that explicit at this time, but I do believe he is laying the groundwork to do this in the future.  Based on comments made this past Sunday, it does seem likely that Stanley is going to endorse female leadership in the church in week five of the series.

All of this is significant because of Stanley’s influence.

If Stanley openly embraces liberalism in the name of bringing more people to Jesus, thousands of others will follow. It should be noted that liberals have been making the same argument for more than two centuries, and that every church that has embraced liberalism is now dead or dying, but the arguments keep being made and people keep buying into them.

Liberalism has always denied essential doctrines of the Christian faith in order to make the faith more palatable to unbelievers.  The problem is that if people don’t believe in the God who has revealed in Himself in Scripture, if they don’t believe in the Jesus revealed in Scripture, they are not in Christ, no matter what they call themselves.

The seeker-sensitive movement, in which Stanley is a major player, seeks to make Christianity as accessible as possible to the largest number of people possible.  Up to now, most seeker-sensitive churches have remained theologically sound on paper while functioning as liberal churches.  They’ve managed to keep their feet in both worlds.

I think that’s about to change.

Stanley has been always been zeroed in on what’s happening in the culture.  Twenty years ago when he started North Point in the heart of the Bible Belt, he could not have survived by openly embracing liberalism.  The Bible Belt culture simply would not have tolerated a pastor who openly endorsed homosexual Christianity, female pastors, a denial of the Biblical account of creation, or any of the other hot-button issues of our day.

Things have changed.  Even among professing Christians today, very few still hold to those positions.  Stanley now sees that it is more costly to deny that a homosexual can be involved in homosexual sin and be a Christian than it is to embrace gay Christianity.  Even in the Bible Belt, it will be more costly to deny evolution than embrace it.

So, he will say that it doesn’t matter what a person believes as long as they love.

It was very telling, and honestly shocking, that it in this past Sunday’s sermon he indicated that it didn’t matter that Arius believed Jesus wasn’t eternal.  For 1700 years virtually every branch of religion that calls itself Christian; Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism has agreed that Arius was a heretic who was outside the Christian faith.  Stanley said Sunday that it was no big deal.  It doesn’t matter what a person believes, as long as they love.

The problem is that Jesus and the Apostles repeatedly warned against those who would proclaim a different gospel or a different Jesus.  A Jesus who is not eternally God, as Arius taught, is most certainly a different Jesus than the one revealed in Scripture.  The blood of a different Jesus can not atone for our sins.

I do believe that God’s grace is such that those who are unknowingly caught up in a false system can be saved in spite of what they’re being taught if they recognize their sinfulness and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins.  But woe to those who preach a different gospel.  It’s ironic that Stanley is using a verse from Galatians as the foundation for his series.  In Galatians 1:6-9 Paul wrote:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

The immediate context of Paul’s letter to the Galatians was the Judaizers attempting to make circumcision a requirement for salvation.  Stanley is clearly not doing that.  But, in saying that the only thing that matters at the end of the day is how well we’ve loved our neighbors, he is coming dangerously close to preaching a different gospel and putting people back under the yoke of the Law, if he hasn’t crossed the line.

The summary of the Law and the Prophets, according to Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40, is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Loving your neighbor as you love yourself is Law, and the Law cannot save you unless you keep it perfectly from the day you’re born until the day you die.  The problem?  We’re all born dead in trespasses and sins and cannot keep the Law.  We’re all guilty.  So telling people it doesn’t matter what they believe as long as they love others is actually putting people back under the yoke of the Law.

Should we love God? Absolutely! Should we love our neighbors? Absolutely!  But if we try to do so without being given new life by God’s grace through faith in the Jesus revealed to us in Scripture, we remain dead in our trespasses and sins and children of God’s wrath.  There is no salvation without repentance and faith in the true Jesus.

I don’t yet know what Stanley is going to say in the final two sermons of this series.  I think we all need to be paying attention though.  Stanley’s influence is such that if he goes off the rails of orthodoxy and into apostasy, American Christianity as we know it will change forever.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

Source: By Philip Lee, What Andy Stanley is Teaching This Month and Why it Matters, 24 Emmaus Rd, http://24emmausroad.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/what-andy-stanley-is-teaching-this.html, Published 17/02/2015

You Will Be Assimilated



Brandon Eich, co-founder & CEO of Mozilla, was fired last year when it was discovered that, six years earlier, he donated $1,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign. That California ballot initiative that imited marriage to one man and one woman, passed with a larger percentage of the vote in California than Barack Obama received nationally in 2012. No one who knew Eich accused him of treating his gay coworkers badly—by all accounts he was kind and generous to his colleagues. Nonetheless, because he provided modest financial support to a lawful ballot initiative that passed with a majority vote, it was decided he was no longer fit for leadership..

Jonathan Last correctly points out that this incident

..... shows that the same-sex marriage movement is interested in a great deal more than just the freedom to form marital unions. It is also interested, quite keenly, in punishing dissenters. But the ambitions of the movement go further than that, even. It’s about revisiting legal notions of freedom of speech and association, constitutional protections for religious freedom, and cultural norms concerning the family. And most Americans are only just realizing that these are the societal compacts that have been pried open for negotiation.

From the perspective of the same-sex marriage movement, resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"Stop! The bridge is out."



Walt Heyer is a former transgender with a dire warning for Bruce Jenner's exploration into transgenderism. Walt talks about his own decision to futilely try changing from a man to woman at age 42. While he was initially happy, the gender romance ended after 8 years when his

... once-successful transition turned on me. I mean the exhilaration from the early days wore off, and I found myself reflecting on my transition. I came to realize that all the changes to my appearance, dramatic and effective as they were, were only cosmetic. All the changes to my identity documents—birth certificate, driver’s license, Social Security card—were in name only, simply words on the paper.

He goes on with the frank admission,

The reality that I was not a woman was just too much for me. Unexpectedly, my emotions plunged downward and overwhelmed me. All the gender specialists I consulted assured me I was a true transgender. They encouraged me to stick with my female gender, but eight years was long enough. It was over.

The shame of being so narcissistic and self-absorbed as a transgender female and knowing I had hurt the ones I loved resulted in deep depression and regret. I started to consider suicide. That’s what I mean when I say my once successful transition turned on me. I discovered much too late that gender change surgery was not a medical necessity at all. I can admit that transition was the biggest mistake of my life.

He is correct in affirming Bruce Jenner needs concern and help, not the fawning admiration and over-the-top accolades the culture and media is throwing at him.

His warning to Bruce Jenner? "Stop! The bridge is out."

My hat is off to Walt for his honesty. His experience is must-reading for anyone that is deluded into thinking transgenderism is a positive change. Walt Heyer's full article is here. He also has a personal web site entitled "Sex Change Regret" with additional resources and research here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Confused World Of Andy Stanley



A video clip is circulating of Andy Stanley, pastor of the prominent North Point Community Church in Georgia, with the enomorously popular pastor serving up muddled and ambiguous statements on creation, the historicity of Adam and Eve, the infallibility of Scripture, and faith. The original YouTube video was removed shortly after critical analysis of it appeared online. The original video may still be viewed here.


While Stanley does not (intentionally) affirm the fallibility of Scripture, he clearly is not upholding its' infallibility and his flawed reasoning leaves the viewer wondering exactly what he does believe. By his own testimony, Andy Stanley does not believe Adam & Eve to be historical on the basis of the Genesis record (he apparently doesn't necessarily believe anything affirmed in Scripture on that basis alone?). But - because Jesus said they were historical, he believes it. 


Huh?

The problem is that we know the statements of Jesus only from the Bible. In other words, we know what Jesus said because it is recorded in the Bible. This does not make logical sense. Stanley does not necessarily believe the Genesis account recorded in Scripture ... but he has no problem believing the Scriptural record of what Jesus said about it.

Either the Bible is reliable as a source of trustworthy information or it is not. Yes, Jesus affirmed the historicity of Adam and Eve. And how exactly do we know that? By reading it in the Bible. The Bible is our sole source for what Jesus said. While Andy Stanley seemingly has no problem believing anything Scripture records Jesus to have said, he has an apparent dilemma believing Scriptural accounts (even when clearly presented) apart from the recorded words of Jesus. (I have to wonder if this doesn't also explain his bewildering stance on homosexuality? He seems to regard scriptural issues that are not directly addressed by Jesus with less authority.)

He seems to be arbitrarily picking and choosing which Scriptures are reliable and which are not. Andy Stanley is a poor model for Christian apologetics with his confusion the inevitable result of pragmatic compromise.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Androgynous Rebellion



There is a reason Mel Gibson depicted Satan as androgynous in his 2004 move "Passion of the Christ". Scripture affirms that the pinnacle of God's creation, and only part said to be made in the Creator's image, is mankind distinctly male and female (Gen 1:27). The depiction of Satan as androgynous with its associated blurring of the complementarian male/female distinction, represents the marring of God's "Piece De Resistance" - an assault on the Creator through His most-prized creation.

The culture's exploding gender confusion is a symptom of a surfacing deep-rooted rebellion against God, going beyond "transgender" into "gender fluidity" - i.e., Ruby Rose, the tattooed actress and model who now identifies as “gender fluid". As she says,

Gender fluidity is not really feeling like you’re at one end of the spectrum or the other. For the most part, I definitely don’t identify as any gender. I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which-in my perfect imagination-is like having the best of both sexes,

Our culture is defiantly shaking its fist at God.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Exorcismo Magno"




The Romans Catholic church conducted a secret nation-wide exorcism of Mexico last month, carried out quietly in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí. High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as “Exorcismo Magno.”

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, the archbishop emeritus of Guadalajara, presided at the closed doors ceremony, the first ever in the history of Mexico. Also participating were Archbishop Jesús Carlos Cabrero of San Luis Potosí, Spanish demonologist and exorcist Father José Antonio Fortea, and a smaller group of priests and lay people. The event was not made known to the general public beforehand. According to Archbishop Cabrero, the reserved character of the May 20 ceremony was intended to avoid any misguided interpretations of the ritual.

Fr. Fortea said that “the exorcism performed in San Luís Potosí is the first ever carried out in Mexico in which the exorcists came from different parts of the country and gathered together to exorcise the powers of darkness, not from a person, but from the whole country.”

*******

Kudos to the Roman Catholics for recognizing the reality of supernatural evil.

The wholesale acceptance of homosexuality in our culture and meteoric rise of militant homosexualism can only be ascribed to demonic power - especially when you understand that homosexuals comprise less than 2% of the population (i.e., see here.)

Given the road our culture is now speeding down (gay marriage, divorce, drugs, abortion, violence, pornography, greed, corruption, etc.) , an "Exorcismo Magno" may be in our future to help restore sanity and peace.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Full Page Newspaper Ad Warns Supreme Court Of Christian Disobedience



A coalition of Christians and Jews who vow civil disobedience if the Supreme Court redefines marriage this month placed a full-page ad in Wednesday’s newspaper asking all to sign their pledge to defend marriage. Written as an open letter to the Supreme Court, the ad includes the signatures of more than 80 Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Jewish religious or cultural leaders, as well as politicians. The ad appears in a full-page ad in the Washington Post, USA Today and other papers.


Insanity Becomes Sane



Traditionally, reality was viewed as external and independent to self. In other words, one conformed to external truth if they wished to acknowledge and live according to reality. Historically when someone believed reality was whatever they made it be in their mind - regardless of how conflicted their understanding was with the real world - they were adjudged insane.

No longer.

Humanism is internally anchored in self who is the final determinate for reality. Christianity, on the other hand, is externally rooted in ultimate reality - the one, true God. The Christian worldview is diametrically opposed to the humanist worldview; these two worldviews stand in unalterable opposition. As oil to water, the two cannot be reconciled.

Today, people increasingly invent and live in their own reality. From their perspective, those who still choose to live in accordance with external reality (rooted in God) are the insane ones. In other words, the insane becomes sane and the sane is insane. As more people reject and scoff at the external revealed truth of God and choose to invent their own reality, the culture slips deeper into insanity. As evil rears up with expanding scope and intensity, the insanity proliferates.

Two contemporary examples:

  1.  the (now-resigned) head of the NAACP chapter in Spokane Washington, Rachel Dolezal, who falsely presented herself as an African-American for years. 
  2. Bruce Jenner's claim that he is now a woman
Upsetting Rachel's apple-cart, her estranged Caucasian parents finally revealed that Rachael was born Caucasian and they are at a loss to explain why their daughter presents herself as a black person. Despite the external reality of being born Caucasian, Rachel in her mind is black; that is her "reality". (Making things even more bizarre, Al Sharpton criticized the parents of Rachel Dolezal for revealing her to be a white woman and not an African-American, as she claims. It has also come to light that Rachel sued Howard University in 2002 for discriminating against her for being white - see here. For telling the truth, her parents are scorned.)

Regarding Bruce Jenner, never mind that it si biologically impossible to surgically change genders - i.e., see here. External reality doesn't matter, only what Bruce believes in his mind. Jasmine Holmes at the DesiringGod blog contrasts Bruce Jenner's claim to now be female to Rachel's claim to be black. As she astutely points out,

Jenner and Dolezal are both bucking against the people that God created them to be. Neither one of them was born into the body that they would have preferred, and by changing their present status, they are trying to change a backstory that they never wrote in the first place. 

But none of that matters to a culture that is busy inventing their own reality. Sean Davis, at the Federalist, asks the question that is begging to be asked, "If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?" As Sean says,

How can anyone with even the most tenuous grip on reality possibly argue that Jenner, who’s undergone zero surgery (not that that can change one’s chromosomes, which are entirely responsible for determining one’s sex), is not pretending to be a woman? How can you not see the glaring similarities between Jenner’s shtick and Dolezal’s? Nearly overnight, it would appear that the long-standing ideas of race as a social construct and gender as a biological construct have been flipped on their heads.

Contrast the insane and sane in Scripture. You frequently see that what is true reality is often judged as "insane" by an unbelieving world. And vice-versa. But those who reject God's reality (the only true reality) ultimately live in a fantasy and are the truly insane. Evil by nature, cultivates insanity.
  • Jesus was frequently accused of demonic possession as He articulated the truth of the Kingdom of God (i.e., John 10:20).
  • In Luke 8, the Gadarene demoniac was insane until Jesus freed him from the afflicting evil spirits, after which he is said to be in his "right" mind. 
  • In Acts 26, Paul is accused of insanity by the Porcius Festus, the Roman governor of Judea, of being insane when Paul proclaims the truth of the resurrection - to which Paul responds that he is speaking the real truth.
  • In Daniel 4 the great king of Babylon (Nebuchadnezzar) is struck with insanity when he denies the reality of the sovereign true God.
  • In 1 Samuel 16, the Spirit of God departs from Samuel, after which the king exhibits growing insanity and paranoia.
  • 1 Cor 3 contrasts the true wisdom of God with the foolish "wisdom" of the world. The message of the cross the viewed as insane (foolishness) by the word (1 Cor 1:18).
To be gripped in sin is to experience the gradual loss of the perspective on true reality. The deeper one becomes ensnared in sin, the greater the grip of insanity becomes. As sin proliferates in our culture, insanity spreads. The divide grows between those living in their invented reality and those who keep their anchor in external reality. In the fabricated reality of humanism, insanity becomes sane and sanity is insane.

Only the liberating power of Christ can free us from the insanity. Otherwise, our culture is destined to follow Alice down the rabbit hole ever deeper into Wonderland.

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Being gay-friendly is not optional; it is a commandment from Jesus. But being an advocate for the gay lifestyle contradicts God's word"



Franklin Graham released an explanation on why his organization (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) moved its accounts from Well Fargo. I think he did a respectable job of differentiating the crucial difference between being "gay-friendly" (which all Christians should be) and being a "gay-advocate" (which no Christian should be).

Extract from his statement:

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association did not decide to move our ministry bank accounts from Wells Fargo simply because the San Francisco-based bank is "gay-friendly." Indeed, the bank we transferred our accounts to — BB&T based in Winston-Salem, N.C. — is also widely considered gay-friendly. In fact, it may surprise some to learn that I think every business should be gay-friendly. By that I mean businesses — like individuals — should be friendly to gay customers and citizens. We should be friendly to everyone, even if or when we disagree with them.

Both of these national banks rank high on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index — the organization's ranking of businesses according to workplace equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. So why did we move from one bank to the other? Because, in our view, Wells Fargo went beyond being gay-friendly to being a public advocate — through a national TV advertising campaign — for a lifestyle we, as a Christian organization, believe to be biblically wrong. (The ad featured a lesbian couple with their adopted child.)

His complete statement is here.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christianophobia



"Christianophobia" exists among a powerful elite subculture in the United States, University of North Texas sociologists George Yancey and David Williamson wrote in So Many Christians, So Few Lions: Is There Christianophobia in the United States?  While Yancey co-wrote that book from an academic perspective, he now writes as a Christian speaking to the church in Hostile Environment on how Christians should respond to anti-Christian hostility. (The book is here.)

Yancey is careful throughout the book to distinguish between the discrimination against Christians in the United States and the violence against Christians in other parts of the world. He does not use the word "persecution," for instance, to describe the negative experiences of Christians domestically.

"Christians are not being persecuted, but religious discrimination and bigotry in our society can affect us. We should combat that discrimination and bigotry when it rears its ugly head", he says.

In response to the question what people with Christianophobia want, he replies,

"In a nutshell they want Christians to shut up and stay in their homes and churches. They also argue that Christians are leading us back to the "Dark Ages," want to set up a theocracy, and oppose science. They also demand that Christians do not proselytize others since they believe that Christians are not very intelligent or are trying to manipulate others for money or power.

These beliefs and stereotypes provide them with justification to assert that they, and not Christians, should run our society and government. For this reason it is not surprising that they want Christians to stay out of the public square."

Regarding persecution he observes,

"There are Christians who cry persecution at everything. Let me be clear that I am not, nor have I ever, argued that Christians in the United States are being persecuted. Christians in the United States, unlike Christians in certain other countries, are not thrown in jail, or killed specifically because of their faith. If that changes in the future then I will talk of Christians being persecuted in the United States. But right now, it is imprudent for Christians in the United States to talk about persecution."

From the description of the book,

"The only good Christian is a dead Christian."

In our heated cultural environment, comments like this are increasingly common. Sometimes Christians are too quick to claim that they are being persecuted. But Christians aren't just being paranoid or alarmist. Anti-Christian hostility is real.

Sociologist George Yancey explores the phenomenon of Christianophobia, an intense animosity against Christians and the Christian faith. Among some circles, opposition to Christianity manifests much like other historic prejudices like anti-Semitism or racial discrimination. While Christianophobia in the United States does not typically rise to the violent levels of religious persecution in other parts of the world, Christians are often still treated in ways that perpetuate negative stereotypes and contribute to culture war acrimony.

Yancey unpacks the underlying perspectives and root causes of Christianophobia, and he considers to what extent Christians have themselves contributed to anti-Christian hostility. At times, criticisms of Christians are justified, but Christians can confront untruths without capitulation. In this truthful yet hope-filled treatise, Yancey shows how Christians can respond more constructively, defusing tensions and working toward the common good.

"The Institution Of Marriage Should Not Exist"



A frank admission comes from Masha Gessen, a gay-rights activist ...

It’s a no-brainer that [homosexuals] should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist…. Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there -- because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist….

I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally…. I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three…. And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.

And as Paul Kengor observes concerning her remarks,

It’s a no-brainer that what she’s saying will come to fruition once the steadfast institution of man-woman marriage is no longer the standard. That is the breach to open the floodgates.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Americans Are Buying Into A Fast-Talking Sales Pitch Without Reading The Print"



Stella Morabito has an interesting article entitled "How To Escape The Age Of Mass Delusion" here. As she observes, "A lot of people are scratching their heads today, wondering how life got to be so surreal, so fast in the United States of America."  She astutely points out that an age of mass delusion has descended upon America, as though "Americans are buying into a fast-talking sales pitch without being allowed to read the print, whether it’s large print or small."

While her solution (free speech) is short-sighted, she is spot-on with her analysis that,

"The transformation of the free human mind to an automatically responding machine” is essentially the story of the transformation of the United States of America we are watching in real time today."

Scripture reveals the god of this age (Satan) blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Cor 4:4). But it's not just Satan. Scripture also warns us that we can reach a tipping point in our rebellion against God and His revealed truth where God finally sends a delusion that inverts truth (therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false 2 Thess 2:11). Reaping what we sowed, we reach the point where we proclaim evil as good, and good as evil.

Caught up in mass delusion, this is precisely what is happening to our culture as it descends with increasing rapidity into deeper depravity. The question raised by Stella is appropriate - how does one escape this age of mass delusion?

The solution is not as simple as the "free speech" she advocates. That's like using a rifle against an enemy who has deployed nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Caught in the Matrix like Neo in the 1999 movie, we are incapable of seeing reality for what it really is unless someone else frees us. Just as Morpheus offers Neo the choice to stay comfortably deluded or "wake up" to reality, Christ (the only One with the power to do so) offers us the same.

As the Psalmist prays in 119:18 to the Lord, "Open my eyes that I may see ..."

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tony Campolo Endorses Homosexuality



Tony Campolo announced on his web site here on Monday that he is endorsing and speaking out for the inclusion of open homosexuals in the Body of Christ. Fearfully, he may signal the start of a soon-coming avalanche of prominent evangelicals heading into apostasy.

“It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church,” he wrote on his website.

Oddly, his decision as a popular theologian carries no theological exposition or Biblical justification despite "countless hours of study." He makes clear that the strongest catalyst for his decision, is his wife who is a long-time activist for homosexuality.

Prov 14:12 warns us, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."

Faster Than Can Be Humanly Perceived



Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor 15:51-52)

The U.S. nuclear submarine Thresher, which sank in 1963 with the loss of all 129 men on board, remains the world's worst submarine disaster in terms of lives lost. The most advanced submarine of its time was on sea trials performing a deep dive submerging to a test depth of 1,300 feet. Her predicted "crush" depth (the depth at which the ocean pressure would be great enough to implode the sub) was 1,950 feet. Something went wrong though when she reached the designated test depth and the crew radio'd to the accompanying surface vessel they were blowing ballast and attempting to surface. But the sub continued to slowly sink - way past the estimated crush depth of 1,950 feet to more than 2,400 feet - at which point it violently imploded.

According to the Navy archives,

Measurements made during the instrumented sinking of the discarded diesel-electric submarine Sterlet in 1969 are consistent with the conclusion that the water-ram produced by the initial breaching of the Thresher's pressure hull at 2,400 feet entered the pressure hull with a velocity of about 2,600 mph [well over 3 times the speed of sound at sea level]. The analysis of the SOSUS detection of the collapse event — the bubble-pulse frequency — also indicated that the pressure hull and all internal compartments were destroyed in about one-tenth of a second, significantly less than the minimum time required for perception of the event by the men on board.

In other words, the end occurred so fast that it could not be perceived by the crew of Thresher.

There is an analogy here for the end of the age that Scripture warns us about. Jesus told us that His return, while preceded by clear warning signs, would be as sudden as lightning (Matt 24:27).

As the Thresher sank, the men aboard would have heard very clear warnings of what was to come - piping and fittings giving way. They would have listened as the ship’s hull creaked and groaned, until it finally, deafeningly gave way to massive water pressure as the sub imploded. Similarly, Christ tells us there will be warning signs of His impending return (i.e., Matt 24), but also that no man knows the day or hour (Matt 24:36). While Thresher's crew knew what was inevitable and experienced the clear warning signs of the approaching end, they did not know with certainty when it would happen. Indeed, the sub sank almost 500 feet beyond the predicted crush depth before imploding.

We see clear warning signs today of the promised return of Christ, but we do not know with certainty when it will happen. It may occur later than people think. But - like the implosion of the Thresher - when it does happen, it will occur with blinding speed, faster than can be humanly perceived. In the twinkling of an eye.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Cheap Grace Inevitably Puts The Recipient On "Shutter Island"



"Shutter Island" is the 2010 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a former U.S. Marshall that lives in denial of his horrible sin, cocooned in a fantasy world of his own creation. Unable to deal with the truth, he lives in a surreal fantasy at a mental hospital on Shutter Island.

I became a Christian while in college in 1974 through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. They had it right with their ubiquitous "4 Spiritual Laws" written by the late Bill Bright, the founder that organization. Easy to communicate and understand, in a nutshell:
  1. God loves you.
  2. Man is separated from God by his sin.
  3. Jesus Christ is the only answer to the separation between God and sinful man.
  4. To be saved, each person must repent in faith and accept Christ's atoning death for their sin.
Repentance (a willful change of mind and heart) remains predominate today in the message of Campus Crusade for Christ; indeed it has been a faithful and critical component of the true gospel for two millennia. Unfortunately, it is disappearing today from many quarters of the church in a flurry of "cheap grace."

The term “cheap grace” originates in the book "The Cost of Discipleship" by German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, published in 1937. (Bonhoeffer would ultimately die a martyr in April 1945 for publicly speaking out against Hitler.) In that book, Bonhoeffer defined “cheap grace” as

“the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” 

Bonhoeffer labeled "cheap grace" as the "deadly enemy of the church."

Unquestionably everyone is a recipient of the "common" grace of God - i.e., the rain falls on the just and unjust (Matt 5:45). Without getting into the distinction between "common" and "special" grace, the ultimate question everyone must ask themselves:  Is saving grace (salvation) available without repentance?
  • If you answer "no", then repentance must be part of your declaration of the gospel; otherwise you preach a false gospel according to your own worldview.
  • If you answer "yes", then the logical and ultimate conclusion of your worldview is universalism. But ... how do you interpret the warning of Jesus in Luke 13:3, "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."?
Of course, it is the grace of God that precedes and initiates the work of repentance - which opens the door for real freedom. But one who never repents and still believes themselves to be saved from sin, is deluded (Matt 7:23). Their "faith" is ultimately proven false by their lack of repentance. Cheap grace is the false gospel of Joel Osteen. As Tim Keller observes, "Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life-repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus."

Wayne Grudem addressed the issue of salvation without repentance from sin in his Nov 2014 address to the Evangelical Theological Society. His key points:
  • Free Grace theology is based on a misunderstanding of word “alone” in the historic Protestant affirmation of justification by “faith alone”. The consistent Protestant teaching from the Reformation onward has never taken “faith alone” to mean “faith that occurs by itself in a person, unaccompanied by other human activities.” The Reformers always took “faith alone” to mean that “faith is the only thing that God responds to.” And so – Reformation teaching was: We are justified by faith alone [it alone is what God requires] but the faith that justifies is never alone [repentance, good works, other things always come with it]
  • The Free Grace movement today is not upholding the Reformation doctrine of sola fide, or “justification by faith alone.” It is promoting a view of saving faith that the Reformers never held.
  • Free Grace theology weakens the gospel message by avoiding any call to unbelievers to repent of their sins.
  • Free Grace theology gives false assurance of eternal life to many people who profess faith in Christ but then show no evidence in their pattern of life.
Wayne Grudem's comments in full can be found here.

There is clear distinction between confession and repentance. Confessing your sins is akin to a criminal confessing to a crime. You are simply admitting you did something wrong, but you’re not necessarily sorry. Confession is not the same as repentance. In confession we are merely agreeing with God that we sinned.

Repentance, on the other hand, is a matter of changing our mind and heart attitude. John Piper gives us insight into the biblical meaning of repentance:

"... repentance is an internal change of mind and heart rather than mere sorrow for sin or mere improvement of behavior. First, the meaning of the Greek word behind the English “repent” (metanoeo) points in this direction. It has two parts: meta and noeo. The second part (noeo) refers to the mind and its thoughts and perceptions and dispositions and purposes. The first part (meta) is a prefix that regularly means movement or change. So the basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes."

The primary message of John the Baptist was to repent (Matt 3:2). The opening pronouncement by Jesus when He begins public ministry is the proclamation to "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17). The first demand from Christ (yes, Christ demands of us) for those that would follow Him, is repentance. The risen Christ exhorts his followers to proclaim "repentance and forgiveness of sins" to all nations in His name (Luke 24:47).

More is said about repentance in the Book of Acts than in any other book of the Bible (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20; 28:20). Read through Acts and note how predominant repentance is in the message of the early church. Acts speaks of "repentance that leads to life" (Acts 11:18). Repentance opens the door to true freedom. Without it, there is only a false illusion of grace.

John Piper has some sobering words regarding forgiveness without repentance:

"..... forgiveness of an unrepentant person doesn't look the same as forgiveness of a repentant person. In fact I am not sure that in the Bible the term forgiveness is ever applied to an unrepentant person. Jesus said in Luke 17:3–4, "Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him." So there's a sense in which full forgiveness is only possible in response to repentance."

Repentance is not just for the unsaved. In the Revelation messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor, Christ commands them to repent 6 times (Rev 2:5; 2:16; 2:21, 22; 3:3; 3:19). He warns the church at Ephesus if tbey do not repent, He will remove their lampstand.

This does not mean we should not forgive an unrepentant person who sins against us. As John Piper observes, "even when a person does not repent (cf. Matthew 18:17), we are commanded to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). The difference is that when a person who wronged us does not repent with contrition and confession and conversion (turning from sin to righteousness), he cuts off the full work of forgiveness. We can still lay down our ill will; we can hand over our anger to God; we can seek to do him good; but we cannot carry through reconciliation or intimacy." 

Thomas Watson says in his book "Body of Divinity", "We are not bound to trust an enemy; but we are bound to forgive him. You can actually look someone in the face and say: I forgive you, but I don't trust you."

Recipients of cheap grace live in a fantasy on Shutter Island. Recipients of true grace have repented in faith and live in the kingdom of God.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fact: It Is Biologically Impossible To Surgically Change Gender



Dr. Paul Mchugh of John Hopkins has weighed in on the ballooning acceptance of transgender surgery. Unlike many within the government and media who are falling all over themselves with emotional "Kumbaya" arguments in support of this issue, he brings facts to the table that clearly throw up red flags.

Some of the pertinent points he raises (which are conveniently ignored by transgender survery advocates):
  • When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings.
  • Johns Hopkins University in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into "sex-reassignment surgery"— and subsequently launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as "satisfied" by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn't have the surgery. As a result, Hopkins stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a "satisfied" but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.
  • A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. 
  • Young men and women by nature are susceptible to suggestion from "everything is normal" sex education, amplified by Internet chat groups. These are the transgender subjects most like anorexia nervosa patients: They become persuaded that seeking a drastic physical change will banish their psycho-social problems. "Diversity" counselors in their schools, rather like cult leaders, may encourage these young people to distance themselves from their families and offer advice on rebutting arguments against having transgender surgery. 
  • Some children notice distinct sex roles in the culture and, exploring how they fit in, begin imitating the opposite sex. Misguided doctors at medical centers including Boston's Children's Hospital have begun trying to treat this behavior by administering puberty-delaying hormones to render later sex-change surgeries less onerous—even though the drugs stunt the children's growth and risk causing sterility. Given that close to 80% of such children would abandon their confusion and grow naturally into adult life if untreated, these medical interventions come close to child abuse.
  • "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.
I might add to his last point that "sex change" is biologically impossible. It may surprise you to learn that -- like humans -- cells can be male or female. In other words, sex differences exist at the cellular level: cells have a sex. Male and female cells are fundamentally dissimilar on a genetic level. Each human cell line is derived from a single donor, and like every cell in the human body, each of the acquired cells contains 23 pairs of coiled DNA, called chromosomes. Included in this group are the two sex chromosomes: simply dubbed X and Y. Cells in women's bodies have two X chromosomes (XX), while cells in men's bodies have one X and one Y (XY). Thus, we get our male and female cells. It is genetically impossible to change the sex at the cellular level.

Dr. McHugh's entire article is here.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

If you’re not paying for the product, then YOU probably are the product



The Bible warns of global domination at the end of the age before the return of Christ. So complete will be the worldwide tyranny that people who refuse to submit will be denied the ability to engage in commerce of any kind (Rev 13:17).

How is that kind of control even possible?

As Michael Carney warned us in May 2013 in an article entitled "You are your data: The scary future of the quantified self movement",

The amount of personal data that is now online for individuals is frightening. Few if any consumers who fell behind on their credit card payments in the early 2000s thought that half a decade later employers would use their credit report to determine their job worthiness. Few avid social media users must have realized that insurance companies, the IRS, law enforcement, and credit agencies would soon use their their data to investigate fraud, determine creditworthiness, and monitor other potentially illegal activity.

As we document and share more of where we go, what we do, who we spend time with, what we eat, what we buy, how hard we exert ourselves, and so on, we create more data that companies can and will use to evaluate our worthiness – or lack thereof – for their products, services, and opportunities. For those of us who don’t measure up compared to the rest of the population, the outcome won’t be pretty.

Facebook is enormously popular among a populace who may be outraged by the data capturing and spying revealed by Edward Snowden, but - in fact - are gullibly sharing the most personal and intimate details of their lives. What kind of data are Facebook users handing over to a public company with investors, shareholders and government ties? Daylan Pierce is the Digital Experience Manager at APD; he enlightens us as to just how much personal data Facebook collects on its users. Here is the standard stuff users provide Facebook …
  • Name
  • City of birth
  • City of residence
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Current employmentPrevious employment
  • Relationship
  • Anniversary
  • Previous relationships
  • Previous names (aliases)
  • Screen names
  • Address book
  • Family members
  • Birthday
  • Religious views
  • Address
  • Website
  • Email address(s)
  • Sexual preference
  • Gender
  • Languages spoken
  • Political views
  • Friends
  • Books you’ve read
  • Bands you like
  • Movies you’ve seen
  • TV Shows you watch
  • Video games you play
  • Food you eat
  • Your Favorite Athletes
  • Restaurants you’ve eaten at
  • Activities you participate in
  • Websites you visit
  • Sports teams you support
  • Your Favorite Sports
  • Inspirational people
  • Favorite Clothing brands
  • Places you’ve visited
  • Events you’ve attended
  • Events you plan on attending
  • Events your friends are attending
  • Major life events (location, dates, who with)
  • Photos
  • Pokes
  • Wall posts
  • Private (haha yeah right) messages
  • Groups you’ve joined
  • Networks you are a part of
That’s just the standard stuff. Let’s look a little bit deeper. Here's even more data collected by Facebook …
  • Videos you’ve watched
  • Comments you’ve liked
  • Websites you’ve visited
  • Articles and websites you’ve commented on
  • Surveys you’ve filled out
  • Companies you like
  • People you’ve been tagged with
  • People you frequently hang out with
  • Friends you’ve requested
  • Friends you denied
  • Friends you’ve un-friended
  • How often you are online
  • Apps you Admin/created
  • Pages you admin/created
  • Your current mood
  • Device you’ve accessed the Internet from
  • Exact Geo-location (longitude, altitude, latitude, time/date stamp)
  • TV, Film, Concert you are currently watching
  • ook or publication you are currently reading
  • Audio you are currently listening too
  • Drink you are currently drinking
  • Food you are currently eating
  • Activities you participate in
  • Advertising you interact with
  • Profiles you interact with most
  • Locations you access Facebook
  • Locations you access web properties connected to Facebook
  • Level of online engagement
  • When you changed jobs
  • How long you stayed in a job
  • Credit card details
  • IP Address
  • Apps you’ve downloaded
  • Games you’ve played
  • Pages/Businesses you’ve un-liked (when)
Daylan downloaded all of the data Facebook collected on him and received a zipped file that was 42 megabytes in size - roughly equivalent to well over a foot of books on a shelf, or one encyclopedia volume. And that is the amount of data collected by Facebook on just one person.

There are numerous articles warning that Google is capturing everything users do, and we freely give it to them. They provided us the tool to do it and we did it with very few questions asked. It’s getting more and more difficult to keep our online (and offline) activities private, but the general public’s apathy towards this issue is as much to blame as anything else.

Imagine what else could be done with this vast amount of detailed data? Imagine how efficient McCarthyism in the 50’s would have been with data like this. Or perhaps a government looking to identify someone with a certain belief or a group who is outspoken about certain topics. There are (currently) billions of in-depth records of opinions, details and conversations dating back to 2005 that people have willingly provided.

And now comes the astonishing revelation  in leaked documents from the secret Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) that there will be global access to all citizen's data. From the article in Forbes,

Under the draft provisions of the latest trade deal to be leaked by Wikileaks, countries could be barred from trying to control where their citizens’ personal data is held or whether it’s accessible from outside the country.

Wikileaks has released 17 documents relating to the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), currently under negotiation between the US, the European Union and 23 other nations. These negotiating texts are supposed to remain secret for five years after TISA is finalized and brought into force.

Ironically, people who probably teach their children not to talk to strangers are willingly (even joyfully) sharing the most intimate details of their lives with total strangers who ultimately will make it available to whomever is willing to pay for it - or, more ominously, a government that demands it.

If, as some claim, knowledge is power ... then someone is setting up to become the most powerful human on planet earth.

Old Enough To Remember And Cry



There is an interesting passage in Ezra 3:12:

But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy,

Most commentators believe the reference is to those Jews old enough to remember the glory of Solomon's Temple who were weeping because this second temple could not match the glory of the first one. The majority of the Jews however, were not old enough to remember the First Temple and had a much different perspective.

I think this phenomenon is also happening in the Church today. Those old enough to remember a different time have a much different perspective than young Christians. Those Christians old enough to remember a time when ...
  • abortion was still illegal
  • pornography was not freely available via the internet (there was no internet)
  • divorce was considered shameful
  • babies born out of wedlock were rare
  • television was safe for any member of the family, no matter how young, to watch at any time of the day or night (there were only a handful of television stations and none broadcast 24/7)
  • the discipline problems in school were chewing gum, dress code violations and talking in class
  • public profanity was almost unheard of
  • there was no such thing as gay marriage or transgenderism
  • the church was generally respected even by those outside the faith
 .... hang their head in shame and silently weep for today's culture.

If Gallup is correct, even most liberals believe America is in moral decline with a majority of social liberals (58%) answering the recent poll that moral values are getting worse. But those not old enough to remember grew up amidst a different culture that is worlds-away. They have a much different mindset; for them the new morality is the norm. From their perspective, all is well.

But the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"Let's keep it subdued, so no one needs to squint."



Susan Stamper Brown has an intriguing editorial musing "Who's Responsible for America's Moral Decline?" While you may not agree with her analysis of the root cause, she definitely hits the nail on the head with this bit of wisdom ...

Today, more often than not, Jesus' command for Christians to be "light" in a dark world is translated "let's keep it subdued, so no one needs to squint." In fashion photography, soft light works because it helps to conceal the unvarnished reality. In sharp contrast, pure light reveals an honest picture, flaws and all. Interestingly, when Jesus revealed himself to the Christian persecutor, Saul, he appeared in light so harsh and offensively bright, Saul was temporarily blinded. Saul's blindness slowed him down long enough to see the contrast between truth and lies, right and wrong, leading to a conversion so complete, his name was changed from Saul to Paul.

Some would rather spread buttercream icing over cow manure than call this moral decline for what it is. University Professor of Law and Political Science, Edward L. Rubin, who, according to Vanderbilt's news link, says America's nosedive into the moral abyss is nothing to fret about because we are just shifting to a "new morality" based on a "concept of self-fulfillment." Rubin suggests this fluffed-up version of hedonism is making people uncomfortable because they are feeling rapidly "pulled between two moralities." Paul/Saul wrote about the same struggle in Romans 7 reminding true believers to hold fast to "God's law," not giving in to the new morality he called "sin."

The only way Progressivism wins is without the presence of absolute truth.

*******

Amen! Her editorial is here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Resolve It Now With Antibiotics - Or Remove It Later With Amputation



Many churches seem reluctant to publicly address the major cultural issues confronting us today. Perhaps out of a fear of causing division, church leadership chooses to remain quiet on such topics as homosexuality, transgenderism, same-sex marriage, abortion, secularism, etc.

However, the deafening silence will often interpreted by many (especially new believers) as signaling these topics are ultimately amoral and personal choice. While some within church leadership are concerned that publicly raising these "touchy" topics may cause division, ignoring them will ultimately bear far worse fruit down the road. At that point, what could have been resolved early-on with antibiotics will require amputation.

The early church leadership did not shy away from the tough topics it confronted, but faced them head on (Acts 15). Note that they also clearly and publicly communicated their decision and position to the Church. And even after their decision and apparent resolution in Acts 15, there were still tough times ahead (Gal 2:11-14).

The function and role of an elder is well summarized by Alexander Strauch in his book Biblical Eldership: "Elders lead the church [1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1-2], teach and preach the Word [1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9], protect the church from false teachers [Acts 20:17, 28-31], exhort and admonish the saints in sound doctrine [1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 3:13-17; Titus 1:9], visit the sick and pray [James 5:14; Acts 20:35], and judge doctrinal issues [Acts 15:16]. In biblical terminology, elders shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for the local church" (16). (emphasis is mine)

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Warning from Canada: Same-Sex Marriage Erodes Fundamental Rights



Americans need to understand that the endgame of the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms.

"I want to warn America to expect severe erosion of First Amendment freedoms if the US Supreme Court mandates same-sex marriage. The consequences have played out in Canada for ten years now, and they are truly Orwellian in nature and scope ....

In Canada, it is considered discriminatory to say that marriage is between a man and a woman or that every child should know and be raised by his or her biological married parents. It is not just politically incorrect in Canada to say so; you can be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, fined, and forced to take sensitivity training.

Anyone who is offended by something you have said or written can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals. In Canada, these organizations police speech, penalizing citizens for any expression deemed in opposition to particular sexual behaviors or protected groups identified under “sexual orientation.” It takes only one complaint against a person to be brought before the tribunal, costing the defendant tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The commissions have the power to enter private residences and remove all items pertinent to their investigations, checking for hate speech.

The plaintiff making the complaint has his legal fees completely paid for by the government. Not so the defendant. Even if the defendant is found innocent, he cannot recover his legal costs. If he is found guilty, he must pay fines to the person(s) who brought forth the complaint ...

Parents can expect state interference when it comes to moral values, parenting, and education—and not just in school. The state has access into your home to supervise you as the parent, to judge your suitability. And if the state doesn’t like what you are teaching your children, the state will attempt to remove them from your home ...

Freedom to assemble and speak freely about man-woman marriage, family, and sexuality is now restricted. Most faith communities have become “politically correct” to avoid fines and loss of charitable status ...

Americans need to prepare for the same sort of surveillance-society in America if the Supreme Court rules to ban marriage as a male-female institution. It means that no matter what you believe, the government will be free to regulate your speech, your writing, your associations, and whether or not you may express your conscience. Americans also need to understand that the endgame for some in the LGBT rights movement involves centralized state power—and the end of First Amendment freedoms."

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A Preview Of The Future For Christians In The U.S.



"... the incident occurred in September 2013 while evangelist Rob Hughes was preaching on the streets of Basildon, Essex (England)

A woman approached him and announced that she was “gay and proud” and demanded, “Get down off your pedestal, you judgmental (expletive). Homophobia is not in this town.”

“She threw a number of profanities against me,” he recalled to the Daily Mail.

However, Hughes had not mentioned homosexuality at all that day as he preached on the existence of God and the biblical mandate to repent from sin and turn to Christ.

Nonetheless, Hughes was soon approached by police, who advised that they had received a complaint that Hughes had engaged in hate speech by preaching against homosexuality. Police advised that such speech was a violation of the Public Order Act, Section 5, which bans “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior” or the display of “any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting” within earshot of sight of a person “likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”

As Hughes was interviewed by police on street, his friend, Andrew Noble, was also interrogated by officers.

“Did you say that homosexuality is sinful?” Noble remembers the police inquiring.

But although the men stated that Hughes had not spoken on homosexuality, the evangelist was taken into custody and placed behind bars."

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The story is here.