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
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Demographers tell us that a society must have a “Total Fertility Rate” (TFR) of slightly over 2.1 (the average number of children a woman has during her child-bearing years) in order to maintain its population over time. Here are the most recent Eurostat TFP figures for the countries of the European Union in 2014: Austria: 1.47; Belgium: 1.74; Bulgaria: 1.53; Croatia: 1.46; Cyprus: 1.31; Czech Republic: 1.53; Denmark: 1.69; Finland: 1.71; France: 2.01; Germany: 1.47; Great Britain: 1.81; Greece: 1.30; Hungary: 1.44; Ireland: 1.94; Italy: 1.37; Latvia: 1.54; Lithuania: 1.63; Luxembourg: 1.50; Malta: 1.42; Netherlands: 1.71; Poland: 1.32; Portugal: 1.23; Romania: 1.52; Spain: 1.32; Slovakia: 1.37; Slovenia: 1.58; Sweden: 1.88. Thus, the TFR for the European Union as a whole in 2014 was 1.58, well below population-replacement level and heading toward the demographic Niagara Falls that demographers call “lowest-low fertility.”
Please note that no EU country was in a major war in 2014. Nor was any EU country beset by a devastating plague. Nor did Europe suffer a Vesuvius- or Krakatoa-like natural disaster. In other words, none of the causes of demographic collapse that have depleted populations throughout history was in play in the European Union in 2014. And insofar as I’m aware, European men have not suffered the loss of fertility that sets the stage for P. D. James’s brilliant novel, The Children of Men.
So from a strictly social-scientific point of view, one is led to the inescapable conclusion that Europe’s infertility is self-induced. Which means that European infertility is deliberate and willful, not random and accidental. Which means that Europe is contracepting itself into demographic oblivion.
The precipitously declining fertility rate combines with the dramatic Islamic influx to portend an ominous future for Europe ....... and western civilization. As chronicled here, in 2011 Bat Ye'or warned of the complex strategy of the Islamic world to Islamicize Europe.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
...... Paul warned Timothy, "For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
Contrary to some opinions, Jesus wasn't always a Mr. Nice Guy who never offended anyone with His words and carefully avoided controversy. Some people have the misguided notion that Jesus was a "feel-good" preacher who was always sweet, kind, diplomatic and never made waves or rocked the boat. Are you kidding me? What Bible have they been reading?
Jesus offended many people with unvarnished truth that made them feel uncomfortable (John 6:60-61). The late Jamie Buckingham expressed this reality in his clever book title, The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Make You Miserable. Sometimes the truth hurts; it hits us right between the eyes and cuts like a knife. Jesus didn't preach what I call "cotton candy sermons" that are in vogue today—fluffy strings of sugar-coated thoughts woven together to make people feel good, but containing little spiritual substance. In fact, Mark 12:37 (NKJV) indicates that "The common people heard Him gladly," probably because He told the truth without any religious pretenses or pulling any punches. But make no mistake, not everyone heard Jesus gladly .......
Ben sounds a much-needed clarion call for the church today. Yes, the truth will undoubtedly inflame many. But it will also set multitudes free.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
The vast majority of those ensconced in high leadership positions today, particularly at the national level, have such a bankrupt lust for power that they foolishly sacrifice things of true value to gain and keep their positions. They stand in stark contrast to those whom God has called to effective leadership throughout history.
The first President of the newly-formed United States, George Washington, did not want the Presidency and had to be coaxed into accepting it. The same is true with virtually everyone in Scripture that God called into effective leadership. Virtually none was actively seeking or campaigning for a position of power. In fact, Scripture consistently paints an unflattering picture of those who were anxious for authority (i.e., Simon the magician in Acts 8.)
After his 40 years in the desert, Moses clearly did not believe he was qualified. Saul was the choice of the people of ancient Israel to be king while his successor David was the choice of God ....... and it's apparent from Scripture that becoming king was the furthest thing from David's mind and aspiration as he shepherded his father's sheep. Solomon's answer to God's offer to grant him literally anything he desired, paints him as an oddball in contrast to today's "leaders". None of the apostles that Jesus called was actively seeking that kind of position (except perhaps Judas who betrayed Him). Clearly, it was the last thing on Paul's mind when he encountered the risen Christ on the Damascus road.
There is a clear lesson here. One of the primary prerequisites for effective leadership is a reluctance to accept the position. The most qualified for leadership is usually the individual not actively seeking it and who does not believe that he/she is even qualified. Contrast that with the overwhelming majority of national "leaders" today who clamor for ever more power and prestige, and refuse to resign even when confronted with evidence of behavior that clearly disqualifies them.
Most will be shocked at who is ultimately elevated into positions of authority and responsibility in the kingdom of God. Authority in the Kingdom of God is starkly different than authority in the world.
The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matt 23:11-12, ESV)
Monday, November 27, 2017
U.S. Census Bureau data show being born into a household with two married parents decreases the likelihood of a child growing up in poverty by 82 percent. As Rector notes, only 6.8 percent of married, two-parent households with children are in poverty in the United States, compared to 37.1 percent of households with children led by only a female parent.
If you want your children to stay out of poverty and prison, the formula is very simple: Don’t have kids until you’re married, a position so taboo in our modern society that those who express such a claim are often deemed to be bigots.
...... The root cause of these wild inconsistencies is that the void in our culture left by a rejection of religion has been filled by the news media and, to some extent, Hollywood, who spark moral outrage whenever it suits them.
Read the entire article to understand how the media becomes "god". Haskins makes a valid argument. The media is nothing more than a platform for the elites to propagandize the populace. If done effectively, the media becomes the transmission through which "god" speaks to the populace - for all practical purposes. The Nazis understood this and Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, excelled at his job. The Nazi propaganda principles are abstracted from Jowett & O'Donnell:
- Avoid abstract ideas - appeal to the emotions.
- Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases.
- Give only one side of the argument.
- Continuously criticize your opponents.
- Pick out one special "enemy" for special vilification.
The naive believes everything, But the sensible man considers his steps. (Prov 14:!5, NASB)
but test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thess 5:21, ESV)
Sunday, November 26, 2017
It was abortionist Robert Santella who confronted pro-life activist Zephaniah Mel with a pair of surgical scissors, a rant that included hissing and growling, and a confession that he loved killing children.
“That behavior, along with complaints of malpractice and botched abortions, resulted in Santella’s firing from the abortion chain, which he had been affiliated with for over 30 years,” Sullenger said.
Santella was forced to surrender his medical license after the California Medical Board charged him with negligence and unprofessional conduct, she said. Santella’s private office on College Avenue in San Diego, where he also conducted abortions, is also closed.
...... A woman watching the video after it was posted online noticed the identification badge Santella was wearing and brought the encounter to the attention of Sharp Healthcare, a group of hospitals in San Diego County.
Allyson Smith posted to her Facebook page the email she sent to the company:
Hi there, I would like to bring this video to your attention. The crazed doctor in this video is Robert Santella, who performs abortions at Family Planning Associates on Miramar Road. You’ll notice he is wearing a Sharp Healthcare ID tag. A quick Internet search reveals that he is affiliated with Grossmont Hospital. Why is this “doctor” allowed to be affiliated with Grossmont Hospital? He is nuts and should be fired. What will you do about him? Thanks.
Grossmont Hospital replied to Smith’s email:
Thank you for your message. We appreciate your concerns regarding this physician, and we can assure you that he is no longer affiliated with any of our hospitals, he is not employed by our medical groups, and he does not practice or have admitting privileges at any of our facilities. We are currently looking into other aspects of this matter, and we will provide updates as we have more information.
Read about it here.
Saturday, November 25, 2017
Friday, November 24, 2017
If you're not familiar with the term "Perfumed Prince," take a look at Air Force LTG Jay Silveria, Commander of the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs.
Silveria achieved the national spotlight by chewing out the entire class over racial slurs posted on five cadets' quarters. Months later, it turned out that one of the targets was actually the perpetrator.
.... Colonel David Hackworth coined the term "Perfumed Princes" to describe the leaders who sidestepped the Vietnam disaster and infested the senior ranks, playing the academic or business manager while they squeezed out soldiers on the soggy end.
..... Martin Dempsey, 18th chairman of the Army chief of staff, 2011-2015, persisted with the hyphenated American being our strength to the end of his career. Never mind that the attack at Fort Hood in 2009 was perpetrated by a Muslim-American Army psychiatrist-major. Of this, Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. chimed in at the time, "as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that's worse."
The tragedy was that Hasan's behavior had been scaring the pants off his colleagues in Army mental health, of all places, for years. But they understand. Diversity comes first.
The tragedy was that the Army maintained that firing some 140 rounds in a medical processing center while yelling "Allahu akbar" was "workplace violence" until 2015, when a funding bill forced the Perfumed Princes to reclassify the incident as "combat-related." Until then, all the dozens of victims had been denied appropriate benefits and the Purple Heart, thirteen awarded posthumously.
.....American elites are killing America. But when our most focused, disciplined, and universal institution withers, it's time to stop, smell the roses, and pin the carnations. Perfumed Princes are not going to fall on their own swords.
The current military promotion system efficiently flushes out virtually anyone who dares to buck whatever political-correctness is being promoted by the political elites no matter how immoral, bizarre or nonsensical. By the time the "Perfumed Princes" reach the upper ranks, any of their peers who were not afraid to articulate moral values and stand for principle, are long gone. Feigning command interest in their subordinates, the real passion of the remaining"yes-men" is their own self-promotion. There is a strong correlation between the Pentagon elite and the political elite in Washington, for the corruptness of Washington D.C. makes bedfellows of the vast majority of those who "serve" there no matter in what capacity. Those who refuse to conform to the Borg are either forcefully ejected from the system, or choose to leave of their own free will to avoid contamination.
If you see the extortion of the poor,
or the perversion of justice and fairness in the government,
do not be astonished by the matter.
For the high official is watched by a higher official,
and there are higher ones over them!
(Ecc 5:8, NET)
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
I started off this process thinking, as do many of my political coreligionists, that reducing gun violence is simply a matter of will, and of overcoming the Neanderthals at the National Rifle Association (NRA). But I have learned that it is not, and that if we really want to reduce gun violence, we should be focusing not first upon the weapons but on a lot of things around it: poverty, drugs, race, and addressing mental illness, opportunity, and gangs, to name just a few.
Ken Stern is a former chief executive officer of National Public Radio. Read his essay here.
Monday, November 20, 2017
2017 is a year of milestone anniversaries for events that shaped our world: the Reformation, the Russian Revolution, and one horrible Supreme Court decision.
As John Stonestreet often says, “ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims.” One such victim was Carrie Buck. She was the “Buck” in Buck v. Bell, the notorious 1927 Supreme Court decision that upheld Virginia’s statute permitting compulsory sterilization for those deemed to be “feebleminded” and “unfit.”
In his majority decision, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., wrote that, “It is better for all the world, if . . . society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.” He then concluded by saying, “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
The “imbeciles” Holmes referred to were Buck, her mother, and Buck’s infant daughter. But as Adam Cohen tells readers in his recent book, “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck,” there was nothing wrong with Carrie Buck, her mother, or her daughter. The problem lay in bad ideas that can be summed up in one word: eugenics .......
Eugenics is the the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits. It underlies the worldview of most ruling elites who arrogantly believe themselves empowered to identify and eliminate the undesirables. Abortion is nothing more than eugenics - getting rid of undesirables. In 2012 advances in genetics breathed new life into the previously-discredited theory of eugenics (see here.)
But it's also increasingly and ominously apparent that the "undesirables" now include anyone upholding a Biblical worldview - for the Weltanschauung of Scripture is truly anathema to the vast majority of ruling elite. This should come as no surprise to those of us who follow Christ. "And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." (Mark 13:13, ESV)
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Friday, November 17, 2017
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Is it okay for Christians to bring weapons into church for self-defense?
.... However (and this is the part where I stop raising new questions and start suggesting an answer), it’s important to note that even if Jesus was making a spiritual point by referring to “swords,” He nowhere condemns defensive violence as such. He never tells Peter to get rid of his sword, any more than He tells the centurion in Matthew 8 to get rid of his. Rather, He tells Peter to “put it back in its place,” implying, as another commentator points out, that swords have a proper use. Presumably, Peter and at least one other disciple had these swords on hand for the defense of their little band during the sometimes dangerous travels from Galilee to Judea. We have no record that Jesus was ever bothered by this.
All of these passages come into sharper focus when we recall a foundational truth of Christian worldview thinking: All believers, even Christ Himself during His earthly life, occupy what Augustine called the two cities.
“Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s,” Jesus famously said in Matthew 22, setting up a distinction that would inform Christian theology for the next two millennia.
We live simultaneously in the city of man and in the City of God—in society and in the Church—in creation and New Creation. We have duties and roles in each, and where they don’t conflict, we must carry out both. In fact, being a good citizen of God’s City usually means being a good citizen in man’s, insofar as it depends on us.
.... We’re not called to stand and suffer martyrdom at the hands of a crazed and lone gunman. Quite the opposite: Guarding human life against imminent and unjust violence, as Augustine would argue with his principles of Just War, is a created duty. It is part of loving your neighbor. And while Paul teaches in Romans 13 that the governing authorities “do not bear the sword for nothing,” the governing authorities are not always on hand when the wicked strike.
That’s why for us, if no conflict exists between our spiritual and temporal duties—if the warfare in which our weapons are spiritual does not call us to lay down our physical arms—then we are permitted to use those arms, even as Christians, and even in church. At least, as far as I can tell.
I think Augustine's perspective on the two cities that we simultaneously inhabit is key - the city of man and the City of God.
The new church of AI will aim "to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead [to] contribute to the betterment of society," according to IRS documents.
The non-profit religious organization would be called "Way of the Future" (WOTF). According to the website (wayofthefuture.church), the movement is "about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + 'machines.'
Read about it here.
As mankind reaches the pinnacle of his rebellion against the creator, we are in the final phase of cultural collapse (exemplified in part by the widespread prevalence, endorsement and glorification of homosexuality - i.e., Rom 1:24-27). And now we are peaking with the extraordinarily arrogant and foolish claim that creating God is now within our reach.
We are inviting ... even daring ... judgment. The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. (Ps 2:4, NIV)
Christians need to increasingly focus on staying faithful to Christ. That must be our core in this dark age for it's our faithfulness that brings meaning to our works and shines the light of the gospel into a rapidly blackening culture. We must be careful not to put the cart before the horse by emphasizing our good outreach works over our faithfulness. It is our faithfulness that will keep us through the F5 tornado of judgment that is on the horizon, bearing down on us.
Lot was surrounded by wickedness yet remained faithful (But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him.; 2 Pet 2:7, NLT). As the cultural darkness intensifies, followers of Christ will be sorely tested and pay an increasingly heavy price to remain faithful. Christ's messages to the churches in Rev 2-3 are more pertinent than ever.
And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matt 8:22, ESV)
There's a fascinating lengthy essay here in the Dec 2017 issue of First Things entitled "Culture Is Downstream of Politics". While a call to action, the piece is particularly enlightening with its thesis that culture flows from politics and not the other way around. Focusing primarily on the examples of traditional marriage and abortion, the authors present a persuasive case that contrary to popular wisdom, culture indeed flows from politics.
Walk into any room full of Christian conservative donors, and someone will say, “Politics is downstream of culture.” Every head in the room will nod. Nothing is more entrenched as conventional wisdom among Christian conservatives. Like most truisms, this one is only partly true. As people change their beliefs about what is true and good, politics changes as well. But putting culture above politics as a distinct sphere is profoundly mistaken, for politics is part of culture.
Politics allows the American people to give public form to what they believe to be true, good, and important; it is also the main way Americans decide which views are “within the pale” and which are beyond it. Elites of the left dominate most other domains: the mainstream media, the academy, the arts, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and increasingly the Chamber of Commerce and corporate suites. When an idea or issue drops out of politics, therefore, progressives can easily stigmatize it as outside the mainstream, extremist, and intolerable, effectively ending conversation. But election results feed back into culture .....
Politics is full of cultural content.
There is Scriptural support for the position that culture flows from political leadership.
The history of ancient Israel and Judah recorded in the Old Testament clearly indicates that evil political leadership was at the heart of the nation's slide into idolatry and debauchery. Remember that those political leaders were not elected but came into office through succession. As such, they were not a direct result of the desires of the population at the time. When wicked rulers were in power, the nation deteriorated. When a righteous leader (like Josiah) arose, the nation's descent into sin temporarily stopped and could even reverse itself. In other words, the culture flowed from the political leadership.
Political leaders who believe they are to reflect of the ethics of the populace are impotent and indecisive. Led by surveys, focus groups and polls, they are ships without a rudder. Weak leadership leads to indecisiveness within the culture. Evil leaders lead to cultural disintegration. Righteous leaders lead to cultural uplifting. It all starts at the top.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Earlier I wrote here about the great con that Tesla pulls with the deceptive marketing that their ridiculously over-priced cars are "green". And here's a parody that uses truth to make a valid point that Tesla (an ultimately impractical car) primarily appeals to people who want to publicly showcase their wealth. After a year of testing two Tesla S models, the Los Angeles Police Department ruled them impractical as police cruisers. At first glance, Consumer Reports was enamored with the Tesla and gave it the highest rating ever for any car that is has evaluated. Every honeymoon comes to an end sooner or later, and so it was with Consumer Reports and its former paramour - the $150,000 Tesla Model S electric car. As part of its yearly reliability report a year later on cars sold in the U.S. market, the respected consumer magazine said it could no longer recommend the Model S because the car's predicted reliability is below average. Specifically, CR said, "The main problem areas involved the drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, giant iPad-like center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks."
At best, it's a very expensive toy suitable primarily for short trips around the city ...... or to impress your friends with how much money you have.
Luther’s view on politicians in his work Temporal Authority, was soberingly realistic:
"They can do no more than strip and fleece, heap tax upon tax. . . . Since the beginning of the world a wise prince is a mighty rare bird, and an upright prince even rarer. They are generally the biggest fools or the worst scoundrels on earth."
"In Luther's view," writes Ryrie, "God permits these scoundrels to rule because 'the world is too wicked, and does not deserve to have many wise and upright princes.' Anticipating (James) Madison, Luther argued that it is only because of human sin that God had instituted government at all, in order to make some limited semblance of peace and order possible. His point, deeply counter intuitive to most modern sensibilities, is that government is not very important. It is necessary in a humdrum way for as long as this passing world endures, but Christians should not pay much attention to it."
That is the antithesis of the theology and political activism of many modern evangelicals, who seem to prefer access to temporal power more than faithfulness to a kingdom and King not of this world.
While Ryrie himself is not an "apolitical Protestant", he observes that "the claim that politics is an inherently corrupt and rotten business with little power to effect positive change in ordinary people’s lives sounds less like a theological claim than a self-evident truth—as indeed has long been the case across much of the world." He goes on to admit that "that a large part of human misery and flourishing does in fact lie beyond the power of any government, and therefore that there are better responses to the ills of our age than impotent rage at a ruling class."
Ryries's essay is recommended reading in entirety.
I think Luther's perspective has some merit. There are some parallels to Rod Dreher's "Benedict Option" outlined here which calls for incubating our faith from a fatally corrosive mainstream culture. It's now quickly becoming apparent to all but the most jaded among Christians that worldly politics tends to groom the worst in fallen mankind - even among those with the best of intentions. The vast majority of those who enter politics with the noblest of intentions and determined to remain pure must choose one of two alternatives against the overwhelmingly prevalent corruption, greed, lust for power and sexual immorality: either (1) abandon the sewer of politics after a short term to remain untainted, or (2) become one of "the biggest fools or the worst scoundrels on earth".
A good illustration of how disconnected from reality (i.e., truth) that politicians are is the recent survey by Pew Research here that an astonishing 77% of college-educated Democrats believe that a man can be a woman if he just says so, regardless of his biology, genetics, and genitalia. Luther was right; they are the "biggest fools" on earth. The incestuous relationship between far too much of the church and politicians will (at best) damage the credibility and witness of the church. At worst, it will pollute their faith and divert their focus from their first love.
As Cal Thomas admonishes,
Principles are still being swallowed today in exchange for a false sense of influence and power.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says about the church at Ephesus, which had been strongly influenced by the Emperor's cult and worship of the Greek goddess Artemis: "You have left your first love," meaning Himself (Rev 2:4).
For too many modern Protestants, politics has become a cult and their "Artemis." They are forgetting their first love, the consequences of which can be found in history, dating back to Israel's King David, who warned, "Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save" (Psalm 146:3).
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
The most dangerous poison is not the foul-smelling and putrid-tasting concoction in a bottle marked with a skull & crossbones
Lest there be any doubt about the cultish and heretical nature of Mormonism, here is a video of secret Mormon temple rituals ...
Here comes the submissive new world of feigned individuality meshed into universal oneness for the sake of the greater good – a world rejecting the moldy, cavernous halls of Christian cathedrals and synagogues while grinning like the Cheshire cat as it adulterously embraces everything but the Judeo-Christian. This new world system will forge all religions in the fire of socialist globalization in order to ensure a uniformity that is more easily corralled – because separateness and unique thought only breed rebellion that needs quashing.
You will be happy.
...... there is a multipronged approach underway to mold hearts and minds into the one-world religion and one-world class that can be most easily manipulated by power-hungry globalists with the most evil of intentions.
Monday, November 13, 2017
There's a story is here about how socialism is increasingly finding endorsement among American millennials.
The 31-year-old former Marine is part of a growing cadre of Americans, particularly millennials, pledging their allegiance to the Democratic Socialists of America, the nation's fastest growing leftist group that was originally founded in 1982 as a foothold for Marxists.
Riding the wave of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders's spirited White House bid against primary rival Hillary Clinton, the organization is helping propel socialism out of the shadows.
Earlier I commented here on what the Bible has to say relative to socialism.
We need to remember that, when soft socialism with its siren song of “equality” is left to its own devices, it takes ever more rigid forms. The political hubris of “progressives” who know better than you and me—and with such utter certainty—always leads to central control, corruption, cronyism, censorship, and abject conformity.
The more than 100 million victims of communism shows just how slippery a slope socialism is. Any person of goodwill who is familiar with the history and realities of socialism would do everything possible to avoid going down that minefield of a road.
The naivete' of Americans is astonishing. In a country with free access (at least for now) to information, Americans who ignore the clear testimony of socialist history and foolishly embrace it as the ticket to Narnia, need only live in true socialist countries for a prolonged period to appreciate its inevitable fruit. As noted here and here and here and here.Venezuela is the current poster child for socialism. The house of cards in socialist Venezuela is on the verge of collapse as reported here. As with all false worldviews, the greatest enemy of socialism is reality (truth) - see here.
Christians who embrace socialism also need to be reminded here that heaven is neither socialist nor democratic.
..... It's important to keep in mind that Heaven is not a socialist worker's paradise. Indeed, Jesus indicated differing levels of reward in Heaven. Orthodox Christianity certainly does teach that faith alone saves us. But Christianity also teaches our salvation is not the same as our reward. We serve an equitable and fair King, who loves us and is also just and holy. Grace alone brings us into the kingdom. Nothing we can do on our own can ever ‘earn’ this for us.
Jesus specifically told us that Heaven is a place where rewards will be given to the saved.
...... If Heaven is not a socialist paradise then, it also is not a democracy where everyone is an island unto themselves. Neither is it a republic with elected representation. In the strictest sense, it is also not a dictatorship. All these forms of government are the result of life in a fallen world that is infected and infested by sin. Ultimately all forms of earthly government fail because all have fallen leaders that are subject to temptation and sin. The founding fathers of the United States wisely recognized this Biblical truth and accordingly sought to implement limited government with strict checks and balances. Although it succeeded for some 2 centuries, ultimately sin now apparently has its' inevitable effect.
The kingdom of Heaven is a monarchy with a single, sovereign, benevolent King. That's why it's referred to as the "kingdom" of God and of Heaven.
...... We are wise to be wary of all earthly forms of government. All those who foolishly place their hope and trust ultimately in an earthly form of government are doomed to disappointment and despair.
Only the KING of Kings can bring everlasting peace and joy.
For the last few decades the Mormon Church has presented its adherents as good-neighborly types: friendly, moral, familial. But the family-down-the-street strategy is only part of the job. The Mormons have also actively worked to make their beliefs appear within the pale of orthodox Christianity too.
..... Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics disagree about things like bishops and whether babies should be baptized. Let’s compare that level of disagreement with the divide that separates Christians and Mormons. Take the first section of the Nicene Creed, a bedrock statement of accepted Christian teaching .....
...... there is tremendous pressure in the culture to accept Mormons as Christians. And despite these radically different views, some Christians seem willing to accept them in the fold. Mormons, after all, are so clean-cut and all-American. Conservatives like it because Mormons make good co-belligerents in the culture wars. Who gives a rip about theology, anyway? The always-agreeable Joel Osteen caved in two shakes.
..... Mormons teach that the church fell into darkness shortly after Christ’s ascension and was only restored through the person and actions of Joseph Smith, some eighteen hundred years later. The only true Christians in this view are Mormons. For modern-day Mormons to seek inclusion among all the other supposedly apostate churches of Christendom is a bit like a pure-bred hound trying to hang out with the mutts and alley cats.
By focusing on truth instead of side-issues like similar values, Joel is absolutely correct: Mormons are not part of the Body of Christ, but a heretical group. I do believe it's possible there may be genuine believers in the Mormon church, but they would be novice Mormons uneducated in the movement's core doctrinal beliefs. Once exposed to Mormon theology, they would either have to depart as genuine followers of Christ ....... or remain and deny the Faith.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Friday, November 10, 2017
His twitter comments are telling. While he believes that abortion is sin, he admits that he did not answer the question directly during the interview "for a number of reasons." Chief among those un-elaborated reasons is his misguided desire not to offend the culture. His elucidation, while upholding the sinfulness of abortion, also came in a much more limited venue than national television where he refused to categorize abortion as sin (I suspect very few unbelievers subscribe to his Twitter account, explaining his willingness to condemn abortion in that venue.) Lentz's desire to avoid offending the culture has tragically hamstrung his effectiveness as a messenger of the gospel.
It's noteworthy that Peter's public message on the Feast of Pentecost to the assembled Jerusalem crowd did not mince words in Acts 2:36-40. The result of his offensive message? About 3,000 were saved that day. Stephen's final public testimony was so offensive (Acts 7:51-53) that they stoned him in outrage. When Jesus spoke with the Pharisees, He was more concerned with the truth than their feelings. Jesus spoke the truth, which often angered the Pharisees because it conflicted with their beliefs. At one point, the disciples even came to Jesus and told Him the Pharisees were offended by what He had been saying (Matthew 15:12). Jesus answered that the Pharisees' failure to recognize the truth would be their downfall. Jesus continued to publicly speak the truth, even when it offended people.
Some people are offended by truth because of its very nature— it is exclusive and it is absolute, not relative. The absolute nature of truth means that it does not depend on, nor is it changed by, people’s opinions. Another reason people are offended by the truth is because the Devil has waged a war against God and truth for thousands of years. He fights this war on many fronts, and his primary weapon is lies. The Devil has been inculcating lies into the human psyche and society for so long that there are lies deeply embedded in every society on earth. The Devil resists truth everywhere, because, as Scripture says, “…for there is no truth in him…he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The combination of the absolute nature of truth, the Devil’s lies, and the fallen state of mankind combine to result in truth always being offensive to many (most?) people.
God knows the absolute nature of His truth, and that most people will reject it, and reject His Son. That is why God refers to Jesus as “… A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (I Pet 2:6-8). It is a profound truth that it is God Himself who calls His Son “a stone of stumbling and rock of offense.” God Himself, who loves people much more than we could possibly imagine, could not think of a better way to present His love, His Son, and His truth, that would not offend many of the self-centered men and women of the earth. Therefore it is safe to assume that neither you nor I are going to come up with a way to present Jesus Christ as God’s plan of salvation without offending many of them. It is never our desire to offend anyone, but we must realize that truth, even when presented in love, will offend many people. We each have the choice to either love people enough to offer them everlasting life, knowing that we might offend them, or we can choose to simply be quiet and not risk offending anyone.
The fact that Lentz believes abortion is morally wrong but is afraid to articulate that message to the culture in a public venue, is tragic. As one of the respondents to his explanation asks, "But how can you point them to God's redemptive grace without their knowledge of their own sinful behavior?"
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom 1:16, ESV)
A top researcher with the American Psychological Association (APA) and lesbian activist has acknowledged that gays are not "born that way." Dr. Lisa Diamond, co-editor-in-chief of the APA Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology and one of the APA’s “most respected members," says sexual orientation is "fluid" and not unchangeable. As clinical psychologist Dr. Laura A. Haynes summarizes Diamond's APA Handbook chapters, her book and YouTube lectures, "The battle to disprove 'Born that way and can’t change’ is now over, and (Diamond) is telling LGBT activists to stop promoting the myth." Contrary to the typical argument that homosexuals are "born gay" as "who they are" and cannot change, the APA officially recognized sexual orientation change in 2011. Diamond summarized relevant findings in a lecture at Cornell University (2013), stating that abundant research has now established that sexual orientation — including attraction, behavior, and self-identity — is fluid for both adolescents and adults and for both genders.
Johannes Jacobse, founder of The American Orthodox Institute, called Diamond's "course correction" a "stunning reversal" of oft-repeated gay justification. "Sexuality desire is fluid, homosexual desire is not ‘hard-wired;’ that ‘born that way and can’t change’ is a myth; feelings don’t overrule volition (behavior is a choice, one does not need to act on every feeling — especially sexual feelings); the ‘born that way’ argument is political, not scientific; sexual orientation is subject to change among others. ...... The idea that what a person feels defines who he is — who God created him to be — is false," Jacobse wrote. "If a person feels homosexual desire, it does not mean he is created homosexual ....... If a person decides to engage in homosexual behavior, that decision is freely chosen, even if the desire is not,” Jacobse summarized. “If a person experiences homosexual desire and wishes to change into more normative heterosexuality, abundant evidence exists that such a change may indeed be possible."
In summary, there is no scientific or DNA test to indicate if a person is homosexual, bisexual or even heterosexual for that matter. And since nobody is "born gay," it's clear that sexual orientation is, at its core, a matter of how one defines oneself -- not a matter of biology or genes.
In the video above, John Connor (pastor of Bridgetown Church) is correct that homosexual temptation in and of itself is not sin, but acting on the temptation becomes sin (no temptation is sin in and of itself - Jesus was tempted yet without sin). However, with respect to the moderator's comments equating homosexual and heterosexual sin, Scripture is clear there are degrees of sin - i.e., some sins are worse than others and incur a stricter judgment (i.e., John 19:11; Matt 11:21-22; Luke 12:46-48; etc.). While any sin will lead to eternal condemnation from God, 1 Cor 6:18 indicates that all sexual sin is serious and in a separate category from other sins. Furthermore, Scripture indicates a qualitative difference between heterosexual and homosexual sin with homosexuality highlighted as the final fruit of the willful rejection of the knowledge of God (Romans 1:21-27). So while all sexual sin is serious, the Bible indicates that homosexual sin - as the final marker in rebellion against God - is more serious than heterosexual sin.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
As David was confronted by Nathan, so James Silberman properly calls out a popular mega-church pastor here.
Last Monday, around 1:20 p.m. EST, hundreds of babies were being surgically dismembered, decapitated, poisoned, and otherwise violently killed inside abortion clinics around the country. Simultaneously, Hillsong Church NYC mega-pastor Carl Lentz had a platform from which to speak in their defense while a guest on “The View.” He refused to do so. In fact, he took the opportunity to suggest that their deaths can in some cases be justified and that the people killing them should continue living according to their own convictions.
When host Joy Behar asked directly whether abortion is sinful, he responded, “That’s the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe. I mean, God’s the judge,” at which point the audience broke into raucous applause. “People have to live to their own convictions,” Lentz continued. “That’s such a broad question, to me, I’m going higher. I want to sit with somebody and say, ‘What do you believe?’”
This position might be received as a moderate stance on the issue or a lack of stance altogether. But in this case, to be on the fence is to be on the side of child sacrifice ......
..... The abortion industry, with help from complicit institutions such as the mainstream media, academia, medical establishment, and others, is waging a propaganda campaign aimed at dehumanizing their victims. It’s a kingdom tragedy that a pastor of more than 7,000 Christians would join the ranks of those blurring the moral lines regarding the killing of preborn babies.
..... Defending those being led to slaughter must feature prominently in our endeavors regardless of profession, but especially for those who’ve been called to leadership within the church. For many Christians and pastors, this means repentance, and for some, it will include recants. I pray God gives Lentz the grace to do so.
Read about it here.
Leaders in the church have a higher standard to live up to and incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1). This is a tragic example of how easy it is to be deceived and sell oneself in order to remain in the good graces of a culture that is descending into a bottomless pit. More than a few pastors make the mistake of believing that their cardinal mission is to not offend a lost and dying world. They forget the gospel is offensive by nature. While I won't question the validity of Lentz's faith (I don't know him), I do question the poor example he sets for those he leads in the church and the testimony he is living before the world.
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
The chances of finding yourself in a mass shooting are minuscule. But that doesn't mean you don't have an inherent right to self defense.
If there’s anything that gets anti-gun types worked up — well, anything other than sending “thoughts and prayers” — it’s the notion that a responsible gun owner can bring down a killer. As Newsweek put it, Paxton was perpetuating “a widely held, but deeply discredited theory that the only thing that stops a ‘bad guy’ with a gun is a ‘good guy’ with a gun.” Though an incontrovertible truth for many media, it’s not really a “theory,” much less deeply discredited. It is a fact that the only real way to stop a “bad guy” with a gun is a “good guy” with a gun, whether that person be in law enforcement or a private citizen.
....... Of course, there is no guarantee that a gun will keep you safe, either. Yet it’s going to keep you safer than any restriction gun-control advocates float. Moreover, Americans have an inherent right to defend themselves, even if that notion is controversial these days.
Essay is here.
Last year, I mused here whether Christians should be armed. In 1993, an armed Christian stopped a terrorist attack in a church in South Africa; read about it here. Yes, in these days of escalating violence and insanity when the culture has pretty much abrogated transcendent truth, arming oneself is indeed a good idea (specifically to defend the defenseless) - whether in church or anywhere where one is legally permitted to be armed.
Two facts about the church massacre in Sutherland Springs, TX:
- The murderer -- who was denied a concealed carry permit by the state of Texas -- was already legally barred from purchasing a gun, due to his military court martial conviction for domestic abuse. That disqualifying conviction, however, got lost in the federal bureaucracy. It was never transmitted from Air Force to the federal government database, and therefore the relevant red flag never popped up during the background check to which the killer was subjected. He improperly passed the background check.
- The assailant was stopped by an NRA member. The weapon he used to stop the butchery and save lives? The much-maligned AR-15.
As a result of the Fall, there is real evil in this world which cannot be legislated out of existence. The gunman who killed 26 people at the small-town Texas church went aisle to aisle looking for victims and shot crying babies at point-blank range, a couple who survived the attack said. Investigators collected at least 15 empty magazines that held 30 rounds each at the scene, suggesting the assailant fired at least 450 rounds.
The chances you will ever need to use your household fire insurance are also minuscule. But if the day ever dawns when you do need it, God help you because you'll likely lose everything without it.
Richard Paulson, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said eight children had already been born to women after transplants.
And he told a meeting in San Antonio, Texas: “There’s plenty of room to put a uterus in there. Men and women have the same blood vessels.”
He said the next step would to be trials involving transgender women to help them become natural mothers.
Read about it here.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
"Faith after a failed theodicy, when the wicked flourish and the virtuous are oppressed, is the real deal"
Over the last few years I've been asked to speak in various forums on the ACU campus about the theology on display in the movie No Country for Old Men. I'd like to share here some of my take on the movie.
... In short, I think the major theme of the movie is this failure of making sense of the moral universe. The world becomes morally opaque and the effort at trying to make sense of it becomes too heavy. The sheriff is worn down by what I'll call theodicy fatigue.
... But it is worse than that. The sheriff feels that the act of comprehension would be contaminating. To take the measure of evil is to risk one's own moral integrity, to put one's "soul at hazard." In the end, the sheriff refuses to become a "part of this world." He doesn't want to understand. So he walks away, befuddled and fatigued in his efforts to "make sense" of a moral universe that seems so broken.
So the movie ends with a law enforcement officer quitting on the (moral) universe.
... Evil appears to radically dislocate virtue and happiness. Innocent and good people often suffer horrifically while vile and hateful people flourish. Consequently, it would appear that, in the face of evil, virtue and happiness are not linked.
... This is the goal of a theodicy; it is an argument that the links between virtue and happiness do exist, even if currently unrealized.
... Is theodicy possible? Is the world morally intelligible? Or is it all fate and coin flips? And if it is, what are we to do in the face of this situation?
... virtue in No Country is analogous to faith in the lament psalms. Faith, like virtue, in "the best of all possible worlds" is no faith at all. But faith after a failed theodicy, when the wicked flourish and the virtuous are oppressed, is the real deal. Consequently, true faith requires a theodicy failure, almost as a prerequisite. (emphasis is mine)
The Bible warns of perilous times at the end of the age before the consummation of all things.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Tim 3:1-5, ESV)
Friday, November 3, 2017
In this video, medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker discusses the widespread use of psychiatric drugs. He also makes the case that illegal drugs are often the gateway into drug-induced insanity. His research indicates more than 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia used illicit drugs before diagnosis. He points out that diet and exercise are almost always far more effective than anti-psychotics and anti-depressants.
For the last 20 years or more, though, marital status has increasingly become the central factor in whether our neighbors and their children rise above, remain, or descend into poverty. The research is astounding.
Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute explains in his important book “Coming Apart: The State of White America” that in 1960, the poorly and moderately educated were only 10 percent less likely to be married than the college educated, with both numbers quite high: 84 and 94 respectively. That parity largely held until the late 1970s.
Today, these two groups are separated by a 35 percent margin and the gap continues to expand. All the movement is on one side. Marriage is sinking dramatically among lower- and middle-class Americans, down to a minority of 48 percent today. No indicators hint at any slowing. It’s remained generally constant among the well-to-do. This stark trend line led Murray to lament, “Marriage has become the fault line dividing America’s classes.” He has company in this conclusion.
.... Professor Bill Galston, President Clinton’s domestic policy advisor and now a senior fellow at Brookings, explained in the early 1990s that an American need only do three things to avoid living in poverty: graduate from high school, marry before having a child, and have that child after age twenty. Only 8 percent of people who do so, he reported, will be poor, while 79 percent who fail to do all three will.
Sociologists have referred to keeping these things in proper order as the “success sequence.” It remains true, according to a new research investigation from the Brookings and the American Enterprise institutes.
... A recent report on this topic focusing on millennials reports that 97 percent of those who follow the success sequence—earn at least a high-school diploma, work, and marry before having children—will not be poor as they enter their 30s.
.... The success sequence of “first comes love” is so much more than moral choice or romantic idealism. These are deeply pragmatic, economic decisions powerfully affecting class mobility, where people live on the social scale, and the opportunities they will be able to provide for their children. This is because of the extraordinary economic power of marriage.
.... A consistent and irrefutable mountain of research has shown, reaching back to the 1970s and beyond, that marriage strongly boosts every important measure of well-being for children, women, and men. Pick any measure you can imagine: overall physical and mental health, income, savings, employment, educational success, general life contentment and happiness, sexual satisfaction, even recovery from serious disease, healthy diet and exercise. Married people rate markedly and consistently better in each of these, and so many more, compared to their single, divorced, and cohabiting peers.
Of course, economic power is only one benefit to marriage and it is certainly not the most important. But it is yet another indication of why the enemy works so hard to discredit and destroy marriage. As the divinely-designed building block of society, eradicate it and the culture will inevitably collapse - precisely as we are seeing today. Marriage is a powerful bulwark against cultural fragmentation. Of course, marriage finds its' fullest expression in the union of two Christians. However, it is also a bestowal of divine common grace (i.e., the rain falls on the just and unjust), meaning that even unbelievers who enter into and abide by it, will be blessed.
Expect the attacks on traditional marriage to intensify. But those who hold to traditional marriage have built their house on bedrock and will withstand the cultural disintegration.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph 5:31-32, ESV)