Sunday, May 22, 2016

Has Christianity been a force for Evil in the World?

St. Peter preaches in the catacombs, via Wikipedia.

We hear a lot about the negatives of Christianity.  We hear about them constantly actually.  We are those raised by the 1960s cultural revolutionaries.  But is "religion" in the case of Christianity really a source of evil and darkness in human society?  

Far from it friends, far from it.  In fact we've been sold the lie that religion is the source of most war in the world.  That statement of course is completely false.  In fact only about 7% of wars in world history had religious motivations, and after removing Islam the number drops to 3%.  That's just one tid bit.  Do you realize the bloodiest genocides were committed not by Christians, but by atheist regimes?  A few examples include: Joseph Stalin, Mao, and Adolf Hitler.  Blue pill, red pill, that red pill kicking in yet?  You've been lied to by marxists and naturalists seeking to remake our society in their own image.  The truth is quite different.  Here are some of the positives of Christianity...

Positives of Christianity:
  • The first orphanages were devised by Christians
  • Hospitals were first founded by Christians
  • Hundreds of Charities including The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, St. Jude Children's Research Hospitals, YMCA, Goodwill, World Vision, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Samaritan's Purse, Cross International, the list includes at least 37,000 organizations.
  • Preserving writings during the dark ages in monasteries (And no, Christians didn't cause the dark ages, the dark ages were caused by the fall of the ancient Roman empire and the invading barbarian tribes).
  • Criminals turned saints: Consider the billions who have chosen to live moral lives despite criminal pasts!  I'm included in that group, recall I was once a burgeoning junkie.
  • Abolishing slavery in England (William Wilberforce)
  • Abolishing slavery in the United States (Abraham Lincoln)
  • Temperance movements in the U.S.A. and Europe.
  • Peaceful revolutions (like the American revolution contrasted against the bloody secular french revolution, ala heads will roll)
  • Redeeming broken cultures (like The Salvation Army's work in darkest England during the late 1800s)
  • The birth of science: Galileo, Newton, and Bacon were all Christians.  They all testify that belief in God drew them to search for patterns in nature. 
  • Universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown and others were all founded by Christians, as Christian schools. (Later they were quietly conquered by leftists and secular marxists.)
    Compassion International's work in providing sponsoring for children in Africa and Asia.
  • Tens of thousands of homeless shelters provided by Christian groups like the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, & Lutheran social services.
  • Thousands of treatment centers (ARCs) provided by the Salvation Army for addicts in need of recovery.
  • Twelve step groups like AA, NA, and Celebrate Recovery based many of their precepts on biblical teachings (via Oxford groups).
  • Christianity provides the foundation belief systems that describe all life as holding sacred value. Liberty is deemed an inalienable right, and morality is considered universally applicable.  Darwinism provides no such foundation, only survival of the fittest.
  • Christians have always stood against child sacrifice, even in it's modern day invocation, abortion.
  • The endless tens of thousands of churches that host food pantries, charity events, housing support, and dozens of other ministries to their local communities and in return are thanklessly hated and denigrated as "bigots" and " hateful fundamentalists." 

The list goes on and on.  Christians have done the world so much good, but are constantly mocked and ridiculed.  Christians have stood for truth, morality, and service to the poor in the darkest hours of human history.  Many have fallen short of the standard of Jesus Christ also, that is certainly admitted.  But we must not over look the incredible good done by Christians throughout history.  Do you enjoy this advanced society we live in?  Are you glad for hospitals? Universities?  Are you glad for the moral foundations of the society around you?  Are you grateful for charities and food pantries and homeless shelters?  Thank a Christian!

Portrait of William Wilberforce, who fought slavery in England, via Wikipedia.
 Related Posts:
  1. A Three-Fold Battle Plan to Redeem Western Civilization
  2. An Appeal to Heaven: The Movement
  3. The Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Religious Liberty
  4. Thoughts on Public Schooling: Should Christians homeschool their Children?
  5. All those who Wander are not Lost: A Study in Nothingness
  6. Kim Davis is only the Beginning: Prepare your Ministry for Persecution
  7. A Cause Worth Dying For: Materialism, Millennials, & the Authentic Mission
  8. What is the Truth about Abortion? Fact, Fiction, Christianity & Humanism
  9. Faith in the 21st Century: The Seven Key aspects of Faith
  10. Christian Activism: Can Christianity survive the new cultural attitudes?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Addressing Liberal Theology: Was Jesus Nicer than Thou?

"Buddy Christ" from Dogma

If you interact on the web, or with folks in your hometown you may come across Christians who tend to believe that Jesus Christ was the nicest of nice person who ever walked the planet.  This Jesus apparently never offended anyone.  This Jesus was all inclusive.  This Jesus endorsed gay marriage.  This Jesus doesn't give truth, but only gives love and acceptance.  This Jesus accepted everyone.  This Jesus never said anything mean.  This Jesus embraced every ideology.  But it turns out... this Jesus never existed.  

Let's look at some of Jesus's all inclusive statements:

In Matthew 12:36 (ESV) Jesus said,"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak."

In Luke 14:26 (NLT) "If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple."


In Matthew 5:10 (NIV) "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

In Matthew 19:21 (ESV) Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

And finally we see in Matthew Chapter 23 the quintessential tepid, all inclusive Jesus having a few words with the scribes and pharisees, including: "
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." -Matthew 23:27 (ESV)

Jesus was awesome.  In fact Jesus is presently awesome, seated in glory and majesty at the right hand of God the Father.  He is presently completely awesome.  Why?  Because he was very loving.  But he was also so truthful.  He was a warrior for truth.  He took a stand.  And as a guy, I love that.  I love the love of Jesus, and the mercy of Jesus, but more and more so I appreciate the defiant, courageous, truthful Jesus who stood against the corruption of those times.  

Jesus was God in the flesh, when he walked on Earth. If God himself took a stand 2,000 years, we must be in good company when we take a stand today.  But watch out for those nicer than nice Christians.  They are the ones who will stand up and call you out when you take a stand on some key issue like bathroom policy, marriage laws, pornography, human trafficking, abortion, or other issues.  I've seen this, they stand up and say, "Hey you can't do that.  You can't say that.  Who are you to tell others what they should do?  Jesus said do not judge!"  Now my first response is to reply, "Well, if you think Jesus meant never stand for anything, and to never judge anything or anyone, then why are you judging me for judging?  Aren't you violating your own standard?"  This gets them rather flustered, let me tell you.  But ultimately the issue is: I'm not called to judge, as in condemnation.  But I am called to judge in terms of discernment and standing for the truth.  The word says "discern all things."  The word also says "you will judge all things" (Hebrews 5:14, Philippians 1:9-10).  Jesus said in John 7:24 (ESV) "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”  

Why do they stand up to attack those who stand for the truth?  Very simply, because they aren't standing for anything.  They carry the same arguments progressives and atheists use to attack what they call the "religious right."  It is a favorite past time of some Christians and bloggers to go after the "religious right" and bash them.  Why?  Because it gives them a false sense of moral superiority.  In the cultural debates of our time and age, often what we see is various groups of individuals attempting to take the moral high ground from one another.  One group says they're standing for "LGBT rights" then the next group says they're standing for "Religious liberty" and on and on it goes.  With liberal Christians they disdainfully critique the "religious right" as hateful, when they have no idea what they're talking about.  And even worse, they're shooting their own and attacking those who are fighting for their rights, rights that are in peril every single day.  In fact, if it weren't for "religious right" organizations like the Alliance defending Freedom taking on the ACLU in court time and again, we'd have lost our religious liberty by now.  That's how critical this struggle is.  Ultimately, it goes to a lack of understanding of the scriptures and how they are applied.  But it's not entirely the fault of the person, the problem often is that pastors and leaders are too concerned with filling their church seats, and they don't address key issues like religious freedom, the Constitution, abortion, gay marriage, and such concerns.  They're too concerned with being "loving and cool." And many of them are more concerned with attendance numbers and the dollars coming in.  Sad, but true.  

What is liberal theology?  What is conservative theology?  Well, conservative theology suggests that the Bible means what it says.  The teachings are literal, meaning, the historical events depicted in the Bible actually occurred, and when teachings are given they're meant to be timeless and universal.  So if teachings on marriage or the sanctity of life become inconvenient... well, they're still in there, so they still apply.  

Liberal theology is the idea that the Bible means whatever they "feel" it means at any given moment.  Feelings rule, thoroughly influenced by the culture and pretty soon Jesus is carrying a gay pride flag, Jesus would never offend you, and it's just all about the love.  The Bible according to liberals is more "symbolic" and "idealistic" which means in essence: "Shut up, it means whatever I say it means, you bigot." 

Was Jesus nicer than thou?  I've debated folks endlessly who really believe that Jesus was so "nice" and so "loving" that he wouldn't dare challenge someone else's beliefs.  I mean, my goodness, the only way someone could hold this view is if they'd never read the gospels! 

The instinct of man is to remake God in our own image.  Remember that 90s song, "What if God was one of us?  Just a slob like one of us?"  We want Jesus to be like us.  We want Jesus to get on board with our viewpoints and with our plans.  But that isn't the Jesus of history, and that isn't the Jesus who is alive and well in heaven, seated at the right hand of God.  We're delusional people sometimes, as humans.  It's amazing some of the things we'll read into the scriptures, or cut out of the scriptures to suit our tastes.

In fact recently I had someone suggest that it's good that the gospel has been watered down because "Jesus taught in parables to leave that open to us." 

Our instinct as humans is not to trust the Bible.  Our instinct is to trust our own opinions.  That's the default position of our minds.  It's easy to get on board with "Jesus saves" and "God is love."  It's harder to get one board with "Homosexuality is disgraceful behavior" (Romans 1:27). It's harder to get on board with the judgment of the righteous and the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15).  It's harder to get on board with the concept of hell and eternal disconnection from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

But it's all in there.  And it doesn't change.  We can't change God's word.  Either we believe every word of the books of the Bible, or we toss it all out and just make it up as we go along.  There is no intermediary position there.  Either it's all God's word or it isn't God's word.  It can't be partially God's word or somewhat God's word.  I'd like to challenge you to believe all of it.  Believe every word of it.  Trust God's word.  Trust God's word even when it seems terrible to you or offensive to you.  Why?  Because more will be revealed.  

Remember this vital, central fact: According to the Christian worldview I'm not God and your not God.  We can't see things from a full perspective.  That's true for anyone, Christian or atheist, we know our discernment isn't perfect.  We all make mistakes.  So maybe we need to trust that if something in the Bible offends us, maybe it's because we aren't seeing it from the right perspective.  Maybe we're the ones who are holding the wrong opinion, or a limited opinion, or opinions based on false or incomplete evidence.  Take the radical step of believing things that may offend you.  The gospel is an offense right?  The Bible gives me hard, hard truth about myself and the universe.  It isn't easy to take at times.  But I love it, because I love the truth.  Love the truth as well, even when it's tough to comprehend!

Jesus Christ came to save us.  He came fully of love and mercy.  He came to show mercy to sinners.  But he also called sinners to repentance.  He asks us to change our ways, not to change His word.  We have no business, none whatsoever in changing any part of the word to suit the ever changing views of the culture.  The culture has embraced child sacrifice, the culture has embraced pornography, the culture has embraced gay marriage, the culture has embraced boys in girls restrooms, and in ten to twenty years I have no doubt the culture will be singing the praises of pedophiles.  And who knows what else.  We don't change the word for the culture.  The message doesn't change.  Our application of it may change, our modes of intersection may change, but the timeless truths don't change.  Jesus Christ came full of grace and truth.  Let's not cut out either truth or grace.  Jesus wasn't nicer than thou.  Jesus was too awesome for that.  


Related Posts:
  1. Journey of the Christian through the Forest called Earth
  2. What is the matrix?
  3. Living in the Suburban Sprawl (Mountains beyond Mountains)
  4. Ancient Doorways in the Brickhouse: Fields of Green in your Dreams
  5. Depression & Meaninglessness: Where is God in the depths of sorrow?
  6. The Awe of Dreams & the Surreal
  7. Big Picture: The Solution to all the Problems of Earth
  8. What is the meaning of Life?
  9. You Oh Lord are my Strength: The Manifold Provision of God
  10. Daybreak: Examining the Problem of Pain

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

It is always Darkest before the Dawn


I believe it is always darkest before the dawn.
 
I believe in the enduring human spirit.

I believe truth must rise from the ashes of media censorship and moral chaos.

I believe God will use to great effect any man or woman who is willing to believe in a better tomorrow.

I believe we are seeing the beginnings of a coalition that will defeat the Alinsky Marxists transforming America into a socialist authoritarian nightmare society.

I believe that conservatives are rising up, Constitutionalists are rising up, libertarians are rising up, and Christians are rising up.

I believe our best days are ahead of us as a nation and as citizens of heaven.

I believe that Christianity is the truth of life, and it must win out over the false worldviews of naturalism and materialism.

I believe a movement is forming, of young people who believe in the founding principles of this nation and are tired of the dark culture taking shape in the U.S.A. 

I believe Jesus Christ the son of God is alive and seated in glory at the right hand of God the Father. And I believe that he loves me, he loves you, and he is not done with us as a people.

I believe a new day is dawning because people like you are willing to work hard, pray even harder, and advocate for the principles that define the prosperity and joy we enjoy in this nation.

I believe the forces of light are gathering at this moment, in the coming years we will see a resurgence of Constitutionalism & Christianity.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dear Salvation Army: Please don't change your stance on Marriage

marriage, stock photo via pixabay.com

The views on this blog do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the Salvation Army, it's employees, or partners. The views on this blog are solely those of the writer.

Dear Salvation Army, 

You rock.  I'm serious.  You're doing a great job reaching out to the least of these.  You're really doing it.  You're "Christianity in action" as Billy Graham said.  You've got great people, great leaders, and great programs.  You're on the cutting edge of culture and engagement.  It's an honor to be a part of this army.  So let me share something on my heart with you.  Because you rock, at least in my humble view.  

These are the opinions of one person, me, who would humbly encourage you in one area: Please stand firm on the issue of marriage.

There is a lot of cultural pressure in this day and age for churches, organizations, and movements to compromise in the area of marriage.  Frankly the issue is that of gay marriage and Christian practice toward those of the LGBTQ community.  

Jesus Christ was once asked about marriage and divorce.  He replied in this way:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” -Matthew 19:4-6 NIV

The biblical formula for marriage is between one man and one woman.  The Salvation Army position statement on marriage is as follows: "The Salvation Army affirms the New Testament standard of marriage, which is the loving union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others."

There is mounting pressure in Europe, Canada, and the United States for Christian organizations to turn coat on the issue of marriage.  

The Salvation Army's current policy is quite excellent regarding gay marriage and the LGBT community: The Salvation Army's mission is to carry the gospel and serve all people without discrimination.  LGBT individuals are served just like anyone else, and may even be referred to as the name or gender they prefer.  That is missional tolerance and inclusion.  That's a good policy.  Some might say it goes too far, but it's right on the line.  In addition, individuals who are homosexual or other gender identities may be hired by the Salvation Army.  But here's the line: Like any other organization, for ministry leadership positions the individual must be in agreement with the core doctrines and values of the organization.  Someone who practices homosexuality would not be eligible for officership or other ministry positions because that person would be living in contradiction to core army truths.  However, if someone of homosexual disposition had committed to celibacy and God's mind on the issue, then that person would most certainly qualify for officership.  That person, like all of us, have decided to do things God's way instead of their own.  That person is not only qualified but highly qualified, given they have renounced old ways and put on Christ.  

In recent years some Christian organizations and denominational movements have made moves to change their marriage doctrines to allow for gay marriage to be practiced.  The arguments have been that this is about love, inclusion, tolerance, and equal rights for gay couples.  The results have overwhelmingly been that there is a mass exodus from the movement.  And with the core principles of the churches compromised, soon other compromises come about, and the movement dies off completely.  I don't want to see the same thing happen to the Salvation Army.  

We must never, never, never endorse a practice that the scriptures show clearly to be sinful. Regarding homosexuality, the New Testament writer, the Apostle Paul addressed this issue in the flagship book of Protestantism, the book of Romans.

Paul was writing regarding those who disbelieve in God, who refuse to obey His standards when he wrote: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
 

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.Amen.
 

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."
-Romans 1:21-27 NIV

There is a very simple question to ask: Is the Bible the word of God?  Does the Salvation Army as a Christian church movement believe that the Bible is the true, real word of God?  If the answer to that question is "yes" which it always ought to be, then we have absolutely no business encouraging that which God has forbidden.  It's just that simple.  

At the end of Romans 1 Paul also writes: "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (v.32)  Do we want to join the growing number who have decided to approve of those who practice such behaviors?  

Additional scriptures dealing with homosexuality: Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22;20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Articles regarding the Bible & homosexuality: 


This is a very tough issue.  Let me repeat that: this is a very tough issue.  The culture is quite convinced that anyone standing for natural marriage is on the same level as the most demented, backwards, evil bigot.  Human rights organizations have and will condemn anyone who dares to a take a stand on this issue.  Those who stand for natural marriage have been and will be called hate-mongers, bigots, homophobes, and discriminatory religious zealots.  

But it's worse than that. Sadly gay activists have taken to suing Christian businesses, slandering Christians who take a stand, and getting Christians fired from their jobs for standing for their religious values in the public square.  Some in the government wage a war on religious liberty, demanding that Christian business owners be forced to participate in gay marriage ceremonies or be shut down and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That could very soon continue forward into the area of ministry and pastoring.  Now the Department of Justice is demanding that all bathrooms in the country be open to anyone.  If a biologically male individual prefers to be considered female, then he must be allowed to enter and use the female restroom.  The same is being forced on public and private schools, for locker room use and restroom use.  This agenda will only continue.  We can't avoid politics, even if we aren't interested in politics, politics is interested in us. 

Many top companies in the U.S.A. have taken to bullying states to push forward the redefinition of marriage.  National companies may boycott you or your entire state, as Indiana was boycotted for attempts to protect religious liberty and how recently North Carolina has been boycotted by musicians, employers, and over 120 different major U.S. companies.  Some of the companies involved include: The NFL, the NBA, Paypal, Starbucks, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Pepsi, Whole Foods, Hyatt, and many others.  We may find ourselves attacked, boycotted, and slandered for defending natural marriage, but who do we want to be?  God's people or the favorites of the world? 

The Salvation Army has had to deal with attacks from the LGBT community, and the response of the Salvation Army has been excellent.  The Salvation Army has reached out to LGBT individuals, despite hatred and vitriol toward a time honored charity.  The Salvation Army is right to reach out.  But there must also be limits in regard to this issue.  These limits have been extended tactfully by army leadership.  But some in the Army fear that leadership may begin to move to the left on this issue, and eventually adopt a full on position of support for gay marriage.

This would be a profound mistake, and a major departure from the shared meanings of the past.  It would no doubt splinter the organization and cause mass resignations.  The cost is high, but the Salvation Army must stand firm on the issue of marriage.  Dare we change God's design for cultural acceptance only to find ourselves outside the will of God? 

Let's think outside the box.  How can we encourage a change of heart and mind in those struggling?  How can we compassionately call people to repentance from harmful behaviors?  How can we treat people with dignity and respect, yet also carry the full gospel message?

The Salvation Army is a conservative biblical Christian movement.  All that means is that we take scripture to literally mean what it says: We literally believe Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead.  We literally believe God is real.  We literally believe that the teachings in the Bible apply today.  Which is a good thing, because these are not just our beliefs, they are facts of life.  God is in fact real.  Jesus Christ is in fact, Lord.  Thus we must never abandon that which the Bible teaches.  Small compromises lead quickly to a pattern of compromise and that is very dangerous.  

God is real.  He is active in the world.  God's Bible is real, true, and infallible.  It is the description of God's timeless truths.  Thus when the Bible tells us something is sinful, we must never call it anything but that.  There have always been heavy pressures from the cultures we engage in.  At the founding of the Salvation Army most churches hated the army, and people threw rocks at brass bands and those attending open air meetings.  In the 1950s atheistic communists took control of Seoul, Korea and captured a Salvation Army officer named Major Noh.  This Salvation Army officer was shot as he lifted his Bible in one hand and his song book in the other declaring, "Whether I live or die matters not, Christ lives!"

Should we change our marriage stance?  Should we encourage that which God has forbidden for the affection of the LGBT community, for the acceptance of U.S. businesses, for the sake of "equality and inclusion?"  Never.  Because it doesn't matter what happens to us, live or die, fired or labeled haters, none-the-less Christ lives!  

Our application of God's word adapts to the culture as it shifts.  But the eternal truths found in God's word do not change.  Marriage is a sacred union between man and wife, to the exclusion of any other combination.  Let's carry the message of the gospel in the fullness of grace and truth, standing firm in His word despite what the culture demands. United, here we stand, God help us: One Army, a Christian army. 

Please feel free to share this article and the pictures.  If you're an adherent, soldier or officer in the Salvation Army please consider being an active advocate in your area for a biblical foundation of marriage, family, and core theology.  We need voices like yours, standing firmly for the truth.  Thank you! 


From the Salvation Army position statement on marriage and divorce
Related Posts:
  1. Christianity in the Public Square
  2. Expert Testimony: the Demise of Evolution, Complexity in DNA
  3. Expert Testimony: Intelligent Design, Archaeology, and Historicity
  4. The Great American Culture War: Religious Liberty, Gay Rights, Naturalism and the Christian Faith
  5. What is the matrix?
  6. Logic, History, Statistics, & Astronomy: Interdisciplinary approaches to the Truth Claims of Christianity
  7. Does man need God in Western Civilization
  8. Real Christianity: Clothing, Buildings, Money, & Extravagance
  9. Seven Objections to the Bible and Seven Reasonable Responses
  10. 10 Answers to Common Questions Raised by Skeptics