Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Christianity has lost its privileged status in our society."  That is what a Christian friend of mine said recently; and I have thought about that quote extensively lately.  I believe there is no doubt that he is correct. 

Just yesterday the U.S. Supreme court refused to hear an appeal of lower courts' rulings overturning bans on same-sex marriage in numerous States'; thus by their judicial ruling invalidating numerous States' bans on same-sex marriage.  What was the will of the people in numerous states has been overturned by the courts. 

In addition to this news, Schools now face the threat of losing accreditation if they do not comply with full affirmation of same-sex attraction.  [See here http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/gay-rights-vs-religious-liberty-again/]  This will effect any student wishing to go to that institution while simultaneously attempting to procure grants or aid of any Federal or State kind; as to qualify for this aid the student must be going to an institution that is accredited. 

I have no doubt, sadly, that we live in a country where the definition of marriage in secular minds no longer is exclusive to a male-female relationship.  My daughters will grow up seeing in television, media, educational institutions, in the workplace, and in public - sexual deviancy.  Of course this is not limited to same-sex attraction - the, "hookup" culture, the selling of sex alongside every commodity, and the promise of immediate gratification is sold to all people regardless of their sexual orientation.  As girls all too often they will be looked at simply as an apparatus to male pleasure...or female pleasure.  It is enough to make a father vomit.

Marriage is no longer looked at as the life-long commitment of a man and a woman - biologically ordered by the Creator towards the creating and rearing of children [have you ever stopped to wonder why the sex organs are the only human organs that are incomplete without their compliment - and they cannot function in their totality without the opposite?]  This attempt to redefine the created order has tremendous impacts for our society that are as yet unseen by many in our society - but will throughout the generations reveal itself as destructive to the family, the very building block of society. 

But this is but one example.  Greed, deception, and violence - it is all on the increase.  Behaviors and attitudes that were once hidden in dark places are now practiced proudly and openly.  Greed is actually sold as good.  We no longer live in a culture that values human life - but instead looks at people simply in economic means - are they useful?  Will they be a burden?  Will they negatively impact my emotional enjoyment at the moment?  If so, eradicate. 

We have doubled down on ignorance.  Our cultural elite have lulled the population to sleep with gawdy entertainment simply to re-enforce the ideas that they want us to swallow wholesale.  In general, we have become a populace that is uninformed, too busy to care, and simply focused on ourselves and our life. 

Yet...what troubles me even more than the state of the culture that we live in is the Christian's response to this culture - capitulation, hate, fear, or retreat. 

Some Christians simply capitulate.  We simply rewrite the rules.  We see that we are on the, "losing side of history" and attempt to accommodate and earn the love of this world.  This will never work.  We cannot capitulate enough to satisfy the desires of the world; and it only leaves both them and us confused as to the truth.  That is why I would rather be on the right side of truth and the wrong side of history. 

Some Christians hate.  Because they feel pushed and threatened, they begin to hate.  Hate the homosexuals!  Hate the secularists!  Hate the media!  Hate 'em all!  They rage against the news and televisions and stew in loathing.  Again, totally misguided.  While natural to hate when attacked....did our Lord not tell us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who mistreat us?  All too often, in our safe circles, Christians make fun of, demean, and arrogantly put down those that are stuck in sin....as if we were not there once too huh? 

Some Christians fear.  I find myself here far too often.  Afraid of what might come.  Afraid of whether or not I will be able to stay true to the Savior in the midst of what is sure to come. Afraid of the economic impacts of me boldly professing the truth..."will I lose family, relationships, my job, etc..." Afraid of, "what might be..."  This too is folly.  Fear does not come from God - it is a tool of the enemy.  Fear is not of faith.  Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

Still other Christians retreat.  I meet many Christians that simply think if they retreat to some corner of the world that is simpler, that is still actively Christian in culture, that is still, "wholesome" than they will be safe.  Again, folly.  Sin will find us wherever we go.  We cannot hide.  We cannot run.  It is there. 

So what is the answer?  The answer can be found in Romans 13:14, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ..."  We need to love as we have been loved.  Jesus sat with the tax collectors, the prostitutes, and the sinners.  He ate with the depraved and the downtrodden.  He sat and fellowshipped with those in the culture that were indeed sinful...not to affirm their sin, not to capitulate the commands, not to hate, and certainly not to fear - but to love.  And that love transformed them.  Those that took advantage - took advantage no longer.  Those that were in adultery - went and sinned no more.  Those that were in deviancy - were changed by the radical love of Jesus Christ. 

Have you ever stopped to wonder why people get stuck in this cultural rot?  I have no doubt that it is the human being's need for acceptance that makes them dumb down morality so far and so low in order that they can get the false impression that they can meet the standard.  But deep inside us we know the truth do we not?  We know that God knows - and we know that God cares - and we know we are in trouble.  This is why the culture tries to shout down any dissenting voices to their immorality....they wrongly think that if they can drown dissent that they can create God's acceptance.  This too is folly. 

But it is when you actually sit down with people in sin, as we too were once deep in sin, that you find out that people...are people.  Christians - do we want to win back the culture?  Talk to people.  Love them.  Feed them.  Clothe them.  Speak Law to them...and when repentance is present give the Gospel - Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of which I am Chief.  People are searching for acceptance - show them through love and truth - that God accepts all who turn from sin and embrace His Son Jesus.  Love...as you have been loved.  Radically love. 

As Jesus said to the synagogue ruler whose daughter was pronounced dead...."Don't be afraid...just believe." 

This is a call to all Christians - it is time to radically, unconditionally, love as Christ did. 


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I have been thinking about writing this blog for awhile now...I just did not want to sound whiny in the blog, as that is kind of what this post is about....so, if I sound whiny in this blog....my bad. 

Facebook offers numerous ways in which to read articles and opinions that you otherwise would not read.  People post articles from magazines of which I would not gravitate, and it gives me a way to see how certain people view the world; and from my purview...people are just way too darn sensitive. 

I read an article where a mother bemoaned the fact that when she took her daughter to the local mall Santa, all he did was compliment her on how cute and pretty she looked.  The mother bemoaned the fact that he did not ask her what her favorite school subjects were, what she was interested in, her hobbies, etc....she took this as just one more piece of evidence that when men look even at little girls they see only that their beauty is skin deep....I am not kidding.  This was a real article.  A real person wrote it.  Let me tell you something - she needs to calm down. It was a Mall Santa trying to compliment your daughter.  I have three of them myself.  When someone says, "aren't they cute!"  I reply, "thank you" and then move on.  I do not attempt to mentally process the misogynistic horrifying motives of that darn mall Santa. 

I read another article from a dad who had three daughters who was perennially annoyed that people asked him and his wife, "are you going to try for a boy?"  He wrote a list of things that he was not able to have because he did not have a boy.  Admittedly, it was kind of a funny list; however, he was genuinely irritated that people would say, "are you going to try for a boy?"  Again, I have three daughters myself and I have had numerous people ask me that question.  I have never once even gotten close to being offended by it.  Why?  Simple.  People are simply asking what is an obvious point - I have three kids; none of them boys - do I want a boy?  It is harmless.  It is meant to be harmless.  We need to calm down. 

I was working out the other day.  I belong to a Gym and do, "Art of Strength" classes.  I was obviously doing something funny with the rope because a guy in the class asked if I was having a seizure.  I laughed.  It was meant to be funny.  He does not know that I have a daughter that suffered with epilepsy for many years and she had to have brain surgery to cure this problem.  Even if he did know this, I would hope he would still tell the joke; because it was meant to be funny.  Is it inappropriate?  Perhaps.  But we are guys and it was meant to be funny.  I absolutely did not take offense.  Not one bit. 

Many years ago I was working out in the Gym with my friend.  I was lifting a certain amount of weight and he was lifting a lighter weight.  I said something along the lines of, "come on ya lady, lift it!"  A woman came over very upset.  She told me that making fun of other people, even a friend, is not nice; especially using a woman as an example.  She asked me to never do that again.  I am not kidding.  This happened.  I, being a Christian, apologized, and have since not called my friend a lady....within her earshot :)

My point is simple.  We live in a hyper-offended class of a culture.  Everything offends everybody.  Our politics is just one more example of this.  I legitimately feel badly for politicians in this country.  One slip of the tongue - one bad joke - one laugh - can ruin your career.  Many of us no longer vote on issues - we vote on politicians' gaffes.  I do not care if a politician slips with his mouth; I do care if he votes to protect the life of the unborn, etc....It is time to make the important things important and the not so important things...well, not so important. 

I am convinced that if these sensitive people, especially Christians, would read their Bible honestly they would be offended constantly.  Isaiah 64:6 is usually rendered, "we all are like an unclean thing, our righteousness is as filthy rags...."  But in actuality what the Hebrew says is, "our righteousness is like a used menstrual cloth"  That's right - God says that our righteousness is like a used Tampon.  But that is too crass to say...so we have to clean it up....filthy rags is better.....

Or Paul.  In Philippians 3:8 he says that he counts all things as, "rubbish" to the surpassing knowledge of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.  Well, the Greek word there is Skubalon, and while perhaps not a curse, it is alot stronger than rubbish.  It is more than dung.  He is being pretty...dare I say...offensive?

In America today everyone thinks they have a right not to be offended.  Everyone takes things so personally.  We need to lighten up.  Take ourselves less seriously.  Be ready to hear the motive in the person's words.  

Now, I know that the Bible says, "love is not rude...."  And I agree.  In that vein I am called to learn the culture that I live in and attempt, for the sake of others, to not be rude.  However, the Bible also says that love thinks the best - and we have to look at the motive of others.  Are they really trying to offend?  Are they really trying to hurt?  If not, then come on - love them too.  Bear with them.   The Bible tells us to bear with one another.  And it is not simply for the less sensitive to bear with the overly sensitive...it also tells the overly sensitive to bear with the less sensitive. 

Now, I know I am dangerously close to being overly sensitive about being overly sensitive...it is the risk of this blog post...hey, maybe I simply need to lighten up....:)


Friday, August 8, 2014

I happen to like the church.  That may seem non-controversial, but from my admittedly personal observations it is controversial. 

I have, in the past few years, seen many facebook posts about how terrible the church is.  I have read posts from pastors who are ill or suffering and they opine about how the church is terrible at dealing with people who suffer.

I have read posts about how the church is full of hypocrites.  I have read posts about how the church is ill-equipped to deal with the 21st century ills of this world.  I have read posts about how the church has done this, that, or the other thing wrong. 

There are two things I find disturbing about this - 1st, every single post that I read in this regard was written by Christians.  Christians - people who are nourished by the Word and Sacraments - we ought to think the best.  And also, are we unaware that when we publically malign the church those that do not know Christ are simply buttressed in their thought that the church, "is useless"?  We, of all people, ought to recognize that outside of the church there is no real hope.  The church, warts and all, is the bride of Christ.  And yes, ultimately, the church is God's people.

Now, of course I admit and confess that not all churches do it right - and yes, I will admit - not all churches work to spread the Gospel effectively.  However, it is in the church that I was raised to hear of Jesus.  It is in the church that I receive the sacraments.  It is in the church that I have met - and have - built amazing relationships with people that I love.  It is in the church that I have been nurtured in the faith.

The second thing I find disturbing is this trend to, "de-institutionalize" the church.  This one would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.  I hear often that people hate, "church politics."  Yet, and I can only speak about my own church body - the LCMS - I am thankful for it.  Let me tell you why.  There is some nonsensical thinking out there that we can have, "church" without governing bodies, without authority, where everyone has amazingly equal say and all ideas are worth repeating and implementing. 

My response to this is simple - have you ever tried to get anything done with more than one person?  If you have than you know that agreement is hard to come by.  At some point having governance and good polity assist the body to do something wonderful. 

For example, let us look at the imagined house church.  We gather together around the Word.  We pray.  It is wonderful.  Than more people start coming.  They are attracted to the freedom expressed there.  They want more of it.  They invite more.  All of a sudden, decisions have to be made as to how things are going to operate when people meet there.  All of a sudden, someone has to make choices.  All of a sudden, for there to be any order in the meetings - people have got to step up.  People are elected to take charge.  People are elected to represent.  Like Stephen in Acts, governance begins to take form and shape. 

Huh...sounds like church polity.  Paul himself said that everything should be done in good order.  Paul himself appointed elders in the cities and the churches.  Good structure and order were paramount in the process of spreading the Gospel.  To say otherwise is to simply deny facts.

I guess what this post is really about is this - I want to stick up for the church.  I find her to be the greatest force for good the world has ever known.  Many of our institutions of higher learning were started by the church.  The drive for literacy - started by the church.  The principle that every human being has intrinsic value - an idea from the church.  Jesus Himself said that He is the head of the church.

I know people have been hurt by the church; but I write here saying that far more people have been helped.  I love Jesus, and I love His church.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sometimes it is very hard to know what it means to help...

This post is going to be hard to write and not sound self-serving.  If it does, please forgive me.  It truly is not my intent.  I want to write this blog simply to say that I stand in awe of Jesus.  I really do. 

I stand in awe of Jesus because He is God - and He left His throne of glory and became man to save us.

I stand in awe of Jesus because He stood before those who hated Him and uttered, "Father..forgive them, for they know not what they do."

I stand in awe of Jesus because He defeated death - by physically rising from the grave He opened a new door of life that had been shut since the fall of humanity. 

I stand in awe of Jesus because He is going to right every wrong.  At His reappearing He will end this sinful world and create a new heavens and a new earth - our home of righteousness. 

But this post is not about the above sentences.  This post is about how Jesus was constantly pressed upon by people - and still loved.  He always did what was best for the hearer no matter the situation.

He rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees.  He showed compassion to the woman caught in adultery.  He was kind to Zacchaeus and knew He was ready to repent.  In every and any situation Jesus knew when to speak a harsh word and when to speak a word of gentleness.  In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 Jesus speaks both words of rebuke and comfort to seven churches.  It is a perfect blend of Law and Gospel.  It is real help.

He knew who the secure sinners were - and He rebuked them.  He knew who the broken in spirit were - and He healed them.  He was, and is, a perfect Savior.

I am not Him.  As a pastor it can be so difficult sometimes to discern who is taking advantage of the help of the church and who truly needs a hand up.  In seminary we were taught to always and consistently err on the side of grace.  When in doubt, simply give grace.  Yet, we were also taught that some people need discipline.  Sometimes we all need to struggle.  We must remember that sometimes God sends a flood....

Discernment is so important.  I see my friends on two sides of the fence consistently.  On one side I see people make excuses for repugnant behavior by saying, "well...you just don't know how they grew up...they were raised that way...that's just the way they are...boys will be boys..." and all such ridiculousness.  I have been taught that the Law of God is written on the hearts of human beings - let us not kid each other - we know when we are wrong.  It is not mommy's fault, daddy's fault, grand-pappy's fault, and it was not how we were raised.  We know...we just do.

But then there are those on the other side.  I hear them say things like, "I pulled myself up by my bootstraps...why can't they??....I did this, that, or the other thing - why should I lend a hand?  They made their choices - now they have to live with their consequences..." and such things.  People that say such things forget how perhaps their lives are not so much comprised of their, "hard work" as it is comprised of God's grace.  I mean truly - what did I do to be born to loving parents, in a rich nation, given a good education, etc....?  The answer is I did nothing.  It was given - why should I brag as if it was not. 

This is what makes helping hard.  Some people truly do need to struggle.  They take advantage.  They will sop you dry if you let them.  But others - well, they truly need help.  Their conscience has been pricked, they need hands of help and grace - and no soul ought to be given up on. 

It is exhausting to be Christian.  It really is.  This is why I stand in awe of Jesus.  In every and any situation He knew who needed the harsh word - and He knew who was a bruised reed that could withstand no more pressure. 

Lord, help me truly help.  In the truest sense of that word.  Amen.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Inside Baseball....

In this post I may be writing about some inside baseball.  Therefore, it may not be that interesting to some readers; however, bear with me if at all possible. :)

Christianity in America today is at war; and the war I would label between people who believe that the, "social" Gospel is the center of Christianity and those that believe the Gospel of, "salvation" is the center of Christianity. 

In order to truly discuss what I mean, I have to define terms.  For many Christians the most important aspect of Christianity is social justice - freeing people politically, economically, and socially.  These Christians see Jesus' words in Luke 4:18-19, " 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" as words that fundamentally speak to this side of heaven and the oppression that exists between men.  We, as Christians, ought to be concerned and take action to economically and socially assist those who are politically, governmentally, and socially oppressed.  This ought to be done because Jesus commands it. 

The 2nd group of individuals, above I called them primarily people that believe a Gospel of "salvation," are individuals that believe that the primary work of Jesus was to die, rise again, and forgive sins.  They see Him as primarily a Savior and Redeemer in a cosmic sense - that through His sacrificial death and resurrection He made us right with God so that we would fellowship with God forever.  This, "salvation" is granted only through faith in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, from their point of view, if you believe in the Jesus of the Bible you are, "saved" and if you do not you are, "unsaved" and the ramifications are perilous.  These people believe that hell is real and that souls go there forever. They also believe that heaven is real and for those souls that go there is a new heaven/earth awaiting them at the resurrection.  Entrance into heaven or hell is based solely on a soul's belief in Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection for sins.  Therefore, giving a person an opportunity to believe in Jesus so they might believe is of first importance.  

Those that know me personally already know into which camp I fall.  I would quote 1st Corinthians 15:3, " 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…"  I am convinced that there is a heaven and there is a hell.  We all deserve condemnation but through personal faith in Jesus Christ we are forgiven our sins and made right with God.  I believe that through His sacrificial death and resurrection we are forgiven and made right with God.  This forgiveness is granted solely and only through personal faith in Jesus.  Therefore, sharing Jesus becomes the most important thing someone can do for another. 

To many this seems cruel.  To those Christians that believe the social Gospel is the most important, this kind of statement seems exclusive and out of step with what Jesus was truly getting at - helping the poor and helpless. 

I will never forget a personal experience that I had with our youth group.  I took some youth to an event where we were packaging meals for the poor in another country.  It was for people that were truly in need.  We, who have much, need to give to those who do not have.  We packaged the food. 

But I asked the person in charge of the food packaging a question, "do we tell the people who receives the packages about Jesus?"  Their answer was, "no."  In their minds, "feeding the poor is the work of Jesus...."  Many of the children that were being fed by these packages were Muslim children.  It was work within a predominantly Muslim country with Muslim children.  As a matter of fact, the directors were pretty clear that no Gospel presentation would be given. 

This absolutely baffled me.  It was as if the work of Christianity was being done solely by feeding the poor.  Yet, I must tell you, I cannot find this in the Bible.  Feeding the poor is good, beneficial, and indeed showcases love.  But feeding the poor saves the soul of no one.  Jesus does this.  More specifically, Jesus grants salvation through personal faith in Him.  

Jesus' own words attest to this - John 3:16-18 reads, " 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

Reading the book of Acts informs me as to what was of 1st importance to the Apostles.  Paul told the people of Athens to repent of their idolatry.  The Apostles told the world that Zeus could not save them.  "Zeus" was not God by another name.  The legitimacy of other, "gods" is a completely foreign concept in the Bible.  Think of the story of Elijah and Baal.  If baal were legitimate, there would have been no need for the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of baal.  The Apostles understood this and therefore called people to repent of their sins and embrace Jesus.  They did not seek to simply feed and care for those of other religions - they sought to turn people from dead religious belief to faith in a living Jesus.  They did this through love, care, and patience; but they would never have said that idols were true.  Ever. 

This, I believe, is the central problem in American Christianity.  We are fighting a war within ourselves and the war is very simple.  Once again it has to do with truth.  Either faith in the Jesus of the Bible is the only way to salvation or it is not.  If faith in the Jesus of the Bible is the only way to eternal salvation, than sharing that good news is the most loving thing one can do.  Yes, feed the poor.  Yes, be compassionate.  Yes, love.  But do it all for the name of Jesus - in the hopes that an unbelieving world will come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

This post is about the impasse that many Christians, myself included, are having with many in the culture concerning a wide array of issues - abortion, homosexuality, greed, parenthood, marriage,  etc....I have been thinking and praying concerning how to address this issue, and the best way I know how is to give an example. 

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of Witchcraft in Colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693.  They are a famous example of what most would call religious hysteria and extremism.  These trials resulted with the execution of twenty people, mostly women. 

Most people look at this history as a sad, horrific, cautionary tale of religious extremism and a failure of the due process of law.  The events and historicity of the events are not what I am writing about.  What I am writing about is this - most people look at this history as a sad, horrific, cautionary tale because most people believe that these twenty people were wrongly prosecuted and put to death incorrectly.  They believe this because they do not believe the supernatural claims made by the prosecutors and witnesses.  They believe this based upon the idea that there are no such things as witches - and even if there were - these twenty did not deserve to die due to witchcraft.  Basically stated, they were wrongly put to death by overzealous religious extremists because what they believed was categorically untrue.  The prosecutors and witnesses were wrong about the facts - intentionally or unintentionally.

But let me ask this question - what if those put to death were really witches?  [Please listen here, I am not saying that I think they were.  This is a gigantic, "what if" for the sake of a point] What if there were really people in league with the Prince of Darkness and were endangering the entire town with supernatural evil?  What if the plague of the demonic was really running rampant and people were intentionally, forthrightly, in league with Satan?  What if people, in conversation with the devil, were willing participants to attempt to destroy a community?  Well, that changes things does it not?  You could hardly find a greater reason to put someone to death capitally than if they were really intentionally in league with Satan with the full-on intent of destroying people now could you? 

The point I am making here is simple - our actions and opinions are formed by what we believe is true.  If I believe you are a witch in league with the devil, I am going to avoid you.  I will warn others about you.  I will try and stop you.  I will do this because I love my neighbor and I love you.  If, however, you are not in league with the devil my warning others about you is an act of cruelty, gossip, and slander.  It all depends on if you really are a witch or not. 

Using this extreme example helps us understand the impasse many Christians and the culture are having.  I will use same-sex marriage as an example, as that is a hot-button issue at the moment.  Many Christians believe that homosexuality is a perversion of the sexual gift that God has given to humanity.  We believe this activity and persuasion is not in the best interest of the participants or the community.  These Christians consider it a loving act to attempt to persuade others that this behavior is bad.  Living in a democratic republic, Christians also have the right to attempt to persuade elected officials to formulate laws in a manner which they believe are the best interests of the people in the community.  With this in mind Christians publicly condemn homosexual acts and do not want the practice codified into law. 

Now, the contrary position is that homosexuality is as good and holy as heterosexuality - and people who practice homosexuality within monogamous relationships are to be celebrated and encouraged just as we would any other heterosexual couple.  Therefore those who believe this think that these many Christians are cruel - intolerant - and nasty because they condemn what they believe is good - indeed ought to be celebrated.  They see the fight against homosexual marriage in the same light as they see the fight against inter-racial marriage - a bigoted, cruel war of words by an intolerant minority of religious extremists. 

Well....it all depends on who is right about that which is true does it not?  Homosexuality is either good or it is evil.  If homosexuality is evil, then we ought to attempt to persuade people stuck in that sin to repent and believe in the forgiveness of Christ, ought we not?  If it is good than we ought to celebrate it and lift it up as one example on how we ought to behave, ought we not?  It really all depends on which side is correct about the truth.

And this leads me to this final point - where do we go to find that which is true?  In John 17:17 Jesus is praying to the Father for His disciples and He prays, "sanctify them by truth, your Word is truth."  Many Christians consider the Bible as the font of truth.  What it says is true.  Regardless of how I feel about what it says, it is true.  I, as a follower of Christ, am called to actively promote and publically proclaim that which is true.  To do other would be to violate the command, "you shall not bear false witness." 

The culture does not look to the Bible this way.  The culture looks at the Bible as a collection of myths - perhaps a book about morals.  Human reason is their font of truth.  What we reason to be true, is true. 

This is the impasse.  In this way, both sides believe they are being loving.  Both sides believe they are forwarding that which is in the best interests of the community.  It really comes down to who is right doesn't it? 

Those of you that know me know what I believe to be true.  I believe homosexuality is a sexual sin along with fornication, pornography, adultery, and many other sexual sins.  The proper place for sexual expression is between a husband and a wife in the lifelong commitment of marriage.  Because I believe this I actively attempt, in my mind, to love the person in homosexuality to repent and receive the forgiveness of Christ.  In this way I believe I am fulfilling a loving act commanded and forwarded by my Savior. 

Many think that this opinion is bigoted and cruel and that I am bigoted and cruel because I hold the position.  It all depends on who is right does it not? 

We do not like choices like this in our culture, but alas, we must choose sides.  The Bible has proven to me to be the story of God's salvation to sinners.  I must daily repent of my sins and embrace Jesus for forgiveness.  Due to this, I will throw my opinion behind the truth of the Bible.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Creation and Evolution

As of late there has been a lot of internet discussion concerning a fundamentalist view of the natural world and its creation [Creationist] and a secular/scientific view of the natural world and its creation [Darwinian molecules to man evolution]. 

Now, I know that the above definition of the Creation vs. Evolution debate is simplistic and many that believe in molecules to man evolution will call themselves people of faith in God.  This blog is not to debate this point.  I have used the generalized definition above to simply stake out the two sides. 

I am writing on this topic to talk philosophically, not scientifically.  I am not a scientist.  I do not claim to be one.  As a matter of fact I remember having inward joy at leaving the science building my sophomore year in undergraduate school because I was done with the physical sciences courses that were demanded in my major and minor.

This blog is about presuppositions.  A presupposition is something assumed beforehand.  Often times it is so assumed that it is left unspoken or unwritten.  What I am writing about is the fact that often in the debate of Creation vs. Evolution there are unspoken presuppositions on both sides that will, by definition, force the opposing side into one view or another. 

For example, my presupposition about life is that God directly intervenes in the natural world.  Yes, He has established rules that govern the natural world; however, He has from time to time suspended these rules in order to showcase His glory.  For example, it is an article of my faith that Jesus was conceived of a virgin, [obviously a suspension of the natural rules governing conception] He is God in the flesh, [obviously suspending the natural rules about the nature of humanity] He died - but then His soul re-animated dead, decaying flesh and He walked out of a tomb three days later. [Natural rules dictate that dead men do not come back to life] He then ascended to heaven [a real locality - for physical things must inhabit physical places] and He will physically return again.  These are basic presuppositions for the Christian as spelled out simply and eloquently in the Apostles Creed. 

What that means is that I believe in a God who will, from time to time, suspend the rules that govern the natural world [for He made them].  The secular scientist does not share this presupposition.  His/her assumption is that the natural world is either all there is - or - it is not his/her place to take the supernatural into account.  Therefore, the scientist will look at the physical world and attempt to understand his/her surroundings by the observation of this physical world only using as his/her basis the regularized natural rules. 

These are two amazingly different presuppositions that will force both parties into totally different directions.  For example, a scientist looking at the Grand Canyon would rightly, from their presupposition, come to a conclusion that it would take millions, if not billions, of years to form this Canyon.  And this would absolutely be true if their underlying presupposition is correct - that all there is to make the Canyon is the Colorado river or some other natural events that follow the current rules that govern this nature.  However, what if the underlying presupposition is incorrect?  What if God intervened, say, with a catastrophic geologic and climatic event?  What if God flooded the entire face of the earth?  What then? 

Now, again, I am not a scientist; however, I do know that if the person assumes a flood that covered the face of the planet the conclusions about how geologic structures were formed would change.  They must. 

Therefore, what I often want to interject into this debate is a bit of backtracking.  I do not believe that the molecules to man evolutionary scientist is somehow misusing things or intentionally trying to denigrate faith.  They are starting at a presupposition of no intervening God.  Nor do I believe that the Creationist is attempting to misuse science in the name of defending their intervening God.  I believe the two sides come from their viewpoints at two different presuppositions; and that is really what ought to be debated.  Is there a God who intervenes in His natural world?  If there is, then we would look at things differently.  That is what ought to be debated. 

From my point of view, I believe the main doctrine of Christianity has to do with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  As the Apostle Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15:14, "If Christ be not raised our preaching is useless, and so is your faith."  Christianity is a religion that has at its center the miraculous - God became a man [the nature of Jesus] a dead man came back to live after decaying in a tomb.  This is Christianity.  Jesus Himself is one big miracle: God encapsulated in flesh.  If a scientist were to cut open the body of Jesus, he or she would not, "observe" God coming out.  Yet, the doctrine of the divinity of Christ is essential to the Christian faith.  Furthermore, believing that a dead man came to life is essential as well.  If you can swallow that camel - if dead men come back to life - then flooding the earth, or creating the earth in a heartbeat, is really...not that hard to imagine.  So what I always say to my Christian friends is this - why not believe?  What is the argument for not believing the Bible's account of things?  If God raises the dead - then feeding five thousand, walking on water, casting out demons, etc....are mere fleabites in comparison. 

My two cents.  God bless,