July 30, 2012

The Least of These II: The Kingdom and A Poor Facsimile

The Kingdom

Since the Fall (of humanity), God has been slowly and patiently working to get humanity “back to the Garden” so to speak and to the point of holiness before Original Sin through Adam. Part of this idea of getting things back to the way they were is to (at some point) bring the Kingdom of God to earth in full. This will be when Jesus Christ returns to reign (Kuzmic 63).

Therefore, the Kingdom of God should be defined as anywhere that God’s will reigns fully in a believer(s) life. Kingdom is where the King is. If a believer is truly aligned with the will of God and God’s will controls or dictates a believers motives and action, this person will in all probability also be saved or have salvation as outlined in the Bible. This would’ve at least been the general mindset of the first century which would’ve heavily affected their writings in the Bible. Jews or newly converted Jews from Judaism to Christianity would’ve viewed the Kingdom of God as a future or coming period of salvation (Ridderbos 18).

Consequently, for a Christian, the Kingdom came in force with the arrival of God incarnate: Jesus Christ in a form of inaugurated eschatology (Kuzmic 63, Moore et al 70). Subsequently, anyone that believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are true Christians then become the manifestation of the Kingdom now as we are indwelt by the Spirit of God and have the Spirit of Christ in us (Moore et al 76). If we’re truly indwelt by the Holy Spirit we will also have the heart of God so there should be a manifestation of the Kingdom through us just as there was through Jesus when He walked this earth. As we will see later after Christ’s Ascension the disciples do the same as Jesus since they too are indwelt by the Spirit of God (therefore they also had His heart for the poor).

We are indeed called by Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) to go out and evangelize and teach all the things Jesus taught the disciples. A big part of Jesus' teachings were in His actions in helping the marginalized of society. Jesus presence on this earth and his teachings were the Kingdom breaking through into earth when he was here. So any disciple that does the same with the heart of Christ or indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are therefore allowing the presence of the Kingdom  to manifest in this world/realm through their actions previous to Jesus coming back to reign in power and glory at his second-coming (or Realized Eschatology).

Signposts to Kingdom, Not Liberation Theology

The idea of the Kingdom arriving in part through humanity because of the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit must not be confused with the liberal/socialist ideas of Liberation Theology and philosophies of people like Gustavo Gutierrez and Jurgen Moltmann’s “Theology of Hope” (Enns 634). These are theories and philosophies that generally state that it is solely man-centered efforts to help the oppressed that speeds the arrival of the Kingdom and brings it into fruition so when Jesus arrives he can just take His rightful place on His throne (Enns 631-623). These types of errant philosophies assert that man can achieve some semblance of Kingdom without God’s direct full-on intervention through what amounts to unbiblical methods when they are scrutinized with a Biblical hermeneutic. They believe that social and political justice for the poor and downtrodden are God’s ultimate concern and this is where humanity should focus all its efforts. This philosophy is partially true in that the poor are indeed the heart of God but they also say that Jesus came not to bring spiritual liberation but rather to liberate the physically oppressed, therefore the historic significance of the resurrection as a release from sin is therefore ignored. The adherents of the “Theology of Hope” generally (but not always) disregard the need of a spiritual Savior to atone for sin (Enns 634). It is at this point where Liberation theology goes completely on a tangent outside Scripture. Some theologians of this persuasion actually advocate liberating believers or the downtrodden including the poor by overthrowing world powers and authorities because to them the greatest sin against God is social injustice (Enns 634-635). This runs in direct violation of Romans 13:1-6 and Mark 12:13-17 and it is not the example Jesus gave us to instigate change in society. Although Jesus’ message and ministry eventually overcame the Roman Empire that He was born into, the overcoming of the empire was not done through insurrection or open social rebellion. The change was effected slowly through the dissemination of the Gospel one person at a time until it transformed the moral undercurrent of society as a whole. Therefore transforming society and turning it towards the Kingdom of God (Batey 21).

This path for rectification of social issues like the poor and poverty through social unrest is therefore not biblical in its premise and should be avoided. Because Liberation Theology does not focus on Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the Cross (the Gospel) and dwells too much on what man can do to shape the future and usher in the Kingdom it stands opposite Scripture. What Liberation Theology fails to grasp is that the doctrine of the church begins not with the Church itself but with the Kingdom of God (Kuzmic 63-64). The Church owes its existence to the Kingdom of God and not the other way around (Moore et al 71). Both conceptions belong tightly together but it is the fact that the Kingdom of God is predominately manifested (or should be manifested) through the Church as a community of the Spirit. In this way this new community of the Spirit is a witnessing, missionary oriented movement or effect of the Kingdom itself (Christian 185; Kuzmic 63). The Church is the side-effect of the Kingdom “breaking through” or the initial manifestation of the Kingdom (Moore et al 71). The Church in reality is a fruit of the Kingdom so to speak, it is not the cause of the social change. Liberation Theology believes the Church is the agent or the cause of change. This is untenable from a biblical perspective. Contrary to what Liberation Theology believes, the Church is not the Kingdom per se but rather the Church is the direct result of the coming of the King Himself in some shape or form (therefore the Kingdom) (Kuzmic 63). Jesus is the very basis on which the Church is founded and aligned to. He is thus the very foundation of the Kingdom. If we miss this point, we miss the entire point of not only social compassion, but we also miss the entire message of the Gospel/Bible that centers on humility and selflessness. I believe this is exactly why we see a reversal of the effect of the Fall and sin wherever Jesus or His followers are as His “agents of change” are found. It is not we as Christians in isolation helping the poor in the strictest sense, it is still Jesus (God) helping the poor and the marginalized of society through us.

Overall Liberation Theology is misleading and disingenuous at its core. It assumes that affluence and improved social status will make people respond to the Gospel and the message of God in a more positive manner and this is a false assumption (Enns 634). If anything I believe the Bible speaks abundantly to the fact that just the opposite may be true when it comes to affluence and money (David, Solomon, Nebuchadnezzar, Judas, etc.). The change in a person’s social status does not guarantee improvement of the condition one’s life or position with God (salvation)…it just makes a rich sinner. Jesus most certainly came to give us spiritual liberation from sin and inevitably His return will cause a social inversion or reversal but that is in the future (eschatological), not now (Batey 18). The things that oppress humanity in society are the direct result of sin either moral or natural. Man is definitely at fault for many of the injustices in society, especially to the poor. This can never be viewed without seeing these actions as a warping or twisting of God’s original intent. These failures in the world or in humanity find their origin in the Fall of Genesis 3 or in imputed sin and/or original sin. This is sin that only Christ can overcome, not humanity. Humanity can only depend on Jesus to remove and halt the effects of this sin. The power to overcome sin and bring the Kingdom in full comes from God alone. It is in the Gospel of the Kingdom and the Word of the Cross (λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ~1 Cor. 1:18) that salvation is found, not in humanity’s misguided man-centered works (Kuzmic 60, Nestle et al 441-442).

July 29, 2012

The Least of These I: The Heart of God For The Poor

Mihag Gedi Farah
Dadaab, Kenya
Photo: Schalk van Zuydam (AP Photo)
I have completed my last paper for a theology class for my degree and it was about the downtrodden and the poor in the world. I can never look at them the same after doing this paper. The Lord has dragged me too deeply into this to ever ignore it the way I used to. If you are not stirred to action by this you do not have a heart beating within your chest nor a conscience. I would even go as far as to say that you do not truly understand God's purposes for a believer being benevolent to the poor or even their fellow man. I will be breaking this abbreviating and dividing this paper up into about 5 posts as this was originally 41 pages.

Prologue: The Heart of God for the Poor

To be able to understand what the church should be doing when dealing with the poor and how they handle social issues like poverty we must understand how the Bible speaks to it. We must especially focus on the dealings Jesus had with the poor since Jesus was God and is the main focus of Scripture. These will be the Biblical ideals that the church must aspire to. We need to do this because we will find written accounts of God’s actions towards the poor in the Bible. If we are to be Christian and emulate God in our behavior(s) towards the poor we need look no farther than Jesus’ actions as they are the benchmark for the Christian and therefore the Churches behavior towards less fortunate and disenfranchised of humanity. When I say poor or poverty I’m referring to people that are unable or have an inability to acquire enough money, goods or necessities of life to get along or be able to live (Furness 57). This is important if we are to see how the Body of Christ matches up to Jesus Christ Himself.

After this I will show how the early church, previous to and immediately following Christ’s ascension matches up to these ideals. In other words, the first part of this paper will be a “how-to” that is geared towards treating the poor in a biblical manner based on Jesus and his interactions during His ministry. We will then do the same by examining the Apostles/disciples that followed Christ’s lead. They will be a good gauge to see if there were consistent out-workings or manifestations of Christ-like behavior in the Church in the likes of Paul and other Apostles/disciples.

As could be expected from an undertaking so extensive, encompassing all the socially benevolent practices recorded of Jesus (God) and His disciples in the Bible will not be possible in a paper of this size. I will be hitting on some of the main ideas furnished by Scriptures and elaborating on them.

Invariably, this will give us a good indicator of where the Church universal and society should stand concerning the poor then and now. These out-workings of the church are relevant whether they be in the nascent church or today. The same principles that applied then, apply now as we are all under one Spirit in Christ. So to try and compare the ancient church to the modern church to try and draw distinctions is irrelevant. On the other hand, comparisons to see if we align consistently to one another throughout history is critical as we are all under a God of order and He is immutable.

1 Corinthians 14:33 ~ “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace —as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”

Therefore, if He indwells all believers we should see a consistent and uniform behavior in believers towards the poor from the time of Christ until today. It goes without saying that if we do not see behavior in modern times and it is not harmonizing with Biblical principles, it would need to be corrected and aligned to Scripture to keep it within the will of God. This should be the goal of any Christian as it brings ultimate glory to God. We should all be adhering to the same biblical principles. The contexts and applications may change but the principles remain the same as they find their source in God who is unchangeable irrespective of time or place. 
What we will find in this paper is not necessarily what man is doing in the church to help his fellow man as much as we will see what God is doing through man and the Church to fulfill His sovereign purposes which inevitably lead to the fruition of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God which is in essence, a return to the way things should’ve been all along before the fall of humanity in Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. In the end I will summarize and offer a few personal insights.

Part I: Scriptures and Jesus

The Case from Scripture
The Bible being God’s revelation of Himself needs to always be the starting point for determining God’s motives or intent with the Poor. We see this intent all over Scripture and we see in it Jesus’ overflowing compassion for the ill, crippled, poor, etc. Scripture is replete with encouragements to be compassionate to the marginalized of society as they are most often the preferred audience for Jesus (Ridderbos 185-190). We are called to assistance the poor. If these types of statements and commands are all throughout the Bible and we see Jesus doing them fulfilling the very same commands He has given us, this must truly be the heart of God. The following are some of these passages of Scripture. As can be expected, some of these sayings are from Jesus himself. [All Scriptural citations in this paper from NIV unless otherwise noted. The general framework of Scripture is as garnered from the World Vision website as it is a worldwide evangelical relief organization (World Vision International, “What Does the Bible Say?”). World Vision International is a Christian organization that states that its purpose is:
“…an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.” (World Vision International, “Mission Statement”)].
At times, God is not subtle. There are times due to humanity’s lack of compassion, ignorance (or both) that God has to come down hard on humanity. It is at these times God actually ups the ante for believers and issues commands as humanity will not volitionally do what is right. Below are some of God's commands and instructions concerning those in poverty. Please note I said commands not requests.
Deuteronomy 15:7 “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.”

Proverbs 31:8 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Isaiah 1:16-17 “Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”

Jeremiah 22:3 “This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”

Jeremiah 22:13-17 "“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor. He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red. “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD. “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion."

Luke 3:11 “John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Luke 12:33 "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

Other Scripture that also speaks to the issues of poverty, injustice or those in need:

Psalm 82:3 “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed”

Psalm 140:12. “I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.”

Isaiah 25:4. “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat…”

Matthew 25:40-46 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. ‘“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Luke 6:20-21 “Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.”

James 2:5 “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

As can be expected, there is reward when a Christian is obedient to the will of God (a la Deuteronomy 28). We see the following blessings for generosity and helping the poor which is in accord with the will of God or there would not be a reward for obedience.

Psalm 41:1 “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.”

Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done”

Proverbs 22:9 “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor”

Matthew 19:20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” 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.”

There are of course other exhortations and warnings to not neglect the poor in Scripture. These warnings apply to those that have neglected the poor but some also speak to those that oppressed or subjugated the poor.

Proverbs 14:31 “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Ezekiel 16:49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

Amos 5:12 “For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.”

Luke 6:24 " “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort."

2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

The reason I list these plethora of verses early in the paper and en masse is because I am presenting God’s inclination towards the poor and His concern for them. It is a concern that has been around since the beginning in God’s redemptive plans. If it has been God’s concern, it should most certainly be ours if we are truly Christians. The most perfect and accurate revelation of God is in His Word and His Son Jesus Christ. As such we should see a concurrence and parallel between the Scriptures and Jesus in terms of words and actions towards the poor and this is exactly what Scripture reveals to us. It is exact what our actions should also reveal to us also to assure that we are indeed “in Christ” as Paul was so fond of saying. It is proof positive that God’s Spirit (therefore salvation) is within us also.
It is the principle we will see all throughout Jesus earthly ministry. It is the idea of taking care of one’s neighbor as one’s self or as Jesus had said in Matthew 25, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The reason this becomes so critical to us in the Church is because we are a Body of believers built upon the Cornerstone which is Christ. What we know of Him and His ministry is revealed in the Scripture. So if we are to properly understand the Scripture’s that Jesus used (Old Testament) and properly understand how they speak of Him (both Old and New Testament), we need this baseline to work from. Furthermore, if Jesus can be found in the Scriptures, Jesus should be found in us. This also means that the Scriptures should be found in us or at least an outworking of what they say in our actions. As such we will be revisiting many of these pieces of Scripture throughout the scope of this paper to look at them in further detail.

July 27, 2012

The Death of Truth IV: Reduced to Absurdity

Reductio Ad Absurdum     Because Postmodernism as a contrary worldview to Christianity and is adversarial to the Christian, it needs to be exposed for the untenable and illogical worldview that it is before it has the ability to gain a further foothold in the culture. It must be recognized for the contradictory self-defeating belief that it is. Otherwise, through confusion it will continue to be allowed to undermine the Christian faith and the moral fabric of society. It first needs to be recognized for the faith or belief system that it is. A belief system that gives rise to moral relativism and pluralism that causes chaos and confusion because it doesn’t allow for absolute truth. In reality it doesn’t allow for the True God. It is a belief system that is a de facto religion. In the absence of other objective truth claims, Postmodernism comes in and makes and absolute truth claim by insinuating that there can be no absolute or objective truths because all subjective truth claims are valid. This cannot be, as this is a contradiction. Postmodernism is therefore self-negating and the embodiment of duplicity. Yet, for some reason, this has been allowed. I believe this is because (1) people are afraid to go against the status quo (2) most do not recognize postmodernism when they see it and (3) even if they do recognize it, they are not sure what to do about it.

In the end Postmodernism is an example of Reductio Ad Absurdum 

Reductio Ad Absurdum is (in Philosophy / Logic) a method of disproving a proposition by showing that its inevitable consequences would be absurd. Postmodernism is clearly absurd in not only its premise but it untenable outcome.

The key is exposing its inconsistencies or reveal its absurdity. This can be done by showing its basic fundamental conflicting nature. This can be done by education people in basic premises or axioms of logic. Once people are taught that something cannot be true and not true at the same time, we can then compare Postmodernism’s inconsistency of logic, therefore showing it as the invalid or inconsistent belief that it is. We need to show people that it is not valid because of the very fact it contradicts itself and goes against its main tenant of plurality, acceptance and tolerance of other truths when it denies beliefs like Christianity its right to make their truth claims as stated from the Bible. Once this has been done we are well on our way to having people grasp the deception and untruth of Postmodernism. As Christians we can then start anew, and in an unmolested manner explain the truths of the Bible.

Once Postmodernism is recognized and subsequently disregarded, truth as defined from the Bible can then be disseminated. We can begin to recover knowledge in the Christian community itself and society at-large. The truth will be found in the teaching of the objective truths of the Bible (Groothuis 67). The Church having been taught in this knowledge and in these principles will be the physical outworking or manifestation of these truths in society (a nation of priests 1 Peter 2:9). The Church will be the manifestations of the morals and ethics that are Biblical and objective in nature. It will be the unity of the Church or the body of Christ itself that will be the most effective witness to those that are still cut adrift in the culture on a sea of Postmodern ambiguity (Moreland 114; Webber 79). It will become self-evident through this persuasive unity of the body, that unity based in absolute or objective truth from the Bible is possible (Groothuis 67). It will be a church that has been strengthened by objective/absolute truths from God through the Bible (i.e.: Biblical sermons, Biblical teachings, bible reading). This Biblically equipped church will then go out into the culture and society to do the same to the culture, evangelizing and spreading the truths and morality of a perfect God (Webber 195). It will be a church that will show that harmony can be achieved by use of absolute truths from the text (Bible) of an absolute God, with an absolute plan for humanity (Groothuis 61-63). It will be a Christian harmony that finds its source in the Spirit which was sent as a replacement after the departure of Jesus Christ. A departure that took place after Jesus’ work on the Cross was complete. It was that very work that was completed to atone for our sins that we ourselves could not atone for because we were fallen in our sins. In essence, it is the truth of the exclusivity of Gospel within the Bible that acts as the unifying principle that undergirds the Body of Christ. The Gospel is Truth.
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"Aristotle on Non-Contradiction (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Version 2. Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University, 27 Feb. 2007. Web. 24 June 2012. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-noncontradiction/>. [A scholarly Philosophy website that explains philosophical premises and elaborates on smaller minutia. Very advanced and at times hard to understand.] Website

Clark, G.H. "Truth." Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Pub Group, 1990. 1113-1114. Print. [A lucid and thorough dictionary of theological terms spanning the entire spectrum of theological thought from modern day to antiquity. Contributors are manifold. Predominately Reformed and evangelical in scope although it does address many non-Reformed topics including those of Catholicism leading me to believe it is quite unbiased in its approach.] Encyclopedia of Theology.

German, T.J. "Scholasticism." Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Pub Group, 1990. 983-984. Print. [A lucid and thorough dictionary of theological terms spanning the entire spectrum of theological thought from modern day to antiquity. Contributors are manifold. Predominately Reformed and evangelical in scope although it does address many non-Reformed topics including those of Catholicism leading me to believe it is quite unbiased in its approach.] Encyclopedia of Theology.

Groothuis, Douglas R. Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000. Print. [A thorough treatment of the conflict between Postmodernism and Christianity from a mostly evangelical point of view.] Single author book.

Moreland, James Porter. Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit's Power. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007. Print. [A Evangelical/Pentecostal leaning text that relied heavily on the actions of the Holy Spirit when describing attempts of Christianity to take back objective truth in the culture and ‘re-educate’ both people in the church and society of the absolute or objective truth claims of the Bible.] Single author book.

Newport, John P.. The New Age Movement and The Biblical Worldview: Conflict and Dialogue. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 1998. Print. [What amounted to a compendium or diversity of thoughts on beliefs, worldviews, and religions. As the New Age is often tied directly to some of the philosophies of eastern religions, this book came in handy when dealing with beliefs including postmodernism that accepts relativism and plurality, which some other religions appear to do also.] Single author book.

Orr-Ewing, Amy. “Postmodern Challenges to The Bible.” Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith That we Defend. Ed. Ravi Zacharias & Danielle DuRant. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007. Print [Entry-level anthology written to appeal to the layman. It is rather simplified, often painfully so to cater to what appears to marginal Christians or people with poor philosophical background. Regardless, it is still a good coherent read.] Anthology.

Slick, Matt. "The Emerging Church and Postmodernism.” CARM-Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, Matthew J. Slick, n.d. Web. 24 June 2012. <http://carm.org/emerging-church-postmodernism>. [An apologetic website written and cited in a scholarly manner. Is often used as a viable resource for other academic papers. Accurate and concise.] Website.

Slick, Matt. "What Is the Law of Excluded Middle." CARM - Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, Matthew J. Slick, n.d. Web. 24 June 2012. <http://carm.org/dictionary-law-excluded-middle>. [An apologetic website written and cited in a scholarly manner. Is often used as a viable resource for other academic papers. Accurate and concise.] Website.

“The MacArthur Study Bible-English Standard Version”. Wheaton: Crossway Bibles, 2010. Print.  [Personal preference for single volume study resource. Excellent study notes. Calvinist. Used it because I exceeded the minimum requirements for citation and use of a Bible.] Bible.

Webber, Robert. Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World. 1999. Reprint. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2004. Print. [A very comprehensive approach to evangelizing a culture and society that is been thoroughly taken over by postmodernism. Conservative evangelical approach as indicated by the publisher being Baker Books known for their usual conservative theological stance.] Single author book.

Westphal, Merold. "Postmodernism and Religious Reflection." International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 38.1 (1995): 127-143. JSTOR. Web. 24 June 2012. [An extremely difficult technical read. Dense with philosophy driven terminologies.] Journal Article

July 26, 2012

Foxes Guarding the Hen House

The moral lines are being drawn by arrogant godless "leaders" in this once great country.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, it was said that gay rights advocates were surprised Thursday that the president of the Atlanta-based chain Chick-fil-A Dan Cathy has taken a public position against same-sex marriage. I imagine this is surprising to them that anyone would have enough of a backbone and conviction to speak out against a clearly unbiblical view that pretty much has the support of the US Government which is complicit in its aiding abetting of unbiblical ideologies. First of all this is a slightly disingenuous statement from the Sun-Times paper because Dan Cathy actually said that be believes marriage is between a man and a woman only and he made the statement in a Christian interview. Thank you once again media for removing the original statements from their original contexts like you always do (hacks). This has now been taken as a war cry for anyone that stands opposed to his beliefs. As a matter of fact he is being treated as if he is not allowed to have these beliefs at all and is being vilified and demonized.

Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy said this week that his privately owned company is "guilty as charged" in support of what he called the biblical definition of the family unit. These supposedly "anti-gay" views (as they have been labeled) openly espoused by the Chick-fil-A  president have run against the opinions of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a local alderman Joe Moreno , who are determined to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in Chicago (as if Rahm Emanuel's opinion actually matters in God's overarching scheme of things.)

We have now come a crossroads where people will need to decide what is Caesar's and what is God's.
Rahm Emanuel is quoted as saying, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values." My question to Emanuel is this: What values does Chicago adhere to? Corruption comes to mind. When the by-word for corruption and cronyism is coined as "Chicago politics", you are in really poor company. The values that Rahm and others appear to adhere to are called unbiblical values. In the long run my money's on God, not Rahm. Perhaps I should say God not Caesar. 

In addition, Rahm's' further comments are probably correct, "I do not believe that the CEO’s comments … reflects who we are as a city.” Actually, I believe Rahm's comments are probably more correct than he ever imagined (like Caiphas). Cathy's comments reflect a man with a heart for God and obedience to God. Something Rahm is completely unfamiliar with I imagine. But do not let us come down too hard on Rahm. For political expedience, he is only reflecting the current cultural/societal acceptance of rampant sexual immorality, violence and a myriad of other unbiblical behaviors that has gripped a majority of his constituents and other politicians such as Chicago's 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno, a person appointed to office, not elected. As Cathy stated, we are literally thumbing our noses at God, not just in Chicago but nationwide. We then wonder why the country is entering dire straits economically and morally. What these egocentric men don't realize is they are not fighting Dan Cathy, they're fighting God and they will eventually lose....badly. Just as God's very own people in Israel and Judah did when they remained stiff-necked and "flipped off" God. These people confuse God's mercy and patience with the end result.

In massive attempts to reframe arguments, the claims to godlessness were in the article stated as : “Same sex marriage, same-sex couples — that’s the civil rights fight of our time. To have those discriminatory policies from the top down is just not something that we’re open to. …We want responsible businesses,” Mayor of Boston, Thomas Mineno said. He also added that, "Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston." Apparently, neither does God because by trying to bar biblical principles being put forth by Cathy, he is trying to do the same thing to God. Foolish megalomaniacal little man.

What is so ironic is that allowing the behaviors he is espousing and advocating is irresponsible from a biblical view. The reality is (and no one is framing the argument properly this way) that these statements from the politicians / governments against a privately run business based on religious views is in itself...discriminatory. What's worse is that it is the government official like Rahm Emanuel that are forcing the discrimination on a Christian and doing it with taxpayers money (Rahm's paycheck). What's even more amazing is that Emanuel is welcoming with open arms Islamic radical Louis Farrakhan who has routinely made not only rabidly anti-Semitic remarks but also goes on what can be construed as truly hateful rants about anyone that does not have his views. So...is Rahm Emanuel really being "tolerant" here or simply being a tool to enable unbiblical behavior in the culture? If this behavior from Mr. Emanuel is not hypocritical it most certainly is a double-standard or preferential treatment, favoritism which at its core is absolutely discriminatory as he has claimed CEO Dan Cathy is, who was simply stating his opinion. Rahm, you are a hypocrite of enormous proportions and act on a double-standard even my 5 year old son could see.

The absurd hypocrisy of Thomas Menino from Boston is also laughable and I'm surprised no one has picked up on it sooner and torn it apart. Boston Mayor Thomas Moreno has specifically said Chick-fil-A “doesn’t belong in Boston because of Cathy’s discriminatory stance. Moreno thereby perfectly discriminates against Cathy because he personally and for his own personal reasons does not agree with him. He then, through cowardice takes the same route as Emanuel. They say it is the value system of the cities they represent rather than taking responsibility for their own absurd statements. This is the quintessential definition of a hypocrite (a cowardly one at that). He is essentially saying Cathy is not allowed to have his own opinion. He then states his own as the validation for taking an action...exactly as Dan Cathy has done. The problem with Menino, Moreno and Emanuel is that they are hanging their hats on an unbiblical peg and putting all of his eggs in a godless basket.

They've begun to confuse a companies ethical obligations for adhering to moral principles with that of a requirement of a company to adhere to man-made stipulations and confused rules that force people to treat unbiblical behavior as acceptable. The fact that they are using taxpayer money to do it seems askew. The fact that they use their multimedia soapboxes to propagate it seems more akin to totalitarian propaganda rather than democratic.

These people and much of society abandoned God and Bible long ago. In so doing they abandoned morality to the dustbin of history. God will do the same with this country and it appears He may already be doing so. Their very sins will destroy them and we begin to see this in cities (ironically), like Chicago.

Another irony is that Cathy stated that, “We are very much supportive of the family-the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that...” 

These are the values that Emanuel does not want in Chicago. These statements in their diametric polarity are obvious (Cathy's vs Emanuel/Moreno's). Of course I am being slight disingenuous. Rahm never said he was against Cathy's position on families but by supporting unbiblical ideologies, he might as well have. Besides, turnaround is fair play towards the media who has bent this story in favor of the unbiblical worldview.

I believe Cathy was exact and on the money when he is quoted as saying, “I think we’re inviting God’s judgment when we shake our fist at him, you know, [saying], ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ And I pray on God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we would have the audacity to try and redefine what marriage is all about.”

The Chicago Sun-Times additional quote about reactions to Cathy’s comments said that gay rights activists, "across the nation" are "prompting their political allies to take a stand against the company." Again a discriminatory practice against Christians as Christians are allowed their freedoms of speech and worship just as everyone else should be afforded in this once great nation. As the ungodly squawk over Cathy's comments, they of course need to go to a godless human authority or political allies as they clearly cannot go to God to petition for their godless unbiblical view.

I sense that God is already making His will be known in this ridiculous breech of not only God's laws but also the menial and transient laws of this nation. People with a real biblical moral conscience are beginning to speak out against these hammerheads in force. When questions about the legality of Emanuel's and Moreno's stance are raised and questions are asked whether they were legal or not in using their clout and positions to force a change against Chick-fil-A, former Alderman William Banks (36th), the longtime chairman of Chicago's City Council’s Zoning Committee said, " “Absolutely not!”... “Any alderman can hold a development issue for virtually any purpose. But if he’s doing it for the wrong reasons — if he’s citing a gay rights issue — there’s nothing illegal about that.” At least one leader with a slight sense of morality and commonsense sees clearly in this issue when it concerns man's laws and statutes. 

Mans laws...laws of this nation which, interestingly, are more and more being based on case precedents dictated by godless men with agendas and unbiblical ideologies rather than moral laws based in the Bible and God Himself. By passing judgment on Cathy's statements Emanuel and Moreno have thereby tried to pass judgment on God. By doing this they have thereby judged themselves in the eyes of Christians. These man-centered judgments in the long-term amount to nothing, but God's judgment on them without repentance will be eternal.

God help us all, the foxes are guarding the hen house or as the Bible said, the wolves have slipped into the sheepfold. Instead of letting in the Good Shepherd and the principles and values taught by the Good Shepherd, they are letting in the wolves to decimate the flock.

Matthew 10:16-20 ~ “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Romans 16:17-20 ~ "I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

So, if we're not to trust these flawed erroneous human leaders, who should we trust in the henhouse or the sheepfold? The Gospel of John told us very clearly...

John 10:1-11 ~ " “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

You are welcome to support Chick-fil-A and Dan Cathy on Facebook here...unless of course Facebook pulls it down like it has once already. I won't be surprised if this post disappears from SoulJournaler too as I still publish through Blogger which in turn is owned by Googstapo. Rest assured, if it does, it'll eventually be posted on my own domain www.souljournaler.com if I ever get it up and running.

Right now though I'm hungry...I'm heading out to a chicken dinner.

July 25, 2012

Grasping Aurora: A Commentary of the Times

"So as a man thinks, so is he..." ~Proverbs 23:7

A person constantly exposed to violence will think and breath violence whether it be real or not. Images leave impressions and impressions change the moral and emotional fabric of the person observing. Even Christ alluded to this in his teachings on sin in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

In terms of thinking, does the mind (especially sub-conscious) really distinguish between violence that is in life or on a screen or does it process it all at the same capacity? When the mind is additionally addled with drugs or altered does this make it that much harder for the mind to process images in a coherent manner or do the images become garbled? Or does the process of thinking the images and violence over and over have a lasting effect on the psyche of a sin weakened mind?

This of course in no way excuses people of sinful behavior. All are accountable for their actions (Proverbs 29:26, Hebrews 9:27, 2 Corinthians 5:10). Even the so-called arguments over the age of accountability are dubious at best as there is no direct Scriptural reference for this belief. There are on the other hand implications that for the really young (David's child with Bathsheba) there may be mercy and grace that allows for it.

Our society continues to feed people violence and sexual immorality by the truckload and we wonder why people turn rabidly violent and animalistic in their behavior. Rabid and senseless. The end result of not thinking, crazed thinking or not feeling. Why then does it come as a shock when a person raised and fed a daily diet of vomit inducing violence in turn goes out in a systematic and methodical rampage gunning people down in cold-blood? A diet of craven violence in video and grotesque macabre movie making. Fruits of demonic spirit and purely of the flesh both σάρξ (flesh) and κόσμος (the world).

Galatians 5: 19-21"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

When we combine this constant accretion of violence and immorality with the fact that society itself usually fails to hold people accountable for their actions, we have a festering cultural/societal wound of malevolence and malice towards others. There is no..."Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) here, only "love yourself" to damnation with everyone else. It is here that we see part of the key to unraveling the conundrum that we now find ourselves, in a violent, immoral and debased society: Selfishness. More properly - ignoring God or godlessness compounded with an enabling society mentality.

The crazed perpetrator never considered others during this...only himself. It was all about him, others be damned. In a rabid orgiastic explosion of violence he spiraled into the parasitic void of evil, deep into a place where he could no longer be retrieved or reasoned with. He was beyond reason. A place where only lie enables lie and deceit fuels reality. It was about what he wanted and what he needed. It was about his control over the victims. Eyewitnesses state that this dementedly evil man demanded people to stand up before shooting them and when they wouldn't he grabbed them by their shirts, picked them up and shot them. Control. Selfish control and manipulation. Controlling others while he himself had spun out of it. All about the self...and there was no God anywhere to be found. Therefore Godless. God, the very basis of morality. God the very thing that secular society is trying so vehemently to remove from society to make it better.

Secular society now has exactly what it wanted. A godless self-piloted lethal drone cast to the impulsive and unpredictable whims of a deadened conscience, devoid of God. A mind (or lack thereof) that has been infiltrated and thoroughly contaminated by constant installments of senseless violence and/or immorality. The day the Colorado theater shooting happened I remember FOX's Bill O'Reilly saying something to the nature of. "He's just another disturbed guy going off shooting people for no reason, he just snapped."

I beg to differ.

This guy was reportedly known to have watched violence in movies. A guy known to have frequented sites known for sexual deviancy and immorality. Enabled by a system that, more often than not, holds no one accountable through a revolving door justice system. A mentality of victims and no accountability, routine exposure to violence and a selfish pursuit of sexual gratification through adult "friend" sites. All of this screams of a anthropocentric and immoral life. Again, God (or even other people) are nowhere in sight. We are told by some in the media with agendas that this person was Christian because he went to church. Really? Going to church no more makes this eccentric a Christian, than going to a train station makes him a train.

According to the most current information, he was reclusive. Even going to the extent to avoid social media. Other than adult websites and a consumer profile created by ordering things online, he had no virtual footprint. Not surprising for someone as intelligent as they say he was. Frankly, I don't think he never had a presence, I posit that he was smart enough to clean up after himself and could have erased many of his steps or trails including the bios within a computer. Don't be surprised if the computers the FBI finds have been thoroughly wiped or disposed of. Limited or lack of social contact is usually a bad sign for a person created to be communal and in relation with not only God but others of his own kind. The Bible specifically tells us that one of the best gauges for determining one's relation with God is to observe how one interacts with their fellow man and vice-versa.

Matthew 25:45 ~ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

Leviticus 19:2 ~ "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy"
Leviticus 19:13 ~ "Do not defraud or rob your neighbor"
Leviticus 19:16 ~ "Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life."
Leviticus 19:18 ~ "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

So this "rogue agent" speaks to no one and when he does, he is socially inept uttering guttural noises (possession?) into a gun range owners answering machine thereby getting him barred from the gun range. He is dysfunctional in society. Yet no one sees this as anomalous in society? Why? Dare I say that a large portion of society has become the same way or conditioned to this behavior? We have become immersed in our private selfish technologies such as cell phones that are now handheld computers while simultaneously ignoring people right in front of us and omitting them from our lives when we are called to unite with them (especially as morally upright Christians). To purposely detach a piece of the a body (a person) like a hand, foot, eye, ear from the body is to effectively perform an amputation. We see this spiritual amputation everyday and it is usually voluntary. The amputated entity then becomes numbed, senseless, unassociated...cold and deadened. The body it is amputated from knows this member is detached but does nothing to reattach so the two become farther and farther apart with no hope or reattachment. This can apply to human-to-human relationships or human-to-God. A disconnected, senseless element spinning dangerously or flagrantly though society and no one stops and recognizes the signs of a rogue agent. He is like a bullet ricocheting in room full of innocent people.

So in reality, looking back, he looked...sort of "normal" based on new cultural norms. Selfish, sexually immoral, perhaps visually obsessed with certain media driven or media manufactured iconic images and attracted to violent media or violent past-times (i.e.: violent images or diversions that mimic violent behavior: TV shows like CSI, heroes and villains, movies, contact sports, paintball, war games, etc). Perhaps even video games that promoted violence but that has yet to be determined unless someone can make a case for Guitar Hero being violent. Self-glorifying yes, violent, no. An perhaps that's the key to understanding his obsession with playing Guitar Hero? Self-glorification. Perhaps issues of maniacal control and manipulation making oneself into a form of self-idol. Psychological and physiological stimulations or simulations that reinforce the same things over and over and over like the pounding and trance inducing effects of techno music:

Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry
Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry
Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry
Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry
Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry
Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry
Violence-Depravity-Sexual Immorality-Self Idolatry

No God of the Bible only a god of violence, vice and perversion. Perversion not only sexually based but also perversion at the very core morally. No God, no basis for true morality from the true Moral Law Giver, therefore unmoored from what humans were originally created to be to begin with: moral creatures in the image of God and communal with God (and other people). Perhaps this itself is more proof that without an existence based in God Himself man is no better off than an animal. An educated one but an animal none the less. Without the relation with God the Imago Dei (image of God) dissolves. Perhaps in this we see the moral and relational aspect of what it is to be humans that are created in God's image morally and relationally? As we move away from God and cut him out of our lives we drift deeper into the cesspool of fallen humanity and demonic iniquity?

Am I reaching too far making assumptions about James Holmes himself and his motives? Perhaps I am but the general patterns and MO's of those that commit these atrocities are  often similar. Am I broad stroking this rogue agent's behavior? Maybe. His behavior does seem to fall outside all of the "normal" patterns of a psychopath but as more information becomes available I imagine we will find out it aligns more than we once believed. Most sinners that perpetrate these types of evil are driven by the same types of impetus and evil. They all inevitably come from the same source, it follows that we will see some commonalities. I suspect this maniac is not as rogue as we think.

For any that think I've slightly over-reached with these comments, they need only look at the nation of Israel and those surrounding Israel it in the Old Testament and see how the decline of God's people and their society was driven not only by foreign gods but also driven by a drift away from the One True God. It is manifested in corruption of leadership, rampant sexual immorality, lack of accountability (everyone doing what is right in their own eyes)...and of course violence...and a lot of it.

This madman is just the extreme form of a reprobate mind run amok. It is quite possible that he was born with faulty wiring and pre-wired to self-destruct but is clear that this is also the resultant product of a man conditioned by constant exposure to sin and depravity and/or a lack of true knowledge of God since no man that truly knew God would do this to God's most prized creation that He created in His own image (Imago Dei).

In James Holmes see Romans chapter 1 through 3 personified in a frightening, murderous and deadly manner. Unfortunately, violence and anger always spills over because when it comes out it does so in an explosion. Is this man a victim of his environ? Of course not! His environment became his victim! Conversely, he created nearly a hundred of them directly and maybe thousands indirectly. Is he partially a product of his environment, culture and times? Yes, yes he is. The culture is the cradle of society's mind therefore to some extent it influences the individual minds. Frighteningly, I fear the slow methodical march of unfeeling and morally unanchored secular society and it's ilk will cause many more victims than James Holmes ever could. In the end Holmes was the cause of this massacre but the immoral undercurrent of society is what will cause the victimization of millions as it's undertow pulls people into the abyss of sin and depravity.

Why? An absence of God from people's lives. A spiritually unmoving immutable anchor is exactly what we need in this storm that is currently engulfing this country (and world at large). But people turn away.

When God is abandoned the result is always the same. Society no longer has an absolute bearing on truth. Society then decays and becomes debased. A debased society unanchored from moral bearings rots or decays from within spiritually until the spiritual core evaporates. The spiritual abhors a vacuum. When a righteousness or morality vacate a space, its ontological opposite usually rushes in to fill its place. In the case of righteousness and morality, the opposite is unrighteousness, immorality, wickedness and evil. In other words, the violence we have just bore witness to.
A Colorado community is now left to pick up the pieces of many shattered lives. To my absolute and utter dismay, many of the sinful mitigating factors that played into this horrendous godless atrocity will be ignored because we really are a society that has turned away from God in droves. This incident will be politicized (and already has been) for selfish gain by other immoral godless people. The names of victims will be forgotten only to resurface again later when another more deadly and horrendous act replaces it in the immoral, godless and senseless media that glorifies violence by giving it "front page" or "top of the hour/minute" status.

So as a man thinks, so is he.

I have never been accused of being a genius but I know one thing for absolute certain. If I am to dwell on God as much as I can I will certainly become more godly and by default, more holy. "Be holy for I am Holy". If I am constantly thinking on violence, sexual immorality and dwelling on myself all the time I am certainly not coming closer to God. So what am I coming closer to?

Violence and immorality are clearly not the paths to God.

If man thinks only of himself, he thinks only of a morally debased and sinful being. If man thinks selfishly of this constantly, his basis for his thoughts are forever lost in a tightening downward spiral of godlessness and evil. There is no escape as people are given over to this dead mind to pursue evil with reckless abandon...and that is exactly what we saw this past week. If society removes all or the last remaining impediments from someone by taking God out of sight and out of mind, the spiral of selfish madness speeds up and spins violently out of control like a projectile zeroing on another victim.

Sadly, my question is not why this most recent incident happened. My question is: When will it happen again?

I can only pray for the grace of God, continue to pray for the current victims and pray that this never happens again. We can hope. I feel that with a recalcitrant and stiff-necked people that refuse to return to God...things will only get worse. I will continue to pray even for those that mock me.

Habakkuk 1:2-3 ~ “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.

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