November 30, 2012

Enemy Within

Regardless of how strong a fortress or wall might be, if a treacherous wretch resides within it, its integrity and your safety has already been compromised. Every person has indwelling sin even in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This should make one think about building up walls and isolating oneself to keep the enemy “out”. You might be keeping the enemy in. The biggest traitor in a believer’s life lies within. The Bible tells us to join together with others for a reason (Hebrews 10:23-25).

November 29, 2012

Counterfeit Religions XII: Scientology

It’s not that a person needs to actively defend against this “religion” as anyone with a modicum of commonsense can see how loony it is, but I do so at the risk of snorts, giggles and outright mocking laughter. Apparently, there seems to be enough self-help nonsense in our self-gratifying society that this “religion” has managed to gain a substantial foothold with the do-it-yourself spiritual types. I guess in many cases science itself has replaced God in many people’s minds and I suppose this has something to do with Scientology’s popularity. The irony with Scientology though is that it is neither religious nor scientific. It is science fiction scam-boogery courtesy of science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and his rabid fan base. Yes people, this religion came from techie eggheads.

It is not surprising Scientology is controversial. They are incredibly secretive of their “auditing” process mentioned in more detail below. They have been accused of psychological abuses through this process. It is interesting they also have continued run-ins with the IRS too. Many have also turned a jaundiced eye towards the business-like aspect of the auditing process but when attacked for this aspect they often turn the tables by pointing out the heavy hand used in the Catholic Church in the past.

The acceptance of Scientology seems to have gained its foothold through wacky celebrities who seem to have sway over the popular culture and what is considered trendy. The “Church” of Scientology was established in 1954 by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. His father was an officer in the Navy often stationed overseas, so Hubbard was highly influenced by Eastern religions and religious thought. He was also interested in works on psychology like those of S. Freud. It is believed that these things influenced Hubbard's view. If they did, then it is easy to see that the resultant “religion” would be a syncretism of New Age Humanism, psychology and Eastern philosophies. By May of 1950 the book Dianetics was published. Hubbard’s motivation to write Dianetics was based on his observations while working at an overseas medical facility in WWII. Hubbard saw the mental suffering of injured people inhibited the ability to recover (duh). Dianetics ended up being an expose of his beliefs about human nature. In particular he describes how damaging experiences in past lives (reincarnation) are stored in a “reactive mind” and these experiences lead to irrational behavior. He then states that humans need to rationally and through reason release the baggage of past lives. This reeks of Gnosticism among other things.

The central idea of Scientology is that human beings are spiritual beings who are trapped in the material bodies. Souls are things called thetans and are immortal. They continue from one material life to another collecting things called engrams which are obstructions to the soul imprisoned by physical reality or MEST (Matter Energy Space Time). These engrams manifest in a person’s life through sadness, doubt, anger or negative thoughts, etc. Here I am not only seeing Gnosticism because of the idea of spiritual essence being trapped in the physical, I am also seeing hints of ancient Greek philosophy in general in the form of Platonism and a modern bastardization of self-help gurus. Scientology is to supposedly confront engrams and release them allowing liberation or a freeing of the mind.

Humans are born with the ability to think rationally and this ability needs to be harnessed to help remove the engrams from past lives…a religion of works if I ever saw one. As the thetan moves to liberation it moves through a series of steps called the Bridge to Freedom. Prior to the bridge a person is called a preclear and once the bridge is completed the person becomes a clear or the Operating Thetan (please note the change to capitalization of the name). The bridge can be made alone or with an assistant or counselor called an auditor. The auditor helps the person through the Bridge by asking questions and using specific verbal imagery (think psychoanalysis and regressive therapy). Auditors help people recognize their engrams. The auditor may also use a device called an e-meter which is literally a mechanical machine designed to find the “spiritual” engrams (I told you this was loony). This of course will come at a fee for the faithful (duped) adherents. For the poor or thrifty of the faith, these auditing session can become group therapy to save money.

I suppose the real draw and postmodern interest in this cult is the overlying creed (or screed) of Scientology which dovetails nicely with our postmodern and pluralistic culture. Scientologists believe that the practice of auditing can be followed alongside other religious traditions (pluralism). Additionally, many Scientologists celebrate Christmas and Easter, not because of a belief in Jesus Christ, but because these holidays would be considered part of the cultural norm (1 Corinthians 1-4, 1 John 2:15-17). I believe what we also begin to really see clearly here is Scientology’s syncretistic religion blending nature (i.e.: Yahweh/Baal worship).

They also believe in equality, diversity of character, non-violence, spiritual sacredness (which I fail to see anywhere in their religion), and human rights (a la Secularism/Humanism). Anyone that chooses to become part of the Church of Scientology will be asked to enter a purification stage that will release the toxins from the body. The adherent would then go through basic training that explains the basic tenants of the faith (brainwashing). In other words…you walk into this cult blind and they tell you what to believe as you pay them for it.

Scientologists also have their own holidays such as March 13 which is L. Ron Hubbard birthday.

Well, enough said about this belief system. It is just too loony for me to take serious or waste any more time expounding on. Hopefully you see its nuttiness too. Sorry Tom Cruise and John Travolta, I’m really not interested. Sadly, they couldn't even make their own symbol or icon original, they hijacked the Christian cross and mixed it with a star burst or Sol Invictus. Everything about this religion says ripoff or counterfeit, they even steal from other counterfeit religions like Gnosticism. Bummer.

November 27, 2012

Untrained Cattle

Every day we see prominent Christians that have visibly sinful hearts and worldly lifestyles. Clearly their affections and lusts have not been "crucified with Christ".

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Hosea the prophet says of Ephraim in Hosea 10:11-12 that:

 “Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground. Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.”

In other words Israel has been likened to a trained heifer or a healthy draft animal eager to plow the ground and do its proper duty. The picture in view here is that Yahweh is yoking Israel with the goal of a proper relationship with Him and the expected ethical and moral conduct one would expect being in a close relationship with God. In return the believer would reap the benefits of God’s unfailing love. The same is true for us today. True believers are like trained cattle that are in good relation to the Farmer or in the case of this analogy, believers and God. In short, apostates, unbelievers or sinful people are untrained cattle. The word “cattle" interestingly was borrowed from old French word “catel” which originated from the Latin word “caput” which literally means “head” and was used to refer to movable personal property, especially livestock of any kind. Sinful people therefore are God’s movable property in human vernacular. This was too ironic not to mention even though it was not from the Bible.

We also see ancient shadows of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 11:29… “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Again we see God calling man to a relationship with God within God’s will.

So it should be with Christians, yet often is the case that this couldn’t be farther from the truth hence my original statement about prominent Christians. People are not crucified in Christ but instead married to the world and all of its deadly trappings. It is hardly the becoming behavior of a Christian. God is telling us through Hosea that an investment in that which is righteous (God) will bring the person benefit but devoting oneself to rebellion which is clinging to the world system is a sure fire way to punishment and eventual destruction…just like Israel.

So…sin commonly evaluates grace into a "pardon", making one assume mercy is always available to sin more. This is an abuse of grace and it deceives the mind and opens the will and conscience to open consent or sin. It therefore removes the sense of evil from evilness. Believers then become willful abusers of grace and willingly sinful.

If a believer is willingly sinful they cannot then be repentant in their hearts. If a believer is unrepentant in their hearts then it stands to reason that…they cannot be a true believer.

Think about that for a little bit. Meditate on it and find your way back to the Lord if you have strayed.

November 26, 2012

Counterfeit Religions XI: Mormonism

Mormonism also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) formed in the 19th Century. Where most Mormons would make claims to be a part of the Christian tradition, most Christians that would truly understand their Bibles would have no issue stating the contrary. One of the primary reasons I and other Christians would deny them the designation of Christian is their denial of the Trinity or God being three persons in One Being. Although Mormons have many Christian-like behaviors, their overt denial of the Trinity and rather radical views of the Holy Spirit and the afterlife put Mormons well outside the realm of Christian orthodoxy and plants them firmly in the realm of the cults.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Deuteronomy 6:4

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matthew 28:19

“…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22

Joseph Smith founded the Latter Day Saints movement in the 1820’s. According to Mormon tradition, while living in upstate New York, Smith found several gold plates that contained writings by the prophet Mormon that he had been directed to by an angel. Smith also claimed that God granted him the ability to translate and interpret the plates, which he called the Book of Mormon, named after the ancient prophet Mormon who had compiled them.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints uses this collection of writings (The Book or Mormon) in addition to their translation of the Old and New Testaments called the New World Translation (NWT). Mormons consider the Book of Mormon to be the direct word of God. This of course flies directly in the face of real Christian Scripture which tells Christians in the Book of Revelation:

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. Revelation 22:18-19

“Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” Deuteronomy 4:2

In Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith started a church where people were converted to Mormonism and he began to establish the community of believers in what was believed to be a new Zion. Smith believed that God called him to establish the new Promised Land. Smith commissioned the building of a Mormon temple to symbolize the new community bond. It is at this point persecutions of Mormons began in earnest when non-Mormons in the area began to disapprove of the expansion. Things got so bad that these Latter Day Saints needed to move to Nauvoo, Illinois. Again they tried to build another temple in Illinois. It is at this point Smith announced his candidacy for president of the United States in 1844.  Also in 1844, Smith and the LDS community severely angered non-Mormons by destroying a printing press after it was used to publish articles critical of Smith's power and practice of polygamy. During the resultant turmoil, Smith was imprisoned and later murdered when a mob stormed the jailhouse.

Somewhere right around this time frame Smith established a church overseeing body of what appears to have been elders called the Quorum. The Quorum consisted of twelve apostles, one of whom was Brigham Young. Brigham Young immediately faced opposition from the non-Mormon community and believed it was important to avoid conflict due to what had just transpired with Smith so once again the Mormons relocated the community, this time they settled in Utah which is where they have been based from since. In Utah the Mormons via Young established what amounted to a theocracy, holding authority in both the church and government.

Over time, the Mormon community began to experience resistance from both internal and external sources over their unbiblical practice of polygamy and other questionable practices. In 1890, the federal government seized all of the church's assets. It is at this point Joseph F. Smith went before the United States Congress and publicly opposed the practice of plural marriage, and ever since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially rejects the practice of plural marriage. Whether or not they actually adhere to this declaration is another story.


…and this is where it gets really strained and hard to believe. Mormons see themselves as Protestant Christians. The problem is that there are Mormon beliefs that clearly differ from true biblical Christian orthodoxy and doctrine. Their most glaring theological error is denial of the Trinity. Mormons believed that the early Christian Church was corrupt, so they reject both the Nicene Creed. Most Protestant Christians believe that corruption later in the history of the church was possible but the least corrupt era during the church was the early nascent church or the time of the Church Fathers. It wasn’t until the combination of Church and State and the Romanizing of the Church that we see real Protestant Christians start to diverge from the true Catholic (worldwide) church. Because the Mormons distrust and rejected things like the Nicene Creed they would therefore reject things like the concept of the Trinity which is clearly stated in the Nicene Creed by delineating the three persons within the Trinity. There are some branches of the LDS church that believes that each form possesses its own divinity in a form of modalism. Some Mormons believe that the Father was once in physical form and had sexual relations with Mary to conceive Jesus.

Mormons (and possibly loony readers of the Da Vinci Code) are unique in their belief that Jesus was married, they also believe that Jesus came to the Americas after he was crucified, buried, and resurrected. How He could do this (possibly twice) after He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and the Bible explicitly tells us that He died once for all (1 Peter 3:18, Romans 6:10, Hebrews 7:27, 9:28)…is a little shady and frankly…preposterous. It is also claimed in the Book of Mormon that the people of the Americas lived in perfect peace for more than 200 years after Jesus appeared to them.

Mormons also believe that all souls have always existed; thus, they are not created. This is another heresy unique to the Mormons. If our souls have always existed that would make people’s souls eternal not just immortal. This is only possible for an eternal God…not people. But of course this is where the Mormon beliefs diverge from weird to outright nutty. If they are eternal or have always existed then the possibility of people becoming gods (little “g”) comes in view. And wouldn’t you know it…that’s exactly what Mormons believe! Strange as it may seem, they believe that God evolved from human form and they also believe that all Mormons can evolve into gods (lower case "g", and plural). Real Christians see this for the absurdity that it is. A true Christian understands that it is only through Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the Cross that we are even deemed righteous in the eyes of God let alone divine. We are human and will always be a created being. God is wholly other and is not created.

Mormons claim that a prophet by the name of Mormon and a Prophet/Warrior name Moroni collected the stories in ancient times and carved them into seven golden plates, which would later be “discovered” by Joseph Smith. The would be found by Smith at the direction of the Angel Moroni (yes, the same guy after he dies). The Book of Mormon tells of the account of the ancient people (Native Americans) of the Americas up through an account of Jesus's visit to North and South America. The book of Mormon begins with the story of a man named Lehi, who was told by God to build a boat, take his family, and sail to the Americas. Lehi obeyed, so his family prospered.

Strangely, what I believe we see in Mormonism is an early American version of Star Trek’s Borg and the hive mentality too. Although Mormons do not believe in icons like a cross being allowed in church because they believe it is a form of idolatry and idol worship, they do have symbols within their religion that are prominent. One of which is the seagull and the other is a beehive. The beehive is significant not only because Mormons carried bees with them as they relocated to Utah but also because the beehive symbolizes industriousness and obedience. Oddly enough…just like the Borg in Star Trek. It is a collective worker mentality. Mormons strive to work together, as does a hive of bees, with the result being a supposed unified or familial moral harmony (or should I say uniformity to nearly a ritualistic and blind degree?).

On the issue of polygamy it should be stated that Joseph Smith and early adherents clearly advocated plural marriages. He believed it would quickly expand the numbers of Mormon believers. Another unbiblical practice of the Mormons was/is the baptism of the dead which supposedly gives deceased people like family members a chance to gain entry into heaven or the kingdom of God.

Another little known but sad and racist fact about Mormons is that they shunned people of darker skin for many years. Mormons believed that dark skin was a physical representation of the legacy or “mark of Cain”. Since Cain killed Abel, Mormons believed he was cursed by God. Therefore, dark-skinned people carried this association and were avoided by many Mormons. It was not until 1978 that African-Americans were permitted to become part of the priesthood of believers. Lovely.

There are other things that could be said about Mormons and their flawed belief system like the fact that pagan symbols akin to Freemasonry abound in their faith (pentagrams, all-seeing eye, etc.),  but this threads the needle too close to conspiracy theories for my liking. What I have provided here speaks volumes in itself. From the outside they seem Christian-like but as soon as closer scrutiny is placed on them they fall woefully short of Scripture.

November 25, 2012

Grace : Ed Kowalczyk

I liked this video of Grace from Ed Kowalczyk (formerly of Live) so much I needed to post it on my blog for a little while so others could enjoy it too. Ed used to be a Zen Buddhist but has finally seen the inconsistency and contradictions of that religion and has become a believer in Jesus Christ. Thankfully his music has followed suit also.

Sola Dei Gloria

November 24, 2012

Heads or Tails

One of the main tenants of the Bible and the Christian faith is that we are to be conformed to the image of the second Adam, and not to the first. We are to divest ourselves of our sinful image and we are to take on the image of the second Adam who is Christ. It is a much more beneficial to imitate Christ than sinful Adam. For the sake of our salvation and having the Kingdom here now in this lifetime we must bear the image of Christ in all we do, say, think and are (1 Cor. 15:49).

1 Corinthians 15:49 ~ “…and just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”

The word above that means image in the Greek is εἰκόν/eikon from which we get the modern word icon. It is an image, an image of the heavenly things or a likeness of them. It is the Greek equivalent of the word used in Genesis 1:26-27 (בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ/tselem) when the Bible says that man was made in the image of God. It is a word that literally means in its truest translation, a reproduced artistic representation (as exact as possible) whether it be on a painting, statue or as a figure stamped on a coin. It is an image as if one states face-to-face with a mirror. So what we have in view here is an Artist’s masterpiece or a Self-portrait of sorts. When used in the idea of making a coin it is the idea of painstakingly etching an image, line by line into a hardened surface that is resistant to the etcher’s tool. A coin that is a smooth faceless blank with no character and no redeeming value until it has been shaped into something useful in the hands of its Creator…something that has character or a character similar to its Maker. The Artist signature on His work. Not only does an image imply a likeness, in the case of God and man, it also implies a relationship based in dependency to an origin or original. If truly made in God’s image we therefore should expect to be made in the image of God’s eternity or forever-ness. 

When remade in the image of God at our conversion to Christ we are made of more durable stuff or more permanent material. We are stamped and made immortal in the image of Christ. Even in our first form when we were made in the image of God in Genesis we were left with an indelible lingering mark of God in our very being. When God set his image on the first Adam or what amounted to sinful man, it decayed and was lost by the choice of men. It was through said choice and because of the rebellious and damning influence of the devil. Man, like God has an ability to choose his own path. God is immutable and unchanging but man is different. Man changes and is unpredictable. When man is stamped in God’s image it was as if the image hadn’t quite set or solidified like a molten metal hot from the forge or refiner’s crucible. It was a firm impression but as yet incomplete object or an incomplete image. The general character, constraints or outline for what man would become and what man could be was there but all the little nuanced details had not been etched into the material. God left this to man to make these fine-tuned decisions yet through His Spirit continues to work to define or etch the final image.

Within this molten form is the making of something glorious now incomplete. Within this persona is the reflection of grace. It is in grace that we are forever united to Christ and outside grace we are forever separated from Him.  We will either be further solidified into the image of Jesus or we will be forever returned to the scorching flame of the furnace to never again bear the image of the Maker, we will only drift amorphously in a cauldron...a fiery Hell.

The deeper into grace we go the more indelible the image of grace is on us and the more permanent the image remains. The farther into God’s grace we go the deeper into forever we reach and the lower the probability that we will ever be altered again. As we move away from sin into the image of Christ the more we move towards our eternal glory in God.

Christ is the true image-bearer. He is the mold into which we must flow and become a perfect reproduction of. We must mold to His die, a die being the specialized shape or image used as a tool to cut or shape material. The process of creating the image can be done through force by pressing or using a press. The image could also be created when the material is heated until it completely breaks down and melts perfectly into the mold. Either way the image becomes like the die or in the case of the Christian, the image becomes like the One that died.

This is also why we have the seal of God stamped on us at our conversion through the Spirit of God as we read in Ephesians 1:13-14

Ephesians 1:13-14 ~ “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

On Earth in the worldly realm, a seal is the exact impression or copy of the signet ring of a King. In the case of this text and in the spiritual realm the Seal being the exact image or representation of Christ in the form of the Holy Spirit as Jesus Himself says in the Gospel of John 16…

John 14:16-17 ~ “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 16:7-11 ~ “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

If Jesus, who is the perfect image of what we are to be, does not go away like a mold or die moving away from the image it stamps, the beholders of the image cannot see the image the mold has stamped in to the raw material and left behind. It is this image left behind in others that helps draw people to the faith, like fruit draws people to a tree to eat it. What Jesus therefore leaves behind is a perfect image or another just like Him that bears the same image. He stamps this on the hearts of the people why? Because the stamp inside pushes out the other thing that dwells inside the believer…which is sin. God puts the very thing we need (the Holy Spirit) to battle our internal sin (Romans 7) in the very place it needs to be to give us victory (our hearts).

Yes, in our sinful fallen nature we can deface the coin but even a defaced coin retains its face value…why?  Because the real value is not in the coin itself but in the backing of value it receives from the Maker. The coin will retain its original value as it is eventually will be redeemed by the One who created it and gave it its value to begin with. The coins worth is gauged by the one that makes it and gives it inherent value. It is as valuable as the Maker wants it to be. If priceless to the Maker it is priceless to others. Often times the value might be stamped right on its face for all to see, other times there could be hidden value that it acquires the older it becomes. The trick to retaining the value of an older coin is to not allow the world to wear it down. To smooth over the etchings put into it by its Maker. It needs to be pulled out of circulation for special use or to be kept from the abuses of the world (evil/sin). Even the most defaced coins can retain their original value as long as they are identifiable has having come from a certain Maker.

The stamped image on the souls of men are everlasting. Once we are God’s currency with the world we remain His currency unless he takes us back. Unless the silver or gold is refined into something else it is an image with value. When we convert we are re-stamped. Grace is firmly set in our nature in Christ through the Spirit. Like the brethren in Christ that we all are, we will all bear a similar image of Christ. We will not bear similar markings as the world wears us down and scars us in its own unique way. These markings build and shape our character until no two coins are exactly alike unless they are proofed or perfected in Christ. Every perfected coin shines gloriously like the day it was originally printed with a perfect impression of its original mold…and it is an image create by and of the Maker Himself.

So how do we know whether we have the image of Christ stamped on us? The real question that we then need to ask is how are changed into His likeness? How will our thinking be changed that will affect our actions that are seen by the world. Jesus’ objective was to please his Father in all things Our objective should be to please the Father in all things. Our will must be exclusively for Heaven and the Kingdom of God.  On the Day of Judgment Christ will know His own. If he does not see His image stamped upon us it will spell doom for the person that does not have it. God cannot look upon that which is sinful without judgment. If He does not see the mark or blood of His Son upon us we will be passed over and relegated to condemnation and eternal punishment. That which is Caesar’s will be given to Caesar and that which is Christ’s will be given to Christ (i.e.: Mark 12).

If we do not take on the image of the Lord we will inevitably take on the stamp of the world. We will be transformed into the likeness of the world (1 John 2:15-17). We will be cast into the mold of the time and the culture which always passes away and we will pass away with it.

What’s more is that when we are conformed to Jesus, we were predestined to be conformed to Jesus. He is the first among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). We being in His image are therefore predestined to salvation. It is only fitting that we should bear His exact image as He is the head of the Church. It is ironic and interesting that God will make those obedient to Him the head and not the tail in Deuteronomy 28:13. Ironically this passage speaks of money and lending. If one obeys the Lord they will become so prosperous that they will become the lender (the head), not the tail (the borrower). If we apply this figurative analogy of the coin to this verse we see that we will be indeed like the Head who is Jesus Christ…

Deuteronomy 28:13 “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

…so it is not surprising that Jesus Christ would be the head on our figurative coin. So which will it be? The head or the tail?

November 22, 2012

Counterfeit Religions X: Taoism

Taoism (Daoism) is prominently characterized by the Yin and Yang symbol (inset left), which is a white and black circle divided in a flowing interacting motion down the middle. The lighter side is linked with positiveness, maleness, and passivity or obedience, while the black side represents negativity, femininity, and action. In each side is one small circle of the opposing color. What we see symbolized in the Yin/Yang image is an ideas of balanced and a harmony. One side ultimately cannot exist without the other. Because of this fact what we see exposed about Taoism immediately is a form of dualism. This is the first place that a people will begin to stumble trying to match Taoism to Christianity.

Moral/ethical dualism began as a theological belief. Dualism was first seen in Egyptian religious beliefs by the contrast of the gods Set (disorder, death) and Osiris (order, life). It could also be seen in the Ancient Persian Religion of Zoroastrianism around the mid-fifth century BC (i.e.: think Biblical Babylonian exile). Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion that believes that Ahura Mazda is the eternal creator of all good things. Any violations of Ahura Mazda's order arise from druj, which is everything uncreated. The perceived dualism of Christianity is not dualism at all. Dualism assumes equal competing halves interacting with one another. Good and evil in Christianity are not equal. God is novel and unique (as Aristotle said: Uncaused), good, sovereign, infinite and omnipotent. Satan a created being, is evil and restricted, finite and impotent. God or good will eventually triumph over Satan. As a matter of fact…He already has in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Lao Tzu is considered the founder of Taoism, though some people will question his actual historical existence. Tradition states that he was an advisor to the Zhou Dynasty until age ninety. He was known for his wisdom and depth of understanding when responding to issues such as politics and religion. If he was alive during the Zhou Dynasty he would’ve also been a contemporary of Confucius. As such Lao Tzu disagreed vehemently with many Confucian ideas. Lao Tzu also believed Confucius to be arrogant and overly idealistic. Lao Tzu believed that people were inherently good, and that there was no need to over-complicate life with laws and regulations.

Here again we see either similarity or an incompatibility to Judeo-Christian religion. Depending on how one views the Law of the Old Testament and the understanding of how Jesus fulfilled the Law in the new Covenant through Him. Jesus too simplified the Law and told us to take His yoke for it was easy. He asked His disciples to divest themselves of the onus of the Law that over-complicated their lives and follow Jesus as a disciple.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

What’s more is that Lao Tzu felt excessive involvement of government, religion, and other institutions would only heighten people's problems. Strangely, this too is like Christian discipleship. God calls us not to a religion but rather a relationship. In Mark 12’s call render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, it is a call to obey government until it tries to disobey God but Jesus is not telling us to become overly involved in the political systems of the world.

The next idea though is where Lao Tzu and Taoism went completely off the rails in terms of its similarities to Christianity. Lao Tzu believed that the best way to maintain people's inherent goodness was for organizations and institutions to stay out of the way. The Bible does not tell us this. First, the Bible does not say that man is inherently good. It tells us just the opposite in Romans 3:9-18…

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Man is inherently wicked, sinful and therefore not good or holy. Only God is good and as such we as fallen flawed humans must get our good or holiness from Him as He is the only source for it. This is exactly what we do when we trust in the work Jesus Christ did on the cross in our stead.

Secondly, although the Bible frowns upon the idea of “religion” proper, the truth is that we are indeed to gather together in an organizational manner. One type of organization in particular that is near and dear to Christ is His bride: The Church. The Church as relation to others in the body of Christ is what’s in view here, not the institution called a church or divisions called by name or denominations.

Writings or Holy Book(s)

When Lao Tzu grew old, he was encouraged to write down his wisdom/ideas. This ended up becoming the Tao Te Ching. I believe it is rather paradoxical that if Lao Tzu were alive today, he would likely be unhappy with the fact that his writing were turned into formal religious practices which have totally defeated the ideas contained within his wisdom.  It is also ironic that the largest incongruity and contradiction within this religion is here. The modern tenants that practice Taoism are not even holding true to the teachings of a potentially fictional character. So this begs the question: Is what modern adherents actually practice even Taoism? 

Although the sacred text for Taoism is the Tao Te Ching and it was possibly written by Lao Tzu around 300BC it is highly probable that the writings were and aggregation or accumulation of many authors who contributed to the compendium. The central purpose of the text is to guide its readers how to live in harmony or balance with the universe. Therefore Tao or (The Way) and Wu Wei (inaction, passivity) are the two main concepts of Taoism. Some misguided zealots that wish to ecumenicalize Christianity and Taosim in a form of eastern syncretism believe Tao to be equivalent to the Christian concept of God. This simplistic understanding is too specific and too distinct to properly understand the Taoist belief. Taoist believe in something much more nebulous and non-descript. This of course makes it attractive to postmodernism which refuses to apply absolute truths or distinct descriptions to reality. Taoism believes that no physical manifestations of the divine appear in the Tao Te Ching. How something this nebulous can even be considered a deity based religion when they are not even sure of what deity is is puzzling and enigmatic to say the least. Later understandings speak to three “personifications” that are called the "Three Pure Ones" but these are not from the original writings of Lao Tzu. Although specific sects may differ, modern Taoism typically presents the Jade Emperor as an official head deity. So it appears the Taoist beliefs have shifted or morphed over the centuries. Traditional conceptions of Tao are not to be confused with the Western concepts of theism. Being one with the Tao (The Way) does not indicate a union with an eternal spirit in, for example, as in the Christian senses when the Holy Spirit indwells the believer. Regardless of these later elaborations, at the heart of Taoism remains the balance of all things in a dualistic state. Therefore this puts Taoism at odds with Christianity and is therefore incompatible because of its own internal contradictions which I will now note.

Strangely Taoism also says that humans habitually want power and control, and this will cause people to act in ways that are unnecessary or undesirable (sinfully). Nature on the other hand always wishes to return to balance. For me this is inherently flawed belief within the logic of Taoism. Why? If one of the core tenants of Taoism is balance and nature itself (which man is a part of) always tends towards balance, then man being of nature should eventually tend towards order or balance but Taoism believes just the opposite in this concept of man needing power and control which is neither passive or a produce of inaction (see above). It also means that man is not inherently good as they have a proclivity for acting in improper ways or as a Christian would say, sinfully or acting bad/evil.

Taoism then requires that humans should take moral action and allow ample time to allow for a change to become more balance. Taoism calls this action through inaction. In other words: A religion of works that its founder would’ve despised because it was a religion to begin with.

Lastly and most strangely, Taoism also includes ancestor worship which is totally in opposition to Christianity’s: “You shall have no other God’s before me” (Exodus 20:3). Sorry folks, there are very few avenues on which to match up these two beliefs, they are completely opposed to one another. As Taoism has just been shown to be internally inconsistent and in contradiction, it cannot be taken seriously as a salvational belief system or religion. Relaxing and balancing, perhaps. Salvational? Not a chance.

November 19, 2012


[Hebrew Translation of Title:  אוֹדֶ֣ה ’ō·w·ḏeh or yadah meaning: Give thanks or more properly will praise with arms extended in worship

In other words: ♫ Throw yo hands in the air and wave'em like ya just don't care  ♫ " towards the Lord! it comes again. The most important holiday of the the year that pretty much doesn't exist for most except as a day off to watch a dumb football game. Perhaps only to be improved upon by mangling a 20 lb frozen bird and subsequently burn it to a crisp. This along with melting a plastic bag inside filled with the gizzards that you forgot to pull out before sticking it in the oven ;) .

Thanksgiving. A holiday that has its roots in the original Puritan settlers that came to American shores in hopes of building new lives in a new Promised Land. As a matter of fact these Puritans viewed their emigration from Europe as a virtual re-enactment of the Exodus. To them, England was Egypt, the king was the Pharaoh, the Atlantic Ocean was the Red Sea, America was the Land of Israel, and the Indians were the ancient Canaanites. The Puritans were the new Israelites, entering into a new covenant with God in a new Promised Land. Of course most modern secular celebrants would disavow this fact.

So in the tradition of those that have come before me I will sing God's praises this time of year regardless of how hard this year has been (...and you can ask my wife, this year was horrible). 
"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." ~ Colossians 2:6-7

"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. ~Psalm 95:1-7

My life and the life of my family has been quite difficult this year, not unlike the Hebrew slaves under Pharaoh. But we have now been put into a better position by the Lord God. We have been delivered from what amounted to spiritual and worldly oppression. When things looked the worst the Lord delivers us just as He has done for people in the Bible. He saved Daniel not from the lions but in the lions den. He saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abendigo not from the fire but in the fire. He saved the Israelites not from the water barrier but in the water barrier. If we are running in parallel to the Exodus theme I believe, for now, my family and I are on the far side of the Red Sea. It is at this time we hear a song. It is in Exodus 15. When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen had gone into the sea, the LORD had brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song:

Exodus 15:1-18 ~ “I will sing to the LORD for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood up like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.’ But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you-majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone-until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance-the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established. The Lord reigns forever and ever.”

When I actually have the time to tell the people of all the details of this deliverance in a future post on this blog, it will blow people away to see just how much God had going on behind the scenes to make it happen. When I will describe the exact manner in which it happened, people will realize that things on the magnitude of the Red Sea can still occur in this day and age if they are viewed properly...if they are viewed through a biblical lens. The year was literally hell...but the end of the year was epic. What else would we expect from a grandiose God that dwells on high?

Again we have been delivered Lord...and for this I thank You. No one said this journey was going to be easy and I know we may still have our Golden Calf moments. I also know that you are forgiving, merciful and full of grace Lord...and for this I thank You.

November 15, 2012

Astonishing Grace: A King's Ransom

A short post on the grace of Almighty God.

Grace is the glorious attribute by which God sets himself to triumph over the greatest evil that can ever be. It is in grace He sets Himself forever over sin. Even if there is something worse than the devil could not triumph over His grace. Why? All things in the Creation are created by God and are therefore creations of the Creator, therefore limited, finite. Grace comes from an infinite God. 

There is more size, height and depth or any dimension for that matter in Christ than there are sufferings, evil or misery in all of Creation. Creation is limited, the Creator is not, therefore His grace would trump the greatest, biggest, nastiest and most unrighteous things that the Creation could throw at Him. He could brush it away with the sweep of His anthropomorphic hand.

It is in God's grace that we see the most pitted resistance by the evil of the Powers and Principalities. It is why we see such potent and vicious resistance in the religions that contain works. Religions that have works mixed with grace. This is because man's heart in its natural state is pitted and resistant to God and the idea of grace from Him. Man's heart is enmity or hostile to God (Romans 8:7). Man's mindset and wicked men in general will themselves up against grace. Everything in us strains against the idea of it even when we really want to accept it as obedient Christians. Surely there must be something we can do to gain better standing with God. Yet by thinking this do we not realize that it assumes God did not do enough already on the Cross? There is no better a place to see God's grace on display than at the Cross. Why would we as flawed creatures think we could add anything of value to what God has already done? Only a sinful and fallen mind would fall into this frame of mind. A frame of mind that is crooked or corrupt. 

Like I said, when we are in our natural state, we are pitted against God and the idea of grace.

The more we need, the more we get, yet we are not to abuse it by sinning purposely. The nature of the Spirit within us that is full of grace will not allow it without leaving us feeling horrid about it. Oil and water do not mix, nor grace and sin. One forces the other out or displaces it. By allowing the displacement of grace with sin the Spirit is forced out also. Alternately, the more grace that is allowed the more the Spirit therein dwells.

It therefore behooves us to focus in primarily on grace and should make us wish to vindicate the idea of grace. It is the religions of works that are so cleverly disguised as "true" religions because they play to our main weakness: Pride. Pride makes us think way higher of ourselves that we ought. We still believe there is something of merit in us even after the Fall and having had our sinful nature so obviously shown to us.

It just isn't true people. This is why the leap from works to grace is so difficult. We get in the way of ourselves. We want to do the work of the Father but in terms of Salvation...there is just nothing left to do. It has been done already. Sure, go out and help the poor, the downtrodden, the widows and orphans but please, don't think you can add to the works of Christ. If God is perfect (and He is) He would've most certainly had a perfect plan to exonerate and free the captives of sin...perfectly. No need for a repeat. It is finished!

When we try to add anything we are dangerously encroaching on the territory reserved for God and aligning ourselves with the enemies of God and the adversaries to the grace of God.

So in our behavior let us vindicate grace in all occasions by showing it is not from us. For as Paul said, we are to be the Letters of Recommendation for Christianity and Christ and the grace He has shown us by going out and doing the same to others. Why? To show the confidence we have through Jesus Christ that sits at the right hand of God. To show that our competence, righteousness and salvation comes from God. In His Spirit we have life. We need to live by grace, and we must die by grace and stand at the day of judgement by grace...which is from God, not us. It is not in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ, being found in him but given to us as a gift to free us from our own stupidity and sin.

In the end, the devil can try to aggravate our conscience as much as he likes. He can try to jam our sins back in our faces again and again making us think there is something we need to do other than believe. It just isn't true even though many have been fooled into believing otherwise. In the contrary, if we set God’s mercy against even the gravest of sins that we have committed, they are still only sins of a finite creature against the grace of an infinite God. 

In God’s infinite mercy…at the end of the day, no sin can stand opposed to it. Grace will consume it like light consumes darkness, like fire consumes straw.

Thank God for His grace. It is astonishing to this sinful creature (me) that He would bestow this wonderful and amazing gift on me. A lowly creature so undeserving of such a prize. A priceless hope of such immense wealth that none can fully comprehend it in its full magnitude as we are only finite creatures.

So for our salvation it is a ransom or release that cost the King's ransom to gain it, yet it is given freely by the King in grace.

Romans 3:23-24 ~ "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 

Mark 10:45 ~ "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

But be warned, God's grace is not infinite. As R.C. Sproul said in his book The Holiness of God:

“God’s grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out.”

November 11, 2012

The Fight for Glory & Our Divine Reinforcement

I'm not sure why but the Holy Spirit has been convicting me to write about Him I do. If it was any one but Him I would think it was vain conceit but because it is is perfectly deserved. God is the only One worthy of such praise. In the course of discussion on Him we see why man is so depraved and fallen. In the course of discussion we see why we are so dependent on God. When it come to God's victory over is a knockout. When it comes to our victory over is a split decision.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ~ "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

[The following is slight paraphrase of Richard Sibbes' The Excellency of the Gospel Above The Law]

To bring us to heaven God sees it necessary to set up a battle within us, that we are able by the help of the Spirit to fight God’s conflict against the flesh…our flesh so that the dominion of sin may be broken in us (a la Romans 7). With the assistance of the Holy Spirit we continually fight self in a titanic internal battle with entrenched and habitual sin. It s a lifelong labor to leave sin by the wayside and pursue holiness. In the end it is only death and us leaving our bodies behind that allows us final victory over the flesh.

Romans 7:14-25
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Paul later says, “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). The law of the Spirit of life, that is, the commanding power of the Spirit of Christ, which commands as a law in the hearts of God's people, frees us from the law, that is, from the commanding power of sin and death. The dominion and tyranny of sin is broken by the Spirit of Christ, so we are set at a liberty. In some respects we are under grace, and sin shall not have dominion over us, as the apostle says.

And by the Spirit of Christ in sanctification we are made kings to rule over our own lusts to some degree. We are not kings to be freed altogether from them, but kings to strive against them. It is a liberty to fight, and in fighting to overcome at last. When the Israelites had a promise that God would give their enemies into their hands, the meaning was not that he would give them without fighting a blow. They would fight, but in fighting they would overcome. So this liberty of sanctification is not a liberty that ends combat with our corruptions, but a gracious liberty to keep them under, till by subduing them little by little, we have a perfect victory. What greater encouragement can a man have to fight against his enemy, than when he is sure of final victory before he fights.

You see then how the Spirit brings liberty into the soul. It brings us out of that cursed kingdom of Satan and sin. It brings us out of the curse of God and the law in justification; and it brings us from the dominion and tyranny of sin by a spirit of sanctification.

But this is not all that is in liberty.  The Spirit frees us not only from sin, but from that which follows it, as fear and terrors of conscience, death and wrath. Now, where the Spirit of God is, it frees from the ill consequences, from the tail that follows sin. Where the Spirit is, it frees us from fear. The same Spirit that tells us in justification that God is appeased also frees us from the fear of damnation and death and judgment, from the terrors of an evil conscience. Being 'sprinkled with the blood of Christ' (1 Peter 1:2), we are freed from fear.

And the Spirit not only frees from the fear of ill things, but frees us to do good. Liberty implies two things: a freedom from ill, from a cursed condition, and likewise a liberty to better - a liberty from ill, and to good. We must understand the breadth of Christ's benefits, because they are complete, not only to free us from ill, but to confer all good to us, as much as our nature is capable of. As much as these souls of ours are capable of, they shall be made free and glorious and happy in heaven. God will leave no part of the soul unfilled, no corner of the soul empty. Little by little he does it (in a process of sanctification).

 When we are called out of Satan's kingdom we are not only called out of that cursed state, but we are made free to a better kingdom; we are made the members of Christ; we are enfranchised. And so in justification we are not only freed from damnation, from the justice and wrath of God, but we can use the plea of our righteousness by which we have claim to heaven, which is a blessed privilege and prerogative. We are not only free from the curse of the law, but we have other gracious prerogatives and privileges, we are not only freed from the dominion of sin, but we are set at liberty by the Spirit to do what is good. We have a voluntary free spirit, to serve God as cheerfully as we served our lusts before.

And as we are freed from the rigor and curse of the Law, so we have corresponding prerogatives to good. We are now by the Spirit set at liberty to delight in the law, to make the law our counselor, to make the Word of God our counselor. That which terrified and frightened us before is now our direction. A severe schoolmaster to a very young pupil becomes later, as the pupil grows, a wise tutor to guide and direct. So, the law that terrifies and whips us when we are in bondage, till we are in Christ - it scares us to Christ - that law afterward comes to be a tutor, to tell us what we shall do, to counsel us and say this is the best way. And we come to delight in
those truths when they are revealed to us inwardly. And the more we know, the more we want to know, because we want to please God better every day.

So besides freedom from what is ill and its consequences, there is a blessed prerogative and privilege. That is what is meant here by liberty. For God's works are complete. We must know when he delivers from ill he advances to good. His works are full works always; he does not do things halfway. We have through Christ and by the Spirit not only freedom from what is ill but advancement to all that is comforting and graciously good.
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