October 31, 2019

SPLint3 R3d

It was a strange beast
I use to be. 
I am
...occasionally I still see it hide
......behind the mirror
...in the periphery

look direct I cannot see

I find a piece of it hidden

.......in the pocket of my coat
it pricks me.

A dark mirror reflects a dark image

I have tried to sew my pockets shut
I still feel sharp edges of 'it' in there

annoyance just below the surface

It pokes in my side, reminding me, like...

Thorn in flesh

I smashed the mirror but the little pieces
Still reflect me, smaller but 1000 times

1000 revelations of my sin

1000 still-frames of failure  

...the sinner that I am
Shards of mirror sparkle like stardust
My hope in the pieces
In the remnants



There's hope but not from me

I deceive no one                in my disjointed life
Mirror exposes truth from 1000 pieces

Hammer to nail 3 nails
Hammer splinters the mirror
An image of me
A hammer pulverize who I was
A hammer rebuilds who 
I am

33 years
 3 nails
1 death

I cannot sweep away what I was of old

But we've begun to build the new 

from the old

The old has gone away
Not destroyed, reformed

The Great Physician XV: A Lack of Life

[A continuation or my medical posts from a few weeks ago...]

As a point of reference and illustrative example I will mention in this post a compendium of known medicine diagnosis, terminology and usage of medicinal ideas/terms at the time of authorship of Scripture. The Scripture writers knew and could identify either through their own volition or by divine inspiration to following. Death being medical in my mind is included.

Thanatology-Death Observed

Old age is the most common recorded cause of death in the Bible. Other than the pre- antediluvian patriarch’s longevity a, few causes of death are recorded. 2 Chronicles 21:15 probably describes Jehoram’s demise as a form of cancerous dysentery, colorectal carcinoma, Crohn’s disease or an amoebic form known to be prevalent in the Near East.

Uzziah’s death 2 Chronicles 26:21 mention previously as leprosy was from Hansen’s Disease which is an infection caused by slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It can affect the nerves, skin, eyes, and lining of the nose (nasal mucosa). ... However, if left untreated, the nerve damage can result in crippling of hands and feet, paralysis, and blindness.


This was an important consideration in ancient Israel where childlessness was considered a major social stigma. The Hebrew adjective for ‘barren’ is עקר (Greek στείρος from which we get the word sterile) and derives from עקר meaning to uproot. The reason uproot is the Israelites understood that childbirth was a form of seeding and to not be able to have seed that can reproduce was to uproot or keep that that life from existing. Hence the agrarian references to the ‘seed’ Abraham. The seed of Abraham is mentioned in Genesis 12:7 and Galatians 3:16.

Galatians is quoting Genesis. What is the word used in Galatians in Greek? Sperma / σπέρμα from which we obviously get the word sperm from. And what is a seed produced from usually? Fruit. Seeds are an overflow of an abundance of life. So much life that it overflows to produce more life. Secondarily, sterility also reflects the state of uprooting of one’s life by being denied of part of it (children) and misfortune visited upon those not blessed with progeny.Ancient Israelite society was a very tribalistic and materialistic society where the presence of numerous male children and kinsmen was perceived as a measure of prosperity both present and future. A specific duty of children was to be present to perform the funeral rites of their parents and without children these rites could not be fulfilled adequately, and souls there ended up being a completeness and wholeness of life.

There are several stories in the Bible of barren women who eventually bear children as the result of divine providence. No medical cause of infertility was ever mentioned or contemplated: Barrenness and its reversal were entirely at the sovereignty of God.

Whether we're dealing with death or sterility we're dealing with a lack of life. Either the inability to create it by procreation or inability to maintain it. Hence their combination here.

October 30, 2019

The Great Physician XIV: Capital Punishment

Well, in a way, taking a person’s life amounts to a termination of said life and can technically be considered medical in nature. Because it is death prescribed by Biblical law as punishment it should not be viewed as murder or even killing but willful termination (by the state/priesthood) of a life through prescribed means as recompense of a divine legal infraction. Why capital punishment? Because usually someone knowledgeable about body and life would need to ascertain whether or not that body or life ceased. That usually required a physician or priest.

There appear to be generally (5) five types of offences codified by Levitical Law and punishable by death. These are further broken down into explicit sins and infractions of the law.

1. Offences against persons.
2. Offences involving property
3. Defiance of authority
4. Religious offences
5. Procedural requirements

Category 1 (and to a lesser extent category 4) concerns imposition of the capital punishment or כרת kareth (which is Hebrew for cutting-off [one’s life]) for infractions of the purity laws.  There is biblical justification for the death penalty in:

Murder (Exodus 21:12; Leviticus 24:17)
Manslaughter (Numbers 35;16-18)
Kidnapping (Deuteronomy 24:7)
Death by negligence/neglect (Exodus 21:29–31)
Sorcery (Exodus 22:17)
Rape (Deuteronomy 22:23–27)
Adultery-Both parties executed (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22)
Harlotry, singular case where the offender is daughter of a priest (Leviticus 21:9)
Incest (Leviticus 18:6, with one’s father’s wife 20:11,80)
Homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13)
Bestiality (Leviticus 20:15–16).

It is particularly difficult to draw generalizations from all of this other than to say that the death penalty is reserved by God in the Law for exceptionally heinous sins in terms of either infractions towards God or infractions to other people. The Law was more concerned with offences against the person due to the wholeness holiness factor of the individual and community. 

Overwhelmingly capital punishment was reserved for infractions of a sexual nature. This fit in well with their stringent application of the purity/impurity laws.  The method of formal execution is not clear though in some cases burning and stoning were specifically prescribed. The other thing that should be clearly noted is that no specific sexual infraction was more heinous than another. They were all sins therefore affronts to God. They were all viewed as offensive to God. Whether it be adultery, homosexuality or bestiality.

The term kareth כרת does not always refer to the process of execution itself but rather to the cutting off of the individual from society, his family and his lineage. The terms ‘extirpation’ and ‘eradication’ and ‘uprooting’ have all been widely used as a translation of כרת but ‘eradication’ and ‘uprooting’ seem quite inappropriate inasmuch as uprooting is quite different from cutting off.  There is no suggestion that lineage in any way deleted via death. It is the perpetrators personal attachment to it that is to be ended.  This implies uprooting and separation from one’s root-stock.  Exile. The problem with exile in the old testament period is that it essentially acted as a death penalty for those outside of their societal protection. Especially for a woman at that time. The same as excommunication was a death sentence for a believer in 1 Corinthians 5. In the end spiritual death is vastly worse than physical death.

October 28, 2019

In Their Own Words XL: A Paint-By-Numbers Universe

Paul Davies is an English physicist. He is a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He is affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University College London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. His research interests are in the fields of cosmology, quantum field theory, and astrobiology.

His field of study has involved him in inquiries concerning theoretical physics, cosmology, and astrobiology. His research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory in curved space-time. Although he has not explicitly stated that he is a theist, evidence from his statements and quotes in books could build a strong case for thinking that he does in fact believe in a creating God. Such as the following.

“I belong to a group of scientists who do not subscribe to a conventional religion but nevertheless deny that the universe is a purposeless accident. Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.  There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level ‘God’ is a matter of taste and definition.” ~ Paul Davies [The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. p.203]

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all.... It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe.... The impression of design is overwhelming” ~ Paul Davies [The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. p.203]

Davies’ comments are as deliberate in their wordage as they are interesting. He doesn’t deny God outright but neither does he adhere to a religion either. This could just mean he doesn’t believe in organized religion like the Roman Catholic Church (theoretically, neither do I). I am guessing he was either agnostic when he made the first statement or he was being theologically disingenuous about what he really believed. It is clear he did not buy into the sheer numbers game of probability that says the Creation was just a cosmic accident.

Actually, he says he believed in something “deeper”. By this statement he begins to leave behind the empirical and flirt with a theological source. The term "deeper" here has to mean metaphysical or outside the physically provable or empirical. He has already made a scientific statement that said through his scientific work he could not account for the ingenuity of the physical universe. Ingenuity implies an act of creation. Ingenuity implies new ways in an ongoing process to meet or solve problems. As a matter of fact, by definition etymologically, ingenuity comes from the word ingenium which just happens to be the root Latin word for engineering. Because he believed something deeper was involved and he was willing to endeavor into the non-physical to find it...he was taking a leap of faith. In other words, Davies believed there had to have been a super-intelligence driving the things he saw in the physical universe. 

If one takes Davies’ comments at face value from his 1992 book The Mind of God it is probable that Davies theological comments are laced with whimsical doublespeak. In the aforementioned book Davies briefly explores the nature of reason, belief, and metaphysics. He also examines the origin of the universe and even a few arguments for the existence of God. In so doing he includes the possibility that the universe shows evidence of intelligent design.

So, what we have in Paul Davies is a man who studied the physical universe and the natural world scientifically, became an expert on it and ended up in the realm of the supernatural to explain his findings. The conclusion that he came to is that the complexity and intricacy of the physical universe could not be a statistical event or accident. Furthermore, he believed the obviousness of design was implicit in the visible universe also.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20

Paul Davies said it best in the conclusion to his book The Mind of God.

"…the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe [referring to Earth] is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here."

Other than the fact that Paul attributes the generation of self-awareness to the universe, he pretty much nails the fact that these are not purposeless forces. They are deliberate and meaningful. They are rooted in intelligence. They are rooted in design. Therefore, the big answers are foundational to existence and they are profound...and according to Davies...they are not of naturalistic origin or based in the physical universe.

tetelestai τετέλεσται

tetelestai τετέλεσται literally translated means, “It is finished.” The word occurs in John 19:28 and John 19:30. The word tetelestai was written on business documents or receipts in New Testament times to indicate that a bill had been paid in full. Receipts in those times were often introduced by the phrase tetelestai. The connection between receipts and what Christ accomplished would have been quite clear to Greek-speaking readers and listeners; it would be unmistakable that Jesus Christ had died to pay for their sins.

It is a word of completion not survival. It signifies a successful end to a particular course of action. It's the word you would use when you climb to the peak of Everest. It's the word you would use when you make the final payment on your car. The word means I did exactly what I set out to do. 

Furthermore, Tetelestai is in the perfect tense here. The perfect tense is an action which has been completed in the past with results continuing into the present. It's different from the past tense which looks back to an event and says, "This happened." The perfect tense adds the idea that "This happened and it is still in effect today." When Jesus cries out "It is finished!!," he meant "It was finished in the past, it is still finished in now, and it will remain finished in the future." Christ paid for all sins even unto today. He successfully completed the work He came to do." Salvation. Paying the debt on the account of men’s/women’s souls.

Once He stated this, there was no unfinished business. No need of works. Only repentance and a changed heart that had turned (metanoia/μετάνοια) from sin (hamartia/ἁμαρτία) towards God and accepted Him. God being God had a plan to save man. So, logic dictates it was a perfect plan and needed no embellishments. He completed it and it has everlasting effects. Anything men would add would only screw it up.

Christ + nothing = Everything 

#finishingmove #sin #tapout#salvation 

October 26, 2019

The Partisan Paradox X: The United States Is Not A Christian Nation

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, "The United States is a Christian country/nation."

Eh, no, it’s not. Not by a country mile.

I love this country but the United States is no more a Christian nation than the Roman Empire was after Constantine in the 4th Century when he turned the Roman Empire into the Holy Roman Empire (it was neither holy or Christian). The United States is a religiously neutral Constitutional / Democratic Republic. The Church is God’s Christian nation, not the United States. We need to get our act together in the church. We are not a Christian nation and we need to stop saying it. There have been exceptionally profound Christian influences in the United States at varying points in its history (the Great Awakenings) but we’ve never been a Christian nation per se. Since the arrival of Christ, we must not look upon any nation as God’s chosen nation or even upon America as a "Christian nation.” It is extraordinarily dangerous to say this as it implies some form of moral high ground for the United States who of late (the last 50-60 years) has done little to warrant it.

Some people are distressed over the fact that America is moving too far away from it's ‘Christian’ founding father’s roots. I've got news for them, many of the founding ‘fathers' of the US were not Christian. They were either Universalist, Deist or what is now called Theistic Rationalists. Although they gave off the appearance of Christianity, they were likely not orthodox Christians at all. They include: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, John Tyler, Thomas Paine, Ethan Allen, Alexander Hamilton and probably George Washington based on his writing. It is interesting to note though that none declared themselves atheist either. Admittedly, some founding fathers were genuine Christians but it was essentially a mixed bag…just as it is today.

The New Testament teaches unmistakably that Christ set aside national, ethnic and political barriers and that He has chosen to fulfill His central purposes in history through the Church not through a particular nation or political party. He even used the brutal pagan nations like the Assyrians and Babylonians to complete His will at times. This certainly didn't make them His nations, merely His tools. The church transcends all such boundaries in terms of geography, sovereignty and spirituality. To align Christianity to any specific nation and make Christianity dependent on that nation’s reputation or survival…well, we basically attach a ballast to a balloon. We give our faith a black eye. We are defacing Christianity. Killing it? No. Tarnishing? Yes. Gold needs no embellishment…it is already lustrous and beautiful. Yet we see it on a routine basis in the public eye in the United States. Sadly, in God's house not the White House.

The evangelical church of the 20th century rightly criticized the liberal churches for abandoning their responsibility to proclaim the Gospel and, turning instead, to the "social gospel." Ironically, evangelicals today are doing the very same thing which they condemned liberal churches for doing by seeking a better society, not through Gospel proclamation and intelligent discussion of biblical truth, but through political power strategies, legislation, and efforts to move the unbelieving majority to live like Christians. God chooses who becomes part of His nation of holy people, not the other way around.

It seems that the modern church's primary concern is no longer accurately preaching a God-centered Gospel and its implications for both pagans and believers. Instead it fixates on abortion, traditional values, and a romanticized view of America as a "Christian nation”. Instead of effecting a change via Scripture and prayer we turn to the newest charlatan promising the newest social improvement or legislation that appeals to us.

While abortion and other moral issues are important issues, they are not the Gospel nor is it a message that mankind most needs to hear. The politics and politicians that purvey their ‘Clear Vision of the Future in 2020!” are highly unlikely to spread the vision of the Gospel. So why are so many Christians supporting them? So why are we so dogmatically and zealously pursing the support of politicians? Why are Christians more versed in conservative or liberal politics than in the writings of both the Old and New Testament? Mostly because of a poor understanding of Scripture. I find this fact disturbing. Christians would be well-served to  repent of their intense involvement in politics.

"That’s one of the weaknesses of the evangelical movement today – that it is so obsessed with politics. It believes that there’s got to be a political solution to everything . . . You don’t change a culture by passing laws. You change a culture by changing people’s habits. That’s why the Gospel is so central to the possibilities of cultural reformation in American life (Interview of Charles Colson "Running the Race," Rutherford [Journal], August 1996, p.15).

The early Christians recognized that "the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh," but spiritual in nature (2 Corinthians 10:3-4); because they recognized that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood," in politics but against demonic forces (Ephesians 6:12); because they recognized that their true citizenship was in heaven (Philippians 3:20); because they viewed themselves as "strangers and aliens" within this world (1 Peter 2:11); and because they desired a "heavenly country" (Hebrews 11:16), they did not concentrate their efforts to pursue political action here now.

"Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation" ~Psalm 146:3

"Thus says the Lord, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength’" ~Jeremiah 17:5

"My kingdom is not of this world" ~John 18:36

The Lord of history has not aligned His purposes with the particular values of any given earthly country, civilization or civilian. Only a divine and heavenly One. Jesus Christ. This would certainly carry over to the politicians within said nation inevitably doomed to the dustbin of history. This includes America. Just like all other empires throughout history. All became footnotes at the foot of the Cross. Empires rise and fall but the Son of God is risen and remains so.

Finally, we must remember that political solutions are not the solution. The lesson Scripture and history teaches is that political power and legislation can never reform the human heart. Only the Gospel can. It can turn a heart of stone to a heart of flesh and raise the dead from the grave. Politics is not the eternal or permanent solution to anything only temporary and temporal. We cannot afford to look to humans or human government for providing the answers to the moral and ethical problems that we face. That is why God created a priesthood in the Old Testament and gave His Son in the New Testament. He gave his Son so that we as Christians could be His royal priesthood. A nation of them. Holy. The Church. Invariably we must look to Scripture and the God who is portrayed within its pages.

October 25, 2019

The Partisan Paradox IX: Trapped By Circumstances

I used to have a long-standing position on social justice and poverty. I didn’t involve myself in it. There were just too many opportunities to turn what was social charity into political activism in the act of trying to right social wrongs. My attitude towards this has changed considerably after (1) Having studied how Jesus treated and acted towards the poor and disenfranchised of society and (2) Working with a local urban church in Pottstown, PA and observed firsthand how bad things can get when no one helps the addicts, the homeless and those down on their luck.

What I found exceptionally appalling was the general attitude of ambivalence by many ‘affluent’ churches within a close proximity to Pottstown doing absolutely nothing to help these poor people out. It really changed my attitude towards those struggling on the streets and those in their ‘ivory tower’ mainline churches. You can’t just tell some of these people to, “Get a job” or “Stop having sex and collecting welfare.” It isn’t that simple. Furthermore, people show their ignorance and complete lack of empathy when making these idiotic statements.

How does this affect politics? Directly and indirectly because of God’s common grace, Christians can work with unbelievers in attempting to promote justice and civic peace – and we can do so not only because it is good for believers and religious liberty, but because it is good for all people (Galatians 6:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:15). Social justice warriors of the liberal persuasion will be more vocal adherents about community/government involvement in helping the poor. It is part of their calling card. In truth, this is part of what liberal politics kind of gets right. They just go about it a bit too aggressively and expect more of politics and government than is warranted. They want government to play a heavier hand in it in a socialist manner. I believe this is dangerous to civil liberties not beneficial to them. It causes much more government oversight. Never a good thing.

Conversely, on the socially conservative side. The approach is more often than not that of a natural law account of social justice that suggests policies that empower more people to engage for themselves in the free market and flourish. This works if people have access to said market or access to the means of empowerment given by the government but many do not. They are trapped within systems and ways of life that are not easily escapable. Just….’getting a job’ isn’t an option for a single black mother with two or more children. Its not like they can afford daycare and leaving them home alone is grounds for a child’s removal from the home. One side tries too hard and the other lives in a idealistic pipe dream. Leaving all the disenfranchised to the church eventually overwhelms local churches that are trying to help (never mind those that don’t give a rip).

Writing on this matter, the authors of The Search for Christian America have stated:

“Some Christians speak as though there is an absolute antithesis between Christian and non-Christian thought, neglecting the degree to which Christians themselves are hampered by sin and error, and the degree to which God’s common grace allows substantial room for communication and cooperation among all people in practical everyday life . . . Because we all live in God’s world, we have, in God’s common grace, some basis for discussing and shaping public policy without explicit appeal to the Bible. In fact, people from all nations of the world have been able to agree on many principles of justice and human interest, as for instance, in agencies and statements of the United Nations. That they violently disagree on other points or on the application of their common principles should not obscure this degree of commonality. So, Christians and non-Christians may be able to agree on the value of charity toward the poor and the starving, on the undesirability of genocide, that literacy should be encouraged, on the virtue of loyalty to friends and parents, and on many other things (pp.135-136).

You see, in totality…not all of the UN is bad, only part of it. Not all politicians are crooks, just some of them. Not all of Pottstown Borough is in error, just some of it. The problem for a Christian aligning to these organizations and leaders is the need to discern which ones are in error when they act as a whole by majority. The risk doesn't warrant a reward many times. Part of the problem of the homelessness in Pottstown is the Borough's methodology itself. It is a old network that has vested interests in the borough and making themselves look good as do all public or government organizations. This is why Christian organizations and Christian leaders are justified and steering clear of them whenever possible. As many municipalities do, they try to sweep the social blight of the borough under the carpet and hide the homeless and addict problem. In the past the Pottstown borough has even gone as far as to drive the homeless out of the borough claiming they were trying to get them help by pushing them to organizations that would help them. 

The irony? There were none. No state-funded institutions in place in the borough to help. It was up to a handful of ministries within the borough to do damage control after the borough raided and burned all the belongings of the homeless in that area. They use inmates from a local prison to do the ‘clean-up’ and meanwhile intimidated the homeless into fleeing. I posted that story on this blog eight years ago in my post: The Poor, The Downtrodden & The Disenfranchised. Most of the borough members were likely not Christian and very poorly informed. If they were Christian they were in name only or sorely misguided. Sadly, many in local churches were probably not Christian either judging by their complete lack of action in instances like this. Only a handful like Pottstown Bible Church stepped forward to anything to help.

Civic involvement in borough meetings and just plain grace towards others in the area could’ve staved off a lot of suffering. The churches intimate knowledge of the homeless and drug issues could've given much need insight into the issue. Instead the borough went into homeless areas unilaterally and blatantly destroyed lives that were already in poor shape. I seriously doubt this is an isolated case. There are may instances like this geographically and politically throughout this nation. (and globally).

Many were not afforded an opportunity to be ‘empowered’ or have access to social systems of aid…and people suffered. Had Christians been actively involved to help and be a social conscience. People might not have needed to suffer. Some that died might not needed to have met an untimely demise. Yes, some died. I knew some of them. Some Christians in select areas of the community could’ve had a more positive influence in helping people think more clearly about the homelessness and drug issues in the Pottstown Borough. 

Instead, the old networks of entrenched stagnate philosophies still prevail and sadly people still suffered. Ignorance prevailed. The Devil won. Homeless stay homeless and addicts stay addicted even though many I know in ministry in the area worked daily to try and keep this from happening.

We have an effect in the community as Christians. This becomes especially important when the political hierarchy is debased, unwise to the issues or worst of all...they’re corrupt. I don’t really know for sure what the issue with the local borough is but it borders on ineptitude that could be overcome by righteous Christian influence and wise Christian counsel. Something they clearly are not getting and if they are, they are wholly ignoring it. These tragedies are avoidable by tactful utilization of the Gospel in the community through wise counsel.

A more in-depth look at my thoughts on social justice and poverty can be found here:

The Heart of God for the Poor

October 24, 2019

The Partisan Paradox VIII: The Right Tool For The Job

So how is a Christian to interact with the government and politicians if we're probably not well advised to align ourselves to them ideologically? As ambassadors for Christ, we are not to disobey civil government (except, of course, when they compel us to disobey God’s Word – Mark 12:17, Acts 5:29).When they are not asking us to go against God we are to subject ourselves to it (Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:13-17) and pray for such rulers and authorities so that we might live a tranquil life (1 Timothy 2:1-2). That means whether they are of your political preference or not. You should have a Kingdom preference not party preference. Again, the Scriptures should shape your worldview you should not be allowing your worldview to shape your approach to the Scriptures.

Petitioning and lobbying politicians to do your bidding rarely works unless you have deep pockets. Affecting a meaningful change in society/culture rarely comes through trying to get your representative to pass laws. As Christians we need to understand that spiritual results can only be achieved through spiritual means. Genuine moral reform will never come by merely changing laws or the lex terrae. Christians need to also understand that we need to change hearts to change minds that change laws. It is usually a slow process too. One heart at a time. Is it possible? Yes. Probable? No.

How do you change one heart at a time? It’s called a relationship. We must do as Christ did. He sat with sinners. Ate with sinners. Lived with sinners. He saved them by literally entering their lives. Christianity is something that cannot be done at a distance. It’s boots on the ground and hands in the dirt. This means that we must recover the art of communication and empathy. Even for enemies. Not hollow empty rhetoric of politicians but by heartfelt explanation and actual concern. A persuasion along with the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit to convince and convict humans (John 16:8).

As a Christian my greatest power is not found in protest, lobbying or siding with Christians in power but in Gospel proclamation – for, indeed, if the Gospel is truly "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16), why would we ever turn to political rhetoric and ideology? If no one is willing to listen to you though because you’ve aligned yourself with someone they hate, you’ve already shot your foot off.

Strange as it may sound to some, the real problem we face in America today are not primarily political or even moral, but theological and spiritual. Those that will use their pulpits as bully pulpits and political platforms are using the pulpits in a godless manner. Bringing the system of the world right to the front of the church. Exactly where it doesn’t belong. The church is sanctuary. Not a death sentence. We preach one death (and subsequent Resurrection). We preach Christ and Him crucified and resurrected the third day in accordance with Scripture.

People are already alienated from a holy God and possess no knowledge of Him and His ways. Their minds are enmity against Him. They need to find that in the Faith and in the Church. Not more of the same from the outside. No political or moral crusade can ever rectify the spiritual. To bring politics into the church and support it at-large in the public eye while simultaneously declaring the truths of Scripture delivers a mixed message. It delivers confusion. God will always work better through your prayers than through the mouths of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George Bush or Bill Clinton.

The late Charles Colson a political insider and former presidential aide to Richard Nixon said it best:

Today’s misspent enthusiasm for political solutions to the moral problems of our culture arises from a distorted view of both politics and Christianity – too low a view of the power of a sovereign God and too high a view of the ability of man. The idea that human systems, reformed by Christian influence, pave the road to the Kingdom – or at least, to revival – has the same Utopian ring that one finds in Marxist literature. It also ignores the consistent lesson of history that shows that laws are most often reformed as a result of powerful spiritual movements (not vice versa). I know of no case where a spiritual movement was achieved by passing laws ("Kingdoms In Conflict." Charles Colson [Zondervan, 1987] p.304).

If we deem approaching our representatives as necessary and voicing our opinions and beliefs, we must never adopt an "in your face" attitude. Arrogance and shouting down one’s political opponent may be the way of the world, but it is not the way of Christ. We are, instead, to reply with "discretion and discernment" as did Daniel to Arioch (Daniel 2:14). We are to manifest the kind, humble and respectful demeanor which Paul displayed before Festus and King Agrippa (Acts 26; cf. Titus 3:1-2; Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15). Even if the government is wrong, erring on the side of respect and decorum is paramount. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

That is why it is such a disgrace when a politician besmirches the decorum of office or a constituent does the same failing to give honor to the position God has put in authority over them. It shows a complete disregard of the opinions and feelings of those who elected that official to office. Thereby demeaning the office and the majority vote of the populace. We’re a community whether we like it or not. We need to learn to get along. Behave and be respectful. Obey the laws because nothing on God’s watch occurs without Him allowing it to occur anyway.

A communal balance and desire to live together in peace. It’s the idea of Jewish shalom and wholeness of not only one’s self but also wholeness of family and society/community. Once these basic building blocks of society are undermined everything else starts to erode. We need only look around us today at the utter chaos and civil decline. Regardless of our personal feelings towards our political leaders or those we are in political disagreement with, we are commanded to "honor the King" or obey the authorities (Romans 13) and those who put these people and institutions in place.

October 22, 2019

The Partisan Paradox VII: Another Self-Righteous Clown

Although we shouldn’t overtly align ourselves with politicians and secular ideologies, neither should we be wholly ignoramus about the culture around us. We should not be ignorant of the major political and cultural controversies of our day. Frankly, ignorant Christians are more irritating to me than ignorant secular folks. At least the secular have an excuse for being depraved and blind to Scripture and God. They make no pretense of ever being knowledgeable about it. Christians that live blindfolded to the world and isolated need to check themselves at the door. Perhaps actually assure they are what they think they are. Mainly....Christian.

How can a Christian engage the culture meaningfully if they are ignorant of the cultural hot-button issues of the day? We are heading into heady times. On some issues we're in the thick of it. There are major ethical and moral issues confronting the culture nowadays that would benefit from having a well-informed Christian perspective. Not blanket brainless Christian shout-downs. 

"God abhors the ho-mo-sexual!" 
"God hates drug addicts. No drugs ever!"
"God hates....blah blah blah."

Thanks so much for being God's public address system. Thanks so much for being a really poor example of Christian grace, mercy and charity. As if Scripture and a kind but persuasive word cannot do that job. As if a the reminder of our sin in and of itself doesn't suffice via the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

Instead we should be engaging the public in meaningful conversation about what we really believe and why. Explain why we find abortion abhorrent. Why, in some cases, capital punishment is needed to send a message to others that would attempt to perpetrate the same crimes. Why not all drug use is problematic (some is medicinal). Christians that believe any use of marijuana is illicit need to reread their Bible and stop being swept up into the crazed eisegetical fervor that the partially biblically literate church ‘leaders’ champion. Not all φαρμακεία /pharmakia is the same. Its all about intents/purposes of the heart. We need to admit that we might even have mixed feelings about things that the Bible says are sin but we haven’t reconciled in our lives or in other people’s lives. Admit that Christians are sinners and at times are conflicted about our own actions (Paul in Romans 7).

We all struggle with our sin which is exactly why we shouldn’t be pointing out other peoples sin devoid of Scriptural support. No one cares about our opinions but Scripture...Scripture carries much more credibility. When we advocate for certain political viewpoints that are critical of others in their sin or error while simultaneously ignoring our own we deserve the label given to us.


Hence the danger of aligning to a politician or political party no matter how ethical and moral their stances against the things Scripture clearly says are sin or abominations. Call it whatever you want. Moralizing. Virtue signaling. Self-righteousness.

Its preferential behavior and its disgusting. It is totally unbecoming of a Christian and does not send the Gospel message either in words or behavior. We all know those in the church that do this. I even did it as an immature Christian. No wonder people in and outside the church couldn’t stand me (us) when we act this way. If I could’ve stood next to myself ten years ago I’d have punched myself right in the throat. I now find the old me intolerable.

Imagine what the world sees when we moralize and virtue signal and they already hate God and the Bible. Sadly, we project our beliefs onto the politician we align to for all the world to see. Therefore, that politician acts as proxy for our moralizing. Trump and Obama weren’t hated for who they were…they were hated for what they represented. To the ‘other side’ just another ostentatious self-righteous clown by proxy. No one likes a twisted self-righteous clown. Come to think of it, self-righteousness is antithetical to the Gospel itself. The Gospel properly understood empties and humbles us. Not aggrandize us. It doesn't mock, it comes along side and helps. It doesn't give a beat down, it lifts up.

As evangelicals, we are called to use our minds for the glory of God and to test all issues, whether religious or political, by the standard of Scripture (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). At the same time, however, we must recognize that the Bible will not always be as clear or direct in addressing the issues we currently face. In these issues we should act in grace. Firmly but not always dogmatically.

“We should have Christian approaches to politics, recognizing that there will be a variety of these, but we should not expect to produce ‘the Christian political program" ~Mark A. Noll, The Search for Christian America [Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1989] p.139).

October 20, 2019

The Partisan Paradox VI: Take Me Home, Country Road….

Politics revolves around power. Sovereign power. Government power. Governments put in place to run countries. At least the politics that I’ve been talking about in this series. The politics that revolve around getting elected to or associated to government. Sovereign government. A government currently divided against itself right now, just like the nation it represents. Yet, we as Christians know unequivocally that power, whether it be sovereign or not comes from the Sovereign God that we believe in. Knowing this we need to understand that we must not view any country or human government as our ultimate home…Where we're going there are no politics.

"…for our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20).

Ironically the Greek word for citizenship here is πολίτευμα /politeuma from which we get the word politics. It literally means...a form of government and or...a way in which we are to live our lives. As Christians. We are to live here, expatriated, as we will live there under God's reign. Why? Because we are already under His reign. We are representatives of that heavenly country. We are constituents of God's holy nation/rule.

To seek change or power via this type of earthbound government or to go the long way via man-made channels to make things happen is a fools errand. Why should we go through a fallen corruptible human politician to seek change when we can petition the One who gives power to that fallen vessel (or doesn’t give power to them)? We should be seeking to go directly to the source not a derivative. Seek the true source of information, all else is hearsay. Seek the orthodoxy all else is heresy. Seek the original, not the counterfeit.

Secondly, knowing that true sovereign power comes from God we need to think along large scales both physically, spiritually, proximity and destination. In the following verse we see an entire people living their entire lives in faith and not receiving the promises while alive. They relied in faith that God would provide what He promised and He did. For the time being, we are "strangers and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13; cf. 1 Peter 2:11). We are looking forward to a "heavenly country" (v.16) and the Sovereign God Himself who has promised to prepare a city for us (v.16). We must act as citizens of that ‘country’ to which we belong. We should not try to over-actively change the one we currently reside within. It is too fallen and too broken to fix adequately.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16

The Hebrews passage shows us that God knows we live in a sub-par system now as we are to be desiring a better country. It’s assumed in the text. The unstated implication. The irony is that it is us, Christians, that are expatriated here now on Earth. We cannot hope to make the system here perfect because it is control by the Prince of the Air and this world is effectively the devil’s system. We shouldn’t seek to try and waste a ton of energy here now trying to make this this ‘stopover’ on earth perfect. What’s the point? Its temporary and passing away.

This being true, why would we so entangle ourselves so deeply in the affairs of this world that we forget our heavenly country and the Divine mandate which Christ has given to His Church? The mandate to seek out others and teach them the things Christ taught us. Just as Jesus explained all the things that are taking place and have taken place on the road to Emmaus. We should be explaining them as we walk down to narrow path leading home.

We should be seeking to recruit volunteers for the trek to the new country over the mountains (trials) and valleys (prosperity) we will traverse. Seek to find companions on our journey down the road to our new homeland while waving goodbye to the old world. Waving goodbye and not seeking to return. For what lies ahead is of vastly more worth. No more fences. No more wars. No more violence. No more lies. No more propaganda. Something idyllic. Something perfect. No more of the things of this world that makes us not want to be here anyway. 

We need to point people in that direction not detour them from it down a million dead-ends. Point them towards belief in the God that built that country for us. Point them towards Faith in Him and that.

I seek the country road...that will take me home. To the place I truly belong.

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