Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why One's Religion Has Everything and Nothing to Do with One's Candidacy for President

I've been meaning to write this for awhile now. I usually don't discuss politics, but then again, this isn't really going to be a political discussion as much as a theological clarification of something about which many Christians seem to be confused--namely, should I vote for a Mormon or Liberation/Social Gospel candidate, or neither? Let me just say that religion matters far more than the average American realizes. The idea of separation between church and state is the biggest hoax of modern American culture. Most people buy into it simply because they're unaware how ultimate beliefs dictate secondary beliefs, and therefore, how a particular religion might influence one's decisions on public policy. So, in that sense, religion has everything to do with whether a Christian should vote for a particular candidate; but only up to a point. After that point, one's particular religion is irrelevant. Let me explain.

The Bible presents to us two kingdoms, not one. Jesus said that His kingdom was "not of this world" in contrast to the kingdom currently presided over by Caesar and his inferior, Pilate. So the kingdom of Christ on earth, as we see in John and throughout the New Testament, is the Church. This is His sanctified kingdom. The kingdoms of the world have been given over to the devil and the demonic powers that work within them to believe things contrary to the gospel of Christ. However, even within those kingdoms, God seeks to establish justice, security, and a physical, not spiritual, shepherding of those nations.

This is important to note, because it is the duty of Christ's sanctified, holy, set-apart kingdom, i.e., the Church, to deal with specific doctrines and practices that counter the gospel. That is not the job of the nations. However, God does require His people to do what is good and seek the good of the nations in which they reside; and He seeks justice, security, and a physical shepherding of the nations from their leaders. Throughout the Bible, He judges other nations and their leaders for not providing those things to its people who are in need of them, those who are the weaker and do not have as loud a voice.

Now, here is where I'm going with this. Christians ought to judge who they vote for based upon whether the candidate's religion would cause him to bring about justice, security and physical shepherding/nurturing. The job of the nation's leaders, in essence, is a creational one that is absent of the gospel. It is "pre-gospel" if you will, but it still must reflect the duty of the divine image in man to seek the procreation and preservation of human life against chaos and chaotic agents in the world. That is what the creation accounts, and the entire Book of Genesis, are really about (as I've noted numerous times on this blog and in my books).

If a candidate's religious beliefs would cause him to come down on the wrong side of issues, where he was allowing for and instituting practices that work toward chaos (the prevention of human life and preservation, with the former as primary and the latter as secondary only to the former according to biblical theology), then that candidate's religion has everything to do with whether you should vote for him. He is not suited to lead according to the Bible. His religious/philosophical beliefs prevent him from carrying out the duties of his office, and Christians who voted for him would not be doing good, but evil, as they would have participated in his establishment and the policies that work against human life and preservation.

So to be more specific to the present election, Romney's Mormon beliefs should sway him toward landing on the right side of most policies. The one thing I would question is whether he understands and would give help to the poor (something required of all nations' leaders in the Bible). But since the procreation of life is primary, we, as Christians, must look here first. Romney's Mormon beliefs would protect those who are the weakest. It would protect, first and foremost, the foundational creation mandate that human life is to be created. It would also work against defining marriage in a way that runs counter to the creation mandate, as homosexual sex cannot be a unified sex that creates human life, and is therefore, chaotic in nature.

I am less concerned about this last element, as Christians should seek to convey what is good about marriage to the nations, but apart from the gospel, it is probably not as important. What concerns me, instead, is that Christians are doing something directly good or evil when they vote for a candidate that will either pave the road for abortions to take place legally versus one that will seek to set obstacles up to it. Hence, I obviously believe that the primary issue in this or any election is abortion (and I believe that is true for both sides, regardless of religion/worldview).

In contrast to Romney, Obama would likely have more of an understanding for the poor; but not necessarily the right path for them. We can argue whether one's specific policies are better than others to help the poor, but as I noted above, the creation of life is more foundational than specific policies that may help preserve that life, as one must be alive first in order to be preserved. The Bible would obviously have us look to both, but many, even in biblical times, sought to put preservation over procreation, and thus, the Bible addresses it as primary in the command, having only secondary implications toward what one does in terms of preservation. Don't get me wrong, both are considered righteous acts that all people, everywhere are to establish in their nations; but there must be an order to them, lest one argue that we should kill off half the nation in order to preserve the other half, etc.

Obama's social gospel, however, has joined with the radical feminism of Margaret Sanger, and thus, has become a belief system that only seeks to preserve and give extra freedoms to certain individuals who already made it out of the womb. It does not protect the unborn from being killed, and is not something that works toward human creation. It is anti-creational. His views on homosexuality are simply a logical outworking of this.

We can argue also about whether one's foreign policy protects (and thus preserves the human life of his nation) better than the other. This also would be beneficial in determining which candidate the Christian should vote for. And as I said before, one could also look to economic policy when evaluating which would preserve human life better; but the point I would make here is that both candidates have a religion that would seek human preservation (whether one agrees that  the ideologies of both actually accomplish that are up for debate); but only one candidate would seek to work toward the creation of human life, the very foundation upon which all society must rest according to Scripture; and hence, Romney's Mormonism becomes an ally, rather than a foe, in terms of what the Christian is looking for in his quest to do "good" (biblically defined as something which creates and preserves human life) in voting for a particular candidate and in being a citizen of his particular nation.

So there is no contradiction between a Christian who would guard Christianity and the Church from the heresy of Mormonism, but turn around and vote for a Mormon. His specific religion on issues where it disagrees with orthodox Christianity are not what the Christian should be looking at in a leader. Instead, where his religion does agree are on those things that would cause one to fall on the right side of what God considers (not what "we" consider) as the doing of good within the nations.

The president's religion, however, not only contradicts orthodox Christianity in terms of its theological beliefs and ethical practices; but stretches so far as to contradict what the Bible defines as good, creational acts toward humanity. His specific doctrines would not matter if they did not contradict the fundamental good of culture; but since his beliefs govern where he lands on those issues, and they are wayward in terms of where they will lead him, his religion becomes of primary importance in his rejection by orthodox Christians.

Hence, there is a reason why atheists, agnostics, liberals, etc. love the President and hate Romney. Their worldviews, i.e., their ethical beliefs, which largely stem from their particular worldviews, match up. In the same way, the ethical beliefs of orthodox Christians match up with those of Mormons in terms of seeking the well-being of human life within the nation. We all match up in certain things, but we don't match up in all of them, specifically upon the issue that Christians and Mormons alike find to be an absolute abominable practice in the killing of innocent human life.

So religion means everything to a point and it also means nothing past that point when we're speaking of the good Christians ought to seek in their influence within a nation. Like Joseph or Daniel advising and seeking to save life in every way, the Christian has a duty to do the same. But the state is not the Church nor the Church the state. It's just completely absurd, however, to argue that one has no bearing upon the other. It's just that it has its full weight to bear on particular issues, and no weight to bear on others.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Own Little Shop of Horrors

I didn’t like the movie “Little Shop of Horrors” when I grew up. I watched it once, but never again. It just seemed cheesy and weird to me. If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s about a rather ordinary shop owner whose business is going downhill when he comes upon a rather unusual plant. The plant soon reveals to him that it needs human blood to survive, so he feeds it his own blood to help it grow, since the plant has been drawing attention to the shop and making the shop owner notable to both the community and to the girl that he desires. As the plant grows, it needs more human food. It ends up having to eat humans and the shop-owner obliges by feeding it humans. Eventually, the plant reveals that it is no friend at all, demands that it be fed his beloved girlfriend and tries to eat him as well. All goes well, however, when he and his girl overcome the plant and live happily ever after.

I thought the movie was obnoxious, but I probably thought that most of all because this wasn’t the original ending of the movie. The entire point of the movie was brought out by the original ending, but American audiences didn’t like the original ending, so it was changed to suit their need for the happily ever after ending. In doing so, the entire point of the movie (and play that preceded it) was lost.

However, the original ending was much more sobering, much darker, because the original ending depicted reality.  In the original, the shop-owner’s beloved is killed and eaten by the plant, the shop is destroyed, and the shop-owner pulled from the rubble and eaten by the plant as well. It then reproduces itself in every household and soon thousands of giant plants, presumably that have been fed in like manner by their owners, soon take over the world, destroying it completely. The end song, “Don’t Feed the Plants” was meant to bring out the idea that when you feed sin/self-assertion/desire, you are really feeding it yourself, growing it in size to eventually be in a position to completely devour you.

Now, the original movie meant to convey a truth. If you live in indulging your sin, you’re not going to escape it in the end. It will, in fact, completely consume you and destroy everything. You won’t be able to overcome it after feeding it so long. There won’t be the possibility of escape after a lifetime of indulgence. The deal a man has made with the devil has been reaffirmed over and over again, so much that these acts of indulgence throughout one’s life have sealed his fate in the end. By what he enslaved himself,  he is ultimately overcome and cannot think or desire otherwise. He has been sifted like wheat. 

But what I thought was interesting was the fact that the modern American religious sentiment wants to believe the opposite of an obvious reality. It wants to believe that one can ignore God one’s whole life in terms of repenting from sin and falsehood and still be OK in the end. Somehow, we’ll all still be heroes in the end, even though we’ve lived as villains our whole lives.  This is likely why more people today believe in a temporary hell, if they believe in hell at all, rather than an eternal one. We want to believe that there are no enduring consequences to our actions, that we can train our bodies to crave junk food our whole lives and then turn around and look like supermodels. We want to believe that we can quit smoking, stop taking drugs, cease getting drunk, refrain from lusting after others who are not our spouses, repent from neglecting our families, etc. at any time; and so, we can just turn everything around in the end. But the truth is that we’ve indulged ourselves one too many times, smoked one too many cigarettes, took one too many hits, have drunk one too many drinks, and have indulged in sexual immorality one too many times to ever be capable of turning it around in the end. The fool who is self deceived believes otherwise, because he wants to imagine that what he does has no bearing on who he is and what he will be in the future; but the truth is that one is defined by what he does and his future is bound to his identity.

It reminds me of the often used illustration, a likely made up tale, of the wolf that continues to lick a bloodied knife, but soon loses his own blood as he continues to lick the tasty knife--now all too numb to feel the cuts on his own tongue. He devours himself to death. One too many licks and he just can't stop. He just can't turn away. It just tastes too good in the moment, but such pleasure at the disregard of one's own life takes its toll in the end. Despite what most Americans want to believe, he won't walk away from it.

This doesn’t mean that God cannot change a man through Christ. Of course, He can and does. We are told to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. We are told that the Son can make us free. The point I’m making is that once God calls you to repentance and you ignore that, mocking God as though you will not reap what you sow, your time for seeking God while He can be found is quickly coming to a close. Your opportunity to be sprung from prison is slipping away. The door is closing. The Bible is very clear that God doesn’t just sit around waiting for those who ignore Him to repent. He calls them to repentance, and if they indulge in their sin anyway, He gives them over to their slavery all the more, so that they are consumed by their own self-worship and sin. He muddies the waters, so that they can no longer see the path of salvation clearly. He gives opportunity to kill or at least reduce the plant in size for a season, but only for a season. There is a point of no return. There is a point when the plant just kills your loved ones and eats you whole. It’s a terrifying reality, but a reality nonetheless. It’s just a shame that most Americans want to believe a fantasy more accommodating to self-indulgence and self-directed desire. Belief in the original ending, and ending that depicts the reality of our ends if we persist in sin after being rebuked, might have freed them. Perhaps, instead of saying, "Just one more time," they might say, "Never again."

Instead of lending one more drop of blood to the life of the monster that consumes they just might have let Christ pull out the root. But Americans just don't want to deal with reality. Maybe that's why they like to go to the movies so much? You can always fabricate reality and change the ending. Too bad real life just doesn't work that way.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’” Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
(Heb 3:7–15)

For He says,At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.
(2 Cor 6:2)
 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Gal 6:7–10)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Review of Rachel Evans's New Book, or as I Would Title It, "Why Layman Shouldn't Write Books"

I'm looking to write a post at some point concerning the state of biblical scholarship as a non-academic club that reads the biblical text, its supposed area of expertise, in ignorance. I was reminded by this review how such ignorance trickles down to layman who wish to support the religion of the Self by attacking orthodoxy and orthopraxis. There are so many ethical, theological, methodological, and factual errors in this book that it could only be published by that bulwark of integrity and theologically astute entity that is Thomas Nelson Publishers. I'll likely have my own review at some point, but I sure won't be lining the pockets of the ridiculous with my money in order to do it, so I need to wait to get a used copy at a thrift store, the only appropriate resting place for such a piece of work as this. For my part, I would argue, and have argued, that people who hold to such positions and have such self-centered trajectories in reading Scripture and interpreting life (i.e., liberals) cannot be, and therefore, are not, Christians. Hence, she went out from us (clearly) because she was never of us. The book is, therefore, based upon the pretense that she was once an evangelical Christian, when, in fact, by her own admission, she was never raised as such, but rather was raised as a liberal like her parents. In any case, this is the type of book you get by these people (i.e., "I was once this, but then I saw the light . . ."). It's all to give more credibility to the incredible.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

On This Lord's Day

With all of the things fighting for our attention and devotion today (sports, work, television, etc.), I thought I would say this:

The Lord is fighting for your mind and heart today. I pray He wins.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Brainwashing and Corruption of the Church, PART II

One of my favorite hymns is the song, "This Shall Be My Dancing Day." It's a carol that describes the life of Christ as one where Christ looks forward the eternity as His time of celebration. We too look forward the eternity as our celebration with Him, but we also seek the celebration of His victory here in our daily striving against ideas and practices that set themselves up against the Lord of All the Earth. It is not only that Christ should have victory over us tomorrow, but also in what we think and do today. In turn, this becomes a joy for us. It becomes a glimpse of our eternal dancing day.

I spoke last time about the fact that television/movies sets the pace for what we consider a normative lifestyle. It feeds the culture, and in reciprocal fashion, the culture then feeds the minds of the writers as to what is normative. This is all assumed, of course, and what I said last time is that the root worldview in practice, although varied in theory, is that God does not exist as a necessity within our daily lives. He's brought in for tragedies, but other than that, His absence is everywhere. In other words, the people and stories through whom/which we vicariously live each day, for thousands upon thousands of hours in our lives, are atheistic ones. Hence, even if our theories are theistic, our practices, our assumptions, or normality tend to mimic what is on the screen.

Hence, when we subconsciously adopt this worldview as normative, we also end up with a lot of practices that stem from that worldview. Christians, in particular, find themselves wondering why it is that so many other Christians say they believe one thing, but end up doing so many things that are completely contradictory toward what they believe. Indeed, we're all sinners, so we will all be hypocrites in that sense. But there is something else, something more sinister, at work here, and that is the fact that we have a contradictory worldview playing in the background, training us to think about certain things and not others, to act out certain lifestyles and not others.

This brings us to the role of the Church in the believer's life. The Church is actually given by God to train the mind of the believer to think of God's reality as normative (and God's reality is actual reality). The Church, when it functions properly, combats the pattern of the world that sets the varied, and yet unified, religion of the Self as the norm; and lifts the believer up from the flood of a false reality to live in the light of God's norm. We are told that it does this by its teachers preaching the whole counsel of God to the Church's people, and in obedience, those who receive the Word take it in a prayerful and submissive relationship to God, where the Holy Spirit applies it to their daily minds and practices. It thus becomes the norm.

In other words, the Scripture is the believer's television/movies. It presents the norm to the Christian culture, the Christians then reflect that norm in reciprocal fashion, and increase the effects of the Christ-centered worldview. Thus, the religion of the Self is slain, and the religion of the Lord is victorious in the Christians life.

The problem is that churches have not been preaching the whole counsel of God to its members. Evangelicalism, specifically, has continued to water down harsher doctrines, so as not to offend, and to reduce the amount of truth that unifies us as believers, so as to not divide our numbers, that it is virtually impossible to combat a full-on, daily onslaught of another religion with a couple undeveloped and superficial ideas repeated over and over again.

Hence, this atmosphere creates two problems. The first is what I said above. The Church has no power to transform a life if its whole counsel is not proclaimed and its members do not live in a loving relationship toward God in their seeking to live in His reality. The second is that it creates the idea that the reduced and watered down doctrines that are preached over and over again are, in fact, what is normative Christianity, and anything that pushes beyond that is abnormal, legalistic, radical, etc.

Hence, the state of the evangelical church today is not in the position to transform anyone. The culture of the religion of the Self has won, and there is nothing to stop it. Assimilation is complete. You are officially a part of the collective. Welcome to the damned life of the Borg.

Hence, if you're wondering why you've become a Christian, but don't feel very transformed, it could be just the plight of us all as sinners who need to make our way toward the truth of God and the good that it produces in us; but it may also be that you aren't getting very much truth, and a lot more lie, in what is demonstrated to you as the normative lifestyle. It may be that you don't have the mindset of a Christian because you haven't been given the teachings that create that mindset; and this, in turn, has done the same for those around you, so that you don't have anyone else modeling the Christian norm to you either.

This is why, when I speak of the judgment that the Western Church is under, that I think the Church needs reformation once again. I know the motto is "always reforming," and so every generation needs it, but I don't see such an all-encompassing deception in ecclesiastical history as I do now without it ending in reformation or the end of that church in that area. The creation has been exalted as Creator in Darwinian evolution, and Christians believe it; sexual immorality is now normative in our culture, and Christians agree with it; absolute certainty in truth fades to grey, and everyone does that which is right in his own eyes. Thus were the days of Noah when the end had come. But so were the days of the Judges, the days of Elijah, the days of Christ, the days of Athanasius, the days of Luther and Calvin. This may be our end, or it may be the end of a perverse norm that is caused by another great reformation. Who can say? But what we have now is a victory for the other side. Those who may have lived a Christian lifestyle as normative now turn from Christianity merely because it isn't the norm within their world anymore. And this is occurring en masse, not because we're not connecting with the culture enough, but because we have become, and aided the normative lifestyle of, the culture. But they went out to show that they were never really of us. The problem is that we who are left must commit ourselves to letting God set the norm through His Word in our words and deeds, thoughts and lifestyles.

Will it be a time to mourn, or shall this be our glimpse of His dancing day? Only God knows, and only time will tell us what He knows. May He grant reformation, and not condemnation, in grace and mercy upon His people.