Understanding the Culture

As we live and interact in human society, there are patterns, behaviors, and occurrences which preach a message – and as we interpret the cosmic story of humanity, we yearn to understand the meaning and purpose for it all!

Why I’m Not Voting

In next week’s election, I do not plan on voting for any federal or New York State officials, obviously including President of the United States of America. I have been asked by a friend to explain my choice. To my best understanding, the reason he is asking me to explain is because traditionally we conservative evangelical types see voting as a civic duty. We have learned from when we were wee lads and lasses that voting in democratic elections is a near-sacred duty, wrapped in all the somberness and ritual of a religious sacrament.

And therein is my first issue with voting for federal and state office holders. As a Christian, my primary citizenship is in heaven, where Christ is. He is preparing the New Jerusalem—the eternal city of God—and He will bring that consummate kingdom upon His appearance and judgment of the living and the dead. You’ll notice I said “primary” citizenship, and that’s because of course we are also citizens of the nations on earth as we live here. In simple terms, Christians are dual citizens, and we have duties in each realm. And what is our most important duty in the civil realm of this age? It is to be salt and light—to stand out. We are to be a different, holy people, and we are to be the fragrance of Christ everywhere we go, and in all we do.

What am I getting at? Only that in all areas of our lives, we are to show our pagan and post-Christian neighbors that we have a better hope, a higher kingdom, and accordingly, a fearless posture toward the evil in this world. Now of course none of us does any of this perfectly, which is why we keep returning to the church gathering each week where we hear of our sin, the forgiveness we have received, and the promises of the age to come. We are often fearful, though our Lord commands “fear not.” We are often mired in the same idols as the Gentiles, though our Lord commands “come out from them and touch not the unclean thing.” I think many wonderful Christian people in America have succumbed to the fear of man, namely, the liberal and Progressive man, and are placing their hope in democratic elections as a temporal salvation. In a narrow sense it is true that good civil policy saves us from lawless men, so I understand the need for the State in our present world; however, I think the manner in which our politics have become all encompassing and overwhelming shows the idolatrous fear and rage intrinsic to this present system.

Today we can and should repent, re-form the line if you will, and face the world as a fearless, holy people.

And I believe abstaining from the vote is one of the more powerful means to do so right now. nopeAsk yourself what drives 90+% of the voting in federal and state elections today. You know what it is: fear. And not only fear, but jealousy, rage, insecurity, and tribalism/racialism (in all directions). Why are Christians blending in with this portrait of ungodliness? I’ll tell you what I think—I believe we’re in a rut of tradition that we can’t see from above. We think voting always helps secure liberty and justice for all.

We think it’s our sacred duty to cast our ballot because men shed their blood to give us this right. We think we owe it to the brave guys who charged the machine gun nests on Normandy’s beach, we think the 58,000+ who never returned from Vietnam cry out “go! Go to the voting booth and vote! We died in a jungle ditch so you could do so!”

We think we must make our voices heard.

And on that last point, I fully agree. We must make our Christian, fearless, faithful voices heard to those in power, and I propose our message be something like this:

We are not your slaves, and we are not afraid of you. Do what you will to us, but we will serve the Lord Jesus Christ, promote His kingdom, and speak out against your ungodly policies. We will no longer be complicit in propping up this sham democracy.

This nation is captured by an oligarchy of lifetime politicians, corporate pirates, and usurious thieves on Wall Street, and voting has only distracted us from your injustices, as if we ever had a chance in a rigged game. We are tired of having our income stolen to propagate antichrist doctrines in the schools, violence in the womb, violence throughout the world in conflicts that are unjust and unnecessary, and general economic discord domestically.

We protest the system of credit and debt that is forced upon us, we protest the postmodern worldview of our leaders, and we refuse to participate in a system that fingers the wind in making law. Our vote will not save the United States of America, only mass waves of confession and repentance in the churches will begin to turn the tide of evil in this land.

We now turn to our families and to our churches to each show the way of confession and repentance, and to take responsibility for all the injustices that we have allowed in our name, and worse, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that to any longer participate in this democracy is to betray our profession of faith in the One who is able to protect, provide for, and to keep His people while in the valley of the shadow of death during this evil age. We will submit to the authorities as He has commanded, but we will no longer sign our names to the vile means and aims at work in the places of power.

Justifying this View

First, the old Christian republic has long since passed away, and the Enlightenment constitutional republic that replaced it is also long dead. We have been living in a straight-out democracy for a long time; we are at the mercy of the majority of voters, and the rule of law is a mere phrase in the imaginations of optimistic, flag-waving patriots. Ever since Lincoln denied the South the right to secede, we’ve all been living in a post-constitutional democracy, now fatally compounded by 1,001 unjust decisions by the Supreme Court and Congress.

Second, what is left of law and order in this society is rapidly being folded into the tyranny of a man-centered foundation for law and justice. From the time merchants began arriving on the heels of the first Puritan pilgrims, the law of man (unjust and ghastly in any society) has been warring with the law of God for the central place in American law. We have always been a flawed, inconsistent nation whose lust for happiness has led to countless crimes against God and man (think chattel slavery); yet there has also been a remnant of the Christian instinct to hold our society to the standards and mores of the Scriptures. Now in 2016, this instinct has been suppressed and defaced to the point of utter mockery—we have pretty much fully embraced a culture of corruption, radical subjectivism, and self-serving. Sure, there’s a remnant of Christian and civil people who wish no harm to their neighbor, but we’re outnumbered, and we have almost zero representation in the halls of power.

Even where decent men and women inhabit an office or two somewhere in Washington DC, the system as a whole is oriented toward injustice at every level. There is no saving it. There is no political solution left in these United States. Let’s read that again. There is no political solution left in this nation, or in our individual states. We have been given over to the full measure of our wishes, to have the riches and blessings of freedom and liberty become the slaves of our lusts and evil desires. The only outcome possible for such a people is total slavery and war.

And so let’s talk about what it means for a Christian to vote in 2016. When we vote for federal and state officials, we are explicitly stating with that vote:

–          I believe that participation in this democracy will somehow promote justice and equity under law.

–          I believe that choosing new individuals to occupy these specific federal/state offices will create better representation for me, my family, and my clan of people.

–          I believe that by my vote I am securing my right to redress of grievances, representation in legislation, and financial entitlements.

–          I believe that without my vote I am somehow made responsible for the injustices of the tyrannous majority.

–          I believe that voting pleases my Lord.

And I do not agree with any of these points. I hesitate to attempt to fully bind other Christians’ consciences with this same conviction, so I will simply state how I see things, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you as He does in me.

We are Samson with his eyes scooped out, pushing the Philistine grinding wheel. We have been with the Philistine prostitutes, and our Christian souls have clung to them under the sheets of comfort, entertainment, career, prestige, cultural acceptance, and academic clout. We have been fooled—we have been fools. In this last hour of the American experiment in democracy, I would wish for us to press the pillars of the Philistine temple, to bring down the weight of this corrupt nation upon its head… but unlike with Samson, I am not wishing for the death of our enemies, but only for the end of their sin against our holy God. The only way this world will see its sin is for the church to be the church, and that will require a great cost be paid by us, as it was by Samson in his last act.

If all true Christians in America quit voting, within a short while we would be standing in the place of greatest influence of all people, even while the roof of prosperity and comfort was falling on our own heads. The voting booth is a substitute for Christian courage in this day of moral anarchy.

If I am wrong in my framing of the issue, you are welcome to bring a loving rebuke in the comment section.

In Christian charity,

Adam

 

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fragmented Past

Our uncertainty about anything is covered up by our assertiveness about everything – that’s how children deal with the big, scary world – and that’s how Western culture now deals with its past and present.

A generation of fools, we are.

lostchildWe modern Westerners have lost the significance of history, even while having the History Channel. We flip through the channels, looking for bits of the past on which to heap our boiling hot scorn, or perhaps our detached bemusement. Those people were a little dopey, amirite – racists, sexists. Who? Everyone until around the year I was born.

History comes through pop culture as a sort of entertaining curiosity – we tweet and retweet interesting photographs from the turn of the century (the 20th, that is), and feel a bit… haute in displaying our cultural sensibility. “I…… know a thing or two about the Boer War – see my retweet of that photo of the British soldier with the cigarette, staring into the distance?”

But we don’t know. We have victimized history: pulled it out of shape, boiled it down to choppy images and soundbites, and now we gawk at the past as a specimen to be scoffed at – we’re the masters of time, us postmodern men and women.

In the realm of reality, however, we are simply the forgetful children and discontent toddlers of philosophy. We don’t know history, and worse, those things we do know about the past are pushed through the merciless prism of “enlightened” postmodernism – which is to say, ultraskepticism and chronological snobbery.

Our ancestors cannot be a source of wisdom and knowledge, at least in any direct manner like in picking up an old, old book and reading it as its pupil… no, those people didn’t have the internet, or auto-mobiles. We look backwards almost exclusively to learn how not to live our lives today.

And for all of this, we are impoverished and isolated like no human culture has been over the past 3,000+ years. We are locked out of the great storehouse of human experience and wisdom as soon as we judge our grandparents as homophobic rubes who didn’t know of modern dentistry.

Yet, here we are… a collapsing civilization. We have annulled the marriage to our cultural past, we’ve crowned ourselves the kings and queens of history, and many of us expect a full-blown transhuman utopia to awaken any day now. In other words, we are the fools of all history.

In trashing the past, we’ve shredded the future. I just hope our sore descendants – 1,000 years from now – will be able to look at our time period in light of the greater scale of human history and properly condemn our philosophical idiocy as the hyperbolic moment of hubris, never to be repeated.

Yep, lively and light thoughts for tonight, I know.

  • Adam
Categories: Dead Guys, Humankind in Distress, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Two Apes in a Meadow (Christian – Atheist Exchange)

My interlocutor’s name on Twitter is @saykojack – a friendly atheist who enjoys a vigorous exchange of ideas – but I get tired of trying to discuss weighty matters in miniature form, so I am inviting him to talk more broadly here in the comment section with me. If anyone else wants to join in, please wait for our conversation to come to an end before you jump in. It’s really hard talking through the internet to even one person who is intelligent and serious about his or her message, let alone two or more.

So…

apes

Here’s a recap from Twitter (and I may accidentally omit something) –

1) Jack (as I’m calling him) asked me to defend/explain the purity of the New Testament text. We went back and forth with questions and answers of the nature of the New Testament. He asserts corruption of the original NT writings through the process of hand-copying transmission (the Bart Ehrman thesis), and I countered with the argument of multiple copies made and disbursed throughout extensive regions of the Roman world (thus securing the independent copying of all NT documents in isolated regions, therefore allowing the later comparison of these isolated text traditions for the purposes of ascertaining the original writings, always and still present within the whole family of 6,000 Greek, handwritten copies.)

Our disagreement is on whether or not some central control came upon the canon of the NT such that other, legitimate parts of the Christian tradition were discarded. I suggest reading Philip Comfort, Daniel Wallace, Richard Bauckham, and James White for further considerations here.

2) Jack asked me what I think of Thomas Jefferson’s edited NT, wherein the Founding Father and third president of these United States actually cut the miracles out of the pages of his Bible, to make it more amenable to his own presuppositions of anti-supernaturalism.

My answer Re: Jefferson directed our conversation to the question of our underlying, foundational assumptions, here:

I fully affirm the brilliance & blessing of the many humans who are not Christians. It’s just they are living upon a world constructed by the Son of God, for the Son of God, and which will be consummated in a restored earth to reflect the beauty of the Son of God. Folk like T Jefferson simply miss the reason for the world and their [own] brilliance – [which is] sad to me.

3) This led to Jack strumming the strings of his favorite guitar (I’m guessing) – evolutionary, atheistic psychology. But before I hit that, I want to note a really funny slip by my friend:

He asks me “So if all your senses are not enough to understand the world what do you use? All that is left is imagination. Do you have some “other” sense?”

He then continued “I sense the answer will be Super-natural but again with what do you sense that?”

So my question, to continue our discussion, is “what do you mean “I sense,” Jack? Which of the five physical senses did you mean to indicate here?

I hope to see you in the comment section…

 

Categories: Comparative Religions, Meaning Woven into Nature, Personal Stuff, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Satan and His Boys of Light

Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness

2 Cor. 11:14-15 (NKJV)

Christian, think.

Did you really expect Satan-an angel in the presence of God from long before you or I existed, full of knowledge and cunning-to send his prophets and pastors with bloody fangs?

Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley

Look at that smile. Look at the pedigree.

 

 

 

 

 

Joel Osteen

Joel Osteen

Look at these shiny white teeth.

 

Look at the charm.

The attractiveness.

The success.

The wealth.

The influence.

TD Jakes

TD Jakes

The power in the voice.

The intelligence.

The political clout.

The persuasiveness.

The glory of it all.


And you thought Satan was a foolish little horror-fiction writer, conjuring up pastors you would be afraid of? You thought Satan would be so stupid… that he would try to get you hooked on crack or something? You thought Satan only appears like this, right? crackhead

But no, Satan’s game is not crack and prostitution. He doesn’t mind those things. He “digs” it when a human turns into living trash… but his -game- and his master stroke is the well-dressed, articulate, lovely, edgy, successful “men of God” who do one. little. thing.

(Get your eyes slightly off of Jesus and His certain Word of law and gospel in redemptive history).

Where are your eyes?

Thanks for reading,

Adam

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Christianity Answers our Universal Amnesia (Worldview pt. 4)

We Were in a Bad Crash

But it was no accident when Eve disobeyed God and Adam let her. It was a willing crash into the brick wall of death while going 1,000 miles per hour, and all while the whole human race slept in the back seat.car-crash

As John Piper said, “we are all of us like car accident victims, walking around asking ‘who am I,’ and ‘where did I come from?’ And the only means by which we will get the right answers is to get them from someone who is not affected by the same disaster that we are all a part of” (paraphrase).

So then, who has perfect knowledge of all things before, during, and after the creation of the universe; how everything came into being, the fall of humanity into sin, and the subsequent disaster zone on earth?

God does. He has perfect knowledge, memory, and foreknowledge of absolutely everything, and this is the foundation of all true knowledge. The objective definition that no atheist can ever give is that of reality. What is reality? What is true? Where do logic and reasoning come from? If we do not begin with the existence, preeminence, omniscience, and omnipotence of God, then we cannot make justified knowledge claims about anything.

Standing on the Rock

What we believe about reality is the foundation of everything we think and do. What we believe is the most important part of ourselves. Yet because of our separation from God when Adam and Eve sinned, none of us is born with clear thinking about reality. Our biggest problem is that each one of us tends to base our beliefs on what we can feel, touch, and test within our experience. We innately believe that we are autonomous – that we are perfectly capable of discovering reality on our own.

We don’t think we need the input of God. We see Him as a rival God – someone who will take away our own lordship. “I’m my own judge.” “I’m the master of my own fate.” “I say what’s right and wrong.”

Or a real life example from a 2004 interview with then Senator Barack Obama:

FALSANI: “Do you believe in sin?”

OBAMA: “Yes.”

FALSANI: “What is sin?”

OBAMA: “Being out of alignment with my values.”

FALSANI: “What happens if you have sin in your life?”

OBAMA: “I think it’s the same thing as the question about heaven. In the same way that if I’m true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward; when I’m not true to it, it’s its own punishment.”

In other words, Mr. Obama represents all of us when he represents himself as a god here. Yet the Christian response must be to lovingly dig down underneath such a fallacious mindset.

“Mr. Obama, how do you know that?” We look to expose the inconsistency of their worldview, because at the end of the questions, Christianity remains the only consistent, reality-based worldview there is. Logic demands it. Intuition leads to it. God made us to find Him.

“Mr. Obama, from where do you derive your knowledge that you are your own judge and measure of sin?”

Without the God of the Bible as his (and our) foundation, the only answer left is “from within myself, and from the pooled experiences of humanity.” Yet you may be seeing it now: if we are all of us amnesiacs who have forgotten who we are and from where we come, then how can we know with any certainty that we are not all deluded? How can we base our choices on faith assumptions – on a perception of reality that could be totally false?

We cannot, and so any truth claims, any worldview that does not begin with God is fatally flawed. All attempts to make knowledge claims (e.g. the universe began with a spontaneous big bang, creating itself) are therefore founded on assumption… and assumption is faith without justification. This kind of ruins the atheist party, although of course there are 1,000,000 arguments to be had to obscure the plain, elementary truth.

God has Spoken

No matter who you are, you wouldn’t deny this, right? God, who is the source of logic and sentience, is also omniscient and omnipotent – and He is therefore capable of revealing knowledge to us, His creatures, such that we are able to rise above our amnesia. When God communicates to us, we break out of the vicious circle of subjectivity that poor President Obama illustrates above. We can relinquish the devastating slavery of self-godhood once the one, true God has revealed Himself.

Once we get this simple, unavoidable axiom on the table, we can be reconciled to Him through what He has done for humanity in Jesus Christ. Sadly, our great barrier to reality is that we are at enmity with God, as I discussed earlier in this series.

Yet in His Word to humanity, God tells us who He is, how He created everything, why humanity is in turmoil, and why there is hope in Him. Nothing in the Bible is a contradiction of logic. This is the key. Honest atheists and those of other religions should be able to admit this. A universe spoken into existence in six days? If God is who He says He is, of course! A global flood to destroy a decayed, rebellious humanity while 8 people and some of all the animals survive on a big boat? Why not?

A talking donkey? Child’s play for the God who created everything.

Sun standing still for a while? Yes. God is who He says He is.

Atheism? Absolutely indefensible. That’s not an insult to anyone’s intelligence. That’s our shared reality.

We Are Who God Says We Are

According to God’s Word, we are His special creation – sharing with Him in our sentience, creative ability, and in our morality. Our right and wrong is generally universal, though may be seriously distorted in certain cultures. Our knowledge and assumptions about the past, present, and future are based on a belief in God. Yes, even atheistic parents, bus-drivers, and scientists are founded on an innate belief in God. This does not mean that they make a conscious acknowledgment of it, as they suppress the truth in unrighteousness; but through gracious interaction we can help people to recognize the reality they are bound to for eternity. Unfortunately, the internet is a terrible place to find gracious interaction. I’m fairly tremulous about hitting the “publish” key on this post, actually…

We do not create ourselves, we only live within the cosmos as God has determined things to be.

That is the Christian foundation and worldview. From this point we argue the biblical record and gospel.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

P.S. A related post from Apologia Radio: http://www.apologiaradio.com/?p=445

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Humankind in Distress, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Can we Agree on This? Christian Worldview pt. 3

A reader asked me to define “Christian Worldview” before I go on any further in this series. Although I was doing so implicitly, it gave me the opportunity to answer him from the best of my understanding. I believe the definition below is a clear foundation from which Christians should be building their family lives, church lives, social lives, and ministries. I do hope all believers in Christ Jesus could agree to it. Here it is:

The Christian worldview is that there is one true God, eternal, uncreated, existing in three Persons, co-eternal, each one being God in all His attributes.

He is the Creator of all things, and He has created humankind for His own glory and purpose – chiefly so that we might know Him, honor Him for who He is, and enjoy His good gifts forever.

There is evil in the world because humankind chose to reach for autonomy from Him, to be “as gods.” We tried to become our own judge, our own standard of good and evil. This has resulted in the evil and chaos in the world – all sin and brokenness a result of this disconnection from our true relationship with God.

Although God is within His right as the Sovereign Judge to allow humanity to fully perish in sin, He yet intervened to save a vast multitude. He has done this through choosing a people, the descendants of Abraham, with whom He made an unconditional covenant of grace. Through the history of Abraham’s descendants, God has been slowly revealing His greatest moment of glory – the birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of His Son Jesus Christ, who though eternally God chose to empty Himself to become a man, born of a virgin, and at the end of His life, the penal substitution before God for all who would ever trust Him and thus receive His forgiveness and salvation.

We need a Christian worldview because most people do not believe this is the real history of God’s interaction with the cosmos (world). When people believe other things, and do not repent of their own religions and sins, they cannot be reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. They must hear His gospel and be baptized into Him – and He receives all who come to Him, never casting even one person out.

The Apostle Paul tells us that “though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” (2 Cor. 10:3-5 ESV).

That is the battle cry for us to wage a war of truth against Satan’s world of lies. We are to use God’s Word to cut down arguments that are exalted against the knowledge of God so that the people in bondage to lies can be set free in the love of Jesus Christ.

Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead – there will be a resurrection of all people, some to hell, some to the presence of God in a renewed heaven and earth. Those who have turned to Christ Jesus will be received into the presence of God as if they were Jesus Himself, having received His own righteous standing before God as He Himself received our sin and condemnation on the cross.

In the end of all things, Jesus will reconcile all things to Himself in that nothing in the universe will be independent of His rule and reign, and all things will acknowledge that perfectly.

And, I should add this as well – that in Jesus Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). No human being knows anything apart from Christ having given them life, logic, reasoning, and the spirit of inquiry. This is the common basis for all human beings: we are created by the Son of God, and for the Son of God. Any structures of philosophy and religion which do not place Him at the blazing center of thought are faulty structures.

Right?

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). We can know nothing apart from Him. We cannot justify one iota of our knowledge without beginning with Him. This is the Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Jesus the Pinnacle of History, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why is Christianity Ultra-Divided? (Worldview pt. 2)

Big Tent

Out of all the people who are counted in the big Christian family – over 2 billion alive today – the variation in beliefs is incredibly, depressingly broad. From Rome to the East, Southern Bible belt Baptists, Mormons, Pentecostals and Presbyterians, wily Lutherans and Seventh Day Adventists, everyone is counted in when it comes to the umbrella label “Christian.”

And this is one of the greatest scandals I can think of – for it is in the writing of the Apostles that we see Jesus praying for the unity of His people (John 17), and Paul exhorting the Church to be all of one mind, speaking the same thing (1 Cor. 1). How could it be that there is so much disagreement as to what Christianity actually is and teaches?

Broken Body

The short answer is that much of what is called Christianity is made up of aberrations of the true Church. Many of the denominations in the world right now are Christian in name only, bandying about the flag of Christ with no earthly idea what they are doing.

Shattered Body?

Shattered Body?

The fallacy we can all fall into is concluding that since there are so many different groups claiming Christianity, that therefore there is none which is true. Muslims go for this conclusion, while Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses thrive on the visible division between churches. Yet if we are honest, none of this logically excludes the possibility that there is a church that represents the biblical formula, and which is the best visible representative on earth of Christ’s ancient promise that “the gates of hell would not prevail against” His Church.

Unity where God’s Word is Faithfully Represented

The Church is created by the Word of God (Acts 2:39, 47); is made up of individuals who have repented from sinful self-autonomy, idolatry, wicked lifestyles, and gross unbelief (1 Cor. 6:9-11); and who gather visibly to hear God’s Word proclaimed, celebrating the sacraments of baptism and the communion supper (Matt. 20:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). Anywhere in which these elements are gathered (born-again Christians who are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins, led by officers of the Church as instituted by the New Testament instructions, hearing God’s Word, sharing in His body and blood at the communion table, and confessing the orthodox gospel to the world at large), we have the Church.

Over time, the Church has been more or less visible according to the degree of heterodoxy that has entered into official, hierarchical teachings. The ecumenical Church of the first 10 centuries after Christ was forever shattered by the East-West split in 1054, and so has never risen again. Since that time, and then with the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, visible unity in Christianity has been elusive at best.

When Churches Teach What is Contrary to the Gospel

Although a physical church parish may have within it true Christians (those who are really born from the Spirit of God, justified in His sight through faith alone in Christ alone), the leadership and teaching ministry may stray far from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so imperil the visibility of that local church body.

The sacraments are only one element of the true Church (Rome and the East have the two biblical sacraments [plus additional sacraments by tradition and not Scripture], but have added to the Gospel in such a way as to bury it), while simply teaching the Bible without baptism and the Lord’s supper obscures the visibility of the Church as well (Salvation Army and others).

Any addition or subtraction from the core of what constitutes the Church puts that congregation/parish in jeopardy of no longer being part of Christ’s visible body. The form of Christianity may endure, and the true sheep of Christ may be present, but the unity of the faith is imperiled and destroyed by these amalgamations.

No Amount of Error in the Teachings of Men Can Negate the Christian Worldview

I have written this post to lay the groundwork for my coming posts on Christian worldview. Because so often error and hypocrisy in the churches and denominations of Christianity are held forth as proof positive that we are a false religion, I want to pre-empt that fallacious charge.

My long series on Christian hypocrisy from last year addresses many different angles of this same issue – please search the “Christian hypocrisy” tag on the right side to read those posts.

No matter how much junk is piled onto the Church of Jesus Christ, no matter how much error in teaching and living, no matter how many denominations, these things do not negate the fact that we have the one, true religion and worldview.

So many under the Christian umbrella are laboring in a false doctrine and worldview, not because Christianity is false, but because they have not believed Christian doctrine – rather they have followed a deviant path and retained the Christian label.

I would never have had to have defended Christianity in this manner just a few hundred years ago, but today modernism and post-modernism have wrought destruction on the thinking of Western humanity. We assume that truth is either impossible to know for certain, or that there is no universal truth.

Yet when the all-knowing, all-powerful God speaks, He is able to communicate Himself in such a way that we can know for certain that He has spoken, and so that we may know for certain the things He means for us to know.

Christianity is the Location of Ultimate, World-Framing Truth

So then the object of the Christian is to know God’s Word contained in the Holy Bible; the revelation of the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Our mission is to then believe the things revealed therein, and to express these truths to all of humanity so they might be reconciled with God (1 Cor. 5).

We are supposed to be equipped with knowledge so that we can answer any objector – in fact, Jesus said “I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:15 NKJV).

Do we believe that?

With over 80% of kids of Christian parents leaving the faith once they go to college, something has become seriously detached in American/Western Christianity. As our culture dies, we still have the opportunity to disciple and train the next generation. Let’s be busy learning God’s Word and will, and training people in the consistency and beauty of the Christian worldview.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Foundations of ItC blog, Meaning Woven into Nature, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Living in a (Western) Corpse

Although Theonomists are generally derided for their minority viewpoint on biblical law, their cultural analysis often provides clarity where other Protestants tend to live in murky gray areas.

fire

In his 1991 critique of the faculty of Westminster Seminary, Gary North gave a scathing rebuke of the Enlightenment.

In his view, everything blessed and glorious about the Calvinistic Reformation was forfeited by the 17th-18th centuries:

From 1660 to 1789, the humanists took the fundamental doctrines of Calvinism and secularized them. They stripped
these ideas of all biblical theological content and produced a
new man-centered worldview, which became dominant in the
West.

First, they took the doctrine of the sovereignty of God
and made it the sovereignty of nature and nature’s finest product,
autonomous man. The twin idols of nature and history
again became the idols of man, as they have been throughout
pagan history.

Second, the Calvinist doctrine of the priesthood
of all believers became the foundation of modern democratic
theory, beginning with the Levellers in the Cromwell period.
Calvinism’s concept of the right of the laity to vote in church
elections became the model for politics.

Third, the Calvinist view of God’s law and man’s God-given ability to recognize it and apply it to this world became the foundation of modern
science and technology.

Fourth, Calvinism’s doctrine of God’s sanctions in history – blessings and cursings – became, in the writings of the anti-Calvinist Scottish common sense rationalists, the concept of the impersonal market forces of supply
and demand.

Fifth, Puritanism’s unique concept of the triumph of the kingdom of God in history became the foundation of the Enlightenment idea of mankind’s inevitable progress. [1]

Rotten Fruit

Although I am not a scholar of the Enlightenment, I know enough of what came about throughout that period to know how we got to where we are today. Man is always attempting to set himself above the throne of God. The present visible breakdown of Western civilization is the inevitable result of our tower-building autonomy; our idolatry of technology over humanity, our idolatry of progress over preservation, our idolatry of markets over justice. We are reaping what was sown centuries ago, decades ago, and yesterday.

Humanity may not replace the law of God with itself without deadly consequences – and yet the only institution equipped to deal with brazen idolatry is the Church of Jesus Christ.

Ed Young Jr

And what is she now experiencing in the West? The rotten fruits of compromise with the world. In the hour of clear need for an unequivocal call to repentance and grace in Jesus Christ, the churches are busy preaching about… well, themselves.

Perhaps Calvin’s Christendom was also a misapplication of (Old Testament) biblical law, but could we have ended up much worse off going down that road? Yes, modern life has its amenities and perks, but even those things are the product of the Christian worldview in motion – the Christian worldview presupposed by every single scientist, doctor, and engineer who puts pen to paper in search of a better world.

But the Church sinks deeper and deeper into irrelevance as the professionals attempt to construct terribly relevant sermons, and the culture turns toward us with sharper teeth and bloodier claws, sickened by pastel church clothes barely covering up our shameful bigotries and hypocrisies.

They are going to subdue the Christian remnant in the West, if it’s the last thing they do. Our only strength is the gospel truth of Jesus Christ the King – and as we capitulate our precious treasure to the politically correct censors of godless media, we are left with impotent, pagan mouthpieces to speak for us (hello Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter).

As Dr. R. Scott Clark put it:

We may well be coming back to a time like that [with persecutions against the church]. The Enlightenment was not so much really an Enlightenment as it was a repudiation of Christian theism and an elevation of rebellion against God. It took time for the effect of that rebellion to sink it and work out its principle but it has happened. We’re there. We don’t live in Israel. We live in Babylon.

And Babylon was a time for God to cleanse the ranks of His people from idolatry.

Are you trusting more in your money and status than in the Lord of glory? I know I struggle with that – and may God have mercy as the pagan culture overthrows the last remnants of the Protestant heritage in the West, completing the revolution of the counterfeit Enlightenment.

Must it be inevitable?

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

[1] Gary North, Westminster’s Confession: The Abandonment of Van Til’s Legacy (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991), x-xi.

Categories: Humankind in Distress, Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Beat the Surveillance State

So our illustrious Harvard professor of the U.S. Constitution turned President has been presiding over George W. Bush-style surveillance of the American people vis-a-vis the alphabet soup agencies that George Washington would nuke if he were alive. Well, are we surprised? We voted for this over the past 75 years. It is our bread and butter in America – military, both foreign and domestic… and when you can’t find enough enemies to fit a budget of $700,000,000,000.00 a year, you turn inward and fight your own people. Happens every time people worship the State! In any case, be sure to greet the President each time you call mom or order Chinese – it’s rude not to acknowledge him and his friends now that we know they are in our company at all times. Hello, Mr. President! I’m about as much a threat to national security as Mr. Rogers, but I understand if you want to keep tabs on me. At least land me a few hits on my blog, eh? It’s no fair when you sneak around and play hard to get. Let’s agree on some rules, huh? Oh, wait – that we did in 1787, and you’re an infidel to those oaths… nevermind.

Fun in the Sun

Instead of letting the encroaching Fourth Reich get your gander, I think it’s a good time for Americans to get back to basics. Tired of sharing all of your intimate secrets with desert-wide storage facilities? There’s this awesome new invention called go outside – it works like this… Put down the government microphone (your smart-phone), turn off the big-brother box (laptop and iPad), and search around for your front door. Don’t be scared! Walk outside, down the street, and into the nearest forest; bring a loved one with you too. Find a log or a nice, dry grassy spot. Now talk to each other. Privacy – nobody can hear you. outside Ask each other questions. Learn about one another’s passions. Encourage one another. If you’re alone, meditate on the glory of God who made all things. Seek His face – pray and enjoy your short life in His world. Or go for a drive in the countryside, and listen to something mellow. Maybe send a paper letter to a family member or friend from your past – most of those aren’t read by the government. Write a story, do some crafts with your own two hands, go fishing… love one another. Remember to live this life holding very loosely to the gadgets of this world – they can be taken away in a moment. And if you find yourself enslaved to things, having sold yourself to the baubles of wealth and comfort and status, it’s never too late to repent. It’s never too late to receive the gospel truths of Jesus Christ who sets us free from the fear of men and their monstrous agendas. — -Justin

Categories: Humankind in Distress, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Early Christians were Pro-Life too

Christians are marked by their respect for the dignity of every human life. Any time in history when Christians have acted differently, they have not acted as Christians.

The faith of Jesus Christ is a life-giving faith, and so those with faith in Jesus are protectors of life. Every child has a God-given right to life, from the moment of conception onward.Little Baby

This is why Christians should never use the birth-control pill, as it it possible that it causes the tiny baby to be washed out of her mother’s body in a chemical abortion.

This is why Christians cannot vote for politicians who support abortion in any form.

This is why Christians should go to every reasonable extent to speak up for the rights of the unborn, including stopping doing business with companies who support Planned Parenthood, AKA the Minority Population Reduction Centers of AmeriKa.

And this is what Christians have believed for our nearly 2,000 year history. See a section of a letter from Mathetes to Diognetus, circa A.D. 150 as he describes the distinctive lives of Christians:

 Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers.

They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. (Literally, Christians “do not cast away fetuses”).

They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh.

Christians ought to have a completely different mindset than those around us. We do not destroy our unborn children! Yet in America, land of the selfish, thousands of abortions each year are committed by those who self-identify as Christians, Evangelical and otherwise. They are Christian like I am giraffe.

A few other early Christian citations (including one non-Christian Jew), against infanticide-abortion, from http://www.abortionfacts.com/literature/the-christian-view-of-abortion :

“Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born” (Letter of Barnabas 19 from 74 AD).

“…And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion” (The Apocalypse of Peter 25, 137 AD).

“You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1 from 150 AD).

“There are some women among you who by drinking special potions extinguish the life of the future human in their very bowels, thus committing murder before they even give birth.” (Mark Felix, Christian Lawyer, Octavius chap. 30 from 170 AD).

“The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion (see Ex. 21:22) Tertullian, 210 AD.

“Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does” (Tertullian, Apology 27 from 210 AD).

“Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses.” (First Canonical Letter from 374 AD).

“The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.” (The Works of Josephus, Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II, 25).

“Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when, as often happens, they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder” (Jerome, Letters 22:13 from 396 AD).

Let us stand with the ancient Christian witness, and with the Word of God: “You shall not murder.”

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Dead Guys, Humankind in Distress, Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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