Friday, January 27, 2012

Let Us be Judged by God rather than Man

When God is demoted, some other form of judgment must then assume the throne. When God's valuation of human life – the sanctity of life – is rejected, history finds that the State is more than ready to fill the vacuum with its own valuation of life. reports of one type of State valuation:

*Berlin’s “Topography of Terror,” museum, which features exhibits on the murderous crimes of German police forces during the Nazi era, has begun a temporary display on the thousands of children euthanized during the same period as “life unworthy of life”....“Through 1945, over 10,000 [children] fell victim to the various programs which were designed to exterminate ‘life unworthy of living,’” the museum states. “More than 5,000 children and teenagers were tortured and murdered in the Nazi ‘children’s departments’ alone, institutions which were specially created for the purpose of extermination.”

How does the modern State determine whose “life [is] unworthy of life” once it rejects the idea that all human life is holy? The State must evaluate our lives according to its own values. In Nazi Germany, the“life unworthy of life” was exterminated because it failed to conform to the Aryan ideal.

But at least, there was an ideal. Today, we are expendable simply because we fail to conform to prevailing lifestyles and opinions. One blogger thought that a certain psychologist should die because she didn't agree with his sexual politics.

However, more typical is the plight of the unborn who are routinely murdered because they fail to conform to the lifestyle preferences of their mothers. While we ironically condemn the Nazi horrors, we now defend such would-be mothers from any sanction or even criticism. Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and the Genocide Awareness Project poignantly captures this irony:

*“Isn’t it interesting that people will pay money to go to a museum to see disturbing images of the mistreatment of children, yet many criticize the display of abortion images.  Perhaps it’s because it’s easier to face historic injustices which we didn’t commit; it’s much more difficult to face present-day injustices which we do permit.”

We are outraged by the Nazis but fail to see that we are doing the same types of things. This society will fittingly be condemned by the very standards that it uses in judging. Jesus warned about this very thing:

*“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2)

Nevertheless, with our God is abundant forgiveness for those who are willing to acknowledge their wrongdoing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

He Wants to Give us the World, but for now, the World is too Heavy for us!

We have the Holy Spirit in our lives and the most incredible collection of glorious promises imaginable, and yet we don't sense the presence of our Lord in any significant way. Is there anything wrong with this picture? No!

Thirty five years ago I had had the most profound encounter with the Lord in the midst of a life-threatening chain-saw calamity. In the midst of pools of blood, I sensed that Lord's presence so intensely that I was filled with ecstasy, even though I didn't know Him at that point. The encounter was so powerful, that I no longer feared death. I knew that He was with me and that I was perfectly safe. I shed many tears of love, joy and gratitude.

However, I never again had an encounter like that, leaving me wondering whether I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. How was it that I often found myself dragging through my hum-drum life without any sense of His loving presence? However, I've subsequently learned that there is more growth realized in the trenches than on the tree tops.

While I was convolescing in the hospital, my surgeon warned me that I would have to exercise my hand or else my fingers might freeze-up on me. However, still savoring the intense joy of His presence and the knowledge that I was completely in His protective hands, I sloughed-off the surgeon's sage instructions. After all, if this God is so great that He could rescue me from the bloody encounter with my hungry chain-saw – and He is – then He can also heal my hand without any of my help.

Bad theology! Two of my fingers did freeze-up on me, and I was left wondering for the next ten years: “Had I trusted God too much? Is God not as great as I had perceived that He was?”

Although this question plagued me, I began to realize that, although our God wants to give us all things, it is we who are unable to handle them. I wasn't able to handle the loving, nurturing presence of God. I hadn't properly understood Him and this rendered me passive when I should have been active.

I had wrongly thought that trusting God required that I should be passive and just wait for Him to do something. However, trust is an active thing. If we trust our Savior, we will do what He tells us to do. He loves us too much to overwhelm us with such a joy that would leave us inactive This is something that would ultimately hurt us and our relationship with Him.

Our growth requires God to remain at a distance, at least in terms of the encounter that I had experienced. Instead, in the midst of my trials and struggles, I was “coerced” into reading Scripture and trusting Him, even when I didn't experience any evidence of His presence. I never would have undertaken the arduous work of reading and meditating upon Scripture unless I had to do this.

It is certainly more pleasurable to eat food than to talk about it. Likewise, we'd much more prefer to experience God's presence than to talk about Him, but perhaps we're not ready for this kind of encounter.

I know what you're thinking, “I think I can handle that kind of experience, even on a regular basis!” Could we? Many think that their lives would be “made” if they'd only hit the lottery. Well, there have been surveys of the winners. Interestingly, for the most part, their lives weren't made, but torn apart. They weren't able to handle the blessing of wealth.

Others are convinced that they could handle to “blessing” of success. However, success, when we are not ready for it, can lead to arrogance, alienation from friends and family, or extra-marital adventures.

For many years, I fretted that God hadn't opened for me opportunities to teach Scripture. However, I can now look back and perceive that I hadn't been ready. I would have been teaching destructive heresies had He opened that door prematurely.

In 1978, after graduating with a degree in social work, I became convinced that God had wanted me to open a Christian counseling service. Fortunately, I only had the opportunity to counsel one individual, but he lasted only halfway through the session, when he abruptly got up to inform me, “I can't deal with this anymore.” I wasn't ready to counsel, and that was the end of that counseling service.

It is not our Savior's will that we now experience Him in all His intensity. Instead, Scripture warns us:

...we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:23-25)

Our lives here entail a good measure of “groaning.” This is because our ultimate Hope is not yet “seen” or experienced. Instead, hope suggests that we are looking at it from afar.

Likewise, this life isn't our final resting place. Longing for the next life, and not an experience that might make our lives here more comfortable, is the ideal. This is the way our Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – lived:

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 [heavenly] 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)

Our Lord Jesus wants us to patiently look towards Him and to not become too comfortable here:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Among other things, suffering kindles within us a love for Christ and the eager expectation of His return. Besides, who would be “overjoyed when his glory is revealed,” if life was utterly delightful here? How tragic it would be if, upon His return, we asked Him to postpone until we could see the latest Star Wars movie and to take our Mediterranean cruise!

Because I couldn't theologically handle the presence of God, I didn't exercise my hand and can no longer make a fist, but perhaps this is for the best. This infirmity would render me almost helpless in a fight. I would now have to live by faith and not sight – trusting in Him and not in myself!

Mainstream Media's Bias and why it Matters

What's the difference between a lie and biased, unbalanced reporting? Very little! They both can accomplish exactly the same ends. If you want to defame me, you can either lie about me or simply just expose the worst details from my life balance-sheet.

However, there is an important difference. If you lie, you can be exposed and shamed. However, if you merely publish my 10 worst deeds out of the millions that make up this life, without any reference to other salient facts, you can probably slide by.

It is important to ask whether our mainstream media is guilty of this slight of hand. (LSN) reports:

*In its photo montage of yesterday’s [pro-life] March for Life, the [Washington] Post focused primarily on a tiny cadre of pro-abortion counter protesters that gather every year on the steps of the Supreme Court (mostly, I am convinced, just so that the mainstream media has pro-abortion counter protesters to photograph): a group so small that, if you weren’t looking carefully, you would probably miss it. Those photos that aren’t of the counter protesters are mostly of older pro-lifers yelling at the pro-aborts, praying at the pro-aborts, or clutching rosary beads or pictures of Mary near the pro-aborts.The caption on one of the Post’s photo reads “Freezing rain Monday morning was said to have limited attendance for both groups.” In response to which Media Research Center writer Tim Graham quipped: “Yes, Post readers: the pro-lifers were limited to many thousands, and the abortion advocates were limited to about 11. The ratio could be a thousand to one, and the newspaper treats them like one versus one.”

That's quite a discrepancy, and these differing accounts leave us with an entirely different impressive of the social currents. LSN continues:

*The mainstream media bias surrounding the annual March for Life is so ubiquitous and so brazen that it has become shrug-worthy, and the butt of jokes. And rightly so: it is so pathetic that it actually is funny. Probably the most laughable example of this bias at work happened last year, when a CNN anchor actually wondered on air whether there were more pro-life or pro-abortion advocates at the March for Life - despite the fact that conservative estimates place several hundred thousand pro-life protesters in D.C. that day, compared to a few dozen, at most, pro-abortion counter-demonstrators. “Which side is represented the most Angie, do we know?” CNN anchor Bill Sanchez queried to his producer, as CNN’s camera focused stubbornly on those few dozen pro-abortion counter protesters. “Do we know?” When there was no response, Sanchez went on to promise that CNN would “keep an eye” on the situation and report on the matter “fairly and squarely.”’ Folks: that’s not media “bias.” That’s not a case of accidentally overstating the case, or misinterpreting the facts in favor of one side simply because you happen to be rooting for that side. That’s outright censorship, lying, and deception. No one accidentally mistakes a crowd of three hundred thousand for one of about thirty.

Well, why make a big deal about media biases? Everyone's got em, don't they? Perhaps, but the press has a high calling. While a lawyer can be biased in favor of her client, a judge cannot exercise this type of bias. She must be impartial. Her role requires this of her.

The media also has a high calling. It has been entrusted with the duty of calling government and its officials to account. The media is supposed to provide a counter-balance to governmental abuse, holding its officials up to public scrutiny. It's role has been deemed so critical to a democracy, that the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America extends certain special immunities to the media.

However, the media is failing to live up to the trust invested in it. It's political and social biases have become more than evident. Although the media continues to extoll diversity as a high virtue, it has found little room for diversity of view-point in the midst of its own staff. Consequently, the public is catching on and fleeing the mainstream for a better light.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dealing with Censorship Bullies

After I advised Melvin, a Christian, that it is sometimes advisable to make use of the courts, he confidently responded, “I don't think that we should take others to court. Christ told us not to judge but to love by forgiving.”

Besides judging my point of view, his response is problematic in other ways. For one thing, Jesus never taught that we shouldn't judge others. Instead, He warned that we'd first have to correct our own blindness so that we'd then be able to see clearly enough to truly judge others (Matthew 7:1-5).

In addition to this, there are many times that we have to judge if we are going to be faithful to Scripture. I'm not just talking about verbally correcting others when they sin or even disciplining our own children. Sometimes we have to bring offending parties to court. It's a righteous thing to bring charges against a rapist or a burglar. If we fail to do this, the offender will remain free to strike again, and if our neighbors learn of this failure, they will heap contempt upon our faith if the offender strikes again. Let me assure you that this failure will not bring praise and honor to our Lord.

Many will retort, “Well, aren't we supposed to forgive?” Yes we are, but we are also supposed to avail ourselves of the criminal courts that our Lord “established” as “God's bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:1-4). Yes, pray for this wrongdoer, but also seek justice.

Sometimes, we have to go to court in order to live faithfully. Sometimes, we have to speak up to expose evil (Eph. 5:11) or to speak of the hope we have in Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20). What should we do if a bully refuses to allow us to fulfill our obligations to our Savior? Here's a good example I read about today:

*In October 2010, campus security [at Chemeketa Community College] approached [student Caleb] Pearson while he was distributing pro-life fliers and displaying informative signs about abortion at an outdoor location on campus. Stopped from sharing his message and told to leave...He was also told by an officer that he was prohibited from wearing a pro-life T-shirt on campus that displayed a message similar to his signs.

The Alliance Defense Fund intervened, and, as a result:

*The college’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy has been revised to eliminate its problematic speech code that prohibited “offensive” or “derogatory” speech. Such restrictions are often abused to suppress religious, pro-life, or other forms of speech that officials may consider to be “politically incorrect.”

Unjustly, it is often Christian speech that has been deemed “offensive or derogatory.” We have become a soft target for the bullies because many of us hold to Melvin's viewpoint that it's illegitimate to go to court to seek justice. However, as a result of this legal intervention, not only was Pearson's right to speak freely restored, but others would also now be able to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech in order to exalt Christ on this campus.

If we have a Scriptural mandate to speak about our faith and against injustice, then we also have a mandate to challenge the bullies who would prevent this, even if they are institutions. Yes, Christ did instruct us to love, as Melvin had asserted. However, we have to ask ourselves which is more loving – submission to the bully or requiring that the bully conform to the law by not depriving others of their rights?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Islam, Intimidation, and Might Makes Right

Here is something both truly bizarre and yet increasingly commonplace in the West today. The following is an account from the British Humanist Society:

• A talk organised yesterday by the Queen Mary Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society on ‘Sharia Law and Human Rights’ had to be cancelled after threats of violence.

The President of the Society, describes what happened:

• ‘Five minutes before the talk was due to start a man burst into the room holding a camera phone and for some seconds stood filming the faces of all those in the room. He shouted ‘listen up all of you, I am recording this, I have your faces on film now, and I know where some of you live’, at that moment he aggressively pushed the phone in someone’s face and then said ‘and if I hear that anything is said against the holy Prophet Mohammed, I will hunt you down.’ He then left the room.

• ‘The same man then began filming the faces of Society members in the foyer and threatening to hunt them down if anything was said about Mohammed, he added that he knew where they lived and would murder them and their families. On leaving the building, he joined a large group of men, seemingly there to support him. We were told by security to stay in the Lecture Theatre for our own safety. On arriving back in the room I became aware that the doors that opened to the outside were still open and that people were still coming in. Several eye witnesses reported that when I was in the foyer a group of men came through the open doors, causing a disruption and making it clear that the room could not be secured. Unfortunately, the lack of security in the lecture theatre meant we and the audience had to leave and a Union representative informed the security that as students’ lives had been threatened there was no way that the talk could go ahead.

This account is predictable. It is part of Islamic law that Islam cannot be criticized and therefore, Muslims will not tolerate any form of criticism of their religion. Here’s why -from the Koran:

• [Surah 33:57] Those who insult God and His Messenger will be rejected by God in this world and the next—He has prepared a humiliating punishment for them— 58 and those who undeservedly insult believing men and women will bear the guilt of slander and obvious sin. (Haleem)

• [Surah 33:59-61] Prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and women believers to make their outer garment hang low over them, so as to be recognized and not insulted God is most forgiving, most merciful. If the hypocrites, the sick of heart, and those who spread lies in the city [Medina] do not desist, We shall arouse you [Prophet] against them, and then they will only be your neighbors in this city for a short while. They will be rejected wherever they are found, and then seized and killed. (Haleem)

However, what is more disturbing is the secular Western response to this intimidation. The talk was cancelled – the ultimate proof of success for this intimidation. Perhaps, even worse was the response of the secular humanists:

Jenny Bartle, president of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS), commented,

• ‘More and more atheist, humanist and secular student societies are forming on campuses across the UK and we deserve the same levels of respect as any other community. Our members have as much right as anyone else to participate in the free inquiry, discussion and debate which should exist in universities. The threats our members have received are both troubling and repugnant and we reject all attempts to counter debate with violence. At the same time, we welcome the support from across faiths that many of our societies experience on campus to help us secure the freedom to have our say, just as we support them in having the freedom to have theirs.’

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA) gave support to the society:

• ‘The attempted intimidation that this society has experienced is shocking. Free expression, the free exchange of ideas and free debate are hallmarks of an open society; violence and the threat of violence should never be allowed to compromise that, especially in our universities. We will work to support our affiliate society at Queen Mary’s and look forward to a speedy police investigation and resolution of this case.’

What’s wrong with these statements? They both reflect a glaring failure to identify the problem – Islam. If you are being eaten alive by malaria-carrying mosquitoes, it does little good to identify the culprits as “insects.” They are mosquitoes! If we identify the problem as “insects,” we will wrongly go about killing all the insects, many of which are beneficial!

Our own nation is also falling prey to the fallacy of failing to identify Islam as the source of so much terror and intimidation. For instance in an essay entitled, “Criticism of Islam Could Soon be a Crime in America,” Clare M. Lopez writes of US capitulation to the anti-free speech Islamic agenda:

• In the wake of the cancellation of a number of scheduled official training sessions at national security agencies by deeply knowledgeable scholars of Islamic doctrine, law, and scriptures, such as Stephen Coughlin, Steven Emerson, William Gawthrop, John Guandolo, and Robert Spencer, Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed at an 11 October 2011 press conference that the Obama administration was pulling back for review all training materials used for the law enforcement and national security communities in order to eliminate all references to Islam that Muslim Brotherhood groups have found offensive.

Meanwhile, Muslims have been taken captive by a religion that forbids any criticism. Consequently, they are trained to regard Islam as good in all respects and any criticism as worthy of death. This mindset is the last thing that we should enable. Whenever the West caves in to Islamic demands, we reinforce the idea that might-makes-right and embolden more intimidation.

However, the West has become a cowardly pushover. It lacks the courage, vision and principles to stand against intimidation, and Islam smells blood. We need to return to the principles that have made the West great – the Christian faith!

Significance, Self-Acceptance, and Utopianism

We yearn for significance. I must confess that I find myself turning to my new emails in hope of receiving an invitation from a nationally prominent publication begging me to write for them. However, when I now perceive this craving, I can laugh at myself. This is only because my pursuit of significance has now been decisively satisfied by the God and Creator of all creation who has promised to never stop loving me and infusing me with His glory.

Okay, it would still be nice to get that email, but it’s something I no longer need. But how does someone who doesn’t have Christ deal with this craving? There are several options:

1. The pursuit of personal glory or accomplishment! However, there are countless testimonials of successful people who never are able to find a place of rest and self-acceptance. John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much more money will you need in order to be happy?” He confessed, “Always a little more.”

2. Denial! (Nihilism) Life contains no glory, meaning, or purpose. You survive as pleasurably as you can, and then you die.

3. Identification with a utopian cause! This puts you in the vanguard along with the other elite, intelligent, caring and discerning people. Utopianism can take many forms. You can prove your significance by dying for what is regarded by your sub-culture/religion as a righteous cause.

I think that we fail to recognize how pervasive this last option has been. David Limbaugh writes of Mark Levin’s new book, Ameritopia:

• In "Liberty and Tyranny," Levin laid out the conservative vision and contrasted it with the liberal vision. But "Ameritopia" examines more deeply the historical and philosophical roots of the utopian ideal, for it is that ideal that has always animated the liberal worldview.

• Levin takes us through the seminal thoughts of some of the most noted political philosophers and writers who laid out the utopian vision — from Plato to Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes and Karl Marx — and then unpacks the contrasting vision of John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu and others whose ideas greatly influenced America's founders.

• Liberal utopianism is a fantasy of arrogant philosophers and philosopher kings who believe their vision is superior to those of other lowly mortals. Levin calls them the "masterminds"…They believe they are proponents of enlightenment thinking and rationalism who could construct the ideal society if deniers and other obstructionists would just get out of their way.

According to the liberal, the “obstructionists” are the Christians. We’re the bad guys. We’re the ones who oppose enlightenment and advancement – the liberal utopian vision. Of course, the “vision” is so wonderful, paradisical and positively transformative, that it’s worth whatever the price-tag. Sadly, the price-tag often involves revolution and human lives. Consequently, the French revolution, the Spanish revolution, Nazism, and Communism all justified murdering priests and pastors (among other dissidents) to eliminate the vermin who had long impeded with their utopian vision. In their thinking, it was a small but necessary part of the price-tag.

Why has it been that these utopian failures have failed to sober-up their champions? For one thing, they all have failed to see the limits that human nature imposes upon our visions. I had lived in Israel from 1970-72 in a vain attempt to find the perfect community. I had tried out many Kibutzim from the most extreme socialistic camp – the Hashomer Hatziar. They had been so strict in their vision of utopian socialism, that they didn’t believe in any form of ownership. The children were not the possession of the parents but the community. Wives and husbands were non-existent, as this institution was also regarded as a form of ownership. Consequently, any long-standing sexual relationships were discouraged in favor of multiple sex-partners.

Nevertheless, human nature called an abrupt end to this experiment in every community. Men became husbands; women became wives, and children were all claimed by their biological parents.

Why then did the American revolution succeed? Limbaugh writes:

• Standing in stark contrast are America's constitutional framers, who rejected the folly that certain superior representatives of the species could change the entire species' intrinsic nature. They believed in man's natural rights and cherished the individual liberty flowing from those rights. As students of history, philosophy and human nature, they refused to follow the path of utopians who rejected the realities not only of human nature but also of the evidence of its outworkings in history, especially in man's endless experiments in statecraft. With wide-eyed recognition of human nature, they crafted the American Constitution to maximize individual liberties, despite the natural tendency of man toward absolutism.

Clearly, there is a place for idealism, but idealism must be guided by reality or it will breed destruction. Why then do the utopians fail to take note of reality-imposed limitations? I think that it gets back to our dogged and sometimes invisible lust for significance - to be part of an ennobling cause. When our vision of self depends upon this cause, we blind ourselves to everything that might contradict this vision.

As a social worker for many years, I’ve watched many idealistic social workers come and go. They entered with great ideals and visions of transforming their clientele. However, reality seldom matches our visions, at least not here in this life. Our clients seldom measure up to the vision that we have for them, depriving us of our hoped-for sense of significance. Secretly, we had hoped that we might become their savior. Consequently, many social workers join the ranks of burned-out saviors and end up by hating their clients.

When Christ comes into our lives, we begin to understand that we are beloved for who we are and not for what we do. We no longer have to prove ourselves! This has a liberating effect, as Jesus taught:

• "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christianity: The Religion of Truth

Why has Christianity become sidelined? In his essay, “Why Christianity Lost America,” Vishal Mangalwadi asks:

• Why did Christianity lose the power that gave it influence over education and economy, government and law, press and entertainment? How can the Church recover the power to prevail over the forces of evil?

He explains that today’s Christianity is not the vibrant Christianity of the recent past. Today’s version has separated truth from faith, leaving Christianity unbalanced – a plane with one wing, trying to fly with only feelings, mystical experiences, and a private and personalized faith, separated from its provable truth-claims:

• Christianity lost America because 20th-century evangelicalism branded itself as the party of faith. By default Secularism (science, university, media) became the party of truth. This is one reason why 70% Christian youth give up meaningful involvement with the church when they grow up.

He observes that many of today’s Christians believe in a Christianity that has little to do with truth and facts and everything to do with internal experience. This imbalance has proved disastrous for Christianity. Mangalwadi cites several examples:

• In November 2011, I met an American missionary who has served in Guatemala for 36 years. He described a recent (unpublished) doctoral study examining Protestantism in one part of Guatemala. The Hispanic scholar had hoped to substantiate Max Weber’s thesis on the connection between Protestantism and economic development. The data, however, drove him to conclude that the gospel taught by present-day American missions makes no perceptible difference to the economic life of the believing communities.

What a contrast with what Christianity had been historically. One example of the vibrancy of the Christian faith is found in its establishment of universities. Schmidt writes:

• Given the powerful influence that secularism now has on most Americans, they are probably not aware that “every collegiate institution founded in the colonies prior to the Revolutionary War – except the University of Pennsylvania – was established by some branch of the Christian church.” Nor are most Americans aware that in 1932, when Donald Tewksbury published The Founding of American Colleges and Universities before the Civil War, 92 percent of the 182 colleges and universities were founded by Christian denominations. (How Christianity Changed the World,190)

This should not surprise us. The Bible’s teachings unequivocally testify that the faith rests upon the verifiable truths of God – what He revealed and what He accomplished historically. God never asked Israel to just believe, but rather to believe by virtue of the evidences. For example, when Moses asked God for evidences that He could take to the Israelites to prove that God had appeared to him, God didn’t say, “Well, just tell those Israelites to believe!” Instead, He consistently provided the necessary proofs:

• Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.' "So the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" He said, "A rod." And He said, "Cast it on the ground." So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail" (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), "that they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you." (Exodus 4:1-5)

Likewise, Jesus never instructed His followers to believe without reasons to believe. Instead, He provided evidences through his miracles and prophecies:

• He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

• "You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. (John 14:28-29)

The Biblical faith embodies verifiable truths (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25; Titus 1:1). Mangalwadi contrasts this with other religions:

• Hinduism, like Greco-Roman religions, is based (self-consciously) on myths.

• The Buddha rejected Hinduism’s mythical gods and goddesses in favor of mystical (non-rational) Silence.

• Islam has words that are believed to be true. These words were uttered in a state of non-rational trance, called “prophecy.” Islam, therefore, rests on private, non-verifiable communications of an individual. Sometimes Mohammed went into “prophetic” trance in public, but no one saw or heard angel Gabriel talking to him. The power of his utterances rested on the sword, not on evidence. When his words about the past (e.g., stories from Old and New Testament times) contradicted documented history, his followers had to assume that contradictions mean that texts have been corrupted. Non-verifiable trance communications overrode documented history.

Sadly, Christianity has been going the way of the other religions. In the face of secular attacks upon the truth-claims of Christianity, Christianity has retreated into a cocoon of private faith experiences, defensively responding, “Well, I just know what I’ve experienced, and no one can tell me any differently.”

This response hasn’t proved adequate. Against the weight of the claims of the modern university, Christianity has retreated and compromised. It has surrendered the life of the mind for the life of internal experiences. Mangalwadi explains:

• The church created the university to train godly leaders who will look at all of reality through the light of the Truth (revealed by God’s works and words). Fundamentalism insulated Bible Institutes from other departments to study the Bible alone. It gave up the mission to seek public truth in favor of cultivating private spiritual lives. Once the Bible was put into the silo of Bible Institutes, the Bible teachers were isolated from the public life of the mind. Preachers memorized the Bible but by and large they did not learn how to meditate upon God’s word in a way to shine its light on all of life.

We have compromised in many ways. We have put the claims of the Bible on the bench in favor of charismatic pastors who have promised experiences if we would only turn off our minds and our insistence to check everything out according to Scripture.

We have embraced a neo-orthodox “Christianity” that tried to salvage the Christian basics by insisting that the Bible really isn’t about what it clearly teaches. Instead, it is a tool to bring us magically into a saving relationship with Christ apart from its verifiable truth claims – claims that the university rejects.

We have embraced theistic evolution (TE) in a vain attempt to make friends with the university. This worldview attempts to make peace by claiming that the Bible isn’t about the physical world – science, history, geography – but about the spiritual. However, in making this compromise, TE has separated Christianity from all of its supporting evidences – evidences that cannot be found outside of this physical world. However, it’s the physical – miracles, fulfilled prophecy… - that supports the spiritual claims.

We have embraced “Christian” mysticism and Postmodern “Christianity.” These have, in various ways, demeaned doctrine and apologetics in favor of experience, dogmatically claiming that we can’t really know and that “doctrine divides,” and what really matters is a direct experience of God apart from what we Biblically understand about Him.

Consequently, “the church reads the Bible mainly for private edification. Corporately, the Kingdom of Christ has ceased being the city on a hill.” Indeed, we can’t be the light if we believe that biblical truth-claims aren’t verifiable.

In contrast to this, it had been the light of the Bible that had provided the impetus to shed its light upon creation and to master it. Sociologist Alvin Schmidt concludes:

• Modern science is an outgrowth of Christian theology of the Middle Ages. It proceeded to show that it was Christianity’s values that provided the necessary Weltanshauung (worldview) and motivation to encourage many of its educated adherents (now called scientists) to study the world of nature…The public are unaware that virtually all scientists from the Middle Ages to the mid-eighteenth century – many of which were seminal thinkers – not only were sincere Christians but were often inspired by biblical postulates and premises in their theories… [they] knew and believed the words of the biblical writer: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). (How Christianity Changed the World, 243-44).

What then is the answer for us today? To return with courage to the basics! Jesus instructed us to:

• " Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

When we leave out truth and the “mind,” we fail to live faithfully to the teachings of Scripture.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


The issue isn’t gay marriage (SSM), nor has it ever been. There is nothing to prevent two same-sex people from finding their own pastor to marry them. Instead, the goals are much greater – the complete sexualization of society, where there will no longer remain any stigmatization or even criticism for any form of consensual sexual behavior.

According to the sexualists, this goal must also be accomplished among the most impressionable – the toddlers. Here’s one tactic:

• Kindergarten children in Basel, Switzerland have a new set of toys to play with this year: a “sex box” full of fabric models of human genitalia. The idea is for teachers to use the kit during sex-education classes which are intended to encourage children “to develop and experience their sexuality in a pleasurable way…children message each other or rub themselves with warm sand bags, accompanied by soft music.” (Salvo, Winter 2011, 31)

This sexual agenda has become so militant that “requests by parents to exempt their children have been denied.”

The sexualists have no limits. Considerations of decency play no role. Judith Resiman of Liberty University reported on a conference, “Pedophilia, Minor-Attracted Persons, and the DSM,” trying to normalize and de-criminalize pedophilia:

• Kinsey [their patron saint] also said that children are sexual from birth and so deserve to have sex – with adults or youth. The APA’s [American Psychological Association. This is the group that has set the standard for what is normal and what is pathological.] path to normalizing pedophilia [now called “minor-attraction”] follows the trajectory of the earlier campaign to normalize homosexuality. If it is normal for very young children to have sex, then the only question that remains is with whom. And if there are people who want to have sex with children for whom having sex is “normal,” then isn’t that natural? (Salvo, 41)

If pedophilia is natural and desirable, who can argue against it, apart from the “puritanical?” Resiman summarizes the stance of the conference:

• Americans’ fear for child safety is due to a puritanical “sex panic.”

According to the sexualists, no form of sexuality is off-limits; none exceeds moral bounds. Guilt should not be attached to any consensual intercourse. Why such an extreme position? To address extreme feelings of guilt and shame! Whenever I would do something about which I’d feel shame, I’d also feel intensified shame around others. It felt as if they were condemning me. I therefore resented them and felt that it was their narrow opinions that were condemning me. If I could silence them, then I could silence the shame that I was experiencing. Therefore, my problem wasn’t my sinful behavior; it was society’s censure.

This is denial and self-deception – something we don’t want to face. It is far easier to blame someone else for our sense of guilt and shame. However, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing that can be done about the sexualization of our schools:

• A New Jersey school district included on its required summer reading list two books that contain graphic descriptions of gay sex. Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines describes a homosexual orgy, and Norwegian Wood contains a story of lesbian sex between a 13-year-old girl and a 31-year-old woman. (Salvo, 31)

However, the parents complained, and the books were removed. We must not forget our responsibility to be the light and to expose evil:

• Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephes. 5:11)

If anything falls into the category of “the fruitless deeds of darkness,” it is the militant sexualization of our children – not only our own but of all children!

Saturday, January 14, 2012


It’s become epidemic. Herb London of the Hudson Institute writes,

• The Atlantic school system was recently indicted for changing student grades in an effort to improve its schools’ performance profile.

• There has been a breakdown in academia’s standards of conduct. In fact, cheating is so ubiquitous on campus that professors often accept it or avert their gaze.

• In a 2002 survey conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, 74 percent of students admitted to cheating on an exam. (Salvo, Issue 19. 64)

One long-standing middle-school teacher informed me that cheating has become so acceptable, that students gleefully admit to it. Unsurprisingly, we find that academic cheating is also broadly paralleled by political, economic and sexual cheating. Cheating has become more than the norm. It has become the prevailing fashion.

What is happening to our society? I think that many things contribute to this epidemic of immediate self-gratification. For one thing, the necessity of self-fulfillment has become has become so deeply entrenched in our thinking, it is now unquestioned. Consequently, society thinks that if your life isn’t fulfilling, then there has to be something the matter with you.

Consistent with this thinking, living according to certain higher principles is now regarded as rigid, limiting, and even judgmental. If you want to be part of the group, you cheat; you don’t moralize. Cheating loves company!

Materialism fits admirably into this “me-first” perspective. According to the materialist, everything is material and energy. Consequently, the materialist not only rejects moral absolutes but insists that they don’t exist. Values are reduced to nothing more than electro-chemical reactions. Therefore, no one is guilty. As a result materialistic neuro-scientists reduce evil to a glitch in our brain wiring. According to Salvo,

• Neuroscientist, David Eagleman of Baylor’s College of Medicine, writes…about using MRI scans to…preemptively identify those who have the potential to commit acts formerly known as evil. (45)

Evil then becomes associated with certain physical or racial types – those who have faulty wiring – rather than freewill moral choices. Therefore, there is now no guilt. Shame is a dirty word.

These changes in our thinking are significant. If prescription follows from diagnosis – and the diagnosis is a matter of faulty neurons – then the prescription cannot be a moral-spiritual one. Instead, it has to be a medical one. However, there is no drug or surgical procedure that produces virtue.

What then do we do about cheating? We can’t lobotomize our students nor can we drug them into moral submission. We are left with one option – moralize them. However, moral instruction must look very strange, even hypocritical, coming from a materialist or a moral relativist – one who doesn’t believe in moral absolutes. After all, moral truth transcends a materialistic understanding of reality.

However, the moral relativist is not discouraged. He’ll teach morality from a pragmatic, self-serving point of view. It might take this form:

• If you cheat, you just hurt yourself. When you take the short-cut, you fail to learn the subject matter.

However, this too should sound strange coming from a materialist who believes that life is no more than a temporary body. From the materialistic perspective, life is short and finding and taking short-cuts seems quite appropriate.

In addition to this problem, preaching virtue based on self-interest is ultimately self-defeating. Self-interest (pragmatism) might at times embrace “virtue” to accomplish its goals, but this inevitably proves to be a very unstable relationship. In this case, there is no truth to virtue; it is merely a tool to accomplish ones goals. But what happens when the cheater perceives that “virtue” will not bring him any closer to his goals? Eventually, self-interest will choose to go its own way. Cheating will eventually dispense with virtue, especially if one is a moral relativist.

From a Christian point of view, there is indeed a glorious correspondence between self-interest and virtue. To a certain extent, we do benefit by acting virtuously. However, this is a holy correspondence, one designed by a God who loves us and wants to bribe us into virtue with a carrot, not just a club, even if it means making use of our pursuit of self-interest.

Bill Maher offers a popular variation – the we-can’t-know variation:

• “I don’t know what happens when you die, and I don’t care.” (Salvo, 63)

This philosophy will also condone or allow cheating. If we can’t know about eternal truths and eternal judgment, we need to focus on what we do know – our immediate needs and how to fulfill them!

In his mockumentary, Religulous, Maher concludes:

• Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do…Anyone who tells you they know – they just know – what happens when you die, I promise you that you don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.”

Maher makes it clear that everyone has a religion and that everyone is “sure” about something, even Maher. He is “sure” that we can’t have such answers, and he therefore mocks, with all his certainty, those who claim to have the answers that he lacks.