Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thought Control, Propaganda, Repression and the Gay Agenda

Totalitarian regimes reign through the control of the flow of ideas. To control “the nerve centers of the state,” is to control thinking and to secure compliance as one astute politician had put it:

  • In every really great revolutionary movement propaganda will first have to spread the idea of this movement. Thus, it will untiringly try to make clear to the others the new train of thought, to draw them over to its own ground, or at least to make them doubtful of their own previous conviction…The organization receives its member from the followers in general won by propaganda. (Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf)
Today, perhaps in slow-motion, the arm of propaganda is sweeping across the West, pushing aside any convictions or human rights that stand in its path. Recently, two women grad students in counseling programs in state universities were expelled because they didn’t believe in gay marriage and refused remediation.

More recently, Mayors Tom Merino of Boston and Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, announced plans to use their powers to prevent Chick-fil-A (CFA) from expanding its business in these two cities. Why? Because CFA has blatantly expressed its support for heterosexual marriage!

Who cares about their oath to uphold the Constitution and its First Amendment guaranteeing free speech if it detracts from one’s political agenda!

In California, State Sen. Ted Lieu, the author of  Senate Bill 1172, seeks to ban sexual orientation conversion therapy (SOCT) for California minors—even if they or their parents want it.

In order to pass such a repressive and discriminatory bill, the propaganda machinery has been ejaculating all manner of negative messages against SOCT:

  • Such treatment, which seeks to change a patient's sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual, is widely criticized in the psychological community as scientifically ineffective and even dangerous. It is blamed for depression and suicide attempts in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths. 
It has just been disclosed that the Colorado shooter had been seeing a psychotherapist. However, I guarantee that no one will begin to accuse this profession of creating maniacal “jokers” out of their hapless patients. The gay lifestyle is filled with enough risk factors without having to blame the counselor who attempts to help his client avoid the well-documented perils of this lifestyle.

Propaganda isn’t satisfied with merely putting forth its own view of things. It also has to discredit, intimidate and silence the opposition using whatever charges work best. Inevitably, it will clothe itself with the banner of pursuing equal rights, human rights, or concern for the masses. Propaganda, like rat poison, must be made enticing – mixing one part poison to four parts appetizing nuggets. Likewise, propaganda makes the claim that it is seeking justice, while it discredits its opponents as forces of repression and injustice.

According to Lieu, SOCT is absolutely illegitimate:

  • "The attack on parental rights is exactly the whole point of the bill because we don't want to let parents harm their children. For example, the government will not allow parents to let their kids to smoke cigarettes. We also won't have parents let their children consume alcohol at a bar or restaurant. We have these laws to stop parents from hurting their kids. Preventive therapy hurts children, so this bill allows us to stop parents from hurting their children."
Lieu pleads the righteousness of his case. Counseling children, whose sexual interests are still very fluid, is compared to intoxication and smoking. SOCT hurts children, while magically the endless barrage of counseling that they receive from their secular state schools insures their welfare. Indeed, encouraging them to explore and pursue their sexuality, even if this means adopting the gay lifestyle – and this lifestyle is strongly associated with depression, suicide, STDs, and an abbreviated life-span – carries no associated risks! What madness!

According to this thinking, the secular state is the best overseer of the welfare of the children – even better than their own parents who love and have sacrificed for them. This is central to propaganda – “The State knows best – better than anyone else.” It is this rationale that is used to silence the opposition. After all, the State must gain ascendancy over the influence of the parents. Interestingly, the-State-knows-best philosophy has been tried and each time with horrific results. Think Communism and National Socialism – not very inspiring!

However, there are still those who will stand against the prospect of intimidation.

  • A study conducted by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas compared the “social, emotional, and relational” outcomes for children raised in different family structures, including children raised by heterosexual parents and those raised in homes in which the parents had been in homosexual relationships. It found that the children raised in homes in which parents had had homosexual relationships were disadvantaged in numerous ways.
However, Regnerus is now being punished because of his study. It is one thing for studies to be criticized, and they should be. This is a necessary aspect of accountability. However, criticism isn’t enough for the forces of repression. Two hundred academicians signed a petition demanding that Regnerus be brought up on ethical charges.

Regnerus’ study is certainly not beyond reproach, but neither is any other study, especially in this contentious field. Andrew Ferguson pointed out this fact in the Weekly Standard:

  • The limitations of Regnerus’ study compare favorably with the shortcomings found routinely in the same-sex literature. It does no credit to the guild that researchers have choked on Regnerus’ paper while happily swallowing dozens of faulty studies over the last 20 years—because, you can’t help but think, those studies were taken as confirming the “no difference” dogma. “If the Regnerus study is to be thrown out,” wrote the Canadian family economist Douglas Allen in a statement supporting Regnerus, “then practically everything else [in the literature] has to go with it.”
Why didn’t these 200 academicians raise a whisper about these other studies? Unlike Regnerus’, these studies unsurprisingly came to politically correct conclusions. They oiled the gears of the propaganda machine. No surprise!

Consequently, Regnerus is now under investigation for ethics violations. Which academic will now risk his career to put forth a study that contradicts the prevailing dogma? Only the most courageous! Expect only one-sided studies and one-sided news!

However, it gets worse:

  • Perhaps you are unaware of the “Commentator Accountability Project” of the powerful Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). It was launched earlier this year to hold media outlets (not commentators) accountable for allowing traditional marriage advocates (including this writer) to have a voice in the public debate.
How is it that the media has so quickly succumbed to these Nazi tactics? You don’t find any anti-gay-marriage arguments in the secular media, do you?

  • One of its key concepts for twisting the arms of journalists is the slogan “bias is not balance.” How’s that for simply redefining pro-family opinion out of existence in the newsroom? I personally recall a leader of the Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association years ago state that allowing pro-family people to comment in news stories related to homosexuality was equivalent to letting the Ku Klux Klan have equal time in stories about race.
Therefore, we can forget about balanced reporting. This is becoming equated with “bias.” But then isn’t GLAAD’s stance also biased? Isn’t the idea that the State can prohibit certain forms of counseling – think free speech – also a matter of bias? If we think that pedophilia is wrong, is that too a matter of bias that must be silenced? Why not?

Sadly, propaganda works. Those who control the media and the universities mold the minds. They also determine politics – who can speak and who can’t; who goes to prison and who can exercise power. We will find that as reason and principle succumb to propaganda and politics, power will fill the vacuum and become the final arbiter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Darwin and Why I Let my Subscription to “Christianity Today” (CT) Lapse

Darwin is just one example of CT’s overly stretched tent and mushy message. In the cover story of its latest issue – “A Tale of Two Scientists” – CT introduces us to two scientists. One (Darrell Falk) is a Christian evolutionist (CE); the other (Todd Wood) is a young-earth creationist (YEC). CT is careful to inform us that both of these sincere Christians came from Christian homes and are both seekers of truth. In other words, they both represent reasonable Christian points of view. The choice is yours!

CT makes no attempt to evaluate their respective positions or even to ask if either is antagonistic to the Christian faith. I guess since they’re both broadly held beliefs, well, they must be equally acceptable. Instead, CT places the emphasis upon civility and not truth:

  • Falk has held to his plea for Christians to love and respect each other while advocating different points of view. (July/August 2012, 28)
Of course, the need to treat others with Christian love and patience goes without saying. However, such admonitions shouldn’t be used to obscure the fact that certain ideas/teachings are highly destructive of the Christian faith. Paul informed the Galatians that believing a certain false but popular gospel endangered their faith and standing with God (Gal. 5:2-4). Beliefs matter profoundly!

Nevertheless, CT’s emphasis is on peace and acceptance without a concern about truth as it’s quotations reflect. Falk is quoted to have stated:

  • My prayer is that each person who reads it will respect that one should be able to be accepted as an equal partner in Christ’s body even if he or she believes that God created gradually. (28)
This is oxymoronic. Even God can’t “create gradually” through NATURAL selection and RANDOM mutation. Why then does Falk even call himself an “evolutionist?”

More importantly, his prayer obscures the real issue. This issue is not about being “accepted as an equal partner in Christ’s body.” It is about whether or not Falk’s faith is destructive of Christian faith. And Falk knows that this is a weighty concern! His former partner at the Biologos Foundation, Karl Giberson, had written:

  • Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science. Dennett’s [Darwin’s] universal acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.” (Karl Giberson, Saving Darwin, 9-10)
How can Falk expect us to approach this discussion with nothing more than mutual acceptance, when it’s patently obvious to all who are aware of the issues that serious costs are involved? Loosing “confidence in the Genesis story of creation” is no small matter. It serves as the foundation for everything else.

There is the problem of the proverbial “slippery-slope.” If we reduce the first several chapters on Genesis to mere metaphor or parable – consequently there is no longer an historic Adam, Eve, Garden or even a Fall – what is to prevent the rest of the Bible to also be reduced to metaphor? And what is to prevent all of the NT quotations of Genesis to likewise become metaphorical and unhistorical as they now must be rendered?

If Adam and the Fall are metaphors, then what reason do we have to regard the “second Adam,” Jesus, as anything more than a metaphor?

Metaphor fails to provide an adequate basis for theological truth and teaching. However, God’s historical work is another matter. Consequently, when Jesus was probed about the question of divorce, He harkened back to the way God historically made Adam and Eve and then joined them together as one (Gen. 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6), concluding that what God had historically made one, man had no right to dissolve.

Peter argued from the historicity of the worldwide flood and Sodom that God because God had historically judged, we should expect that He will also judge in the future (2 Peter 2:5-9; 3:3-8). If these events were no more than metaphor, we are left to wonder whether the promised future judgment is also no more than metaphor.

Clearly, Giberson was not immune to the “slippery slope.” On the Biologos blog, he later expressed approval of Richard Dawkins’ tirade against the God of the OT as a:

  • “tyrannical anthropomorphic deity,” “commanded the Jews to go on genocidal rampages”…but who believes in this [OT] deity any more, besides those same fundamentalists who think the earth is 10,000 years old? Modern theology has moved past this view of God.” 
Perhaps modern theology has moved past the God of the OT, but I think that CT bears some responsibility to be transparent about such theological costs. Instead, CT again approvingly quotes Falk:

  • “We must be patient with each other to follow truth as we see it in Scripture. We must recognize that we will never reach the point where we all see Scripture the same way. When there is division in the church, it will be difficult for the thirsty to find their way to Jesus.” (28-29)
Which Jesus? The Jesus of Karl Giberson who has distanced Himself from the God of the OT? I don’t want to demonize Falk or CT, but there are important issues that need to be addressed, while they seem to want to hide the real issues behind a fa├žade of civility. Civility – Yes, but also speaking truth in love!

Perhaps even more egregiously, CT has chosen the YEC Wood to carry the banner for the opposition. In conclusion, CT cites a Wood who sounds much like Falk:

  • “I’m beginning to think the [creationist vs. evolution] war is detrimental to the church. We all have enormous unanswered questions, whether scientific or biblical. We all see through a glass darkly.” (290
Indeed, we see imperfectly and continue to struggle for more understanding. However, Scripture also assumes that there are some truths that are so important and so well-know, that we are directed to “contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3) and to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

This implies that we possess a truth worthy of defense and a mandate to defend it. Truth is so foundational to the entire Christian life that it had to be defended. Consequently, Paul insisted that the elders,

  • Must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach. (Titus 1:9-11)
According to Paul, certain teachings must be confronted and silenced. The welfare of the church depended on this. However, in its attempt to pitch a wide tent, CT often shows little appreciation of this danger. Following this feature article, “The Editors” diminish the significance of this debate by claiming that it is relatively recent, and that some of the pillars of the faith dismissed its importance:

  • But as the views of Warfield and Machen suggest, many conservative Christians had no problem with the theory of evolution if God’s providential had was involved. (28)
In other words, those of us who are concerned about the corrosiveness of Darwin’s theory are near-sighted and perhaps even narrow-minded. The CT “Editors” conclude in this manner:

  • Today, the devout of various persuasions continue to argue their views, each believing that the future of the faith hinges on the outcome of this battle…The debate may be with us always. (29)
I guess CT’s message is that we just need to accept this fact, go home and attend to some weightier matters. However, I can’t remember any of Israel’s Prophets resigning themselves to the fact that “The debate may be with us always,” so let’s just get used to it. Instead, the Prophets were called to be watchmen, warning the Israelites against dangerous thinking – for as we think, so are we.

It is not simply that CT is failing in this role. CT is also saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.”

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Missions, the Missional, and Incarnational Ministry

J. Todd Billings provides some important corrections to the popular teaching of “incarnation ministry” – “Being Jesus to those around us.” Billings summarizes two different distortions associated with this teaching. According to the first distortion – Billings associates this one with the liberal church:

  • Jesus provided the model for how to immerse oneself in another culture, but the specific content of his life and teaching and his death and resurrection, were beside the point…The point is to identify with another culture rather than to testify to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus…The slogan in these circles is to “live the Good News rather than preach the Good News.  (Christianity Today, July/August 2012, 60)
Truly, many forget that “the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) and not our example. Instead, it is Christ who saves through our believing a particular message. It is a message that works powerfully through the Spirit:

  • And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. (1 Thes. 2:13)
It is the Spirit through the Word of the Gospel that saves and not us:

  • For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God…And this is the word that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:23, 25)
Consequently, Paul committed his beloved Ephesian elders, not to a charismatic leader, but to the Word”

  • "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
Billings then sounds a second alarm regarding the incarnational ministry. He warns that this teaching places too much emphasis on us and not enough on Christ, the only true incarnation:

  • It is not our “incarnation,” then, but the Holy Spirit who makes Christ present in us and beyond us. The Spirit makes our witness effective. Yet because they take the Incarnation as their “model” of ministry, these evangelicals often assume that they – rather than the Holy Spirit – make Christ present in the world…The burden of incarnation – the revelation – is on the shoulders of the individuals. Such a theology often leads to burnout…We forget that we are not equipped to represent Christ to the world without being united, as a community, to Christ through the Spirit. (60)
Incarnational ministry places too much of a burden upon us to perform. Therefore, Billings opines that:

  • We are not sent into the world to perform another incarnation, but as disciples who bear witness to Christ and his reign by the Spirit. (61)
Therefore, missions is not about us; it’s about Christ and our testimony about Him. It’s not about our adequacy (2 Cor. 3:5) or perfected life, but about His. We will never have the perfect life, the irrefutable arguments or even an adequate love. Instead, we have this incredible treasure in our earthen corruptible lives (2 Cor. 4:7), through which our very obvious flaws call attention to the real power and love beyond us. Once we forget this, we will tend to place our focus upon self and not where it should be – on Him and our union with Him!

However, Billings associates this second flaw with the evangelical church – those who take the Bible seriously. Although placing too much upon our backs, instead of Christ’s, is a very common failing, I would think that it is even more common in the liberal church. This severely culturally-compromised church – it doesn’t rely fully on the Bible – is even more susceptible to the culture’s emphasis on believing in oneself and the “you-can-do-it” mentality. Therefore, it lacks the Biblical teaching and wisdom against self-trust and its bosom buddy – self-righteousness. Consequently, the bereft liberal church is left with little more than their own efforts to “do better; try harder.”

This is a very minor criticism in light of Billings’ fine and important correctives. After all, we are guilty as charged.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Scripture, Inerrancy, and its Detractors

The doctrine of the “Inerrancy of Scripture” claims that in their original writing, Scripture was fully God-breathed and without error, as many verses affirm:

  • All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
  • Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19-21)
However, many have faulted this doctrine, claiming that we can’t even begin to talk about inerrancy without the original writings in hand. New Testament Critic Bart Ehrman is one of them:

  • What good is it to say that the autographs [the originals] were inspired? We don’t have the originals! We have only error-ridden copies. And the vast majority of these are centuries removed from the originals and different from them…(Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue: The Reliability of the NT, 86)
Does the fact that we do not have the originals present an insurmountable obstacle? I don’t think so. For one thing, we have the overwhelming affirmation of Scripture that it is all God-breathed. We also have reason.

When we look at a sunset, we also do not see (or have) the “originals.” We do not see directly what we are looking at. Instead, we “see” an electro-chemical mental reproduction – a “copy” – of the “original.” Our eyes break down the incoming light – and the light is not even the seen objects – into millions of simultaneous electro-chemical reactions that are transported into the depths of our brain, and immediately we have a trustworthy series of images of the external world.

Although we cannot literally see the external world, we have a trustworthy facsimile of it. This facsimile or “copy” enables us to drive our cars and make thousands of appropriate decisions every minute.

Can we therefore say that there exists a stable, fully reliable and believable external reality, even though we cannot directly apprehend it? Certainly! Likewise, can we say that there exist fully reliable and believable inerrant originals, even though we don’t possess them?  Why not?

Ehrman might challenge the analogy in this manner:

  • When it comes to the Scriptures, we have thousands of textual variants among the 5,800 NT manuscripts and fragments. There are no “variants” when it comes to the external world.
However, such a response misses the point of the analogy. Ehrman’s point had been that “We don’t have the originals.” Therefore, it is not possible to talk about inerrant originals. However, we can talk about a totally reliable external reality even though we can’t directly see it. Even though we don’t directly have the originals, we can still assert that they are/were fully reliable.

Besides, we see reality in “variant” ways. However, despite this very obvious fact, we should not conclude that reality is “variant.” Nor should we conclude that our textual variants in any way undermines the doctrine of “inerrancy.”

Of course this raises another question:

  • Even if the originals are inerrant, in light of the many textual variants, can we say with any confidence what the originals looked like?
While the radical critic Ehrman would answer “no,” the faith of many has only been reaffirmed through the study of the variants. NT scholar William Warren writes:

  • I would say that our [present composite NT] text almost certainly represents a form that is almost identical to the original documents. (122)
Another NT scholar, Craig Evans, affirms the same thing:

  • Given the evidence, we have every reason to have confidence in the text of Scripture. This does not mean that we possess 100% certainty that we have the exact wording in every case, but we have good reason to believe that what we have preserved in the several hundred manuscripts of the first millennium is the text that the writers of Scripture penned.
Similarly, NT textual critic Silvie Raquel writes:

  • I also have studied New Testament textual criticism and, by contrast with Ehrman, have found confirmation about the validity of the text…by defective reasoning, misuse of the evidence, and a misconception of inerrancy, Ehrman fails to build a case for the unreliability of the New Testament text as a sacred and inspired text. (173, 185)
Don’t think that this question of “inerrancy” is just a stale and irrelevant academic disagreement. It is essential to our lives. If we are convinced that the Bible isn’t entirely trustworthy, then we are doomed to always have to decide what parts of Scripture we are to trust and what to discard as untrustworthy. Consequently, instead of Scripture judging us, we are judging Scripture. Instead of Scripture reigning over us, it is our judgment that reigns over Scripture. And if our judgment is more reliable than Scripture, well, we might as well just read the New York Times!

However, all of the books of Scripture regard Scripture as supreme and authoritative.  Isaiah would certainly agree:

  • The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
Only God’s Word can stand forever, despite Bart Ehrman’s protestations

(My thanks to W. Gary Crampton’s review of the Ehrman-Wallace dialogue in The Trinity Review)   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Playing with Sin

There are some things we can’t control, like gravity. However, there are things that we can’t control that are also highly dangerous and life-controlling. Heroin addiction is a good example.

One probationer explained crack addiction to me. “After one hit, I was hooked. I turned around and went back to the guy who sold me my first hit, and that was it.” At least with crack and heroin, you are aware of what you did to get you hooked. However, sin itself is more stealthful, life-controlling, and destructive. There are some things we think we can just taste without running the risk of addiction. However, sin can take over without our even knowing it.

The best example of this is the Garden of Eden debacle. Adam and Eve had been enjoying unbroken fellowship with their God. Their every need was fulfilled daily. They were even so comfortable within their own skin that they didn’t experience the slightest discomfort or taint of shame with their nakedness (Gen. 2:25). They were at peace.

Although they had no reason whatsoever to distrust God or to fault His provisions, the woman succumbed to the serpentine temptation to believe that God was holding something back from them (3:5), and so they sinned and ate the forbidden fruit with devastating consequences:

·        Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)

Shame struck like a thunderbolt, and they knew they had to do something about it. Instead of crying out to their Creator, they were determined to handle the guilt and shame their own way. Foolishly, they covered themselves with sewn fig leaves, as if this would cover the real source of their shame. However, their problem was much deeper, going to the core of their very being - their righteousness and sense of self.

Their response is reflective of our own response to guilt and shame. We too cover ourselves, not only with clothing but also with “good deeds” – anything to try to regain our original sense of okay-ness. We march for various causes, make personal sacrifices, achieve socially-respectable goals, and compete for positions of power and respect.

It is not that all of these aren’t worthy endeavors. However, they are not able to address the core problem. They are no more than band-aids. Consequently, the “lift” we derive from our achievements only lasts temporarily, and we are afterwards coerced to seek other mountains to climb. This is evidence that these coverings fail to address the core issue, and then we are doomed to futilely spend the rest of our lives trying to establish our worthiness.

We understandably laugh at our first parents’ attempt to deal with sin. However, our efforts are no less laughable than theirs. The sin had to be confronted along with the disruption of their fellowship with their Maker. Covering our sins with fig leaves or with our accomplishments, like obtaining a mansion in DC, is nothing short of denial and a refusal to walk in the light of truth. These are things we use to tell ourselves, “I’m OK,” when we really are not!

However, the power, deception and utter destructiveness of sin didn’t stop there:
·        Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)

Instead of acknowledging the futility of trying to cover up their sin, they hid from the only source of their deliverance. And what made them think that they could hide from their Creator? Even more startling, they now regarded Him as their enemy and not their friend. He had become an additional problem with which they had to deal and not their answer. What caused this massive conversion? Sin!

Sin is so powerful and deceptive that most of humankind regards God as their enemy, as Jesus reflected:

·        This is the verdict: Light [Truth] has come into the world, but men loved darkness [sin and denial] instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19-20)

Sin had taken charge. Therefore, the light was now intolerable to Adam and Eve. Darkness, no matter how destructive, has become our residence of choice. We justify our sins even as they squeeze the life out of us. While sexual liberationists celebrate the sexual liberties that women have won in Western societies, a recent study has just revealed that women are less happy than ever. Darkness can be more comforting than the light, which painfully reveals our sins, mistakes and what we’re really all about. 

Nevertheless, our God is patient, wanting all to come to confession and repentance. He didn’t crush His first humans with judgment. Instead, He asked them a series of questions:

·        But the Lord God called to the man, "Where are you?" (Genesis 3:9)

Of course, the omniscient God knew exactly where the man was hiding.  He was giving  Adam space to freely confess his sin. However, Adam filled this space with deceptive half-truths:

·        He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." (Genesis 3:10)

Technically, Adam told the truth. However, this “truth” amounted to obfuscation. He refused to acknowledge his sin, his rebellion against the Word of God. When sin takes over, we don’t suddenly throw away all moral considerations. Adam didn’t respond, “I don’t care a wit about obedience, righteousness or rebellion. These are your concerns not mine!” Knowing right from wrong is knowledge indelibly imprinted on our conscience. Therefore, even the worst sinners retain this knowledge in varying degrees and, as I’ve pointed out before, are forced to clothe their sins in facades of righteousness.

When we reject the righteousness that comes as a gift from God, we are coerced to achieve our own righteousness. Hitler’s hatred and genocide were clothed in the rationalizations of building a great and enduring empire. Stalin and Lenin murdered their millions justifying it by claiming that they were merely creating a workers’ paradise. When we reject the light, we embrace a darkness that offers substitute ideals and a counterfeit righteousness. However—back to Adam—his “truth” was no better than the deception to which he had fallen prey. He had become a child of the darkness.

However, God wasn’t finished with His questions:

·        And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" (Genesis 3:11)

True to the nature of darkness, Adam flung out another “truthful” response:

·        The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." (Genesis 3:12)

One sin becomes the mother of the next. We always need one more sin to cover the last. God had pinned Adam against the wall. He now had to confess that he had been disobedient. Will he now take full responsibility and cry out for mercy? No way—instead  he responded with blame-shifting. It wasn’t his fault; it was the woman’s fault. Along with this was Adam’s not-too-subtle charge that he had disobeyed because of "The woman you put here with me.” According to Adam, it was God’s fault!

The rational thing to do would have been to plead for mercy. However, sin is not rational; it wants to destroy. Rationality should have informed Adam that his only hope now was in the mercy of God.  Instead, Adam was convinced that he could get-over on God.

But now the Creator turned His questions to the woman:

·        Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." (Genesis 3:13)

Sin’s handiwork is easily recognized. It never humbly confesses sin, even when caught red-handed. Instead, it points the finger at someone else. It was the serpent’s fault. No true confession here! No taking of responsibility. Self righteousness seeks to do either of two things – justify self or denigrate others. Self-righteousness must always stand above the crowd.  It must convince itself (and the world) of its own moral superiority. Consequently, “All of a man’s ways are right in his own eyes” (Proverbs 21:2), and we live out our futile lives blinded by the logs we have refused to remove (Matthew 7:1-5).

Sin had taken control, so much so that Adam and Eve never once protested the curse that would stamp not only their lives but also the rest of the human race. Even the land would now be cursed because of them. Besides, they would now taste death:

·        “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19)

No indication of any remorse! If anything, they were trapped in the webs of denial. They didn’t even seem to have heard the “death” verdict:

·        Adam named his wife Eve [“life,” in Hebrew], because she would become the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20)

God’s last word had been “death,” while Adam’s next word was “life.” They no longer saw eye-to-eye. Clearly, their relationship had been seriously ruptured. We even get the feeling that their banishment from God was more than a relief to this couple, who could no longer tolerate the light of His presence.

We cannot play with sin. One puff of the cigarette can pave the way to addiction. It did so for me – seven times! I was smoking two packs a day, and it was killing me. I had to give up, but I didn’t want to give up entirely. I thought I could control smoking only two cigarettes a day. However, I underestimated the power of sin. After smoking the one, I convinced myself that I had done pretty well and could handle a second. Then I determined, because I had done so well with the second, I could handle a third. On each of six occasions I returned to my two packs a day.

Throughout my struggle to quit, I’ve learned that I cannot even handle taking a single puff. Not that a puff is addictive, but once I open the door to one puff, I have no problem opening it again to the second and the third.

Tasting sin is like feeding a stray dog. Once you feed it, you can no longer get rid of it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Medicine and Compassion Require an Adequate Rational Foundation

The way we think is the way we live. Our philosophies and worldviews are the foundation upon which we build our houses of caring, chaos, or confusion. This very apparent truth can be demonstrated in any area of human endeavor. To illustrate the causal power of our philosophies, let’s just take the area of medicine.

Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi states that India had pioneered a number of ancient medical advances including cataract surgery and plastic surgery. However, the study and practice of medicine had only a brief duration in India. Mangalwadi explains that medicine and even compassion lacked an adequate cognitive rationale in his India. This is partially because India’s doctors were also regarded as “gurus” who couldn’t be questioned:

  • This attitude toward knowledge could not create and sustain an academic culture where peers and students could challenge, reject, and improve the medical techniques they had received. Thus, India had intellectual giants but our religious tradition failed to build academic communities. Individual genius, knowledge, and excellence in technology are insufficient to build a medical center. (The Book that Made Your World, 311)
Mangalwadi also claims that Indian religions couldn’t provide an adequate rationale for compassion – a necessary pre-condition for the practice of medicine:

  • A person’s suffering was believed to be a result of her or his karma (deeds) in a previous life. In other words, suffering was cosmic justice. To interfere with cosmic justice is like breaking into a jail and setting a prisoner free. If you cut short someone’s suffering, you would actually add to his suffering because he would need to come back to complete his due quota of suffering. (312)
Although Buddhism says a lot about compassion, its message is conflicted:

  • The Buddha had to renounce his own wife and son to find enlightenment. He saw attachment as a cause of suffering. Detachment, therefore, became an important religious virtue…Those whose commitment was to their own spiritual enlightenment did not have the motivation to develop a scientific medical tradition. (312)
Our ideas have wings:

  • The idea that the state should pay surgeons to serve the poor came to India with the Bible. Secularism hijacked the biblical idea, but it provides only the form, not the spirit. It is possible to bring a mango plant from India and grow it in Minnesota. One might even get a few crops. But under normal circumstances, the tree will not survive and certainly not reproduce. (314)
Secularism might be able to grow a mango tree in its own soil, but will it survive? Indian medicine wasn’t able to survive in its cognitive climate. Secularism claims to promote compassion, but can its own beliefs cause it to survive?

It certainly doesn’t seem that secularism has a firm enough basis for compassion. It doesn’t have a high view of humanity. Materialism and naturalism – components of today’s secularism – regard humanity as just another animal, albeit more intelligent. However, some of us – babies, the mentally handicapped, the delusional - aren’t as intelligent as some animals. Consequently, these are becoming expendable in the West.

Besides, if we are regarded as no more than cosmically-purposeless animalistic bodies, then there remains no reason to not treat us as such. Consequently, in secular societies, there was little hesitation to exterminate dissidents and those regarded as racially inferior – a virtual caste system.

Moral relativism eliminates the possible existence of any human or inalienable rights – any basis for a Bill of Rights. Morals simply become human inventions which change and are rescinded arbitrarily at will, according to the need.

Secular multi-culturalism is born out of moral relativism. It acknowledges that we have no rock-solid basis upon which to judge other cultures or to defend our own. Therefore, in contradiction to its purported philosophy, the secular West has allowed the establishment of Shariah courts, which rule against the very rights the West has committed itself to uphold.

Such moral confusion can provide no adequate foundation for the rights that we enjoy – rights that have promoted the West.

Malcolm Muggeridge, the late British journalist and former secular humanist, observed:

  • “I’ve spent a number of years in India and Africa where I found much righteous endeavor undertaken by Christians of all denominations; but I’ve never , as it happens, came across a hospital or orphanage run by the Fabian [communist] society, or a humanist leper colony.” (314)
Why not? Could it be that their philosophy/religion is inadequate for such?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Treatment of Wives: Koran vs. New Testament

Here is my response to a Christian-Basher:

You have mistakenly charged that Islam’s teachings about wives and women are similar to the Bible’s teachings. So bear with me as I make some comparisons between the Koran and the New Testament. I’ll cite the Koran first and follow it with NT teachings:

[Surah 2.223] Your wives are a tilth [cultivated field] for you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves

In the Koran, the male’s needs are supreme. The wife must service her husband on demand. Instead, the NT teaches equality and mutuality:

o       1 Cor. 7:3-5:  The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.

[Surah 2.228] And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

In the Koran, men have more value and rights than women. However, in the NT, both are of equal value:

·        Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

o       Ephes. 5:31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

[Surah 2.282] …call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses…

The court testimony of a man is equal to two women. In the NT, there is no distinction:

·        1 Cor. 11:11: In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

[Surah 4:34] Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them

The Bible never counsels a husband to beat or physically abuse his wife. Instead:
o       1 Peter 3:7: Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

·        Col. 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

·        Ephes. 5:28-33: In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church… However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Here is a video of a Muslim cleric teaching wife beating: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/01/islam_beating_w.html

Monday, July 16, 2012

Freedom, Family, Sexual License and Fulfillment

What is freedom? We tend to understand freedom and liberty as an absence of limitations. However, if we just consider this notion for a bit, it falls apart.

Life is a game of chess. If you play chess without rules or limitations – if you can move any piece in any way, whenever you want – the game becomes entirely meaningless. Life is the same way. Every move or decision is not the same. Each carries with it its own particular costs. Jumping off a building is not the same as jumping into a swimming pool. It costs us dearly! Instead, we maximize our freedom as we live according to certain laws or principles that are consistent with our nature and goals.

Just consider a goldfish confined in his tank. Now imagine that he sees the great world through the glass in his tank and grows increasingly displeased with his fishly limitations. Determined that he will not live with this confinement, with a great show of strength and courage, he propels himself out of his tank and flops helplessly about on the waterless floor of his freedom.

Perhaps our lives are the same way, and we disdain the limitations that actually maximize our freedom and well-being. Perhaps there are inherent limitations in the area of family and human sexuality. Perhaps we too must pay a hefty cost when we jump out of our fishbowl.

Indian scholar Vishal Mangalwadi points to an unexpected cost of sexual libertarianism – an inevitable and severe backlash:

  • Our [Indian] neighbors could not even refer to their wives by their names. A wife was Bhitarwali – the one who belongs indoors. Women’s enslavement was then sold as traditional morality. The consequence? Not one girl in our village had gone beyond the fifth grade because the nearest middle school was three miles away. It was too risky to send a girl far out of sight…What they considered morality was, in fact, our women’s slavery. (The Book that Made your World, 277)

How did such “slavery” come about? Why would parents treat their daughters in such a repressive manner? And husbands, their wives? Mangalwadi explains that this repression was the result of sexual permissiveness. He refers to a Hindu temple in that vicinity which gives testimony to an age sexual libertarianism:

  • Every imaginable sexual act had been carved in stone to adorn Hindu temples. My ancestors’ religion of “sacred sex” had enslaved our women just as it did in the pre-Christian Greco-Roman civilization. (277)
Sexual libertarianism inevitably leads to abuse. This is generally followed by a repressive reaction, which can imprison women for centuries. It also leads to a disdain of women, even among the most “liberated.” Mangalwadi claims that:

  • Rousseau – one of the fathers of secular enlightenment and a champion of liberty – believed that woman was unfinished man. Hindu sages taught that a soul with poor karma incarnated as a female to serve males.
Mangalwadi also quotes from Swami Sivananda, the founder of the Divine Life Society regarding the backlash against “Kama Sutra” and other forms of sexual “liberation”:

  • Sex-pleasure is the most devitalizing and demoralizing of pleasures. Sexual pleasure is no pleasure at all. It is a mental delusion. It is false, utterly worthless, and extremely harmful (287)
Celibacy had become proof of “spiritual superiority,” and it entailed a diminuation of women. Although today’s non-theists – anything but celibates - tend to blunt their negative and materialistic appraisals of the female sex, their behavior seems to convey something else:

  • As skeptics, atheists and humanists prepare to gather for their largest meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, attendance by women is expected to be down significantly. Officials for The Amazing Meeting, or TAM, said Wednesday (July 11) that women would make up 31 percent of the 1,200 conference attendees, down from 40 percent the year before. A month before the conference, pre-registration was only 18 percent women, organizers said…Online forums have crackled with charges of sexism…In June, Rebecca Watson, a skeptic blogger and speaker, canceled her TAM appearance because, she said on her blog, she does “not feel welcome or safe.” Other nontheists -- both male and female -- have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching…Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.
One feminist skeptic even responded with the previously unspeakable – she’d rather associate with Christians!

As one thinks, so too does he live! If the female is no more than a material object and life has no more meaning that self-gratification, why then not make use of the physical “resources” at one’s disposal!

“Liberated” Yale’s notorious “sex week” also reveals the correlationbetween sexual “liberation” and the eventual enslavement of women:

  • Every two years undergraduate students at Yale university are invited to two weeks of pornography, porn stars, fetishes, sex toys and sex talks, all in the name of the university’s infamous “Sex Week.”
However, what started as “liberation” has turned into abuse and now a university crackdown:

  • The clamp down on Sex Week follows several years of heightening controversy surrounding the event, compounded by a formal complaint filed by 16 students alleging a “hostile sexual atmosphere” on campus characterized by pervasive harassment and assault.
Perhaps ironically, “liberation” comes at the cost of enslavement - the objectification of the female. When sex is understood exclusively as personal gratification, then the object of this gratification becomes little more than an object.

Mangalwadi explains the repressive veiling of Muslim women as a reaction against libertarianism. The Prophet Mohammad had visited his loyal follower and adopted son Zaid. Zaid wasn’t home, but his stunning wife was. She later related to her husband how captivated Mohammad had been. Therefore, the faithful Zaid divorced his wife so that Mohammad could marry her.

Although initially Mohammad refused this offering of his son’s wife, conveniently, a subsequent revelation (Sura 33.2 - 33.7) provided liberation from such an inconvenient restriction. What was the result of this enhanced freedom? Mangalwadi concludes:

  • The Islamic world learned that it was safer to cover your women’s beauty than to be sorry. (280)
Mangalwadi also argues that the sexual freedom available through polygamy and divorce also served to devalue the women. In contrast to sexual “liberation,” sociologist Rodney Stark argues that:

  • A major aspect of women’s improved status in the Christian subculture is that Christians did not condone female infanticide…the more favorable Christian view of women is also demonstrated in their condemnation of divorce, incest, marital infidelity, and polygamy. As Fox put it, “fidelity, without divorce, was expected of every Christian.”…Like pagans, early Christians prized female chastity, but unlike pagans, they rejected the double standard that gave pagan men so much sexual license. Christian men were urged to remain virgins until marriage, and extramarital sex was condemned as adultery. Chadwick noted that Christianity “regarded unchastity in a husband as no less serious a breach of loyalty and trust than unfaithfulness in a wife.” (The Rise of Christianity)
Mangalwadi concludes:

  • I believe the habits of India’s heart (habits gaining ground in America since the 1960s) have been at the root of the enslavement of our women and the stagnation of Indian civilization. (281)
Indeed, what civilization has prospered as sexual “liberation” has been widely practiced? Instead, we maximize our freedom and well-being as we live in accordance with the physical laws. Perhaps this also applies to the teachings of the Bible!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Theory of Evolution cannot be Refuted!

We have a tremendous capacity to believe what we want to believe. It seems that God has given us this capacity to sin by merely sticking our heads in the ground and denying the obvious. Consequently, the Book of Proverbs laments that, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight” (16:2).

I marvel at evolutionists who claim that there is no evidence against their theory of evolution and that it is already a “proven fact.” How can they be so blind! Well, we can rig the rules of the game so that all of the facts can be lined-up in support of our theory.

For example, the persuasiveness of Darwinism rests on this one idea: commonalities – genetic, fossil, and morphological – prove common descent. However, Darwinists are also ready to admit that there are an abundance of examples of commonalities that clearly are not the result of common descent. On his blog, biologist Cornelius Hunter mentions one of them:

  • By now this must seem tedious, but there is…evolution’s endless stream of failed expectations. This time it is striated muscles, in bilaterians and non-bilaterian eumetazoans. They seemed to evolutionists to have a common evolutionary origin. But now the molecular differences do not support that expectation. Instead, the considerable similarity across these various species would likely have arisen independently, via those random mutations. But evolutionists forget about this long list of false expectations. Evolution must be a fact, regardless of the evidence.
However, many evolutionists are unconcerned about this gaping hole in their theory. When commonalities are clearly not the result of common descent, they merely call these instances “convergent evolution.” This means that the many commonalities are the result of something else, but they are quick to assure us that these puzzling commonalities are the result of common evolutionary pressures. For instance, birds and insects both fly because of the common pressures to either find food or to escape enemies. In other words, if they can explain how common structures are the result of common descent, they again “win,” and if they can explain how these structures are the result of common pressures, they again “win.”

How then can they loose? Well, they can’t! Heads, I win; tails, you loose!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Revival and the Fall and Rise of England

The history of Western nations testifies of their Christian roots and what happens when this influence is silenced. It was silenced in early 18th century England. Indian Scholar Vishal Mangalwadi writes,

  • In 1738, two centuries after the Reformation, Bishop Berkeley declared that religion and morality in Britain had collapsed “to a degree that was never before known in any Christian country.” The important reasons for the degeneration of Protestant England were the restoration of the monarchy and the supremacy of the Anglican Church at the end of the seventeenth century. Once the Anglican Church came back to power, it began to oppress the Puritans and expelled more than four hundred conscientious Anglican clergymen. They had become priests to serve God, and therefore they refused the oath of allegiance to William of Orange.” (The Book that Made your World, 259)
Along with this, the Anglican priesthood became utterly corrupt:

  • A succession of archbishops and bishops lived luxuriously, neglecting their duties, unashamedly soliciting bishoprics and deaneries for themselves and their families. Parish clergy followed suit. (260)…Corruption spread like cancer. (261)
The church is the conscience of society. When it is silenced, corruption and moral decay are free to spread to all segments of society. Mangalwadi continues:

  • The moral darkness of the age expressed itself in a perverted conception of sport, which, like alcohol, brought attendant evils in its train, such as further coarsening of the personality, cruelty, and gambling. (262)
  • As for lawlessness, thieves, robbers, and highwaymen, Horace Walpole observed in 1751, “One is forced to travel, even at noon, as if one were going to battle.” Savagery showed itself in the plundering of shipwrecked vessels, lured by false signals onto rocks, and in the indifference shown to the drowning sailors. This was a regular activity along the entire coastline of the British Isles.
Similarly, it appears that as the Christian influence has been replaced in the Western nations in the early sixties by a virulent and monopolistic form of secularism, social ills have multiplied. However, there are also revivals. Into this English malaise stepped the Christian John Wesley and others. However, their ministry to the poor and downtrodden wasn’t appreciated. No one likes their sins to be exposed:

  • For three decades, magistrates, squires, and clergy turned a blind eye to the continual drunken and brutal attacks by mobs and gangs on Wesley and his supporters. Wesley endured physical assault with missiles of various kinds. Frequently bulls would be driven into the midst of the congregations or musical instruments blared to drown out the preacher’s voice. Time after time, the Wesleys and Whitefield narrowly escaped death, while several of their fellow itinerant preachers were attacked and their homes set on fire. Hundreds of anti-revival publications appeared, as did regular, inaccurate, and scurrilous newspaper reports and articles. And the most virulent attacks, not surprisingly, came from the priests, who referred to Wesley as “that Methodist,” “that enthusiast,” “that mystery of iniquity” [anti-Christ], “a diabolical seducer, and imposter and fanatic.”
The foulest criticism is always clothed within a veneer of decency and concern for the “rights and needs” of others. How else to appeal to the masses apart from disguising it as a moral and just cause! Despite the fierce opposition, Wesley and Whitefield persevered:

  • The biblical revival affected the lives of politicians. Edmund Burke and William Pitt were better men because of their Bible-believing friends. They helped redefine the civilized world…Perceval, Lord Liverpool, Abraham Lincoln, Gladstone, and the Prince Consort, among others, acknowledged the influence of the Great Awakening. The biblical revival, beginning among the outcast masses, was the midwife of the spirit and character values that have created and sustained free institutions throughout the English-speaking world. England after Wesley saw many of his century’s evils eradicated, because hundreds of thousands became Christians. Their hearts were changed, as were their minds and attitudes, and so society – the public realm – was affected.
      The following improvements came in a direct line of descent from the Wesleyan revival. First was the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of the industrial workers in England. Then came factory schools, ragged schools, the humanizing of the prison system, the reform of the penal code, the forming of the Salvation Army, the Religious Tract Society, the Pastoral Aid Society, the London City Mission, Muller’s Homes, Fegan’s Homes, the National Children’s Home and Orphanages, the forming of evening classes and polytechnics, Agnes Weston’s Soldier’ and Sailor’s Rest, YMCAs, Barnardo’s Homes, the NSPCC, the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, the Royal Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the list goes on. Ninety-nine out of a hundred people behind these movements were Christians.

This redemptive story has been repeated many times throughout the history of the church. Why then is the church so widely despised? Perhaps it has something to do with this observation:

  • “I believe that, disappointed in not finding the field of licentiousness quite so open as formerly, [the traders] will not give credit to morality which they do not wish to practice or to a religion which they undervalue, if not despise.” (Charles Darwin)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Apostasy, Compromise, and its many Justifications

Why do Christians compromise? Why do Christian institutions fall away from the faith at such an alarming rate? Our Ivy League universities had all started as Bible Colleges. They have not only turned from their roots, but are now proactively attempting to root out any vestige of these roots.

Apostates will answer that education caused them to question the faith and ultimately reject the faith of their youth. However, there seems to be better answers.

In John’s Revelation, he was instructed by the Spirit to pen letters to seven churches revealing their spiritual status. The first five churches were given mixed reviews. The sixth church, the Church of Philadelphia, was only commended, although it was deemed “weak.” They “have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Rev. 3:8).

The seventh church, the Church of Laodicea, had received the worst evaluation:

·        “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:15-17)

This was a church which had compromised. As a result, it was “neither cold nor hot.” Why had they compromised? They had ceased to value God and His wisdom. Instead, they were content with their own! After all, they were convinced that “'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” When we are convinced that we “do not need a thing,” we no longer feel any urgency to seek God and cry out for His wisdom and His Word.

The fifth church, the Church of Sardis, is a close runner-up to Laodicea. Before men, “they had a reputation of being alive” (Rev. 3:1). However, according to God’s assessment, they were “dead.” He counseled them to “wake up” from their deadness and self-satisfaction. They had become blinded by their “reputation” and the esteem of men and had grown insensitive to the opinion of God.

Success is a dangerous thing. It breeds arrogance and blindness to our real spiritual condition and neediness before our God. It is this neediness that is actually our strength:

·        But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

I think that we can apply these truths to the compromise that encircles the church. Let me cite the example of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), whose motto has been “Cooperation without Compromise.” The NAE recently held a conference in which they promoted the use of birth control for church people having sex outside of marriage.

The 400 evangelical attendees were asked “Do you believe churches should advocate contraception for their 20-somethings?” Astonishingly, “almost two-thirds voted yes.”

We might wonder how it is that an evangelical’s are encouraging sinful behavior. Marvin Olasky of World Magazine had the same question, and so he asked one of the participants – Messiah College Professor Jenell Paris:

·        She said churches should both “lift up the ideal of premarital chastity and support people who do otherwise…If that sounds like a compromise, it is, kind of. But consider the word compromise…If you want to be alone and be right, go ahead…but to promise or agree to work with another, that’s compromise. It’s not that bad. The bigger picture, though, is a renewed theology of sex in the church.” (July 14, 2012)

Evidently, Messiah College is also willing to embrace a “renewed theology of sex” in favor of the Word of God in support of “people who do otherwise” and don’t abstain. However, it has always been Church’s contention that the best way to love and support others was to lead them to the counsel of our all-wise God.

Why has Paris abandoned the counsel of Scripture? I think that she gives us a hint: “If you want to remain alone and be right, go ahead.” It seems that acceptance of her peers and the prevailing culture trumps everything else. However, compromisers generally justify their compromise in terms of pragmatism – what brings positive results. Olasky reports that the NAE President Leith Anderson had cited a 2010 NAE board resolution:

·        “The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it can’t condone extramarital sex. However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by conceiving and then destroying the precious gift of life.” (11)

Anderson justifies the NAE’s decision to promote conception education within churches in hope of reducing unwanted pregnancies. However, such reasoning represents the triumph of human pragmatic reasoning over principle, God’s principle! It also suggests that the NAE knows better than the Word of God.

In addition to this, if the NAE wants to be consistent with their pragmatic approach, the church should also be instructing pedophiles and adulterers to use condoms, heroin addicts to use clean needles or methadone, and any sinner to do their sin safely. This, of course, is absurd.

In contrast, Martin Luther explained that it was God’s Word that brought change, not force or pragmatic interventions:

·        I simply taught, preached, and wrote God; otherwise I did nothing...The Word did it all!”

Sadly, the “rich” church has largely lost faith in the transformative power of the Word, and correspondingly has grown in faith in its own devices.  And we justify this apostasy in many ways. Paris explains:

·        “It’s fine to have ideals, and to proclaim them with perfect phrases in perfectly planned church services.” Reality, she opined, demands contraceptive compromise, and “compromise can be sacred, even purifying us of our illusions of controlling others through well-intended religious influence.” (10)

Evidently, Paris feels that her influence doesn’t represent “control,” while the influence of the church is somehow illegitimate. In rejecting the religion of the Bible, it seems that she has adopted a substitute sacredness. Surprisingly, we are told that “compromise can be sacred.” Perhaps hypocrisy and unfaithfulness can also be sacred! Nevertheless, the NAE states that its mission “is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians.” No hypocrisy there!

Ironically, if we are truly pragmatic and concerned about abortions, it seems that we should preach abstinence alone. Olasky reports that,

·        Birth control pills have an 8 percent failure rate during their first year of use, and many women who use them for years become pregnant, sooner or later. (88)

It is interesting that our 2,000 year-old Bible still makes excellent pragmatic sense. This once again raises the question, “Why has the church so quickly compromised?” Sometimes, it might mean that the church has been bought or seduced. Olasky advises us to take a look at the “money trail.” The NAE had been awarded a one million dollar grant from a secular group wanting the church to promote contraception. Olasky suggests,

·        A combination of financial need and crown-pleasing ideology may have contributed to the NAE’s mixed message in regard to one of the Bible’s clearest statements. (88)

Sadly, once we harden our heart to allow one compromise, we then have to adjust of theology to rationalize the compromise. Consequently, such adjustments produce absurdities like, “compromise can be sacred, even purifying us of our illusions.”

I don’t think that our compromising professors are led by reason or evidence. It seems that we are largely motivated by baser considerations. However, our tragic condition should provoke prayer and confession before our merciful God.

Even against the apostate Church of Laodicea, the Spirit didn’t pronounce a final condemnation. Instead, He counseled:

·        Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:19-20)

Let us therefore pray that the church would hear His voice, and that the Lord would revive His church.