Posted in Worldview Analysis

A Little Folklore Turned Reality: Robin Hood and Redistribution of Wealth

Folklore has a way of taking a look at life from a perspective that some might yearn was reality, though it be nothing more than fantasy. One particularly famous lore that will at least momentarily dominate my comments for the moment and be a stepping stone of sorts to a related topic, is that of Robin of Loxley, a.k.a. Robin Hood. The tale told for centuries with various takes on certain parts of it goes something like this:

At some point in England’s past when kings reigned supreme and there was a great divide between the classes of wealth (nobility and peasantry). Wen wars were fought in the name of Christ on foreign fronts, but they in no way represented the biblical message of Christianity (i.e., the Crusades). An imprisoned noble finally escapes and returns to his homeland that has been ravaged by tyranny. Those in power have acquiesced more, and those who were just trying to etch out a peaceful life in the hovel are barely able to keep their heads out of the cesspits. Many are found starving and heavily burdened under the increased tax load of the Sheriff of Nottingham; the evil mastermind, who has taken possession of lands in the wake of King Richard’s war, including our young lord Loxley.

My favorite depiction of this popular yarn is the one from the 90’s starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). I watched the newer version with Jamie Fox and Taron Egerton earlier this year, but didn’t really care for it. Preferring instead the older version of my youth. Perhaps that is personal bias on my part, can’t really say, but I just thought the overall story arch was much better. That and I’ve always enjoyed Costner and Freeman as actors.

However, I’m not a movie reviewer. You are free to like whatever version you please. My chief concern is the method of attack that is used by both versions of Robin Hood. Namely, the taking from the rich and powerful and giving to the poor and downtrodden.  

Perverted Justice…

I think that there is something about this perverted form of justice that speaks to our hearts. We don’t like to see others abused; which, is a good thing. Especially, by those who have connived their way to the top over the backs of others.

Governments are meant to govern the people by means of protecting them from evil and upholding the good, not the other way around. And so, there is a sense of “that’s what you get!” when we see Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men robbing the Sheriff’s bloating kitty (i.e., treasury). We feel a sense of justification with the concept of “taking from the rich and giving to the poor.”  Our hearts are momentarily elated when we see the nasty tyrants—the rich and powerful—getting what they deserve!

But as I said a moment ago, this is a “perverted form of justice.” You see, what we forget in this noble tale is that Robin “the” Hood is an outlaw. That is, he is living the life of someone outside the boundary of the law. He is stealing, but it is considered justified (i.e., a good thing), because he is giving to the needy masses by taking from the no good for nothing rich.

“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Lev 19.15; emphasis added. ESV throughout. Cf. Deut 16.19).

A commonly held belief that stealing is okay, not really criminal, if a person does it in need. I’m sure you’ve heard the scenario about the man just trying to steal a loaf of bread or some other form of food to feed his family. While the story is meant to pull on your hearts strings it is not a legitimate argument. In an effort to cover the act of thievery, we play the sympathy card: “What about his wife and/or children? It’s not fair that they should go without.”

“People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry…” (Prov 6.30)[1]

A Dose of Reality…

While a compassionate person will truly relate to such sentiments. (I mean you’d have to be a pretty heartless person to not care about the physical wellbeing of other people). The truth regarding theft has not changed. It is wrong. It doesn’t matter who does it. It doesn’t matter what the motives were. To take from another and give to someone else is criminal.

“but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house” (Prov 6.31).[2]

In the story of Robin Hood, those who serve as civil magistrates—in this case the Sheriff of Nottingham—are wrong for increasing the tax burden on the people to build up the public treasury for their own personal gain. People are not called to serve the government as god, the government ought to serve its people under God.[3] That is why they are in power. And the way that they do this best is when they refrain from going outside their normal parameter of operations. Defending her citizens not harming them by robbing them, is the boundary line they are tasked with not passing.

That being said, Robin “the” Hood is no less guilty for his theft. He too is required to be obedient to the law, he is not above it. Am I then saying it is wrong to fight against government induced oppression? No, I’m not. For there are times when such action is justified.

For the government is not a law unto itself. It is bound by the same Law that binds all hearts. The refusal to submit to this overarching Law is just a much an act of rebellion as when Robin Hood robs the tax trains and steals from fattened nobles benefiting from the tyranny running rampant in the land. But our method of resisting tyranny ought not to be to abandon the law that governs society as a whole.

Wishy Washy…

Of course, I am speaking now as if there is an absolute, universal law-system that is meant to govern the affairs of all people. Which is true. A law-system in flux cannot govern, for the standard to be applied is always changing. As the late R. J. Rushdoony pointed out, such a fluctuating system of law will inevitably go down either one of two paths. Either anarchy will reign (whatever I the individual says is right is right, whatever I call wrong is wrong), or totalitarianism will rule the day (whatever the government says is right is right, whatever the government says is wrong is wrong).  

What one calls theft today might be seen as a viable occupation wherein one might receive a daily wage. How then can you ever get upset if someone takes from you? The consistently rational person realizes that you can’t. If there is no overarching law-system in place that is beyond people, even beyond the government, then you can’t call taking from someone who has in an effort to give to someone who has not (you?) theft. Rather, a better name for it might be “redistribution of wealth.”

Lies of Free under the guise of Redistribution

Does that sound familiar? It ought to. That is the conviction of a great number of politicians in our country. They promise “free” healthcare for all, “free” education for all, “free” food for all, “free” money for all, but in order to give that “free stuff” they have to take from someone else. We have been weaned on this mindset over the past few generations—dating back to some time in the early-mid 20th century (at least here in the U.S.).

By the way there is no such thing as “free” when it comes to the things mentioned above. People work in those fields (healthcare, education, food industry, etc.) and they don’t do the work for free. How are those people paid for providing those “free” services? Why, by taking from the wealthiest among us. It is interesting how popular the story of Robin Hood is. For on the one hand there is a sense of justice involved in it, but on the other the method of acquiring justice is anything but.

Class Envy…

Here in the West we have the same mindset, and it is driven by class envy. I have known some very wealthy people in my life. Do you know how they acquired that wealth? They worked their butts off. They put in time and invested their own money, while the majority of us struggle through our daily tasks, kick our shoes off at the end of a hard day, and sit in front of the Telly.  

I listen to others complain, “Why does anybody need that much money? It’s not right that they have “x” amount of dollars.” The solution they offer, that they are proud to offer, is these richer citizens should pay a higher tax rate in order to provide for those less fortunate. Politicians on both sides of the aisle (Republican and Democrat), although we need to face the fact that socialists are the controlling factor of the Democratic platform, play on the emotions of the people. They play on their covetous nature. They play on their envy. Those socialistic leaders in Washington have clothed themselves in the garb of Robin Hood before the people and all the while they are the incarnation of the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Like the poor people receiving scraps of bread from the hands of Robin as he rides by on horseback, the citizens in this nation who have their hands out say “Thank you, sai! Thank you so much for your kindness. Thank you for providing for my needs. God bless you Robin…!”

Being rich is not a sin. Amassing great wealth is not a sin. Acquiring properties and land is not a sin. If a person works hard, puts in the time and effort, it is right that they receive their due wages.

It is wrong to take from others, in order to redistribute their wealth to the masses. That is a sin. It is also theft. Doesn’t matter if it is the citizen who holds her hand out for the scraps from Washington’s table. Doesn’t matter if it is Washington pretending that they are some savior knight who wields a bow. IT IS THEFT, plain and simple. We need to stop looking at this subject with blinded eyes. The scales need to fall off, and we need to see the truth applies to all:

“You shall not steal” (Exod 20.15).


ENDNOTES:

[1] God does make a distinction in the act. There are degrees of evil, some lesser and some greater. But God is the One who weighs the overall motives. At the same time, He recognizes that people are nominally more accepting of a poor man stealing because of some perceived need, than the greedy person taking what they don’t need because they are never satisfied.

[2] However, regardless of the motive of the crime. The criminal act is not justified just because of someone’s perceived needs (real or not). The thief is still held accountable according to God’s law. They are still liable for punitive damages. They must still repay what they have take from another. Better it would have been for the poor, if work was not available, to ask their neighbor for help in humility than justify taking from another in an instance of pride.

[3] That is to say, the governing authorities—whether they realize it or not—answer to a power higher than themselves. Regardless of the personal opinion of so many, the laws on which this nation was founded, the principles that were shared by those who helped form this union, were guided by the belief of the biblical Creator. Biblical precepts, biblical law identified God as the only true Sovereign. Those in leadership were to rule as creatures under His stead. Unfortunately, history is replete with kings or various other forms of civil magistrates that govern a people assuming their own deity. They pretend as if they are a law unto themselves, rather than answerable to One above them. My statement is that people were not created to be slaves of the state, as if that state were their god and master. Rather, the state was ordained by God (i.e., under Him) to serve the people by protecting them from evil at home and abroad.

Posted in Musings

Vanity

It is Friday afternoon about 3:58 eastern standard time here in the U.S. A few moments ago, I returned home from a killer workout at the gym. I say killer for two reasons: 1) it was a good work out (I’m so tired I can barely move my arms or legs), 2) I am 40 and haven’t consistently lifted weights for about 5 years. I suffered a lower back and shoulder injury that was slow in healing, and so I shifted from weight lifting to running and karate. Any who, I’m back to the weights. I am now into my second month of consistent weightlifting; my muscle memory is slowly coming back and I’m starting to feel pretty good.

As interesting as that may or may not be to you—the reader—that is not the reason why I am writing (“This is not the vanity that you are looking for”).  That little confession was to emphasis a point I am now about to make…I HAD NO INTENTION OF WRITING A POST TODAY!

(Yes, yes, I am sorry about the yelling. Didn’t mean to shock you sensitive types out there, lol. Actually, I find it a bit silly that people get upset when someone writes in all CAPS as if that somehow makes the words coming from my mind to my fingertips more hurtful. Perhaps, I could rant about that some other day).

Urgh…another rabbit trail. Oh, I do apologize for that. How about I tell you why I made the monumental decision to post something when I am so desirous of taking a bit of a delay from writing (at least this week). Well, truth be told I’ve been kind of lethargic for a couple of weeks now, but most especially this week as I took a bit of a short vacation (for some of you “a holiday”) spending some time with the kids and wife. We could have an invigorating conversation about whether or not Christians should or shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas, or ushering in a new year, but I will resist the temptation to tread those waters. Maybe some other time…who knows. I try to maintain a libertarian spirit when it comes to such things (cf. Rom 14.4-8), but sometimes we need a little pushback here and there to keep us steady. (Again, not a subject I wanted to broach this day).

Actually, what I wanted to speak about is from one of my favorite books of the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes. Specifically, I wanted to read to you the first three verses. May I? I may? Well, thank you very much!

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanity,’ says the Preacher. Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.’ What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” (Eccl 1.1-3; NASB).

A couple of first things, if I may.

On the author…

I’m not really too impressed with those that want to buck against various evidences within and without a biblical text in regards to authorship. If there seem sufficient grounds internally (hints of who the writer may be from the writer himself) and externally (historical traditions that attribute authorship to specific individuals), then I see no justifiable reason to deny it. If you are one of those who assume that you are more scholarly and you’ve read “the best of the best of the best, Sir!” (Men in Black reference for those not in the know), and so you are all too eager to deny this particular work to Solomon, son of David, king in Jerusalem…that’s fine, have at it, but as for me I will keep my money on Solomon as the one who wrote this ever important volume of biblical revelation under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit.

It just makes logistical sense. He was king in Jerusalem when the nation was still united under one head. He is a legitimate son of David, not far removed as a descendant from that line would be. And he was the wisest and yet somehow the dumbest person in all of Israel at that time. How can you be the wisest and dumbest at the same time? When you receive all wisdom and knowledge from God, when God has blessed you far above all others of your station, and yet you somehow conceive that not listening to God’s commands is somehow a good idea. Solomon was a bright rising star in his heyday, but it was short lived as his glory was seemingly snuffed out when God judged him for listening to his wives (yeah, I said wives and he had a boatload) rather than heeding God’s Word. In this Solomon followed in the footsteps of his earthly father…Adam.

OH…you thought I was going to say David! Well, it is accurate to say that David set a very poor example for his children, maybe even more for this child in particular, but I was referring to Adam and his blundering decision to listen to Eve rather than the Lord God in the garden (Gen 3.17). But in reality, either earthly father would do, for both of those men sinned in such a manner that had lasting consequences on their children’s disposition.

Solomon knew better…

All in all, when it came to chasing the wind (i.e., vanity means chasing and trying to grab ahold of the wind) with one foolish venture after another, Solomon no doubt would have excelled far above the competition. In fact, in verse 17 of the same chapter he says, “And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly.” He built, he indulged in pleasure, he purchased and sold, he refused himself nothing, but in the end, he realized one clear truth. “Well, what is it?” you ask. You do not have to read the end of the book to see the answer for he has already given it to you. Although, I would recommend reading the book in its entirety in order to see the consistent flow of thought that draws the only logical, rational, reasonable conclusion.

Look back at the original three verses. Notice that the emphasis of verse 2 states that “all is vanity.” Now my synergistic brethren ought to know that word “all.” What does “all” mean? And all the Arminian’s, traditionalists, along with all of us steep in Reformed thought say, “All means all; everything.” When Solomon says that “all is vanity” he is saying that all things in this life. All pursuits. All pleasures. All activity done under the sun is nothing but vanity—chasing the wind in order to grab it (which is an impossibility, if ya don’t know).

Knowing the Advantage…

And so, verse 3 when properly viewed is a rhetorical question that demands a negative answer:

“What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?”

None. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

What good does it do you to gain all the knowledge and wisdom in the world, other than to increase your sorrow? Sorrow for the plight of the rest of fallen mankind. Sorrow for the end that awaits all life.

What good does it do you to gain all the wealth that you can possibly amass in the world, other than to increase your sorrow knowing that some other will squander all that you have labored over?

What good does it do you to pursue righteousness when the wicked seems to prosper on the earth; sometimes illustrated through the popular adage “only the good die young.”

What good is it to have all that your little heart’s desire? To feed your every pleasure, whether it be food, or drink or some other passion? When tomorrow you die.

What good is it have a good reputation, to gain the fame and notoriety that lasts decades, centuries, perhaps even a millennium? For in the end, you will eventually be forgotten my friend. Your deeds no matter how great, will vanish from the annuals of history. Your glory no matter how bright your light might have shone will fade from the memories of all.

What advantage does any person have in all that they do upon this earth? None. Unless, you realize that your purpose for being, the reason that you were made, is this:

“[To] fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Eccl 12.13).

Life…

Life has meaning, but only when that life is fixed in God. You are His creation. He has made you in His image. And it is this standard that He holds over you, for which you are responsible to obey. Life is a blessing, when and only when, we know the Lord as the Lord of our hearts. To know Him is to know contentment and peace. To know Him is to know that your work in this life is not in vain. For He is a righteous judge that will reward His people for doing good.

Posted in Meditation and Prayer

Scraped Knees: Means for Waging the War with Sin

There is a war waging in our hearts in regards to sin and righteousness. If you do not know this, or if you fail to believe this, then I wonder whether or not you have truly touched the grace of Jesus Christ in your life. Whether or not the Holy Spirit has caused your own heart to yearn for your Abba (Father). For to know God is to know His will. To know His will is to reflect deeply on His heart as revealed in His Word as holiness, righteousness, and truth. To know Him is to pursue Him, scraped knees and all.

What do we do when the enemy of our own hearts, that remnant of a sinful nature, rears its ugly head in our minds? How should we respond? For you must do something. To do nothing is tantamount to lowering your arms and raising a white flag so that sin might have its day. The late John Owen offers some sobering thoughts, some necessary aides that we need to consider in this battle of the wills (will of God vs. will of sin).

“Now, these duties are—First, PRAYER, especially private prayer; and, Secondly, MEDITATION.”[i]

On the method of meditation, he says…

“[This] is pondering on the truth as it is in Jesus, to discover the image and representation of truth in our own hearts [as Christians]; and so it has the same intent with prayer, which is to bring our souls into a frame that in all things corresponds to the mind and will of God…when we would undertake thoughts and meditations of God, his excellencies, his properties, his glory, his majesty, his love, his goodness, let it be done in a way of speaking to God [i.e., prayerfully], in a deep humiliation and abasement of our souls before him.”[ii]

And this can only be truly accomplished when we…

“meditate on the word [of God] …and then labor to have our hearts affected by it.”[iii]

In particular, whatever peculiar sin that is raising its arms (battling) against what we know to be pleasing to the Lord. Failing to do this not only makes us susceptible to strong influence that sin uses to draw us (influence us) into all manners of vile acts, but makes the next time easier to bend the knee having calloused our hearts.

On the method of prayer, that which is intended to combat this enemy known as sin, in light of what we have reflected on the mind of God as revealed in His Word, is to

“[work] upon the heart a deep, full sense of the vileness of sin, with a constant renewed detestation of it…This is one design of payer…namely, to draw out sin, to set it in order, to present it to itself in its vileness, abomination, and aggravating circumstances, so that it may be loathed, abhorred, and thrown away as a filthy thing. The one that pleads with God for sins remission, also pleads with his own heart for its detestation.”[iv]

If you would like victory over indwelling sin, Owens tells his readers,

“This is the way appointed and blessed by God to obtain strength and power against sin: Jas 1:5, ‘Does any man lack? Let him ask of God.’ Prayer is the way to obtain from God, by Christ, a supply of all our wants, assistance against all opposition, especially that opposition which is made against us by sin.”[v]

Necessary Means…

Biblical mediation and biblical prayer are two means that God has provided His people in Christ the power over sin. This is not a prescription for sinlessness, but it is surely one that provides the true believer with the ability to sin-less. For such means, provided by our heavenly Father, are that which God the Holy Spirit quickens us in waging this war within our own hearts, as we are being more and more conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Such is an exercise in godly dependency for which we image bearers were truly created for. Not to will what we want, but to will as He wants, as He designed us for His glory!

On our Failings…

But what about our failings in this? What about our inability to walk straightly every moment of every day? Are we then lost? Are we then without hope? Two things might be said on such thoughts. One, this work that we do is not a work that we have done, but is a work of God. What saves us, what delivers us in the end is not our efforts, but wholly His. Two, when we do fail (and we no doubt will from time to time for let’s face it we are weak), we are given this promise:

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4.14-16).[vi]

AND

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn 1.9)


ENDNOTES:

[i] John Owen, Indwelling Sin: The Remainder of Indwelling Sin in Believers, Reprint 1667, Annotated by William H. Gross, (N.C.: On the Wing, 2015), Locations 1992-1993. Kindle Edition.

[ii] Ibid., loc 1994-2000.

[iii] Ibid., loc 2003.

[iv] Ibid., loc 2042-2045.

[v] Ibid., loc 2055.

[vi] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV).

Posted in Beliefs

Wetting our Fingers

If you wet your finger and stick it up in the air you can tell what direction the wind is blowing. There is a somewhat obscure (out of the way to most Bible readers) that makes the following comments regarding some godly leaders of their time:

“…the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…” (1Chr 12.32).[i]

A zeitgeist is the spirit of the age. The wind that fiercely blows upon the culture and society that besets a people. What spirit do we find blowing on the winds of life today?

Hot Potatoes…

There are a few subjects that individuals both inside and outside the Christian Church viewed as taboo. To borrow from a lecture that I heard from the late Greg L. Bahnsen they are the “Hot Potatoes” of life.

Did you ever play that game when you were a child? I think I’ve only did it once during a youth lock-in many years ago. The closest I get to it now is when I decide to make baked potatoes for dinner. If you’ve ever held one that has been heated, you’ll know that you cannot hold onto it very long before you burn your hands.

In the same way there are certain subjects that others wish you wouldn’t try to handle. Better to leave them be. Better to remain silent. Better to as my kids have told me “put a blanket on it.” I guess if we don’t speak about those issues that people find troubling, then life will be much more pleasant. Much more akin to a loving environment that we so adore…unless it’s not our version of love. Unless we feel compelled to speak on it. Here I am merely referring to the “tolerance crowd” that requires we be tolerant of all views, except those that they find unhealthy, unwanted, distasteful and downright wicked.

What are some topics that I notice many Christians ignore? I mean better than to ignore them, to “put a blanket on them” than to risk offending our readership, our social media following, our reputation in our tight little network of friends.  And yes, I will pick on my brethren for a minute since judgment first falls on the house of the Lord (cf. 1Pet 4.17). For we are supposed to be leading the way, not riding the wind.   

Here are just a few:

1) Sexual ethics[ii]; 2) Politics[iii]; 3) Doctrinal distinctives[iv]; 4) Abortion[v]; 5) Critical Race Theory[vi];  Gay Marriage[vii].

I suppose I could add more if I really thought about it, but that should be sufficient. These are all subjects that the current zeitgeist (that mysterious wind that blows the minds of people in nefarious directions) has deemed off limits. Christians, who should be setting the standard, fall in line with it, acquiescing to the current that drives humanity towards oblivion.

Personal Conjecture on Something Called Holiness…

Now I am not as good a student of history as I should be. I wish that I were, but I find that there are too many other things vying for my time. I am a husband, a father, a pastor, but most important of all I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. I wish that I could say that I were an excellent one, but that would not be accurately painting the picture. I’d have to use some darker colored paint to make the canvas more appealing, so to speak.

In this I am not alone. We are told in Scripture that there is “no one good, no not one” (Psa 53.1-3). For there is “not a man who has not sinned” (1Kgs 8.46); and yes, ladies that includes you as well. But we who bear the name of Christ are called to holiness. We are called “to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” (Matt 5.48; cf. Lev 20.26). Though we will always fall short of that standard, to that standard do we run. Yes, yes, it is probably more akin to reality that we struggle walking and sometimes even crawling towards that standard, but still we persist.

What is that holiness code? Have you ever wondered? You can sum it up in a word. Do you know what it is? How about…JUSTICE. We are to pursue justice, for we are called to follow the edicts of the king. Which means what precisely? That however He determines a thing, that is how we are to see a thing.

Reason for Descending Thoughts…

Do you know why people inside and outside the Christian Church don’t want to talk about these hot potato issues? Do you know why they’d prefer that you keep your mouth silent too? I mean, other than their reputation with the world.  Because, in their heart of hearts they want to be king. They want to be king? Yes, they desire to be king. They desire to rule as they see fit in their own eyes.

Now for the Christian this is a constant struggle. But not everyone who bears the name of Christ really struggles much with this in their life. And so, when it comes to hot potato issue, they would prefer to “keep the peace” with those who are antagonistic to their professed king. So…no word on sexual ethics, politics, abortion, gay marriage, doctrinal distinctives or Critical Race theory to name a few.

The reason they get along so well with the world, singing the same song around the same camp fire (Kum-ba-ya anyone?) is because they prefer not to rock the boat. However, we should be doing what the late Walter Martin said, “I don’t want to rock the boat, I want to sink it!”

Some Meat with the Potatoes…

Alright, now to the meaty portion of this post. Let’s talk about politics for a moment. In the past, I used to pay much more attention to the political waves being tossed to and fro in our country. But for peace of mind I detached myself from it for a while. Unlike some Christians I believe we have been afforded a wonderful freedom by God in this country where we can have an influence over who is found leading this country. We have been given a right from our Creator to place in power leaders who reflect our Lord’s ways of thinking.

Now I know what you are thinking, “Politics are dirty business. And frankly, they are the sort of business that Christians ought not get involved in.” I’m sure that Satan and all those the march to the beat of his drum (knowingly or unknowingly) enjoy such sentiments. Well, there was a wise person who once said, “if you want dirty dishes clean, you’ll need to wash them.”

So, if you want a society that reflects the holiness standards of your professed Lord (king) and Savior (deliverer), then you better get involved. And part of that involvement requires that you speak out. You call an atrocity an atrocity. Just make sure that your definitional standard is drawn from God’s Word, and not your own personal biases and assumptions.

My Reasons…

If you were to look at my voting record you would find that I vote Republican. There is a reason for that. Do you know what it is? No, its not because I’m a 40-year old white male that has somehow lived a life of privilege (don’t assume you know my life, unless you’ve asked). The reason I do not vote Democrat and will not ever unless they radically change their platform (foundation) is because everything they stand for is embedded with a doctrine of death.

For example:

  • They support the destruction of the family unit that God has ordained. This has been done by divorce on demand, abortion on demand, gay marriage on demand, and now children ruling the home with subjective opinions as to their gender as they are being manipulated by a devilish society and abusive parents/guardians.  What can survive in the wake of these things unless they are artificially supplied life support?
  • They support governmental theft on a slightly larger scale than the Republican party (I say slightly, because let’s face it both parties love their welfare state for it garners them power to remain in office). It is wrong to take what someone else has worked for and give it to another. It is wrong to be envious, covetous, jealous of another person’s wealth and so deem that only the government is the responsible party to know what to do with such “excess funds.” Socialism has never worked in the history of this planet. It has always failed. But like a video game socialist leader keep hitting reset hoping for a different outcome, all the while they are untouched by the policies that they have inflicted on the rest.
  • They seek to drive a wedge into the heart of this nation over ethnicity. What they refer to as separate races (white vs. black; white vs. Hispanic). Speaking about reparations, and affirmative action, etc. They preach against segregation while doing their absolute best at segregating us from each other, spurring on bitterness and hatred.
  • They support injustice by rejecting the constitutional standard, by waging war on the Christian faith that helped form this nation. Don’t believe me read the preambles of all fifty states of this union and at with them the colonies and you’ll see that I’m not wrong (See Here: https://americanvision.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/God-and-State-Constitutions.pdf). How have they done this? Indoctrinating our children with lies, robbing parents of their rights (instruction/discipline), labeling opposing thoughts as hate speech in order to silence, and if that won’t work criminalize those who disagree with their teachings.[viii]
  • Not to mention the impeachment farce that has been a media circus for how long now?

What the Impeachment Entails…

They have accused President Trump of collusion with Russia, but no evidence has been presented (contra: Hilary Clinton sending secret information via email to the Russians). They have accused him of obstructing justice, of treasonous acts against the nation, of trying to dig up dirt on a political rival. However, the telephone conversation in question, that supposedly had evidence to this criminal offense, was surprisingly innocent. And the supposed witnesses to the criminal activity of our president were not actual witnesses to anything. They gave subjective opinions based on personal conjecture, and were found to be hear-sayers. Which is inadmissible in a court of law. They have refused to allow the president to face his accusers, to call his own witnesses in his own defense. They have no evidence of crimes but yet they are doing everything they can to destroy their political opponent, the very thing he was accused of!

Now I know that President Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again!” And I will be the first to admit that there are many things that I do not like about our current president, or for that matter the Republican party. Nor am I so naïve to assume that you can somehow make America great through politic’s at the national level. But if we are God’s children, then we are to be ruled by God’s standards. And in closing I will give just a few.

Scriptural Tenets…

“A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deut 19.15).

This is the gold standard for accusing another of criminal activity. You need actual witnesses, not hearsay. You need to have at minimum two to three lines of evidence in order to try someone for a crime.

“If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days. The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. ‘The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you” (Deut 19.16-20).

This is how the accuser is to own up before the defendant. Both parties will have their day in court. Both testimonies will be weighed. The priests represent the law of God (ethical norms), and the judges represent the civil magistrates (cf. Rom 13.1-7). If a witness is found to be false and the accused shall not only be exonerated of the alleged crime, but the accuser will face the same punishment he intended to lay at the feet of the defendant. In other words, if the Democrats cannot prove their case and are found to be false, driven by false motives, they shall (or should) be the ones impeached for wrong doing. The very thing they have sought to do to the president from the beginning.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before you” (Psa 89.14).

If this is true of God our King, then ought not it likewise be our pursuit as His people, citizens of His eternal kingdom? For the Lord hates injustice.

“You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute…Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent or the righteous, for I will not acquit the guilty. You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just” (Exod 23.2-3, 7-8).

In short, you shouldn’t wet your finger and put it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing to decide the direction to go in. Rather, you ought to look to the Lord and seek what is righteous in His sight. Even if you don’t like our current president. You don’t have to like him, but you do have to love your God.


ENDNOTES:

[i] All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard Update (NASB).

[ii] e.g., the LGBTQ? Craze—they can tell you what is right and wrong to accept/do, but it is unquestionably wrong for the Christian to offer a counterargument.

[iii] e.g., Democrat vs. Republican; Socialist vs. Capitalist; Welfare state or Defense; etc.

[iv] e.g., Ethical norms in general, and the morals that are guided by them; Creation vs. Evolution; Science vs. Faith; Monergism vs. Synergism; biblical authority; etc.

[v] This could really be a subcategory under “sexual ethics,” since it is a poor sexual ethic that leads to the murdering of innocent babies in the womb.

[vi] The false teaching that your skin color somehow gives you privilege, while at the same time you are arguing for privilege over those you are accusing of it; rather than, discerning a person by the content of their character.

[vii] Yes, this one should probably go under “sexual ethics” as well since a poor ethic leads to the redefining of marriage to mean something that is not actually marriage.

[viii] For example, education is not a federalized right under the constitution of the United States, this was added by politicians vowing for control. Words are not a crime; thus, Hate Speech is an oxymoron. You can speak hatefully to someone that is true, but it’s not a crime. You might be a jerk, but that doesn’t make you a criminal. Discipline and instruction of children is a parent’s sovereign right, not the states. And yet, here in Ohio not too long ago there were Christian parents that had their child removed from their home because the Children Protective Services in the Cincinnati vicinity didn’t like the sexual ethics (derived from Scripture) that were being taught to their child.

Posted in philosophy

Philosophical Authority: An Inquiry into Paul’s Discussion on Colossians 2:8

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col 2.8; italics mine).

Is philosophical meandering wrong? At first glance it might appear that the apostle Paul is warning Christians to steer clear of philosophy in general.  But on closer inspection I think you’ll see he’s saying something else.

A Reflective Tale…

A few years back I read a book entitled, Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality by David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls. This was for a graduate level course on Christian Ethics. Besides having a huge axe to grind against the Calvinistic theological system, the two authors seemingly mocked the idea that philosophy as a whole needed to be governed by something outside itself. Instead they appear to treat biblical revelation and philosophical consideration as two separate but nearly equal, spheres of authority:

“Here we draw an important distinction. Whereas biblical authority trumps in the realm of theological norms, there are more basic philosophical processes at play that hold logical priority in the realm of basic epistemology.”[i]

In laymen’s terms. The authors seemingly believe the Bible holds the trump card when it comes to “spiritual matters” concerning God, etc., but philosophical processes play the necessary first step in determining knowledge related criteria in the real world. To show that I am not over exaggerating their intention, allow me to offer an example of their thought where they show that philosophy must serve as the necessary first step:

“The Bible is to be taken as authoritative in the realm of theological truth. But before we can rationally believe such a thing, as human being privy to general revelation and endowed with the ability to think we must weigh arguments and draw conclusions, that is, do philosophy.”

“When someone suggests that we ‘don’t need philosophy,’ either in this debate [over Calvinism vs. Arminianism] or more generally [i.e., on all other matters], their words reflect at best a huge misunderstanding…wrongly assum[ing] that we are even able to understand the Bible, let alone discern that it is ultimate revelation from God, without the capacity to think. Philosophy is, to put it most succinctly, clear thought.”[ii]

Thus, while we must give the Bible some nod of authority on our part, it is only to be done after we have—philosophically speaking—determined that this is in fact the actual case (again just to be clear this is the position of the authors, not my own). Which does what exactly? It gives the ultimate crown of authority not to the Word of God, but the word of man. For, according to such thinking, it is only after philosophical authority has recognized biblical authority that we dare attribute authority to Holy Scripture. And, who then logically has authority in this instance? God or man?

Referring to the passage (Col 2.8) quoted above (as well as a few others both biblical and non) these authors note:

“The Bible itself is sometimes thought to teach…skepticism about the value of philosophy… Any hint of even bringing philosophical analysis into the conversation is thought to be anathema, abandoning the authority of scripture [sic] to provide reliable revelation.”[iii]

I don’t think it is any stretch of the imagination to say that the authors so far quoted do not agree. It seems fairly clear that Scripture (Holy Bible) should stand on one tier and philosophy on the other, and where the two shall meet is determined by the philosophizer.  But the ground of authority starts where? This is the question that Paul is answering in his letter to the Christians in Colossae.

Colossians 1

In the opening of the letter, Paul is joyful for the believers that have faith in Christ Jesus (Col 1.4). He and those with him (e.g., Timothy; Col 1.1) “give thanks to God” (Col 1.3) unceasingly. The apostles desire is for these believers to “…be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord [Jesus Christ], to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1.9b-10).

Paul acknowledges that what has taken place in their life is due to the Sovereign activity of God (His elective work):

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins…And although you were formerly aliens and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Col 1.13-14, 21-22).

You see, in Paul’s mind Jesus is the Creator of “all things” (Col 1.16). Therefore, Christ has preeminence over all creation, which is the meaning of being firstborn (Col 1.15b), not in being created but in having supremacy over creation; including His Church (Col 1.18). For in Christ Jesus “…all things hold together” (Col 1.17), as “He is the image of the invisible God…” where the fullness of the Father indwells (Col 1.19). And it is His life alone that brought/bought reconciliation through the shedding of His blood (Col 1.20; cf. Heb 9.22).

Colossians 2

Now when we reach the apostle’s discussion on philosophy, we should not find it difficult to follow his flow-of-thought. Having shared those truths in the first chapter of his epistle, we find him begin to build on them further. Paul is deeply concerned about their welfare as believers. He is earnest on their behalf

“…for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2.1b-3).

Three areas of concern…

Notice his topics of concern: 1) encouraged and knit together in love, 2) full assurance of understanding based on true knowledge, 3) found in Christ Jesus, the treasure trove of all wisdom and knowledge.

Speaking on the first, true believers are unified in Love, for this fulfills the entirety of the Law-Word of God. Not love as the world defines it, but love as that which is first found in God loving us, and then reciprocated (an outpouring of something God has put in us) to our neighbors. Love starts with God. Love is defined by God. And love cannot be true love unless this love has been instilled in the heart of the believer by God (a sovereign act; cf. 1Jn 4.10, 19).

Speaking on the second, Paul uses a concept that is somewhat foreign to much of the Evangelical world today—full assurance, which means certainty. A believer’s faith is founded upon the full assurance (i.e., certainty) of what God has done for them. True faith is one that knows God is real and is drawn to Him. You cannot draw to God as a volition of the will if you do not believe He is, and that He gives what He promises (Heb 11.6). Though we do not see Him, we are certain of who He is, and that He is ours and we are His and we have been created by Him (Heb 11.1, 3).

Speaking on the third, Paul teaches that such knowledge is hidden in and revealed in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the seat of all knowledge and wisdom. This statement alludes to various wisdom passages in the Old Testament:

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright…” (Prov 2.6-7a; 1.7; 9.10)

And the lynch pin is this. Paul is teaching these things to these Christians for one unifying reason:

“I say this so that no one will delude you with a persuasive argument” (Col 2.4; emphasis added).

He says what? That in Christ comes the full assurance of faith, the bounds of all love, the grounds of true knowledge and understanding for all wisdom is seated in Him. All wisdom? All wisdom. What’s the love of wisdom called? Philosophy.

Should a Christian love wisdom? Depends upon the source doesn’t it? Obviously, Paul wants these Christians in Colossae to love wisdom if all knowledge and wisdom is seated in Christ. But Paul’s concern is also cautious. He wants these Christians to come to know all knowledge and wisdom, but at the same time he wants them to avoid falling into the trap of delusion (or deception) that comes by the way of persuasive arguments.

All persuasive arguments? Is the apostle telling Christians to avoid all persuasive arguments? No, for we find that he in the book of Acts uses persuasive arguments to explain and prove Christ Jesus (e.g., Acts 17.1-4). So, what is his concern?

He wants these Christians to walk in Christ just as they received Him (Col 2.7). And he warns them to not

“…be taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col 2.8; italics mine).

What he’s saying about Philosophy…

Philosophy is not bad, but the source from which it springs forth determines its worth. The Christian is to be governed by a philosophy that is according to Christ, not according to what men think. If we were to look at all the issues that spring forth within the Christian communities in these 1st century writings, what we would notice is that error always seeped in when man’s philosophy superseded or supplanted God’s.  

In the letter to the Colossians Paul identifies a few problem areas that are driven from false philosophy. For example, “worshiping angels” (Col 2.18); “circumcision” (Col 2.11); “food and drink,” “festivals” or “Sabbaths” (Col 2.16). To these they were strongly warned not to submit to things that have the appearance of wisdom but are really of no value (Col 2.20-23). Christians are to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…[to] do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3.16, 17).

However, we mustn’t assume that these offer stringent limits on what can or cannot be done by the believer. The question over what sort of philosophy we adhere to, submit to, and reason from is a question of its origin. If it originates in the heart of man, regardless of how well it is articulated, how well it is received, or how appealing it may be to our carnal minds, we need to reject it. We need not live by it. We need not allow it to govern our thoughts or actions. We are made in God’s image to reflect Him, and so any philosophy that does not find itself drawn from Jesus Christ is nothing more than “empty deception” driven by man’s wishful thinking.

Sadly, much of Christian thought nowadays suffers from philosophizing outside the bounds of Christ, apart from His Word. This is not new. Obviously, as the text before us reveals it was something that the apostles had to wrestle with in the early Church.

Back to my earlier reflections…

As for the authors that I cited earlier. I did this for a couple of reasons. The first is related to their failure to note that what Scripture and other divines of the past warned against they arrogantly trudged forth. The second is found in their reason for doing so, they are ultimately governed by a manmade philosophy that they find personally appealing, and this is evidenced by something they noted in the fourth chapter of their work.

In an effort to show the handicap that Calvinism supposedly has when confronted with Arminianism argument for God’s morality in light of a consideration regarding the doctrine of unconditional election, they make the following statement:

“In this chapter we intend to offer a philosophical case against the Calvinistic conception of God’s unconditional election…our primary aim is to show that Calvinistic construal is philosophically weak…If our argument is successful, we will thereby provide Calvinists excellent prima facie reason to go back to the Bible….”[iv]

Sounds as if they are going to put it to the Calvinists, demonstrating their philosophical prowess at the same time devastating the Reformed doctrines ineptitude. In short, they are going to drive us back to the Bible with our tails evidently between our legs. Here’s how they plan on doing it:

“We think of our argument as unapologetically appealing to general revelation, which means that we reject the claim that philosophy can or should be ignored in the process of figuring out the answer to such questions.”

And so, Baggett and Walls true to form, in an effort to teach us nasty Calvinists to think better, do so with only one direct appeal to a single verse taken out of context (cf. 1Cor 10.13, p. 69) failing to understand our own teaching—derived from the Bible—regarding man’s enslavement to sin and inability to will towards that which would please God. Now you can have your own thoughts on the Calvinist vs. Arminian (or even traditionalist debate). That is not the point I am making. My point is that in an effort to refute a biblical teaching that we hold, they appeal to a philosophy governed not from Scriptural precepts, but personal whims.

The End of the Matter…

Our philosophy will either be according to one of two standards in terms of authority: Man’s word or God’s. the Bible plainly warns against the former, while encouraging the latter. I will leave it to the reader to think on which philosophy truly governs all aspects of their life.


ENDNOTES:

[i]  David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls, Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2011),67, Kindle Edition.

[ii] Ibid., 68.

[iii] Ibid., 67.

[iv] Ibid., 66.

All Scripture unless otherwise noted is of the New American Standard Update (NASB).