Posted in dialogue

A Response to a Loved One Concerning Systemic Racism

“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Prov 12.15; NASB).

Dear “D”,

I don’t have Facebook, a decision I made a few years back and, in many ways, I think a wise one. I do however, from time-to-time, see how things progress in this social media giant’s haven. It is unfortunate that the free exchange of ideas has been censored by a Left-leaning ideology, but with the current way of things…to be expected.

I must admit that of all my family members (extended or otherwise) you have been one of my favorites. You have a loveable, sensitive disposition that draws many people. That and in some ways our shared sense of humor was always a delight to my own heart.

I say these things beforehand in the hope that you will see my critique not as mean spirited but as one guided by wisdom afforded to me through the Word of God. Surely, knowledge and wisdom in times like this ought to be coveted things. But this raises the question of being properly sourced. From where do we draw our knowledge and wisdom. From what fountainhead do we longingly drink deeply to help form our ideals?

I am reminded of a passage of Scripture that provides an astute warning to listening ears:

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1Cor 15.33; ESV).

In other words, we must be careful what influences we allow to shape our outlook on life. For it is in our nature to replicate what we surround ourselves with. With this in mind, I would like to address a dialogue you have had with another individual of whom we both care for. He has graciously allowed me a venue in which I might respond to some of the claims that you have offered in light of the current debate being held nationally since the tragic death of George Floyd.

I will offer a point-by-point critique of what you have stated. You may respond or be silent on the matter, the decision I will leave to you.

It seems very clear to me that you believe systemic racism is a genuine problem here in the United States. A belief that is unsupported by actual facts and evidences, although often referred to in anecdotal settings.

You noted that a possible solution to what you believe is a real problem institutionally is:

“…we can support communities by ‘spreading educational funds…[provide] a healthcare system that will actually take care of poorer families…demand that our government do something to help the homeless population…[provide] access to mental health care”

Response:

It would appear that you assume the civil government is responsible for doing these things. They are the “we” that you expect to support the down trodden? I only note this now since you seem to believe that religion (specifically the Christian faith) should not be viewed as a viable solution. Interesting…we’ll return to this in just a bit.

Later you admit when pressed with evidence contrary to your claims (that which “J” cites in his dialogue with you) the following points:

There is no written law that promotes systemic racism, but instead is “captured in intent and execution…”

 Response:

That is to say you appear to be admitting that there are no laws on the books (“in word” as you put it) that disadvantage one group by raising another up. For example, in the past we could point to Jim Crow laws, laws enacted and upheld by members of the Democratic Party, but no such laws exist on the books today. This is unfortunate for your position, for if such laws existed then the debate over whether or not systemic racism was a real thing would be over. You would have positive evidence to support your claims.

Instead, you appeal to the motives of individuals or groups of individuals who perpetrate evil actions. Something that is extremely impossible to prove—for we cannot read people’s hearts—unless that individual or group confess that their actions (“execution,” as you put it) are indeed racially motivated.

Next you say:

“Not all peoples morals come from God and not all moral people are Christian.”

Response:

So then, “morals” come from where? Are morals the byproduct of societal consensus? Then, they are subjective, fluid and not static. If this is true, then relativism rules the day—Different strokes for different folks.

So then, why complain? If my morals, which according to you are not necessarily derived from our Maker—the God of the Bible, but myself, my community and culture, then why, or better yet, on what grounds, can you argue that my morals which may uphold “racism” and “white privilege”  (tongue in cheek here) are wrong and should be changed? Are you then guilty of forcing your ideals on others?

However, if morals are absolute (e.g., wrong to murder, wrong to oppress, wrong to rob, etc.) as a reflection of the Triune God of Scripture (revealed as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; one co-eternal, co-equal Being), then they must be pressed upon the society in which we live. Starting with myself, my community and culture. I have no doubt that you believe “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a command that ought to be pressed on all people, or else why argue at all that one moral behavior is right and another wrong?

You add:

“In fact many people in the past and today use Christianity as a reason for their continued issues.”

Response:

You do not identify what those “issues” are, but I will assume that you are attempting to highlight how professing Christians use the Bible erringly (past and present) in an effort to support immoral activity.

There is no question this has been done and will continue to be the case. This is true for a variety of reasons. Either the “Christian” is one in name only. Or, the “Christian” is ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches on an issue. Or, the “Christian” has faulty presuppositions that prevent him/her from properly interpreting the biblical text(s).

Since you did not come out and say what “issue” you were referring to where Christians have evidently got it wrong in the past, then I will assume that one issue is how there were some Christians in the past who used the Bible to validate slavery in the Antebellum South. However, all three reasons I cited above provide the answer to the problem issue in question:

  1. Not all slave owners that identified as Christian were really Christians (cf. Matt 7.21-24).
  2. Not all slave owners that identified as Christian knew all of what the Bible taught on the issue of slavery.
  3. Not all slave owners that identified as Christian properly interpreted what they read in the Bible because they possessed underlying biases, assumptions, traditions that filtered the truth of God preventing them from doing so.

But there were those who identified as Christians that did what was right in light of biblical precepts. For in having knowledge and wisdom dispensed to them from God in His Word, they sought to make right the societal wrongs being perpetrated in their day. (We will return to this in a bit).

However, while this has been the case (there have been those that have tarnished the Christian name and maligned the teaching of the Bible) you seem to suppose that this somehow gives you the moral high ground? Again, the question that needs to be asked and answered is “whose morals are right?” Is there one standard universally true, or are there many? Only by borrowing from the Christian faith can one legitimately bring a charge against such evils of the past. For if truth is not absolute, if morals are not derived from one standard, but many, then morals in and of themselves are regulated to the personal whims of the individual or group that purports them.

You continue:

“Also you can’t use God as a tool in order to change overall culture. Not in the short term or as things are trending in the long term either”

Response:

Who says? You? Others? That’s not what the Bible teaches at all. As Jesus said,

“You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matt 22.29; NASB).

It is written that all of creation, including humanity, is the creation of God.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1.1). It was God who decreed, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule…over the earth…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’” (Gen 1.26, 27-28a; NASB).

There are not many races, there is one race. Humanity is the creation of God and all have value as His creatures. For… 

“from one man [one blood] God made every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation (Acts 17.26; NASB).

In short, God made human beings to represent Him in all the earth. The dominion God gave mankind was in light of bearing the image of God into all creation. God delegated authority to humanity to rule according to His holiness and righteousness (from which all morals come). This Jesus repeated to those who bear His name (i.e., Christians). He commanded His people to

“…make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in[to] the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt 28.19-20a; ESV).

You say, that we cannot use the Christian faith to alter the course of culture either in the short or the long term, but this is inaccurate. History tells us otherwise. How was slavery abolished in England? Who helped lead the charge in its removal from our kindred across the pond? William Wilberforce, a white Christian who knew, believed and understood that the Bible taught that enslaving one ethnic group was morally wrong and spent his whole life fighting against it. This is true of many from the past here in the United States that fought to free other members of the human race from tyranny.

All of life is ethical. Everything is weighed in terms of right or wrong. Therefore, all of life is religious. Culture is a reflection of a person or groups religious faith-system. This “faith” will determine culturally what is viewed as right vs. wrong behavior (i.e., moral).

The only solution to the hate we seeing spewed in our world today is the gospel. Bigotry is sin, and sin is color-blind. If we refuse to repent of our sins before Christ, adopting His way of thinking and living, then we are destined to treat others, not like ourselves, but less than ourselves. The government is not God, only God is God. The government solutions you present would do nothing to stem hate, but only shift where the hate is being perpetrated.

I love you man and hope that you see my words in light of this love for you and yours. May Christ give you ears to hear and eyes to see.

In Christ,

Kristafal

Posted in Abortion

Debating Abortion: Why it’s Done and What’s the Appropriate Response?

Why is there a debate on abortion? Have you ever sat back and really chewed on the reasons behind the debate? I was born in the late 70’s, and so as long as I can remember (at least when I started to care about such things) the debate on this issue has been the norm.

Some will say that the issue is about “women’s rights,” or “reproductive rights.” Some will claim that it is a scientific question of when life begins. Others will attempt to identify the debate on philosophical grounds, specifically in terms of person-hood. But do any of those really get to the heart of the matter? Is there a heart in the matter?

What I find at the same time amusing and disturbing is the reluctance for a great number of people on either side of the debate (Pro-choice; Pro-life) to see it as a religious issue. The general attitude seems to be “that must be avoided at all costs!” There will be those of the unbelieving sect that will sneer at the very audacity of daring to bring religion into the debate. Similarly, those of the believing sect will either tsk, tsk, tsk at the notion, or they will cower in fear of appearing too confrontational to others.

A couple of things might be said to both sides on this particular point…

First, a debate by definition is an argument of opposing sides. The argument is by its nature confrontational. To debate the position of another is to attack that position you are arguing against. In the same breath, you are also defending the position that you hold in a debate against the one who is attacking your position by arguing against it. DEBATES are CONFRONTATIONAL. And so, I wonder what is the root cause of the professed believers in shying away from dealing with the religious nature of the debate?

Secondly, religion by definition is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”[1] Therefore, there is no question that the debate over abortion is religious in nature. All people are religious, although they may differ in the object of their faith-commitment. If you happen to be one that prefers to leave religion out of the discussion, you may not like to hear that, but truth that is psychologically disturbing to the recipient is nonetheless truth.

Why the Debate?

Back to the original question I proposed at the beginning of this post: Why is there a debate on abortion? What is at stake? What is the heart of the issue? The answer is PRIDE.

Prides says, “To everybody else go and die, I am going to do it my way!” Pride is by nature autonomous. Pride recognizes no other authority but self. Pride is the blessed root of selfishness. Pride cares little for the affairs of others, but only that which is precious to itself.

Again, I find it amusing and disturbing that pride is the reason not only for abortion, but the reluctance to see the debate as religiously oriented. Pride is also the reason why so many go to such great lengths at avoiding the debate. As if a strong confrontation of ideas is wrong?

Christian Commitment…

I should add at this point that the Christian is commanded by Christ to be Christlike. Which means “gentle as doves and wise as serpents.” Which looks like speaking the truth in love, but with love of God as the ultimate commitment that cannot be subverted in the slightest. Which means being gentle and firm at the same time; patient and insistent; kind but unabashedly bold for the truth.

The Underlying Issue…

Now I will grant that the reason the one side (Pro-choice) wants it to remain outside the purview of a confrontation is because they do not want to hear opposition. They don’t want to be told they are wrong. They don’t want to be told that there are consequences for choosing to “off” their offspring. They don’t want it to be an issue of right or wrong, because “choice” sounds so much more intelligent and sophisticated. Most of all they don’t want to be told that what they are really doing is sinning. Sinning against the child in the womb, against the father who is also responsible for the child, against the society that feels the effects of their “choice,” but most of all they don’t want to be told they are sinning against a Holy God in heaven that will hold them accountable for their “choice.”

At root, pride is found nestled, deeply embedded in the hearts/minds of those on that side of the fence. Sadly, they are not the only ones. For in an effort to “keep-face” with the world; To not come off as a bigot before the multitudes; To not be hated by those who they may encounter on a daily basis, or break bread with during those special times of the year, Pro-lifer’s will avoid bringing religion—specifically, the Christian faith—into the discussion.

Speaking specifically to those who bear the cross of Christ

For the Christian to effectively address the issue of abortion they must understand that it is a gospel issue. How so?

First and foremost, in recognizing that abortion is not about “women’s rights,” or “reproductive rights,” or about “scientific evidences,” or “philosophical meanderings.” Abortion is about fallen human beings that in an effort to preserve their way of life and guard the convictions of their own hearts, sacrifice their children on the altar of convenience.  One glaring example of this that comes to mind is that of actress Michelle Williams who thanked her ability to kill a child to promote her career. (Read Here).

Secondly, by defining abortion for what it truly is…MURDER! When we properly define it for what it is, then we are able to rightly identify the class it fits within…SIN! Again, I am often amazed at the way people refuse to define terms. Abortion is the murder of an unborn, but living, child. To call it a fetus does not change this fact, for from the Latin fetus means young one, babe or offspring.

Third and finally, admitting that there is only one solution to sin—the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person who takes the life of their own offspring is in bondage to sin. Who can set them free from that sin? Who can lift them from the muck and mire, pulling out their prideful roots that have embedded their hearts/minds, if not Christ? There is no one else. Christ alone atones for sin. Christ alone gives victory over sin. The work of Christ alone breaks up hardened hearts, giving them a heart of flesh.

Brief Worldview Analysis…

The fact is, if you are trying to change a person’s position which would need to go against their base convictions of reality, you cannot do it. Facts and evidences will not change a person’s heart. That person will stick to their guns. They will hold tight to their presupposition, for to give up that one many others would have to follow.

Which is why you will hear various “buts” to escape the obvious, logical conclusion that the thing growing inside of a woman during her pregnancy is not a thing at all. It is a human being, a person, a little babe that is young and small, but growing onward toward maturity. The issue scientifically is not that its just a lump of cells, a mutation, an alien, or an intruder, but the offspring of a union between a man and a woman.

The issue is not intellectual, scientific, or philosophical but the condition of the human heart. Of course, all of those things have a bearing in the discussion, but a person’s intellect, interpretation of scientific facts, and the philosophical conclusions they draw are driven by the object that holds their faith (i.e., faith-commitment).

A couple possible objections…

“Yes, but if I’m offensive to the person(s) I am speaking to they will shut their ears. They will refuse to listen, and I will lose my opportunity to present the gospel.”

  • If you know anything about the Lord Jesus, you will see that he never subverted from the truth in order to be inoffensive. In fact, a consistent reading of the gospels will show that Jesus was at times very offensive, and He never apologized for it. Better to smack the person that needs smacked in order to wake them up, then to butter them with kisses and let them die. He told the truth graciously, which meant the things I said above, and when people left Him because they were offended, He let them. And, when they got angry at his message, he told them that they would die in their sins (verbally shaking the dust off his sandals, if you get the reference).

“Yes, but the Christian should be more about saving lost souls and preaching the gospel, not getting into debates over cultural mores and/or societal and political habits.”

  • The Great Commission (see Matt 28.18-20) says two things that every Christian should know. First, that we are to preach the gospel of God, who is defined by the Lord as (The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), baptizing all people in His Name. Second, that we are to teach all nations (i.e., all peoples) “to obey all that He has commanded.” What do you suppose were the commandments to which He was referring?
  • If you think that New Testament Christian’s Scripture was the New Testament, then you are grossly mistaken. Their Scripture was what we call the Old Testament (Tanakh and/or Torah). The commandments to which Christ referred were His holy law that He gave to Moses long ago. The gospel is about saving people from their sin, but sin is that which we think, speak and do. Therefore, saving people from sin also speaks of justice and righteousness and holiness. Which are the means by which we are instructed to love God and love our neighbor.
  • Thus, the Christian is called to address the societal/political habits of the people by calling them what they are when they stray from God’s holy instruction (sinful behaviors); thereby, pointing them to repentance and a change of heart regarding them. Which in turn does what? Changes the society/political habits of the people because the surrounding culture (i.e., cultus) has had a change of heart.

Forthcoming…

For those unfamiliar with the historic anti-abortion movement, next week I will give you (the reader) some background information and a book recommendation that I believe you will find helpful. If you’d like to hook up with an excellent Christian ministry that is on the front lines of this fight for the lives of unborn babies, then I graciously turn you to End Abortion Now’s website

Have a blessed weekend.


ENDNOTES:

[1] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster), 1052, “religion,” s.v., def. 4.

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 Witnessing

Who’s Really in the Dock?

C.S. Lewis on evangelizing:

“…the difficulties which a man must face in trying to present the Christian Faith to modern unbelievers…is too wide a subject for my capacity or even the scope of an article. The difficulties vary as the audience varies. The audience may be of this or that nation, may be children or adults, learned or ignorant.”[i]

Therefore, the first step in sharing the faith is KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE.

C.S. Lewis on the language barrier:

“…the difficulty occasioned by language. In all societies, no doubt, the speech of the vulgar differs from that of the learned…The man who wishes to speak…must learn their language. It is not enough that he should abstain from using what he regards as ‘hard words’. He must discover empirically what words exist in the language of his audience and what they mean in that language…Our problem is often simply one of translation.”[ii]

Therefore, the second step in sharing the faith is KNOWING THEIR LANGUAGE.

C.S. Lewis on the attitude of people:

“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.”[iii]

Therefore, the third step in sharing the faith is KNOWING THEIR CONDITION.

Offering Clarification…

This final observation by Lewis is an important one. He identifies that one of the key issues when sharing the faith is an underlying attitude prevalent in all people. What is it? They want to be judge. They want the final say of what is true vs. false. They want to the be the arbiter over God; whether He is real, whether He is legitimate, whether He is worthy, whether He has a right to be acknowledged, worshiped, adored, and served.

The idea that God is in the Dock is that before fallen persons God is on the witness stand. He stands trial before humanity, and humanity will determine whether or not He is to be acquitted. The individual sinner wants to be on the Bench. He wants the power of the gavel. He wants the final say in all things holy, loving, righteous, and good. He wants to be the definer of such things.

The finite desires to weigh in on the infinite. And the underlying assumption is not that God is innocent, but guilty. The unbeliever starts with the presupposition that God is wrong, and man is right.

Wrong Assumption…

The only critique that I would offer to Lewis’ thought is that he assumed that this was the condition of “modern man.” We make the same error when we assume that this is just the problem with “post-modern man” in a “post-Christian world.” The only thing post-Christian about this world is that ground we seemingly gained in the past appears to be lost; whereas, ground that we never had before (e.g. communist China or even Iran) is being gained by leaps and bounds. However, we fail to see that because we spend far too much time looking at the end of our noses, wallowing in self-pity. When we should be doing the hard work of breaking up fallow ground (i.e. removing the rocks and weeds that we’ve allowed to grow in our despondency).

A Needed Reminder…

Lewis was wrong that this is a “modern” problem. The entire movement of the Christian faith has been in facing those who would deem themselves worthy of judging God. Have we forgotten our history? Have we forgotten what they did to our Lord?

I’m not speaking of just Jews in the 1st century, but Gentiles (foreigners) in the 1st century as well. Did they not convene in secret? Did they not place themselves in the Bench, while Jesus stood in the Dock? Did not “the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed…” (Psa 2.2)?

Actually, we can go farther back in history. We can go back to the beginning (Gen 3), do we not see the same attitude prevalent in Adam? Do we not also find it in his son Cain (cf. Gen 4)?  Are you then surprised that when you present the gospel that you find opposition? Sometimes downright hostility?

Are you so arrogant to assume that you must present evidence, upon evidence, upon evidence in order to allow the sinner to judge their Creator? Are you wiser than the prophets? Are you more knowledgeable than the apostles? Have you not read? Have you not heard?

Isa 40:10 ​Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.

Isa 40:11 ​He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

Isa 40:12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

Isa 40:13 ​Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel?

Isa 40:14 Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?

Isa 40:15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

Isa 40:16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.

Isa 40:17 ​All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

Isa 40:18 To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him?

Isa 40:19 ​An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains.

Isa 40:20 ​He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move.

Isa 40:21 Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

Isa 40:22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

Isa 40:23 ​who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Isa 40:24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

Before you share your faith, think. No, don’t dwell on your own thoughts; dwell on the Lord’s. Before you share your faith, take time to know your audience, learn their language, but above all understand their hearts. Take care when sharing your faith to first and foremost consider the God who made you, who redeemed you in Christ, who raised you by the Spirit’s power. Realize that before God it is the world that is on trial: the creature, not the Creator. Sinners before the Holy One, and the only hope of our salvation is an acquittal that He alone can offer in the living work of Jesus Christ.


ENDNOTES:

[i] C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, ed., Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1970), 240.

[ii] Ibid., 242, 243. Lewis use of “hard words” is learned speech to uneducated ears. It is akin to a medical doctor giving you a diagnosis when you have not been trained in the use of medical language. The job of the speaker is to aid the listener in understanding the message being communicated to them. The error occurs in communication when you assume that your hearer is trained to pick up on various key terms that have meaning to you, but not necessarily to them. In order to be effective Christian witnesses we need to learn what our hearers understand about reality, how they convey that truth in their day-to-day speech, and then filter our words through that common tongue.

[iii] Ibid., 244.

Posted in Apologetics

The Wisdom of the Babbler gives Meaning to the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection of our Lord

When Paul was in Athens (read Acts 17.16-34), as was his common practice, he reasoned from the Scriptures to prove Jesus as the Christ. The very thing he did in Thessalonica and in Berea, he did everywhere he went. Scripture tends to give brief summaries of what was said by the apostle, rather than his entire dialogue. However, what is revealed to us is that the heart of his message was Jesus.  The gospel of God focuses on, and finds its being and purpose in, the good-news of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the great I AM.

It was always Paul’s contention to preach “Christ crucified” (1Cor 2.2), and to focus on the judgment of all found in our Lord’s resurrection (Acts 17.30-31). Apart from which, the Christian faith is meaningless. However, the converse is also true—the cross of Christ and the resurrection of our Lord (i.e. empty tomb) are only meaningful to believers. This is clearly explained by the very apostle we find in Athens preaching (Acts 17.16-34), which was the content of a previous post (The Apostle Paul the Babbling Beggar).

Listen to his own testimony…

  • “For Christ… [sent me] to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1Cor 1.17-18; NIV).

Paul admits that the cross of Christ is powerless (i.e. emptied of its power) when divorced from the wisdom of God. True wisdom is sourced in God (Psa 111.10), from which all knowledge comes (Prov 2.6-8; Col 2.3). Not, the philosophy of fallen human beings.

Paul says that this idea is crazy and devoid of meaning (i.e. foolish) to those who are perishing. Who are the ones who are perishing? Those who are not in Christ. The apostle makes a needed distinction between those who are perishing and those who are not; the ones who are not perishing are the people who have been saved by the power of God.

It is not the wisdom of man that saves a man, but the power of God who saves the man.

  • “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (1Cor 1.21).

I know what you’re thinking, “God…saves those who believe!” Absolutely right! This is true, but before you do the victory lap, ask and answer the following question: “How?”

How is it that you believed, if the rest of the world did not? Since they view the cross of Christ and the resurrection of our Lord as utter foolishness? To the unbeliever the gospel of Jesus was not good news, but insanely moronic news. So how are you, a member of this world, a believer? Why did you find the cross of Christ and the resurrection of the Lord not foolish?

Paul answers that question if you’d keep reading:

  • “but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Cor 1.24; italics added).

Those who have been chosen, or appointed, or elected by God—both Jews and Greeks—Paul says, identify the work of Christ, the grace afforded to us as the power and wisdom of God. The emphasis is on what has been done for us. It is by God’s power that we are saved in Christ, that we enjoy the fruits of being delivered from sin.

The very truth we find him proclaiming at the end of the first chapter, saying “God chose…so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus…Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (vv.28-31; summarized the emphatic points).  Our being “in Christ,” Paul explains in another place, is due to the action of God—i.e. an expression of His will and purpose—in accordance with “the riches of [His] grace that he lavished on us” (Eph 1.8a; cf. vv.3-12).

Therefore, Paul “resolved to know nothing…except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1Cor 2.2). Rather than appealing to some other standard to show the validity and veracity of the gospel, the apostle’s message was “not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirits power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (1Cor 2.4b-5).

Human wisdom leads up a dead-end road. This is demonstrated in Jesus’ crucifixion at Golgotha. For “none of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Cor 2.8; emphasis added). But they did, because the message of the cross of Christ and His resurrection is spiritually discerned, and man left to His own abilities is not able (cf. 1Cor 2.14).

WHY ALL OF THIS TALK? THE RESURRECTION

A common assumption is made that all we need to do is preach Jesus’ resurrection today. If we can get people to see the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, then people will believe. Andy Stanley, who has adopted the mindset of Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, and many other significant Christian leaders, believes that if we can tether our message to the resurrected Jesus—i.e. the empty tomb—then that is all that is really needed.

Show them this evidence historically, apart from direct or sustained appeals to the Bible (we don’t want to get in any of those unnecessary biblical questions like inerrancy, etc!), and people will believe.

Besides the fact that the cross and resurrection of our Lord are meaningless apart from biblical testimony, many Christian leaders believe they have found a better way. Even though the very Lord they profess to believe in says it can’t be done, they have convinced themselves, “Oh, yes it can!” Interesting…um, who has the authority to say what can and can’t be done? I was pretty sure calling Jesus Lord settles that issue: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16.31; ESV).[i] “Yeah, but that’s a parable,” individuals like Stanley claim, as if that settles the matter.

“Oh! It’s a parable…Ah, I see that makes it…what less meaningful? Less true? Jesus you idiot! You taught people with parables rather than just saying it. Had you just said it, that would have been better. Then people would know that you were speaking truthfully, not figuratively.”

Is that what you think? Is that how you deal with the wisdom writings in the Bible? They use figurative language (poetic language even!) and so we can’t take them literally.

  • Person 1 says, “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” And then explains to Person 2, “You can’t drink the water fella, its no good. Either its poisoned by minerals or by decaying bodies, by either way its not safe to quench your thirst.”
  • Person 2 responds, “Well, you spoke figuratively there, so you must be wrong. I can’t take that literally.”

Now you may think I’m being a bit ridiculous, but the truth is many use those type of arguments all the time to get around what the Bible teaches on a given subject. It is true that figurative language is symbolic. But it is equally true that if you understand the symbols you can derive the true meaning of what is being said.

Jesus’ meaning is pretty clear: If people refuse to repent when they have heard the Word of God—by the way “Moses and the Prophets” is a figure of speech meaning the O.T.—then they will not believe even if someone has risen from the grave. It is not until the power of God has been demonstrated in the life of the individual in question by the Holy Spirit’s regenerating activity that spiritual truths make sense and are, consequently, embraced.

LETS HEAD BACK TO ATHENS

When Paul was in Athens, he proclaimed the cross of Christ and our Lord’s resurrection. The intellectually wise, the best that Athens could offer, called him a gutter-sparrow; a moronic babbler of strange deities. In so doing, they claimed he was a fool and they were wise. He didn’t understand the nature of reality, the truth of things, but they did. And yet, they were the ones confused over the truth. They were the one’s demonstrated to be steeped in ignorance[ii], though they mockingly laughed in derision at the apostle’s claims (Act 17.32).

However, what is laid out before us in Acts 17:16-34 is a demonstration of the power of God at work in the hearts of fallen people. For as Paul was seen leaving (Acts 17.33), some followed: “But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them” (Acts 17.34; ESV).

On that day God called (chose/elected/appointed) one of the members of the Areopagus to new life, even a woman of evidently some repute, as well as others who were not named nor numbered. Paul was wiser than the wisest men that the world had to offer, and he expressed this wisdom not by appealing to men with evidences divorced from Scripture, but evidences rooted in Scripture from which their true meaning is derived.

Had the approach from popular Christian apologists, pastors, theologians, etc. of which Stanley is an advocate, been advanced by Paul two things would have occurred. First, he would have denied what he had set out to prove in 1Cor 1-2 that faith in the cross and resurrection of Christ is spiritually discerned. Belief is brought about by a demonstration of God’s powerful wisdom, not man’s. Second, he would have dishonored Christ and His Word by assuming that some other standard would have been on par with the Spirit’s testimony.

Notice that I didn’t say faith in Christ wouldn’t have come about as a possible result. While, our methods may at times dishonor our Lord, His divine purposes still see the light of day. Our God can strike a straight blow with a crooked stick, just look at how He used sinful men and women in the past to bring about what He had formerly intended.

That truth, however, does not remove our responsibility to using His wisdom and knowledge instead of our own.

ENDNOTES:

[i]       When Jeff Durbin tried to prove his point to Andy Stanley in their debate on “Unbelievable” Stanley’s go to was “well, that’s a parable….” This a common rescuing device used by those who desire to skate by uncomfortable passages of Scripture that infringe upon their own preconceived ideas.

[ii]      Before the Areopagus—the gathering of the intellectually elite in Athens—Paul points out their ignorance. They had mocked him in the market saying, “You ignorant fool.” And yet, when he begins his defense of the Christian faith, he points out that they are in fact the ignorant ones, “What therefore you worship as unknown [i.e. in ignorance], this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17.23b).  How often have we read this passage and passed over this gentle rebuke of Athenian wisdom by Paul?