Posted in politics

Limitations, Authority and Politics: Q3

Question 3:

Is it right to preach politics from the pulpit?

Answer:

If we were to take a public consensus on this subject, what do you think we would find? More than likely the world (i.e., society and current culture) will say “NO,” because that would be bringing “religion into the public sphere…and we just can’t have that.” Peel a few layers off of that onion and what you would really find lurking underneath is an “off-limits” sign placed against religious interference. “we don’t want your judgments influencing our behavior.” Religion, in particular Christianity, is often viewed as way too judgmental.

Ironically, if we interviewed those who profess to be Christians, we would find that their answer regarding the above question does not stray too far afield from public opinion (As Seen in a Recent Polling Example at Pew Research). Interesting, since Christians are those who should be influencing the surrounding culture/society, not the other way around…but…I get ahead of myself. Perhaps, at this juncture we would be better served by defining what “politics” are before we address the question as presented.

Defining our Terms…

According to the American Heritage Dictionary the term “politics” (noun) speaks about “the art or science of government or governing.”[i] Sounds like your basic boring definition that does little in shedding light on the subject at hand. At best, all we see is a reference to governing and/or government but the adjectival use of the word does help enlightening our understanding a bit. Used as an adjective “politics” is defined as, ““shrewd, artful, prudent, judicious.”[ii] Now if you take the time to look up those four words you will find that they speak of being wise/cunning in acting and/or judging matters (cf. Matt 10.16) affecting life.

Therefore, Politics is concerned about policies in the public sphere. Politics deal with matters of morality. It speaks of a governing body that rules in terms of justice in the public sphere; derived from ethical norms (i.e., laws, statutes, principles, etc.). The people that represent the civil government are therefore identified as politicians.[iii] Politicians and/or civil magistrates, consequently, are meant to be protectors of the people not enslavers.

A Dose of Reality…

Not too long ago, during breakfast at Frisch’s Big Boy, a family member made the following indirect question “why is there so much evil in the world?” This volley ball serve of an inquiry was in response to some of the criminal activity being witnessed in the world through various media outlets. The answer is rather simple, “We live in a fallen world.”

Like the .25$ slime you could buy at a vending machine on the way out of a grocery store, that answer sticks. However, because it is uncomely to sensible thought, it is constantly being wiped at to remove it. The thing is people are sinners, and while that fact might be troublesome to some of you, if we are honest and unafraid to own up to it, we can admit that there are many things that we have done in our lives we know to be wrong. Yet, we chose to do them in spite of the knowledge that said we shouldn’t.

Now if this is true of you and me, and it is, then what of those who serve in public office? What about those who deal in the sphere of public affairs? Those ruling members of our society that eagerly seek to (and most of the time do) invent policy to govern the people.  Wickedness begets wickedness. Sinful hearts produce sinful activity. What is true of the common individual is likewise true of those in political leadership. I’m sure you’ve heard or at least thought that politics is dirty business. But what do you do when something is dirty? The short answer is you clean it up.

Where Should We Go…

Now the question of the day is should we see Christian preachers speaking on various political issues? Should we see Christian ministers proclaiming certain truths pertaining to the affairs of public life? Is it right to preach politics from the pulpit?

There are a few rabbit trails that we could travel down in discussing this question. I know because I’ve written and rewritten this material more than once, and my mind races in several directions all at once. Truly there are several branches of thought that we could deal with specifically in addressing politics and religion, and whether or not one should use their religious viewpoints to influence the ebb and flow of societal governance—i.e., the exercise of cultural mores. Perhaps, in the future we can get down to specifics, but for the time being let’s just deal with the overarching truth.

All political thought is driven by religious zeal. Not every political thought is driven by the Christian religion. However, here in the United States our governing bodies were established upon biblical precepts and statutes. Revisionists might cry until their eyes are puffy and their faces have broken vessels all about, but the truth of our early American roots is thoroughly influenced by the Christian worldview.

(This is not to say that every act, every policy, or every political maneuver has been consistently driven by this worldview. An honest review of history sheds some embarrassing light on this. But this does not remove the driving force behind our past leaders.)

Keep in Mind who I’m Speaking to…

Primarily, this message that I am about to give is for the Christian. Those who profess to be faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The key word in that phrase is the title “Lord.”

Already we have seen that necessary limitations have been set since the beginning. The Proverbs declare that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov 14.12). If we learn nothing else from our fore-parents (Adam and Eve), then it ought to be this truth.

For the Christian we know that in order to be able to set limitations, authority must be had by the limiter. Christ Jesus demonstrated His authority over all by laying down His life and taking it up again. No one took it from Him, He gave it freely for His people. His holiness and righteous life paid the penalty for our sin. Therefore, He has revealed Himself as our Head, and the Husband of the Bride; which is the Church. Remember the true Church of Jesus Christ is not a building, not a denomination, nor truly divided by a branch of theology…it is the people who are called by His Name that are the Church.

Zone of Authority…

When we think of government, we tend to think of it in the civil sphere—i.e. civil government (here in America we see it at the local, state and federal levels).  But there are other governing bodies that God has created. We have the government of the Family, the government of the Church, included with the government of the State. And we must not forget that there is also self-imposed governing. We are told to govern our lives, to stop sinning, choosing instead the paths of holy righteousness. Doing right and refraining from doing wrong. Being humble and not puffed up with pride. Loving rather than hating.

What then is Jesus’ zone of authority? Is it limited to the Church? If you buy into the “two-kingdoms theory” popular in many Christian circles, then you will see a necessary divide between the secular (public/political) and ecclesiastical (church/private) spheres. This is an example of a false dichotomy. No such divide exists, except in the minds of mankind. God’s Word contains no boundaries in relation to Christ Jesus.

One of the things that got the apostles in trouble in the Roman world was that they professed “another king, Jesus” over and above “the decrees of Caesar” (Acts 17.7). This was not limited to a private faith, but included the public sphere. For the Christian faith “advocate[s] customs” that are contrary to pagan culture (Acts 16.21). In short, contrary to public opinion within today’s Christian community, the apostles did address political issues of their day. They advocated a way of life that was counter-cultural. And while it might be appropriately argued that it started with individual hearts (personal governance), this naturally seeps into the other governing bodies established by God—i.e., family, church, and state.

Source of the Teaching…

Though Christ Jesus is said to have been made lower than the angels for a time (Heb 2.7, 9), He was still equal with God the Father (John 5.18; 10.30). While the incarnation—Jesus, the Living Word putting on flesh (John 1.14)—was an act of humility by taking on the form of a slave (Phil 2.7), His status remained in the form of God (Phil 2.6).

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col 1.15-17; emphasis added).

Please notice the authority Jesus has over all things. That phrase is repeated several times. What do you suppose all things means? ALL THINGS.

Jesus declared,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28.18b).

All authority, means all things, which is why we see the phrase “in heaven and on earth.” There is no limitation on the sphere of Christ’s authority. No realm of human existence that is beyond His authority. He is Lord over all…drum roll, including POLITICS. For the civil sphere of governance was created (established) by Him. So that the civil ruler might serve as His minister (deacon) to punish evil and uphold the good (cf. Rom 13.1-7).

So, the answer to the question of whether or not it is right to preach politics from the pulpit is YES.[iv] In fact, you would be hard pressed to proclaim the Word of God at all if you did not do so. The Bible speaks on many subjects, but one of particular interest to the Lord God is in righteous living. Makes sense when you consider mankind’s image bearing status.

I will close with a couple sobering thoughts:

“Too often Christians limit the effects of the saving work of Jesus Christ. We are willing to turn to Jesus Christ and entrust Him with our eternal destiny but we are often unwilling to submit to His instructions concerning the affairs of this world.”[v]

“Men may be induced to abandon their old religion and to adopt a new one; but they can never remain long free from all religion. Take away one object of worship and they will soon attach themselves to another. If unhappily they lose the knowledge of the true God, they will set up gods of their own invention or receive them from others’ (Archibald Alexander…p. 18).”[vi]

If the Christian will not speak authoritatively in the public sphere (politically), either out of fear or obstinate refusal, then nothing less than tyranny should be expected.


ENDNOTES:

[i] “politic,” s.v., The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition (New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2007), 651.

[ii] Ibid., 651.

[iii] Ibid., 651. An accurate definition is “1) One actively involved in politics. 2) One who holds or seeks a political office.”

[iv] “The Bible never condemns political involvement…The desire to retreat from political concerns is mostly a recent phenomenon.” Gary DeMar, Myths, Lies & Half Truths: How Misreading the Bible Neutralizes Christians (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2004), 132, 133. Respectively

[v] Gary DeMar, God and Government: Issues in Biblical Perspective, Vol 2 (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2001), x.

[vi] “From an engraving in ‘Evidences of the Authenticity, Inspiration and Canonical Authority of the Holy Scriptures’” (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1836), quoted in DeMar, God and Government, vol 2, 4; Cf. 243.

Posted in Worldview Analysis

Peanut Butter Sandwich: Swallowing a Hard Truth

Have you ever eaten a peanut butter sandwich without a drop to drink? If your throat is well lubricated you make it through the most part easily enough, but eventually, if you continue, you will run into a bit of a problem. The food will begin to get stuck in your throat. Depending on how dry the peanut butter has made the way to your stomach, the process can begin to be a bit painful.

So can the following sentiment:

“In this way only we attain to what is not to say difficult but altogether against nature, to love those that hate us, render good for evil, and blessing for cursing, remembering that we are not to reflect on the wickedness of men, but look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, should by its beauty and dignity allure us to love and embrace them.”[i]

It is easy to love those who do good to us, but another thing altogether to truly love those who have done evil to us. When we are wronged, we immediately sense within us a desire to strike back against the offender. Even after the initial act our yearning is not to let go, but to cling to that which has laid us low. Thus, the reason for the peanut butter sandwich illustration a moment ago.

Jesus tells us that we are to, “love our enemies.” Our response to the wicked person who is persecuting us is to pray for them (Matt 5.44b). We are commanded to “do good to those who hate [us]” (Luke 6.27), and to give of ourselves “expecting nothing in return” from them (Luke 6.35).

Real Life Example…

As I was chewing on these words yesterday, I thought of the recent Amber Guyger case. Here a female police officer (Amber Guyger) entered the home of another ending their life. She had come off a 13-hour shift, and wrongly assumed that the unlocked door that easily pushed open was her own apartment. Firing two shots at an apparent intruder, she killed Botham Jean with a trained shot to the chest.

Though she was found guilty of murder, the brother of the man she killed asked if he might be allowed to hug the lady having forgiven her for what she had done. Brandt Jean is a professing Christian and in spite of losing his own flesh and blood at the hands of another he offered a tender heart.[ii] So too, did the judge offer similar kindness (charity/love) when she presented the offender with her own personal Bible from her chamber. She pointed the woman to John 3:16 and told her that was her job during her sentence to focus on what was written there.

Of course, this act of love was seen as vile by a certain sect of our society. Writers at the Washington Post called it “an unusual display of public forgiveness.”[iii]The Freedom from Religion foundation began convulsing almost immediately over what they viewed as a violation[iv] of human dignity; similar to a recent judge’s ruling in the U.K. against the Bible.[v] If that was not enough, another sector of hate garbed in false love called the act of the young man who hugged and forgave and prayed for his brother’s assailant as a sign of “Black” forgiveness.[vi] To that malarkey I say, “No, sir you are wrong! In such comments you betray a bitterness in your own heart. What we witnessed at the trial was not “Black” forgiveness, but Christian forgiveness. A demonstration of Christ’s love for sinners; enemies who have harmed us.” Nor will I call the sharing of the gospel a “violation” of human rights or human dignity, but an act of selfless charity.

Lessons learned from Scripture…

One of my favorite verses that I memorized long ago is found in Ephesians 4:32. It reads,

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

For all the harping we hear today, the one who has truly been done wrong…truly, the only innocent person who was grossly violated due to hate is Jesus of Nazareth. And yet, he laid down His life seeing the horror that lay before Him in the crucifixion as a joy, because out of love He laid down His life for sinners (the sheep of His pasture). Are we better than He? Are we more loving? Are more righteous?

If we are not, then we need to learn to forgive as He has forgiven. Yes, this includes even our enemies. Yes, this means we need to be willing to hold no ill will towards them. Yes, this means we need to be willing to let go.

“Why? Why should I ever want to do that?” you ask.

There several reasons, but I will lay down a few.

  • We have been harmed, have we not also harmed others?
  • We have been spoken ill of, have we not also spoken ill of others?
  • We have been robbed, have we not also stolen from others?
  • We have been hated, have we not also hated others?
  • We have been coveted, have we not also coveted what others possess?

In all of these things, we have done likewise. And in some cases, we might even be worse than our neighbors who have harmed us. But what makes us different? Why should we response differently? What is the proper response? You already know what you ought to do.

Do you know the reason why?

People of all shapes and sizes, of all ages, of all colors and backgrounds, are intrinsically valuable because they too bear the image of God. Yes, in our fallen state the image of God is tarnished in sinners, but it has not been removed. Though the function of being an image bearer might be corrupted, the status as an image bearer has not.

If Christ died so that we might have life, do we know that He did not die for others as well? “But they are evil!” So, are we! But in Christ, because of Christ work, because the Father sent Him, because the Holy Spirit moves in this world, we have been “reconciled to God” (2Cor 5.20) so that “we might become the righteousness of God” (2Cor 5.21).

Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. And allow God to be God, for He will judge between us all (Rom 12.19). Our responsibility is to view fellow image bearers with a charitable love reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 13 in the hope that we honor God with our lives, and some might come to know Him as He truly is.

What helps us swallow hard truths is drinking from the fount of living water (John 7.38), the Word of God (Eph 5.26). Why don’t you take a drink.


ENDNOTES:

[i] John Calvin, Institutes for the Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge, reprint (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1993), 3.7.6.

[ii] Michelle Mark, “Botham Jean’s brother gave Amber Guyger a hug after the former cop was sentenced for his brother’s murder in a powerful courtroom moment,” Business Insider, October 2, 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/botham-jeans-brother-forgives-embraces-amber-guyger-2019-10.

[iii] Michael Brice-Saddler, Mark Berman and Wesley Lowery, “The Amber Guyger case has sparked emotional fallout across Dallas,” The Washington Post, October 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/amber-guygers-conviction-has-triggered-emotional-fallout-across-dallas/2019/10/10/7f12dafc-e9f8-11e9-9306-47cb0324fd44_story.html.

[iv] Carol Kuruvilla, “Secular Groups Claim Judge Crossed a Line by Giving Amber Guyger Her Bible,” HuffPost, October 4, 2019, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tammy-kemp-amber-guyger-bible_n_5d975c9fe4b0f5bf7973da1d.

[v] Jeffrey Cimmino, “UK tribunal declares Christian doctor’s beliefs about gender ‘incompatible with human dignity,’” Washington Examiner, October 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/uk-tribunal-declares-christian-doctors-beliefs-about-gender-incompatible-with-human-dignity.

[vi] Jemar Tisby, “White Christians, do not cheapen the hug and message of forgiveness from Botham Jean’s brother,” the Washington Post, October 3, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/10/03/white-christians-do-not-cheapen-hug-message-forgiveness-botham-jeans-brother/.

Personal Thoughts:

On this last citation I was particularly perturbed. The article is filled with racist sentiments that cause a mixture of emotions from sadness, anger, and nausea. My only response is where in the world do we have a right to label Christianity “white vs. Black?” Tisby writes towards the end of the article, “If white people expect all black people to extend forgiveness as quickly as Brandt Jean did, then they understand neither black people or black pain. Black grief is a community project…everyone is entitled to their own process.” NOT if Jesus is truly Lord, they are not. The belief that everyone can do what is right in their own eyes is a denial of Christ’s kingship (Judg 21.25), and an unearthing of the lies of the serpent in the garden “Did God actually say…” (Gen 3.1). Where is Scripture sir are you given permission to harbor resentment, bitterness and hate because of the wrongs that others have done. You are mingling cultural assumptions into biblical revelation.

Image by <a href=”http://Image by Robert-Owen-Wahl from Pixabay“>Robert Owen Wahl

Posted in Biblical Questions

Reflections on the First King of Israel: Why Saul?

In what follows are some personal reflections that I have been having about Saul 1st king of Israel. These thoughts are the results of my own personal study. Rereading through the Book of Judges and the time of Samuel and Saul I have noticed a recurring pattern that seems strikingly familiar with our own period in history. However, the question I would like to investigate today is whether or not Saul and his family line have remained as king over Israel? Wisdom would seem to dictate that in preparation of attempting to answer this question we need to look at a few things first, so that we might discern the true intent of his kingship.

Where to start?

Normally, the argument starts with God’s choosing of Saul as king (cf. 1Sam 9.16; 10.1). The reasoning then ensues that if God chooses Saul it must have been for a good reason. In so far as that goes, I agree. God does pick Saul for a good reason. I would even argue that it is a multilayered reason—i.e. for more than one purpose. But from this thought of God choosing Saul as king for good we ought to immediately springboard to the next question: “For who’s good, God or man?”

 Well, how you go about answering that question depends, doesn’t it? If your theology is man-centered, then I believe it is natural to immediately assume “for man’s benefit.” Certainly, one could make the case that God does good things that benefit man.

Both of the texts referenced above highlight this, for it is said that the Lord God “anointed [Saul] to be prince over [God’s] people Israel…[to] save them from the hand of the Philistines…[and] surrounding enemies. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me” (1Sam 9.16; 10.1; co-joined for clarity).[i] However, that is only one layer of the truth as to why Saul was chosen as king over Israel…there are others.

A Useful Reminder…

What is helpful to remember at this point is that God does all things, brings all things about, for His namesake. His glory is always at the forefront of His choice of action:

“For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another” (Isa 48.11).[ii]

God does what He does in history for His glory, for the majesty of His great and holy name, though there is no doubt that God’s people (even those who are not His) benefit from His decreed purpose.

What we need to consider then at the forefront is that God chose Saul for His own purposes, though the people were (for a time) beneficiaries of this action. “But, how can we know this?” you ask. Great question, glad you asked it.

Strangely enough, the answer begins to unfold as we look at how God views Israel’s request for a king—it is evil. The prophet Samuel’s reaction first notifies us that something is wrong. The act displeased him and he immediately brought the thing before the Lord (1Sam 8.6). We then find confirmation that the request was ill motivated and viewed negatively by the Lord when He says to Samuel,

“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you” (1Sam 8.7-8; emphasis added).

A short while later, God then says to the people through His prophet:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought [you] up…and I delivered you…from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ (1Sam 10.18-19).

The Reason it was Evil…

But the question that follows is “Why is this evil? Why was this a sin?” And the astute student of Scripture rightly asks, “Didn’t God give them permission in the past to make this request?” Again, I am glad you are following along and paying attention; great question!

It is true that in Deuteronomy 17 we find God’s provision of a request for kingship in Israel. The text reads,

“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose” (Deut 17.14-15).

In the verses that follow the reader is provided with the necessary criteria of the type of king who will serve (should serve). Those regulations focused on an individual that would willingly submit to the edicts of the Lord in terms of power, family life, and wealth (vv. 16-17). This would-be king would desire to know, abide and live according to God’s revealed will—i.e. His Word (vv. 18-20). This type of king would experience longevity of his dominion for he and his offspring (v. 20).

The problem with Israel’s seeking of a king at the time of Samuel was multifaceted. In and of itself the request was not wrong, but the manner in which they sought it and the motive that drove it were.

First, the people did not seek the Lord God’s will in the request. His will was not given consideration. They wanted Samuel to “appoint for [them] a king to judge [them] like all the nations” (1Sam 8.5; italics added). When they were warned against taking this course—for it would invite sorrow into their lives as a consequence—they refused to listen saying to Samuel, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1Sam 8.19-20; italics added).

History Provides Excellent Lessons…

Israel was unique at that time in that they did not have a king over them. There is an implicit desire here to make a name for themselves—that is to say the request is shaded in pride. Historically, the Lord God had been their king; He had fought their battles. If they should have learned anything from their past, it is that kings are tyrants. But the attitude expressed at this time is no different than that first generation of Hebrews who wanted to return to Egypt; rather than serve the Lord in the wilderness.

I think that it is wise for the reader to reflect on the period of the Judges as well. The book of Judges repeats the theme “In those days there was no king in Israel…” (Judg 17.5a; cf. 18.1; 19.1; 21.25a). But as I said earlier God was their king (cf. 1Sam 12.12). However, when you reject the Lord as King over you what then ensues is exactly what we find during the period of Judges, “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg 17.5b; 21.25b).

The result this mindset earned the people, is explained to the reader as a preface to what follows in the book of Judges. The people rejected God “and served the Baals” (Judg 2.11). Since they whored “after other gods, from among the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them…the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies…” (Judg 2.12b, 14). In other words, they were enslaved to foreign kings.

Ironically though, this is the model of the other “nations” that they wanted to imitate. So, that’s the first problem with the demand of Israel for a king. The second is closely tied to it, the type of king they were looking for was appealing by man’s standards not God’s.[iii]

God through Moses told the people what kind of king they should look for, “a man who desired to follow in His ways” (cf. Deut 17.16-20). Because they refused to listen to the Lord, He gave them a king that seemed “right in [their] own eyes.” Saul, son of Kish of the tribe of Benjamin certainly had a kingly stature being a head taller than the rest of his people, but there are instances of a flawed character if you are observant of the details in the text. Perhaps we shall look at them in the future, but I want to try and stay on task.

Why did God choose Saul?

I see a strong similarity between what God did in the book of Judges, with what He does now in the selection of Saul as King.

In the one sense, we might say that God sent the people exactly what they wanted; a king like the rest of the nations. In another sense, we could also say that God raised Saul up to fight as a deliverer from foreign enemies. I believe both are correct assessments.

A third, and possibly neglected reason, is that God was setting up a comparison between two different types of kings: one that neglected His Word and really only worshipped himself as we see Saul doing in the text of Samuel, and another that desired to live according to God’s will (i.e. a man after His own heart). Granted, the application of that desire was wanting in David, but the fact of the matter is that it was there.

The same cannot be said of Saul, son of Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. Saul was not a godly man. And while we might point to period of his life where he seemed to profess belief, in the end the finally tally of his life says otherwise.

“So, is what you are saying Kris is that Saul was not God’s man?” you ask.

Precisely.

“But, what about God seeming to promise that had Saul been obedient, God would have preserved his kingship?”

God does make the following promise to Israel and Saul,

“If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king” (1Sam 12.14-15).

These conditional promises are just that, conditional. Depending upon the condition that is met will determine the outcome that is meted out.

Some will look at this promise by the Lord and then compare that with what transpires in 1Sam 15 where God is said to “regret” that He made Saul king (1Sam 15.11) as proof that Saul “could have continued as king” had he been obedient. To be sure, his disobedience led to his rejection as king (see 1Sam 15.22-23, 26), and God promised to rip the kingdom from him and give it to another that was Saul’s better (1Sam 15.28; cf. 1Sam 28.17-18), but it was never God’s intention for Saul or his line to remain as king.

Saul was not God’s choice, Saul was the choice the people truly desired in rejecting God, and God handed them over to their desires.

“But what if Saul had obeyed the Lord’s commands? Would he have remained as king?” If the conditions of obedience were met, sure. But Saul sought everyone but God in his thinking and acting. He feared the people, not the Lord. He idolized himself, not the Lord. He was filled with jealousy and hatred and a conniver of malicious things. He sought counsel from a witch, rather than the Lord. In the end he took his own life, rather than give it to the Lord.

So, while it might be said that if Saul had met the conditions that God had outlined (If, then) God would had blessed him. Saul would never meet the positive conditions necessary to be blessed by the Lord.

And the final reason is this…

The tribe of Benjamin is called a ravenous wolf that devours his enemies and plunders them (Gen 49.27). Something we witness in the closing chapters of Judges, a precursor of the type of heart we witness in Saul.  Whereas, the tribe of Judah is identified as a lion’s cub who rules his people from whom “the scepter shall not depart…nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen 49.8-10).

The line of Judah was always God’s choice, from the line of David a shoot would spring forth, who would walk in the ways of his father with a heart after God’s own heart. Where David failed, the son would not, for His Name is Jesus the perfect representation of the heavenly Father (Heb 1.3), the redeemer (Gal 3.3) and liberator of His people (1Pet 1.18-21), the true Lion that devours His prey and is always victorious (Rev 5.5; cf. Isa 11.1; Jer 23.5-6; Rom 15.12) .

ENDNOTES:

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

[ii] Also see 2Kgs 20.6; Isa 37.35 where God delivers Hezekiah and Jerusalem for His own name sake; Ezek 36.22 speaks of God’s Spirit being poured out on His people, to cleanse them from sin, to give them a new heart and write His Law upon their heart for His sake, not theirs; Deut 7.7-8; 9.5 where God’s choosing of Israel from amongst the nations, even the giving them of the land was done for His name sake, not theirs; Dan 9.17-19 where Daniel’s prayer acknowledges that God fulfills His goodness towards His own not for their sake, but His own.

[iii] This attitude, which was acclimated from the surrounding culture(s), had a negative effect on even God’s prophet Samuel which you can read about in 1Sam 16:6-7.

Posted in Musings

Musings on Evolution Theory

The theory of Evolution teaches some interesting things, and a great number of people have adopted an evolutionary mindset in the past century or so. One of the main tenets of this “scientific” theory is the survival of the fittest (an idea borrowed from Herbert Spencer). That is the strong survives having developed the necessary qualities to live and thrive in this world. This red tooth and red claw mentality are that the weak dies by way of necessity, since they have not developed that which thrives in competition.

Another important teaching this theory promotes is that we all share a common ancestor. Any differences are minor, but that which relates us to all other living things are tantamount. I ran into this when one of my kids was little and their science teacher told them they were related to worms, trees, and other creatures.

In other words, we all came out of the same primordial soup. One part of the soup cannot act as if it is not really a byproduct of it. What created the “soup” we don’t know. In fact, we can’t know, we weren’t there. As a result, various hypotheses are offered to solve the lack of knowledge on our part; to fill in the gap so to speak.

  • One is that an unknown consequence of the “Big Bang” produced the necessary chemical agents (once things cooled down enough, that is) to form the building blocks of life. A single cell organism wiggled its way free from the slime and evolved into a greater version of itself, so on and so forth, until we ended up with a wide spectrum of life millions of years later.
  • Another popular theory that is gaining ground in various scientific circles is the idea of life being planted on this planet by a highly intelligent alien civilization. Using meteors as celestial sperm, these rocks implanted with life-giving agents are propelled through space, collide with a known planet, and eventually life evolves into being (read here and here ).

Are people the product of evolution? Are our ancestors really a lower form of mammal? Did we evolve into the current state we are in? Are we still evolving? Is it correct to say that we are nothing more than animals with no ultimate purpose for being?

A Problem with Application…

What I find amusing is the glaring inconsistencies in evolutionary thought that people seemingly pass over. That is to say, the teaching is not applied to real life scenarios in a coherent fashion.

For example, if survival of the fittest is true, then why should we be upset when one organism dominates another? Why do we try to counter (interact and abate) the activity of one being eliminating another?[i]

Take for instance the battle waged against pesky insects. In nearly thirty states the Emerald Ash Borer beetle has decimated the Ash tree population (read here).
Isn’t this an example of one being showing itself stronger than another? Well then, why is there such an effort to stop or at least curb this little bugger from living? Rather than allowing “evolution” to take its course, people are attempting to stop it!

What about environmentalists attempting to reduce carbon footprints and the production of “greenhouse gases”? CO2 is supposedly a huge threat that needs to be reduced, even though various studies have shown that an increase in CO2 benefits vegetative growth, allowing crops to yield more produce. Methane gas is another greenhouse gas that’s a no-no (read here). A suggestion to reduce methane gas and its “harmful” effects on our planet that is gaining acceptance by some, is the reducing cow farts. No that’s not a joke. A serious environmental/political effort has been begun to stop what cows do naturally (read here).

Questions that Ought to be Answered…

Which really raises another question in my mind: If evolution is true, then why are so many supposed believer’s in practice deniers? If you believe evolution is just natural selection in motion, then why not let this creature dominate another creature? Why not allow animals to practice flatulence in peace without changing their diet?

Moreover, if evolution is true and mankind is the product of that natural process, then why is there always an effort to stifle human living? We put no trespassing signs on certain “endangered species.” We go to great efforts to limit our “footprint” on this planet. We assume that equality should govern all areas of life, all the while evolution theory teaches the opposite. We suppose that right and wrong are categories that need to be defined and lived by. That the strong should not dominate the weak, that tooth and claw do not really define reality, when they in fact do define reality (according to evolution theory)?

All the while, I laugh at the absurdity of it all. If evolution is true, then why do we desire to design how things work? If evolution is true, then why do we pursue placing order in this world? If evolution is true, then why do we spend so many hours attempting to correct its course?

I have an answer and its really simple…it is false.  If evolution were true, then reality as a whole would not make sense. Reality does make sense, and we as human beings constantly attempt to make further sense of it.

ENDNOTES:

[i] Regarding this type of activity Charles Darwin wrote in, “Nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!” Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, Reprint 1859 (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2009), 95.

Whether or not Darwin aimed his words against the Christian faith, in particular the global flood (Gen 6-8), as the beliefs ignorant people push, I cannot say. To be sure, he and others like him (Sir Charles Lyell for instance) had a great disdain for biblical teaching, but regardless of his original intention I see no problem with attributing this “ignorance” of which Darwin speaks to the environmentalists of our day. Assuming what they do not in fact know, they attempt to invent laws to stifle what is going on in the world, as if natural selection only applies to a segregated portion of the planet’s life forms; rather than all.

Posted in Civil Rights, Musings

Civil Rights Enacted By Whom? More Musings from Black Yellow Dogs written by Ben Kinchlow

Perhaps one of the most important pieces of legislation to be signed in recent American history is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sad, really that it took so long for this nation to recognize at the national level that “created equal” entails all people regardless of their ethnic group. Even sadder is the fact that legislation had to be written and enforced in the law-code so that one groups rights were recognized that could not be infringed upon, and the other groups irrational bigotry could be legally dealt with.

Despite the popular notion entertained by a populace and political system that deems “hand-outs” the working arm of the Federal government. The primary responsibility of the civil governing authorities is the protection of her citizens domestic and abroad. Welfare—something the Christian Church used to be concerned about (you know the welfare of the society of image bearers living in our midst)—is not! Historically, orphanages, hospitals, schoolhouses were the realm of the servants of Jesus Christ. Lazy self-consumed pietistic professing believers gave those responsibilities to others, and I find that a sad state of affairs as well.

This is why I said earlier that it is sad that a legal statute had to be created to protect Blacks in America. Only an absolute moron would suppose that differences in facial structure, hair type, and skin pigmentation means they are subhuman, to be feared, downtrodden and enslaved. Many of those moron’s were professing believer’s, who ignorantly assumed they understood what they were reading in Scripture; and then, tried to enforce their backward beliefs on others. Fellow man-hating bigots jumped on board and took advantage of the opportunity to fill their pocketbooks, build the status quo, and increase their positions of power.

Civil Rights Act…

Listen to the following legislation and see if this does not seem reasonable to you:

“Whereas it is essential to just government we recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all, of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political; and it being the appropriate object of legislation to enact great fundamental principles into law: Therefore,

Be it enacted, That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land and water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.“[i]

…of 1875?

This was not written in 1964, but in 1875. And no, it was not the Democratic Party that wrote or even supported such legislation. Truth is they adamantly opposed it for nearly 100 years. This Civil Rights Acts that guaranteed what should have been commonly held to be true by American citizenry was written and voted in by a Republican led congress. They (the Republicans) lost their power in the election of 1874, but as a parting gift they fought to preserve what many during the Civil War fought for—free and equal treatment of their fellow “black” man, by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

OH, Gentle Fox do Come In…

Why did things turn out that way? Why did a Democratic controlled congress fight against granting or upholding this legislation that was supposed to legalize the fair treatment of all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity? Because the ideologues of the Confederacy were allowed to be grafted into the political field. Similar to the error we find in allowing socialistic ideologues free reign in our educational system post War World II. It does not matter how kindly the fox smiles, or how innocent and endearing his eyes might look. Let him in the hen house and all bets are off. He’ll be smiling just the same as he’s picking his teeth clean from chicken.

A man by the name of Thaddeus Stevens,

  • “…a radical Republican an dedicated opponent of slavery, had grave concerns regarding the Democrats and the future of blacks…In 1865, Stevens said this: …They [Confederates] ought to never be recognized as capable of acting in the Union, or being counted as valid States, until the Constitution shall have been so amended as to make it what its framers intended…The first of those amendments is to change the basis of representation among the States from Federal numbers to actual voters….”[ii]

What Stevens was concerned about was the “Three-Fifths Clause” that formerly allowed slave owners in the south to count what they considered property (i.e. chattel) to vote. Republicans in the North long before the Civil War argued against this (around 1776).[iii] This law had never been redacted, and so Stevens warned by allowing those involved in the Confederate rebellion to maintain this, they would be guaranteed to have a majority in terms of voter representation in the south giving Democrats the ability to regain power.

  • “Less than ten years later [i.e. post 1865], almost as if they had been biblical prophecies, the predictions of Thaddeus Stevens materialized and brought with them almost 100 years of suffering for blacks who would be born in America. Although the Civil War was over, let the record show that in the South there had been no mass conversions. Southern gentlemen still favored slavery, and new constitutions could now be ratified by a simple majority vote in each state.”[iv]

Here’s what Previous Democratic Control Gave Us…

That is to say, for nearly a hundred years the Democratic Party, which controlled many southern states, and a majority at the federal level did all that they could to segregate one portion of the population from the other. Ironically, the party that today claims to be for the Black’s in our nation is the one that most adamantly opposed “created equal” status.

Here is a significant timeline that illustrates has been said thus far:

  •      1619: First Blacks Arrive

1865: Emancipation Proclamation Issued [by Republican’s]

1866: Thirteenth Amendment Ratified

1868: Fourteenth Amendment Ratified

1870: Fifteenth Amendment Ratified

1874: Democrats Regain Congress

1875: Civil Rights Act Passed by Outgoing Republican Majority

1877: Democratic ‘Redeemer Government’s’ Installed [To “redeem” means to remove the scourge of Northern/Yankee ideology, and limit Black freedom in the south—i.e. the Confederacy must live in some form or another!]

1878: Black Codes Instituted

1896: Plessy V. Ferguson Ruling/Jim Crow Laws [Democrat’s loved/supported this measure]

1941: FDR—Executive Order # 8802—Defense Contractors (A. Phillip Randolph Threatens March)

1948: Truman—Executive Order #9981—Military Integration (A. Phillip Randolph Threatens Civil Disobedience/No Draft)

1954: Brown v. Board of Education

1964: Civil Rights Act [Supported by an overwhelming majority of Republican representatives; opposed by a majority of Democrat representatives]

1965: Voting Rights Act[v]

In a weird sense of irony, the party that was responsible for putting down one ethnic group in the United States is now said to be the Party that really, truly, honestly represents them today!?!  And yet, a majority of my Black brothers and sisters support them in an overwhelming majority during elections seasons. However, from what I have read and heard from Blacks more often than not is that they do not believe in “abortion on demand,” “transgender politics,” or “anti-2nd amendment rights,” or “gay marriage,” or “segregation,” etc., etc. On social issues, my Black brethren are highly religious—a great number of them professing Christians—and yet they support a party that is antithetical on every point to those issues they claim to hold dear?

Still Letting in that Sly Old Fox…

Unfortunately, this attitude has seeped into many Christian churches and Christian thought as we have somehow developed a syncretistic mindset where Christ is married with Baal. Martin Luther King Jr., although not an orthodox Christian from what I’ve read, did make a valid point when he said that he longed for a day when the country he lived in “would judge his children for the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” Segregation was fought against on all fronts, as it rightly should have been. So why are professing Black Christian leaders today preaching/teaching a segregated Church? Why is Critical Race Theory gaining ground in our Evangelical institutions? Are we, who are in Christ, not one? Are we not joined by the same Spirit? Do we not have the same Lord? So, why are we playing colored politics against one another (i.e. separate yourself from “white man’s sin, white man’s Christianity?”) Why support a party that is blatantly opposed to the one who WE profess as Lord and Savior?

Maybe, I’m ignorant but I don’t get it. I am not claiming that there are saints, little cherubs with halo’s hanging over their heads on the other side of the aisle (i.e. Republican party), but I’d much rather have a Pharaoh of Josephs day over me, than a Nero of Paul’s.

ENDNOTES:

[i] Civil Rights Act of 1875, quoted in: Ben Kinchlow, Black Yellow Dogs: The Most Dangerous Citizen is Not Armed, but Uninformed (Washington D. C.: WND Books, [2008], 2013), 59-60. I cut back on the original quote of this legislation due to its length. By all means do your own research and check this material out. Become informed.

[ii] Ibid, 54.

[iii] Kinchlow writes, “At the time of the Constitutional Convention, it was one representative for every thirty thousand [citizens] counted. ‘In 1776, slaves comprised 40% of the population of the colonies from Maryland south to Georgia, but well below 10% in the colonies to the North.’ The southern states wanted slaves counted for the purpose of representation. The northern contingent was quite willing to count slaves provided they were: 1. Given their freedom, 2. Given the right to vote. The South was adamant; there would be no such condition! Slaves were property! The northern delegates countered, ‘We shall count our horse and cattle for representative purposes!’”

Kinchlow repeats, “The northern delegates insisted that they were perfectly willing to count slaves, provided they were freed and permitted to vote. The southern delegates were threatening to walk out and according to records the Constitutional Convention was on the verge of collapse,” therefore a compromise was proposed by James Wilson of PA, “to count every five slaves as three, thus ‘three fifths’ (60 percent) of the slave population would be counted for representational purposes. It was a compromise, though not a perfect solution, and many in the North saw it as unfair.” Ibid, 15. Italics in original.

[iv] Ibid, 55-56.

[v] Ibid, 61. Brackets sections added for clarity.