Posted in Uncategorized

Were the July 4th and 1787 Founders Deists? – The American Vision

American Vision ran an ad on Facebook for the republication of The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States. The ad went to a broader audience. Some historical crazies responded. Keep in mind that no one who had responded had read the 1000-page book that is filled with original source documentation. It’s easy to argue a case when you are ignorant and assume others are equally ignorant.
— Read on americanvision.org/posts/were-the-july-4th-and-1787-founders-deists/

Posted in Musings

Hoaxy Rantus: A Bird’s Eye View of the COVID-2020 response…

COVID-19 IS A HOAX. No, the virus is real, but the response to it is so overblown that I am amazed at how many people keep believing the current narrative. Let’s look at the facts.

At the beginning of this pandemic we did not know a lot about this particular strain of Corona virus. And the initial reports coming out by the experts acknowledged that since this strain was new it had the real potential of sweeping through the world’s population. Various models were created which estimated huge loses if mitigation was not used, but even still the death numbers were said to be higher than anything we’d seen since, perhaps, the Spanish Flu (early 1900’s).

The media reported this information, some politicians, either because they saw an opportunity or because they were personally alarmed, started talking about possible limitations being placed on businesses and the people in general. Which in turn alarmed the rest of the population, specifically parents who had their children in the public school system. This had the negative effect of certain governor’s calling for school closures. Driving the mindset of many further down the panic hole. And so, it was then recommended that we shut down (temporarily) our coming and going. Businesses that weren’t deemed essential where closed (again, temporarily), and travel was strongly discouraged and in some locals restricted.

A few words before I continue…

I have some thoughts on the media and the politicians at this point. Some observations that I have noticed for a while now, but those observations were highlighted with a BOLD YELLOW highlighter at the beginning of this pandemic. I suppose it would be germane to the conversation to add the experts into this little ball as well (those scientists, medical professionals and statisticians). They are gossiping busybodies. The media, before all the pertinent information comes in, breaks their neck to tell you what is going on in the world. They don’t actually know, but they think it is a strong possibility, and they blurt it out blathering about this or about that like a young journalist writing an op-ed piece for STAR magazine. Politicians are no better. Most of them anyway. For they are seen doing the very same thing. They run off the media’s reporting, when all the facts are yet to come in, and they lean on the experts who are just as much in the dark as the rest of the populace. But they can’t admit that they don’t know. No, no that would make them look incompetent or something. This becomes abundantly clearer when we see that once they make a mistake, or they draw a wrong conclusion, they refuse to announce it. Instead, after sweeping it under the rug, they buckle down and keep driving through the mess, acting all the while that someone else is responsible for spilling the drink.

Back to the COVID-19 response Timeline…

So, once everyone is worked up into a frenzy we hear about the brilliant plan to “Flatten-the-curve.” That will solve the current dilemma that we are facing. Or, so we are told. The goal of this objective is to lighten the load on our healthcare workers. Restrictions are put in place on businesses and common folk. At this time people start asking questions about PPE (personal protective equipment). Again, a media driven narrative. (Amazing how we are incapable of thinking on our own unless some other above us does it for us!)

The response is initially unanimous, “Masks don’t offer much protection.” Just keep your distance from another (the magic 6-foot of social distancing), wash your hands regularly, and if you’re feeling unwell…stay away from others. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Burke, the CDC and the WHO, along with the Surgeon General all agreed that wearing a mask might make the wearer feel safe (a false sense of protection/security), but would do little to stop the spread of the virus.

Remember, that at the beginning of this thing we were told that everyone was going to get it. It was a new strain of a familiar virus (yes, that is correct the Corona virus family has been around for a long, long time. Check your Lysol bottle. Not to mention that this family of virus’ is the reason why some get the common cold, or the seasonal flu—not stomach virus).

Back to the goal…

So, after a 4-week (some places 6 weeks, I think) shut down, states started preparing to reopen closed businesses. By this time the economy was in a slump. Many small businesses couldn’t handle the heavy load of being closed that long, and had to close their doors permanently. Those that had survived faced the unfortunate reality of additional “guidelines” that needed to be put in place in order to reopen “safely.” Places needed to be marked on the floor to demonstrate to the public what 6-feet looked like. Limitations were placed on the number of occupants allowed in the building at a given time (arbitrarily set by different places, even when the space was virtually identical from one place to another). All the sudden, about mid-summer masks became a necessity. No new evidence was produced that proved their efficacy, but as a supposed safeguard to slow-the-spread, more and more politicians and health departments started putting their voices behind enforcing them.

Changing Goal Post’s throughout…

What I find absolutely amazing is that during this whole venture (a nightmare in many respects) is the way that the goal posts kept getting further and further in the distance. Like the rainbow that you may have chased when you were a kid, no matter how close you get to it, the farther it is from your reach. Incapable of closing the gap, you eventually give up the pursuit.

Every other week the narrative continued to change and adapt (in a negative way) as more and more information came out about this novel virus. First it was to keep massive death from happening on American soil (an estimated 2.2 million by the modeling experts). Then it was to limit the stress put on the medical field. Extra facilities were built that were largely used. Limitations were put on the services that medical practitioners could provide. Surgeries and various other medical treatments were suspended in order to keep rooms open for the mass influx of COVID patients about to plague communities. Ventilators were created in mass quantities in order to help those in dire need. Outdoor COVID tents and testers were fixed outside of hospitals. If you need to visit a sick or ailing family member at this time you were denied access. Many people were separated from one another at a time when we need others close to us.

Why? To keep others safe. To keep down the spread. To protect the vulnerable. All noble sounding sentiments, but were they justified?

As the death rates continued to drop nation wide, the media and politicians shifted their narrative once again. Now it is a high case load that we are to be concerned about. Bear in mind that conservative numbers have the survival rate if one gets this virus anywhere from 99.2-99.9%. Even the weak and vulnerable among us have over a 99% survival rate if they contract the virus. This makes the virus no more deadly than the common flu. Which oddly enough, if you pay attention to the current tracking of influenza this year you will notice it is down considerably even though we are now in the upswing of when that type of ailment begins hitting the population.

We have went from avoiding mass death, to avoiding bogging down the medical field, to reducing the number of positive cases being recorded. The numbers we are seeing in state and national totals are cumulative. This means that the “numbers” are being vastly exaggerated. Not to mention a high false positive rate. An inability to delineate between one corona virus strain from another. And, let us not forget the lie that asymptomatic people may be one of the worst culprits in spreading the disease.

A little thoughts on being asymptomatic…

Asymptomatic means “no symptoms.” Normally this means you are not ill. Every time your body comes into contact with a pathogen (bacteria or virus) your immune system identifies (more than likely) that a foreign entity has trespassed. And like Klingon’s in the neutral zone your body goes into warp speed to attack the invader. Pathogens that present no real threat are quickly done away with. This is the result of a strong immune system. We do not identify that type of person as clinically sick. Sick people present symptoms because their body is having a hard time fighting off the invader. When a person gets the flu this will result in a variety of symptoms such as loss of taste, stuffed nose, high fever, muscle and joint pain (aches), sore throat and possible cough. Not all symptoms are always present, but some form of symptom is present when a person is clinically sick (infected).

There has been much talk about a vaccine. Vaccines are wonderful innovations that help our body’s fight off foreign invaders. The Small Pox vaccine for example was not small miracle. Vaccinated persons, when the vaccine has worked in helping the human body build up its immune system against a particular invader, are asymptomatic people. Why? Because their immune systems have been trained to fight, and since the fight is easy, there are no symptoms. Such people are identified as clinically healthy.

I’m sure I’ve oversimplified some things. I’m not a medical doctor. But, I do know how to read (a particular past time that I do quiet regularly, with much joy I might add).

Current Scenarios…

Here are some notable facts. (1) We are testing more now than ever. More testing means more positive cases being identified. (Think of shining a light in a cockroach invested structure. You don’t seem them when the lights off, but when you turn the light on you see them running in all directions). Testing for Corona virus means that we are shining the light on a particular pathogen.

(2) A positive test is NOT a clinical infection. Many people who are tested positive have no symptoms. They feel fine. This has been reported, but ignored. If a person is not symptomatic, then they are NOT coughing or sneezing or wiping their nose before they touch something. There has been no link scientifically that an asymptomatic person can spread anything.

(3) “What if?” scenario’s are a dime-a-dozen. They are fine when one can identify direct cause and effect, when a correlation between one activity or another can be demonstrated, but they are utterly pointless when those factors cannot be established. Jesus provides a “What if” scenario to those who would be His disciples: “If you love me, then you will keep my commands” (John 14.15). The condition “love” is met when a true disciple is obedient to Christ’s Law-Word. If the person in question is one who “lives” in sin (i.e., lawlessness, disobedience), then they are not a disciple of Christ. Saying “what if an asymptomatic person can spread an illness?” is a baseless hypothetical situation. No evidence exists to verify whether or not the question is valid. They may, they may not, but we don’t live our day-to-day life in this fashion. “What if I get in car crash today?” is a question we may toss around in our mind, but we still drive our car. Unless we are agoraphobic.

(4) We are giving up our freedoms for the false promise of safety. We are allowing fear (in all its various forms, no doubt different in a case-by-case assessment) to dominate our action. We are paralyzed, and the powers that be are stripping you bit-by-bit, piece-by-piece of your constitutional rights. Ohio has a curfew from 10p.m. to 5a.m., why? You can take your mask off when you eat and drink, but not when your not doing those things. There is a limitation placed on who may be served. This is true in restaurants, or other business establishments. But the Airlines do not (or at least did not when I flew this summer) have such restrictions. The plane is full, and you are told that you must wear a mask, but you can take it off if you are eating or drinking. Do you stop breathing when you do either one of those activities? No. But I thought asymptomatic people can spread the virus? I though 6-feet of social distancing is what protected you? None of which mean a hill of beans when you are in a giant aluminum tube 30,000 plus feet in the atmosphere, sharing the same recycled air with everyone else. If you can smell a fart, then you are breathing in the vapors of others around you.

Also, you evidently can’t dance or stand, unless you are at Biden-Harris celebration rally. You can stand as they officiate the wedding in Ohio, but you must sit down when its time to eat in celebration of the Bride and Groom. What is scary…and this is the last thing I will say, since this has turned into a bit of an unending rant (I could go on…), is that they’ve went from telling us what we can do at our place of business, in the public arena, but now they are gunning for what you do in your homes. They have so narrowed the scope of their focus, that now how you live in your own house has—in their eyes—fallen into their domain of power.

When will the American people say “Enough is enough!”? (Some are already doing this). When will we see a unified effort of civil disobedience, peacefully demonstrated with great conviction? (Again, pockets of resistance are forming). Or will we continue to allow our freedoms to be stripped for the false promise of being “safe?”

Posted in Beliefs

Time: Whose Side is it On?

For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them” (Eccl 9.11)[1]

The signal was given by the tour guide to his assistant. Immediately the vast cavern was encased in darkness, after a hidden a switch was flipped. The lack of light was palpable, almost weighted if you will. Not sure how one feels the darkness, but feel it we did. At that moment the opened eye was straining to gather in all the light that it could, but to no avail.

It only lasted for a few moments, but time appeared to stand still.  Several things rushed through my mind all at once. Wave after wave of thought hit me. Sorrow, loneliness, separateness, and other such emotions seemed possible for the one found trapped in such a situation. As I mulled over such things, I murmured to myself, but slightly louder than I had intended: “This must be close to what it feels like….”

The lights were turned back on…the sensation of light coming out of the darkness forcing the separation between seeing and unseeing, and I finished my musing “…when a person is cast into outer darkness. The source of their gnashing teeth….”  The comment came to my listening ears, “Oh my…the doctrine of death!” This from my sister Rachel whose family was on vacation with my own in Arkansas last summer (2019).

Over the years I have noticed—this is not unique, I am sure—that we go to great lengths avoiding the subject of death. I watched a clip the other day where Keanu Reeves was asked on a late-night talk show what he thought happened when we die. His response avoided the question altogether. He said that people who love us will miss us. The host shook his hand and the studio audience oohed, awed and offered their applause. (As seen below.)

We don’t like thinking about death. To think that our lives are short, that they are as prominent as the dew in the morning or the fog upon a lake when touched by the sun’s rays, is troubling. It disturbs us to consider that our lives can be snuffed out in an instant…without a moment’s notice. And yet, the reality is this:

“Man[kind] is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psa 144.4)

Though my sister was teasing me for what I suppose she thought was a melodramatic moment, the reality is our days are numbered. And, nothing we can do will add another moment to the time afforded to us. For it is God who as established them:

“In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12.10).

“Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you [O God], and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass” (Job 14.5).

We are prone to forget such things. We want to forget such things. And our adversary the Devil surely does not want us to recall the brevity of our lives. Rather, he is pleased that we fool ourselves into living for the moment with no consideration of what the day might bring. It is no wonder that, we like Mr. Reeves, would rather subvert the question being daily asked of us.

“Daily?” you say. “How so?”

Have you truly looked at the world around you with closed eyes? Is it possible to miss the message painted throughout all of nature? Every summer I am reminded of the horror of death as my nostrils are filled with ripened road kill. Our property’s little forest is littered with decay; fallen trees, rotting leaves, and withered flowers. How many loved ones, how many friends have gone before us into the brink?

Often times you will hear statements like “you can’t outrun death,” or “time will eventually get you,” “you will feel its cold bite.” How easy it is to give death and the grave life like qualities. Though some might argue that this is mere poeticism, I disagree. It is the way that we sinners want to massage our troubled consciences. It is not “time” or “death” that comes for you, but your Creator. He will have His day. There will be a reckoning.

Such thoughts are too troubling. Who can accept them? Better to believe our lives are accidents born of purposelessness, utterly meaningless, than to face the reality of our having been created. Better that than to think of accountability, of responsibility, for how we have spent our lives on this earth. Jesus said something to this effect as well:

“…I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample good laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God [says]…, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12.19b-21).

Now you say to me, “But this is a warning to the rich man, to the selfish, to those who only care about themselves. You are taking it out of context to apply this to anyone else.”

In response I would ask the following: “Who do you consider with the time allotted to you? Do you think of HE who created you, who gives you breath, who provides you wealth and time? Where are your treasures? Are they in Him or they in yourself? Are you merely a fatted calf being readied for the slaughter? Do you see life as a pleasure cruise that is meant to give you every delectable that your little heart can muster…or do your thoughts, words, and actions lend credibility to the contrary?”

Sadly far too many people are too self-absorbed to be worrisome about whether or not they are pleasing the Lord of Glory. God says, “Be fruitful and multiply,” and unbelieving thought says, “I can’t have children, I still want to live.” As if having children hinders living; rather than making it more robust. God says, “Be content with what you have received,” and unbelieving hearts are never satisfied constantly desiring more.

Do I say this pridefully? Do I look at the rest of humanity and say in my own “self-righteousness” tsk, tsk, tsk.  No, the reason for my comments in the darkened cavern and in this post are the same—concern.

I appreciate the reminder of death around me, because it keeps me humble. These reminders point me to one who can give meaning to my life even in death. Such reminders, prick me in my wayward heart to be concerned about the things of God…about His Glory, and not my own. Likewise, being reminded of death emboldens me and drives my passion for that which is lost.

My life is a blessing, because I am aware of the reality that awaits us all. Each day is a gift. Each breath, a miracle. Each relationship, a blessing. Each sample of food and drink, and other leisure activities that I might participate in after a hard day’s work, a pleasure. I am content with the life I have been given, and I try to be mindful of thanking my Creator, my Lord and Deliverer, each and every day. I am confident that He who delivered me from my sin is also able to deliver others, but my heart goes out to those who live in and love their deception for in the end the sorrowful torment of darkness awaits.

I am the resurrection and the life,” said the Lord Jesus, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26).


[1] This post uses the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible throughout.

Posted in Musings

It Take Two to Fight: Analysis of a Common Proverb

A time for war, and a time for peace” (Eccl 3.8b).[1]

We live in a strange day. Take for example the “zero tolerance” policy on violence established in the public-school system. The policy states that any form of physical altercation is punishable by the powers that be. This law is justified by the popular cliché, “It takes two to fight.” (We will come back to that cliché in a bit).

Now I grew up in a different era. And the mindset that I was taught as a young child was this:

“It is wrong to start a fight. You are not to be the instigator. However, if another instigates and/or starts the fight with you, then you are permitted to defend yourself.”

Peaceniks find such logic deplorable. Rather than separate categories, making distinctions between the two—assailant and defender—the zero-tolerance policy pretends that both parties are equally guilty for the conflict.

Recently, I had a run in with someone who tried to assure me that “zero-tolerance” was the way to go; the only rational, justified, logical path of the enlightened thinker. My argument was that it was the polar opposite. Zero-tolerance for fighting (i.e., violence) is irrational, unjustified, and illogical when one realizes that self-defense should not be grouped into the same category of fighting as an assailant.

“It takes two to fight” (common proverb)

On the surface the statement seems legitimate. Mull over it for a moment. Think about the implications of the one who assumes it is true.

The first question we should think through is “how do we define the term fight?” For some, this will seem to be an utter waste of time— “everybody knows what a fight is!”—they will exclaim. A good rule of thumb when discussing topics is never to assume that you or your subject knows. You might. They might. But the thinking that says “everybody knows” is in itself a statement of ignorance. Primarily, because there is no way for you to know that “everybody knows” this or that, and so the comment is self-defeating anyway. Carefully defining the discussion material is always the wise choice. Even if you think you know, better to double check before you start flapping your gums.

The second (necessary) question to be asked is this: “What is being assumed by the claim?” Does it always take two to fight? Have you ever wrestled with yourself over a given subject, over a choice that has come before you?

“Yeah, but the cliché is talking about physical acts, not mental gymnastics,” quickly comes the retort of those in the know. Technically, the cliché is a bit vague. It speaks of generalities, not specifics. The individual in question is the one that offers application.

But, let’s assume that we are only speaking about physical acts. What else does the cliché presuppose? Guilt. “Guilt?” you ask, “How so?” In that the statement says “it takes two to fight”—i.e., both parties are equally guilty of fighting.

Definable difference between Self-defense and Fighting…

There are some notable differences between these two terms. To fight means “to contend in battle or physical combat; especially: to strive to overcome a person by blows or weapons,” but to self-defend means “the act of defending oneself, one’s property, or a close relative.”[2] One talks about an aggressor, the other a defender.

The person who fights another is seeking to dominate the other. Whereas, the person who self-defends is merely attempting to ward off the assailant. The former is an instigator, the latter a defender. They function differently because they fill two separate categories of thought/action. Naturally, this causes questions to simmer to the surface in our minds.

  • Which is right, which is wrong? Are they both equally deplorable? Or is it possible that one of them is honorable? Is it fair to offer a sweeping generalization and say that both the instigator and the defender are guilty of fighting? Or would we be wiser to notice that the one forced the others hand?

I can see why people want to make a hasty generalization and say that “all” fighting is wrong, but when pressed it is impossible for them to substantiate the claim. How so? Well, allow me to give you some examples to prove my position. I will start with nature, and then allow Scripture to have the final word.

Fighting/Self-Defense in Nature

For the first I will use one that I can personally relate to…my cat “Kitter’s.”

IMG_0194
As a kitten resting on my shoulder.

Her real name is Princess, at least that is what PetSmart called her when we purchased her, but after almost seven years in our home, Kitter’s is the name that stuck. She is both an instigator and a defender.

Kitter’s is an inside/outside cat. During the warm months of the year she spends most of her time outdoors. But, when the weather snaps with a cold streak she eagerly announces her request to come into the warm. She is a bit of a talker, if you get my meaning—MEOW! Which comes in handy on several fronts. She’ll tell when she’s hungry or thirsty, when she’s ready for personal time on the lap (“Pet…ME, please!), and when she has to go to the bathroom—yes, she is potty trained. In short, she is unafraid to tell you how she feels or what she wants.  Truly a blessing in our home. (We are cat people, sorry if you’re not.)

As an Instigator…

IMG_0426
Obviously, this predator needs her beauty sleep (taken today in my office).

Cats are natural predators, and our little Kitter’s is no different.  She has been known to take down birds, chipmunks, mice, and the occasional baby rabbit. She hunts her prey using her God-given attributes; namely, stealth, speed and strength. She is a tooth and claw type of gal that isn’t afraid of a little blood and fresh meat.

That being said, her prey does not laydown and take it. They attempt, to no avail, to defend themselves from this mighty predator. They don’t ask for the fight, but my cat instigates it and so they are left with little choice but to defend themselves—i.e., fight for their lives.

 

As a Defender…

No, I don’t have any awesome stories to share about my cat. She hasn’t saved one of my children from a burning building. She hasn’t taken on a dog in order to protect our younger children. I don’t have any of those stories. But I do have several instances where she has had to defend herself from others of her kind. And, I imagine some that were not. But I wasn’t witness to those encounters, so I cannot confirm or deny those realities.

Tomcats are territorial. They like to dominate other cats. They also like to steal their food. I suppose the same is true with females as well (I mean it’s true for humans, right?!?). In these instances, where another feline has thought the grass was greener on our side of the fence, my cat has got into some pretty heated fights in order to defend herself.

  • Question: Should my cat have lied down and just took it? Should she have let another harm her, steal from her? Would that have been a better course of action?

I know, I know we do not speak of moral culpability when we discuss matters in the animal kingdom. The chipmunk is not wrong for biting the ear of my cat, any more than my cat is wrong for clawing the eye out of the neighbor’s Tom. Nor, is my cat wrong in snuffing the life out of the field mouse that made the mistake of getting too close to my home, or the Tom that just wanted a bite to eat and saw my Kitter’s as a nuisance to an easy meal.

Animals act according to the nature that they have been given. They do not work through ethical matters of right versus wrong. They just do what animals do, and that is perfectly fine. But, what of human beings?

Fighting/Self-Defense in Scripture

Human beings are held to a different standard than the animal kingdom. Our actions have labels rightly assigned to them as either “right,” or “wrong.” Now, this is where things get a bit tricky. No, not for me. As a Christian, I have no problem with an unchanging standard of right vs. wrong; a static moral code. I also have no problem with fighting when it is warranted; particularly, in regards to self-defense.

Not all professing Christians will agree with my position. There are some that take a pacifistic stance to all forms of violence (fighting as an instigator or a defender). There are also those that do as much as they can to distance themselves from the Law-Word of God. Neither group can consistently stand upon those convictions, but my goal is not to argue for or against their position, nor to reveal any weaknesses in it; rather, just to say—not everyone who bears the name of Christ will agree. In fact, some will be found agreeing with the stance that the public school-system gives towards fighting.

Fighting as an Instigator…

I am not aware of any passage in Scripture that advocates the position of the instigator. God’s people are not to start the fight with their adversaries, we are to finish it.[3] Some might object. They might assert that God acts as an instigator several times in the Old Testament. For instance, the Canaanite conquest.[4]

Surely, the Canaanites were just living in their own land, minding their own business before the Lord God sent the Israelites into their territory to kill them, to take their homes and their wells and their vineyards, to make their walled cities their own (cf. Deut 6.10-11). “Seems rather obvious,” the person might opine “that God is the chief instigator in that case.”

The late R. J. Rushdoony made a very astute observation during his lifetime. During his lectures on the Institutes of Biblical Law, under the heading (Law) Partial and Impartial, said the following:

“Every law…is a declaration of war against something and someone.”[5]

With this knowledge we find that God was not the instigator against the Canaanites through Israel; rather, were the Canaanites the instigator against God’s Holy Name.[6] The inhabitants of Canaan (Exod 13.5), the children of Ham (Gen 10.6), suppressed the truth of God in unrighteousness (Rom 1.18). They knew what was right versus wrong, because God the Creator had written it on their hearts (Rom 2.15). Instead of obeying what their consciences screamed at them (from time to time)[7], they refused to acknowledge God as God, choosing in preference created things (Rom 1.24-25). These imaginations of their own hearts were given voices through that which they chose as lawful (good) and unlawful (evil) (cf. Psa 115.8; 2Kgs 17.15). They had grown accustomed to calling “evil good and good evil” (Isa 5.20) and as a result, at the height of their sin (Gen 15.16), God sent in Israel as His sword of judgment against them.[8] Lest anyone complain that Israel took from them what was not theirs, the fact is that the whole earth is the Lords’ and all therein (Psa 24.1-2; 89.11), and God is free to give and take away from any whom He chooses (Dan 4.34-35; Isa 14.24, 27).

Of David and Goliath…[9]

Some might assume that David was the instigator in the battle between him and Goliath, the Philistinian champion. David is the one that ran forward and struck the first blow. He is the one who took Goliath’s sword and chopped off his head for all of Israel to see as he lifted it high in the air. But in this case David was a defender, not an instigator.

This may be hard for some to see. We have grown accustomed to looking at certain details in a particular light. However, it was Goliath that threw out the challenge. It was Goliath that dared anyone to come to him in battle that he might slay them. It was Goliath that cursed David as a dog, and so Goliath is the one who instigated the fight.

Striking the first blow is sometimes an act of Defense…

There comes a time when the challenger threatens, that the individual’s health or life is on the line, that striking the first blow is an act of defense. Recently, I am reminded of the news media blitz about Trump’s ordering the killing strike against Qassem Soleimani, after an attack on U. S. Embassy in Baghdad. Progressives believe that Trump acted as an instigator in that attack, rather than an act of self-defense.

I suppose that the four-kings (of the North) that were routed in battle with Abram (a.k.a. Abraham) would likewise claim that he was the aggressor (i.e., instigator) not them. They had fought with kings, not with Abram, and yet he pursued them with his own men trained in battle to defeat them (cf. Gen 14).[10] But Abram, like David (and I would argue that Trump in regards to Soleimani) were not the instigators, but the defenders who fought to protect what had been given to them (life, family, and land).

Similarly, the thief who dares to break into a home during the night has likewise became the instigator in the fight, when he is struck with a deathblow in the dark by the man of the house. Though the inhabitant might have thrown the first shot, so to speak, he is merely attempting to protect the life, health, and property that has been entrusted to him from above (see Exod 22.2-3).

The Problem as I see it…

The public school-system which is primarily driven by secular-humanism has deemed that all fighting is ethically wrong. But put to the test, their own standard is irrational, illogical, morally wrong, and glaringly inconsistent. If it takes two to fight and both fighters are wrong, then why do they give separate forms of punishment (one lesser, one greater) depending upon the circumstances of the fight? If it takes two to fight and both fighters are in the wrong, then why so many rules (laws) against bullying? Perhaps it would be better for the prey to just allow human predators to have their way with them?

Often times in ethical situations one of the ways to illustrate the folly of a position is to apply it to a worst case scenario. So, let’s take the logic of “it takes two to fight” and those that do are guilty of a wrong to the test.

  • A man aggressively seeks to dominate a woman in order to rape her. She is his prey. He uses physical violence to beat her into submission. Would it therefore be right or wrong for the woman to physically attack the man who is assailing her? Should she use any force necessary in order to stave this threat against her health, life, and property? Or would it be better for the woman, since violence is wrong and all fighting is morally bad, to succumb to her assailant?

Do we really have to think about what the appropriate response should be? Have we gotten so foolish in our society to assume that “all fighting” is wrong, and should be avoided at all costs? I think the answer should be rather obvious, don’t you? The woman should claw, bite, hit, kick with whatever she has or can get her hands on in that situation. In the same way, a child that is being pummeled by a bully ought to have the same right to defend themselves from their attacker. We need to do a better job of defining categories and consistently holding to them.

Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle” (Psa 144.1).


ENDNOTES:

[1] All Scripture is of the English Standard Version (ESV), unless otherwise noted.

[2] Both definitions may be found in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary; “fight,” “self-defense,” s.v.

[3] As I write this, I think of the possible reaction in regards to Satan. Aren’t Christians commanded to take the fight to the devil and his minions? Aren’t we supposed to bear the light and in doing so, oppose the darkness on every front? Yes, we are called to bring the fight to the dark forces that seek to encroach upon the light bearers of God. We are told to be aggressive and wise in this fight. But if we look back through our history, we shall see that ultimately the fight was started in the garden. We didn’t begin the fight, but we are commanded to finish it. To unleash heaven’s fury upon every vain imagination or thought that supposes to usurp the authority of Christ in any area of life (cf. 2Cor 10.4-5). In this, though we may appear to strike the first blow often times by those enslaved to sin, the reality is that in such acts we are merely making a defense for our Father’s world.

[4] For the background on this conquest read Exodus-Deuteronomy. For the actual conquest in action read through Joshua (where the victorious fighting began), Judges (where the people’s resolve failed because of unfaithfulness), 1 and 2 Samuel (where the kings of Israel began waging this war).

[5] The timestamp for this statement is found at 23:40-50 on the podcast mentioned above available through iTunes.

[6] For the crimes of the Canaanites, see: Leviticus 18, 20; Deut 12.31.

[7] I say “from time to time” because our consciences on their own are perverted by the desires of sin entrenched with in our hearts, and the numbing effect that sin when practiced continually has on a person’s conscience in order that they feel justified by the position that they hold.

[8] It is interesting to note the similarities in the symbolic language used with sword and winnowing fork in the hand of God. Both were used in the sense of judgment to separate that which is dedicated for destruction or life. Just as the winnowing fork divides the wheat from the tares, so too does the sword divide the living from the dead (cf. Matt 10.34; comp Jer 12.12; 14.13).

[9] For the details of this battle read 1Sam 17.

[10] Abram (Abraham) did this to save Lot, his nephew, and his nephew’s family from slavery. But in doing so he saved others as well.

Posted in Beliefs

Parables: Truth Hidden in the Open, Part III

 “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (Matt 13.11-13).[1]

What do you see when you read this text? What do you hear in your heart (i.e., your mind’s eye)? Look at the words. Observe. If you don’t take time to observe what is written, then you will struggle coming to the right conclusion.

A Brief look at Matt 13:11-13…

Jesus’ intent seems pretty clear here. “To you it has been given to knowbut to them it has not been givenThis is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

Jesus has made the purposeful decision to reveal the truth to those of His choosing, but to withhold that same knowledge of the truth from others. He speaks openly, but it is veiled unless further aide is given by God.

Considering the Alternative

Let’s suppose for a moment that Jesus taught in parables to make the truth more accessible to those in Israel. Let’s ignore for the time being what Jesus said was His reason for speaking this way, and for the sake of argument assume that He spoke plainly to the people because He wanted all people to embrace the gospel of the kingdom.  What then?

The Problem with those in the Know…

One of the issues that we encounter in the gospels is that those who were in the know—the leaders of Israel—had a difficult time ascertaining the meaning of Jesus’ message. I bring these individuals up first because if anyone should “know” what Jesus was saying—what He was teaching from Scripture—it was them. I mean, they studied God’s Word vocationally. They were the esteemed teachers in Israel. Surely, they’d be able to make sense of Jesus’ preaching/teaching. However, as you will see, something they liked to bother him about, was speaking more plainly.

 Here are two examples:

  • At the feast of dedication— “So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10.24; see also v. 6).
  • At His mock trial— “If you are the Christ, tell us…Are you the Son of God, then?” (Luke 22.67a, 70).

But when Jesus spoke plainly what was the response? Depends on His audience, right? To the types mentioned above it was unbelief. Not only did they not believe Him when He told them, but their response was one of outrage.

  • Responding to those at the feast, he said, “I told you, and you do not believe…I and the Father are one. The Jews picked up stones again to stone him” (John 10.25, 30-31).
  • Responding to his accusers at the pseudo-trial, he said, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer” (Luke 22.67b-68).

The Problem is not unique…

What’s interesting is that even when Jesus spoke plainly to His own, there were times when they did not comprehend his meaning. After Peter rightly identifies Jesus’ as “…the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16.16), the Lord begins telling His disciples what is necessary for Him to endure: “…that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matt 16.21). Immediately, Peter begins to rebuke Jesus. He says to him, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matt 16.22). Of course, from this we get the popularly known retort of Christ: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man!” (Matt 16.23).

What we find, and perhaps it was because of how harshly Jesus told Peter to shut up, is that when the Lord broached this subject again, the disciples were confused by it but would only discuss it amongst themselves (e.g. Mark 9.32; Luke 18.31-34)

Which means what? No not the retort, but the source of the confusion on Peter’s (and the disciples) part. Simply this, in order to understand the truth of God, you need God to reveal it to you.

Natural hindrances aside…

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not denying our natural incapacity to see things as they truly are. We all have blinders of various forms (e.g., traditions, theological convictions, emotional biases, etc.) that we will struggle with from time-to-time (or at least ought to). However, the point that I am making, and I think it is clear from biblical testimony that I am correct, is that without God opening our eyes to the truth we will fail to see.

Evidence on the way to Emmaus…

There seems to be no better instance of this fact than Jesus’ encounters with His disciple’s post-resurrection. Specifically, I am reminded of the road to Emmaus. Here we are told of two of Jesus’ disciples (perhaps husband and wife as some suggest?) that, in the words of the Lord, were “…slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24.25).  In spite of the fact that all of them had been instructed in the Word of God throughout their lives, and under the special tutelage of Christ Jesus Himself, it was not until the Lord began to “open the Scriptures” to them that they began to see the truth (Luke 24.32).

As I said, God must open our eyes before we can see. Likewise, God must open our ears before we can hear (cf. Deut 29.4). Exactly what we find in Jesus’ statement to His disciples in private as He prepared to explain to them the meaning of His parable(s):

“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…” For “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, [yet] to them it has not been given” (Matt 13.13, 11 respectively).

Answering a Common Objection

But to argue that God must first reveal the truth to us, before we understand sounds wrong to the average person. It strikes against our sensibilities. It seems to go against common sense. Surely, if Christ taught the truth, then the people were capable of responding to it. “Why, would the all-loving Jesus keep things veiled to some, but reveal it to others?”

The reasoning goes…

When he says “he who has ears, let him hear” the logical way to take that statement is at face value. Generally, we all have ears, therefore we are all capable of hearing—i.e. comprehending/understanding, as well as, listening and obeying. And so, we find statements like these by the learned:

“…Jesus seems to say that He uses parables to conceal the truth from the people…However, to believe that Jesus deliberately withheld saving truth from people is to attribute malice to Him, and this is not compatible with His character as it is portrayed consistently in the New Testament.”[2]

I’d originally cited this in my first post (HERE). The theologians that wrote these comments are of the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition; denominationally, the Church of the Nazarene. That being said, they do present a popular perspective within Evangelical culture.

Even though Jesus says “this is why I speak in parables” the authors are not convinced. This evidenced by the use of the phrase “seems to say.” Basic grammar mitigates against this slight of hand.

A little grammatical aide…

“This is…” provides the reason why Jesus “speak(s) in parables.” It offers the reason, the state of being—i.e., the grounds for why things are the way they are. Similarly, I might say “This is a baseball,” or “This is the reason he can’t run; his leg is broken.” I am telling you the what and the why.

  • What is this object?” Answer: A baseball.
  • Why can’t he run? Answer: his leg is broken.

Jesus is telling his disciples that He gives to whomever He so chooses to give what He gives. It is His to give, not ours to demand.

Both Harvey Blaney and Carl Hanson believe if Jesus “deliberately withheld saving truth from the people” He’d be acting maliciously. Though common enough, it is a bold claim. Granted from their point of view to make distinctions between who shall and who shall not have the truth is out of character for Jesus. While I empathize with this position (it is one that I formerly held), our answer must be derived from Scripture and not an emotive or psychologically disturbed response.

Feelings are not the standard…

It does not matter if I view something as unfair, who I am to argue against God? It does not matter if some are given more and I am given less, will not the judge of the earth do what is right? Fear before God is what garners true wisdom and knowledge. Humility before the Lord is required, but who is truly humble before God? Who truly fears Him? Scripture says, “No…not…one…” (Rom 3.10-11), it is truly a miracle of Sovereign grace that any of us look at the Triune Creator God in this light.

Remember that before Jesus sends out his disciples—the twelve and the seventy (Luke 9; 10)—he gives them the condition for how they are to respond to their audiences. Those that receive the gospel message of the kingdom are to be given the healing peace of the Lord, but those who refuse are to be given the dust off their feet. Only those that had “ears to hear” were blessed, but the others were condemned.

Returning to Luke 10[3]

The Lord claims that the “hearers” who received the message with joy, heard as an act of Sovereign grace. Where? When He says,

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Luke 10.22).

I’m sure that someone will try to argue that Jesus’ statement here does not mean what it “seems to say.” However, if we would only look back a little earlier in the text, we will see that it does mean what it says. For the ones who reject the gospel and receive the sign of dust to which they shall return (symbolic of the judgment of death/condemnation, of that which the serpent and his offspring eat), Jesus says the following:

“I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day [Day of Judgment] for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. ‘The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me’” (Luke 10.12-16).

We are told at least two things in this declaration by the Lord for those who rejected the gospel as presented by His disciples:

  • First, and this is the one most readily recognized, is that our sin is defined in degrees. The more light we have been given of the truth, the more we will be held accountable for. Sodom, Tyre and Sidon did not have the same witness of God as Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, therefore, their judgment (punishment) will be lighter than those who entertained the Son of God and His representatives in their midst.
  • Second, and this is the one glazed over either purposely or due to a blind-spot, is that those cities of Sodom, Tyre and Sidon would have repented if they’d been given the same amount of light, but they weren’t. Why weren’t they? If it is out of character for Jesus as the Son of God to withhold information necessary for salvation, then why didn’t God in the past reveal the truth to those cities who “would have repented long ago…in sackcloth and ashes?” Well…how do you go about answering that question? Do you turn the words of the Lord, or do you turn to your own rational reasoning?

Jesus has already given the reason in Luke 10:21, just as he did for speaking in parables in the Matthew 13 passage cited at the beginning of this post. It was (it is) God’s “gracious will” to hide these things from some and give it to others.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to throw them my way. This is the end of my discussion on this particular matter, but for those interested I offer a little extra.

APPENDIX: Psalm 78

A Brief look…

Psalm 78 provides some (not all) of the reasoning behind Jesus speaking in parables (cf. Matt 13.34-35). If you read this particular Psalm in its entirety you will come away with seeing two types of people being discussed. Those who “hear” the Word of God and those who refuse to “listen.” The obedient have been taught these things from their youth (v. 3) and have made a commitment to teach them to their children (v. 4), in honor of the commandment (vv. 5-7). This in order to prevent them from following in the footsteps of rebellious ancestors (v. 8).

The rebellious “…did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law” (Psa 78.10). This was due to a willful spirit that “…forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them” (Psa 78.11). The writer of this Psalm, says they “tested” and “spoke against God” (Psa 78.18, 19). A habit the rebellious and hardhearted and stiff-necked continued to do; something that the Lord continually judged them for. As their history attests: “How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel” (Psa 78.40-41).

I won’t go through the whole Psalm (read it if you will), but this dividing line that the psalmist highlights between those who had “ears to hear” and those who did not is seen throughout Israel’s whole history. At the foot of Mount Sinai, every turn in the desert, the first generations unwillingness to trust in God to give them the promise land, the years of failed conquest after Joshua’s passing, the period of judges, even the period of kings reveal this truth.

Only the hearers entered God’s rest when others could not (cf. Heb 4.1-11). Only the hearers refused to bow the knee to Baal (cf. 1Kgs 19.18). Only the hearers were willing to embrace what God had spoken as true and trustworthy and worthy of applying to life. They remembered, they revered, they embraced in faith. Thus, the opening of this psalm reveals the distinction of who has “ears to hear”:

“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!” (Psa 78.1; italics added).


ENDNOTES:

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

[2] Blaney, Harvey J. S. and Carl Hanson, Exploring the New Testament, Ralph Earle, ed. (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, [1955], 1961), 101.

[3] Why this text? Why not stick with Matthew’s gospel since I used it as a stepping stone for the content discussed in this post. For starters, I am of the firm conviction that the Bible in its entirety is an exemplar model of continuity. The document flows from beginning to end with the same intent and overarching message of God, mankind, and the Lord’s dealing with us. Secondly, the manner in which “seeing” and “hearing” are used in the Bible is more often than not synonymous. Seeing can be both physical and abstract. The same is true of hearing. More is intended with the use of those words than the mere physical activity that we often attribute to them.

For example, “seeing the kingdom of God” as recorded in John 3 is not merely seeing a visible manifestation of the kingdom (cf. Luke 17.20-21), but being able to comprehend and understand the inner workings of the kingdom; which, according to the apostle Paul is not a mere physical activity such as eating and drinking, but a manifestation of the Spirit’s power (cf. Rom 14.17). In what way? In obedience to the King of glory. A desire that is not common to mankind, but a manifestation of the Spirit’s inner working—His regenerative effort—on that which was once fallen, hardhearted and stiff-necked. The same then can be said of “hearing” which is more than a physical activity, but a volition of the will of man revealed through acts of obedience. Therefore, to respond positively to the gospel through correct “seeing and hearing” is seen in the Luke 10 passage where Christ’s representatives were sent to preach the good news. Those who had “ears to hear” embraced the apostolic message, evidenced via miracles of healing, gifted in peace with their God. Those who did not, as we see in the discussion above, received condemnation.