Friday, August 29
Thursday, August 28
But what if an individual can find a church of comparable teaching that is a better subjective or existential fit?
Why should someone in the name of an outdated understanding of ecclesiastical identity renounce other components of overall well being that could increase one's comprehensive quality of life such as companionship and opportunity?
Many of these rinkydink congregations rank among the same ones that would bash an individual for going to another church for “selfish” reasons and then turn around and slug even harder with the other rhetorical fist these same souls not married by the age of 25 despite there being no one appealing in the congregation or if the person does nothing more than fill a pew in a church where there is only one Sunday school class that the pastor sits in on to shout down anyone that might raise a sincere question or differing perspective still within the parameters of Biblical acceptability.
In this sermon on church membership and separation, Pastor Dykstra insisted that the Christian is obligated to hold formalized membership in a local congregation.
He then proceeded to argue that church membership should be viewed like marriage.
However, nowhere in Scripture is one obligated to be yoked to a human spouse.
If anything, the Bible lists both the glories and downfalls of both the single and married states, allowing the individual to select for themselves the path that they believe will minimize the inevitable miseries of this life while attempting to maximize its fleeting pleasures.
In continuing the marriage analogy, Rev. Dykstra suggested that the ability to pick up and leave a church is a moral outrage comparable to no fault divorce.
Would pastors holding to such an ecclesiology prefer the dissatisfied and disenchanted just remain in the congregation and drag the whole vibe down?
Even more disturbing is the insinuation that one cannot leave without deliberate or explicit fault being assigned.
So if these ecclesiastical potentates had their way, would they smear you with some kind of mark akin to Hawthorne's scarlet letter where no other church would ever take you in?
So be it.
What is to prevent the clerically dispossessed from banding together to establish their own churches?
And what if these loose associations began bearing spiritual fruit?
In the idealized theocracy or theonomy, would establishmentarian denominations use the weight of law and the use of force commonly referred to as violence inherent to the enforcement of such to destroy these fellowships?
If so, what makes those holding to such a position any better than the worst of the Medieval papalists that those of the extreme Reformist perspective spend an inordinate amount of time railing against?
In the sermon, Pastor Dykstra mentioned a sect from the time of the Reformation known as the Nicodemites, a reference to the influential Pharisee that came to Jesus who, though sincerely curious, came to Jesus in the middle of the night so as not to endanger his status and position as a member of the Sanhedrin.
This label was used to describe those drawn to the claims of the Reformed message but who were reluctant to embrace this interpretation of the Gospel for fear of leaving behind the modalities of worship and religious expression they had known their entire lives.
The term was intended to be applied condescendingly.
However, as conveyed in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, one does not get the impression that Jesus was irritated with Nicodemus for coming to Him secretively indicating potential ambivalence to the implications embracing the Messianic claims would have in the life of such a foremost Jewish voice.
Rev. Dykstra claims the label accurately describes those that waffle as to what congregation it is that they actually want to be a part of.
He goes on to assert that, when one leaves a particular church, what you are saying is that you no longer want to fellowship with the saints there.
It says nothing of the sort.
What about those that stay in the church and get their rearends so high up on their shoulders that they will no longer have anything to do with those that could have their spiritual needs better fulfilled elsewhere?
You don't need the pastor's permission to remain someone's friend.
If you are afraid that remaining friends with someone that has left the church but otherwise still walking in the faith will set minister off, other than a cordial but distance greeting each Sunday, DON'T TELL THE MINISTER THAT YOU ARE STILL THEIR FRIEND.
The world is in a profound state of turmoil and decline.
Instead of complaining about how often a particular visitor is or is not there and whether or not they have agreed to a commitment sufficiently arduous to placate the rigors of the professional religionist, perhaps it might be more prudent to convey the basics of salvation and moral living in the brief time that any particular soul might be brought into contact with a specific congregation.
By Frederick Meekins
In a sermon titled “The Gospel Demands Sacrifice” posted on Youtube, the President of the Southern Baptist International Missions Board criticized Christians that understand our eternal reward as Heaven rather than the fullness of Christ. This condemnation was enunciated because of this exegete’s aversion to OTHER people possessing what he dismisses as stuff (in other words the property imperative). However, we are beings created to occupy space and in constant need of a plethora of things to keep that embodied existence ongoing. It is further reinforced that if we do not reach Heaven as our destination in the Afterlife, that our eternity will be one of unending agony in the most painful ways in which we can possible conceive. If that is how we have been deliberately designed by our Creator and what He has decided to reveal to us regarding the comprehensive metaphysical reality, is this response really something we should be chastised over? Perhaps this pastor’s underlying issue is that we retain a sense of individuality once this life is completed rather than an existential obliteration in a Nirvana-like state he terms “the fullness of Christ”.
Note something will you. Pastors are often fond of the text that our love for Christ should be so intense that our love for family should look like hate in comparison. But never in this exposition do they have backbone to preach that our devotion to Christ should be so singular that our love for the organized church in comparison to that of her Christ should also look like hate.
Wednesday, August 27
Tuesday, August 26
Now would that be a punishment or a reward to be forced off this sinking denominational ship?
The bishop justifies such a hardline position because, “It is an affront to those who have worked hard, studying many years in seminary, spending much money, making many personal sacrifices when others, maybe unknowingly, seek ordinations in an easy, anonymous way.”
One will note that no where in the explanation is God or Christ even mentioned.
That is because, other than the basic criteria listed in Scripture, He leaves it up to the individual to follow the path that is best suited to their own particular calling.
The United Methodist Church is only one expression of the broader Bride of Christ.
Those employed by a United Methodist Church or seeking a career in such might have to abide by the rules that the denomination establishes to determine who it allows to minister as part of its brand.
However, their exists a Christan world beyond this one principality within the larger kingdom.
So long as someone holding one of these alternative ordinations does not try to seize control of a United Methodist Church, they should use the credential to minister in any way possible that is open to them.
The average member is only in church between one and maybe three hours per week.
If someone in the remaining hours of the week wants to fill that time going about their Father's work and they for the most part profess the same basic theological and philosophical worldview as you do, it is the epitome of arrogance for you to punish them simply because they don't hold a certificate with your seal of approval emblazoned upon it.
Any church that seeks to control those not on the official payroll or those that have not agreed to the parameters of ministry within a specific denomination has come dangerously close to elevating the organizational structure above the Christ that it claims to worship.
About the best thing that could possibly happen to someone that looses their membership over such a petty and minuscule offense for simply feeling a call to ministry that ecclesiastical elites fail to recognize is to set up some kind of Methodist or Wesleyan-style church of their own.
It might not be what they have been accustomed to, however, given that these are generic theological labels or categories, should you decide to apply them along with a few distinct modifiers to create a somewhat unique variation on the given theme, there really isn't much that religious power brokers can do to stop you
By Frederick Meekins
Though the term “cosmological argument” sounds intimidating and the concept it strives to convey seems profound, this series of propositions endeavors to express a most elementary idea in a highly rational form. The thrust of the cosmological argument seeks to prove that the universe must have a cause and that only God can serve as an adequate explanation for the existence of the universe. Norman Geisler in Introduction To Christian Philosophy states the basic argument in the following manner: “(1) Finite changing things exist. (2) Every finite, changing thing must be caused by another. (3) There cannot be an infinite regress of causes. (4) Therefore, there must be a first uncaused cause of every finite changing thing that exists (page 267).” From here, Aquinas proceeds to argue that only God is powerful enough to serve as an explanation behind this uncaused cause.
This assertion is buttressed by Aquinas’ notion of contingency and the need for a necessary being. A contingent being, according to Ronald Nash in Faith & Reason: Searching For A Rational Faith, is one whose existence depends upon another and whose nonexistence is possible; likewise, a necessary being is one that must exist, does not depend on another being for its existence, and whose nonexistence is an impossibility (128). The necessary being ultimately serves as the sufficient reason for all contingent beings.
Despite the power of the cosmological argument, it has not escaped its share of scrutiny throughout the course of its distinguished existence. For while the conclusions of the cosmological argument seem to flow naturally within the framework of traditional Judeo-Christian theism, they are not quite as obvious to adherents of other philosophies and systems of thought or to those seeking to undermine them through a process of intense rationalistic analysis. Skeptics and opponents of the Judeo-Christian assumptions that the cosmological argument seeks to prove can call upon a number of criticisms and counterclaims in support of their contrarian position.
The first brand of criticism stems from those advocating worldviews hostile to Christian presuppositions that possess a considerable stake in finding an explanation for the origins of the universe through causes other than an instant of divine creation. Foremost among the systems opposing the premises of the cosmological argument stand the various strands of naturalism.
According to James Sire in The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, the naturalist says matter is all there is and God does not exist (54). Or as Carl Sagan use to say, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” Corliss Lamont, the 1977 Humanist of the Year, writes, “Humanism...believes in a naturalistic cosmology...that rules out all forms of the supernatural ... that regards nature as the totality of being and as a constantly changing system of events existing independently of any mind or consciousness (Understanding The Times, 117).”
Thus, as David Nobel of Summit Ministries responds in Understanding The Times, “For the Humanist, no personal First Cause exists; only the cosmos... There was no beginning and there can be no end. Of course, there is no need for a God to explain a beginning that did not happen (120).” Naturalists, therefore, find their explanation for the universe elsewhere
Whereas theists such as Thomas Aquinas posit the answer to this important question with God, naturalists find it in a complex interaction of matter, physical laws, and a healthy sprinkling of chance.
David Nobel writes of the naturalist perspective, “Nature...cannot create but she can eternally transform (120). “ Naturalists attempt to abolish the so-called Thomist arguments for a creator denying the very concept of creation itself.
While it is not too difficult to confront the opponents of theism over those points where such glaring differences exist, the criticism couched in the careful formulations of sophisticated philosophical analysis can be somewhat more difficult to counter. For example, John Gerstner writes in Reasons For Faith that objections could be raised that the cosmological argument hinges upon the conclusion drawn from our own observation that all things have a cause (53).
The thrust of the cosmological argument hinges upon the conclusion drawn from our observations that all things have a cause. This proposition is put forward to prove the need for a so-called first “uncaused cause”. As the nitpicky skeptic might point out, if it is deduced through observation that all things have causes, is it not unreasonable to call upon an uncaused first cause? After all, would not something have to have caused it also. Such a deadlock leads to one of Kant’s antimonies of reason where debaters of equal rationality come to two semmingly reasonable conclusions: namely either the need of an uncaused first cause or the validity of an infinitely regressing eternal series of causes and effects.
Despite this apparent loggerheads between proponents and detractors of the cosmological proof, additional lines of argumentation and evidence exist tipping the scales in favor of justifiable theism. From the time of the Enlightenment onward, practitioners of what Francis Schaeffer referred to as “modern modern science" have endeavored to establish a conceptual framework for explaining the operations of the universe capable of standing without the need for an appeal to divine support. When asked by Napoleon where God fit into his system of celestial mechanics, Laplace is said to have responded, “I have no need for that hypothesis (Barbour, 42).” But ironically, the very system of airtight physical laws many scientists approach with an almost religious devotion ultimately point to and must at least be jumpstarted if not actively maintained by the very Creator these lab-coated agnostics are scurrying to get away from.
Despite possible variations in their extraneous details, there are only a limited number of cosmologies accounting for the existence of the universe, each with its own advantages and shortcomings depending upon where one lines up in the debate regarding this theistic argument. Astrophysicist and Professor of New Testament Robert Newman describes each of these possibilities in the article “The Evidence Of Cosmology” appearing in the anthology Evidence For Faith: these systems are the Steady-State Universe, the Oscillating Cosmology, and the so-called “Big Bang” (Newman, 83-85).
The Steady-State model added a scientific veneer to the philosophical assumptions of naturalism by hypothesizing a universe eternally existing in a dynamic state of equilibrium whereby the density and energy levels of the cosmos remain constant as new matter is added as the boundaries of the system expand. Oscillating Cosmology pictures an ongoing cycle of universal birth, death, and rebirth as the universe continually expands outward in a burst of energy only to contract under the forces of its own gravity only to explode outward once again in an unending repetitive cosmic rhythm. The so-called “Big Bang”, at its most basic, postulates a singular specific moment when the universe expanded outward from a particular point at a definite moment in time.
These theories may all be well and good in terms of allowing the curious to speculate until their heart’s content. Yet ultimately they must correspond to actual reality if they are to be of any value beyond mere academic amusement.
It is against the cold hard wall of truth that these systems are forced to measure up against. These unavoidable truths eliminate the faulty explanations for the origins of the universe and point us back to the conclusions of the cosmological argument.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the sum total of matter and energy in the universe can neither be created nor destroyed; it remains constant. This is appended by the Second Law of Thermodynamics stating that the amount of energy available for useful work constantly decreases and the amount of entropy or disorder increases.
Any theory of origins seeking to undermine the need for a Creator by positing an everlasting cosmos is by definition scientifically impossible as one deduces from these physical laws. For every system that possesses a finite amount of useful energy must have a definite startup point.
If the universe is infinitely old as speculated by steady-state cosmologists, the universe would have wound down already. As D. James Kennedy notes in How I Know There Is A God, “...everything is running down; ... everything is wearing out; everything is growing old. So if the universe were eternal, it would have already wound down (6).”
Like it or not, the mechanics of the universe, as they exist as unvarnished facts, point to a theoretically specifiable beginning and cannot be compelled to testify against their designer. Dr. Kennedy further notes, “There was a time when there were men who believed that it [the universe] was [eternal] but with modern scientific discoveries it is no longer possible to believe that... For the last 150 years, scientists have been scurrying around trying to avoid the implications of the laws they have discovered (5).”
Despite harkening unto the exhortations of science when it is believed this manner of inquiry might prove a valuable ally in the ongoing struggle to dethrone the God of all space and time, this epistemological method is conveniently overlooked when it points in the direction of conclusions standing in opposition to cherished preconceived assumptions. Astronomer Fred Hoyle, a developer of the Steady -State Model, himself admitted that his affinity for this particular system was not so much born out of pure science but rather because this particular variety of cosmology was more philosophically satisfying than those characterized with a beginning (Newman, 83). Thus, the unvarnished facts may have little initial impact upon those holding such a viewpoint who feel seemingly remote matters such as the origins of the universe have little bearing upon their average workaday lives.
The Christian thinker must proceed by showing how one’s position regarding the data pointing to the divine origins of the universe impacts one’s relation to the remaining branches of knowledge and how one cannot ignore the issue without felling the entire noetic tree. The laws of objective physical science clearly teach that the universe came into existence at a particular point in time.
This leaves the cogitator with two possible explanations: either the universe came into existence of its own accord or was brought into existence by some entity greater and more complete in and of itself. Diehard agnostics will continue to insist upon the alternative excluding the influence of deity, which means they would select the alternative suggesting the universe came into existence on its own. Yet reason dictates that only nothing can come from nothing.
As an experiment, take a first-full of nothing and plant it in a flowerpot and see how long it takes to grow a plant from it. Now how much longer will it take for an entire developed universe with complex organisms and sophisticated civilizations to sprout from it? John Frame in Apologetics "To The Glory Of God: An Introduction", argues that those refusing to assent to the theistic conclusions in light of such compelling logic and evidence must concede to the madness of irrationalism since it flies in the face of common sense to hold that everything in the physical universe requires a cause but the finite contingent universe itself (111).
While advocates of the cosmological argument will spend much of their time trying to convince their nontheistic counterparts as to its validity, they might be surprised to learn significant suspicion of it lurks within certain corners of the Christian camp. Ronald Nash examines a number of these Christian criticisms and concerns in his analysis of the cosmological argument as detailed in "Faith & Reason: Searching For A Rational Faith".
Foremost among the cautions raised by Christians skeptical as to the value of the cosmological argument ranks the realization that the God attested to by this renowned theistic proof could very well fall short of the Lord boldly proclaimed in the pages of the Bible and could very easily resemble something more akin to deism (Nash, 122-124). For example, the purpose of the cosmological argument is to postulate a God that gets the proverbial ball rolling. However, on its own it does not initially provide enough argumentative steam to establish argumentively a God who actively sustains the universe, to say nothing of one that loves and cares for that part of the creation molded in his own image.
Furthermore, since the world and the universe are a composite of a number of complex interactive systems, one could argue that each was set in motion by its own unique first cause. According to Norman Geisler in Introduction To Philosophjy: A Christian Perspective, Aristotle himself believed in between forty-seven and fifty-five of these entities, each responsible for a particular sphere of the heavens (172). At best, such an arrangement would give one a situation something akin to polytheism where one god ruled the sky and another the sea. And in bringing the Greek and other ancient pantheons into the mix, Ronald Nash points out that the cosmological argument fails to address the moral and redemptive natures of God so central to the message of Scripture that sets the Christian message apart from other world religions. One could very well maneuver the most vile reprobates into acknowledging the existence of such a God without having it make the slightest impact on such a libertine lifestyle.
Of the cosmological argument, Ronald Nash writes, “...if we reject special revelation and attempt to reason our way from what we know about the world to the existence of a supposed First Cause, the most we can establish still leaves us a long way from...(the) God of the Bible (124).” Thus the Christian following in the footsteps of Aquinas comes to a very important fork in the road. On the one hand, the intellectually engaged believer finds that the given of the universe needing a creator is not quite universally assumed as they originally thought it to be; on the other, there are those within the Christian’s own camp who insightfully warn as to the potential dangers and shortcomings of this hallowed argument. What is the Christian to do?
The good news is that the cosmological argument does not need to be tossed aside with the rest of the philosophical rubbish. Just as an army cannot rely on any one weapon system if it hopes to carry out a successful military campaign, if they are going to utilize the cosmological argument as part of their apologetic arsenal, they must incorporate it into the framework of a comprehensive strategy of evangelization. It might be best to look at the cosmological argument not so much as some epiphanial revelation silencing all opposition from then on out but rather as a tool to extract knowledge already buried in the deep recesses of the soul.
Romans 2:14-15 reads, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law...since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them (NIV).” Likewise, Psalms 14:1 reads, “The fool says in his hear, ‘There is no God.’.” Thus, whether they choose to admit it or not, a primordial knowledge of God exists somewhere within the human soul. The trick is getting the individual to assent to this as they are being guided down along the path to belief in Christ. The problem is that man has gone out of his way in the attempt to shake free from the truth of God’s existence that weighs down the sin-laden conscience.
Romans 1:20-21 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities...have been clearly seen, being understood for what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (NIV).” The task of the Christian becomes to show the unbeliever how it is untenable to live in a theistic Christian world with non-Christian, atheistic assumptions.
In Van Tillian terminology, this is the point of contact (Frame, 82-83). The cosmological argument is best used as one of these conversation starters rather than as the be-all and end-all of the discussion. In essence, the cosmological argument is more a defense of already held belief rather than a foundation upon which belief in the true God is built upon.
Ronald Nash writes, “Suppose...that we regard it [natural theology] as an inquiry into whether the Christian world-view fits what we know about the outer and inner worlds (Nash, 96).” Nash continues, “...instead of seeking coercive proofs for conclusions that all right-minded and open-minded persons would accept, we view our task as the more modest one of seeing if the Christian worldview does what we expect any worldview to do (97).”
The cosmological argument has enjoyed a robust history throughout the course of Western intellectual and ecclesiastical history. It has sparked considerable discussion and debate as its advocates herald it as a tool through which to apprehend a slice of the infinite while its detractors dismiss it as the leftover mental baggage of a less rational era. But regardless of where one lines up along this ongoing debate, one cannot help but admit that the discussion will continue until the Lord Himself decides to intervene and settle the issue on His own once and for all before then.
by Frederick Meekins
Monday, August 25
Thursday, August 21
Wednesday, August 20
Apparently, little consideration is to be given as to whether or not the couple can actually afford to do so.
Speaking in defense of the decree to USA Tolday, Pastor Jon Akin of Lebanon, Tennessee said of the Southern Baptist Convention’s previous teaching before the fanatics took over that a couple should wait to marry until they have reached a level of financial security, “What we've communicated to our young people is finances are more important than sexual sin, and the Bible seems to say the exact opposite of that."
The previous doctrine does nothing of the sort.
If the pastor does not have the guts to put the fear of God in the youth regarding venereal diseases, unplanned pregnancies, and shattered hearts, that is not the fault of delaying gratification.
And if the youngsters can’t keep it in their pants until they can afford a down payment or a security deposit, that is their own fault.
Contrary to beatnik ditties, you do need more than love.
So who is supposed to provide for these whelps?
I guess we are expected to dig into our pockets, as we are in regards to the missionaries to the pygmies, and empty the contents of our wallets to finance yet additional foolhardy undertakings.
And as in the case of Ann Coulter, these fanatics will likely damn to the edge of Hell anyone suggesting that those wanting to marry should pay their own way in life.
By Frederick Meekins
Southern Baptist Front Group Making Overtures Towards Sodomites Earlier In The Summer Now Heaping Condemnation Upon Christian Singles
In an oration titled “Do You Understand What You Are Reading: The Christian Faith & The Call To Teach”, Southern Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler remarked that the Internet is a horrible place to attend seminary. And what if distance education is the only way that someone can acquire knowledge of this variety either because it is they only way that they can afford, don’t have the time for a traditional approach to education, or simply because they have not jumped through assorted hurdles such as traditional church membership or ministry involvement? There is nothing in the Bible about restricting knowledge solely to a select elite. That is more of a Gnostic perspective.
Yet isn’t she head of one of the denominations particularly noted for its ornate property holdings and highly decorated vestments?
You don’t usually pick those garments off the rack at the thrift store.
In her speech, the Archbishop condemned particularly the tendency to protect our stuff.
So if a few greedy Baptists or jealous Catholics decide they just want to up and swipe things out of an Episcopal church, will the Archbishop simply turn the other cheek?
It can be argued that “Thou shalt not steal” codifies as fundamental divine law the right to protect mere “stuff” from those to whom it does not belong.
by Frederick Meekins
Tuesday, August 19
The Dean of the National Cathedral is calling for prayer regarding the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. Since he categorizes himself as a “Christian atheist”, he should be asked what is the point of asking for assistance from aGod that does not exist. According to his theology, it might be more beneficial to flip on the Batsignal.
According to Wells, the future of mankind is dependent upon the establishment of world unity in order to protect the human race from social disintegration and physical destruction. However, instead of blatantly imposing this new world order from without, Wells suggests conditioning the masses into accepting the world state through targeted forms of intellectual manipulation.
While Wells claims to have the best interests of man at heart, it is clear he does not think all that much of the common individual as in his view it is the place of such people to simply go along with the will of the elite. Wells writes, “It is often forgotten, in America, even more than in Europe, that education exists for the community, and only for the individual only so far that it makes him a sufficient member of the community. The chief end of education is to subjugate and sublimate for the collective purpose of our own kind the savage egoism we inherit (24-25).”
< Thus, education in the proposed global society is not so much about empowering the individual to think for himself as it is to condition him to take his place as a docile member of the group. As such, the early stages of establishing a world government will not be as much about changing politics itself as it will be about influencing the minds of the young.
The freedom Wells grants with one hand by liberating the individual from traditional authorities he takes back with the other. Wells writes, “The world state must begin as a propagandist cult, to which men and women must give themselves and their energies regardless of the consequences (35).”
Furthermore, the future world state won’t simply be an institution in the background keeping the peace and making sure the trains run on time. Rather, it is to be in the forefront in molding what the good member of the community is to think and believe.
Foremost among the methods for keeping order in the New World Order will be what Wells calls ‘The Bible of Civilization”. However, this is not to be the famed Good Book that has guided mankind in religious and ethical matters century upon century. Rather, this new Bible is to consist of an anthology of the best in human literature and learning selected and periodically revised by “a few hundred resolute and capable people”.
But as a renowned atheist, what Wells failed to realize is that the thing that has granted the Bible such sway over the minds of men and cherished in their hearts is that it was handed down by the hand of God or at least that is that is believed by those that honor its precepts. All Wells leaves us is a committee working paper with the proviso that the documents findings are subject to change at a later date.
If God says something like thou shalt not murder, like it or not, I don’t have much room to argue about it. If some sanctimonious committee with no other authority than that which it has bestowed upon itself and duped the masses into abiding by for the time being makes grandiose pronouncements it claims we are obligated to obey , why should I have to comply with its dictates and decrees?
Despite claiming to stand for human freedom by abolishing traditional prohibitions on sex outside of marriage (no doubt in part because he was himself a profligate adulterer), Wells’ behavioral codes would be far more extensive and binding than anything elaborated upon in the pages of the Bible. Wells writes, “One of the first duties of a citizen is to keep himself in mental and bodily health in order to be fit for the rest of his duties.”
Thus, to translate Wells’ position into something we can understand, go out and have as many affairs as you want (no doubt to lessen the bonds to a particular spouse or family so that identity comes instead to be derived from the larger group). Just don’t get caught smoking a cigarette or enjoying fast foods since that might hinder the revolution and the glorious expansion of the motherworld.
To some viewing H.G. Wells as a figure prominent at the beginning of the previous century, he has little bearing on the world in which we live today. However, upon contemplating his proposals in The Salvaging Of Civilization such as the rule by elite committees, extensive control of education, and regulations that bear a frightening similarity to provisions against hate speech when he writes “We must put ourselves, and our rulers and our fellow men on trial. We must ask ‘What have you done to...help or hinder the peace of mankind?.’ A time will come when a politician who has...willfully promoted international dissension will be...much surer of the noose than a private homicide (40)” we are already too eerily close to living in a world of this author’s own making.
by Frederick Meekins
Monday, August 18
In this contentious debate, ghouls in lab coats give those wracked with the most horrible of afflictions the impression that the only alternatives available are a life of agony or an end hastened by an IV drip. However, those in the middle of this debate who relish neither the prospects of drawn out pain nor speeding up death as an end in itself can provide a bit of solace in light of life’s most intense existential crisis for their loved ones and colleagues.
Many times if these cases are looked at more closely, one does not find someone that is all that eager to embrace death as they are to ease overwhelming physical and emotional suffering. The goal in such situations ought not be to prolong life beyond what was intended but rather to allow the person’s existential voyage to reach its conclusion at a natural pace in a more serene manner.
Therefore, the best course of treatment to counsel the terminally ill consists of the various options to control the pain. Rae points out that, though there are cases where pain cannot be controlled, these instances are rare and should not be precedent-setting examples upon which a comprehensive policy is based (188). It is Rae’s assertion that most cases can be controlled through a high-enough amount of medication.
Under the principle known as “the law of double effect”, medical personnel could be permitted to administer a sufficient quantity of drugs to alleviate the pain even if one of the possible side effects of the treatment is death (188). To some, this may sound little different than euthanasia; however, the distinction of motive is critical as the patient and medical professionals are not deliberately seeking to end life but rather to alleviate suffering aware of the knowledge that death might be an potential outcome. When you come down to it, this would not be all that more ethically ambiguous than any other risky but necessary medical procedure.
In his lectures for the Trinity Theological Seminary courses in Apologetics, John Warwick Montgomery astutely observed that each of us is more preoccupied about our own deaths and those of loved ones than we are willing to admit. Even for Christians, that appointment none will be able to avoid other than through Christ’s Second Coming might not spark as much apprehension if we had better assurances from the medical community that everything within its power was being done to make the transition into the next realm as comfortable as possible.
In regards to the issue of physician-assisted suicide, its proponents often attempt to turn the tables on their Christian opponents with the following argument: “Since Christians should show mercy and compassion, they should therefore approve of physician assisted suicide.” While this may be difficult to counter initially in light of the immense pain the terminally ill often suffer from, upon closer reflection one will realize that mercy and compassion are not as intrinsically linked with this disputed medical practice as we have been led to believe.
For starters, often the terminally ill are not so eager for a headlong rush into death as they are terrified of becoming a burden or facing the cessation of life in this world alone. Thus, in such circumstances, mercy and compassion would manifest themselves not in a desire to let the dieing do themselves in but rather by standing alongside them as an advocate against maltreatment or to stand beside them as a companion, holding the hand of the ailing letting them know they are still loved despite their failing bodies and that they will be missed each day until we ourselves will be resurrected with them in eternity where we will no more endure the sorrow of death.
If the advocates of euthanasia point out that while such efforts might diminish psychological anguish they do little to ease overwhelming pain, the Christian can respond that the goal ought not to be so much hastening death but rather directing research efforts towards addressing this physical trauma. As Rae points out, the cases where pain cannot be managed are increasingly rare; and in especially challenging cases under the principle known as “the law of double effect”, physicians are justified in increasing the patient’s level of medication to levels nullifying the pain even if one of the potential side effects is death. In such a scenario, death is not the intended result but rather an unintended consequence.
In these debates, it is often considered impolite to call someone’s motives into question. However, since the advocates of physician-assisted suicide have already insinuated that Christians leery of this practice rank up there with the Marquis De Sade for allowing suffering to continue, it would be a fair question to ask whether euthanasia’s enthusiasts are really all that concerned about the comforts of the critically ailing or simply hide behind such a seemingly humanitarian posture out of more materialistic motivations.
For despite hiding behind a cloak of compassion, many calling for physician-assisted suicide are just concerned about the bottom line, claiming that limited resources would be better directed towards salvageable human capital. As former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm said, “We have a duty to die”, no doubt emphasizing this obligation for the common man rather than his own loved ones.
By Frederick Meekins
Does The Convergence Movement Meld The Strengths Of Protestantism & Catholicism Or Intend To Dupe The Pious Of Each?
It was complained that some would rather give money than to volunteer in church. But what if the church making the complaint will only accept your money and not allow you to volunteer unless you jump through a number of hoops that don't have very much to do with determining whether or not you are on some kind of offender registry. Given the deficits many churches run, shouldn't these ministry staffs be grateful for what funds people decide to give?
All Christians have a spiritual gift. However, can those in a congregation homiletically be bored a new one about not using their spiritual gifts in the context of a partcular congregation if that congregation does not have opportunities in which specific spiritual gifts can be used or does not allow an individual to exercise the spiritual gift that the individual believes that they may possess?
During the introduction to an episode of his broadcast ministry, Creflo Dollar remarked that he was disturbed by Christians that otherwise live by what they profess but that seem insufficiently transformed by grace. But so long as they live by what they profess, is it really a pastor's business as to the details of the person's life beyond that? Not everyone is going to be a superstar Christian. Often, those that present themselves as such result in the largest theological and existential trainwrecks that end up soiling the name of Christ. And just what does it mean anyways to be sufficiently transformed by grace. Is that some kind of code or euphemism that such souls have not targeted a sufficient amount of funds for Creflo Dollar ministries specifically?
Thursday, August 14
In response to Ann Coulter’s observations regarding the narcissistic martyr complex often exhibited my missionaries, a Facebook theologian quipped that Albert Mohler is more doctrinally sound than Ann Coulter. Perhaps comprehensively, but not in regards to this issue. What Coulter has enunciated here is merely a different interpretation. It can no more condemned than Paul wanting to head in one direction to evangelize and Barnabas wanting to go in another. Coulter’s missiological strategy enjoys a sounder Biblical foundation and relies less on mere human opinion than Mohler’s insistence that the unmarried over the age of 22 in a congregation are little better than street whores that should be pressured into marriage by the COMMUNITY whether they want to be one not irrespective of whether or not they have kept themselves out of each others pants.
Ann Coulter's remarks regarding missionaries weren't that far off the mark.
Those engaged in that particular form of ministry often get by with things that would never be allowed on the part of average mundane pewfillers.
For example, some of the throbbing neck vein pulpit firebrands that drone on and on how ungodly church bookstores and garage sales or flea markets are don't give second thought when allowing missionaries to hawk books and tapes as congregant walk by them on the way out the church door.
Coulter pretty much hit the nail on the head in asking why can't Christians serve God in America any more.
For example, I went from kindergarten through 12th grade in a Christian school setting.
A considerable number of foreign missionaries were brought in to speak to the students.
I can't recall any one being brought in to discuss how a Christian worldview could be applied here in America in culturally relevant areas such as mass communications, public service, or business.
Granted, assorted orations in honor of Ben Carson were held each February even way back then.
However, these exhortations were lifted up more so simply because he was Black for it is doubtful his medical aptitude would have been mentioned at all if he had not been born a politically correct hue.
Given the state of healthcare here, where many financially struggle or are even go bankrupt to obtain it, why don't more Christian organizations conduct such outreach on behalf of their own countrymen?
By Frederick Meekins
CNN headline makes a fuss about women in the 60's being unable to get a credit card without their husbands cosigning for it. What's so wrong with that for either spouse if each can be legally ruined by the other's profligate spending? After all, the Bible teaches that two are one flesh.
Wednesday, August 13
As an illustration, consider the following. A young mother with two small children has an accident one morning that does not kill her but leaves her in a coma. She is taken to the trauma center where she is placed on life support. Her husband informs the medical staff that his wife stated that she desired no treatment should she ever find herself in such a condition. Since her temperature is rising significantly, her physician believes she should be treated for an infection. Her husband does not approve.
To decide whose wishes should prevail (either her husband’s or the doctor’s), any bioethics committee called in to make a determination would first have to consider a number of factors. For starters, a bioethics committee would need to distinguish between extraordinary and ordinary means of treatment.
According to Rae, ordinary means are those courses of treatment for a disease that offer a reasonable hope of benefit to the patient without being excessively burdensome; extraordinary means are those that do not offer such hope and place undue burdens on the patient (185). In other words, extraordinary means would include things such as respirators that temporarily extend a life that would come to an end without the intervention of such a device. Ordinary means would consist of those things that ordinarily sustain or improve the normal processes of life such as food and water. Antibiotics could be considered an ordinary means of treatment since these substances are administered to curb an infection threatening life and health rather than prolonging life that is beginning to fade away.
Second, the bioethics committee should look into the quality of the of relationship between husband and wife. While such a suggestion might seem nosy, in light of certain disturbing aspects of the Terri Schiavo case, it would be helpful to know whether the spouse is sincerely seeking to fulfill the wishes of their mate in these grim matters or merely looking for an easy way out to make their way on to their next victim, I mean partner.
This case is not that difficult for objective observers with a traditional Judeo-Christian worldview. Administering antibiotics to fight off the infection in order to bide more time to ascertain more fully God’s future plans for this woman would be a moral obligation.
More extensive life support measures would be a decision best left to the family. The most difficult task might be educating the husband as to the distinctions between ordinary and extraordinary means. Though some might consider it presumptuous to speak on someone else’s behalf, at the time his wife made the statement about not wanting treatment if she ever found herself in such a situation, she was probably not referring to treatments such as food, water, and regular medicines but rather to things more like breathing tubes and respirators. For example, one could argue that, if the “no treatment” criteria was to be upheld as an inviolable absolute, the administration of painkillers would have to be withheld as well since these are also a form of treatment.
Furthermore, the medical professional must make it clear that it is not over until it’s over. The antibiotics do not interfere with the chain of events set into motion by the accident, the outcome of which no mortal can know for certain. Rather, these substances prevent an otherwise preventable or treatable secondary matter from overtaking the body and weakening it further. By administering the antibiotics, the family can better prepare themselves for the ultimate will of God in the life of their loved one, which could consist of any number of possible outcomes such as death, healing, or life-long disability.
Even though a number of these states may be far from what we would consider ideal and we might even question them sometimes as mere human beings, it is not our place to be the direct cause of the conclusion of the process known as life. It is rather the duty of the family and authorized caregivers to make the loved one as comfortable as possible and this is most likely what a person means when they say they do not want to be subject to all kinds of extraordinary treatments.
By Frederick Meekins
Mental health functionaries are questioning the propriety of releasing the details of the suicide of Robin Williams. It is claimed such specifics could push those tottering on the abyss into taking the leap into oblivion. But if there is no God or morality binding upon all irrespective of circumstances, what does it matter if someone decides to take their own life or not? Almost just as important, if we are to conceal these specifics because of the few that might attempt this, why is little done to curtail the romping of sack to sack on prime time TV? Still others insist that the intricacies of human reproduction and the physiology of pleasure should be introduced to students from the first day of kindergarten. Yet only a small handful actively seek to end their own lives. Nearly anybody under the right stimuli can be lead towards carnal temptations.
Ibrahim Hooper of the Counsel on American Islamic Relations wants the vandalism of a Northern Virginia mosque investigated as a hate crime. Wonder if he has released a statement condemning atrocities committed by his fellow coreligionists such as the beheading of toddlers, the molestation of underage brides, and the burying alive of religious dissidents. Or are we to conclude that his group of jihadist sympathizers view these as acts of spiritual charity and compassion?
Tuesday, August 12
Albert Mohler Rains Hellfire Down On Ann Coulter For Questioning The Religious Fanaticism Of Certain Missionaries
Monday, August 11
For the most part, the minister condemned those such as Donald Trump as well as a number of Christians that questioned the wisdom of bringing into the United States a number of missionaries that have contracted the pestilence but not yet succumbed to the ravages.
According to the Pastor, politeness and compassion are more paramount than health and survival.
It probably won't be long if one does not want to be excommunicated that the sincere believer will be expected to sip from the same communion chalice as the souls with this particular affliction.
Those such as Rev. Kellett justify their position with appeals to passages admonishing mercy for the suffering and the examples set by these missionaries that fell ill as a result of their ministerial outreach to the less fortunate.
But what about verses and teaching that counsel the protection of one's own family as one's highest earthly priority?
Human empathy and spiritual sensitivity prompt the believer to hope and pray that these servants of God make a full recovery.
However, these missionaries made their own respective choice about subjecting themselves to these dangers.
That choice is not one being extended to the average American, whom this pastor is telling those that do not agree with flinging the doors wide open to the most horrifying of diseases, to sit down and shut up.
These average Americans (not the elites implementing these transformational policies who will be whisked away to lavish underground resorts in a time of crisis) who will be gunned down in the streets by FEMA purification squads or forced to languish in hemorrhagic agony in quarantine death camps.
For decades, the average Christian has sat quietly in the pews enduring many an outlandish claim and denunciations of the American way of life by these missionaries that expect the harangued to bankroll their pietistic wanderlust.
We should at the very least be granted the courtesy of being allowed to voice our concerns when these adventures abroad result in the most vile forms of Third World death being brought to the hallowed shores.
By Frederick Meekins
Maybe Pro-Immigration Brian McLaren Can Warehouse Border Violators At His Spacious Burtonsville, MD Church Property
Throughout the corpus of his life's work, Francis Schaeffer categorized ideas as the primary force motivating history. Richard Pierard in "Reflections On Francis Schaeffer" says regarding Schaeffer's philosophy of history, "People's world views or presuppositions determine the direction of their political and social institutions and their scientific endeavors (199)." "The Church At The End Of The 20th Century" attempts to show how such distorted thinking comes to impact the structures of civilized existence such as the institutions of government and culture.
Francis Schaeffer concluded that the confusion and chaos rampant at the end of the twentieth century were traceable to the rejection of the Judeo-Christian foundations upon which Western civilization once sat. However, as a result, modern man has not drifted along as before, blissfully unencumbered by the burdens classical theism strove to address. Instead the whole world has pretty much started falling apart. In the first chapter titled "The Roots Of The Student Revolution", Schaeffer provides a summary of the streams of thought he saw as establishing the backdrop of the contemporary world drama.
Having abandoned the Judeo-Christian worldview, modern man has also forfeited many of the benefits inherent to that particular body of thought. Being the God of both the physical realm and its order as well as the realm of the spirit and its yearning for freedom, those turning their backs on the God of the Bible inevitably end up losing an essential balance between these two pillars of existence.
Much of the social confusion characterizing the contemporary world is understandable in terms of these extremes dancing unfettered across America's cultural landscape. In the mind of Schaeffer, philosophies and perspectives seemingly light-years apart to the casual observer were in the final analysis interconnected in that they stemmed from the same root problem.
A number of thinkers who have abandoned Judeo-Christian principles have attempted to find ultimate answers in an understanding of science construed though their materialistic philosophy excluding life's spiritual component. Schaeffer referred to this approach as "modern modern science" (13).
Schaeffer deliberately distinguished between modern science and modern modern science in an attempt to emphasize the difference between the two epistemological approaches. Schaeffer stressed that modern science in fact arose amidst a Christian framework. The methodology's earliest practitioners believed that one could understand the operation of the physical universe since it had been imbued with a sense of orderliness by its rational creator.
However, modern modern science would step beyond the confines of such a paradigm to exclude the role of God by arguing that the universe is a closed system complete in itself. But by eliminating the need for a personal Creator, modern modern science also eliminates those aspects of man transcending the sum of his material parts or those qualities Schaffer cleverly referred to as “the mannishness of man”.
When the cosmos is reduced to mere matter, man can no longer be seen as possessing those qualities that distinguish him from the proverbial furniture of the universe. Instead of arising as responses to metaphysical verities, things such as emotions, thoughts, and acts of creativity are reduced to nothing more than responses to electro-chemical biological stimuli. The aspirations the Declaration of Independence gives rise to become no different than the reaction to the gastrointestinal conditions sparking heartburn and may in fact possibly be interrelated.
The hypothesis of man as little more than an empty bag of mostly water, as the infamous Crystalline Entity put it on one episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, does not fit the data or provide much comfort on a cold night when we consider the aspects of existence seeming to rise above the immediacy of our biological functions. Such inadequacy no doubt provokes a response from those not willing to accept how divine revelation fills in these blanks but who realize that the cold scientism of Mr. Spock does not quite cut it either.
Schaeffer pointed out that assorted brands of mysticism are often, surprisingly, the children of scientism's ultimate consequences. With rationalism found wanting, modern man feels he must step beyond reason and make what Schaeffer refers to as "a leap upstairs" in order to find meaning in nonrational experience.
Writing along similar lines, James Sire says of existentialism in "The Universe Next Door", "....against the absurdity of the objective world, the authentic person must revolt and create value (100)." Values are not arrived at in a rational manner through contemplation upon transcendent criteria but through an intuitive choice based upon feeling much more akin to a mystical experience whether we decide to embrace New Age pantheism or various forms of political activism.
In such a situation, one is reminded of the famous statement in "The Charge Of The Light Brigade": "Ours is not reason why. Ours is but to do or die." The human heart realizes that there are things worth valuing beyond the concrete material universe even if it cannot justify the basis for this belief. However, when rational standards are abandoned, chaos of some sort is usually bound to follow.
Perhaps the most ironic thing of this entire discussion is that, the further each alternative gets from the Judeo-Christian standard, the more allegedly objective rationalism and subjective romanticism come to resemble one another. Schaeffer argued that, without some kind of transcendent reference point, even the imposing intellectual monolith of contemporary science breaks down into personal preference and social utility.
Schaeffer illustrated this by highlighting how Cambridge Anthropologist Edmund Leach preferred a theory of evolution whereby all human races descended from one common ancestor rather than arising separately from one another (92). Leach based such a conclusion on no other criteria than that the theory of a single common ancestor fit better with the notions of racial harmony.
No longer are scientific decisions to be made in light of the facts or data available at the time but in reference to the same kind of subjective criteria by which we would decide whether to wear a red or blue tie to work tomorrow. Right answers and wrong answers become predicated on their usefulness to society or at least to those wielding power. One might say objectively that objectivity is not quite what it use to be.
Things might not be so bad if adherents of these worldviews sat in a corner and kept quiet amongst themselves. Yet the ironic thing is that those convinced that no objective truth exists seem the most bent on inflicting their version of it upon everyone else in the attempt to remold society in their own image. Regarding the application of secularist perspectives, Schaeffer was perceptive in realizing that ---- as in the realm of thought ---- these non-Biblical approaches to social organization end up in the same place as well.
Schaeffer elaborates upon what he sees as three alternatives to a society built upon Christian foundations. Despite the differences in these systems, each bears a striking similarity.
The first alternative Schaeffer warns about is hedonism, defined as each doing their own thing. The second alternative is what Schaeffer refers to as "the dictatorship of 51%" or what social scientists and political theorists classify as pure democracy where there are no absolutes or standards beyond what is determined by the electorate, in a focus group, or by a committee. The third possibility Schaeffer foresaw was some kind of dictatorship, either in the form of one-man rule or by an elite technocratic bureaucracy.
As with scientism and the subjectivism from which the aforementioned approaches to politics and social organization derive their foundations, it would seem on the first view that anarchism and the various forms of authoritarianism would have little in common. But once again, closer investigation reveals that each shares a startling degree of similarity.
Anarchy promises liberation through the abolition of all traditional standards and institutions. This is either an empty promise or the proponents of this particular outlook do not fully realize what they are advocating.
Without eternal standards through which rights and property are respected, freedom rests on a most precarious foundation. For while the adherents of the various form of Leftism claim to stand for freedom and rights, this concern extends only to those professing an ideology similar to their own or pursuing related ends. Schaeffer illustrates this in the case of one student radical in Paris who told a caller to radio program, "...you just shut up --- I'll never give you a chance to speak (Schaeffer, 32)."
So much for freedom of expression. One cannot argue that such incidents merely reflect the heat of the moment and do not represent the true sentiments of those advocating total social revolution. Similar sentiments have been expressed by the very theoreticians of this movement as normative operating procedure.
Herbert Marcuse is quoted in "Left Of Liberal" as saying, "Certain things cannot be said, certain things cannot be expressed...which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination (Bouscaren, 13)." In other words, those seeking a world of absolute decentralization in terms of morals just as much as politics would set themselves up as an elite imposing their own arbitrary standards with the same radical rigor they employed in their conflict to rend asunder the traditional order. Francis Fukuyama, author of the acclaimed "The End Of History & The Last Man" noted in a May 22, 2000 Time magazine article titled "Will Socialism Make A Comeback" that a socialistic anarchism will come to exert influence over the world of the twenty-first century without having to assume the formal reins of government by orchestrating disruptive protests like those that now regularly taken place during global financial summits in an attempt to alter world policy.
Francis Schaeffer has been with the Lord since the early 1980's. Yet the thought of this visionary Presbyterian continues to provide considerable insight into a world tottering on the edge of chaos and encouragement for Evangelicals having to navigate a variety of perplexing issues. Schaeffer realized that one could not avoid the dangers of the contemporary world by simply ignoring arenas such as politics and other forms of social engagement since such forces have the power to impact all facets of existence in a mass society. Schaeffer addressed the impact of worldviews upon different aspects of culture in the chapter "Modern Man The Manipulator".
Particularly startling is the accuracy of Schaeffer's predictions regarding technological development. Schaeffer warned, "Very soon, all of us will be living in an electronic village hooked up to a huge computer, and we will be able to know what everybody else in the world thinks. The majority opinion will become law in that hour (97)."
Today, this prediction finds itself on the verge of fulfillment. Leaders such as Newt Gingrich and as far back as Ross Perot have suggested that the networking capability of the Internet be utilized for the purposes of referenda in order to decide major issues facing the nation. However, Schaeffer correctly warned of the manipulation likely to result from the use of this technology by and against individuals not adequately grounded in the truths that do not change regardless of the latest digital innovations. The Information Superhighway can take the websurfer either to the accumulated knowledge of mankind or the electronic equivalent of a red-light district.
Some will dismiss Schaeffer's injunctions as Evangelical eschatological hysteria, especially when he speculates about the bio-electronic manipulation of individuals in reference to a May 22, 1970 International Herald Tribune article about monkey controlled by radio receivers implanted into their brains (98). That is until one reads the May 22, 2000 edition of Time Magazine predicting that prison guards may someday be obsolete thanks to implantable biochips that could be used to modify inmate behavior. Then one realizes that Francis Schaeffer’s understanding of human nature is truly holistic, comprehending the present in light of the past and the future in relation to the present.
It would not be much of an overstatement to say that Francis Schaeffer played a primary role in awakening Evangelicals to the precarious state of the world around them. One cannot discount the influence of Schaeffer upon the contemporary Evangelical mind. Regarding Schaeffer’s influence, Clark Pinnock writes in "Reflections On Francis Schaeffer", “He [Schaeffer] enlisted in this task fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye who, although they were world-denying dispensationalists at first, quickly became culture-reclaiming activists (Pinnock, 179).” In other words, Schaeffer helped Evangelicalism realize that the world and human endeavor possessed value beyond the number of souls that could be saved, central though individual salvation may be.
Schaeffer in no way sought to undermine the centrality of the individual, but rather hoped to expand Evangelical concerns to encompass all areas of thought and creation since the God the Christian served was the master of these as well. It was out of this sanctity for the individual created in the image of God that Schaeffer believed it was imperative for believers to engage in these other areas. Key to accomplishing this mission, Schaeffer believed each individual must take stock of their personal beliefs. Schaeffer often lamented that most people caught their presuppositions like they would the measles ---- quite haphazardly.
Such reflection was just not to be a Sunday school exercise. Schaeffer saw it as groundwork for intensive apologetic conflict and engagement with a decaying world. Though himself a Presbyterian minister and evangelist, Schaeffer hoped to inspire Christians to get involved as salt and light in all academic disciplines and intellectual pursuits. Schaeffer said that the best thing a Christian scientist could do would be to invent a computer for the individual designed to counter the centralizing tendency of intrusive databases (Schaeffer, 99). No where did he conclude that learning was off limits to the believer since it had often been employed for questionable purposes.
I Chronicles 12:32 praises the children of Issachar for understanding the times in which they lived. Our own era stands witness to a rate of change unprecedented in the pages of history. Like the men of Issachar, Francis Schaeffer will be remembered as one of the few capable of rising above the confusion of the moment to determine the overall place of our times in relation to God's providence and the consequences that will result from ignoring it.
By Frederick Meekins
Thursday, August 7
Wednesday, August 6
A theologian posted on Facebook, “The Beatles. No Christian should listen to them.” Before complying, shouldn't the reason be given a reason why? Or are we mere pewfillers expected to obey without question? Also, since we are to be led about like dimwitted herd animals to exist in a continual state of cultural panic, will there be a list provided of tunes we are allowed to listen to? And for the grand question that would probably get me stoned by some religious fanatics, if Christians are expected not to listen to the Beatles with no reason provided, how is it that those we are expected to obey without question happen to know so much about the moptops from Liverpool?
Interestingly, one of the foremost voices now opposed to conservative Evangelical political involvement is none other than columnist Cal Thomas, who at one time served as a Falwell underling as vice president of Moral Majority and spoke at Dr. Kennedy's Reclaiming America for Christ conference. Thomas, in a column analyzing the passing of his former colleague titled "The Legacy of Jerry Falwell", concludes of the Religious Right, "The movement also had its downside, because it tended to detract from a Christian's primary responsibility of telling people the 'good news' that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ."
While there is a degree of truth to that as during the early to mid 90's at times it seemed Falwell's ministry did place too much emphasis hawking videotapes exposing the criminality of Bill Clinton and replaying week after week snippets of homosexual excesses to the point where one had to send children out of the room or have to explain why mommy and daddy's faces were turning red, some of this is more the fault of how the Evangelical subculture is structured sociologically than the result of Christian political participation per say.
All throughout Sunday school and the Christian day school environment, those spending most of their lives in this branch of the Christian faith are conditioned with the assumption that those holding professional ministry positions such as pastors and missionaries are some how a cut above the remainder of the congregation even though the traditional Protestant position held to the priesthood of all believers and that all moral work was as equally holy. As such, it is no wonder most believers are paralyzed unless there is a so-called "man of the cloth" there on the scene to direct their every movement. Thus, it was only natural that clergy such as Falwell and Kennedy would have to play prominent roles in these movements.
Ironically, at earlier stages in his career, Thomas was one of the most eloquent voices urging Christian youth to consider callings in fields other than professional ministry such as government, politics, and the media. He even one time quipped he did not recall any Christian being called to serve Christ part time.
However, now that he's had his career, Thomas concludes that "...a Christian's primary responsibility is telling people the 'good news' that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ." If that's the case, is Thomas going to repose himself from commenting on sociopolitical matters in favor of more monastic or missional undertakings or is it part of a more natural inclination of not wanting to share notoriety. For in another column Thomas lamented the rise of consumer choice as exemplified by the growth of talk radio and the blogosphere and instead enunciated a preference that the masses all sup of the same information from the swill placed before them by traditional journalists as the nation's media gatekeepers.
When Thomas chastises Christians for participating in politics and the media since this detracts from time that should be spent directly sharing the Gospel, is he also going to level this charge against Christian physicians if they take the time to perform surgery rather than only praying for the patient's recovery? Likewise, what about the farmer that toils away all day in their fields as this is also time that could be spent in more religious pursuits.
I Corinthians 12:28 says to some God gave to be preachers, some evangelists, others government. Not everyone is cut out for the same purpose in life. As such, their level of interest and the way they contribute to the advancement of the Kingdom of God will varying by kind and degree.
Thomas writes, "But Christians must first understand that the issues they most care about --- abortion, same-sex marriage, and cultural rot --- are not caused by bad politics, but are matters of the heart and soul." While Thomas is correct that these problems won't ultimately be solved until people have a total renewing of the mind found through Christ's shed blood, it does not follow nothing else should be done to ameliorate the social impacts of these manifestations of man’s sin nature.
All it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing. In certain communities across the United States, whether or not I steal your car at a stoplight, plug your head with a bullet, and rape your mother as you lay their bleeding to death there on the pavement are as debated as the propriety of abortion and sodomite nuptials are in others. Does that mean in such jurisdictions those of good conscience should not insist that laws against these infractions should not be enforced since, well, the unrepentant apparently have few qualms or taboos against such alternative lifestyle choices?
The tendency of the human species is to take things to extremes. Luther remarked that man is like a drunkard banging his head into one wall and then the next. Granted, many believers have come to expect too much from politics as David Frum has remarked that the debate is no longer about reducing the size of government but rather about divvying up the fiscal spoils.
Many Christians probably did become dupes of the Republican Party at one point. Frankly, though, where else were they going to go?
At least the GOP would consider individualism construed through the prism of a Christian worldview. The Democratic Party has pretty much given itself over to debauchery and collectivism. If one tries really really hard one can count the number of worthwhile Democrats such as Zel Miller on one hand.
Though some Christians are loathe to admit it as they have been conditioned by overly pacifistic interpretation of passages such as turn the other cheek, sometimes Christian involvement is not about bringing the reprobates to a saving knowledge of Christ as fundamental and essential as that mission is. Rather it is about keeping these ravenous jackals away from you and what is rightfully yours.
Some might respond “But didn’t Jesus say to give them your cloak?” My friends, these blatant communalists want more than the shirt off your back. For they will stop at nothing until they not only have the souls of you and your children, but also the very house that you live in and the automobile that you drive if we adhere to the recommendations of the radical pietists if we as believers refrain from political matters such as property rights and environmental policy.
And if some preacher gets up there and blabbers on about how these are just material things we should give up willy nilly, see if he ever forgets to pass the collection plate or how antsy he gets when the IRS considers tweeking something in its code not even remotely related to the survival of religious liberty in this country such as exemptions on pastoral housing allowances. If the rest of us get hosed by revenuers, why not the clergy as well? Maybe then they won’t be so quick to bend their knee before the state’s Baphomet.
While some such as Cal Thomas seem to counsel disinvolvement from sociopolitical activism out of a sincere desire to retain doctrinal purity and separation, others embodying what in Fundamentalist circles is known as Neo-Evangelicalism do so for other reasons. Seeking to get along with other theologies for the sake of getting along, this perspective is endeavoring to take hypertolerance and unity to a whole new level even if it means downplaying or overlooking some of Scripture's most obvious mandates.
Ironically, though the word “mandate” means something else, one of the issues the Christian in the pews is being urged to keep quiet about is none other than “man dates”. For in the March/April 2007 issue of The Plain Truth Magazine, in the article “I Kissed Religion Goodbye”, Greg Albrecht lists as one of his complaints is that many churches expect members to “Vote and politically agitate in absolute, lockstep with pro-life and anti-homosexual views exactly the way your church promotes and endorses them”.
Unlike the war against terror over which sincere Christians can have differing interpretations as to how to best approach the issue, there is not much wiggle room there as to abortion and homosexuality. There is not really anyway around “Thou shalt not murder” and injunctions against carnal relations with members of the same sex unless Albrecht wants to come out and say that the unborn really aren’t human beings and that God did not create marriage to be between a man and a woman.
To many, these issues probably do seem to attract an inordinate amount of attention from conservative Evangelicals. But whose fault is that?
Would most believers even give buggery all that much thought if the gay rights movement was simply about what one did in the privacy of one's home. Seems to me, activist gays are the ones trying to get up in everyone's business as they attempt to penetrate the media, education, and now even ecclesiastical institutions.
Though opposition to such perversities should not become the sole focus of any balanced ministry as Christ died for these individuals also and one wants to avoid becoming unhinged like the Fred Phelps cult, if the churches of America are not going to stand up for the traditional family and marriage as being between a man and woman as the only legitimate form of marriage out of fear of whom they might offend, then they might as well empty the baptismal font and close up shop. For if they do deny the true nature of these fundamental human relationships, it won't be long until the true nature of the God that instituted them will be denied as well.
In the opening of his article, Albrecht laments the "mudslinging and negative rhetoric that ridiculed 'Democrats' and lavished unadulterated praise on all things Republican." Of this, the discerning Christian must ask was this an outright political endorsement of a particular candidate or party (as today I have a hard time imaging there are that many pastors with that much of a spine left willing to jeopardize their tax exempt status as a friend relayed to me how he was pressured to drop the word "liberal" from an article written for the newsletter of what is suppose to be an Independent Baptist Church).
If believers and churches can no longer mention in a nonpartisan context where the Christian faith lines up with the conservative Republican agenda nor condemn those things traditionally thought of as being more liberal Democrat in nature, how much longer until we are counseled by those whose fortunes and notoriety are derived from holding lucrative positions of ecclesiastical leadership to downplay more fundamental aspects of the Christian faith. Already, operatives of Rev. Moon have convinced a number of churches to remove crosses. Those caving so easily will no doubt next downplay the need to be saved from our sins and eventually the need for Jesus as Lord and Savior all together.
However, don't think Albrecht is calling for the complete expunging of politics from the socio-ecclesiastical enterprise all together. For the influence he would see taken out of the hands of conservatives, he gladly places in the hands of more liberal causes.
In a bullet point list of what he perceives as the errors of more conservative or traditional congregations, Albrecht writes in a flippant attempt at humor, "Don't worry about the environment, the poor, or global warming --- those liberal, do-gooder churches have programs for those kinds of things."
What Albrecht is criticizing here are believers who do not necessarily think spending more money and who do not think more government intervention into our lives is going to solve certain problems, that things are as bad as elites would have us believe, or think that people do not necessarily bear some responsibility for their own problems.
As to the poor, it has been my experience that often the most conservative or Fundamentalist of churches of the "old school" variety probably spend larger percentages of their overall incomes on missions and outreach to the individual poor in their immediate vicinity than more leftist evangelical and mainline churches that probably spend a greater percentage on making sure everyone else sees what they are supposedly doing for the poor.
As to the environment and global warming, frankly the jury is still out on this issue as to the following reasons. (1) Does global warming actually exist? (2) If it does, what is its exact cause? So by edicts handed down from on high without these questions being answered, does this mean the average person should forfeit much of their physical mobility just because of some whim of someone further up the bureaucratic hierarchy?
Of course, such restrictions do not apply to the self-appointed such as Greg Albrecht since such figures are so much more important than the rest of us as we Neanderthals would be lost without such guidance.
As to both the environment and poverty, it is questionable that mass scale approaches are the best approach for solving these issues. Often the aide sent to Africans ends up hindering their plight.
Likewise, the best way to save the environment is not by necessarily cordoning it off necessarily into untouchable preserves and by regulating the life out of property to the point where one cannot do anything with it as most sane people tend to care for something best when they are the ones that own it and have the largest say in how it is used.
While no Christian in his right mind advocates dirty water, to a growing number of Evangelicals this concern for the environment goes beyond keeping trash off the shoulder of the highway. Though I cannot speak to Greg Albrecht's views on the afterlife, from one of the snippy remarks made in his sarcastic bullet points one could come away with the impression that he is trodding dangerously close to embracing some of the assumptions of the Emergent Church crowd that the Kingdom of God is not so much a promise of a new heaven and a new earth but the continuation of this one in its current state. Frankly, if this world is all we've got, Christianity is a big waste of time and those snookered into it deserve a refund.
The hyperpious might begin to hyperventilate at such a bold proclamation; however, it is essentially a Biblical sentiment. I Corinthians 15:19 says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”
One can deduce that Albrecht and those of like mind in the Emergent, Purpose Driven, and Church Growth movements don't place all that much importance upon the afterlife. For while certain eras of Church History such as the Middle Ages often placed too much emphasis on what comes next, these contemporary theologies don't emphasize it nearly enough.
In his tongue-in-cheek bullet points, Albrecht writes, "You need to believe in the hottest hell with billions being tortured. And you need to believe in the Rapture, the time when members of your church (at least those who are in good standing) escape hell on earth. Some call this time 'The Tribulation' --- a time when so many who richly deserve it will 'get their's'."
Sincere souls can disagree about the sequence of some of these foretold events. However, what they cannot do is deny that one day there will be some kind of ultimate accounting.
Though it has changed considerably, as a leader in the Worldwide Church Of God, frankly, Albrecht ought to be the last one to criticize an interest in eschatology as his sect or denomination was at one time infamous for their obsession with the topic. But like a former glutton that has lost all kinds of weight now telling everyone else that they eat too much, Albrect condemns as a fanatic anyone daring to suggest that there is an eerily increasing similarity between certain portions of Scripture such as Daniel, Thessalonians, and Revelation and certain political and technological developments.
Often those that run in Emergent Church circles foment the assumption that the image of a God of justice and wrath is somehow at odds with the image of God as a God of love. It is because He is a God of love and mercy that He must also be a God of justice and wrath.
The prospect of no eternal punishment for those outside the parameters by which God allows men to be saved (namely believing that one's own good is insufficient to accomplish this and only belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is going to get one to the Pearly Gates) in fact actually tarnishes those gates and makes the streets of Heaven all the more dim. For if God ends up letting anyone in irrespective of whether or not they are sorry for what they did even though God was willing to go to the extent of sacrificing His only begotten Son in order to make a spot for them with Him in eternity, that would make for a very weak God.
Though we as human beings have an innate tendency to avoid pain at all costs even if it means denying its existence, that does not eliminate it if we are unwilling to take the necessary steps. For example, if someone diagnosed with a horrible disease simply decides to say the disease of an uneducated and overactive imagination, that is not going to prevent it from ravaging the patient's body.
Then why do Modernist, Postmodernist, and Emergent theologians waltzing along the ledges of apostasy keep thinking that wishing away Hell's flames is going to make them any cooler? It has been estimated that Jesus spoke more about Hell than He did heaven; therefore, if we are to say that on this matter He is just plain wrong, then why are we to turn around and assume He's anymore correct about Heaven, His coming kingdom, or even the forgiveness of sins?
As to whether or not some Christians are vindictive about Hell has no bearing as to its existence. To say that it does is akin to saying the police department should be abolished entirely and criminals allowed to pillage through the streets simply because a few officers have abused the powers that have been vested in them.
It is only because the most orthodox of Christians believe that Hell as an actual place of torment exists that it seems to play such a prominent role in conservative theologies of varying stripes. While as fallen human beings it is easy from time to time for our anger to get the best of us and to wish someone to that dreaded realm that has ticked us off, those on the right side of the theological continuum do not emphasize the reality of Hell out of some perverse desire to see the unrepentant tossed into the Abyss but rather so that the greatest number might be able to avoid this destination of unimaginable torment.
Thus in recap, among Evangelicals such as Albrecht wanting to look cool in the eyes of the world, Heaven is downplayed in favor of a utopian kingdom. Relatedly, Hell is downplayed for fear of casting bad PR on a loving God and because it makes the unbelieving uncomfortable. Kind of makes you wonder the point of giving one's life to Christ if some saintly grandmother that loved the Lord her entire life is going to endure the same fate as Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin since it is highly doubtful these genocidal reprobates pleaded for mercy on the Blood of Christ before leaving this world.
Over the past few decades, at times Evangelicals have taken political activism to extents that can understandably cause concern among the discerning. However, to disengage to the extent some now suggest would also prove equally disastrous.
By Frederick Meekins
Tuesday, August 5
So apparently, according to homeschool activist Kevin Swanson, not only should video games be given up for the family. They should be given up for the sake of the COMMUNITY. And what if you have even less in common with or desire to interact with the COMMUNITY?
Homeschool activist Kevin Swanson castigated Baby Boomers for relying on Social Security more than other generations. And exactly how are they supposed to survive if companies either eliminate pensions or eliminate workers before the qualify for pension plans? If they are to keep working, are the likes of Swanson going to keep their mouths shut when the man at McDonalds obviously has urine soaking his pants because of a botched prostate surgery or the person taking the order is so blind that they can’t either operate the cash register or even see the currency clearly enough to make change?
Monday, August 4
Unless an instantaneous background check is conducted, how can that conclusion be made for certain?
Is one to conclude that the migrants with the facial tattoos are simply expressing their childhood enthusiasm for the Mexican equivalent of Bozo the Clown or Ronald McDonald?
Liberal academics and clergy often berate the American public for what such relativists consider the impropriety of applying our own standards to other cultures.
Thus, why are we to assume youngsters crossing at the border are sweet and innocent?
Years ago, a 15 year old and a 13 year old threatened to murder me for not assuming a sufficiently docile posture upon crossing their path.
That is well within the age range that the Obama administration and the immigrant concessions racket insist we are to refrain from scrutinizing with our critical faculties.
Even if those violating the border were of a character that would make the Virgin Mary seem like Jezebel or Delilah in comparison, that is not the issue.
The United States can only allow admittance to a select number in an orderly manner to be determined by the American people or it will eventually cease to be a viable nation-state altogether.
By Frederick Meekins