Monthly Archives: April 2007
We all remember the story. A 19-year old girl, a supply clerk for the U.S. Army was captured by the Iraqi forces and later rescued by a team of U.S. special forces. Jessica Lynch, however, was no ordinary POW, so the media told us. She was a female Rambo who didn’t go down without a fight. Shortly before Jessica returned home, she was a national icon.
There was one little problem with the female Rambo part-it was purely fiction. Jessica Lynch did not fire at the people who attacked her Humvee. Her gun was jammed, she was knocked unconscious, and the next thing you know she woke up in an Iraqi hospital.
While the media hyped her as a female warrior, the real hero was Jessica’s conscience. Jessica could have very easily went along with the hype while the country was hailing her as G.I. Jane, but she did not. Jessica chose reality over fantasy.
It’s time for a reality check.
Flashback: I’m watching a video in church. In the video there is a man who is in prison for the sole crime of being a Christian. The man tells his son how in the recent past his dad could even pray in school, but then “they” took that away from him. Then it became politically incorrect to talk about Jesus. The next thing you know the man is about to be executed. In an emotionally gripping moment, the man tells his son to pray like he taught him to, to take care of his mother, and to remember that God is the Father to the fatherless. In the end the man joins the cloud of witnesses in heaven as one in a long line of martyrs for the Christian faith. For an impressionable young Christian raised in red-state America, the message was loud and clear. This is what will happen if liberals (aka..democrats and secular humanists) are allowed to take over.
Flash forward: I’m on an airplane flying to a country where Christians actually have been persecuted in the recent past and I watch a movie called V for Vendetta. In the film, Britian has been taken over by a dictator who came to power on the promise to restore Britain to its former glory by bringing God back into the government. The man proceeds to wage war against gays and Muslims and creates a Big Brother society along similar lines of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The message of the film was loud and clear. This is what will happen if fundamentalist Christians are allowed to take over.
Does anyone else but me find these similarities strange? What are the lessons we can learn from the two opposing viewpoints?
I thought this was interesting.
TURKEY – WEDDING DRESSES NEEDED
from: Turkish World Outreach (http://www.two-fot.org) email
– April 12, 2007
Ladies, do you have a wedding dress you would be willing to part
with for the cause of Christ? If so, please consider sending
it to Turkish World Outreach!
Turkish World Outreach
508 Fruitvale Court
Grand Junction, CO 81504 USA
This Christian organization is collecting wedding dresses to
provide destitute believers in Turkey with a means of employment.
Many have been fired from their jobs because they have chosen
to leave Islam to follow Jesus. Wedding dresses from western
nations are greatly admired in Turkey, and Turkish believers
will be able earn a living by renting such dresses.
For the past year I’ve been blogging about some very challenging concepts. Some of my ideas (especially the idea that separation of church and state is a Christian idea)have made me feel like a spiritual maverick within the American Christian church. For a while, I was wondering if there was anyone out there who really understood the way I see things.
Now that I am almost finished with Philip Yancey’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace?, I am delighted, and perhaps a little disappointed, to know that I may not be as crazy as I thought after all. Now that I have found a book that basically explains what I have been trying to say all along, I am wondering, what can I blog about now?
St. Louis Rams anyone?
Check out this article from Christianity Today called Living with Islamists. Joshua White is an excellent example of incarnational witness for today’s Christian leaders seeking to build bridges of friendship with the Muslim world. Having been to Pakistan, I found his description of the Pakistani people and, especially, the plight of the Christians, fascinating. Pay special attention to how Joshua, a Christian missionary, learned to respect the people and the culture of the people he went to reach. Knowing that Peshawar is the most violent and lawless region of Pakistan, even I was a little surprised by his rather generous portrayal of the people.
From what i understand, the bible instructs us to obey the government unless the law of the land contradicts God’s law. i really can’t say whether or not it was a good idea or God’s will for the States to fight back against Britain. i’m glad they did, though.
it may not be what you had in mind, but i don’t really have an answer for that question. i agree with what you said regarding what scripture says about government. which brings me to a question that i have been kicking around lately.
was God against the institution of slavery?
the reason I ask this is because there are several examples in the OT where God gives laws on how to treat slaves. and as you mentioned, in the NT, paul actual told the slaves to obey their masters. yes, perhaps the idea of every believer being equal in Christ led to the abolition of slavery, but the interesting thing was it seems that God never condemned the institution.
now we may get hung up here if we have different definitions of slavery. it seems doubtful to me that God would ever approve of the many cruel atrocities that happened because of slavery. but if we’re talking about indentured servants (wiki it) and/or slavery in which the slaves were treated decently (in a humane way), i don’t remember reading any biblical disapproval of it (OT or NT).
please know that i’m not saying slavery is a good thing or that we should bring it back. like i said, many horrible things happened because of it. but most people probably think of this type of slavery when they hear the word without considering how things were done in Biblical times and what the Bible actually says or doesn’t say about it.
Answer: First of all, thank you very much for your question. To answer your question, I am going to try something new. I am going to answer your question with a question and I’ll leave it to you, and my readers, to draw your own conclusions to the point I am making.
Let me give you two passages both found in the Bible. The first passage is Psalms 137: 8-9 which says,
“O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed. Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!”
The second passage, found in Acts 7:60 is from the lips of Stephen the martyr who prayed these words as stones were crashing against his skull,
“Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”
My question is this: Both passages are found in the Bible. Which passage is morally superior?
The year was 1988. I was 11 years old and my younger brother, Paul was 7 years old. Our family was visiting my aunt who lived in what we called at the time the “boondocks” of Missouri. I’m not sure if the word is still around today, but back then it meant “in the middle of nowhere” and, with the nearest neighbor being a mile away, that is exactly what it felt like the day my brother and I were walking and talking in a nearby field. As my brother and I were talking and minding our business, something out of the ordinary happened that we still haven’t been able to explain to this day. From seemingly out of nowhere, we heard a piercing trumpet blast .
For most young children, this would be an insignificant incident, but not for us. It just so happened that the day we heard the trumpet blast was the exact day the Rapture of the Church was predicted to happen by the author of the book “88 Reasons Why the Rapture will Happen in 88.”
For those unfamiliar with the Left Behind series, the Rapture is the event that millions of evangelical Christians who follow the dispensational interpretation of Scripture believe can happen at any time without a moment’s notice. In the Rapture, Jesus snatches Christians away from the earth to take them to heaven while leaving the rest of the world to suffer the horrors of the Seven Year tribulation.
As children of the charismatic movement, we knew full well the verse in the Bible that says, “In the twinkling of an eye, the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible,” (I Cornithians 15: 52). The day we heard the trumpet blast, my brother and I fully expected that after we blinked our eyes, we would be in heaven. After blinking hard a few times, we both looked at each other with the same horriffied expression on our faces. “Oh no! We’ve been left behind!” we thought. Immediately we ran inside my aunt’s house and discovered that our parents and our cousins and aunts and uncles were still standing. For the rest of the day we were thinking to ourselves that not only had we been left behind, but our entire family had been left behind as well. As I went to bed that night, I remember racking my brain trying to figure out what my entire family could have done so wrong to suffer such an aweful fate. Neither my brother nor I were fully convinced that the rapture had not taken place until the next day when the family decided to visit a nearby church. To our relief, we were happy to see a church filled with Bible Believing Christians worshipping the Lord together. We figured that all these Christians could not have been left behind, especially not the pastor. As our family worshipped the Lord together that day, I was inwardly thanking God that I wasn’t going to have to take the mark of the beast or swim in a river of blood any time soon. The relief quickly turned to disappointment when I realized that I still had to go to school the next day.
As innocent as this story is, I’ve told it for a reason. An evangelical Christian may read this story and reminesce about the wonders of child-like faith, but a secular American reading this story is likely to have a different reaction. For millions of secular Americans, the Left Behind theology promoted by TBN, the 700 Club, and bestselling prophecy pundits is not only delusional, but dangerous. The thinking goes something like this. If millions of Americans believe this doctrine, and these same Americans are the most powerful voting block in the country, why would people who believe the world is heading for an apocalyptic meltdown care about global warming or protecting the rainforest? To further complicate matters in the minds of secular Americans, the leading advocates of the Rapture theory are also the most vocal advocates for neo-conservative politics, which, in their minds, is the belief that America should back Israel unconditionally, wage pre-emptive wars to establish pro-Western democracies, and give little to no regard to what the U.N. has to say about it.
At least, that’s how the “left” sees things. No longer are we evangelicals the persecuted minority. We are the ones holding the cards with our Aposlte -in -chief holding the highest office in the country. As unfounded as many of the theocracy accusations from the far-left are, American evangelicals, especially those raised on Left Behind theology, are facing some tough questions right now, and will face many more in the future. American evangelicals are still the most vocal supporters of the Iraq war, a war that is a quagmire in the eyes of many, and it seems that hardly a day goes by without a TV preacher calling for war with Iran. To make matters worse, these same T.V. preachers also raise millions of dollars to finance Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, giving little to no consideration to fact that the people they are displacing might actually be human beings with families to feed. Never mind the fact that both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict have committed atrocities against each other beyond anything we in our fast food, mall shopping, church hopping, American culture can conceive of. Never mind the fact that Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and yet, when Israel was blasting the Lebanese to smitherings last year, preachers were calling it a “miracle of God” despite the fact that the war actually strengthened Hizbollah’s presence in the region. To top it off, according to the Left Behind theology, if someone comes along with a solution to stop the two sides from slaughtering each other, according to the same interpretatin of Scripture, that person has to be the devil (the antichrist to be exact)!
All of the sudden, a cute little story about a boy thinking he has missed the rapture isn’t so cute anymore. If millions of others hold to the same beliefs, it could lead to a a self-fulfilling pre-mature apocalypse….at least that’s how the other side sees it. The question I am asking is this: If a Biblically-based belief system has potentially dangerous consequences for humanity, should it be abandoned (in preference to other interpretational approaches to Scripture) or reformed? How about when high profile evangelicals make statements to the media that we wish would have never been said. Do we get angry at the minister for making us look like bufoons, or do we start questioning the theological underpinnings that produced the statement? There are many in my generation choosing the latter. As a non-official representative of evangelicals approaching 30, I would like to ask those older and more mature in the faith to pray for us younger evangelicals. Pray that God will guide us as we look to the Scriptures and formulate new wineskins for the 21st century. Trust me. We’re going to need all the prayer we can get.
Here are a few thoughts I’ve been working on this week.
1. Those who separate the world into us verse them and see everyone else as void of light and reason are destined to embrace a value system where might becomes right; however, those who underestimate the sinfulness of man are destined to surrender too much power to the hands of too few people.
2. In order to love your enemies, you must first believe in their humanity.
3. The Apostle Paul says to “Speak evil of no one.” I wonder how that applies to me in the ministry?
4. Paul did not attack the institution of slavery in his day, but he did teach that all people, whether male or female, Jew or barbarian, slave or free, were potential bearers of the Christ image through faith. It was this idea, which is supposed to be lived out in the life of the church , that eventually led to the abolition of slavery.
5. Isn’t corn good?
No more Mr. nice blogger. It’s time to start asking some tough questions. For most of my life, I have believed that America is a nation founded by Christian men on Christian principles. If you look at our constitution, I would agree that the principles of separation of powers as well as the emphasis on personal freedoms are thoroughly consistent with a Christian worldview (even though many of our founders were, in fact deists at best or secular humanists at worst…but I digress)
I love the 4th of July. For purely sacrilegous reasons, it is probably my favorite holiday because it is simply the most fun. I love the fireworks, the bratwursts, and, most importantly, the pool party at my aunt Ruth’s house every year that allows me to catch up with my dad’s side of the family. For one day out of the year, I remember the sacrifice of those who fought for the freedom that I now enjoy and I feel very proud to be an American.
Here is my problem. I look for examples in the New Testament of Christians plotting revolutions to overthrow the Roman government, which was far more oppressive than the British government that our forefathers overthrew, and I find absolutely nothing. Zilch. Nada. Not even a hint.
Think about it for a moment. Nero was one of the worst dictators in human history. At the Ripley’s wax museum in Dallas, he is (or at least was when I was there)put right alongside Hitler as one of the most evil men that ever lived and yet, all we get from Peter is “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
If you look to find a revolutionary in Paul, much less Jesus, your search will come up dreadfully short. If you look to Paul for answers to how a Christian should relate to governing authorities, about all you are going to get is instruction to pay taxes, obey the laws of the land, and to pray for your leaders (Romans 13:1-7, I Timothy 2:1-3). In fact, it was Paul that told the Christian slaves of his day to obey their masters, and encouraged other Christians to aspire to lead a quiet life and to mind their own business (Colossians 3:22 and I Thessalonians 4:11). Not exactly Boston Tea Party material! I imagine if I were a patriot in the 18th century looking to overthrow the British government because of illegal search and seizures and taxation without representation, I think Peter and Paul would be the last people I would look to for inspiration.
And yet, in all of this, how many American Christians do you know that question the idea that our forefathers were acting out the will of God when they fought against the British? How many American Christians question the idea that God initiated the Revolutionary War?
Interesting question indeed. The flip side of the issue is that since the New Testament teaches that government is a God-ordained institution, it logically follows that it is not wrong for a Christian to serve as a policeman, congressman, military officer, or as a president of a country.
Hindsight can be a strange creature. I don’t know too many people, including me, that would argue that the U.S.A should rejoin the British Commonwealth. Somehow I don’t think the British want that either. Having said that, I think the question is still relevant…could it have happened another way or perhaps at another time?
Question: Is masturbation a sin?
Answer: This is a question that has puzzled Christians for centuries. The short answer is that nowhere in the Bible is masturbation referred to as a sin. In fact, the word is not even in the Bible. Having said that, I feel that excessive masturbation coupled with pornographic fantasies is an addiction that needs to be broken. Here is an excellent article that deals with every Scripture related to this issue.
The article is a bit long, but very thorough. I don’t agree with everything the author says on his website, however, I feel that the author does a good job answering tough questions from a Biblical perspective. Since the author has researched this more thoroughly than I have, I’ll defer to him on this matter.