Monthly Archives: February 2008
Throughout the centuries, few Biblical characters have captured the imagination and fostered speculation more than the antichrist. Everybody wants to know who the antichrist is. Some of the most common suspects are the head of the United Nations or the European Union. Lately there’s been a lot of speculation that the antichrist will be an Islamic cleric (go figure). I’ve heard everything from Gorbechav to Ronald Reagan to Oprah Winfrey, but historically the most common suspect is none other than the head of the Catholic Church.
It’s not too difficult to guess why Martin Luther might have thought of the Pope as the antichrist, given the power of the papacy at the time, but even in our modern era where the Papacy no longer holds the position as the head of the Holy Roman Empire,the idea of the Pope as the antichrist still holds resonance with a lot of people. Who knows how many books have been written to prove that the Papacy is the Whore of Babylon. Even Tim Lahaye and Jerry B. Jenkin’s Left Behind series portrays a future pope as head of a one world religion during the period known as the Great Tribulation. Or how about the Jack Chick publications that show the Pope with horns and a pitchfork?
I’m about halfway through reading Pope Benedict’s book “Jesus of Nazareth” and all I can say is if the current Pope is the antichrist, or is in someway preparing the world to receive the antichrist, then that would make for a very strange antichrist. The antichrist I learned about in Sunday School is supposed to rise to the top of the political food chain by wooing the world with promises of peace and prosperity. It doesn’t seem like this Pope is all that interested in building a utopia.
Here’s a sample of his writings:
“Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil-no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. It claims, moreover, to speak for true realism: What’s real is what is right there in front of us-power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs. God is the issue: Is he real, reality itself, or isn’t he? Is he good, or do we have to invent the good ourselves?”
“The Christian Empire or the secular power of the papacy is no longer a temptation today, but the interpretation of Christianity as a recipe for progress and the proclamation of universal prosperity as the real goal of all religions, including Christianity-this is the modern for of the same temptation.”
“No kingdom of this world is the Kingdom of God, the total condition of mankind’s salvation. Earthly kingdoms remain earthly human kingdoms, and anyone who claims to be able to establish the perfect world is the willing dupe of Satan and plays the world right into his hands.”
“The temptation to use power to secure the faith has arisen again and again in varied forms throughout the centuries, and again and again faith has risked being suffocated in the embrace of power. The struggle for freedom of the Church, the struggle to avoid identifying Jesus’ Kingdom with any political structure, is one that has to be fought century after century. For the fusion of faith and political power always comes at a price: faith becomes a servant of power and must bend to its criteria”
Is it possible that the head of the Catholic Church (aka the devil incarnate according to many) might have a thing or two to teach us Protestants about the marriage of the Church and political power?
What is this world coming to?
I got my butt kicked the other day. No, it wasn’t by a guy named “Biff” (think Back to the Future) and neither was I cage-fighting with Kip (think Napolean Dynamite) , rather it was by a guy named Paul, more specifically the Apostle Paul. Here’s the verse that’s given me my Biblical butt kick for the week:
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God
When I read this word immediately it seemed to leap out from the page and grab me in the gut. Paul didn’t waste any time telling people about Jesus. After his conversion, he immediately launched out with a single-minded vision to save as many souls as possible. He didn’t wait on the more “mature” Christians like we have today who would have told him, “Now Paul. We know you’re a baby Christian, but before you go out trying to save the world, you should remember to wait on the Lord for His perfect timing. Once you grow and develop in the things of the Lord, you will be better prepared to let your light shine to those who haven’t heard.”
God forgive us for losing our sense of urgency!!
I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. Don’t really have an excuse, just been busy being busy even if the business hasn’t accomplished all that I’ve liked-but that’s another story.
I had another late night last night. For some reason, when I can’t sleep I like to go out to my living room and lay on the couch. I’ll usually either spend a few minutes with the Lord or fall asleep within the hour-or both.
As I was focusing my mind on the Lord, I began to reflect on the awesome privilege it is to claim that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David, all of these great heroes of the faith-is my God as well. The same God that inspired Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, the same God that called David when he was just a shepherd boy and inspired him to the throne of Israel, the same God who always stuck up for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, no matter how naughty they behaved at times, that is my God.
In the Old Testament, God often identifies Himself with His people. I am the God of Abraham or “the God of Jacob” is my refuge. Jesus picks up on this point to say that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. Isn’t it awesome that God chooses to identify Himself with human beings? That’s the one thing that sets Biblical faith apart from every other religion. God isn’t distant, but intensely personal.
I started saying to myself “God is the God of Aaron” as if “God of Aaron” belongs in the same category as “God of Abraham” or “God of Moses” or “God of David.” As I began to say this, I felt a warmth and acceptance that I haven’t felt in a while, realizing that God isn’t ashamed to identify Himself with me.
Isn’t that what the gospel is all about? God identifying with people?
As jumbled as these thoughts are, I have a feeling that if you meditate on this a while, it’ll increase your faith.
Still fighting the good fight,
Here’s another interesting story from Mission News Catalyst.
One of Liberia’s most notorious rebel commanders, known as ‘General Butt Naked’ for charging into battle wearing only boots, has returned to confess his role in terrorizing the nation, saying he is responsible for 20,000 deaths. But in the middle of this, he had an encounter with Christ.
The atrocities he and his men committed during the Liberian civil war included magical rituals that involved slaughtering children and eating their hearts. Joshua Milton Blahyi spared no details as he told Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) last week of his years with one of the most feared militias of the war.
He also shared how in the middle of this he had a head-on encounter with Christ, that marked the beginning of his ministry as a pastor. “Jesus appeared to me and asked me to stop being a slave.” It was this experience, he said, that prompted his religious conversion and his life since then, travelling the country preaching his Christian message. Blahyi, 37, said it was for the TRC to decide whether he should be given an amnesty or prosecuted. “I am willing to go to court if necessary,” he said. “And I will repeat just what I said here.”
The following report is from Caleb Project’s Mission News Catalyst. Enjoy!
They have seemed harder to win because until recently, so little of the church’s material or personnel resources have been focused on them. But many Muslims are spiritually hungry, and the Lord is drawing them to himself. But it is hard for individuals to make a commitment to Jesus Christ, unless they are the head of the family.
Recently, in one country, a Muslim leader of a village of over 1000 people began praying to Allah for help in leading his people. One night he had a dream, telling him to go to the house of a certain believer in Jesus, who would tell him about “the straight path.” So he did, and the believer explained the gospel. The Muslim then asked this believer to come tell the gospel to his whole village.
It seemed everyone believed. The leaders then held a meeting, and decided to ask for Christian baptism. So the visiting Christian baptized the Muslim leader, who then baptized all his leaders, who in turn, baptized the men under them. Then the men baptized their wives and sons, and the wives baptized their daughters. Over 1000 people came into the kingdom that day!