Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adrift & Without a Moral Compass

Disturbing: 

"Fresno High School senior Cinthia Covarrubias, the school's first transgender prom king candidate, is shown in front of campus Friday, April 20, 2007, in Fresno, Calif. School officials added her name to the ballot for prom king this week although she is biologically female in what gay rights advocates call a landmark victory for on-campus gender expression."

Complete article here.

The Doctrine of Particular Redemption is "Heresy"

...that is to say - according to Jerry Falwell:

From the convocation service at Liberty Seminary,

Friday the 13th 2007.

In a word:  horrific.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

People Need the Lord

The past several weeks have produced a number of instances involving mockery of Christianity and religion in general.  Of course, with the exception of the last article below, such mockery almost never includes Islam - people seem to understand how dangerous that would be

  • A Nude, anatomically correct, chocolate Jesus entitled:  "My Sweet Lord"
  • Ron Burns created a mock version of da Vinci's painting of the last supper, but with dogs.
  • Bloomingdales featured their "True Religion" line of jeans.
  • New York fashion designer Tara Subkoff featured her "Imitation of Christ" series [video below]:

  • Atheism makes greater headway in Europe.

Matthew 5:43-48: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

And God Gave Them Over...

When I read things like this I am reminded of the great patience of God with mankind:

"Creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters because the Y chromosome of male sperm would still be needed to produce sons. The latest research brings the prospect of female-only conception a step closer."

The Prospect of All Female Conception

It Don't Float

 

Of course, this will come as no surprise to you, but a number of the scholars who were consulted for James Cameron's The Lost Tomb of Jesus have been issuing public statements that contradict Cameron's characterization of their research.  Believers throughout the world already knew that Cameron's fabricated story couldn't float for a second - it would only be a matter of time when the holes in his presentation would be made apparent.  The Jerusalem Post has provided an update on these statements in this article by Etgar Lefkovits, but I'll just supply this one excerpt:

Jesus tomb film scholars backtrack: 

"Furthermore, Pfann also says that a specialist in ancient apocryphal text, Professor Francois Bovon, who is quoted in the film as saying the enigmatic ossuary inscription 'Mariamne' is the same woman known as Mary Magdalene - one of the filmmakers' critical arguments - issued a disclaimer stating that he did not believe that 'Mariamne' stood for Mary of Magdalene at all.

Pfann has already argued that the controversial inscription does not read 'Mariamne' at all." 

What is probably more amazing than the article itself is the fact that none of this will ever see the light of day in the mainstream media.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Business of Bigotry

 

If someone were to ask you about what hope a sinner might have for forgiveness for the sins that they have committed, I hope that you would eagerly respond with the message of mercy that is found in the Gospel of Christ Jesus.  If it isn't the immediate answer that you would offer, then the question must be asked: upon what basis do you believe that you yourself are a Christian?  After all, the centerpiece of the Gospel message is the message of forgiveness; and if this is not the message of hope that is readily in your own heart, then what exactly is your hope

I begin with these questions because I fear that the Don Imus/Al Sharpton debate has been generating much heat but little light over the question of racism.  But more importantly, this recent contest is confounding the doctrine of forgiveness and therefore the Gospel itself.  On the one hand Don Imus is (to be frank) a crass shock-jock.  I have not heard much from his radio show - in fact, what little I have heard recently is a clear reminder as to why I steer clear of such programs.  But from what little I have heard recently, it seems obvious that much of what he does is sarcastic and profane.  What Imus said recently was deplorable - but I would contend that most of what he does is deplorable and would be grounds for dismissal.  On the other hand we have the loud rants of the Reverend Al Sharpton (licensed as a bishop at age 10), and others like him: i.e. the Reverend Jesse Jackson.  The histrionics of these men are revealing some very dark realities about their priorities.  They may be ordained by some church, but these men have nothing to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If anything, these preachers are advancing a message of hatred, bigotry and resentment; but I would submit to you that a careful study of this controversy is very important.  This discussion will no doubt be on the hearts and minds of your neighbors and co-workers in the days/weeks to come and thus, this is an important opportunity to speak the truth in love to others.  In view of this, let me offer the following thoughts about the situation in question, relating to Don Imus and the "Rev" Sharpton:

DON IMAS:  Don Imus is a lost man.  His sarcasm and profanity is merely a symptom of a deeper issue - he is in need of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus alone.  All have sinned and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23), and apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we all would continue to pursue wickedness (of various forms) without a care.  Mr. Imus' certainly has a great weakness with his tongue (Romans 3:13-14) to such an extent that if I were his employer, he would have been released a long time ago for his repeated habit of blaspheming the name of Jesus Christ on air.  In fact, by only scanning a few minutes of his program I was able to confirm that Mr. Imus has a habit of mocking Christianity and using the Lord's name in vain.  But I believe that Mr. Imus does this like many others in our culture - blaspheming in ignorance as one who is yet a stranger to the Gospel itself (1 Tim. 1:13).  What he needs is someone who can bring the message of forgiveness in Jesus Christ, because there is still hope for mercy for the penitent:   Matthew 12:31 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people..." 

Al SHARPTON'S PROTEST:  Sharpton is much more aware of Imus' radio habits that I am able to articulate here in this post.  He knows of Imus' habit of mocking Christianity and his propensity of using the Lord's name in vain.  But the only thing that matters to Sharpton is his own view of racism.  Clearly, what Imus said was wrong; it is called filthy speech (Eph. 5:4) - but is it worse than how he has treated the name of Christ?  It always fascinates me when clergymen like Sharpton will get into a tirade over a racial epitaph (whether real or perceived), but will ignore the profane use of Christ's name as though it is perfectly normal.  My question is this:  When has Sharpton or Jackson ever staged a protest over the vile use of the name that is above all names - the Lord Jesus Christ?  If these men are supposed ministers of the Gospel, then let them take up their cause for the honor of the Lord of Glory.  I would submit to you that the nature of their peculiar protest, by itself, should be evidence enough that these men ought to drop the title "Reverend" and leave it to better men who are more interested in the glory of the Savior above everything else.  I do not say this in order to approve Imus' comment - I say this in order to point out the unspeakably grotesque hypocrisy of Sharpton and Jackson.

THE BAD NEWS ABOUT SHARPTON'S GOOD NEWS:  As previously noted, Mr. Imus (just like anybody) needs the Gospel - the message of forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  One could even hope that Mr. Imus would have the opportunity to hear such good news through a pastor/bishop...even the Reverend Al Sharpton...but this certainly is not the case.  When Imus appeared on Sharpton's radio show (in person), he was met with the following rhetorical query:  "Let me first ask you this. What is any possible reason you could feel that this kind of statement could be just forgiven and overlooked?"  Now if you read the full transcript of the interview, the implicit answer given by Sharpton (to his own question) was no: no forgiveness and no forgetting.  Instead of hearing a message of redemption in Christ, Imus was sent through a rhetorical lynching headed by Sharpton, Reverend Soaries and Bryan Monroe.  What became evident in the interview is this:  Sharpton has no Gospel message.  He apparently serves a merciless deity whose definition of the unpardonable sin is racism.  Towards the end of this "interview" Mr. Imus said the following:  "But, I mean, you know, it's like the old country song, 'God may forgive you, but I won't. Jesus may love you, but I don't.'"  I shudder to think what these "clergymen" would say to the Philippian jailer if he were to ask about the hope of God's mercy (Acts 16:22-32) - would he be subjected to a similarly torturous interview?  But instead, can you imagine Mr. Imus being addressed by a Christian in such a context?  In that case you would find the fragrant aroma of a Christ centered message filled with a call to repentance (of all his sin, not just one infraction); and with that the message of Christ's grace and mercy through His sufficient sacrifice for wretched men, like Imus, Jackson, Sharpton - and myself. 

THE PROBLEM WITH SHARPTON'S HYPOCRISY:  The great danger of the whole racism debate comes when people are led to believe that color-racialism is real.  Biblically speaking, there is no such thing as racialism as defined by skin color.  The Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary defines race* as follows:  "A group of persons, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin."  That definition is key because it was the Apostle Paul who preached to the bigoted Athenians about the true concept of "race" when he said:  "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings..." Acts 17:26 (underline mine).  All human beings come from "one blood", that is from one human source, and therefore by this important instruction we must understand the following:  If one wishes to use the word "race" then let it be understood that there is just one race called the Human Race.  But no-where in the Bible is such a concept of "race" associated with one's skin color.  In other words, those who are the most dangerous in the whole racism debacle of our modern day are those who actually believe that skin color is important at all.  In the end, we all have the same skin pigmentation called melanin such that light skin and dark skin are only variations of this one skin pigmentation.  In reality, there is no such thing as a completely white or black person, just different shades of brown, ranging from very pale to very dark.  Such a truth as this robs men of their livelihood, who thrive on the business of bigotry, because it affirms the unity of the human race.  But Sharpton's history is one that reveals a strong appetite for racial division.  His own references of "our people", when speaking of "blacks", reveals a bizarre double standard, especially when someone like Mr. Imus is made to suffer when he referred to Sharpton and his cohorts as "you people."  As I have already stated, to make distinctions among people based upon skin color is utterly meaningless.  In reality, a genuine minister of the Gospel would drop the "our people" distinctive and preach the Gospel message of "all sinners" for Christ in whom "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" Colossians 3:11.   But for this to take place, Mr. Sharpton would have to forsake his racist-idolatry for the Savior who shed His blood for men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Revelation 5:9).

Rarely do I engage in polemicism like this; but the business of bigotry is becoming so rampant in our nation, that it only seems fitting to address this matter as I have here - naming names and identifying sources as needed.  Bigotry is not a disease where the person is claimed as an innocent victim; instead, bigotry is the indicative act of one's will.  It is an exaltation of one's hatred and feeling of superiority over another based upon meaningless distinctions.  Frankly speaking, it is the fallen human heart in action, doing that which is natural, apart from grace (Genesis 6:5, 8:21).  But many people in our culture thrive on bigotry because it has become their means of financial livelihood - it is how they pay their bills.  And for those who advance the message of bigotry as the false ministers of the Gospel must understand that there is such a thing as an unpardonable sin - but it isn't racism.  Instead it is the sin that is committed by those who have clearly heard the Gospel of Christ, but who repeatedly deny it and thus sin against the light of God's revelation, as illumined by the Holy Spirit:  

Matthew 12:31: 31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men."

Remember that it was Mr. Sharpton who asked Mr. Imus this question: "What is any possible reason you could feel that this ... could be just forgiven and overlooked?"  In light of the above text I would fearfully advise Mr. Sharpton to consider that important question for the sake of his own soul.    

*In some translations, the word race is used for the Greek word genos.  In many ways this is unfortunate since the word tribe or nation would be better suited for genos in order to embrace the concept of a limited or local genealogy and ethnicity.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Church for "Men"

I was recently sent a link to the following article that appeared on Fox News:

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.  —  No hymnals. No pews. No steeple. No stained glass windows. And no women.

This ain't your grandma's church.

Organizers of the Church for men say that guys are "bored stiff" in many churches today.

The Church For Men meets one Saturday evening a month, drawing about 70 guys dressed in everything but straight-laced shirts and neckties. The service features a rock band, a shot clock to time the preacher's message and a one-hour in-and-out guarantee.

The church is part of a national movement to reverse what many Christian pastors and ministers are calling a troubling trend.

Studies show that men are less likely than women to show up on Sunday mornings, and the reaction has been an emerging testosterone theology of sorts. Churches nationwide are now reaching out to men.

Whenever the church decides to renovate its biblical call to worship in order to cater to the preferences of the world, it will only amount to a degredation of the church's purity and committment to evangelism.  We are called to go out into the world, not to bring the world into the church.

Friday, April 06, 2007

It's a Conspiracy

Human history is like an inverted map of the future for the very simple reason that Scripture declares that there is nothing new regarding the thoughts and actions of men (Ecc. 1:9-10).  Men have always inclined themselves to myths rather than the truth (2 Tim. 4:4).  This is not only true regarding their treatment of the Gospel itself, but it is even illustrated in the social and political realm as well: reality is often exchanged for the most interesting illusion or conspiracy.  From the 9/11 "truthers" to Global Warming®, or even to planet X theorists - many in our culture are convinced that the proverbial "nose on their face" is just a great conspiratorial illusion - and they've got the Internet articles to prove it.  Plain and obvious facts will often lose out to such paranoid theories, and sadly the people who pursue such things are not ignorant.  Instead, such paranoia is ultimately the product of mankind's lost condition which leads men to delusional thinking (Ecc. 9:3).  But the only perceived "scandal" that matters is this one:

2 Corinthians 5:21: 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The Apostle Paul taught that this message is seen as a scandolon (scandal) to the Jew, and morian (moronic/stupid) to the Greek.  That is to say - men resist the Gospel as that which is utterly unacceptable.  But it is not that the Gospel is complicated - a little child can grasp it:  Christ died for the sins of many so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  However, like so many other things in life, men will resist the Gospel message because they are spiritually unwilling to believe.  The plain and obvious reality of mankind's indwelling sin, his condemnation for that sin  and his need for the Savior are truths that are readily dismissed by many today as being scandalous lies amidst a vast heap of conspiracies. 

I offer this as an illustration the above point in order to help other brethren to think about the people that we meet from day to day.  There's no doubt that we'll meet people who believe in some of these things; and when we do, we'll need to remember to keep the discussion directed towards that which is truly important - the "scandal" of the cross of Christ.