Christianity’s Nightmare Question

wiserthanmenI have always said that I have never yet heard an atheist’s argument against the existence of God that was convincing, and even though much work went into this article (Christianity’s Nightmare Question), my statement remains true. These thoughts are not even a little worrisome for Christians, Sunday School teachers, or any genuine Christian. Why? Because the entire article is postulated from the standpoint of humanism: the “Me! Me!! Me!!!” infant cry of humanity as it focuses only on its self and what it deems worthy of God-speak! This article has all of the typical “Jesus was nothing new” rantings of someone who hates any idea of God. But once again, as sites like this always prove, atheists can’t seem to stop talking about God. Please don’t say it’s because you are trying to free people from some imagined spiritual tyranny, blah blah blah, because what you model as an alternative is nothing but the negative despair of people who have no hope, and no purpose greater than yourself or some imagined higher view of human existence. But I do thank you for the article. Reading about atheism and listening to the rants of atheists always, I mean ALWAYS, builds my faith and reminds me of how fortunate I am that God does indeed exist! So, my Christian friends: click on the link below, read the article, and be encouraged in your faith!

 

Christianity’s Nightmare Question.

Don’t Let Changes Crush You!

Simply put, anytime an organization changes direction, someone gets crushed in the transition.conflicting cogs w people

Imagine two cogs, one turning clockwise and the other turning counter-clockwise, and each representing a different paradigm (see illustration and footnote). 1

The cog on the left represents tradition or “what we have always done”; the status quo. The cog on the right represents a significant challenge to the status quo. Assuming that the proposed shift is good or necessary, the optimum outcome would be that every person standing on the side of tradition, or what has always been done, would make the transition into the new paradigm.

The reality is that, any time there is a paradigm shift or significant change to the status quo, there are always people who get crushed “between the cogs” as it were. They simply cannot, or will not make the adjustments necessary to safely cross from status quo to the new paradigm.

Again, assuming the new paradigm to be valuable and necessary, there are some things for the change agents to remember.

1. People are important. This does not mean that people are always more important than the proposed change. Why? Because oftentimes, more people will be hurt if the change is not made than if it is. Still, it matters that those who can’t make the transition are going to be crushed and change agents should not take that lightly and should do their due diligence in helping people make the transitions and in re-purposing people who cannot.

2. Count the cost first, then press on with integrity. Once it is determined that the change must come for the good of everyone, then the change agent, having done his or her due diligence to help everyone make the transition, must be prepared to press on knowing full well that some will not be continuing on with the organization. This may or may not be unfortunate, but it will be difficult. This is why the change agents must count the cost.

3. Finish what you start. No one should deconstruct something, particularly a tradition that has sheltered many people, without reconstructing something viable in its place. To tear down and then quit is evil and frequently will allow all that is wrong about the status quo to grow back and double in its size and power.

4. Once the change comes, be diligent to maintain it.  It’s one thing to change, it is another to maintain that change with integrity, not slipping back into old traditions and habits. Be diligent or old habits that tarnished the past will be reborn in the future.

 

1. A paradigm is  “a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline (The American Heritage Dictionary, def. 3).”

City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons | Fox News

Jean-Léon_Gérôme_-_The_Christian_Martyrs'_Last_Prayer_-_Walters_37113Can this really be true? It all makes sense if you consider the path our nation is walking down. We have allowed freedom to be defined as “everything acceptable.” Everything except moral restraint and Christianity.

It is not surprising to see that this attempt at infringement on free speech is being made under the guise of a non-discrimination ordinance, particularly in the area of defending homosexuality. Homosexuality is the juggernaut of American liberalism.

The tide continues to turn against genuine Christianity. Jesus described the times that are quickly approaching when He warned in Luke 21:

10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. 12 “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 This will result in your being witnesses to them. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 All men will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By standing firm you will gain life.

Not in America, right?

 

 

 

City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons | Fox News.

The Great Tribulation

Typically, Evangelicals who have believed in a Pre-Trib Rapture have considered something the Bible calls “the great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14) to be a period of time synonymous with the seven year treaty made by the anti-Christ written about by Daniel in Daniel 9:27.  That verse also speaks of an event which will occur at the midway point of the seven years called the “abomination of desolation.” That event is also referenced by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-21, by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, and by John in Revelation 12-13.

In Matthew 24:15-21, Jesus told His disciples that when the abomination of desolation occurs (which from Daniel we know will happen at the midway point of this seven year “treaty”) THEN there will be great distress like the world has never seen nor will ever see again–the “great tribulation.” the rapture

Fast forward to Revelation chapter seven where John sees a great multitude that…

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Victoria Osteen: Worship For Yourself or Worship Yourself? Same Thing!

Victoria OsteenThere is a serious problem with Victoria Osteen’s “worship for yourself” theology. At first it may seem nuanced or even about semantics. But in reality, there is a wide chasm between right theology and the Osteen gospel.

God Does Want It To Go Well With Us!

It is true that when we worship God and obey Him, we do benefit. And it is true that God is passionate about our obedience for the sake of our lives and the lives of our children “going well.”

23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leading men of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a man can live even if God speaks with him. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. 26 For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”28 The Lord heard you when you spoke to me and the Lord said to me, “I have heard what this people said to you. Everything they said was good. 29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever (Deuteronomy 5:23–29)!

So, yes! God is passionate about our lives going well as a result of our connection with Him. However, if I approach God and say, “Ok, I want my life to go well, so I will surrender to God’s wishes” that is equivalent to an immature turning toward God in order to avoid hell. We could call it a “fire insurance” level of maturity. In such a case we might say, “Well, it’s a start.” But to have this as the core motivating factor worshiping God belies at best a severe immaturity and at worst a humanistic “use” of God that is actually more akin to a worship of ourselves than it is the true worship of the living God!

When a man finds the woman of his dreams, he doesn’t say, “Look at all the cool things I will get if I marry this woman!” On the contrary, he says, “I would be willing to suffer the loss of everything in order to marry this woman!” Why? Because he has encountered someone who captures his heart! Because he has recognized the woman’s great beauty, inside and out! The difference is palpable!

Only a minor investigation into what is known as the “prosperity” gospel reveals exactly this kind of twisted theology that places self on the throne. It also goes hand in hand with what is known as “hyper-grace” theology which refuses to deal properly with sin. Both of these streams converge in the Osteen gospel.

The Enlightenment Turn To The Subject

For some time now I have been documenting what is known as the “turn to the subject” or the “Copernican turn.” In short, the turn to the subject is the Enlightenment era rejection of the authority of the Church and the Bible, and an embracing of the self. The turn to the subject is explained well in the following quote:

It was, however, the modern “turn to the subject” that proved decisive. Kant’s call for “autonomy,” for the individual’s “release from a self-incurred tutelage” to such heteronymous authorities as the Bible and the Church, embodied the spirit of the Enlightenment. Increasingly, individual reason and conscience became the arbiters of religious truth. Although the Romantics rejected the appeal to autonomous “reason alone,” they nevertheless shifted the source of spiritual authority to the “religious self-consciousness,” that is, to religious experience. The entire nineteenth century can be viewed as an effort to resolve the increasingly problematic issue of authority. 2

So, what does the “turn to the subject” look like in the church in the twenty first century? I believe it manifests itself in the form of liberation theology, the social gospel, gay Christianity, the prosperity gospel, hyper-grace, just to name a few of its ill-effects!

 

1 Livingston, Fiorenza, Coakley, and Evans, Jr., Modern Christian Thought: The Twentieth Century, (Fortress Press: 2006), page 2.

The Victoria Osteen Gaffe Demonstrates Why Theology Matters!

The message from Victoria Osteen (VO) is that we worship God for ourselves. Here’s the quote:victoria-victoria-osteen

So, I just want to encourage everyone of us to realize, when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—(I mean that’s one way to look at it)—we’re doing it for ourself because God takes pleasure when we’re happy! That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning. So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself! Because that’s what makes God happy! Amen?

[As of 12/11/17 this video is no longer available. However, here is a link to another article documenting this event.]

Why is this statement so obviously wrong and troubling? It is because it  takes our worship of God and the purpose for that worship and centers it in the self. What are some of the ramifications of such a theology? It makes our happiness the test of true worship. It says as long as I am happy, God is happy. VO said , “That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning.”

To be fair, VO did make a follow-up statement a few hours after the video began to go viral:

God is all-powerful and does not require our worship or approval to be Who He is. God was God before we even existed. When we choose to worship Him and live in obedience to Him we do so for our own benefit, so that we may be in right standing with Him and enjoy His favor. Therefore, glorify Him in everything you do and let your life be worship to Him, so that one day He will say to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Unfortunately for VO, she did not help herself with this statement. Why? The seed of selfishness remains in her theology: “When we choose to worship Him and live in obedience to Him we do so for our own benefit…” It is the unabashed worship of self that so characterizes all of the Osteen “Your best life now” theology. Are there benefits to worshiping God? Absolutely! Does God want our lives to go well? Yes! But we worship God because He is worthy of worship; because in worshiping God we leave ourselves behind! The problem with the hyper-grace, prosperity theology is that it places self on the throne!

Role Models Or Not?

Miami Dade Police Department photo
Miami Dade Police Department photo

It is not uncommon to hear athletes, movie stars, and famous musicians opine their disagreement concerning their role model status. Charles Barkley may have put it best when he purportedly said,

“I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

There is an important truth to acknowledge in Barkley’s statement (a statement that gets recycled, reformed, and freshly expressed in every generation). It is true that any parent who would allow their kids to emulate or be exposed to a person who is morally bankrupt (I am speaking in general terms here; I do not know the moral status of Charles Barkley) is foolish. It isn’t Charles Barkley’s fault (or Miley Cyrus’s, or Justin Bieber’s, or Ariana Grande’s or Alex Rodriguez’s, etceteraahh, etceteraahhh) if parent’s are foolish and negligent and themselves morally bankrupt. However, this does not let him or anyone of us off the hook.

Every person is an example of how one can live his or her life. What we do in public (and in private for that matter) represents who we really are! Only arrogance and moral ignorance would sincerely ask and expect people to compartmentalize their behavior and idolize them for their talents but make no comment on their corruption. We are all influencing those who come to an awareness of our choices and we are models available for emulation.

Perhaps what Barkley and the rest are really saying is, “Thank you for the money and the privilege but I don’t care if you or your children go to hell (either figuratively or literally). Give me money and I promise to entertain you, but don’t expect me to care if I see you lying bleeding in the alley.”

Forgetting the debate about a person’s privacy, what is done in public is fair game to be recorded, repeated, criticized, or imitated. And like it or not, our children, teenagers, and young adults are influenced by what they observe. And while it is a parent’s responsibility to protect and to lead their children, those in the public arena should care whether they are someone who endangers or edifies those who are following their examples.

ONE LAST THOUGHT: In our culture it seems that we send the message that perhaps it is not good for children to see certain things. We devise rating systems based on what is appropriate for children, teens, those who are seventeen and older, etc. But our ratings seem to imply that, as adults, we reach an age where everything is OK. But, barring some isolated examples, if it is not good for a young persons morals to observe bad behavior, it’s also not good for adults!
1 Read more at brainyquote.com

 

Former Baptist Bishop Becomes Pastor of ‘Inclusive’ Church after Marriage to Gay Partner – Christian News Blog

Here’s more “great” logic from another “pastor gone gay,” and a new twist on Luke 7:1-10!

According to Carrie Dedrick in a ChristianHeadlines.com article, Allyson D. Nelson Abrams (who was a bishop of a Baptist church and now is a bishop in a gay Metropolitan church) says:

“the Bible allows same-sex relationships according to Luke 7:1-10 and its reference to the love a man has for his servant.
‘I progressed in my theology and came to the point where I would love whichever came to me. I wasn’t just open to (a specific) gender, I was open to love in whatever way the Lord would bless me,” Abrams said. “People have the right to interpret scripture whatever way they please. I respect difference of opinions.'”

 

Wow! The Roman Centurian values his servant, and “bishop” Abrams says that means same-sex relationships are ok and we should just love whoever comes to us regardless of gender, and, for her finale, “People have a right to interpret scripture whatever way they please.”

 

Former Baptist Bishop Becomes Pastor of ‘Inclusive’ Church after Marriage to Gay Partner – Christian News Blog.

Clinics Who Don’t Perform Enough Abortions Are Chided

plannedparenthood108If this article is on the up and up, it brings to light one of the most shameful human atrocities of our times! Quotas for abortions? I can imagine how that from the warped minds of selfish Americans would spring the triumph of choice over responsibility, but at least some liberals at least have mouthed regret over abortion while kicking the decision back to the states and ultimately the individual. But quotas and concern, even threats of punishment to clinics not performing enough abortions? Almost 57,000,000 children have been aborted in America since Roe V. Wade!

 

Planned Parenthood Awards Clinic for Exceeding Abortion Quota – Christian News Blog.