If I Don’t Like It, It Must Be Wrong!

This one is a clear example of the logic behind the new morality. Not only is it wrong in its sentiments, it is one-sided. You’ll see…

In Matthew Vines’ book, GodandtheGayChristian, he shares an amazingly subjective interpretation of Matthew 7:15-20. Here’s the passage from the NIV:

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

An example of how Vines interprets this passage can be seen in a statement he makes about celibacy. He writes:

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “[God] will not let you be tempted beyond…

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Much Happier Without Facebook, FOX, and Football

“Together, the people in these industries are arrogant and have collectively become a type of aristocracy. Putting up with them calls my own integrity into question: You entertain me so I look the other way as you destroy our culture! No.”

I have been several weeks now without fixating on Facebook, FOX News, and the NFL. I’m not actually one to “fixate” on them. But they have been a part of my routine. Not anymore. Why?

Facebook

There’s no point anymore. I am sick of memes, forwards to messenger that say “Please forward to friends” or that contain links to fake news articles from people with no discernment. As far as it’s platform for social commentary—it’s either an argument or an echo chamber; an opportunity to get likes or create conflict. Has FB been useful ever? Sure, but not enough to put up with the rest of it.

FOX…

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The Diversity Lottery

In the wake of the latest NYC terror attack we all learned about something we didnt know existed called the diversity lottery. Leaving off the general rule that the odds are always against most who actually play lotteries, it raises other questions about fundamental differences of opinion concerning the role of diversity in the greatness of America.

My thoughts here are simple: It seems to me that the America I️ was taught about as a child was an America that welcomed to its shores the “tired…poor…huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” (Emma Lazarus, New Colossus), but that those who took us up American Racial Policyon that offer came because they wanted to blend into the American family. Consequently, the uniqueness of their own heritage flavored America, yes. But they wanted to be Americans.

Somehow, those who have been shaping our immigration policies pre-Trump have assumed that we could manually create a diverse society and that the process needed our help—that somehow all we needed was the presence of people of different color and culture for America to be great. So, you get the diversity lottery. (Nowadays, it seems that the left requires that a certain percentage of immigrants be illegal or legal but want to kill us.)

From another angle, we see a strange thing happening in America—not new but newly aggravated. On one hand, we go to war over racism. We are willing to shed blood, either proverbially or for reallys, at even the perception of racism. But on the other hand, we are going to never-before-seen lengths to make sure that

  • We identify ourselves in racial terms.
  • We make sure that no one appropriates our cultural images and identities.
  • We are at pains to be sure that every skin pigmentation is noted and protected.

So, ironically, we find ourselves saying “Treat me the same as you do everyone else while making sure you take note of every real or perceived difference.”

Another interesting phenomenon is happening somewhere, and that is that average white people are morphing into white supremicists. Of course, there have always been those groups, but now people are writing articles explaining how their kids should not be friends with white people. I thought generalizing people based on their skin color was racism.

I suppose my question is How can we ever get past racism when all we ever do is draw attention to race? I don’t see how we can ever arrive at Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of unity when we are constantly asserting our diversity.

Our Culture Needs The Reckless Love of God and Our Churches Should Sing About It!

The Church in many places now is singing a song called “Reckless Love.” It’s a beautiful song and the lyrics are precious, powerful, and thought-provoking (you can read them at the end of this post).

The chorus begins with the phrase

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Powerful! The first person I ever heard refer to the “reckless love of God” was Rich Mullins. He was the artist who sang “Our God is an Awesome God!” He had a song called “The Love of God” (lyrics below). In that song he referred to

the reckless raging fury

That they call the love of God

This concept of the “reckless” love of God is one the Church can not afford to miss! What God has done to bring us into fellowship with Himself even at the cost of His own Son; even at the cost of allowing people to be separated from Him eternally; all because He wants those who want Him! All for His love for us! Come on!

https://youtu.be/PKooXwwk6bs

Reckless Love

Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, Ran Jackson

Verse 1

Before I spoke a word

You were singing over me

You have been so, so

Good to me

Before I took a breath

You breathed Your life in me

You have been so, so

Kind to me

Chorus

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

I couldn’t earn it

I don’t deserve it

Still You give yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Verse 2

When I was your foe, still Your love fought for me

You have been so, so

Good to me

When I felt no worth

You paid it all for me

You have been so, so

Kind to me

https://youtu.be/IhKZn8gdN-E

The Love of God

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

I cannot find in my own

And He keeps His fire burning

To melt this heart of stone

Keeps me aching with a yearning

Keeps me glad to have been caught

In the reckless raging fury

That they call the love of God

Now I’ve seen no band of angels

But I’ve heard the soldiers’ songs

Love hangs over them like a banner

Love within them leads them on

To the battle on the journey

And it’s never gonna stop

Ever widening their mercies

And the fury of His love

Oh the love of God

And oh, the love of God

The love of God

Joy and sorrow are this ocean

And in their every ebb and flow

Now the Lord a door has opened

That all Hell could never close

Here I’m tested and made worthy

Tossed about but lifted up

In the reckless raging fury

That they call the love of God

Written by Richard Mullins • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

Read this article at Scottythinks.com.

America’s Hermeneutical Crisis

IMG_0691.JPGIs it proper to say that Western Culture is in the midst of a hermeneutical crisis? Allow me to enumerate the several symptoms that I observe in order then to determine whether the list constitutes what I have prematurely labeled it.

The chief struggle in the current cultural difficulty is best described as an inability to find common ground of agreement in order to move forward with what is best for the American people as a whole rather than its partisan interest groups. That inability is anchored in an unwillingness to compromise on any level for the sake of finding such common ground. That unwillingness is defended through the exercise of intellectual dishonesty in many cases, while in other cases, there seems to be a genuine inability to distinguish truth from falsehood, good from bad.

An example of *unwillingness* working in tandem with *inability* can be seen in the current crisis having to do with what might be called gender confusion or gender fluidity. Here we observe souls (at least some of which are sincere) who are genuinely confused about their gender (i.e., a woman identifying internally as man, etc). Helping these sincere souls along are those people (many of whom I am convinced have no genuine sympathy) not plagued with such gender trauma and yet, because of the pressure (or the prizing) of political correctness, are willing to placate the gender confused by agreeing to call them Bill instead of Betty, or vice versa.

The hermeneutical crisis I am imagining manifests itself in people who are unable to discern or interpret their own lives within the context of normalcy and therefore create new categories for themselves, while on the other hand, are enablers who are willing to rewrite the cultural “text,” if you will, to include the gender-confused because by doing so they feel they can further their own cultural cause, get some extra votes (if they are politicians), vindicate a family member, or perhaps even garner the acceptance for their own sins in some way.

To put the matter in cruder terms, more and more, people are deciding to interpret cultural/political/social events in a way that supports their agenda rather than to interpret them factually, based on a commitment to truth, regardless of how it affects their agenda.

So, in the same way that some scholars are willing to twist a text in order to make it support their beliefs, people in Western Culture are proving that they have little to no commitment to rightly discerning the daily events and circumstances which make up the average American life.

It’s not my intent to discuss the problem of gender confusion though some will not be able to get past that example. My purpose instead is to examine the hermeneutical approach to the events of daily life taken by the average person in Western culture, particularly the average American.

The word *hermeneutics* is of course a terribly uninteresting word to the uninitiated, but expounding it and explaining how it applies to the average person is the best way forward.

In a counseling appointment with a man who is unruly in the church I observed again how distinctly from the norm some people arrive at truth. Such a distinct approach is almost impenetrable. The difficulty is bound up in the discussion of authority. One of the heritages from the enlightenment, as harmful as it may be at times, is the admonition to appeal to your own reason to arrive at truth and not depend on a book, an organization, etc.

So, yes  America—the West—has chosen to “rewrite” the cultural text so that it says what they want to to say. That’s a hermeneutical crisis.

 

Waiting for the Utterance…

75c698b093fbe8504d666901de0a33f5I speak in tongues. I am so thankful to be a Pentecostal believer. I would not want to be without that special experience and the ongoing strength that it brings.

I know that there are many (usually charismatic believers) who have the conviction that one can pray in tongues at will, any time. I am content to leave each to their own convictions and I believe one has to work out, with God, their own approach to spirituality. I rejoice that they speak in tongues! But I for one find great confirmation in waiting on the utterance.

The Language of Utterance

The language of utterance comes from Acts 2:4. Here it is in context:

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

They began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. The KJV actually says, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” The idea being, of course, that they did not speak in tongues at their own volition but, rather, that the Holy Spirit made them able to, prompted them, etc. So, the view of classical Pentecostals is that the same principle applies going forward: the Holy Spirit at specific times, with whatever frequency, enables the Pentecostal believer to speak in tongues.

Scriptural Evidence

I once asked someone who believes that one can speak in tongues at will where he found Scriptural evidence to do so. He was unable to answer the question. That’s OK. I offered him an answer for the next time someone asks. I told him that I could see how one might see the giving of utterance as a one time act, good from now on. (I don’t think that interpretation can hold up grammatically. The text implies that they only spoke in tongues as he gave them utterance. The utterance given would seem to have a beginning an an end just as their speaking in tongues did on that occasion. Logically, if the Holy Spirit is always giving utterance wouldn’t we be grieving Him if we are not at all times speaking in tongues?)

At any rate, I know there are those who see it that way. But, here is how I find encouragement and confirmation in waiting for the Holy Spirit to give the utterance. When I am praying, there comes a moment when I recognize the Spirit’s urging to pray in tongues. I don’t pray in tongues because I think it is time to, nor do I pray in tongues because I think it will be more efficient (wouldn’t we need to pray exclusively in tongues if that were the case?). I also don’t pray in tongues because I arrive at the conclusion that I don’t know what to pray for. I pray in tongues when I sense the freedom from the Holy Spirit to do so. In a distinct, unmistakable moment in time I go from not even thinking about praying in tongues to being certain that the Holy Spirit is praying through me. In that moment I know that He, the Holy Spirit, is praying according to the will of God and that “he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will (Romans 8:27).”

The Variety of Language

I believe there is an added benefit to waiting for the utterance and that is that I very often experience and utter a unique language. That is, it is not the same phrases every time, but rather news words that come forth.

Have you ever noticed that some people, when they speak in tongues, always seem to be saying the same thing? Now, I can certainly allow that there would be some things that the Holy Spirit would pray consistently in a person’s life. But, if we are indeed speaking a language, it would seem that there would be fresh words and tongues coming forth as the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and for the world relevant to the times we are in.

Renewed Faith

Over the years, the enemy has tried to convince me to doubt my faith in God and even my belief in God. That’s his job. But one of the things that he simply cannot refute or take away from me is the reality that I have experienced what the New Testament calls the “baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5).” Every time the Spirit gives me the utterance, He confirms Scripture, the reality of the existence of God, and the veracity of the Bible all over again.

The Modern “Turn to the Subject”: An Ongoing Study

This article represents an ongoing study for me and will be updated from time to time.

Western culture is yet awash in a detrimental subjectivism which stems from the impact of the modern turn to the subject. Before defining that phrase and more, it is important to confess my presuppositions. 

Enlightenment Still?

kant1 Immanuel Kant

As mentioned above, Western culture yet lies awash in Enlightenment philosophy and, indeed, is still in the Enlightenment period (though many subsequent and intervening eras have been spawned in response). While, indeed, Western culture may have been in a postmodern trance for a time in response to the Enlightenment era and the subsequent eras it spawned, postmodernism failed to convincingly “occupy a standpoint (‘the view from nowhere’) from which it [might] survey all possible standpoints and find them all ‘relative,’ while at the same time [claiming] that there is no such standpoint.”[1] That…

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“Jumping the Broom,”  “Joyful Noise,” and “Unconditional”—Three more attempts at answering Niebuhr’s “enduring problem” of human culture

This article was written a couple of years ago, but was never placed on the blog. It is being submitted now as support to another article concerning T. D. Jakes.

Jumping the Broom Joyful Noise UnconditionalSomething goes wrong when we give eternal weight to temporal human triumph.  The problem is that we have such proclivity to search out and enjoy a story for the sake of entertainment or inspiration that we immerse ourselves in the story and we fail to consider the compromises or the message of the story teller.

Is the T.D. Jakes movie, Jumping the Broom, going to be entertaining? It looks like it. Is it going to be suggestive sexually? The trailer took care of that. But the question I am asking is how much compromise are we willing to engage in for the outside hope that someone in the world might possibly think about considering Christian faith?

When we tell a story that shows such grace and love and understanding for things like premarital sex, adultery, manipulation, deception, all in the name of a God who only loves, the audience leaves thinking that God does not require anything of them; that they are “OK” in their present state. The message isn’t that God is calling and wants to transform your life, it is that God has already come and He is with you right now in the life you are currently living. No need to change. Just give a shout out to the “man upstairs.”

 

Joyful Noise, once again sexually compromising and suggestive, wants us to place at the pinnacle of our hopes, our goals, and our aspirations, the triumph of the human spirit—the value of humans inspiring humans—as though this is man’s chief purpose. It casts a vision for a better humanity with the inclusion of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and various other pop songs all mixed in with occasional songs that almost pass for Christian.

In a review of the movie written by Ari Karpel, Dolly Parton expresses her feeling that God used Todd Graff, the openly gay 52 year old writer and director of the movie. From the review:

Ms. Parton attested: “He has been! [a vessel, presumably of God] God worked through him, that’s what I told him. I would joke, ‘What is this, Jews for Jesus?’ ”

Ms. Parton’s statement implies that some work of God has been done through this film and begs the question, “What did Dolly feel that God was trying to accomplish in this movie?” Somehow, Christians think that any mention of Jesus or any depiction of faith, no matter how convoluted or unscriptural, will somehow lead magically to someone getting saved and thus warrants any amount of compromise necessary, particularly if it means Jesus gets to go to the “Silver Screen,” which belies our underlying desire for fame and fortune.

Perhaps Dolly felt that Mr. Graff might consider Christian faith if he worked on a movie that loosely depicted some version of Christian faith, not thinking that if he did consider faith, he would be considering, not a faith based on the Bible, but one based on a compromised, bottom-up vision of spirituality with Saint Michael Jackson headlining from the loft of heaven, singing about a man in the mirror. A brand of self-improvement style, look-the-other-way spirituality with the name of Jesus tacked on for good measure, but it’s OK because evangelical Christians are just so tickled to be noticed because we so badly want to be in the movies and to be in the White House so that we can reveal to the world just how much we are willing to compromise just to be liked! We are Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars, gushing, “We’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect!”

 

Michael Ealy, star of the USA Network television show Common Law, is also the star of a new movie Unconditional, put together by Harbinger Media Partners and designed to inspire movie goers to “pursue God and serve others.” So here is another opportunity to examine a typical answer to Niebuhr’s question about what to do with Christ and Culture. This movie, however noble an attempt it may be at drawing people to God (not hard to do when roughly 88% of the world’s population believe in God. Drawing them to Jesus? Now that’s another thing altogether…), has chosen as one of its stars a man who’s role on the USA series Common Law was that of an over-sexed, self-serving cop. But, because perhaps he has some name recognition and has endeared himself to his audiences with some notable roles, the “church” decides it would be good to make him a headliner in one of its movies as it attempts one more time to provide what is presumably a movie with Christian values in “theaters everywhere.”

I have to ask, “What are we really after here?” Is it simply that we feel like we should have good clean movies in our theaters so that Christians can go to wholesome movies instead of worldly ones (because we are going to the movies either way”)? Is it that we really think that if we remind the culture of some good moral values and tag on some mentions of God, or show someone going to church, etc., that there will somehow be a massive return to what we as a nation have forgotten and become a Christian nation again? Has this worked in the past (if the movies Joyful Noise and Jump the Broom are any indicators I think we know the answer)? Sure, the movies by Alex Kendrick and Sherwood Pictures have been inspiring, true to Christian values, and widely received by the evangelical church, but they are obviously Christian and not headliners for those doubling as sex maniacs—thus not the best acting but still worth watching. Are we trying to prove to Hollywood and the world that we can do it too?

Deeper still is the question of why we wink at Hollywood’s sin in those rare moments when they are willing to throw the church a bone? This movie endorses Hollywood’s behavior—or at least shows that we are willing to look the other way under the guise of grace—not in its content but because it features an actor who is obviously still willing to do whatever Hollywood wants him to do in order to be a star and get a part. Is it so important that we get another tepid message about “God” into the theaters that we are willing to say to the world “Yes, we think Michael Ealy is good in that T.V. show too and we know that God forgives human sexual weakness so we’re going to compromise ourselves in real life so that we can attempt to depict grace on the big shiny silver screen which we are so desperate to succeed at.

It is a real Christ intersecting-with-culture situation in which the “church” is again trying to solve the issue of what to do about human culture. Do we separate ourselves entirely and enter into Niebuhr’s “Christ against Culture” scenario, or do we simply get in there with the world and label everything as good because it came  from humans and humans were created by God so therefore what they do must have some redemptive value—besides there is no hell anyway right Mr. Bell?

So the movie trailer looks interesting enough and will probably be inspirational. There is nothing wrong with that. If this were a movie produced by Hollywood there would be reason to cheer. However, it seems to be an effort by some well-meaning men who want to bring help to those who are suffering and want to create some movies with good moral values. Again, nothing wrong with that.  My concern is that when people take it on themselves the duty of pointing people to God, and all they can muster are general images and references to God and His grace but never go the full distance to pointing them to Christ, we only strengthen the “I’m ok, you’re ok” mentality that says everyone is fine. God would never judge someone who has been through so much pain or who is obviously weak and unable to keep from falling.