Planet Earth in the Midst of a Dangerous Paradigm Shift

imageBible-Believing Christians are getting a look at how things could play out in the last days–whether or not current events are themselves part of the end time scenario or simply what I call a “dress rehearsal.” Three realities are rising to the top.

A WORLD WAITING FOR PEACE

First, and interestingly, Donald Trump’s speech at the AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) convention demonstrated just how a treaty might look. In his speech, he was tough and very committed to making a deal between the Palestinians and the State of Israel. It doesn’t matter what one’s opinion of trump is. What is of interest is that he put it in terms of a “deal.” As I listened, I imagined what condition the world would need to be in for such a “deal” to have the impact the Bible says that it will. I pondered the escalation of radical, militant Islam and how impactful it would be if a man could broker a deal between the radicals engulfing the world and Israel. How the world would welcome such a deal if indeed the this radicalism continued to escalate to a global level! Such an agreement would be welcomed as one of the most significant peace accords ever agreed upon!

THE WORLD’S SECURITY FORCES BECOMING OVERWHELMED

Second, like everyone else in the civilized world, I awakened to news of a terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium, home of the European Union. As I listened, I heard commentary that described how the attacks had overwhelmed the Belgium police force, and how terrorism seems to be overwhelming security forces at a global level. Imagine Paris, and San Bernardino, and Brussels multiplying to London, Sydney, Washington D.C., Tokyo, Berlin, etc. (some of these have already had serious terror attacks).

THE SPIRIT OF ANARCHY

Third, and another reality the world is facing but particularly to be found in America, is the rise of anarchy. I say this because, it seems that at every point people are ready to revolt. A few years ago, Occupy Wall Street was a thing. I remember seeing some of the remnants of that movement as they demonstrated in Union Square in Manhattan. A man at a table was supplying literature on anarchy. While many laughed off this movement, it seems evident that the sentiment is still out there and growing. In a similar way, it seems that ISIS terrorists are able to hide in plain sight, protected by people who are sympathetic with them. I am suggesting that there is more at work than racism, classism, or even religious radicalism. There seems to be a growing thirst for anarchy.

THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS

Daniel 7:25 speaks of a spirit of anarchy that will mark the approach of the antichrist to the world:

He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws.

Paul speaks of this man in vivid terms:

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing…God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (taken from 2 Thes. 2)

A DANGEROUS PARADIGM SHIFT

What we are presently experiencing in America is not temporary but is rather a paradigm shift and is part of a shift that is happening globally. This shift is setting the stage for the antichrist.

And Now a Word from Ralph Waldo Emerson . . .

 

Now society in towns is infested by persons who, seeing that the sentiments please, counterfeit the expression of them. These we call sentimentalists,—talkers who mistake the description for the thing, saying for having. They have, they tell you, an intense love of nature; poetry,—O, they adore poetry, and roses, and the moon, and the cavalry regiment, and the governor; they love liberty, “dear liberty!” they worship virtue, “dear virtue!” Yes, they adopt whatever merit is in good repute, and almost make it hateful with their praise. The warmer their expressions, the colder we feel; we shiver with cold. A little experience acquaints us with the unconvertibility of the sentimentalist, the soul that is lost by mimicking soul. Cure the drunkard, heal the insane, mollify the homicide, civilize the Pawnee, but what lessons can be devised for the debauchee of sentiment? Was ever one converted? The innocence and ignorance of the patient is the first difficulty: he believes his disease is blooming health. A rough realist, or a phalanx of realists, would be prescribed; but that is like proposing to mend your bad road with diamonds. Then poverty, famine, war, imprisonment, might be tried. Another cure would be to fight fire with fire, to match a sentimentalist with a sentimentalist. I think each might begin to suspect that something was wrong.[1]Emerson_seatededit

What grabbed my attention in this passage of Emerson’s essay, Social Aims, is the line, “talkers who mistake the description for the thing, saying for having.” Emerson called these people sentimentalists—people who “adopt whatever merit is in good repute.” For my purposes, it helps me to describe Christians who mistake their faith profession for the thing itself.

Unfortunately, modern Christian spirituality is such that if it expects anything to happen at all it expects it to happen instantly with little to no effort. Because of this, we frequently allow ourselves to be satisfied with our faith profession. That is, instead of pressing through until we receive an answer, we simply say, “Well, by faith I receive the answer,” and we walk away from the place of prayer unchanged. This . . . taps into our repulsion against anything that makes us feel inadequate or lacking in any way. We bristle against the idea that we are lacking in anything. Rather than allowing the pain of spiritual lack to drive us to prayer, instead we walk away with only our faith profession.

Now don’t get me wrong! I am not suggesting that we should not walk by faith. Nor am I suggesting that every time we go to prayer we leave the secret place having experienced every possible experience. But we must remember that, in prayer, we genuinely come into contact with the Living Lord! Prayer is not therapy or emotional catharsis. It is real and will have real results! Pray until you experience real results![2]

 

[1] Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims, (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1876), 94-95.

[2] Adapted from, C. Scott Fowler, Contending for the Habit of Daily Prayer, (Smithtown, NY: Issachar Imprints, 2016), 112.

A Word about Donald Trump (You’re Not Gonna Like It!)

It’s time that a few things were said about Donald Trump and the next President of the United States.

trump election article

First, let me clarify a few things:

I am writing to Evangelicals—that’s the group I belong to and understand the most.

Second, I am aware of all of the things that are distasteful to Christians about Donald Trump. I get it: he’s rude, arrogant, his language is bad, and he’s not Christian by our definition. Some would say he is racist, but these days everyone gets labeled racist, and I am not willing to allow a wall and protection against Muslim terrorists to be equated with racism. But, hey, I get it.

With these qualifications in mind, let’s get on with what needs to be said.

My Biggest Concern

My biggest concern is that Donald Trump is going to split the party. I don’t think that means what it used to in a party that is already divided in at least three ways. Nevertheless, there is the real threat that he will form his own party, siphon off conservatives from the herd, and a la Ross Perot, the democrats get their man (or woman in this case). But, even if Trump does not go independent and intentionally split the party, at the rate we are going, because of the sensibilities of various groups who simply cannot imagine themselves pulling the lever for Trump, the party is likely to split itself on principle.

Now, as I said above: I get it. Trump is not a holy man. Here’s my thing though, as it stands right now, I am not prepared to label “holy” anyone  in the current race for the White House. That’s not as judgmental as it sounds. I don’t think American Evangelical Christians do a very good job of discerning the “holy” candidates from the unholy ones. Sure, we are good at recognizing adultery and abortion and same-sex support, and believe, I care about those things. But after that, we get upset at language, etc. Goodness, in our own churches we quibble over the most trivial things and divide ourselves over personality issues! Let me say this: If we think we are going to elect a candidate who is somehow going to legislate Christianity from the Oval Office, or that America’s spiritual problems could even be solved in this way, we have proven we have learned nothing. Between two equally qualified candidates for president, would I choose a Christian over an atheist? Yes, because I believe spirituality and morality matters. Is it possible, hypothetically speaking, that there could be an atheist qualified to be a good president or a Christian completely unqualified to be president, or vise versa? Absolutely!

But let’s get down to what we are after and what we can reasonably expect in 21st century American politics. Personally, I think that, in the past, when we Christians thought we had “found our man,” we were kidding ourselves (with the exception of Ronald Reagan, although even he was more in line with the morality of Christianity like a Lincoln more than he was any kind of overtly genuine evangelical, which I do not believe he was). Going forward, I think we are naive to think that anyone in the field of candidates is a “shoe in” to become our evangelical hero in the White House, and those who we may be convinced have a genuine faith will not likely be able to be effective.  Like it or not, America is not open to an overtly evangelical Christian in the White House. But now, on the brink of a split party because of our Christian principles, we may help America to elect a socialist or, more likely, the heir to the Clinton dynasty.

The Pendulum

Here’s another of my big concerns. We live in a country that was foolish enough to elect Barak Obama not to one but two terms in office! That reality comes with its own reprisals! But, from a conservative standpoint, Mr. Obama has all but destroyed America (some may not like that language but that is how Christian conservatives, particularly evangelicals, feel). He has taken the country in the wrong direction and drastically so. Is Donald Trump drastic in his own right? Yes! But it may take someone conservatively drastic just to offset the damage done over the last eight years! I personally think that anyone less drastic than Trump will likely not make a dent in Washington or have a hope of pointing America back in the right direction.

Final Note

For those afraid or embarrassed to support Donald Trump, be careful that you are not intimidated or influenced by a sophisticated media that knows how to throw its voice and sound like it cares about morality. For those who have disagreements with Trump on principle, let me ask you a question: would you rather have Trump or Clinton? Because I believe that’s what it will come down to. In that scenario, I would choose Trump, but I don’t trust America to do so. Welcome to the White House, Madame President!

Paths to an Acceptance of “Gay” Christianity

Here are some of the most prominent ways people find to support “Gay” Christianity with the Bible.

1) Re-translate the text.

See the following website for a treatment of the word physikos in Romans 1 where the writer claims that Paul is actually talking about people operating opposite to the way they were born. Thus, persons not born gay but engaging in homosexual activity are violating God’s law, suggesting to the writer that a gay person in relationship with another gay person is what God intends. All of this because the author claims that the word lying beneath “nature” or “natural” has been mis-translated.

http://www.thegodarticle.com/7/post/2011/10/clobbering-biblical-gay-bashing.html

http://queeringthechurch.com/2010/03/02/clobber-texts-a-new-reading-of-leviticus/

[The above links are now dead or have been reworked. Nevertheless, the website https://queerchurch.wordpress.com/ is still there.]

2) Re-interpret the text.

See James V. Brownson’s book, Bible, Gender, Sexuality, where the author reinterprets the texts by recovering the underlying “moral logic” of the text.

 

3) Apply the text differently in light of modern culture, particularly the view that “loving, monogamous, same-sex” relationship were not in view.

 

https://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php

http://www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.org/biblical_evidence/leviticus.html

http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript/

 

4) Agree with the text but dismiss it for the sake of modern sensibilities.

The Phyllis Tickle interview with Andrew Marin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOQQPC_SsEs&list=FLcqHu8ilKp75pBGfY-UxaAQ&index=11

“the Church itself is gonna have to come to grips with the fact that we have changed over the years, we have evolved, the law. We now admit divorce. Our Lord does not speak much about sexuality, but He’s very clear about divorce. It’s the only thing He’s really clear about. [As concerns sexuality?] And we have managed because out of compassion, and I certainly am for that change, out of compassion and out of common sense and out of a recognition that our times and ways of being are different from those. We have managed to get around the divorce issue and now even ordain divorced clergy, and that kind of thing. The same thing is going to happen with the gay issue. It’s in process.”

 

5) Marginalize the text as non-essential

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2014/03/i-dont-blame-world-vision-i-blame-homophobia-and-hate/

“Evangelicals have a hate problem when it comes to homosexuality. Period. I know that’s extreme language. But it’s true. We can disagree over an issue and still find common ground in aiding the very poor and disenfranchised. We can work side-by-side in the work of Christ and not agree on every single marginal issue. And homosexuality, as it relates to the Bible’s message and meaning, is marginal. There are 31,000 verses. Only around 8 or 9 can really be said to have anything to do with homosexuality. (None are actually about homosexuality — monogamous, committed relations — as we understand it.) That’s around 0.026% of Scripture. And yet that fraction of Scripture has become central to the public identity of evangelicalism. They have placed homophobia at the center of the Gospel”.

 

6) Lessen the importance of the texts by emphasizing love, poverty, acceptance.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2014/03/i-dont-blame-world-vision-i-blame-homophobia-and-hate/

“The way evangelicals treat LGBTQ+ people is wrong. It is extreme. It is sinful. It is hateful. And it is absolutely terrifying. In the past 24 hours, we just witnessed the extent evangelicals will go to keep LGBTQ+ people marginalized, to keep an organization from the simple thing of recognizing their already legal marriages. They will starve children. They will deprive impoverished communities of aid and help. So, no, I don’t blame World Vision. Its leaders did exactly what everyone urged them to do — both on the left and the right.They thought of how it would affect the children. Rather, I blame the far-right evangelicals who held World Vision hostage to their homophobic agenda. These evangelicals held a gun to the head of World Vision. They forced an organization to choose between aiding hungry children and offering a small step towards equality for gay and lesbian people who work for them. And no matter what World Vision chose, these evangelicals were always going to pull the trigger on one of the hostages.”

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson/2014/03/i-dont-blame-world-vision-i-blame-homophobia-and-hate/#ixzz3Iab25EDQ

 

7) Re-direct attention from the texts by focusing on what Jesus did not say.

“Hello, Scott.

I follow your distinction between pre-marital sex and adultery: in adultery, the partners are betraying their spouses and children. But- when two women love each other, there are no victims like that. I would say that therefore, because there are no victims, the sin is less- or nonexistent. I am delighted that my church lobbied the UK government to allow church weddings for gay people, and the Government will allow that for any denomination which opts in. Many churches will.

Jesus said that if a man look at a woman with lust in his heart, he had already committed adultery. He did not say the same if a man look at a man.” https://ccithink.com/2013/03/31/why-the-focus-on-homosexuality-abortion-evolution-arent-all-sins-the-same-in-gods-eyes-part-1/

 

8) Placate the text by compartmentalizing between principle and practice.

See the video featuring Justin Lee, president and founder of the Gay Christian Network

http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/video/gays-and-christianity/3299076052001

[This link was dead a few weeks ago. The same sentiments are easy to validated through his writings.]

 

9) Maintaining a neutral position

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/death-of-evangelicalism/

Benjamin Corey wrote:

“We always knew that the sides against same sex marriage and the sides for same sex marriage would never see eye-to-eye (fine, there’s room for both of us), but what we saw yesterday went one step further: it was declared that Evangelicals are not allowed to take a neutral position on the issue. That’s the keyNo more neutrality allowed. It was declared that hiring a married homosexual shall now be considered as equally egregious to officiating the wedding yourself.”

 

 

The Scripture Bypass Defense

Many today are looking for ways to discount the Bible and all it has to say about how we should live. I have noticed a particular, observable progression in “reasoning” that reveals where many land when it comes to the Bible. I call it the Scripture Bypass Defense. Here it is:

  • Scripture does not say what we think it says.
  • Scripture says what we think it says but does not mean what we think it means.
  • Scripture says what we think it says, and it means what we think it means, it just does not apply to our modern situation.
  • Scripture says what we think it says, and it means what we think it means, and it applies to our modern situation, but it is just too difficult to obey so the Holy Spirit lets us out of it.