Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Trump Sized Nail In The Coffin Of Cultural Christainity

Each day it seems the power brokers in what was once the mighty "cultural Christianity" lose more of their influence and scramble to try to gather more from ever more disparate sources even as their once sold foundation slips through their fingers.

Enter Donald Trump. By any standard he is the least like what Evangelical Christians are at least supposed to be like. I won't rehash the laundry list of reasons why he is really the antithesis of everything we are supposed to hold dear. It is simply obvious though that many of the former power brokers in what passes for the church are no just holding their noses and supporting Trump but are shamelessly staring up at him adoringly. Yesterday Trump met with a bunch of hobnobs from the religious world to basically lie to them as they applaud him even as they know he is lying. From NPR:

Most Donald Trump events kick off with music from Elton John or the Rolling Stones at deafening volumes. But praise choruses ruled the day Tuesday as hundreds of conservative Christians gathered at a hotel in Times Square to question Trump.

Under glittering pink-and-white chandeliers, evangelicals and conservative Catholics filled the large ballroom, some raising their hands and closing their eyes as they sang, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God/And his righteousness/And all these things shall be added unto you."
....

As soon as Trump entered the room, it quickly became clear this was a largely friendly audience. The moderator, former Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, told Trump this would not be an "inquisition," but rather people had come because they want someone who will "lead this nation out of the abyss."

I am sure the irony of Mike Huckabee invoking the Inquisition as progeny of the perpetrators and some of the victims of the Inquisition is lost on him.  Here we have the perpetrators and the victims of the actual Inquisition sitting together not on the basis of the Gospel but for political expediency. I have to imagine a lot of the martyrs from the Reformation era would look at what we are doing in the name of ecumenicalism and secular political power and wonder just what it is that they died for. They certainly didn't face torture and death at the stake so a serial adulterer could get everyone to sit around and break bread with one another. 

Since Roman Catholics and Evangelical Christians don't even agree on the nature of the Kingdom of God, not to mention  the very Gospel itself, and Donald Trump couldn't give you a VBS level explanation of what it is, it seems a bit odd to have people gathered to unequally yoke themselves with false believers in support of an abject unbeliever singing about seeking first the Kingdom of God.

The meeting was a veritable who's who of evangelical personalities: Ralph Reed, who was also interviewed today on NPR and gave a grotesque defense of Trump as "pro-life". Also in attendance was Gary Bauer, James Dobson, Bob Vander Plaats, Mike Huckabee of course, Tony Perkins. I am not sure he was there but Jerry Falwell, Jr. (who invites heretics to speak to the student body at his "Christian" school) has been making the rounds in a picture with Trump, giving him the thumbs up as they stand before a wall that testifies to Trump's narcissism including a cover of Playboy magazine with Trump featured. 



Somehow having someone claims to be a Christian yet who boasts about and revels in his unrepentant sin that Christians shouldn't even break bread with (1 Cor 5:9-13) is OK if it keeps Hillary out of the White House.

Donald Trump may do more to disintegrate the cultural Christianity of America than any other single individual. Sometimes God does indeed use  the worst among us to impact his people for good. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

I Am Not A Meteorologist But.....

It seems to me that there can be a slight chance of showers or an 80% chance of rain but not both. It must be cool to have a job where you can be completely wrong 100% of the time with no consequences.


Being Passionate About Something Doesn't Mean You Are Good At it

Every famous person in America is unceasingly blathering on about their opinions as to what the little people should think and do. Almost without exception, the opinions of famous people in America are asinine and nonsensical but that doesn't stop them from insisting that we listen to their opinions. One of the few shining exceptions to this rule is Mike Rowe, someone I have praised many times before. He has a new video out aimed at recent high school graduates and it is gold from start to finish.


You can read the transcript here.

Our culture constantly tells people to follow their heart and purse their passions. That sounds great but as reality tells us, what really happens is that we end up with hundreds of thousands of people who "followed their passion" and have absolutely no useful skills for the workplace. As Mike succinctly puts it as only he can:

But when it comes to making a living, it’s easy to forget the dirty truth: just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.

Yep. We should be telling high school grads to follow the opportunities that the future will provide. Certainly some people make a living in their passion but as the millions of guys adjusting their fantasy football roster while sitting in a cubicle at work attests, most people are better off following opportunity, not their passion. The Bible tells us about the heart and following our passions:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? - Jeremiah 17:9

Instead of "following your heart", do your research and talk to older and presumably wiser people. You can have your passions but you can also have a real job. Like Mike says:

“Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”

That kind of common sense is desperately missing today. I am glad someone like Mike Rowe has the platform he does to counter the idiocy coming from most celebrities.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Maybe the Amish should stick to horses

I'll just leave this here, see if you can discover what is wrong with this picture....


Sunday, June 05, 2016

I Am No Prophet But I Can Smell Manure When I Step In It

With social media, as your circle of contacts gets larger, the more you get exposed to different stuff. Some stuff is helpful, some is amusing but a lot of it exposes the dangerous nonsense that is being taught to people who don't but should know better. I came across this post, 2 Reasons WhyMany Christians Are Broke, while scrolling though my news feed and had to check it out. In fariness it was posted to a friends news feed by someone else that I don't know so I don't blame the individual who is in my contacts. It was pretty much the malarkey I expected and when I read the bio of the author, Kyle Miller, I was likewise not exactly shocked:

Kyle T. Miller has been called to the marketplace as a musician, play producer and educator. Kyle has been prophesying and interpreting dreams for almost 15 years. Kyle is also a scholar, obtaining a Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Kyle's theater production company, Positive Images in Christ, has directed and produced over a dozen shows since it was founded in 2004. Please visit his website at prophetkyle.com.

Well when your personal webpage is "prophetkyle.com", I guess you are not being terribly subtle about how highly you think of yourself. I might add that having an M.A. in "Intercultural Studies", whatever that means, from Fuller and a PhD. in Higher Ed Admin are lovely and all but I am not sure they qualify you as a "scholar", especially not a Bible scholar.

Anyway what does our resident "scholar", the self-proclaimed "Prophet Kyle" have to say about why lesser Christians are "broke"? Well he gets his prophecy on with this opening paragraph:

The Bible has a lot to say about money and prosperity. Although in the last 20 years there have arguably been wrong motives of some teachings on money, prosperity is biblically supported.

Well he is sort of right, the Bible DOES have a lot to say about money and prosperity but none of it implies that we should be seeking after it or that it is a sign of faithfulness if we are prosperous or lack of faithfulness if we are not. I had to laugh out loud at his begrudging admission that maybe, just possibly, at some place somewhere someone might have had less than pure motives when teaching about "prosperity", I guess buying a dozen mansions and private jet might or might not qualify as "arguably wrong motives". He goes on (emphasis mine):

Some preachers and teachers have taught on money in order to manipulate people to give. These ministers have used Scriptures—sometimes out of context—as a means of twisting people's arms into raising big offerings. Because of these abuses, honest Bible teachers have shied away from teaching on prosperity, in fear of being accused of being a "money preacher." Yet we cannot throw away the baby with the bathwater. Just because there have been abuses by some preachers and teachers concerning prosperity does not mean we should stop preaching and teaching on biblical prosperity.

Sometimes out of context? Sometimes! Well that is quite an admission from "Prophet Kyle"! Perhaps we should " stop preaching and teaching on biblical prosperity" because the teaching you are espousing is false? Just a thought. Never fear though...

Thanks to many pioneers in the faith who suffered resistance, ridicule and opposition from religious scoffers as they made gallant efforts to teach biblical prosperity, many people in the body of Christ do not have a problem with Christians being financially comfortable (or dare I say, rich). Many would agree that when God trusts someone with prosperity, that person is in a fantastic position to help others.

Why would God not want us to be able to comfortably provide for our families, live in nice houses, drive nice cars and enjoy ourselves? However, many saved, born-again believers are living by barley getting by. But why? If God has promised us that we will "eat the good of the land" (Is. 1:19) why are so many Christians broke? Although this is not an exhaustive list, I will share with you five reasons why some Christians are broke and how we can shift from poverty to prosperity.

I assume these "gallant pioneers" include folks like Benny Hinn and of course "Prophet Kyle". Dare I say rich, he sez? Oh yeah, he dares! After all he is a prophet. Then there is this: "Many would agree that when God trusts someone with prosperity, that person is in a fantastic position to help others." If by "help others" you mean "buy expensive cars, mansions and private jets for myself" then yes. Of course what would any erroneous teacher be without a random, out of context and completely inapplicable Old Testament quote? " If God has promised us that we will "eat the good of the land" (Is. 1:19) why are so many Christians broke?" Has good promised Christians that we will "eat the good of the land"? Sure, it is right there in the Bible bro! Of course Isaiah is written about "... Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah." (Isaiah 1:1), speaking of a specific nation under a now obsolete old covenant that is not transferable to Christians in American living under the New Covenant in a secular nation. It sometimes helps us to correctly interpret and apply (or not apply) Scripture when we bother to read it in context, but I am just some schlep on the internet and "Prophet Kyle" is both a prophet and a scholar, so what do I know?

So why does "Prophet Kyle" think Christians are broke (you only get two reasons here, you have to wait on the edge of your seat for the other three)? The first reason I expected, the second was a little kookier.

His first reason? Christians ain't tithing! You don't tithe, you don't get no blessings man! It says so right there in Malachi 3:9-10:

You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Malachi 3:9-10)

Chalk Malachi 3:9-10 up in the pantheon of most often misused and abused verses in all of Scripture. It warrants yet again pointing out that Malachi was written to a specific nation under an obsolete Old Covenant. While tithing appears before the Old Covenant, the context here is of "the whole nation of you", i.e. Israel, not America. We are told to bring the full tithe into the storehouse. What is the storehouse for Christians? Well the church bank account via the offering plate of course! Where does it make that link in the New Testament? Well it doesn't but "Prophet Kyle" has seen it revealed to him so it must be true. It is kind of a huge leap to go from a national blessing based on an Old Testament practice to an individual blessing based on giving sufficiently and cheerfully to a local religious group but that is why I am not a prophet apparently.

His second reason? Um...

2. Christians who have participated in the occult are broke. People who consult psychics receive a curse of poverty. Isaiah 8:19-21 says: "When they say to you, 'Seek after the mediums and the wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek after their God? Should they consult the dead for the living? To the law and to the testimony; if they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. They shall pass through the land hard-pressed and hungry; when they are hungry, they shall be furious and curse their king and their God as they look upward."

This Scripture clearly states that people who consult psychics and mediums (consulting the dead) suffer poverty and lack. If you have ever been to a psychic or consulted mediums, palm and/or tarot card readers, or played with Ouija boards, you are under a curse that includes poverty. You should have someone who is skilled in deliverance to lead you through cleansing prayers so that you can be set free.

Not even sure what to do with that one. I wonder what to make of people who faithfully "tithe" to  the local church joyfully and have never been to a psychic or medium and yet are poor by American standards? Maybe they are really not sincere enough because obviously if you are less than prosperous it is your own dang fault. Also I missed the part where there are certain curses that are permanent unless a specialized "skilled deliverer" lifts it for you. You read stuff like this and posts on the sidebar praising Jan Crouch and Joyce Meyer and people wonder why most of the church doesn't take charismatics seriously.

Here is (one of many reasons) why this teaching is so dangerous. What does it mean to be prosperous? The term "prosperous" in some charismatic teaching is like the term "fair" in leftist politics. No ever says how much is "fair" but it is always more. However much a "rich" person pays in taxes, in order for it to be "fair" it needs to be more. To the average American, being prosperous seems to mean having more stuff than you have now. Do you have a Toyota? You should have a Lexus. Do you have a 2000 square foot home? You should have one that is 3000 square feet. It is a teaching based on envy and on coveting. It says to Christians in America that the incredible prosperity essentially every single American has compared to people in the vast majority of the rest of the world is not enough. That is unhealthy and unbiblical.

The second reason it is so dangerous is more insidious. This sort of unbiblical teaching says to people who are not sufficiently "prosperous", an amorphous term, that they are somehow to blame by being insufficiently pious. Look at he garbage in this article. If you are not "prosperous" it is because you don't give enough at church or perhaps because you have been involved in the occult. If you ever went to a psychic you are not gunna be prosperous according to "Prophet Kyle" because you are under some sort of curse. Good news though, you can get out of this curse: " You should have someone who is skilled in deliverance to lead you through cleansing prayers so that you can be set free." Want to bet "Prophet Kyle" is one of those "skilled" individuals? Want to be bet he can "deliver you" via "cleansing prayers" for a small fee? After all, prophets gotta be prosperous too! If you are someone who is poor by American standards but faithful by God's standards (often mutually exclusive), you don't need to be scolded by "prophets" because you are not rich enough.

The history of the church from the earliest days to present has been that most of the church has been anything but prosperous. In fact the more faithful the church has been, the greater the persecution and the less the prosperity. Ask the Anabaptists in Europe how prosperous they were. According to "Prophet Kyle" they must be not giving enough at church or maybe were consulting psychics without the benefit of having a "prophet: around to "lead them in cleansing prayer". Most Christians now and throughout history have hardly been prosperous. More important, and more Biblical, is that they be faithful and I see no connection anywhere in the New Testament between being faithful and monetary blessings.


"Prophet Kyle" should stick to "Intercultural Studies".

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Justification by name recognition

When a celebrity dies, especially one steeped in nostalgia from our youth, it is now considered mandatory to lament their passing by pronouncing them "in a better place" and "resting in peace". This is generally true of Christians as well as religious or semi-religious unbelievers, regardless of anything resembling a Biblical understanding of what makes one right with God. At the risk of getting angry responses due to my insensitivity to a recently deceased cultural icon, I tweeted this morning:
That should be common sense for Christians. Whether the celebrity in question is Prince or Michael Jackson or this mornings passing of Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali, social media has provided a vehicle for people to express their sense of loss grounded in nostalgia. This morning lots of people are posting "#RIPMuhammadAli" all over social media, including a lot of Christians. I understand that "Rest in peace" is an empty cultural expression like saying "God bless you" when people sneeze but it has the effect of confusing the eternal peace of Christ with a nostalgic farewell. It may seem insensitive but times like this are when it is most important for the church to be crystal clear when talking about what eternal peace and rest look like.

Jesus and the apostles had a lot to say about peace and none of it suggested that peace is the eternal destiny of all mankind. Paul taught that Christ made peace with God by the blood of His cross:

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Col 1:19-23)

...and in other verses in the same book, some of my favorites in the entire Bible, Paul wrote:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Col 2:13-14)

Man is by nature at enmity with God, "children of wrath" but those Christ has redeemed are no longer at enmity with God but are reconciled to Him by His Son's cross and are the only ones who will "rest in peace". If one is not resting eternally in Jesus, there is no peace to be found in eternity. Quite the opposite is true, if one dies outside of reconciliation via Christ your eternity will be anything but peaceful. Cassius Clay died a believer in some sort of Islam/Sufism teaching, and while his precise beliefs are not really apparent what is apparent is that he had not been born-again. No one who is born-again can proclaim a belief system that is contrary to what the Bible teaches. You don't have to believe in Christianity but you can't avoid that reality of the exclusivity of the Christian Gospel. 

Mr. Clay has died and will come before before the Judgement seat with nothing but his own righteousness. His death and the death of other celebrities who are not Christians can be a time of nostalgic reflection but more critically it should be a reminder of how eternally vital the Gospel message is. That message of the cross of Christ is the only way someone, whether an unknown pauper or the most famous person alive, can be reconciled to God and be able to truly rest in peace.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Craftsmanship

Living among and working with the Amish as we do we have ample opportunity to visit many of the Amish small businesses that dot the landscape. From large sawmills and shops that employ dozens with a large sign out front to little single owner stores selling a variety of stuff that you would never know was there unless someone else told you. One of the most surprising things we have learned about real Amish contrasted with the pop culture image of them is that few of the Amish around here are especially skilled craftsmen. Sure they can build houses and barns but virtually all of the work crews in construction have an "English" driver who takes them to  the work-site and once on site they use all manner of means to circumvent their general aversion to technology, using generators and air compressors to run power tools like saws and nail guns. Many Amish businesses run off of huge diesel generators, from dairies and chicken barns to sawmills. It is a common sight to see a team of draft horses pulling a farm implement that runs off of a gas motor being guided by an Amish guy talking on a cell phone. Most Amish farms have a skid loader or three to haul manure and do other tasks that you might assume they would do by hand.

There are Amish who are still actual craftsmen, guys who use the older methods that are slower but tend to be more durable. One of my favorites is a harness maker. His work bench is pictured above and you can see all of the tools of his trade. Around and behind me are very old tools like a foot operated hole punch and a manual sewing machine that looks like it is 100 years old and weighs 100 pounds. I love going to his shop, he is a good natured curmudgeon most of the time but it is a joy to watch him work with leather, real and synthetic, using tools and techniques that are generations old. He has hundreds of little boxes and drawers containing buckles, snaps and who knows what else but he seems to know exactly where everything he needs is. His shop smells of leather and feel as though you have stepped back in time when you are there. While he and others are the exception it is still wonderful to watch someone make something by hand.

The loss of craftsmanship among the Amish is a reflection of the world around us. We live in a day of the disposable, of the cheap and temporary. Very few people buy stuff with any expectation of it lasting very long. Many of the more "durable" items we own are so expensive to fix that it is just easier to throw them away and buy new when something breaks. Being a skilled worker in our society is repugnant to many people. Who wants to learn to weld or build houses or wire a home or fix plumbing? Those are hard and you get dirty so instead of teaching younger generations how to do stuff, we insist that every kid goes to college or face a life of poverty, as if those are the only two choices. This mindset has left us with a huge demand for skilled workers on the one hand and generations of kids who had no real reason to go to college working service industry jobs that don't require the degree they went tens of thousands of dollars in debt to acquire. How many people do you know that come home from work feeling a sense of accomplishment? Don't most people come home dreading the knowledge that they have to go right back to work the next day or if they are lucky it is the weekend and they get a few precious hours off before shuffling back to their jobs on Monday? Work is a terrible drudgery for most people but they have to do it so they can pay for a house that is more lavish than they need, for a new iPhone, for the occasional vacation and for the college education of their kids who can follow in their footsteps. It is little wonder people are so depressed. Very few jobs in our service economy lend themselves to feelings of accomplishment. Sure every job can be a way to glorify God but it almost seems as if our work world is designed to keep people soporific and pliable and of course dependent.

We need to reclaim work, for the sake of ourselves and our children. We need to find and embrace ways to make work meaningful again, to find work that we can take pride in. You don't need to make leather harnesses by hand or build a barn with just a hammer and a saw but you can still be a craftsmen in a myriad of professions. It might mean, well it will mean, getting off the hamster wheel of American vocational drudgery and finding a path other than that which the world says we must not stray from. Our dependence on the institutions that run our lives in education, business and entertainment has left us depressed and diminished as a people. It is time for a new Declaration of Independence, independence from the forces that seek to make captive an entire civilization with false promises of security and the facade of freedom while profiting in gold and power from the labor of the people of America. We shouldn't have to be trapped in an endless cycle of debt and dependence. It is time for We The People to take back our legacy and our identity but only we can do this. It won't be easy but even though we have forgotten this, nothing worthwhile ever is.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Buy A Gun Or You Don't Love Jesus

That probably seems like a silly and unnecessary title to a post but what inspired this post was an essay by Michael Patton over at Credo House with this humdinger of a title: Why Christians Are Ordered to Have Guns. Not allowed. Not permitted. Not something to be considered. Ordered. So yeah, that is a pretty provocative post title that deserves an equally over the top title in my response. Anyway, someone posted this on Facebook and it stirred up an interesting conversation and because the entire original post was, just being frank, an exegetical train wreck I am going to refute it section by section,

First a comment about the title. Generally your title is an introduction for someone who is going to read your blog post or is an inducement to get them to click on the link, aka "click bait". So if you are going to make a serious claim like every Christian is ordered to have a gun you should probably make that case. Michael does not.

Skipping over the first few paragraphs which talk about why he was writing this post we get to the first argument regarding the importance of education the populace about the 2nd Amendment.
I didn’t quote the 2nd Amendment merely as an introduction to remind people of it, but because I believe a very sad fact: most Americans have never even read it or really thought about it. 
The hearts and minds of America (and American Christians) must be won first through education. Most Americans have very little notion of what America is all about, what Bono, the rock star Irishman, calls “the idea of America.” And the idea of America includes the right to bear arms and, as I will argue, something beyond this.
Ok. I agree that it is troubling that most American don't have a clue what the 2nd Amendment says or any of the rest of the Constitution for that matter. I also agree that very few Americans have any sort of concept about what America means or why it exists or why we have a Constitution in the first place. I am reading Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy In America and it is horrifying how far we have strayed from the grand vision that led to the forming of a limited republican government focused on individual liberty rather than a monarchy. I will go several steps farther and note that I am a gun owner and I am 100% convinced that the 2nd Amendment was intended to and actually does preserve an individual right to own a firearm. None of that has anything to do with whether Christians are "ordered" to have guns or even if they should.

This is an important point. Throughout history the vast majority of Christians had nothing even vaguely resembling a right to arms. The vast majority of Christians right now do not own firearms. So we are left with the idea that God has specially chosen Christian living in America to arm themselves in a manner unknown to most of our brethren over the last 200 years. That is a pretty tough argument to make. Moving on....
It is interesting that Jesus in Luke 22:35ff tells the apostles to get a sword. Now, I, personally, would not claim this is an exact parallel to the idea of the 2nd Amendment, but it does have some bearing on whether citizens can have a sword (an instrument of death).
As sure as the sun rising in the east, those who argue in favor of Christians arming themselves and preparing themselves to use those weapons to kill someone else are going to go to Luke 22 and Romans 13 for New Testament support. Just as certainly those same people are going to ignore Luke 22;37 that tells us why Jesus wanted the disciples to have swords (hint, it was not for self-defense or to use at all) and the end of Romans 12 which of course immediately precedes Romans 13 and is the most explicit teaching on non-violence anywhere in the Scriptures. Notice what he does here. He says "I, personally, would not claim this is an exact parallel to the idea of the 2nd Amendment" (emphasis mine). So he uses the argument that the 2nd Amendment is a parallel to Luke 22, just not an exact one. The problems here are two-fold. First, the passage he cites in Luke has nothing to do with Christians arming themselves. It is a specific event for a specific purpose and read in context it has nothing to do with arming ourselves. The second is much more troubling and is a recurring theme in his post. He tosses out there the notion that Luke 22 supports owning weapons by Christian and draws a parallel between the teachings of Jesus and the 2nd amendment and then moves on without even pretending to engage the text and the very obvious problems with using the "numbered with the transgressors" passage to support a Biblical command for Christians to own guns, When you are making an argument about a Kingdom topic, if you turn to Scripture, as you should, you must at least engage the text a little. Otherwise you are just tossing out verses with no thought as to their proper context and usage. That drives me nuts and a published author with a master's in theology like Michael should know better. The fact that he makes no attempt to interact with a portion of Scripture he tosses out as support for his position is a mark of someone who has a weak argument.
In the book of Romans we are told to obey our government. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). If we do not obey, we should fear the consequences as the government does not “bear the sword for nothing” (Roman 13:4). 
The government “bearing the sword” does not in any way exclude citizens from having one. In fact, the passage might very well assume that citizens carry swords also. The idea here has to do with whether or not the government should be able to exact penalties for criminal activity, even the penalty of death. Paul’s assumption is that this is an obligation the government bears.
I will grant the first assertion in the second paragraph, nothing in Romans 13 by itself would negate Christians bearing the sword. The next sentence though is inaccurate. Again we see the use of a qualified assertion to plant the notion in the reader's mind that a passage of Scripture implies something when it does nothing of the sort. In this case "the passage might very well assume that citizens carry swords also" is creating from thin air an assumption that the private citizens of the state are assumed to carry swords even though nothing in the passage would imply that. Maybe they did and maybe they didn't but the Scriptures simply don't say and this is little more than making a case from silence, even though the immediately preceding verses in Romans 12 would strongly indicate that even if pagan citizens of the Roman empire carried weapons, Christians did not until several centuries after Paul. Next we turn to the next paragraph and this is where it really goes off the rails...
However, any time the government no longer functions as a legitimate government, the higher law, a natural law, the “Lex Rex” (King Law or “the law is king”) says that people have the right and obligation to overthrow such government. Aren’t we supposed to submit to the government? However, this assumes that the government in question is a legitimate government. It is hard to know where to draw the line from a biblical standpoint (and I have no intention of exploring that question here), but from the standpoint of our government that “we the people” set up and rule over, this is an obligation we carry.
The post jumps from a clumsy attempt at exegesis to a completely extra-biblical principle, "natural law" or "Lex Rex". Note that he even concedes that the Bible makes no distinctions in the New Testament as to what qualifies a "legitimate" secular government. The reason he cannot draw this line is that the Bible never does and just as importantly it never assumes that Christians are to rise up in armed revolt against an "illegitimate" government. The Roman rule over Israel was brutal, as we see in the scourging and crucifying of Jesus Christ and the eventual violent martyring of many of the apostles in Scripture. The Romans would even eventually destroy the temple in Jerusalem. If there was ever an illegitimate government it was Roman rule over Israel but we never, ever find a call to violent revolt from Christ or His disciples. If it was His intent that we rise up, one might think it would be mentioned by Him. He makes an appeal that as American citizens we are obliged to arm ourselves in case of revolt even though that eternal preparation for revolt is completely contrary to what Paul says in Romans 13. Hang on, this next leap is a huge one.
Because of our biblical obligation to the government expressed by Paul in Romans 13, I would say that owning a gun is something that goes beyond just a right, it is imperative to the well-being of our county. Notice this again in the 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” “Militia” is a term that may bring up misunderstanding. People will no doubt think of a rouge of hillbilly nuts who hate the government and form their group to create a cult whose purpose is to disturb or destroy our government. This is not what is meant. What is meant is a group of people who love America, whether or not they agree with the policies of any particular presidential administration or the rulings of any Supreme Court. These are citizens who are intent on obeying the government by keeping the government in check. What an incredibly unique and necessary situation our forefathers set up. Not only are there checks and balances in the three branches of our government, there are also checks and balances of power between the formal government and the people. Our forefathers knew all too well how unguarded governments can and most often do turn into tyrannical messes. And they wrote as one of the first amendments something to deter tyranny.
In spite of his impassioned appeal to the need of an armed citizenry to keep the government in check, something I believe was intended by the framers, he is again making a linkage that doesn't exist. He starts off with "Because of our biblical obligation to the government expressed by Paul in Romans 13, I would say that owning a gun is something that goes beyond just a right, it is imperative to the well-being of our county.". So Christians should submit to the government as Paul writes but then we see that American Christians have a complementary obligation to arm ourselves to keep the government in check. He goes from submission to the government, which is Biblical, to a treatment of why American citizens must be armed. The chasm between these two concepts is enormous. It is effective largely because we as Christians living in America have been so inundated with teaching about America being a "Christian nation", our shared "Judeo-Christian" values and the priority of the American pseudo-Christian civic religion over all else that we can often not distinguish between where Christianity ends and America begins.

His next three paragraphs focus on the topic of "HOW CAN WE EXPECT TO FIGHT AGAINST FIGHTER JETS AND PLANES?". They are not very interesting arguments and have nothing to do with the assertion in his title that Christians are ordered to have guns so I will jump to his closing argument:
I believe that there is a responsibility for us to have this kind of power immediately available to all Americans. The truth be told, if there are any Christians who have a hard time with this (and I know there are and I do sympathize with the objections), we must understand that to obey Romans 13, we must, at the very least, support the right to bear arms. When we go against, we may do so because of conscience or fear, but we have nothing to fear as long as we take all the necessary precautions and educate and train all those who do bear these arms. It needs to be well regulated on the “militia” level and on the level of the individual. Is it dangerous? Definitely. Is a car dangerous as we allow 16 year olds to drive them? Absolutely (I have one of those). That is why we should have diligent training for both. Will people use them for evil ends? Definitely. We live in a fallen world with fallen people who seek their own gain. But, ultimately, we have to understand not only the disobedience to Scripture when we go against the 2nd Amendment, but the radical danger there is when the government disarms its people.
I am not really saying that every individual Christian is ordered to have a gun. If it is something that is truly against your conscience, don’t get one. But those who can, should (and go through training, following the safety rules). But, at the very least, I do believe that in order to obey God, we should support the 2nd Amendment.
This is my musing on gun control. I am willing to change my mind if someone can convince me otherwise.
Wow. In a sense he is somewhat correct. The 2nd Amendment is the law of the land and part of the governing documents of America so we as Christians in submission to the government should of course recognize the right of citizens to bear arms. That doesn't mean we are obligated or permitted to arm ourselves. It is legal in virtually every state to go to a strip club. Many states have legalized gambling. Every state allows citizens to purchase and consume alcohol as long as they don't drive afterward.  I recognize that these are part of the law and as such I am not chaining myself to the door of a nudie bar. Even though all of the above are social ills and harmful, it is the law. There is a difference between what is permitted and what is proper for a citizen of Christ's Kingdom. I am again going to point out that when your title is "Why Christians Are Ordered to Have Guns" but you then write in your conclusion "I am not really saying that every individual is ordered to have a gun", you undermine your own argument. Either stand firm on what you said in the title or change the title to "Why Christians Should Consider Having A Gun".

Michael is sort of making two arguments and mixing them together, first that the 2nd Amendment is a vital part of the law of our land and second that the New Testament at the least doesn't prohibit the ownership of weapons by Christians. The first argument is not terribly well presented but it doesn't contain any obvious factual errors. The second argument is not made at all beyond throwing a couple of Scriptures out and then less than subtly trying to link them to the 2nd Amendment. His unwillingness to engage in the work of exegesis and willful disregard of contrary positions makes his Biblical case completely toothless. In fact it only works when one starts from a U.S. Constitutional and then backs into Scripture to find verses that out of context seem to maybe imply some very weak support for his argument.

There is a case to be made from Scripture in favor of Christians having arms and being likewise prepared to use them in the defense of others, especially those too weak to defend themselves, but it isn't made here. Michael needs to go back, rethink his arguments and read a few decent resources that argue to the contrary and are widely available like Preston Sprinkle's book Fight (see my review here). He acts as if the arguments that run counter to his position are not worthy of being mentioned in specifics or engaged in a meaningful way but if you can't defend your position in the face of critical and contrary arguments, it probably isn't an position worth having.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What I Would Ask The President of The United States

There is zero chance that I would ever get to direct a question publically to President Obama. I am pretty sure I am on a bunch of lists that would preclude that. However if I could ask him a question, this is sort of what it would sound like in the form of an open letter.
Mr. President, thank you for taking my question. Last week your administration sent out a notice to every public school in America that demanded that every public school in America open their restrooms and locker rooms for both genders to anyone who claimed to be that gender, regardless of their actual biological gender. As part of this letter you threatened to withhold from any schools that failed to comply Federal education funding totaling billions of dollars, funds that originated in the same states you are threatening. This letter and policy is done without the benefit of a legislative action and occurs within the framework of prior legislation that was never envisioned by those that passed it to be used to force schools to allow boys into girl's restrooms and locker rooms and vice versa.
Mr. President, you have two daughters, Malia and Natasha. One is 18 and the other is 16, so what we would generally consider school aged. Your daughters attend the highly prestigious Sidwell Friends school, a co-ed school that is clearly an elite school, unattainable for the average citizen based on tuition of nearly $40,000 per year, more than the tuition for my entire college experience (As a funny aside, the school's webpage lists the tuition for "Middle and Upper Schools" as "$39,360 (includes hot lunch)". Whew, I am glad that for $40,000 a year your kid gets a hot lunch!).
My question to you is this. Would you feel comfortable with your daughter Sasha, who is now 16 years old, changing her clothes or taking a shower with a young man next to her, naked in the shower or beside her while she changed her clothing? I ask because this is what you are demanding every parent in America with children in public schools subject their children to in the name of catering to a miniscule minority of confused and likely mentally ill students. I recognize that since your daughter is a) attending a private school outside of the scope of your letter and b) understandably tightly guarded for her own safety this issue may not directly impact you but it does impact parents around this nation who cannot afford to send their children to a private school. From afar you seem to care deeply about your children, as do millions of regular parents across this nation. I find it hard to believe that you are comfortable with the idea of your 16 year old daughter disrobed and/or showering with a boy, no matter what that young man thinks his gender really is. Thank you Mr. President, I await your response.
It seems a little graphic but we are past the point of niceties. We can talk about the feelings of "transgender" children all we like but in stark terms what is being asked of us is that the daughters of this nation stand exposed in their underwear or completely naked in the presence of a young man or men. There is absolutely nothing to stop a boy from going into the girl's locker room for laughs in his letter. Looking back at my high school days in an admittedly far more tame era I can think of dozens of boys who would have gleefully used the opportunity to visit the girl's locker room to take a peek. I can't imagine that is less true today. I can't stop a young man from putting on women's panties and a dress but that doesn't mean that boy should get unfettered access to girls in what should be the most private of settings. 

Some would immediately respond with outrage at the entire premise of this question. There is an unwritten understanding that while the President and other political and public figures are fair game for criticism, their families and especially their children are off-limits. My response would be that President Obama negated that rule and made his children fair game when he dragged the children of the rest of America into his own personal crusade to tear down and remake our culture in his own image. When our children become pawns in the grand game he is playing while his own children are safely ensconced in the most exclusive of elite schools, then he is the one who has crossed the line, not me. President Obama's daughters are no doubt precious to him but no more so than the children of the rest of America are to their parents who lack the means to avoid his mandate.

Like I said, I will never get to ask this question but if he were forced to provide a real answer I wonder what he would say? If he were standing at the door of the locker room where his daughter was showering and a young man tried to enter, would he let him and even open the door and invite him in? I suspect no but that is precisely what he is demanding the fathers and mothers of America do. Someone needs to call him on this, it might as well be me.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Global Freaking Warming

Our balmy weekend forecast here in the middle of May:



GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL MAN!

Oh Al Gore, I am so sorry for doubting you. I am so glad you invented the internet for us so I can publicly apologize.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Speaking Of Fascism

At the beginning of the week I wrote about the Federal Department of Justice threatening North Carolina over a law designed to keep deviants and mentally ill men out of women's and little girl's restrooms, something that has been common sense for centuries until the last few months where it has become the number one priority of the Obama administration and about the only topic NPR leads with. The Feds were also threatening to withhold billions in "Federal" education funding unless N.C. complied. At this point N.C. is showing some spine and fighting back but then there was this news story that shows how fast the moral collapse and the encroachment of fascism really is, Obama administration tells public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms of their choice.

The gist of it can be seen in these paragraphs, emphasis mine:
The Obama administration will send a letter to every public school district in the country telling them to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity, as opposed to their birth certificate. 
The letter, which is signed by officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Education, will be sent out to the districts on Friday. 
While the letter does not have the force of law, it does warn that schools that do not abide by the administration’s interpretation of civil rights law may face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.
First off, a person's gender is not determined by what is on their birth certificate. That is just patently dumb. The birth certificate reflects the biological reality of a person's immutable gender, not the other way around. I am not a man because it says "male" on my birth certificate, my birth certificate says "male" because I am biologically and unalterably a male.

Second, the boldness of the pace the Administration is taking is breathtaking. Every single public school district in America is receiving a demand letter with a heavy handed and less than subtle threat to steal from those districts and not even give some of their money back unless those school districts throw open the door of girl's locker rooms and bathrooms to any dude that wants to go in. What a dream come true for guys, why peep in a girl's bedroom window when you can just claim to "identify" as male and stroll in the locker room to your choice of undressed girls? The privacy of your children at every school in America is being revoked by an Administration bent on remaking America into a perverse caricature of a civilization. If you are a parent, Christian or not, your children are being used as pawns in a grand social experiment that puts their safety and privacy on a shelf in pursuit of a perverse dream of "progress". Whoever you are, the public schools of this country are becoming an unsafe and dangerous place for a child to be entrusted to for most of the day in their formative year. Scratch that, that has been true for a long time. We are actually almost to the point where sending your kids, especially your daughters, to public schools is tantamount to being an accessory to sexual abuse. That sounds harsh but please tell me why it is not true.

There was also this risible line from "Education" Secretary John B. King, again emphasis mine:
No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” King said. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”
Riiiggghht, that may be true if you are some sort of deviant but if you are white, male, Christian, conservative, heterosexual, not fat, etc. you better be prepared to not only keep your mouth shut about your opinions but you better be prepared to genuflect to every cause of people who are not you and apologize in sackcloth and ashes for the outrage of being a politically incorrect and reviled class.

Our culture stands on the precipice and our elected officials keep pushing us closer to the edge but the people of this nation want us to choose between Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump at a time in our nation's history far more perilous than the Cold War and on par with the Civil War.

Monday, May 09, 2016

The Servile Fascists States Of America

Lost amid the noise about the North Carolina law protecting women and little girls from having to share their restrooms with deviant men, followed by "protests" by washed up musicians desperate for relevance again and the whole Target fiasco, was a news story that got very little attention, namely a threatened lawsuit by the Federal "Justice" Department that claimed that North Carolina has no right to protect women and children from perverts. Along with the threatened lawsuit comes an even more egregious stick, namely the additional threat of withholding Federal funds because North Carolina is "discriminating" against "transgender people". Now a year ago or even six months ago this was a non-issue. Men used men's rooms, women used women's rooms and no one was being discriminated against. Today? You would think that the Federal government has bigger concerns than letting mentally ill people use whatever private facilities they want, you know like an enormous debt, a Middle East in flames, an unchecked flood of illegal aliens. Nope. The most important issue right now is stripping women and men of privacy in the most private of moments.

First the actual issue and it is the height of insanity that this is even an issue. The Federal government is using laws designed to prevent discrimination based on sex to force people to share bathrooms with people that they don't want to and have every right to not want to. I don't much care if a chick wants to use the men's bathroom but I guarantee you that the vast majority of women in this country, and dads as well, don't want men in the same bathroom that women and little girls are using. The excuse that "it hasn't been a big issue so far" misses the point that it hasn't been an issue precisely because men are not permitted in women's bathroom and locker facilities. Do you really want your daughter to finish working out and take a shower only to have a guy with male genitalia walk in and stand naked next to her? I don't care what gender or species or whatever the guy thinks he is, is that something you would want? Attorney General Loretta Lynch complained that transgender people are being "forced" to "pretend" to be something they are not when the exact opposite is the case. Her Justice Department is giving absolute sovereignty to people pretending to be the opposite gender.

You see, the problem is that once "progressives" started to embrace deviancy they can't stop. So when something so patently ridiculous and dangerous as men pretending to be women using women's restroom and locker room facilities comes up, they have to champion it or look like hypocrites. It also means that there is no perversion that they can actually not support. If you think I am kidding just look down the road and you will see polygamy, bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia being championed. Think that is an exaggeration? Would you have though a few years ago that "gay marriage" and men in women's bathrooms would be the law of the land?

Now the second and believe it or not more insidious and dangerous issuehas to do with the precedent we see of the cultural revolutionaries in the Obama administration using extortion to force counter-revolutionary states into compliance. Do what we say or we withhold money, in this case $4.5 BILLION in "Federal funds" earmarked for education. So much for the Democrats caring about education, kids learning takes a back seat to pandering to deviants. This is an outrage for a variety of reasons but here is the big one....

There is absolutely no such thing as "federal funds". The money the Federal government has, almost without exception, has either been seized from people who actually work at something productive for a living or is created from thin air via debt instruments that have saddled our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren with a debt they can never hope to repay. Of course leftist economists assure us that this is not a problem and we should borrow even more, all in the pursuit of the elusive beast of spending our way into prosperity if we only will spend just one more dollar (or one trillion dollars more) . So basically the Feds are saying to North Carolina "Do what we say or we will keep your money that we took from you under threat of imprisonment. It doesn't matter that your citizens earned the money, only that you do as we say."

Virtually every major law at the Federal level is designed to take money away from the states that make up this Union and horde it at the Federal level where it can then be held hostage for insanity like this. In essence the Feds come in at gunpoint to take money from the people and then sneer as the people come forward, hat in hand, to beg the Feds to give them some of their own money back. Actions like this, taking a completely unrelated law to force a dangerous and ludicrous situation on the people of the states, turn the Constitutional Republic that we used to live in on it's head. There is no rule of law because the law is whatever a small cabal of bureaucrats and judges say it is. The will of the people, the Constitution, common decency, self-government via voting, all of these are irrelevant whenever and wherever someone in D.C. says it no longer applies and they are saying more and more often that the people who live in this country, pay the taxes, create the jobs, build families and communities, these people are dangerous and must be leashed.

We are living days of the waning of America as a Republic and beacon of hope to free citizens. Don't get caught up in the shiny objects put forth by the entertainment industry to keep us distracted and passive. Something has to change and soon or this will cease to be a Republic and become a functional fascists state.