Category: Response

How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

How to answer, “Religions are myths.”

One of my neighbors recently posted her advice for everyone to live without religion.

Here is what she posted:

“Religions are myths. Love yourself and be kind. My inspiring thought for today is that we only can judge ourselves. There were no brutal blood sacrifices needed to make you whole. You’re a whole person just as you are. Live in that freeing truth. You are not the chief of sinners, but youve (sic) made mistakes, easily corrected. Live lawfully, kindly, and lovingly. You don’t need a book to tell you right from wrong. You are good. You are worthy. Live in the light of secular peace.”

Let’s find some common ground.

Her statement must be understood in Christian terms.

Kindness is encouraged by the Christian Scriptures and the Christian God (the One that was brutalized and sacrificed his blood).

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another a)Colossians 3:12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. b)Galatians 5:22-23

Judging yourself is a Christian principle.

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup… But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  c)1 Corinthians 11:28,31

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. d)Romans 2:1

Ineffectual blood sacrifices are rejected by God.

What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
    says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
    and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
    or of lambs, or of goats. e)Isaiah 1:11

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me. f)Jeremiah 6:20

Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; g)Amos 5:22

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. h)Psalm 51:16,17

Truth as a source of freedom is a beloved citation from the words of Jesus.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” i)John 8:31-32

Living lawfully is a Christian principle.

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  j)1 Peter 4:15,16

The Bible clearly states that we all have made mistakes.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  k)Romans 3:23

God does tell us to live in the light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” l)John 8:12

…I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. m)Acts 26:17-18

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. n)Philippians 2:14-16

At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. o)1st John 2:8-11

Finally, Scripture teaches that religion is myth.

“THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’ ” p)Matthew 15:8-9

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. q)1 Timothy 6:20-21

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.  r)2 Corinthians 11:13-15

All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. s)John 10:8-10

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” t)John 14:6

Only Jesus saves.

No religion can save us. Church membership cannot save us. Only the person Jesus can save us. So let’s not focus on making up more human rules and philosophies and imposing them on others.

Words must have meanings.

Without the words of Jesus and the Scriptures, I would have no reference point from which to understand the all-religion-is-myth (ARM) statement.  She uses Christian language such as “chief of sinners” and other phrases.

In an atheism-based universe, everything is amoral matter. Loving and hating would be morally equal values to a bunch of molecules.

The ARM statement absolutely endorses everyone doing what they feel is right. The definitions of good, kind, and lawful are all subject to human judgment or conscience and societal norms.

Imagine a society where everyone has always done whatever each independent person feels is right. History has recorded some of the atrocities performed when self-guided atheistic leaders were in authority. Even Christianity has a tarnished record because of what happens when the Church follows human will.

Imagine the history of the world if Judeo-Christian cultures never existed and pagan or atheistic cultures had prevailed and if societal norms had not been shaped by any of the followers of Jesus. Thank God for Christian stuff like rule of law, education, medicine, liberty and human rights.

Can I be a Christian without Christ?

The ARM statement wants all the fundamental behaviors of Christianity (love, peace, kindness, lawfulness, justice, selflessness, et cetera) without Christ. This is a backwards compliment to Christians, a nod that we are following the right way when we follow the principles of Scripture. It’s like saying, “We want to be like you, but we don’t want your bloody Jesus.”

The ARM statement unfortunately overlooks the facts, stuff like history and geography. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth are all real places that still exist for examination. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are well-documented by eye-witnesses in an abundance of manuscripts in existence today. Anyone can say that Jesus was a mythological character, but they do so against the facts and evidence. They call him a myth as an act of faith and emotion, not as a result of unbiased investigation.

It’s a trap!

It’s a trap!

The author of the original ARM statement was shocked by the reaction of Christians. They didn’t like what she wrote. They let her know that they didn’t like it.

One of the Christians went too far and threatened to pray for her, so our atheist writer responded, I don’t understand why I’m being persecuted for my lack of faith this way. 1st Amendment!(Because, as we all know, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America u)FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. is the one that protects your right to express disapproval toward religion and prevents rebuttal from the target of your criticism. )

The writer intentionally posted on the hot topic of religion in order for religious readers to respond. She knew before she posted that people would disagree with her with strong emotions.

The writer intentionally used words that oppose the Christian God, “Brutal blood sacrifices” is a verbal assault against the Gospel and the Atonement.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. v)Romans 5:8

The writer placed the bait for Christians. She hoped they would be unkind so that she could justify her attack on their God. What religion tolerates this type of hateful defamation of their God? Well, Christianity does, because our God said, “Love your enemies.” So she was safe from house-burning or tar-and-feathering because she singled out the precious blood of Jesus.

My conclusion is that Christians should respond as Jesus said to respond.

Don’t take the bait and get caught in the trap. Any rebuttal, even an offer to love and pray for someone, will be interpreted as unkind, actually as un-Christlike.

You can’t win this argument with an argument. I don’t know anyone that was angrily squabbled into the Kingdom of God. The best witness is always kind, patient, peaceful, gentle, faithful, selfless, and loving.

I remember that God loves me. And if God can be gracious toward me, He also loves this angry atheist. We need to behave toward this person as she is a person loved by God.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” w)Matthew 5:43-45

References   [ + ]

a. Colossians 3:12
b. Galatians 5:22-23
c. 1 Corinthians 11:28,31
d. Romans 2:1
e. Isaiah 1:11
f. Jeremiah 6:20
g. Amos 5:22
h. Psalm 51:16,17
i. John 8:31-32
j. 1 Peter 4:15,16
k. Romans 3:23
l. John 8:12
m. Acts 26:17-18
n. Philippians 2:14-16
o. 1st John 2:8-11
p. Matthew 15:8-9
q. 1 Timothy 6:20-21
r. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
s. John 10:8-10
t. John 14:6
u. FIRST AMENDMENT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
v. Romans 5:8
w. Matthew 5:43-45
How to Construct a Worldview

How to Construct a Worldview

While reading Matthew 5:15 it occurred to me that in the same way that a lamp beneath a basket is obscured, that if a person was under a basket he would not clearly see the world outside the basket. He would experience obstructive filtering of external light. a)While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration. Only bits and pieces of the outside environment would pass through a woven basket. If you were inside the basket, you may glimpse a bit of blue sky through one hole and a bit of green leaves through another. Your view of the world outside would be incomplete.

I have been thinking about opposing worldviews.

Gather a number of individuals. Have them observe the exact same event. Ask each of them the meaning of what they observed. I predict that you will get as many different views as there are individuals in the group. Some will agree in part. There will be variations. I think that you will see that observers arrive at an event with preconceptions that will shape their observations. I think that some observers arrive hoping to achieve personal agendas.

Our preconceptions and agendas are the basket through which we filter the light. They are essential parts of our worldview.

I propose that it is better to weave your own custom-designed basket rather than passively acquiring a basket that may obscure reality.

An individual may drift into a worldview that is shaped by the culture, environment and influences around him. On the other hand, an individual may examine their culture and influences, decisions and behaviors, preconceptions and intentions and deliberately shape their own worldview in order to provide more coherent and reasonable explanations about life.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.b)Romans 12:2 – ESV

God provides Scripture so that you will allow Him to shape your mind.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.c)Philippians 4:8

Rather than forming a worldview (or allowing a worldview to form) then filtering Scripture through that basket, we should investigate God’s revelation of Himself and use that information and influence to weave our worldview.

The Scriptures will provide coherence, unity, truth, purpose, and fulfillment.

References   [ + ]

a. While I do not think that this is the intent of this biblical passage, it provided me with a mental picture to serve as an illustration.
b. Romans 12:2 – ESV
c. Philippians 4:8
Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Why does God hate people with handicaps?

Was the Leviticus meme written by someone completely ignorant about the Bible? …or was this anti-Christian meme written by someone who deliberately wanted to change the real meaning of the Scripture?

Here is an example of the Leviticus meme:

Image result for leviticus meme handicapped

  1. Leviticus 21 contains no reference to God’s hatred of anyone.
  2. Leviticus 21 does not refer to the Church.
    Image result for leviticus meme handicapped
  3. Leviticus 21 does not forbid persons with handicaps from attending or ministering in Church.
  4. Leviticus 21 does not apply to everyone. It applies only to a few specific members of the family of Levi. The name of Levi is in our name for the book: Leviticus.
  5. Leviticus 21 applies only to priests with specific duties connected to the holy sanctuary of the Tabernacle or Temple.
  6. Leviticus 21 does not forbid Levitical priests from serving the Lord in every other way. It only limits the function of those who would serve the holy Temple.
  7. Leviticus 21 does not place any moral or spiritual judgment upon those Levitical priests with blemishes or handicaps.  This was a case of ritual or ceremonial imperfection. It does not indicate that physical blemishes or handicaps are sinful.
  8. This meme deliberately uses an archaic English translation of Leviticus 21 so that the language seems offensive to modern readers.
  9. God never intended that the requirements of Leviticus would be applied to the Church. Those who expect Christians to obey the requirements of the Law are not living in God’s grace.
    1. “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.,, I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:15,16,21
    2. “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
  10. Jesus Christ fulfilled all the requirements of the Levitical priesthood to minister in the true heavenly Temple. He became the Great High Priest.
    1. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Hebrews 4:14
    2. “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.” Hebrews 7:11,12
  11. The perfection of Jesus Christ makes every believer a priest, eliminating the need for the Levitical priesthood altogether. This priesthood of believers places value upon everyone regardless of physical blemish or handicap.
    1. “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” Luke 14:12-14
    2. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
    3. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Stop listening to false narratives about God’s Word. Seek the Truth.

Why couldn’t God just forgive everyone? Was it really necessary to demand the death of His only begotten Son? What kind of a God does that?

Why couldn’t God just forgive everyone? Was it really necessary to demand the death of His only begotten Son? What kind of a God does that?

If God wanted to forgive sinners, why didn’t He just forgive them and declare it done?

I think the question implies a few other questions. Why couldn’t God simply forgive anyone who sins without all the gory bloodshed? Doesn’t God have enough forgiveness in His heart? Is He not powerful enough to do good without doing evil first? Is God so malevolent to demand the death of His own Son? Does God just enjoy punishing others so much? The was-Jesus’-death-necessary question (WJDN?) points a finger at the motives of God and the nature of God.

Was Jesus’ Death Necessary?

1. WJDN? is not an objective question.

First, we need to be honest and admit that this is not an objective query. It proceeds from assumptions that indicate the anticipated answer. The questioner has a bias and inserts his agenda into the question. The questioner may not want you to examine his assumptions. He may be leading you to his conclusion: if there is a god, he is bad.

I ask you to keep an open mind, examine some of the premises of the question, maintain an open mind about the nature of God, and reach your own conclusion.

2. The premises under WJDN? may or may not be accurate.

To me, the apparent premise is: a person that intentionally kills his own son is an evil person. I agree with that. a)However, I do not apply human measurements of good or evil to God, the Giver and Taker of Life. That might be a good topic for another day. However, that truth is not the only plank in this platform. Don’t the best illusions need an element of truth to make them credible?

In the question, there are some inaccurate assumptions that we need to consider:

  • Sin is only in the angry mind of an offended God.
  • God is unwilling to simply forgive sin. b)Saying “I’m sorry” does not reverse the effects of an offending action.
  • Sin is how God feels about my freedom.
  • My sin is a small thing.
  • Punishment of sin is an act of vengeance.
  • Sin is God’s problem, not mine.
  • God is a selfish tyrant.
  • I do not need God to tell me how to live.

Here are some accurate counter-assumptions that will help us understand the question:

  • Sin is in me, not in the mind of God.
  • God is willing to forgive sin AND to cleanse me.
  • Sin is how I feel about God.
  • Sin separates me from God, so it becomes the greatest problem that I will ever face.
  • God is not vengeful; rather He is willing to go to great lengths to remove sin from my life.
  • Sin is my problem.
  • God is generous and compassionate.
  • I need God’s intervention in my life.

Now, let’s use these true premises to move toward an understanding of the question.

God is willing to forgive sin.

A person too weak to save himself could not force Almighty God to do something against His will.  Therefore, if God were unwilling to forgive you, He would never accept any sacrifice for your sins.

In fact, the Scriptures indicate that God collaborated in the ultimate plan of salvation before Jesus was born in Israel where He was crucified. (Revelation 13:8; Hebrews 2:10; John 1:29)

God is actually a loving Being with a tendency toward grace and forgiveness. Forgiveness is God’s idea.

Sin is human nature.c)Being forgiven does not remove the source of sin.

We humans are inextricably tangled up in a sinful nature. Sin is not external to us. It is in us. We may be tempted to sin from the outside, but the decision is actually made on the inside. (Jeremiah 17:9,10)

Sin is not insignificant because it separates me from God. God’s presence is life and light while sin is death and darkness. Separation from God is so utterly horrible that Jesus was willing to die. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” d)John 14:6

If I am sinful in nature (and I am), God’s plan of forgiveness would need to involve removing the root cause of my sinful behavior, not only the removing of the penalty of sin.

As a human father, I would forgive my child for not mowing the lawn if the mower was broken. Then, I would take steps to get that broken mower working again. That’s probable not an accurate analogy but I think it helps understanding a little anyway.

God can’t just look the other way and let his children continue to rebel and spread wickedness everywhere. God needs to offer a solution the real problem. God needs to provide a way to transform a sinful, rebellious human nature into a righteous, lovingly-obedient holy nature.

…and that is the message of the New Testament: we can be miraculously transformed by God through the death of Jesus Christ. e)…and just accepting my sinful old self for who I am is not sufficient when God knows a way to change human nature.

Why couldn’t God just decree that we are holy?

Isn’t God strong enough just to declare that no one would disobey Him? If God wants everyone to be holy, why didn’t He make us that way, instead of causing us to be born with a sinful nature into a sinful world?

I can only think of two ways to accomplish this. One, God is strong enough to force us. Two, God removes our ability to sin.

The problem is that God is love. f)Romans 5:8 It isn’t loving if someone is forced to love. God is not love if everyone is forced to obey God against their own will. We need to choose to obey God because we love God. This means that we must be born into an environment where each of us can actually choose to reject God if we so desire.

If God were an Vengeful Tyrant, perhaps Jesus’ death would have been needless.

If God had created a race of soul-less zombies to carry out His will, perhaps Jesus’ death would have been pointless.

However, we live in the real world. Sin is in us. We need a miracle. God provides the necessary miracle of transformation through Jesus Christ, g)Romans 6:5-7 and furthermore, God offers the abiding presence of His Holy Spirit so that we can produce ongoing spiritual fruit.

Was Jesus’ death necessary?

Based upon the gravity of sin and the true nature of a holy and loving God that includes a plan for the transformation of my sinful nature… yes.

References   [ + ]

a. However, I do not apply human measurements of good or evil to God, the Giver and Taker of Life. That might be a good topic for another day.
b. Saying “I’m sorry” does not reverse the effects of an offending action.
c. Being forgiven does not remove the source of sin.
d. John 14:6
e. …and just accepting my sinful old self for who I am is not sufficient when God knows a way to change human nature.
f. Romans 5:8
g. Romans 6:5-7
Jesus is Jehovah

Jesus is Jehovah

I recently took a look at Romans 14:11.

For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

I saw an argument that since Paul was quoting the Old Testament, and since Isaiah used the word LORD|YHWH, therefore only Jehovah should be worshipped and not Jesus. So I decided to look into that claim.

Paul is citing a passage from Isaiah 45. It is valuable to know that many passages in the New Testament affirm what Isaiah said. Here is a comparison of some New Testament statements alongside Isaiah 45:18-23:

New Testament

Isaiah 45:18-23

Jesus Christ created us:
"and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him," Colossians 3:10

Jesus Christ created the worlds:
"...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" Hebrews 1:2

All things are through Jesus:
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

The World was made through Jesus:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." John 1:1-3,10

Jesus was named GOD the Savior:
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

In the same passage, Jesus was also "God with us":
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'” Matthew 1:22,23

Mary affirmed Jesus as God and Savior:
"And Mary said:
'My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46,47

Jesus is exclusively the Savior
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches that He is God and Savior:
"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10

Paul, who was commissioned by the resurrected person of Jesus Christ, describes Jesus as God and Savior:
"but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;" Titus 1:3
"...showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10
"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared..." Titus 3:4

Peter affirmed Jesus is God and Savior:
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1:1
For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.

“Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.

“Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.

In conclusion…

Paul gives an authoritative statement about the LORD (YHWH or Jehovah) of Isaiah 45:23. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

That settles it for me. Jesus is Jehovah.


Don't get pedantic on pronunciation and mispronunciations of Yehoshuah/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus or YHWH/GOD/LORD/Jehovah. I have made it clear about whom I have written.
“Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”

“Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”

Someone recently published, “Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”
The opposite is true.
 
Swearing is oratorical incontinence, a symptom of profound immaturity, and an indication of shallow, selfish thoughtlessness.
 
The simple and obvious truth is that cursing is a sign of weakness in many forms. It requires no creativity or intelligence to blurt out an obscenity. Swearing is intended to offend, insult, hurt, defame, disparage, blaspheme, bully, manipulate, dishonor and disrespect others.*
soapmouth
I have heard the excuse, “I just had to let it out,” which is actually just a confession of self-serving intemperance. I have heard the excuse, “I was only repeating what I heard,” which is a admission of unintelligible repetition of vulgarity through the deliberate neglect of critical thinking.
Swearing does not make any person cute, but it can make an attractive person ugly. It does not make a person clever, but can make a bright person sound trashy. Cursing does not improve a conversation, but it vandalizes the listener. Vulgarity is a sign of a limited vocabulary and pathetic communication skills. Whenever a professional inserts expletives into their speech, they sound mediocre or less intelligent.
Words can be powerful. Be deliberate in how you handle them. Sharpen your tools. Refine your presentation.
Rhetorical strength is displayed by graciously-seasoned speech. Swearing is an abandonment of grace. 
Ephesians 4:26,2,29

Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil.
…Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners.

Ephesians 4:29

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. [The Message]

Colossians 3:8

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone.

Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

James 3

My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment. We all err in many ways. But if any man does not err in word, he is a perfect man and able also to control the whole body.
See how we put bits in the mouths of horses that they may obey us, and we control their whole bodies. And observe ships. Though they are so great and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are directed with a very small rudder wherever the captain pleases. Even so, the tongue is a little part of the body and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles. The tongue is a fire, a world of evil. The tongue is among the parts of the body, defiling the whole body, and setting the course of nature on fire, and it is set on fire by hell.
All kinds of beasts, and birds, and serpents, and things in the sea are tamed or have been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring yield at the same opening sweet and bitter water? Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a vine, figs? So no spring can yield both salt water and fresh water.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show his works by his good life in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and devilish. For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Exodus 20:7
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes His name in vain.

*While swearing and obscenities are fine tools for bullies, this is not intended as an endorsement of censorship by governments or ecclesiastical councils. It is an appeal to each one of us to exercise personal strength in communication, making censorship unnecessary. I don’t want to take away your right to inappropriate or indecent speech. I simply hope to correct the false tenet that obscenity improves life. It simply does not. I laugh when someone implies that anyone is shocked by obscenities. The practice is just so commonplace. In fact, my proposal would bring back the shock value of expletives.

How to Be an Imaginary Christian

How to Be an Imaginary Christian

PART ONE

A Christian is a person who has chosen to believe in the Jesus Christ. If you think you are a Christian, but you don’t have faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, then you are an imaginary Christian.

A Christian believes in the authentic Jesus, the Jesus of the Gospels. If you claim to be a Christian, but you believe in an amended version of the person of Jesus, such as the “good-teacher-but-not-divine Jesus”, then you are an imaginary Christian.

A Christian follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know what Jesus taught, if you haven’t read and studied His words, then you are an imaginary Christian.

If you call yourself a Christian, but behave disobediently to His teachings (love your enemies, be faithful to your wife, speak the truth, stop stealing, etc.), then you merely imagine that you are a Christian.

PART TWO

A Christian does not hate sinners. A Christian is a sinner.

Christians do not hate those who commit sexual sins or any other sins.

Christians do not want God to kill other people. Christians do not want to kill sinners.

A Christian is a sinner who has acknowledged their sinful behavior and nature… and turned to God to receive mercy and grace.

When the enemies of Christ argue that Christians are all “homophobic, misogynistic, racists,” then the enemies of Christ have created an imaginary Christian.

They do this, not because it is true, but because it serves their agenda better. They do this because fighting a straw man is so much easier than actually investigating the truth about Christ and His followers.

How Posting Scripture Hurts Others

How Posting Scripture Hurts Others

I recently read blog posts by a “Christian” minister who “hates” when people post the Scriptures: John 3:16, Romans 8:28, Proverbs 3:5, John 14:6 and James 1:2-3.

He feels that posting Scripture is offensive because:

  1. It provides unhealthy theological meanings, because it implies doctrinal certainty.
  2. It is an unintelligent behavior, because it squelches critical thinking and promotes blind faith.
  3. It hurts people, because  it is exclusive.

watered-down

John 3:16

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” 

The blogger hates the posting of this favorite Sunday School memory verse because it naively implies the divinity of Jesus Christ, effectively rules out the all-inclusive doctrine of universalism, and suggests that Hell is a real place.

Furthermore, he accuses Christians of intentionally leaving out verse 17, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

However, our blogger stops at verse 17. This is convenient for him because verses 18-21 quote Jesus making exceptionally offensive exclusionary statements and condemning a whole lot of people. “He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the verdict, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that it may be revealed that his deeds have been done in God.”

Romans 8:28

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

The blogger objects to the certainty of this verse, that people mistakenly believe God is so powerful, so wise, so benevolent that ALL things, including human suffering, achieve some greater good. Then he writes with certainty that people who believe that way are wrong. He paints a pathetic portrait of a weaker, more human God, struggling to help humanity, but without a sure hope or confidence of reward or redemption.

Proverbs 3:5,6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and lean not on your own understanding;

The blogger hates this Scripture because it reminds him of the slogan “Don’t be so open-minded that your brain falls out.” He then creates a straw-man who doesn’t want Christian lackeys (evangelicals) thinking for themselves. To him, evangelicals are close-minded haters of wisdom. The evangelicals that I know are critical thinkers who believe in a scholarly approach to hermeneutics.

Unfortunately for our blogger, he doesn’t understand the difference between God’s wisdom and human wisdom. Based upon Proverbs 3:13-18, he proposes that Christians who oppose abortion are “mysogynistic.” Perhaps that is why his rebuttal skips over verses 7-12:

“Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your body, and strength to your bones. …My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be weary of His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father the son in whom he delights.”

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Our blogger says that this Scripture is the top of his “Favorite Christian Quote Verse I hate” list because it is designed as a weapon against non-Christians. He says that Jesus really intended to tell Thomas, “For you, I am the way.” After all, the blogger points out, John 14 tells us there are many rooms in God’s house, therefore, there are many paths that all lead to the same God.

His antidote to the exclusiveness of 14:6 is  the inclusiveness 10:16, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” which our blogger tells us the meaning: Jesus is not THE way, Jesus is one of the ways, to God.

So, if you are looking up John 10 to check up on this, maybe don’t read too much into verses 7-9 where Jesus makes exclusive claims to be the “door” of the sheep. Jesus calls everyone else thieves and robbers. And maybe de-contextualize verse 16 where Jesus says that the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, his sheep know his voice, then Jesus claims that he will lay his life down for his sheep, then the “other” sheep will also know His voice. Verses 1-6 clearly establish the exclusive premise that the sheep will not follow a stranger’s voice.  Jesus makes it sound like He thinks He is the only Savior.

James 1:2,3

My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience.

Our “progressive Christian” blogger adds that the idea of people in trouble finding comfort in Bible verses makes his sick. Well, he says “throw up in my mouth.” because it promotes the idea of redemptive suffering. He says, “James is just wrong” because the best we can do is survive. Suffering makes no sense.

I’m not sure that the Bible promises to reward everyone for suffering. I do read many divine promises in Scripture where God rewards the faithful. One of my favorites is Second Corinthians 4:16-18:

For this reason we do not lose heart: Even though our outward man is perishing, yet our inward man is being renewed day by day. Our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

In my understanding, suffering makes sense in eternity not necessarily on earth during my lifetime, and the compensation for faith during suffering is only offered to faithful believers. Maybe that is just too exclusive and not “progressive” enough for some folks.

Conclusion

I followed the link to our blogger’s FaceBook page. Post upon post used sarcastic and offensive language to describe both conservative Christians and political Conservatives which he labelled as imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchists. I may not know what that means, but our blogger’s mean-spirited intent is clear.

I am forced to conclude that our blogger only considers it wrong for conservatives to use communication that some consider offensive. For our blogger, the Golden Rule runs like a one-way street where the traffic exclusively gives right-of-way to subversionists.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the blogger also hates when those who disagree with his worldview quote Matthew 7:12, “treat others the way you want to be treated”, to demand equitable treatment from him.

How to Understand the Manifested Presence of God

How to Understand the Manifested Presence of God

What A. W. Tozer May Have Meant:

I have read a phrase in some of Tozer’s writings, the “manifested presence of God.” I understood him to mean the difference between the omnipresence of God and the experienced presence of God: “God is everywhere” compared to “God is here.”

For example, look at what David said,

Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?”

and,

“In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

No one can escape from the omni-presence of God. We should pursue the “manifested” presence of God where we experience God’s joy and pleasure.

Another Meaning:

I have also heard some pastors and church leaders using the phrase “manifest presence” with a different intent. They appear to mean the presence of God with physical manifestations.

These physical manifestations may be a various combination of things: overwhelming emotional sensations, prophetic utterances, extra-biblical revelations from the Holy Spirit, incantations, shouting in tongues, weeping, wailing, uncontrolled laughing, animal noises, dancing, shaking, falling on the floor, smoke, glitter, feathers, odors, angelic choir sounds, rumblings, strange lights, and other phenomena.

These types of church leaders often encourage the pursuit of these manifestations. I have witnessed some of these manifestations used to confirm a preached message, and that sermon definitely needed some external confirmation since the speaker had taken a path that departed from Scripture.

There appears to be a desire to experience the presence of God in our own way, directly through manifestations, bypassing the Scriptures.

There also appears to be a desire to treat any and every type of manifestation as if they were the “gifts” from the Holy Spirit in a way that arrogantly exalts the experience of that person as more “spiritual” than those that don’t have manifestations.

A Substitute for the Real Presence of God

It is my opinion that this second type of manifest presence is a substitute for the real manifest presence of God of the first type.

Let’s Be More Reasonable With Each Other

Let’s Be More Reasonable With Each Other

Recently, a friend posted:

Reasonable people can see the same facts and come to different conclusions.

People can be wrong without being stupid, deluded or evil.

If you have opinions, you should actively seek the best and most principled people who disagree with them to test whether you are correct.

If your argument takes the form of “the same people who say thing X also say thing Y and that makes them hypocritical” you’re only attacking the worst advocates of thing X, rather than making a good case for what you believe.

Do not be scared of changing your mind. If seeing solid counter-arguments to a thing you believe in upsets you, then you have an emotional investment in the thing you believe in and that’s usually quite a bad idea.

Let’s be more reasonable with each other.

I would define my friend as an atheist from England. He was probably posting about the opinions of those supporting and opposing the recent  referendum by British voters to exit the European Union.

However, I like his advice for open-mindedness in general, like a set of rules for any open debate.

  1. Expect others to arrive at their own conclusions.
  2. Presuppose good will and intelligence. Demonstrate respect and humility.
  3. Acknowledge that the person with the worst opinions and weakest arguments may not typically represent everyone that opposes you.
  4. Ally yourself with a conscientious worthy opponent and examine what you believe.
  5. Override personal emotional attachment to your conclusion.
  6. If an opposing argument is valid, adopt the new conclusion and revise your previous viewpoint.
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