On the Scandal within the Leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention

Well there’s much to decry that has happened in the last thirty years within our nation’s largest Protestant denomination, and, no doubt, a great reckoning is coming.  Some men who thought themselves above the law abused others in the worst way while other men covered their tracks for the sake of saving the institution.  It’s a sickening saga that is played out in institutions from government to education to media to entertainment, et.al—but it’s especially nauseating when it involves churches.

And the Left is beside itself with glee.  After all, what provides pagans more pleasure than to learn that a bunch of white, straight, male, evangelicals played the hypocrite preaching such moribund platitudes as sexual purity while looking the other way when some of their own were committing the most impure deeds of all!  Unfortunately, the whole denomination—the faithful who labor in those forty-thousand churches—must share the shame with those rascals.  Oh, they understand that sin often gets the best of us, and most entertain no illusions of perfect men guiding the ship with steady and sinless hands.  But it still hurts as people rightfully feel betrayed—and none more than the victims of this treachery.

But I recently read at the Progressive online magazine, The New Republic, a commentary on this sad scene which employs racism, sexism, and all the usual bogeymen which the Left exploit as lenses to invent their convoluted sociological explanations for human behavior.  In short, the crisis the Southern Baptist Convention now faces is due to its creation in 1845 to maintain the institution of slavery, the raping of black women by white slaveholders, and the lynching of black men who spoke to white women during Jim Crow.  Indeed, the purity culture whereby parents teach their daughters to guard their hearts and bodies before marriage (and their sons as well, but they don’t mention this) is a sickly symptom of patriarchy as fathers seek to control the sex lives of their daughters, and ESPECIALLY as that concerns not having sex with black men!  I can say with a clear conscience that as a father who taught his daughters sexual purity the latter thought NEVER entered my mind.

But the article supplies an excellent example of the lengths sociologists on the Left will go to support the premises for their predetermined conclusions—which premises are always rooted in race and sex, and more recently homophobia and transphobia—all those societal ills brought to you by white, straight, Christian men and their demonic patriarchal reign.

A medieval philosopher who had more to do with our contemporary way of looking at things than most will ever know was a man by the name of William of Ockham.  And though I disagree with his philosophy in general, I will state his most famous principle which may prove useful as I seek to offer an alternative explanation for this scandal.  “Occam’s razor” goes like this: “Plurality is not to be posited without necessity.”  Or to say it another way: “What can be explained by assuming fewer terms is vainly explained by assuming more.” 

And so forgoing the Left’s attempt to dress the fall of the SBC’s most prominent leaders in sociological garb (the trappings of Trueman’s “psychological man”), I shall now explain the underpinnings of this scandal according to Scripture’s “spiritual” (or in this case, “unspiritual”) man, and we shall find that it complements both Ockham’s dictum and Christian teaching.  To sum: These men allowed LUST to take control of their lives, and PRIDE to allow them to think they had the right and ability to commit these heinous acts without ever getting caught.  Simple.  Direct.  Easy to understand. 

Christian theology teaches that we are born with sinful natures, the transformation of which requires a radical rebirth of the Holy Spirit.  Upon this renewal, a man must grow in knowledge and grace, living a truly religious and spiritual life in close communion with his Lord to gain mastery over his temptations.  If he does not do this, or even desire to do so, it is evidence that his conversion was false.  On the other hand, if he were truly converted and committed such scandalous sin, such a one would be broken, plead forgiveness, repent of such, and wish to do whatever feasible to right the wrong.  He rejects excuses (such as racism, sexism, “my patriarchal upbringing made me do it”) and takes his place with the thief on the cross simply pleading, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 

The seven deadly sins are ever with us: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.  For this reason, the Apostle Peter wrote to Christians: “Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9).  This is especially true of Christian leaders as they, above all people, are in the devil’s crosshairs.  Let us pray that this scandal will be met with confession, tears, repentance, forgiveness, restitution, and above all healing for all parties.  And let us further hope that the churches of the SBC, innocent and ignorant of these misdeeds, and which have done so much good over the years for their communities, will experience a season of their greatest fruit-bearing.

My Dad–True Blue Democrat

My Dad was born in Georgia in 1932.  He passed away about a year and a half ago.  The last few years of his life he suffered from dementia.  But there was one thing Dad never forgot—that he was a Democrat.  The poor man suffered the misfortune of siring three Republicans.  Indeed, in the family in which I was raised, we passionately discussed religion and politics.  We still do.

Dad was Democrat to the core.  No, it wasn’t about Jim Crow.  Oh, he would be considered racist by today’s standards, but that wasn’t why he voted Democrat in the 1950s or any other time.  Dad was a working man.  He retired from General Motors and was a big union supporter.  For Dad, politics was easy.  It boiled down to one thing: the Democrat was for the working man; the Republican was for the rich man.  Dad considered this a law of the universe.  So did other working-class people in those days.  Millions from the 1930s to the 1980s voted precisely in the same manner.  The top of the ticket didn’t even matter.  Dad voted straight-line Democrat.  Indeed, in those days, no one could get elected in the South if he had an “R” by his name.  What infuriated Dad most were conservatives who ran on the Democratic ticket because they couldn’t win on the Republican.  US House Representative from Georgia, Larry McDonald, was just such a Democrat—who also chaired the John Birch Society!

There were many things about the Democrat Party Dad overlooked.  He didn’t support feminism by any means.  He wasn’t opposed to legal abortion but neither did he champion the cause.   Of course, Dad knew that a man went with a woman, but if others disagreed and voted Democrat, then all the better.  For Dad, it was all about economics.  He thought that in a nation such as ours, the working man should be able to enjoy the advantages of owning his own home, a decent car, and taking pleasure in a few luxuries, perhaps a vacation to the beach if one so desired.  As far as Dad was concerned, the rich man was the enemy—the one who gobbled up everything for himself and begrudged the working man his due.  Dad might personally oppose the interests of others in his party, but as long as the party served the interests of the working man, then that was all that really mattered to him.

And why am I writing my Dad’s political biography?  BECAUSE I DECLARE HERE AND NOW THAT THE DEMOCRAT PARTY CAN IN NO WAY CONTINUE TO CALL ITSELF THE PARTY OF THE WORKING MAN!  For one thing, Dad would not have recognized a party as Democrat that embraced a policy of open borders.  Dad thought that the reason government did nothing to stop people coming over the border was because rich Republican businessmen wanted cheap labor.  He understood that people entering the country illegally either took jobs away or drove wages down for working-class Americans.  I personally understand people who want to leave a failed country run by gangs and warlords, but I also recognize that a nation without borders is no nation at all.

But more than anything else at the present time—and what “triggered” this essay—is the fact that in the face of soaring gas prices, the President and congressional Democrats have done everything they can to thwart energy derived from our own fossil fuel industries and have instead reduced us to begging the same from other countries, choosing energy dependence over independence—and it is the working class that is suffering the most from this senseless, misbegotten policy.  Wealthy Democrat politicians can afford to pay at the pump; working-class families cannot.  Elite, snobbish, holier-than-thou Progressives can afford to terrorize school-age children prophesying the end of the world—who happen to be the same children that working-class parents are struggling to feed and clothe.  The only answer this party has to offer is pumping trillions more into an economy already suffering the worst inflation in forty years.  And it’s so vexing listening to young people, whose minds have long since been washed clean by apocalyptic climate-change soothsayers, tell us in self-righteous tones how happy they are to pay more at the pump when Ukrainians are suffering so much at home.  Everyone feels horrible about Ukraine, and working class families are sending money and doing whatever they can through their churches and other agencies to help.  Just think how much more they could give if gas prices had not risen one-hundred per cent since the inauguration!  And though the war has exacerbated the problem at the pump, the problem had already been thrust upon us by Democrat policies.  And until the Democrat party can establish an AFFORDABLE and CONVENIENT way to bypass fossil fuels, it is completely unjust to enact energy policies that rob the working man of his hard-earned money.  Working-class families cannot be expected to sacrifice their livelihoods for that far-off day when clean energy is supposed to save us from ourselves. 

Where’s all that Democrat concern for economic justice?  Democrats once believed “people don’t eat in the long run.”  So much for nostalgia!

If I had told Dad a couple of years ago that we had a President who wanted to seal the border while the other party wanted to open it, and that that same President was bringing energy independence while that other party was fighting him tooth and nail—and THEN told him that the President was a Republican and that the party who opposed these policies was Democrat—well, I don’t know if he would have believed me.  I think he would have said, “No son.  The one who is for stemming illegal immigration is the Democrat so to protect jobs for working-class Americans, and the one who wants higher prices at the pump is the Republican businessman.”  I really don’t know if I could have convinced him.  But that’s where matters stand today. 

RIP Dad.  I’m glad you’re not here to see your beloved Democrat Party.

On the Inhumanity of COVID Restrictions

“Love thy neighbor,” the cherry-pickers of the Bible proclaimed.  We should have known better.  It sounded all too familiar, like that bunch who pick and fling, “Judge not,” at those who say something that pricks their conscience.  So like sheep we submitted.  How could we argue in the face of…what do they call it?  Oh yes, “science,” that discipline the high priests of which now demand the public’s unquestioning obeisance.   So we wore masks and stayed six feet away from each other.  That was the easy part of loving our neighbor.

But then there were other ways we were required to “love” our neighbor:

  • Nursing home residents went months without visitors—the highlight of their final dreary days.
  • In some places, small children were forced to wear masks—and thus eat their snot, children being children.
  • I’ve recently read of a “mother” who “placed” her son who had the virus in the trunk of her car while traveling to a testing site so that she would not be exposed while seated next to him.  Of course, the judge found no probable cause for child endangerment; after all, it was she who needed to be saved from the inconvenience of carrying her thirteen year-old infectious fetus which (not “who”) just happened to be outside her womb.  I suppose the trunk of her car was a worthy substitute thereof in such a life-threatening situation.  I wonder where she “places” her son when they’re at home!
  • We wrecked a booming economy and thereby destroyed millions of livelihoods and lives to boot.  But, hey, it put Trump out of office.
  • Worst of all, we violated the sacred bond of marriage as husbands and wives who had been married for fifty years were not allowed to be in the same room together, let alone touch one another, when one lay dying in the hospital or nursing home.

And this was the way we loved our neighbor: We treated the weakest and most vulnerable in society in the most inhumane ways and justified it by prostituting the second greatest commandment.  This is an even worse perversion of Scripture than the other mentioned above!  Lesson to Christians: Never let the world tell you what Scripture means or how to apply it—NEVER!

Eusebius, church historian who lived around A.D 300, recorded how during a plague, Christians ministered to the sick and buried the dead left in the streets  knowing full-well they too would die by coming into contact with the infected.  They welcomed death for the cause of Christ.  But not us.  We cling to this life.  I expect this sort of cowardice from pagans who wince not at Roe v. Wade’s answer to child sacrifice but who cling to life for themselves at all costs as we have observed these past two years.  What else do they have but this life and what they think matters most, namely, freedom to do with their bodies whatever gives them pleasure. 

But Christians should be different.  We failed.  We wore masks to church and stayed six feet apart—which is inherently contradictory to what “church” is supposed to be?  We stayed home watching “cyber-church,” as if it were the same thing.  It’s not.  We stayed away from places where people needed us.  In short, we went along with, and might have even been accessories to, the world’s latest farcical but cruel attempt to save humanity.  And I fear much of it was out of the same cowardice in the face of death that one would expect out of a contemporary pagan.  Love thy neighbor, indeed!

What would Eusebius write about us?

It’s All about Sex

So I read that the Biden Administration is bracing for violence around the country in the event that the Supreme Court overturns Roe.  This should not surprise us given the lack of response to, and even encouragement of, violence by governors and mayors in blue cities and states in the wake of the George Floyd horror two years ago.  A Christian might suggest that one of the mercies God ordained for mankind is government whereby the worst impulses of human nature are subdued by law enforcement.  Without this blessing, societies crumble into anarchy as barbarians pillage and loot—but for the cause of social justice, of course.

Now we must prepare for the same savagery, only this time for the sake of women’s rights.  And what right is denied them?  The right to make decisions over their own bodies, they tell us.  Forget the case of the—twelve year old…with Down Syndrome…who was raped…by her grandfather—you know, those one per cent of one per cent of one per cent of cases they usually trot out to pull our hearts’ strings.  Now the knives are out: “It’s about a woman’s body, curse you!”

As I’ve said in other posts, the feminist movement has taught three generations of women that they should be as predatory and promiscuous as the most lecherous of men—and they have largely succeeded.  Promiscuity is a matter of social justice now.  The problem is that women get pregnant and men don’t—(well, up until a couple of years ago, but we are told that has now changed; biology is just funny that way, you know).  Oh, as a Christian man, I look with utter disdain upon a wretch who would use a woman in such a way.  But now both men and women seem to think that if the “malady” of pregnancy should occur, the cure is just a Planned Parenthood clinic away.  Abortion allows a man to say, “You’re a willing partner who knows what might happen, and you have the means to fix the problem.  It’s on you.”  It’s despicable, but that’s what happens when despicable beds despicable.  Sex as pleasure has conquered society.

And how did we arrive at this unfortunate juncture?  It didn’t happen overnight.  (I recommend Carl Trueman’s, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, as the most definitive analysis of our social pathologies.)  But as a churchman I must point the finger at…OURSELVES.  And it is certainly NOT that we have been Pharisaical or judgmental or intolerant.  On the contrary, the problem is that we have been COMPLICIT.  How so?  Are you ready to listen?

Many years ago, we (evangelicals) embraced the idea that sex is first and foremost for pleasure.  That this change of perspective was simultaneous with newer and better methods of contraception can hardly be viewed as accidental.  Then we pointed to Bible verses which allegedly justified this position.  I do not deny that within the context of marriage between a man and a woman that pleasure is one of the blessings God grants Christian couples, but I do question that pleasure is the primary purpose of intimacy, which idea did not originate but with urbanization and the Pill.  One need only witness the declining birth rates in developed nations to draw the obvious conclusions.  And to make matters worse, when one combines this pleasure-seeking understanding of intimacy with no-fault divorce and serial monogamy (all of which evangelicals have readily availed themselves), well then the slide to where we are now becomes both predictable and inevitable.

To sum, when the primary purpose of sex is pleasure and the natural fruit of procreation is intentionally cut off by those who are supposed to live the purest sexual ethic—when those who are supposed to live the purest sexual ethic turn sex into a hedonistic venture and justify that venture solely because they are one man and one woman in holy matrimony—it becomes extremely difficult to argue against—for example, same-sex (pseudo) marriage—because even though sodomy is plainly unnatural given its fruitless outcome due to its confusion over the function of certain body parts, LGBT’s have every right to say to us, “We learned from you heterosexuals a long time ago that sex has nothing to do with making babies.  Having children is merely a lifestyle option, so our brand of sex is okay.”  Thus, they, too, may marry and enjoy fruitless sex.  And what’s better, they don’t even have to use contraception!

Though some may say that I am contradicting myself, I do not see Natural Family Planning as contraception as these are willingly denying themselves the periodic pleasure others enjoy.  (Natural Family Planning would more accurately be labeled “birth control,” per se.)  Nor do I condemn all reasons for using contraception.  I simply assert that our wholesale embrace of contraception for the singular purpose of pleasure has unwittingly segued into the current “contraceptive and abortive mentality” that now dominates our culture.

Most evangelicals will disagree with me while their grown children even CHOOSE to be childless—something which would have horrified previous generations who thought married couples (even non-Christian) were supposed to welcome children as gifts from God.  We have been fooled by our fallen culture and then complicit in the moral downfall of our nation as that concerns exalting pleasure-seeking, fruitless sex.  Yes, I was fooled as well, and it is one of my greatest regrets.  But I’ve started connecting the dots and am cheered that some young Christian couples have done so as well. 

Even pagans see the hypocrisy of it all.  And if they see it, how can we miss it?  Because it’s all about sex—and sadly, just as much for us as it is for them.  God help us!

On the Alleged Connection between Climate Change and Suicide

I recently saw a headline on the digital edition of the long-established and respected Progressive journal, The New Republic, entitled, “We Need to Talk about Climate Change and Suicide,” suggesting that data indicates there is a connection between the two. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read the article as I only get three free articles a month, and I’m too broke to pay for a subscription having to buy gasoline and groceries these days. But if indeed a link exists between “climate change” and suicide, I certainly do not find that surprising. Americans (Millennials and Gen Zers in particular) have endured (pseudo-)prophetic pronouncements and graphic apocalyptic predictions of the earth going to you-know-where-in-a-hand basket by liberal politicians, mainstream and social media, public education, ignorant celebrities, and just about every other means of cultural communication our society provides. Why wouldn’t a young person take his or her life if the earth will experience irreversible damage, the consequences of which we are promised will be truly hellish?

But then I remember that my generation and the one before me lived everyday under the threat of nuclear annihilation. Those older than me remember “duck and cover,” as if that would have made a difference. I remember, The Day After, the scenes of which you may still catch on YouTube. But I do not remember reports of people taking their lives over the matter. Perhaps I just never heard about it. But my sense looking back is that people went about their lives, nuclear bombs notwithstanding.

And here is the question I wish to ask: Why are generations today willing to throw away their lives for fear of dubious doomsday projections while we lived our lives under the very real threat of nuclear holocaust? The answer goes far beyond arguments over climate change and to the very core of contemporary human existence in America and Europe especially as that concerns young people. And that answer is HOPELESSNESS—the gnawing inner despair that so many young people feel throughout the West.

And why are they hopeless? Because they are a generation that has been taught by the culture that self-indulgence and sexual pleasure constitute the staff of life; there is nothing more important than self-fulfillment. They are trained that they are blank slates who can create and re-create themselves in any number of ways. Reality is not “out there” but something one constructs to serve one’s passions. And if someone declines to participate in their fantasy world (pronouns and whatnot), well then, that one is persecuting them by denying them their chosen reality. It’s all about self, and it started with the Boomers. But at least we were raised in a nation where most considered themselves Christians and many even had a smattering of biblical knowledge. These kids were not so fortunate.

But personal fulfillment apart from Jesus Christ is a lie of Satan. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). It is the teaching of the entire New Testament. And I am thrilled to see that there are many young people who have rediscovered the faith—the faith their parents failed to live. They are marrying young and bearing children (some having large families refusing birth control), mothers are staying home or working jobs that allow them to care for their children, and fathers are active in the lives of their children and busy providing and protecting. Best of all, they are families of faith that not only attend but are active in church. You will rarely hear of a suicide among these young people—AND THEY ARE NOT WORRIED ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE!

But among those who have bought the lie that happiness is hookups, that marriage is patriarchal, that divorce is an option, that abortion is convenience and children an inconvenience, that reality is one’s creation, that self-fulfillment is personal identity and as such the goal of living—in short, that God exists to serve oneself and to ensure that one’s desires are never impeded—well, what else is that one to do when all the world is going to hell and his only plans for self-fulfillment and pleasure (already a hopeless pursuit apart from Christ) are soon to be thwarted in some universal apocalyptic catastrophe?

Yeah. It’s that bad. People are killing themselves—and the problem runs much deeper than climate change.

Friday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Titus 3:12-15

The Purpose of Saving

Paul always ends his letters with a few parting instructions.  And this is good for us, for it reminds us that these were real people involved in assessing needs and making plans.  Being an apostle did not mean that Paul was so close to God that he simply woke up each day waiting for the Spirit to tell him what to do next; he sought the Spirit’s guidance but then made plans accordingly—just as we do.  He told both the Romans and Corinthians that he had planned to visit them but had been hindered or had changed his original plans due to circumstances (Romans 15:22-24; 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:4).  These were missionaries doing their best to bring the gospel to a lost world while Satan and the world worked against them; nothing has changed.

To sum, Paul was going to send either Artemas or Tychicus to replace Titus at Crete, whom he wanted then to journey to Nicopolis (which scholars think was on the western coast of ancient Achaia) to meet him there.  Paul had decided to winter there and wanted to meet Titus at that location for some reason.  We believe Titus did meet Paul there and then left for Dalmatia at Paul’s direction (2 Timothy 4:10).  While waiting for his replacement to arrive, Titus was to send Zenas and Apollos on their way, presumably the ones who brought this letter to him from Paul.  Paul does not say where Zenas and Apollos were going, only that Titus was to “see that they lack nothing.”  (See Mounce, WBC, 457-60.)

I suppose all this makes for a dull devotion but we must remember that even the “dull” passages of Scripture can make for strong meat.  I am reminded that a friend of mine tells me that Christian maturity requires that we learn to sit through things that may not excite our senses—understanding that when it comes to the word, it is we who have the problem.  Anyway, we read right after this, “And let the people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”  And this is precisely what Paul has commanded Titus to do for Zenas and Apollos—to amply provide them for their journey.  You see, we must be diligent in making a living and storing up what little we have—not so to spend on ourselves—but to help others in their time of need.  For we are to earn a living that we may have something to share.  So Paul says to the Romans: “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13).  “Seek to show,” not just do it when the opportunity comes along.  Finally, “Greet those who love us in the faith.”  This should be our way whenever we walk into church—any church.

On Intimacy within Marriage

Following an essay I submitted just the other day, this is the last of four doctrines which the Christian faith teaches which must be true—or I renounce my faith and walk away from the Church.  I do this because I demand that my faith be true and not invention.  Here is number four.If what the Bible teaches about intimacy and marriage be so difficult to understand, though simple folk over the centuries assumed they were capable of divining its meaning—if Scripture be so esoteric that it require a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school to tell us what it really means—if words mean not what they say—if what the Bible says be so culturally-bound to the time in which it was written that its prescriptions need not determine our morals—in short, if the Bible teach not that intimacy be reserved between one man and one woman in holy matrimony, or its teachings on the subject be confused, incomplete, outdated, infantile, or just plain wrong—

Or, if the Church be wrong for two thousand years about what her own Book teaches concerning something so fundamental as intimacy and marriage—for her understanding of these subjects has been unanimous well into the previous decadent century in which modern man descended into his present barbarous state, and which decadence has affected some churches—and the Book is indeed her Book (Hollywood, notwithstanding) as it was her people who wrote it under God’s inspiration for her direction, and she who copied, carried, and taught it to her people for two millennia—if, I say, this divine institution set up by Christ himself be so completely mistaken about what her own Book teaches on a subject so fundamental to human flourishing, such that what she taught yesterday as moral can only be deemed today immoral, then I cannot see how I could trust her on anything else she has taught over the last two thousand years and I renounce my faith and gladly walk away from such a plainly human and untrustworthy institution and refuse to waste any more time with such an ancient, obscure, arcane, and cryptic book which, though fit for antiquarians, is beneath the dignity of all lovers of truth.

Problems occur when people assume that since some churches erroneously supported slavery in the past, then churches must be wrong for not supporting the new sexual “morality” popular today.  As for slavery, the New Testament condemns slavers (1 Timothy 1:10; Revelation 18:13), and the Apostle Paul preferred liberation (1 Corinthians 7:21; the whole of his letter to Philemon).  But the Church existed in a world in which slavery as an institution was ubiquitous.   If she could not end slavery she might at least convert slaves and masters with the gospel and thereby leaven the institution and perhaps one day end it—which eventually happened throughout Christendom.  BUT SHE NEVER TOOK A SIMILAR POSITION ON SEXUAL SIN.  Slaves and masters may be Christians—unrepentant fornicators, adulterers, prostitutes, and sodomites could not!  And sexual sin was just as prevalent as servitude in the ancient world.  Pagan temples were the restaurants of that world, but Christians were not to frequent them because of their associations with idolatry and sexual immorality, regardless how that might affect their business associations or other relationships with pagans.  In short, the apostles did not equivocate on sexual sin and neither can we.

In short, if the Bible be not clear that intimacy belong only in marriage between one man and one woman, it isn’t clear on anything else.  And if we can disregard its teachings concerning this subject, or simply reinterpret it to suit our appetites, then we can disregard it on anything else.

If Jesus Be Not the Christ

If Jesus Be Not the Christ…

Following an essay I submitted just the other day, this is the third of four doctrines which the Christian faith teaches which must be true—or I renounce my faith and walk away from the Church.  I do this because I demand that my faith be true and not invention.  Here is number three.

If Jesus be not the Christ (Messiah, Anointed One), and the many other appellations the Scripture bestows upon him, first and foremost being “Son of God” and “Son of Man”—if he be not fully human and fully divine, fully human that he may die in my stead, fully divine as only God can save—if he be not the sinless one as Scripture so designates (Hebrews 4:15), the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and especially of those who believe in him, fulfilling all the sacrifices, indeed, the law and the prophecies which were in anticipation of him—if he be not sent by the Father as our substitute, propitiation, and atoning sacrifice for the sins of his people that he might transfer them from the realm of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13-14)—and if he be not the Father’s Son as the Bishops at the Council at Nicaea proclaimed in A.D. 325: “…begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not made; of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made”—

If he be only a man, a very good man indeed and one you might desire to emulate—if the miracles ascribed to him be myths and legends written by men of good will (though it be hard for me to associate deception with piety and thus classify liars as good men)—if his bodily resurrection be the grandest mischief ever foisted upon the world—if his body lie in the grave such that our “participation” in him be only by memory, which is no real participation at all—if it is only his teachings which are relevant for us, perfect though they be, yet producing an even sterner law than the Mosaic (read Matthew 5-7)—if we have only his “spirit” to go with us (not the Holy Spirit, mind you, but the mere inspiration of his holy and devout life)—or if he were not a man at all but God seeming to take human form (though few entertain such ideas today)—in short, if Jesus of Nazareth were not the Son of God who in the fullness of time came down from heaven, assumed a human nature conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin’s womb, becoming the Son of Man while remaining the Son of God, who was “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4), then I renounce my faith.

Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the Christian faith.  And the teaching which I have outlined above is that teaching plainly taught in the Scriptures and received by the Church from the beginning.  Yes, there have been those scholars in recent times who have tried to “get behind the Scriptures” to the “real Jesus,” but such attempts only betray the writer’s own biases.  The only Jesus we have is the Jesus of the Scriptures and as they present him. 

Greater problems arise from those who would paint Jesus as a social justice warrior, community organizer, or revolutionary peasant.  Jesus himself said that he came to “give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), speaking of his Passion which his disciples (later, apostles) understood as atonement for sin.  Moreover, he came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God the fulfillment of which would come at his return; he had no desire to create an earthly kingdom (John 18:36).  In the meantime, he instituted his Church as his body on earth to proclaim the good news of salvation until his return (Matthew 25:14-30).

An even greater problem arises from those who would divorce Jesus from his apostles, those very men who wrote the books of the New Testament recording his life, teachings, and miracles, the very men to whom he spoke through revelations by the Spirit after his ascension into heaven, the writings of whom explain the meaning of his death and resurrection, and flesh out their Lord’s gospel.  Jesus himself wrote nothing.  By separating Jesus from his apostles, these people think they are then allowed to say, “Well, that’s just what [Peter or John or Paul] said; Jesus didn’t mention that,” seemingly ignorant of the fact that we would know NOTHING about what Jesus said or did were it not for these same men writing these things down!  Jesus himself said to his disciples before his Passion, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:12-13).  And He was the Holy Spirit who spoke to the apostles who later gave us all that which Jesus said to them during his earthly ministry, AND what he later said to them after that same ministry.

And yet these same people, who would know nothing about Jesus were it not for the apostles, will claim that they believe in him and are born of the Spirit, all the while divorcing Jesus from his own gospel which he commissioned his apostles to proclaim, which is recorded in the Gospels, the Acts, and their Letters—ALL OF WHICH COMPRISE THE WHOLE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT!  And yes, what these men said about sexual morality is an integral part of that gospel, for to believe the gospel is to agree with and live that gospel—and our Lord’s gospel is precisely what the apostles proclaimed and wrote.  There is no daylight between what Jesus taught and what those men wrote revealed to them by the Spirit of Jesus.

If the Bible Be Only a Good Book…

Following an essay I submitted just the other day, this is the second of four doctrines which the Christian faith teaches which must be true—or I renounce my faith and walk away from the Church.  I do this because I demand that my faith be true and not invention.  Here is number two.

If the Bible be ONLY a good book—oh, a very good book to be sure, and a most rewarding read—if the Bible be a book which speaks only to things religious and be on a par with books similar, say, the Koran or Bhagavad Gita—if the Bible’s inspiration be that of Shakespeare or Milton which prior generations have read to great advantage, or even a Homer or an Aeschylus who has stood the test of time—if Plato or Aristotle surpass the Bible in wisdom or knowledge—if the Bible be full of maxims and stories which teach much good for living but neither more nor less than even one contemporary…

If the Bible be not the word of God which teaches us His ways—if the Bible be not a reliable and infallible record of how God has revealed Himself to a people for the purpose of redeeming the same—if the Bible be not that book which contains God’s laws and instructions for man to obey with rewards for obedience and punishments for the contrary—if the Bible show not man the way of salvation—in short, if the Bible be not that which it claims itself to be but instead be full of man’s opinions with which any man may heartily disagree, or contain downright errors which men of conscience must dismiss—then I renounce the Christian faith.

All we know about God that is worth knowing comes through his special revelation, otherwise known as the Bible.  Without it we are left to learn about him from what is called general revelation, that is, the world.  Granted, there is much one can make of God by observing the world—that He is a God of order, power, and clearly a great being.  But what of His goodness?  The same wind that brings the refreshing breeze brings the mighty hurricane; the same cloud that brings the rain brings the flood.  The world is full of “acts of God” and “natural causes” which wreak disasters on mankind.  One could just as well intuit from the world that God is as evil as He is good, and many have!  To sum, without Scripture we know virtually nothing about what God requires of us or how we shall come to be acceptable unto Him.  We are left with paganism, creating our own gods and inventing religion after our own delights.

And what of that salvation which comes through His Son, Jesus Christ?  We know nothing of God’s saving grace through his Son’s work apart from Scripture.  Extra-biblical sources tell us that he died and that his followers claimed that he rose from the dead.  Other ancient stories from spurious sources tell us all kinds of amusing anecdotes about Jesus and his apostles which the Church rightly refused from her list of sacred books in the New Testament.  In short, we know nothing apart from Scripture about God’s sending His Son, his sacrificial and atoning death, redemption through his blood, and salvation by grace through faith—not to mention his exaltation to the Father’s right hand where he ministers as our High Priest, the work of the Holy Spirit in birthing us anew unto saving faith, the institution and work of the Church, our Lord’s Second Coming, and a host of other doctrines we find in the pages of Scripture alone.

Someone may counter, “Well, what of the Koran or Bhagavad Gita or even the Book of Mormon?  Are they not also holy books just as your Bible?”  I’ve not time to read the holy book of every religion out there, nor is there need.  I am demanding that Christianity be true, not Islam.  But the very grandeur of the Scriptures, the heavenliness of its doctrines, the symmetry and harmonious relations of its parts, its very coherence as a book written by over forty authors covering fifteen-hundred years—all of this and more speak to its being of divine origin. 

And here I shall make a confession: The Christian knows that the Bible is true by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit enlightening his eyes to its truth.  Only the believer has this inner witness as one born of the Spirit.  Even so, I cannot but testify that this is the word of God, though the Bible needs not my testimony—and for that, I am grateful.

If Evolution Be True and Genesis 1-3 Be Myth…

If Evolution Be True and Genesis 1-3 Be Myth…

Following an essay I submitted yesterday, this is the first of four things which the Christian faith teaches which must be true—or I renounce my faith and walk away from the Church.  I do this because I demand that my faith be true and not invention.  Here is number one.

If evolution be true—if what it teaches about the origin of both the world and man be the way it all happened—if Genesis 1-3 be myth—if there were no direct creation of the world by the word of God—and not just any world, mind you, but a Paradise—and if in this Paradise there were not an original pair and such that she was formed from him—and if they were not created without sin to begin, such that they were completely innocent to start—and if there were no first and original transgression that defiled both themselves, their posterity, and the world, indeed, subjecting the world to the destructive forces and decay which we see daily in it, which theologians call, “the Fall”—all of which I just described being negated if evolution be true since evolution teaches that the world was “fallen” to begin, having been blown out into space with planetary disturbances aplenty, man evolving through numerous stages and having his beginning from primordial sludge (or “stardust” for those evolutionists who prefer a nobler birth)—if, I say, what evolution teaches about origins and beginnings be true, then I renounce the Christian faith and walk away as integrity requires.

Now why do I say this?  What does it matter?  After all, could not God have created the world in this manner, indeed, any manner He wished?  Does not evolution weave an intricate tapestry with so many interlocking threads that it surpass Genesis 1-3 for depth and beauty?

I demand truth, not aesthetics, though I duly believe Genesis 1-3 a more beautiful account of creation than evolution.  And of course God could have created the world any way He wished.  The issue is not what God could have done (a discussion without end) but what God said He did.  And here is the problem: When you mythologize the doctrine of creation as revealed in Genesis 1-3, you overthrow the doctrine of redemption as explained throughout the New Testament.  Here’s what I mean.  If God created a world fallen to begin and if man were a sinner at the start, THEN EVERYTHING IS GOD’S FAULT!  Man can no more be blamed for his sin than a dog be culpable for barking because he was CREATED (or EVOLVED from lower forms into) a sinner—a state of being which was never his choice. 

Quite the opposite, the Christian faith teaches that man was created in God’s image possessing a moral nature and freedom of will such that he was able to sin IF HE SO CHOSE.  He was given what we might call a “probationary period” to test whether he would keep the law of God given in the simple command to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  This law, he, at the beckoning of his wife, transgressed, and introduced sin into the world and into man’s progeny as our representative.  Thus, man is wholly responsible for his sin and worthy of death as God warned him when He gave the command.

And this is why salvation is wholly of grace.  Since man alone sinned and thereby earned death and eternal separation, then God’s sending His Son to assume our humanity, live our life without sin, offer himself on the cross in man’s place, and rise for our justification—this is all of grace!  God was under no obligation to do this for us.  He could just as well have started over or just left us to our miserable selves.  But in His love and mercy, He prepared a way of salvation for those who would believe.

But this is not the case if evolution be true, for if so, THEN GOD IS OBLIGATED TO SAVE US.  After all, He is the One who created us such that we have no choice but to sin as we evolved with this sinful nature.  Salvation is then not of grace as Scripture teaches (Ephesians 2:8-10) but of obligation on God’s part.  Indeed, if God save us not, we have a demon for a God as He was the One who created the world and man in their broken state in the first place.  So you see that it is actually Christian theology that is an intricate and beautiful tapestry such that if you pull one strand (the doctrine of creation), you yank another (the doctrine of redemption) with the result that you “dis-grace” the whole.

I know there are some who try to reconcile the two.  I’m sure they are smarter than I (or more clever, anyway).  Whatever they do, they must hold to an original unfallen world (a Paradise that did not yield thistles and thorns before the introduction of sin) and an original unfallen, innocent pair.  I don’t see how this can be done in an evolutionary framework and to do so (it seems) would have all the appearance of ugly manufacture.