So, What is Wrong With YOU?

So, What is Wrong With YOU?
Vol: 129 Issue: 22 Friday, June 22, 2012

Last week, I was talking to one of the guys on the crew that paved my driveway a few years back.  The paving company was doing a driveway up the street and they had parked their dump truck/trailer rig in front of my house.

We exchanged a few pleasantries and I asked after one of the guys that was on the crew when they were paving my driveway.  He stood out in my mind because he made it clear almost from the start that he was a born-again Christian.

Indeed, he was so in-your-face about it that one could see the rest of the crew, including the boss, didn’t like him at all.  He got all the lousy jobs, especially those where he had to work alone.

Anyway, when I asked after him, the other crewmember said with obvious satisfaction, “Oh, he got fired.  He screwed the boss, big time, and he let him go.  Big Bible thumper guy,” he said to me knowingly.

“And he calls himself a Christian!“, he said, (as if he could actually tell the difference between a Christian and a bowl of Post Toasties).

I didn’t ask for details — I didn’t want to know.  I assume that real reason the guy got fired because he was either too annoying (or too convicting) for the rest of the crew.

My hunch is that they found something they could use to get rid of him and that the alleged “screwing” of the boss was just an excuse.

I prefer that scenario over one in which the guy really DID embarrass the cause of Christ after making such a big deal out of how it changed his life.

In any case, that is what I wanted to believe, and since it didn’t make any difference to me one way or the other, that is what I chose to believe.

But what got my attention was the obvious satisfaction the non-Christian guy took in condemning the Christian guy as a hypocrite.

Because it is guys like him that are the most difficult to reach for Christ.

They are the ones that believe that in order to be saved, you have to live a sinless life.  A person that believes that and has even the slightest acquaintance with self-honesty is not interested, because to him, it is impossible.  So why bother?

The fact is, it is impossible for anybody.  

Most churches I’ve attended seem to share the worldview of the paving crew, which is that Christians that continue to commit sin aren’t really Christians at all.  They are frauds and hypocrites masquerading as Christians.

And there are no shortage of proof texts that seemingly back that contention up.

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin,” (Romans 6:6-7)

See.  It says right there that you are freed from sin.  Aren’t you?  So it would seem that, if we continue to serve sin, we have not been properly crucified with Him, because we aren’t free from sin.  So it then follows that maybe we aren’t really saved, but only have a ‘head knowledge’ instead of a ‘heart knowledge’.

Paul seems to underscore that point, writing,

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” (Romans 6:12-13)

So you don’t.  You try and try to keep sin from reigning in your mortal body.  You fight against obeying the lusts thereof.  You yield yourself to God as best you can.  You dedicate your body and your members to His service.

You weep at the altar because you KNOW what a sinner you are, and you pray and pray and pray for the God-given strength to keep your commitment not to sin.  You KNOW your heart is in the right place as you cry out in despair to God.

And you continue to sin anyway.  And wonder how you failed — or worse, how God failed YOU, because sin CONTINUES to reign in your mortal body anyway.  You keep yielding to its lusts, and continue to wonder why it doesn’t seem to work for you, like it does other Christians.

It is discouraging, to say the least.  Everybody you know is a better Christian than you are.  They don’t have the same doubts you do.  They clearly put their sin nature before the Lord, and He dealt with it.  Just look at them!

How come He didn’t do it for you?

Guess what!  He didn’t do it for THEM, either.  Any more than He did for the Apostle Paul.  The Apostle Paul was miraculously converted on the road to Damascus.  He was specifically chosen by Jesus Himself to fill the vacancy created by Judas the Betrayer.  Paul saw the Risen Savior.

And STILL, Paul struggled with sin.

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:14-15)

Every time I read this passage, I am struck by how exactly Paul’s experience with sin mirrors my own.  In spite of Paul’s first-hand knowledge, having actually met the Lord, seen His power, having himself been empowered to work miracles, and was the greatest evangelist in history, Paul struggled with day-to-day sin. Just like you.

How can this be?  Paul continues;

“Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (7:17-19)

The enemy hammers at me as he hammers at you — using the same indictment our paving crewmember did . . . “And you call yourself a Christian?”

Paul admits that, even though he is saved, sin continues to indwell his mortal body.

“Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (7:20)

“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” (7:21-23)

Paul cries out in despair, (as have I, using different words but just as despairingly);

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (7:24)

The phrase Paul used, “body of this death” was deliberately chosen.  In Paul’s day, one form of execution employed by the Romans was to chain the condemned to a corpse and withhold food and water.  They would then bet on how long before the condemned would try to survive by feeding on it.

To Paul, it was analogous to knowing the law of God, but feeding off the corpse of sin.  Hence the cry; “O wretched man that I am!”

Having poured out his soul, (as you have, and as I have) struggling to understand the dual nature of the Christian life, Paul concludes:

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:25)

To head off the inevitable criticism, I am not preaching a “licence to sin”.  Human beings don’t NEED a license to sin.  I am preaching the path to salvation, which is by grace through faith, and not works, lest any man should boast.

Everybody wants to believe it is possible to reach some kind of spiritual state of nirvana where they don’t sin, even if they’ve never experienced it themselves.  It is discouraging when they can’t.  And they can’t because it is not true.

Sinning is what human beings do.  Guilt is the most important tool in the enemy’s arsenal of weapons against us.  We find it hard to forgive ourselves.  But the Lord God knows what we do not, and He forgives us when we ask Him.

Every time we ask Him.  And His forgiveness is perfect.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12)

“For I will be merciful in their unrighteousness, and their sins and transgressions will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:1)

If you are sinning, are you walking after the flesh?  And if you are walking after the flesh, then does that mean there IS condemnation?  What does ‘walking after the flesh’ mean?

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5)

Which are you?  Take a second for another spiritual reality check: Before you were saved, you sinned.  Did it bother you that you were a sinner?

Now that you ARE saved, you STILL sin.  Does it bother you now?

Then you are minding the things of the Spirit, are you not?

“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33-34)

It is the nature of man to sin.  It is the nature of God to forgive.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)

Since you are a Christian, there is nothing the enemy can do about YOU — you are forever beyond his reach.  Scripture says you are now positionally seated in the heavenly places, as surely as if you were already there.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:5-6)

Our purpose as Christians is to do God’s will. God’s will is revealed throughout the Scriptures:

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18:32)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

“And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN SHALL THE END COME.” (Matthew 24:14)

God’s will is that none should perish, and that all should come to repentance and be saved.  As front-line soldiers in the King’s service, that is our objective.  The enemy wants to convince us that we are unworthy to serve.  Be encouraged!  It isn’t true.

“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My Strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2nd Corinthians 12:8-9a)

Don’t let the enemy steal your victory.  It was purchased at too high a Price.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath BEGUN a good work in you WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Phillipians 1:6)

He has all the time He needs.

Outstanding Americans

Outstanding Americans
Vol: 129 Issue: 21 Thursday, June 21, 2012

The man that liberals call America’s biggest Islamophobe — Rep. Peter King (R-NY) — will be holding yet a fifth hearing into the radicalization of American Muslims and its potential leaks to home-grown terror.

Yesterday, he defended both the need and the appropriateness of conducting another hearing, since, as he explained (without offering supporting evidence) that the overwhelming majority of American Muslims are “outstanding” Americans but that the threat of radicalism is “a clear and present danger to national security.”

Let’s start with King’s explanation for the hearings, zooming in on the statement about the overwhelming majority of American Muslims being “outstanding” Americans.  What does that mean?

We can all think of examples of “outstanding” Americans, but first, let’s examine the word, ‘outstanding’ which quite obviously means, ‘standing out’ from other, less outstanding Americans.

An outstanding American Muslim would therefore be one that stands out from other Americans, whether Muslim or not.

Quick, name three outstanding Muslim Americans! (Anwar al Awlaki, Major Nidal Hassan, and Adam (“Azzam the American”) Gadahn don’t count.)

Since I issued that challenge to you, I tried to see if I could meet it myself, since I am alleged to be an expert in such things.  

Off the top of my head, without looking anybody up, I can name exactly one that I think would qualify.  (How many did you come up with?)

I would nominate Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, since he is the ONLY American Muslim I’ve ever heard speak up in defense of America.  

There are some former Muslims that speak up about the dangers posed by radical Islam (Bridgett Gabriel comes to mind) — but I am drawing a blank trying to identify another practicing Muslim (without looking it up) who one could point to and call “an outstanding American” —  let alone make a blanket identification of the overwhelming majority of American Muslims being “outstanding”.

Representative King was able to find exactly THREE.  Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Asra Nomai, author of “Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam,” and Qanta A.A. Ahmed, a physician and political and religious writer.

Asra Nomai testified that many non-Muslims were frustrated by the reluctance of Muslim-Americans to acknowledge the role that selective readings of the Koran can play in fostering terror.

Views of committee members were strictly divided along party lines, and Democrats insisted that, whatever their intention, the hearings unfairly singled out Muslims for scrutiny.  They trotted out their own witness to argue that Islam is no threat because there aren’t really that many Muslims in America to begin with.

Faiza Patel, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program, Brennan Center for Justice argued that so-called radical Muslims do not automatically become terrorists and that Muslims account for only 1 percent of the U.S. population.

That is an interesting defense of Islam as a “peaceful” religion.  They make up 1% of the population, but that 1% is scary enough to merit more legislative, military, political and social attention than Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Buddhism and Hinduism combined.

Can you name another religion that scares you as much as does radical Islam?  No?  Then you must NOT be a Democrat, like Democrat Al Green of Texas.  Because Al Green can.

Green wants to hold hearings on the radicalization of American Christians as the real threat.

Assessment:

“People who see the hearings and never hear about the hearing on the radicalization of Christianity have to ask themselves, ‘Why is this missing?’” said Green. “Why don’t we go to the next step and ask, how is that a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, white female in the United States of America can become radicalized to the point of wanting to do harm to this country? We don’t have that type of hearing.”

We don’t have hearings on the radicalization of first grade students or the radicalization of people with a fondness for Cheerios, either.  Why is that?  What about hearings on the radicalization of the Boy Scouts?  Or the radicalization of seniors?   

“Why is this missing?”, Representative Green wants to know.  Should I tell him?  Because Christians, like first grade students, Cheerios aficionados, Boy Scouts and seniors are not a threat to national security!

Apparently, that never occurred to Representative Green, which then gives one pause to wonder if somebody that dense should have been elected to Congress in the first place.   

On the other hand, what about the radicalization of American Muslims?

“When we look at the problem of radicalization, the excuses will never run out,” Dr. Jasser, founder and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy said. “It seems to me that Americans are sitting around doing nothing to combat extremists.”

Jasser stressed the need to combat radicalism, saying the issue is a moral one that Muslims must take on and fix. He added that violence is the last step in radicalization and that American Muslims are failing to address, observe and report those they see taking steps toward radicalization in a productive, proactive way that provides solutions moving forward. Jasser compared radicalism in Islam to a cancer, and said if American Muslims are going to fix the problem, they have to be able to talk about it openly and attack it from all angles. When asked about his view on CAIR, Jasser said the organization promotes a victim mentality rather than a cooperative attitude within the American Muslim community.

“We have a problem internally,” Jasser said. “We must awaken the silent Muslim majority.”

The “silent” Muslim majority.  Are those people the ones Representative King was referring to when he referenced the overwhelming majority of American Muslims as “outstanding”?   The silent majority?  

How does remaining silent about Islamic terrorism make one an “outstanding American?”  At best, it makes one an apathetic American, at worst, it makes one a silent accessory.  

Dr. Jasser is correct when he identifies the real threat to American security as political correctness.  The fact is that the vast majority of American Muslims look the other way when they see other Muslims moving in the direction of radical Islam.

It is the height of suicidal folly to embrace the politically correct notion that one can be a member of the worldwide Muslim umma – or community without obeying the rules of the umma, which are the replacement of secular governments with an Islamic authority and that one’s first loyalty is not to one’s country, but to the umma and its goals.

That is why the one percent of the population that is Islamic is getting all the scrutiny.  Because the overwhelming majority of American Muslims are NOT ‘outstanding Americans’ but are instead silent enablers of the radicals.

This is not a tirade about Islam or the evils of Islam or even the stupidity of Representative Green’s incredibly moronic suggestion that the Congress investigate the “radicalization of Christians”.

The truth is, the overwhelming majority of Christians are not “outstanding Americans”, either.  Neither are the overwhelming majority of Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics or Mormons.  If they were, then the word “outstanding” would be meaningless.

It isn’t Islam that is the actual threat to America.  It is the political correctness that is used to shield Americans from uncomfortable or unpopular truths that is the real threat to the homeland.   

“And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” (Revelation 18:23)

Everywhere in the English Bible where the word “sorceries” appears, it is translated from the word meaning “magic arts” in the original languages — except in Revelation, the book dedicated exclusively the events of the last days. 

In Revelation, (and ONLY in Revelation) the “sorceries” deceiving all nations is translated, not from the word meaning “magic arts” but from the Greek word, “pharmakea” meaning the “use or administration of drugs.”

There is a phrase used by mental health professionals to describe the psychological damage inflicted by the practice of holding two mutually exclusive opinions on the same subject, such as arguing that ideology is not predictor of behavior.

Or that NOT trying to kill your neighbor qualifies one as an “outstanding American.”

That phrase is “cognitive dissonance” and it helps to explain why more Americans are on tranquilizers and antidepressants than any other population on earth. 

It also explains why Representative King feels the need to have FIFTH hearing to investigate the threat posed by what King himself described as a community of overwhelmingly “outstanding” Americans.

Wow!  Look at the time!  I have to go take my medication now. . .

Maranatha!

Flaming Mad

Flaming Mad
Vol: 129 Issue: 20 Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last week it was Stuxnet.  This week, it is Flame.  The Washington Post ran a feature story yesterday detailing facts about Flame, a computer virus written by the United States and Israel and designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

Flame has unprecedented data-snatching capabilities and can eavesdrop on computer users.  The virus was designed to send back a stream of information used for an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign by secretly mapping and monitoring Iran’s computer networks.

The virus can activate a computer’s audio systems to listen in on Skype calls or office chatter.  It can also take screenshots, log keystrokes and — in one of its more novel functions — steal data from Bluetooth-enabled cellphones.

“Our current working theory is that flame and Stuxnet were parallel projects,” Roel Schouwenberg, a senior security researcher with Kaspersky Labs, told FoxNews.com. “Whoever commissioned Stuxnet also commissioned Flame.”

The Flame virus was designed to interrupt Iran’s nuclear program without the necessity of going to war.  If Iran doesn’t know who designed the cyberweapon, then they wouldn’t know against whom to retaliate.

For that reason, everything about Stuxnet and Flame was classified top secret.  It was classified a secret to protect the homeland from retaliation.  Nobody knew about Flame — or Stuxnet, for that matter, until somebody leaked the information.

Iranian officials have only known about Flame for less than a month, but thanks to the Left’s eagerness to portray the administration in a positive light, now Iran knows exactly who to blame.  

Iran blamed the US and Israel immediately, but had no proof until the New York Times and later, the Washington Post helped Tehran out by publishing leaked classified information they thought might help with Obama’s re-election effort.

So they threw both caution and national responsibility to the winds and ran with the stories on the front page.  The degree of detail in the newspaper reports was staggering:

“When Colonel Qaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons program in 2003, he turned over the centrifuges he had bought from the Pakistani nuclear ring, and they were placed in storage at a weapons laboratory in Tennessee. The military and intelligence officials overseeing [the] Olympic Games borrowed some for what they termed “destructive testing,” essentially building a virtual replica of Natanz, but spreading the test over several of the Energy Department’s national laboratories to keep even the most trusted nuclear workers from figuring out what was afoot.”

“Those first small-scale tests were surprisingly successful: the bug invaded the computers, lurking for days or weeks, before sending instructions to speed them up or slow them down so suddenly that their delicate parts, spinning at supersonic speeds, self-destructed. After several false starts, it worked. One day, toward the end of Mr. Bush’s term, the rubble of a centrifuge was spread out on the conference table in the Situation Room, proof of the potential power of a cyberweapon. The worm was declared ready to test against the real target: Iran’s underground enrichment plant. ” 

It reads like an after-action report for a war that we’ve already won.  Unfortunately, what it is really is a classified intelligence report about an on-going military operation.

To be charitable, one might take into consideration that as the Left sees it,  the choice between what is good for Obama and what is good for the state is a false choice.

The way the Left sees it, if it is good for Obama, then it is good for America.

Assessment:

There is no other way to describe this other than a sell-out of America’s national security in exchange for the few temporary self-serving advantages it gives the newspapers and the Obama re-election effort.

For  the newspapers, they might see a little bump in circulation; for the White House, a little bump in the polls based on the perception of the White House as strong on fighting the war on terror.

But instead of sparking admiration for Obama’s strong ‘leadership’, it sparked outrage at the amateurish way it was leaked to the press.  Members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees filed a joint statement condemning the leaks.

The condemnation was the first truly bipartisan action in a long, long time.  Among the signatories were Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) John Cornyn (R-Tex) Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) Mike Rogers (R-Mi) and Dutch Ruppersberg (D-Md).

“In recent weeks, we have become increasingly concerned at the continued leaks regarding sensitive intelligence programs and activities, including specific details of sources and methods,” the statement reads. “The accelerating pace of such disclosures, the sensitivity of the matters in question, and the harm caused to our national security interests is alarming and unacceptable.”

“The lawmakers also announced intentions to pressure the administration to “take tangible and demonstrable steps to detect and deter intelligence leaks,” as well as support legislation to remedy the problem, with an allusion to its inclusion in the upcoming intelligence authorization act.”

John McCain openly accused the White House of orchestrating the leaks as part of a “broader administration effort to paint a portrait of President Obama as a strong leader on national security issues.”

The mainstream media has done all it can to keep a lid on the criminal investigation announced by Eric Holder on Friday into how damaging the leaks were to national security.  Neither ABC nor CBS mentioned it in their nightly news, while NBC played it as a partisan dispute between Republicans and Democrats.

Does anybody remember how the media portrayed the Valerie Plame investigation of the Bush administration?  Bush appointed a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, who discovered almost immediately that the leaker was Richard Armitage, a career State Department official.

The media whipped up a taste for blood, so the investigation went forward, despite the fact that the leaker had been identified.  It continued until the prosecutor was able to indict and convict Scooter Libby for giving inconsistent accounts.

Not for leaking — the special prosecutor already knew who did that.  Libby was convicted of lying for giving inconsistent details about his involvement in an event that Fitzgerald already knew he was uninvolved with.  

In the Valerie Plame Affair, it was all about form over substance.  Plame wasn’t a covert officer anymore and her husband, Joe Wilson had already long since revealed she worked for the CIA.  They had even done a photo spread for Vanity Fair as the ultimate Washington power couple!

The serial leaks from this White House, including details about a double agent working for the British who had infiltrated al-Qaeda, details about the “underwear” bomb, Stuxnet and Flame and details about how they were introduced into closed Iranian computer systems, tipped off the enemy, cost the lives of those that helped us, and shut down a steady stream of intelligence.

Coupled with the administration’s hypocritical decision NOT to capture and interrogate terrorists, choosing to kill them instead, has pretty much crippled America’s ability to peek behind the curtain at what the enemy has planned. 

Why is it hypocritical?  Obama made Gitmo a symbol of all that is wrong with America during his campaign.  Now, he can’t afford to send detainees there for fear of exposing his hypocrisy. 

Having painted himself into a corner where he can’t interrogate them anyway, he simply kills them (and anyone standing nearby) with a drone strike from thirty thousand feet.   

And no matter what the enemy has planned in terms of retaliation, he will be able to point to the New York Times and Washington Post as evidence justifying whatever that action might be.

For America, the times could not be more perilous. We have enemies on all sides, as well as within both our media and our government.  If ever there were a time when American intelligence needed to play its cards close to the vest, this is it.

Let’s compare the various elements connected with this story to 2 Timothy 3:1-5’s description of perilous times in the last days, and see which do not apply to the current administration.

“Covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, (not sure about disobedient to parents, unless Obama’s mama let him smoke dope) unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, (assuming it is natural to feel affection for one’s country and countrymen) trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

So, which does not apply?  I would argue that this administration fits every single description perfectly.  What does it all mean?  

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

How much, er, “nigher” is our redemption, when such “things” are yesterday’s headlines?

Special Report: Everything in Context

Special Report: Everything in Context
Vol: 129 Issue: 19 Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I believe it to be a self-evident truth that the key to having a basic working knowledge of the Bible is the understanding of Scripture as a series of progressive revelations from God about the things of the Spirit.

This understanding of progressive revelation is confirmed by the Scriptures.  The various dispensations are not difficult to identify.  Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening, Genesis tells us.  He spoke to Noah with an audible voice and prepared Noah and his family to be saved from the Flood.

God appeared to Abraham in the form of a man when warning Abraham of the coming judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  God dealt with Abraham as an individual, whereas He chose Moses to reveal God’s Law to the children of Israel.

For a time after that, God communicated with the children of Israel through a series of judges, until Israel demanded a king.  After that, He communicated through the Hebrew prophets.  At different times, in different ways, God progressively revealed more of His plan for the Ages, including the promise of a Messiah-Redeemer.

There is a difference between Israel and the Church, which is why the Scriptures are divided between the Old Testament (the Covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham through Isaac) and the New Testament (the Covenant between Jesus Christ and the Church).

There is also a distinct difference between Jewish legalism and salvation by grace through faith.  Understanding WHY the Bible is divided according to Covenant Promise helps us to rightly divide the word, reconciling apparent contradictions like, ‘an eye for an eye’ (Exodus 21:24) vs. ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matthew 5:38-39).

The first three chapters of Genesis reveal that God’s intention in the creation of man was to live in fellowship with Him in the Garden of Eden. Eve was deceived by Satan into sampling the fruit of the forbidden tree. Adam was not deceived, but willfully disobeyed God and followed Eve.

This sin represented the fall of mankind from grace.  They were removed from Paradise and through their fall, death entered the world.  God shed the blood of animals to cover their nakedness (physical and spiritual) but not until they tried unsuccessfully to cover themselves on their own with fig leaves.

This was the first example of God’s principle of ‘blood atonement’.

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

After being expelled, Adam’s descendents continued to rebel against God, bringing about the Flood and later, the confusion of speech at the Tower of Babel.  As human history progressed, so did God’s revelation to man.  Genesis 12 established the Abrahamic Covenant, in which God revealed His intention to set aside a peculiar people unto Himself, through the seed of Isaac.

Paul summarized the history of the Old Covenant in Acts 13:16-22 before giving the details of the New Covenant between Christ and the Church.  Paul stressed that the New Covenant grew out of the Old, that Jesus was of the seed of David, and that, rather than replacing Israel in God’s plan, he likened the Church to Israel as a graft on the original tree.

The Bible reveals that Jesus came first to the children of Israel, but they rejected Him, after which He offered salvation to the Gentiles — not instead of Israel, but in addition TO Israel.

In this present age, salvation is open to all men, Jew and Gentile, through faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ at the Cross.  God has NOT abandoned His promises to Abraham’s descendants.  Neither have the promises to Israel been transferred to the Church.

 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29) Instead, God reveals that “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

The Gospel of John details the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Through John, God reveals the Mystery of the Church, that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, tempted in all manner as we are, as a fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

His earthly ministry was “only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  However, about the non-Jewish Gentiles, Jesus said “I have other sheep, not of this pen. I must bring them also.”

BEFORE His blood was shed for forgiveness of our sins, Jesus commanded His disciples to “not go among the Gentiles.”

However, Jesus then explained “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”  AFTER He completed His work on the cross, in His resurrected body, the Lord Jesus appeared to the eleven disciples and told them to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

He fulfilled Jewish prophecy and was crucified by both the Jews and Gentiles.  Remember, God said it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  He was buried and was resurrected on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures.

The Book of Romans summarizes the revelation of salvation by grace for all men, based on the equation of faith plus nothing equals salvation.

Paul explains the sin nature, our inability to overcome it by our own works, the principle that if a person lives by the law, he will be judged according to the law.  And that such a person is automatically condemned, since no man has ever kept the whole law as required by the Old Covenant.

Indeed, Paul reveals the purpose of the law was to establish our need for a Savior in the first place.

“Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

The equation of faith plus nothing equals salvation is an expression of the terms of the New Covenant, which, recognizing man’s inability to keep the law, releases him from its harsh terms.

“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” (Romans 7:2-4)

Understanding that the Old Covenant demanded complete obedience to the Law and demanded blood atonement for its violation reveals how completely hopeless our condition really is.  No man can keep all its terms, and breaking the law on even one point calls for the spiritual death penalty.

Having established, through a series of progressive revelations, God’s purpose for man, the consequences of his fall, the futility of the law and the penalty for sin, the Gospel reveals that penalty of blood atonement was satisfied by Jesus Christ.

The final revelation of the New Covenant concerning the Church is the ‘mystery’ of our own resurrection at the Rapture of the Church.

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1st Corinthians 15:16-18)

When the Bible speaks of something as a ‘mystery’ it refers to something not previously revealed by God.

Paul likens physical death to the planting of a seed. “Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die.” (1st Corinthians 15:36) Paul goes on to note that what springs forth from the seed as it dies is a new creature.

“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Notes Paul in stark, unmistakable terms, “There IS a natural body, and there IS a spiritual body.” (1st Corinthians 15:42,44)

Through Paul, God reveals a new truth;

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53)

That resurrection, ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ is not limited to those already dead.

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1st Thessalonians 4:14-15)

Once again, Paul reveals the requirements for salvation. Faith.

If we believe, then we who are alive and remain will ALSO be changed, ‘in a twinkling of an eye’.

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

I know that a lot of this, if not all of it, is review for most of you, but it is important material, nevertheless.  The Bible is laid out in a logical progression, line upon line, precept upon precept, with each successive revelation adding purpose and clarity to those which came before.

Misunderstanding the principle of progressive revelation, or ‘dispensationalism,’ removes context from the Scripture, giving rise to all kinds of heresies.  Like, for example, replacement theology that says God rejected the Jews after they rejected Jesus.

Not understanding the differences between the Covenant Dispensations leaves room for the Church in the Tribulation Period, since there is no recognition of the differences between them.

The Tribulation is the final ‘week’ during which the terms of Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled when Israel enters into its inheritance of the Messianic Kingdom.

The Church plays no role.

God reveals to the Church that,

 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1st John 4:4)

However, during the Tribulation, Scripture says of he that is in the world, (the antichrist) “it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME them . . .” (Revelation 13:7)

Which is it, then?  Are we overcomers during the Church Age, because of He that indwells us now, only to be abandoned by Him and subsequently overcome later by the antichrist during the Tribulation?

How does THAT work?  Obviously, it doesn’t.

Instead, the progressive revelation of God says that the purpose of the Tribulation is to fulfill the promise of Daniel 9:24 “upon THY (Daniel’s) people and upon THY holy city, (Jerusalem) to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.”

All those things were accomplished for the Church at the Cross.

“But this Man, after He had offered ONE sacrifice for sins FOREVER, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” (Hebrews 10:12-13)

As a hodgepodge of seemingly conflicting revelations (eg. ‘eye for an eye’) the Bible can be confusing, even misleading, giving rise to all manner of misunderstanding.

Seen as the record of the progressive revelation from God, the Bible presents a harmonious and cohesive outline of human history, past, present and future, devoid of contradictions.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” (2nd Timothy 2:15-16)

A Hell of a Choice

A Hell of a Choice
Vol: 129 Issue: 18 Monday, June 18, 2012

Eternity is a long time, but simply saying eternity is ‘a long time’ is like saying a billion dollars is a lot of money.  It doesn’t do justice to the topic at hand. It takes a carefully constructed word picture to bring it into focus.

I heard ‘eternity’ described this way, once, and it helped me to visualize it.  Suppose a seagull were to take a grain of sand from the East Coast and drop it off on the West Coast.  Every ten thousand years, our seagull would transport another grain of sand from the East Coast to the West Coast.

When every grain of sand on every beach on the entire East Coast has been transferred to the West Coast (one grain at a time, every thousand years), that would constitute the first ten seconds of eternity!

Mankind is created in God’s Image, according to Genesis 1:26, and after God’s likeness. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that we look like God, or that God looks like us. Jesus revealed,

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God’s ‘image’ and His ‘likeness’ refer to His eternal nature, not His cosmetic appearance.  Monkeys look as much like men as any of the other lower order of animals.  They look enough like men to argue that, if man is in God’s image, then so are some species of monkeys.

Connecting the dots, then, Jesus tells us that God is a Spirit, and Genesis tells us that we were created in God’s Image and in His Likeness.  Scripture teaches that man was created with an eternal spiritual component.  A Spirit, in His Image, that is eternal in nature, in His Likeness.

That which is eternal is that which, by definition, cannot die, and cannot be killed. But it can be destroyed.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

Note the subtle shift in Our Lord’s Words when He moves from the temporal to the eternal.  The body can die, the soul cannot be killed, but both can be ‘destroyed’ in hell.

There are those who teach that this means that hell isn’t a place of eternal torment, but rather a place where the condemned soul is annihilated.  This sounds reasonable enough, given our understanding of a loving God of mercy.   

The Bible speaks as much of hell as it does of Heaven; indeed, in His ministry, the Lord spoke MORE of hell than he did of heaven. Scripture divides ‘hell’ — as we understand it — into two phases.  There is hell, and then, later on, the Lake of Fire.

“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” (Revelation 20:14)

It is the ‘Lake of Fire’ that some teach is the place of annihilation.  I believe that the Scriptures teach otherwise.

We are created with an eternal element, as we’ve already established.  That which is eternal cannot be killed, but it can be ‘destroyed’. But ‘destruction’ means eternal separation from God, not annihilation.

Jesus explained in the story of Lazarus and the rich man;

“There WAS a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. . .”

Note that Jesus does NOT say, “learn the parable of the rich man” but rather, tells the story as fact — indicating He is talking about a real rich man and a real beggar.  Both of them died, the Lord explains, and each went to his place, Lazarus to Paradise, and the rich man to hell.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” (Luke 16:19-20-23)

At the time of the story, Jesus had not yet redeemed humanity, and the righteous dead went to Paradise, which, the Lord taught, was separated from hell by a great gulf or chasm;

“And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:26)

At His Death, Jesus ‘descended into hell’ [which also included at that time, Paradise] in order to liberate the righteous dead and take them to heaven;

“Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)” (Ephesians 4:8-10)

Once the righteous dead were taken to heaven, hell was expanded to make room.  Those in hell will be ‘cast into the Lake of Fire’ at the second death, the Scriptures say.

There are those who will point out that the word ‘hell’ (sheol) has two meanings; it means both ‘the grave’ and the place where departed spirits go.  So they argue that hell is not really a literal Bible teaching.

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.” (2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9)

Note the phrase ‘everlasting destruction’ and reconcile that with the idea of ‘annihilation’.  ‘Everlasting destruction’ isn’t the same as ‘annihilation’ — which is instantaneous and permanent.  And things that are different are NOT the same.

Hell is a place of punishment that the Lord described THREE times, using exactly the same words;

“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44,46,48)

When the Lord chooses to repeat Himself, it is because He wants to make sure that we get it right.

Jesus said the rich man was ‘in torments’, desiring that Lazarus “dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” (Luke 16:23)

So, from our Lord’s Lips to our ears, we know it is a place of torment, involving ‘flames’ where ‘their worm dieth not’.  Jude 13 reveals it is a place of eternal darkness.

While those in heaven will meet and recognize their loved ones, those in hell will spend eternity like the unidentified rich man, nameless, alone and in utter darkness.

The story of the rich man reveals hell to be a place of consciousness, a place of eternal remorse, a place without hope, a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, and a place of eternal flame.

Jesus says of the hellbound sinner that it would be “better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:42)

Jesus said of Judas that “woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24)

Hell is worse than violent death and worse than having ever been born at all.  Jesus’ words make no sense if Judas were facing ‘annihilation’ in hell.  How could NOT existing (annihilation) be worse than never existing?

On the other hand, eternal torment would be MUCH worse than never having existed at all.  The difference is obvious without having to conduct any special Scriptural gymnastics to prove it.

And if the plain sense of Scripture makes perfect sense on its face, why seek a different sense?

Hell is given over to the Lake of Fire at the second death at the conclusion of the thousand year Millennial Kingdom Age.  The beast and the false prophet are cast alive into the Lake of Fire, where, Revelation 20:10 says that “they shall be “tormented day and night for ever and ever’ — not annihilated.

Eternal life and eternal death are two sides of the same coin in that they are BOTH eternal, since we are created in God’s Image, which is an eternal Spirit.

It is often argued that, ‘a loving God wouldn’t send people to hell’ — and that argument sounds logical because it is true.  A loving God wouldn’t send people to hell — and He doesn’t.

A loving God would provide an escape from eternal condemnation, which is different than expecting Him to change the nature of the punishment.

Hell was created as a prison and place of punishment for the rebellious angels. When man joined in the rebellion, he condemned himself to share their prison. BUT

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Heaven doesn’t require cream cheese to make it heaven, and there are no red union suits in hell.  Both are real and both are eternal because we are eternal and, as eternal beings, we have to continue our existence somewhere.

God prepared a place for those who love Him and who want to spend eternity with Him.  And He created a place for those who reject Him and rebel against His rule.

And He gave us a free choice to decide which we would prefer.

We are the watchmen on the wall. For those of us that know the truth, that choice is an awesome thing to contemplate. It rekindles a sense of urgency for the lost.

“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)

The Omega Letter’s mission is to prepare the saved for the work of the ministry by comparing the Scriptures to the signs of the times and providing evidence of the lateness of the hour and the soon coming of the Lord.

Our secondary mission is to examine the deeper truths of Scripture so that we are better prepared to answer the skeptic’s questions and make clear the choices that are set before him.

It is incumbent upon us to be prepared, “and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1 Peter 3:15)

May God continue to sustain and provide for us as we continue in our mission.  Until He comes.

Maranatha!

Right Answer, Wrong Question

Right Answer, Wrong Question
Vol: 129 Issue: 16 Saturday, June 16, 2012

Many people think of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in terms of Dudley Do-Right and Inspector Fenwick, but the RCMP is the federal police force responsible for everything  from community policing in remote northern communities to border integrity.   What was that last bit, again?  Border what?

Border integrity. I-N-T-E-G-R-I-T-Y:

  1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character, honesty;
  2. sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition, as in, the integrity of a ship’s hull

Or perhaps as in this sentence: 

“President Obama exceeded his authority and diminished the integrity of the Congress, his office, the rule of law and the US borders by unilaterally granting immunity to illegal aliens under the age of 30.”

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

That is the oath of office sworn by Barack Hussein Obama on January 21, 2009.  Given his total disregard for the Constitution and the rule of law since taking that oath, this is a good place to make note of two odd bits of historical irony.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who administered the oath, misplaced the word “faithfully” during the Inauguration ceremony on the Mall, and Obama was sworn in again, correctly this time, in the Map Room.

In the second  bit of historical irony, when Obama swore the oath of office correctly, he did so without a Bible, a most fitting start to what shaped up to become the most lawless presidential administration in the history of the Republic.

Last year, President Obama specifically noted that the Constitution did not give him the authority to unilaterally ignore Congress and invent laws out of thin air.  He also admitted that his oath of office required him to enforce existing laws already on the books.

“I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true…

 [W]e live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it. And if all the attention is focused away from the legislative process, then that is going to lead to a constant dead-end. We have to recognize how the system works, and then apply pressure to those places where votes can be gotten and, ultimately, we can get this thing solved. And nobody will be a stronger advocate for making that happen than me.

Read that statement again.  It is a pretty much iron-clad acknowledgement of his awareness, (as “a former Constitutional law professor”) of the limitations his oath to the Constitution puts on his authority.

The Democratic-majority Senate rejected the DREAM Act, (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) in 2007 by a vote of 52-44.  It was reintroduced for debate in 2010 where was debated and shelved because there still weren’t enough votes to pass it.

In 2011 Harry Reid reintroduced it again, with the strong support of President Obama.  It failed because there still weren’t enough votes to pass it, even with the amendments and compromises, such as Reid’s agreement to require employers to use E-Verify to check the status of employees.

The Dream Act has had not one, but at least five separate hearings by the Senate, which in every case, rejected it. 

Having admitted his Constitutional limitations and having pledged to work within the law,  yesterday, Obama announced he was unilaterally granting legal status to young illegal aliens, essentially enacting the Dream Act in defiance of the Senate, the Constitution and existing federal law.

And in total defiance of his sworn oath of office.

Assessment:

There are two things I want to point out about this before moving on.  The first thing I want you to pay  attention to is the ‘debate’ to follow and how quickly it is redirected completely away from the actual issue.  (Lawlessness)

Obama has set what he hopes is a bear trap for the Romney campaign by framing it as an issue of fairness and it will quickly dominate all discussions.  Here is the ‘fairness’ argument,  as summarized by Obama himself.

“It makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans, they’ve been raised as Americans, understand themselves to be part of this country . . . simply because of the actions of their parents, or because of the inactions of politicians . . .”

One can carry that argument a long way.  After all, from the perspective of a young illegal alien whose parents brought him here when he was a kid, it isn’t fair. 

On the other hand, from the perspective of a young American kid whose parents didn’t break the law and who can’t find a job, it’s unfair that the President just dumped another 800,000 legal applicants into an already overcrowded job market.

But lost in the debate is the fact that the President only swore an oath to ONE of them.  The President’s Constitutional obligations are first and foremost to citizens of the United States. Taking actions that hurt citizens in order to be ”fair” to non-citizens is a violation of that oath.

Also lost in the debate will be the fact that the notion of “fairness” is subjective, which is why it is not an element of law.  As we just observed, what is “fair” to one youth group is “unfair” to a another. 

That is why the Constitution was crafted in such a way as to provide equal protection under the law. What is “fair” is the law and if the law is unfair, then the 635 members of Congress are charged with using their collective wisdom to make it right.   

In a democratic republic, the will of the people is expressed by the people’s representatives. The President is NOT a representative of the people, he is the executive empowered to enforce the will of the people, as expressed by the representatives.

Kings and dictators decide if a law is fair or unfair and kings and dictators can unilaterally overturn the will of the people . . . American presidents bound by their oath to the Constitution cannot.

The “fairness” debate is a smoke screen that deserves complete disregard.  

The Right is going to argue, (correctly) that Obama made the move in order to pander to the Latino constituency, but that will fade into the white noise in the background of politics.

Of course he is pandering! He’s a politician!  For that matter, so is Romney. . .

“I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis, so they know what their future would be in this country,” Romney said.

While everybody debates the fairness of the DREAM Act vs. political pandering, what will get lost in the white noise is the abject lawlessness of the administration and its total disregard for the nation as a whole.

Within a week, nobody will be talking about the fact that Obama is breaking federal law. They will be talking about fairness as an element of law enforcement, without ever giving serious thought to who will get to decide what is ‘fair’.

The gloves have come off and Obama has made it clear that he intends to keep his job, even if he has to steal it.  He’s sued Arizona to keep them from enforcing immigration law.  He’s suing Florida to keep them from purging the voter lists of ineligible voters.

He just created 800,000 brand-new voters by decree, and left an open invitation to their parents and family that if he gets re-elected,  they will be next.  All they have to do is vote, and the administration is doing everything it can to make sure they won’t get caught.

When Obama was elected, there were many Christians that believed they finally had the answer to the question of who the antichrist might be.  That was the wrong question.  

It’s more like the Jeopardy! game where the answer comes first and then you have to figure out the question. So if Obama is the answer, three and a half years in, I’m guessing the right question is this one:

“Where is America in Bible prophecy?”

Thinking, Free of Thought

Thinking, Free of Thought
Vol: 129 Issue: 15 Friday, June 15, 2012

To an unbelieving skeptic, religious faith is a little like a child’s faith in Santa Claus.  This gives rise to the skeptic’s argument that faith stands in opposition to reason and therefore mutually exclusive.

In other words, the “faithful” are those that check their brains at the door before entering church.

Those same skeptics are supremely confident that they are right and you are wrong, which brings us to the dictionary definition of “faith” which is “confidence or trust in a person or entity.”   So the skeptic has faith, as well. 

Where they differ is in where they put it.  The skeptic puts is faith in his own ability to reason, which is in and of itself a bit odd, since they cannot explain exactly how or why the ability to reason came into existence.

Over at the Skeptic’s dictionary,  they define faith as “the non-rational belief in some proposition, explaining that, a non-rational belief is one that is contrary to the sum of the evidence for that belief.”

The piece goes on to argue that theologians are playing dirty when they argue that faith means believing in something, but at the end of the day, the skeptic’s argument goes around in circles, arguing by faith in his ability to reason that religious faith is non-rational. 

In researching today’s column, I ran across a story headline that summarizes the skeptic’s position; “Choosing Reason Over Faith“.  The story was all about how a person that claimed to be pro-life was forced to resign from the pro-life movement because other members of the movement were people of faith.

“After everything that I had done for the pro-life movement, I decided to resign my leadership role at WAFL, effective at semester’s end. Why had I, a successful anti-abortion crusader, decided that the pro-life activist’s path was not one that I wanted to take? The answer is that I could no longer associate myself with a movement that willingly chose faith over reason.”

Is that the choice?  It is not possible to have reason and have faith?   In any case, after the author’s sense of reason made it intolerable for her to continue to work to advance her alleged principles, those principles began to fade. 

“In addition to promoting scientific reason, in my travels as an atheist activist, I have rethought my positions on “life issues”. While I still believe that abortion is unethical, I have less of a desire to outlaw all such procedures.”

So her sense of reason was able to cool her passion to save babies from a position of red-hot activism to “rethinking” her positions on “life issues.”  Maybe there are times when a baby has no right to live, she argues.

“In my time at Wellesley Alliance For Life, I realized that a woman doesn’t just have an abortion as another form of birth control; rather, there are legitimate reasons for terminating a pregnancy. For example, a Secular Student Alliance member confided in me that she had an abortion after being raped. Although I would have preferred that she had given her baby up for adoption, it was simply unfair for the State to force her to carry the pregnancy to term.

That is where her argument from reason took her.  To the place where she could argue that there are legitimate reasons for taking the baby’s life.  The subtitle of her piece?  “From a Pro-Life Activist to a Freethought Leader.”

I’ve always been a bit confused by the skeptic’s choice of self-description as that of “free thought.”  Free of what?  Logic?  Where is the logic in arguing that a babe in the womb should legitimately forfeit his life because of some circumstances of his birth but not others?

A reasoned question to ask at this point would seem to be, “Is it a baby in the womb or is it a blob of unfeeling, unthinking protoplasm?”  Logically, if one is pro-life, the issue is one of life, not circumstances. Circumstances change, but life, once taken, cannot be restored.

Instead, this free-thinker makes the incredibly chilling argument that it is indeed a baby, but that sometimes, it is ok to kill it.

“Although I have abandoned some of my former opinions on “life issues”, I still believe that abortion is wrong, unless the woman is raped, is a victim of incest, or if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.”

She still believes abortion is wrong . . . because. .  . ?  Because . . . ?????  Ummm, why is it wrong?  It is wrong because, ummm,  because. . . well, because. . .  is it because it means killing an innocent human being? 

Logically, if the issue is an aversion to killing babies on the basis they are innocent, then the rape and incest exception is meaningless.

Our freethinker’s thoughts are clearly free of any encumbering, er . .  thought.  And she makes it as part of an argument favoring reason over faith.   

Assessment:

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalms 14:1)

Our freethinker’s argument stands as sufficient testimony to the truth of the Psalmist’s words.  So do all of the skeptic’s arguments, when broken down into their component parts.

To begin with, none of them are in support of their own position, to wit; there is no God.  It then follows that “nothing is responsible for creation.”  It is an odd argument to make, since it is even less possible to argue the existence of nothing than it is to argue the existence of God.

It is at least theoretically POSSIBLE that God can exist.  Nothing is the absence of everything, and therefore CANNOT exist.  So, the skeptic’s argument MUST come in the form of an attack on Something, to wit:  a Creator God.

But even then, they cannot launch a direct attack on the existence of a Creator God since they have ‘nothing’ to use to prove their position, so instead, the attack is centered on what you believe about God vs. what they believe about God. 

Because make no mistake, they also believe in God in some sense, or logically, there would be nothing upon which to base the discussion.  They just don’t want to believe and are seeking justification for that disbelief. 

(That’s where our free-thinker ended up when she started splitting hairs about the wrongness of abortion. Notice how abortion got “righter” after she began distancing herself from the concept of God?)

Have you ever been in a debate about God in which you didn’t find yourself trying to prove that God exists?  The skeptic’s argument doesn’t offer alternative answers — it only raises questions in the hope you can’t answer them either.

The atheist needs to sucker you into the positive position of proving God exists, because he cannot prove the negative proposition.

Why is that?  It is the atheist whose proposition demands positive evidence, since his proposition demands a belief in the existence of nothing.  Not an absence of knowledge, but a positive declaration of certainty in the existence of nothing.

There are libraries full of books attempting to prove the existence of God or to argue against the existence of God.   There aren’t very many books that attempt to prove the existence of nothing.

The very concept of nothing is something and therefore is instantly disqualified from existence.

Free thinkers believe in nothing.  They reach that conclusion by putting all their faith in their own ability to apply reason.  The fact that such a conclusion is impossible, based on logic, science and reason, is no obstacle.

If you can believe in nothing, then you can fall for anything.