Beginning of Wisdom

Beginning of Wisdom
Vol: 146 Issue: 22 Friday, November 22, 2013

For most of the 20th century, the best-known, and arguably most influential atheist in the English-speaking world was English philosophy professor Antony Flew.

The Oxford-educated Flew was the son of a Methodist minister who regularly attended lectures by famed Christian apologist C. S. Lewis.

Although his field was the philosophy of religion, Flew’s reputation as a prominent atheist thinker and apologist with the 1966 publication of “God and Philosophy” and his 1984 work, “The Presumption of Atheism.”

In 2004, at age eighty-one, Professor Flew renounced his belief in atheism with the publication of a new book entitled, “There is a God.”

Flew’s ‘conversion’ was primarily intellectual, rather than spiritual — he didn’t convert to Christianity, but rather, he came to the intellectual conclusion that atheism was unsupportable and that the evidence supported the existence of a Deity.

To a Christian, that doesn’t seem like much of a leap, but the atheist community was scandalized.

In 2006, when Flew joined eleven other British academics in petitioning the British government to teach Intelligent Design, the secular community lashed out.

The New York Times Mark Oppenheimer reported that Flew’s book had been ghost-written by Roy Abraham Varghese and that the book reflected Varghese’s religious perspective — and not Professor Flew’s.

In his article, Oppenheimer characterizes Flew as a senile old man being manipulated and exploited by evangelical Christians for their own ends.

Varghese denied it, but the New York Times seldom allows the truth to interfere with a good story, and the Flew story was no exception.

Finally, Flew himself issued a statement through his publisher, Harper Collins, in which he set the record straight:

“My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 percent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I’m 84 and that was Roy Varghese’s role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I’m old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. This is my book and it represents my thinking.”

Flew’s conversion was, as I noted earlier, intellectual, rather than spiritual. Professor Flew changed his mind as a result of what he considered to be hard evidence, not faith.

In an interview following his book’s publication, Flew explained;

“What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinary diverse elements to work together.”

Assessment:

The antipathy of the secular humanist community for their former champion is understandable. Flew’s transformation, in the eyes of his followers, from ‘enlightened thinker’ to ‘demented old man’ was a necessity.

Had Flew simply become a Christian, his ‘conversion’ would have been much easier to dismiss. Atheists don’t view Christians as demented, but rather as delusional, which is both a distinction and a difference.

Christians might be irrationally optimistic, but no intellectually honest thinker would care to argue that C. S. Lewis was mentally defective.

Christians come to faith as the result of being convicted of their sinful state, which to the secular mind is the same as being motivated by guilt.

A secular thinker understands what ‘guilt’ means, even if he finds the concept of an Eternal Judge irrational. But Flew’s conversion wasn’t motivated by an understandable, if “irrational” sense of guilt.

Flew’s conversion was the consequence of reasoned analysis, based on the otherwise inexplicable scientific evidence of Intelligent Design revealed by DNA research.

That is why his book, “There Is A God” had to be dismissed as either the confused ravings of a demented old man, or as a fraud perpetrated by a manipulative ghost writer.

A Deist is really a rational atheist stripped of both his intellectual comfort level, and of most of his best arguments.

An atheist is convinced there is no God, no heaven, (and especially!) no hell, no eternal accountability and, most importantly of all, in the supremacy of man.

At the end of this life, there is only the certain darkness of the grave. Nothing to worry about. Just a cessation of consciousness.

Deists, on the other hand, have neither the confidence of the atheist, nor the assurance of salvation that motivates the Christian. They arrive at their conclusion that there is an Intelligent Designer behind our existence based on reason, logic and evidence, but refuse to accept the notion of a personal God by faith.

Deists leave the questions of heaven, hell, eternity, etc., to theologians, but in so doing, leave themselves with fewer answers than either atheists or Christians do.

To a Deist “Intelligent Design” can mean anything from a Creator God to space aliens.

The atheist’s insurance is that he is accountable only to himself. The Christian’s assurance is that Christ has made Himself accountable on his behalf.

The Deist has neither insurance nor assurance, just a vague sense of ultimate accountability to some kind of Deity.

It takes little faith to acknowledge what can’t be explained away, but for Dr. Flew, it’s a beginning.

The Bible teaches that the “fool hath said in his heart, there is no God” but that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

Note: In today’s Letter, Jack explains what a Christian isn’t.  There are many questions Christian’s have today, “On Preparing for the Tribulation” and Alf Cengia shares with us his thoughts on this sensitive topic.

”No River Too Wide”

”No River Too Wide”
Vol: 146 Issue: 21 Thursday, November 21, 2013

Knowing many of you as I do through our forums and gatherings, I suspect I am not alone in calling Louis L’Amour one of my favorite fiction writers. I’ve been a fan of his books ever since my Dad gave me my first copy of “Hondo.”

Louis L’Amour had an ability to capture history and deliver it fresh to his readers. His characters were rich in honor and nobility, and, as L’Amour himself noted on his book jackets, “I’ve walked the lands my characters walked. When I write of a spring, that spring is there and the water is good to drink.”

A line from one of his novels stuck in my head when I first read it and its sentiment remains with me to this day.

In narrative style, L’Amour described a married pioneer couple, saying something to the effect of, “When a man and woman ride the same trail, there’s no mountain too high, and no river too wide.”

I can’t remember which book it was, and I’ve probably horribly mangled the quote anyway, but it was the truth contained within that always stuck with me.

According to statistics quoted in Michael Medved’s blog, the urge to marry is universally powerful. Noted Medved;

“Statistics indicate that more than 95% of us eventually get hitched, and that even among those who go through the misery of divorce, more than 75% decide to get married again (“the ultimate triumph of hope over experience,” said George Bernard Shaw.)”

Assessment:

I suspect what Shaw is expressing in his quip that marriage is ‘the ultimate triumph of hope over experience’ is almost as universal as the urge to marry. Statistics that indicate that half of all marriages end in divorce tends to support that suspicion.

The kind of marriage Louis L’Amour described is the kind that God intended, but few of us ever find. At any given time, half of us are still looking for it. The married half of us are still evaluating the situation.

But for that lucky few of us fortunate enough to find the mate God intended us to have, there is no mountain too high nor a river too wide.

Gayle left this morning to take her mother home after a two month visit. Much as I enjoy Evelyn, I thought I’d be glad when she went home. Two months is a long time in a little beach house.

But as I watched her march up to the ticket line at the airport, I realized how sad I was to see her leave. She is so much like Gayle it was like having two of them.

Gayle flew up with her, and is going to spend a few days helping her catch up after her two month absence. Since its only for a couple of days, I thought I’d be glad to see her go, too. I thought I would enjoy the solitude. Sigh.

I’ve been home from dropping them off at the airport about two hours. Although Gayle left written instructions posted on the fridge, the coffee I made myself when I got home tasted like dishwater.

I’ve turned on every TV in the house for company. It’s much too quiet. It’s like having my arm in a sling. I’m not quite whole and everything seems more complicated.

It’s when Gayle is away that I realize I am blessed with one of those God-ordained unions. It helps me see the truth of L’Amour’s romantic vision of ‘No river too wide; no mountain too high.’

When I am alone, they all look too wide and too high.

When God created Eve, He created her specifically as a ‘help meet” or help-mate to Adam. After surveying His creation and pronouncing it “good” God turned His attention to Adam, specifically noting that “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

The first marriage had its share of adversity, and not unlike marriages today, Adam blamed God for giving him such a poor excuse for a wife:

“And the man said, The woman WHOM THOU GAVEST TO BE WITH ME, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” (Genesis 3:12)

God wasn’t impressed with the excuse. God cursed them together, they were driven from the Garden together, walked together, faced adversity together;

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:21)

The Apostle Paul gives the recipe for a Louis L’Amour marriage in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the Body.” (Ephesians 5:22-23)

Husbands love to quote these verses to their wives, but I doubt any of them took time to analyze it and see what it really says.

Paul likens the husband’s role to that of Christ’s role to the Church. The responsibility for the sins of the Church was placed on the Lord’s shoulders and He paid the penalty due.

Paul tells the wife to submit unto her husband because God places the responsibility for her obedience on the shoulders of the husband.

To the husband, Paul writes;

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25)

Jesus gave Himself to the Church in totality. Not only did He die for it, while He was on earth, He LIVED for it.

It is worth noting that God assigns ALL the responsibility to the husband today, just as He did with Adam. “She made me do it,” was no excuse then, and it isn’t any better now.

The wife’s job is to trust her husband and work with him to narrow the rivers and lower the mountains so they can make the journey together as help-mates. It’s beautiful when it works.

Sigh. I’m rambling. Can you tell I miss Gayle?

Note: Jack speaks of his ”love” today in this Letter.  In keeping with not too distant memories, J.L. Robb’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas“, reminds us of days gone by.

Answering the Skeptic: Does God Exist?

Answering the Skeptic: Does God Exist?
Vol: 146 Issue: 20 Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One of the first challenges out of the mouth of the skeptic when confronted with the Gospel is often a demand for proof that God exists in the first place. ”You prove God exists, and then we can talk about becoming a Christian”, or something along those lines.

To the Christian, being asked to ‘prove’ God exists is like being asked to ‘prove’ air exists. Just as the fact we are alive and breathing makes the existence of air self-evident, to the Christian, the fact there is air is proof of the existence of the God Who created it.

Where does one begin? How about a choice? We can look at the evidence for God’s existence and believe that He is there, or we can set aside the evidence and decide that there is no God.

But in the final analysis, there are only two options:

Option One: God DOES Exist

Romans 1:19-20 puts into words what Christians instinctively know in their spirit:

“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

The more science learns about our universe, the more scientists are reluctantly forced to acknowlege the existence of Intelligent Design. That the universe demands a Designer as obvious as a wristwatch requiring a maker or a dictionary requiring an editor.

Then there is the existence of human conscience. It exists as an inner voice that allows the person to follow his best judgment and highest instincts. It is unique to humanity, and it is that conscience that demands to know about God.

(After all, if the atheist or skeptic didn’t desire to know about God, the challenge would never have been offered in the first place.)

The Old and New Testament Scriptures speak in behalf of God in a manner that is consistent with the evidence of God in both creation and conscience.

The very existence of Christianity after two thousand years, built entirely upon the life and death of a 1st century Jew named Jesus, is evidence of the existence of God. So the the miraculous preservation of the Jewish people and their restoration to their homeland 2000 years after they were dispersed.

Option Two: God Does NOT Exist

The Bible says,

“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)

Quoting that Scripture to a skeptic might be accurate, but if you can’t back it up with facts, you might as well keep it to yourself. Nobody likes to be called a ‘fool’, especially by a God they don’t believe exists.

But the skeptic’s arguments AGAINST God, when examined closely, make a stronger case for Psalms 14:1 than they do for the non-existence of a Creator God. Compare what God says about the one who says, “There is no God” to the arguments they offer to ‘prove’ it.

1.) Our world, with all its resources, complexities, and orderliness came about with no personal impetus, cause, or source. Everything just happened.

2.) The laws that govern our universe have developed without guidance or direction.

3.) Great and almost magical leaps were taken along the evolutionary way, allowing nonplants to cross the chasm to become plants, and nonanimals to become animals. Without guidance, these beings developed brains where nonbrains had been and sensory organs where nothing like them had been.

4.) Randomness accounts for the delicate, unique composition of our planet that makes possible our existence on this oasis of life in the desert of a hostile universe.

5.) Man is without a spirit. His existence ends at death, just as it does for dogs and cats.

6.) Any morality that man possesses is contrived and societal in origin. Therefore, no one can be expected to make value judgments for others, and the human conscience is instilled by social structure. (Refer back to #5, above)

7.) The Bible–a Book that was written by 40 diverse men who lived over a span of 1,500 years, kept separate records, recorded events independently, and told a remarkably singular story–is an incredible coincidence.

8.) There is no master plan for mankind. Our existence is an accident, our work on earth is fruitless, and our relationships with one another are ultimately meaningless. Like a pack of wild animals, we have no other purpose on earth but survival.

9) Christ was not telling the truth when He said He was the Son of God who came from heaven to rescue us from eternal death and bring us to God.

10) Neither were the Twelve Apostles, all of whom suffered loss of family, friends, community, and ultimately death, for the witness of Jesus.

But when they died for the ‘witness of Jesus’, they were actually EYEWITNESSES to Jesus, His Life and His Death. They either saw what they saw, or they ruined their lives and ultimately suffered torturous deaths for what they KNEW was a fraud.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” (Psalms 53:1)

Calling an atheist or skeptic a ‘fool’ isn’t an insult. It’s an undeniable statement of fact.

Note: In today’s Letter, Jack gives answers to common questions the skeptic poses as to the existence of God.  Pete Garcia’s, “The Rise of Babylon” delves into Biblical prophecy and the players that stand ready to fulfill what the Bible said would happen in the last days.

Whose Jerusalem?

Whose Jerusalem?
Vol: 146 Issue: 19 Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Despite all the promises made by both sides regarding the sanctity of Jerusalem, it is pretty much a foregone conclusion that the city will be redivided between Arabs and Jews.

The truth about Jerusalem has been so muddled by decades of dissembling and propaganda that evidently even many Israelis are no longer sure if Jerusalem is historically a Jewish city or an Arab city.

The first recorded mention of Jerusalem dates to the 19th century before Christ, where it was listed in the Egyptian Execration Texts as “Rusalimum.”

It is next mentioned five hundred years later in the 14th century BC in the Amara Letters as ‘Urusalim’. It is about this time that Joshua conquered the Land of Canaan.

The Israelites lived in the Land of Canaan under the Judges until King David of Israel established Jerusalem as the capital city of the United Kingdom of Israel around 970 BC — sixteen hundred years before the birth of Mohammed.

King David bought the threshing-floor on Mount Moriah at fair market value from its legal owner, with the transaction being carefully recorded in the Book of Samuel.

The owner, Araunah offered to give it to the King, but David insisted, saying, “neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which cost me nothing.” (2nd Samuel 24:24)

David inaugurated the Temple Mount and set up a tent over the Holy of Holies, leaving the construction of the permanent Temple to his son Solomon.

David’s United Kingdom of Israel split a hundred years later into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, (which included Jerusalem and the Temple Mount).

The Northern Kingdom was conquered by Sargon II and dispersed in 702 BC; the Southern Kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians a generation later.

Jerusalem remained a conquered city under a succession of empires from Babylon to Rome, but it remained a Jewish city until the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70.

The Byzantine Christians took over Jerusalem in 324 AD. Jerusalem remained in Christian hands until the 6th century when it was briefly captured by the Persians and recaptured by the Byzantines in 629.

Are you still with me? Historically, Israel was in Jewish hands for a thousand years before Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem remained a Jewish city for another six hundred years after that.

After the Romans, it was ruled by the Christians for another three hundred years.

By the time of Mohammed, the Jewish history of Jerusalem already spanned more than sixteen hundred years.

The Muslims held Jerusalem less than three hundred years before it was captured by the Crusaders. The Christian Crusaders held Jerusalem for almost 150 years before the city fell to the Mameluke Turks.

Under the Mamelukes, Jerusalem was again the seat of Judaism. The Jewish sage Nahmanides established a synagogue and seat of Jewish learning in the city in 1267.

Jerusalem was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire in 1517, but remained the seat of Judaism. In 1700, Rabbi Yehuda He’Hassid built Jerusalem’s “Hurva” Synagogue.

Four hundred years later, Jerusalem fell to the British in 1917, when the Ottoman Empire was defeated by the Allies in World War I.

Quickly doing the math, Jerusalem was a Jewish city for 1500 years or so, then Christian for another 400, Islamic 300 more, then Christian for 150, then Islamic for another 800 years, then Jewish again.

During all that time, from when David bought the Araunah’s threshing-floor until Lord Allenby marched into Jerusalem in 1817, to Christians and Jews, Jerusalem was always the capital city of Judaism.

Sixteen hundred years before Mohammed, the Jewish Psalmist wrote:

“If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Psalms 137:6)

From Abraham to Allenby, despite successive conquests, Jerusalem has been the heart of Judaism through the centuries.

From Mohammed to Saladin through the Ottoman Empire, Jerusalem has never been an Islamic capital, and ‘Palestine’ has never been an Islamic state.

Until 1917, it languished as a forgotten city on the edge of the Ottoman Turk’s Islamic caliphate.

In 1917, Syria did not exist. Neither did Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia or the rest of the modern Middle East.

The entire modern map of the Middle East was drawn up in the 1920’s. Syria’s borders were drawn by the British in 1923 and administered by France until granted independence in 1946.

Iran, Iran, Jordan, etc., were created by the same British authority in the 1920’s following WWI.

But the FIRST national creation by the British was a homeland for the Jews in 1917, centered around the city of Jerusalem.

Assessment:

It is necessary from time to time to recap the history of Jerusalem as a bulwark against the propaganda.

Ninety years ago, the only defined ‘state’ in the Middle East was the Jewish Mandate.

And it was created by the same authority that created the rest of the modern Arab Middle East.

Ninety years later, even the Jews themselves aren’t sure who really owns Jerusalem. Behold, the power of propaganda!

There is no history among the children of men more carefully documented than that of the Jewish people. Until the destruction of the 2nd Temple, Jews could trace their geneology back to Adam.

Their every conquest, every king, every ruler, every occupier was carefully recorded, their entire history, spanning three thousand years, is set down, in detail, in the pages of the Bible.

Until this generation, “The City of David” was instantly recognizable as another name for Jerusalem. For centuries, Christians sang of the “City of David” in our hymnals.

Suddenly, in a single generation, Jerusalem’s Jewish pedigree is in doubt. The entire world has taken a stake in solving a ‘mystery’ that is mysterious only in that anybody finds mysterious in the first place.

Is Jerusalem a Jewish city? Or an Arab city? I find myself astonished, even at this point in history, that anybody could entertain that as a question.

It’s like asking, “Is the Pope Catholic?” but to the world, the ownership of Jerusalem is as baffling as the identity of the true architect of the Sphinx.

The problem with Israel’s history is Israel’s history. Israel’s history is recorded in the Bible, and for the world to accept Israel’s history means accepting the Bible as well.

That is unacceptable. The world prefers the delusional view that Jerusalem is really an Arab city stolen by the Jews in 1967.

The alternative, historical view comes too close to legitimizing the Bible for comfort. They prefer the lie, because the truth makes them uncomfortable.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:11-12)

Note: In today’s Letter, Jack explains the historical truth of who legitimately owns Jerusalem.  Wendy Wippel’s “The Creator and the Casino” gives us even further evidence that God is who He says He is.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?
Vol: 146 Issue: 18 Monday, November 18, 2013

The world’s leaders take great pains to point out that true Islam is a religion of peace and love and that those who learn from Islam that it is a perfectly acceptable form of worship to murder innocent men, women and children are practicing some ‘perversion’ of the religion of peace and love.

Right off the bat, there is a clue here. Religion is never about ‘peace and love’. Judaism is filled with examples of religious wars that were neither peaceful nor particularly loving. God is love.

Religion is not God. As noted previously, religion is an expression of man’s effort to make himself acceptable to God by practicing certain rituals and adhering to certain rules.

It has been accurately stated that more wars have been fought over religious disputes and in the name of religion than any other cause. But God isn’t religion.

God is, for want of a better term, an excuse for religion, but one doesn’t even require a living God to have a religion. Any old god will do.

Heck, when it comes to religion, if you can’t find a suitable god to worship, you can just make up your own.

Even Jesus scoffed at the notion of religion being the same as God, telling the woman at the well:

“Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. . . But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21.23-24)

Rather than seeing religion as an expression of peace and love, Jesus’ mission was to abolish the religious traditions that had perverted the worship of God into something to be worshipped instead of God. What He pictured didn’t sound like ‘peace and love’ at all . . .

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)

Jesus never taught anything EXCEPT peace, telling His followers that loving God above all things and loving one’s neighbor as himself was the distilled sum of the Ten Commandments.

Following the Ten Commandments as a religious practice, Jesus said, was keeping the letter of the Law while ignoring its spirit.

He accused religion of dispossessing the old, the widows, the infirm, and called the religious leaders of His day a generation of ‘vipers’.

Christianity, as taught by Scripture, is anything BUT a religion. It is a personal relationship with Christ based on the understanding that all men are sinners. (That is hardly a religious observation. If it were not true, we would have no use for a legal system.)

All men are accountable for their sin. Every religion, no matter which deity they follow, is rooted in the notion of accountability to someone or some thing for sin.

But religion has a system for satisfying the accountability for sin by balancing the scales with good works or works of penance that THEY deem acceptable to God. In some Christian versions of religion, Jesus plays some role, but only within a religious context.

So, by the very pronouncement by world leaders that Islam is, at its root, a ‘religion of peace and love’ is proof positive that they don’t have even the faintest idea of what they are talking about.

Compounding their ignorance, they proclaim Allah to be one and the same with the God of the Bible, making Islam one of the world’s three ‘great monotheistic religions’.

Assessment:

It never ceased to amaze me when the President of the United States ignores the so-called ‘separation clause’ and declares the Koran ‘holy’, legitimizes Allah as a deity, makes declarative doctrinal statements advancing Islam as a ‘great religion’ rooted in ‘peace and love’ — there isn’t a peep from the ACLU.

Where is the ‘Reverend’ Barry Whatshisname from ‘People from the American Way’ or ‘Christians United Against Christianity’ or whatever his outfit is named?

‘Reverend’ Barry shows up as often as the fat guy in the Di Tech commercials whenever somebody starts defending a Christmas scene or a Ten Commandments monument.

Why isn’t he all over the airwaves condemning the United States government for promoting Islam as a legitimate religion of peace and love when he objects to school kids acknowledging America as one nation under God?

Well, the simplest answer is also the most obvious. The name ‘Allah’ doesn’t invoke the same visceral sense of revulsion as does the Name, Jesus.

Interesting, when you think about it. Under the banner of Allah, thousands of their countrymen have been murdered.

Allah’s forces are conspiring, even now, to murder thousands, maybe tens of thousands, more. Maybe even some of them.

But the president’s promotion of Islam as a religion of ‘peace and love’, one ‘honored and respected’ by the government of the United States, one declared ‘holy’ from the Oval Office and one of the world’s ‘great religions’ went utterly unnoticed.

But the posting of a monument to the Ten Commandments as an endorsement of Christianity not only sends them ballistic, it has the Supreme Court making religious doctrine a matter of law.

You see, that is only possible with a ‘religion’ — which is why religions are never about ‘peace and love’.

(How do YOU feel about court-imposed religious doctrine? Peaceful? Loving? Or furious?)

Let me explain. The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Ten Commandments as a prohibited Christian symbol is a religious doctrinal declaration.

The Ten Commandments are not a symbol of Christianity. They are the evidence of the NEED for Christianity.

The Bible says that nobody ever kept the Ten Commandments. Therefore, judicially, all men fell under the hopeless condemnation of sin. The Ten Commandments are the expression of man’s hopeless condition before God APART from Christianity.

The Ten Commandments, doctrinally speaking, are not Christian in any sense of Christian theology.

They are the basis for Jewish Law, given by God to Moses who then passed them down to the Jews, before they were fulfilled (and therefore nullified) by Jesus Christ, Who replaced the Law with Grace.

But because one can attach ‘Jesus’ to the Ten Commandments in a sentence, by Supreme Declaration, the Ten Commandments become a legal part of Christian doctrine and therefore an illegal endorsement of Christianity.

But it is pretty difficult to attach the Name ‘Jesus’ to anything resembling a religion that teaches salvation by murdering innocents.

So the ACLU, Barry Whosis and the League to Destroy all Mention of the One True God are all busy buying gum, or getting haircuts, or practicing for their next Supreme Court argument that a county courthouse is the equivalent under the 1st Amendment to ‘Congress’.

So we can promote Islam all day long without fear of lawsuits. Indeed, there exist in the American school system, MANDATORY curriculums that amount to immersion course in Islam, complete with the taking of an Islamic name, studying the Koran, and practicing Islamic rituals.

And since the only ones objecting are Christian legal groups like the Rutherford Institute, they seldom make their way past the first appeals court, if they are heard at all.

One common ‘virtue’ shared by guys like the ACLU, Barry Whosisname, ‘People for the Abolition of Spiritual Joy’ the American Atheists Union (” Can I believe in my cause and still be an atheist?”), the ‘Muslim Council for the Peaceful Extermination of Christians and Jews’ (“Death To America! Like my car? It’s new!”) is that they exhibit a visceral, almost pathological hatred for Jesus Christ and those who claim Him.

They don’t care who they ally themselves with, and it isn’t even that they are aware that they are doing it. To them, all the different gods are more or less the same, so who cares?

Except for Jesus. There is something about Jesus.

All the rest of the gods promise there are many ways to salvation, or no salvation to be had, or no need for salvation, or endless reincarnation, or they make ridiculous promises like 72 virgins with transparent legs and all the dope you can smoke.

They are unworthy of attention. They represent no threat to the god of this world. They are all on the same side.

When it comes to Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, Mohammed, Homer Simpson, it is pretty much the same. The world can take them or leave them. But Jesus claims that there is only one way to salvation, and that is through faith in Him. NOBODY can ‘take or leave’ Jesus.

There are those who wail, “if only there were some evidence that Jesus is real.” Nobody gets that worked up over the Tooth Fairy. Or Santa Claus.

The mere fact that the Name of Jesus can evoke the fury that it does among His enemies proves His reality.

The mere fact that someone supposedly dead for two thousand years can HAVE enemies is pretty powerful evidence. Especially when one takes a close look at who His enemies are.

Even though we are at war with Islam, nobody freaks out at the mention of Mohammed. No emergency ACLU filings follow the president’s promotion of Islam as a ‘great religion’ or of the Koran as ‘holy’ — even though the Koran is the inspiration for the war we are now fighting!

Because instinctively, the world knows that Allah isn’t real. That the Koran isn’t Divinely inspired. But they recoil at the Name of Jesus because, just as instinctively, they know that He IS real. Whether they admit it to themselves or not, they betray themselves by their reaction.

What is in a Name? Everything. Conviction of sin. A reminder of eternal accountability. A call to repentance. And another unwanted choice. Another hated spiritual confrontation. All that in the utterance of a single Name.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

At some level, all of us know instinctively, deep in our consciousness, somewhere, that Jesus is real, He is alive and He is God. Even the lost. Just listen to how much they hate Him.

What else is in a Name? Life eternal.

Note: This Letter was originally published during the presidency of George W. Bush.  Since then Obama has taken the view of Islam to a whole new level of acceptance.  Even so, Jesus is still on the Throne.

Honey, Vinegar and Flies

Honey, Vinegar and Flies
Vol: 146 Issue: 16 Saturday, November 16, 2013

I used to know a fellow, let’s call him “Bill” who was afflicted with a most annoying habit. When he wasn’t finishing my sentences for me, he was either correcting my grammar or my pronunciation.

One could seldom finish an entire sentence when talking with Bill: I once caught myself speaking faster in the hope I could get to the end of it before he did.

(Of course, then I’d make some kind of grammatical error as a result and he’d correct that. . . Grrrr)

The worst part about it was that he was just a heckuva nice guy in every other respect. He was one of those guys who’d climb a tree to fight a bear if he thought it might be helpful; in fact his annoying tic was part of that “I-just-wanna-help” mindset.

Personally, I didn’t mind it so much . . . as annoying as it was, he had a terrific grasp of the English language and an amazing vocabulary, so I learned something in almost every conversation.

But not everybody wants to hang around with a guy whose favorite Reader’s Digest section is “It Pays To Increase Your Word Power.” People don’t appreciate being around other people who make them feel stupid.

Of course, I’ve always been a writer and so words (and their proper usage) are more important to me than most, but not every body appreciates being corrected every other sentence. So this guy didn’t have many friends, despite the fact he lived to be helpful.

Sometimes, one can be so helpful that it begins to drive folks away.

Back in the 1960’s Walter Martin made a name for himself in evangelical circles when he began his ministry, the Christian Research Institute, following a series of successful books exposing false Christian cults.

In his first book, “The Rise of the Cults“, Martin exposed the doctrinal errors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Mormonism, the Theosophical Society, and took on “Father Divine” a cult leader from Brooklyn who claimed to be God. “The Rise of the Cults” was published in 1965 and is reputed to have sold nearly a million copies since.

In the 1980’s Martin turned his critical eye away from non-Christian cults to less obvious heresies within Christianity, most notably the “Word of Faith” movement popularized by guys like Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin.

While Martin was critical of these teachers’ claims concerning their views of Christ, healing, faith, and prosperity, Martin was generally acceptive of the charismatic movement, editing and reprinting DL Moody’s book on spiritual gifts called “Secret Power.”

When Martin died in 1989, he was succeeded by Hank Hanegraaf in a takeover still being challenged by Martin’s surviving family.

Hanegraaf’s “The Bible Answer Man” program claims to present the only “true” Christian doctrine.

Assessment:

I have a copy of Hanegraaf’s 1993 book, “Christianity in Crisis” in which he highlights some of the more outrageous doctrinal claims made by some of the ‘regulars’ on TBN, from founders Paul and Jan Crouch to Benny Hinn, Copeland, Hagin, etc., etc.

It’s a pretty good book, if one is the kind of person who would seek Bill out at a party to chat with. But if you just want to be sure that you are right with God, then Hanegraaf’s book raises a lot more questions than it answers.

Suppose, just for a second, that you’ve just finished reading Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth.”

Having read the book and compared it with the Bible and the morning newspapers, you became convinced from the evidence that God is real, that He sent His only Son to have a relationship with you, and you need only accept the Gift of Pardon Hal says Jesus already procured for you.

You’re heading to work, mulling it all over. Then you turn on Hank Hanegraaf’s radio program and learn that Hal made it all up. All Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70. The evidence was all just a clever ruse designed to sell books.

Or you pick up Hannegraf’s book, “Christianity in Crisis” and discover that every single TV preacher is a lying con man who will say anything if it increases donations.

If these are the cream of the crop, then does anybody know the real truth? Can anybody know the real truth?

It’s been rightly said that a man with one watch always knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never quite sure.

What is a guy who hears the Gospel of Love — from the same lips that tell him how cynical and manipulative most Christian preachers really are — supposed to think?

We have entire threads in our member’s forums dedicated to ‘exposing’ this guy or that guy’s false teaching. Generally speaking, it goes like this. One guy starts a thread exposing some other teacher’s false doctrine.

Suppose somebody else in that thread got saved watching Jack Van Impe, for example. Then somebody starts ripping into his ministry over something he said.

Now, that new Christian starts to wonder. . . if JVI is really a cynical liar, then how can I be sure I am really saved?

So he jumps in to defend JVI, except he’s really not defending JVI — he’s defending his own salvation. (From another Christian! How confusing is that?)

Next thing you know, the debate isn’t about doctrine anymore. It’s about being right. For the guy who found Christ through JVI, it’s even more important than that.

It’s about the efficacy of his salvation experience.

Mature Christians have a tendency to forget how difficult it is for new Christians. Nobody wants to think they’ve been sold a bill of goods by a slick operator.

They have barely gotten a grasp of salvation by grace through faith and now they find themselves in a bar fight over whether or not JVI has correctly interpreted a verse they’d never heard of until now — and now they are locked in combat over the messenger.

I believe that God intended for there to be some degree of doctrinal ambiguity in the Scriptures. The Book of Genesis records God’s decision to confound human speech and divide mankind ethnically.

The people of Babel had set out to build a tower to which they could seek refuge should God ever again decide to destroy the world by flood.

“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” (Genesis 11:4-5)

The issue wasn’t that God believed they could actually build a tower that would ‘reach unto heaven’. It was because they were unified under a single leader. Separating them into smaller, like-minded groups prevented one person, in this case, Nimrod, from uniting them in rebellion against God.

In the Church Age, we are separated doctrinally for the same purpose. It is not until AFTER the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence is withdrawn from the earth that the world is once again united under a single political and religious authority.

We even have a word to describe human effort to try to overcome these doctrinal differences. It is called ‘ecumenism’.

“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:” (Luke 12:51)

When we set out to ‘prove’ that this guy or that guy is really a heretic, consider what it is that we are claiming for ourselves in so doing. The Roman Catholics call it speaking ‘ex cathedra’ — what the RC calls the “Doctrine of Infallibility.”

Non-Catholics take great joy in running down the list of ‘infallible’ papal statements that have since been reversed or modified by subsequent papal pronouncements. Then they turn around and assume for themselves that same mantle of infallibility while explaining why nobody (else) is infallible.

You were once a baby Christian. Think about how confusing it all was.

There is a place for doctrinal study and doctrinal discussion. It is incumbent upon us to hold, “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:9)

A ‘gainsayer’ is a person who twists doctrine for his own gain, rather than that of the Kingdom. That is not the same thing as a person who sincerely holds to a doctrinal worldview because he believes it to be true.

I believe that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation. If somebody wants to know why, I am more than happy to explain why I hold to the view that I do. That doesn’t mean somebody else who disagrees isn’t sincere, or is deliberately teaching error.

Someone can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong. Even more importantly, they can be sincerely wrong on some minor point of doctrine and still be every bit as saved as you are.

We are exhorted to ‘hold fast’ to our doctrine, but the ‘Prime Directive’ so to speak, is not to finish everybody else’s sentences or correct every minor point of doctrine, but to spread the Good News that Jesus Christ paid the penalty due for our sins and made a way for us to have eternal fellowship with God.

It is a fine line to walk, but nobody said being a Christian was easy. Paul divided the Word into two parts; the ‘milk’ and the ‘strong meat’.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Hebrews 5:12)

We are to spread the Good News, and to be ready to give an answer for the reason of hope that is in us to a hopeless and dying world. That ‘hope’ isn’t found in accepting my interpretation of minor points of doctrine.

That hope is found in the fact that Jesus accepts us as we are, not in converting everybody else into scholars of our chosen discipline of Scriptural interpretation.

The Apostle Paul could have been reading one of our forum threads when he wrote:

“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.”

(Or, “I am of Copeland; I am of Crouch; I am of Lindsey; I am of Kinsella”; etc.)

“Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”, Paul asks. (1st Corinthians 1:12-13)

It is one thing to present sound doctrine in the context of Scripture. It is another thing altogether to target this ministry or that one for some minor doctrinal differences or toss around phrases like ‘false teacher’.

The Omega Letter is designed for mature Christians — it’s mission is to equip you with the tools necessary to be an effective witness for Christ in your day-to-day evangelistic efforts.

But taking that as a mandate to expose ‘false’ teaching only makes one effective with people that already agree with them.

“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.  (1 Corinthians 8:1)

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

What are your own motives? Do you want see people come to Christ, or to come to your point of view? Are you correcting out of love? Or to show off your own knowledge?

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:13-15)

Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and a place for everything, including doctrinal debates. I can’t tell you when the time is right and when it isn’t. But you can tell for yourself.

Sharing the Gospel of Christ isn’t supposed to make you mad. If it does, it’s time to step back and take another look at the Big Picture.

“And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace,” writes James, the Lord’s brother. (James 3:18)

Or, put another way, ‘you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.’

Food for thought.

Note:  Jack wrote this Letter on March 3, 2008.

When The Timing Is Right. . . .

When The Timing Is Right. . . .
Vol: 146 Issue: 15 Friday, November 15, 2013

According to the Bible, before the antichrist can step into his appointed role, there must first exist three things. There must be an existing, operational global government, an existing, operational global economy and an existing and operational global religious authority.

Why must they exist first — and before the antichrist comes to power? The Bible lays out a pretty ambitious schedule for the man of sin when he arrives on the scene. He has only seven years, barely enough time to accomplish the tasks set aside for him.

The antichrist uses the global religious system to demand worship, the global economy to enforce compliance and the global government to punish transgressors.

To accomplish all that is before him in the time allotted, these things must already be in place. After all, he only has seven years. It is enough time to seize the reins of power, but not enough time to build the system. And while there is a global government system, there is no genuine centralized global government — yet.

The United Nations has proven itself under pressure to be a paper tiger. The idea is sound, the resources are there, as is the infrastructure, but there’s no leadership. While it has the authority and the power necessary, the debate over whether to use force to back up its own resolutions continues to rage on.

Of course, it would take something of a major revolution to convert the current national systems over to a centralized global authority.

It is fascinating to watch as this plan comes together. Here we find different prophecies from different parts of the Bible, made in different eras, overlapping and becoming interdependent upon one another to bring about their fulfillment.

The global religion is continuing to develop. It is unclear what its final form will be. It is possible that it could be Islam in some form, or maybe a hybrid combination of all three major religions.

President Bush was fond of arguing that Allah was just another name for God. President Obama takes the position that God is just another name for Allah. Plus there are all the usual suspects, like the Vatican and the Pope.

The Bible says it will have two horns like a Lamb (symbolic of Christianity) but will speak like a dragon (Satan). – (Rev 13:11)

All that remains is to get rid of all that ‘fundamentalist extremism’ within each system that claims exclusivity. It’s no coincidence that all three systems in their current form are beginning to convulse and shudder.

Jesus warned that signs in the sun, moon and stars, together with the fear of sweeping climate changes would overwhelm the planet.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

Consider Robert F. Kennedy’s contemptuous comments at the Live Earth event at Giants Stadium in NJ on July 4, 2009.

“The next time you see John Stossel, or Glenn Beck, or Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity – these flat earthers, these corporate toadies, lying to you, lying to the American public and telling you that global warming doesn’t exist – you send an e-mail to their advertisers and tell them you’re not going to buy their products anymore.”

“Flat earthers”? “Corporate toadies”? “Liars”? The guy sounds more like a religious fundamentalist railing against his definition of sin than he does a politician. I thought that the Left was supposed to be the champion of tolerance?

Personally, I’ve never argued against the existence of climate change. I believe it is real. I also believe that another name for it is ‘weather.’ I don’t believe it is man-made, neither do I believe it is necessarily global ‘warming’.

It was colder at the beginning of the 20th century, then it got warm in the middle, then cold again until the late 80’s when it got hotter for a few years before it started cooling down again.

It is the fear of catastrophic climate change that is driving both the global warming alarmists and the global government proponents.

But it is taking on all the trappings of a global religion.

The third pillar upon which the government of antichrist will rest is his control of the global economy. The global economy exists now, but what is missing is some kind of centralized authority. Right now, that centralized authority would be the central bank of issue for the de-facto global currency — the US Federal Reserve.

But that is all changing as the US dollar continues to lose its luster on the international exchange market, thanks to the Fed decision to flood the market with trillions of technically counterfeit dollars.

The rest of the world’s central banks aren’t fooled. Counterfeit is the word used to describe a fraudulent imitation of something valuable and important.

The newly printed dollars are only legal because the Fed has the authority to print them, not the money to back them. So the world is — right now — looking for a new global currency.

Assessment:

The prophet Daniel says the antichrist is a prince of the empire that he prophesied would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. That destruction was accomplished in AD 70 by Titus, a general and later, emperor of the Roman Empire. (Daniel 9:27)

The Apostle John pictures the antichrist as a political leader who rises up out of the sea of nations. (Revelation 13:1) Before this global emperor can arise, there must first be empire in need of one.

It is abundantly clear that most of the nations of the Western world would be only too happy to submit to one, should he arise. Even the world’s oldest continuous monarchy is prepared to bend its royal knee — even over an issue that has divided the monarchy since the days of Henry VIII.

That issue, ‘religion’ — is the second pillar upon which the antichrist’s infrastructure rests. John prophesied of a second ‘beast’ — the false prophet — who will elevate the antichrist to the position of deity. (Revelation 13:11-17)

The Bible says that in the last days, God will send a ‘strong delusion’ but that delusion will only affect those “who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.”

In the last days, the Bible says the whole world will be conditioned to accept a savior, a messiah of sorts, who will seem to have all the answers to the religious, economic and political problems facing the world.

The Bible demands the existence of a global government (in need of leadership) a global economy (in need of leadership) and a global religion (in need of leadership.) The world demands global leadership, period. Any leader will do, provided they like what he promises.

It isn’t even relevant that they know he can’t deliver. It is the promise that is important. Barack Obama was elected on a platform of ‘change we can believe in’ without ever articulating the changes he had in mind.

Never in the history of man has it been possible to impose a global government, global religion and global economy. Not politically. Not administratively. Not technologically.

Throughout history, and up to only seventy years ago, efforts to unite the globe under a single government was a recipe for world war. Today, it is seen as the only option available to avert one.

The need for some kind of globally-acceptable religion is palpable — only the fundamentalists of the three largest religions would have any objection.

And they are the flat-earthers, liars, corporate toadies, etc., so despised by the secular True Believers.

I confess that I don’t know if the dominant global religion of the last days will be an actual religious system, like Islam or the Vatican, or if it will be some kind of New Age earth worship of the type espoused by Al Gore or the junior Kennedy.

Just as I don’t know if the global government will be headquartered in Rome, or if it will simply be headed by somebody who qualifies as a prince of the old Roman Empire.

And I don’t know if the current economic system will survive what is looking more and more like a repeat of the Great Depression.

A comparison of economic conditions between today and the same point in time following the Crash of 1929 suggests we’re in much worse shape today than we were then. Unemployment is higher, the stock market is lower, and world trade has fallen off the charts.

Here is what I do know. I know that the Bible says that three things would have to come into existence, more or less simultaneously, as part of the overall blueprint of Bible prophecy for the last days. Those three things are the global government, global religion, and global economy.

At no time in all of recorded history were all three systems “on the table” so to speak. But they are today.

Even the most ardent and determined skeptic can’t deny the trends — at best they can only quibble over the details. But the all the signs are there — and the signs are what Jesus told His disciples to watch out for.

“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)

Note: Jack wrote this Letter on July 14, 2009.  Alf Cengia’s column “God is Greater?” gives us the most recent developments in the acceptance of a global religion.