The Impossible Book

The Impossible Book
Vol: 22 Issue: 31 Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Imagine, for a second, that a collection of several dozen books about the cultural, religious and historical heritage of a historical people began to be composed around the fifth century AD.

That isn’t when the collection was completed, but rather, when it started. Since 500 AD, the work had been taken up by forty different individuals along the way, a book here, two books there, etc., with the final book of the collection hitting the news stands in January, 2007. 

So, we have the time frame of sixteen hundred years to deal with. Our first author would have composed his historical and cultural work as the Roman Empire began to collapse and the Goths and Vandals laid siege to Rome. 

Mohammed had not yet been born. The world was just entering the Middle Ages. The prevailing science said that the earth was flat. The sun revolved around the earth. England was divided into tiny kingdoms. The Dome of the Rock had not yet been built on Temple Mount. 

That is our starting point. Now, imagine that a couple of new books were added to the collection about every century or so. Very few of our authors ever meet, most are separated by hundreds of years and hundreds of miles at a time when few could read or write and libraries were about as common as ATM’s. 

A couple of books in 500, a couple more in 600, etc., for about six hundred years. That brings us to the period of the Magna Carta, and our collection of books is about one-third finished. A few more centuries, a few more books, and it is half done around the time of Columbus. 

A few more books, a few more centuries, and about the time of the American Revolution, our collection is three-quarters complete. And on we go through history: The War of 1812, the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the War on Terror. . .and finally, in 2007, the last of the sixty-six books outlining the culture and historical heritage of our imaginary people is complete. 

Now, to make it more interesting. Although our authors don’t know each other, lived centuries apart and never read each other’s works before composing their own, the entire collection must read as if it were penned by the same guy. 

If we know anything at all about literary history, it is that values, principles and styles change over time. Even in his own lifetime, an author goes through fundamental changes in his own system of values and principles. 

As a writer, I can go back and read what I wrote ten years ago and can track how my views have changed and matured over the decade. It is actually quite interesting to see how much my views have changed. 

Societies change and mature as well. The Christian Church of AD 500 is not the Christian Church of 2007. But for the sake of this exercise, we must assume that none of those personal, social or religious changes throughout the ages have any effect on our collection of historical books. 

The book written in AD 500 and the book finished in 2007 must flow together as seamlessly as if they were written by the same guy on the same week. 

Impossible? Sure. If one compared a book on US history published in 1907 with one published in 2007, one would wonder if the two books were even relating the history of the same country.

That’s only a period of one hundred years. To fit within our analogy, they would have to read as if they were written by the same hand. 

Assessment: 

The first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. Moses was a Hebrew who was raised and was well-versed in what was a thriving Egyptian culture. He was reared in Pharaoh’s court and “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).

It would be natural to imagine that his writings would be heavily influenced by Egyptian thinking—yet they aren’t. Instead, they reflect thoughts and principles that remain unchanged after more than 3,000 years. 

The Books of the Law contain, for example, considerable information about health and sickness. Notes Dr. S.I. McMillen in his 1972 book, “None of These Diseases”:

“From the record we discover that Moses had so much faith in God’s regulations that he did not incorporate a single current [Egyptian] medical misconception into the inspired instructions … The divine instructions were not only devoid of harmful practices, but had many detailed positive recommendations.” 

Now imagine a book of medicine penned in AD 500 in complete harmony with existing medical knowledge in 2007. How amazing is that? 

Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible. All the other authors to come later faithfully reflected exactly the same values, despite the cultural, linguistic and scientific advancements that are part of 1600 years of history. 

These writers would consist of people from the most diverse backgrounds. Amos was a sheepbreeder and fruit caretaker. David was a shepherd who became a mighty king. Others, such as Daniel and Nehemiah, held high positions in foreign governments. 

In the New Testament, the writers consist of several former fishermen (Peter and John), a tax collector (Matthew), a physician (Luke) and several others of different professions. 

Few, if any, ever read what had been written before. Even fewer, if any, of the Bible’s authors ever met one another. 

One of the foremost Bible scholars of the past century, F.F. Bruce, wrote in his book, “The Books and the Parchments: How We Got Our English Bible”: 

“The Bible is not simply an anthology [a collection of books]; there is a unity which binds the whole together … Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body. And any part of the Bible can only be properly explained in reference to the whole Bible.”

The narratives are historical, faithfully reflecting society and culture as history and archaeology would discover them thousands of years later. And while there may be disputes among archaeologists about certain details of the accounts, there is a general consensus of the Bible’s accuracy. 

Dr. Norman Geisler, professor of theology, summarizes the findings of Biblical archaeology: 

“In every period of Old Testament history, we find that there is good evidence from archaeology that the Scriptures speak the truth. In many instances, the Scriptures even reflect firsthand knowledge of the times and customs it describes. While many have doubted the accuracy of the Bible, time and continued research have consistently demonstrated that the Word of God is better informed than its critics.”

Not only is the Bible historically accurate, but when it deals with scientific subjects, it is also reliable. This is one of the reasons the Bible can be accepted as a trustworthy document that should be taken literally. 

Although it was not written as a textbook on history, science, mathematics or medicine, when the writers of Scripture touch on these subjects, they were inspired by God not to make mistakes, but to write what was true—sometimes stating facts that scientific advancement would not reveal or even consider for thousands of years.

Isaiah knew the earth was round a thousand years before Columbus set sail for the New World. (“It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth . . . ” Isaiah 40:22) 

Job explains the global hydrological cycle three thousand years before science ‘discovered’ it. 

Hebrews 1:10-11 confirmed the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (all things deteriorate with time) nineteen centuries before Einstein: 

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment. . .”

How many times has an unbeliever picked up a Bible and sighed to himself, “If I just had proof that God exists, then I would believe.” 

How much evidence does one need?

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 8, 2007.

Featured Commentary: Grace, Freely ~ Wendy Wippel

In Memorial

In Memorial
Vol: 22 Issue: 30 Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day is a celebration of freedom and those that defend it.  We celebrate with heavy overdoses of all things American, fireworks, hot dogs, BBQs, picnics, baseball games and so on.

The fireworks are to remind us that freedom doesn’t come without a fight and the overindulgence in Americana is to honor those that missed the party because they had to pay for it.

Memorial Day isn’t a just the official kick-off of the summer season or an excuse for a long weekend.  It is a day set aside by an Act of Congress in 1971 to honor the veterans of American wars.

Before that, it was called ‘Decoration Day’ since it was first proclaimed by the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.

In 1868, General John Logan ordered that the graves of the Civil War dead interred at Arlington national cemetery be decorated with flowers to commemorate their sacrifice.

His order included both Union and Confederate war dead.  No matter which side they fought on, they were all American.

In recent years, the purposes of Memorial Day have taken second place to the party aspect — it is more a celebration of summer and less a celebration of freedom and hardly at all about honoring our war dead.

Many of the graves of the fallen are ignored.   In those places in America where flying Old Glory isn’t either illegal or forbidden,  proper flag etiquette protocols call for flying the flag at half-mast until noon to symbolize a nation in mourning.

In one of the last acts and few shining moments of his presidency, Bill Clinton issued Official White House Memorandum asking all Americans to pause for one minute at 3 PM on Memorial Day to reflect on the price paid by our fellow citizens for our continued freedom.

In part, the Memorandum states:

“Memorial Day represents one day of national awareness and reverence, honoring those Americans who died while defending our Nation and its values. While we should honor these heroes every day for the profound contribution they have made to securing our Nation’s freedom, we should honor them especially on Memorial Day.”

Evidently, one day of national reverence is too much for the current White House. On Memorial Day, Vice President Joe Biden will lay the wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on the President’s behalf.

The president has a scheduling confict — he’s on vacation in Chicago. (2010)

Assessment:

The dictionary defines ‘honor’ as: “the reputation, self-perception or moral identity of an individual or of a group.”

This weekend is not just the beginning of summer. It is set aside to honor those who make the supreme sacrifice on your behalf. It is a time set aside to pray for those who protect us from harm. It is a time for us to love those who loved us with a love beyond human comprehension.

This weekend, as in past Memorial Day weekends, the networks will be re-running all those great old WWII propaganda movies.

The ones where the Nazis and Imperial Japanese were evil personified and the American GI is depicted as a salt-of-the-earth guy forced to put down his plowshare to reluctantly pick up a gun and defend his country.

They were called ‘propaganda’ movies and they might have been, but the propaganda message was that America was worth dying for.

They are stories from a bygone era about a nation united, strong and free.  We don’t see those kinds of stories anymore.

Duty. Honor. Country.  These are things worth memorializing.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on May 28, 2008.

Featured Commentary: Armageddon It ~ Pete Garcia

America’s Conundrum

America’s Conundrum
Vol: 22 Issue: 28 Saturday, May 28, 2016

There is sometimes a surprisingly fine line that manifests itself between what is true and what is propaganda or political correctness.

Take, for example, the question of Islam and terrorism. To some, because the Koran preaches conversion or death, that defines all Muslims as either terrorists or potential terrorists.

As I noted earlier, it is a fine line. It is a truth that Islam preaches conversion at the point of the sword. Most Islamic states include the sword in their national symbols. There are more than a thousand ways to say ‘sword’ in the Arabic languages.

But that is not the same as saying that ALL Muslims are terrorists. Not all Jews are pro-Israeli, either. In fact, the Kedash party in Israel is sending its Knesset representatives to the World Court to protest AGAINST Israel’s fence. There are Jewish religious and political parties in Israel who oppose Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

To say that not all Muslims are the enemy SOUNDS naive, or worse, an attempt to be politically correct. But not all Muslims interpret the Koran the same way.

It isn’t that surprising; not all Christians interpret the Bible the same way.

There are Christians who oppose the state of Israel on religious grounds, like the mainstream Churches who teach replacement theology. To them, the State of Israel is just another country with no more spiritual significance than India.

There are also Christians who, reading the same Bible, believe Israel is the most important country on the face of the earth and that the ingathering of the Jews is evidence of the soon return of the Lord.

To argue that all Muslims support terror, or even that all Muslims believe that the purpose of Islam is forced conversion is to deny the evidence of the differences that exist under the banner of Christianity.

Strict Calvinists do not feel a particular need to lead people to Christ. They believe that since it is predestined anyway, why bother? Very few mainline churches proselytize.

Yet there are Christians who read the same Bible and believe that it is the duty of each Christian to lead another to Christ. Both exist simultaneously, and to the non-Christian, especially a non-Westerner, there is no real difference between them.

This is not a defense of Islam. The Allah of Islam is NOT the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, neither does Islam recognize the Lord Jesus Christ.

All that being said, not every Muslim is a terrorist. There are schools of Islam that embrace only the peaceful aspects of Islam — those same schools of Islamic thought made the Islamic Middle East the most advanced culture of the 10th century. That isn’t propaganda, it’s history.

Nevertheless, it poses a real problem for America.

Assessment:

It is not hate speech to speak the truth, provided the truth you speak is true.

The problem is, while every Muslim isn’t a terrorist, we are at war with Muslim terror. And the danger is, that in our efforts to safeguard the rights of the non-terrorist Muslim, we open a door to terrorist attacks from Islamic terrorists.

There is considerable objection from many quarters, (including this one) about the depth, scope and inherent dangers of anti-terror legislation, such as the Patriot Act.

On the other hand, there is that whole question about non-terrorist Muslims.

Is it possible in the US to outlaw a religion? If so, then preaching that religion would be a crime. The Constitution would have to go out the window. And if a religion can be outlawed, Christianity would not be far behind.

But it seems possible that the only way to win the war on terror will be to shred portions of the Constitution. Listen to the politicians competing for the nomination. They don’t want to fight terror directly, they want to legislate it out of existence.

They promise to end the war on terror by rescinding the Patriot Act, raising our taxes and bringing the military home from Iraq.

Having accomplished that, what will they do if we are attacked again? History says they will immediately legislate something.

The point is, we are facing an enemy whose religion, by its very existence, is a threat to national security. In very real terms, it is the religion itself that is the enemy.

But America is a nation founded on freedom of religion. It is a conundrum.

In studying the prophecies of the last days, we find national representatives of Israel, national representatives of the Gentile world, national representatives of the Islamic world, (Gog-Magog Alliance, for example) but no existing national representatives of Christianity.

And no suggestion of a national superpower apart from the revived Roman Empire.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Corinthinians about what he called a ‘mystery’. In Scripture, a ‘mystery’ is a new revelation from God.

In arguing against the heresy that there is no resurrection from the dead, Paul writes;

“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.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul explained that the Church was to;

“wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the WRATH TO COME.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

“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. 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-17)

Following Jesus’ Seven Letters to the Seven Churches in the first three chapters of the Book of the Revelation, beginning in Revelation 4:1 we read;

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, COME UP HITHER, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

The Church is never again mentioned. Christians from that point forward are ‘Tribulation Saints’ — all of whom, it seems, are martyred.

Something has to explain the absence of the United States as a major player from the final hours of human history. Thoughout the Cold War, the only possible scenario was a nuclear war which would have destroyed the planet. And America faced no other risk to its national security apart from Communism.

I wish I could explain exactly what happens to America in the final hours of the last days that explains its absence. America is undergoing something of a spiritual revival, while at the same time, one senses a developing spiritual civil war between Christian America and the forces that represent abortion, gay rights, the porn industry, etc., etc.

At this point in history, there are dozens of ways one can reasonably guess America could collapse as a global power, from America’s spiritual civil war to Islamic terrorism to political implosion and absorption by the coming global government. (Every candidate for the White House has affirmed his faith in the UN as part of his particular election platform.)

Or, the Church could hear, ‘Come up hither’. That would explain everything, too.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on February 21, 2004.

What ABOUT Alcohol?

What ABOUT Alcohol?
Vol: 22 Issue: 27 Friday, May 27, 2016

It has been accurately observed that ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ — a saying that has been reverberating in my mind since I decided to take on a question first raised in our members-only forum. The question was, basically, ”Is it a sin to have a drink with dinner?” But that is a question that begs a host of other questions be dealt with first.

Ask four Christians this question and you can expect four different answers, each with appropriate proof texts to support them. Hence the ‘fools rush in’ saying — there is no way I can approach this without jarring the preserves of at least three quarters of you and guaranteeing some spirited comments in response.

Paul writes to Timothy;

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” (1st Timothy 5:23)

But Paul’s admonition, taken in context, comes directly after a verse in which Paul tells Timothy,

“Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” (5:22)

Does the act of drinking a glass of wine make one impure? Matthew records Jesus’ teaching on this subject, saying,

“And He called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew: 15:10,11)

If that sounds unclear to you, it did to Peter, also.

“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” (Matthew 15:15-18)

Jesus is specifically addressing eating without the ritual handwashing first — but that is an interpretation that, taken in its narrowest sense, seems a bit unsatisfactory.

In fact, interpreting Jesus’ comments ONLY in the context of eating with unwashed hands, it is medically incorrect. Jesus was talking about being SPIRITUALLY defiled when He said, “whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught . . .” since medically, eating with unwashed hands can cause all kinds of medical problems. And Jesus IS the Great Physician — He knows that.

That’s why He said, “to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man. . .” (Matthew 15:20) He is speaking of ritual defilement.

Paul writes to the Corinthians,

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Proverbs 20:1 says,

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Proverbs 31:4-7 says,

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”

While Christians are ‘kings and princes’ in the spiritual sense, Proverbs 31 refers to a king in the sense of political leadership. Those who are in a position to make judgments under the law.

Lemuel goes on, saying,

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” (Proverbs 31:7)

Do Christians have terminal illnesses? Do Christians sometimes have heavy hearts? Do Christians sometimes get fed up with the misery of this life? Gets as clear as mud, doesn’t it?

There is a difference between having a drink at dinner and being an alcoholic.

“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” (Proverbs 23:20-21)

Few would argue the simple truth of this passage — drunkards seldom become the pillars of society or achieve great personal success.

This is more a warning and a statement of fact than a doctrinal statement.

Proverbs 23:29-35 describes alcoholism as a disease of the spirit long before it was recognized by 20th century society.

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I WILL SEEK IT YET AGAIN.”

Assessment:

Everything in Scripture regarding alcohol refers to excess. From that, most Christians interpret it as an absolute prohibition against even a single drink containing alcohol. For them, as individuals in their personal walk with the Lord, that interpretation is correct.

But I remember watching John Hagee one day on his TV program. He pointed out to his audience and thundered, “If you smoke, you are defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” That got me to thinking.

Most Christians I know would agree with his statement. But then you consider John Hagee’s girth, and you have to ask yourself, what about gluttony?

“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” (Proverbs 23:21)

Is being fat a sin? What if one is fat, but neither smokes nor drinks? What about the person in perfect health, who takes excellent care of his Temple, but also has a couple of glasses of wine with dinner? Is his sin greater, or lesser, or even sinful? Who gets to decide? Is it us?

We hear tons of sermons about the spiritual evils of smoking and drinking. Why don’t we hear sermons about gluttony? I’ve noticed that when it comes to besetting sins, folks tend to focus on the besetting sin that isn’t theirs.

A preacher who smokes doesn’t dwell much on the sinfulness of smoking, one who drinks doesn’t dwell much on the sinfulness of drinking, and one who is fat doesn’t dwell much on the sinfulness of gluttony.

(I personally know good, dedicated men of God who are faithful to their calling who fall into one or more of the three categories).

One can smoke or drink, more or less in secret, but a glutton has a hard time hiding his sin, even when wearing dark suits. And try and picture the audience out front — there are a lot of delinquents from their Weight Watchers meetings sitting out there listening. So it is seldom preached as being evidence of sin.

In point of fact, we tend to categorize what is sinful behavior based more on our culture than on our Scriptures.

Where I live, it is widely assumed that nobody who drinks or smokes is really saved. On the other hand, out in California, there are many Christians who get together over a bottle of wine, and many others who smoke cigarettes openly.

Both the Catholics and Jews use wine as part of their religious rituals, as do a number of Protestant denominations. Christians in the Middle East and in Europe smoke AND drink.

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The seventh, and most abominable, is ‘he that soweth discord among the brethren.’

Paul writes;

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Romans 14:1-5)

Paul is specifically addressing keeping kosher eating habits or keeping feast days, but in general, he is referring to religious legalism.

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (Romans 14:10)

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:17-19)

Jesus made each of us the way we are. Clearly, the Scriptures warn of the dangers of too much wine. It speaks of the penalty for defiling our body, which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit. It also says that if we defile our body, (the Temple) ‘him God will destroy’ (the body, or Temple, not one’s eternal salvation).

Scriptures make it clear that God understands the alcoholic, the habitual smoker, the glutton, and warns of the dangers that these excesses pose to the physical body, but Paul says the eternal consequences come from lack of faith that,

“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Phillipians 1:6)

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:22-23)

Each of us is constructed with built-in strengths and weaknesses, but each of us also has a unique relationship with our Savior.

It is a personal relationship, one between the individual and God, Who is the Author of both our strengths and weaknesses. He put them there. He understands them.

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthinans 12:9)

“And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23)

“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

“All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (1 John 5:17)

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Sin is what humans do. Forgive is what God does. That’s why we have a Savior.

So where am I going with this? Is it a sin for a Christian to have a drink with dinner, or to have a smoke afterwards? It would seem no more a sin than to eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger, brimming with fat, covered with a ‘cheese-food product that MAY contain cheese’ — as it says on the ingredients label.

Asking the Lord to bless a McDonald’s cheeseburger ‘as nourishment to our bodies’ is no less than asking God to perform a miracle and transform it into a health food that will edify the Temple of God. Is that a sin?

Weighing 300 pounds, is that a greater sin than drinking or smoking? The winebibber and glutton are always linked in Scripture as being equals. For one Christian to condemn another based on whether he smokes or drinks requires us to point an equally condemning finger at every overweight person with an eating disorder as being equally sinful.

Or not to point fingers at all.

Paul says that ‘all things are lawful’ to a Christian, and he says, ‘Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.’

“And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:21-25)

“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12)

As I noted, this is a very difficult question. I did my best to let Scripture provide the answers, but only answer of which I am certain is that our relationship with Christ is personal — each of us comes to Him and is received by faith, not works.

The sinfulness of a drink with dinner is an issue between the individual and the Lord. To some, it is. To others, it is not. ‘Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.’ It is not a very satisfactory, black and white answer. But it is the only answer that fits the Scripture.

To answer otherwise is to plead guilty to that seventh abomination before the Lord: ‘he that soweth discord among the brethren.’

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on January 25, 2004.

Featured Commentary: God’s Unfinished Business ~ Alf Cengia

The Who’s Who of Gog-Magog

The Who’s Who of Gog-Magog
Vol: 22 Issue: 26 Thursday, May 26, 2016

According to the prophet Ezekiel, there will arise in the last days, a massive military and political alliance more-or-less formally known as the ‘Gog-Magog Alliance.’

“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . .” (Ezekiel 38:2)

According to Ezekiel, Gog and Magog will lead an alliance of nations in the last days in a disastrous [for them] invasion against the reborn nation of Israel.

In Ezekiel 38:3, Ezekiel clearly identifies Gog as a person, rather than a place; “the prince of Meshech and Tubal.”

The Scofield Reference Bible’s notes to Ezekiel claim that “Meshech” is a Hebrew form of Moscow, and that “Tubal” represents the Siberian capital Tobolsk.

That interpretation would make Gog both a ‘place’ — the Russian Federation of Nations — AND a ‘person’ — in the sense of a federated Russian leadership.

The Interlinear Bible (Hebrew – Greek – English) renders that verse as:

“Son of man, set your face toward Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and prophesy concerning him.”

(In Hebrew, the word ‘Rosh’ meant, ‘chief prince’, or, the ‘chief of the chief princes.’)

Magog was a son of Japeth, who, together with his brothers Tubal, Meshech, and Togarmah (Genesis 10:2-3) settled what is modern-day Russia and the southern steppes of the Caucasus mountains.

And Ezekiel identifies ‘Gog’ as coming from the north of Israel. Following the compass due north from Jerusalem will take you through the center of Moscow.

The army of Gog and Magog primarily includes people from the nations of Gog, Gomer, Tubal, Meshech, and the house of Togarmah from the “north parts.” They will be joined by Persians from the East, Put from the West, Cushites from the South, and others.

“Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. . . ” (Ezekiel 38:5-6)

“Gomer” is mentioned in Genesis as well as Ezekiel. The Jewish-turned-Roman historian Flavius Josephus identified Gomer with the Galatians.

“For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites.” (Antiquities of the Jews, I:6.)

Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia (now Turkey). Galatia was bounded on the north by Bithynia and Paphlagonia, on the east by Pontus, on the south by Lycaonia and Cappadocia, and on the west by the remainder of Phrygia, the eastern part of which the Gauls had invaded.

The modern capital of Turkey, Ankara, is part of ancient Galatia.

Historically, ‘Gomer’ is also linked to the ancient Cimmerians. The Cimmerians eventually settled the regions north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea, in what is now parts of Russia and the Ukraine.

The Cimmerians are believed to have migrated north from the region now called Azebaijanaround the time of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

Both the ancient Cimmerians and the Gomerites spoke a form of the Thracian or Persian language.

Tubal was another son of Japheth who settled the area. Josephus wrote:

“Tobal gave rise to the Thobeles, who are now called Iberes”.

Josephus’ ‘Iberes’ settled in the area of the former Soviet state of Georgia.

Ezekiel begins his listing of Gog-Magog’s allies with Persia, or modern day Iran. Iran’s allies, according to Ezekiel, include “Ethiopia” and “Libya.”

The Libya of Ezekiel’s day wasn’t Muammar Ghadaffi’s Libya. Josephus writes:

“Phut also was the founder of Libya to the south and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself.”

(Some versions of Scripture render ‘Libya’ (as does the KJV) whereas others render it ‘Put’ — a grandson of Noah.)

Put settled an area that included most of North Africa including Libya and parts of modern Egypt.

“Ethiopia” (also rendered by some versions as ‘Cush’) was a civilization centered in the North African region of Nubia, located in what is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

Cush was another grandson of Noah, and the father of Nimrod. Josephus gives an account of the nation of Cush, who is the son of Ham and the grandson of Noah.

“For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites.” (Antiquities of the Jews I:6.)

In the 5th century AD the Himyarites, in the south of Arabia, were styled by Syrian writers asCushaeans and Ethiopians, and it is certain that the present-day areas of Yemen and Eritrea were both ruled together by one dynasty at that time.

The African ‘Kush’ covered Upper Egypt, and extended southwards from the First Cataract. In addition, the Cushitic peoples, who live around the Horn of Africa and today comprise the Somali, Afar, Oromo and several other tribes, are popularly asserted to be the offspring of the Biblical Cush.

That the Biblical term was also applied to parts of Arabia is suggested by Genesis, where Cush is the eponymous father of certain tribal and ethnic designations that tend to point to Arabia.

Babylonian inscriptions mention the Kashshi or Kassites, and it was once held that this signified a possible explanation of Cush, the ancestor of Nimrod in Genesis chapter 8.

The rhetorical question, “Can the Cushite change his skin?” in Jeremiah 13:23 implies people of a notably different skin color from the Israelites, most probably an African race.

Also, the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament, made by Greek-speaking Jews between 250 BC and 100 BC, uniformly translates Cush as “Ethiopia”.

Assessment:

So, this is what we know. We know that Ezekiel predicts that, ‘in the latter days’ the chief of chief princes of an alliance called Gog-Magog will arise from a location to the uttermost north of Israel.

We know that due north of the city of Jerusalem on the same longitude is the modern city of Moscow.

We know that Gog will be reluctantly drawn into a conflict with Israel. Ezekiel says Gog will be ‘drawn’ as if he ‘had hooks in his jaws’ into this conflict.

The Gog Magog alliance includes modern Russia, the Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, North Africa, and the Middle East extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

We also know that the target of the Gog Magog Alliance is the restored nation of Israel. And finally, we know the time frame. Ezekiel says it will take place ‘in the latter days’. Here is something else we know. Ezekiel’s alignment of nations was never possible in previous generations.

To begin with, Ezekiel’s scenario demands the existence of Israel,

“the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations . . ” (Ezekiel 38:8-9)

From Ezekiel’s day until May 14, 1948, there was no place on earth called ‘Israel’. Prior to 1948, Russia had little interest in the Middle East. The Middle East had been part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire since the time of Columbus.

Ezekiel lived one thousand years before Mohammed introduced Islam to the world. Ezekiel lived twenty-five hundred years before David ben-Gurion announced the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Gog-Magog prophecy depends entirely on the simultaneous development of two concurrent events; the rebirth of Israel and the rebirth of Mohammedan-style radical Islam.

Look at Ezekiel’s main protagonists. There are three.

The first is Gog and Magog, the modern Russian federation. Gog and Magog’s participation in the invasion force, according to Ezekiel, comes as a result of God’s promise to,

“turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth. . .” (Ezekiel 38:4)

I’ve often pondered the phrase, ‘turn thee back’ (Hebrew ‘paqad’ or ‘call to remembrance’). I recall writing a piece for This Week in Bible Prophecy in 1992. The story was about the new Russian parliament suddenly breaking mid-session to rush out to the halls of the Duma where newly-admitted Western missionaries were handing out free New Testaments.

Having just emerged from a lifetime of godless Communism, Russians were eager to hear the Word of God and Christian missionaries were welcomed with open arms.

For several years, Russians were offered this ‘call to remembrance’ of Scripture before former KGB operative Vladimir Putin slammed the door shut on foreign missionaries. The Russian Orthodox Church — which was heavily inflitrated by the KGB during the Communist era — the only legal Christian religion in Russia.

The ‘call to remembrance’ was over. When Moscow later entered into its nuclear agreement with Iran, the hook was set.

The second of Ezekiel’s protagonists is the alliance itself.

Look at the list carefully. Every single nation and region named as Gog-Magog allies is part of the Islamic world. Every single one of them.

Islamic North Africa, [Ethiopia and Libya] including the Sudan, whose Islamic government is currently conducted genocide against its Christian population.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the heart and soul of radical Wahabbist jihadist Islam.

Turkey, (ruled by the Islamic Party), together with most of the Russian Republic’s Islamic ‘stans’.

Persia, or modern Iran, the ‘hook’ in Gog’s jaw. Iran’s nuclear program was built by, overseen, guarded and maintained by Russian scientists, technicians and military forces. Iran’s leader has made it something of a habit to mention the destruction of Israel in every speech.

That brings us to the third protagonist in Ezekiel’s scenario — Israel.

According to Ezekiel, the entire invasion force is assembled to one purpose. The destruction of Israel. Israel has but two choices facing it.

Israel can gamble that the rest of the world will restrain Iran’s mad mullahs from pulling the nuclear trigger against them. Or Israel can act militarily to remove the threat itself.

A third possibility, although not among Israel’s choices, is that the United States will act to remove Iran’s nuclear facilities before Israel faces the point of no return. The possibility the US will act in time is just that — a possibility.

Israel’s entire existence has been a gamble, but gambling that the world will protect them from Iran is an unacceptable bet. Gambling on US intervention is a long shot, but the odds are within acceptable ranges, so Israel can afford to sit tight for the time being.

But Israel will only gamble with its existence for so long before it is forced to push all its chips into the middle and take out Iran’s Russian-built, Russian-staffed and Russian-guarded nuclear facilities.

Setting the hook in Gog’s jaw and bringing all three protagonists together ‘against the mountains of Israel’ exactly as Ezekiel predicted would take place ‘in the latter days’.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on April 13, 2006.

Featured Commentary: The Days of Lawlessness ~ J.L. Robb

The Difficult Doctrine of the Trinity

The Difficult Doctrine of the Trinity
Vol: 22 Issue: 25 Wednesday, May 25, 2016

One of the most difficult doctrines of Christianity, even for mature believers, is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is even more confusing for Jews and Muslims. Indeed, non-Christians not only find it confusing, but many find it offensive.

To the Muslim, Christians are polytheists. They see the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as the equivalent to the worship of three different Gods. And trying to explain the Trinity as One God in Three Persons is like trying to describe the color red to someone blind from birth.

As with any Bible doctrine, there are those who have made it their life’s work to disprove it.

One argument often advanced is that the Trinity doctrine was unknown to the early church and was invented sometime around the 4th century.

“For there are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One.” (1st John 5:7)

Hmmm. To get around this problem, those who dispute the Biblical authority of the Trinity say 1st John 5:7-8 ‘were not found in any old Greek manuscript’.

The manuscripts translated into the modern NIV are physically older than the Textus Receptus that was translated into the KJV. One was found in 1844 in a monastery in the Sinai. It dates to the 4th century. The second, the Vaticanus, was ‘discovered’ in a vault at the Vatican and also dates to about the 4th century.

I won’t go into an exhaustive comparison of the differences between the Textus Receptus manuscripts and the Vaticanus and Sinaticus manuscripts — one can find the differences for oneself by turning to Acts 8:37 in an NIV Bible. (It isn’t there)

Why is that significant? By the 4th century, the Vatican had suppressed the reading of Scriptures by laymen. Bibles were chained to pulpits to keep ordinary people from making off with them and worse, reading them. This suppression of the Scriptures is the reason historians refer to this period of history as the ‘Dark Ages’.

It was also during this period that the Vatican introduced new doctrines, such as the doctrine of infant baptism for the remission of sins. Infant baptism, priestly confession and absolution, the doctrine of purgatory and the sale of plenary indulgences gave the Vatican the authority over heaven and hell.

Since none of these doctrines are found in Scripture, it became necessary to suppress the Scriptures to maintain the power. So, we find, using a 4th century Vatican manuscript, that Acts 8:37 has been removed from the canon.

Why? Phillip, having preached to the Ethiopian eunuch about Jesus and the necessity for salvation and baptism, was traveling with him when the eunuch exclaimed,

“See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36)

Look closely at the question. “What hinders my being baptized?” That is a major question — particularly when compared with the Vatican practice of infant baptism. The answer is contained in the next verse, (which was conveniently omitted from the Vatican’s copy.)

“And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37)

That verse utterly demolishes the doctrine of infant baptism. In context, what hinders a person from being baptized is that the person must first believe ‘with all thine heart’ that ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ That is the Scriptural prerequisite for baptism — and an impossible feat for an infant to accomplish.

So the Vatican simply removed it as inconvenient.

The argument against 1st John 5:7 as being a ‘late addition’ is equally suspect. And historically inaccurate. The doctrine of the Trinity was firmly established by early Church Fathers well before the 4th century.

In his 155 AD ‘First Apology’ Justin Martyr wrote,

“Our teacher of these things is Jesus Christ, who also was born for this purpose, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judaea, in the times of Tiberius Caesar; and that we reasonably worship Him, having learned that He is the Son of the true God Himself, and holding Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third, we will prove.”

Polycarp (AD 157) wrote of the Trinity, as did Irenaeus in his seminal work, “Against Heresies.”

Tertullian wrote in AD 213,

“Bear always in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess; by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and so will you know in what sense this is said. Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each Other.”

Origen, writing in the early 2nd century, wrote;

“[T]he statements made regarding Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are to be understood as transcending all time, all ages, and all eternity. For it is the Trinity alone which exceeds the comprehension not only of temporal but even of eternal intelligence; while other things which are not included in it are to be measured by times and ages.”

Assessment:

Clearly, the early Church Fathers were working from the earliest Greek manuscripts when they penned their 1st century commentaries. And just as clearly, they were united in their belief in the doctrine of the Trinity.

But that doesn’t really explain exactly how God can co-exist in three Persons, distinct from one another, while remaining one God.

The Bible presents each Member of the Trinity as having a distinct ministry insofar as man is concerned. God the Father sits on the Throne of Heaven as the One Who holds the universe together.

In this light, it is interesting that, although science can split the atom, it cannot explain what holds it together in the first place.

Whatever holds it together also contains its energy. It is the splitting of a single atom that releases the explosive power of the atom bomb. In His capacity as God the Father, He is the Force that binds the atom. If God forgot me for one second, I would be a radioactive crater the size of Manhattan.

The Bible tells us that the Second Person in the Godhead, Jesus Christ, is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. John 1:1-3 reveals of Jesus that,

“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”

Jesus is also the Savior of the world. He created it, He justified it by His blood, and He will judge the world according to His Word.

The Third Person in the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to bear witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. He is our source of spiritual power and authority and it is through His indwelling presence that He guides and leads us into all truth as we journey through this life.

But all three are One. It is still very confusing. Let me try an admittedly imperfect analogy.

I am but one man. However, while being just one man, I am also a father, a husband and a friend.

To my children, while I am but one man, I am also Dad. My children come to me based on that unique relationship, and that unique relationship brings with it unique privileges.

To my wife, I am husband and spouse. That relationship is also unique. Gayle can expect different things from me than my children can.

To my friends, I am just Jack. They would never expect of me the things my children take for granted as a matter of relationship. My wife can expect of me things my friends would never dream of asking.

I am husband, father, and friend, but I am just one man. However, my wife, my children and my friends all know a different person.

As I noted, it is an imperfect analogy, but it does help (for me, at least) to get my head around the concept of One God in Three Persons, while remaining One God.

As we approach the end of this age, basic Christian doctrines are under attack like no time in living memory. As watchmen on the wall, it is our job to know;

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the Word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The time is short, the Gospel is under attack from all sides, and the arguments grow more sophisticated as the enemy steps up his activities,

‘knowing he hath but a short time.’ (Revelation 12:12)

We are admonished to;

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15)

We are the watchmen on the wall for the last days, and with that title comes an awesome responsibility.

“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)

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)

Maranatha!

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on November 16, 2005

Confessions of a Christian Bigot

Confessions of a Christian Bigot
Vol: 22 Issue: 24 Tuesday, May 24, 2016

It would appear, based on the opinion of most non-Christians (who seem to be the ones with the loudest opinion on the subject) that not including Mormonism among the pantheon of Christian denominations is evidence of Christian bigotry.

What, exactly, is a “bigot”?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “bigot” is:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

It occurs to me that, for a native English speaking writer, I sure find it necessary to go to the dictionary an awful lot.  Here lately, words tend to mean what the speaker wants them to mean, regardless of what they actually mean and the more they are misused, the more popular they get.

Take “Islamophobia” for example.  According to the dictionary, that word should mean “an unwarranted and unreasonable fear of Islam.”   

Indeed, this is where you get to see the non-dictionary definition of bigotry used in a sentence, while at the same time, redefining “phobia” as in, “Islamophobia is anti-Muslim bigotry.”

I am a Christian.  Everywhere that Islam has ever spread over the course of its history, things go badly for Christians. Under secular Egyptian President Hosni Murbarak, Egyptian Christians had it pretty good.

But when Obama chucked Murbarak under the bus in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, he chucked Egypt’s Coptic Christian population under the bus with him.

Where Islam rules, Christians are either persecuted, or officially tolerated as “dhimmis.” When Mubarak ran Egypt, Egypt wasn’t ruled by Islam, and so Egypt’s Christian minority didn’t need to apply for dhimmi status.

And so, when about 100,000 Coptic Egyptian Christians gathered in peaceful protest and to stage a sit-in outside the Egyptian state television building along the Nile, on Sunday, October 9, 2011, they were unprepared for what happened next. 

They were there to protest the burning of a Christian church by an Islamic mob, while government police and firefighters stood idly by and did nothing. Naively, they expected that by gathering in such large numbers, they would make their voices heard. 

Instead, all that was heard was the screams of the wounded and dying as they were set upon by hundreds of plain-clothed thugs, backed up by police vehicles and tanks that scaled sidewalks and deliberately rolled over protestors, killing dozens.

Recent fatwas issued by top Muslim religious leaders such as the Sheikh of Al Azhar and the Grand Mufti, maintained that Christians are infidels, thus making Christians and their churches subject to religious cleansing by Muslims, since Egyptian Christians don’t pay the dhimmi tax.

According to Islam’s apologists, “dhimmi” is a “protected status” within Islam.  That sounds nice.

“Protected status” as a dhimmi means that instead of being valued at only 1/16th that of a Muslim, like other infidels, a dhimmi is valued at ½ a Muslim. 

The ‘protection’ afforded a dhimmi is that in exchange for paying a tax, a dhimmi can practice those parts of his religion that don’t conflict with Islam and he cannot be killed by Muslims out-of-hand. 

But if a dhimmi is killed, his life is not valued as equal to a Muslim, so the punishment for killing a dhimmi is reduced accordingly.

Dhimmis are forbidden to participate in the political process.  But at least “dhimmi” is an Arabic word.  So as near as I can tell, “Islamophobia” can’t actually be an English word, since it is neither an unwarranted NOR unreasonable fear of Islam. 

Not if one is a Christian, that is.

Bigot is an English word to describe unreasonable intolerance.  So “Islamophobic bigotry” only makes sense if Christians are unreasonably intolerant of their potential destruction at the hands of the people who are currently destroying Christians in Egypt.

Assessment:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

I learned over this past weekend that I am not only an Islamophobe, but I am also an anti-Mormon bigot because I was less outraged than many about Pastor Robert Jeffress’ comment to his church congregation (!!) that Mormonism is not a Christian faith, but instead, a cult.

Well, I guess that means that I am an Islamophobic bigot because I do not believe that the God that taught turning the other cheek is the same god that exhorts its followers to kill Christians for practicing their faith. Doctrines, like other things that are different, are NOT the same.

But because I do not believe that Allah is the God of the Bible, despite the fact that Allah’s doctrines, nature, character, practices and commandments are not the same as those revealed about the God of the Bible, I am an infidel who can be killed for blasphemy against a religion I’ve never been part of.

And because I don’t think that is a great idea, I am unreasonably intolerant, ipso facto, an Islamophobic bigot!  And on Sunday, I learned that unless I accept the doctrines of Mormonism as being Christian doctrines, I am also a bigot. 

Notice that I don’t have to DO anything to be an anti-Mormon bigot. I simply have to NOT change my religious beliefs to accommodate those I don’t believe are true.

To be removed from the anti-Mormon bigot list, all I have to do is pretend that;

  • I accept that God may have once been a man on the planet Kolob,  
  • that Jesus may have been Satan’s smarter brother,
  • that the Trinity is a false doctrine, 
  • that there are seven resurrections,
  • that Jesus came to America to convert the Jews here, and;
  • that He turned the Indians brown for not believing in him.

Oh, and that America is really the Promised Land, the Jews of Israel are usurpers, Independence, Missouri is the new Jerusalem and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, despite not meeting any of the Biblical criteria for such an office.

Instead, I learned I was a bigot by no less than Republican heavyweight (no pun intended) Bill Bennett who explained at, of all places, the “Values Voters Summit” that MY Christian values, such as the right to decide for myself what I believe is Christian doctrine, is actually anti-Mormon bigotry.

“Do not give voice to bigotry,” Bennett told the audience, before offering a few open comments addressed to Pastor Jeffress:

“You stepped on and obscured the words of Perry and (former Sen. Rick) Santorum and (businessman Herman) Cain and (Rep. Michele) Bachmann and everyone else who has spoken here. You did Rick Perry no good, sir, in what you had to say.”

The Washington Post featured an editorial penned by John Mark Reynolds under the headline, “Why Evangelicals Must Stand Up to Anti-Mormon Bigotry.” It makes for fascinating reading.  

According to non-bigoted evangelicals like him, claiming Mormonism is not evangelical, that Mormons are not born again, and that Mormonism is a cult is, and I am quoting:

“bigotry buttressed by irrelevance fortified with invincible ignorance.”

Ok, so I guess I am a bigot. (But at least my ignorance is powerful, even if my faith is meaningless.) 

Mormonism isn’t just NOT evangelical, it is no more Christian than is Islam.  I heard one Mormon apologist on Fox News claim that Mormonism is Christian because it has Jesus Christ in its official long-form name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The long form name for Communist China is The People’s Republic of China. The long form name for North Korea is The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Does that make them democratic republics?

If I adopt the title, Emperor of the Known Universe, does it mean I can impose taxes?

It is not bigotry to say that a faith that denies the most basic of all Christian doctrines according to all the mainstream canons of Christianity, qualifies as a non-Christian cult.  That isn’t bigotry. It is theology.

Islam also claims the God of Abraham and acknowledges the existence of a religious figure named “Jesus” (or Isa).  But it is not bigotry to say Islam’s Jesus, who was not born of a virgin and did not die on the Cross, is a different Jesus and that Islam is therefore a different religion than Christianity.

Calling it ‘bigotry’ is an effort to bully Christianity into accepting a false god and a false doctrine into their own faith.  

It is no less than a demand that the rest of Christianity accept Mormon doctrine as Christian without regard to the tenets of their own faith.

Christianity is not like the rules of membership in the Boy Scouts. One can’t sue one’s way there. One cannot bully one’s way into being regarded as Christian by name-calling.   One cannot kick open the doors of Christianity and demand admission under one’s own terms.

If Christianity is real, then it has its own, unique identity.  It has its own unique doctrines, practices, beliefs, theories and views concerning the Godhead – those views being what definesChristianity as Christian.  

If Christianity isn’t a real faith based on real events, then of course you can modify it as necessary to make it more politically acceptable.

That is all that the Romans demanded of Christian converts in the 1st century. “Just modify it a little bit so that it isn’t so exclusive . . .”  Is that so unreasonable?

Mormon theology denies the existence of the Trinity, which deviates from mainstream Christian doctrine.  Mormon doctrine on salvation deviates from accepted doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.   

Mormon doctrine concerning the nature of the Father and the Deity of the Son bears no resemblance to mainstream Christian doctrine. 

Refusing to change one’s own doctrine in order to accommodate somebody else’s is not bigotry.  But that is nothing less than what is being demanded here. 

It is no different, in substance than what the antichrist will demand in return for being allowed to participate in his system.

A different Jesus is not the same Jesus as the Founder of Christianity.  A different Jesus cannot be ‘folded in’ to mainstream Christianity to create a more Americanized version — without replacing the Jesus that already exists there.

It is not bigotry to say, “This is not the Jesus that I know.”  To accuse a Christian of bigotry because he cannot throw his own faith under the bus in order to accommodate someone else’s is a form of religious coercion on their part, not bigotry on the part of the faithful.

A different doctrine cannot be inserted into existing Christian doctrine by political decree.  It is not bigotry to say, “I cannot accept this doctrine as Christian without admitting my own faith is meaningless and can be molded and reshaped as the politics of the day demands.”

It is not phobia to fear those that are dedicated to your destruction, whether it be physical or religious.

The Mormon Jesus is not the same as the Jesus worshiped by Christians.  It is not bigotry to recognize that things that are different are not the same. 

But it is lunacy to pretend that they are.

This Letter was written by Jack Kinsella on October 11, 2011.