Thursday, April 22, 2010

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve – Earth Day 40

It’s finally here – Earth Day 40 – and what a grand and glorious day it is.  It is a day that was appropriately founded on the centenary of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin's birthday.  (He’s a famous Commie - in case you don’t know.)

Earth Day is a very religious day, in the very worst sense of the word ‘religious.’  It is, interestingly enough, a religion that is not only welcomed in government schools and other institutions of government, it is well-established there.  It seems that First Amendment requirements don’t apply to the religion of environmentalism.

Even more amazing is the fact that, for many Christians and in many churches, the religion of environmentalism trumps the Christian faith on some very key points.  The religion of environmentalism is styled ‘Creation Care’ by Christians who would like to mix it with the Christian faith.  The problem is, the two are not compatible.

At this point someone is bound to be thinking, “What’s wrong with liking nature and not wanting to pollute my neighbor’s property?”  The answer is, of course, “Nothing at all.”  But that is not the essence of environmentalism, or “Creation Care.”  These views tend to see the earth as an end in itself.  The Christian faith knows that the earth is the means to an end, and the Bible makes this very clear.  The ‘prime directive’ for human beings in regard to the earth:  ‘subdue’ in Genesis 1:28.

“Despite recent interpretations of Gen. 1:28 which have tried to make ‘subdue’ mean a responsibility for building up, it is obvious from an overall study of the word’s usage that this is not so. . . Therefore, ‘subdue’ in Gen. 1:28 implies that creation will not do man’s bidding gladly or easily and that man must now bring creation into submission by main strength.  It is not to rule man.”  (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Vol. 1, p. 430)

Some will try to say that this was only before sin came into the world, and that after sin human beings, as sinners, had no business ‘using’ the earth for anything.  You find exactly what God said about this in Gen. 3:17-19.  Sin did not change the command to subdue, it just made it more difficult.  Before sin it would have been relatively easy to subdue the earth.  With the coming of sin, a lot of very toilsome effort would be required to subdue the earth.  But the command to subdue did not change.

One constant theme of devotees of the religion of environmentalism is that human beings should leave no “footprint” on the sacred earth.  (If you doubt this, check out a place the The Wilderness Society sometime.)

But it is impossible to subdue the earth without changing it.  The demand that humans leave no ‘footprint’ is thus anti-Christian.  God very clearly meant for human beings to extract the potential of the creation for our use.  We are commanded by God both to rule and subdue the earth.

This is Christianity.  Then there is that other religion, environmentalism.  Choose this Earth Day whom you will serve.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Environmentalism In the Balance

In April many celebrate "Earth Day."  It began in 1970, so we were at ED40.  We ought to celebrate "Earth Day" with all the enthusiasm that the British celebrate the 4th of July.

A broad range of people and groups are called "environmentalist."  Some are really wacky, like Earth First!, while others, like the Sierra Club, go for a more main-stream image.  But when you examine environmentalists of all sorts, you do find some common themes.

According to environmentalists, people and their productive activities are a problem at best, and a plague at worst, for the earth.  For example, Thomas Lovejoy, tropical biologist and assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, has said, "The planet is about to break out with fever . . . and we are the disease.  We should be at war with ourselves and our lifestyles."  -- does this Lovejoy fellow have the wrong last name, or what?

According to environmentalists, the problems caused by people are leading to an imminent catastrophe for the earth.  According to environmentalists, the only way to avert this catastrophe is by immediate and massive government control of the activities of people.

You can see that it has some stressful internal tensions.  Some of these internal tensions are amusing.

Environmentalists are always concerned about the things people do.  People, according to many environmentalists, get in the way of "nature."  I find this at least a little amusing because, according to most moderns, human beings are a part of "nature."  "But," the environmentalists often say, "human beings change nature."  Well, so do many other things that are part of "nature."  The vast herds of American bison that roamed North America at one time left some definite changes in their wake.  (Think about that for a moment!)  But they are not condemned by environmentalists -- only human beings are worthy of such condemnation!  After reading some environmentalists on the problems that people cause, one wonders why many of the environmentalists don't just link up with Jack Kavorkian and begin to solve the problem by killing themselves.

Next we come to all those problems caused by people.  One amusing little tension here is this:  environmentalists often worry about people -- about there being too many people.  Then they worry about the alleged disasters that human beings are going to cause.  But they seem to forget that if these catastrophes are going to be as destructive as they claim, they would get rid of most of the human population, thus solving the problem of "too many people and their pollution."

Environmentalists are sometimes anti-technology.  The "Unabomber" made clear that he was blowing people up, in part, because of their connection to technology.  One of the items found in the Unabomber’s hideout was a marked-up copy of Al Gore’s book Earth In the Balance.  When you think of what the alternative to much modern technology is (harder work, more suffering, and earlier death, to name a few things!) it is hard to sympathize with this -- but don't forget, most environmentalists think there are too many people anyway, so to them some death is always a good thing, as long as it is someone else.

But the environmentalist funnies don't stop there.  To solve the problems allegedly caused by people, the environmentalists want the government to do something.  This is amusing for a couple of reasons.  First, environmentalists usually believe that "small is beautiful."  They want to decentralize production, scale-down the economy, simplify life, and make everyone “economically independent” - which is another way of saying “poor.”  But if anyone decides not to go along with these moves, the environmentalists want a big, powerful, centralized government to force you to do it!

It seems to escape the notice of the environmentalists of our world that governments are composed of people!  Of course, as the environmentalists envision this, these government people are not just common, ordinary, stupid people.  They are upstanding, intelligent environmentalists like Al Gore.  Such human beings transcend the frailties and ignorance of mere mortals.  They are the elite.  They are the priests of the religion of environmentalism.

For all of the amusement that can be derived from environmentalism's internal tensions, there is plenty to cause alarm in the posture and program of environmentalism.

One problem with environmentalists is their lack of honesty.  Most environmentalists want the state to take action to curb the current productive practices of human beings.  They want government action, and they want it now.  They do not want humans doing anything that might change the earth.  But human beings do not change easily, or without some compelling reason.

Environmentalists need an impending disaster.  A mere problem to be studied and solved is not sufficient.  In fact, one thing that bothers a lot of environmentalists is that when careful, scientific studies are done on the problems that concern environmentalists, the seriousness of the problem often pales in the light of the evidence, and the solutions proposed are just not drastic enough to suit the environmentalist mentality.

I have, in effect (in case you missed it in this mess of verbiage) just called many environmentalists a bunch of liars.

Consider an admission from Stephen Schneider.  He is a scientist who went from "we are all going to die from global cooling" in the '70s to a "we are all going to die from global warming" in the '80s.  In one of his more honest moments of self-examination, he said this:

On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but -- which means we must include all the doubts, caveats and ifs, ands, and buts . . .On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings as well.  And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change.  To do that we need to get some broad-base support, to capture the public's imagination.  That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage.  So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified,  dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.  This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula.  Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.

We could try to help Mr. Schneider decide what the right "balance" is by reminding him that it is the truth that sets us free.  But at key junctures and at important points, environmentalists have taken pains not to reveal the truth.

The truth is this: Earth Day is the Pentecost of the Environmentalist religion.  It is a religion whose god is ‘nature.’  This religion despises humanity, even though it is the religion of many human beings.  It is a religion that is welcomed in the government’s schools, where Christianity is not.  Most of all, it is a religion of lies.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jim Wallis – Nose Growing Longer by the Minute

Some more on the Jim Wallis/Glenn Beck debate:

Jim Wallis has made a hobby recently of denying that he believes ‘forced redistribution’ is part of ‘social justice.’  But he really should keep his message consistent, at least within one article on the topic.

For example, in a long blog on this matter Wallis cites the Pope:

‘Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.’

Wallis then comments:

[This] quote is from Pope Benedict XVI (Caritas in Veritate), one of the most conservative of recent popes and a fierce opponent of Communism. Glenn, he thinks social justice has something to do with “redistribution,” just like you quoted me as saying. But neither of us have ever called for the “forced re-distribution” that you keep adding on to our words or say we “really mean.”

If the Pope advocates “political action” action as a means of redistribution, then clearly the Pope believes in forced redistribution.  Political action can only mean getting the government to do something, and anything the government does it does by force.

So both the Pope and Jim Wallis advocate ‘political action’ – and thus government - as a way to achieve redistribution.  That doesn’t make Jim Wallis right, it just makes the Pope wrong.

Wallis then goes on to tell us what he really thinks:

Listen to what we teach: you start by practicing social justice in your own life, then you act for social justice in your family, your congregation, your community, in the most local way possible. . . And you only work to change government when you can’t accomplish things on a smaller scale. . . but churches can’t build levees. And Glenn, voluntary church action can’t provide health care for millions who don’t have it, or fix broken urban school systems, or provide jobs at fair wages . . .  All that requires commitments to holding governments accountable to social justice, and advocating for better public policies.

Does Jim Wallis think that those of us who don’t share his ideological commitment to ‘social justice’ just won’t pay attention to what he is saying?  Jim, we are listening very carefully to what you are teaching here.  You are clearly saying that there are things you believe governments must do for people, things that will cost a great deal of money.  Since governments only get money by taking it from those who have it, you are necessarily advocating forced redistribution of wealth.

Jim Wallis should be honest enough to state clearly just what he is in fact advocating.  Jim, don’t add the sin of manipulative deception to your sin of statism.  You’re in enough trouble already!

Christianity ‘Gay’ Today?

from  Christianity Today

In one of her first extensive interviews since announcing her comeback, Knapp, 36, talks to CT about why she quit music in the first place, her lifestyle choice, her rekindled passion for songwriting, her faith, her new album, and more.

[In the course of the interview we find the following exchanges.]

Have you been with the same partner for a long time?

Knapp: About eight years, but I don't want to get into that. For whatever reason the rumor mill [about me being gay] has persisted for so long, I wanted to acknowledge; I don't want to come off as somebody who's shirking the truth in my life. At the same time, I'm intensely private. Even if I were married to a man and had six children, it would be my personal choice to not get that kind of conversation rolling.

Have you ever felt like you had to choose between your faith or your gay feelings?

Knapp: Yes. Absolutely.

Because you felt they were incompatible?

Knapp: Well, everyone around me made it absolutely clear that this is not an option for me, to invest in this other person—and for me to choose to do so would be a denial of my faith.

What about what Scripture says on the topic?

Knapp: The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the "clobber verses" to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they're eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I'm not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn't allow homosexuals within our church. There's a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I've been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.

Kent comments:

I admit to never having heard of this Knapp person before.  I have little interest in ‘contemporary Christian music’ so-called.  But this interview is a bit disturbing on several levels.

First, the Knapp girl comes off as being an air-head.  Her response to what the Bible says about homosexuality is to refer to a couple of points of the Mosaic law.  Does she really expect anyone to take that seriously?  Does she have even a basic understanding of the Bible on this matter?

Second, Knapp perfectly illustrates a key problem in modern Christendom.  She says she is not capable of debating the matter of homosexuals within the church – I’m sure she is not, so at least that is honest.  But then her ‘response’ to that lack of argument is to say, “There’s a spirit that overrides that for me.”  There is the essence of much recent Christian ‘thought’ – I want what I want and if that is in conflict with the Christian faith, then I will just trump the faith while pretending that I’m still a part of it.

Third, Christianity Today does a great disservice to those of its readers who are still Christian by framing the interview the way they did.  The questioner’s use of homosexual PC words and phrases like ‘gay’ and ‘partner’ lend are air of legitimacy to something that does not deserve it, nor even need it in our corrupt culture.

Fourth, what exactly is the point of asking how long this homosexual relationship has been going on?  If it is wrong the first day, then it is wrong the first year, and the first decade.  The longer it has been, the ‘wronger’ is has been.

The Apostle Paul did not seem to have this uncertainty.  When a certain Corinthian was found to be shacking up with his stepmother, the Apostle made it clear that he would enjoy the left foot of fellowship until that practice was forsaken and denounced.  It doesn’t require much in the way of application to see that the Apostle would say the same thing about a young lady shacking up with a woman ‘partner.’

There was a time, not so long ago, that Christianity Today would not have glorified this sort of thing by printing a long, rambling interview with the perpetrator.  They might have reported that it had happened and expressed regrets.  Now CT expends several several pages of ink on this perversion.  I wonder what Carl F. H. Henry would say?  (CT’s first editor?)

But who cares?  After all, here in the twenty-first century, ‘gay’ is good, right?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Learning More About Grace

In a recent very brief review of several books in the Christian Standard, by LeRoy Lawson makes this comment about Jack Cottrell’s book Set Free!:

Preachers need what Cottrell teaches, but as my recent term as an interim pastor reminded me, while most church members can’t articulate the doctrine of grace to the satisfaction of a professional, they can and do live a by-grace-set-free life and will tell you of the joy of their salvation.

Kent comments:

While there is no point in engaging in a battle of anecdotes in an attempt to prove what “most church members” think, I must say that this comment goes against the grain of most of my experience.  Many church people are very caught up in the “always trying, never sure” mentality when it comes to their relationship with God.  In campus ministry, it has very often been students with a significant church background who harbored nagging doubts about their status before God.  And on further review, it often turns out to be a matter of not understanding God’s grace that leads to these doubts.

It’s not just that people “can’t articulate the doctrine of grace to the satisfaction of a professional.”  That whole statement is a bit of a red herring.  The fact is, many church people simply do not have even a generally correct idea of God’s grace.

One key reason grace is not understood by many church members is because those who teach at many churches do not understand it either.  It is amazing how very misunderstood the Christian faith is, not just by church members, but by church leaders.  This is where a book like Set Free! can be helpful.

But the situation will never be improved as long as we deceive ourselves with this “don’t need that fancy book-learnin’ because we ‘just live it’” attitude.  In order to experience joy in salvation, one needs to know on what basis one enjoys that salvation.  If that joy has no basis in knowledge, just how significant is it?  This folksy glorification of ignorance is unfortunate.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Don’t Trust Republicans

This article:

Republicans Against Repeal

By W. James Antle, III on 4.8.10 @ 6:10AM

reveals why you must not trust Republicans.

This doesn’t mean that there are no liberty-loving Republicans.  But when it comes to liberty, trust no one.  Or as someone once said in another context, “Trust, but verify.”  And the corollary to that is that when the attempted verification fails, stop trusting.

I don’t have a ready solution to the third-party question.  Third parties don’t do well in most national political contests, even though they usually stand for things from which they will not depart.  And that might reveal something important.  “We” tend to get what we “pay for” in the political realm.

We don’t want to take the time to investigate candidates and positions, so we often get bland, middle-of-the-road, liberty-talking-but-statist-walking candidates.  And they are usually Republicans for “us.”

For rough and ready evaluation of candidates in regard to liberty, I use this approach.  If you are a Democrat, I will probably not even consider voting for you.  If you are a Republican, I might vote for you but I will never trust you completely.

Those who care have been burned too often lately.  I don’t trust Republicans.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Come to church - win big prizes!

from News, Monday, April 5, 2010

One church in Texas held an unusual Easter service this past Sunday. The Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi used a huge prize giveaway to draw in visitors. All of the prizes were donated.

While the church gave away 15 cars, hundreds of bicycles, furniture, and cash, the pastor says the real goal was to give away something much more valuable.

"You know what; it's really been a lot of fun," said Pastor Bill Cornelius. "We've been giving stuff away all weekend long. But the main thing is we've seen people receiving Christ all weekend long and it's really, the whole concept is we've been giving cars and stuff but the ultimate giveaway is giving away Heaven for free which is what Easter is really all about."

Church leaders said they did not want to give the wrong idea with the flashy prizes. They just wanted to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel.

Kent comments:

Come to church - win big prizes! The concept will not die. You really don't get the full effect until you watch the video. The young minister, sporting spiked hair and wearing old jeans with shirt un-tucked, draws the names of winners. Down the isle comes the running, screaming winner. Think "The Price is Right" and you will have the idea. This, friends, is what "church" has become in some quarters.

Of course, the prizes were all donated. But wait - isnt' everything at most church donated? I was thinking that perhaps the deacons had robbed some cars lots and department stores! But no, the prizes were donated.

But the church leaders "did not want to give the wrong idea with the flashy prizes." I wonder what idea they wanted to give? I get the idea that they were saying, "If we give you a car, will you listen to our preacher?" I'm sure it's not commercialized of anything like that - no, wait, it is!

When, in the fourth century, Constantine began to "give away" government posts to those who were Christians, some began go wonder if that did not cheapen Christianity. If you became a Christian, even in part, to get government goodies, were you really a Christian? If you come to church to get free goodies, are you really there for a good reason? It is at least a question worth asking.

The video clip was very short, but I hope Bay Area Fellowship help back nothing in their imitation of "The Price Is Right." I hope that, when each winner's name was announced, the lucky winner was given full honors thus: "Joe Smith, come on down. You're the next big winner here at Bay Area Fellowship!"

Isn't church wonderful these days?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hedging About the Resurrection

from a review of Geza Vermes, The Resurrection:

Thus, the perceived fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection came as a huge surprise to his disciples and became, indeed, a transforming event in which his previously cowardly followers became bold and eloquent witnesses. Professor Vermes dissects the reports of Jesus’ resurrection, noting the wide variation in the different accounts with respect to the time and place of appearances and the identity of the visionaries. He also assesses the various explanations that have been offered to account for the apparent miracle—that is, that Jesus’ body was removed by third parties or by the disciples themselves, that Jesus survived the crucifixion, and so forth—and dismisses all of them as lacking substantive support. What remains is an event, however interpreted, that had a powerful effect on the disciples and led to the formation of an enduring religion.

Kent comments:

Notice how the reviewer hedges here.  The wordings “the perceived fact” - “apparent miracle” - “an event, however interpreted” are carefully crafted.  It’s all very polite, guarded, and dodging.

Of course, anyone with mind engaged still wonders, “Was the perception accurate?  Was the apparent actual?  Which interpretation is correct?”  If it is accurate to dismiss all those “various explanations” then what is the correct explanation?

People have been hedging about the resurrection since it happened.  That is perfectly understandable.  Because once the fact of the resurrection of Jesus is admitted, everything changes.  Those changes are very important things that make many people, shall we say, uncomfortable.  Christianity would not be just one religion among many.  Those who discount Christianity would be – dare we say it? – wrong.

Hedging or discomfort – which will it be?  Perhaps learning to be comfortable with the truth would be a better approach.