Throwing the baby Jesus out with the bath water

tomb.jpgSadly, many people have been wounded by the church or Christians.  Some people may use this as a convenient excuse not to believe. 

However, the assertions that Jesus really lived, died and rose again are either true or not.  Whether people were wounded by the church or someone in it is ultimately irrelevant to their eternal salvation. 

The Bible warned that there would be false teachers so we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens.  Satan loves it when people reject Jesus, regardless of the reasons. 

We don’t want to be a party to unnecessarily alienating people from Jesus, so we should watch our words and actions closely. 

If you’ve been wounded by Christians, welcome to the club.  But don’t use that as an excuse not to investigate the claims of Christianity or to reject Jesus.  Eternity is a mighty long time.

Have you encountered this or known others who have?

Boston


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We vacationed in Boston for a few days while picking up our daughters from their respective ballet workshops.  We had been “empty-nesters” for five weeks, but we survived.

There are a few things to dislike about Boston:

  1. The traffic.  It made me miss Houston traffic.  And then there were the indecipherable Yahoo Maps directions – in one case, there were literally 17 steps to go 2.25 miles!
  2. The Celtics.  Boo!  (Go 80′s Lakers!)
  3. The politics.

But there were a lot of good things as well.  Great food.  The whale-watching trip was a highlight.  The architecture and all the old brick buildings.  The history.  The people were friendly.  And seeing the girls again was the best part! 

Irreconcilable beliefs

contradiction.jpgSome folks hold views that are not only wrong but irreconcilable as well.  The only consistent theme is that they are all in direct opposition to the Word of God.

Consider how some groups simultaneously try to hold two or more of these views:

  • Men and women aren’t different.
  • “Gender fluidity” means boys and girls as young as elementary school are told they can choose what gender they are.  Even though there isn’t a difference.  And their perceived gender can change.
  • Homosexuals and bisexuals are “born that way” and can’t be changed.
  • If you declare that you are now gay, then that means you were always gay.  But if you were gay and now declare yourself straight then you are still gay.   
  • It is mandatory that homosexuals be able to marry someone of the same sex.  A gay guy can’t just marry a female with more masculine characteristics, or a biological female who thinks she is really a man.
  • Sperm banks for Lesbians are important, because it is important for the women to experience pregnancy and have their own child.  But having a father around – or even knowing who he is – is completely irrelevant to the child. 
  • Homosexual orientation is driven by “nature,” so it is moral. 
  • Homosexual parenthood obviously defies “nature,” but it is moral as well.
  • It is irrelevant whether your parents are M/F, M/M, F/F, or even a set of two. 
  • HIV/AIDS is not a gay disease, and you are homophobic if you suggest it is.
  • If you don’t support more funding for HIV/AIDS you are homophobic.

Consider the net result of the typical gay adoption argument: Having a same-sex partner is paramount, but the sex of the parents is irrelevant.  How can that be?

Note: I am not saying we need to take kids away from gay couples.  I am not saying that the best of gay parenting is worse than the worst of traditional parenting.

I am saying that public policies should not encourage gay parenting and definitely shouldn’t force adoption agencies to provide children to gay couples.  Exceptions can make bad rules.  I am also saying that it is ridiculous to consider phrases such as traditional family to be offensive.

Once again, the culture is putting the desires of adults over the needs of children.  It is the same lie that was foundational to the easy divorce and abortion movements: Adults are vulnerable, children are not.

Lies.  Big, big lies.

Heretics ‘R Us

I dropped by The Reverend Chuck Currie’s blog to see what The Reverend Chuck Currie had to say.  Because, after all, The Reverend Chuck Currie is a reverend.  You can tell, because it says so in his blog title.

He is a leader in the United Church of Christ denomination, a group that is apparently not too keen on sound doctrine.  This guy just got ordained and he is continuing to preach heresies.

Oddly, his sermon on John 14:6 (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”) was on a single verse, and his key points were to claim that Jesus was not the only way to the Father, that other religions such as Islam should inform our view of the Gospel, and that the Bible is not accurate or reliable. I downloaded the sermon and quoted a few parts below.

Got that?  You are sitting in a United Church of Christ building ready to hear a lesson from the Word of God, only to have the “Reverend” tell you that the Bible is not the Word of God and that Jesus is not the only way to salvation.  You can trust what other religions teach you because God apparently revealed himself accurately in them, but He did not reveal himself properly in the Bible.  And this guy just graduated from a “Christian” seminary.  Check.

Here are some excerpts from his message:

Is John 14:16 (sic) the literal word of God or is it a human reflection that speaks to how the early Christian community understood their faith?

Biblical scholars in mainline seminaries agree that Jesus never spoke the words attributed to him in our reading from this morning.

Looks like someone went scholar-shopping and found just what he was looking for.  And don’t you love the patronizing bit about those deluded early Christians who gave their lives for the faith but were just imagining that Jesus really said those things?

The Gospel of John was written some 100 years after the death of Jesus and in no other writing is Jesus said to have made such exclusive claims about the faith.  So why after 100 many years have passed since the his death would someone remember things so differently – so starkly differently.

First, the dating for the Gospel of John is much earlier than 100 years after the death of Jesus.  Chuck has been corrected on this point but he ignores it.

He also ignores that there are 100 passages stating that Jesus is the only way.  He pretends that John 14:6 is the only Bible verse making this claim.  He has also determined that the gnostic Gospel of Thomas is more authoritative than the Gospel of John – even though the early church did not even hint at holding that view.

It might be better to read this passage as a statement of faith from the early Christian community, who believed with conviction that Jesus was the way, the truth and the life.  I share that conviction today.

No, he doesn’t.  If he really thought Jesus was the way then he wouldn’t stand in a pulpit and spread these lies.

But I’m not so arrogant to think that my own understanding of God surprasses all other understandings of God . . . Is it possible that God speaks through Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and the world’s other great religions?

Ah, there’s the passive-aggresive tolerance trick.  The reverend dogmatically states that Jesus is not the only way, that the Gospel of John was written 100 years after Jesus’ death and contains falsehoods, the Gospel of Thomas is authoritative, the Bible is not, etc.  But he’s not going to be arrogant like those who don’t hold those views!  How humble.

And no, God does not speak through other world religions.  They may contain some truths but that doesn’t mean they are from God.  If you took even 10% of the Bible seriously you would never make that claim.  Religious pluralism is intellectually bankrupt.

Let us resolve as members of the Christian faith to be open to hearing God speak through other voices, and as we preach the Gospel message let our hearts welcome new insights about God from other faithful traditions.

What kind of nonsense is that?   He says we are supposed to preach the Gospel, but we’re supposed to let other faithful traditions inform our views.  Huh?  What Gospel is that?  What is the standard of truth now that he has tossed out the Bible?  What do the Koran and the teachings of other false religions have to teach us about Jesus that the Bible does not?

I would encourage the reverend to meditate on this verse, except that he has probably eliminated from his slim-line Bible already:

Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!

I say with complete confidence that the gospel (small “g”) that The Reverend Chuck Currie preaches is radically different than the one the Apostle Paul was referring to.

“Reverends” like this mock the cross and the blood of the martyrs.  I am glad we live in a country where people have the freedom to preach whatever they like.  We even have a name for people who hold these views: Non-Christians.

More here.

Weekly roundup

Ten reasons we believe the Bible – Thorough but readable summary on why you can trust the Bible.

Rising illegitimacy rate tied to legalized abortion – counter-intuitive, but true.

A series of responses to “god is not Great – How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens.  Hitchens is an “evangelical atheist” who is a sharp-tongued, bright guy who nevertheless makes one logical fallacy after another.  He is such a good debater that most people don’t catch them.  Mark Roberts does a great job in dissecting the book.

Then there’s Richard Dawkins, who thinks “we have got to look very carefully at the rights of parents-and whether they should have the right to indoctrinate their children.”

60 Second Review – Can We Trust the Gospels? - This is a terrific book - written by a brilliant scholar yet very readable.  It will give you a quick and fresh look as to why we can have so much confidence in the Gospels.


Pro-life views in cinema - there appear to be more “life affirming,” if not explicitly pro-life, movies coming out.  It included a quote from a NY Times writer that “because studies show “nearly two-thirds of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion,” these movies  “go out of their way to sidestep real life.”  Hmmmm . . . but 1/3 don’t end abortion – is that not real life?  And has the writer ever considered that just because something is in the majority that it isn’t ideal?

The Velvet Hammer had a great tip on BlogBackupOnline.  It is free and very easy to use.  You all do too much hard work on your posts to risk losing them.  Go back up now!  I’ll wait here.

The most dangerous idea in religion?

warning.gifThe Religion section of the Houston Chronicle had an article where five religious leaders answered the question, “What is the most dangerous idea in religion today?” 

Religion is one of the most potent forces in human affairs. It has inspired some of history’s most sublime moments, but also some of its most barbaric.

The Inquisition, bombings of abortion clinics, suicide bombings in Iraq – all have their roots in some form of religious ideology.

With that in mind, five leading thinkers from varying faiths were asked the same question: What is the most dangerous idea in religion today? Their comments were edited for brevity and clarity.

Violence in the name of God – Richard Land

“I would agree with Pope John Paul II, who said that there is a sacred sanctuary of the soul for each man and woman. No other human being has the right to coercively interfere with that sacred sanctuary of the soul. The most dangerous idea in religion is the idea that violent, coercive force is permissible in the name of God – any God.

“You see this with radical Islam. Notice that I said radical Islam, not Islam.

“More people will die if this idea spreads. It will help poison the well of debate and discussion about issues that people disagree on. It’s corrosive to public discourse to say if you disagree with me, I’m going to kill you. It erodes freedom of speech, assembly and worship.”

Richard Land is the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He was selected by Time Magazine in 2005 as one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America.

I agree with this completely.  Coercion is a bad idea.  It is not a Biblical motif at all.  Look at the Book of Acts, which chronicles the early church.  The Gospel was spread through reason and evidence, not force.  Jesus was God himself in human form and He didn’t make anyone believe.

Follow our rules or else – Wayne Dyer

“Carl Jung (an author and psychiatrist) had a line. The paraphrase is this: The No. 1 problem with organized religion is that the purpose of organized religion is to prevent people from having a direct experience of God. Religion is organized around the principle that religion will provide the direct experience of God for you as long as you become a member, follow our rules and contribute to us financially.

“The most important thing human beings can recognize is that they are already connected to God, and to maintain that connection is not something you can turn over to another person or organization. One of the truths of the physical world is that you must be like what you came from. If you have an apple pie and you ask what the apple pie is like, it’s like (the apple) where it came from.”

Wayne Dyer is one of the most popular self-help speakers in the nation. He’s the best-selling author of 29 books and has been featured frequently on Public Broadcasting Service specials.

I don’t subscribe to Dyer’s beliefs at all, but I think he makes a valid point about a danger of organized religion.  Bad people are attracted to power, sex and money.  You need to use good discernment and have Biblical church discipline to keep things on track.

My religion is right – Rabbi Harold Kushner

“There’s a sense that in order for me to be right, everyone who disagrees with me is wrong. It makes religious interfaith cooperation more difficult. If I believe that, I have to believe that other people’s religions are worthless, invalid.

“You have to understand that religion is not about getting information about God. Religion is about community. The primary purpose is not to get us to heaven but to put us in touch with other people. I can have fierce loyalty to my family without denigrating other people’s family. I can have fierce loyalty to my own religion without denigrating other people’s religion. In the same way, my neighbor can say that my wife is the most wonderful woman in the world. I can take that as a statement of love, not fact.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner is one of the most famous Jewish thinkers in the nation. He is best known for his best-selling book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (Anchor, $21).

Kushner is famous for the aforementioned book, but it was non-Biblical.  His premise was that evil exists, so God is either not good or He is good but not powerful enough to stop evil.  With theology like that I didn’t expect much from his comments. 

He makes the classic passive-aggressive tolerance claim: He thinks it is bad when people think they are right but doesn’t see the inconsistency that he obviously thinks he is right.

Converting others to your religion – Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im

“I wouldn’t believe in a religion if I didn’t believe it to be better than other religions. The notion of superiority and exclusivity is inherent to religious beliefs. It can be dangerous and not be dangerous.

This guy is a Muslim, but I completely agree with his first statement.  Good for him for being honest!

“The whole idea of missionary work is a very loaded and dangerous idea because it’s often presented as simply presenting beliefs for someone to accept or reject. It’s always embedded in power. Those who have the ability to proselytize to others are more powerful than others. They have the resources to establish schools, hospitals. Missionary work is not neutral. It is embedded in power. You don’t find Muslims coming to proselytize in the U.S. But you find Americans going to all sorts of Muslim countries.”

I take exception to his second set of statements, but perhaps he is the kind of guy you could actually have a dialogue with.  I’d like to ask him about the spread of Islam in prisons and such.

I am not familiar with missionary work done with a quid pro quo attitude – i.e., convert and we’ll help you.  It is usually people sharing the love of Christ in meeting physical needs with the hope of sharing the life-saving Gospel message with them. 

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im is an internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights. He is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University.

A tribal view of God – Deepak Chopra

“The most dangerous idea is my God is the only true God and my religion is the only true religion. It leads to quarrels, divisiveness, terrorism, prejudice, racism and bloodshed.

“All religious ideas are programmed into our consciousness at a very early age. We hold them to be true. It’s very difficult to step out of that condition even in the face of good intellectual reasoning because of emotional bondage to our condition. We bristle with emotions when our beliefs are threatened.

“We are at a very critical stage in our evolution. We’re beginning to become aware. We know a lot about nature. We have a pretty good idea about the beginning of the universe. We understand to a great extent the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. And yet for the vast majority of us, though we have cell phones and can make nuclear bombs, our psychological and spiritual evolution is frozen to a level that is very tribal.”

Deepak Chopra is chairman and co-founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, Calif. He is a best-selling author and popular lecturer best known for integrating Western medicine with the natural healing traditions of the East.

He also makes the classic passive-aggressive tolerance claim: He thinks it is bad when people think they are right but doesn’t see the inconsistency that he obviously thinks he is right.

Many of us didn’t have religious notions put in our heads at an early age, or we rejected them if they were.  Yes, some people do that – especially in Muslim cultures.  I prefer to have a free and open society where people have the freedom to share their faith in the marketplace of ideas.

He adds some unsupported statements about how we’ve evolved to this state and such.

He ignores that Christians in particular have wrestled with tough questions for a couple thousand years.  The Bible contains these challenges as well – check out Psalms, Job and Ecclesiastes, among others.

What did Jesus think of the Old Testament?

jesus6.jpgJohn MacArthur mentioned several important things about what Jesus thought of the Old Testament in a recent sermon series.  Here are some of them plus my own comments.

For one thing, He thought He wrote it (and I believe him).  Christians have traditionally held these views:

  1. Jesus is God as He claimed to be.
  2. God inspired the Bible.
  3. Therefore, Jesus inspired the Bible.

Interestingly, the references Jesus made to the Old Testament were often the most controversial parts and/or those characters that some liberal theologians think were fictional – Satan, Noah, Jonah, Sodom.  When Jesus refers to them there isn’t even a hint that they weren’t real.

He didn’t appear to have any problem with the destruction of the world (except for Noah and his family) and He clearly taught that the majority of people will go to Hell.  So we should dispense with the false dichotomy of the vengeful Old Testament God and the kinder, gentler New Testament God right here.

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Jesus is the theme of Scripture, and He thought it spoke accurately of himself.

John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to tweak it or refine it.  Many passages refer to this, for example:

John 15:25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’

On the road to Emmaus – aka “the world’s greatest Bible study” - Jesus explained it all and showed He they should have been able to see it.  He clearly thought the whole book was about him, so He was either correct or a raging egomaniac.

Luke 24:25-27 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Jesus quoted or referred to the Old Testament roughly 180 times – about 10% of everything recorded in the Gospels.  He thought the Old Testament was error free.  If there were errors and He knew about them, that would have been evil.  If there were errors and He didn’t know about them, then He wasn’t God.

 

Matthew 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Jesus used Scripture to counter Satan and was completely confident in it.

 

Luke 4:3-4 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’

Jesus also used Scripture to answer John the Baptist in Luke 7. 

A final thought: Some people put more weight on the “red letters,” i.e., what Jesus is directly quoted as saying.  But the whole Bible is his Word.  And He used many of the red letters to refer to and explain the black letters. 

 

Shameless plug

bible3.jpgI want to invite you to visit the Bible Study Blog as well.  All are welcome, including skeptics and those new to the Bible. 

We typically cover one chapter every other day.  We just started the book of Romans, one of my favorites, but I’ll be glad to field questions on any of the books covered to date or just general Bible questions.  Romans was written by the Apostle Paul.  It is a brilliantly written book that lays out the whole message of the Gospel then tells how to apply it in our lives.

It is amazing (in the bad way) how many Christians rarely read the Bible and haven’t even read all of the New Testament, let alone the Old Testament.  Many people have barriers to “religion” and may be pleasantly surprised that some of what they don’t like is condemned by the Bible as well, and that there are many parts they didn’t realize were in there. 

Whether you do it by yourself, online or in a group, I encourage  every Christian everyone to read the Bible at least once in your life.

Prenatal Testing and Down Syndrome

sindy.jpgThis is Sindy, one of our World Vision sponsor children.  She has a poor but loving family.  We’ve enjoyed writing to her the past five years.  Hopefully we’ll be able to do a mission trip there sometime and meet them in person.

Sindy has Down Syndrome.  I thank God that she was conceived in Honduras instead of the U.S. or there is a 90% chance that she would have been aborted.  It is all part of our society’s moral schizophrenia.  Do we wish she wasn’t poor?  Yes.  Do we wish she didn’t have Down Syndrome?  Yes.  Do we think she and the rest of us would have been better off if she was dead?  No.

This Texas Right to Life email had some interesting information: 

Prenatal testing, whereby tests are performed in utero to verify the health of the child, is now considered standard prenatal care. Unborn children have been screened in the womb for Down Syndrome in women over 35 for many years. However, just this year, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has started to recommend that doctors perform a new screening procedure on all pregnant women, regardless of age. These tests raise the question of what would happen if a family finds that their child does have Down Syndrome or other disabilities. Is this information sought in order to better prepare parents or to abort less-than-perfect children before they are born?

Testing Procedures

Until just recently, the Down Syndrome test was performed in the second trimester by amniocentesis. Suggested between 15 and 20 weeks of gestation, this procedure uses a needle to penetrate the amniotic sac, drawing amniotic fluid for testing. One of every 200-400 procedures results in a miscarriage. The baby is also at risk for being pricked by the needle as it enters the amniotic sac.

A study conducted a couple years ago on 38,000 American women revealed that Down Syndrome can be detected at just 11 weeks after conception. The test consists of a first-trimester sonogram and two blood tests. This test is slightly more accurate than the current quadruple test offered at 16 weeks gestation, but a 5% false positive rate remains inherent in the test results.

Once the test determines that a woman is carrying a child with Down Syndrome, doctors often do not know how to relay that information. Women report a high level of dissatisfaction. Many parents of children with Down Syndrome share stories of doctors starting with “I’m sorry” or “I have bad news.” One woman who decided she would continue her pregnancy spoke of her doctor reminding her that she could still undergo a late term abortion if the ultrasound indicated that the baby would need heart surgery (as many infants with Down Syndrome do within the first year of birth).

Effects on Down Syndrome Babies

Unfortunately, many families who find that they have a child who is “imperfect” choose to end that baby’s life through abortion. About 90% of parents who find that their child has Down Syndrome choose to abort that child. A parent’s subjective view of the child’s quality of life, often coupled with pressure from the medical community, becomes the determining factor for whether that child is allowed to live. Prenatal diagnosis is not a perfect science, and many times, unborn children thought to be disabled are born without medical complications or disabilities.

This new test for Down Syndrome, coupled with the extremely high rate of abortion for babies with Down Syndrome, means that these children will likely grow up in a world with few people who are like them. There are currently about 350,000 people with Down syndrome. With a diminishing population, many parents are concerned that there will be less institutional support and reduced funds for medical research.

The New York Times also described a general unease about “drawing the line between preventing disability and accepting human diversity.” They reported about one mom’s concerns, “If all these people terminate babies with Down Syndrome, there won’t be programs, there won’t be acceptance or tolerance.”

Support and Information

Many parents of children with Down Syndrome are convinced that more women would choose to carry their children to birth if they actually knew what parenting a child with Down Syndrome was like. These parents are now taking a role in helping to offer a positive perspective in the face of daunting statistics and doctors who share only the difficult aspects of raising a child with Down Syndrome. Volunteers are asking obstetricians to send parents to talk to these experts on Down Syndrome when an unborn baby is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. They are also building networks so that new parents can meet with veteran parents of children with Down Syndrome for support.

There is a better way, people.  And it starts with not killing innocent human beings, regardless of their possible medical problems. 

Parts of the Pachyderm

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason has an excellent piece called the Trouble with the Elephant.

The ancient fable of the blind men and the elephant is often used to illustrate the fact that every faith represents just one part of the larger truth about God. However, the attempt is doomed before it gets started.

In the story, multiple blind men feel different parts of an elephant and describe it in different ways.  Someone who is not blind then points out the truth to them. 

The typical application of the story is that religious pluralism is true – i.e., we’re worshiping the same God in different ways.   

A good question to ask anyone who repeats this parable is, “Where do you fit into the story?”  If he is one of the blind men, then why would he have anything to offer you?  If he claims to be the person with sight, then what are his qualifications that he understand this world and you don’t?

Note that the blind men are describing different parts of the elephant, but it is still an elephant.  But if one religion says God is personal and another says He is impersonal, then they can’t both be right.  You can’t be an elephant and not an elephant.  I wrote more on the irreconcilable differences in the essential truth claims of religions in Religious Pluralism is Intellectually Bankrupt.

In a sense, the whole story is self refuting.  While the principle message is that we can only know a certain piece about God, the message itself claims to have the big picture. 

It also has a rather odd premise: The “real” religion would be to follow every religion.  That way you’d have the whole elephant.

The only way the parable would work is if the elephant described itself to the blind people – sort of the way the God reveals himself to us in the Bible.  As Koukl says:

If everyone truly is blind, then no one can know if he or anyone else is mistaken.  Only someone who knows the whole truth can identify another on the fringes of it.  In this story, only the king can do that–no one else.

      The most ironic turn of all is that the parable of the six blind men and the elephant, to a great degree, is an accurate picture of reality.  It’s just been misapplied.

      We are like blind men, fumbling around in the world searching for answers to life’s deepest questions.  From time to time, we seem to stumble upon some things that are true, but we’re often confused and mistaken, just as the blind men were. 

      How do I know this?  Because the King has spoken.  He is above, instructing us, advising us of our mistakes, and correcting our error.  The real question is:  Will we listen?

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few pictures some fellow missionaries and I took in Kenya.


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Proverbs 10

Greetings!

Proverbs 10 (NIV)

Proverbs of Solomon

10     The proverbs of Solomon:

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.

2 Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death.

Another reason God warns us not to take things that don’t belong to us.  Not only does it sin against God and the other person, but we won’t able to truly enjoy them ourselves.

3 The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

4 Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Laziness can take many forms.  It is stunning to hear how many hours of TV many people watch per day!

5 He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son,

but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.

6 Blessings crown the head of the righteous,

but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

7 The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,

but the name of the wicked will rot.

8 The wise in heart accept commands,

but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

9 The man of integrity walks securely,

but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.

10 He who winks maliciously causes grief,

and a chattering fool comes to ruin.

11 The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,

but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

12 Hatred stirs up dissension,

but love covers over all wrongs.

13 Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning,

but a rod is for the back of him who lacks judgment.

14 Wise men store up knowledge,

but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.

15 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,

but poverty is the ruin of the poor.

16 The wages of the righteous bring them life,

but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.

17 He who heeds discipline shows the way to life,

but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

18 He who conceals his hatred has lying lips,

and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

This is sobering.  If we hate and disguise it that may seem like a good thing, but we are lying to God. 

19 When words are many, sin is not absent,

but he who holds his tongue is wise.

20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver,

but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

21 The lips of the righteous nourish many,

but fools die for lack of judgment.

22 The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,

and he adds no trouble to it.

23 A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct,

but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.

24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him;

what the righteous desire will be granted.

Few people are excited about dying, but the wicked really dread it. 

25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,

but the righteous stand firm forever.

26 As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes,

so is a sluggard to those who send him.

27 The fear of the Lord adds length to life,

but the years of the wicked are cut short.

28 The prospect of the righteous is joy,

but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

29 The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous,

but it is the ruin of those who do evil.

30 The righteous will never be uprooted,

but the wicked will not remain in the land.

31 The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom,

but a perverse tongue will be cut out.

32 The lips of the righteous know what is fitting,

but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Verse after verse emphasizes that what we say matters immensely.  Being careful about the words we do say and what we don’t say makes the difference between joy and suffering.  The last time I was in Kenya I was very intentional about saying things to lift people up (even when someone was annoying me!) and not saying things that would have been unproductive.  I was successful most of the time, and it made a huge difference. 

Problems with pro-gay theology – 5 of 5

warning.gifThis is the last post in the series.  Please consider reading parts 1-4 as well.

Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4   

Pro-gay theological principles in action

In the first parts of the series, I addressed the three commons ways pro-gay theologians make errors, namely by believing that: 

  1. The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.  
  2. The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.  
  3. The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically condemn gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable and the “new” sin is saying that homosexual behavior is sinful.  

In this final installment I am taking the pro-gay theological reasoning out for a test drive, so to speak, to see how it applies to other passages.  After all, if their principles are sound they should work in other situations as well. 

We’ve addressed Leviticus 18:22 (Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.) and some of the improper interpretations of it here and here. But I wondered how their reasoning would apply to a verse in the same passage, such as Leviticus 18:8 – Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.  After all, the context of Leviticus 18 is abundantly clear because it starts and ends with the same admonitions: Don’t be like the pagan Canaanites and do the detestable things listed in the middle of the text, or you will be vomited out of the land like they were.

You can use any verse from Leviticus 18 to make the same points (bestiality, child sacrifice, etc.).  I chose this one because it happened to be addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5.  Especially note how Paul chides them for being proud  and boastful about this man’s behavior.  Read it once, then read it again and replace the descriptions of incest with homosexual behavior.  That is how I view the pro-gay theology community (especially the heterosexuals): Proud and boastful for ignoring God’s Word.

1 Corinthians 5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

Now let’s apply the various lines of pro-gay theological reasoning to Leviticus 18:8 and 1 Corinthians 5 and see how well they work.  I realize that not all pro-gay theologians hold all these views.  I tried to convey their reasoning as accurately as possible.  Using their logic, we could conclude that:   

  • Jesus didn’t specifically say not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife, so it couldn’t have been very important and probably wasn’t even a sin (the argument from silence).  We should err on the side of saying it isn’t a sin.  We ignore the fact that Jesus, as God, authored the Old Testament and that He fully supported it.
  • The man was born that way (i.e., with the desire to have sex with females).  It was his natural desire and function.
  • He and his father’s wife love each other!  Who are you to say that is wrong?  Gene Robinson, a Bishop in the Episcopal church, left his wife and kids so he could be with his gay lover.  Pro-gay theologians usually affirm and applaud this behavior.  Living up to marriage commitments made before God isn’t nearly as important as indulging your sexual preferences.
  • How do you know he and his father’s wife didn’t pray about it?  Maybe God gave them a personal revelation permitting them to have sex and/or get married.  That would make it acceptable.
  • Leviticus 18:8 was a ceremonial law.  It was only for the Jews.  It obviously doesn’t apply to Gentiles.
  • The Bible never actually uses the word incest.
  • There are only a few verses saying not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife (probably less than there are describing homosexual behavior as sinful).  Therefore, how can we be sure about it?  And they are kinda obscure as well.
  • The man or the father’s wife was a temple prostitute or this was part of some pagan temple worship, and that is what made it wrong (even though the text doesn’t even hint at that).
  • Paul was an ignorant prude.  He didn’t understand sexual behavior or have the advantage of all the knowledge we do.  (This assumes that the Holy Spirit wasn’t inspiring his writings, of course).
  • You are just using the “yuck” factor and saying “Eeewww” because a man having sex with his father’s wife seems gross to you.  There is really nothing wrong with it, though – you were just made differently.
  • Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Paul must be sinning here because he is clearly making moral judgments.  (Please ignore the fact that I’m judging Paul for judging and that I’ve taken Matthew 7:1-5 out of context).
  • You are just an incest-o-phobe.  You need therapy for your irrational hatred.  In fact, speech like that should be prohibited because it will incite violence against those who practice incest.
  • You just don’t love the man and his father’s wife!  If you did, you’d want them to be happy.  Hater!  Hate speech!
  • Other parts of the Bible portray God acting in ways that don’t appear to be in line with his moral laws, so they obviously aren’t really from him.  Therefore, Leviticus 18:8 may not be his Word either.  When in doubt, we should ignore Scripture, because God’s revelation to my heart trumps anything in the Bible.
  • Some parts of the Bible aren’t clear to us - even though this part is - so we can ignore it.

If that sounds like an unsound line of reasoning that’s because it is an unsound line of reasoning.  These principles don’t work on the passages they are designed to dismiss, and they completely self-destruct when applied to other passages.  Pro-gay theology is flawed, sinful and destructive and should be abandoned by any Christians who hold those views.   

Once again, remember that:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
  • Remember, if homosexual behavior is a sin – and I believe the Bible clearly identifies it as such – then affirming and encouraging that behavior is also a sin and providing the orthodox Biblical view is the loving thing to do.  God is perfectly holy, but He is also perfectly gracious and merciful and will forgive those who repent and believe in Jesus.  Hear the Good News:  

    Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Problems with pro-gay theology – 5 of 5 – summary

    warning.gifThis is the last post in the series.  Please consider reading parts 1-4 as well.

    Part 1    Part 2    Part 3    Part 4   

    Pro-gay theological principles in action

    In the first parts of the series, I addressed the three commons ways pro-gay theologians make errors, namely by believing that: 

    1. The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.  
    2. The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.  
    3. The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically condemn gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable and the “new” sin is saying that homosexual behavior is sinful.  

    In this final installment I am taking the pro-gay theological reasoning out for a test drive, so to speak, to see how it applies to other passages.  After all, if their principles are sound they should work in other situations as well. 

    We’ve addressed Leviticus 18:22 (Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.) and some of the improper interpretations of it here and here. But I wondered how their reasoning would apply to a verse in the same passage, such as Leviticus 18:8 – Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.  After all, the context of Leviticus 18 is abundantly clear because it starts and ends with the same admonitions: Don’t be like the pagan Canaanites and do the detestable things listed in the middle of the text, or you will be vomited out of the land like they were.

    You can use any verse from Leviticus 18 to make the same points (bestiality, child sacrifice, etc.).  I chose this one because it happened to be addressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5.  Especially note how Paul chides them for being proud  and boastful about this man’s behavior.  Read it once, then read it again and replace the descriptions of incest with homosexual behavior.  That is how I view the pro-gay theology community (especially the heterosexuals): Proud and boastful for ignoring God’s Word.

    1 Corinthians 5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

    Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

    I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

    Now let’s apply the various lines of pro-gay theological reasoning to Leviticus 18:8 and 1 Corinthians 5 and see how well they work.  I realize that not all pro-gay theologians hold all these views.  I tried to convey their reasoning as accurately as possible.  Using their logic, we could conclude that:   

    • Jesus didn’t specifically say not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife, so it couldn’t have been very important and probably wasn’t even a sin (the argument from silence).  We should err on the side of saying it isn’t a sin.  We ignore the fact that Jesus, as God, authored the Old Testament and that He fully supported it.
    • The man was born that way (i.e., with the desire to have sex with females).  It was his natural desire and function.
    • He and his father’s wife love each other!  Who are you to say that is wrong?  Gene Robinson, a Bishop in the Episcopal church, left his wife and kids so he could be with his gay lover.  Pro-gay theologians usually affirm and applaud this behavior.  Living up to marriage commitments made before God isn’t nearly as important as indulging your sexual preferences.
    • How do you know he and his father’s wife didn’t pray about it?  Maybe God gave them a personal revelation permitting them to have sex and/or get married.  That would make it acceptable.
    • Leviticus 18:8 was a ceremonial law.  It was only for the Jews.  It obviously doesn’t apply to Gentiles.
    • The Bible never actually uses the word incest.
    • There are only a few verses saying not to have sexual relations with your father’s wife (probably less than there are describing homosexual behavior as sinful).  Therefore, how can we be sure about it?  And they are kinda obscure as well.
    • The man or the father’s wife was a temple prostitute or this was part of some pagan temple worship, and that is what made it wrong (even though the text doesn’t even hint at that).
    • Paul was an ignorant prude.  He didn’t understand sexual behavior or have the advantage of all the knowledge we do.  (This assumes that the Holy Spirit wasn’t inspiring his writings, of course).
    • You are just using the “yuck” factor and saying “Eeewww” because a man having sex with his father’s wife seems gross to you.  There is really nothing wrong with it, though – you were just made differently.
    • Judge not, lest ye be judged.  Paul must be sinning here because he is clearly making moral judgments.  (Please ignore the fact that I’m judging Paul for judging and that I’ve taken Matthew 7:1-5 out of context).
    • You are just an incest-o-phobe.  You need therapy for your irrational hatred.  In fact, speech like that should be prohibited because it will incite violence against those who practice incest.
    • You just don’t love the man and his father’s wife!  If you did, you’d want them to be happy.  Hater!  Hate speech!
    • Other parts of the Bible portray God acting in ways that don’t appear to be in line with his moral laws, so they obviously aren’t really from him.  Therefore, Leviticus 18:8 may not be his Word either.  When in doubt, we should ignore Scripture, because God’s revelation to my heart trumps anything in the Bible.
    • Some parts of the Bible aren’t clear to us - even though this part is - so we can ignore it.

    If that sounds like an unsound line of reasoning that’s because it is an unsound line of reasoning.  These principles don’t work on the passages they are designed to dismiss, and they completely self-destruct when applied to other passages.  Pro-gay theology is flawed, sinful and destructive and should be abandoned by any Christians who hold those views.   

    Once again, remember that:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.
  • Remember, if homosexual behavior is a sin – and I believe the Bible clearly identifies it as such – then affirming and encouraging that behavior is also a sin and providing the orthodox Biblical view is the loving thing to do.  God is perfectly holy, but He is also perfectly gracious and merciful and will forgive those who repent and believe in Jesus.  Hear the Good News:  

    Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Psalm 24

    Greetings!

    This is such a simple but powerful Psalm.  The world desparately wants to forget that everything and everyone in the earth (and the universe, for that matter) belong to God.  If only they would turn to him they would know what a truly abundant and real life is all about. 

    This Psalm has inspired at least two songs that I know of – “King of Glory” by Third Day (I think that is the title) and “Give us clean hands.” 

    May we all seek his face today – He is the King of Glory, our Lord and Savior!

    Psalm 24

    Of David.

    1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

    2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

    3 Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?

    4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.

    5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.

    6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah

    7 Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

    8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.

    9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

    10 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory. Selah

    The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

    Problems with pro-gay theology – the series

    I added a part 5 to the series at the last minute.  There was a lot of good dialogue in the comments section and I thought a summary might be useful. 

    Parts 1-4 addressed specific problems with categories of pro-gay theological reasoning: Dismissing the Bible, misinterpreting the Bible and adding (alleged) personal revelations to the Bible.

    Please be sure to read part 5 of 5, as it shows how pro-gay reasoning also falls apart collectively when applied to other passages. 

    Thanks for reading along.  I realize the posts were loooooong.  I tried to condense them as best I could, but I wanted something thorough.