Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Mind of Christ - Paradise Lost?


Phil.2: 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

When we speak about examples and templates, these verses reveal an astounding truth which is deeper than any human mind can comprehend. Just the incarnation itself is unfathomable. But to understand that God in the flesh came to die at the hands of sinful man and suffer both the indignity and the excruciation of the cross is beyond us. Yes, we can understand it theologically but we can never fully comprehend the profound nature of such a narrative. Just the fact that God is a spirit cannot be defined in human terms so how are we to come to grips with the incarnate passion?

And just when we are spellbound and overcome with unspeakable emotion concerning the sacrifice of Jesus our Lord, then we are presented with this almost insurmountable exhortation, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. What? To understand the enormity of the condescension as God became a man and died for His enemies is one challenge, but to emulate that revelation is a seemingly unachievable journey. But still that is where the Spirit is leading. And that is a place of such sacred humility that it boggles any mind that fully comprehends what is being asked of us.

This kind of humility goes way beyond allowing a person to jump ahead of you in a grocery line, or letting someone take the last piece of cake, or thanking your teammates for your award. In fact this kind of divine humility cannot even be considered among all the earthly definitions of humility. This kind of humility must be sought diligently just to grasp the principle even in part. And when you have clearly understood the enormous nature of such a quest, then the task of practical implementation presents a challenge which is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and completely at odds with what the culture demands. And the church almost completely ignores the subject, and when it does address humility the teachings are embarrassingly self serving and tepid.

But to walk in the mind of Christ, and that being translated into actions and words, is a great mystery. But even if you desire to just explore that mystery you will have to disconnect with the institutional church. Since the institutional church has lost any sense of such hallowed spiritual ground it can only hinder any genuine pursuit of living in the power of Christ’s humble love and sacrifice. Only in a spiritual environment that is free from the pressure of the accepted and the ecclesiastical norm can we seek that which has been lost and remains fully hidden by the western evangelical construct, practice, and teachings.

Imagine the sacrifice revealed when one person gives his life for another. Then imagine that person is giving his life for his enemy. But as breathtaking as that scenario is, imagine that the person giving his life is God the Creator. No human can fully grasp what that entails, however we can seek to understand. But in today’s utilitarian atmosphere the mind of Christ is defined as being pro-life, pro traditional marriage, and fiscally conservative. That not only completely misses the point, but it is an affront to what Christ sacrificed. And it dilutes and dismantles the exhortation to all who seek to follow and be like Jesus. It is like presenting a mile run and allowing a person to take two steps and declaring it a finished race.

What place would politics find in a life which walked in such humility? What place would divorce have? Where would the self esteem gospel be when presented with the mind of Christ? The prosperity gospel? If the church sought to think and live with the mind of Christ how dramatic would it change us personally and collectively? I do not speak froma perfect personal experience for if I suggested I was acquainted with such humility I would most certainly be a liar. But what I do suggest is that there is a spiritual expanse which remains untapped and which holds the precious jewels contained in the Person and Spirit of Jesus Christ.

What I am suggesting is that the very core of the Christian life has been decimated by the designs of men who have treated the church like a business. They have used it as a political and moral force rather than a threshing floor which continually sifts the believers, removing the chaff, and sending them forth as sheaves of wheat always growing and always dying. We have lost sight of what it means to follow Jesus. Our definition of following Jesus is now earthly and encumbered with all kinds of temporal cares. Instead of being living sacrifices we now are moral and political and patriotic forces with which to be reckoned. And this is a great tragedy.

Have you died? Tell me where and when you died. I do not speak of your original conversion since that took place in the Spirit, but when and where have you laid down your desires, your cravings, your opinions, your perspectives, and your very life? Jesus comes in the form of one of His enemies and dies for them as well. Can that be said of us? Did complaints come from your lips last month? How many professing believers murmured and complained and criticized during the month of March but were heard through those same lips singing praises on “Easter” morning? It most curious this thing we call “church” is it not? We can be faithful to an organization while being unfaithful to its founder.

And so it is that a beaten and bruised figure drags His own instrument of death to His own place of execution. He is bloodied beyond recognition and although already dying He is still being mocked and cursed. He has done nothing wrong and He knows it. In fact, He is going to die for the ones who now mock Him. And all the while He has it in His power to stop this madness and destroy His enemies. But He chooses to love those who hate Him.

And therein lies the exhortation and the challenge which has so easily been dismissed as it pertains to being a disciple of Jesus. We have made discipleship an aptitude test of the Christian tenants and a doctrinal SAT exam which can be passed with paper and pen. But in reality, it is not how well you can explain the incarnation and the redemptive qualities of Golgotha’s sacrifice, but how do those eternal realities find their expression through the living prism of your being. We can impute doctrinal truths into a computer and have them printed out, but we are commanded to translate those truths into words and deeds that are mirrors of divine incandescence.

And presented with that monumental but incontrovertible exhortation do we beseech our Heavenly Father day and night for His power to accomplish His will? Are we filled with the responsibility to be Jesus in this present world? Do we hunger and thirst for more revelation about what it means to be Jesus within the intersection of the spiritual and the practical? Do we hate the flesh and all its attempts to foist itself upon us? Do we reject the sound of our own voice in favor of the voice of God? If we have been called to walk with the same mind as the crucified Christ then how can we be content with being one in a long line of Sunday morning lemmings whose lives reflect the narcissism that defines the culture?
Can we defend our rights and defend the Constitution and still be like Jesus? Can we spew demeaning words about sinners and still be like Jesus? Can we tout our own heterosexual righteousness and still be like Jesus? Can we press our economic rights and still be like Jesus? Can we form moral cliques and still be like Jesus? Can we make fun of people and still be like Jesus? Can we allocate our allegiance on different levels and still be like Jesus? 

Can we say we believe in Jesus and not be like Jesus? Is that enough to please God? Is that enough to reach others? If you are affirmed by your local church, is that enough and does that reflect the Scriptures? Is that what your Lord and Savior is worth? What have we done to the Christian faith when almost anyone who mumbles some profession of faith is declared saved and ready for heaven? And tens of thousands of churches view baptism and tithing and church attendance as the acceptable marks of a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, but humility, to say nothing of the humility found in Philippians chapter two, is rarely even a pulpit topic much less a pew manifestation.

Yes, the church has come a long way, but we have come a long way on our own.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Monstrous Idol - Capitalism


I Cor.10: 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

Idolatry is a sin. We often see it in the strict sense of bowing before a sculpture or a golden calf. We seldom see idolatry as it is practiced within our own culture since we do not physically bow before anything. However there are many idols among us as well as in the church regardless of how we do or do not bow before them physically. No one can worship God while he worships idols. This is a sad tale of spiritual adultery and a people who turned away from Christ in order to cling to false idols.

Some treat their homes and cars as idols. Some embrace sports teams or pets as idols. Some see their ethnicity or even their gender as idols. All of us are tempted to embrace idols in some form. But there is an idol which has not just crept into the church. It has been welcomed and celebrated. This idol has compromised almost every area of spiritual life. It has made people have divided loyalties. It has made people hate. It has made people embrace violence. It has made people self righteous. It has created sectarianism. And in many ways it has changed the nature of Christ and the nature of the gospel. The depth and seriousness of this spiritual compromise cannot be overstated.

I have watched and listened as preachers and Sunday School teachers and mature believers have fallen under the spell of this idol and have allowed it both change their views as well as change their tone. I do not know what else to do but to continue to expose this idolatry for the spiritual adultery that it is. It is commonly called nationalism and it is expressed as a love and allegiance for a certain nation. In this case it is of course America. Although I see some believers coming out of this major deception I continue to be most saddened by its continuing affect upon many more.

But I would like to peel off all the layers of this deception and expose it for what it is. The reason people love America and are willing to defend it even with war is because of the lifestyle it now provides. In essence, it is the prosperity in America which elicits affection and loyalty and even love. Yes, money itself is basically at the root of patriotism. If this were a very poor nation which offered little in the way of success it would be a somewhat different story. It was in the midst of this prosperity that the prosperity movement within the church was birthed. And most of the evangelical churches in America considers wealth to be a blessing from God without exception.

Even the moral issues take a back seat to money. It isn’t President Obama’s pro-choice stand which elicits the most fire from the church. It isn’t his stance on gay marriage either. He is called a socialist and portrayed as deconstructing the American way of life which is code for taking our property and money. People are against illegal aliens because they believe they are a strain on the American budget. The term “liberal” is a pejorative that indicates higher taxes and social programs. Everything either directly or indirectly revolves around money. “How can gay marriage revolve around money”, you ask? Watch:

And there it is unvarnished and naked for all to see. While the church contends that gay marriage is unbiblical on moral grounds many have ulterior motives. Can you actually believe such a thing? Matthew Hagee is the son of prosperity preacher John Hagee. Money and capitalism is a god to these kinds of hucksters and even gay marriage means a hit on our pocketbooks. What kind of twisted mind sees things like this economically? I will tell you. It is a mind consumed with the love of money. They see capitalism as a divine gift and a pathway to divine prosperity.

Of course I do not suggest any earthly economic structure as divine. But capitalism is basically an economic and political system which touts personal aggrandizement through industriousness and clever investment. It is seen as a ladder to personal and accumulated wealth.

So nationalism in America is completely tethered to the issue of wealth and the accumulation of such wealth. On earth there is little wrong with such a system, however how can we reconcile that with God’s Word? The New Testament is replete with warnings about seeking wealth and storing up such wealth. But it is astounding how clear Scriptural teaching has been sacrificed upon the altar of the cultural norm. When it comes to money, the lusts of men’s hearts have become the driving exegetical force. Personal wealth is the peg hole into which the cylinder of Scripture must fit.

Money is little more than the tangible revelation of extreme narcissism which is the antithesis of the Christian faith and practice. When a culture has been built, processed, and made successful upon the making and keeping of money then it can have an enormous affect on people’s thought patterns and perspectives. Anyone who seems to inhibit our path to financial gain is met with disdain and acrimony. And those who seem to be supported by our hard fought financial gain without showing an acceptable level of industriousness are often hated. Money is a pie from which everyone draws and about which many fight. I am owed my slice of that pie and I must build upon that first slice until I own my own pie.

And when a culture encourages behavior both openly and subtly to that end, then the integrity of the Christian faith is in jeopardy. There can be only two paths for our faith when we live in and among a culture such as this. Either we humbly but forcefully fight to remain separated from the philosophies of that culture, or we slowly but surely acquiesce to those philosophies. And if the church embraces those philosophies, then there is no battle at all. And eventually the church construct, the church practices, the church buildings, and even the church theology become a reflection of the culture rather than of Scripture.

And even dismissing the carnal ramblings of such men as Hagee, the western church has become a powerless organization which spends obscene amounts of money on staff and buildings and self serving activities. Sunday after Sunday millions upon millions of evangelical church members pour into debt ridden buildings for a few hours and then return to their innocuous and unremarkable lives which appear very similar to those who stayed home on Sunday. And because the church has become a willing part of the culture, words of hate, words of complaint, words of greed, words of pride, and all kinds of words in support of vain philosophies are common within the community of faith.

And woven within the entire fabric is money and a hedonistic lifestyle. The deception has become so deep and so profound that even capitalism is embraced as coming down from heaven. Any criticism of capitalism is viewed as an attack on America and vice versa. But we as believing followers of Jesus should never embrace anything except the words which proceed from God’s mouth. And if we take just the Sermon on the Mount alone as a divine template, well we must admit we have strayed far from home. That is unless we chose to defend our opinions over God’s Word. And if that is what you desire than you need not go further than the Sunday morning service.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Wrath of God


I am a redemptive person because I believe that God is a redemptive God. HERE are my thoughts.

Jude makes it clear that some respond to the compassion contained within the gospel, while others are stirred by the fear of God. And I suggest that the church has lost any sense of the fear of God. And I am not just speaking of reverence, but I am speaking of literal fear. The church operates without a trace of the fear of God except for a few self righteous people who seem to love God’s wrath.

Rev.6: 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

As we approach the end of all things and the sure coming judgment of God upon this world, we must present a balanced view of Almighty God including the unpleasant aspects of His character. This is not to paint God as a white male with a long beard who relishes in dishing out severe punishment. But this is to present the truth that God has provided a way for redemption, but that all who will stand before Him draped in their own sins will face unfathomable justice without the mercy and grace only found through Jesus Christ. This is no fairy tale; this is no fable; this is no small issue.

I realize that such things are seen as archaic perspectives which have long since given way to a more enlightened picture of the Creator. I realize that things on this earth have become so enjoyable that even Christianity has had to adjust its divine presentations. I realize that our own minds see such things as unreasonable and out of touch with the modern realities. I realize all those things and more. But I implore you to examine your view of God juxtaposed against the revelation of Holy Scripture and with that decide to which will you surrender and pursue. You are not running toward the end. The end is racing toward you.

I was raised in a home where there was little domestic unpleasantness. My mother and father did not fight, and my father was a mild mannered man. But I can remember one day going on a visit with my mother to another home and hearing the father swear and get angry. I was afraid. Perhaps you were raised in a home where there was strife and perhaps you felt uncomfortable and even afraid sometimes. And many children cringe at the thought of an angry father or mother coming at them with anger. It happens in millions of homes.

But now pause and think of what fear we should feel if we give any credibility to the Scriptures. It is almost impossible to imagine the immensity of the wrath of the Creator God. To even bring up the subject in this modern evangelical climate is to lose your evangelical audience. But be that as it may, there are still many clear and undeniable warnings in Scripture that expose a coming judgment from Almighty God. And that fact has found so little place in this modern version of Christianity that people no longer actually believe it and the lost world is no longer confronted with it.

People today only fear death because it may bring a cessation of their personal party. They wish they could extend their earthly stay so as to continue to enjoy its fleshly fancies. And any philosophical suggestion concerning the afterlife seems reasonable and legitimate. In fact, the more pleasant the better. Any hint of judgment is rejected as religious folklore and must be erased in favor of self serving sophistry. The fallen nature of man hungers and thirst for and even demands words of comfort and encouragement even if it means you must tell lies and half truths.

It is true that God is a God of redemption. And that redemption is offered by faith alone in what God the Son has finished for us. But outside that very fine line which begins and ends with Jesus is a territory lined with justice and accountability. Yes, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. It seems so ethereal and filled with fantastic imagery. But what will you do when that which seemed so much Brother’s Grimm materializes into a reality which eclipses everything you thought was reality? What would it cost you to take a month or two and search out if these things are true?

What would it cost you if you do not search them out and you found yourself in the midst of everything you ignored with no way out and without a second chance? One day you will stand before a Holy God. On that day He will either come to you as your Savior, or He will come to you as your judge. As Jesus asked the disciples He asks you today.

“Who do you say that I am”.    

There are many, many truths presented in the Scriptures, and there are many attributes of God also presented in those same Scriptures. But as it pertains to justice, wrath, punishment, retribution, and the eternal consequences of our sin there is only one issue which can cause God to redirect those revelations of who He is and direct His mercy, grace, and life giving attributes toward those who once were pending recipients of His justice.

The issue is Jesus, His Son.

So God has offered up His own Son as a sacrifice for our sin. No human mind can fully comprehend that magnitude of that gift. But to all who refuse that gift of grace there awaits an amazing and mind boggling power called the wrath of God. If you could even get a small glimpse of such power you would immediately be convinced to run to Jesus.

Jn.3: 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.
36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

God’s wrath is coming.
For our God is a consuming fire.
There is still time.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gay Marriage?


There are only two kingdoms. The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. There is no gray area and no one can straddle those two kingdoms. And the only way to enter the kingdom of God is through a personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the born again experience. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the key which unlocks that door. Millions upon millions have attempted to enter through other doors and millions have assumed they were successful; however upon their death they have surely found that they were deceived and ultimately they had lost their souls.

But as believing followers of Jesus Christ and citizens of the kingdom of God do we seek the approval of men? And in that same context, are we interested in what rules the kingdom of darkness uses to rule their kingdom? There is no common ground at all, and many times things that seem  common to both kingdoms are subtly and cleverly used as Trojan Horses which bring in all sorts of confusion among God’s people. And many times God’s people become so distracted about these issues that they literally leave the gospel. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. No man can serve two masters.

This week the Supreme Court of the United States is deciding the issue of gay marriage. And while this is happening millions of professing believers are not only consumed with that issue, but many are forecasting national doom if the court decides unbiblically. So what they are saying is that although millions of people are engaged in sexual sins of all kinds across the nation, but if they call what two men are doing a “marriage” that will really tick God off. Do we as believers seek the approval of men?

Many years ago it became evident that people were leaving their spouses and claiming they were never married. And so that demanded a more concrete way to make marriage official. So the culture suggested that a priest or minister officiate the ceremony and sign an official document recognized by the government. In general that is how we have arrived at the traditional marriage construct in the west. And the reason the church went along with it and still does is primarily financial. Today it revolves around taxes and the ability to receive a fair divorce settlement.

But eventually the church got married the same way as does the world. Sadly the church gets divorced the same way as the world. Let us be clear. The government does not force anyone to “get married”. You could stand in front of a company of believers and have the elders officiate your vows and pronounce you married before God without any governmental validation. But again you might relinquish some tax benefits and in the event of a divorce you would face some obstacles.

But as we walk before Jesus in the kingdom of God we have been called to be salt and light in order to let God use us to draw men to the gospel. We are in this world but not of it. So how are we as believers supposed to get involved with the rule making within the kingdom of darkness? We know that God teaches us that marriage is between a man and a woman, and more specifically between a male follower of Jesus and a female follower of Jesus. That is the New Covenant way of the family.

But within the kingdom of darkness and among those who reject Christ, does God offer some ground rules? Does God accept and ordain a marriage between two Satan worshipers? Between two Muslims? Between two atheists? I ask you, to what purpose is it that the marriage of two hell bound sinners is accepted and approved of God? How can two completely fallen enemies of God have a sanctified marriage? The answer is that in God’s sight they cannot. Everything an unredeemed sinner does is fallen and has no righteousness whatsoever. He is incapable of doing anything acceptable in the sight of God.

So the marriages that take place outside the kingdom of God are little more than part of a fallen culture. They cannot be approved of God. And in that light, we as believers must always look at the kingdom of darkness with a redemptive eye and not with an eye to modifying their behavior without Christ. And that principle is exactly where the church has made their mistake and through that mistake we have constructed a competition to the gospel. Nationalism and a desire to moralize a fallen culture has displaced the Great Commission. And in order to keep a thin layer of divinity upon that earthly mission the church has embraced and taught that America is a kind of New Testament Israel even if we refuse to put it in those terms.

And I have said all that to say this. What does it matter to the kingdom of God what the kingdom of darkness does? Gay men and women are allowed to live together and engage in whatever they desire, so why does the word “marriage” elicit such energy from believers? The world can call a “duck” a “cow” but it is still a duck. The entire realm of sin, and more specifically sexual sin, as it is believed and practiced in the world is a colossal mess. And the government’s attempt to make it more acceptable is useless before God and should be irrelevant to us who follow Jesus.

The sanctity of marriage is in shambles within and without the church. But what the world describes as morality and acceptable has no consequences for the church. Fallen is fallen. Depraved is depraved. We cannot accept the world’s definition of marriage, but neither is that our battle. Let the Supreme Court make gay marriage legal. Let the states vote to accept gay marriage. That does not change God’s Word, and it should not deter us from living and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. We do not war against the flesh or the government. We battle against spiritual wickedness in high places whose desire is to damn the souls of men, gay or straight.

Gay marriage is coming and is already here. One of the most diabolical strategies of the evil one is to convince people that just because they are against gay marriage they are right with God and have eternal life. But in every situation and as it pertains to all these issues the answer will always be the same. He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life. Let us not fight useless battles, but let us go without the camp bearing His reproach and sharing the redemptive love of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Political endeavors concerning morality, regardless from which side they emanate, are not only hollow but they are enemies of the gospel.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Sacrificing of Human Flesh


This post emanates from a post from APOSTASY WATCH.

I must admit that I find very little wiggle room concerning the narrative of how the white man came and settled in America and how the indigenous people, the American Indians, were obliterated and provided a few token places in which to exist. I could never imagine anyone denying that the Indians were not treated fairly, and I strongly felt that no follower of Jesus could ever justify such a literal genocide. But I was wrong.

I can hardly believe how vicious and violent much of the church has become. David Barton is a well known Christian historian. HERE is his opinion concerning the massacre of the American Indians.

David Barton insists that America was God’s modern darling and that it was founded as a Christian nation unlike any other in history. He even suggests that almost all of the founding fathers were evangelical believers. He is endorsed by a wide cross section of the church including word of faith and emergent and orthodox teachers and preachers. But here he is suggesting that the American Indians were sacrificed and slaughtered by God so they would sign treaties that had only the European interests at heart. It is an astounding teaching which goes against the entirety of the New Testament while supporting the patriotic rationale.

I remain astounded at how little human life means when American interests are at stake. The same people who are against abortion and call themselves pro-life can so easily dismiss the lives of many millions of American Indians as if they are just collateral damage necessary to fulfill God’s dream. Their loyalty to America runs so deep and so strong that they not only reject the teachings of Jesus, but they feel no compassion for other human beings? And starving the Indians by wiping out the buffalo was necessary to force them to sign a treaty which in essence makes them prisoners of the white man?

How can anyone suggest that this kind of perspective is Christian? How can we endorse such violence in Jesus’ name? Did the early believers come to America to be a light to the darkness or did they come to start their own nation regardless of the human cost? There is a vast difference between those two. Is it any wonder why the kingdom of darkness sees very little difference between their views and the views of those who say they walk in light?

If Jesus endorses such human slaughter than we can assume the Scriptures are a concoction of man since they reveal teachings that go against any such notion. But if the Scriptures are breathed of God then we cannot allow earthly allegiances to be our standard. Even if what they teach seems at odds with what the majority of the evangelical community believes then let the Scriptures be true and the church be a liar.

So when pagans are ignorant and brutal they are expendable especially if they occupy a portion of land we desire? This is utter madness but it follows a logical path which is laid out by nationalism. The end justifies the means when you have something other than Jesus as your pursuit. Throughout history the church has had arguments over points of doctrine. But this places human life on the altar of nation building and it devalues the human soul and makes millions of eternal souls little more than obstructions living on land which God desires so much He is willing to let the land flow with the blood of millions of indigenous people including women and children. And that is the God called Jesus in the gospels? Please show me that revelation.

So we as believing followers of Jesus are faced with a stark reality. Are we to follow Jesus or the church? Are we to alter the gospel narratives and present a twisted version of Jesus that orchestrates genocide or are we going to present the Jesus who taught things contrary to the dictates of his and our culture? There is no common ground. One is sinking sand while the other is the Rock. Be aware, though, that the sinking sand is the well worn path that is accepted in evangelical circles while the Rock will be criticized by a man’s friends and family. One will cost you while the other will be applauded.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Fruit of a Changed Heart

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Jer.17: 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Every person born after Adam is born with a fallen nature, or in other words a fallen and sinful heart. That little baby, although innocent compared with adults, has a fallen nature which will be revealed and honed after some months and years of growth. Every child comes with a capacity to sin and every child exercises that capacity with great energy. The deception that is inherent within a human heart is so deep and so clever, that it even deceives the person it inhabits. It is an evil miracle so to speak.

The evil heart of man knows no limits and can even invent evil things. It will sin not only with impunity, but it will sin cloaked as a good deed. This kind of diabolical energy comes from the evil one and from the profound strength of sin itself. Sin builds upon sin and produces an earthly strength which imprisons the souls and reaches out to imprison others. This kind of evil can even appear as messengers of righteousness and as prophets of the Most High God when in reality they are agents of Satan himself. And all this and more emanates from within the hidden places of the human heart. The prophet rightly asks the question, “Who can know it?”

But within that fallen heart there is a knowledge of the existence of a god on some level. And all men are held accountable before God. No man can find God and the Lord Jesus without the Holy Spirit draws him. And the Spirit seeks to draw all men unto Christ, and so even a sinful man must surrender to that drawing. I do believe a sinner can seek God, but I also believe the spirits of antichrist roam the earth and deceive even some searching hearts. Yes, it is a mystery. But I unequivocally believe that Christ died for every sinner and desires that all sinners be saved. I will address that in another post, however how does God get more glory by dying for a miniscule few rather than dying for the entire race when it was in His capacity to do it? And without a free will given to man the entire redemptive narrative is a colossal game of divine solitaire with man being little more than unwilling pawns in a chess game already played.

But the problem man faces is not what religion to espouse or even how to adjust his morals to align with the will of God. In fact, man has the capacity to adjust those morals without knowing God and without being born again of the Spirit of God. That kind of metamorphosis is a strong delusion and is humanism in its most obvious form. Many people join religions and cults and have a remarkable change in their behavior which includes giving up addictions, rejecting previous immoral behaviors, and even a new sense of hope and love for people. But they have just made alterations through the power of the human will. Yes, it happens.

But only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can a sinner receive a brand new heart, which is another way of saying a new nature. Without a new heart everything is just religion and morality without redemption.

Matt.12: 35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.

Rom.10: 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

When a person is born again he receives a new nature, a new heart, created in the essence and likeness of Christ Jesus. Everything changes. People look different; family looks different; your job is different; the temporal things give way to the eternal. You are not perfect and many things will continue to change, but from that moment when the Spirit of God comes into your being you will never be the same. Before you were changed when people talked about Jesus you could not really understand, but now you do. Now when a person gives a testimony about how they were saved you can identify. You have been given a brand new heart and you now belong completely to God.

You hear all the arguing about politics and it seems so meaningless. You still root for sports teams, but now you realize it has only a place. You love your family but all things must bow to your love for Jesus.

II Cor.1: 21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

II Cor.3: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

The Person of the Holy Spirit has done His work of regeneration and has implanted a new heart within your being. Oh yes there are still the ever present residual effects and temptations of the old nature, but now you are free and you are a brand new creation. This is not religion. This is a divine miracle which translates a living being from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s Dear Son. It cannot be copied; it cannot be duplicated. Many have tried to simulate it by conforming their outward man to rules and regulations, and many have suggested they have pleased God because of their outward transformation.

However without faith it is impossible to please God. And unless the outward changes are the visible effects of an inward change because of a faith in Jesus Christ then the outward changes are useless and filthy rags. Attempting to regulate behavior from the outside is self righteousness and is an affront to God. Without holiness no man shall see God, and that holiness can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. The sinners around us do not need a lesson on marriage or stealing or abortion or sexual purity. What they need is a new heart.

II Cor.4: 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

People around us notice a change in our speech and our behavior. But we must let them know it is because we have a new heart. Not earned and not deserved, but given by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. We are still not yet perfect, but we can never be the same. Our being pulsates with the power and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He makes all things new.

Thank You!


Thank you forall your e-mails and comments of prayers and encouragments. I am feeling a little better and I will be posting later today. Praise His name!!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Networking the Nebulous


I want you to listen to this video from a man named Rob Bell.



I Cor.14: 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

If you study the world’s religions you will find a myriad of thoughts and ideas about the essence and nature of the God or in some cases “gods”. Some see God as a collection of principles while others see Him as a divine human. Some characterize Him as all inclusive while others describe Him as a cosmic engineer. Every religion has its own narrative about who or what God is. And many religions have allowed their perspective about the nature of God to change with the times as well as updated practices of that particular religion. And many ways if not most of how God is described are incompatible with each other.

Most religions have their own divine writings which form some kind of basis for their beliefs. But many religions have different sects within the same religious title. And some religions claim to have an ongoing stream of inspired revelation which can change what was previously taught and believed. The entire religious landscape is a combination of ancient landmarks as well as mercurial thoughts. It is kind of a “Baskin Robbins” spiritual store which offers a religion which can scratch you where you itch.

Now within the religion generally known as Christianity there are all those same different thoughts and perspectives that can be seen throughout all religions. Christianity has sects like Roman Catholicism which can change doctrine and practice when the Vatican so decrees. There are other Christian sects which do the same thing. There are Christian sects which have sacred writings in addition to the 66 books we call the Bible. There are sects which have a leader who speaks for the entire sect. Some sects claim they are the only true followers of God while other sects say all religions lead to God. Yes, Christianity is a smorgasbord of thoughts and ideas and practices which sometimes are decidedly at odds with each other.

And in America you have many different movements which claim to be Christian all moving in different directions in belief and practice. Of course there are sects that claim to be the exclusive sect with no redemptive room for others even within Christianity itself. But much more fashionable is the nebulous approach which suggests that any hint of exclusivity as it pertains to Christ and His redemption is misguided and archaic in thought. This kind of Christian stream openly suggests that the truth revealed in Scripture must be malleable and seen more clearly through a more modern prism. They suggest that a reworking of our beliefs must reach further than just a more modern approach in practice. No, they teach that our entire concept of God must be retooled and made to manifest a more well thought out caricature which can relate to the modern understanding of how a deity should be defined.

This kind of thought is not restrictive, and in fact swings wide open the doors for all kinds of thoughts and suggestions about God. Scripture is only one of many sources with which to arrive at a more sophisticated view of God, and everyone’s opinion and philosophy are not only important ingredients, they are essential in the final belief product. One of the most alluring aspects of such a sect is the way truth is a journey and not an absolute. Everyone can arrive at the gathering on Sunday morning excited about what new truth may be revealed from the pulpit or even what old truth will be dismantled and reformed. Yes, it is very exciting and makes those adherents feel very chic and like spiritual pioneers.

These kinds of movement are usually started with the energy and personality of a few main gurus and grow with many pied pipers who are able to articulate the vision and motivate the audience. They are very witty and urbane, and they use many effective communicative techniques. Books and CDs and other media are tools with which to spread their philosophy. And most of their message is a network of philosophies which allow the listeners to arrive at their own beliefs and conclusions. In fact, they are designed to lead people away from making any substantive conclusions except to conclude that these men are hearing from God.

And now please listen to this short video from a man named Peter Rollins.



This nebulous philosophy which relies almost entirely upon human stories and parables and philosophical perspectives moves forward a conversation which has no answers and which has no goal. It perpetuates a kind of philosophical Carousel of Progress which sees through a kaleidoscope of truth that constantly remolds and repackages truth by piecing together different kinds of life experiences and creating a truth which seems relevant to these experiences. There are no absolutes which are applicable to all situations and experiences. Truth itself is defined as figuring out how to deal with life in all its experiences.

When a man like Rollins speaks in philosophical whispers it appeals to those who either have no Biblical foundation or who have moved away from the Biblical perspective because of spiritual laziness, disenfranchisement, or an ecclesiastical disillusionment. Rollins’ words speak to pain and questioning and mystery and they elicit intellectual interest in a spiritual exploration. His kind of philosophies are anything but Christ centered, and as I said at their core is the human experience. Everyone can relate to his presentations of despair and suffering and the unknown element. And much of the strength of these kinds of nebulous philosophical musings is in creating a community of mutual identification. In general, if you find a personal identification in his words then you find an attraction. It is a kind of community palm reading or fortune telling, and along those lines it is indeed witchcraft.

Another major proponent is a man named Doug Paggit.



Here we see that his brand of Christianity is so bland and so innocuous that is not only does not offend the atheistic humanist, but it is a friend and coworker to it. The message of Christ has become so diluted and so nebulous that is has lost all meaning. That kind of Christianity in effect is no longer Christian and now is just a networking of how to live philosophies which are compatible with almost anything else. If you say you are concerned with people, than his brand of Christianity is no different or better than yours regardless of what you believe about Jesus or of indeed you believe in a god at all.

This life and the human experience become your statement of faith and your doctrinal foundation. They are your ever changing absolutes which of course is an oxi-moron in and of itself. And what you stand for and push forward offends no one outside of Christ and is now finding all sorts of avenues through which to gain access within the church. Slowly but surely the evangelical community has allowed and even invited such philosophies to come aboard. Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are just other leaders over the same philosophies. This nebulous belief system rejects doctrinal rigidity and openly suggests that not only does the application of truth need to be pliable, but truth itself should be fluid and mutable. And truth is formed by the human experience rather than the human experience being brought to truth.

And do not be deceived. These kinds of vain philosophies are being manifested in many different formats through the evangelical communities. From the Purpose Driven to the emergent to the seeker sensitive and everywhere in between these philosophies are being implemented. Even those preachers who refuse to address such movements are unwilling partners in their expanding efforts. These are damnable heresies which have no redemption and imprison souls with enticing words of men’s wisdom. I realize that to espouse and teach Biblical truth is becoming more and more unpalatable to the evangelical church and seems so out of touch with the problems of the modern man.

In these last days anyone who believes in the Bible as the only authority will be perceived as an unenlightened dinosaur. And anyone who believes that a personal faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life will be seen as intolerant and unloving. And although many churches do not endorse such men and their teachings, neither do they warn their flock lest they lose members. We live in perilous times in the flesh and the spirit. This war in the spirit is about truth, and this truth is about Jesus. Watch and pray, for in the end we all will be required to give an account for what and who we believed. The hour is late and the day draws near.

The One who these men downplay and ignore and repackage is about to return. And then which philosophy will you use to cover your spiritual nakedness? The eternal seriousness of the situation is not nebulous. And when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in all His glory and with an innumerable company of warring angels, and when He comes to take His vengeance, then all nebulousness will be burned away under the mighty weight of His holy power. On that day the vain philosophies of men will be their eternal indictment and the gospel of Jesus Christ will be the only eternal safety.

It will be a dream come true for a few and a nightmare for most.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Art of Deception


This 25 year old woman mourns at the grave of her 28 year old brother who lost his life while fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There was a recent documentary on television called “Hubris” which outlines the manipulation and sometimes out right lying which led America to war in Iraq. After ten years we still have a presence in Iraq and soldiers still die in Afghanistan. And before going in the lying tongues of politicians told the public that this would not be another Vietnam.

War breeds lying and manipulation and many people become wealthy. And war brings death and mutilation and misery. But the patriotic spirit many times covers up the reality and horror of war and provides a forum for well fed and hedonistic people to revel in a misguided nationalistic spirit. It happens oh so often among believers as well. Thousands of men and women have died and many thousands will live wounded and maimed for the rest of their lives. But let us be very clear, except for the initial attempt to bring justice to Osama Bin Laden, the rest was manipulated lies by the ruling political class in America.

Although President Obama presented a platform that was less aggressive than was President Bush’s, his policies are very close to that of his predecessor. I am not a part of any of it, but I continue to feel a strong sense of responsibility to inform and correct my brothers and sisters in Christ because so many of them are walking in a state of delusion. Nationalism, moralism, violence, and war in general are all at odds with the teachings of Jesus, if that even matters anymore.

This is not a contest between liberals and conservatives or between Democrats and Republicans. This, for us as believers, must be a reinforcing of what we know to be true as it pertains to Jesus, His gospel and His teachings to His followers. The world is a colossal mess, and America if measured by the teachings of Christ is no better than Russia or China. Just because a country has religious freedom does not in any way mean they are more or less moral than a country which does not.

In many ways this earthly freedom has built an unseen bridge which systematically transfers fallen ideas into the church as well as removing any deep spiritual commitment from within the church. It is in this clandestine way that the church has become a product of the culture and not a product of the Spirit. On the Day of Pentecost it wasn’t the Roman government which proclaimed Christianity as legitimate and produced a constitution which contained a “free exercise clause”. Those men and women in the upper room did not spill out into the streets to begin a Tea Party movement designed to protect their religious freedom.

No, the church was born of the Holy Spirit distinctly separated from and at odds with the fallen course of the world. In fact, for many, it would cost them their lives to follow Jesus. It still does cost many their lives today. But the church has become so blind and deaf that it does not see the vicious dangers connected with any earthly freedom. In fact the church revels in that which is killing her. Believers have bought into what the secular schools have taught them. And instead of a remarkable and separate thought process which makes it distinctly Biblical and diametrically opposed to this world, the church walks in lockstep with its national origin.

And now the church endorses killing and violence whenever America takes to the battlefield. And believers continue to drink the Kool Aid offered by the secular media. And in an astonishing and breathtaking spectacle, carnal and hate filled men like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and women like Ann Coulter are loved by millions of professing believers. That in and of itself is profound evidence concerning the depth of deception and how the Christian faith has been changed in order to fit in with conventional patriotic thought.

But violence covers the earth and permeates the culture. Headstones continue to be added to military graveyards. Tens of thousands return home wounded physically and emotionally. And the fallen world continues to manipulate the people into supporting what they say they believe to be true. The entire system is one of deceit and decay and all kinds of diabolical trickery. And money flows like a river. And in the midst of all this is the church…participating, supporting, and joining hands with the enemies of Christ. The young woman in the picture was mourning the death of her brother. But that picture could also be a metaphor for a believer mourning the spiritual death of the church. We as followers of Jesus should not even believe the words of unbelievers when they speak the truth since that is an unstable bridge which eventually leads to lies.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oh Praise His Name

I am going to present a post which addresses the way the evangelical church has compromised and embraced the Roman Catholic Church. But before I do I wanted to share my heart.

With all the talk about the new pope, and all the discussion about the false teachings that come from the Church at Rome, I want to humbly but forcefully give Jesus praise because He drew me to Himself and saved my soul. God forbid I should project any spiritual hubris, and sometimes I cross that fine line. I cannot but speak the truth revealed in God's Holy Word, but I am a sinner who was so undeserving of God's eternal grace.
May the Holy Spirit open the hearts of those precious, precious Roman Catholic people. Paul would have wished himself accursed to see them saved. May many come to Christ in these final hours. The time is short, the sickle is coming. Let my light shine much brighter than just an orthodox doctrine. Please, Lord Jesus.

Walking in the Spirit and Living in a Divine Reality


A young man is drafted by the Army in 1967. After his basic training he is sent to South Vietnam and there he sees combat. Some of friends die right in front of him, but he makes it to his final day. But on his final day, while on patrol, his unit runs into a fierce fire fight with the Viet Cong. Many in his unit are killed, and he sees some of his fellow soldiers literally blown to bits. Blood is everywhere, soldiers are screaming, the sound is deafening, and the smell of gunpowder permeates the atmosphere.

Somehow reinforcements arrive and the Viet Cong are forced to retreat. Several hours later this man is transported by helicopter to an air base and he boards a plane to the United States. In a little more than 24 hours he steps down off the plane and he is walking the streets of Los Angeles. Just 24 hours ago he saw inconceivable mayhem and he was filled with mortal terror, but now he is sees stores and cars and smiling people. He has been pulled out of one reality and dropped into another.

Many soldiers cannot cope with such a massive reality transition, and many turn to alcohol, drugs, and even suicide. Many soldiers come home, sit down on their couch, invite their children upon their laps, and visions of Vietnamese children attack their minds. Many of us cannot comprehend such emotions and struggles. But to be transitioned from one reality so violent and confusing and filled with terror, and then asked to calmly become acclimated into a reality without those things is asking a lot. But in order to live in this reality soldiers must leave the other reality which is most difficult for anyone.

Gal.5: 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Gal.5: 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Rom.8: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

We are exhorted and commanded to walk in the Spirit. Most believers never explore, much less seek, the meaning and the reality of walking in the Spirit. We all live in the flesh and the reality of this present world. But as Paul says we must not only live in the Spirit, which is the glory of our redemption, but we must also walk in the same Spirit. I am not speaking of some self serving experience that sees angels and hears God audibly and shares it so as to draw attention to yourself. I am speaking of walking in a different reality that dies to self and understands all things through the Spirit.

Our flesh loves this present world and so often we have drudged on and on in the flesh with only a few respites in the Spirit perhaps on Sunday mornings. But to walk in the Spirit takes you from the fallen reality of this present world and ushers you into the reality of Christ and His eternal redemption. Although it is accompanied by emotions of every sort, it goes way beyond emotion…way beyond. In fact, walking in the Spirit can only be understood by believers that have done just that.

Consumption of the Word and supported by a life of prayer are the portals through which you can walk into the reality of the Spirit. It makes the Holy Spirit much more than a doctrine. The Holy Spirit becomes a friend, a guide, a power, and a tangible reservoir whose name is Christ. How can I communicate how a person can know about Christ, and then know Christ intimately, and then walk in Him? It is a special place which ministers an intimacy unknown to most believers. I am not attempting to sound spiritually urbane and accomplished. On the contrary, I only wish I would walk in the Spirit with a greater consistency.

Yes, we are all so prone to walk in the religious flesh and believe we have fulfilled a religious obligation. Millions upon millions of professing believers think that supporting moral causes or defending Biblical doctrines define walking in the Spirit. They are sadly mistaken. There is a realm, a reality, which only can be known through prayer and fasting and an uncommon meditation upon the Word of the Living God. Then and only then can our minds and hearts and eyes and ears be fully disciplined and actually be surrendered prisoners of the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit emanates from an illuminated heart and increases that illumination step by step. Have you ever experienced an entire day or a part of a day where you literally felt like you were floating? Have you ever looked at people with a divine love regardless of what kind of sinner they were? Has the Word of Life ever been so alive in your soul that your mind keeps feeding you verse upon verse all throughout the day? Have you ever felt so close to the Lord that you speak to Him without any thought of it being “prayer”? Have you ever experienced a phenomenon that sees the world as performing on a stage and you were the audience?

When we walk in the Spirit our own lives seem insignificant and all that matters is Him. A few days after I was saved in March of 1975 I was walking down one of the most openly sinful places on the planet in New York City and all I could feel was love for each and every sinner. I could not explain it, and I had walked down that street in Manhattan many times before, however this was amazing. I sometimes believe that we have allowed the cares of this world as well as the cares of the church to cloud out the Spirit. We are encumbered by many things and people and events consume our thoughts.

But in the Spirit there is freedom…wonderful freedom. This freedom does not come from any system of government. It does not come from the Constitution. This freedom comes from Christ, and the wind of the Spirit blows into our hearts and suddenly all worry is gone even if by earthly standards we should worry. This is why people would ask us about the hope within us. Do we wonder why people do not ask us that question? Could it be that we do not walk in the Spirit?

And so to return to my first analogy this Vietnam veteran left one reality and began walking into another. And so it must be with believers in Jesus Christ. Leaving this present reality and beginning to walk in an eternal reality of the Spirit is not easy. It requires a relentless desire and an unquenchable thirst. This present reality has so much to offer, but the reality of the Spirit offers that which human hands have not made and human minds cannot conceive. But most professing believers walk in this temporal reality.

They are consumed with the temporal. They complain about money and the price of everything. They rigorously debate politics. They are emotionally attached to their national origin. They are primarily entertained by secular sources. They worry about almost anything. And Sunday morning is usually the only time where their thought processes are altered temporarily. As Dr. R. G. Lee used to say, “A shallow stream of piety that runs a fresher course on Sabbath mornings.”

But to be sure walking in the Spirit does not come with any amount of spiritual laziness or a resignation to a redundant lifestyle where prayer and fasting are historical events and God’s Word is used more for proof of orthodoxy rather than being consumed voraciously. Most of the church has been so assimilated by the culture that it no longer even knows what walking in the Spirit really is, and it no longer pursues that about which it is ignorant. In fact, how can it? We are more concerned with who we are doctrinally than we are walking in the Spirit.

But there is a reality, a realm, where the flesh dies and the fragrance of eternity not only permeates the human heart, but it takes hold of that heart and fills it with Jesus. And in that reality the things you already knew about Jesus become so fresh and so new that they literally affect your mind, body, and soul. It is difficult to fully convey or even define what takes place within a believer when he is walking in the Spirit and not just walking as a saved sinner. We have heard the phrase “crucified with Christ” and yet how many professing believers investigate what that really means to say nothing of relentlessly pursue its reality? Isn’t this why a church which numbers in the tens of millions can practice their religion, live and work within a dark culture, and yet have so little influence? Could this be why the world sees us as a political force rather than luminescent representatives of Jesus? Could this be why the church lives a reactionary existence rather than a spiritual reality that lives, breathes, and speaks of Jesus and His everlasting gospel?

We have left our first love but we have deceived ourselves into believing we still love and follow Jesus. And “walking in the Spirit” is now seen as some charismatic experience rather than a life changing reality that illuminates the inner man in places we could never have known. This isn’t about tongues or praise music or, God forbid, moral and political causes. This is about a self denying sacrifice which surrenders completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and translates a believer into an eternal reality which transfixes his heart and soars way beyond his own ability to adequately describe. In fact, there are times in the Spirit where you yourself cannot fully understand what is happening within you.

And the question is this: Are we content with the spiritual life we now have, or do we know there is much more and do we desire to enter into an eternal reality which God’s Word says is “walking in the Spirit”. Remember this: Even if you desire more and know that there must be more, if you can be stopped from walking in the Spirit…you will be.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Can Immoral Acts be Moral?


The fictional character called Colonel Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now is disillusioned about how the American military is fighting the Vietnam War. He suggests that there is no such thing as morality, and since men have different moral codes it costs lives. He has left the military and now operates within Vietnam with his own men and with his own set of rules, or lack thereof. He shares this with another soldier:

I've seen the horror. Horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that, but you have no right to judge me . It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and mortal terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.
I remember when I was with Special Forces--it seems a thousand centuries ago--we went into a camp to inoculate it. The children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us, and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile--a pile of little arms. And I remember...I...I...I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it, I never want to forget. And then I realized--like I was I was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, "My God, the genius of that, the genius, the will to do that." Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they could stand that--these were not monsters, these were men, trained cadres, these men who fought with their hearts, who have families, who have children, who are filled with love--that they had this strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time were able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment--without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.

(Apocolypse Now 1979)

This dialogue from that movie states in logical and clear terms how to win wars. The character, a maniacal colonel, has left the official American forces and now carries on his own war without traditional “rules”. The word “rules” is so self serving and it provides a buffer from being seen as monsters; however that word is a transparent and a feeble attempt to ameliorate the concept of war itself. Because some desire to engage in barbarism while still retaining a veneer of morality they present parameters which when crossed are unacceptable in a “civilized” culture. Dropping bombs on cites when necessary is acceptable, but cutting off heads is out of bounds.

The entire principle of morality as it pertains to war is most curious and presents a myriad of conundrums. But if you have no absolute resource to consult, then opinions are law. But we as believers have the teachings of Jesus, the account of the life of Jesus, and the New Testament as a whole. And if we are constrained to follow and obey those teachings, than how can we incorporate the horrors of war? In order to accommodate war we must modify those teachings in order to have them be compliant when circumstances seem to be extraordinary and in need of actions that normally would be forbidden by those teachings. In essence, those teachings are not to be viewed as absolutes and applicable truth in all circumstances and cultures.

Now once we employ that kind of Scriptural application we have kicked open the door to all sorts of Scriptural mischief. In fact, once that thread is pulled it threatens to unravel the entire garment called “truth”. Truth, Scriptural truth, now becomes malleable and is now a servant to circumstances. And many so called “orthodox” believers suggest that movements like the emergent church have done just that. They rebuke the way liberals approach the interpretation and the application of Scripture. The orthodox crowd rejects the way liberals gut the Scriptures and make them bow to their cultural necessities. They suggest that emergent and liberal teachers do not treat the Scriptures as inerrant and absolute.

And they are correct. However they are blind to the fact that they themselves practice the same form of Scriptural reshaping as it pertains to violence and war. If you preach that we should turn the other cheek and love our enemies, then what kind of detour must you take to suggest Jesus desires us to kill people including women and children when necessary? In fact, Jesus supports us in that kind of violent horror even when some country just presents a threat? But you cannot preach Scriptural truth as applicable to your next door neighbor but not as it pertains to the world.

This hedonistic culture has come to embrace the church as part of the culture because we are so unremarkable and we so often walk in lockstep with unbelievers. When unsaved men and women (the majority of them) decide the country must go to war, the church flexes its patriot muscles and wholeheartedly supports the violence and even prays for God’s blessings on “our” war effort. Now in order for the church to take such a stance Scripture must be sliced and diced into moveable parts. Things that Jesus said must be rendered impractical and suspended when it comes to war.

The question must be asked, “Is it moral to use acts of immorality in order to prevent other acts of immorality?” Almost all professing believers would answer “No!” So war must be assigned a new definition where the horrors and killings can be seen as given divine approval for a limited time which will be determined by human reasoning. So God approves of the Iraq and Afghanistan for as long as 535 members of congress and the President and Vice President decide. In fact, they also decide when and where and how to go to war. What if they had decided to drop a small nuclear bomb on Baghdad? Would that have met with the church’s approval? Why not? Too much? What if that had ended the war right then and no American lives would have been lost? Over 100,000 Iraqi lives were lost in the war, so what if that nuclear bomb had killed only 75,000 Iraqis and no allied lives were lost?

So just what kind of moral slicing and dicing is that? So thousands upon thousands more lives must be lost just so we can maintain a civilized kind of war that can blow people heads off but does not use unacceptable weapons? Go ahead and piece that kind of morality together even in the natural. More killings are more moral than less killings? Ok, we have now entered an alternative universe. Do you believe the first century believers, even if they believed in self defense violence, would have seen our conventional bombs as "weapons of mass destruction"? But since then we have embraced those weapons and now have a new definition of mass destruction. I am still not sure when the body count crosses the "mass destruction" threshold.
But we as believers do not have the luxury to construct our moral scaffolding with our own reasoning and weighted by the given circumstance. We must bow and obey the teachings of the New Testament. If we can compromise that truth because of circumstances and logic and necessity, than all Scripture can be compromised and be made to accommodate circumstances which we believe need to be addressed outside of absolute truth. In essence, then all of us are part of the emergent church. Truth vacillates, and Scripture is remolded to perform various tasks which fit neatly inside our nationalistic necessities. Our allegiance is compromised and our view of Scripture is qualified rather than absolute.
Prehaps it is necessary to lie in some circumstances, The sin of adultery may have a caveat as well. Perhaps every sin can be allowed for a season given the right circumstances. Yes, when you deal in absolutes you must deal in absolutes. And when obeying the Scriptures presents a conundrum, then we must bear the consequences of the conumdrum rather than the consequences of disobedience.

Yes, I believe most of this is directly connected to our view of earthly citizenship. And because we have love and loyalty and allegiance even to the point of death concerning our earthly citizenship, we also by definition dilute our allegiance to Christ and His teachings. When the national interests conflict with His teachings it has become evident that His teachings must have a caveat.

When national interests are at stake:

You do not have to love your enemies.

You can return evil for evil.

You do not have to turn the other cheek.

You do not have to do good to your enemies.

You can pick up the sword.

You do not have to deny yourself.

You do not have to go the extra mile.

You do not have to pick up your cross.

You do not have to die to self.

You can be unequally yoked.

In short, when national interests are at stake you do not have to follow Jesus until the war is over, and then you return to believing the Scriptures. Nothing is at stake anymore and the “all clear” has been sounded. It will cost you just what it cost you before…nothing. Since the war has ended all these teachings and principles can be taught once again as if God spoke them and as if they were absolute and completely transcultural and without any caveats. But we all know that cannot possibly be true.