Saturday, December 15, 2007

Answering The Huckabee Query

I am neither a Mormon, nor am I a Baptist. I have no denominational affiliation. When I look at a certain denomination's doctrine, I think they either get it wrong or they get it right. The problem with denominational Christianity is, it tends to divide Christians at certain levels by splitting hairs over semantics.

The political debate in the GOP right now seems to be settling in on whether or not a candidate is a true Christian or Christian enough, for some people's tastes. Early on, the Dobson group, known as Focus On The Family, sought to sit in judgment of Fred Thompson's church affiliation (The Church Of Christ). Now, they are the driving force in Mike Huckabee's candidacy, as well as being slightly responsible for Mitt Romney's dip in popularity.

I dare say that none of this means much to me in the political arena. So, that's as far I as I am willing to go with this portion of my essay. And since I do not intend to pit Mormonism against Calvinism, let's look at something that has fueled this present fire in both the political and theological realms. Let's look at a biblical answer to a common tenet of Mormonism and the responses and cries of heresy it generates with evangelicals, when this topic is discussed.

When asked about Mormonism, the former Arkansas governor replied with the now famous:

"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?"

No doubt Huckabee, being a Baptist minister, has read the OT prophets. If he hasn't he might want to and if he has, he may want to read them again. If he reads Isaiah and Ezekial, which are often considered two of the major prophets, he can go a long way to solving this mystery in his mind. It's been settled in mine for years, and I have no Doctor Of Divinity title or any other theological degree. (Apparently, neither does Huckabee)

Let's first look at Ezekial 28: 13-15:

13) Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

14) Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

15) Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Here, we can safely surmise that someone was in God's favor at one point, and then wasn't. He walked in the garden of God and enjoyed all of the precious things God had to offer. Much of the specific descriptions of these things are metaphorical, but the point still remains the same.

The being that this passage pertains to was "the anointed cherub" and was perfect in all his ways from the day he was created, until something caused him to fall out of favor.

If we really want to know what that something was, we need to jump to Isaiah 14:

12) How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

13) For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

I think it's safe to say that Lucifer, Satan, the devil, or whatever you want to refer to him as, held a high position in Heaven, long before mankind was even created. If we look back to one of my earlier posts (describing the beginning of all creation), we have to understand that whatever that position was, it had to be just below that of Christ. Therefore, based on these principles I have attempted to establish, I think there's a good chance Lucifer sparked a rebellion in Heaven and attempted to overthrow it.

But to get back to the original premise before all of this took place, we have to believe there had to be a time when Christ and Lucifer were spiritual brothers, under one God. Lucifer enjoyed all of the things that Christ enjoyed in that period, before he set out to usurp the authority of both God and Christ. If this was true, then the answer to Rev. Huckabee's question has to be a resounding yes. They were at one time and are now separated from each other forever, from the poor choice made by one of them.

I am not sure the brother description is the best way to describe the dynamics of the relationship between the two, at this point in time. But, for lack of better terms by those that usually tell only part of the story, it'll do for now.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Metaphors And Symbolism: The Two Witnesses

Recently, my good friend Mustang from Social Sense opened one of his posts, with a short provocative commentary about John of Patmos, also known as John the Apostle. If I understand him correctly, I think I know what Mustang is trying to say. But to do that, I think you must read his entire essay.

But refuting or supporting his statement is not what I want to do with this post.

There two kinds of writings contained in the Bible, literal and metaphorical. John's writings in the Book of Revelations are the latter. If one reads the metaphorical biblical texts and attempts to make sense of them without some understanding of the literal texts (more specifically the historical accounts contained within), it's close to impossible to gain some level of understanding.

The Book of Daniel, which is said to be (by many biblical scholars) to a companion book to Revelations, was metaphorical. At the end of his writing, he records how he asked God, what was the meaning of the prophecy he had both received and written? Immediately afterward, he tells how God told him to close the book, because it was written for another time, not his. If we understand this simple premise and apply it to all of the prophetic writings, we know that a certain history has to exist before any real sense can be made of these deeply esoteric writings.

The Bible is full of parables. Christ used them, the OT prophets used them, and His apostles used them. Each parable has a meaning, but one must be acutely aware of events that manifest themselves in a concrete manner. Then, and only then, can some reasonable analysis of these deeply veiled words begin.

At the end of my last post, many moons ago, I asked those that cared, to read the entire 11th chapter of Revelations. I also asked that special attention be paid to the two witnesses, described within that passage. But for those that didn't and want a shortcut, here is the part I want to reference:

3And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.

These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed

These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will

And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified

9And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.

Most of the denominational world teaches that these will be two men that will perform these deeds and miracles. On the surface, we can see that this not a far fetched idea. Some even go as far as to say that Elijah and Elisha will be resurrected for this purpose in the end days. Knowing that Elijah prayed fire down from the sky, would tend to reinforce that this passage of scripture could be interpreted as literal.

But I assert that this is not a literal possibility.

Knowing some history that took place after John recorded his vision on the Isle of Patmos, I think I can offer a more reasonable explanation of what this passage means.

he Roman Catholic Church (RCC) had not existed in John's day. Their reign started, when Constantine converted to Christianity, probably around 325 AD. Secular history tells us that it grew big and powerful throughout the ensuing centuries. In the deepest and most powerful moments of its existence in Europe, the Bible was not used much. Catholic masses were not extracted from the scriptures, but written by priests using ancient Roman rites and ceremonial texts. They may have contained some scripture in the words used, but they were not the primary text used.

The Bible is made up of the Old and New Testaments. Both were witnesses of Christ. The OT pointed to His future existence on the earth and the NT pointed back at his life, the people He taught and ministered to for 3 1/2 years, and those that accepted his message. The NT was written for people that had consciously chosen to follow Christ and contained historical accounts and lessons for living a Christian life.

Two witnesses that the RCC (in effect) killed, the OT and NT, their bodies lied dead on the street for all to see. The Bible was seen but not used, for centuries in the Roman Church. No one was able to use it for their own edification, because people were taught to trust the RCC clergy and only the clergy, for their salvation.

To understand why I believe this, let's read on:

11And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

Scriptures not being used, corruption running rampant through the RCC, and suddenly a man named Martin Luther reads one of the four passages which clearly states, "the just shall live by faith". It quickens his mind, it renews his zeal for searching for the truth, and it motivates him to get the message out. More people begin to rediscover the Bible/Two Witnesses. From that point on, the Christian world rediscovered the Bible. Its words came to life again.

None of this had occurred at the time John had recorded his vision. So it only stands to reason, he couldn't have known and understood what these words specifically meant, anymore than Daniel could have. To the reader that has no understanding of the big picture, they are mere poetic prose that have no meaning, And unless the history of the RCC is known, this version I am submitting for consideration will not make sense.

ottom line here:

The Revelation of Christ to John was not written for John's edification, but as in Daniel's case, it was written for people that live in another era. As Daniel did his, John too closed his book. It is my firm belief that Martin Luther reopened it. Could it be for our era this was written?

I'll take any questions.

I cannot offer communion. But I can pass the offering plate. ;)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pope Benedict: More Complication Added, More Simplifying Needed

You probably have heard by now, the recent controversial words of the Pope that many in the Protestant churches have taken some exception to. For sure, some have been harsher than others. But in almost all Protestant denominations, there's been some kind or reaction, at some level or another.

Here's a somewhat humorous (but yet in some ways quite serious) response from PYY regular AC of Fore Left.

Here is one of the harsher ones. The story isn't as harsh as the headline to the article:

Pope bashes Protestants -- again

This one is even more so. It's not as kind in the main body of the essay:

What is it about this arrogance that still angers me? Because the world is divided already, and we don't need this supercilious conversation right now? Because the country is in an immoral war abroad, and there's hunger and homelessness at home, and still we talk about this? Because we're straining at gnats, and swallowing camels?

Here's one that's not as harsh, but is more or less telling what Protestants should do about it:

Non-Catholics who are up in arms of the proclamation by Pope Benedict XVI that the only true church in the world is that of Catholicism shouldn’t even bother with getting upset. Just chalk it up to an old man trying to get a little attention.

I highly recommend reading Mr. Martin's essay, he has the right idea here. But as right as he is about how non-Catholics should react, even he cannot help but show in his writing that he's a little miffed about the Pope's erroneous statement:

Yet as I reflect on my years as a Catholic, it pretty was a wasted experience as there was more identification with the church, and not with Christ.

And that’s why Pope Benedict XVI is meaningless, along with his decision to re-state the primacy of the Catholic Church. This week, the pope released a document correcting interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, which some say modernized the church. But for hard liners like Pope Benedict XVI, the liberals went too far in some of their declarations.

But what ticked folks off is his assertion in the 16-page document by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the only denominations that can call themselves a true church is if they can trace their roots back to Jesus Christ’s original apostles. He even suggested they suffer from defects.

Here is the document that is making all of the fuss, with this particular part as one of the cornerstones of the Protestant criticism:

"Third Question: Why was the expression 'subsists in' adopted instead of the simple word 'is'?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity.'

"'It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.'

Personally, I think this has been a part of the Catholic Church for years now, and is hardly anything new. It is but one reason (of many), the Roman Church has alienated some of its membership over the years. There are many other reasons, but this attitude is nothing new to the hierarchy. They have always believed they were the one true church, and it goes back a long way. From the time Luther split the church back in 1517, there has been much contention between the Catholic leadership and the rest of the sects and denominations over who held the keys to the Kingdom. And while there have been times where the fellowship of all Christians was better than others, the people of the Protestant world have forgotten much of this during the latest lull.

This is but one of the reasons, I am not Catholic. It's also the reason that I am not a member of any church or denomination. I have made this decision many years ago, because the Roman Catholic Church is not the only church that claims spiritual superiority over the rest. You can find many others that make the claim that they have the truth and thus are spiritual heirs to the Church that Christ built, yet I found none that truly have a stake to either claim.

So, what's all of this mean? It means that there are varying beliefs within Church World and not all can be right. Does this mean that Roland Martin is any more of an authority or can make any other claim of spiritual superiority than Pope Benedict? Not from where I sit.

In my last post here at PPTG, I discussed the way man has complicated things that pertain to God. In one of my responses to a comment, I asked a reader to take a look at Revelation 12 and to pay close attention to the woman. Now, I will ask those that care to, to take a look at Revelation 11.

Do that and the next post may make better sense. In it, I will try to put some of this into better perspective and maybe in turn, it will spark some deeper thought into the reasons that the Pope and other leaders from other organizations, do not speak for me. Don't try to figure it out right now. Just read it and familiarize yourself with the metaphorical prose.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Complication Simplified

From Praesidium Respublicae comes an interesting post on religion from a historical perspective. Overall, it's a good review of some principles that have existed in religion from the beginning of mankind's time on this earth, many of which still exist today in some modified form or fashion. Sam makes some comparisons that are spot on and worthy of thought and consideration.

For many years now, I have adhered to a principle that (for me) has drawn a stark contrast between religion and Christianity, and has put all things theological into a certain relative perspective, one that has been highly instrumental in helping me sort out the truths and the myths. It is:

Religion is man's attempt to reach God (or some other named form or deity), while Christianity is God's attempt to reach man.

Think about this for a second.

Sam at PR states in his essay:

Early man, in trying to understand the forces of the natural world, developed a belief system in which many gods represented forces of nature.

Those of us that know and understand history know that man has been curious about the possibility of higher beings and an unseen realm that contains answers to physical mysteries. When attempting to answer questions about why it rained and other natural elements which man could not control, it was easy to assign some kind of supernatural explanation to them. And in doing this, man also determined that adverse events out of his control, had to be the result of something he was or was not doing that the force behind this element was not pleased with.

The multitude of deities that evolved from man's reasonings about these things, was one example of man complicating things, more so than was originally intended. He could not fathom that there was one entity that was over everything, he had to have many to explain the different phenomena that he experienced.

One example found in the Bible is the story of the tower of Babel. After God sought the people to disperse and populate the earth, the people thought they'd build a tower into the heavens, to be with God. Man tried, but as the rest of the story goes, they soon found their languages confused, thus no coordination could take place. By man not doing the will of God, his actions brought on more complications to a world that seemingly had one simple directive.

But, at the time of God's choosing (and only at that time), He sent his Son into the earth to redeem mankind. By sending Christ here and offering Him as the ultimate sacrifice, God and man made contact. Not through man's doing or effort, but by God's. After that, man had need of no more rituals, no more sacrifices, and no more ceremonies to touch the mind of God, for God had provided an opportunity that man need only accept and believe. God's purpose in all of this, was not complicated at all.

What was His purpose?

I firmly believe, the purpose of this effort was to free mankind from the horrible curse that came upon mankind, from Adam and Eve's actions in the Garden of Eden. That curse was death. God had told Adam that if they ate of the tree at the center of the garden, in that day they ate of it, they would "surely die". It's obvious that He did not mean they would die that same day. But He merely meant the day they ate, they would have this onus around their necks. It meant that instead of having eternal life, they would face a day whereby they would cease to exist on this earth.

If we read John 3:16, we can see this was the distinction being made for hope of restoring an opportunity for eternal life (as it would have been, had Adam and Eve not disobeyed and brought the curse on mankind in the first place):

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This is one of the most quoted scripture by Christians of all denominations, yet it is (I feel) one of the most misunderstood. Note that the distinction is not between spending eternity in Heaven or Hell, but having everlasting life over death.

So, when Sam asserts and asks the following:

Modern religion assures us that there is an after-life existence in either heaven or hell. Remember, one must believe it in order to achieve it . . . but one really must ask if there is a heaven or hell, what has happened to the souls of all those millions of people who lived long before Jesus or Allah? Have these ancient souls been condemned to a never-ending torment just because they happened to live at the wrong time, or in the wrong place?

I have somewhat of an answer.

I say all souls that have died (before or after Christ came and redeemed the world are now dead), are now awaiting the day when their names are called to come forth in the resurrection, the same resurrection that Christ experienced. Those that are known by God will live again. That is the hope, that is the promise. Furthermore it is my belief that the Roman Church in the Dark Ages deliberately twisted passages from the Bible that were meant to be interpreted in a metaphorical sense, and not literally. Those passages became mainstream, because Rome wanted tight control over its subjects through the Church.

In short, I do not believe that there is a special place that God sets aside for those He wishes to torment (with angels all standing around the camp fire pit saying; "Goody, goody, they are getting what they deserve"). The lost souls that have done evil, killed innocents, and blasphemed will not fry and pop in the pits of hell, throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. They will die and stay dead forever.

The current concept of Hell is just one example of how man has overcomplicated Christianity, as has been done with most religions throughout the annals of time. God gave Moses and the children of Israel the Law, it wasn't long before they complicated it. By the time Christ came, they had it so over-saturated with unnecessary rituals, that it was unrecognizable, from it purest form.

With that in mind, it only stands to reason the same has been done with Christianity and does much to explain why so many people are confused and even turned off by something that in it's purest form, was simple and easy. God uncomplicated religion and man messed it back up as he does everything he touches.

Questions? I'll try to answer them, best I can. If not, ponder on these things and see if they do not make a little sense.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Some Thoughts On Easter

First of all, to all that celebrate it, I want to take a moment to wish all of you a Happy Easter. I could write on the events that led up to the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, but if that is what interests you I would recommend you see, "The Passion Of The Christ" (if you haven't already done so). Instead, I will just type out a short synopsis of the day itself, with an Easter thought or two added to stimulate some thinking on this much revered subject.

Much has both been written and said, on the subject of Easter. For Christians, it is the holiest of holidays, because it symbolizes the objective of all that follow the teachings of Christ. This is the day that is used to celebrate His triumphant resurrection that was not heralded for all to see. Many didn't pay much attention, many just weren't aware that this was taking place at the time. In short, access was limited. So naturally, such humble anonymity was not proclaimed to the ends of the civilized world, so easily.

One of the things the Jews were expecting from their Messiah was that of a royal ruling figure. Much of the Gentile world of that day was enamored with royalty that girded itself with pomp and circumstance, as well. Little did the Jews realize at that time, there were two pictures portrayed by the OT prophets that foretold of his arrival; one was that of a majestic monarch and the other was a common man that suffered in humility, and offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. But many in that lived in the world of that time, many that lived far from Israel and Judea, knew nothing at all of the OT portrayal or the events that led to the celebration we have today.

They didn't have CNN International or Al-Jazeera to cover it. There was no Jerusalem Post, no BBC World Service, no mass telecommunications media at all. And because historical records were murky at best, it becomes clear as to why we cannot pinpoint the exact date as to the death and resurrection.

In the years that followed the death and resurrection, not much thought was given to marking the date, for remembrance. It wasn't important to celebrate any of the significant events that surrounded this occasion. As a result of this, there were no cultural traditions practiced or set in any of the Christian communities scattered throughout. Most of the communities were small and dispersed throughout a world that was rich in pagan tradition, and the biggest concern many had during that time was staying alive, to further the Gospel. From lion fodder to outright killings, life was not a bouquet of roses for those that dared forsake the practices of their forefathers and take up a new path.

But when Constantine promoted and eventually converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, those that had been so vehemently persecuted under previous emperors were able to rest a bit easier. But as could be expected, it wasn't easy to convert an entire mass of people that had based their culture around time-honored and highly respected pagan deities (and the feasts to celebrate them), to the simpler more humble teachings that accompanied the Christian message.

Transformation needed to be slow. Constantine and those that were commissioned under him knew that they could not just uproot these traditions and replace them with nothing. So, during this transition period, old pagan customs were paired with significant events, taught by the Christians. The birth of Christ was put with the winter solstice celebration and Easter was infused as the one for the vernal equinox. This is why certain fundamentalist sects refuse to celebrate Easter, even yet, today.

Knowing this, do we (as Christians) err greatly by celebrating Easter? If we are truly Christians would even want to? I believe that Paul addressed this question somewhat, in one of his letters to Corinthian church.

I Cor. 8: 7, 8

Speaking on the subject of knowledge he writes:

7Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

8But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

Paul, as an ever-so studious student of the Gospel, had learned that his deep understanding would not prevent him from going into an idol's temple for the specific purpose of getting something to eat. He traveled a lot and getting a meal on the road was important, even in that day. Idol temples seemingly always had a festival going on and food was almost always part of the celebration. So, it only stood to reason that he do so, when he had the opportunity. You see, Paul deeply believed that his God would not hold him accountable for stepping inside for a moment, long enough to grab a bite to eat. He did not partake of the other activities, he did not submit to their religious practices. He just ate and left, and did so with a clean conscience.


Because he knew that an idol was nothing, nothing but a carved statue of some kind that had no life within itself, and certainly no power over him. He did not worship the god of that temple. But, he was thankful that his God had led him to a place where he had the opportunity to eat something, after doing the many things God had called him to do.

So, tying this in with the celebration of Easter, I think we can safely say: Celebrating Easter for the event that it represents is not an abomination, if we do it of a sincere heart. Regardless of the pagan roots, the day should always be marked with some form of reverence towards what it represents to Christians. I do so, as to honor God, and not to honor any previous pagan gods that were believed to be the source of this and the other feasts. Because in my view, in my humble opinion, they are nothing; just like those statues that Paul looked at as he entered those temples, for an occasional meal.

As for me, being the annual church attendee that I am, I will be going to the early service today. I won't be going to mark or celebrate this as the very day from a historical standpoint, like many. I will be thinking about the event itself and reflect on how thankful I am that it did happen. Because Christ is alive, it is our hope that we too can live. That's my view.

So, again I say:

Happy Easter, to all that celebrate it as such

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Dobson Phenomenon

I have minced very few words in my disdain for the far-Left ideology (and in many cases, tactics). But the far-Right certainly doesn't settle well with me either, and here's why.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson appeared to throw cold water on a possible presidential bid by former Sen. Fred Thompson while praising former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is also weighing a presidential run, in a phone interview Tuesday.

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added, saying that such an impression would make it difficult for Thompson to connect with the Republican Party's conservative Christian base and win the GOP nomination.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Thompson, took issue with Dobson's characterization of the former Tennessee senator. "Thompson is indeed a Christian," he said. "He was baptized into the Church of Christ."

Here's where evangelicals and myself part ways. Here's where I must draw the proverbial line and make the distinction between what is Caesar's and what is God's. Even if I agreed with Mr. Dobson right down the line (and believe me I do not), it is my firm belief that making proclamations on who is and who is not a Christian is primarily and precisely the reason why we have the separation of church and state.

So, can anyone tell me who died and made James Dobson the spokesperson for Christians? I am Christian and I can definitely say with an infinite amount of assurance that he does not speak for me.

It is said by many that Dobson's power and influence in the world of the evangelical right is second to no one right now; Robertson and Falwell have pretty much been replaced. The flock is now gravitated to him now and somewhere along the way, someone must've given him the impression that he is now in "kingmaker" status. But that's not all there is to this. What makes this even worse is the fact that there are many that listen to him and count his word as gospel.

Some in the evangelical right leadership have greatly miscalculated in their speech before. Some are no strangers to "foot-in-mouth-disease". We all know Pat Robertson has said things that were better left unsaid. Who can forget the need for Hugo Chavez's assassination comments? Jerry Falwell is another one. His righteousness has always preceded him and if you don't believe me, just ask him. He does well when he leaves politics out of his conversation.

The point I am trying to make here is not a difficult one. What I am trying to convey is politics has no business in religion and the same courtesy must be extended, when it goes the other way. There is nothing wrong with voting one's conscience and choosing to vote for those that reflect a person's values. But do feel there is something to be said for picking against a candidate merely because they may not fill the specific mold of what they feel a Christian ought to be.

But let me be clear here, Dobsonites are entitled to their opinions and can certainly express them; just as the Left is entitled to theirs and to express them. They are entitled to stick up for their faith, if they feel it is under attack or if their individual constitutional rights have been or are being violated in some way. But if they make the same mistakes they have made in the past by attempting to drive the GOP train, they will seriously endanger the GOP's chance of winning in 2008.

Fred Thompson is just about as conservative as you can get. And relatively speaking, for a politician, he is of pretty sound character. There is no one that has championed the causes that many in the evangelical right have deemed important, than Mr. Thompson. He has been demonized by many on the Left, which are the same ones that now demonize Mr. Dobson. Yet, Mr, Dobson has now seen fit to act as kingmaker, judge, and jury against Mr Thompson? Someone help me out here. Just who does he want, anyway?

Look, if it's ideology differences, fine. If he's not strong enough on this or not lax enough on that, okay. But do not allow anyone to influence you to cast your rightfully and constitutionally guaranteed vote -- based on who he/she thinks is or is not a Christian. But also know this. if you disregard this bit of advice, President-Elect Clinton will thank you for it.

(Note - Because this is one of those posts that could fall on either the political or religious side, I have cross-posted it at PYY. If your comments lean toward the religious side, you can leave a comment here. If it's more toward the political, you can leave it there.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The U2-charist

A play on words? Yes. But the gist of this short article shows the depth and breadth of the lyrics of one of the biggest rock bands in the world.

The Pope may have condemned rock music as "anti-religion" but the Church of England has announced it is to use the songs of a global supergroup in an effort to boost congregations.

If one hasn't followed U2 throughout their career, it might be easy to be a bit skeptical about the use of their music in worship services. With all of the junk the music industry puts out, it's easy to see why. Some bands put out absolute garbage, that's for sure. But in U2's early days, their lyrics were very strongly rooted in their faith. Today, one can listen to many of their more recent songs and still hear (at least in some measure) valuable prose based on the very faith that was the early the basis, of their calling.

Few would know that early in their career there was an inner conflict, a dilemma of sorts, with the band. Their struggle was complex, because they were at a crossroads with the direction of their music. Early on, they were legitimately torn between maintaining total Christian themes, and branching out into a wider scope of vision. The Edge almost left the band over Bono and the others' decision to do the branching out.

But did they do the right thing here?

Some would say they compromised their standards. Others would say they gave into "the devil" and are going to burn in hell. But me? I say it's neither.

The band has maintained some sense of a theological foundation, throughout their reign of the charts. The lyrics of their songs speak of peace, love, and understanding. Some promote hope and vision. But one thing is for sure, they all carry a deeper message than the old "rock and roll is good time music" genre. The words to many of their songs cry out a lament at various social injustices, to include poverty and war.

Having grown up in Ireland and knowing firsthand the brutality of a war between Protestants and Catholics, they (no doubt) were influenced to be the cynics they were (and still are), by that insane process. Christians fighting Christians was the main topic of Sunday Bloody Sunday.

And it's true we are immune
When fact is fiction and TV reality.
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die.

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday..

The descriptive analysis of a possible future life rendered in Where The Streets have No Name, is second to none in the vivid and detailed imagery department.

The city's a flood, and our love turns to rust.
We're beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled in dust.
I'll show you a place
High on a desert plain
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name.

I could go on with the lyrics presentation, but there's more to this story than just a music review.

Christ said in Mt 7:

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits you will know them He says. So if we examine the fruits of the lead singer Paul David Hewson (better known to the world as, Bono), we see quite a unique individual. He has been married for close to 25 years to a woman that he has been involved with, for over 30. Womanizing is not something he is known for. Neither is he tabloid material, because he does not hang out with the drug and alcohol club, as many others do in the rock world. Britany Spears would do well to emulate him, instead of others that have gone down a dangerous and destructive path.

But that doesn't mean he is a recluse and does not get out and about. And it does not mean he is perfect, I am sure.

However, one only needs to see
the list of humanitarian work he does, to know that he is driven to correct some things he sees as wrong and attempts (to the best of his ability) to right them. It is my firm belief that he behaves in the manner he does and does these things, out of a sincere appreciation for what God has done for him. By his being a successful rock icon, he has had the opportunity to use his platform and mouthpiece for improving the world. He has raised awareness of things that others in his field, care little or nothing about.

He has won the respect of many, to include the President of the United States (and others). Not only has he won respect, he has inspired, persuaded, and convinced. Much of that comes from setting an example, first and foremost. It does not come from hypocritical and pious moralizing, like many in the religious world seem to think is necessary to get a message out.

So when we see a church (like the one mentioned in the article used as the reference point for this post) using the music of U2 to reach a new generation of people that otherwise may be unreachable, it should come as no surprise. It should not be condemned, nor frowned upon. Looking at all of the temptations that this band has (no doubt) experienced in their line of work over the many years, and having rejected the lion's share of them for a more spiritually profitable path of existence, I have to say my hat's off to them. They are in a humanly way, to be praised and respected.

So, in my view, it's easy to see that when they had to decide to be just another Christian band playing at church functions or branch out into a wider spectrum of music-making, they made the right choice. Otherwise, they would not have had the ability to have the influence or ability to reach the many that needed reaching.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A "Road To Damascus" Moment

To not have confidence that people can change, one only needs to read about the story of Saul of Tarsus and his transformation to Paul, the Apostle to the gentile world. From a persecutor of Christians, a man that consented to many people's death, this man was made into a great Apostle and was the largest contributor to what is now known as the New Testament.

Meet Mmoja Ajabu. His "Road To Damascus Moment" is well chronicled in this MLK Day article.

Mmoja Ajabu didn't always embrace the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy that protest should be peaceful.

When he led the Black Panther Militia in Indiana, Ajabu specifically left open the possibility that armed conflict might be the answer to black oppression.

When he wanted to bring attention to his concerns about a black man's impending execution, he burned an American flag on Monument Circle.

When his son was being prosecuted for a triple murder in Carmel, Ajabu was jailed for making threatening comments toward court officials.

Ajabu, a man disillusioned by his tour of duty in Vietnam and bitter about racism he saw upon his return, thought more along the lines of Malcolm X, who asserted that blacks should seek justice "by any means necessary."

He was an angry man.

What follows is the story behind this man's change of heart, attitudes, and actions. While you read it, consider that this man was in the news, a lot. He was angry. He had a radical agenda that was disruptive and potentially volatile, for years. And for 10 years or so, he hasn't made a peep.

Now, I am not comparing him to Paul. Paul was Paul, he had his calling, and this guy has his. But this guy has really implemented a distinct change in his methods and behavior. Like Saul/Paul was converted, so was Ajabu. Now, instead of intimidating, he is persuading. Whether he realizes it or not, his personal experience was very similar to the Apostle's.

How can this be? Can people filled with this kind of anger and hate genuinely change so drastically? I think they can.

But know this, I cannot personally attest as to the true intentions of this man (or anyone else, for that matter). But I can say this with a surety, it's been many years since this man has made front page of the Indianapolis Star (that is, until yesterday).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

God and Sports

With the NFL Playoffs currently in progress, I thought now would be a good time to bring up a discussion about God and Sports.

I can remember when the Dallas Cowboys were nicknamed, "God's Team". Why? I do not know, but that's what they were called. Notre Dame, being a Catholic school, has always had playful media references to the tune of "divine" intervention, in many last minute victories in South Bend. And, there are still many teams that engage in a generic locker room prayer, before games.

But, Bob Knight once said something along the line of, "I don't believe God cares about sports. When you ask Him to help your team win, you are asking Him to screw the other team". One could then assume, he thought the better prayer would for the health and safety of all players in the game, or he didn't care about any prayer at all. But one thing he appeared to be certain about was that God is not an unfair God.

What do you think? Does God care about who wins and who loses sporting contests?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Prayer

Dear God,

Please help me to be half the person that my dog thinks I am.


- Author Unknown

Monday, January 08, 2007

Clearing The Air

People make mistakes. We are certainly fallible creatures.

Technology is made by humans and as a result, it is sometimes faulty. Sitemeter is a technology that was developed by fallible beings and is at times, faulty to the say the least.

Anyone that had any lengthy amount of time in the blogosphere well knows that Sitemeter, sometimes does not provide accurate information, especially in regards to location of some visitors. Why is that? Beats me. To find the answer, you'll have to ask the fine folks at Sitemeter.

I while back, a blog friend of mine that lives in a certain town began showing up as visiting my site from a town almost 200 miles away. At some point subsequent to that, my location was being read as a town 200 miles away, or so (on my sitemeter as well as others). I never cared to pursue the issue much and still don't care to. But there has been an incident of a commenter accusing of me and another commenter of being the same person, due to the mere fact that both of our locations show up as the same town.

Never mind that the service providers are different. Never mind that our ISP addresses are different. Never mind that my service provider probably does not service the town in question. But that doesn't seem to matter. This person seems to have it in her head that because Sitemeter says it is so, it must be true. All confidence has been thrown to the faulty technology made by fallible human beings and none has been given to the host of this blog, when she was told this information.

Let's be clear here. I am not a liar, a sneak, nor do I go to other peoples blogs for the sole purpose of making accusations and stirring trouble. I may be wrong, mistaken, and I may even miscalculate (I am one of those fallible humans that I speak of). But make no mistake whatsoever, I am not a liar. I do not have time for these kinds of childish games.

Anyone certainly can ask me a question and I will reply, in one of two ways:

1. I will answer the question honestly and truthfully, to the best of my ability.

2. I will not answer the question at all, by politely declining.

One thing I will NOT do is lie. You can count on that.

So let it be known now, I am not here to play silly games. The vast majority of my readers are not here to play silly games either. We are all adults, I expect that when we post comments here we do not make unfounded accusations against me, or anyone else.

As this (or any other) blog grows, there will be people that for whatever reason have found it hard to trust others (probably based on past experiences on other blogs) to filter through here, on occasion. But I can without a doubt assure all of you that there is no attempt to cause any kind of deception here, or on PYY. There never has been and there will never be.

Most of my regular readers already know where I live, but for those that do not, it is in a suburb of Indianapolis. I have lived all over the world, have seen many places and things throughout my life. But right now this is where I live. I do not, will not, nor will I ever have any desire to represent myself, as anyone else in the blogosphere. And accusing me of such childish behavior, will not be tolerated.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

In The Beginning: Understanding Creation And Who Created It

Well here it is, my first original post with some of my personal views. Please keep in mind that these are only my views. As always, please feel free to express yours as well, in spite of the fact that you may disagree with me.

Not all posts will be as in-depth, not all will use scripture as a pretext. But I feel that before I can share any other thoughts and views on other topics, I must give all who read this blog, some background of some things that may help explain other things later on. As I said, I am not mainstream. I am not locked up in traditional doctrine. But that doesn't mean that I am locked in to my views, either. I can and do reserve the right to change my mind, as often as I deem prudent to do so.

Many that have read the Bible have historically believed that the first verse in the book of Genesis, is the beginning of all creation by the Almighty.

Gen. 1:1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

But in my extensive readings, I have found that the actual beginning of creation is described in the Gospel Of John.

John 1:1-5

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

Let's break this down a bit further starting with verse 1:

In the beginning was the Word. Most biblical scholars have believed this to be Christ and I am in agreement with them on this point. But while it's not disputed by many in Christianity, the rest of this verse has historically been a source of disagreement in some factions.

...and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God. With God? Was God? Sounds confusing doesn't it?

Most Christians have believed that God has always been in existence. There's no more scientific proof for that, than there is for His very existence. But nevertheless, that's the story we have adhered to.

Knowing this, we can surmise that God, in existence for eternity past, seemed lonely and wanted to create something for someone, through someone. So if we are to infer this accurately, we can say this: God created Christ for the purpose of creating the heavens and the earth and for companionship.

There are some people that have interpreted this scripture as God and Christ, being one and the same. They contend that this is one place in the Bible where God reveals that they are both the same entity. Groups known as "oneness people" take a few scriptures, like this one and others where He speaks of He and His Father being one, as evidence of them both being the same entity. Naturally, I disagree.

Most Christians believe in the Holy Trinity. In fact, most of the "oneness people" were offshoots of the Assemblies Of God Churches, when the AG adopted the Holy Trinity as part of their church doctrine. Out of an estimated 2 billion Christians worldwide, "oneness people" make up only approximately 4 million. The rest are for the most part, trinitarian and assign separate status to God and Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit.

But I differ with trinitarians too.

In the Holy Trinity, we are taught the nature of God in the form of three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, with each assigned equal status. I differ with that theology for a couple of reasons.

1. God is not the Son, Christ is the Son. God created the Son, as I have shown in this scripture from John. Even though it says the Word was God, Christ had a distinct separate life after His creation, both in Heaven before He came to earth, and afterward.

2. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a personified entity. If Christ were here physically on this earth right now, He'd have to be somewhere. Japan, Europe, America, my garage, He would have to have a specific location. I would not go so far as to say that He would have to travel as we do, He probably could just say the word and He could be anywhere. But my point is He couldn't be in two places simultaneously. I believe that the same holds true for God. But the Holy Spirit can be. This is I believe, that the Spirit of God can be with Mary Ellen, Mustang, and here with me at the same time. It is a spirit, not a person.

So with all of this said, I do not believe that Christ is God, I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a person, I believe that the Holy Spirit is the life force and personality of God that emanates from both. It originates from God and flows through Christ and those that believe in Him.

Imagine this scene:

God is lonely and wants to have a companion (not a conjugal companion). He has an idea in his mind to create that companion (The Word was God). He then speaks the word and by His command there is a Son (The Word was with God). And through this Son, He creates the entire world and universe.

We can safely determine this, if we read further into Genesis where we see the scripture where man is created (emphasis is mine):

Gen. 1:26

And God said, Let us make man in our image , after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Looks like their were at least two entities involved here. To me, it's easy to see that Christ was of the same mind and spirit as God, but the one and the same. All of the scriptures that said that He and His Father were one were true, but in a metaphorical sense. Obviously there is much more to creation than just this part, but here is where it all begins. And it is my feeling that to understand anything else, one must (at least) consider this explanation, if nothing else.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Some Noteworthy Theological Posts

Since the "Welcome" thread has just about expended its energy, I wanted to call your attention to two posts written by two good blog friends AC and Mustang.

The first is by Mustang of Social Sense and is entitled, In The Name Of The Father. In it, he poses some very thought-provoking questions that many have asked, for years. It starts out like this:

There are obvious disagreements among scientists and theologians about the origin of our world and the people in it, although to be fair, not all scientists disregard the existence of an all powerful deity, in whose image we are created. Between these two groups of people, the underlying differences involve questions of fact versus faith; this is something we can all understand, and I think we generally accept such differences as simply “the way it is.”

But what about disagreements among those who do believe?

To get the entire message you will have to read the entire essay, yourself.

The second piece is by AC at Fore Left and is entitled, Pat Robertson's Murky Vision.

It isn't long, but it draws attention to more of the televangelist's outrageous remarks that are usually better left unsaid. You may recall that Rev. Robertson called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, awhile back. Well, he's back in the news again saying that God told him that there will be another deadly attack by terrorists in 2007, this time with even more people killed.

I am reminded of the Oral Roberts scam a few years back, where he said that God told him that if he did not raise a certain amount of money to keep his hospital open, God would call him home. Some wealthy benefactor gave him the money, but with one caveat. He should seek psychiatric help. For a list of this false prophecy and some of his others, you can look here.

My point here in this, is simple. It is this kind of activity that will ultimately turn people off to Christianity. Prophets, they are not. Scammers, are more likely the more accurate term I would apply to them.

So read these two pieces and see what you think. I hope to have an original post up by week's end.

Thanks to all that read here and at PYY.