A culture of “yes.” That is what we seem to live in. Almost any sort of personal morality is possible, almost all forms of sexual expression are heartily endorsed. With very few exceptions, what seems right to a person is ok to do. The culture heartily approves, celebrates and rejoices in granting freedom of self-expression, the casting off of restraint.

Yet, in spite of the culture’s enthusiastic “yes,” we actually live in a culture of “no.” Collectively, our culture holds that there is no meaning, no knowledge, no truth, no morality, and more recently, no forgiveness.

In the next several posts, we will explore our culture of “no,” how we arrived at those points, and some of the resulting implications. Much of what follows will be some of my preliminary thoughts about topics I intend to cover in a forthcoming book, Hope in the Midst of Judgment, a book I am in the process of researching, yet I’ve studied many of the topics for over 15 years.

Philosophy. If there is one word that strikes terror in many of our hearts, it is the word “philosophy.” Our eyes glaze over and our minds quickly lock up. We think of professors so high up in lofty ivory towers that when they breathe ice forms on the tip of their noses. They use long lugubrious (dismal, gloomy, in an exaggerated manner) words that are nearly impossible for most of us to understand. Best to let them stay in their isolated towers and ignore them, or so we think.

But, it isn’t that simple. What they teach and write passes on to their college students, and over time through those students, on to the general culture. While those who spread the ideas generally know where they come from, many of us tend to be rather clueless. We react with, “How could they believe something so obviously wrong?” To them, even the fact that we say something is “wrong” shows that we don’t grasp the meaning of what they are saying.

Even if what they believe is directly self-contradictory, believe it they do. In the next few posts, we will examine some of the philosophical beliefs that have been embraced by our culture. Two that are at the core of our popular society are: (1) there is no meaning—specifically words have no precise meaning; and (2) there is no real knowledge.

Our culture insists that there is no real meaning. More specifically, that words possess no genuine meaning. That might seem odd to many of us. How could one even understand these first couple of sentences if words have no real meaning? Nevertheless, that is what many in our culture hold.

The belief that words have no specific meaning has been spreading now for over 50 years. While at one time the belief was confined to the “ivory towers,” that belief has long since entered our popular culture. Any word (a symbol) is just a sign of another symbol (word). Regardless of how far back one goes, a word remains just a sign of another symbol. Thus, meaning is not based on anything concrete, meaning has no foundation.

In terms of books, authorial intent does not exist. Whatever subjective meaning that might exist is determined strictly by the reader. In addition, whatever meaning might be found is generally not found in the words themselves, but rather in the “white spaces” between the words. Once what was written has been “deconstructed” (the technical term) it often turns out that the meaning of the text is the direct opposite of what the author likely intended. Thus, for the past several decades the historical Western literature has been under attack, and is now “known” to be anti-feminist, European colonialist, misogynist, and so forth (that these philosophical beliefs emerged primarily in France and the United States seems to be besides the point).

But does the view hold up? One philosopher at one point dared to contradict Derrida (the leading advocate of these views). Derrida responded to the roughly fifteen page article by writing an almost 100 page book, ridiculing his opponent. One must deconstruct Western literature, but one must NEVER deconstruct the writings of the deconstructionists. Contrary to all the others, their books must be read as though they mean exactly what they say. I do wonder what would have happened had I been able to take a class from Derrida (he taught at UC Irvine, among other places), and after a lecture on how meaning is found in the “white spaces” been able to ask a question along the lines of, “So you’re saying that you wish the sky was orange marmalade instead of green striped with essence of strawberry?” If meaning is found strictly by the reader and in the white spaces between the words, that interpretation is as valid as any other.

Life doesn’t work that way. For example, if you’re assembling a toy for your daughter’s birthday, the only way to succeed is by following the instructions, instructions that mean exactly what they say. However, we, in our sinful state, prefer the opinions of the deconstructionists. By using deconstruction, we can dismiss anything the Scriptures appear to say that we don’t like, and it also gives us an excuse for justifying our behavior and actions. Nevertheless, following that process will not end well.

No real knowledge. Let that sink in for a moment, there is no real knowledge. How can that be? That doesn’t appear to make any sense. How did out culture come to embrace such a view?

Once again, one must look to ivory academic towers, and yet another case where philosophy has had a significant long-term impact. The French post-modern philosopher Michel Foucault had much to say about what is, or is not, considered knowledge.

It used to be that an expert in any given field, by definition, had knowledge of that field. The knowledge one had, gave one power and authority in that area. For example even today, if one needs heart surgery, one seeks a reputable heart surgeon to perform it, not an auto mechanic. In the same way, if your car needs fixing, you take it to an auto mechanic, not a heart surgeon, to get it repaired. The heart surgeon has authority and power when it comes to heart surgery, the auto mechanic has authority and power when it comes to fixing cars.

Foucault argued that instead of knowledge creating power and authority, it was power that created knowledge. He insisted that those in power were the ones who determined what was considered knowledge. Since those in power determined what was important, if one disagreed with those in power, they, and their so-called “knowledge,” could be ignored. Thus, there is no real knowledge as “knowledge” is just a construct made by those in power.

Yet, as in the above examples of the heart surgeon and auto mechanic, one still doesn’t go to an auto mechanic for heart surgery. Their respective knowledge remains real. As with Derrida, Foucault insists that what he has to say and write is true, and in Foucault’s case, genuine knowledge. But as with Derrida, why?

Foucault has power and authority regarding what he says. But since he is in power over his own writings, and his power creates the “knowledge” he claims that he has and has writen about, one can dismiss his “knowledge,” just as he insists we need to dismiss other’s so-called knowledge. Following his own theory, he is no different from anyone else in power who puts forth a construct of knowledge. Thus, his writings become self-refuting. Of course, to state things that bluntly is not tolerated in that philosophical world.

As with Derrida, our culture (one wonders where the new protest iteration of “no culture” will go) embraces what Foucault said. It provides yet another rationalization to dismiss the Truth of the Scriptures, and even law in general. After all, those in authority created laws, so those too, as we are currently seeing, can be dismissed as well. Nevertheless, those beliefs remain a biblical lie. We truly are witnessing a culture that is at the end of Romans 1. As we see in Psalm 2, that has absolutely no impact on God’s sovereignty, and for that we can rejoice, but it does not bode well for us as a nation.

Morpheus: “If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.” (The Matrix, 1999)
Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

“The Matrix.” If there is one film that gets to the heart of postmodern though about knowledge, it is the 1999 film, “The Matrix.” Those beliefs and thoughts have now, 20 years later, permeated popular culture. In that film, the main protagonist, Neo, discovers that the “knowledge” he had about his life, and life in general, was nothing more than artificial constructs put together by those in power—in this case, machines possessing AI. As the film goes on, the rules Neo thought governed his known universe proved to be false. They often could be and needed to be broken in order to survive, or at the very least bent significantly. Worse, since Neo, and by extension all of us, rely on subjective sensory perception, there is no way to be sure what is truly real. We can’t really know anything. Our perceptions and our view of reality, are quite different from what reality may very well prove to be. One could almost say that we live in perpetual uncertainty (more on that subject in the next post).

When I was researching postmodern beliefs, “The Matrix” was referenced over and over. It was so important that Brian McLaren, in a fictional trilogy about why the church must change and embrace postmodern thoughts, named the hero of his trilogy Neo, after the character in the film.

So, again, we can’t really know anything. But as is so often the case, the Scriptures reveal that there is nothing new under the sun. Jesus had just told Pilate, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Jn. 18:37 NAU). Pilate then responds with his question (I wish the Scriptures recorded what sort of tone he used). Rather than wait for an answer, he immediately leaves. For him, in any absolute sense, truth does not exist.

As we’ve seen, it is convenient to believe that we can’t know anything. That way, we aren’t ultimately responsible for our actions, and even better, we have no way to know if our actions are right or wrong, since laws are themselves artificial constructs created by those in power. But, as the last half of Romans 1 delineates so well, we willfully choose to forget what is true and real, prefer to substitute lies and our own sinful desires for what we know to be absolutely and certainly true. Even in our denials, deep down, we still know what is true. It would be far better for us to repent, and live according to what we know God has declared to be true.

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A nation’s tale

Darkness reigned. The region, poorly organized, had been under the control of others for as long as anyone could remember. Oppressed? Yes. Economic prosperity? Must be nice, but while some were doing ok, most were not. Too many bitter memories, memories of betrayal they vowed never to forget. They had risen up once. They had tried to change things once, but they had been slaughtered by “noble knights,” knights in the service of their lords. Vassals they were, and vassals they were to remain.

Gradually things started to change, gradually the situation got better. First, a few new voices appeared. Voices saying they could become a nation, even a dominant one. Instead of being under other’s control, they could, by uniting, throw off that control. They could take charge over the hated oppressors.

Then, a miracle. They came together, threw off foreign rule, and forged their country. Powerful voices came forth, pointing the way to national dominance. Industry developed, cities grew, people had jobs, people had hope.

New technology emerged. Better technology; a stronger army. They had turned the tables on their foes. They were now the better organized. As fate would have it, an assassin’s shot rang out; an old friend was killed. It was time, time to retaliate; time to squash their ancient foes. The day had come to seize control, and seize control they did.

Euphoria! Success, more than anyone could have ever dreamed. With ancient enemies all around, by their cunning and skill, they dealt a stunning, immediate and total defeat to their largest adversary. All their resources could now go towards defeating their tougher enemies. They could do it! Dominance could be achieved at last.

Only . . . they couldn’t. The first blunder came when they decided to take over a long-standing neutral country near their own. That unfortunate country was plunged into famine. Other nations, many far away, turned against them for their actions towards that unfortunate neutral country. A public relations disaster followed. They relented, and at last let others aid that poor stricken country. But the damage had been done, they were now viewed as villains, and villains they would remain.

Their other enemies proved to be more resilient than they thought. Worse, those enemies were able to outthink them, and develop new technology and engines of war. Slowly the tide began to turn. Hoped for total victory became stalemate, and then that stalemate looked more and more like it could turn into total defeat.

Resources were strained to the breaking point. Then it happened. Defeat, surrender! The damage they inflicted on others would have to be repaid. Their enemies, stronger and more powerful than ever, exacted economic vengeance. Their government, those “new” voices that had promised world dominance, collapsed. The people, worse off than ever were in despair. Many were now dead, killed in the military push for international power and success. Where could they possibly go from here?

Defeat. Despair. Dominated by others before, and now dominated once again. Why bother? A new government was formed, a duly elected government, but weak, hamstrung by sanctions placed by their traditional enemies. That government tried to navigate through the maze, but couldn’t.

First, the economy collapsed. The government responded by printing more money to fix the economy. That money was backed by the good faith of the government. The suffering people realized that was of little value. Not surprisingly, then, the currency collapsed. Backed by nothing, it became worth what it was backed by. Hyper inflation took hold. A country farmer boasted that he paid off his farm’s mortgage with three eggs. A wheelbarrow full of money might buy a loaf of bread. In the cities, kids used rubber bands to turn stacks of it into blocks to play with. Ink became so expensive, the government could only afford to print money on one side.

Things were bad before, but far worse now. Many no longer had jobs, and those that did were little better off. Why work, when what you are being paid is worth nothing?

New voices started to arise, voices promising to fix the mess, and return the country to greatness. One new leader in particular sounded very promising. People started to listen. The media started to pay attention and promote that leader. Some key church leaders agreed. Maybe this political party could fix things, things they now blamed the other party for. Maybe this new group could get the country moving. Maybe there could be real change. Maybe . . .

Charismatic. If there was one word to describe this new emerging leader it was charismatic. Hopes began to rise. The citizens began to believe him. He could fix things, He could get the nation back on its feet. The press was fully in support. What opposition that did exist began to be dealt with. Election, victory! One of the nation’s most famous members was put in charge as a figurehead. But the time would soon come for that exciting leader to take direct control.

The new leader did it. Wilder than dreamed possible, success! The country? Restored. Jobs? Plentiful, at last. The leader? A national hero. The press lauded him. One of the world’s most prestigious news sources declared him to be their man of the year. Star athletes flocked to the restored capital city to compete in world-wide games. On top of the world, times were great.

Only one dominant political party? So much good for the nation had been done, not a concern. A one-sided press? So what? Rights might slowly be eroding, but who cared? Very few. Blame had to be assigned for the nation’s past failures. A group was found, a group greatly despised, and blame was assigned. At first, a few negative articles about them appeared, and before long the press constantly vilified them. Persecution set in, but again, the nation was doing great, so no matter, besides members of that group weren’t wanted anyway. Religious leaders continued to back the great new leader. A few had concerns and opposed him, but they were dismissed as not understanding the country’s issues and historic problems.

With their fantastic, amazing turn-around, just maybe they could finally dominate their enemies. The signs were favorable. Now was the time!

The time was ripe. A new king had arisen in the East, an all-powerful, but very insecure king. Early in his reign he purged his country of all potential rivals. Worse he then decided to kill many of the citizens he felt didn’t like him. The country was weak and vulnerable. In the West, leaders decided that the best way to keep peace with this rising country was to give that country everything they wanted. So, they were weak as well. No one would be able to stop him.

Using deceit, he made it look like another nation attacked him, so that his retaliation against that country would appear legitimate. No one believed it, but no one was powerful enough to stop him. In a series of stunning victories, he soon controlled the entire western mainland. It was then time to attack the weak country to the east. More stunning victories! But, things started to turn. The unexpected happened: winter weather stopped him in his tracks. That gave the eastern country time to recover. Certain victory turned into stalemate, and stalemate, once again, slowly turned into what looked like certain defeat.

As the tide began to turn, instead of just persecuting the despised minority people group, he started murdering them, and along with them other undesirables as well. A few of the religious leaders came to realize they had made a huge mistake in backing this once-charismatic leader. One even joined a failed plot to kill him. Others, sadly unrepentant, backed him until the very end. The remaining countries in the West launched a counter-invasion, and succeeded. The nation began to collapse. In its final days that once charismatic leader wished he could totally destroy his own country. Fortunately, he no longer had the power to carry it out. Suicide became the option of choice. His chief lieutenant and his wife, after murdering their children, did the same. Most of the continent was in ruins.

What lessons can we learn from this tale?
As you may have guessed this “fictional tale” is a very thinly disguised telling of what happened in Germany from shortly before World War I through the end of World War II (with a couple exceptions).

There are a number of things that happened during that time frame, especially during the Weimar Republic years and what followed that parallel our own situation. We have a very one-sided press, and woe to anyone who disagrees with that view. The polarization we are facing is not helpful. The difference is that for us, the intimidation is coming from the political Left. One political party in particular is proposing things that if enacted have the potential of bankrupting our currency. Like the Weimar Republic, our currency has no real backing. Berlin, during the Weimar years seems to have been regarded as the world’s capital for “free sex” and “alternative lifestyles.” Those choices didn’t end well.

The media can both have an agenda and be very wrong at the same time. Hitler was voted Time’s man of the year because of how he revived Germany in the 1930s, prior to World War II. With all that is being pushed with COVID-19, along with a particular political view (other views are generally ignored, and thereby in essence censored), skepticism is wise. Again the divisiveness and polarization is not helpful. Jesus had a lot to say about a divided kingdom, and that applies not only to the spiritual realm, but nations as well.

What is downplayed in the description of Germany’s leader is that he was a staunch atheist evolutionist along with having family ties to the occult. Although a bit off topic, more people were murdered in the twentieth century by atheistic leaders than were killed in any previous time in history. Hitler murdered an estimated 12 million (six million Jews, and six million other undesirables). How many Stalin murdered is hotly debated, especially by “emergent” historians. A total of 20 million is very possible when including the number of people he killed indirectly through starvation. In China, Mao may have murdered as many as 77 million (again exact totals, who knows?). On a per capita basis Pol Pot murdered even more. It is estimated that from 1975–1979 he murdered somewhere between 21–24% of the entire population of Cambodia. Currently, deaths in North Korea are estimated around 1.5 million. There is a pattern here, and the Bible warns us of one who is coming who will murder on a vastly greater scale.

If we think we are immune, we are fooling ourselves, especially given how some groups in our country are starting to be regarded. It is worth remembering that the persecution of the Jews by Hitler escalated over time. It started with all sorts of slanderous articles in the press. The Jews were then forced to wear a star of David identifying themselves as Jews. On November 9–10, 1938, the turning point came: Kristallnacht. Jewish homes, schools, and businesses were looted, and synagogues were burned. The name is taken from all the shattered glass windows. The concentration camps would follow. The government’s program was calculated and deliberate. People started to believe the press and the propaganda being churning out. They then accepted the Jews being singled out, and their inferior status. The government could then escalate their persecutions, and eventually institute mass murder. Again, we are not immune to that same process.

In the next part, we will look at some of the things we can learn regarding how the church responded. What we will find is that key church leaders were more wrapped up in German politics rather than Jesus.

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Daily thoughts

Thought for today:
Lying. It seems like politicians often deliberately lie to us. Similarly, it seems like some of the news media often lie to us. Even some so-called “health experts” may be lying to us. Meanwhile, others seem to either twist or use the COVID-19 data for their own ends. At times it appears that truth is about as scarce as proverbial hen’s teeth.

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8 NAU)

I’m seeing people express increasing anger in Facebook posts. On one level, humanly speaking, that anger makes some sense. But, I think we’d be far better off praying for and interceding for those politicians, media members, and others. Apart from Jesus Christ, whatever immediate gain might be achieved, they will be facing an infinitely greater eternal loss: separation from Jesus Christ, in Hell.

During Jeremiah’s time, Israel was in a state of final collapse. Instead of expressing ceaseless anger—though he, like us, got angry at times—he spends most of his time weeping over their sin and the impending national disaster, a disaster he ended up living through. Rather than anger, let us confess our sins, and lament over the state of our nation, and the world. Let us weep.

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Money & God

The desire for wealth and gold has consumed man for ages

Surely all this greed and suffering is proof God hates money.

When God created Adam & Eve, there was no money.
What do we hear now?

“Money is the root of all evil”  “Greed is a sin”  “God blesses the poor”

“Rich people cannot get into Heaven – it is easier for camels to pass through eyes of needles than for rich to go to Heaven, therefore rich people cannot be saved”

  “Money cannot buy happiness”

  What else have you heard people say about Money?
What does God actually say about money & Wealth?

15 “He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint.

 16 “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.

 17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’

 18 “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deu 8:15-18 NAU)

11 God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king,

 12 wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you.” (2Ch 1:11-12 NAU)

6 Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, But trouble is in the income of the wicked. (Pro 15:6 NAU)

 3 By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;

 4 And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches. (Pro 24:3-4 NAU)

So it seems God wants us to be wealthy?!? 

  Where does all this talk about poverty being good come from?

  Aren’t those who are poor blessed by God?

  Why are so many believers poor?

Look what God actually says 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:3 NAU)

 22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Or crush the afflicted at the gate;

 23 For the LORD will plead their case And take the life of those who rob them. (Pro 22:22-23 NAU)

15 The rich man’s wealth is his fortress,

The ruin of the poor is their poverty. (Pro 10:15 NAU)

 A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.

 2 The rich and the poor have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all.

 3 The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, But the naive go on, and are punished for it.

 4 The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches, honor and life.

 5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards himself will be far from them.

 6 Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

 7 The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

 8 He who sows iniquity will reap vanity, And the rod of his fury will perish.

 9 He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor. (Pro 22:1-9 NAU)

Being poor is not fun, just ask anyone who is poor.

Yet God allows good people to be poor

God gives wealth, but God doesn’t only give wealth to the righteous, He also gives wealth to the pagan & profane

What are we to make of this?

23 “For calamity from God is a terror to me, And because of His majesty I can do nothing.

 24 “If I have put my confidence in gold, And called fine gold my trust,

 25 If I have gloated because my wealth was great, And because my hand had secured so much;

 26 If I have looked at the sun when it shone Or the moon going in splendor,

 27 And my heart became secretly enticed, And my hand threw a kiss from my mouth,

 28 That too would have been an iniquity calling for judgment, For I would have denied God above. (Job 31:23-28 NAU)

2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped.

 3 For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

 4 For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat.

 5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind.

 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them.

 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of their heart run riot.

 8 They mock and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high.

 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth.

 10 Therefore his people return to this place, And waters of abundance are drunk by them.

 11 They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?”

 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure And washed my hands in innocence;

 14 For I have been stricken all day long And chastened every morning.

 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.

 16 When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight

 17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end.

 (Psa 73:2-17 NAU)

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

 25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?

 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?

 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,

 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.

 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!

 31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’

 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Mat 6:24-34 NAU)

Money are wealth are not evil, but loving them more than God is.

We are to be good stewards, good managers, of what God gives us. 

Manage your wealth, rather it is much or little.

Pray, read the Bible, learn what God has to say about money.

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New book offers Truth & Hope!

More than ever with many in our country thinking about the reality of death for the first time in quite awhile, we need to affirm what the Bible teaches about hell and heaven. The biblical reality is that those who have never placed their faith in Jesus Christ will be separated from Him and in hell for all eternity.

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A Biblically correct response to government & COVID-19

Regarding COVID-19: I’m starting to see occasional posts about how Christians, by meeting, are spreading the virus. Sadly, there is some truth to it. A few Christians are insisting that our rights are being attacked, and we must defy the government and meet anyway.

That is biblically very wrong. Per Romans 13, we are to obey the government. What is being asked for is common sense. What some forget is that our real “national religions” have also been shut down as well: professional sporting events, and Hollywood.

At Faith & Reason ministries, we continue to explore different ways of meeting virtually. Like other churches we are affiliated with, we’ve stopped our normal church services at our regular location. Much as we’d like to meet, this isn’t about “us” and what we wish we could do. This is about the well-being of the community we are part of. Please stay home, and worship via an online connection, or other options.

15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
16 And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.
19 And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.
20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:15-21 NAU)

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Words Matter

The meaning of words matters. We live in a culture that often insists that words have no precise meaning. A word is merely a symbol of a sign (another word), which is a symbol of another sign, etc., etc., etc. Indeed, meaning is not found in the words themselves, but the white spaces between the words. Thus, something that directly appears to say one thing, can be interpreted to mean its opposite (the technical term is “deconstruction”). Interestingly, the philosophers that push these thoughts and ideas don’t like it if you treat their writings and words the same way as they treat others. Their words need to be interpreted in line with what they said. That says a great deal about the validity of their systems.
Nevertheless, many have bought into those beliefs as it helps to justify things that the Scriptures declare to be wrong. Over the next few days, we will look at how these theories have impacted how the Bible is taught and read. The initial point is simply this: the meaning of words really does matter.

When someone is using words that have what might be called “a memory of meaning” it is important to discern how that person is using those words.

The philosopher Richard Rorty was honest enough in one of his books to admit what is going on. The meaning of a word, or words, will be deliberately changed. The hope is that as those words are used in debates with other groups, by the time those in the other group realize what you’ve done, you’ve converted them to your position. The intent is deliberately deceptive.

That practice, along with the belief that words have no obvious meaning is not new. Origen, c. 184-c. 253 (an early church father who is described as a Gnostic-see Hanson’s “Universalism”), wrote in his “De Principiis” that the real meaning of Scripture is hidden and escapes the notice of most (a very Gnostic idea). In essence, what the text literally says is NOT what it means.

What that means for us, as believers in Christ, who uphold the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, and that the Bible does mean what it says, is that just because someone is using “Christian” words, that person may not be saying what you think they are.

Here are some examples where authors appear on the surface to mean one thing, but actually mean something quite different.

In one of his books, Brian McLaren writes of the importance of celebrating Easter, and the resurrection. That is something we, as Christians, can get behind, right? But what does he mean? He writes that instead of celebrating “the resuscitation of a single corpse nearly two millenia ago, but more-as the ongoing resurrection of all humanity through Christ? Easter could be the annual reaffirmation of our ongoing resurrection from violence to peace, . . .” (page 175, “Why DId Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?”).

Notice his use of words: Even the meaning of the word “Easter” is changed. The Easter celebration is about what is happening to all of humaity, not what happened to Jesus. As for “resurrection” it has nothing to do with Jesus, as Jesus is merely a resuscitated corpse. Instead, all of humanity is being resurrected.

McLaren is using words that have a “memory of meaning,” but has radically redefined them to mean something different. As we saw in a previous post, those types of changes are by design. Just because someone is using words we think we know doesn’t mean they are using those words in the way we expect.

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