GODS OF OUR OWN CREATION

Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann, 1889 (from here)
Christ and the Rich Young Ruler by Heinrich Hofmann, 1889 (from here)

On The Nature Of The Choice

The creation story in Genesis says God made us in His image, but what does that mean? Consider what happens when someone takes a photograph of you. That photograph is an image of you. Now imagine the absurd. What if that photograph thought it was you?

It is a silly thing we do, but we do it anyway. What is that? We create the gods we desire. When we create gods of our own desire, we put our own desires — our own will — before that of the One in whose image we were made.

How does this irrational process work? We begin by trying to “reason” our way out of a dilemma. From the day of our birth, we have two basic choices.

  • It is all about me.
  • It is all about the One who made Everything.

The First Choice

What if we choose the first choice. Selecting the first choice quickly leads to desperation, even insanity. It confronts us with an insurmountable obstacle. It raises a question we cannot answer. If it is all about me, why then am I not God, the One in control of All That Is?

Therefore, we reason. We scheme. We devise alternatives and solutions. Instead of turning to the One who made Everything, we make our own, less fearful gods.

What are less fearful gods? Because they are of our own making, these are gods we can understand and manipulate or they are simply softies.

We can proliferate a seemingly infinite variety of gods. Thus, we have the Greek and Norse mythologies, the Great Spirit of the Indians, the Hindu pantheon, the nirvana of Buddhism (that is atheistic “god”), an austere and vengeful Allah, and so forth.

The Egyptian god Anubis (a modern rendition inspired by New Kingdom tomb paintings) (from here)
The Egyptian god Anubis (a modern rendition inspired by New Kingdom tomb paintings) (from here)
The Chariot of Zeus, from an 1879 Stories from the Greek Tragedians by Alfred Church. (from here)
The Chariot of Zeus, from an 1879 Stories from the Greek Tragedians by Alfred Church. (from here)

On the other hand, some just pretend to ignore the choice. These worship the world itself. They adore the power of the state. They strive to continually dwell in pleasure such as that we call sex. They accumulate stuff. Or they endlessly seek to elevate themselves above all others (until we put them six feet below everyone else).

Others worship more distant gods. Deists worship a god who made everything and just walked away from all His Works. Some who call themselves Christians worship an endlessly forgiving, supposedly loving god, a softy who does not hate sin. What we do does not matter to this god. Because “God is Love,” salvation is for everyone including those who refuse to repent of their sins. What sins?

Galatians 5:19-21 New King James Version (NKJV)

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

No matter what kind of god we create, unless we worship the One True God our lives remain meaningless (Ecclesiastes).

The Second Choice

The second question threatens our egos with annihilation.  If it is all about God, then “I” don’t matter. “I” am just here today and gone tomorrow, all as if “I” had never been. All my loves and all my works matter not.

Yet this second choice is only rational choice. Because God is God, because He created All that is, All Creation speaks of Him.

What happens if we turn to the Creator, the One who made Everything?

Christianity tells us — Jesus tells us — God loves us, that we matter because we matter to Him.

From the Bible we learn that God is Love. We also learn that God is Truth, God is Just, God is full of Grace and Mercy, God is Faithful, God is Wisdom….. From the Bible we learn that God is not like us. He is a Spirit, and He is Holy. What is surprising is that God still cares about us. God is not one-dimensional, just about love, nor is He a softy, but He still loves us, and that in spite of the fact we are sinful.

Because God loves us, out of an abundance of Grace Jesus paid in full the price of our sins. He died for us. Tortured to death by members of our own race, He died for us upon a bloody cross, and He forgave us even as our brothers took His life.

What sort of God is it who requires such a price for sin and then pays that price Himself? He is the One True God in whom we can place our trust.

Solving The Riddle That Is Sin

What is it then that separates us from God? Why do we struggle to know and trust our Creator? Is it Satan? Does Satan keep us from God. No. Satan is a symbol of evil, but he is not the counterpart of God. Satan is an archangel whose pride in himself drove him from God. His counterpart is Michael the Archangel.

What then is Satan to us? He is our model for bad behavior. He is our tempter. When we refuse to turn to God, refuse to love our Creator and disobey our Maker, we behave as Satan behaves. Satan, not Jesus, then becomes our role model.

God, because He wants us to love Him of our own will, has given each of us a choice. Just as Satan did, we can choose to make it all about me. We can rationalize, pretend we are not doing just that. We can even admire our skill using the gift of reason. But the first choice, making it all about me, while it might seem “rational,” is still a choice to separate ourselves from God. Thus, that first choice will still lead to desperation and perhaps insanity.

What can we do instead? What is our alternative? Just as countless saints have done before us, we can choose to follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Because He loves us, we can depend upon God to keep us whole. Therefore, for our own sake we learn must love Him in return. Eventually, because God is God, we will love Him just because He deserves our love.

Does it seem unfair that God should confront us with such a choice? If it does, it is because we still imagine a God made in our own image. Because we do not deserve to be worshiped, no God made in our image deserves to be worshiped.

Romans 8:31-39 New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”[a]

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Primal Creation — reblogged

The garden of Eden with the fall of man (from here) *74.3 × 114.7 cm *signed b.l.: PETRI PAVLI RVBENS FIGR. *signed b.r.: IBRUEGHEL FEC *circa 1615
The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

madblog has a thoughtful post on marriage, The Primal Creation. Here she discusses what defines marriage.

Oddly, given that Christians supposedly do not discuss sex, ‘s post is fundamentally about the definition of sex. Yet there is nothing obscene in what she has written. It something we should all know about, but many don’t.

What makes a marriage a marriage? We need to define it before we re-define it.  What is distinct about it?  What makes marriage…marriage?

I think we misunderstand it, and that is pure tragedy.

Man and woman were made in the image of God. They were created beings who were able to relate to God; sentient and self-aware; in His image because they possessed spirits. Out of all that God created, man is the only being who is able to commune with God.

God called this creation something special. Together they were His joy, His most cherished creation. We were created for this relationship with God, and cultivating this relationship with God is man’s responsibility and his privilege.

God created man. Then woman was made from man. Note that she was not created a separate being or species.  They are two manifestations of the same created being.  She was made from him. So intrinsically was she created to be the one who completed him. They are inseparable.

Genesis 2: 23-25:

The man said,

         “This is now bone of my bones,

         And flesh of my flesh;

         She shall be called Woman,

         Because she was taken out of Man.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

(continued here)

What is the problem that results from a meaningless definition of marriage? We call the family the building block of society. What if that building block disappeared? What if an all-powerful state became THE FAMILY? What if women just served as breeders.  What if all children, especially those with “potential,” were raised by a true nanny state? What if Big Brother becomes our children’s and grandchildren’s reality?

WE ARE ALL PILGRIMS

William Blake: Christian Reading in His Book (Plate 2, 1824–27) (from here)
William Blake: Christian Reading in His Book (Plate 2, 1824–27) (from here)
pilgrim (n.)
c. 1200, pilegrim, from Old French pelerin, peregrin “pilgrim, crusader; foreigner, stranger” (11c., Modern French pèlerin), from Late Latin pelegrinus, dissimilated from Latin peregrinus “foreigner” (source of Italian pellegrino, Spanish peregrino), from peregre (adv.) “from abroad,” from per- “beyond” + agri, locative case of ager “country” (see acre).

Change of first -r- to -l- in most Romance languages by dissimilation; the -m appears to be a Germanic modification. Pilgrim Fathers “English Puritans who founded Plymouth colony” is first found 1799 (they called themselves Pilgrims from c. 1630, in reference to Hebrew xi:13).

I have a difficult and stubborn commenter,Arkenaten, who is perfectly willing to allow his comments to go into moderation. I guess he knows I will read them.

Since I used his “name” on the THE GIFT OF LOVE, I posted one of his comments (from here) with my reply.

Arkenaten

(Arkenaten) likes to amuse him by trying to torment Christian bloggers with questions to which we have no answers. (author’s note: Here Arkenaten quotes a portion of what I said in my post.)

I believe this sentence tells the reader everything they might wish to know about Christianity.
A real gem, this. A keeper in fact.

Citizen Tom

Since I mentioned your name, one comment.

Here is my reply.

We all have questions.

Why am I here?
What is right and wrong?
What brings me meaning
What happens to a human being when I die?

Can we learn the answer to those questions? Yes.

Check out => http://josephelonlillie.com/2016/01/25/road-through-romans-seek-and-find/

Here is how he replied.

Arkenaten

We know what happens to humans when they die. They decompose.
Why do you have a problem with this?

Why did I bother? That’s a topic in the comment thread that follows WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY. For example, this comment.

Necessary and Proper

@Tom and Keith,

Tom’s question to Keith (“That is, how do we persuade people to properly amend the Constitution?”) brought me full circle back to the first interchange I ever had with Keith. It was when you reblogged my first Due Process of Law article on May 25th last year, called “Can a Law Be Unlawful.” I was trying to start a train of thought that would illuminate the fact that, no matter how all the detailed x’s and o’s tactics play out in the daily political arena, the BIGGER picture is that the whole legislative and executive world is now operating in an “extra-Constitutional” manner. An alarming percentage of the federal statutes on the books, and many of the federal government’s overt actions are simply devoid of any Constitutional basis — which I asserted makes them philosophically/morally unlawful. As we’ve gotten to know each other, Keith and I have found we’re both enthusiastic advocates for an Article V Convention to amend our Constitution back towards its original intent.

I would like to reprint a comment I made back then:

[[Keith, I would also observe that it’s clear your (and Citizen Tom’s) greater interest is in “What do we do about it?”, and you’re not necessarily as interested in hearing the case for why it’s morally wrong for the government to pass bad, unconstitutional, improper, wrong, inappropriate, laws. But there are a LOT of people who would never stop to question the behavior of lawmakers like I am doing here. It’s them I am primarily addressing, not you. Why? Because I believe that educating them to question their government’s actions is THE BEST thing within my control to help “do something about it.” Clearly, the impeachment avenue that was provided by the Constitution will never seriously be used, because there’s too much political posturing and media subterfuge in the modern political arena for impeachment to be practical. So influencing moderates, independents, and new voters in their teens and twenties that they should be careful and effective with their voting power is what I’m all about….especially in this series. I’m trying to fight against the spread of moral relativism.]]

– Jeff

Jeff wrote a very thoughtful comment. Nevertheless, he is addressing Keith and myself.

When I started blogging, I focused more on politics than religion. Then I realized that our political system is collapsing because our people no longer uphold an ethical system capable of supporting a constitutional republic. So now I focus far more on the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

When I blog, like Jeff I hope that I will reach some people who have not given either Christianity or politics much thought. However, I don’t seriously expect many of those people to stop by and read my blog. Yet that is most of the electorate.

What has happened? Why is a nation that once seemed so interested in Christianity now so ignorant of it? I think the answer is our education system. We have allowed the public school system to indoctrinate successive generations of children, and that school system has left a void in the hearts of our people. Think of the idiocy. Almost no one trusts politicians, but we have put them in charge of so much that we value, including the indoctrination of our children.

With respect to Christianity, our education system has left the impression that these questions have no serious answers.

Why am I here?
What is right and wrong?
What brings me meaning
What happens to a human being when I die?

Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics) says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.

Our schools avoid the Bible. When they speak of religion, they speak of religion as a source of controversy and war. Seriously, does anyone truly believe American politicians think of Islam as the religion of peace. Don’t we know that what politicians who call Islam the religion of peace think is that all religions are worthless except their own idols, power and money.

With respect to our duty to be good citizens, our education system has left the impression that all we have to do is listen to the evening news and then vote for the best man.  In fact, for the most part people do nothing. Because they never learn what to do — how they can make a difference — they do what seems easiest and leave it to “the experts.” That is exactly what most corrupt politicians would prefer they do.

So why do I blog? It is my pilgrimage. Putting my thoughts on paper and reading what others have written helps me to better understand the Bible and politics. That’s the primary reason.

For the time being, blogging also seems to be my calling. There are new Conservatives with a poor understanding of Conservatism and new Christians who need to be encouraged to read the Bible. With the help of other Christians and Conservative bloggers, those are the people I hope to reach, and those are the people I hope will talk to their friends and neighbors. If God answers our prayers, those are the people God will call upon to revive His Spirit within our nation. These people will bring the Gospel of Christ to those with ears to hear, and the Holy Spirit — if God so wills — will soften our hearts so that we can each perceive the message of Jesus Christ.

WHEN LOVE BECOMES AN EXCUSE FOR TYRANNY

Marie Antoinette's execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)
Marie Antoinette‘s execution on October 16, 1793 (from here)

There is a saying that is unwise.

Love rules without rules. — Anonymous (from here)

Not even for the sake of love should we set aside all the rules. Yet many use that excuse when they vote. Instead of voting for the most competent and honorable candidate, the one who promises to support and defend the Constitution and keep our country safe and secure, they vote for the most charming and charismatic fellow.

Does this sound silly? What is the point of associating romance with politics? We expect lovers to be a bit nutty, right? Yet there is very little these days that is rational about our politics. That is a subjectinsanitybytes22 amusingly explores in this post, Running the Gauntlet.

When we love without rules, what is the problem? Do we let our passions dominate our reason? No. What we set aside is wisdom, not reason. We still know what is going on. We still know what we are doing. What we do not do is care about whether our choices are right our wrong.

The ability to reason simply allows us to logically work our way through cause and effect relationships.  Consider.

  • If a woman gives in to the ardor of a passionate suitor, don’t both of them know what is going to happen?
  • If we vote for a politician who makes extravagant promises to care for the poor, the old, the children, the sick and so forth, don’t we know he is not serious about balancing the budget?

When we consider the rules, which alternatives are right and which are wrong,  wisdom takes us a step or two further than reason.

  • Before a woman gives into a passionate suitor, she wisely considers the character of her suitor. Out of self-respect and for the sake of any children she might have, she demands a good marriage before sex.
  • Before a voter chooses a candidate, he considers that candidate’s record. Does that candidate have a good record? Will he honor the Constitution? Will he try to balance the budget?

Thus, reason often fails to look beyond the desires of the moment, whereas wisdom — because the wise strive to discern good from evil — carefully evaluates the consequences.

Logic and science provide the basis for reason. From where do we derive wisdom? In our society, we have traditionally used the Bible. Yet many in our day insist we cannot mix religion with politics. Instead, they say we must keep church and state separate, that politics is just about keeping the peace. Out of “respect” for religion, secularists may even say that only God can judge another person’s sins, that what defines sin is too personal for politics.

Doesn’t the Constitution say we have a secular state? No. Those who demand the separation of church and state often argue that the word “God” is not in the Constitution, but they neglect to mention the word “secular” is also not in the Constitution. The word “religion,” however, is in the Constitution. It is in the First Amendment.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Note that the First Amendment protects our religious rights. It prohibits the government from interfering with the people’s religious rights, not the other way around. Therefore, the Constitution does not discourage us from trying to make certain our government upholds our moral and religious beliefs.

In fact, as Christians we should expect our government to uphold our moral and religious values. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote. Remember that the Roman Empire executed Jesus and persecuted Christians, that Roman authorities also executed Paul by cutting off his head with a sword.

Romans 13:1-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

13 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

There are worse things than a bad government. That is no government at all. Since those who lived around the Mediterranean Sea recognized the rule of the Roman Empire, Paul did not advocate its overthrow. Instead, he preached the Gospel to Roman officials, and he urged Christians to pray for them.

When the founders of this nation spoke of a secular government, what were they getting at? We know they believed God blessed their efforts, but they did not claim divine guidance. In so far as they knew, the American government functioned purely as a man-made organization with three tiers (federal, state, and local). Hence, they did not believe Federal Government could rightfully impose or establish a national religion. Nevertheless, We the People must work to make certain that what our government  conforms to our moral and religious beliefs. Good government depends upon a moral people, not moral leaders.

Consider the gravity of our task. Government exists to exercise force. When our leaders make laws, spend our money, and tax us, they use military and police forces to enforce their will. Therefore, when any of us attempt to thwart the will of our leaders, we risk arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment. While it is true that judges and juries render a secular judgement (They do not judge people’s souls.), if we do not believe someone has committed a sin against another person, what is point in arresting them, trying them, convicting them, and punishing them? If We the People do not view what one of our fellow citizens is doing as evil, why would we want our government to punish them?

Consider the alternative. When we allow our government to punish our fellow citizens for arbitrary reasons, we empower difficult people (especially harmful sinners) with the ability to severely trouble both ourselves and our neighbors and for no good reason.

Given then that we have a Christian duty to influence our government for the better, what should we to do? What kind of government does the Bible encourage? To that question there is no simple answer.

The Bible speaks a great deal about government. The Old Testament provides the Mosaic Code. The Jews referred to this as the Law. The New Testament does not ignore government or the Law.  For example, the New Testament tells us when we should obey the legitimate governing authorities. We render to God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Nevertheless, Jesus never told us what kind of government we should have.

What we can guess, however, is our government should allow each of us to answer to our own conscience. We each should allow our neighbors to live as they think proper.

Romans 14:4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Other Views