HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 4

 

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882) (from here)

This is the fourth part of my take on the results of the Virginia’s General Election (November 7, 2017). Here are the three previous posts.

What is this post about? Well, the subject is Christian Revival, but it is also my post for Thanksgiving Day. Thanks for what? All that our Lord has given us, especially the opportunity to know Him.

What connection has Thanksgiving Day with the results of the last election in Virginia? Because of our nation’s drifting from America’s traditional values, many say America needs a revival. The results of recent elections certainly suggest as much. Therefore, the next four posts in this series will be about Christian revival.

  • What are America’s traditional values? How do America’s values differ today?
  • What does a revival involve? What does the Old Testament suggest?
  • What does a revival involve? What does the New Testament suggest?
  • What is necessary for a revival today?

What are America’s traditional values? How do America’s values differ today?

So what is the connection between Christian Revival and Thanksgiving Day. What should be the focus on Thanksgiving Day?

We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17). For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30). May He find us to be His grateful children. (from here)

America is not a nation founded upon some sort of revival. We have had revivals in America, but many of the people who came to America were already devout Christians. Many came here for the opportunity to exercise already deep religious beliefs in relative peace. Therefore, instead of the theology of revival, America’s national legend speaks of people who in response to great suffering gave thanks to the providence of God. That is why we celebrate Thanksgiving Day this time of year. That’s why we speak of the Pilgrims making a dangerous sea crossing in a small wooden boat just so they could live in peace in fertile, but lonely land.

Mayflower II at State Pier in Plymouth, Massachusetts, (from here)

The picture above shows the Mayflower II. The Mayflower II is a replica of the wooden sailing vessel that brought the first pilgrims to New England. Imagine crossing the Atlantic Ocean in this vessel in 1620.

The Mayflower was an English ship that famously transported the first English Puritans, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth, England to the New World in 1620. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about 30, but the exact number is unknown. This voyage has become an iconic story in some of the earliest annals of American history, with its story of death and of survival in the harsh New England winter environment. The culmination of the voyage in the signing of the Mayflower Compact was an event which established a rudimentary form of democracy, with each member contributing to the welfare of the community. (continued here)

In 1620, what was sailing to America like?

  • Weather forecasting did not exist. Sailors just knew some seasons were better for sailing than others.
  • Navigation was guesswork (see John Harrison). Because decent sea clocks would not exist until the next century, navigators guessed at the longitude. When the Mayflower arrived in America, the sailors were so disoriented, they ended up at Cap Cod instead of at the Virginia colony.
“The Landing of the Pilgrims.”(1877) by Henry A. Bacon. The Pilgrims are traditionally said to have landed at Plymouth Rock. (from here)

When America was founded, most of the people sought to live as Christians. There were a variety of that emphasized differing beliefs, most used the same or similar translations of the Bible.

Today there are still some who come to America for the sake of religious freedom, but most Americans give little thought to their Christian heritage. Few have read the Bible. Few have read the books and seriously considered the ideas the Framers of the Constitution wrestled with, but 200 years ago Americans took the Bible much more seriously, and they understood how much Christianity had affected American history. As a result, we have an increasingly secular culture, unmoored from any particular belief.

Two hundred years ago American understood why Jesus is the most important figure in world history, but today many know little of Bible’s teachings. Therefore, those who still revere the God of the Bibles pray for a revival, not to save our country, but to save the souls of the lost, those who have yet to take an interest in God’s Word and love Him.

Are you a Christian? Do you understand that you too are an ambassador for Christ (Ephesians 6:18-20)? Have you prepared yourself?

  • Have you read the Bible? Do you study it often, to make its teachings part of your life?
  • Have you studied history to learn for yourself the truth? We live in an increasingly secularized society. Most of us are taught in public schools where little regard is given to Christianity. In such places, many administrators regard the Bible and the affect of its teachings on our history as either a nuisance or a source of conflict. Therefore, to learn the truth of American history, we must read and study the important documents of the past ourselves. We cannot rely on history books produced under the guidance of politicians.
  • Are you striving for maturity in Christ, or are you content to remain a babe?

    Hebrews 5:12-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

    12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

     

How does a revival begin? It begins among those who already believe. If we are truly Christians, then we must study the Word of God, and we must carry that word of good news to others.

Romans 10:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV)

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

There is no guarantee that when we tell others about our faith in Jesus that unbelievers will accept Jesus. In fact, Romans 10:14-17 comes from a chapter that explains the failure of the Jews to believe. Nevertheless, we must spread the Gospel, and we must live out Christian teaching. We must leave it to our Savior to change hearts.

Other Views

18 thoughts on “HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 4

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  1. thank you Tom for including my thoughts about the struggle between our Christian faith and heritage and the growing secular menace—I say menace because it is stealthy and insidious—slipping in rather discreetly and gobbling up what it can in its wake—with the worry being that it is, as the good Bishop notes, being swallowed hook, line and sinker as some sort of “new” modern spin of Christianity—of which it most certainly is not……

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here is an interesting take on the issue of “family values”:

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/11/18/opinion/sunday/blue-states-red-states-values.html?referer=https://www.google.com/

    For what it’s worth, I think that you are right about a good deal in this post. We have become unmoored from basic values and virtues, both on the Left and the Right, but for different reasons. The causes are complex and multifarious. I don’t pretend to understand them all or to know the answers. I do think that placing the blame and claiming the solution lies at the feet of either conservatives or liberals just exacerbates the problem.

    Ultimately, I think people are yearning for an open, welcoming, and tolerant sense of community and belonging governed by principles the are foundationally universal.

    The fact that in the article Utah seems to stand out in the Red verses Blue state divide in actual strong family practice is a clue.

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    1. @tsalmon

      Where am I placing the blame? On people. We are fallen. We have a choice. We can turn to Jesus, or we can turn to idols.

      Have I said Republicans are saintly? Have I said Democrats are devils? No and no. What I have addressed is what people believe. What we believe makes a difference. Christianity is about the Bible, and the Bible tells us what we need to believe.

      You probably have not noticed, but I don’t usually discuss statistics here. Why? When someone digs this stuff up, I have to:

      1. Determine whether the statistics are relevant to the discussion.
      2. Figure out whether the statistics actually mean what some activist reporter thinks.
      3. Believe the numbers have some kind of relationship with the truth. Why should I believe people answer these questions honestly or that the samples are representative? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to collect this sort of data. Particularly when people are getting sick of nosy statistical studies.
      4. Decide I don’t have something better to. Since you are my brother……

      Stop and think a minute. When they are often not even willing to discuss the morality of them, how can Liberal Democrats practice Biblical family values?

      With the red state/blue state thing, Nicholas Kristof wants us to believe Republican say one thing and do another, and Democrats actually practice purity. Democrats? Seriously? When they say they don’t believe in sexual purity, why would they practice it? So I doubt whether Kristof conclusion is accurate, but odd things do happen. So I don’t know. If you want believe him, why is it my problem?

      The Guttmacher Institute provided much of the data you referenced (which is displayed on the website of an activist nonprofit. Here is an article on Guttmacher Study => http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/451422/guttmacher-institute-study-teen-pregnancy-ignores-factors.

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  3. I think that you misunderstand. I agree that the basic flaw of liberalism is morals unmoored from any foundation and drifting on the wind. Some conservatives, particularly those who claim to be Christian conservatives, proclaim a moral foundation in Christ, but then use it to be self righteously smug and judgemental of others – something that violates one the basic premises of Christianity that, as you alude, we are all fallen.

    Liberals’ hearts are often in the right lovi, but they have no foundational basis for answering “why”. So-called Christian conservatives have lots of rules (and seem to be preoccupied about sex rules) but the sometimes fail to have a Christian heart.

    In the Gospel, it seemed that Jesus prized capture of even the most sinful lost soul. On the other hand, Jesus seemed most critical of the legalistic hypocrites who idolized the letter of the law over the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law, it would seem to me, is a meek and contrite heart governed by openness, welcoming and the love of Christ, not rules, not superior smugness.

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    1. @tsalmon

      What Jesus prized was repentance. Think about The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32 => https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A11-32&version=NKJV).

      The younger son represented the recognized sinners who had arrived at the point that they were willing to spend time with Jesus and listen to Him. The Pharisees and scribes were represented by the older son.

      The younger son eventually repents of being a prodigal. Realizing that his father still loves him — in spite of his awful behavior — he becomes ashamed, and he repents. When the father celebrates, the elder son becomes outraged. Not only has the father forgiven his brother, he is also celebrating his return? The story ends when the father explains why he is joyful and why the elder should be joyful too for the sake of his brother.

      In spite of the way it is named, the story very much focuses on the elder son. Consider that these verses appear before the story.

      Luke 15:1-2 New King James Version (NKJV)

      15 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.”

      What the older son did not realize is that we need to love each other. It is not enough just to obey rules. And what did Jesus call those rules? They were not Biblical. He call them the traditions of men. Much like the way Democrats have distorted our Constitution, the Pharisees had piled their own nonsense onto the Bible.

      I suppose some Liberal Democrats like to see themselves as repenting prodigals and Conservative Republicans as unforgiving, hypocritical Pharisees, but it is not that simple. Most Democrats have no interest in repenting of anything; their politics are primarily driven by pure self interest. What matters to many of them is their identity group. The Republican Party is also a coalition. Some just hate seeing all that money wasted. Others fear increasing government power.

      Is there a fairly large number of Christian Conservatives? Yes, and these vote Republican because of the abortion issue, the crazy stuff Democrats want taught in the schools, same-sex marriage, and a whole host of other issues. Consider that the Tea Party arose in reaction to Bush’s Bail Out and then Obamacare.

      This century has not seen any great evangelical movement designed to impose Christianity upon the United States. Instead, most Christians are upset because some people are trying to use the government to impose their beliefs. These people have even gone so far as to pretend the Constitution says things it clearly does not say. That’s legalism with a lie.

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      1. I agree with what you said about repentance, and I love your analogizing the Pharisees with son who stayed. One consideration, however. Who do you think is most likely to spark repentance and reconciliation for these supposed prodigal liberals (and prodigal conservatives for that matter) – the forgiving father or the judgemental son? Who do you think is more Christlike – the father or the son who stayed? If we believe the accepting father, then perhaps it would be better for Christians, both liberal and conservative, to imitate the father rather than the self righteous son.

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        1. The forgiving father did not enable the younger brother to sin. He merely gave him his lawful inheritance, which the younger son squandered. The elder brother would thus inherit his father’s remaining property. What saddened the Father is that his elder son refused to follow his example and forgive his brother.

          There is a consequence for sin. The younger brother, because he had suffered the consequences now understood that. What shamed him, however, was not the lost of his inheritance. What shamed him is that he had hurt someone who loved him, loved him enough to forgive when he knew he did not deserve it. The younger son had treated his father with great disrespect. See => http://magazine.biola.edu/article/10-summer/the-prodigal-sons-father-shouldnt-have-run/. The younger son had demanded his inheritance even before his father was dead. Apparently, he did not care whether his father was alive or dead. Then he wasted what his father had given him.

          The elder son had little interest in seeing his younger brother accepted back into the community. He did not stop to think that his refusal to follow his father’s example was also disrespectful and unloving. After all, his father was the wounded party, not him.

          Repentance is neither a Democrat nor a Republican thing. It is a thing that our Father in heaven wants for us because He loves us. Forgiveness is neither Democrat nor Republican thing. It is a thing that our Father in heaven wants for us because He loves us. Government cannot love us. Christians, because our Father in heaven expects it of us, love their brothers and sisters, and they forgive them. Christians, because they love our Father in heaven and their brothers and sisters, also repent of their sins.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. In keeping with the Thanksgiving theme here, it is only fitting to say how grateful I am, grateful for the family I was born into, grateful for the family that has grown from it, grateful to be an American with all the opportunities and gifts that that government and its institutions afforded me. I am grateful for you big brother.

    These were all gifts from God and I know that I will someday be judged for whether I have used, perpetuated, and shared them wisely. Gratitude and joy to you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @tsalmon

      Thank you, and I hope you and yours have a thankful Thanksgiving Day.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments. I suppose my remarks do not always seem kind, but I do respect you.

      We were blessed by our upbringing and by the opportunity to grow up to be Americans. Nevertheless, we were raised by fallible human beings, and our country is composed of fallible human beings. We ourselves are quite prone to error.

      Will we ever do exactly the right thing? Do we ever? No and no. Nevertheless, it helps to discuss matters such as politics and religion.

      Proverbs 11:14 New King James Version (NKJV)

      14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
      But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

      Only where freedom of the press and freedom of speech is honored can there be a multitude of counselors. Our problem then lies in whom we choose to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a very informative discussion. Your interpretation makes perfect sense to me. I found this a bit baffling though:

    “Government cannot love us.”

    Well, of course, and neither can any human institution including corporations, unions, NGOs, perhaps even churches, but that does not mean each of these institutions are not useful and important for what they can do for us. An obsession that hates government is no less an obsession than worshipping government.

    Anyway, my question was not which son was more sinful, but instead who are we to emulate in the Parable. It would seem neither son, but instead the open and accepting father.

    In the parable, the father runs and greets the prodigal son affectionately even before the son repents. The father’s love and affection, at least, appears to be open and unconditional.

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    1. @tsalmon

      The choice you offered is a false choice. I tried to explain that, but it seems you are insistent upon pouring clay that has already fired into a mold.

      The Prodigal Son is just one story in the Bible. Here Jesus explained to the Pharisees why they needed to forgive, that our Father in Heaven does forgive. God’s love is open and unconditional, but what I fear you don’t quite realize is that God does not forgive unless we repent. Without repentance, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross does not cover our sins. Until we repent, God knows we have chosen Hell, not Heaven. We have chosen Satan as our father, not our Father in Heaven.

      Repentance requires honest regret, mourning over our sins and turning from them, not just sorrow over the fact we have been caught. When we sin — when as children of God we still sin — God chastises us for our sins.

      Can you imagine how as a Jew the younger son felt when he was starving standing in a pig pen? We eat well these days, but those listening to Jesus understood hunger, and those in that culture had a horror of swine. The younger son finally came to himself (Luke 15:17) BECAUSE he finally saw how far he had fallen.

      With His Parables and stories Jesus chastised the Pharisees. He poked holes in their pride, and He showed them how empty it was. Some, like Saul of Tarsus, eventually repented. Others did not. I don’t want to be one of the latter.

      Imagine the father who pursues wealth and prestige. He obeys all the rules and reaches the peak of human accomplishment. He is seemingly admired by all. Yet if that man, for the all the admiration he may receive, neglects the love of God and his family, his children will grow up without the guidance he should have given them, and his lady will languish. Thus, through those closest to him, our Lord will chastise that man for pursuing the things of this world.

      God poke holes in our pride and pretenses. Just as the Pharisees learned, we must eventually learn that the greater our pride the more hurt we do to those around us.

      I don’t hate government. Government is just a tool. It is a silly thing to either hate or idolize. Hating government would be as foolish as hating a hammer or a chair.

      When I say government cannot love us, I am just pointing out the fact that government serves poorly as a tool for delivering charity. Without love, charity becomes a payoff.

      Try driving your car into a lake. Without significant redesign, it won’t even float. A car will never work as well on the water as something that was designed as a watercraft in the first place. Similarly, government, which is designed to enforce rules and keep order by administering brute force, serves poorly as a vehicle for helping the poor, the disabled, children, the unlearned, and the like. Government, because we constantly fight over the control of it, can only effectively help those who already have the capacity to help themselves.

      Politicians are just people we hire to do a job. Like the rest of us they adapt to their situation. In order to get elected, politicians have to get people to vote for them. Because we are easily tempted to vote for the guy who promises us the most, if a politicians can offer us somebody else’s money and make it sound like we deserve it, we will vote for that guy. Unfortunately, that is stealing, and such behavior corrupts our government and our people. It does not help poor, the disabled, children, the unlearned, and the like. So God is chastising us. Our budget is out of control, and we are diverting enormous resources into wasteful activities. Instead of being beacon of hope, our nation is serving more and more as an example of what not to do.

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      1. The ideas about repentance and reconciliation that you have illustrated in the prodigal son parable are very interesting so forgive me if I don’t get off on a new tangent about government.

        Does God want our repentance? I don’t claim to know what God wants, but I will take your word for it because, like the father of the prodigal son, I believe God loves us unconditionally. The more appropriate question here is: Does God “need” our repentance? The answer to that question I believe is “no”.

        An infinite God “needs” nothing from us, and a merciful God “demands” nothing from us (in this life at least).

        Instead it is we who “need” repentance. Why? Because we need to return to God.

        Sin voluntarily separates us from God, just as the prodigal son voluntarily separated from his father, but like that father, God is always waiting and loving us unconditionally if we just choose to return.

        Reconciliation is this return to God and there is no true reconciliation without repentance. We “need” repentance, not God. Repentance is not a condition to receive God’s love any more than it was a condition the father’s love of the prodigal son. It was the prodigal son who needed to repent so that he could “reconcile” and truly become one of the family again.

        So who was Jesus in the Parable, and who of the three characters would Jesus have us emulate? I believe He wants us to repent and reconcile like the prodigal son, but also I think He wants us to love and accept unconditionally like the father. The love is unconditional from us, but only when our brothers and sisters are “reconciled” through repentance are they able to fully join the communion, to fullly become one in the Body of Christ.

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        1. @tsalmon

          What is the nature of your disagreement? God does not need us at all, but unless we repent of our sins we will surely have a big problem. Jesus speaks of Hell. He actually had a fair amount to say about it, and it is apparent that some of us will end up there. You don’t believe that?

          God’s love is unconditional, but whether we end up in Heaven or Hell is conditional upon our repentance and our willingness to forgive the sins of others.

          Consider that the story of Jesus’ effort to redeem Man begins in Genesis. Shortly after Adam and Eve sin God ejects them from the Garden of Eden. As Adam and Eve discovered the hard way, breaking Gods laws has consequences. After Adam and Eve sinned, they were destined to die. To keep them from being eternally separated from Him, God promised them a redeemer.

          God offers those who love Him the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. How do we show our love for God?

          John 14:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
          15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

          Those who don’t love God don’t obey Him. Apparently, their pride won’t allow them to put God before their self, which is what the Bible says God wants.

          Mark 12:28-34 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

          28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

          In part 2 of this series I mentioned that America is becoming paganized. Pagans worship idols. Pagans don’t love their idols. Their gods exist as means to end, getting what they want from this world. We love, however, for the sake of the one we love. If the one we love is God, then all we have to give Him is our self, and the prideful cannot bring themselves to do that.

          How can we know America is becoming paganized? What once made America special is that a great many people focused upon storing up treasures in the next life instead of this life. Look around. What do most people seem to be storing up treasures for now? What do many Americans put first, the love of God or self?

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  6. “What is the nature of your disagreement?”

    I’m not sure that this is a “disagreement” so much as a discussion so as to find mutual agreement and understanding. We do share far more in common than we don’t.

    “Jesus speaks of Hell. He actually had a fair amount to say about it, and it is apparent that some of us will end up there. You don’t believe that?”

    I don’t claim to know much about Heaven or Hell, but I take their existence for granted on faith more than actual understanding. I’ve asked you this before, however. If there were no promise of Heaven and no threat of Hell, would you still try to do what a loving God wants us to do? Should the prodigal son have returned, repented and reconciled with his father even if he were not suffering and even if he had no expectation of being granted comfort? In other words, did he learn anything about doing the right thing only because it is right and repenting doing the wrong thing only because he discovered it was wrong? Did the prodigal son finaly learn to unselfishly love and to appreciate the unconditional love of the father for its own sake or was he still only motivated by the selfish fears and selfish desires? Was his father’s unselfish unconditional love and acceptance an example that the previously selfish prodigal son finally understood and appreciated?

    I cannot judge others’ sins, presume by their words and actions whether they earned God’s reward of a nebulous Heaven or condemnation to a nebulous Hell. Accepting these concepts on faith, I don’t think that selfish fears of Hell and desires for Heaven should be our main motivation. I think that the unselfish love that God wants us to practice is it’s own reward, and love is by its own character is most perfectly unmotivated by such selfish fears and desires.

    Believe me. I don’t claim to be very good at practicing what I believe Jesus preaches. I am a sinner every day and I hope that keeps me humble about condemning others or pretending to perfectly know God’s will. I am learning very much from you here, but I don’t always understand how you get from point A to point B.

    I’ve heard this “pagan” derogation a few times lately. It seems to be another way to exclude someone from our tribe, another way to pronounce judgement on someone else. Perhaps it is a correct characterization but, returning to the Parable, it sounds more like the unwelcoming brother than the loving Father or the contrite prodigal son, don’t you think?

    I fear separating us into warring political tribes based upon religious belief does little to promote the cause of Christ’s love. How did promoting what was essentially just raw and selfish political power through so-called “Holy Wars” work out for us in the past?

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  7. @tsalmon

    If there were no promise of Heaven and no threat of Hell, would you still try to do what a loving God wants us to do?

    Thank you for the question. Here is the best answer I have.

    God provided both the promise of Heaven and the threat of Hell when He gave us a choice. To make the proper choice, we need to understand the nature of the alternatives. We can see that when we raise our own children.

    Consider reading the following in context.

    1 John 4:18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

    We fear because we are imperfect. Only our Lord is God. Perhaps the Apostle John understood what it is like to live without fear, but I don’t. I just wish I did not have that fear.

    Can you judge the sins of others? You are a lawyer. Isn’t that the nature of your occupation? What we should not do is judge each others souls.

    When we raise our children, we prohibit them from committing certain sins by enforcing rules and laws. When our children break the rules and laws we set for them, we judge their sins and punish them. Their souls we pray for.

    Is calling someone a pagan judging them? That depends upon how the word is used. When someone is behaving like a pagan and says they believe what pagans believe, what is wrong as characterizing such a person as a pagan? Would there be something wrong with calling Karl Marx a Marxist? We don’t know what God did with Marx’s soul, but surely Marx demonstrated that he believed in Marxism.

    How did promoting what was essentially just raw and selfish political power through so-called “Holy Wars” work out for us in the past?

    Please note your own words of judgement.

    How did the so-called “Holy Wars” work out for us in the past? That depends. Because only God is good and holy, we don’t have any holy warriors among us, but sometimes we must fight. When that doctor removed your appendix, he destroyed part of your body, but did he have a better alternative?

    To build the case for the “Truth” that they want, some people rewrite history. Thus, what is true and what we have been taught (particularly in government-run schools) doesn’t always happen to be the same. The Crusades, for example, get a lot of bad press. Nevertheless, even though the behavior of Christian warriors was sometimes abhorrent, these wars were largely defensive in nature. What our teachers gloss over is the fact that the attacks of the Christian West on the Holy Land pale in comparison to the hundreds of jihads that Islam has launched over the centuries against the West. We forget that the Middle East and much of the land conquered for Allah used to be part of Christendom. Whereas Christianity has been spread largely by preachers, We forget that Islam has largely been spread largely by warriors.

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  8. On fear and desire, yours is a fair answer. Since retiring, I am coming to learn how much of my life has been motivated by fear and desire, fear of failure, ambitious desire for money and recognition. These are important motivators, but they are not the more perfect motivator that you point out from John. Perhaps now I can learn to be less encumbered by fear and desire, and more driven by love. Time will tell.

    As for lawyerly judgement, we might once again take the father of the prodigal son as our example. The father’s love for both sons was open armed, affectionate and unconditional. However, it seems that the father was not about give the prodigal son the faithful son’s inheritance. It would not be just. Justice does not require malicious condemnation to be just. In fact, malicious judgement is more often not just. Real justice requires love.

    And that brings us to Pagans. Calling Marx a Marxist is not a derogation. It is a mater of fact rather than maliciousness. How much of this new Christian Right fad of castigating the political opposition as “Pagans” is just mean spirited? Like Jihadi terrorists calling Christians and Jews “infidels”, it is less an accurate characterization and more a way to place other humans into an enemy tribe so that we feel justified in condemning them, don’t you think?

    Sorry that you did not learn the history of the Crusades the way that you wanted to in school. I thought I was taught the facts of these wars of conquest fairly well. However, those were not the Holy Wars I was referring to. I was referring to the Reformation Wars and the Inquisition where somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the population of Europe was slaughtered over insignificant theological differences in clear violation of the most important part of the theology: Love. It was these Holy Wars and the desire for a diverse pluralism that would avoid repeating them that so profoundly shaped our Constitution.

    The worst and most unchristian history of Christianity is where we tried to use raw political power to promote religious principles that by their very nature must be voluntary and that actually thrive under political oppression. What Jesus taught us is more likely to be destroyed by the Crusader wielding the sword than the enemy he thinks he is protecting it from.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @tsalmon

      Using your argument, would be improper to call Lenin or Stalin Marxists? Why not? They would consider it a compliment? Believe me, I don’t intend to be complimentary or malicious, just accurate.

      When I was taught about the Crusades, I just wanted to be taught what happened and how it fit into the larger context. Would it have increased my self-esteem to have been taught Christians are wonderful and Muslims are not? Somewhere along the line I discovered knowing the truth was more important, but I did not learn that in the public school system.

      Think about what you called your Holy Wars, the Reformation Wars. These wars started shortly have the invention of the printing press. The Catholic Church had become quite corrupt. When some people started publishing the Bible in people’s native tongues, the people discovered just how much the Catholic Church was distorting Jesus’ teachings. That resulted in schisms, which the Catholic Church fought. The schisms also resulted in opportunities for nobles who wanted to get out from under the thumb of the Catholic Church. So war and chaos erupted.

      Christians, because the Bible supports freedom of religion, eventually decided Jesus does not support the use of violence to spread the Gospel. What did a desire for pluralism have to do with it? Nothing. Freedom of religion is largely a Christian concept.

      Jesus’ apostles spread the Gospels to those who willing to hear and see the truth. After Constantine, the Roman emperors started trying to make the Christian faith and the state one, especially in the Byzantine Empire. In the West, the pope became a religious figure who eventually acquired enormous political power. The Reformation force many to realize what had been lost. The Christianity that the apostles had taught was primarily about each of us giving voluntary to God what we each owe God. Government, from a Christian perspective, is about rendering that which belongs to Caesar to Caesar because our Lord insists we respect the proper authorities.

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