who-is-this-manEven those who do not believe he was God must find the life of Jesus of Nazareth incongruous. Yet do they ever wonder? How did a mere man, a man unbelievers say was not God and never did anything, ever become the most famous man in history?  Well, the unbelievers are wrong. Jesus did quite a bit, and that is the point of John Ortberg‘s book, Who Is This Man?

In chapter 1, Ortberg begins his book by observing that Jesus did not become famous in any of the usual ways. He was not a conquering general of armies. He was a teacher, but not just a teacher. He was not particularly famous in His lifetime, but He left a church that grew and spread His Gospel.

Made In The Image Of God (Chapter 2)

We live in a nation — in a Christian culture — that believes that we were all made in the image of God. There was a time men did not believe any such thing. Some men, like the emperor or the king, claimed kinship with the gods, but rest of men? No. Some men were thus thought literally better than other men.

Until 2,000 years ago, when Jesus taught about the virtue of humility, the elites did not bridle their pride. In fact, except for those unfortunates at the bottom of the pecking order, most men thought it appropriate to “peck” upon those lower than themselves in the pecking order. Their justification was simple enough.

The king was divine, or semi-divine. The king was understood to be made in the image of the god who created him. Only the king was made in the image of god. This was the dividing line between the king and the rest of the human race. Peasants and slave were not made in the image of god; they were created by inferior gods. (from Chapter 2, page 25)

Jesus taught differently. He said there is only one God, and He made all of us in His image. Jesus destroyed any justification for a pecking order. In Jesus Christ we are all God’s children.

Colossians 3:5-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Because of Jesus, the men who wrote our Declaration of Independence added these words.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, (from here)

To be continued


Mankind's Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)
Mankind’s Eternal Dilemma: The Choice Between Virtue and Vice by Frans Francken the Younger depicts three choices: heaven, earth, and hell (from here)

The American news media has a good business model. Suffering, sex, violence, and so forth attracts viewers, but is the news media’s business model good for us? When they show us suffering, what is the first thought of the news media and its too often mindless admirers? It is a crisis! The government has to do something!

Why the government? Well, it makes for a good story. The reporters can point their cameras at somebody and tell us what he is doing or not doing.

Is our government always supposed to do something? Why? When there is a problem, how far ahead does the news media look? Doesn’t the news media always gravitate to the next crisis? Do they actually give much thought to anything?

Consider Frédéric Bastiat‘s observation on the importance of foresight.

In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause–it is seen. The others unfold in succession–they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference–the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.

In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality. When, therefore, a man, absorbed in the effect which is seen, has not yet learned to discern those which are not seen, he gives way to fatal habits, not only by inclination, but by calculation.

This explains the fatally grievous condition of mankind. Ignorance surrounds its cradle: then its actions are determined by their first consequences, the only ones which, in its first stage, it can see. It is only in the long run that it learns to take account of the others. It has to learn this lesson from two very different masters–experience and foresight. Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. (from here)

Over the last couple of centuries, our nation has accumulated many unjust laws. In each instance a large segment of the population conspired together to make “other people do the right thing”. In others words, some busybodies insisted upon making everyone else do things their way.

What has been the result? Here are some examples.

  • We have a public education system that worked at first. Then our leaders slowly stripped it of any religious content. Our knowledge of civics is also abysmal. Man on the street interviews have become a national joke.
  • Some time back too many of us started letting our leaders ignore the Constitution whenever we wanted what they promised. Now our president routinely issues executive orders everyone knows are unconstitutional.
  • We created the Fed to prevent bank runs. Now we have a fiat currency that steadily loses value, and our banking system gives everyone the shivers.
  • We passed the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The income taxes that that amendment allowed were only supposed to affect the top one percent.
  • To allow the direct election of senators, we passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution.  Now the Federal Government has more raw power than all the state governments combined. Perhaps a Convention of the States could change that. Perhaps.
  • Social Security once looked like a humane way to save the elderly from poverty. Now that costly system threatens to go bankrupt.
  • More and more our healthcare system, responsible for prolonging so many lives, is government-run. Such a system will almost certainly lead to rationing. Then we will die waiting in line to be treated.
  • We created a great safety-net to prevent the effects of poverty. Who anticipated those generous welfare programs would encourage greater social ills such as unwed motherhood?
  • In the name of civil rights, our great and glorious leaders decided to protect everyone’s “rights”. Now many think their “rights” are something “the man” owes them.

Earlier this year I wrote PART 4 FOR BOTH “HOW A POOR WIDOW ANSWERED HER CALLING” AND “GOVERNMENT-GIVEN RIGHTS VERSUS GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS”. That post included a section on The Seven Christian Virtues. That section describes how and why those who believe in government have worked to pervert the virtues of our people.

To have foresight is to be wise, and it is worth remembering that wisdom is something we each must learn. Our government cannot give us wisdom. It is also worth remembering that virtue is something we each must practice. Our government cannot be virtuous for us.


When I started to write this post, it occurred to me that I would not likely be the first to call to make America America again. So I wondered what others might have said.

Perhaps the most recent call came in a speech at the Republican National Convention by Scott Baio.

Did Baio  say anything wonderfully profound? Not really, at least not apparently. Yet consider these words.

But for you first-time voters, it’s important for you to know what it means to be an American. It doesn’t mean getting free stuff.  It means sacrificing. Winning. Losing. Failing. Succeeding. And sometimes doing the things you don’t want to do — including the hard work — in order to get where you want to be. And that’s what it means to be an American. (from here)

Why would Baio say this is what it means to be an American? Well, America has never been what it promised to be and yet…

In his Essays on Political Economy, Frédéric Bastiat speaks of the Unites States (or America) as a good example. Nevertheless, even in his day Bastiat (1801 – 1850) had to admit that Americans perverted the Law and used it to engage in legal plunder. Continue reading “WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO MAKE AMERICA AMERICA AGAIN?”


Model of Herod’s Temple (a renovation of the Second Temple) in the Israel Museum, created in 1966 as part of the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. The model was inspired by the writings of Josephus. (from here)

OF A POST TO COME promised to compare the governing approaches of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with respect to two issues.

  • The growth of the power of government.
  • The protection of our rights.

Here we will consider the protection of our rights.

Why The Law Written In Our Hearts Is Not Enough

Why don’t we care about the protection of our rights? We are ignorant of our rights. Because we don’t properly educate our children, we don’t understand the concept of human rights and RESPONSIBILITIES. I suppose that sounds arrogant, but please bear with me and let me explain.

The notion that individuals have rights is a relatively new idea.  We tend to be more concerned about doing the right thing, and we equate what we think is the right thing with respecting human rights.

What do we think is the right thing? Consider this Bible passage.

Romans 2:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Without ever hearing about Jesus or the Bible we each know enough to do the right thing (see IS GOD EVIL OR HOLY?), but our pride and our instincts fight with this knowledge. Hence, we constantly find excuses to ignore it.

Consider when and where the Apostle Paul wrote the passage above.

  • The Roman republic was dead, subsumed by the empire its efficient and brutal legions had created. Slavery was common. How well a slave fared depended upon the decency of his or her master (see here, here, and here). Rome defended the institution of slavery mercilessly. The rebellion led by Spartacus provides the most famous example. Roman legions crucified 6,000 of the rebels (see here and here).
  • Even without slavery, Roman society was highly class conscious (see here, here, and here), and the prestige of the Rome depending upon the integrity of its empire. About a decade after Paul wrote the Book of Romans, the Jews  rebelled. Eventually, Roman legions descended upon Jerusalem. They slaughtered and enslaved the population and burned the city, including the temple (see here and here).

Do we live in a better place and time? Yes, but why? The Romans were civilized and in many ways quite virtuous. Yet they had little respect for human rights, particularly the rights of foreigners. The Romans were as savage as any barbarians, just better organized, trained, and equipped.

What is the difference between the Roman Empire and America? The Romans only had the law written in their hearts. They could see themselves and their conduct reflected in their own eyes and each others eyes, but they too often saw only what they wanted to see.

The Bible provides a better mirror. The Bible teaches that we are all children of God, made in his image. The Bible teaches that we must love our neighbor as our self. As Jesus explained in The Parable of the Good Samaritan, every man is our neighbor. Every man has rights we must respect.

When studied carefully, the Bible does what the law written in our hearts cannot do. Whereas the law written in our hearts is intertwined with our fleshly desires, the Bible is purely of the spirit. Thus, the Bible perfectly mirrors our life and conduct with respect to what God expects of His children.

James 1:22-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Yet the Bible only works if we read it and study it, and it works best when we insist our children read it and study it. Unfortunately, such Bible instruction is not common in America anymore.

To Be Continued

  • What Are God-Given Rights?
  • Where Do The Candidates Stand With Respect To God-Given Rights?