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Whose side should Christians take in the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 11:53

Readers who have learned their lessons well will, of course, see the title question as a fallacy—the fallacy of complex question. Nevertheless, I keep getting variations of that question—some fallacious and others not—and so I decided to make a few comments.

The answer to the above question is “neither.” Both sides are in the wrong in certain ways, and America should have no entangling alliance with either, and no obligation to either. Those who understand biblical laws for warfare and foreign policy will have no problem with this. But many are still confused, largely because of a few factors: 1) their eschatology mistakenly informs them that modern-day “Israel” is something special; 2) their facts are delimited by one major news outlet or another (often of genus Vulpes), or filtered through end-times websites; and 3) their doctrine of warfare and foreign policy is pagan and not biblical.

Thus I responded to one of my inquirers the same I would respond to anyone on how to answer the question:

If you understand the meaninglessness of modern Israel in regard to prophecy; if you understand the basics of a biblical view of foreign policy and military and war, taxation, government, etc.; then you should be able to decide for yourself.

For a little help in this regard, I offer the following:

First, in regard to the facts of the situation, there is so much propaganda and so much information on both sides that it is almost impossible to sort it out. The news-filter problem is further complicated by various permutations of the conflict over the past century (one could say the past several millennia as well), so that no matter who could be shown to be in the right at any given time, another can back up to another point in time to argue the reverse. This phenomenon eventually would take us back to Genesis 12, and I will address that in a moment.

As far as facts go, this article is the most balanced one-stop-shop I have seen recently. I am shocked HuffPost ran it, because it is hardly the standard pro-Palestine leftist propaganda that leftists run—far from it. The author is a Pakistani-Canadian who criticizes Hamas and exonerates Israel as much as, or more than, he does vice versa.  He argues (I summarize):

1. The leftist media has a double standard that is anti-Israel while ignoring Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities (including even fraudulent photographs of atrocities committed by Muslim terrorists attributed to Israel).

2. The heart of this conflict is religious, including both Israel’s divine-right claim to all the disputed and Palestinian-inhabited land and Islam’s mission to eradicate Jews as directed in both Quran and Hamas’ own charter.

3. Israeli’s do not target civilians on purpose. The claim lacks common sense, and again ivolves a huge double standard: “ISIS killed more civilians in two days (700 plus) than Israel has in two weeks.”

4. Hamas does in fact use Palestinian civilians as human shields, “Because Hamas knows its cause is helped when Gazans die. If there is one thing that helps Hamas most — one thing that gives it any legitimacy — it is dead civilians. Rockets in schools. Hamas exploits the deaths of its children to gain the world’s sympathy.”

5. Israel officially disengaged from Gaza in 2005, and even forcefully removed its own people who did not comply. There are not more Israeli “settlements” or military on the ground there.

6. Gazan death tolls are higher mainly because Hamas wants it high for PR value. Defense is a lower priority.

7. Yet Israel’s “minor” offenses have massive impact, including the continued expansion of settlements and occupation in other Palestinian areas—things every U.S. president since Nixon has “unequivocally opposed.”

There is more to the overall issue than this, and more holes and nuances need to be filled out. And while the issues above seem far lopsided against Palestine and/or Hamas, Israel’s dogged expansions are mind-numbingly stupid politically—except against a backdrop of the belief in divine superiority as a nation, and/or divine entitlement to the land. The policy makes little to no sense otherwise.

And this is where many Christians dangerously go astray. It is here that I reproduce a section from The Bible & War in America:

Bible Prophecy

While for some the mental hurdle will be such political devotions, others cling to military might out of their view of Israel and the end times. I am not going to go into a full discussion of eschatology and foreign policy here except to say that this view is false. It takes a very special, recent, and convoluted view of Bible prophecy to derive the position that Christians today should specially favor the modern nation called “Israel” with foreign aid and military support, and help her against her Islamic neighbors. This view is most often supported by referring to the promise to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3). The most definitive work expressing this view is also the clearest: “Politically speaking, this statement is God’s foreign policy to the Gentiles in their relationship with the Jewish people.”(1)

This view is easily debunked (though not thoroughly debunked, which would take too much space here) by simply considering the biblical context: this promise was given to Abraham before he had any children. If we are to take just this verse at this point in Scripture—as so often is done—as the basis of blessing nations in relation to “Abraham,” then we must apply it equally to all of Abraham’s children. This includes Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations. This would mean of course that we should give just as much foreign and military aid to all of modern Israel’s Arab neighbors! But this is absurd from a biblical view point, and the definitive author above would agree. On what basis is it absurd? It is so because later Scripture qualifies and narrows the definition of Abraham’s seed for us. Agreed.

But here’s the rub: the means of qualifying who actually inherits the promise becomes the very means of disqualifying modern-day Israel as well. The argument is that later Scripture qualifies the promise as not to Ishmael, but to Isaac, and then not to Esau, but to Jacob, who is later renamed “Israel.” True enough. But this sets a precedent of qualification that does not—as the proponents of this view would like you to believe—stop with Jacob. Paul himself uses this very method of argument in Romans 9 to prove that Israel also shall be redefined in light of Christ, “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (9:6). He concludes,

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom. 9:30–33).

In other words, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the seed of Abraham, is made up of the faithful, not the physical Jews per se. It is based on faith and not on bloodlines. Indeed, in the apostolic era, most Jews were not going to make it into the kingdom, and yet the resulting entity would still be called “Israel”—that is, the Church. Now it is clear why Jesus could tell the Jewish leadership of the day that they were not the seed of Abraham nor even children of God, but “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). For this very reason He would put them on the cursed end of “God’s foreign policy.” Quoting the same prophecy of the stumbling stone as Paul did (Rom. 9:32–33; cf. Isa. 8:14–15; 1 Pet. 2:8), Jesus said to the Jews of His day,

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him (Matt. 21:43–44).

American Christians have simply got to get past the view that there is something special about the ethno-political entity established in the land of Israel in 1948. This is a huge mental hurdle for many Christians, but it is also an enormous theological delusion that leads so many to continue promoting an unbiblical view of war and the military, especially in regard to having a strong threatening presence in the Middle East.

For completing the three issues with a biblical view of foreign policy and war, I would recommend reading the rest of The Bible & War in America as well as Restoring America One County at a Time. It is far past time that Christians get a fully biblical view of this conflict, and then call our leaders and nation to stay the heck out of it.Endnotes:

  1. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 838.
Categories: Worldview

The real path to Pulpit Freedom

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 13:16

Recent focus upon IRS restrictions against “electioneering” and “political activism” in pulpits from both opponents (atheists) and proponents (Christian activists) misses the real path of pulpit freedom. As such, the best solution for freedom preaching remains to the side, silenced, in all the discussion.

Atheist groups are pushing the IRS to crack down on violations of the so-called “Johnson Amendment”—a 1954 revision to 501(c)3 regulations which forbids covered tax-exempt foundations from using a “substantial part” of their activities to influence legislation, or from participating or intervening in “any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

The push is directed against the “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” initiative of a Christian legal group which advocates testing the boundaries of the Johnson Amendment. The group originally seemed stoked to violate the regulations in an attempt to fuel a constitutional lawsuit. Since then, it seems to have compromised a bit, its first resource now being listed as “Preaching an Election Sermon within IRS Guidelines.”

The atheistic Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is now touting the fruits of its push against “Pulpit Freedom Sunday”: a legal settlement with the IRS in which it was agreed that Behemoth would begin enforcement of 501(c)3 restrictions against political activism in church pulpits, where it had previously been slack. According to a report from lifesitenews.com, “The IRS has agreed to pay closer attention to what is said in houses of worship.”

But like I said, both sides are misguided. The atheists are misguided because not all talk about politics is indeed forbidden by the restrictions. The only actual restrictions are against using a “substantial part” of the church’s activity in an attempt specifically to influence legislation. This alone leaves open the possibility of some targeted preaching against even specific legislation, just not a “substantial part.” Secondly, and more famously, the regulations forbid involvement in a political campaign or particular candidate. Well, OK. Pulpits can still preach on explicitly political issues and even campaigns without crossing those boundaries necessarily. These restrictions actually leave a tremendous amount of room for engaging political and social topics from a biblical view and much more.

But more importantly, the Christian side of this debate doesn’t do much better. First, because they focus on the wrong legal angle, and secondly, because they are neglecting the true path to pulpit freedom which is outside of 501(c)3 status altogether.

I won’t walk through all of the argumentation of the Christian legal group by any means, but only focus on the most common one: the allegation that 501(c)3 regulations violate the pulpit’s First Amendment rights. No they don’t. It’s simple. First Amendment rights do not exist where a person or organization voluntarily surrenders them.

For example, if you accept a government job demanding certain security secrets, you have waived your rights to “free speech” in that area. You are not legally free to disclose the secrets. You can, but you will be prosecuted. Likewise, if you sign any “Non-Disclosure Agreement,” you have similarly waived your right to the extent of the terms of agreement.

And likewise, if your church files for 501(c)3 status when it is not required to do so, then it has voluntarily waived its right to the extent that the regulations demand. And to be sure, 501(c)3 status is voluntary for churches.

It was this truth I was attempting to communicate in a previous article. I reproduce some of it at length here:

First, churches don’t need 501c3 status to be tax exempt, they are automatically exempt by virtue of being a church.

Second, churches don’t need 501c3 status in order for their members’ contributions to be tax-deductible.

Why then is it almost universal practice for churches to incorporate and seek 501c3 status? It’s nothing but an unneeded sense of assurance from the government.

Marcus Owens is an attorney who was formerly the head of the IRS tax-exempt division in DC. He has since been defending churches against the IRS. He confirms the sentiments above: churches don’t need 501c3. As to why churches so frequently line up to file for what they don’t need, he said, “Mostly it’s just a matter of extra reassurance.”

So, nothing is actually gained by receiving 501c3 status. On the contrary: much is lost. Peter Kershaw has researched this topic extensively. He notes the following ways in which churches actually hamstring themselves by 501c3 status:

When a church accepts the 501c3 status, that church:

    • Waives its freedom of speech.
    • Waives its freedom of religion.
    • Waives its right to influence legislators and the legislation they craft.
    • Waives its constitutionally guaranteed rights.
    • Is no longer free to speak to the vital issues of the day.
    • Becomes controlled by a spirit of fear that if it doesn’t toe the line with the IRS it will lose its tax-exempt status.
    • Becomes a State-Church.

A corporation is by definition a creature of the state. By leaving free church status and incorporating, a church is making itself not a free creature of Christ, the king of kings, but a creature of the civil government. This is actively mingling church and state, and worse, subjecting the church to the state.

When the church goes further and receives 501c3 status, it is doing the same thing at the federal level: subjecting Christ to Caesar. Worse yet, such a church is effectively signing a contract not to preach the Bible in many ways in the public square in “exchange” for the promise of tax exemption—a right it already has to begin with.

This is a federal flim-flam pure and simple. It was a flim-flam designed and promoted by Lyndon Johnson in 1954 to eliminate the influence of conservative churches in the political arena in America. Churches need not apply for this right, and yet are led to believe otherwise. They apply, and they willingly silence themselves in the process.

This being the case, there are only two ways to avoid the IRS restrictions. (1) Change the 501(c)3 laws. This could be done the same way they were changed to what they are now: by act of Congress. Or (2) don’t file for 501(c)3 status. After all, you don’t have to.

The true path to pulpit freedom, therefore, lies in not filing for the status. Then, and only then, will the First Amendment rights apply. If the IRS comes after you then, then you would have a case.

In the meantime, there is a good side to this new settlement. IRS officials have now agreed to start listening to conservative Christian sermons. That’s great! Some of them may actually get saved, and, who knows? They may actually give up a career in organized crime and come join the liberty movement.

“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1–4).

For now, churches need to be aware that their path to freedom is not within 501(c)3, but outside of it. You don’t need it, and in fact you can only speak freely without it.

Categories: Worldview

First Things: our founders’ religion “as opposed to Christianity”

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 11:47

Harvard graduate and St. John’s University law professor Mark Movsesian writes for First Things regarding the contribution of Alexander Hamilton to religion in America. Since Hamilton helped Washington write his famous “Farewell Address,” Movsesian argues Hamilton “wrote one of the most important texts on the place of religion in American public life.” But the principles he draws from that “most important” document for “our religion” are a startling admission, if unwittingly, as to the religious nature of our constitutional settlement. In short, it wasn’t Christian, it was pagan pluralism.

Movsesian quotes the famous “religion” passage from the Farewell Address:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

The First Things author then leads us in a review of what this actually means. In doing so, he does more damage to “Christian America” than its proponents, and many conservative readers of First Things, would want. He writes,

Note the generic reference to “religion,” as opposed to Christianity. . . . [O]ur public expression of religion typically avoids expressly Christian imagery.

Really, nothing else need be written beyond this point. The author makes “very American” religion very clear: it is generic religion as opposed to Christianity. This means it was not Christian. Christians are welcome to attend, but not to be too publicly vocal, and not to expect the distinctives of Christian faith to ascend in the public square.

In short, the state is not here to serve Christ, Christians are here to serve the state.

From the beginning, American public religion has had a non-sectarian cast. Most Americans in 1796 were Christians, as most are today. Most would have understood the reference to religion to mean the Christian religion. But our public expression of religion typically avoids expressly Christian imagery. In part this reflects the Deism of many of the Founders. But it also reflects an Evangelical faith that is comfortable with biblical non-sectarianism. In America, religious conservatives demand public display of the Ten Commandments. In Europe, they demand public display of the crucifix.

Even though then and today, most Americans are Christians, nevertheless Christianity is not allowed a public expression beyond generic morals. America’s tolerance brigade not only started early, but is anti-democratic. No matter how many Christians were to dominate the system under our Constitution, it would take only a minority of pagans and idolaters, or skeptics and atheists, to keep public expression of the faith censored legally and judicially.

This is patently elitist with the humanist in charge of the elitism. It is dictatorial and anti-democratic. Of course, we are not a “democracy,” we are a republic. But republicanism has a democratic element in it, and we do, but only in regard to some laws. In regard to religion, we are constitutionally forbidden from having any influence from the people in regard to explicit Christianity in the public square.

Movsesian refers to “the Deism of the founders.” This is, of course, inaccurate, as there were few actual deists at the time among the framers. Nevertheless, the point stands: the American religion as understood by Hamilton/Washington was expressly generic and non-Christian despite being erected amidst a vast majority of Christians.

In my mind, this was an Enlightenment swindle: the language of religion and morality pacified complacent Christians in such a way as to forbid official Christianity with their own approval. Aww; “religion and morality”; how nice. Gotcha!

Movsesian makes this point with something he calls “biblical non-sectarianism”—a strange and equivocatory term he never defines for us. Does he mean a non-sectarianism among Bible-believing Christians? Or does he mean a non-sectarianism found in Scripture which allows for any and all religions to flourish, even leading people away from Christ and blaspheming God? Or what? He doesn’t say.

His examples here refer to an American mentality of Christianity versus a Roman Catholic European mentality—in broad generalities anyway. But he does not press this to its logical conclusion. If we are dealing with “non-sectarian” “religion” as opposed to explicit Christianity, then it makes sense that any religion goes as long as it supports the morality of the state. This view not only puts the state (instead of the Bible) in charge of defining public morality, but it then opens the door to the “tolerance” of any religion—even Satanism, Wicca, Islam, or Hinduism—that agrees to abide by the state’s morality. This is a recipe for statism, the marginalization of Christianity, and the influx of many religious perspectives that bring hidden agendas to leverage the tolerance crusade against Christianity. In short, “anything but Christianity” goes.

While Movsesian neglects to extend his examples to such perspectives, he does come around and openly admit this is the case. He continues:

Note, too, the practicality of Hamilton’s appeal. Why is religion important? Because it’s true? Because people need salvation? No—it’s because of the pragmatic benefits religion provides, benefits even the “mere politician” can understand. To work properly, republicanism requires citizens to be moral; and to be moral, citizens require religion. To be sure, every now and then, one might find an exceptional person who is moral without religion. But that can never be true for most people. And it doesn’t matter what the religion is. This, too, is very American. As a twentieth-century American president famously remarked, “Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is.”

Get that and get that well: the morality and religion to which our founders appealed was pragmatic for statist reasons, and it was indifferent to the type of religion adhered to, as long as that religion kept the individual in line with the values the state wants them to have.

Of course, any talk of “morals” in such a system is a joke, because when morals are defined by the state, there is no end to the perversity and prevarication, not to mention redefinition, double-standards, and a host of violences and thefts built on fallacies, to which the state will stoop. We need an objective morality defined by the objective lawgiver, or else morality is a sham.

And it is here that one of the author’s commenters made the correct appendix:

One recalls Gibbon: “The policy of the emperors and the senate, so far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally false; and by the magistrate, as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.”

Exactly. Gibbon was the most famous historian of the founders’ era. They all knew him and all read his massive work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He was a skeptic who despised Christianity. He blamed the fall of the Roman Empire on the rise of Trinitarian Christianity.

Yet Gibbon was correct to note how the secular humanist, state-worship system of the Roman Empire valued all religion—generic religion—as “useful” to the state. Thus the policy was one of tolerance of all and ascendancy of the truth of none. Get this clear: this is a pagan Roman view of government, not a biblical one. Yet this is the view observed and preferred by the skeptic Gibbon, and which perfectly comports with that of Hamilton and Washington and our own Constitution. Movsesian recognizes this. You should too.

In other words, in order to be a true strong Hamiltonian conservative, you have to adopt a pagan view of politics and government, and you have to abandon any hope of genuine Christian influence in the public square. You must have an explicitly and expressly non-Christian, non-sectarian tolerance of all religions which stifles Christianity. Morality will be defined by the state, and religious expressions that are in any way connected with the public sphere will be made to conform to that state’s “religion and morality.” They must leave their own distinctive values in the closet.

When we understand Hamilton and Washington’s religion to be a generic public morality in service to the state, and we see, now, that our Harvard trained law professors, writing for one of the perceivably premier conservative publications in our nation, approve of such a system, then we can realize why our education system is a sham, our welfare system is a sham, our military is ought of bounds (on steroids), our constitution is a wax nose, our police are growing more violent each day, our money and banking systems are entirely built on fraud and theft, and we could go on and on. Even our businesses are being shackled by the state, because we have a view of the state that is anti-Christian in principle. We should not be shocked that, eventually, the practice catches up with the principle.

The only remedy for such a problem is to change the principle: at the level of ourselves, our families, our churches, our local governments, and beyond. All individuals, corporations, and institutions must be free to follow God’s Word and God’s Laws. The moment any government forbids that, then we do not have tolerance but rather a clash of religions. We have a clash of the pagan statist religion with that of Christianity. One will win and one will lose. It becomes a question of how faithful we Christians will be, or to whom we will give obeisance.

This reformation of principle must begin in our hearts and minds. As for me, I don’t mind leaving the Washington-Hamilton complex at the door, and calling it the paganism that it is. I don’t mind shucking the silly emotional allegiances that come with such parties and their foibled historiographies. I don’t mind forging ahead in faith and braving the fears erected by the praetorians of our modern Roman Emperors and the Gibbons who teach them.

I don’t mind at all. And I am grateful for the writers like Movsesian who make my points clear for those who claim to want a Christian American and a biblical society, but for some reason still do mind those fears.

Categories: Worldview

Woody Allen Says Life is Meaningless

Sat, 07/26/2014 - 12:42

An atheist post on Facebook got me thinking about the meaning of life. The post was about how beef production is ten times more damaging to the environment than automobiles. Putting aside the factual basis of the study and who funded it, I raised a couple of questions:

“I thought you were an atheist. Woody Allen says life is meaningless. The Sun will one day burn out it will all end. So why should anybody care? Torture? They’re just sacks of meat with electricity keeping them animated. Same with us. The sooner it’s all over the better. Enjoy the beef before it all ends. I like mine medium rare.”

 Here’s what Woody Allen said in a recent interview:

  • “I firmly believe — and I don’t say this as a criticism — that life is meaningless.”
  • “There have been many great minds far, far superior to mine that have come to that conclusion. Both early in life and after years of living and, unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it’s not [meaningless,] I think it is. I think it is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. That’s just the way I feel about it.”
  • “I’m not saying one should opt to kill oneself, but the truth of the matter is when you think of it, every 100 years … there is a big flush and everybody in the world is gone, then there is a new group of people, then that gets flushed, then there is a new group of people and this goes on interminably for no particular end — I don’t want to upset you — there’s no end and no rhyme or reason.”
  • “And the universe — as you know from the best physicists — is coming apart and eventually there will be nothing. Absolutely nothing. All the great works of Shakespeare and Beethoven and Da Vinci. All that will be gone. Now, not for a long time, but gone. But much shorter than you think, really, because the sun is going to burn out much earlier than the universe vanishes. So, you won’t have to wait for the universe to vanish, it’ll happen earlier than that and there will be nothing.
  • “So, all of this achievement — all of these Shakespearean plays and these symphonies and the height of human achievement — will be gone completely. There will be nothing. Absolutely nothing. No time. No space. Nothing at all. Just zero. So, what does it really mean?”

So for the atheist who is concerned about cruelty to cows and the supposed effect on the environment because of the beef industry, why such a big deal? In the end, cows and humans meet the same end: “All we are is dust in the wind.”

The eternal fate of an Adolf Hitler is no different from the fate of people who want to save cows from a culinary destiny.

The claim can be made that there is meaning in life without God, but as I always ask, How do a conglomeration of atoms animated by electricity in a bath of chemicals account for it?

At least Woody Allen is philosophically consistent if not practically inconsistent. Atheists can’t be consistent with pure atheism. But given the operating assumptions of atheism there is no ultimate moral or meaningful reason not to kill oneself. Suicide would be as meaningful or meaningless as life.

A new study is claiming that “‘atheism is psychologically impossible because of the way humans think,’ says Graham Lawton, an avowed atheist himself, writing in the New Scientist. ‘They point to studies showing, for example, that even people who claim to be committed atheists tacitly hold religious beliefs, such as the existence of an immortal soul.’”

In a word, atheists don’t really exist. They’ve got to hate that, especially when science supports what the Bible has been saying for thousands of years!

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures (Rom. 1:18-23).

The majority of atheists, however, live as if God does exist, and for that we are thankful.

Categories: Worldview

The Sheriff Project marches forward

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 15:08

A big thank you to all who have continued to support our “Sheriff Project.” With you help we have expanded the reach of Restoring America One County at a Time much further than we had originally expected.

Since our last update, we have now covered every sheriff in the entire state of Pennsylvania, and several counties in California, as well as some in Minnesota, Oregon, Indiana, and more.

In addition, we have received letters of thanks from several sheriffs, including the well-known Maricopa County, AZ, sheriff Joe Arpaio. One “God fearing” sheriff expressed his appreciation, noting that he “totally agreed” with the mission. Others noted they looked forward to reading our book.

This project has been a big undertaking (especially for our shipping department!). It may seem like a small first step merely to send a book and a letter, but the vision and mission outlined in our book is a necessary big step for our elected local officials to grasp. Likewise, our tailored “Sheriff’s Ten Commandments” is a notice all law enforcement and all elected officials need to have put in front of them. Let us start the process of holding them accountable to this standard,

With your continued support, we can spread that vision and mission to every county in America. Please consider helping us today.

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Categories: Worldview

My Response to Elizabeth Warren and Her “11 Commandments of Progressivism”

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 11:39

Crazy leftists want Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to run for president in 2016. She’s described as a “liberal superstar.” Many are dumping Hillary for Warren. Speaking at Netroots Nation, a convention for liberal bloggers and activists, Warren outlined her “11 Commandments of Progressivism.” My brief commentary follows:

1. We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

There is no single entity called Wall Street. What we really need is stronger rules and tougher enforcement on Washington to keep politicians from bailing out faltering companies and banks. Washington spends money it does not have. Elected officials like Elizabeth Warren steal from the working class so they can give it to non-workers who will continue to vote to keep politicians like Warren in power. There is an unhealthy relationship between government and business that only the free market can fix.

2. We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.

Actually, Progressives don’t believe in science or they wouldn’t support same-sex sexuality (the biology and anatomy are all wrong), evolution (something from nothing), and the skewed and manipulated numbers that go into fabricating the crisis of Global Warming, Climate Change, and now Climate Chaos. Furthermore, if Progressives truly believed in science, they would engage critics of Global Warming in debate. Instead, the claim is made that “the debate is over.” Progressives don’t want debate because there’s too much money in a global “crisis” like global warming.

3. We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.

Governments should keep their hands off the internet. Once any type of control is given, there is no end to it. Progressives will end up controlling the oversight committees that make the laws and turn the internet into a State-run media congolmerate. Those supporting net neutrality tell us that it would not be directed by the government; that it would make the internet more free and open. Don’t you believe it. If a liberal like Elizabeth Warren is behind it, it must be a bad idea for freedom. The internet is doing just fine. Businesses are created every day. The little guy can be up and running in a day. See “Killing Net Neutrality Helps Underdogs Succeed.”

4. We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.

Calls for raising the minimum wage are ongoing. Once again, the government should get out of telling companies what they should pay. Business owners are already burdened with paying the employer’s side of Social Security and Medicare and unemployment compensation tax. This says nothing about insurance, rent, upkeep, training, inventory costs, etc. Raising the minimum wage will force some employers to let employees go because of increased costs. The extra work will be passed on to the more experienced retained employees.

5. We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.

Liberal policies already control the marketplace. Who will define a “livable wage”? The government will. There will be no end to what a livable wage might include: a certain size house; so much for food each month; a clothing allowance; paid vacations; transportation; education, birth control, etc. The most inexperienced workers will be shut out because of hiring expenses. The less qualified will find it harder to get a job. Teen unemployment will rise. “Minimum-wage legislation discriminates against teenage black males. This has been known by economists since at least the mid-1950s. The statistical evidence on this was overwhelming.” Walter Williams argues: “‘How does someone who is part of a group that is discriminated against find a way to prove to somebody doing the discriminating that his assessment is incorrect?’ It was really this question: ‘How do undesirables break through the discrimination against them?’”

6. We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.

Entitled? Should I be forced to pay for the education of other people? No one forced these people to go into debt. No one has to go to college. There is no requirement that a college education has to be completed in four years. No one is forcing anybody to go to expensive schools. The case could be made that government money and cheap educational loans increases the cost of college.

7. We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.

Who will be made to pay for bankrupt pension programs? Should I be forced to pay? Our government enacted legislation that gave us Social Security and Medicare. They have grown in scope far beyond their initial implementation. Medicare is bankrupt. Warren’s solution is more taxes.

8. We believe — I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work.

There’s no such thing as “equal work.” All types of factors go into hiring and paying. If employees are not happy with what they are paid, they can (1) start their own business or (2) look for another job. I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014, but it’s no business of the government what an employee is paid.

9. We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.

Warren wants “equality” in everything. Forced equality leads to poverty. Equality before the law is the goal, but not equality in everything. There is no such attainable ideal unless we’re talking about Communism. But even with Communism, some people are more equal than others. There already is equality in marriage. No one is stopping two people from getting married as long as they are of different sexes. The law has been equally applied. Changing the definition of marriage by claiming that people of the same sex can marry is not equality—it’s insanity.

10. We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.

This is one of her “commandments” that I and millions of others can agree with. We need immigration reform. The question is, however, what types of “reforms” do Progressives want, and what reforms would actually be good?

11. And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!

Try owning and running a corporation without people. Corporations are owned by people, whether it’s one person or a group of people. Corporations are people. When Elizabeth Warren and her liberal thugs want to force their economic agenda on a corporation, who pays? People! Did people from Enron and WorldCom go to jail? Berrnie Ebbers of Worldcom was sentenced to twenty-five years in a federal prison. If corporations aren’t people, then why do they pay taxes, and why is Ebbers in prison?

One of the reasons the “corporations aren’t people” argument keeps coming up is because of the intrusive nature of government. Congress passed and the Supreme Court upheld the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Now the government has direct control over healthcare. As a result, for every question about the Act’s applicability and enforcement, the government must decide.

Warren and her ilk want to control every area of life, even unborn children by allowing women to kill them. They want to empower the State to force companies to pay for abortifacients that kill unborn babies. Women have a right to control their bodies, but they should not have the right to kill an unborn baby because that is not their body.

As has been reported over and over again, Hobby Lobby did not deny any woman anything. Warren wants power to force companies to pay for healthcare that she wants to define.

More could be said on all these topics. Elizabeth Warren is the new face of the Democrat Party.

Categories: Worldview

Congressman “shocked” by suppressed 28 pages on 9/11: “challenges you to rethink everything”

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 09:44

Last December, two congressmen made waves when they reported access to shocking 9/11 investigation documents that have long been classified and kept under tight wraps. Both reported being “shocked” at the revelations contained, and called for the documents to be declassified. Now, another congressman has read the secret documents and has come away shocked as well, claiming the contents caused him to “rearrange my understanding of what happened” on 9/11. He says the information “challenges you to rethink everything.”

Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) is now challenging fellow representatives to educate themselves, serve their constituencies’ interests fully in the cause of truth, and get involved as well.

Part of the original Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry performed in late 2002, the 28-page document was redacted and kept under tight control for alleged reasons of “national security.” Representatives Walter Jones (R-NC) and Steven Lynch (D-MA) both reported being shocked:

“I was absolutely shocked by what I read,” Jones told International Business Times. “What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me. I cannot go into it any more than that. I had to sign an oath that what I read had to remain confidential. But the information I read disappointed me greatly.”

Other sources say that the 28 pages contain proof of involvement in 9/11 by the Saudi government, and information “critical to our foreign policy going forward”:

Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who chaired the Joint Inquiry in 2002 and has been beating the drum for more disclosure about 9/11 since then, has never understood why the 28 pages were redacted. Graham told IBTimes that based on his involvement in the investigation and on the now-classified information in the document that his committee produced, he is convinced that “the Saudi government without question was supporting the hijackers who lived in San Diego…. You can’t have 19 people living in the United States for, in some cases, almost two years, taking flight lessons and other preparations, without someone paying for it. But I think it goes much broader than that. The agencies from CIA and FBI have suppressed that information so American people don’t have the facts.”

Jones insists that releasing the 28 secret pages would not violate national security.

“It does not deal with national security per se; it is more about relationships,” he said. “The information is critical to our foreign policy moving forward and should thus be available to the American people. If the 9/11 hijackers had outside help – particularly from one or more foreign governments – the press and the public have a right to know what our government has or has not done to bring justice to the perpetrators.”

Many have noted the irony of how we invaded Iraq which had no involvement in 9/11, and yet have not made a hint of justice toward Saudi Arabia, home of most of the hijackers. The suggested revelation of these documents heightens that sense of injustice beyond measure.

Rcently, Congressman Massie added to the countertenors of outrage when he called his own press conference and challenged the rest of congress to move on this issue. First, he explained the hurdle of intimidation keeping the document suppressed:

I want to talk about the experience of sitting down a reading these 28 pages. It’s in a room where it’s soundproof, and you’re escorted in and you’re escorted out. There are no notes.

But for these mild annoyances, the payoff in truth is great:

It’s sort of shocking when you read it. I had to stop every couple of pages and sort of absorb and try to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years and the years leading up to that. It challenges you to rethink everything.

It will shock the country, he says, but we need to go through this:

I think the whole country needs to go through that. It’s going to be difficult and could be embarrassing, but that is no reason to keep the truth from the American people.

And so he issues the challenges:

I want to challenge all the congressmen who have not read these 28 pages, who have the ability to go read these 28 pages, to do it for your constituents. . . . Every congressman needs to see these 28 pages.

Then, I challenge them to cosponsor Congressman Jones’s and Congressman Lynch’s bill like I have.

The “bill” here refers to House Resolution 428, “Urging the president to release information regarding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks upon the United States.” It currently has eight cosponsors.

To those who would keep these pages secret: you need to hold your own press conference. You need to be held to a standard to answer the questions, “Why do you want to keep these 28 pages secret?”

As shocking as the 28 pages are, as much as they sort of rearrange my understanding of what happened, I don’t think it would hurt our national security to release this. It would give families the answers they deserve as well.

It’s time to advance this call to action. If there is any truth at all to the witness of Congressmen Jones, Lynch, and now Massie, it is absolutely ridiculous not to push this ahead—at least, for a first step, among the members of congress, all of whom ought to be properly informed. Then, to the public at large.

Call your congressman and demand they accept Massie’s challenges to read the redacted 28 pages and cosponsor House Resolution 428 today:

Contact your Representative and Senators.

As Congressman Massie put it, “We won’t be fully informed until everyone gets to see these 28 pages.”

The cause of truth, and information “critical to our foreign policy going forward” depends on it.

(h/t ZeroHedge)

Categories: Worldview

Under Drake’s Flag: my surprise and a special offer for you

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:39

When I first was asked (really begged!) to review the recent production Under Drake’s Flag, I have to admit I was reluctant. I don’t get excited about audio productions, or novels for that matter, so this was a tough sell for me from the start. But once I listened, and then studied the material, I now know why the producer persisted to prevail upon me. He “begged” me because he knew I would love it.

And he was right. Under Drake’s Flag is a top-notch production full of remarkable examples and lessons for young people—young men, especially. And now that I think about it, most adults I know can use these lessons, too. I am thoroughly impressed and glad I was implored to review this. Listen to this sample for yourself:

Under Drake’s Flag is a high-quality audio adaptation of G. A. Henty’s novel of the same title. This movie-quality “audio theater” is expertly produced with professional actors, state-of-the art sound design from award-winner Mark Drury (of The Chronicles of Narnia audio series), and an original music score by John Campbell (of Lamplighter TheatreFocus on the Family Radio Theatre, and Adventures in Odyssey).

The story is compelling:

Ned Hawkshaw is about to take the greatest adventure a boy could ever imagine…with one of the most celebrated heroes in history—Sir Francis Drake!  Ned fights off a shark attack, survives a shipwreck, engages in fierce battles on sea and land, and comes face to face with the Spanish Inquisition. Experience the swashbuckling tale that pits faith against fear, and helps Ned grow from a boy into a man. Live the Adventure and board The Golden Hinde for an epic quest of courage on the high seas!

After my own little conversion experience in regard to this audio drama, I can vouch that there is not a single word of exaggeration in any of this. Under Drake’s Flag is among the best of stories about one of the truest of heroes told by some of the best storytellers and engineered by some of the best audio and sound artists of our time. This is indeed a work of art.

But better yet, it is one Christians can embrace and employ in training young men in the virtues of Christian faith, honor, character, courage, perseverance, wisdom, and true manhood—all of which are openly portrayed and exemplified in the story, and done well in the name of Christ. And unlike too many attempts at Christian media and arts, the moral lessons here arise naturally from the story. Manliness is rightly exemplified and exalted, but not pumped up into false bravado and facade. Faith is foundational and explicit, but not unwieldy and awkwardly dominating the tone. Just as good as the level of professionalism in the production, the approach to teaching and persuasion is perfectly balanced and honoring to Christ in both principle and history.

This is a great teaching tool for families, private schools, and homeschools. Toward this end, the audio set comes with a small but quite substantial study guide. This includes thought-provoking studies for each chapter as well as three systematic studies each devoted to a major theme of the production: godly character, true manhood, and confessing Christ in the face of pressure and persecution. I can promise you I will have my sons listen and study this story, and probably dive even more deeply into the life and times of Francis Drake—and the advance of the Kingdom of God he desired—because of Under Drake’s Flag.

And one final note on the production: the introduction to “Prayer of Sir Francis Drake” is phenomenal and moving. “Disturb us, Lord. . . .” Yes, you can google it and find it on the web, but it’s incorporation into the story and production in Under Drake’s Flag is so powerful! It alone is worth the price of the product.

I liked this production so much I discussed it in person with the producer. I told him American Vision would be interested in carrying it. And for you, American Vision reader, I went even further. I was able to secure a special offer for readers of American Vision. The product normally sells for $29.95—for which I can guarantee you the production is worth every penny. But for you, I negotiated something better:

For the next 30 days, American Vision readers can use the special “Coupon Code” AV1 in order to save $10.00 and purchase the CD package for only $19.95.

MP3 downloads are also available  also with the AV1 Coupon Code for only $10. With these, the study guide is also available as a PDF download, included in the price.

I can do no better than agree with the quotation above: “Experience the swashbuckling tale that pits faith against fear, and helps Ned grow from a boy into a man. Live the Adventure and board The Golden Hinde for an epic quest of courage on the high seas!”

Visit www.underdrakesflag.com and get yours today. I highly recommend it. In fact, I highly encourage you to do so now.

Categories: Worldview

Judge Says Man’s Law Higher than God’s Law

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:00

Judges around the country have become a law unto themselves. There were five church-going judges in Alabama who ruled that sodomy marriages are constitutional. Their Christianity made no difference in their lives. I don’t know who to blame, the churches they attend who separate the Christian faith from politics (and nearly everything else) or the law schools they attended that do the same thing.

U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that a Kentucky law prohibiting same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. He based his argument on the 14th Amendment, an amendment that has nothing to do with same-sex anything.

Judge Heyburn claimed that the Constitution is the final authority on gay marriage even though the Constitution doesn’t say anything about marriage. The Constitution requires an outside source of law. That’s why you will not find prohibitions against murder, rape, theft, and other crimes. The founders understood that they were not the ultimate source of law, and judges weren’t either.

That’s why, in every state Constitution, you will find a reference to God or Providence as the source of our freedoms. For example, the preamble of Kentucky’s state constitution, written in 1891, states, “We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”

Judge Heyburn declared in his ruling, “In America, even sincere and long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted.” He most likely took his oath of office with his hand on a Bible and stated, “So help me God.” Moreover, he’s begging the question by asserting what he must prove—that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. The framers certainly didn’t think so in the 18th century, or in the 19th century when the 14th Amendment was drafted.

What is the source of the marital relationship? It’s certainly not in the atheistic worldview of atheism. It’s a creational ordinance ordained by God. Even biology tells us that same-sexuality is irrational.

Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 1 of 2004, which was approved by 75% of voters, stated “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky.” How could it be otherwise?

Don’t you find it strange that it’s OK for one judge to out-vote tens of thousands of voters? In doing so, Judge Heyburn has declared himself to be the ultimate source of law. Can he claim that he knows better than tens of thousands of voters on an issue that has logic and historical and legal precedent on its side?

By the way, since the Preamble to the Constitution begins with “We the people,” it seems that “we the people” should have a vote on some things that are true by definition.

We were warned that this day might come by Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959), American film director and Academy Award-winning film producer in both silent and sound films. In the theater and DVD versions of the 1956 film The Ten Commandments, DeMille stepped on stage and said the following:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, young and old. This may seem an unusual procedure, speaking to you before the picture begins, but we have an unusual subject: the birth of freedom. The story of Moses.”

Those who watch The Ten Commandments on television don’t get to see DeMille make his speech.

DeMille considered the topic of freedom under God’s law to be the movie’s most important message. In his rare on-screen appearance, he explained his reason for re-making The Ten Commandments (he had made a silent version in 1923):

“The theme of this picture is whether men ought to be ruled by God’s laws or whether they are to be ruled by the whims of a dictator like Rameses. Are men the property of the State or are they free souls under God? This same battle continues throughout the world today.”

 

What is the source of law today? When you determine its source, that’s where you will find its god.

Dismissing God the Creator does not rid the world of god; it only means that another god has replaced Him. Judges like John G. Heyburn II have declared themselves to be our nation’s new gods. They are much more powerful than Rameses ever was.

Categories: Worldview

Elton John Says Jesus Would Support Same-Sex Marriage

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 14:56

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, liberals love to quote the Bible, but only if they get to manipulate and interpret it.

In a recent interview, Hillary Clinton said, “The Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking.” Then why does she support same-sex sexuality and the wholesale slaughter of unborn babies?

Nancy Pelosi says she believes she must pursue public policies “in keeping with the values” of Jesus Christ, “The Word made Flesh.” At a May 6, 2010 Catholic Community Conference on Capitol Hill, she said: “They ask me all the time, ‘What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that?’ And one time, ‘What is your favorite word?’ And I said, ‘My favorite word? That is really easy. My favorite word is the Word, is the Word. And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the biblical reference, you know the Gospel reference of the Word.”

Ditto for Nancy.

Liberals love to quote Jesus when He says “don’t judge” (Matt. 7:1), but they don’t quote Him when He says “judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus calls for consistency in judgment (Matt. 7:2).

Elton John has gotten into the act by arguing that Jesus would support male priests marrying other male priests. I’ll give him points for declaring that the Roman Catholic requirement that priests can’t marry is not biblical. Priests in the Old Testament were married. Aaron had a wife and children. Peter, supposedly the first Pope, had a wife (1 Cor. 9:5).

But would Jesus support same-sex marriage? Absolutely not. When God made a helper “suitable” for Eve, He created a woman, not a woman and a man so Adam could exercise his sexual preference (Gen. 2:19-25).

The biblical model is one man and one woman. Jesus says so in Matthew 19:3-6:

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

There is no room in what Jesus says for same-sex sexual relationships and certainly no room for same-sex marriage.

Jesus upheld the law as it was written. If Elton John wants to know the mind of Christ, he should read the words of Christ.

We can see what Jesus was thinking when He met the Samaritan woman. He pointed out to her that she was in an illicit sexual relationship. Jesus told her to call her husband. She said that she did not have a husband. Jesus’ response was direct: “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly” (John 4:17-18).

The woman was a serial fornicator.

The woman didn’t say, “How dare you judge me.” No, she acknowledged that she was in sin: “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done’” (4:39).

Then there’s the woman caught in the very act of adultery. It’s clear that the woman had been set up. If the woman had been caught “in the very act,” where was the man? Most likely, it was one of the men who were trying to catch Jesus going around the law. The guilty accusers could not bring an accusation without indicting themselves.

What did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery? “From now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

Jesus would say the same thing to Elton John. “From now on sin no more, and same-sex sexuality is a sin like adultery and fornication.”

Categories: Worldview

Chuck Schumer Says Religion No Longer a Constitutional Freedom

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 14:37

A federal judge ruled that the Constitution trumps religion. “In America even sincere and long-held religious views do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted,” U.S. District Judge John Heyburn in Louisville argued.

What a fool.

Not to be outdone, “At a press conference Thursday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said people with religious beliefs who disagree with the ObamaCare contraception mandate can choose their faith or ‘you don’t have to form a corporation.’

“‘You’re born with a religion or you adopt a religion. You have to obey the precepts of that religion and the government gives you a wide penumbra—you don’t have to form a corporation,’ Schumer said.”

Schumer claims that religious protection is only for an individual’s personal views. It does not apply to persons who own and operate a business. The business is not protected by the First Amendment.

Once a person opens a business, according to Schumer, the government has ultimate claim on that business. Once a business sells to the general public, that business loses certain constitutional rights.

The Hobby Lobby ruling by the Supreme Court has driven liberals insane.

“When we wrote RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] back in 1993 we did so to protect individuals with strong religious beliefs and give them the presumption they have always enjoyed; that they should be able to exercise their religious beliefs without interference from the government. The court took that and applied it—misapplied it—to for-profit companies who exist for the purpose of benefitting from the open market, working in the marketplace under our laws.”

Laws mean nothing to liberals if they can’t interpret them. They’ll vote for anything that will give them political cover because they know that the real power of a law is in its interpretation.

A business sells goods and/or services. People buy those goods and services. No one is forcing a business to sell anything, and no one is forcing people to buy anything. The transactions are voluntary.

Moreover, no one is forced to work at Hobby Lobby. If people don’t like the religious views of the owners of a company, they are free to start a competing business and offer any benefits they want.

What business is it of the government’s what benefits an employer offers to its employees? An employee can take them or leave them. No harm—no foul.

As has been repeated numerous times, no employee at Hobby Lobby is being denied anything because of the religious views of the owners of the company. If Schumer does not know this, then he has no business being in Congress. The least he should do is keep his mouth shut, because his comments are more than ignorant—they are fascist. You either comply with how we tell you how to spend your money (your religion be damned) or don’t start a business.

What is it about the First Amendment that people like Chuck Schumer do not understand? The first five words are very clear: “Congress shall make NO law. . .” About what? “Prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
Religion aside, what right does the Federal Government have to force businesses to pay for baby-killing drugs? This is the bigger question, one that is ignored by the Left and not often brought up by those on the Right.

I’ll go further. Why should government be empowered to force businesses to pay anything to employees other than what was contracted when an employee was first hired? If I own a business and post a job offer, the conditions of that employment are stated in the interview. A prospective employee can take it or leave it. If it turns out that I’m unable to get good employees because I don’t pay enough or offer certain benefits, it should be my decision and only my decision to make changes to my hiring policies.

Will Christian business owners be forced to paint a cross on their stores like the Star of David that Jewish businesses in German-occupied lands painted on their shops? Will we see signs with Verboten pasted on shop doors and windows of Christian businesses because of opposition to baby-killing abortifacients and Christian schools opposing same-sex sexuality?

Don’t ever say it can’t happen here.

There are theologians who claim that Christians are ordained to suffer in this world, so if persecution comes, it’s all part of the Christian’s walk with Jesus. If this is true, then why did Paul escape from persecution?

In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands. (2 Cor. 11:33; Acts 9:25)

On another occasion, Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship instead of suffering physical harm at the hands of the Roman government for the sake of the gospel (Acts 22:23-30). At one point he appealed to Caesar (25:11).

Paul used God-sanctified wisdom when needed. He did not declare that, because his citizenship was in heaven, all earthly relationships were of no consequence.

Civil government is God’s creation. How is it possible that people who claim to believe the Bible will not apply the Bible to the realm of civil government? The civil magistrate is a “minister [διάκονός] of God” (Rom. 13:4). Dιάκονός (diakonos) is the Greek word translated “deacon” and is used not only of civil magistrates but of ministers in ecclesiastical government (1 Tim. 3:8, 12; Phil. 1:1).

We are entering a dangerous period in our nation’s history because ministers of God’s word are silent on the issues of the day.

Pastors should be using their pulpits to preach the “whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27), especially on the issues that are pressing hard against our freedoms.

A quotation attributed to Martin Luther comes to mind:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not professing Christ, however boldly I may be proclaiming Christ. Wherever the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that one point.

In the end, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 529), and that includes pastors who fail in their ministerial task as shepherds of God’s flock (Ezek. 34:2).

Categories: Worldview

De Tocqueville: “only those who do not know” speak ill of Localism

Tue, 07/08/2014 - 11:27

I am about to begin a moderate project on Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic work Democracy in America (1835, 1840). You should find his insights into the damaging effects of centralized government and the advantages of decentralization for freedom inspiring. You will also find it enlightening to the degree he once observed the latter as a key feature of American freedom.

I provide the following not only as a prelude of more to come, but also because Tocqueville is so often too selectively cited. We hear him cited in a few places only in regard to religion in America, and quite often misquoted (or misunderstood) on American exceptionalism. We rarely hear much of the substance of his observations on the American social structures that arose from her greater qualities. As a nation badly in need of relearning truer forms of liberty, these are things we ought to seek. Tocqueville gives us keys from our past.

As a brief trailer to his production, here are few excerpts on the topic (all from Volume I, Chapter V):

The town and county are not constituted in the same way everywhere; but you can say that everywhere in the United States the organization of the town and county rests on the same idea: that each person is the best judge of what concerns himself alone, and the one most able to provide for his individual needs. So the town and county are charged with looking after their special interests. The state governs and does not administer. Exceptions to this principle are found, but not a contrary principle. . . .

Where this principle is neglected, and centralization is allowed to arise, a vast type of status quo nationalism captures the hearts and minds of men and renders them into unthinking automatons for the state—blind pledges to dictators and national idolatry:

Centralization easily manages, it is true, to subject the outward actions of men to a certain uniformity that is ultimately loved for itself, apart from the things to which it is applied; like the devout who worship the statue, forgetting the divinity it represents. Centralization succeeds without difficulty in imparting a steady appearance to everyday affairs; in skillfully dictating the details of social order; in suppressing slight disturbances and small transgressions; in maintaining society in a status quo which is not exactly either decadence or progress; in keeping a kind of administrative somnolence [sleep] in the social body that administrators customarily call good order and public tranquillity.

According to Tocqueville, the centralized state accomplishes this state of affairs “easily.” Beware! When you hear people calling “Wake up, America!,” you know the “administrative sleep” has already largely prevailed.

To avoid this, we need to begin with a proper mentality toward government. Paralleling sentiments often quoted from Franklin regarding liberty versus safety, Tocqueville acknowledges that safety can be preferred above freedom, and indeed often seems more safeguarded by a centralized system:

I will admit, moreover, if you want, that the villages and counties of the United States would be administered more profitably by a central authority that was located far from them and remained unknown to them, than by officials drawn from within. I will acknowledge, if you insist, that more security would reign in America, that wiser and more judicious use of social resources would be made there, if the administration of the entire country were concentrated in a single hand. The political advantages that the Americans gain from the system of decentralization would still make me prefer it to the opposite system.

He moves immediately to sound the wake-up call:

So what, after all, if there is an authority always at the ready, that makes sure that my pleasures are peaceful, that flies before my steps to turn all dangers aside without the need for me even to think about them; if this authority, at the same time that it removes the smallest thorn from my route, is absolute master of my liberty and life; if it monopolizes movement and existence to such a degree that everything around it must languish when it languishes, sleep when it sleeps, perish if it dies?

It is tempting to rest upon an assumption that among fallen masses and pessimistic Christians, such desire for safety will trump that for liberty—that to such a crowd, the freedoms sacrificed for numb tranquility seem trivial compared to the sacrifices needed to gain freedom. But Tocqueville was not at that time so glum, for he had a view of a way to exalt liberty to the fore of the discussion. It was a view that, in his experience, most people value: local control.

In America, I found men who secretly longed to destroy the democratic institutions of their country. In England, I found others who openly attacked the aristocracy; I did not meet a single one who did not view provincial liberty as a great good.

In these two countries, I saw the ills of the State imputed to an infinity of diverse causes, but never to town liberty. . . .

He concluded the chapter: “Only peoples who have only a few or no provincial institutions deny their utility; that is, only those who do not know the thing at all, speak ill of it.”

And that, my friend, is a call to education. Educate yourself, your family, your neighbor. Together we can begin Restoring America One County at a Time, one person at a time.

Categories: Worldview

This map shows why “County Rights” is crucial

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 08:52

Business Insider has published a map helpful for visualizing the problem inherent in centralized government: the vast majority of land is controlled by forces huddled in the major metropolitan areas.

I have often exemplified this point with the state of Illinois. About two thirds of the population of that state is huddled into only twelve counties comprising the Chicago metro area. Out of 102 counties, this means that the population residing in less than 12 percent of jurisdictional entities can assert control over those in the other 88 percent. This is roughly equivalent in terms of total land area controlled as well.

Nationwide this map notes that half of the population resides in only 146 counties—without exception those dominated by major cities. This means that nationwide, those clustered in less than 5 percent of counties can outvote and rule the rest.

Thomas Jefferson once hoped “never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold as at market.”(1) This map represents that same problem nationwide for virtually every state as well.

Major metropolitan areas inevitably tend to grow statist (usually liberal-leftist) and corrupt. So do, then, the forces that tyrannize whole populations distributed across the other 95 percent of the landscape.

Why should the liberals, the statists, the corrupt and grafters in the tiny corners and corridors get to tell the rest of us how to live and how much to pay for their delusions of grandeur, narcissism, elitism, and naughtiness?

As long as this is the case, we live under tyranny resulting from the centralization of power not only nationally, but in virtually each state as well. This means education is a centralized tyranny. All wealth redistribution is a centralized tyranny—welfare of all forms. Police power is largely a centralized tyranny, and is growing more so every day. Gun laws are a centralized tyranny. Taxation is a centralized tyranny. Corporate law, business, and markets are centralized tyrannies. Money and banking are centralized tyrannies. Agriculture, transportation, and energy—all centralized tyrannies. Law itself, in general, is a centralized tyranny—and it sleazes its tentacles into every crevice of our lives until the most important and intimate parts are seized by tyrants in a distant metropolitan area.

Until we capture a mindset of widespread privatization and localism, we have little hope of liberty. The liberties we do speak of in the meantime are highly relativistic—relative to the greater tyrannies of the Old World and Socialism. And that’s not much to brag about.

 Endnotes:

  1. Letter to Justice William Johnson, June 12, 1823.
Categories: Worldview

“Swarms of Officers”

Fri, 07/04/2014 - 09:21

Nearly every year on the Fourth, American Vision runs an old essay from Gary North, “Happy Fire Works Day.” I am glad to see it is archived in full here. It is one of my favorite essays of all time. It really woke me up twelve years ago when I first read it.

Since you’re busy preparing for your own Fireworks Day, I will only excerpt a short portion here, upon which I will comment briefly below.

THE WORLD WE HAVE LOST

For most Americans, the story of the American Revolution is more like a series of museum displays with toy soldiers than a series of events that grab our collective imagination. . . .

There was a slogan: “No taxation without representation.” How did that slogan turn out? In 1776, there was no income tax. So, we got our representation, but taxes today are at 40% of our income. Washington extracts 25% of the nation’s output. In 1776, taxes imposed by the British were in the range of 1% in the North, and possibly 3% in the South. I’m ready to make a deal: I’ll give up being represented in Washington, but I’ll get to keep 74% of my income. I’ll work out something else with state and local politicians. Just get Washington out of my pocket.

Jefferson put these words into the Declaration of Independence:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He had no idea. Not counting troops, who were here to defend the Western territory from the French after 1763, the number of British officials was probably well under a thousand. They resided mainly in port cities, where they collected customs (import taxes): Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. The average American had never met a British official in 1776.

By any modern standard, in any nation, what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration to prove the tyranny of King George III would be regarded by voters today as a libertarian revolution beyond the dreams of any elected politician, including Ron Paul. Voters would unquestionably destroy the political career of anyone who would call for the restoration of King George’s tyranny, which voters would see as the destruction of their economic security, which they believe is provided only by politicians and each other’s tax money. . . .

This is why the documents of the American Revolution make no sense to us. We read the words and marvel at the courage of those who risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor by signing the Declaration. But we cannot really understand why they did it. We live under a self- imposed tyranny so vast, so all-encompassing by the standards of 18th-century British politics, that we cannot imagine risking everything we own in order to throw off the level of government interference suffered by the average American businessman in 1776, let alone the average farmer.

If we could start politically where the Continental Congress started in 1775, we would call home the members of that Congress. We would regard as crazy anyone who was willing to risk a war of secession for the sake of throwing off an import tax system that imposed a 1% burden on our income.

The Declaration of Independence points a finger at us, and shouts from the grave on behalf of the 56 signers: “What have you done? What have you surrendered in our name? What, in the name of Nature and Nature’s God, do you people think liberty is all about?”

We have no clue. American voters surrender more liberty in one session of Congress than the colonists surrendered to the British crown/Parliament from 1700 to 1776.

This is amazingly and frightfully correct. And it is worse. Consider Jefferson and company regarding less than a thousand officers spread throughout the colonies as “swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance” as a point of remonstrance worth the life-risk of political secession.

Imagine that. And then look at the explosion in our own time of no-knock home invasions by SWAT teams. The rise from a handful of unique exceptions in the 60s and 70s to over 50,000 routine raids by SWAT units in 2005 (over 136 instances per day), often for mundane purposes or even mere suspicions, constitutes a “swarm of officers” homegrown and far beyond anything George III could have dreamed of.

And we have done it to ourselves.

And worse, for the most part, conservatives are proud of it, and many conservative men would proudly take part in it.

And that’s just one line from the Declaration of Independence.

We moan and cry all the time over those words “Creator” and “Nature and Nature’s God,” as if the long-diminishment of these words by liberals has been the great demise of our country. We don’t accept responsibility for the ways in which we ourselves have abandoned so much of the actual substance of the Declaration, sometimes wholeheartedly endorsing the violations it decries, and doing so in the name of the Creator at its head.

Let me suggest that, while we must obviously turn to the Creator before we can right the great ship America ever again, we can only do so in humble willingness to uphold the rights and laws according to His terms. We cannot pretend to right this nation or land in the name of Creator and Nature’s God while at the same time indulging in all the tyrannies of laws, police, military, courts, and much more which that document so famously outlines as actionable offenses against Nature and Nature’s God.

If you’re not willing to pursue serious reforms in areas near and dear to conservative hearts—SWAT raids, drug wars, standing armies, prison systems, administrative law, government education, etc.—then the return to freedom in the name of God is hypocritical and delusional.

Until then, watch the fireworks explode. And as they explode, do not entertain any sentimental dreams about victories of independence, or “bombs bursting in air” (a reference to the War of 1812, not 1776 anyway). Instead, think of flash bombs bursting at your door, and troops storming in. Imagine IRS agents swarming, and BLM agents bullying, and a hundred other government agencies with hundreds of thousands of agents pouring through every seam of society, armed and armor-clad, ready to shoot without remorse, thinking they have done Nature’s God a favor.

And what shall be the Grand Finale of this, if we do not repent and reform?

Categories: Worldview

Vergara no victory: Education should be free, not compulsory

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 11:38
Just a brief note this morning to comment on a relatively unknown court case that you should know about, and which some conservative writers are hailing as a victory for freedom. Really, it was just a minor slap for teachers’ unions which was interpreted by some as a victory for the Right. I would like to warn you against celebrating this decision, for it rests upon a legal usurpation which is far more sinister than the teachers’ unions it squeezed.

One report summarized the victory like this:

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark decision BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION, which struck down racially segregated schools because, the court said, they unjustly harmed poor and minority children. Last month a California court cited BROWN as it struck down multiple state laws, passed at the behest of teachers’ unions, which the court said unjustly protected incompetent teachers and unconscionably harmed children, especially the least fortunate.

The report goes on to give admirable explanations of the dynamics of teachers’ unions and their terribly adverse effects on the education system. I agree with the points made, especially in the concluding paragraph:

The Vergara case offers hope, but sup­porters of better education cannot rely on judges to fix America’s schools. Parents and teachers must join together to eliminate teacher tenure systems that protect bad teachers and that divert our best teachers away from many of the students who could benefit most from their skills and experience.

Yet we must go much, much further, as my essays on Education in Restoring America make very clear. The only acceptable solution is total privatization of education. And this is where the Vergara decision works against us. Ironically, it is most unhelpful where it is in direct conjunction with that citation from Brown v. Board of Education. This California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court both establish that education is by definition a matter of State, trumping families, churches, and private organizations. For believers in privatization, the decision’s citation of Brown’s “significant” observation is chilling:

Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undert taken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms. (My emphases.)

Vergara, resting on Brown, defines education as not only a function of state, but “perhaps the most important” one. It is a function of state that is “required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities,” is “the very foundation of good citizenship.”

Not only should this fundamental issue be a matter of state determination and compulsion, but this is the very avenue by which children will be conformed to cultural values—to be determined by the state, of course. Thus Vergara, following Brown, calls government education “a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values . . . and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment.”

As long as any governmental agencies recognize such needs to be matters of state coercion and compulsion, let alone make them to be foundational to society, there will never be freedom. Vergara not only continues in this tradition, it further entrenches it—broadening it from protecting the “equality of education” into “the quality of the educational experience” all as matters of state compulsion.

While I am happy to see the teachers’ unions noses get tweaked, forgive me if I am less enthusiastic that the Court did so by upholding the mandate for government compulsion in the area of education—an area which ought to be left free and private.

Categories: Worldview

Sleepover at Challies’: more on “schizophrenia of worldview”

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:15

I have no particular desire to pick on Mr. Challies, or to “throw him under the bus” as some accused, but I would be remiss if I did not make one more note after his latest post “Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers.” I agree with the sentiments expressed in this more recent effort. I just wish the Tim Challies who wrote this post would have been around for the ones on public schooling. Instead, the good stuff today contrasts with the older to provide one more clear example of what I previously called “schizophrenia of worldview.”

I’ll try to keep this short. In the latest post against sleepovers, Challies cites James Dobson approvingly:

Sadly, the world has changed in the last few decades, and it is no longer a safe place for children. Pedophiles and child molesters are more pervasive than ever. That is why parents must be diligent to protect their kids every hour of the day and night. …

Until you have dealt with little victims as I have and seen the pain in their eyes, you might not fully appreciate the devastation inflicted by molestation. It casts a long shadow on everything that follows, including future marital relationships. Therefore, parents have to think the unthinkable in every situation. The threat can come from anywhere—including neighbors, uncles, stepfathers, grandfathers, Sunday school teachers, coaches, music instructors, Scout leaders, and babysitters. Even public bathrooms can be dangerous today…

Challies not only agrees with this, he thinks the situation is worse than Dobson did: “the risk is that much higher today than it was decades ago.”

Like I said, I agree with this. I follow basically the same policy in regard to sleepovers, though perhaps I would make a few more exceptions depending upon the families involved.

What struck me in reading this over the weekend was just how opposite this mentality is from the one Challies exhibited in regard to the public school environment. The quotation he cites from Dobson even mentions coaches—which ought to alert one to the obvious categories of people missing from the list, public school teachers and public school children and peers.

But going back to the article I criticized last week, Challies had nothing but praise for this particular class:

7. THE TEACHERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS

We have encountered many teachers over the past ten years, and our experiences have almost all been very positive. It is easy to caricature teachers as being unapologetic leftists or vile perverts who are out to corrupt and destroy our children. But we have found that teachers love our kids and take joy in their success. . . . In our experience the caricatures have been unfair. We do far better to regard the teachers as our friends and allies.

Now when I read these opinions all together, the question naturally arises: why does Challies (like so many other Christians) hold public school teachers to an entirely different standard than everyone else? Why are other parents and leaders and children all without question “off the table” because they may, you never know, be potential child molesters, and yet at the same time, it is almost without question just as wrong even to intimate that this may be the case in public school relationships?

Let me be clear: this mental disconnect is the very worldview schizophrenia of which I spoke before. It is irrational, partisan, and delusional.

Delusional, especially when you consider stories like this “The Big List” compiled by WND.com. This list contains hundreds of female public school teachers who seduced young men. It is thirteen web-pages long. Note: these are only females, only teachers, and only the ones that got caught or confessed to authorities. This list does not include men, child peers, and the ones who got away with it.

Just so you don’t think this is an isolated opinion, even neocon Ann Coulter recognized this problem in probably the best piece she’s ever written, the chapter “The Liberal Priesthood: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Teacher” in her book Godless. She writes,

Why are “educators” in government schools the only people on Earth who must universally be spoken of in hushed tones of religious worship? As it happens, public schools rival Enron when it comes to financial scandals and have more sex scandals per year than Catholic priests—thirty times more. But don’t mention it or you’ll be accused of hating teachers.(1)

One could add “hating children” as well. And Coulter has the stats to back up her claim:

In addition to grand theft, disorderly conduct, weapons charges, and attempted murder, there were also 180 claims of sexual abuse by New York City public school teachers in 2005—all before May. . . .

Analyzing the data from a survey by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, statistics professor Carol Shakeshaft estimates between 1991 and 2000, roughly 290,000 students were subjected to physical sexual abuse by teachers or other school personnel. In her report for the U.S. Department of Education, Shakeshaft says that about one in every ten American children has been sexually abused in some way at school.(2)

Now again, I am no Coulter fan, but she shows more sense on public education here than do most Christians, including, apparently, Tim Challies.

Why should not the Challies who wrote against sleep overs due to fear of sexual deviancy not also pull his kids from public schools, where the problem is far more extensively documented, over the same reason? There is no good answer to this question. This one sole reason alone should be enough to abandon government schools.

One simply wonders what it is about certain Christians that they wield two standards so obviously contradictory in their lives—especially when their children are at stake. What is it about the golden calf of public schooling? Are we that deeply sucked into the convenience of all-day “free” babysitting? Are we that far deluded by convenience? This is living in denial at the highest level.

Again, I have no intent to pick on Challies in particular. He’s merely a helpful vignette into the average evangelical soul on this problem. Considering the lack of consistency and the double standards assumed, that’s a very troubled soul indeed.Endnotes:

  1. Godless, 150.
  2. Godless, 167–168.
Categories: Worldview

The Sheriff Project, and the Sheriff’s Ten Commandments

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 08:36

As part of a donation letter last quarter we at American Vision put into motion an idea we’ve had for some time: to get my book Restoring America One County at a Time into the hands of county sheriffs across the country. Then we conceived a project to do just that—for every single sheriff in America.

The project has gotten off to an amazing start. Due to the support of some special people, we have already reached over two thirds of America’s counties (that’s 2,278 sheriffs to be exact) in 31 states, including 28 total states.

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Each sheriff has also received a hand-signed letter of introduction and exhortation (yes, I hand-signed over 2,000 letters) and a copy of my recent teaching tool, “The Sheriff’s Ten Commandments.” Not only do I introduce sheriffs to my book and American Vision in general, but I directly exhort them to their duty as God’s servants first:

It is our mission to remind you that you are a servant first and foremost of God (Romans 13:1–4), secondarily of the people, and always under the rule of law—the Law of God, ultimately, and the law of the land. Toward this end, we have included our document “The Sheriff’s Ten Commandments.” These principles are based upon the biblical Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:1–17. We hope not only to remind you of these principles, but to encourage you in the study and performance of them.

(Read the full letter here.)

This is the kind of conviction and mission we need to make a difference from the local level up. And we need your help to complete this Project. Though we have reached more than two thirds, there’s still that third or so left. Look at the map. I’d love to reach Indiana, Illinois, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, and the rest of California and Minnesota as quickly as possible, and of course the rest of the states, too. I’d like to extend this opportunity for you to help. For a $25 donation and a mention of what county you desire to reach, we’ll send that sheriff a copy of Restoring America, my letter, and “The Sheriff’s Ten Commandments,” and then mark that county on the map.

If your county is already taken, and you’d like to help anyway, just designate (in the “special instructions” box) which other county you’d like to reach. If you’d like to help with multiple counties, or even a whole state, feel free to contact us via email.

Please help us today.


THE SHERIFF’S TEN COMMANDMENTS

1. Serve God First.All civil authorities are first and foremost ministers of God (Romans 13:1–4). Sheriffs have a responsibility to submit to God and His Word before all others. They should be believers and students of the Bible and members in good standing of a local Bible-believing church.

2. Represent the Victims.As an elected official, the sheriff is a representative of the local people. He is not a representative of the government sent to the people, but a representative of the people sent to the government. In his duty, he must uphold his God-given duty by protecting the innocent, restoring justice to the victims of crime, and bringing punishment to criminals.

3. Honor Lawful Jurisdictions.The sheriff’s office is prescribed and bound by law. He must protect and serve according to law and always in submission to law himself. He must honor all lawful jurisdictions: county, state, federal, family, domicile, church, and ultimately God. He must not act beyond his jurisdiction, nor allow others acting outside their jurisdictions to invade his.

4. Enforce Laws Predictably. The sheriff is God’s servant for the express purpose of avenging evil in society (Romans 13:4). As God’s servant bound by law, he must enforce sanctions only according to the law and without partiality or exception. For the good of society, conscience, the integrity of the office, and for maximum peace and prosperity, laws must be enforced equally and predictably.

5. Hire Honest People.Just as the sheriff is a representative of the people, so the deputy is a representative of the sheriff. The sheriff’s commandments apply to the deputy as well, and so the sheriff must hire honest staff and deputies who will execute the office in submission to God and law as required.

6. Warn Before Shooting.The sheriff’s central duty is to protect life. This includes resorting to force only when necessary, using only so much as is necessary, and employing all means necessary first to avoid escalation of conflict, force, or violence.

7. Protect Families Equally.The sheriff must endeavor to protect the family, and to protect all families equally. The sheriff should defend marriage oaths, and, while often difficult to determine in an age of the deterioration of family law, he should defend the victims of broken oaths, as well as widows, orphans, and the defenseless. He ought also to defend against encroachments upon the family and children by other jurisdictions.

8. Defend Owners Equally.The sheriff must protect private property. He must defend victims of property violations, punish offenders of property laws, and seek restitution for victims. This must be done with impartiality in regard to rich or poor, or station or position in society. The sheriff ought to exemplify integrity with money and property with his own balanced budget and fiscal discipline, and he must overcome the temptations inherent in modern asset forfeiture laws.

9. Honor Your Oath.The sheriff must honor his oath, sworn before God, to uphold the law of the land and execute his office faithfully. Integrity and honesty must characterize all he does in regard to conduct of police business, handling of evidence, representation of the law, witnessing in court, and respect for citizens’ common and constitutional rights before God.

10. Don’t Covet Power.The sheriff must resist and defeat the temptations of corruption and abuse that attend offices of power. Whether in regard to position, prestige, money, violence, or sexual immorality, the sheriff must never act above the law, and must not entertain the desires to do so. By closely guarding his own integrity against covetousness he protects society as a whole from the evils associated with corrupt government.

Categories: Worldview

Challies on home schooling: a credibility problem

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 10:00

Recently, Christian blogger Tim Challies posted an article regarding homeschooling. It is called “10 Lessons from 10 Years of Public Schooling.” While I find Challies’s views on this topic repugnant in general, this article demonstrates an important point: how the forces of the world and self-justifying rationalization (often in the name of the Gospel) affect the minds of Christians. What has transpired here can be a wake-up call for all Christians, especially those dedicated to the golden calf of tax-funded, government schools.

After a decade of refusing to home school or private school his children (even though the option was available), the still-devout advocate for public schools has revised his reasoning considerably—without acknowledging the change—and the cognitive dissonance is telling. The results show a disturbing schizophrenia of worldview in the thinking of one of evangelicalism’s well-known representatives.

The disappointing part begins to come to light when one considers what Challies wrote on this issue back in 2006, here and here (which he links for reference in this article, just so you know that he is conscious of this connection). Back then, he and his wife were making a decision whether or not to send their first-grader into public schools (in hindsight it looks more like a rationalization exercise to justify a forgone conclusion). They did, and he had to write about the justification for his decision. Problem is, his justifications back then contradict his observations made now, ten years later. And the disparity is telling.

“For Missions”

In the 2006, article, Challies was gung-ho about his kids being salt and light in the public schools (an implicit admission that the schools are all but godless, by the way). Here’s what he argued back then:

I believe missions can and should happen everywhere. I find it difficult and painful to imagine a public school system devoid of Christians. Imagine, if you will, that every Christian pulls their children from the public schools. There will be no more Christian clubs in junior high schools; there will be no more prayer meetings or Bible studies at high schools; there will be no witnessing, no conversions. Christians will have removed the best indigenous missionaries from their natural mission field. I want my children to learn how to witness to their friends and want them to do it. Assuming my children are or will soon be young Christians, I do not want to deny them the ability and privilege of witnessing to others. New Christians are filled with joy and excitement and, while they may not know a lot yet, they are usually excited to share the gospel with others. I want my children to do this and to see their school as a mission ground. I want them to experience the joy of sharing their faith and to grow in their ability to do this. . . .

Now some may argue that young children are unready to be evangelists and that it is unfair to expect them of this. Once again, both experience and Scripture prove this a false assumption. If our children are believers, they are filled with the same Holy Spirit as you and I. They are equipped to reach out to the most tender-hearted segment of the population.

But that was then, baby. This is now. Lesson number four among his ten lessons now is: “DON’T SEND YOUR KIDS AS EVANGELISTS.” He explains.

One of the common reasons people send their children to public school is to allow them to be salt and light among their fellow students. However, this is a heavy burden to place on young children, and especially young children who are not yet believers. Children are not born believers and, therefore, cannot be expected to be evangelists until they are converted. We never placed that responsibility on their shoulders.

One thing that’s interesting here is that he’s grown consistent with the implications of Baptist worldview: children are not believers. They therefore must not be “filled with the same Holy Spirit as you and I” (one wonders, then, how they can be saved). Children cannot evangelize because they are not believers, he says.

Then what are the implications of sending unbelieving but impressionable children into a pack of unbelieving wolves (children and teachers) for the duration of their formative years? (Hint: A Christian may call this “reverse missions.”) (Another hint: Consider the movies Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Old School, and Road Trip, and then think of public schooling a college-prep for the children of Christians.)

What’s really of interest here, however, is the total 180 in regard to this important reason for sending children into public schools. At first, we must send them in “For Missions.” Now, “Don’t send your kids as evangelists.”

More importantly, if you read the original two essays from 2006, aside from a lot of qualifications and caveats designed to head-off potential criticism, the only positive reason Challies gave for sending children into public schools was this one: evangelism (all the other reasonings were merely encouragements and responses to common objections).

That one reason is now gone. After ten years, Challies has unwittingly sawn off the one branch on which he was sitting. So why is he still sitting? He continues to advocate and promote his decision to send his children to public schools. In fact, he concludes saying, “We have few regrets with our decision.”

Really? Then why have you changed your mind on children as missionaries?

There is no acknowledgement from Challies that his position changed. There is no acknowledgment that the only real reason he had he now rejects totally. There must be other branches on which he was really sitting.

Yes, there is still a vestige of a reason left. As a consequent part of his original reason of “Missions,” Challies believed his children’s involvement in public schools would help build bridges to unbelievers in the community to whom he and his wife could witness. He wrote,

Our children build bridges to the neighborhood. In sending our children to public school, we are building these bridges with our neighbors as our children are building friendships with their children. We are building friendships on the basis of our kids’ friendships. . . . We have credibility as neighbors and as members of this community by having our children attend the same schools as the other children. . . .

My wife and I feel called to reach out to the people in our neighborhood and our community. We simply do not feel we could honor God in this way and be as effective in doing it if we kept our children home. We would lose credibility, we would lose friendships, and we would lose access to the hearts of both children and their parents.

Of course, Challies has to know there are dozens of ways to build bridges with neighbors other than tax-funded schools. I find this argument weak and far from convincing. But I also find it revealing. Once the “children as missionaries” argument is gone, this alone stands as the real motivation: Challies believes that he would “lose credibility” with his neighbors over the sole criterion of public schooling.

Apparently, Challies has not considered that, in a hostile environment, credibility is gained by standing on principle and conviction, even when it is not popular. By Challies’s logic, Wilberforce should have embraced the same slave laws as everyone else—just for credibility of course, to build a bridge; Rosa Parks should have moved seats, just for credibility, to build a bridge. According to this logic, Bonhoeffer was the incredible, the bridge burner, and Hanns Kerrl a master of missions. Are these extreme examples? Of course: that’s what reduction ad absurdum means.

What Challies’s new position boils down to is a fear of not fitting in with the crowd, and not much more. And this, I believe, is one of the powerful motivations that keep too many Christian children subjected to public schooling. Pulling children out would make a very bold public statement, and too many Christian families are lacking in one of the ingredients necessary to take that stand—be it faith, courage, confidence, or whatever.

Finally, Challies’s latest post (10 Lessons) reveals further how that rationalizing motivation affects the rest of what he is doing. I won’t elaborate on all ten points, but just look at his headings. “IT IS POSSIBLE”: meaning, don’t fear to send your own kids in, even if you have reservations. “THE FAMILY GOES TO PUBLIC SCHOOL”: giving public schooling parents the false sentiment that their parental involvement is just like that of homeschooling. “IT TAKES A CHURCH”: the assurance that what religious training is lacking will be made up for by a church environment, and that the church’s supplement in this way is tacit “support” for parents’ choice to use public schools. “THE TEACHERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS”: this, after acknowledging that teachers will teach an anti-Christian curriculum. And my favorite, “WE ARE ALL HOMESCHOOLERS”: this is self-delusion by redefinition. No, Tim, you most definitely are not.

Every one of these “Lessons” is calculated to redefine public schooling and ascribe to it all the benefits actually gained by homeschooling. The last one listed in fact does the devious bait-and-switch of even appropriating the name of homeschooling. On the converse, each of these “Lessons” subversively diminishes the power and responsibility gained by parents who actually do homeschool, and diminishes the faith and sacrifice they make in order to do so. This is deceptive and subversive, even if not intentionally meant to be. It is an insult to actual homeschoolers. It is, to be frank, an attempt at identity theft.

I find these types of worldview omissions and oversights particularly unsettling when they come from a guy who recently spent several weeks blogging about “false teachers” in the church historically, and going so far as to expose the errors of contemporary figures in order to enlist them along with the classic heretics like Arius and Pelagius. I wonder: would he include the atheists and Unitarians who designed a system of state-enforced socialistic institutions?

Christian parents need to know that government schools are the worst option possible. Churches and pulpits ought to support this fact. But too many Christians are fearful of the responsibility given to them by God for the education of their children, and the types of rationalization given by a popular leader like Challies will be all they need to capitulate. Popularity and fear work together to turn credibility on its head. Credulity ruins credibility.

Categories: Worldview

Are There Limits to Loving My Enemies?

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 13:22

I saw the following post on Facebook that came from the article “What’s So Complicated About ‘Love Your Enemies’?” written by Benjamin L. Corey:

I’ve been trying to figure out why this is the case for quite some time. I must admit, out of all of the controversial topics I’ve tackled on the blog, I continue to be amazed at how infuriating the topic of enemy love is for people, and for the many ways folks will bend their theology into a pretzel to get around this requirement of following Jesus. I am growing more and more convinced that there is no teaching in all of scripture more offensive to American Christians as is the command of enemy love.

Corey appeals to a number of New Testament passages in the presentation of his argument. He cites Matthew 5:44. I quote more of the context than he does:

You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:44-48).

Corey also references the great love chapter 1 Corinthians 13.

Jesus is correcting a misreading of Leviticus 19:18; He is not overturning the Older Testament law:

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”

Somewhere along the line, “hate your enemy” was added to the Leviticus command contrary to Leviticus 19:17 where we find, “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.”

This means that loving our neighbor and not hating our enemy does not include tolerating everything and anything our neighbors or our enemies do. Reproving our neighbors and by extension loving our enemies does not mean being passive when we are confronted by evil.

Consider the following from the book of Exodus:

“If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double” (22:1-4).

It’s not hate to act justly. Jesus did not nullify the law by His correction of those who added to the law. The law of God is valid, and all of it must be taken into account.

I asked the following two questions in my comments on the Corey quotation:

If someone threatens to cut off my head, am I to love that person and still allow him to cut off my head? If I oppose him from trying to cut off my head, is that unloving?

As of this writing, I have not gotten a response.

Following Corey’s logic, if someone breaks into his house, steals his stuff, urinates on his floor, and rapes his wife, he should not protest or try to stop him because he is to love his neighbor in an unqualified way. Should he just pray for the criminal who did these things since this is the epitome of “loving my enemy”? Is this what Jesus had in mind?

The whole Bible needs to be looked at when a general statement is made. There are often qualifiers elsewhere. For example, the Apostle Paul writes generally and with qualifiers in the following passage:

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY’ [Deut. 32:35; Ps. 94:1; 1 Thess. 4:6; Heb. 10:30] says the Lord. ‘BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD’ [2 Kings 6:22; Prov. 25:21-22; Luke 6:27]. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:17-21).

Is it “evil” to pursue justice? What’s wrong is to pay back evil (something immoral) with an equal dose of immorality.

Does respecting the right mean to disrespect the wrong? I believe it does. We are commanded to be at peace, but there are times when we can’t be. While we are not to take personal vengeance, this does not mean that we should not pursue and seek justice in a righteous manner (13:3-4).

Loving my enemies does not mean that I should be naïve about what my enemies might do to me and my family. That’s why I lock the doors to my house at night and keep a watchful eye on my grandchildren.

Categories: Worldview

Prophecy Debate on June 21st: The Prophetic Significance of Modern Israel

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 17:00
The Life of Christ the Redeemer Church 2169 Greenville Rd. La Grange, Georgia 30241 Saturday June 21st at 7:00 PM.

Dr. Gary DeMar will be joining Dr. Jeffrey Seif for a Gentleman’s Debate at The Life of Christ the Redeemer Church in La Grange, Georgia, Saturday, June 21st at 7:00 PM.

Objective: Introduce the West Georgia region to the differing views of eschatology, prophecy, and corresponding hermeneutics—especially concerning the prophetic significance of modern Israel.

The following is a brief outline of the night’s agenda:

  • Each speaker will give a brief 3–4 minute introduction to their respective ministries.
  • Seven minutes will be allotted to Dr. DeMar and Dr. Seif to explain their eschatological positions and why they feel they are important.
  • Fifteen minutes will be allotted for each speaker to address Romans 11 regarding Israel (fulfilled or future).
  • Ten minutes to answer, “What does Paul mean by ‘in this way all Israel will be saved?’” (Rom. 11:26).
  • At the end of the presentations, thirty to forty-five minutes will be allotted for cross-examination and rebuttals. Each speaker will be allowed to ask pertinent questions to the other speaker.
  • Ten minutes will be allotted for open questions from the audience for spontaneous response.
  • We anticipate a two-hour duration for this event.

Here are some of the questions the debate will address:

  • Was the re-establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 prophetically significant? Why or why not?
  • Are there Old and New Testament prophecies that speak to the existence of modern Israel today?
  • Is there a Church-Israel distinction?
  • Did the Church replace Israel?
  • What is the significance for Natural Israel of the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in AD 70?
  • What is the present standing of unconverted ethnic Jews regarding the covenant and their salvation?
  • Is there still yet to come a “Revival” among national Israel, and if so, will it be through the gospel before Christ returns or will it be at the appearing of Christ’s physical return? What will be the impact on the nations?

Be sure to join us for an engaging and spirited discussion and debate!

The Life of Christ the Redeemer Church 2169 Greenville Rd. La Grange, Georgia 30241 Saturday June 21st at 7:00 PM.
Categories: Worldview

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