Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Common Misused Passages of the Bible - Genesis 12:1-3

Abram Journeying into the Land of Canaan (engr...
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How many times have you heard, "God will bless those who bless Israel, and curse those who curse Israel?" Plenty, right? Most particularly whenever someone is referring to protecting modern Israel. There's a problem with that particular phrase. It's not found in the Bible. The correct phrase is found in Genesis 12:1-3...

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
(Genesis 12:1-3 ESV)
I suppose one could make a case that this could refer to Israel, but it really doesn't. In context, it's directly referring to Abraham. Even examining the original language of what you means in this passage doesn't help, as there is not indication that it's even you all. It just seems to be God saying, "I'm going to bless you, Abraham and curse those who curse you, Abraham."  Christians in the West seem to have this love affair with modern Israel in which they'll twist any scripture passage to their idea of who Israel is. I've had people argue with me that what I quoted in the first paragraph is what the Bible says, even after the Bible has proven them wrong. Do they really want to argue with King James?

That being said...

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
(Romans 9:6-18 ESV)

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The New York Times' Definition of Reproductive Health

English: Roman Catholic church, Târgovişte, Ro...
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The title of a recent  New York Times article exposes their bias before they even start into the article. It's titled: Growth of Catholic hospitals may limit access to reproductive care and the first paragraph says the following:
As Roman Catholic leaders and government officials clash over the proper role of religion and reproductive health, shifts in health care economics are magnifying the tension. Financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion, and sterilization.
We've seen this type of language coming out of the White House over all this hubbub over the federal government's role in forcing businesses and health insurers to provide nearly all types of "contraception" regardless of religious beliefs. This includes the RU-486 or Plan-B drug which is technically classified as an abortifacient. Apparently, abortion is now classified as "reproductive health" and "birth control" all in the name of women's reproductive "rights." Be warned! The media often controls the hearts and minds of Americans. Be not swayed by what the media says is a definition, when it's only a political maneuver.

Note: I directly linked the RU-486/Plan-B to the Planned Parenthood definition of them so you can see that even the abortion opponents call it an abortion pill. Don't be deceived.
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Fundamentalists aren't the problem...

John Shore writes, answering a reader's letter...
Obviously, for fundamentalists it’s not really about critical thinking. It’s about a very conditional emotional security. Mainly of course through the influence of his culture and upbringing, the fundamentalist has ultimately surrendered himself to the considerable seductive powers of the simplistic.
It’s so easy not to think. It hurts to read, concentrate, analyze, logically process—especially if your education has left you without a lot of the tools for engaging in that sort of endeavor. No one enjoys riding in a car with flat tires and lousy steering. Better just to stay where you are.
Venturing outside the neighborhood in which you are comfortable can also take a bit more courage than most people are inclined to muster. It’s scary to wander away from everything you’ve known and been taught.
The fundamentalist goes: “Any fool can question and doubt. But you start using questions to punch holes in the house that is your belief, and pretty soon you might as well be outside. Others may not know what they believe, but I do. I know what I believe; I know what my family believes; I know what my pastor believes; I know what everybody at my church believes. Let others pick God apart, whittling Him down till He’s no bigger than they are. Let them set sail on waters so choppy they can’t do anything but get tossed this way and that, and go nowhere. My boat is sturdy; my waters are calm.
“Keep your endless questions; I’ll take God. And the Bible is the pure and uncomplicated word of God. Believe that—believe in the simple, righteous message of the Bible—and be saved. Doubt it, and good luck staying off that slippery slope straight down to hell.”
 The only problem is that in some parts of this, Shore is right. This is how some "fundamentalists" think and believe. I've met some of these folks. I'm from the South. It's pretty hard not to meet some of these people. However, Shore is also generalizing, as he usually does, and he usually comes out quite wrong in his generalizations. You see, I apparently fall into his mythical generalization of fundamentalism.

I do believe the Bible to be true in all it's words. I do believe homosexuality is a sin. I do believe that those who do not repent of their sins and trust in Christ as Lord and Savior are going to a real place called Hell for all eternity. By Shore's own definition of fundamentalism, whatever it is, as I have never been able to get him to answer me directly on it, I am a fundamentalist. If that is so, then so be it. Where John is wrong is that we do critical thinking. We do examine the Bible for what it says, and think logically about it. When I have confronted Shore on this, whether it's his blog or his Facebook group (of which I have been banned), he attempts to paint me as just another extreme fundamentalist who hates and is bigoted.

What else is wrong with Shore's response to the guy asking the questions about how can fundamentalists believe the Bible as literal? Simply put, Shore never brings faith into the picture. In fact, he rarely brings faith into anything he writes. It's all about being good for him. The homosexuals he loves to write about who have been so mistreated by us bigoted fundamentalists are good people and deserve God's grace. It's not about faith and trusting God. Grace, for Shore, is the answer. The short answer is that nobody deserves God's grace. We are all doomed for Hell, but...

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)

Powerful words, spoken by God, through his servant and apostle Paul, to God's Church. We were created for good works to be done through the faith that God has given us. Shore chooses not to see that, because it destroys his concept of the homosexual "Christian." No, fundamentalists aren't the problem, as Shore is trying to paint it. Human beings are the problem. Our sin is the problem. All of us are sinners. None of us are good. We are dying and going to Hell. You erase Hell, you erase sin, you elevate God's grace. Grace is not to be taken lightly. Grace cost God the ultimate sacrifice. His life. Shore has cheapened God's grace by denying Hell, by denying sin, and elevating humanity. Try to confront Shore and people like him on that, and you too will be a backwoods, KJV-Bible thumping fundamentalist, who can't string two sentences together and who relies only what his pastor says. Yeah, I didn't put two sentences together in this whole post, did I?

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

#lintastic, #linsanity, #tebowing and a warning against idolatry

English: Tim Tebow, a player on the Denver Bro...
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I've never been much of a professional sports fan. Growing up, I liked watching professional baseball, and going to games, but was never really a fan of football or basketball. In recent years, I've become more of a college football fan, at least of the Auburn Tigers. In the past 6 months, we've seen two different phenomenons which appear ocassionally in professional sports, that of the superstar who happens to be a Christian. We've seen this before with people like Kurt Warner. We've now seen it with Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin. Most people know who Tim Tebow is by now. He just finished his second season with the Denver Broncos, and after becoming the starting quarterback several games into the season, he came out swinging as if he was still playing for the Florida Gators. Jeremy Lin is a graduate of Harvard and until a few weeks ago, was sitting on the bench of the New York Knicks until injuries to teammates allowed him to play. He has thrown the sports world off-balance by his meteoric rise to fame.

Both Tebow and Lin are outspoken Christians as well. Tebow is also stout on what he believes when it comes to certain branches of Christianity. He pulled out of an event sponsored by prosperity preacher "pew-jumper" Rod Parsley. That was impressive. Lin is known to quote John Piper, and to share Bible verses on his Twitter account. Being as involved in social media as I am, with following blogs, and Twitter, I see a lot of Christians posting items about Tebow and Lin on a daily basis. With all that, I see a danger. The danger is of being idolatrous.

I've always thought sports has the danger of being idolatrous. Churches often use sports as a way to attract men, with sports-themed Bible studies, inviting a sports star to speak at a breakfast, etc. There is nothing wrong with these, but if that's the only way a church attempts to attract men, then there might be a danger. Tebow and Lin aren't the only professional sports stars out there who happen to be outspoken Christians. Albert Pujols led the St. Louis Cardinals to their World Series win last year. He also runs a charity dedicated to making life better for disabled people. He shares the Gospel with base runners as they pass first base where he plays.

Every day, I see Christians posting/sharing videos highlighting what these sports stars are doing, making up words such as #tebowing, which is  reference to how Tebow bows on one knee. People have been "tebowing" in public, in the store, in school, etc. I've heard Christians talk about "tebowing" and then laughing about it. It's almost a mockery of something that Tebow is doing in faith. And we are idolizing it and idolizing Tebow. Tim Tebow is just a sinner like you and me, saved by God's Grace. The same goes for Jeremy Lin. They have the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I fear that we are making a mockery of their faith by putting them on pedestals. They have God-given talents, but so do a lot of other professionals who don't have faith. Maybe their faith does help them play better, but let's not idolize it. I believe they want to be just like us, but they have talents that we don't have. There are other just as talented players who are also believers. We are putting them down by focusing on others.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
(Galatians 5:16-19; Galatians 5:20-26 ESV) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

(Galatians 5:16-19; Galatians 5:20-26 ESV)

Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

(1 Corinthians 10:7, 10:14 ESV)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

(Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
(1 Peter 4:3-6 ESV)

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