The Enemy doesn’t get to define us

One thing about the Trump era: it’s caused a lot of people to confront the misplaced notion that Christians are supposed to be all about inoffensive sweetness and niceness, and only support politicians of that variety:

There are innumerable examples of people who are wonderful but unaccomplished just as there are many notable examples of people with serious personal failings who nonetheless have excelled in other parts of their lives: artists, scientists, parents, and even politicians.

And yes, I’m not so subtly making a point about President Trump. His private failings have been made very public prompting some Christian pundits to say that not only do those failings disqualify Trump from office, but they are so egregious as to make supporting him sinful for Christians.

It should be obvious that support for a political candidate does not mean a blanket endorsement of every aspect that candidate’s life. It is merely an endorsement of that person’s policies and an assessment of his ability to perform in office. What’s more, it’s often not even a blanket endorsement of that, it’s a practical decision that Candidate A, while imperfect, is preferable to Candidate B…

The question is, by what standard should a Christian judge a candidate or an officeholder? Part of the answer is that the Christian and non-Christian ought to judge in the same way: what can the candidate do to protect the peace and prosperity of the nation and its citizens? Christians would add that they require political leaders that will protect the right of the Church to worship freely and its members to practice their faith in peace.

If personal sin were disqualifying, who could lead? Christians in particular, for whom recognition of indwelling sin is both a predicate and a sustainer of faith, should know this. I suspect what the Frenches really want is a prophet, a priest, and a king to rule in this secular age, a political leader in which they can invest their highest hopes. But in doing so, they are placing upon liberal politics a weight it cannot hope to carry and are headed for disappointment.  The good news is, if they want a prophet, a priest, and a king, they already have one . . . in Christ.

As a presidential candidate in 2012, [Mitt Romney] was weak and ineffectual, letting Barack Obama walk all over him and run away with the race. But vote for him because he’s polite and he doesn’t curse!  Voters, many of them Christians, decided that the time for beautiful losers is over.

Exactly.  As I watch my country overrun by uninvited invaders, beset by hostile ideologies growing within and enemies gathering without, I am really not concerned with parlor games and political pleasantries anymore.  It’s no exaggeration to say our birthright freedoms are in a fight for their very survival.  In such a situation I’ll take a committed patriot with the manners of Genghis Khan over a manicured globalist who’s a disciple of Ann Landers; a Patton, not a Pope.

And as for Christianity requiring a milquetoast demeanor… our adversaries would have us forget that Our Lord’s example includes such pleasantries as flipping tables, driving people with whips, calling deceivers ‘vipers‘ and children of Satan, and calling down woe on feckless leaders more interested in themselves than in those they were called to lead.  Christ isn’t just the Lamb… He’s also the Lion of Judah.  “Not a tame lion,” either, as C.S. Lewis once pointed out.

So despite his many past moral failings, maybe… just maybe… Trump’s on to something here.  I’ll certainly never confuse him with Christ.  But Twitter aside, regarding the manner in which he is governing I’ll say he is more Christ-like than many of the false-faced Wormtongues who surround him in Mordor.  It’s amusing: the Left always screeches that Christian faith should never influence public policy.  But faced with Trump, who has committed the unpardonable sin of actually trying to govern as he campaigned, the Left — which recognizes no restraints of civility on its own quest for power — is more than willing to use a watered-down, denatured vision of the Christian walk to try to shame people out of supporting him.

I mean it literally when I say “to hell with that.”

The Name they will not say

Can you spot the difference?

57503453_10219595711068436_9062596425824600064_n

I don’t know anyone who worships Easter.  Do you?  Apparently a lot of Democrats do:

Former President Barack Obama, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and several other leading Democrats denounced terror attacks on what they called “Easter worshippers” — not Christians — Sunday in Sri Lanka.

Suicide bombers murdered nearly 300 people and wounded 500 more in attacks on three churches, three hotels, and a housing complex. Many were killed as they attended Mass for Easter Sunday. The government reportedly suspects that the bombers, all Sri Lankans, were members of “a domestic Islamist terror group named National Thowfeek Jamaath.”

Yet Obama, Clinton, and other Democrats — including 2020 presidential contender Julián Castro — could not bring themselves to identify the victims of the attacks as “Christians,” calling them “Easter worshippers” instead in eerily similar responses.

Of course they’re similar.  Satan is called “the Father of Lies,” so it stands to reason he’s pretty good at message discipline in his deception.  In his playbook, Christians can only be mentioned if they’re tarred with nefarious accusations, deserved or not.  Can’t have people sympathizing with them — that’s reserved for minorities and the “Religion of Pieces.”

At the same time, anyone who recognizes the prevalence of jihad and Christian persecution is just some angry right-wing extremist:

Screen-Shot-2019-04-22-at-16.18.03-517x600

As Glenn Reynolds points out:

They don’t want you to be angry, even though they know you have things to be angry about. They want you to be ashamed, all the time, for disagreeing with them about, well, anything. Meanwhile they want to keep their own base angry and inflamed 24/7. News spin revolves around this to a huge degree.

I refuse to be ashamed for disagreeing with people who can’t seem to figure out there are only two genders.  As for anger… Christians are never told in scripture not to be angry — only to be careful that in our anger, we do not sin.  Given how much we’ve had to become angry about since 9/11, that’s increasingly difficult.  At least for me.  I take some solace in this, though:  if this prayer was good enough for David, it’s good enough for me:

The righteous will be glad when they see sinners punished;
they will wade through the blood of the wicked.
People will say, “The righteous are indeed rewarded;
there is indeed a God who judges the world.”

Those who refuse to say Christ’s name today will one day bow at the sound of it.  May that day come soon, both here and abroad.  My waders are ready and waiting.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.  They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Revelation 6:9-11

The empty tomb, not the cross

…is the most significant symbol of the Christian faith.  The cross is where Christ took our place, judged and condemned for our sins.  The pivotal moment, that.  But the empty tomb proved he wasn’t just a madman on a fool’s errand with delusions of grandeur.  Christ claimed to be the Son of God, equal to the Father.  Thus, as C.S. Lewis famously wrote, there are only three ways to respond to Him: call Him a liar, call Him a lunatic, or call Him Lord.  Eternity hinges on which one you choose.

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:14-22

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Utopia doesn’t exist

Israel Wayne takes staccato shots at some of the top utopian myths:

Here are the Top Ten Utopian Myths, in no particular order:

Myth 1. Life would be better if everyone had the same income and/or resources.
Truth: A totally classless society is impossible. All attempts at socialism (forced redistribution of wealth) have resulted eventually in overall collective poverty (and an insanely wealthy oligarchy who steals from the public).

Myth 2. If we could only communicate better, then we would understand each other, and we would all get along.
Truth: If we truly understood what everyone else really believed, we might like each other less!

Myth 3. We can legislate our way to a perfect and peaceful society.
Truth: All law is an imposition of an external standard on someone who doesn’t want to embrace it. The problem is not a lack of legislation, it is that many people desire to do things that are harmful to others, and they always will. In case we haven’t noticed, criminals do not obey the law…  (emphasis added)

Read the rest here.

Our utopian dreams are a reflection of our deep understanding we were meant for a better place than this fallen world.  We have the power to change our own individual behavior.  We don’t have the power, individually or collectively, to create a perfect society.  That hasn’t kept humanity from trying, often at great cost.  We need to live as much like Christ as possible in this life, and rely on His promise of a future where there is no more “mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore.”  Ironically, such “living forwardly” provides the best possible solution to our present circumstances, to the extent we embrace it:

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”                   — C.S. Lewis

A More Merciful God?

I’ve just finished reading a book that really provoked me into a closer examination of Scripture and my understanding of it.  It’s humbling to realize that even as I close in on five decades on this earth, there are things I’ve never considered and discussions of which I’ve been ignorant all this time.

The book coveris “A More Merciful God: Truth is Older Than Tradition.”  It’s a powerful critique of the common traditional view that those who fail to put their faith in Christ will suffer an eternity of conscious pain and torment.  Prior to reading it, I was only aware of two schools of thought about the destiny of the lost: the aforementioned traditional view, and universalism, which posits that even the lost eventually are relieved of their suffering and restored after a period of punishment.  The latter view being patently unfounded in Scripture, I’ve held to the traditional view, as horrifying as it is when you really stop and consider it.  In “Amazing Grace” we sing of how after 10,000 years of praising God we’ll have “no less days… than when we first begun.”  This is rightfully an encouragement to the believer, an anticipation of our future with our Creator.  Left between the lines of that great hymn, though, is the thought those same 10,000 years leave “no less days” of agony and torment for the lost in eternity.

What if tradition is not only wrong, but slandering the character of God in the process, making it more difficult for people to come to faith in Him?

There is another viewpoint of which I’ve been unaware till now: conditional immortality. … Continue reading

A view from the ground

Given that a large portion of the ‘migrant caravan’ crashing against our southern border is from Honduras, it might be useful to hear from someone familiar with conditions in that country:

I am not involved in politics but would like to present to you a new perspective in regards to the current immigration crisis based on our daily life and experiences on the northern coast of Honduras. I speak fluent Spanish and live alongside Hondurans every day in the workplace, in the local community and in the most intimate corners of my own home. Although I will never be able to change the color of my skin or re-write my cultural history, I do know and love the Honduran people and have lived in this culture my entire adult life…

Some are indeed refugees seeking legitimate asylum. But others are simply fleeing generally difficult (but not dire) conditions, or have simply chosen what seems to be the easier route of escape. It is not impossible to forge a humble living in Honduras (over 9 million Hondurans survive in this culture every day), although it is true that much corruption, lack of opportunities and violence abound…

We who are on the frontlines in Honduras have offered high-quality free education and character formation in the Living Waters Ranch school we operate out of our rural homestead to over 100 at-risk Honduran youth in the past five years. More than half have walked out because they admittedly had no interest in studying or preparing for the future. This type of apathetic attitude is common among youth in our area…

Honduras is in desperate need of reform and an effective judicial system as it is overwhelmingly true that injustice and violence reign. But that does not mean that the solution is for Hondurans to flee the country illegally…

If the United States accepts the several thousand immigrants in the caravan, there are still over 9 million Hondurans living in what those who have fled claim to be unbearable circumstances on Honduran soil. What good can be brought about by extending help to a very small percentage who present themselves as refugees unless wide-scale change will be brought about by and for the masses who have stayed behind?

The natural bent of human beings is to travel the path of least resistance.  That’s why upholding standards is important — to incentivize desired outcomes and deter undesirable ones.  Right now our squishy enforcement of immigration law means that for many, trying to jump the fence in Tijuana is far easier than organizing to try to improve conditions at home.  A major problem is that this wave of invaders is bringing with it the very cultural patterns that facilitate those conditions in the country they left, such as a lack of planning for the future, a disregard for law and order and a willingness to step on others to achieve what one has not earned on their own.

None of that is to say that individual Hondurans are somehow subhuman or unworthy of a better life.  (For the record, my wife and I sponsored three children in Honduras for about a dozen years through Compassion International).  The problem here is collective culture.  The roots of Latin American culture are inarguably different from those that resulted in the formation of the United States.  Indeed, the cultural path from which the United States descended is different from just about every other part of the world, save certain portions of Europe (which, tragically, are even farther along in the process of abandoning it).  We are justified in saying to those sneaking in for the benefits that, in the words of a former President, “you didn’t build that.”  They don’t sustain it, either.

Politics, it is said, is downstream from culture.  That’s why the emphasis on multiculturalism in the U.S. over the past half century has been so destructive: it is eroding the foundation upon which our social norms and system of governance rest.  We have been inundated with new arrivals who do not understand why our nation has been so successful, and have little to no desire to learn.  They just want the U.S. to subsidize a lifestyle their own cultures couldn’t produce.  Trouble is, as more such people arrive, it is transforming our own culture in such a way we may not be so successful for much longer.

Being a compassionate nation is praiseworthy.  But there is no compassion in taking away the birthright of one to hand it to another.  Those who profess sympathy for the plight of Hondurans have other options available to them.  The author of the linked piece is far from being the only American to forego the comforts of home to invest their life with another people.  Missionaries have done so for decades — centuries, even.  The difference is that in the past a consciously Christian West was sending them out and sustaining them to bring to others the light of Christ, from Whom all other lasting blessings flow.

Now, however, the “bleeding hearts” follow their own path of least resistance: “it’s easier to help by just letting in anyone who wants to come.”  That attitude is indicative of the same short-sightedness and willingness to step on the rights of others that hobbles many other countries around the world.  It is treating the symptoms, not the problems.  For many, it’s also a cynical move to “elect a new people” more amenable to their political agenda.

Everyone has the right to take personal action to help another.  No one has the right to subsume an entire country in aliens just to feed their self-esteem or lust for power.