The “niceness” handicap

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this article is very much worth your attention:

I have long observed that an alarming swath of public evangelicals seems to be driven by a consuming desire to be liked by the world. ((note: link added to excerpt by me))

Now, that is my characterization, not theirs. To their minds, they are trying to be good representatives of Jesus. They are focusing on “kingdom” issues. They eschew evangelicalism’s past mistakes of tying itself to various moralistic fads such as outlawing alcohol or opposing nylons and lipstick. They want to be sure that unbelievers know that they love them, that the GOP is not the Kingdom of God. They want to be seen as scholarly, cautious, nuanced, careful, measured, and helpful. They shrink from the thought of being seen as dogmatic, triumphalistic, or narrow.

Are those bad motivations? As stated and as far as they go, most of them are not.

However, I’ve come to fear that they mask fatal flaws. For starters,  these sorts are willing to let their motivations be judged and dictated by the reactions of unbelievers…

I can’t say it any better.  Read the whole thing here.

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Is the Pope Catholic?

As I’ve written before, the Pontiff has made some very unorthodox (and unBiblical) statements.  Here’s the latest, as part of an interview:

– The fear of accepting migrants is partly based on a fear of Islam. In your view, is the fear that this religion sparks in Europe justified?

Pope Francis: Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.  (emphasis added)

With all due respect, there is simply no such comparison to be made, and any attempt at moral equivalence between the Gospel and Islam is simply a slanderous lie from the deepest pit of hell, no matter who is saying it.  Whereas the founder of Islam clearly taught the temporal spreading of that religion by the sword, Christ had a much different take toward the spreading of the Gospel:

  • Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”  (John 18:36)
  • …Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.  (Luke 22:48-51)

The Gospel of Christ and the message of Mohammed were spread by very different means, and as Christ said, “the tree is known by its fruit.”  In its first century, the Christian Gospel spread in no small part through the martyrdom of its adherents.  By contrast, in the first century after Mohammed’s death, Islam spread rapidly through the violent conquest and forced conversion of its neighbors — including martyring many Christians in North Africa, once a center of Christian intellectual life under great minds like Augustine.

Despite the abuses of the trappings of Christianity by the later Roman emperors and medieval Popes to sanction actions Christ would never have condoned, the essence of the Gospel remains the same: a personal decision to place one’s confidence of salvation in the sacrifice of Christ, and to commit one’s life to honoring that sacrifice through willing obedience and discipleship.  This is not something that can be externally coerced.  Islam, on the other hand, likes to confuse the issue by deceitfully reducing the Koranic concept of jihad to what many would consider a similar inward struggle for holiness.  Yet its history shows it is instead a violent force that compels at least outward obedience, on pain of social sanctions or death.  This is the Islam the Pope obliquely acknowledges as the inspiration of ISIS and al Qaeda.  Whereas the Reformation returned the Christian church to the core, essential doctrines of Christ, Grace, Faith, Scripture and the Glory of God, the modern movements to return Islam to its roots are clearly producing very different results.  Those who closely follow the example of Christ and those who closely follow the example of Mohammed will lead very different lives–and will impact those around them in very different ways.

I get that an atheist might want to simply lump all religions together as troublemaking mythology.  But that the head of the Catholic Church would indulge such lack of discernment is highly disturbing.  Not only is Pope Francis giving his parishioners ample reason to doubt the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility; his very elevation to head of that church shows a substantial portion of its leadership has been ensnared by many of the teachings of this world, from marxist liberation theory to moral equivalency and an overemphasis on ecumenicism.

Nobody–not the West, nor Muslims, nor the Christian brothers and sisters currently persecuted by Islamic fundamentalists–is edified by such careless comparisons.