Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Blasphemy and Unregeneracy

Note: The following entry, written in ancient times (around last March), was lost in the electronic ephemera (aka the technology bit bucket) after the original manifestation of this blog was clobbered a few months ago due to the temporarily heterodox administrative actions of the author (I was tired and should have left well enough alone...) A recent archeological dig (a word search including subdirectories of the My Documents folder) uncovered this ancient relic, and it is now again available in updated form.


James Cameron’s spurious claims to have found the tomb and remains of Jesus Christ and his family that purportedly factualizes several aspects of the fictional DaVinci Code has drawn positive spin from NBC’s Today Show, CNN’s Larry King Live, and a number of other secular media sources. It has also rightly drawn strong criticism from within and without the Christian community where the many factual and logical flights of fancy surrounding this issue have been publicized. Even the Washington Post, normally no friend to evangelical Christianity, had a story on February 26, 2007 about the widespread factual and logical denunciations of Cameron’s claims by secular and Jewish archeological experts.

Within the Christian community, one question that will inevitably be asked is why are such transparent efforts to destroy the Gospel message being given such credence by supposedly intelligent people like those on the Today Show? Sadly, many answers from the church will come from secular philosophy and psychology, or be lukewarm “Ain’t it awful?” platitudes when the real problem is the sin and rebellion that characterizes unregenerate man and the increasing lack of restraint among those in the visable church as our society continues to lose any meaningful Christian influence.

Among many other scriptural passages that describe the total depravity of man, 1 Corinthians 1:18 well describes the current controversy, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Cameron, King, and the Today Show personalities who so gush over these foolish falsehoods are obviously unregenerate sinners who are perishing. To paraphrase a lesser-known 12-step program maxim, “How else do you expect an unregenerate person to act but unregenerately?”

Another manifestation of this societal unregeneracy is the frequent, open blasphemy against the Creator in the secular media and especially in television. I am sometimes awake late in the evening, and sometimes in the mood to watch juvenile attempts at humor and listen to banal musical arranging and performing, so I do as I did one evening earlier this year and tuned into Conan O’Brien’s 12:30 AM talk show on NBC for a few minutes.

O’Brien’s humor sometimes, let’s just say, veers away from Philippians 4:8 and sometimes when that happens he sings, “I’m going to go to hell when I die”, a few times smirking at the audience, inviting their applause and approval. During that morning’s monologue, O’Brien mentioned James Cameron’s claims and said sneeringly to the effect that, “That’s all we need; another Hollywood type who has found Jesus.” An article on another Christian web site intimates that this type of blasphemy is a common occurrence on O’Brien’s show and urges that people contact NBC to express their outrage.

More recently, comedianne Kathy Griffin's Emmy acceptance speech received similar attention when she demonstrated her professed atheism, not to mention abject boorishness, by blaspheming Christ and declaring her trophy statue to be her god. While not discounting the appropriateness of the outrage to these incidents, I refer the reader to the question back two paragraphs at the end, and especially to 1 Corinthians 1:18.

So, what is the appropriate Christian response to Cameron and O’Brien? At the very least, we need to believe what the Bible tells us about the world and about unregenerate man, and to devote our being to follow the orders we are given to proclaim and live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this lost and dying world such as are in the Great Commission, the rest of the red words, and the rest of Scripture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rudyard Kipling - The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936) wrote The Gods of the Copybook Headings in 1919. 88 years later, the wisdom contained therein is timeless, which is what one should expect from a poem that so adeptly uses biblical allusions to illustrate several timeless truths.
The Gods of the Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life

(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
. . . . . . . . .

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man---
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began---
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

D. James Kennedy Dies

Author, theologian, pastor, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries

© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

D. James Kennedy

D. James Kennedy, author, theologian, biblical scholar, pastor of the 10,000-member "Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church" in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and founder of the highly influential Coral Ridge Ministries, died early this morning in his sleep. Brian Fisher, Coral Ridge's executive vice president, said Kennedy died at about 3 a.m. Kennedy launched his weekly one-hour television show, "The Coral Ridge Hour," in 1978. It has been broadcast nationally every Sunday morning on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and syndicated on other networks. Available to 81 percent of the nation's television households, "The Coral Ridge Hour" has the greatest number of TV station affiliates of any religious program in the U.S.

Kennedy suffered a major heart attack in December, and just last week Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church announced his retirement, prompting a flood of accolades from leaders and ministries across the country.

"Dr. Kennedy is one of the nation's most respected Christian leaders," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. "His teachings on the positive influence of Christianity on Western Civilization and America have motivated modern-day Christians to impact our culture and country."

Alliance Defense Fund President and CEO Alan Sears called him "a man of great moral courage and vision." "Dr. Kennedy is one of my personal heroes," Sears said. "He is a man of unquestioned integrity, great moral courage and vision. As a co-founder of ADF, he has been a constant source of godly wisdom and service to me. His life and testimony have had an incredible impact upon so many people for the Kingdom of God, and he is an example to us all of a good and faithful servant." Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said Kennedy fulfilled his mission to help change the world. "I commend Dr. Kennedy, for his stalwart leadership in defending faith, family and freedom," Perkins said. "Most of all, I am grateful for his godly example, his integrity and his unwavering dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Along with his leadership at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and Coral Ridge Ministries, Kennedy founded Evangelism Explosion International, Knox Theological Seminary and Westminster Academy.

Evangelism Explosion is a lay-witnessing training program first developed in 1962 that has been used to spark growth in churches around the world.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

God Judges the Nation of Israel

God Judges the Nation of Israel

(Amos 5:1-2)

“Hear ye this word, which I lift upon you, even a lamentation of the house of Israel. The virgin Israel is fallen, and shall no more rise: she is left upon her land, and there is none to raise her up.”

I. Why did God judge Israel?

A. God’s truth-based justice was perverted by bribery and greed. “…they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for shoes.(Amos 2:6b) “They esteemed most vile bribes more than men’s lives.” (1599 Geneva Bible notes) “And they lie down upon clothes laid to pledge by every alter: and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their God.” (Amos 2:8) “Thinking by these ceremonies, that is, by sacrificing, and being near mine alter, they nay excuse all their other wickedness.” (1599 Geneva Bible notes) “For I know your manifold transgressions, and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take rewards…” (Amos 2:12)

B. God’s servants were corrupted and persecuted. “And I raised up your sons for Prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord? But ye gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the Prophets, saying, Prophesy not." (Amos 2:11-12) “Ye condemned my benefits, and abused my graces, and craftily went about to stop the mouths of my Prophets” (1599 Geneva Bible notes)

C. The poor were abused. “…they oppress the poor in the gate” (Amos 2:12c) “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the poor, that ye make the needy of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new month be gone, that we may sell corn? And the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, and make the Ephah small and the shekel great, and falsify the weights by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for shoes: yea, and sell the refuse of wheat.” (Amos 8:4-6)

D. Worship of God was superficial and empty. “I hate and abhor your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the multitude of thy songs (for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.) ” (Amos 5:21-23) “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and Truth.” (John 4:24)

E. Idolatry was common. “But you have born Sikkuth your king, and Chiun your images, and the star of your gods which you made to yourselves.” (Amos 5:26)

F. Sexual immorality was common. “…and a man and his father will go in to a maid, to dishonor mine holy Name.” (Amos 2:7b)

II. How did God judge Israel?

A. God first brought limited judgments to Israel. “And therefore have I given you cleanness of teeth…and scarceness of bread… And also I have withholden the rain from you…I have smitten you with blasting and mildewPestilence have I sent among you…your young men I have slain with the sword…[I] have taken away your horses…yet have ye returned not unto me…” (Amos 4:6-10)

B. God reminded Israel of his judgment of the heathen nations. “…For three transgressions of Damascus…Gaza…Tyre…Edom…Ammon…Moab…Therefore will I…” (Amos 1:3-2:2)

C. God’s final judgment of Israel was devastating. “For thus saith the Lord God, The city that went out by a thousand, shall leave an hundred…” (Amos 4:3) “Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus…” (Amos 5:27)

III. Did God show any mercy to Israel?

A. God provided Israel a way to escape judgment.Seek good and not evil, that ye may live: and the Lord God of hosts shall be with you, as you have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be merciful unto the remnant of Joseph. (Amos 5:14-15)

B. God preserved the elect remnant. “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it clean out of the earth. Nevertheless I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. For lo, I will command and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve…” (Amos 9:8-9a)