Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose, Part 2

Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose, Part 2

In my last post I vented about the badness of this piece by a young pastor, Justin N. Poythress: “How Evangelicals Lose Will Make All the Difference.” There was too much badness for just one post, so I continue here. His last section is titled, “Better Way,” so let’s see exactly what this way entails. He starts with a doozy:

Jesus tells his followers to take up their crosses, not their crowns (Matt. 16:24–26).

Indeed he does, but what has that to do with crowns, you ask? The young Pastor Poythress creates a false choice. If Jesus calls his followers to suffer in some way, then crowns, or winning, is somehow at odds with the suffering we are called to in Christ. But as I said in the previous post, suffering can take many different forms for the Christian. In fact, we suffer in a myriad of ways every day, psychologically, emotionally, at times physically. This is what I call the pain of sanctification. Sadly there are some Christians called to physical suffering for proclaiming their faith, as is the case in many places around the world today. That doesn’t mean, however, that such suffering is inevitable or the only calling of the Christian. Far from it. Here is the perspective of our Lord and Savior who sits at the right hand of the Father when he gave his followers what we call the Great Commission:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Notice what comes before “Therefore.” We only go and make disciples of “all nations” because Jesus has been given “all authority in heaven and on earth.” What’s the point of Jesus saying he’s been given this authority if he’s sending out his disciples to lose? Did he intend when he said this that his disciples, those trained and instructed as his followers, could not win?  And as I often proclaim, Jesus didn’t say to make disciples of all people, of all individuals, but all nations, in the Greek ethnos-ἔθνος. Does the Christian influence coming from “teaching them to obey everything” he commanded them not apply to politics and issues of culture? To issues of the so called “culture war”? This was a war, by the way, we did not start. Do these questions not answer themselves? Is it not obvious? (Read Psalm 2 and Eph. 1:15-23 in case you’re not sure.)

Then following his crosses, not crowns declaration he states:

Though our faith may be increasingly marginalized and devalued in the West, losing cultural battles with grace, dignity, and love can persuasively display Christ’s cruciform beauty. Conversely, there’s nothing persuasive about chasing the perks of power.

What exactly is “cruciform beauty”? The word simply means in the shape of a cross. The problem with this statement is that it’s absurd. I know what he means, the Isaiah 53 sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, for our sin and reconciliation to our Creator. That is indeed beautiful. However, there is nothing beautiful about a cross. It was the most ugly, horrific, means of torture and death ever devised by sinful man. The cross is only part of the story. The other parts are Jesus’ life lived in perfect obedience to God making him able to grant us his very own righteousness (Rom. 3), his resurrection, victory over death itself, and most importantly, his ascension to be seated at the right hand of the Lord God Almighty. He earned the right to sit there and reign over all of creation, visible and invisible, to advance his kingdom on earth, to reverse the fall if you will, and build his church, conquering all his enemies until the final one is defeated, death (I Cor. 15:25).

Notice also there is supposedly something dirty about “power,” and the “perks” it conveys. It reminds me of certain legalistic Christians who think sex is “dirty.” Power like sex is a natural part of life, and everything depends on what we do with it. He seems to think if we’re seeking “power” we’re doing something inherently wrong, as he says:

Suffering because you’re harmful or obnoxious isn’t Christian faithfulness. Worse, desperately clutching for the instruments of power or elbowing to get a seat at the table sacrifices Christ’s cause to chaos.

Who exactly are these “harmful or obnoxious” people? Jerks on the Internet? And clearly this power he’s obsessed with is a dirty business and in no way has anything to do with Christ’s cause. I would say this is naïve, but it’s worse than that. He completely lacks wisdom about the nature of reality and sinful man, and life lived in societies full of fallen people.

Aristotle in his Politics said that man is a political animal because we live in communities and seek certain ends of our own good, and this can’t happen without power; the process of deciding what is allowed or not, and the means to enforce it. Simply, politics is the distribution of power, and Christians throughout all of history were intimately involved in it and didn’t think of it as beneath them.

Poythress gets to the heart of what makes his understanding so problematic.

This doesn’t mean Christian political savvy is thrown aside while we lie down and float away with the cultural tide. It does mean American evangelicals have a golden opportunity, even in years when it seems the sun is setting on our influence, to prove our hope is vested beyond the material and visible. We can chart for the next generation a trail of faithfulness that avoids bitter and reclusive cultural withdrawal on the one hand and vengeful scorched-earth behavior on the other.

This is typical of third wayism as if our choices are extreme withdrawal or behavior, or some middle way. To Poythress here is the “Better Way”:

As faithful evangelicals, we advocate for God’s ways and encourage our neighbors to follow them while leaving the results to God.

He assumes fighting for Christianity and truth in the public square means we’re not leaving the results to God. This is the typically condescending perspective of Christians who think they’re above it all. He seems to forget God uses people to accomplish things in this world even though ultimate results are always up to Him.

This mentality is an example of a typical artificial duality in overly spiritualized Christians. Joe Boot explains the problem in his little pamphlet For Mission:

[This] is an implicit and destructive duality that slices up reality into matter and spirit, nature and grace, secular and sacred, naturel and supernatural, time and eternity, higher and lower, with one area perceived as lesser or evil and the other as higher or good. This tendency has resulted in a radical separation of creation and redemption (where redemption is essentially for the higher story of existence), spiritual life and historical-cultural development and mutually reinforcing pattern of subservience to non-Christian culture/nature/secular on the one hand, and the abandonment of Christian culture-building (grace/sacred) on the other.

Boot calls this Churchianity, or those Christians who are “at best disinterested in Christ’s manifest Lordship over any other sphere of life or institution, and at worse are hostile to it.” Francis Schaeffer was warning Christians about this faulty understanding of Christianity back in the 1960s and 70s before the West had become completely secularized. He spoke out against such a dangerous duality that would completely impoverish Christianity’s influence in culture. Too many Christians ignored his warnings  and secularism, along with all its horrors, has won the day. It doesn’t have to be this way.



Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose

Gospel Losers: Teaching Christians How to Lose

When I read the title of this peace I knew reading it would not be good for my blood pressure: “How Evangelicals Lose Will Make All the Difference.” And it was worse than I thought. That it was on the Gospel Coalition website surprised me not at all. There are so many logical fallacies and theological misunderstandings in it that it’s almost impressive. Let me take them one by one and see how far I get. The sheer badness of it may require more than one post.

Before I get there, that something like this can be written and believed by a large contingent of Evangelical Christians is depressing. I’m convinced part of the reason people think this way, and think it’s the biblical way to think, is because of faulty eschatology, but that’s not all of it. There are many dispensational premillennialist Pentecostal Christians I have more in common with in this regard than my Reformed brethren, and to say the least I do not agree with their eschatology. Most Christians believe losing “down here” is baked into the gospel cake. They are convinced suffering and loss of cultural influence are the only and inevitable hallmarks of the Christian life. They are not! Taking up our cross and following Jesus doesn’t mean Christians are called to being thrown to the lions or burned at the stake. We know that suffering and dying to ourselves takes many forms, and none of it is pleasant. Let’s see what our young pastor, Justin N. Poythress, thinks.

He is addressing something called “The Seven Mountain Mandate.” Some Christians believe a passage in Revelation is a call “to retake seven spheres (or mountains) of cultural influence: religion, family, government, education, media, arts/entertainment, and business.” Well, yeah, the Christian worldview addresses everything in life, including these broad areas, and more. Jesus in the Great Commission said his followers were to disciple nations. That has implications for all these things, and more. I’ll start with this: 

The perspective is ultimately built on a dual misunderstanding of Scripture and of Christ’s purposes in the world. 

Those are some pretty big things to misunderstand! Here is what he believes the Seven Mountain Mandate misses in the passage in Revelation:

The passage was intended as a picture of the spiritual battle waged through all history until Christ returns. It was intended to give Christians hope amid their suffering and cultural loss.

Well yes, it was. The Christians to whom the Apostle John was writing were often being perThe passage was intended as a picture of the spiritual battle waged through all history until Christ returns. It was intended to give Christians hope amid their suffering and cultural loss. secuted violently, some giving their lives for the gospel. But are all Christians in all geopolitical and cultural situations throughout history facing the same kind of persecutions? Is Poythress saying that’s just the inevitable lot for Christians and there is nothing we can do about it but learn to “lose gracefully”? And notice he does something typical of such thinking, he spiritualizes it. Christianity supposedly applies primarily to “spiritual” things, not the mundane issues of life lived in culture.

He then commits a colossal non sequitur (the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise), among many in this short piece. However one interprets the passage in Revelation he asserts:

the conquering warrior is always the crucified Christ, not a sword-swinging church. 

It does not follow that just because the crucified Christ is indeed the conquering warrior, that the church can’t be swinging swords. We’re just supposed to sit back and take it? I guess, be nice and loving and not fight for truth or justice or righteousness or the honor of God? What does this even mean? He says after this:

Even if you’ve never heard of the 7M mandate (and its strange reading of Revelation), it can still be tempting to think Christ’s kingdom grows by “winning” cultural power and influence. If this is where we place our hope, it’ll be hard to stomach the losses.

This is a perfect example of his sloppy thinking. To his mind “winning” cultural power and influence is antithetical to Christ’s kingdom. Somehow Christians living out Kingdom values found throughout the gospels are not supposed to have “cultural power and influence.” Really? How was it that the Roman Empire eventually fell to the “cultural power and influence” of Christianity? Was that a mistake? Unbiblical? Something God never intended when he came to earth in the person of Christ? Why then did Jesus teach us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? Maybe because God wanted us to bring the influence of heaven into the cultures in which we live? Just maybe? In fact, the very nature of God’s kingdom, the kingdom of heaven is to bring it “down” to earth, and when it grows it will always gain “cultural power and influence.” How can it not! You wonder how he and those who think like him interpret the parables of the mustard seed and leaven in Matthew 13. It sure seems that Jesus is saying that the influence of the kingdom of heaven grows inevitably and inexorably, and it cannot help but have influence in cultures.

The next sentence is even worse. Because we desire the gospel to influence the culture and have “cultural power” therefore we’re placing our hope in that and not Christ? Really? We can’t want Christ to be glorified and obeyed in the societies in which we live? That’s not Christian? Frankly, that’s insulting. Then he asserts we need to be concerned with how we are seen by the culture:

Evangelicals increasingly run the risk of being seen as sore losers in the culture war. Our inability to let go, to relinquish positions of public prominence and power, reveals a misplaced faith. Too often, we’ve entangled Jesus’s name with a political agenda, as mainline Christians did when they made the church into little more than a social club for liberal activism.

Oh my. I could do an entire post just about this! So it follows that if we want “cultural power and influence” and we have a tough time of it we’ll be sore losers? We’re supposed to glory in our losing? Really? He must think we aren’t aware that we live in a fallen world among fallen people in a fallen body. Losing and overcoming, and losing again, and overcoming, and losing again, and overcoming is called life! Personally or culturally. 

I wonder if the Apostles and the first generation of disciples cared about how they were “seen” by the Jews and Pagans of Rome. And the gospel calls us to “relinquish positions of public prominence and power”? Really? What kind of doormat theology is this! And he has the gall to compare those Christians, like me, who think our Christianity compels us to a certain political agenda to the liberal Christians of the early 20th century? Really? As you can tell, the old Italian blood gets boiling when I read such calumnies. For you youngsters, that word means insults. And everything about that paragraphs reeks of self-righteousness. He and his ilk think they are above such mundane matters as “the culture war.” I guess as I said above, fighting for truth or justice or righteousness or the honor of God is “misplaced faith.”

I’ve written here about Tim Keller’s unfortunate creating of a moral equivalence between left and right. I’ve heard this called “third wayism,” as if there is some middle way, a more gospel way, between the radical left and the radical right, as Keller said. In our day, there is no “radical right.” And everyone on the left, including most Democrat politicians, and the entire legacy media, are Marxists, thus by definition “radical.” The “culture wars” were started by the left against the right (conservatives) in the 1960s, and we decided to fight back. Now Christians like the young pastor Poythress want us to roll over and play dead because fighting back is “misplaced faith”? Apparently. 

There is much more fodder in the rest of the piece, so I’ll have to do that in another post.


The Theme Song of Our Lives by Jethro Tull: Nothing is Easy!

The Theme Song of Our Lives by Jethro Tull: Nothing is Easy!

To my family the title of this post is nothing new. I’ve quoted the title of the song so many times by this point all I get is eye rolls. I used to call it the Disney eye roll when my kids were younger, but I would think Woke-Disney no longer has characters do eye rolls; that’s so 90s. It’s amazing to me that we as Christians allow the hardness of life to mess with our faith, and by “faith” I mean the Greek word for it, pistis-πίστις, or trust. God through Isaiah (26:3) says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” How often do you have “perfect peace”? Yeah, me neither. It’s also amazing to me how often we allow circumstances, or more accurately our perception of them, to determine whether we have “perfect peace” or not. Of course, this should surprise none of us because we are all of Adam’s seed, fallen creatures through and through. And it’s hard! Ian Anderson says so. Chances are he didn’t know the reason why is found in Genesis 3, when Eve believed the serpent that if she just ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she could “be like God knowing good and evil.” Uh, no you won’t.

The message of the song, Ian Anderson being the good stiff-upper-lip Brit, is in the title of another popular song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” And why should we not worry according to Anderson? Just “smile in a while” and you’ll get happy his way. The reason this can only work to a limited degree and not ultimately is related to one of my favorite words and concepts: telos, a Greek word from which we get our word teleology, which is the study of purposiveness or of objects regarding their aims, purposes, or intentions. I’m going to get a bit philosophical, so bear with me. I trust the payoff will be worth it.

To Aristotle there were four causes for why things come to be.

1. First is the formal cause, or the idea of the thing in the mind before it comes to fruition. Someone can’t build a chair until they have the idea of the chair in their mind.
2. Second is the material cause, or the thing out of which the chair will be made, the wood.
3. Then there is the efficient cause, or the person making the chair.
4. Finally is the formal cause, or the telos, the purpose for which the chair is made, to sit on.

Today we only think of the efficient cause as the reason something comes to exist, but for Aristotle it was a far richer concept. In Aristotle’s concept of cause, we find the answer to dealing with life being hard, and it isn’t just making a decision to not worry, smile, and be happy. It’s hard to ignore getting hit in the face with a brick—deciding it doesn’t really hurt isn’t going to help. Sometimes when it gets really hard life can feel like a pile of bricks falling on your head, or it can be just run of the mill hard like those pesky mosquitos that won’t leave you alone. We find the ultimate answer in the first question and answer in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the formal cause of human existence:

What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

And not only the formal cause, but the three others as well. We existed in the mind of God before the world was created; He is the formal cause of our existence. He made earth so out of that He might create man; as David says, we are fearfully and wonderfully made; the material cause is the earth on which we live. The efficient cause is God making us through the vicissitudes of life, the hardness of it, the person He wants us to become. The formal cause, the telos of our existence is given in the pithy answer by the Westminster divines: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. The question is, do we really believe this, do we fully buy into it. Do we accept what Paul says, that in God “we live and move and have our being.” Do we really believe there are no accidents, that when it comes to our lives chance doesn’t exist? That God is truly in control of all things?

The ultimate cause is of course Jesus Christ. In him it doesn’t matter how hard the hard gets, we’re promised the ultimate telos (Rom. 8:28):

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

And notice: we can know this, not wonder or speculate, but have certainty that every single thing that happens in our live works for our good and God’s glory. Every. Single. Thing. Not most things, or ninety-five percent of things, but all things. And what is this purpose Paul speaks of? He continues:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

God is the all-powerful, all knowing, all knowledgeable, all creative, all wise, all loving, all good efficient cause transforming us into the image of His Son. Talk about living a life of meaning, purpose, and hope! Talk about waking up every day excited to see what God has planned for us for the day. And as Christians we are the ultimate realists. Paul implies that all things are not good, but God works them all together for our good, even the hard stuff, especially the hard stuff. We have the encrusted barnacles of sin that are attached to our fallen natures, and it hurts to have God scrape them off. And sometimes we sing with Anderson, “Nothing is easy!” But in expecting and accepting that the hardness is necessary for the telos of our existence makes the hard things so much easier.

The other option in our secular culture is to believe we’re cosmic accidents, products of chance with no inherent telos other than what we can conjure up in our own imagination and hope to nothing that it works. Darwin gave us the gift of meaninglessness, and as we witness all around us, it is the gift that keeps on giving. We live in the most prosperous and powerful society in the history of the world, but last year almost 50,000 people killed themselves. How many more tried? How many others just live lives of quiet desperation and loneliness going from experience to experience hoping to find “happiness” and fulfillment, thinking the God shaped vacuum at the center of their being can somehow be filled by something other than God. It can’t.

Meaning is ultimately impossible to conjure up living in between poles of meaninglessness. In the secular view of reality, we come from nothing and we are headed to nothing; oblivion is our destiny. When life gets hard it has no other purpose or meaning than it’s just hard, and nobody likes that! No wonder so many people are so miserable. For Christians, though, Paul prefaces the above verses with this blessed truth that gives all things meaning for us:

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

If we really, truly believe this, and trust in God, we can sometimes have a semblance of peace and even if it’s not perfect, it glorifies God and is good for us. But nobody said it would be easy!


Uninvented: John the Baptist Beheaded—You Don’t Make That Up!

Uninvented: John the Baptist Beheaded—You Don’t Make That Up!

We read of John’s beheading in Matthew 14:1–12 and Mark 6:14–29. Matthew’s account is more concise, while Mark gives us much more detail, as his consistent with Mark. He covers fewer events in Jesus’ life, but gives more details of those he does address. Christians believe what we read in our Bibles are actual historical events that happened in space and time, not mythical or fictional stories. What Christians often don’t know, however, is how extra biblical literature confirms that. John the Baptist is a good example. We learn a lot about his life and ministry from first century Jewish historian, Josephus. One thing neither Matthew nor Mark tell us is the name of Herodias’ daughter who asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter, and got it! Many Christians know the name, though, Solome. We only know that because of Josephus.

Apart from Josephus, John’s life and death also give us evidence of the historicity of the gospels from an Uninvented perspective. He could never have been invented because of first century Jewish Messianic expectations, something biblical critics (i.e., those in the scholarly profession of biblical criticism) ignored for two hundred years. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Jewish nature of Jesus’ world became a topic of scholarly study. This is critically important because a Jewish Jesus would in my opinion have been impossible to make up, and the life and death of John is a good example why. No Jew at the time expected the 400-year-long awaited Messiah to be like Jesus, not his personality, or teaching, or miracles, or his life, and most certainly not his death. This is all part of the reason the Jesus we read about in the gospels confused everyone. As I call him in the book, the conundrum that was Jesus.

Right out of the gate, John gets Jesus right and wrong. In Matthew 3, prior to meeting and baptizing Jesus, John preaches these fiery words:

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

In John’s first century Jewish mind the messiah was coming to pronounce judgment on Israel’s enemies    and basically wipe them out. The Jewish people had been under various oppressors’ thumbs for almost 800 years by the time of Christ, first the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then various other kingdoms, and finally the Romans at the time John and Jesus came on the scene. The Messiah they expected would be a king, a military conqueror in the mold of the great King David. John is proclaiming judgment against Israel’s enemies because that’s what the Lord’s Anointed (Messiah in Hebrew or Christ in Greek) was coming to do. All the kings of Israel were anointed, and thus the Lord’s Messiah, which is why all first century Jews were expecting a king, not a suffering servant a la Isaiah 53. I use the word “all” intentionally. Not a single Jew in the first century connected Isaiah 53 with the coming Messiah.

There was nothing in Jewish literature of the intertestamental period (between OT and NT) that would lead anyone to think a Messiah like Jesus was coming. Jewish historian Geza Vermes says in his book, Jesus the Jew, that “neither the suffering of a Messiah, nor his death and resurrection, appear to have been part of the faith of first century Judaism.” Nineteenth century Jewish Christian Alfred Edersheim in his book, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, concurs: “There is one truth which, we are reluctantly obliged to admit, scarcely any parallel in the teaching of Rabbinism: it was that of a suffering Messiah.” In the 400 years from Malachi to John a connection of the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 to a crucified Messiah never emerged. J. Gresham Machen writes, “[T]here is not the slightest evidence that the pre-Christian Jews interpreted Isaiah 53 of the vicarious sufferings of the Messiah, or had any notion of the Messiah’s vicarious death.”

Which brings us to John’s gospel to see how the Baptist got Jesus wrong and more right than he knew. In the previous passage in Matthew, John was right that Jesus was coming in judgment, just not a judgment he could have ever imagined. How Jesus would defeat sin and death, and begin to conquer all the suffering in this fallen world was inconceivable to first century Jews. Yet this passage in John 1 very much seems to relate to what we read in Isaiah’s message about the suffering servant: 

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

I’ve heard this passage interpreted as related to Isaiah 53 several times over the years, recently in a sermon. The problem with that interpretation is that it’s wrong. If you read commentaries on this verse, most of them will take what I call the facile interpretation, that John is declaring Jesus as a sacrificial lamb a la Isaiah 53:7. The first time this occurred to me was in 2017 hearing the pastor at our church make this connection. Having been immersed in apologetics by this time for eight years I thought to myself, “There is no way John could have known that Jesus as the Messiah would die for our sins.” I had learned about Jewish Messianic expectations, and how unexpected Jesus was. Even after Jesus rose from the dead some of his disciples refused to believe he could be the Messiah. It is only in theological hindsight because of Jesus telling us the entire Old Testament is about him, that we know Jesus was indeed the lamb of Isaiah 53.

John, however, had the same expectations as every other Jew in the first century because when he was in prison he told his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one to come, or should they expect someone else (Luke 7). The last thing he expected was to be in prison facing death as he proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of heaven and the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. Jesus confused him just as he confused everyone else. So his reference to Jesus as the Lamb of God needs to be explained. My first thought when I was listening to that initial sermon was that maybe John put those words in The Baptist’s mouth, but my conviction that Scripture is the inspired word of God made that a non-starter. There had to be some other explanation. It wasn’t long after that I came upon a talk by D.A. Carson explaining what John possibly thought as he was saying those words.

Carson addresses this in his commentary, The Gospel According to John. Carson spends two and a half pages discussing this, but this passages explains it best:

Whether we assume the category lay readily at hand for the Baptist to use, or that he was one of the first to think it up, the impression gleaned from the Synoptics is that he thought of the Messiah as one who would come in terrible judgment and clean up the sin in Israel. In this light, what John the Baptist meant by ‘who takes away the sin of the world’ may have had more to do judgment than with expiatory sacrifice. p. 150.

He adds John probably had in mind the apocalyptic lamb, the warrior lamb, found in some Jewish texts, and which John used in Revelation (the word lamb is used by John 31 times).

Since the Baptist couldn’t have had the Isaiah 53 lamb in mind, he likely meant the warrior lamb, and John writing in risen-Jesus hindsight knew, and knew his readers would know, who Jesus as the Lamb of God was. John also later in the gospel (chapter 11) reports Caiaphas saying to the Sanhedrin, “that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” In both cases the men spoke better than they knew.


Greek Gum and my Ongoing Health Epiphany

Greek Gum and my Ongoing Health Epiphany

As I often tell people, when Donald Trump came down the escalator to announce his run for president at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, something profound happened. For me, like many people, it was the beginning of an unknown red-pill experience none of us asked for. I had no idea at the time because I thought it was a joke. Trump president? Don’t make me laugh. To say the least I wasn’t a fan. I explore some of the consequences of that experience in the book I’m finishing, but one of the significant ongoing of those consequences for millions of Americans is health. It started with the Covid catastrophe, which would have never happened if there was no Trump. It caused millions of Americans to question modern medicine, and the medical-Big Pharma industrial complex. Even for those who haven’t had this experience and still believe everything America does about health, they probably don’t trust the “experts” like they once did.

Indoctrinated is a strong word with negative connotations I want to use, but am hesitant because it implies people doing the indoctrinating are doing it in bad faith. We use it as a synonym for brainwashing. We can also use the word programmed, which also comes with negative connotations. Whatever we call it, we have been taught to see the world in a certain way. I often refer to this as a plausibility structure, the mental building in which we live that causes us to see certain things as real or believable whether they are or not. It causes us to take what happens in life for granted as just the way things are. There is nothing inherently nefarious about this process. It doesn’t imply some kind of cabal of people perpetrating conspiracies, a word now used to silence anyone who questions the leftist “narrative.”

This natural human process of creating a plausible world is not only inevitable in every culture in every time and place, but necessary. The late sociologist Peter Berger discusses this concept in his 1960s books The Sacred Canopy and The Social Construction of Reality. Whatever our worldview comes to be, there are an infinite number of influences that make it so. Which is the reason it’s so hard to change. In previous times we referred to a radical change in our perception of something a paradigm shift, now thanks to the movie The Matrix, we call it being red pilled, and boy of boy have I been red pilled since Trump came on the scene. Modern medicine and health has been a huge one, in fact so big I have no idea how I was able to swallow it, but swallow it I did. If I were to boil down what I’ve learned over the last three plus years I think it would be this:

God created our bodies to heal themselves.

For those of us who are Christians that’s kind of anticlimactic, right? That’s it? Yep, but this new understanding proverbially turned my world upside down, or more accurately right side up. It is impossible to convey how profoundly those seven little words changed my understanding of everything to do with health, and still are. What makes this revelation from Almighty God himself so revelatory? The current perspective we all have, or had, of modern medicine is the answer.

As I’ve learned over the last few years this is a long story, but to put it simply, we’ve been programmed/indoctrinated/taught to see what heals us is medicine, something that comes from outside of us and is made by human beings in a lab. We see diseases like rolling snake eyes or getting a pair of twos, just bad luck, and only medicine can heal us. While it can treat symptoms it can do nothing for underlying causes, and therein lies the disaster that is modern medicine and the dismal state of American health. But this is what I believed until God used the response to Covid to open my eyes.

On October 3, 2021, I wrote a post titled, “How I was Programmed by Modern Medicine” using the Netflix series The Last Kingdom to show just how programmed I was. I look back at that and I’m shocked. I really believed that? I state in the piece, “It never occurred to me, literally, that things that grow out of the ground could have healing effects on the human body. That’s what medicine did.” As I say, I believed in the amazing God-created human immune system, but thought without modern medicine the body really couldn’t heal itself. And I thought it was pure “Hollywood” that implied things growing out of the ground could heal us. Ugh.  In the summer of 2020 I started to learn about the foundation of modern medicine, something called germ theory. Like everyone else I’d heard of it, but I had no idea what the implications were of accepting this as our mental architecture for what health means.

There are certain things in our culture that we dare not question lest we endure the wrath of “the consensus,” and one of those is germ theory. I recently read a book called Good-Bye Germ Theory by Dr. William P. Trebing, and I highly recommend it if you want your health paradigm completely messed with. Trebing is more cynical than I am and the subtitle of the book indicates that: “ending a century of medical fraud and how to protect your family.” As I’ve told my own friends and family, if someone read this prior to spring 2020, nothing about the Covid catastrophe would have surprised them, nothing. I believe almost everyone involved in modern medicine is well-meaning and is convinced they are helping people, and often they are. But modern medicine is doing incalculable damage to millions of people all over the world. If that statement makes you angry with me, or makes you think I’m off my rocker, I would just encourage you to be open and read a book like this. You may not agree with everything he says, I certainly don’t, or come to his conclusions, but at the least it will cause you to question where you hadn’t before, and be more discerning about the health of you and your family. What you do with it is all your choice.

So, what has this to do with Greek gum? My cousin, Dr. Greg Brannon, was instrumental in guiding me through this journey of discovery. We grew up together, almost exactly the same age, and he knew he wanted to be a doctor from when we were five years old. He was an OB-GYN for thirty years, and then founded Optimal Bio, a bioidentical hormone replacement business eight or nine years ago. He went through his own health epiphany some time ago as well—it didn’t take Covid.


This video from their Optimal Bio podcast explains the Greek gum, and Greg’s daughter, Tyler, interviews the young man who started the business selling said gum. She also runs the business. It’s impossible to convey how much this short discussion about gum, and so much more, put yet more things together for me. You’ll hear them mention something I never heard in sixty years prior trusting modern medicine, gut health. Back in 2021 listening to their podcasts and also heard a phrase I’d never heard before, and which took me a while to wrap my mind around: food is medicine. Indeed it is! And the way God intended it to be. Modern medicine can absolutely be a blessing when you really need it. It’s awe inspiring what God has allowed human beings to invent and learn, but every health indicator in America has gotten worse over the last several decades because we’ve come to trust the medical profession and not the human body and immune system for our health care. I very much encourage you to listen to this, and learn.