FBI Raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Residence is Not “Just Politics”

FBI Raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Residence is Not “Just Politics”

I’ll confess I have a bad attitude toward Christians who think there is something like “just politics.” Or who think the “culture wars” are a waste of time because we need to get down to the important business of saving souls or focusing on “spiritual” things. Or who think that Democrats and Republicans are just two sides of the same political coin, you know flip it, and it doesn’t much matter which you choose. Or, as I’ve written about before, those who think there is some kind of moral equivalence between the left and right in our country, or that there is an “extreme” right just as there is an “extreme” left. There is not. The left, as I’ll explain, is entirely radical and extreme, and the Democrat Party along with the media, and all elite culture, has been taken over by the left. With the FBI raid on Trump’s residence last week, even many Trump haters had to reluctantly admit that the Democrats jumped the shark, bigly. This was Banana Republic, totalitarian, thug state stuff that will destroy America if allowed to stand.

I’ll get to what destroying America might look like, but the left is fundamentally communist, driven by totalitarian thugs, who when they lie speak their native language. Instead of truth, they believe in the will to power, might makes right, any ends justifies the means of their political ideology. Their self-righteousness is stunning. It’s breathtaking when you look at the history of American politics and realize one of our two political parties has been taken over by Marxists, regardless of what they chose to call themselves. I would encourage Christians to see such political and cultural battles in spiritual terms because, well, they are spiritual! There is no such thing as “just politics.” And as Christians we can’t say, well, we’re not “into politics.” In Ephesians 5 and 6, the Apostle Paul is giving Christians instructions for how to live, and the implications are civilizational, not merely personal. In the middle of chapter 6 he says this:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

I hear this quoted often, but it is important not to take this out of the context of the entire letter of Ephesians. Speaking of God’s “incomparably great power for us who believe,” Paul gives us the context and implications of this power:

That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

What we are involved in every day in every moment of our lives is cosmic in every sense of the word, huge, ginormous, utterly inconceivable to us. While we do political and cultural battle against human beings, we are wrestling with things far beyond our comprehension, which is why we get on our knees daily and pray to the God who raised Christ from the dead. This spiritual war we are part of, and the daily battles we engage with ourselves and others, is not merely personal and moral. It is also societal.

This brings us to a distinction most Christians haven’t considered, or haven’t thought enough about, that between the church and the kingdom of God. I certainly haven’t, and I’m just beginning to learn the implications and why they are so important. They are not one and the same thing, and confusing the two creates all kinds of problems. The former consists of God’s people, those Jesus came to save, and the latter is Christ’s rule over all things, in heaven and on earth. It’s interesting to look at the two words in the gospels. Church is used only twice, and that just in Matthew, while Kingdom is used 120 times. This doesn’t tell us that the concept of the kingdom of God is more important than the church, but it is safe to say it is just as important. Some Christians might say that statement borders on heresy, which is an indication of a deep confusion about the issue. Let’s briefly look at the two words.

The Greek for church is ekklésia- ἐκκλησία, and it means those who are called out. It wasn’t a religious word until Christians started using it to indicate the bodies of people who believed Jesus was the Messiah. As you can see from Acts and the epistles, church became a common term for the called-out Christians. Kingdom is basileia- βασιλεία, the realm in which a king sovereignly rules. You’ll see the problem I’m trying to identify in the definition: ‘”Especially refers to the rule of Christ in believers’ hearts – which is a rule that “one day will be universal on the physical earth in the Millennium.”‘ Actually, that is exactly what the kingdom does not mean. Go back and carefully read the Ephesians 1 passage. Does it say anything about a Christian’s heart or a millennium? Nope. In Revelation 1:5 we’re told Jesus is “the ruler of kings on earth,” present tense. Christ’s rule is universal, right now, over all things, including over us. Just because we, or others, rebel against the king doesn’t make him any less a king, nor the ruler of all things.

What has this to do with politics and the culture wars? Only everything! If you read through all the passages where Kingdom is used in the gospels, it is clear it has far more to do then with mere morality. In the same passage, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed and yeast. A small thing and a little bit, it grows and encompasses all. Daniel 2:44 gives us a glimpse of the kingdom that will shatter all other kingdoms and it shall stand forever. When Jesus came, he brought the kingdom: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Teaching us to pray, Jesus said, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” Now! And that includes politics, which is no less “spiritual” than those things we consider “spiritual.”

I didn’t get to what destroying American might look like, but an FBI raid on a former President’s home is certainly part of it. Different standards of justice, double standards, for the political opposition, as we see in the prisoners who were part of the so-called “insurrection,” is most definitely part of it. I will explore this in my next post, but when there is no God, no Christ, things in a society can get very nasty, as we’re seeing around us everywhere.

Deuteronomy 4: Theological Implications of God Rescuing His People from Slavery

Deuteronomy 4: Theological Implications of God Rescuing His People from Slavery

In my last post I focused on some of the uninvented takeaways from this chapter, or why I think it couldn’t be made up. Briefly, if it was, the author was a liar, and the Bible is a worthless piece of trash. Not that I feel strongly about it or anything. You’ll remember the writer (Moses, we believe, and the topic of a future post) kept repeating the eyewitness nature of the Exodus. As God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt, they saw his amazing works among them and heard his voice. Either it happened, and they did see and hear these things, or they did not. There is no in between. If it did not happen pretty much the way portrayed in this chapter and in the Pentateuch, I’m just not interested. I have better things to do than believe lies are true, and then base my life, and death, upon them. Don’t you? But I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible records true history, which is why I wrote Uninvented, hoping I might help other Christians grow in their confidence that the Bible is indeed what it proclaims itself to be, God’s revelation of the redemption of his people.

There is also, however, the theology to consider, the truths of this redemption for we who believe the Bible is in fact God’s word. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4 quoting himself from Deuteronomy 8:3 that, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” This substance we take from his word is theology. You may know theology is the study of God. Any word ending in ology is the study of something, and in this case of theos, or in Greek, God. So, in reading and meditating on Deuteronomy 4 theologically, we’re trying to discover something about the being and nature of God, and there is a lot here to discover. Here is a brief overview of the book of Deuteronomy from Chuck Swindoll:

Deuteronomy means “second law,” a term mistakenly derived from the Hebrew word mishneh in Deuteronomy 17:18. In that context, Moses simply commands the king to make a “copy of the law.”1 But Deuteronomy does something more than give a simple copy of the Law. The book offers a restatement of the Law for a new generation, rather than a mere copy of what had gone before. Deuteronomy records this “second law”—namely Moses’s series of sermons in which he restated God’s commands originally given to the Israelites some forty years earlier in Exodus and Leviticus.

The older Israelites are beginning to die off and will not be allowed to enter the promised land because of their rebellion, so Moses is re-telling the law to the new generation following Joshua across the Jordan. Moses himself will only catch a glimpse of the promised land because he too didn’t trust God, but one day he will enter the eternal promised land with us.

Which brings us to the profound theological truths in this chapter. Our tendency as self-centered sinful human beings is to, no surprise, to be self-centered. As I’ve said a multitude of times in blog posts, sin is well defined as Incurvatus in se, Latin for being turned or curved in on oneself. This is more profound than being selfish or self-centered, an obvious human malady, and for most of us overcome to one degree or another as we grow older and mature. We learn that self-obsession doesn’t really pay, so we are able to see things beyond our own self-interest. Spiritually, however, the self is a more pernicious foe, and deceptively subtle.

As a young Christian, my faith was primarily about my choices and decisions. God laid out the conditions, and I decided whether I would obey or not. If I jumped through the hoops, God and me, we were good, if not, well, I had to work harder. It was more about what I did for God, than what God had done for me in Christ. When I was introduced to Reformed theology by a “chance” encounter in February of 1985, I experienced a proverbial Copernican revolution. Instead of my Christian faith revolving around me. my experiences, choices, will, decisions, I now saw how it revolved around God’s work for me in Christ. The gentlemen who introduced me to this radical theology, known as Calvinism, suggested I read a systematic theology (I’d never even heard the phrase before) by the great 19th century theologian Charles Hodge.

Hodge said something that perfectly captured my newfound understanding: Christianity is the work of God in the soul of man. Our self-centered tendency, however, is to see our faith as God responding to our work, and not us to his. In other words, law not gospel. In Deuteronomy 4 we see it is God who initiates the relationship with his people, and it is he alone who saves them:

20 But as for you, the Lord took you and brought you out of the iron-smelting furnace, out of Egypt, to be the people of his inheritance, as you now are.

34 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

35 You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36 From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38 to drive out before you, nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.

And throughout Deuteronomy, he reminds them that they were “slaves in Egypt,” and would still be slaves if not for his mighty saving power. This is true for us too! It is God’s work alone, his power, that raises us spiritually from the dead, changes our sinful heart of stone, to flesh. In theological terms, this is called regeneration, or the transformation of our beings from his enemies to his children. Only then, our hearts transformed, can we put our faith, our trust in Christ. Our rescue from the slavery of sin was “by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord our God did for” us in Christ!

Why Libertarians Are Not Our Friends

Why Libertarians Are Not Our Friends

I recently wrote about why libertarians are not conservatives, and I want to comment on an article I recently read that continues my education about this topic. I became a “born-again” Christian, as we called it back then, in the fall of 1978. I was 18, and as ignorant and naive as all 18-year-olds are. That started an odyssey of learning that only intensifies by the day as I continue to learn a basic truth of maturity: The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know. It’s one of the reasons I Corinthians 8:2 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Also, realizing that all knowledge and wisdom is found in God himself, tells us knowledge is limitless, boundless, and as infinite as he is. That means we will be learning, literally, forever. How exciting is that!

What his this to do with libertarians, you ask? For me, libertarianism is a symbol of a life-long struggle to figure out my political philosophy, although I wouldn’t have put it that way until very recently. Part of this life-long learning process always included politics, but not as an all-encompassing philosophy. Maybe I didn’t think that was possible or necessary, I’m not sure, but I wasn’t compelled to grapple and get into the weeds of what I believe about human governance. Now I am. This drive is part of the questioning everything mentality that has overtaken me with the advent of Trump, more because of those who opposed and despise him, than the man himself.

As I went through my college experience growing in my Christian faith, I came across Francis Schaeffer, and because of him I realized I was a political conservative. I started reading the once great National Review (it went full-on NeverTrump in 2015 and lost all credibility), and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. This must have all happened after the 1980 election because (again, just between you and me) I voted for Jimmy Carter. My dad was a Catholic, Italian, Democrat, and he would never change, so having given up the Catholic part I figured I’d stick with the Democrat. I gladly can’t change the Italian.

I quickly learned the conservative movement Reagan represented consisted of those who embraced a traditional/religious view of reality, and libertarians who did not. A lot of libertarians, as I found out, are religious, but their political philosophy is driven more by the conviction of the primacy of liberty, than by what their religion might say about the human condition related to politics. It’s complicated, as I discovered and have been frustrated by ever since. I was clearly part of the traditional/religious wing of the movement, but I didn’t exactly know why I wasn’t a libertarian. I do now, but I’m still working through exactly what my political philosophy looks like. A piece at American Greatness called, “Libertarians are Not Our Friends,” helped me to better understand why I am not one of them. The author’s conclusion is true if a bit overstated:

All thinking persons know—and evidence abounds—that libertarians with anti-statist mentalities are dangerous, ideological, illusory, and impractical. Taking a one size fits all approach to every situation is wrongheaded and totally misguided. It is philosophically illogical and amounts to policy stupidity. It is zealotry at worst and naïveté at best.

His assessment gets to the heart of why I’m finally understanding libertarianism is not an ally of true conservatism, and why the American Founders were not libertarian at all. The pure liberty of the libertarian is a universal abstraction that doesn’t exist in life and fails to consider the lived existence of actual human beings.

God made man his own image primarily as a moral and not choosing creature. In other words, it’s not the choosing that determines the morality of the thing, but the thing chosen, or not. This brings us to Aristotle’s concept of telos, or purpose, a famous concept in the history of Western thought. He asked why things exist, and discovered four causes, the ultimate reason being the final cause or the reason for its existence. This idea gets us close to the idea of morality. Something is moral not merely because God says it is, and thus morality is not arbitrary, not merely God’s will. Rather, morality, what is right and wrong, good and evil, is a reflection of the being of God himself, an extension of that being into the nature of things. That is deeply profound for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is it proves God’s existence, and that reality is not mere matter in motion that came together by chance. 

To make this point, I told someone recently, that means what is moral is not determined by our preferences, as when we prefer chocolate to vanilla ice cream. Things are wrong or right, good or evil, not because of what we prefer, but because they are, and it is our job to discover whether they are one or the other.

The reason liberty, or the freedom to choose, can’t be our ultimate good is because what is chosen is more important than the choosing itself. If we choose evil, the choosing is evil; if we choose good, the choosing is good. The choosing itself cannot be a moral value. The Founders of America understood this. Just two months prior to the ratification of the Constitution in September of 1787, the Continental Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance. In Article 3 they wrote:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

And the religion and morality they are talking about is Christian religion and morality. It is the religion and morality, and the choosing informed by those, that determine good government and happiness, not the choosing itself.

This isn’t to say that along with Patrick Henry we shouldn’t cry, “give me liberty or give me death!” And mean it. One of the most precious things we’ve inherited from our Creator through Christ through Christian Western civilization is our liberty, and it is our Christian duty to defend it. But liberty is not libertarianism, which is an ideology that tends to promote license, and doing whatever we want or whatever we choose. That is called anarchy which eventually leads to tyranny. Only when God’s law is the law of the land, can there be true liberty, and tolerance, but that is a topic for another post, or book.

How To Do Evangelism Without Doing Evangelism

How To Do Evangelism Without Doing Evangelism

For many Christians, being a full-on Jesus freak like me doesn’t come naturally. For many reasons I’m kind of obsessed with this whole God thing, and I can’t help thinking about him all the time and about how he is related to everything, literally. You might think this would make me, as “they” say, so heavenly minded I’m no earthly good, but it would in fact be just the opposite. I’m so heavenly minded that I am able to be of some earthly good. When we live life in light of eternity, knowing this life is not all there is, that this life is in fact just the beginning of our forever life with our Creator, then our lives can be lived as he intended for them to be lived. As Jesus said:

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Greek for “to the full” means all-around, “more than” (“abundantly”); beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation; “more abundant,” going past the expected limit (“more than enough . . . “). That is the life Jesus, God himself in Christ, wants for us. And it is only in him, and in the gospel, the good news he came to bring us in his death and resurrection, that such a life “to the full” is possible. Sure, anyone can live a passably fine life without him, on the surface, but a kind of amazing fulfillment and joy about just being alive to everything can only be found in Him. Even as incredibly challenging and frustrating and disappointing, and sometimes downright terrible as life can be, in Him, in Christ Jesus, life is incredible often beyond the ability to convey. As is my habit of not getting right to the point, you must be wondering what this has to do with doing evangelism without doing evangelism. Well, hold your horses, and I’ll tell you!

While I am not an evangelist by trade (Ephesians 4:11), one who is called by profession to proclaim the good news of the gospel, I can’t seem to help wanting to talk about this good news all the time. What separates me from what I think many tend to think of when they see or hear the word evangelism, is that my sharing the good news is not restricted to a certain set of propositions about how we are to be saved from our sin. We might think of these propositions as the core of the gospel out of which radiates our perspective on all things, and that core is our reconciliation to our Creator.

It is quite obvious we are born fallen, or in theological terms, in original sin, which is alienation or estrangement from our Creator. In biblical terms, we are enemies of God, by nature openly hostile to and animated by a deep-seated hatred for him. Most Christians, let alone non-Christians, don’t realize the depth of this alienation. We tend to see sin as something akin to jay walking, when in fact it is more like genocide, an almost infinite difference. That’s why the gospel is so profound. As the Apostle Paul puts it:

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Again, what has this to do with doing evangelism without doing evangelism? Everything. When we get this, I mean really get it, we can’t help it affecting how we see everything, how we encounter and engage and feel about everything. C.S. Lewis, as he always seemed to do, captured this wonderfully:

 I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

And Lewis was an ex-atheist, which in his 30s he realized explained absolutely nothing about reality, while Christianity explained everything. We call that serious explanatory power!

Christianity, which is the gospel, which is our reconciliation to our Creator, affects how we define and experience every single thing every single moment of every single day of our lives. It gives definition and meaning to all things. It allows us to understand the puzzle pieces that fit into the puzzle of existence. In philosophical terms, puzzle pieces are the particulars (each fact or experience of existence), and they can only make sense because they are part of the universal, the big picture, which is God himself in Christ. How does this comprehensive understanding of existence in Christ help us do evangelism without doing evangelism?

Every person we encounter every day is looking for meaning in their lives. They are looking for hope, purpose, dignity, fulfillment, significance, accptance, love, you name it, none of which can be had in the particulars, in the puzzle pieces by themselves. But oh how people try! We need to understand this, to really buy it, because it is true! Why do you think in the most prosperous periord in the history of the world there are so many suffering from depression and anxiety, frustration and despair? Something like 40,000 people every year in America kill themselves! How pathetic and sad is that. And we have the answer! The gospel! Not the four spiritual laws, or the Romans Road, as helpful as such things can be, but in Christ, and in reconciliation to our Creator in him!

What this means is that everything in some way, some how, comes back to the gospel. It comes back to the Creator of all things who has revealed himself in his creation, in Scripture, our Bibles, and in Christ. So, we can speak this to those we encounter without being obnoxious, or “religious.” We can proclaim the hope, meaning, purpose, love, all of which comes from the reconciliation to our Creator in the one who reconciled us and all things to himself on a Roman cross and came back from the dead to prove it was all true. This is what people are looking for! They just don’t know it yet. We never have to say another person has to believe all this, only that we do, and it just happens to be the truth! Far from being obnoxious or annoying, this makes us winsome and attractive to people who are likely dying in a desert of existence and don’t know they’re really looking for an oasis of water named Jesus!

CRU Goes Full-On Woke

CRU Goes Full-On Woke

I Knew when Campus Crusade for Christ changed their name to CRU in 2011 it wasn’t a good sign. I can understand that the word crusade had some negative connotations in the Middle East, but only because Muslims and too many Christians accepted a faulty interpretation of The Crusades as Christian oppression of Muslims. The story is much more complicated and fails to consider that Islam is a religion of military conquest. Be that as it may, Campus Crusade had done just fine with that name for the previous 60 years, and it didn’t seem to hamper its mission. What this name change reflected is a bowing down to cultural shibboleths in the name of Christian sensitivity and compassion. They are not the only Christian organization or church to destroy their real counter-cultural witness in the name of good intentions, not by far.

Fast forward to 2019 and CRU’s annual conference. The reason I choose 2019 is because 2020 and ‘21 probably didn’t happen, and I just happen to come across the following video learning about CRU going full-on woke (thank you, Maya!). When you watch, you’ll see a compilation of videos that a young man, Jon Harris, put together, and you simply have to see/hear it to believe it. When you do, you’ll understand why I put the adjectival phrase full-on before woke.

Jon does some commentary after the video, and one thing he says is that there is no gospel in any of this. This is a tragedy, considering what the actual mission of Campus Crusade was for sixty years prior to 2011. I have no idea how quickly wokeness took over the leadership of the organization, but clearly, they’ve fully bought into wokeness. The reason there can be no gospel is because the entire woke ideology is born of Marxism, specifically the bastardized version now known as cultural Marxism. At the heart of Marxism is two things. One is perpetual grievance against societal and cultural “power structures,” whatever they or that might be, so the people will have what follows from that, revolutionary consciousness 24/7. There can be no forgiveness, mercy, or grace because that mitigates against the fundamental goal of Marxism, which is peretual revolution. I’m not saying any of this is well thought out, especially by well-meaning, sincere Christians, but this drives them whether they know it or not.

I recently read a book called, Awake, Not Woke by Noelle Mering. In it she calls wokeness “an ideology of rupture,” which is spot on. From her introduction, she continues, “The term woke refers to the state of being alert and attuned to the layers of pervasive oppression in society . . . . Specific acts of injustice are used to serve the larger goal of furthering the ideology that sees all of human interaction as a power contest . . . . [It] is an ideology with fundamentalist and even cult-like characteristics that is on a collusion course with Christianity.” CRU might want to consider if such a contention is true or not. Mering says the ultimate target of the woke revolt is God himself in Christ. Ouch! If it’s true. CRU staff and leadership who buy wokeness, would likely deny all or most of this, or that they are even “woke,” but you watch/listen to the video, and you come to your own conclusion.

Notable Quotation

Notable Quotation

Semantics, like skepticism and empiricism, is a direct consequence of the disappearance of epistemology and the subsequent discovery of the inadequacy of rationalism. The rationalists believed that the truth could be found by the use of reason and logic alone because they had assumed that the world was rational and logical. Because the world is not rational and logical, they had failed. The skeptics accordingly doubted the capacity of the mind to know; the empiricists rejected the use of reason and tried to deal with the world by the senses alone; the semanticists tried to deal with the world by bringing its lack of logic and rationality into the mind itself. They did this, not by rediscovering the rules of epistemology but by changing the rules of logic. To them the old logic—Aristotelian logic, as they called it—was the source of all modern confusion, error, frustration and insanity. Accordingly, they tried to replace it by a non-Aristotelian logic whose basic innovation was that it rejected the principle of contradiction. The abandoning of this principle—which they called the “either-or principle”—meant that they rejected all rigid categories or definitions and were prepared to act with vague, variable and over-lapping definitions whose content varied during use in order to reflect the admitted dynamic quality of the external world.

—Carroll Quigley, Epistemology, Semantics, and Doublethink”