Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Opus 2011-74, Spiritual Gifts: Discernment

(1 Corinthians 12:10 KJV)  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Why is it that some people are so gullible and others know when something isn’t right?  It could be that one has the gift of discernment or as the KJV phrases it, the “discerning of spirits.”

The Holy Spirit gives some people the ability to tell what the spiritual state is of an idea, a person, a project, you name it.  If we look at the word being used in Hebrews we see that it involves the ability to see if you are dealing with good or evil.
(Hebrews 5:14 KJV)  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
There are many questions that we face that require this knowledge.  Should you let someone work in your nursery?  Should the church borrow money? 

I think this gift is being ignored in the church today.  Because of the teachings of multiculturalism and diversity we don’t want to take any stands that might say something is wrong or evil.  The gifts of mercy and service are being made king and without the balance of wisdom and discernment, evil gets the upper hand.

It is time to wake up and get on with the business of righteousness.

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Opus 2011-73, Immortal Quotes: “...all men are created equal”

Most educated people are familiar with this phrase from the Declaration of Independence.  The context is also important:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...”
First of all notice that this is considered obvious.  It is something that is universal and applied to all men.  If you are into 21st Century political correctness you might need someone to point out the the term “men” is generic, referring to all human beings.

Notice that the source of this statement is religious.  We were created.  The Creator is the one who did the endowing.  This is not an idea granted by government nor the product of a process of philosophical discussion.  Equality and rights come from God.

It does not say that all men are equal.  It says we are created equal.  This is a significant difference.  Egalitarianism is a humanist concept.  Equal before God is a Christian idea.  And the equality goes both ways, good and bad.  At one end we have,
(Romans 3:23 KJV)  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
At the other extreme we have,
(Galatians 3:28 KJV)  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are all different.  We have different gifts, strengths and interests.  This will make us live life at different levels.  In spite of that, we all have the same basic rights.  It is up to us to do with them what we will.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Opus 2011-72, Basic Beliefs: Creation, Infinity and Eternity

Recently I was out walking during the day.  It must have been a weekend.  We had just come through a time of heavy rains so the air was clear and there were some incredible cloud sculptures to enjoy.  I got to thinking about the glory of creation.  One of the beliefs of all Christians is that God created the universe.  Some take Genesis 1 as a literal statement and believe that the world was created in  six twenty-four hour days and God rested on the seventh.  At the other end of the spectrum are those who accept the theory of evolution but look at it like intelligent design instead of chance.  The universe may be billions of years old, but God was in charge of each molecule and reaction.

We also believe that God is eternal and infinite.  When I put these ideas together I got to thinking about the probability that God is still being creative.  When I am resurrected to the New Earth and the New Jerusalem I am going to have forever to explore and enjoy all that God is doing.  And He will continue doing more.  I will never even begin to catch up. 

How can I get across how beyond comprehension this is.  There are two types of creativity.  One type is what the vast majority of people do.  It is simply taking an idea a tweeking it.  The other type is genuine creativity.  Ideas that seem to come from nowhere.  For instance, who first thought of the bow and arrow?  The jump from a spear to a device that uses certain types of wood with the ends joined by a chord is really thinking outside the box.  Who thought of putting feathers on the arrow to make it fly true?  We make them longer, paint them colors or find new materials, but the real genius was the original invention.  God does this all the time.

Plan on joining the exploration.

homo unius libri

Friday, February 25, 2011

Opus 2011-71, News: John McCain, Conservative?

Who said miracles don’t happen?  We have a resurrection of the dead.  John McCain is once again a conservative.  Recently the Drudge Report had a headline about the 10 most conservative senators.  If you clicked the link you found that John McCain was tied for first.  What?  Is this a humor blog? 

One of the indications that the democratic process doesn’t work and you can’t trust the American voter is the re-election of John McCain by the people of Arizona.  It wasn’t even close.  Maybe it is a case of the devil you know.  He may be a fine husband, a great father, a genuine patriot and an experienced senator, but he gave up the right to be called a conservative a long time ago.

It is time to play the laugh track.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-70, On the Street: Polling places staffing

A few days ago I was walking during the day instead of at night and I saw a lady who usually worked at the place I vote.  None of the regular faces were on the job last time.  I asked her where everyone went.  She said that in the last election, none of the regular people were called to work.  They brought in a whole new group.  She said she though they were looking for more bi-lingual people.

I think they were looking for more Democrats.  I have no reason to think that there were any irregularities at my polling place.  I saw nothing out of order, but all of the people who would recognize regular voters were gone.  In that election, California was the only state to buck the national trend.  The Democrats took all the statewide offices and even picked up a seat in the state assembly.  Is there a correlation? 

How does a political party gain power in a state that is failing because of their policies? 

I would suggest that if conservative and Republicans want to have a chance at keeping the republic then something needs to be done about voter fraud and the integrity of our elections.  In the entire history of our country there have been issues.  This is nothing new, but if we don’t want to get totally thrown under the bus we better check the drivers.

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Opus 2011-69, Christian Cliches: “Thou shall not kill”

This past weekend I was with family and one of the topics of discussion was about history and how various religions justify and sometimes encourage war.  This morning I was discussing with an acquaintance the proper response to the pirates working off the east coast of Africa.  In both cases the phrase, “Thou shall not kill” came up.

Many people feel that the Christian believer must be opposed to any action that takes human life.  Strangely enough these same people often have no trouble with abortion or euthanasia, but that is a discussion for another day.  They are against war for any reason, capital punishment, and self defense.  They are against guns because “guns kill people.”  Many non-believers have the same position and also quote “Thou shall not kill,” even though they don’t believe the Bible is anything but a book of fairy tales. 

A proper translation of Exodus 20:13 does not say “Thou shall not kill.”  It says, “Thou shall not murder.”  Even the KJV translates the word in forms of  “murder” more than forms of “kill.”  The older the translation the more likely to translate it “kill.”  The NASB only translates it as “kill” once.  

Much of the reason for the misunderstanding is ignorance.  When the KJV was written people had a much better understanding of what the Bible had to say.  They knew that this verse could not be a universal ban on killing because they knew that the law had provision for capital punishment.  They knew that the law clearly stated that there was a difference between, manslaughter, justifiable homicide and premeditated murder.  They knew that John the Baptist did not condemn soldiers for being soldiers but for being greedy.  They knew that Jesus healed the servant of the centurion and never told the Roman oppressor that He had a problem with him being a soldier.  They know that Peter was sent to share the gospel with another centurion.  They know that Paul declared that the government wielded the sword to deal with evil.  If you read your Bible you understand that this cannot mean what warm and fuzzy people want it to mean.

In many cases the reason is not ignorance but deliberate misunderstanding.  Many people do not like what the Bible teaches so they interpret and modify ideas to fit what they want.  We all have a tendency in this way but some are more self centered than others.

The basic truth of the Bible is understandable by anyone wanting to understand.  It is also full of complex ideas that can please any scholar.  It meets you where you are.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Opus 2011-68, Why Is there a Distortion Pedal?

I was listening to some music as I was studying and worshiping this morning.  On the second song I thought my I-pod was broken because the sound was breaking up.  Then I realized it was the distortion pedal.  If you are my age you might ask yourself, “What is a distortion pedal?”  Understanding this may help you understand where modern culture is going and what is wrong with the younger generation.

A distortion pedal is a foot controlled devise that is connected between the guitar and the speaker.  It is sometimes built into the amp or guitar itself.  It has only one purpose, to distort.  You take a perfectly good series of notes and make it sound like you are getting severe sun spot interference.  It is the kind of sound that drove people from AM to FM.  Now they do it on purpose.  Go figure.  I once bought a little devise I could plug into my electric guitar so I could plug earphones into it and practice without bothering anyone.  It was kind of cool.  It had three settings.  The first, the one I bought it for, was normal.  What you played was what you got.  Then it had a mild distortion.  Last it had extreme distortion.  People actually pay for this kind of thing.  They even have a line of different distortion pedals that give different effects.  This is capitalism at work.  It is almost enough to make me a socialist.

So you have an entire generation that thinks the point of music is to sound like fingernails on the blackboard.  Your music is considered boring because it does not make your hair stand up.  You thought their hair styles were strange?  No, it is just the product of listening to their music too long. 

Now this is not necessarily evil.  I would not mind it if it didn’t penetrate through the windows of my car as I drive.  When I am walking I can hear them practicing in the garage from blocks away.  It is their hearing that is being destroyed.  It used to be a free country.  But I think it has some social and spiritual applications.  A growing number of people are not happy unless they are being offensive.  The more people of low ability we get involved in the media the more we see and hear vulgar sights and sounds.  When I used to do summer camp counseling I was amazed at how a cabin full of junior high boys could giggle all night from one fart.  Now I see entire TV shows with this kind of theme.  Last time I watched the TV news there was a segment on someone’s pet pig while they ignored major world issues.  It is the distortion pedal gone amok.

People take the clear and simple teaching of the Bible and turn it into the strangest distortions.  Have you heard people denying that the Bible condemns homosexuality?  They are pushing on the distortion pedal.  I have read extended posts about how Jesus did not really rise physically from the dead, written by people who are ministers in Christian denominations.  I wonder what flavor of kool-aid they have been drinking.

We all need to beware of the danger of making our preferences the baseline for right and wrong.  I am aware of that.  But calling a Twinkie a carrot does not remove the calories.  Lets work to remove the figurative distortion pedals from our thinking. 

Who knows, maybe it will disconnect the physical pedals, too.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Opus 2011-67, Basic Beliefs: Original Sin

Christians believe that when a human being is born, they are born with an inbuilt bias toward rebellion against God.  This is called by different names:  Sinful nature, original sin, depravity.  It is a condition that effects all of creation and will not be remedied until the destruction of the Earth and we know it and the establishment of the new earth and the New Jerusalem. 

This is the parting of the ways between humanists and Christians.  It is the dividing line between pagan and Christian.  It also separates those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, operating under the mantle of the church and doing everything they can to destroy Christ and His church.  That is a strong statement.  It is important that we understand how vital the “S” word is.

Most people know the story of Adam and Eve.  Because of their rebellion the entire human race was cursed with sin.
(Romans 5:12 KJV)  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
This sin has become a condition of humanity.
(Romans 5:14 KJV)  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

There is something wrong with human beings.  Every area of human knowledge tries to find a way to describe it and to produce a cure.  God has declared it is sin.

Why is this necessary for Christians to believe?  If you are not depraved, then you are a victim of social programing.  You are then basically a good person who will do good if society can just be adjusted so that you can follow your good nature.  If that is the case, you don’t need a savior.  You need a social worker, a psychologist, a teacher, a guru, but you don’t need a savior because there is nothing to save you from.  If you reject original sin you might as well become a Buddhist and get on with dealing with your Karma. 

Keep in mind that this original sin is not something you can measure or see.  A baby, cute as it is, is totally self centered and lost in sin.  Your wonderful neighbor who does all those nice things for you is still lost in sin.  This is a rebellion against God and some rebels can be very pleasant about their rebellion.  There is a reason why the Bible says that “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess.”  Original sin refuses to bow and will only do so on judgment day, when it is too late.

Don’t let your pride ruin your eternity.

homo unius libri

Monday, February 21, 2011

Opus 2011-66, News: It’s a War, Not a Battle

Lets get our images right.  We are not trying to win a battle.  We are in a war for the future of our country.  It must be both strategic and tactical.  We will never turn things around overnight.  I am a right wing, red-necked-white-collared, narrow-minded, Bible believing, global warming denying, conservative.  There are times when I question whether Ronald Reagan was a real conservative.  What that means is I am not stupid.  I don’t get happy when someone throws me a bone.  I want the whole enchilada so I can put some aside for my children and grandchildren.  We had a great election.  Lets have some more.  At Thanksgiving I always expect seconds and left overs.

So how is the new congress doing?  I am willing to say they are making progress.  If we want it done right we need to take the time to get it right.  That means understanding some things.  First, only the House has any ability to respond to conservatives now.  The Founders set up our system so that no one branch or section of a branch can control the process.  The shows wisdom.  That makes us work with people we don’t agree with and find ways to make it work for everyone.  So lets give them time to get it right.  Oh, and hold their feet to the fire at the same time.

What are they doing right? 

Reading the Constitution
Voted to end Obamacare
Voted to defunding Planned Parenthood
Voted to muzzle the EPA on “greenhouse gases”

Most of it is window dressing because of the process involving the senate and the presidential veto but at this point it is laying the groundwork.  This is politics but that is not necessarily a dirty word.  For years the left has been moving slowly and understanding that half a loaf is better than none.  We can learn from them.  Keep up the pressure.  The American people may be ignorant and not paying attention but give it time and keep lighting candles.

Keep in mind that the media and the Rino squishes will not pass on all the news.  Good things may happen that we don’t hear about.  What we do hear will probably be twisted to the point of total deception.  No one said it would be easy, but it is possible.  Search the net.  Read between the lines.  Question and doubt.  Keep up the pressure.  Didn’t someone say, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”?  Be the loyal opposition until we see the Republic on its way back to health.

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opus 2011-65, Special Interests

We hear a lot about special interests from both sides of the political aisle.  Every speech about the economy or the budget lays the problem at the feet of “special interests.”  Just what is a special interest anyway?

The way the term is used it means some evil, self-centered power block that wants to rob the rest of us to put money in their pocket.  It is used to attack people you oppose.  If you are in favor of gun control you think the NRA is a special interest.  If you want to protect the environment, property owners are a special interest. 

In reality everyone is part of a special interest.  It simply means you have a concern.  It is not a nasty term.  Everyone has needs and angles.  Next time you hear it used in a negative manner, assume that the person speaking is trying to cover up their own agenda and special interests.  Assume someone is trying to deceive you.

Happy thinking.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Opus 2011-64, Exceptions to the rule

At our school, no students are supposed to be in the building before 8:15.  Experience has shown that if they are allowed in they write graffiti, drop trash and create problems.  I usually arrive around 7:45 and everyday when I go up the stair to my room there is a student opening his locker and getting ready for the day.  He is creating no problem.  He seems a responsible young man, but he is not supposed to be there.  What gives?  His father is the head janitor.  He is special.  He gets special privileges. 

We see this on simple levels every day.  People who feel like they are above the rules, or the law.  I am sure you have seen people parking where they were not supposed to park.  You have seen people driving like demented halfbacks.  You have seen people with 30 items in the 10 item line.  It starts simple.

Then we have a congress that seems to exempt themselves from all the laws they pass.  They have their own health care, retirement system, hiring system and often think they should not need to pay traffic tickets. 

How does this reflect on the Christian?  The Christian should be guided by the Biblical standard which is summed up well by the apostle Paul,
(Philippians 2:3-4 NASB)  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
You also have the command to love your neighbor as yourself and the story of the good Samaritan.  We are supposed to be concerned about the welfare of others rather than tooting our own horn.

Do Christians always live up to this?  Obviously, no.  But they should.  If you want to drive like a pagan, don’t put a Christian bumper sticker on your car.  If you are going to treat the waitress like your personal slave, don’t pray before your meal.

We should be exceptions to the rule of selfishness.

homo unius libri

Friday, February 18, 2011

Opus 2011-63, Church Architecture and Style

Have you ever visited a church that is from a different tradition than yours?  Have you ever noticed that the differences in the building are as obvious as the contrasts in worship.  There are reasons for this.  Architecture reflects theology as much as worship style.

Start off with the building itself.  Have you noticed that Catholic churches are built in the shape of a cross.  It isn’t always obvious because of space limitations but notice that there are two naves, one on each side.  This gives the floor plan, seen from above, the rough shape of a cross.  Some non-catholic churches also have this feature if they are old enough.

What is in the center?  When you are facing the front, what feature is the focus of attention?  In Roman Catholic churches it is a table called an altar.  This is the place that the host is offered up and the miracle of transubstantiation takes place.  In order for the transformation to take place the altar must have a relic from a saint inside it.  That ceremony, when the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine becomes His blood, is the central act of Catholic worship.  It is what makes it worship.  Catholics have not been known for their preaching or singing over the years.  The emphasis is on the sacrifice.  You will notice this in some mainline Protestant churches also.  I know I have seen this feature in Lutheran churches.

In the church I was raised in we had a communion table and the altar was the low bench across the front of the church which was used by seekers in an evangelistic service.  It was sometimes called the mourner’s rail. 

Catholic churches have special containers and plumbing to support their view of communion.  Since they believe that the elements actually become the body and blood of Christ they are treated with reverence.  There is a special piece of furniture called a tabernacle for any extra host and it is stored in a vessel lined with pure gold.  The sink where the cup is rinsed has a special drain that runs onto the ground and not into the sewer.  Remember, they consider the wine to be the actual blood of Christ.  You may not agree, but show a bit of courtesy to them.  Don’t ever take communion in a Catholic or Lutheran church if you do not belong.

Many Protestant denominations put the pulpit in the center of the platform.  This is a declaration that they believe the proclaimed word is to be the center of worship.  Preaching is central.  Churches that do not emphasize preaching tend to have the pulpit on the side.  They will sometimes have two pulpits, one for reading the Gospels and all other scripture from the other.

Where is the choir?  In liturgical churches it is often to the side or hidden in a balcony.  This again stresses the importance of the communion sacrifice.  You don’t want anything to distract from that. 

What direction do the piano and organ face.  I noticed this last Sunday in the Baptist church I was attending.  A man was in front supposedly leading the singing, but the pianist had the piano turned so that he could not see the direction.  As you might guess, the guy at the piano also had a microphone and tended to get everyone going his way instead of the way of the official leader.

Does your church have a lot of candles and incense?  Where they are placed and when they are lit has significance depending on the season of the church year.  In liturgical churches the candles must be at least 51% bee’s wax for the sake of purity.

How about colors?  If you attend your basic evangelical church, colors are a statement of an interior decorator, but in liturgical churches each season has a specific color.  The altar clothe, pulpit drapes and personal wardrobe of the pastor all reflect this.  Red, green, purple, white all are used for a purpose.

Some of you may have noticed a rack with numbers on one side in the front.  When I was a kid that was the Sunday School report.  It told attendance, enrollment and offering at a glance.  In some churches it is the numbers of the hymns to be sung in the service.  No one will announce it, you are expected to be ready.

I am sure there are many other details that have escaped me but next time you are in an unfamiliar sanctuary take some time to look around and ask yourself what you see tells you about the people who worship there.

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Opus 2011-62, Gout Is Still a Problem?

I look through the ads that come in the junk mail.  I am looking for the offer I can’t refuse.  It is a blessing that the offer never seems to come.  I also look at how the models are dressed and coifed to see what the latest styles are.

I noticed in one folder that there were at least two cures offered for the gout.  I thought this was a condition of the past.  It has always been associated with wealthy people who ate rich foods and did little exercise.  In the past that was only the upper classes.  Today I guess it could effect most Americans.  It seems to be gaining a “foot hold” again, if you will excuse the expression.

The cause is still the same.  For most people the cure is still the same.  I am sure there are exceptions but it would seem that this is a moral problem for most people.  This would be a good indication that prayer and fasting might be in order.  I would suggest that the physical gout is often a result of spiritual gout, again making allowance for other causes.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-61, Discernment Watch: Charity Giving

Do you respond when you hear a radio appeal for a well known charity?  How about direct mail?  Can they count on you?  After all, we are supposed to be concerned for the poor and needy.

I am very selective about who receives my hard earned money.  It is never a matter of giving or not giving, it is a matter of to whom or what.  People who claim we need to help the poor are right but have you ever thrown seed out to a group of hungry birds?  Have you ever put food down for a bunch of ravenous puppies?  Have you ever watched what happens?  The ones who need it the most don’t get any.  It is the pushy and aggressive that reap the reward.  I would suggest to you that the same is true of people looking for handouts.  Those who need it the most either will not ask or get pushed aside.

We have a responsibility to use discernment in our giving.  If you only have $100 dollars to give to the needy do you want $90 to go to high paid executives and direct mail campaigns?  Or would you rather have $90 go directly to food, shelter, clothing and medical supplies?  I think the answer is obvious. 

That means we need to get out of our cars, out of our neighborhoods, out of our comfort zones and actually look and listen.  You will find single parents, working hard and getting further behind every month.  They can’t be out on the corner begging, they have to work.  You will find seniors who have moved to the smallest apartment they can find.  They are too frail to stand in front of the local 7/11 and risk being mugged by those who claim it as their spot.  You won’t find them unless you look.

I am very selective about who receives my blood, literally.  I used to donate blood to the Red Cross.  I gradually began to notice some things though.  More and more the Red Cross began to seem like big business instead of an avenue to help the needy.  I heard stories about World War II.  They would be selling coffee and donuts to the GI’s when the Salvation Army was giving them away.  I remember how they misused the funds generated after 9/11.  I am sure that they do a lot of good things, but they may not be the best investment for your love dollars.  In fact, I would say that any organization that has a national advertising presence will waste most of your money.

So give.  Generously.  But give in ways that involve you and actually help the people in need.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Opus 2011-60, On the Street: Who Is Rahm Emanuel?

I was at an assembly being held at our school.  The students were seated and I looked at the man doing the presentation and noticed that he had a general resemblance to Rahm Emanuel.  I leaned over and pointed this out to the teacher next to me and she asked, “Who?”  Thinking she had not heard me, I repeated the name.  She asked, “Who is he?”

Rarely am I speechless.  You should have been there.  I felt like a fish gasping for air.  I was standing by a lady I have worked with for years.  She raised three great children and is an excited grandmother.  She is molding the next generation of public school children and she had never heard of Rahm Emanuel.  I would have understood if she didn’t know the name of her representative in congress.  It would have not troubled me if she could not name the school board members, but Rahm Emanual?  Actually, I should not have been surprised.  She voted for Barak Obama.

When you wonder why the country is struggling so much, think about all the people who are totally out of touch with current events.  I am not talking about cultural issues.  For instance, are you familiar with the expression, “Who is John Galt?”  Do you know where it came from and what it means?  I didn’t until a few years ago.  My cultural foundation had a hole in it.  I was ignorant.  That is a part of life.  But how many people are there who have had the influence on our country that Rahm Emanuel has had.  It is hard to have an intelligent conversation with people who have surrendered their duty to be informed.

I tremble for the future of our republic.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-59, Gender Neutral

"Gender neutral" is one of the current terms used to justify attacks on the validity of God’s word.  It starts with an assumption.  It assumes that modern ideas of sexual equality are right because they fit our current philosophy and that the Bible is wrong in not accepting that idea.  An even more basic assumption is that of Eve in the Garden, we are wiser than God and He needs us to protect Him from His own folly.

Gender neutral means that when the original Greek says “brothers” or “man” in the generic sense of referring to all human beings, then we need to clean up the translation and make it “brothers and sisters” or “people.”  If you were doing this in a commentary or a sermon there is no problem with that.  It is probably correct in its understanding.  The problem comes when you take a clear word in the Greek or Hebrew and set yourself up to change what it says.  The utter arrogance of that boggles my mind.  So God made a mistake in His editing and you are going to tidy up for Him?

This is not interpretation it is mistranslation.  It is deliberate deception.  There are obviously places where words are hard to translate accurately.  We face this in translating agape as love.  We face it in translating chesed.  I can accept if you choose “mercy” instead of “lovingkindness.”  I understand the difficulty of translation across time and cultures.  We see the same problem in modern languages.  That is not messing with holy scripture, that is seeking truth.

But “gender neutral” isn’t.  What is it?  It is a political and philosophical statement that modern man is more advanced, intelligent and sophisticated than those rubes entangled in barbaric patriarchal society.  Every time you change the meaning of a word for political, social or philosophical reasons you are deliberately turning your back on truth.  I guess another word for it is sin.

Satan gloats.  God weeps.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Opus 2011-58, Key Scriptures: Hebrews 9:22

(Hebrews 9:22 KJV)  And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

If sin is the problem and Jesus is the answer, why was it necessary for Him to die on a cross?  To modern city dwellers this seems to be some type of primitive barbarism.  Couldn’t this have been taken care of a different way?

That is a mute question.  Who is to say how God could have done things?  Maybe someday we can ask Him.

Take a look at the last part of the verse.  It tells us that there can be no forgiveness for sin without blood being shed.  Why would this be?  Look at this verse from the Old Testament:
(Leviticus 17:11 KJV)  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.
This is some incredibly accurate scientific knowledge for a supposedly primitive culture.  If there is any one thing that is necessary for animal life it is the blood.  It transports food, removes waste and provides defenses against disease.  All this without a microscope.  It is forbidden as a food.  In communion it is raised to the sacred. 

If sin is evil, then it deserves the ultimate punishment.  God cannot overlook the pollution of sin.  It must be cleansed.  It is a law of the universe.  Newton said it in his laws of thermodynamics.  “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  What is true in physics is true in theology, after all the same God laid down both.

This is where Jesus gets into the picture.  Sin must be paid for by the shedding of blood.  In the Old Testament a temporary system was set up in the sacrifice of animals.  Jesus became the perfect Lamb.  He became the perfect sacrifice.  His blood was enough to pay for the sins of the world.  The bad news is that sin demands death.  The good news is that Jesus met the demand.

Now the ball is in your court.

homo unius libri

Monday, February 14, 2011

Opus 2011-57, Assumptions

Recently I left a comment on a blog dealing with something called a “gender neutral” translation of the Bible.  The host of the blog obviously disagreed with me.  You can check the post and discussion HERE if you like.  The show stopper for me was this statement: 
“this is where an argument would get difficult because don’t have the same assumptions.”
He was right.  We would keep on arguing and get nowhere because we have different assumptions.  If we were in a coffee shop or worked in the same office I would love to continue the discussion, but on the internet it is too frustrating.

What he said was a profound point that we need to consider when we are trying to witness or advocate a point of theology.  More and more, believers have different assumptions from people in the world.  I am not de-Christianizing the guy I was exchanging thoughts with, the discussion was not on that level.  I am thanking him for bringing up a point.  In Idols for Destruction Hebert Schlossberg makes this point.  When we are dealing with professors who reject the Christian point of view or a neighbor who thinks we are nuts, there is a good chance we won’t be able to do anything to change their minds. 
“The evidence is often good and the arguments sound  It is the assumptions we must question.  These are statements that are presumed to be true but are not proven....Assumptions are beliefs; if they were proven they would not be assumptions.  And they are beliefs so taken for granted that it is not deemed necessary to prove them.”  (Emphasis in Original), p. 8
In the book he is talking about people in science or history who are telling the world what to think. 
“Soundly designed experiments, complete data, airtight controls, scrupulous honesty, and rigorous logic yield wrong conclusions when the original assumptions are wrong.” p. 8
I would put it, “You can’t reach the East coast by taking the westbound train.”

One day in our history department meeting we ran out of official topics and were discussing our differences.  I am an evangelical, one was a devout Catholic and the third teacher was a non-religious socialist from the Middle East.  We have some great discussions on very real disagreements.  What was amazing was that we finally got down to assumptions.  The socialist admitted that one source of our conflict came down to our view of human nature.  As Christians, the Catholic and I share the assumption of original sin that corrupts human nature.  As a humanist the socialist believed that man was good and society was to blame.  It was a great moment.  No one changed their views but we reached some real understanding.

What are your assumptions?  Is there a God?  Is that God the God of the Bible?  Does truth exist?  Can we know that truth?  Was Jesus God?  Did He die on a cross and rise again?  The answers to these questions determine the answers to all the rest.

Examine your assumptions.  Are they more in line with a believing Christian or a traditional pagan.  Start by being honest with yourself.

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Opus 2011-56, Infant Baptism

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had some comments on infant baptism that I found interesting.  He comes from a tradition that practices this as a sacrament.
“The New Testament lays down no law about infant baptism, and it is in fact a gift of grace that has been granted to the Church.  Hence it can be a striking testimony of faith for the parish.  But to force oneself to proceed with it without feeling the compulsion of faith is certainly not biblical.  Regarded purely as a demonstration, infant baptism cannot be justified.”  Letters and Papers from Prison, p. 150.
I come from a tradition that tends to dedicate infants rather than baptize.  It is more of a statement of the parents commitment than a sacrament bestowed on the child.  This statement helped me see into the hearts and minds of others.  I welcome the concession that it is not demanded by the Bible.  I can see it as a testimony to the parish, but then so is a dedication.

This is one of those areas I am willing to disagree without getting hot under the collar.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-55, Food prices going up.

I saw a full page add in the Washington Times, National Edition by a group called “Negative Population Growth.”  I have seen it before but this time I looked a little closer.  It gives the appearance of a group that is concerned about excessive immigration, but if you go to their web site you find that they are against population growth in general.  Shades of The Population Bomb by Paul Ehrlich.  One of their concerns was what is being billed as the growing food crisis.

You have seen the headlines about the cost of food going up and the concern that major starvation is ahead.  I found a lot of reasons that called for more government control but I noticed that the problem of government control is not brought up.  Although there are natural issues, I am sure, the biggest problem is not biological, it is political.

During the Great Depression our government destroyed food when people were hungry.  Why?  to keep the price of food up.  Political.  I found several references that Muslim Militias were destroying food in the Sudan, one from a U.N. Source.  Political.  I have heard rumors that in India they government burned food on the docks sent by relief agencies because they were afraid it would undermine local farmers.  Political.  I live in California.  Drive through the central valley and see all of the once fertile farm land growing nothing but weeds.  Why?  Because the environmentalists have cut off the water.  Political.  The cost of moving food is going up because the United States does not drill for oil and keep the price of gasoline down.  Political.  Farmers are taking corn that used to feed people and animals and turning it into ethanol thus causing an increase in the price of corn.  Political.

Are food prices going up?  Yes.  The problem is not a lack of production capacity.  The problem at its heart is political actions of people who desire to control everything and in the process will kill millions.  The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

Do we as Christians need to examine our consumption and self indulgence?  Yes, but not because we are causing a shortage of food for others.  That is more a matter of how we have been voting than how much we have been eating.  Discipline and self control are spiritual goals but eating less will put farm workers out of a job more than it will put bread on their plates.  Voting for people who push a government controlled economy will not only put no bread on their plate but take away the plate too.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Opus 2011-54, New Words: Pigouvian Taxes.

I was reading “States eye ‘sin’ taxation as salvation for budgets,” in The Washington Times, National Weekly, January 24, 2011, p. 12.  I was getting angry at the politicians continued attempts to destroy life as we know it by taxing us into poverty.  Then I came across a new term, at least new to me.  It said, “...what economists call ‘Pigouvain taxes’ – levies designed to change behavior for the betterment of society.”  Now they have a fancy name for sin taxes. 

Politicians have long tried to control our behavior by taxing things they don’t like.  Think of the attack on tobacco.  At one point in the article it say that New York state is assessing $4.35 on one pack of cigarettes.  Now that is a sin tax.  I don’t smoke and it offends me.  We also have the marriage penalty in income tax.  What does that say about the goal of our government?

I must admit it.  I think someone is jerking someone’s chain on this one.  I found this explained on Wikipedia but understand that Wikipedia is not a reliable source.  You can put anything there.  I checked out World Book Encyclopedia and found nothing.  I have my doubts this isn’t something invented by a sophomores economics class.  Is there any coincidence that this man’s last name is one letter short of Pig out?  It is a great name for a tax designed to keep us from eating Twinkies and drinking sugary beverages.  If this is a real person I apologize, I don’t want to mock a real person, but come on!

To paraphrase a famous statement, “At first they came for the expensive cars and I said nothing because I can’t afford them.  Then they came for alcohol and I said nothing, for I do not drink.  Then they came for the tobacco and I said nothing for I don’t smoke.  Then they came for Twinkies and I said nothing, for I am diabetic.  Then they came for...”  You get the idea. 

John Marshall once said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”  You need to remember that the next time you vote.  I think a tax that would be for the betterment of society would be a tax on politicians.

homo unius libri

Friday, February 11, 2011

Opus 2011-53, Salvation Is Not Whack-a-Mole

I am an Arminian.  I believe that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, makes it possible for me to respond to His freely offered and undeserved grace with a free will, not because of irresistible grace.  I also believe that if I were to decide to go apostate, it would be possible to “fall from grace” as Galatians says,
(Galatians 5:4 KJV)  Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
This is turned into all kinds of disingenuous caricatures by people of Calvinistic persuasion.  It is not a matter of falling out and falling in and falling nauseam.  God is not sitting on the edge of His thrown just waiting for a chance to throw us out of the kingdom.  It is not some kind of divine game of Whack-a-Mole.

Jesus did not die to see how many people He could cast into Hell.  He went to the cross so that “whosoever believed” would get eternal life.  This is not a game of spoons where the prize goes to the last man standing. 

You have a paradox.  On one side you have the impossible demand of a Holy God:
(Matthew 5:48 KJV)  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
We are expected to live holy and righteous lives.  We are expected to obey.  It is not an option.

On the other side is the repeated failure of everyone but Jesus.  How many times was Peter caught in failures?  How many verses are there like I John 1:9
(1 John 1:9 KJV)  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Jesus clearly taught that the way was narrow and few would find it.  He also taught that we could find it and walk it.

At times I glory in the awesome concept of grace.  At times I struggle with my failures.  But to me the message is clear.  The goal is reachable.  “For God so loved the world...” 

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Opus 2011-52, Balancing the Budget

We are going about this in totally the wrong way.  If we spend all of our time asking “What can we cut?”  we will never cut anything significant.  We need to approach from the other direction.

Let’s start by asking ourselves, “How much do we have do spend?”  Start with the income from last year.  Actually we could use that as the number to work with.  No family plans their year on what they want to bring in or on the belief that they are going to win the lottery.  Let us start with what is.

Then go to the Constitution.  I know it is a strange idea, but bear with me.  What is specifically listed in the Constitution that is the responsibility of the Federal Government?  By that I mean what it lists not such generic terms as “the General Welfare.”  Some things are obvious.  National defense comes to mind.  That does not mean it can’t be reduced but it is a clear expectation.  Coining money would be on the list.  We make a list of what is required, jot down the totals for those and see where we are.  Then we can move to our wish list and fight it out.

The wish list is everything else, no matter how worthy or important.  The wish list should have every item with a sunset clause of no more than six years so that everyone elected is forced to make a public declaration of what they want the tax payers to fund.  If we were asking the voters if they want their taxes raised to fund NEA you might find out that there would be no backlash for doing away with it.

Each item would need to be voted on individually to reduce back scratching. 

When you run out of money, stop spending.  If the income goes up, pay off the debt or take another look at your favorite program.

You might want a 10 year adjustment period in which no government employee below a certain pay grade is fired.  Of course, no one is hired either until the numbers are down.  Attrition would take care of the extra workers and the ten years would give them time to make plans.

There are ways out of this mess but everyone thinks someone else should pay the bill.

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Opus 2011-51, Proof-texting Is Also a Pagan Problem

One of the intellectual challenges we face in Christian discussions is the issue of proof-texting.  This refers to a tendency to take snippets of scripture, lay them before people with no context, and say, “There!  I have proven my point.”  This is sometimes necessary because you can’t expect everyone to read the entire Bible to back up one point.  It is also dangerous because it can be used to tell lies and deceive.  One of my favorite example of this goes like this:
“Judas went and hanged himself....Go ye and do likewise.”
I hope you see the problem.

Pagans also have this problem.  By pagans I mean the vast horde of scholars and professors who make up our elite teaching classes. 

In his book, Idols for Destruction, pp. 25-27, Herbert Schlossberg talks about this tendency in a section he calls “The Myth of the Seamless Web.”  The idea is that scholars have a universal theory that is supposed to cover all of their subject, be it history or science.  All information and data must fit into this theory, no, WILL fit into this theory.  If information comes up that does not fit in it is ignored, discredited or distorted to fit into the seamless web.  We have seen this in the modern fantasy called Global Warming.  If it is cold, it is because of global warming.  If it is hot, it is because of global warming.  If we have flood is it because of global warming.  If we have droughts, get the idea.  You have seen this even if you do not acknowledge it.

One of his points of reference is a well known book by Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  I know it is a well know book because I have read it.  Kuhn makes the point that down through history even science has had major shifts.  They are sometimes forced by overwhelming new knowledge.  Small amounts of new knowledge are treated like global warming statistics and ignored.  When there is a major shift, Kuhn says that the scholars go back and rewrite the history of science so that it seems like there has been a steady march to the present position, a seamless web.  It is dishonest, to say the least.

Why is it important to also read the writings of “dead white guys?”  Because they might have information that has been suppressed and would change our view of the present.  One such case that I found in my reading had to do with the Civilized Tribes of Georgia.  They are the archetype of the Noble Savage.  John Wesley spent time in Georgia and records what he learned about these tribes in his Journals, dated December 2, 1737.

In his introductory comments he says,
“During this time I had frequent opportunities of making many observations and inquiries concerning the real state of this province, (which has been so variously represented,) the English settlements therein, and the Indians that have intercourse with them.”
In paragraph 20 Wesley says “it is hard to pick out any consistent account of the Georgian Indians from the contradictory relation of their traders.”  Everyone had a different opinion and Wesley tries to sum things up as best he can.

In paragraph 23 he makes a general statement.
 “They are likewise, all, except, perhaps, the Choctaws, gluttons, drunkards, thieves, dissemblers, liars.  They are implacable, unmerciful; murderers of fathers, murderers of mothers, murderers of their own children:  It being a common thing for a son to shoot his father or mother because they are old and past labour; and for a women to procure abortion, or to throw her child into the next river, because she will go with her husband to the war.” 
Notice it is not totally a blanket statement, he is excepting the Choctaws.

He has some good things to say about the Cherokee also. 
“They are civil to strangers, and will do any thing for them, for pay;...  But they are equally cruel to prisoners with the Chicasaws (sic), though not equally valiant.  They are seldom intemperate in drinking, but when they can be so in free-cost.  Otherwise, love of drink yields to covetousness:  A vice scarcely to be found in any Indian but a Cherikee (sic).”
People are different.  Cultures are different.  We know that, but the saccharin picture of the Noble Savage is a fantasy.  Sometimes you need to listen to people who were there.

Be alert when you read.  Listen for the phrase that is jarring or out of place.  Watch out for things that seem to good to be true.  Use your common sense.  Be informed.  When it comes to what you read or listen to, “Caveat emptor,”  “Let the buyer beware.”

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Opus 2011-50, Should We Narrow the Franchise?

Should everyone be allowed to vote?  By that I mean all people, who are citizens and over 18 years of age.  I am assuming that we all agree that dead people should not vote, nor should your dog, cat or Mickey Mouse have the franchise.  If you disagree with that you probably need to go read the Huffington Post or some such drivel. 

In ancient Athens you had to be free, male and I believe a property owner to vote.  In the Roman Republic you need to be a property owner and a soldier in the local army to be a citizen.  Conversely, you could not be in the army if you were not a citizen.  In England there were certain requirements dealing with your net worth, income and property.  I have never taken the time to figure those out.

Property has been a traditional requirement to voting.  But what about being able to read and write well enough to understand the ballot?  Should a person be able to understand the issues in order to vote? 

One of the problems with setting standards is that they can be interpreted to discriminate in an unintended way.  For instance, in the south in order to keep black citizens from voting they would give a difficult test to a black man and a simple test to a white man.  So there would be problems with any standards.

Here are some things I would like to see.

Proof of citizenship to register.  This would only need to be established once if we could develop a foolproof way to transfer registration when a person moved.  In order to keep central control out it might be necessary to require new proof each time you moved.  Once people were used to this they would keep the documents handy.

Required identification to prove you are the person registered and live at the address on file.  The people who oppose this are usually those who vote early and often.

Only allow people who own property to vote on issues effecting property.  Bond issues that are added to property taxes should not be voted on by people who think someone else will have to pay the bill.

Only allow people who pay taxes to vote on any tax issue.  This is the same logic of the property tax issue. 

This will never happen but what about short answer ballots instead of multiple choice.  It would be a bear to count but make people know who they are voting for enough to be able to write their name.

On initiatives make them multiple choice in that there would be a lot of fake issues printed and they would need to know what they were voting on to identify them.

Require judges to get a super majority.  No one knows who they are anyway.  Vote the suckers out. 

homo unius libri

Monday, February 7, 2011

Opus 2011-49, It’s All in the Adjectives

Have you noticed how many great nouns are ruined by the adjectives that precede them?

Think about these words and what they really mean:  Justice, sex, music, righteousness, law, and discrimination.  Yes, discrimination was once considered a good thing.  If you had discriminating taste you were a person of culture and class.  You could probably make up your own list.

Now add some adjectives.  Sex was created as a gift of God to marriage.  Look at how marriage is described in Proverbs 5:18-19 (NASB)
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
Sounds good to me.

For most animals it is a function of reproduction only.  Unless she is in “heat” the female isn’t interested.  When he smells the right hormone the male can’t control himself.  Any other time, it ain’t going to happen.  There may be some exceptions but with humans it is an act of commitment and intimacy.  At least that is what it was designed for.  Enter the adjectives and you get premarital sex and many other versions.  Watching modern pagans reminds me of sitting in Vietnam and for entertainment watching the big dogs fight over who got to copulate with the bitch in heat.  (This is the proper use of the word “bitch”.)  Sin adds an adjective and beauty is turned to trash.  Love becomes lust.

Justice becomes social justice.  You take a great principle of God, based on eternal principles, and turn it into a tool of favoritism.  Social justice is anything but just.  It is coercion by the government to force people to give unfair advantage to whoever is the social flavor of the month.  We always hear about the verses talking about concern for the poor.  They exist.  No one can argue, but how come you never hear this one,
(Leviticus 19:15 KJV)  Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
Justice is based on righteousness not bank balance.

Or how about the term “rap music?”  I have not listened to much of it but when you drive a car in LA you are going to hear it if you want to or not.  I could almost accept it as poetry, but it has nothing to do with music.  Even as poetry it has something to be desired.  You see, it the rapper can’t think of a word, he makes one up.  Or he puts in a word that rhymes but gives it a whole new meaning because he needs something to sound right.  And what about rhythm?  If the words don’t bounce right, you add more syllables.  You know how J. Vernon McGee used to make “God” a three syllable word?  That means he could have been a rapper.  (I am sure he would forgive me for that.)

You get the point?  How do you change the meaning of your words by adding adjectives?  What kind of adjectives do your attitudes put in from of the nouns of your life?  Or what kind of adverbs do your actions put in front of the verbs? 

homo unius libri

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Opus 2011-48, God Is Dead (again)

There is an open attack on Christianity and Christians in our culture.  Recently I was at the library and there was an announcement they would be closed December 23-25 for the “holidays.”  I asked the librarian what holidays those would be.  The only thing she could come up with was Christmas.  It was obvious, yet the word is anathema. 

Take heart if you are a believer.  This is nothing new.  We sometimes think that the battles we fight are new but the pagans have been trying to drive God out of the public square all through history.  I saw this again recently.  I was reading in The Journals of John Wesley and on July 6, 1781 he wrote,
“It is true, the doctrine of a particular absolutely out of fashion in England.” 
Then he added,
“ the majority, even of Britons, to this day, retain some sort of respect for the Bible.”
The intellectuals were trying to drive out the idea of God, or Providence in 18th century vocabulary.  In spite of this there was a general positive feeling toward the Bible.  Does that sound familiar?  Recently I posted that even atheist Richard Dawkins had some good words to say about the KJV. 

Relax and trust.  God has been down this road before even if it is our first time.

homo unius libri

Opus 2011-47, Immortal Quotes: “Give a man a fish,...”

The way I heard it originally was “Give a man a fish, you feed him for today.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for the rest of his life.”  There are other variations.  Trying to track it down has many sources saying it is a “Chinese proverb.”  Of course everything seems to go back to the Chinese from bicycles to fishing.  One source specifies Lao Tzu as the original.  Another says it is an Indian proverb. 

It is one of the hardest thing for some people to learn.  Sometimes helping people does not help them.  Often if makes them weaker by making them dependent.  At school the kids often get upset because I won’t give them answers they can find themselves.  They have a million ways of trying to trick me and I can only conclude because they try so hard that in the past the tricks have worked.  Teachers love to be helpers but the warm fuzzy way is not always the best for the student. 

I have been told that Alcoholics Anonymous have a term for this kind of person:  Enablers.  They are people who protect the alcoholic and shield them from having to face the reality of their situation.  They can keep recovery from happening.  We all could use that lesson.

Teach people to fish.  Demonstrate and transfer the skills necessary for life.  Do not do the fishing for them.  It may feel good to you, it is disaster to them.

homo unius libri

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Opus 2011-46, Is Capitalism Christian?

I have already asked the question, “Is Socialism Christian?”  Now I want to ask the same thing about capitalism.  Again I will start with the definition from my handy dictionary.
“1. the economic system in which all or most of the means of production and distribution, as land, factories, railroads, etc., are privately owned and operated for profit, originally under fully competitive conditions:  it has been generally characterized by a tendency toward concentration of wealth, and, in its later phase, by the growth of great corporations, increased governmental control, etc.”  Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, copyright 1972.
This definition has two parts.  The first part has three main points.  Capitalism means business is privately owned, seeks a profit and is based on competition.  How do those concepts reflect or reject what we see in the Bible?

First of all, does the Bible support the idea of individual ownership of production?  All you need to do is look at the lists of wealth for the patriarchs.  You will find lists of cattle, sheep and servants.  These are not condemned.  It has always been assumed that Peter was part of a family that owned their fishing boats and were in business for themselves.  Lydia was a dealer in purple.  I could go on, but if that isn’t enough for you, you’re not willing to consider facts.

How about profit?  Read the passage about the excellent wife in Proverbs 31.  This has it all.  She buys property and plants a vineyard.  She manufactures clothing items and sells them.  She is a charter member of the Chamber of Commerce.  And she is praised for it.  Or picture the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14ff.  The only one who was condemned was the one who did not do business with what he was given.  Profit is not a dirty word in the Bible.  Stop reading Marx and start reading Matthew. 

But what about those dirty greedy merchants that hoard food?  The Bible has a word on that also. 
(Proverbs 11:26 KJV)  He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
Notice that the merchant is not told to give it away and praised for his generosity.  He is praised because he sells when there is a need.  I could go other places and show that he could expect to make a fair profit and not be condemned.  By that I mean a fair profit in his eyes and God’s eyes not in the eyes of the people buying.

Does the Bible support the basic principles of capitalism?  I would have to say yes.  Is capitalism Christian? No, because Jesus did not come to establish an economic system.  But having said that, it is a lot closer to free market capitalism than state controlled socialism.

The second part of the definition makes it seem like it was added by a committee seeking to water down what is was about.  The second half begins to mingle with socialism so I am not sure what it is doing in this definition.  This part is unsupported Biblically but get your definitions right. 

homo unius libri

Friday, February 4, 2011

Opus 2011-45, Is Socialism Christian?

If you follow the writings of many Christian pundits you would think this is a no-brainer.  Most of your mainline and emergent churches have a belief that socialism is the economic and political system that is most in line with the teachings of Jesus. 

Let’s start with trying to establish some definition of what I mean when I say “socialism.”  You may want to add to or change my definition but it will at least give us a starting point.  I will start with the dictionary I have on my shelf:
“1. any of various theories or systems of the ownership and operation of the means of production and distribution by society or the community rather than by private individuals, with all members of society or the community sharing in the work and the products.”

“3. the stage of society, in Marxist doctrine, coming between the capitalist stage and he communist which private ownership of the means of production and distribution has been eliminated.”  Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, copyright 1972.
Socialism is a form of government that has society control all forms of production and distribution.  This would mean that you might be able to own your own home and if you have a very small business you could pursue it.  But if you look a little further you see that everyone is to share in the work and products.  Anything that gives the government increased control and takes away from individual control is socialistic. 

Notice that this definition of socialism covers that which is emerging in our country and is already established in Western Europe as well as in fascism and communism.  They are all points on a continuum of socialism.

Is there any evidence or support for this in the Bible?  Not that I can see.  Most Christians who are in favor of this kind of thinking want it because it will make things fair and give the disadvantaged a hand up.  Those are nice sentiments but the idea of helping the poor in the Bible is in individual mandate.  You are supposed to give of your resources to those in need.  It is not a Bible plan to have the government take away from people you designate and give it to your favorite needy person.

When the Israelites were demanding a king, Samuel warned them of the consequences of a strong central government.  In the middle of the warning we have these words:
(1 Samuel 8:14 KJV)  And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
That sounds like a good description of what happens when the government takes charge.  Remember that this was given as a warning, not a recommendation.

If you have some good, solid evidence from the Bible that God thinks socialism is the way to go, I would love to hear them.

homo unius libri

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Opus 2011-44, Christian Cliches: The Root of All Evil

Often you will hear people say that “money is the root of all evil.”  Like so many other things in the Bible, this is misquoted.  What does the Bible say?
(1 Timothy 6:10 KJV)  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
It is the “love of money”, not the money itself.  This is a compound word in the Greek.  The first part is the word for brotherly love.  The second part is silver.  Put together is means holding silver very closely.

We have a tendency to put the moral value on the object rather than the attitude that uses it.  Money can be used to help the poor or bribe a judge.  It has not life of its own.  It is a tool.

So the question becomes, do you control your money or does your money control you?

homo unius libri

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Opus 2011-43, Book Review: Einstein

Isaacson, Walter. Einstein.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 2007.

This is an excellent, well balanced view of Albert Einstein, the man and the mathematician. 

The author does not back away from trying to deal with Einstein the mathematician.  He goes into the details of Einstein’s thinking to the point it seems he understood him better than the mathematicians he worked with.  At times the narrative gets is little cumbersome but on the whole Isaacson gets through it and makes sense.

What was interesting to me was Einstein the man.  Although he was constantly being described as warm, witty and wise, I did not see that.  

Take the issue of morality.  The author made repeated reference to how moral Einstein was.  As an example the book states, “...he was able to develop, and to practice, a strong personal morality, at least toward humanity in general if not always toward members of his family...” (p. 393)  Isn’t it always easy to love mankind but hate your neighbor.  I guess that is why Jesus said to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Einstein walked away from his first wife when she was having problems and began living with a woman who would eventually become his second wife.  He was not recognized as being faithful to his second wife either.  One son was put in a sanitarium and was never visited by his father.  On the social front, during World War I when he was of military age, Einstein was a total passivist and renounced his German citizenship.  When he was too old to serve and living in America he remained a passivist in principle but it was acceptable to go to war against Hitler.  He declared he would have enlisted (but of course was too old at that point.)

This view of morality mystifies me, but it shouldn’t.  The author has a different idea of morality than I have.  I think killing unborn children is immoral but killing cows is the way we get steak.  I think dumping your wife is immoral but garbage dumps makes sense.  I really don’t understand the use of the word of someone who breaks all the social contracts.

Politically he was what has been called a "useful idiot."  He was for individual freedom and personal choice but he was a socialist.  He recognized that socialism led to tyranny and lack of freedom but he was still a socialist.  He refused to travel to Russia, but he also refused to sign a statement condemning Stalin’s political murders.  Part of his reasoning was “The Russians have proved that their only aim is really the improvement of the lot of the Russian people.” (p. 446)

He had typical socialist ideas about wealth.  In a book Einstein wrote called Why Socialism he said this,
“A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, women, and child.” (p. 504)
But he was a typical western socialist.  While he condemned American affluence he lived a life filled with comfort and luxuries.  He owned a sailboat most of his life.  In Europe he built himself a lake-front home.  In American he would rent an ocean front summer home.  One was on 20 acres and had a tennis court and swimming pool.  This is not exactly suffering for the cause of equality.

To me the author summed up his personality, “Personally, politically, and professionally, he was repulsed by any restraints.”  This may have produced genius but it also describes spoiled brats.

If you like biography, read it.  If you want to learn about Einstein, read it.  I feel I could have spent the time on someone who would have been a little more inspiring.

homo unius libri

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Opus 2011-42, Who’s Your Guru, Baby

Americans seem to need gurus.  They need authority figures to tell them what to do in their lives.  We all have read or heard of “Dear Abby.”  We have listened to or heard of Dr. Laura.  Everywhere you turn we look for gurus.  When we were raising our children we used to listen to Focus on the Family and read all of James Dobson’s books.  When I get the catalogue from Christian Discount it has page after page of “favorite authors” telling us how to pray, raise children, have a perfect marriage and so forth.

I download a podcast called The Survival Podcast.  I might actually get to listening to one a week.  The host, Jack Spirko, is one of those guys who can be very informative or very irritating.  Some topics he knows a lot, others very little, but he can give opinions on either.  Check it out if you are interested in that kind of program.  What got me going the other day was a comment he made.  I don’t remember what the topic was.  I think he was answering a listener’s question but he said, “It’s either going to effect us really drastic, or not at all, or somewhere in between.”  He covered the entire spectrum of opinion and acted like he was giving insight that should be listened to.  Gurus get away with such foolishness.  In his defense, he may have been taping the show while he drove to work, but I thought it was amusing.

I have people who could come close to being gurus.  I think of C.S. Lewis and John Wesley.  I read and think about what they have to say.  In one way, though, they do not qualify.  I run everything they say through my Bible filter.  The only guru I want is Jesus.  The only book that I feel has the final word it the Bible.  I don’t mean that in an arrogant, “I am a perfect disciple and you aren’t” sense.  I mean that is my goal.

So listen to Rush or Keith, whichever way you swing, and enjoy them, but always run what they have to say through your Bible filter. 

Beware of Gurus.

homo unius libri