Oligarchy of Nihilists

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 15, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

The world in its infancy knew only one God. He created and ordered the world and all was very good. He walked the earth and everything hummed with worship. But the sky darkened with the devil’s lie, and Adam believed that he too could be a god (Genesis 3:5). Man reached for the forbidden fruit, sunk in his teeth, heard the snap of its flesh giving way, and he swallowed it—hook, line, and sinker. Since that very moment there have been two authorities at odds: God and man, theism versus humanism, God’s rightful authority versus humanity’s usurpatious designs.

No matter how many layers of complexity and nuance one adds to this simple description, it remains basically accurate. The discrepancies in the public arena are exacerbated by the differences in these two foundations. If one believes in God, they will look to Him for objective truth and revelation about the human condition. If one believes that there is no God or that he is completely uninvolved in human affairs, they will conclude that we are on our own and any solutions to the human condition are going to have to come from us. Plainly, these competing religious postures have political implications.

Politics and religion will always intertwine. Humanism is a religion (no matter how much atheists claim it isn’t) in that it is a system of belief that requires a philosophical posture. Religious or irreligious categories inescapably bleed into the public square. Certainly, religious believers can assert that politicians must be honest because the Bible says so. Do believers have to concoct some secular reason to justify truth-telling? What if such secular reasoning is not strong enough to compel individuals (or politicians) to tell the truth?

As Neuhaus has argued, public life must be informed by some set of ethics. Humanistic ethics are always only a social convention. They are ultimately grounded in the opinion of human beings. Nazis believed Jew-hating to be a virtue, and they were voted into power—legally. They legislated their version of morality. Were they wrong? Of course, they were! But they are only shown to be wrong when judged by objective Christian standards.

The concept of “contemporary morality,” is in vogue. The idea that all morality is a social convention erases any idea of objective moral standards. Social ethics grounded in secular humanism will always be subjective. Better hope your personally preferred party stays in power by whatever means necessary or you could be in serious trouble.

By removing religion from the public square, there is no longer anything transcendent to prevent politics from becoming a god unto itself. Not only does this destroy religious expression, but it also destroys politics because nothing higher than political power is believed to exist. What should be a marketplace of ideas becomes a mob war of various parties vying for a monopoly share of government. All that remains is an oligarchy of nihilists – politics descends to rats in a cage, devouring and being devoured.

The political elite grasp for power and then jealously retain it. George Orwell wrote constantly about the temptations the State has toward totalitarianism. In his novel 1984, Orwell explains State power grabbing with the admissions of its main statist representative, O’Brian. O’Brian says, “Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever."

Christianity, in contrast, is grounded on the objective revelation of God’s character as revealed in the Bible. Nefarious men have used the institutions of Christianity to further personal power, but these goals are illegitimate and not properly Christian. Jesus did not grab for power; He did not allow Satan to gain the world for Him in trade (Matthew 4:8-10). Rather, Jesus surrendered His life as a ransom. God saves those who believe Him and judges those who reject His rightful place of authority.

The terms of God’s covenant remain unchanged yesterday, today, and forever: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). This is as unalterable as the foundations of the universe, as immutable as 5+2=7. Man, for his part, continues to deify himself. He rises, shakes his fist toward heaven and utters in Milton’s famous words (Paradise Lost, lines 105-111):

“What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That Glory never shall his wrath or might Extort from me.”

Man exults in his own rebellious power. He does not have authority to contradict the creator, yet he has the ability, for now, to do much as he pleases. What pleases human beings is to play at being God. Psalm 2:1-6 says:

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’”

The foundation of a virtuous public square then must be based on God’s unchanging character. When good behavior and action becomes habitual, it becomes character. Habituated good character is virtue. In the social confusion beginning in the wake of WWI, Western society began to reject character as the most important possession of an individual and especially politicians. Performance ousted character as primary. Today, it seems easily accepted that the personal character of politicians (Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, for example) can be deeply flawed, and yet they are elected because Americans care mostly about results.

In a results-oriented schema, the divide between the humanist and the theist becomes even more grossly conspicuous. Since Jesus Christ orders the universe (even though creation is at odds with him at this moment) and the basis of virtue is God’s character, let us hold ourselves and those who supposedly represent us to that high standard. There can be no greatness without character.

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What Does the Bible Say About Joy?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 13, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

It is often said that joy is different than happiness; happiness is temporary and based on circumstances often external to us, while joy is more internal and consistent. Today we’re looking at joy, so what does the Bible say about it?

As with the last two weeks’ posts on self-control and patience, joy is another of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. We have joy in our lives when the Spirit lives out joy through our obedience to following God.

The book of Psalms is a book of songs, and joy and rejoicing are fun things to sing about, so many verses in it reference joy. Among them are Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”; Psalm 118:24, “The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”; Psalm 30:5, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”; Psalm 71:23, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered.”; and Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

The prophet Isaiah explained God’s invitation to the people of Israel to be in relationship with Him, after their exile was punishment for turning away from Him. Isaiah 55:12 shows the joyfulness of turning back to God: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Zephaniah also prophesied the people of Israel returning back to God. Zephaniah 3:14 and 17 describe this joyful experience: “Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! … The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, rejoiced after hearing the news that she would bear the savior of the world. Her entire song is in Luke 1:46-55, but it starts out with this: “And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’” (Luke 1:46-47).

In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7, Jesus tells how there is much rejoicing when even one sinner repents and turns to Him. Verse 7 says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Jesus encouraged His disciples (and us) to live out joy in their lives, even in the midst of difficulties. Not long before His crucifixion, He told them, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). A little later in the same discourse, He said, “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).

The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, so it’s amazing that he focuses on joy throughout this letter. In the last chapter, he sums up his joy in Philippians 4:4 by writing, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Similarly, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Paul simply wrote, “Rejoice always.”

Paul keeps reminding the Roman church to be joyful as well. Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Just a few verses later, Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

James tells us in James 1:2-3 that pure joy comes out of our trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 also echoes this thought: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Finally, we are reminded in Hebrews 12:1-2 of the joy that Jesus had in order to accomplish His work on the cross: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

How are you doing with joy in your life? Are you focusing more on temporary happiness, or the eternal joy of know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

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Who Was Conceived By the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 12, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In this day and age, we all know that being a parent is a lot more than physically creating a child. That being said, even today it is still of paramount importance to know who a person’s BIOLOGICAL parents are. In my previous job as a social worker/investigator for cases of child abuse and neglect, this information was especially necessary if a child had to be removed from a home or if permissions and rights for decisions regarding the child had to be sorted out. While adults made decisions about their relationships regardless of how it affected any children involved, the law and the courts still favored the biological parents and their rights. Knowing the child’s blood line made all the difference.

We may not realize it as Christians, but the exact same thing can also be said about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This week’s root of our faith from the Apostles’ Creed is “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary." What you have right there are the two biological parents of Jesus. Yes, I know it’s a stretch to say that because the Holy Spirit is God and God is beyond any concept of biology and, in fact, is the One who created biology. But bear with me for the rest of this post because I intend to show you why it is critical to us and to our faith that Jesus was conceived and born as he was.

The details are found in Luke 1:26-38. The young woman, Mary, is visited by the angel Gabriel, who proceeds to tell her she will conceive and give birth to a son, who will be called “Jesus." She is then told her child won’t simply make the honor roll or get a college scholarship, but will actually be called “the Son of the Most High." He will be given the throne of his father (aka “ancestor”) David and will reign forever. Mary doesn’t say, “No way," or “That’s impossible," or “You’re out of your mind”; she simply asks how it will happen since she is a virgin. Do we understand that it’s okay to ask questions of God and his servants? There is a striking difference between skeptical unbelief and faith that asks questions. We ought to remember this when we are faced with long odds or when we are certain God has asked us to do something difficult or seemingly impossible.

The angel is clearly not offended by her question and answers it in verse 35. He tells her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." We’ve heard Jesus referred to as “Son of God” and “Son of Man." Well, it stands to reason that he would have one “parent” in each category. Mary is told that she will be “overshadowed," which has a root meaning she will be “covered with a cloud." Jews were well aware of the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit in the form of a cloud from their ancient history. Probably the most well-known of such stories is when God appeared in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire for an entire night to separate the Israelites from their Egyptian enemies when they camped near the coast of the Red Sea in Exodus 13:21, and then right before they crossed the sea in Exodus 14:19-20. So, that means that when Mary hears the angel tell her what the Holy Spirit is going to do, she knows that the same power that blocked their enemies from attacking them during the exodus is the one that will work the miracle of a virgin birth in her life. She certainly had reason to trust and believe!

We can learn a lot from Mary about asking questions, believing, and trusting, but that still doesn’t really answer the WHY for us. It actually goes back to some Old Testament prophecies and reminds us of how far our God will go to make sure that his promises are not broken and his plan is not thwarted.

Israel was waiting for the Messiah that was promised throughout the Old Testament. While they didn’t know exactly who it would be, they did know some of the conditions surrounding this person. In Jeremiah 36:30, we learn that the Messiah will not be from the bloodline of a man named Jehoiakim, who was a wicked king of Judah who burned the scroll of God’s Word because he didn’t like what it said. Part of his punishment was the curse of his bloodline and the declaration that none of his biological descendants would ever sit on the throne of David. Jeremiah 22:24 tells us that one of his sons is Jehoiachin, who is also called “Koniah” or “Jeconiah." This presents a problem for us because in Matthew 1:11, Jeconiah (aka “Jehoiachin”) is listed in the genealogy of Jesus! It appears that maybe God is contradicting his own word, that is until we look at Matthew 1:16 which clearly says, “and Jacob the father of Joseph, the HUSBAND of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah." God made sure that the Messiah was only connected to that line by marriage and not by blood. Joseph was the one biologically connected to Jehoiakim and thus the cursed bloodline. Had Jesus been born to Joseph biologically, he too would have been cursed and unable to be the Messiah!

Do you see how Satan tried to thwart God’s plan for the Messiah? This was just one of many attempts by Satan throughout history, but God always makes a way. The story here makes one wonder why God would put an earthly father in the picture at all in Jesus’ life. Well, Jesus was to be recognized as “King of the Jews," and the throne was something that could only be passed down through generations from father to son. Joseph inherited the kingdom from his father who inherited from his father and so on. So, for Jesus to receive the inherited throne (but still not be in the bloodline of Jehoiakim), someone like Joseph was needed.

But wait, there’s more. In addition to the curse of Jehoiakim, God also made a promise to David regarding Israel’s future Messiah and his own throne. In 2 Samuel 7:12-13, God tells him that someone from his “own flesh and blood” will succeed him and the throne of his kingdom will be established “forever." David’s immediate successor was his son, Solomon, but the throne lasts forever only in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. So, while the issue of the curse of Jehoiakim was resolved by making sure Joseph did not biologically create Jesus, the promise to David created a separate issue because a BIOLOGICAL descendant of David was still necessary in the birth of Jesus. This looks like another conundrum or possible contradiction until we look at Luke 3:31 to see that David had a son named “Nathan." While Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is traced through David’s son Solomon and includes the cursed Jeconiah, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus is traced through Nathan, who scholars as far back as John of Damascus have said is a biological ancestor of… you guessed it… MARY!

As you digest all of this information, think about how serious God is about keeping his promises, both the promises of blessing and the promises of cursing when someone has not repented. Just when Satan likely thought he had finally stopped God’s plan for the Messiah, God already had a plan to work it all out, a plan that included conception by the Holy Spirit so that the curse of Jehoiakim was bypassed, a stepfather who could pass the throne to Jesus by inheritance, and a mother who was biologically descended from David so that prophecy was fulfilled. If nothing else, this should remind us that God is never put in a position where he says, “My bad, I just never saw that coming and now I’m not sure what you can do so you’re probably doomed." If God has caused or allowed something into your life that you weren’t expecting and seems like it is contradicting his own word, remember that he is always in control and you can rest assured that his plan is still in the works. It’s a matter of faith for us, but a matter of certainty for the God who never has and never will lie to you.

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Giving the Enemy Cause

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 10, 2018 2 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

King David was the greatest king of Israel, but he was not without flaws. In his one major blunder, he chose not to go to war when he was supposed to and stayed home in Jerusalem. While at home, he saw a woman bathe on her rooftop. He went after her, had an affair with her and ultimately killed her husband, who was one of his Mighty Men, to cover up the pregnancy. This is all recorded in 2 Samuel 11. In the next chapter, Nathan the prophet, came to David told him a parable, and it broke him. David repented of his sin, then Nathan said this: “You have given the enemy cause to blaspheme God.”

How many times have we been guilty of this? In Ken Ham’s study of why youth are leaving the church in Already Gone, one of the top ten reasons cited was hypocrisy. The Christian leaders were speaking these “great truths” and yet their lives revealed nothing of the sort. I have frequently wrestled with this reality. I do a great job at speaking the truth with full conviction, but do I live it? Is it part of my reality in my life? Sometimes yes; sometimes no. I am not talking about perfection here at all. These teens want genuineness, not perfection.

For a supposedly “Christian” nation where frequent polls indicate 60-70% of the nation claim to be Christian, how exactly are we doing in following what we claim to believe? Thousands are killed on a daily basis by abortion. Sexual deviancy is all but completely loosed from its chains running around like a wild, crazy, rabid dog. The drug craze in this nation is #1 in the world by a long shot. False teachers are easier to find in public than sound preachers. All of this is what the world sees in a “Christian” nation. This is the image they get when they hear of a “Christian.” And they laugh and mock not just us, but the God we claim to worship.

That’s on a national level. What about in a church level? Gossip runs rampant in prayer groups under the guise of concerned prayer. There is far more interest in sports and politics in the church foyers than talk about God (not exactly innocent of that myself). Cliques in the churches tend to not look outward to needs, and visitors tend to be shown the “new kid on the block” response. Church youth groups look more like teen hangout centers just without drugs or alcohol and very little actual discipleship and teaching on true Christian living. Now there are many good churches out there, but they are getting harder to find.

On a family or personal level, are we being genuine behind our faith? Will someone hear what we say, observe our lives, and be able to conclude we practice or seek to practice what we preach? We claim to love God and be Christians, but does God have anything to do with our lives? Or is he just there when we need him to answer our call and desire?

David’s sin would haunt him the rest of his life. Yes, he was forgiven and yes, God restored his relationship with him, yet all the nations around him knew what he did and they had reason to mock God because of it. This is the same reason that Moses pleaded with God several times to not destroy Israel in the wilderness because of their sin: it was so Egypt and the other nations would not have reason to blaspheme him. Sure God and Moses would know the truth of what actually happened, but why give the enemy any legitimate grounds to speak what they speak?

Nehemiah recognized this tactic when Shemiah, a man of prayer, was hired to try to get Nehemiah to go hide in the temple to save his life from an assassination attempt. He refused to go in and cower in fear. He knew if he did, then Sanballot, Tobiah, and Geshem would have grounds to accuse him of not trusting God and eventually could bring him down.

We have to realize the entire world is watching us. Yes, our reputation with them is not important. If they think we are blundering idiots, let them think that, but let us not give them any reason to make such accusations true. Jesus said to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Daniel had the entire Persian government hierarchy turn against him because he was so much better than everyone else. The king, Darius, loved Daniel because of how good he was. Yet the officials could not find a single thing to charge Daniel with other than believing in his God. So they created an offense to charge him and got him thrown into the lions’ den. That’s how the enemy works. If he can’t get real dirt on you, he’ll make it up. But Daniel did not fear them nor the lions, and the rest is history.

The enemy is seeking any cause he can to force us to be silent and subdued, and if he cannot find legitimate evidence, he will make it up. My challenge here is that we have to do everything we can to make sure any such charges he brings cannot be founded. Paul got into a lot of trouble when preaching the Gospel in public and the only thing the authorities could say about it was that it was nothing but a religious disagreement. The time is coming when real formal political persecution is going to hit us here in the U.S. We will be arrested and imprisoned and who knows what else what they will do to us. Let it be found that the only legitimate charge they can bring up us is that we are Christian. Let us not give the enemy any cause to charge us with any other crime. Let not the enemy be able to accuse us of gossip or slander, or being contentious, lying, hateful, rebellious. Let him only be able to accuse us of being a Christian.

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The Descendants of Japheth

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 9, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Today we're looking at part 3 of a series about the Table of Nations found in Genesis 10—a long list of people who descended from Noah's sons. These people named are very frequently associated with people groups we still see today. Some have had their common names altered over the thousands of years that have passed since their founding, but these alterations are often easy to track. Last time, we looked at England and the sources of the British people (as well as the British name and the English name). We also noted that Germans can trace their lineage back to Ashkenaz, a son of Gomer, a son of Japheth. Interestingly, a group of people from China also trace their ancestry back to Lo Jah-phu, aka Japheth, and further back to Nuah (Noah), Lama (Lamech), Se-teh (Seth), and Dirt (Adam, which sounds like the Hebrew word for ground). This week, we'll finish up discussing most of Japheth's descendants.

Japheth had a son named Madai. Madai's descendants later became the Medes (named after Madai) and the Persians. These people are now found in present day Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several other countries in that area. The Medes and Persians are historically significant in that they formed the Medo-Persian Empire under Cyrus (mentioned in the Bible) from about 500-300 BC. Josephus, a Jewish/Roman historian, mentions them in his chronicles, indicating that Madai's descendants were the Madeans, who were called the Medes by the Greeks.

Japheth's sons, Gomer (who founded the Gomerites) and Magog (who founded the Magogites), had descendants that were called the Celts and Sythians. Hesiod, considered the father of Greek didactic poetry and literature, identified Magog with the Scythians and southern Russia about 600 BC, written prior to the book of Ezekiel. Some of Gomer's lineage were called the Galls and later the Galatians. The Irish Celts claim to have descended from Magog, while the Welsh Celts claim to have come from Gomer. The fact is that archaeology and ethnologists can trace these people living in close relation to each other, frequently intermingling and sharing a great many things as they spread into Europe. Those who stayed in Asia Minor were known as the Gauls (Galls) while those that traveled into Russia and Eastern Europe were the Celto-Sythae. They continued to spread across Europe until they reached Ireland. Interestingly, France was called Gaul for some time based on the people who lived there—these descendants of Gomer. Gomerites spread into Spain as well. The Gauls lost their land to the Franks and the land has since been called France. Northwest Spain is still called Galicia after these people. The Welsh people still refer to their language as the Gomeraeg (again, after Gomer, their great great … grandfather).

Other descendants of Gomer found their way to Germany and Scandinavia. The Germans were descended from Ashkenaz (previously mentioned) and some were known as the Goths as well as other groups. Germans also have a heritage going back to Asshur of Shem. When the Askaeni arrived in northern Europe, the land was called Ascania, which later became Scandia, which is where we get Scandinavia. Some of these people eventually became the Saxons (whom we discussed last time). I hope I'm not the only one that thinks this stuff is very cool and extremely interesting. There seems to be evidence that some of Shem's descendants made it into Germany as well and the surrounding area. We'll get to that later when we discuss Shem's lineage.

The name “Caucasian” may likely have come from the name Magog. A Thracian tribe referred to southern Russia as “Gog-chasen.” This means “fortress of Gog.” Gog-chasen can easily be worked into Caucasian, which names a mountain range in southern Russia near the Black and Caspian Seas. These were lighter skinned people that have historically been considered the descendants of Japheth.

Herodotus, the “father of history,” wrote about some of these people centuries before Christ and had no reason to support the Biblical narrative (since he's Greek and not Jewish). He specifically mentions several of them (I referenced that a bit last time). He obviously used the people groups' Greek names, but we can trace them back to the families mentioned in Genesis and the Table of Nations. Josephus also connected people in his day to those mentioned in the Table of Nations with much agreement with other historians like Herodotus. He specifically mentions Scythian as being Magogians (descendants of Magog, son of Japheth, son of Noah). Another historian, Strabo, a Greek, mentions the Gogarians. Scholars believe the name Gogarian is a variant of Gog. This people occupied what is southern Russia, Georgia, and Armenia (or thereabouts). Numerous historians from various time periods referenced these people and this land, hinting at their ancestral line going to Magog. Even the name of the nation of Georgia is most likely a variant of Gogarene.

There is so much more to write about Japheth and his descendants, but there just isn't enough time or space for that. I will end this section with a paragraph quote from Tom Osterholm's writing on the subject:

“Early history shows that the Japhethites split into two groups. One group settled in the region of present day India and Central Asia, and the other group in the European theater. Indo-European languages originate from those people groups who migrated through western Eurasia. Together they form what is known as the ‘Indo-European’ family of nations. Both of these divisions trace their ancestry back to Japheth. For example, early Aryans knew him as Djapatischta (chief of the race), Greeks referred to him as Japatos, East Indians called him Jyapeti, Romans called him Jupiter, the Saxons perpetuated his name as Iafeth subsequently transliterated as Sceaf (pronounced sheef or shaif and recorded his name in their early genealogies as the son of Noah, the forebearer of their various peoples), and the variant Seskef was used by early Scandinavians. All of these peoples, we must remember, were pagans whose knowledge or even awareness of the book of Genesis had been lost or was non-existent.”

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The Sovereignty of the Family

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 8, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

A proper hierarchy of social ethics must rank the institution of family second, immediately after the Imago Dei (Image of God). The family is the first institution created by God. Moreover, it is the institution closest to the individual. God seems to have ordered society with three different spheres of authority: family, church, and state. The Bible says, “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1). He gives each sphere a different responsibility and authority to execute that responsibility.

For example, He gives the state the responsibility to “punish the wrongdoer” and “commend those who do right” (Romans 13:4, 1 Peter 2:14). The idea is that God is sovereign over even pagan rulers, and He uses them for His ultimate purposes even when they abuse their power. This does not mean that God endorses whatever civil authorities do, but that He uses them. Growth of state power tends to outstrip its actual authority, and that is when it is appropriate to resist tyranny and to civilly disobey. But even in our civil disobedience, we should also recognize the transcendent authority of God behind even bad leaders, which will ultimately all be brought down when Christ sets up His kingdom and authority over all the earth (Daniel 2:34-35). To execute these responsibilities, God gives the state a sword (Romans 13:4).

The church is another sovereign authority established by God. The Apostle Paul charged the elders of the church of Ephesus to “keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). Hence, elders are to keep watch over the people in the church. The Bible also tells Christians to “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). To execute this responsibility, the elders of the church have the authority to expel someone from the church if they refuse to repent.

The family is structured similarly. God has instituted it as a sovereign sphere of authority. The fifth commandment is “Honor your father and mother” (Exodus 20:12). God has instituted the family as an authority directly, as neither an arm of the state nor as an arm of the church. The family constitutes its own sphere: “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3).

God has placed within most people a deep love and concern for their children’s well-being. They are literally an extension of husband and wife into the future. The tools that God gives to parents to execute their responsibilities are love and discipline. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).

“My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you;
when you awake, they will speak to you.
For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light,
and correction and instruction
are the way to life.”
(Proverbs 6:20-23)

Some overlap exists between these spheres, but each must retain their God-given boundaries and responsibilities. The family is the most vulnerable of the three and therefore needs special protection. The state will always protect itself and expand its power as it has in every society since the beginning.

We see the Leviathan of State assuming authority and control over every area of our lives today. It does not submit to God and therefore acknowledges no boundaries. It is destroying the law in every area, but especially attacking the family. Progressive economic policies have destroyed the middle class all through the 20th century even until the very moment I write this. Marriage law, divorce law, homosexual “marriage,” child protective services, adoption law, government schools, etc. are vastly stripping away the ability of the family to function as God intended.

In this short introductory blog post, I can only point out the parameters without filling in much detail. However, the main area where the family has sole authority is in the education of the children. The church is the main ally of the family, and can help with instruction; however, the parents are responsible before God for the education and discipline of child-raising.

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, God makes a covenant with the family. He gives to parents the responsibility to teach that covenant to the next generation. God owns the children! He has established the family for their care and education. Read more about that here, here, and here.

Sphere sovereignty is the basic form of American government and life. It is the basic view of Christians. But because we have drifted so far from God and His Bible, the state has assumed for itself the role of god in our lives. But that is next week’s blog post. Blessings, constant reader.

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Benjamin Franklin Fought Against Socialism

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 0 comments

by Bill Fortenberry

In the latter half of the 18th century, the nations of Europe renewed their experiments with an ancient philosophy known today by the name of socialism. This philosophy, that the government should tax the rich and provide for the poor, has been implemented from time to time throughout human history and always with catastrophic results. When England, France, and the other European powers started bringing back this ancient concept, the leading philosophers of America, including many of our founding fathers, argued strongly against it. One of those philosophers was Benjamin Franklin, who wrote a lengthy article opposing one of the socialist laws that had been passed in England.

Franklin’s article was written to oppose a law prohibiting the exportation of corn from England to the rest of Europe. The goal of the law was to force the price of corn to go down in England by creating a surplus of that particular commodity. The British government was attempting to prevent the farmers from making what they considered to be too much profit and to force them to share their wealth with the poor by lowering their prices. Franklin viewed this as a socialist tax against the farmers.

In more recent times, the American government has been making a similar attempt through laws like the minimum wage law. Like the law prohibiting the exportation of corn, the minimum wage law is essentially a tax on the rich to provide for the poor, and Franklin’s arguments are just as appropriate for our day as they were for his. Here is what Franklin had to say about these socialist laws in his article “On the Price of Corn, and Management of the Poor”:

I am one of that class of people, that feed you all, and at present is abused by you all; in short I am a farmer...

You say, poor laborers cannot afford to buy bread at a high price, unless they had higher wages. Possibly. But how shall we farmers be able to afford our laborers higher wages..?

This operates, then, as a tax for the maintenance of the poor...

For my own part, I am not so well satisfied of the goodness of this thing. I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion about the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is, not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.

In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.

There is no country in the world where so many provisions are established for them; so many hospitals to receive them when they are sick or lame, founded and maintained by voluntary charities; so many alms-houses for the aged of both sexes, together with a solemn general law made by the rich to subject their estates to a heavy tax for the support of the poor. Under all these obligations, are our poor modest, humble, and thankful; and do they use their best endeavours to maintain themselves, and lighten our shoulders of this burthen? — On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent.

The day you passed that act, you took away from before their eyes the greatest of all inducements to industry, frugality, and sobriety, by giving them a dependence on somewhat else than a careful accumulation during youth and health, for support in age or sickness.

In short, you offered a premium for the encouragement of idleness, and you should not now wonder that it has had its effect in the increase of poverty. Repeal that law, and you will soon see a change in their manners...

Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them.

Both America and eventually England heeded the warnings against socialism expressed by Franklin and other philosophers. Both nations opposed the socialism of the French revolution and avoided the consequent revolutions of 1848. They have enjoyed centuries of prosperity as a result, but over the course of the past 100 years both nations have been adopting more and more socialist laws. We need leaders who will heed the warnings of men like Franklin and return our nation to its Biblically-grounded capitalist roots.

By the way, did you know that Franklin became a Christian in 1735 at the age of 29? You can read Franklin’s own confession of faith in Christ in my book Franklin on Faith.

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What Does the Bible Say About Patience?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 6, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Patience is one of those things that we all want to have NOW, right? We don’t like to be patient in learning patience in our lives. But as followers of Jesus, we should strive to be patient as the Bible tells us to. So, what does it say?

Just as with self-control that I wrote about last week, patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. That means that when the Spirit is living in us, the Spirit makes patience evident in our lives, rather than us having to simply try our hardest (and fail) at being patient.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 urges us to be patient with everyone: “And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” Ephesians 4:2 echoes that: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

The apostle Paul prayed for patience, among other things, for the people at Colossae: "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:9-11). In that same idea, Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

The wisdom books of the Old Testament talk a lot about patience. For example, Proverbs 15:18 says, “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 tells us, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.” Proverbs 25:15 says, “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”

How do we get patience? James tells us it is through persevering through trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything“ (James 1:2-4). James again encourages believers to be patient toward the end of his letter: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7-8).

We can be thankful that God is patient when it comes to saving His creation, as it says in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians 13 tells us in verse 4 that love is patient, and since God is love that reinforces that God is patient.

What are you doing to grow in patience in your life? Or, what is God doing to help you grow in patience? Be encouraged to be patient as God is patient with us.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).

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In Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 5, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

The third core root of our faith stated in the Apostles’ Creed is the one that truly gives us the name “Christian." It’s the first place in the creed that Christ is mentioned and identifies him as not only the Son of God, but also OUR Lord. Unless Jesus Christ is your Lord, you cannot be a Christian. I had a good friend once tell me that we cannot make Jesus our Savior, but only our Lord. What he meant was that Jesus did the work of salvation on his own with no help from us whatsoever. No matter how much we say, “I chose to make Jesus my Savior," the truth is that the work was done whether we accept it or not and our acceptance of it can only change its implications for us, not the work itself. But what is up to us is whether we live as though he is our Lord. Does he have influence over every area of our lives, or just the ones we were willing to give up? Does his life and ministry teach us how to live, learn, love, and forgive? Are we truly following him, even when it’s extremely difficult?

Right now, no one is forced to see Jesus as “Lord." In Revelation 3:20, he speaks to the church in Laodicea and says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me." Jesus doesn’t force the door open, bang it down, or even block you from closing it. He certainly has the authority to, but he stands on the outside of each of our hearts waiting for us to let him in. Having a meal together in those days was considered to be more than just something you suffer through with in-laws, family members, or people you don’t even like. It was an intimate experience and something that took time. It wasn’t a midday snack on the run. Jesus wants to spend time with you and get to know you. He wants to speak grace and truth into your life. He wants you to be aware of your sins, to walk away from them, and to trust fully in him and his good plan.

The problem is that some Christians are living like they don’t want him in their house. They’re comfortable keeping him on the outside. They love him at church where it’s a controlled atmosphere and hopefully there isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. But, would you want Jesus to see what’s on your computer? Your phone? Your email? Your Facebook? Your Snapchat? Your TV? Do you want him to see how you and your spouse treat each other sometimes? Because he’s truly my Lord, there are times I’d be embarrassed to have him in my home like anyone else.

But if we only focused on that part of it, we’d have no understanding of grace. We have to remember that Jesus already knows all of those things are going on inside our homes (a metaphor for our lives) and he still stands outside wanting to come in and waiting for us to agree to let him. The Pharisees despised him for this. Just look at the wonderful story in Matthew 9:9-13. Jesus picked a tax collector that everyone else despised because he was a traitor in the eyes of the Jews and a fraud in the eyes of the Romans (even if Matthew hadn’t been those things, he was guilty by association because of his chosen and despised profession).

Matthew gets up and follows Jesus and the very next thing we read is that this gave Jesus great access to a whole new set of people who desperately need him! In verse 10, we read that he went to Matthew’s house for dinner and a bunch of other “tax collectors and sinners” came to dinner with Jesus and his disciples. Who do you think was included in that group? I’d venture to say there were drunks and substance abusers there. In that pagan culture, there’s a good chance homosexuals were present. Certainly, there were those who cheated others out of money. We tend to look at our world today and think the sin is worse than ever before, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Jesus not only knew these people but welcomed them to the table so he could get to know them and deal with their brokenness. Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."

So, who exactly is this One who wants to hang out with us? Well, every single one of these words in this core root are important for our understanding of who he is. If you know the Christmas story, you know that “Jesus” was the name given by Joseph and Mary in obedience to God because it’s from Iesous, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua which means “he saves." The title of “Christ” isn’t his last name. It signifies his ministry as the long-awaited Anointed One that the Old Testament prophets foretold about. “Christ” comes from the Greek Christos which is the translation of the Hebrew Messiah. He is God’s only begotten Son (the capital S signifies that he is basically one with the Father) and he is the only one of his kind. There is no one like him before him or after him.

The part that identifies him as our Lord is easily the hardest part to live. Yet, the fruit we bear must reveal this truth about his relationship to us. To make Jesus our Lord is to say he is the ruler of our lives, to submit ourselves and our desires to him. At times, it’s like we say, “Thank you, Jesus, for saving me but I’ll take it from here." We don’t want him or anyone telling us how to live our lives because we already think we have the “Get out of Hell Free” card. We must remember, though, that it was Jesus himself who said that not everyone who calls him “Lord” will enter into heaven (Matthew 7:21). It’s only those who do the will of the Father who will enter. Think about what Jesus is saying. Some people don’t even want to say “Jesus is Lord," but among those who are even willing to say it there will still be some who don’t enter heaven because their words are not matching their actions. If you are willing to verbally acknowledge Jesus as your Lord, then be prepared to repent and change your life too!

I mentioned earlier that right now, you have a choice and are not forced to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, neither by your words nor your life. But the Apostle Paul tells us there is going to come a time when that choice will be taken from us. Philippians 2:10-11 (CEV) assures us, “So at the name of Jesus everyone will bow down, those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. And to the glory of God the Father everyone will openly agree, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord!’” That means that EVERY single person, those already proclaiming him in heaven, those who do and those who don’t on earth, and even those who have died and gone to hell (under the earth) will acknowledge that Jesus is indeed the Lord. As surely as you sit and read this blog post, YOU will someday admit that Jesus is Lord. The only question is whether you will do it willingly now, both in word and deed and be joyful about it then, or refuse to do it now by either word or deed, and be sad and reluctant about it then. That choice is yours, and I pray that he is your Lord TODAY!

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You’re Worshiping Something

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, August 4, 2018 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

Many years ago on this journey we call life, I had decided to go my own way and make my own rules. I had decided that I could figure things out myself because I knew what was best for me. Years later, I came to realize that the path I was taking myself down was a path that leads to death and destruction. So, I went on a quest, if you will, to find the truth. Truth is not elusive if you are willing to seek and search for it and choose to stop searching for it once you’ve found it. In our Western culture today it seems many are on a path like I was so many years ago, one that leads to death and destruction.

Something I’d like you to think about and consider is this: Is a worship of self really worshiping some other deity? Think about it. If we have been created to worship Almighty God as the Bible states, do people actually fall to their own spiritual default position to worship, but they are many times not worshiping the One they are to be worshiping?

It seems to me that many in today’s world have fallen prey to the forces of darkness. They are not only worshiping these deities but are now being used by them to in order to be trapped in this worship more and more each day.

Just one example I am referring to is the worship of Asherah. Please hang with me here, I promise to connect the dots. The worship of Asherah is rampant in the United States today. We don’t call it that, but lo and behold, that is what it is. For those of you that don’t know, Asherah is a goddess of fertility. In the Old Testament, people would go to the temple of Asherah to have sex with the temple priestesses. They wouldn’t have sex with their wives but with other women at the temple.

Idols used in Asherah worship

Today, not only are people being self-indulged with sex, but many today are also worshiping another deity by supplying babies which are being killed or dare I say sacrificed to this god. The god is named Molech. Molech is a detestable god that some Israelites and other cultures worshiped by bringing their newborn babies to the priests of Molech to be sacrificed at the altar of Molech. The priests of Molech would stoke a fire inside of the idol representing Molech and then place a newborn baby into the arms of this idols or on to a plate that the idol was holding that was searing hot from the fire inside of the idol. In essence, this Idol would hold this new born baby in its arms or on top of the hot plate until the child died. 

Representation of Molech worship

I can only hope the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the parallels we have going on in our society today. Many who are choosing to be self-indulgent with sex are seemingly not only worshiping Asherah but are also supplying newborn babies for worshiping at the altar of Molech. Abortion today is rampant in our society. My Christian brothers and sisters, I implore you to pray and ask Almighty God for forgiveness for our nation, and yes, even for our own complacency at times in this matter. For those of you today who are willingly or unwillingly worshiping at the altars of Asherah and Molech, forgiveness is readily available this day through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. You can be forgiven and move on today.

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Bible Versions

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 3, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

This is my last post in my short series about the validity of the Bible, which started here. As I wrote my first couple posts on how we got the Bible and the objections skeptics try to make about it, addressing which Bible versions is best to use came up. There are many different versions of the Bible and some seem to conflict with each other. Which one is right? There are some who stand firmly and suggest only one version is correct, but is this so?

The first translation of any form of the Bible was in the 200s BC when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, known as the Septuagint. It is clear God authorized the idea of translation because it was what the apostles quoted the most in their writings for the New Testament, rather than switching languages to the original Hebrew.

The Bible was meant to be read and understood by the common people. It was also meant to be read aloud to the common people in such a language that they could understand. That said, it is also meant to be honored and revered. The men and women who had mere portions of Scripture treasured it and protected it with their lives. Men like John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and others gave everything they had to see the Bible translated into the common language.

Once the printing press came out, the first book ever printed on it was the “Gutenberg Bible.” With the advent of the printing press, producing Bibles in mass quantity shot through the roof and it made the Bible accessible to everyone once it got out. With all this, the Bible has been translated into hundreds of languages entirely and thousands of languages in parts. But for us here, which version is correct? Which translation got it right?

There are two ways to translate something: literally and figuratively. In a literal translation, the translators seek to do what they can to get the word-for-word translation down. It can get tricky due to differences in sentence structure. Examples of the literal translations include the NASB, KJV, NKJV, ESV, and RSV. The figurative translation is not a direct word-for-word translation but rather thought-for-thought. It takes idioms into consideration that do not necessarily transfer over in word-for-word. Examples of this are the NIV, CEV, and NLT. Some of these actually use a mix of both, using both literal and figurative approaches. You can see more of how they are broken down here.

I consider there to be a third “version” type out there which is the paraphrase. These are usually done by a single person and it is their ideas and thoughts about that particular passage. On the spectrum of word-for-word to thought-for-thought, these are on the far end of the thought-for-thought side. However, I personally cannot in honesty call these a “version” but rather a commentary. So I disagree with putting these onto this spectrum. Nothing wrong with a commentary, but it’s not a “translation.” The most well-known paraphrase is Eugene Peterson’s “The Message.”

So which one got it right? We need to understand that NO SINGLE TRANSLATION is absolutely perfect, if you are going to talk about complete accuracy to the originals; nor is any single translation the “God-ordained” English version. Now, before any skeptic reads this and jumps to the conclusion that the Bible is not trustworthy, they need to apply the same standard to any other document they read before they speak. If they did, they’d have to throw out every document they’ve ever read that wasn’t originally written in modern English. So, I am going to settle the debate and I’ll quote my own pastor on it. He says the best version of the Bible is “whichever one you will read.”

That said, I must warn you that not every “version” is legitimate. There are two types of “Bibles” I recommend to avoid. The first is any version put out by an established cult or heretic or false teacher. Books like the Book of Mormon are NOT the Bible. Neither is the “New World Translation” of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, because that erases the references to the deity of Christ. The other false versions are those which have been written to cater to political correctness. I have actually heard there is a “Queer Bible.” I’m not going to link that because I feel no need to give it my attention. These are not translations but perversions to support false teachings, so we must be watchful of which versions we are reading.

Now, some versions may sound VERY different from the one you are used to hearing. Many of us should know the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders in Matthew 7. The wise man builds his house on a rock but the foolish man builds on the sand. Let me give you a translation that sounds completely backwards. 

“A wise man builds his house in the sand, so when the winds and rains come it will stand.” How is that a legitimate translation? I got it backwards. Or did I? You see, this is very likely how Bruce Olson would have translated this passage to the Motilone Tribe of Columbia where they build their houses in sand by burying thick bamboo poles into it. If it was rock, the poles would have nothing to grab. In Bruchko, Bruce Olson describes a debate he had with “Bobby,” his first convert, about how to translate this very passage, but never went into what he actually wrote. When considering a version, it helps to know who the initial intended audience is. This would be an idea-for-idea translation that initially sounds contradictory, but if you understood the audience it makes absolute sense.

When I write, my personal preference is to cite in NKJV, however I read NKJV and NIV and other versions as well. Another version of interest may be the Amplified Bible. That one takes many of the different ways words can be translated and puts them together so you can get a clearer understand of what the message is. I will never stand here and tell anyone that only one version is the one God authorized for English. There is absolutely NO evidence for any such claim. Read a legitimate version that you can understand. God can speak through you by the NIV, HCSB, ESV, etc. as he can through KJV or NKJV. But a Bible unopened is a Bible unread. Get in the Bible, find a translation you can understand, and get to know its Author.

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The Imago Dei

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 1, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

Human beings are made in the image of God, the Bible teaches. This means that the essential identity of humanity is wrapped up with the identity of God. Human beings are not identical to God, but they are made in his likeness or image.

To begin to unravel the mystery of who human beings are, we must begin with God our creator. Those who spelunk the depths of God’s nature are theologians. We should not be surprised that they emerge with the first nuggets of who human beings ought to be based on their discovery of the nature of God’s being.

God is a creative God and we have the same trait. He has a free will and ours, too, is mostly free. He is loving, kind, holy, and just. We have the capacity for all those things, though they are marred by the rebellion which led to the Fall. Yet, the residue of the image of God remains. Everyone wants justice, beauty, love, truth, and goodness, though many different conceptions of these elements are debated. Christians accept the Bible as the authoritative revelation of God and allow it to determine transcendent value.

The Bible asserts that God is a person. In fact, God exists in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Personhood is inseparable to the nature of God and is essential to the nature of human beings as well. Each human being, from the moment of conception, has personhood and therefore value. Christianity provides a philosophical basis for universal human value.

This underscores the necessity of a comprehensive social ethic based on the truth of the Bible. When a nation mutes the church and strips society of its religious identity, the result is what Richard John Neuhaus described as the naked public square. Secularism cannot provide the necessary philosophical basis, because without God to ground values everything becomes arbitrary. Society is doomed to define humanity from an subjective framework. History is littered with failed attempts to build a universal system on a subjective frame.

Many view this liberation from a prescribed identity as a unique freedom. Nietzsche did. This was the idea behind his famous “God is dead” statement. He meant that when society realizes that there is no God, it has a terrible freedom to create its own identity. Read more about that here. But the result is that ordered society or civilization devolves into a “king of the hill” competition, since everyone must win power in order to ensure her own value against the claims of her neighbor. Obviously, this creates exploitation and a mercenary spirit in society. Have we seen this today?

The Imago Dei means that every human being is absolutely identical in terms of value and rights. The unborn have rights as well as the elderly. Persons living in remote jungles have just as much value as the denizens of Manhattan high rises. As the signers of the Declaration of Independence believed, “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.” The founders were wise in that they recognized that the Creator was the necessary foundation of civilization. They did not universally apply this truth, but they did recognize it as the only legitimate foundation of civil society.

Personhood is the measure of value, not utility to the government, not whether the individual is an enemy of the state, not patriotism. Value is measurable not in material wealth or physical or mental ability, but in the intrinsic value of personhood. This truth precludes slavery, abortion, or second-class citizenry. It precludes lying, cheating, stealing, murder, and other dirty doings.

At the founding of the United States, an exemption to the universal and unalienable rights of individuals was sought by slave holding states. They denied that certain persons were actually persons. Some thought slaves were 3/5 of a person, or an animal with no soul at all. These unbiblical ideologies were used as an ad hoc justification of slavery. The civil government was then pressed to codify the non-personhood of slaves, which they did.

But Christians trying to apply the Bible to society held that slavery was intolerable both to the Bible and to the foundation of constitutional personhood. The 3/5ths view was untenable by any standard. Slavery denied the essential humanity and personhood of the individual. Persons unable to be owned by other persons seems a self-evident truth as the founders declared. As we should all be aware, dehumanization leads to exploitation.

Today, we have a similar crisis. Abortion advocates deny the personhood of the unborn and they collude with government to reinforce this notion through law. Roe v. Wade swept aside hundreds of years of common law as it attempted to create a right where no right previously existed. It is ironic that today Supreme Court justices are asked to enshrine Roe as settled law and to not sweep away 45 years of legal thought when they discounted hundreds of years of legal precedent. Hypocrites!

When will Christians stop allowing the notion that the government can decide who is protected as a person and who is not? The public square cannot long remain naked. It will be clothed with meaning and values—if not Christian meaning and values, then those of whomever has the power to enforce their values on the rest of us. Either we adopt the arbitrary values of human construction or we adopt the universal revelation of a good God. Of course, this hinges on whether a person recognizes that God is truly there.

Depose God and society scrambles for an identity and basis of value and meaning. All other elements of a social ethic disintegrate. Therefore, the Imago Dei must hold the first position in an hierarchy of social ethics. Christian values transcend those of human government. There is a higher and nobler court of appeal than fallen humans can create.

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