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The Much Neglected Simple Teaching of Jesus

November 30, 2017

The most neglected statement of Jesus is that Hillel’s “Golden Rule” is what “SUMS UP” the entire Law. His detractors were of course focusing directly on the Law, even atomizing it into more and more “principles”. Christianity followed suit, only dropping the more “Jewish”-associated laws, and eventually placing a great emphasis on sexual-related principles. Islam, drawing on both religions followed suit, exchanging some Hebrew laws for more Arabic-flavored ones.

All have at times aimed to keep their respective “cultures”, (if not seeking to expand them to the world), “pure”.
This will always involve believing oneself has met the “standards” of the Law, and is thus now “called” to enforce them on others, in the name of “preserving morality” if nothing else.

So, recently taking a job “Security Awareness” class, and hearing about the latest threats from ISIS, to create easy to build rail devices to derail trains, and various ways to attack Times Square, I kept thinking, “Who appointed these people the judges and executioners of the ‘infidels’?” The same thing with many conservative Christians; and though it may seem unfair to compare them, the MINDSET, and its underlying presumptions (“righteousness” of the Law, and the need to spread “God’s truth”), are the same. What’s different is the power held.

Judaism once held formidable power over its people in Bible times (even enough to influence the mighty Romans over them, to a certain extent). What we saw in the New Testament was the final death throes of its power, as it was rapidly going down, and would end as a power structure only a few decades later.
The church arose from this, but quickly followed suit, gaining tremendous world power, even over the big bad Romans, and the Western civilizations that sprang from it. But with this power comes great compromise of Biblical principle, and great corruption, as a lot of stuff has to be justified, which in turn is often attempted to be compensated by overemphasizing certain other points of “morality”, in order to maintain the “righteous” appearance.
So it too reached a peak, and it was technology (starting with the printing press) that caused it to crack and start to come down. Hence, all the complaints of loss of power, beginning with the Enlightenment, and continuing through the last century of sociopolitical developments.

Islam, being the youngest of the three religions, is simply not as far down that pattern, but still vying for power. Christians have naturally turned up the heat on them as a “false religion”, and also political enemy, but both seem to be in agreement that America is sinful and needs to be punished. When natural disasters hit here, and conservative Christians pronounce them as “curses”, you would think they should be on the same side as the Islamists who simply seek to punish us directly, themselves, as “God’s agents” (which Christians also used to do, when they had more power, and some more radical groups wish they could still do today).

But the Christians are the ones who upheld the Gospel teaching that no men are “good”, for “all have sinned”. Many had loudly leveled this at the modern “world” and liberal segments of the Church, which had begun arguing for the “goodness“ of man, especially in the face of the teaching of Hell.

But the problem was, when it came to applying that to themselves (and those under their sphere of control, which included the whole “nation” or “culture” of past times), they essentially overrode it with concepts like “regeneration”, “providence” and “exceptionality”. They now could act like every other greedy or warring group of people while in the very breath of condemning them for it, because it’s “different” when they do it. They were the “called”, and “chosen”, and “sanctified”. But then that’s what the religions before them said.

The difference they claim is that they follow Jesus, the Savior. But He taught that the Law was fulfilled by “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”. By going back to the points of the Law, they could actually engineer it so that killing, stealing, and even raping, could sometimes be justified, even while “normally” condemned in the Commandments, as they preached them to others.
Going along with this, Christians were also instructed “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18. When it comes to this chapter, many focus more on the first two verses, and then believe living peaceably is not possible as they see “the world” encroaching on them. But they don’t see the many ways they actually provoke the world, including under the premise of trying to control it).

They’ve gone from excoriating modern liberal culture for turning from the overly sensitive propriety of the past (where even the word “pregnant” was too ‘dirty’ for TV), to now trying to be John Wayne and mocking them as “snowflakes” and “whiners” who need to “grow a pair” instead of running to their “safe spaces”. They themselves largely follow this current president, who embodies everything they used to scold society for, from vulgarity to infidelity. Is being “tough and insensitive” ungodly, or is it now the new “godly”? Make up your minds!
The standard always changes, when focusing on point-by-point morality. (Which is basically opposite of what Christians have always said; that turning away from black and white rules “relativizes” morality! They’ve long preached against the “relativism” or “situational ethics” of people saying “what we’re doing is OK as long as we’re not hurting anyone else”, but this is actually closer to the intent of the Golden Rule).

To show how this happens, if you go strictly by the letter, of “thou shalt not steal”, then you can engage in (or at least condone) various devious financial practices, yet maintain it was all technically lawful (such as “predatory lending”, or the reasoning that “prices and wages are what you agreed upon, and if you don’t like it, go elsewhere”) and be able to truly reason that you (or the system you’re defending) have not violated the commandment. You can even go as far as to appeal to “conscience”, and “the conviction of the Spirit” (which many will say is what supersedes “the letter” of the Law, and is supposed to be all the “more binding”, and “proof” of salvation), and just the technical legality of it can still justify just about any measure taken.
Even the so-called “spirit of the Law” from the Sermon on the Mount you can excuse yourself from. You can condemn others for “bitterness” and “envy” (“spiritual ‘murder'”) towards those who have the upper hand, while displaying a lot of hostility towards those you think you have “just cause” to be angry about, especially by declaring them “anti-God”, or any other entity you identify with, such as “the nation”. We end up with only certain people ever having the right to voice displeasure at anything, while the standard (we preach to and judge others by but aren’t following ourselves) is that man is supposed to only be “thankful”.

But if you go by “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; that would instantly sweep away all of these sorts of rationalizations. So it’s actually much easier (for the “flesh”, believe it or not) to stick to a discrete “commandment”! You look “lawful” and “obedient”, and get to compare and preach to the “lawless”, on top of it!

Meanwhile, what they continue to step up their energies against is leftism, gays, in addition to Islam, of course. The Gospel that starts with the sinfulness of all men (and therefore no room for them to “cast the speck out of someone else’s eye”) is left out, as it’s presumed that some have “repented” into a virtual goodness, and so it’s them against all the bad, [unrepentant] “sinners”.

One common statement I’ve seen is “The Christian view of our moral condition is that, apart from Christ, ‘no one does good, not even one’ (Rom. 3:12).”
This makes it sound like once you “receive” Christ, then you CAN do good, in the sense Paul is denying here (instead of that ‘goodness’ being imputed from Christ). This leads both to presuppositionalism (my interpretations, anger at others behaviors, etc. must be right, because I’ve been ‘regenerated’ and the other side’s position can be dismissed because they aren’t), but also judgmentalism toward those not seen as doing good enough.
On top of this is “God gave His law (filled with commands and comfort) so that we’d know how to live as His image bearers in a broken world.” Both of these statements from CRI articles (one of the centers of mainstream evangelical doctrine); it clearly indicates a notion of the Law being given to maintain order, to help fix the world, as well as benefit the individual. So, putting it together, with Christ, we are more able to do the “good” of keeping the Law, and thus be both more “moral”, and more emotionally healthier. They will all admit that we’re “not perfect” at it, but in practice, it becomes at least we are better than the unbeliever, the doubter, the “backslider”, etc.

In actuality, this position is already moderated down from earlier teaching, whose modern adherents will often criticize the “new evangelicals” for “making God’s Law all about us”. While they have a point there (which I often cite in regards to the popular “Christian victory” teaching), still this often stems from a view where God’s Law and order is a totally disconnected thing that just happens to benefit man sometimes (such as the niceness society would have without killing, stealing, etc.), but it’s really about “His own pleasure/Glory/holiness” etc.
So we had better order our lives by the moral Law, just to make Him happy, but it really in the end doesn’t matter how we treat our fellow man; that’s just a fringe benefit, if other people are deserving of it; but most really aren’t, since man defaults to being a sinner. This is another way we can justify a lot of unkindness toward men (appealing to instances such as the Canaanites, or just God’s “hatred” and judgment of sin in general).

Jesus had showed people what that Law really required, making it obvious it was really futile to seek justification through it; and leaving people to walk away thwarted, but likely to pretend it never happened, and just go back to where they were and keep plugging on as much as they could (and then pointing at others). The people had taken the “letter” and focused on certain aspects of it, even adding to them, to make sure the basic commandment wasn’t violated; while omitting “the weightier matters”.
I keep thinking how the Islamists need to hear the Gospel message which begins with the fact that “none are good”, but they’ve already heard overall Christian messages, and never got from them this sense. Instead, what they heard was basic agreement on moralism, but the difference was which religion, and associated culture was to bear the rule in enforcing it. So the Islamists maintain that it’s theirs, and the Christians insist it is theirs. They talk right past each other, and then the only thing left to do is to fight.

Both groups seem to believe that “sinners” have forfeited their right to live freely (if, at all). But to live is our natural instinct, and so people have the right to at least resist being under the control of those who show themselves to be a threat to living. They don’t get the whole “chosen ruler” concept, and see no difference between all the different people and groups claiming it. Anyone and everyone can and is saying that. They can’t all be true. God or conscience can’t have “showed” anyone that all of them are right. But they can all possibly be wrong, though!

(PS, in the class, someone asked why the Las Vegas shooter wasn’t considered a “terrorist” like the Islamists, which is a big point liberals are making to show the categories are racist, and we were told “terrorism” is defined as having a religious or political motivation, while they still don’t know what exactly the Vegas shooter’s purpose was. That’s why people like him get assumed to be simply “mentally ill”. If they find that the shooter was some Christian or other conservative trying to punish “Sin City”, would they then upgrade him to “terrorist” status? Possibly, as Timothy McVeigh was considered a terrorist).

16 Comments
  1. What about the “Great End Times Apostasy”?
    https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/01/31/progressive-christians-saving-jesus-extinction/

    The Jesus I knew as a child and came to aspire to in adulthood is still here, and it is the heretics who are preserving him.
    It is the maligned backsliders, the Godless heathens, and the derided social justice warriors who are replicating his compassion for hurting people, his welcome for foreigners, his generosity toward the hungry, his gentleness for the marginalized.

    I’ve been visiting these local Progressive faith communities every week, and they are doing joy-giving, life-affirming, wall-leveling work—alongside people of every color, orientation, and nation of origin.

    They are providing Sanctuary for refugees, making meals for multitudes, offering embrace to the estranged, standing between the vulnerable people and the opportunistic predators around them—you know, like Jesus would.

    And in our gatherings, Atheists and Muslims and Jews and Agnostics have stepped into these communities and found something they have not found in the counterfeit Christianity so loud in this country: they have found welcome.

    It’s all been fully and beautifully surprising, to see this Jesus still alive here in these people.

    This reminded me of something.
    All this time, I’ve never gone after the whole “end-time one-world religion” premise, that has driven conservative (and especially dispensational) denunciations of liberal forms of religion (and moderates or even other conservatives seen as “compromising” with modernity. It was mentioned here: https://erictb.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/an-example-of-the-legalism-of-the-running-the-race-teaching but this was addressing what naturally stems from the premise, and that’s the whole “running the race/paddling upstream” concept).

    “One world religion” is never mentioned in scripture. When we look at the prophecies this is based on, we see a “woman riding the Beast”, which everyone recognizes as a corrupt religious body that bears rule over “the world” in the “end times”.
    Where they’ve gone off track, is what that “world” that was ending was, and therefore, what the end actually was. Since they think it’s the end of the physical world, then they had to assume this “harlot Church” ruled over the entire physical world. From there, it was figured the only way it could accomplish that was from integrating all other religions.

    The Roman Catholic Church had fit the bill, growing to control and influence much of the Western World, and often adopting native religious practices along the way, to make conversion of the people easier. When American Protestantism began losing its power to liberal religion, and even other faiths, and increasing syncretization as some tried to harmonize them all, they became very reactive in their use of prophecy, and so this led to the forecast that the merger of all religions, around the common them of “peace, love and acceptance”, would be the “One World end-times deception”, with the leftist principles of “equality” forced by a “totalitarian government” being the political “beast” the bad woman rides on. The mission of true people of God therefore is to resist and oppose everyone else and defend their own lives and power. Hence, the ironic love for Trump. Also to jump scriptural promises of imminent judgment to us today, to try to control by fear.

    This is why we see the backward focus, where love is the endtime deception, and Law and all the strife it brings (including outright meanspiritedness), is the “truth”, of God’s “gospel”.
    Meanwhile, who in fact the “harlot” was, was the established, conservative, originally ordained by God, but corrupted institution trying to hold on to its previous power. This is what we are seeing again today.

  2. Traditional assumption on what “sin” is:

    •Assign [in practice CONSCIOUS] deliberate motives to non-Christian “world”; an “agenda” to oppose God and His ‘servants’ for no other reason than a desire for pleasure or independence, which God forbids, and His servants have all (presumably, or at least hopefully, if we’re honest) forsaken
    •(e.g. why scientists won’t accept creationism, why society doesn’t want one religion promoted in the public sphere, why entertainers push racy material, why 60’s generation rebelled, why homosexuals persist in their behavior, etc.)

    •allows them to conveniently ignore how their actions contributed to some of these events
    •Use Rom.1 argument
    •Plays right into “us vs them” premise
    •Ignores ongoing [in practice] sinfulness of Christians, (regardless of how “conservative”), creating the great irony of those who preach “sin” and “repentance” the most fervently being the most fierce deniers of it in themselves (and particularly in institutions they identify with).
    •Assumes the “grand story” of God’s dealing in the world is what’s basically a “tug of war” around pleasure; that man and Satan’s whole goal is pleasure, which is then what “sin” is all about, and God’s whole aim is to rein it all in, which the Law was for. The Gospel becomes a deal where God gives an “offer” of trading in one for the other, (one being “easy” by “default” and the other being “hard” and requiring the “will”) and it is the utmost anathema to say anyone can “have both”.

    You do not need all these assumptions to have a biblical doctrine of “sin”. This actually betrays a shifting away from true biblical definition. “Sin” is “transgression of the Law”. As the Law is summed up by “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, then its ‘transgression’ is summed up as “Whoever knows to do good and does it not, TO HIM it is sin“ (i.e. what “sin” preachers long decried as “situational”).

    • Various thoughts:

      It’s one thing, to see someone heading across a bridge that’s out, and to warn him. If he doesn’t listen, you may even become fervent and yell; perhaps even become aggressive and call names, like “you fool!”.
      But it’s quite another thing, to become personally offended he didn’t listen to you, and then make it all about you, by saying he’s rebelling against your authority (including the whole system that has been delegated to you), and taking something (power, etc.) away from you (and you want it back). Like to reflect on some good old days when everyone listened to your predecessors standing by the road, but now, everyone is ignoring you. (And ignoring how those predecessors took advantage of the people, such as taking their money, or steering them around a ridiculously long detour).
      This shows something seriously wrong in the motives.

      The Bible allows alcoholic beverages, but just tells us not to get drunk. So it’s leaving it up to us to moderate ourselves.
      IFB’s say NO; they know better; the best way to prevent drunkenness is to ban all alcohol totally, and claim the Bible forbids it, and also claim the “wine” people drank was unfermented “grape juice”. (Yet, this is the same wine that could make one drunk).

      So the Bible says one thing, they contradict, override and then reinterpret it to fit their rule; yet they are denouncing everyone else on their obedience to “The Bible”.
      Why should something like this be allowed “within the pale” and ignored? [It was because of that ‘respect’ the newer evangelicals have for the older line of fundamentalists].

      Conservative Christians loudly proclaimed the “sinfulness” of man against “modernists” and all others, but then used the concepts of “regeneration” and “sanctification” to basically OVERRIDE it when it came to western “culture” (as it identified as “Christian”).
      NOW, we could speak of “good” people who naturally did good and thus didn’t need to be controlled. So whatever they did, must have been ‘good’, and no matter how bad it looks to the modern ‘depraved’ mind. (Which right there is invalidating all modern opposition to the ways of the past, and suggesting they were really good; after all, that was when God was followed in society; not now, so who would know more about what was “moral”?)

      The way it works is like this:
      1) Men are all sinners, and so deserve suffering
      2) We’ve been “chosen” and “regenerated” by God, and so effectively, have had sin “removed” from us (even though it may still slip out at times)
      3) Therefore, whatever we say or do to you is justified (i.e. the “will of God”), and any resistance is unjustified (i.e. an attack against the will of God)
      This is why we defend our past rule regardless of how many were offended.

      Even the notion of how capitalism is what’s robbing us blind is scoffed at, because those people who had the “character” to “delay gratification” and “produce value” to climb to the top, must be “good” people, who would NEVER take advantage of us! (Even though they know most of them aren’t even “regenerated” Christians; it seems they are ‘sanctified’ just by their association with the “Christian” American ‘value’ of capitalism).
      If they’re skipping off scott free while everyone else suffers, it’s the liberals making them do it, by taxing and regulating them, for the sake of the undeserving, lazy poor. Those who weren’t lazy simply got caught up in the oppressive system, and thus are the blamers on the right, who struggle themselves, but except themselves from the assumption that whoever struggles simply didn’t work hard enough.

      If some people “deserve” to rule, and others deserve to be subjugated, based on what they do (the basic argument used in defenses of capitalism), then all we’ve done is to reward survival instinct skill. It is not an “exceptional”, let alone divinely run or principled system.

      Predation: doing things that benefit you at the expense of others, and then reasoning that it’s their own fault for being so “vulnerable” (not “protecting” themselves more).
      Even Christians think that just this mere appeal to “nature” justifies this behavior (in both “civilization”-building and economics) and proves it’s “godly”, “exceptional”, etc. but it’s really the basest level of animal instinct.

      Slavery was based on the same thing. The people were “sinners”, being “heathens” without Christ, so it was their own fault God delivered them into the hands of the righteous. Robert E. Lee even justified it: the “painful discipline” of slavery was for their own good, and its duration “known and ordered by a wise Merciful Providence”. Then you have this, by John Wayne, with the same moralism mixed with naturalism:

      So all they’ve done today is replace the physical chains with stuff like debt, and made it look like they were “free” and simply “squandered” their “opportunity”, by not pulling their bootstraps (due to their own “laziness”, which is what they said about the Africans, who weren’t busy creating the modern conquering civilizations the Europeans had created). The goals and rationales are exactly the same!

      When pointing at the sins of “the world”:

      Man is a sinner.
      so others represent this bad aspect of humanity; we’re above that

      When pointing at another group they portray as particularly evil:

      We represent good aspects of humanity, others are subhuman

      Once you dehumanize others, or demonize humanity altogether, then it’s no big deal to eradicate them

  3. https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/05/andy-stanleys-modern-marcionism
    ANDY STANLEY’S MODERN MARCIONISM

    Marcionism (a term I had been thinking of lately, regarding many of the topics I’ve been covering) wasn’t merely “the belief that the Old Testament is not authoritative in matters of Christian doctrine and morals”; it was a belief that YHWH of the Old Testament was a different “god” from Jesus of the new; and that the former was “evil”, while Jesus was good and loving.

    As the biblical scholar Francis Watson has noted, contemporary versions of the error of the early Christian heretic Marcion (c. 85–160) don’t usually take the form of positing two ontologically distinct divine beings, as the historical Marcion did. They instead involve “Christian unease about the status and function of the Old Testament” and a willingness to entertain the view that “the Old Testament is not to be regarded as part of Christian scripture.”

    So they basically retool the name of the heresy to modern doctrines they want to tag with the label.

    Conservative Christianity is in some ways closer to Marcionism, but in the opposite sense of taking the OT YHWH as God’s “true” (and “UNCHANGING”) nature (and of course not saying He’s evil), and then Jesus and the New Covenant ends up as some sort of parenthetical afterthought where God is being “patient” and “merciful” towards man for awhile (and also changing some peripheral commands), but “soon” (meaning 2000 years and counting), will shut the door, and YHWH with His “wrath” will come out in its fullest extent against everyone who didn’t “get with the program” in this age.

    As I’ve pointed out; one of the big proofs of His deity (the common divine essence) was the statement “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Another one is that He’s “the express image of [God]’s person” (Heb. 1:3). Many Christians in effect say “OK, that’s Jesus, He said that then, but ‘God’, over here, is REALLY more like THIS [like, in his pure form], and it’s above our comprehension anyway, so just believe what we say”. To do that, is to practically embrace Marcionism.

    What you saw when Jesus walked the earth (and recorded in the gospels), is the fullness of the divine revelation. If it looks different than that perpetually “angry God” in the Old Testament, or even His reprisal in Revelation and other New Testament prophetic passages, then apparently, God was working out different parts of a Plan, with different people.

    Summarizing that gospel, he says that “God has done something through the Jews for the world.” And then he drops this bombshell: “But the ‘through the Jews’ part of the story is over, and now something new and better and inclusive has come.”

    Calling the Old Testament “God’s contract,” Stanley sums it up as a tit-for-tat economy: “It’s ‘I will if you will.’” By contrast, now that the “stand-alone” Jesus-event has erupted onto the scene, “God’s arrangement with Israel should now be eliminated from the equation.” A more complete supersessionism is hard to imagine.

    So this guy just seems to be pitching dispensationalism, here. (Though his organization is “Evangelical Anglican”; not sure where they really stand on that).

    Luther wrote in his Large Catechism that “those who know the Ten Commandments perfectly know the entire Scriptures and in all affairs and circumstances are able to counsel, help, comfort, judge, and make decisions in both spiritual and temporal matters.” Luther was merely summarizing what was by his time a catechetical commonplace.

    “The entire scriptures”? Like about how no one could keep the Law, and so Christ had to come and die to redeem man from the “curse of the Law”? Of course, they will say that “the Law points to Christ”, as if that means just reading the Ten Commandments will automatically make the whole story of Jesus of Nazareth and His death and the salvation offers appear alongside it. (Then why did most of those who had the Law not see Christ as the valid savior? Why did Paul say that their reading of the Law was what was actually blinding them to Christ? —2 Cor.3:14)

    Clearly, this is a confusion of the Law and the Gospel. The “high” church, with its “catechetical” system, is being made the ultimate authority, and it is just a rehash of the Law.

    It is striking how frequently flirtations with Marcionism are aimed at revising Christian teaching on sexual morality. Though he doesn’t walk through it himself, Stanley’s sermon opens the door to this revisionism. He says that Paul tied sexual behavior not to the old covenant, not to the Ten Commandments, but to “one commandment that Jesus gave us: that you are to treat others as God in Christ has treated you.”

    This is true as far as it goes—Jesus and Paul both agree that the heart of the law is love and that the whole law can be summed up in the twofold command to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves—but it misleads by what it leaves out. In a fallen world, talk about love can mask a kind of relativism. This is why the catechetical tradition of the Christian churches has been united in its use of the Ten Commandments: precisely because it has recognized that we Christians so often fail to discern what real love amounts to, and we need the Old Testament’s commandments to shine a spotlight on our slippery self-justifications. We may intend to treat a sexual partner as God in Christ has treated us, we may try to act toward them out of self-giving love, but the distorting effects of sin mean that we must be told what love looks like in action if we’re not to get it wrong. That divine telling, sadly, is what Andy Stanley’s sermon would keep us from hearing.

    Get that: we “must be told what love looks like in action”. In other words, holding on to the Law, and especially note, it ultimately being about ACTION (with the Law’s “judgment” as the underlying motivation to do the actions). And not just the old written law of course, but many other rules we add that go beyond what even the Law said (since it didn’t cover every possible situation. And note, how this quickly veered to sexual morality, which is a virtual obsession the Church has often focused on to the detriment of other issues of sin. So they can nickel and dime everyone’s private life, while being totally unscrupulous when it comes to public morality, especially other groups of people. And one sexual issue: homosexuality, has even led to an organization adopting the old Trinity-compromising heresy of “subordinationism”, which makes Jesus ontologically less than the Father, which they want to use as the model of the different genders. That too would go well with Marcionism).

    But this is exactly how the Pharisees Jesus and Paul dealt with thought; hence all of the added restrictions and then opposing Christ and the Gospel. Meanwhile, the “tradition of the Christian Churches” had the Ten Commandments, but they and the cultures they reigned over, still did a lot of sinful things, and thought nothing of it, but instead simply turned to the Bible; particularly the Old Testament significantly enough, to justify it! The Law did not stop our “slippery self-justifications”, but actually fueled them, as we created loopholes!

    There’s just no sense of “One God doing different parts of of a Plan with different people”; it’s as if Marcion was right, there are two Gods; a greater one and a “subordinate” one, and the subordinate, Jesus, was nice, but not enough; and rather than saying YHWH was evil, we fearfully placate Him to gain salvation (with belief in Jesus as simply the “ticket”, but it’s really all about our “actions”), and teach everyone else likewise.

    Edit:
    ‘I Never Suggested We Un-Hitch’: Andy Stanley Walks Back on Controversial Sermon
    http://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2018/may/i-never-suggested-we-un-hitch-andy-stanley-walks-back-on-controversial-sermon

  4. Christian Theologian Warns Evangelicals: Trump Will Turn On You ‘In A Moment’
    Roger E. Olson has a stark warning for some of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters.

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/roger-olson-christian-theologian-donald-trump_us_5b8752aee4b0511db3d48fb3

  5. Someone posts the question: “It is becoming taboo to suggest that monogamy is “right” and any other form of consensual relationship – committed or not committed – is ‘wrong’. In NZ (very liberal and feminisitic) even Christians are jumping on this band wagon participating in open marriages and various other forms of Polyamory and stating that there is no moral issue with this and anyone who says there is is just perpetuating ‘heteronormative stereotypes’ that discriminate against others. Thoughts from scripture? Did Jesus define the marriage God designed, to be between one man and one woman or was that mistranslated ?”

    People today (including some who identify as “Christian”) are basically reacting against a legalistic “purity culture” (as it’s being called) they suffered growing up in, that did just as Jesus said regarding the Pharisees, in going above and beyond in certain areas of the Law, but “have neglected the more important matters of the Law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
    He also summed up the Law as “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

    They had decided that the most important parts of the Law were sexual “purity” and reverence to God. So that is what they judged the whole character of America by, and whether we “deserved” reward (world dominance and prosperity) or judgment (loss of power, natural and manmade [i.e. terrorists] calamities, etc.) So everything was “good”, until the 1960’s, when the sexual revolution occurred, as well as the removal of prayer from public schools. (And of course, the sexual revolution paved the way eventually for gay rights and acceptance, and everything else “coming out of the closet”). That means, everything before that was good (including slavery, racial oppression, sexism, etc.; and that same period was when Civil Rights made its biggest strides), and everything after that was bad (including inclusivism and multiculturalism).
    Clearly, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” never even crossed anyone’s minds. Except, to slam it as “relativism”, “the new morality” or “situational ethics”. (The liberals advocating these things back then weren’t really good at defending their arguments scripturally. They saw scripture as the problem, since it was used for the earlier repression/oppression, so so cast the whole thing aside, and only cherry picking certain themes, such as “the Golden Rule”).

    So yes, Christ did reiterate the “original design for marriage” (against those trying to corner Him with a question of divorce), but the mistake of anti-gay arguments is using this to support the necessity of God JUDGING people over their adherence to this “original design”.
    It’s so ironic, because on one hand, conservatives insist “this world is passing away”, and it’s “fallen“, even and so you shouldn’t become so attached to it, but instead wait for God to come and destroy it in favor of a “Kingdom” where life is ordered completely differently. But then God will judge people for not following the “original creation” when it comes to marriage. (And that perfect “Kingdom” they believe is devoid of sex, so “one man and one woman” is tied strictly to this current world.

    And of course, they also teach “saved by grace, not works”, but when it comes to gays and others, they essentially are teaching “follow the original design of creation and you shall be saved”.
    This is all the same argument as sabbatarianism, which insists on the Sabbath as “the memorial of Creation”. But they too are waiting for God to come “soon” and do away with this “fallen”, corrupted physical world.

    They also appeal to Paul’s linking of marriage to being a shadow of “Christ and the church.” (Eph.5:32). This then is used to justify seeing homosexual union as not personal between the two people, but rather as a blatant “mocking” of the whole Gospel and destroying of the faith that must be opposed by Christians. (The same is done with the use of the rainbow; which ironically was a symbol of Grace, not a symbol of “you better do the right behavior next time”, as is apparently assumed). But this is referring to the relationship of the husband and wife to each other (wives submit to husbands; husbands give their lives for their wives). It’s not saying that everyone MUST become a husband of a wife or wife of a husband, or else, they MUST be judged (and any “grace” essentially forfeited).
    For really, celibacy goes against the guidelines of that “original design” and “marriage of Christ to the Church” as well, and not only that, but if everyone did it, “God’s creation” of the human race would die out! But that’s not condemned, but rather encouraged in a few places. (Though they’ll claim Christ is the “spouse” of the celibate, but if taken literally, how that would that fit for males; and then really; Christ is supposed to be the “spiritual” husband in that way of the entire Church [the corporate “Body”]; not just singles!)

    Divorce of course, is when something has gone wrong, so it does involve people failing at the Golden Rule in some way. Most everyone should agree with that. This, remember, is what he was arguing against in reiterating the “original design”.
    This really has nothing to say regarding other consensual intimate relationships.

    It’s true that even with “consent” as the standard, it can cross the line into violating the golden rule; such as having multiple children by multiple fathers (which are usually by accident, or sometimes even in attempts to trap the man into commitment), and thus having all of these strange men in and out of the children’s lives. (Which would figure in polyamory as well). Or, just “using” people, like them wanting commitment or something else, and Again, the real point of the Law has been missed, but people thought they were doing the right thing, and yet wondering why people eventually rebelled!)

    This would be a better guideline for a moral framework, rather than using an IDEAL of “the original creation” to create a broad limit, that others are presumed to be harshly judged over.

  6. https://www.christianpost.com/voice/no-mayor-buttigieg-god-isnt-a-progressive.html

    I actually have to agree with most of the article! It’s true that liberals often grab scriptures like feed the poor at face value (when they’re not knocking the scriptures and their “literal” value; see here), and it becomes the same “works righteousness” as conservatives, but over altruism instead of personal “holiness”.

    But as I a long time ago had to wonder whether I really needed to take in the poor to be saved (isn’t that what Jesus seems to say?) and had to do the same hanging my head and then falling back on grace, realizing I wasn’t doing the good deeds perfectly as when I lost my temper or lusted; this too pointed to the need to really see the immediate context of the instruction and realize it was for the disciples; not us. (Just like “take no thought for your life”, “make disciples of all nations”, etc.)
    Where the conservative view of the article goes off is in making such a thing about “big government” forcing giving, which stems from their expectation of the government to always reflect their beliefs and concepts of “freedom”. It’s the whole “Christian America” notion, where it was “taken” from them, and they of course want it “back”.
    Of all the things governments force on their people, charity should not be seen as so persecutory. Would you rather trade places with the first century Christians, under Rome, whom Paul addressed in Romans 13?
    (And then, government wasn’t railed against by social conservatives as much, until it was forced to stop discriminating against all but one group of people, and then once it opened up to others, THEN it became associated with others, and then made out to be evil, “taking” everything from them and giving it all to these others. Which isn’t even true. but that’s a whole other story).

  7. How A Nationalistic Strain Of Christianity Is Subtly Shaping America’s Gun Debate
    It’s hard for gun control activists to find common ground with folks who believe the Second Amendment is a God-given right.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/christian-nationalism-el-paso-dayton-mass-shootings_n_5d4843dae4b0aca341219545

    Many evangelical Christians believe that in addition to the physical world, there is a spiritual, supernatural dimension to reality, and that in that realm, there is an ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil. As a result, these Christians view many social problems in the world, including gun violence, as having spiritual roots.

    What distinguishes Christian nationalists from other Christians is that they tend to believe that these spiritual crises can only be solved by privileging “traditional Christian values” in the public sphere. From this perspective, it’s almost foolish to try to end gun violence through legislation, without addressing perceived ruptures in America’s moral fabric first.

    “For Christian nationalists, human attempts to fix social problems (like gun control legislation) without addressing the underlying ‘moral decline’ of the nation are misguided and an affront to the Christian God,” Whitehead said.

    John Fea, a historian at Messiah College who studies Christian nationalism, said that this belief is evident in how some of Trump’s top evangelical advisors responded to the recent mass shootings.

    Pastor Greg Laurie, who leads the evangelical Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and Pastor Jack Graham, of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, taped an Instagram video on Sunday where they talked about how “something bigger” was at play: Rather than blame the availability of guns, the pastors claim that what happened in Dayton and El Paso was the result of a “spiritual battle.”

    “The Bible tells us that the final hours of human history, that perilous times will come, difficult, dangerous times will come,” Graham said in the video. “Not to minimize what’s happened, because it’s a tragedy … But we need to remember that ultimately, it’s a spiritual solution. We can’t politicize this.”

    “Many evangelicals, not just Christian nationalists, indeed believe that the *real* problem is a spiritual one. In order to solve the gun problem in America we must evangelize more,” Fea told HuffPost in an email. “By saying that ‘we can’t politicize’ this, [Laurie] and Graham are sending a message to their followers that gun control will not help these problems.”

  8. “I Love Jesus But Not the Church” Means You’re On To Something!
    View at Medium.com

    Why The Millennial Migration From Church Is An Absolute Myth
    What Churches They’re Going To Instead
    View at Medium.com

    Screw Discipleship. We Need Friendship.
    Faith is not a power trip or performance art.
    View at Medium.com

  9. Why So Many People Seem to Hate Christianity
    It’s not about hatred or prejudice. It’s about survival.
    View at Medium.com

  10. Conservatives in this race issue (especially regarding the removal of monuments, etc.) just do not understand what Jesus said summed up the Law: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt.7:12). They probably scoff at the way “the world” tosses this around as “the Golden Rule”, but note the last part of it: it SUMS UP “the Law”!

    I swing by the conservative Christian board I used to go on yesrs ago, and the only thing they have to say about todays events is how BLM leaders (and Kapernaek) like Castro and other far Left leaders (an example of this kind of thinking here), the Confederacy was “not just” about slavery,* and how all the unrest is just to justify this war against the nation, and it’s all “demonic”. Removing these statues is an attack of demonic forces, as if they rerally represented God and the biblically sacred. (So when Wise points out these were actually altars of worship, we see he wasn’t exaggerating at all!)

    They can’t even see why Confederate monuments would be offensive to blacks today. They can tell you all about the things thast were offensive to society in the past, but are accepted now, and of course, that past society and its “moral values” are what we are supposed to go “back” to, where we are “godless” today. But when it comes to what’s considered offensive today, suddenly, they believe being offended is “weak” and toss out terms like “snowflake”. That’s sure a “godly” and “loving” attitude, isn’t it!

    *(When I pointed out the CSA was an enemy of the USA, and asked why they would love the flag of the USA if the CSA represented the “true America” one gave this rationale that since it was the Union that was preventing them from seceding, both regimes represemted America)

    Conservatives will go through the Law, point by point, and check them off one by one:

    “No other gods”; check
    “No idols”, check
    —We believe in the Jesus Christ of the Bible, the Second Person of the Godhead, and put Him first.
    “No takin the name of the Lord in vain” check.
    We do not use cuss words or evern say anythig blasphemous
    “Honor the Sabbath day”.
    Well, that part of the Law was abolished. If we honor the day the Lord arose on, that replaces that
    “Honor you father and mother” check
    we obeyed our parents, and follow the “old paths” handed down to us, and enforce the same
    “Do not kill”. We don’t go around killing people for no reason like others do. As for colonialism, lynchings, police violence, etc. well, God did tell the Israelites to conquer and kill the godless, so if He tells us to do it; it’s OK
    “Do not commit adultery”. quadruple check! (the most important of the commandments in practice; and many are ultra diligent to avoid falling into “sin”, including “liust”
    “Do not steal” check. We do not knock down people and rob them. Again, with colonialism, God who “makes the nations” gave those people into our hands. The forfeited their freedom with their sins
    “Do not bear false witness” check
    We follow only “truth”
    “Do not covet” we teach being “content” with whatever you have, and we only demand what God had given to us, and has been taken by others.

    But checking off points of the Law, it’s easy to miss “the weightier matters of the Law; judgment [justice], mercy, and faith” [i.e. the opposite of a conspiracy mindset]. (Matt.23:23). Focusing purely on ‘the letter”, racism becomes OK, or sspewing hatred at people like gays, —in the name of the Law!
    That’s why the Law was not to continue to be held over everyone.

  11. Telling God to Get Out
    Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne, was being interviewed on the Early Show by Jane Clayson, regarding 9/11/2001. She was asked, “How could God let something like this happen?” Ms. Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, “I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are. But, for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?”

    This form of rejection seemed to begin when Madeline Murray O’Hare complained she did not want any more prayers in our schools. And we said, “OK.” (Side note: Madeline was murdered, and her corpse was found)

    Then, someone said, “you better not read the Bible in school”… the Bible that says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said, “OK.”

    Then, Dr. Benjamin Spock said, “we shouldn’t spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem.” And we said, “an expert should know what he’s talking about,” so we said “OK.”

    Then, someone said, “teachers and principals better not discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they misbehave, because we don’t want any bad publicity, and we surely don’t want to be sued.” And we said, “OK.” (Side note: There’s huge difference between disciplining and touching, beating, smacking, humiliating, kicking, etc.)

    Then someone said, “let’s let our daughters have abortions if they want, and they won’t even have to tell their parents.” And we said, “OK.”

    Then some wise school board member said, “since boys will be boys and they’re going to do it anyway, let’s give our sons all the condoms they want, so they can have all the fun they desire, and we won’t have to tell their parents they got them at school.” And we said, “OK.”

    Then some of our top elected officials said, “it doesn’t matter what we do in private, as long as we do our jobs.” And agreeing with them, we said, “it doesn’t matter to us what anyone, including the President, does in private as long as we have a job and the economy is good.”

    And then someone said, “let’s print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome, down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body.” And we said, “OK.”

    And then someone else took that appreciation a step further and published pictures of nude children, and then stepped further still by making them available on the Internet. And we said, “OK… they’re entitled to their free speech.”

    And then the entertainment industry said, “let’s make TV shows and movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex. And let’s record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and satanic themes.” And we said, “it’s just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and nobody takes it seriously anyway,” so we said, “OK.”

    Now we’re asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don’t know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves. More than likely, if we think long and hard enough about it, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with… “WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.”
    —–
    “Dear God, Why didn’t you save the little girl killed in her classroom?” Sincerely, Concerned Student.
    “Dear Concerned Student, I am not allowed in schools.” Sincerely, God.
    —–
    Funny…?
    Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell.
    Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.
    Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven, provided they do not have to believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says.
    Funny how someone can say “I believe in God,” but still follow Satan who, by the way, also “believes” in God.
    Funny how we are quick to judge, but not to be judged.

    Slept on this one, from several years ago, but by that time, nonconservatives were finally addressing things like this. It’s the typical conservative Christian polemic on how great everything was the past. It takes all the issues Christians thought were important, to the detriment of every other issue of evil, and confirmation biases them to the effect of “See; you didn’t do what we say, so now, you’re cursed!” It’s all a lament of loss of power!
    And it’s occasionaly still shared by close Christian friends, including, just yesterday, one who is otherwise virulently anti-Trump, but didn’t make the connection, that this is why so many “Christians”, including the Grahams, are following him, despite the fact that he displays all the “godlessness” portrayed in this message! Just as long as he takes our side on abortion, the borders and economics; he must be “God’s man” anyway! Talk about “boys will be boys”, when you see some of their defenses of him! She even has the nerve to include “it doesn’t matter to us what anyone, including the President, does in private as long as we have a job and the economy is good.”
    which is precisely what all the Christian Trump fans, up to Franklin himself, have said! Are they kidding?” So fixated on everyone else’s sins they totally do not see how all of this looks to the world they claim to be trying to get saved!

    ALWAYS ignored, is that this idea we told God to “get out” in the ’60s and ’70s suggests the nation was completely following God before then, when they were persecuting and killing our parents, grandparents, etc. That went on even as they prayed in school, recited scripture and posted the 10 Commandments! It’s all about that “Great” America Trump promises to his followers. It proves all lives did NOT matter, if the nation was still considered “righteous” and following God back then!

    The problem is sin in general, and it’s not limited to only certain time periods!

  12. American Jesus: Where are your priorities?
    View at Medium.com

  13. Who Has the Power to Define Christianity in the US?
    Since the inception of America, conservatives have regularly—even desperately—sought to distort and exploit religious traditions.

    https://www.thenation.com/article/society/trump-evangelical-christian/

  14. If You’re a Christian Who Voted For Trump, God Help You
    How much longer can a person act as if being pro-life and anti-marriage equality supersedes all other Christian values?
    https://level.medium.com/if-youre-a-christian-who-voted-for-trump-god-help-you-88e66071dc32

  15. The Final Evangelical Reckoning of Donald Trump
    View at Medium.com

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