Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Perhaps the Day of Purification has Arrived

June 29, 2015

I have done very little posting on this or any of my other blogs since the re-election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States in 2012, due in great part to the overwhelming sense of rejection I feel from my own fellow American citizens.  On 26 June 2015, only two and a half years after that, the final blow to the American version of Western Civilization was delivered.  Somehow, someway, the haters of God have succeeded in turning not only Godliness but the very course of nature on its head, and have twisted the holy relationship of marriage into an unholy deformity of the original meaning of that God-Ordained institution.  The relationship between the Church and American society and its government is now officially broken.  Maybe now Christian Evangelicals and Fundamentalists will cease the blind patriotism that this wicked nation’s politicians has exploited.  The United States and well as modern Israel are wicked nations that have been promoting homosexuality for at least six decades, if not longer; yet even with the homosexualization of the military itself, Christian young people are going into foreign lands to fight wars that have ambiguous goals, to be injured or killed for reasons that are either kept secret or are arbitrary, for a nation that exalts wickedness as a virtue, and shames Godliness as a vice.  The Beast is already mandating its mark; to “buy or sell”, one must bear it.  Can worse things be very far behind?  No.  And shall you and I stand on the day of our trial?  Well, according to scripture, God desires “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  Perhaps the day of purification has arrived.

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Theology: God and Logic

November 13, 2011

In one of my first posts in 2007 on this blog entitled “John 1:1 Commentary”, I said this: 

John says “In the beginning was the Logos” What can we learn about Logos? We can learn that Logos is God expressing Himself in a person – the person of His Eternal Son – Christ, Jesus, Our Lord. But what more of Logos can we learn? This: We get the word “logic” from “logos”. Many Bible teachers imply or outrightly declare that “God is not logical”. This notion comes from unwillingness on the part of the Bible student to resolve apparent contradictions (there are no actual contradictions in the Bible) in a logical way. Why are they unwilling? Because they don’t like the obvious conclusions that scripture will lead them to. They prefer to declare the word of God to be a “mystery”, or a “paradox”; two seemingly contradictory truths that remain in perpetual tension, and have no resolution.

I would ask you this: do you really think God is illogical? Or as some would say – alogical? I would think that we would accept from the onset, as the Apostle John presents it, that Christ is God’s LOGICAL personification.

In support of my comments, I found the following short treatise on the matter as I was browsing the internet – comments very important in Christian Theology and missing from many churches today.

The basic laws of logic are neither arbitrary inventions of God nor principles that exist completely outside God’s being. Obviously, the laws of logic are not like the laws of nature. God may violate the latter (say, suspend gravity), but He cannot violate the former. Those laws are rooted in God’s own nature. Indeed, some scholars think the passage “In the beginning was the Word [logos]” (Jn 1:1) is accurately translated, “In the beginning was Logic (a divine, rational mind).” For example, even God cannot exist and not exist at the same time, and even God cannot validly believe that red is a color and red is not a color. When people say that God need not behave “logically,” they are using the term in a loose sense to mean “the sensible thing from my point of view.” Often God does not act in ways that people understand or judge to be what they would do in the circumstances. But God never behaves illogically in the proper sense. He does not violate in His being or thought the fundamental laws of logic.  (from http://christian-apologetics.org/2011/what-are-the-three-laws-of-logic/).

Notice the statement, “the laws of logic are not like the laws of nature. God may violate the latter (say, suspend gravity), but He cannot violate the former. Those laws are rooted in God’s own nature.”  Herein lies the trip-wire for too many Bible students.  They assume wrongly that God’s ability to violate the laws of nature represents an ability to be illogical.  This stems from the confusion of deduction and induction.

The modern mind has been trained to think inductively.  The scientific method is based on inductive reasoning, which is why knowledge gained by the so-called scientific method a most UNRELIABLE source of knowledge, much contrary to popular opinion.  Inductive reasoning is reasoning based on observations, particularly observations of nature.  Inductive reasoning claims that if some number of repeated actions all produce the same result, then it can be safely ASSUMED that those given actions will ALWAYS produce the same results.  Now, this sounds good, and indeed without dispute has been greatly beneficial in the development of modern medicine, engineering feats, and other such great accomplishments.  We are greatly indebted to the scientists that have used the scientific method to inductively discover the inner workings of the natural order and used that knowledge for our betterment.  However, scientific induction, failing to foresee the consequences of its inability to account for ALL possible outcomes, has often failed catastrophically, resulting in sickness, death, turmoil, and uncertainty in the human world it seeks to inoculate.

But even more catastrophic is the failure of scientific induction to answer the really big questions – questions about purpose, feeling, origins, and faith – that has dealt a mortal wound to the hope of man, engulfing him in nihilistic futility and doubt.  In terms of producing knowledge of things beyond the natural world, modern science has been and will always be an abysmal failure. 

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation”.  Now we might have some discussion as to His meaning of this, but the implications are obvious.  The ways of God are not clamped inescapably to nature.  Indeed, He is far above the natural physical world (transcendent). 

The knowledge of God, being beyond the physical world, starts with metaphysical axioms, and relies on deduction rather than induction to discover the implications of those axioms.  For many people who deny the existence of God, it is equally necessary to deny truth, and more specifically, axiomatic (indisputable) truth.  Logic is where they meet there match, for they futilly deny the undeniable truth that “a” cannot be “not a” at the same time and in the same way.  This is an axiom.  This is metaphysical.  This is not simply “nature”, but is the Nature of God.  This is not the nature which God is above, but this is the nature of which GOD IS.

In light of the importance of metaphysics and the obvious inability of physics (modern science) to even approach questions of faith, I find it very curious that such an atheist and doubter as Steven Hawking  has usurped the role of Knower of All Things, delving into what for him ought to be nothing more than rank speculation about the origins, purpose, and destination of the universe and life itself. 

One would think that educators, regardless of religious mindset, would be highly disturbed by the influence of men like Hawking on young people who see him as an intellectual icon.  Hawking and others like him simply proclaim their opinions as if they were undisputable, established facts; not so unlike the alleged statements by a Russian cosmonaut, who supposedly said, “We went to outer space and we didn’t see God there”, which was supposed to be some sort of proof that He doesn’t in fact exist!  Lord, save us from this type of convoluted, illogical thinking.  Amen.

By the way, at the time of this writing, as far as I can tell, Mr. Hawking currently does not believe there is a God.  I point this out because it’s my understanding that in some previous time, he did hold to at least a possibility of a God.  And perhaps by the time I publish this article, he will have changed his mind again, for this is the nature of inductive reasoning – always looking for evidence to support a hypothesis, and never being able to come to the knowledge (certainty) of the truth.  Thus, there is a God one day, there isn’t One the next day; a certain medicine is good for you today, tomorrow, it’s bad for you; there is global warming one day, and not global warming but instead global turbulence the next; and so on.  And it seems that when scientists change their mind, they are at least as certain they are right THIS TIME as they were BEFORE!

It’s one thing to invest some guarded trust in these kind of thinkers when it comes to our bodily health, but should we ever trust our souls to them?  Maybe it’s time for we the people living the modern/post-modern world to build our hope on this axiom:

“In the beginning was the Word*; and the Word* was with God, and the Word* was God”.

*Logos/Logic

Family Integrated Worship

August 9, 2011

Family Integrated Worship is a movement that is beginning to have far-reaching effects on the modern church.  It is a much-needed corrective to the overly specialized church ministries that divides families into various target audiences – most notably these division are along the lines of age group.

Among the Primitive Baptists, of whom I have gained much interest in lately, the practice of divided worship is unheard of.  They rigorously avoid modern man-made man-centered inventions, staying strictly to the biblical model of worship:  Singing, Praying, and Preaching.

But many Christians are not satisfied with the biblical model.  It isn’t interesting, it isn’t materially rewarding, it doesn’t make us feel good – so we change it to please, not God, but ourselves.

The Bible assigns the responsibility for “youth ministry” to parents, not to the gathered church.  But it has been so easy for us to shove this holy calling off onto pastors or Sunday School teachers.

An important leader of the Family Integrated Worship movement is Brother Voddie Baucham.  His status as an African-American conservative leading a Bible-Based ministry makes his message one of the most important in our country.  More than ever we need men like Voddie to stand up and be the Godly model that so many young men need.

Recently a movie was released documenting a Youth Pastor’s epiphany in regards to modern church methods.  I highly recommend it.   It can be viewed for free here.

Learn more about Voddie Baucham here, and here.

Douglas Wilson on Popular Culture

August 7, 2009

Disclaimer:  I don’t follow Federal Vision theology. 

However, Douglas Wilson, who does, is a brilliant communicator of truth nevertheless. 

The following articles is a peak into this great mind speaking on a rather tired yet ever-important subject.

The article is copied from the blog “Blog and Mablog”, found at:  http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=6807.

 

 

Unleashing Your Inner Fundamentalist

Topic: Sex and Culture
Suppose that John R. Rice, during his Sword of the Lord days, accidentally took a couple hits of acid, and prophesied wildly about what would happen down the road if women quit wearing their hair in a bun, and started wearing slacks like crazy. Suppose he got really out there, and promised us all that the day would soon come when men would be marrying men, and women women. He said that people would begin paying surgeons to cut perfectly good organs off so they could justify wearing a dress, and that Secular Man, in solemn assembly, would pronounce the results to be a surgically-altered good. And the evening and the morning were the weird day.

Suppose he had done that. The results have refuted his predictions exactly . . . how? If we added up all the dire predictions that the fundamentalists have made down through the years, what about them didn’t happen? Fundamentalists are the cassandras of American cultural life. Back when everything seemed so stable in its Eisenhowerishness, the fundamentalist would say that everything was soon to be headed for hell in a handbasket. Ho, ho, ho was the cogent reply. Now here we are bouncing along in the handbasket, with some of the more gifted of our number getting grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to puke over the side of the handbasket as we bounce along. “This small performance is one I like to call ‘Seasickness Against the Absolute.’ Thank you, thank you!” And a fundamentalist in the corner says, “You know, I don’t see how you can call that art.” Everybody, all together now, ho, ho, ho!Fast forward to our day. When people object to tattoos, or jewels stuck in odd places, and someone objects to the objection by saying that back in the day they used to object to slacks for women, what about this makes it seem like a strong argument? Now before anyone rushes to the keyboard in order to type I can’t believe . . ., let me say that I do believe the fundamentalist argument is simplistic and inadequate. But compared to the arguments for getting the tats and other badges of the moment, the fundamentalists come off looking like Derrida on one of his subtler days.

A fundamentalist woman in a sun bonnet and a gingham dress, who gets a wicker basket to go pick blueberries, so she can bake her man a pie, with a golden crust, the kind he likes, may be a little bit hokey for your tastes, and certainly for mine. But at least she is trying to achieve an effect that the Bible says women should strive for — she wants to be modest and discrete. She is not trying to achieve an effect that the Bible never urges women to strive for, as in “edgy.” Or “provocative, but not too skanky for an evangelical.” She may be playing the instrument badly, but at least she is playing the right one. Suppose the Bible tells women to play the piano. This does not make every woman an accomplished pianist, but I do have respect for every woman who practices the piano, blunders and all. But the women who show up with a leaky concertina they got at Goodwill are trying to do something else. In other words, let us make a distinction between doing the right thing badly, and doing the wrong thing well. And, as Herodotus might say, so much for the fundamentalists.

Let’s talk for a moment about establishment worldliness, as distinct from organic food, tattooed, burlap shopping bag, NPR-listening worldliness. There is country club worldliness, and there is earth muffin worldliness. When I tag tats and odd jewelry as worldliness, as I have most certainly done, the response is often that women who have their nails done by Pierre at the salon for six hundred dollars a minute can be worldly too. There is a two-fold response to this. The first is sure, worldliness is quite possible there, and at this ostentatious level, inevitable. But what is that to you? You follow Christ. The fact that she shouldn’t be at the salon doesn’t mean that you get to go to the tattoo parlor. And secondly, this kind of monied worldliness is the result of a real failure in the right area, as opposed to success in the wrong one. Bear with me for a minute.

The Bible calls upon women to be sober (Tit. 2:4) and discrete (Tit. 2:5). They are to live in a way that provides no occasion for others to speak reproachfully (1 Tim. 5:14). Their demeanor should be characterized by shamefacedness (1 Tim. 2:9) and sobriety (1 Tim. 2:9). It is important to note that the word translated shamefacedness is aidous, which does not denote an Islamic browbeaten demeanor. That said, neither does it constitute an invitation to go ahead and buy a halter top that is two sizes too small. The word is not that elastic, unlike the halter top. In this same verse, the ESV says that women should wear respectable apparel. The word is one of those judgment-call words.

Who makes the judgments? The Bible says that older women should teach younger women how to achieve that effect, an effect we can sum up with the word respectable. Strikingly, it does not call upon the younger women to push the envelope until the older women finally say something critical about it. Again, the older women are to help the younger women try to achieve a modest respectability. The younger women are not called upon to demand the older women prove that something or other is not positively disreputable. According to the Bible, respectability is the goal. This means that the wife of the country club president is being worldly as she tries too hard to be respectable, with results that are too flashy. And she shouldn’t do that — she is playing the piano poorly. But a woman who is schlepping around the supermarket in sweat pants is playing the concertina, and it doesn’t matter if she is playing poorly or well.

Clothing and jewelry are all forms of communication. They are a form of language. Some elements of communication and language are universal — such as laughter or weeping. Other forms are culturally determined, such as a phonetic collection of sounds that mean an obscenity in one language and doorknob in another. When someone inveighs against tattoos, as I am more than willing to do, the resultant dispute often gets dragged into a debate over whether there is a deep structure to this, like laughter (as I believe), or not. But this usually happens with the objectors bringing an assumption that if it is not a universal sort of thing, then it is entirely arbitrary, and nobody can say anything about it. But the fact that English obscenities are not obscenities in every language does not grant one the right to stand on the street corner, yelling them at the passing motorists.

There is a deep, human way of showing respect, and there are particular linguistic ways of doing so. The Bible requires us to use both and to honor both. And the Bible says that younger women should learn about respectability from older women, and not the other way around. Any system of propriety-definition that has to say that the younger women know more about it than do the older women has scratched at the starting line. Whether we are talking about creational language or cultural language, showing honor and respect are the fixed goals. We shouldn’t be distracted by the creational/cultural debate such that we allow in a different goal entirely just so long as “it is not a sin in every culture.” A Christian woman may not adorn herself in a way that is flippant, lazy, disrespectful, or irreverent. And if she has an honest question about something that seems on the line, she should ask her grandmother, not her fourteen-year-old cousin.

Now I am prepared to argue that bodily mutilation and tatting is a necessary manifestation of cultural unbelief (Lev. 19:27-28; 1 Kings 18:28; Gal. 5:12). Idols always bring the knives with them. God created man in His image, like a priceless Durer woodcut, and so the devil brings the marker pens to doodle with. But suppose for a moment that this is all wrong, and that hypothetically and postmillennially there could be a culture someday in which tatting up your thirteen year virgin with dragon pictures was a practice that God the Father thought was swell, and about time the Holy Spirit added, encouragingly. It still remains true that in our culture, in English, nothing says trailer trash like a halter top and a tat. And when you get a nose stud, you are a lot closer to Brittany and Paris Hilton than you were before, and farther away from all the fifty-year-old church ladies. Which, come to think of it, may have been the whole point.

Posted by Douglas Wilson – 8/5/2009 5:51:27 PM

From Eric Rauch at American Vision: The Power and Authority of Words

June 7, 2009

This article is a companion to the previous post.  As I state in the previous post, Joel McDurmon and Eric Rauch really hit the proverbial nail on the head in these two articles.  Can be found at:

http://www.americanvision.org/article/the-power-and-authority-of-words/

I urge my readers to think about the meaning of language, speech,and words; their power and authority.  Think about the words we say each day, for which we are held accountable to God – even the “idle” ones.  And think about the words that God says, how that none are “idle”, and all are significant.

The Power and Authority of Words

Article Image: 2009June04

by Eric Rauch

In the New Testament, the Greek word for “authority” is sometimes translated as “power.” Even though there is a separate Greek word for power, the concepts of power and authority are so intimately connected in the Western mind, that modern translators often view them as synonyms. But translations aside, there is a biblical distinction that should be made between authority and power.

We discussed previously the relationship between author and authority, where an author has “authority” because he is the originator, the creator. Authority, in the biblical sense, is usually referring to the legitimacy of the individual or individuals. For example, when Jesus finished his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records that “the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). In other words, the crowds recognized something different in the words of Jesus that was lacking in the words of their own teachers. The scribes had the “power” of the Scriptures, but lacked the ability—the legitimacy—to speak them with any authority. When Jesus, the author and finisher of faith (Hebrews 12:2) spoke however, he spoke with authority because he was the author; he had legitimate claim to the power AND authority of the Scriptures.

You’ve heard it said that “knowledge is power.” And while this is true, we must not forget that knowledge exists only in words. In reality, words are the real power of the created world. Meaning is infused into words by an authority. French artist Marcel Duchamp despised language because he understood that it pointed to a transcendent Message-sender. Duchamp set out to create his own language, free of any meaning and authority. When he realized that by creating his own language, Duchamp had merely replaced God with himself, he destroyed his work. Language—any language—is authoritarian by its very nature. The creator of the language must give meaning to his “words” in order to communicate. Without meaning, communicating is impossible. Duchamp learned the lesson of the Tower of Babel too late. Words have power because they come from an authority.

This is why one of the first actions of any regime seeking to subvert the current authority will always involve language. Redefining words, creating new ones, controlling the media, and restricting access to alternate viewpoints must take place before any coup can be successful. In “The Principles of Newspeak,” an appendix to George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, we are told:

Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism…The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of IngSoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought—that is, a thought diverging from the principles of IngSoc—should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. Its vocabulary was so constructed as to give exact and often very subtle expression  to every meaning that a Party member could properly wish to express, while excluding all other meaning and also the possibility of arriving at them by indirect methods. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by eliminating undesirable words and stripping such words as remained of unorthodox meanings, and so far as possible of all secondary meaning whatever. [1]

Orwell understood the power of words. Control the language; control the people. Notice that Orwell understood that even Newspeak was limited in that it was only effective “at least so far as thought is dependent on words.” Even though this is theoretically true, how many of us actually think in anything other than words. We primarily think and reason conceptually, not pictorially.

Words are important to God as well. He gave us his word—the Bible—and he gave the Word—Jesus Christ. He made words the focus of two of his ten commandments: the third and the ninth. In the third commandment, we are told to not take his name in vain, referring primarily to vows and oaths. In the ninth, we are told to not bear false witness against our neighbor, a reference to being truthful and providing trustworthy testimony. God expects his people to be truthful, to be without reproach in what we say and do. This idea is repeated over and over throughout the entire Bible and when we get to the New Testament we find an interesting application of this concept.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes an observation regarding the third commandment. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus says: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Paul and James both repeat similar admonitions in their letters (2 Corinthians 1:17-20; James 5:12). Commentaries on these passages refer to the historical tradition of the first century Jews to make any and all sorts of vows and oaths against sacred objects, in order to give their promises validity (i.e. authority). Stated another way, they had gotten to the point where their words were no longer trustworthy; their words no longer carried any power because their authority of being truthful people—ones that obeyed God’s third and ninth commandments—had been corrupted. There is no honor among thieves or liars…

Endnote
[1]  George Orwell, 1984 (New York: Signet Classics, 1983 [1949]), 246

 
Article posted June 4, 2009

From Joel McDurmon at American Vision: Blashphemy and Freedom

June 7, 2009

The following article is copied directly from the American Vision website at http://www.americanvision.org/article/blasphemy-and-freedom/

I’m assuming that I am not violating any copyright laws or Internet eticate by copying the post as I am doing here, but if so, somebody let me know and I will delete it.

I urge my readers to read this article and think about what it is saying.

Although I don’t consider myself a “dominionist”, nor do I hold any particular affection for theonomy, I do listen to the Gary Demar Show and visit the American Vision web site almost daily.  Whether I agree with them or not, I appreciate the usually well-researched and thought-out opinions they articulate.  

This article and the one I will be post afterwards shows us the eternal, transcendent significance of words, something I tried to express way back in one of my first posts on this blog in attempting to exegete the word “logos” in John 1:1 (and clumsily trying to work in some Clarkian scripturalism with it).

Joel —not me— but McDurmon, gets it right here, as does Erick in the post to follow.

Blasphemy and Freedom

Article Image: 2009June05 - Blasphemy and Freedom

by Joel McDurmon

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain (Ex. 20:4-6).

You’ve probably heard the question, “What’s in a name?” Remember that it comes from that famous dialogue between Romeo and Juliet? The maiden from the window above says,

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name;

Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.

…which was her surname. Romeo mumbles to himself, listens on; Juliet continues:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s a Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet;

So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,

Retain that dear perfection which he owes

Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,

And for that name which is no part of thee

Take all myself.[1]

In Juliet’s view, names are, or should be, so meaningless that they can simply be switched whenever convenient. The problem is, society just doesn’t work that way. In fact, her own woe, you may recall, derived from the fact that her and her lover came from feuding families, and those families having detested each other for generations, could not even stand the nameof the other for all that it entailed. She argues that the substance of the thing, or of the person, and not the label, should determine why we value them. But when long use establishes a certain character with a certain appellative, then to overturn that relationship will cause a great social shift. Sometimes, perhaps, that shift needs to take place, other times it necessarily should not. And nowhere is that relationship between character and name more important that at the very foundation of society—religion.

The concept of “God’s name” so closely pertains to His Being and Nature that any affront to any of God’s attributes is subsumed under the very mention of His name. Calvin writes of the Third Commandment, “It is silly and childish to restrict this to the name Jehovah, as if God’s majesty were confined to letters or syllables.… God’s name is profaned whenever any detraction is made from His supreme wisdom, infinite power, justice, clemency, and rectitude.”[2] The reference to God’s name invokes all that God is and stands for.

We have similar references in the New Testament: of Jesus Paul says, there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow (Phil. 2:9-10).

So the idea of the majesty of God as represented by God’s name confronts mankind at every turn of life. And so, the commandment against taking God’s name “in vain” fairly warns us against all forms of action, or neglect, concerning the very nature of the God we serve. It means that the Biblical doctrine of God (Who is He?, What is His nature?, What has He done in history?) must inform every act and every decision we make. If the foundations of society rest upon anything less than that God, when we act in the name of God Almighty (for example, the presidential oath including “So help me God”), we have violated the Third Commandment. Conversely, when society begins to denigrate, curse, or swear at the name or mention of God, then we have an even worse situation in which society has attacked God Himself, and has sought to replace Him with something else as the foundation.

Consider for a moment the language of the Commandment. What does it mean to “take” in this passage? We can understand the word in the sense of “carry” or “bear.” Think in this sense of the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant, or of the Israelites pitching their tents beneath respective standards which bore their identities as children of YHWH. Think of the label “Christian,” first given in Antioch (Acts 11:26), and which we bear today. How do we “carry” that label? How do we present that label to the world, and what justice do we do it? Do we bear it in any degree of vanity or emptiness? Implicit in this Third Commandment is a condemnation of hypocrisy—of wearing a label we don’t measure up to in substance. And in not measuring up, we prove ourselves hypocrites, and we dishonor, we can even say blaspheme, the name of the God whose name we bear.

We have such a low view of taking the Lord’s name in vain today. This results from the overall decline of the religion and the influence of the church in society. Today the idea of cursing seems to have much less to do with God’s name than with more mundane forms of vulgarity. This always happens when religion wanes in society. The Oxford scholar Christopher Hill, a renowned expert on the Puritan era, notes the phenomenon long after the end of that age of piety. Speaking of the power of swearing and oaths he writes, 

They survive in industrialized and protestant countries, but as shadows of their former selves, and often the users are unaware of the original significance of swear-words which they employ every day. Blasphemy is no longer a fine art. The live swear-words in such societies are those which offend against something which has much more social reality than God—respectability. Sex and the lavatory have replaced deity, saints and devil as the source of live expletives to-day, because their use breaks a taboo that is still worth breaking.[3]

This has always been my experience. I personally don’t remember a time when cursing didn’t refer to bodily acts, and I was always taught, of course, that these certain words are the curse words, these words are “bad” words and you don’t say them. And while all of that may be true, there was always this great disconnect between the idea of taking God’s name in vain, and what I understood as cursing. That list of bad words, of course, included instances in which the word “God” or the name “Jesus Christ” served as expletives—as we hear all over the radio and TV today—but this only caused me greater confusion. Were theseinstances the actual sin of taking God’s name in vain? If so, why were the other words bad? Later in life when I actually thought about these questions, and grew a little more biblically literate, I decided that the distinction didn’t matter, because St. Paul went well beyond merely the Lord’s name and said, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying” (Eph. 4:9). “No corrupt communication,” pretty much covers it all. But this was a sort of happy state of ignorance for me, since I still really didn’t understand what it meant not to take the Lord’s name in vain.

So what was this “original significance” that Hill mentions above? He gives us a hint of it with an introductory quotation from that same chapter. The following appears in an anonymous tract written in 1614:

The safety of the King himself,… every man’s estate in particular, and the state of the realm in general, doth depend upon the truth and sincerity of men’s oaths.… The law and civil policy of England, being chiefly founded upon religion and the fear of God, doth use the religious ceremony of an oath, not only in legal proceedings but in other transactions and affairs of most importance in the commonwealth; esteeming oaths as not only the best touchstone of trust in matters of controversy, but as the safest knot of civil society, and the firmest band to tie all men to the performance of their several duties.[4]

Proper, honest, godly oath-taking, forms the mortar of healthy society. At the bottom of all, is the foundation of allegiance to God; and the commandment does not forbid swearing period, but swearing in vain. Bearing God’s name in truth—not in vain, but in truth—is the bedrock of religion and therefore of social health. In fact, the very word “religion” means “to bind” in the sense of binding allegiance. Such language fills the Bible: the whole concept of being God’s servant relates to this idea. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1). I hear St. Patrick singing his hymn, “I bind unto my self today, the strong name of the Trinity.” With it all I hear a Scripture passage that Christians hardly ever quote: Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name(Deut. 6:13)!

How often do we as believers exhort each other actually to swear? Swearing, we’ve been taught, is a “no-no” across the board. And yet God commanded the Israelites to do so—to swear by His name. The point is that at the bottom of every way of life, of every religion and every society, stands an ultimate oath. You have to serve somebody. Somebody is your god and you have sworn allegiance to him (or her) already whether you know it or not. You cannot escape worship, authority, or oaths. If you zip-your-lips, and lock the door and swallow the key, and refuse to take any oath whatsoever, you just took one. The question is not “oath or no oath.” The question is Whose name did you take it under? Here we must follow the example of God Himself, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since he could swear by no one greater, He swore by himself” (Heb. 6:13). No wonder He commands us to swear by that name, too.

Not to swear allegiance to God, is to profane His name, and put yours in place of it. The misuse or abuse of God’s name is an initiatory act of rebellion. In society, it represents revolt and revolution. “All swearing is religious, and false swearing represents a subversive drive in society.”[5]This fact manifested recently in a debate between atheists and Christians at Cape Town University on the subject of blasphemy. The atheist professor who agreed to debate backed out two hours before the event started, leaving Peter Hammond of Frontline Ministries alone to lecture from a Christian viewpoint and then field questions. One atheist young lady expressed the myopia of humanistic reasoning in trying to denigrate religion while exalting man: “To call me stupid would be hate speech and be illegal; however, to call Jesus stupid is not illegal and is a religious issue not a legal one.” Another added that hate speech “should of course be illegal,” yet Blasphemy given free reign “because unlike hate speech against homosexuals, no one is going to get hurt.”[6] The first argument, of course, begs the question, assuming up front what it intends to conclude: that religious issues don’t count as legal issues, therefore blasphemy is not “hate speech.” Christians, rather, should argue that blasphemy is the most fundamental and most serious and subversive form of hate speech, and should carry requisite legal sanctions. The second argument simply ignores the facts, that 

every year over 200,000 Christians are murdered worldwide for their Faith. Over 400 million Christians in 64 countries live under governments which do not allow religious freedom. Every year government sponsored hate speech in these countries leads to mob violence against Christians, the burning of churches, often with the congregation inside it, the beheading of Christians, even of young teenage girls, the stoning to death of Christians, crucifixions, mutilations, enslavements, etc.[7]

Logical and factual blunders aside, both arguments display the implicit attack on religious faith that humanism entails. When man sets a higher legal standard for speech against man than he does for speech against God, He explicitly rejects God as King and sets himself in the place of God. Legalized blasphemy represents treason to God and country. George Washington, spying the revolution of atheists, radicals, and deists in France, devoted a portion of his “farewell address” to warn our nation of the consequences of such blasphemy. In this passage—often quoted merely for its positive reference to religion—notice the emphasis on reputation (name), and oath:

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?[8]

Atheists and humanists begin with man and wish to derive “hate speech” from that standard. This devolves into a state where individuals, culture, law, and art can curse and mock all religion, virtue, sexuality, and all transcendent standards, and seek legal protection for such acts. Thus, homosexuality for example, which incarnates a gross perversion of the sex act—indeed the ultimate mockery of it—seeks legal protection from even criticism. To even decry homosexuality as a perversion is to practice “hate speech” in such a worldview, and in some so-called liberal democracies that boast of so-called “free speech,” a preacher who even reads the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual perversion publicly can find himself in jail. Mankind cannot escape “blasphemy” laws: the question is of who determines whatconstitutes blasphemy. Meanwhile, to highlight a degenerate society’s social hypocrisy, the standard interpersonal curses themselves pertain to sexuality: listen to any rap radio station and you will drown in a deluge of racial slurs interspersed with epithets of maternal incest, while any given foul-mouth on the street finds his readiest curse in willing a forcible sex act upon his annoyer: “f— you.” Humanism wishes legally to protect its perversions while in practice admitting them to be perverse, employing them as curses.

When society displays such characteristics, it reveals the depth of its rebellion against the Creator. The proper way to protect name, reputation, and human rights in general, is not to profane God and exalt man, but just the opposite. Unless men first revere God and honor an ultimate allegiance to the divine origin of mankind, and protect these beliefs by legal consequence, they shall denigrate everything glorious that man can be, and then protect their perversions and obscenity by recourse to legal force.

And so, as with many others of the Ten Commandments, the Third presents us with something that sounds elementary and almost trivial on the surface, but in reality reaches to the most profound depths of human experience. Based on something that we take for granted every day—a name—God shakes us to the very core of our identity. “What’s in a name?” If you’re talking about God, the answer is “everything.”

Endnotes
1
Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” II.ii.33–49.
2
Quoted in R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, 116.
3 Christopher Hill, Society and Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England(New York: Schocken Books, 1967 1964]) 419.
4
Hill, 382.
5R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Religion, 110.
6
Reported by Peter Hammond, “Blasphemy Debate at University,” rontline Fellowship News, 2009 Ed. 2, 7.
7
Peter Hammond, “Blasphemy Debate at University,” Frontline Fellowship News, 7.
8
Partially quoted in R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Religion, 112.

 
Article posted June 5, 2009

Everywhere I Look, Love has Grown Cold

August 29, 2008

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

Divorces, profaning the most Holy of human loves

Pornography, profaning the most Holy of human desires

Infidelity, profaning the most Holy of human unions

Factions at work, factions at Church, bickering and gossiping

Cursing on the roads, cursing on the television, cursing at each other

Ambitious leaders, authoritarian and determined

Impersonal economic and political systems

Digital voices on the phone when we need human care

Customer service – who is the customer and where is the service?  Minimal effort is the rule

Foul-mouthed, violent heroes

Teenage rebellion run amuck, institutionalized in emergent gatherings

Post-modern and post-love, where iniquity abounds

Children are in our way, and the silvery head is despised

The individualist must keep his silence or be shunned – His ideas are a threat to the progress of the collective good

We have become a bickering, violent people

The love of sin and the love of God and our neighbors cannot thrive together      

O God, Our Father, we plead – pour out your Spirit upon our nation and bring real revival to this world.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

The Gospel is Relevant to Sinners

May 9, 2008

There is no sweeter and more relevant message than “Christ died for our sins” (1Cor15:1) to sinners that have been made aware of their condemnation under God’s Law.  Unfortunately, too many preachers today think just the opposite is true – that relevancy is all about pursuing the fashions and fads of this world’s ungodly expressions. 

Whether it’s ungodly music, or ungodly clothing, or ungodly dancing, or ungodly chaos, or ungodly rioting, the men and women that constitute the emerging church leadership have openly sponsored these activities as the proposed means of “reaching” the un-churched.

Here is an example of an emerging church that is so determined to validate their humanly conceived methods that they are literally stuck on stupid:  http://hamptonroads.com/2008/05/concerts-resume-after-fight-church-club.

In contrast to this utter nonsense, God has published two masterpieces of relevancy:  The Law, and The Gospel. 

The Law of God reveals to us that we have offended a Holy God by disregarding His divinely instituted Law, and we stand condemned by it, awaiting the justice reserved for sinners.  By His Law we have been exposed as God-haters, idolaters, blasphemers, Sabbath breakers, haters of parental authority, haters of humanity, adulterers, thieves, liars, and coveters.  This message is relevant to every human being.  

But the Gospel reveals to us that we have a hope – that we may obtain the righteousness of God, which is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We have great joy in knowing that Christ perfectly obeyed and satisfied God’s Law, and through an unspeakable act of mercy, we may be forgiven of our sins through the blood of Christ and be saved through faith in that blood.  O what mercy, o what peace, o what relevance in the heart of the condemned!  Forgiveness!  Alas, my sins are washed away!  O how sweet to trust in Jesus!  O for a thousand tongues to sing my great redeemer’s praise!  The glories of my God and King!  The triumphs of His grace!  Surely there is no message that is more relevant to every human being on earth!

God’s eternal truth is already relevant.  The only thing we have to do to “make” it relevant is to preach and teach it.  When are we going to stop thinking that we can improve on God’s work?

Friend, if you are reading this and have never truly trusted Christ and been converted, I ask you right now to stop trying to convert God to your culture, and if you have heard His Voice, follow the call of your Shepherd into His fold. 

Don’t try to conform God into the image you have of Him, but rather, the Bible commands you to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2)

 

Ingrid Wants An Old Fashioned Church – And So Do I

March 14, 2008
Ingrid at Slice of Loadicea shares my frustration with the contemporary church. She said it in a letter. Here is a portion:

To Whom it May Concern:

I’m looking for a good Christian church. I don’t want to sing songs off a wall, the same five notes, over and over and over and over again while I am lightheaded from standing so long. There’s a record of the hymns of God’s people that spans 2000 years. Why are we so arrogant as to think we don’t need those wonderful songs any longer? Have we gone through more suffering, more affliction, more pain for Jesus than those who wrote these enduring hymns? Does a semi-secular song writer in Nashville with a multi-million dollar music contract have more to say to us about God and the Christian life than the 17th-century hymn writer who lost four children and his wife during the 30 years War?

I don’t want to have my eardrums bashed in by the three kids in the “worship band” who can’t be bothered to bathe, shave, dress or comb their hair on Sunday morning. If it’s really all about the God that Scripture describes as ineffably holy, shouldn’t that be reflected in attitude and dress for those who serve in church music?

I don’t want a vampy “praise and worship” leader who is flaunting her wares at every male within view as she does her worship moves on “stage”. If we are to worship God in spirit and in truth, as Scripture tells us, than what’s all the flesh about? Can we no longer discern the difference?

I don’t want to see people in beach attire with their backsides peeping out of their shorts because they think that God isn’t worth their best efforts at dressing. “God doesn’t care about clothes, only man”, they say. But the real reason is that it’s just plain easier to cruise into church in jeans or whatever is still lying on the floor from the night before. Dressing up for worship of the Lord would cost them something, however little, and they don’t want to pay it.

I also don’t want to see all the variations on lovers’ back rubs where Chuck and Sue take turns massaging each other’s neck and shoulders during the sermon so everyone behind them is completely distracted. Behavior affects other people. Are Christians so self-absorbed that they never think about the people behind them trying to hear the message?

From http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/?p=448