Monthly Archives: October 2015

All Hallows’ Eve

It seems to me that Halloween gets more disturbing every year. It seems to manifest the typical degeneration of our culture which is all around us these days. When I was a kid no one’s parents dressed up for Halloween. It was something fun for kids, but then the kids grew up. Perhaps this is just a further proof of how people no longer grow up, they just get bigger. There were no yards decorated with lavish sick and twisted displays of the undead, by the brain dead. There were no office Halloween parties, nor a month of celebration. But now each of these things is common. It’s almost as big as Christmas. It’s one last excuse to dress up like a themed prostitute, before winter. It’s a big deal. And I don’t think it means nothing.

I suppose people and even Christians will say it’s all in good fun. Let’s say we ignore the police statistics and take them at their word. It is quite true that it could all be in good fun. I was reading C. S. Lewis recently and he said that given the ease with which God can turn evil into good or Satan can turn good into evil, he isn’t so sure that the origin of things means much. It should be no surprise that Christian Holidays were once pagan holidays, because most Christians were once pagans. Christians are often accused of destroying the Classical world, when in reality they are the ones who preserved the works of Plato, Aristotle, and dozens of others for us today. They took the works of those philosophers and they made it Christian, as they did with all of ancient culture. Then they out Romed Rome, they became more ideal citizens than the Romans ever imagined. They baptized the Greco-Roman world and made it Christian. They used the observed planets and their connections with the Roman Gods and created rich characters each with their own themes and motifs; Apollo, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Sol. But you probably know them better as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Yes even the days of our week were once pagan deities, but hardly anyone even knows that anymore. And I don’t think it really matters, they have become Christian in the general sense. This is the work of the Middle Ages.

The case can be made that Christmas intentionally took over the pagan celebration of the winter solstice. But who cares? It is obviously now a Christian holiday. The pagan trees or the timing have been given Christian meaning. They were sanctified just like many non-Christians were baptized, and became Christians. Besides, where did the pagans get it in the first place? Often we give evil too much credit. Evil is not creative, it’s destructive and contrary. Most real innovations on this planet can be trace back to Israel in Egypt or Babylon or to Christianity. We must remember that we all descended from Adam and then Noah. All paganism then, is merely a corruption of the true relationship between God and men which Noah and his sons understood. There are many threads of this wisdom that we know nothing of. Methuselah could have know Noah, and he had lived almost a thousand years. The unknown wisdom they had of the workings of God and his world, was passed down through oral tradition from Adam. It includes all sorts of things we can only imagine. Many of the pagan mythologies contain seeds of truth, twisted into paganism. Christians twisted it back and added the Gospel.

Halloween is one of these holidays. Originally the last night of October was the last night of the year in the Celtic calendar. It consisted of the usual pagan rituals. But Christians baptized it into ‘All Hallows Eve’ or “Eve of All Saints”. It was a night to remember the dead, the saints who had passed along. But today it’s being twisted back. Our culture is again becoming pagan. We are forsaking the One True God, the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the Father of Jesus the Christ, and so it shows in our worship, that is our ho—ly days. We have forsaken God’s prescription for relation between the sexes, we are obsessed with porn, so we love being any excuse to parade our women around in their underwear. Trick or treat? How about some sanctioned destruction? And what makes destruction more fun than another excuse to get plastered? About the only part we do object to is the infusion of sugar. Because like every pagan religion, the rules about food abound. When you reject the freedom of God, you are left making arbitrary rules. We call our rule ’science’ and our priests ‘scientists’ but the results are the same, superstitions about everything you eat, or don’t eat.

Le Jour des Morts (All Saints Day). 1859. William Adolphe Bouguereau.

Le Jour des Morts (All Saints Day). 1859. William Adolphe Bouguereau.

The connections with the occult are obvious and have almost continued unhindered from the days of full fledged paganism. We take this for granted these days because supernatural evil activity is rare. That’s because we enjoy Christendom. It’s no surprise that Jesus encountered demonic activity so often in first-century Israel. The Gospel writers were deliberately pointing out that Israel was rife with evil. Like Sodom and Gomorrah, they were ripe for destruction, because of their rampant evil. Jesus gave them one last opportunity to repent, and many did, but most did not. So, he sent the hands of the Romans to crush Israel and it’s wickedness. We in cozy American today, don’t really know what evil is like. We think it’s cute or a joke. So we play around with it more and more, as we glorify Halloween more and more. But it’s just a sign of the times. No it’s not a sign that the rapture is near and we can just escape to a fluffy cloud. It’s a sign that we are letting the pagans rule Christ’s kingdom. We should wake up and be wise. We should let Christendom direct the modes of our culture and it’s celebrations. Since we are far less wise than the men who set down much of it in the past, we should defer to them. We don’t know what the Gospel is capable of when applied to every area of life, we would do well to follow those to did, even if it doesn’t make sense to us. Don’t celebrate Halloween. Make Sunday the prominent beginning of your week, it’s a feast day a celebration, supper with the Lord, the King. Don’t be sucked into the calendar of your sport, or job or school. Remember the great events of Church history and make those the focal point. Christmas, Easter, Ascension Sunday, Reformation Sunday, Pentecost. Remember that on the 31st of October, 1546 is commemorated the day when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

Halloween should be about remembering the saints of the past, many great men who fought and died for the world we enjoy today. Add a Church calendar to your smart phone. Look up the saints for each feast day. Remember. Most of the Christian parts of our culture are becoming lost. If we don’t remember them and bring them back to their vibrant life who will? Who will push the light of the gospel even into the corners of Halloween, and the rest of this world ‘as far as the curse is found’? That is our mandate, to tell the world about their new King, and that they can be his very heirs. To make every inch of this earth a place where people bow to that king. Where his will is welcome as it is in heaven. You don’t do that by signing up with the world and doing things there way. We have the truth of God people. We are the heirs of the King. Act like it.

Milk and Meat

I often hear Christians and even Christian leaders brush of their involvement in someone else’s life by saying “well, they are an adult, they can make their own choices.” On the whole I think there are very few adults in this time and place, but I don’t think this the correct model of the Church, even were we as wise as Christians once were. I wonder if Christ thought the Pharisees he berated constantly were adults. Was Peter an adult when Jesus called him Satan? (Matthew 16:23) Is the great care in pointing out sin in another person, given to us by Jesus in Matthew 18, for adults? Were the Corinthians adults when Paul told them he was feeding them milk instead of solid food? And on less of a crisis note, when Paul told the Church to meet together and bear one another’s burdens(Galatians 6:1,2) was he speaking to adults? Were any of his letters of exhortation written to adults?

Jews never mix meat with dairy, but in the Church the Old must disciple the Young.

Jews never mix meat with dairy, but in the Church the Old must disciple the Young.

So, we make the adult vs. non-adult division, but Paul uses some different divisions. In I Corinthians, he is addressing division in the Church. The people had divided themselves in warring factions, or sects, or tribes. There was the Apollos camp the Paul camp the Peter camp and even the Jesus camp. The last one is a little odd, and seems to indicate that claiming exclusivity with Christ in argument, is worse than getting along with the whole body.

Paul gives them some better divisions.

1:18 The Perishing vs. Those Being Saved

1:20 God vs. The ‘Wise’ Scribes

1:22 Jews Demanding Signs & Gentiles Demanding Logic vs. Christ Crucified

1:25 The Foolishness of God vs. the Wisdom of Men

1:28 The Low and Despised of God vs. The Chosen of the World

But God chose the foolish and the weak and the low and the despised, for his team.

Then he gets into the division of the mature from the immature.

2:6-8 We Give the Mature Wisdom vs. The Rulers of This Age
The Secret Wisdom of God vs. Wisdom of This Age

2:13 Taught by Logic vs. Taught by the Spirit

2:14,15 Spiritual Man vs. Unspiritual Man

Then Paul gets to his audience and their situation, with one final division Milk vs. Meat. But they are on the wrong side, they are not spiritual men they are infants. We as Christians are to view things differently from the world. Maturity is not about how many years you have been on the planet or whether the government considers you responsible for yourself legally. It’s about drawing these divisions the correct way and then judging which side we should be on. Ironically the main charge agains them is that they have not judged rightly. They are down in the nursery forming cliques. They pride themselves on which branch of doctrine they are following, while they miss the whole point and what is happening on the adult level. It’s about the work of God, not our work choosing the right tribe. It’s about being connected to the body of Christ, about building on the foundation laid by the Apostles. We shouldn’t play the game like the world, boasting about which scholars we understand or claim as our teachers. We shouldn’t take pride in having the most advanced degree from the best schools. That’s child’s play. We are children of the King, we shall inherit the Earth, all of it. It’s ours. So act like it. Act like an adult.

Adults know how to tell good from evil, they get past the gospel and on to good living by it (Hebrews 5:11- 6:3). Paul continues; Don’t tolerate sexual immorality, judge disputes amongst yourselves, don’t be unrighteous; immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy drunkards, revilers, robbers. And live like a free man, everything else is permissible, so go nuts. Except don’t pick up prostitutes.

We like the adult vs. child comparison, because we all want to be hyper individualistic. We fancy ourselves mature adults. We think we have everything under control and we don’t need anyone. We are Americans after all. Later in Chapter 12 Paul speaks of the Church as a body. Our tendency is to join a tribe of eyes, or a club of hands or a league of feet. But instead, we should each do what we do individually, while still being united to the whole. The real whole, the Church catholic, universal, all those denominations we dislike for petty reasons. This is modeled after the character of God, the trinity, he is both three and one. We are not a bunch of autonomous adults, we are each a part of the puzzle, working closely together.

We shouldn’t neglect the small sins or the separation by members of the body, by saying they are an adult and they can fend for themselves. They can’t, you were put there to see what they can’t see, to advise when they need it. I think often we like this individualism because we like our own sin and we don’t want anyone telling us what to do. Or on the other hand we have spoken up in the past only to have our heads ripped off. Listening to wise counsel is not exactly in our cultural DNA. Pastors and leadership can see correction as pointless, because people can just go to another church or start their own. But it’s worth it. Speak up!  How will the less mature ever learn to be more mature without exhortations like those of Paul, without the older adults speaking to the younger?

The Martian

I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between The Martian and Robinson Crusoe. I understand the juxtaposition between someone shipwrecked and someone stranded on a foreign planet. But the comparisons are very thin and exemplify the fact that no one knows what Robinson Crusoe is really about.

His helmet is cracked just like his theology.

His helmet is cracked just like his theology.

A deserted Mars is a lot like a desert island. But the Mars of the movie is more sterile and desolate, not because it’s so far away from earth, but because it’s so far away from reality, because there is no faith there. Oh sure they throw a crucifix and an almost prayer to whatever gods, but the only god Daemon worships is Science. He prays to Science, does the sacraments of Science (math), and Science saves him, so. . . so he can teach a class on how great man is, I guess. Go Science! Who needs God?

This story is the modern story, the atheist story, it bears more similarities to Verne’s The Mysterious Island than to Daniel Defoe’s work. An Island where the mysteries can all be explained by science. Crusoe’s story is exactly the opposite. The stories of 13th to 19th century seafaring exploration, are Christian stories. Oh sure the Vikings may have discovered North America hundreds of years before Columbus, but who cares? He changed the world. He changed the world for His God. The evidence from his diary is quite clear; he believed he was on a mission from God. It was the great commission that spurred him to take such a risk and sail beyond the map.

The first great task given to Man on this earth was to rule and subdue it and fill it with people. To turn the garden into a city. But rather than filling the earth and building a heavenly Jerusalem they holed up and build Babel. So God intervened and sent them again to their task. He appointed a special people, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were to be a priestly people spreading God’s blessing to all the earth. Instead they holed up in another city Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount, their robbers den. They thought it was the Heavenly Jerusalem, but again they only created another Babel.

Then Jesus stepped on the scene. He condemned this city and again set his people, now the Church to their task, spreading the Gospel to all the world. It is no accident that he chose fishermen. The people of Israel saw themselves as people of the covenant, the deed to the Land. They were not a seafaring people, they were people of the Land. What’s out there? We are the chosen people, we don’t even need a rapture, we just sit back comfy and watch the world burn, comfy in the promises of God. But the new commission, demanded sea exploration. His disciples were fishers of men, on the sea, which was always associated with the Gentiles. And so that mission extended to the great explorers who carried the Gospel to the far reaches of this earth via the vast oceans.

This was the sea Robinson Crusoe sailed on. Of course the mission was not without it’s faults, as anything good. He found himself on a slave ship sailing to his plantation, when God reached down and crashed his ship on a desert island. Again the hand of God sets man on the correct path. Through this testing Crusoe, studies the Bible he finds amongst the wreckage and becomes a true Christian. He now has hope and a purpose. Not merely to survive and prove the veracity of the human will, nor to vindicate Science. He turns his wilderness his garden, into a city. Then he goes into the world and spreads the Gospel to the savage, whose new name is Friday. This is life on a desert Island, the life missing from Ridley Scott’s Martian soil.

Crusoe’s story is a microcosm of the great expansion of Western Civilization as it spread that civilization to the savages of the world. It wasn’t always pretty, many of them rebelled rejecting Jesus and his saving grace they chose to remain in darkness. Oh to our shame how we romanticize them today. And out of this fulfillment to fill, multiply, spread, rule, subdue, and preach came the very science which modern man now worships.

In the movie the whole world is united in rescuing this astronaut. The utopia portrayed is astoundingly naieve. Crowds gather in the streets to watch on giant screens as the astronaut is reconnected with his companions and brought back to earth. The reality is that the worship of Science separates people more than it ever brings them together. We each think we are the Daemon superman who can control every aspect of creation with our mastery of Science, we don’t need other people or God. Besides why gather in the streets to watch something that I can watch by myself on my iPhone? Large groups of godless people are more likely to burn and destroy than they are to cheer for a lost astronaut. Or perhaps they will be blown to bits by terrorists. Which brings us to the reality of paganism. Like the cannibals on Crusoe’s island, or the Muhammedan terrorists, life outside of Christianity is death. Kill or be killed, the rule by force. There is no democracy, or civilization and especially no science. There is tribal warfare and the worship of death.

The rule of the game, created by God, goes like this: you become like what you worship. A people with no god and no purpose don’t take risks, what’s the point? If you just worship man, then Darwin was correct, it’s about evolution and things happening by chance, just randomly getting better. We exist to exist. Then Hitler was right we should help evolution along by killing undesirables so that the more advanced man can continue to evolve. And then the point of space travel is simply to perpetuate ourselves for the sake of perpetuating ourselves. Oh and because we are destroying the planet with cars. Which is only bad because our priests, the scientists, and their computer models say it will stop things going on as they supposedly always have.

On the other hand the worship of the true God, led us to explore the seas. Jesus told us to go into all the world, so we did. The God of scripture is constant and faithful, he told us he speaks to us in nature, so we decided to study his faithfulness and we called it the scientific method. He taught us to live at peace with one another and so we had time for science and the arts and literature. Christians took the culture of paganism and baptized it and created the beautiful Medieval model of the cosmos. Rich themes of Mars and Venus and Apollo. Which we still use today though we have forgotten their meaning. Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to the moon. On Christmas Eve 1968 the astronauts aboard could not help but feel closer to God as they saw what no man had ever seen. Their earth from the moon. They read from Genesis “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the Earth. . .” They proclaimed the Word of God from the heavens. Later in Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin took communion on the surface of the moon. This is the reality of men when confronted with awe inspiring beauty of space travel. This is what men do when confronted with their own insignificance, and the possibility of imminent death. You don’t play around with the worship of man, and his abilities, you fall on your face as Crusoe did, you repent of what you have done and you give your life to the service of Jesus the Christ. You join his mission, and you rush out to tell others to proclaim the glory of his work from distant mountains or distant planets. Ridley Scotts Martian is simply a cold dead rock, he is nothing but a pirate pillaging Christianity to make his story watchable, while giving men another excuse to ignore Jesus the Christ, and focus on themselves.



I think this verse and many like it treat memory quite differently than we moderns. Remembering is equated with obedience. We like to think that forgetting is a good excuse for disobedience. “Oh, I forgot I was supposed to do that God, so I guess Im off the hook.” And then we think everything is going to be ok. In reality we have unknowingly confessed another sin, forgetting.

I heard an interview with a woman a few years ago, who had perfect recall. I can’t remember her name but as she detailed what it was like, I could only praise God for forgetting. Her husband had died a few years earlier, and for her it was like it had just happened. Every person that had ever wronged her, was right there, as if it too had just happened. And I suppose the same goes for every wrong she had committed. She had to simply discipline herself to drop these things or they would consume her. Perfect memory is a curse.

But these verses still apply to this woman, as they do to all of us. We are to sort through all of the events of our lives and the media or people clambering for our attention, and remember, focus on what God has done for us, what he has done for his people in history and what he commands us to do. This means knowing God’s Word.  Whatever our physiological ability or our training in memory we are commanded to do it, we have no excuse.  It’s like the last scene of that action movie where the dying man speaks the combination the hero needs to save the world.  When it’s important you don’t forget.  The Word  and works of God are important, we shouldn’t forget.

I heard N. T. Wright recently comment that our memory is a way of bringing the past into the present. God is outside of time, yet he has created time as a good thing for us to exist within. Memory is a gift to mankind, the ability to transcend time. In building future faithful generations and establishing institutions on solid foundations and exhorting them to remember, we can also go the other way, into the future.

In the Vita Nuova, Dante referred to his memory as a book:
“In that book which is my memory, On the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you, Appear the words, ‘Here begins a new life’.”

And in a very real sense the Bible, which we cherish is exactly this, a book of memory, under the heading “here begins new life”. The Scripture is the memory of God’s people, of the ways in which God has blessed them and the commands he has earned the right to give based on his faithful track record. This is why telling history rightly is so crucially important.

“Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place”- Exodus 13:3

Moses commanded his people to remember the story the right way. This both brings glory to God for his past work, as well as making it easier to trust him in the future. But soon they were telling a different story.

“And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” -Exodus 32:4

The events we remember and the way we tell the story, reflects one way or the other on God.  History is not just about dead guys and boring dates, it’s a matter of obedience. And it doesn’t just apply to the ancient history in scripture, but also to the way we remember and tell our own stories.  I am often disappointed at the way music has degenerated in the past few generations. One way this has happened is in our collectively forgetting the power of music to help us remember. As our forefathers sang through the hymns they put scripture in their minds, they remembered in the way God commands us. Schools used to take advantage of this to inculcated dates and facts into young eager children. It worked wonderfully. But we forgot these blessed methods. In a sense that’s what modernism is, it’s throwing off the past, collective forgetting. We refuse to learn from other’s mistakes and instead want to make all the mistakes ourselves under a systematic process, we call this ‘science’.

Remembering in song is so important. I think this is what Psalm 96 is saying “O sing to the Lord a new song”. It’s not a call to embrace whatever new fad in perverse pop music that is going around. It’s about writing new songs of his faithfulness in your life. Like the Psalms they should be specific and well crafted, something you pass on to your children, a book of memory you can hand them, of God’s faithfulness in your life. Remember the time we were almost broke and God came through at the last minute? I have a lot of these stories from my childhood, when times were tough, we got by as we shared stories of God’s faithfulness with other families. One of these families was the Lockies, he was a potter and he made his family a blessings jar. They would write blessings on pieces of paper throughout the year and put them in the jar, then at the end of the year they would take them out and remember. These scrolls in jars of clay also calls to mind the ancient nature of the written word, before Dante’s bound books of memory. But whichever way you do it, do it well and do it often, remember God’s commands and his works.

One Body

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” -I Corinthians 6:15,16

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” -I Corinthians 12:27

It hurts to be one of the members of Christ these days and I don’t just mean all the tattoos and piercings. We are joined to a lot of prostitutes, and since we are the body of Christ we are all joined together. I don’t really want to be joined to a prostitute. But we don’t fight against flesh and blood, but against institutions of evil that underly this physical world. Today the church is joined to any number of these institutions. They are joined to Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and the gay neighbor next door. I’ve had it. We should be joined to Christ first and foremost. He should direct how we think and act in every situation. But he doesn’t. We watch TV more than we read our Bibles. And so I seek solace, I seek the body of yesteryear. Of course the Christians of the past were not perfect. They all had their flaws, but not like today. They at least knew the basics of marriage, family and raising children. They could tell the difference between men and women and marriage and not marriage, for heaven’s sake. And I’m not perfect either, but I want to be. I want to take this seriously in every way possible. The men of the past did, they wrote stories and poetry and painted and wrote songs, which are good and true and beautiful. I often find fellowship with them more rewarding. They loved God and freed from sin by Christ they sought to explore this world as his subjects for his Glory. That they might bring their work before their king, for his approval.

The Church is a body. There is no private sin, what we do affects all of us. When you go have sex with a prostitute, and you are lucky enough to have your wife take you back, she has to deal with that baggage. Whether it’s an actual STD or just your altered expectations. Now you are all joined together. The same is true of sex before marriage or even all the broken dating relationships. When you get married your husband or wife is now married to all of that. It’s just how it works. And it’s not just so with sex.

When you dabble with any number of other sins, you bring them into the body. As you do it more and more you become more comfortable with it, but so do those around you. The problem compounds until the good peer pressure which should exist in the church is now working the other way. It is making each of the members worse. It makes the moral godly person feel bad about their obedience. They are shamed as a legalist or as being old-fashioned, or part of some sort of cult. It’s really sad. It gets to the point where the prostitutes have drowned out the Gospel active and working in the Church. We are like Lot living in Sodom without even realizing how bad it is. God is five minutes from judging us and we think everything is fine. Like the church in I Corinthians 5 glorying in their acceptance of sin.

When Christians act like the world I want to cut off that part of this body, our body, my body. When someone posts pictures of porn on FB I want to cut my hand off. When someone glorifies homosexuality and attacks the Biblical view of marriage, I want to cut off my ear. When someone sends their kids off to God hating schools to train them I want to cut off my legs. When someone rewrites history excluding the work of God, and bashing Christians, I want to gouge out my eyes. When someone refuses to stand up for what they know is right, I want to pull out my heart. And on an on it goes. The women trying to be men and the men trying to be women, people complaining about all their petty problems instead of serving others, worship services about you and your lame walk instead of about God almighty, excuses and excuses instead of confession, ordering your life around sports instead of the Church, amassing degrees given by fools instead of watching out for your own soul, blaming politicians and bosses instead of taking responsibility for ourselves, . And so I am going to read some old books.

Too Good to Be True


I think the recent FB scam makes for a good lesson. Posts were going around to the effect that if you don’t paste this on your page, FB will give all your dirty secrets to the government, or something, I don’t recall exactly. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. A little more nefarious were the calls my parents were getting recently, claiming that they owed the IRS money and they had better call now or face the penalty. To the wise these are completely absurd, though they obviously take in a lot of people. The FB scam may just be a networking experiment, while the calls are obviously an attempt to make money. It seems like a lot of trouble unless it worked some of the time. Now I didn’t have to know all the exact details of the situation to know that these were scams. I didn’t have to know the people calling, or where the FB post originated from. In instantly brushing them off as scams I wasn’t saying that they were worthless people or that I hated them or any such thing. But some grasp of wisdom, of the larger picture and the way things work, informed me without all the details. Larger principles could be applied to this specific situation with beneficial results. This is deductive reasoning, as opposed to inductive reasoning, which is taking specific examples and drawing broad conclusions from them. Generally people have a propensity towards one or the other. Amazingly Solomon had both types of reasoning. We see him observing the natural world and the world of men and recording hundreds of maxims and proverbs. On the other hand we see him applying general principles of wisdom to specific situations, as in the famous case of the women fighting over the baby.

Oh, look, free money!

Oh, look, free money!

I believe all forms of reasoning have fallen on hard times these days, but deductive reasoning is particularly suspect. People tend not to mind so much when you blow off a FB prank or a telemarketing scam. But when you criticize their ideas deductively, all hell breaks loose. But it really can be the same thing. An overarching understanding of God’s world and how he works with his people here on this earth can cut through a lot of bad philosophy or theology, very quickly. But people caught in these incorrect beliefs tend to take it personally when you write their ideas off quickly. They don’t realize that they have said more than they have said. They are trying to sell you the “you may have already won 10 million dollars” line and they don’t even know it. It’s obvious to you but from their perspective you are just attacking them. Because they think the only way you can know about them or their situation is by listening to or knowing them. But as I have said, the deductive works the other way. Your wisdom about the larger world, people in general and the ways of God can inform you before they do, before your first interview.

This is why an understanding of history is so important. Knowledge of people outside of our own culture and time help us to see the follies of our time for what they are. When similar ideas have succeeded and failed time and again through history, you can be more sure of the outcome when they are attempted again today. But the problem is our modern way of looking at reality. Our nearsightedness is a double hindrance. We moderns are all about empirical evidence. We only trust things that we can take in with our five senses, or rather things a scientist somewhere can say he took in with his expensive government grants, but that is another story. This is the reality of a people who loves science a little too much, bordering on worship. And by this philosophy we despise history, because we weren’t there.

The empirical approach, works pretty well when you are building machines or formulating chemicals. So, moderns thought they could apply this method to humanity and groups of humanity, and so were born the social sciences. But it really hasn’t worked at all.  Everything we apply these to, is a disaster, whether it’s Mao managing people in China(million died) or Dr. Spock ruining a whole generation with his  child raising techniques (he later recanted, but it was too late).  We need to return to the wisdom of Scripture. We can do all the studies in the world about how to raise your kids, or interact with other people, but they will only be as good as they end up discovering what was in the wisdom books of the Old Testament all along. And those books are full of deductive generalizations, waiting to be applied to your specific situations, with no regard for your itty bitty complaints. You may think that you are so unique and special and that you have found a new way of thinking about things, but you haven’t. The wisdom of scripture was there all along. And to anyone who has it, you just look like that email from the “Saudi prince” promising you thousands of dollars.

But it’s not easy it takes practice and experience and listening to the right people. This is how Psalms and Proverbs both start out

“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night” -Psalm 1:1-2

“To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction” -Proverbs 1:1-7

We can learn from other people’s mistakes, we don’t have to experience everything ourselves. So read and study the Wisdom Books of the Old Testament. Trust them more than your experience or your accumulated knowledge and then apply them to your life. It’s not always simple. Many of the Proverbs follow the Jewish mindset; “on the one hand, but on the other hand”. You can’t just rigidly apply them. Proverbs 14:4 is one of my favorites:

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

So which one is the Bible telling us to do? Neither, it takes wisdom to weigh and apply the appropriate side. On the one hand, a clean barn is nice, on the other hand, a dirty barn indicates production. Or take 26:4,5

“Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes”

I even had a pastor tell me he was violating half of this. How does that work? No, you must use wisdom to know when to speak and when not to speak, there is no command here. It takes fear of the Lord, faithful reading of these books and practice to apply these successfully.

Then spotting the FB scams or the real scams, will grow easier and easier.  Fighting the principalities and powers will grow easier and easier.  I see two main categories of these deceptive appeals. The appeals to our baser side, lust, sloth, greed, gluttony, etc. These are the get rich quick schemes(Proberbs 13:11, 28:19-20), or the seductive woman in the street (Proverbs 7), which Proverbs warns us about. But just as much folly and perhaps more is caused by trying to do the right thing in the wrong way. Sex is a good thing, but you should pursue the woman of Proberbs 31 and not Proberbs 7. Material wealth is a good thing, if you want it so you can help others, but if you want it for it’s own sake it will bring only death.  It’s good that you want to help starving children, but giving your money to every group with a picture that pulls at your heartstrings, might only be helping overweight bureaucrats.  So, beware of both the appeals to good and those to our lusts.

Posting things on your FB page is not a legally binding contract, the IRS will only contact you by mail and the wisdom to live on this earth will never contradict the Scripture. When something looks too good to be true or violates the rules God has laid down, it doesn’t matter how cute or emotional the appeal, it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter how nice or well intentioned the person is, they are deceiving you. Don’t be deceived.

Olivet Flights of Fancy


I grew up in an evangelical Bible church, and I still love many things about these churches in the Moody, Billy Sunday tradition. These churches have a lot of people who at least know their New Testaments well. They are active in missions and to some extent in their communities. But they have their faults too, like any human institution. One thing they have always prided themselves on is the faithful exegesis of scripture. It’s unfortunate when even this gets a little wacky.

The narrative in Mark 13, the Olivet Discourse, is pretty straight forward, especially from our position in history. What should be a marvelous fulfilled prophecy is turned into a flight of fancy. Now it may very well be that the latter parts refer to some distant future that has not come to pass. It may be that on some level all of it refers to the future still. But on some level, it applied to the events that would unfold in the lives of Jesus’ twelve disciples, in 70A.D.. And that is glossed over, and the gloss isn’t even that shiny.

I was amazed that a simple explanation by Jesus, in answer to his disciples’ question, can be connected with the veiled language of Revelation because; Mark refers to “deception, war and killing, famine and death.” Which could also refer to a million events in the history of time. It could refer to ISIS today, or Hitler in the forties, or 70A.D.. I think a responsible reading must lead us to the latter.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, Oil on canvas

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, Oil on canvas

At the beginning of the chapter Jesus and his entourage are walking through the temple complex and they are marveling at the beauty of the buildings. They are rolling with the Messiah, and they know it. This guy can do miracles no other prophet could ever do. He has wisdom which silences everyone. He is always fighting with the religious leaders, which is a bit strange, but they are on board. They are the chosen of the chosen people. They know the promises, the Messiah will come and destroy all of Israel’s enemies and take their rightful place as head of all nations.

They are just so caught up in it all, and then Jesus brings them back to reality, “not one stone will remain on another”. Which had to be rather shocking to them, so they asked him when would this happen and what to watch out for. So he answered them. First with a warning, don’t be lead astray by all the political zealots claiming that they are the messiah returned to conquer Rome. It’s the same warning from Romans 13, Rome was God’s minister to bring about his will on earth, to judge the Jewish people for their unbelief. We know that every group that opposed Rome after Jesus uttered these words was destroyed, without exception. This prophecy was fulfilled.

Then Jesus tells them they will suffer hardships personally. This again was an eye-opener, they were traveling with Jesus, the Messiah and they were to be tortured? That didn’t sound like the story they knew. They thought they were going to be heroes and now he is telling them their own family is going to betray them? These were necessary words for these men to make it to the end while holding firm to their faith. You can see why they laughed and praised God when these things began to happen to them. This prophecy was fulfilled.

The Arch of Titus, depicting the carrying away of the articles of the Temple. c.82 A.D.

The Arch of Titus, depicting the carrying away of the articles of the Temple. c.82 A.D.

Then Jesus continues answering their question. What will be the sign of the temple being destroyed? The abomination of desolation standing in the temple. I think we really underestimate the importance of what happened in 70A.D.. One day you have the high priest going into the Holy of Holies with bells on and a rope in case the Most High God strikes him dead, and the next day Titus is walking in there and hauling out all the furniture. Then the Romans proceeded to set up false gods on the very spot. If this isn’t the abomination of desolation, I don’t know what could be. And we know that the early Christians heeded Jesus’ words, they fled to the hills. There are a number of archaeological sites in the mountains of Jordan where Christians hid, while the Romans destroyed every last Jewish rebel. This prophecy was fulfilled.

Then you have the last part, “after that tribulation”, which contains all sorts of strange happenings. I don’t think it matters when this is, it’s clearly after what he has just been detailing. The point seems to be that God will make all things right, he will return for them, so don’t give up. You can imagine this was the opposite of their “God loves you and has a plan for your life.” mentality they had when they joined up with this miracle worker. And so Jesus gave them the encouragement they would need to persevere. And they did, the faithful have kept their belief to this day. Jesus referred to his body as the new temple. (Mark 14:58) Paul tells us we are the Body of Christ,(I Cor. 12:27) we do his work here on earth. His Body the Church has been spreading to the four corners of the earth gathering the faithful, the elect, the harvest is plentiful. The cloud of glory surrounding Christendom is unmistakable. After Rome destroyed Jerusalem, they were destroyed by internal corruption, as they tried to compete with the model citizens that were the Christians. Then this Christendom, began to save all these barbaric peoples who had over run Rome. And Rome was rebuilt, the peace and prosperity again came to the earth on an even larger scale, as Christendom spread. The Byzantine empire, the monarchies of France, Spain, and England. Then Muhammedan invasion pushed them to explore further and we come down to today, to the Age of the United States. Indeed the Kingdom of heaven is near, they stayed awake, but we seem to have fallen asleep. This prophecy too, was fulfilled.

Like a lot of scripture we tend to make it more about ourselves than Christ. This prophecy was gloriously fulfilled, it should bring much glory to his name, but instead we try to distinguish ourselves by assigning ludicrous modern connections to these verses. Of course it is quite possible to create self fulfilling prophecies. If we expect everything to fall apart, it probably will, especially if we withdraw from society and wait for the rapture. Which seems to be the goal these days. The other, better, more obedient option is to be the light of the world, to lead them on to further Biblical obedience and the blessings that always result. To spread to the four corners, the reverence for the true King reigning in heaven. To spread the news that the war is over, Jesus won.