Category Archives: doctrine

40% of homeless youth are LGBT, and the parents are to blame!

Thus says this ThinkProgress image, anyway:

I found this image on a Facebook friend’s wall. Here’s my response interposed with comments from his rather liberal friends:

It is sad that they would reject their family rather than learning to control themselves.

So it’s safe to assume, Wes Widner, that you also would reject your children if/when they decided they were gay, because you read Leviticus and you choose to ignore all other Leviticus passages, but hold the one about same sex to literal interpretations.

I guess we can see now why 40% of homeless youths are lgbt. It’s parents who feel they have to be cruel to show love, even though that’s not Showing love.

You know you could replace homosexuality in that equation with any other immoral lifestyle and you would have essentially the same question of how we, as parents, would deal with it. Certainly we wouldn’t condone it or support it in any way. And because we believe it is deeply immoral and therefore self-destructive we would plead with them to repent and change their ways. But if they persist, if they choose their immorality over us then we won’t stand in their way and will allow them to make that choice.

Now you can try to re-frame that as rejecting them and causing them to be homeless if you want and then draw from that a wellspring of moral indignation of our apparent bigotry towards homosexuality. But the truth is that I’ve had friends whose children have decided to live in immoral heterosexual relationships where they have been forced, by their children, to make the hard and gut-wrenching decision (I know it was gut wrenching because I saw the tears) to not enable their immoral lifestyle which, because of their immaturity and stubborn determination to life as they saw fit, led to their being homeless. Thankfully that destitution lasted until they wound up pregnant in which was another rocky road in itself but eventually caused them to think of someone other than themselves and now they aren’t homeless and, more importantly, aren’t living in a self-absorbed immoral lifestyle.

Now the real tragedy with the image above is that the LGBT lifestyle is being so aggressively pushed even when it leads to such horrible outcomes. I understand the desire to paint the parents as the evil ones here, and in many other pro-GLBT propaganda pieces I’ve seen, but the truth is exactly the opposite. I would wager that in most cases its not the parents who are rejecting their children but the children who are rejecting their parents.

Sorry, but the truth is that many people like myself believe that some lifestyles are deeply immoral and that that immorality is more important than any temporary physical discomfort such as homelessness.

Oh, and the tl;dr version is: Its not “showing love” to condone an immoral/self-destructive lifestyle.

I am absolutely appalled at your attitude. “Physical discomfort?” Are you fucking kidding me? Would you throw your 14-year-old child out on the street for expressing love for a person of the same gender? With no tools or ability to survive? Would you be OK with that same child wandering the streets, only to be lured into drugs or prostitution by criminals because the very people who were supposed to love and protect them rejected them for their silly little “morals?”

Where is the morality in abandoning your child? It sickens me, how you’d throw your kid out like common trash.

XXXX, are you likewise trying to justify condoning immoral behavior by not dealing with it?

Rather than turning this into an emotional “I’m offended” session why don’t we try to suppress our natural emotional responses and at least make an attempt to view this issue from a viewpoint different from our own?

Homosexuality is not immoral behavior. Your argument, therefore, is completely invalid.

I get emotional when I hear that someone would have no problem discarding a child for not adhering to their parents’ religious doctrine. There is a huge difference between murder/theft/selling drugs and loving someone of the same sex.

The fact that you think it’s all the same tells me you have some serious mental issues. I suggest therapy. Maybe it’ll help clear away the brainwashing.

‎”Homosexuality is not immoral behavior. Your argument, therefore, is completely invalid. ”

Ah, so here is where our difference really lies. So we can cut out all the emotionalism and I can attempt to help you understand my viewpoint by substituting homosexuality, which you don’t believe is immoral, with something you do believe is immoral and then all I want to ask is whether that would change your perception? I really want to know because I’ve known parents who have housed and thus tacitly condoned their childrens’ drug addictions so I wouldn’t presume to conclude that just because we change the act in question from something you don’t consider to be immoral to something you do presumably do consider to be immoral that you would then agree that a valid course of action would be to refuse to condone their behavior through material support which includes room and board.

One of the issues we run into when discussing issues like this is that they are built on multiplied layers where we disagree on more than one so that if we don’t take the time to unravel the issue we cannot possibly hope to gain any substantive understanding of one another and thus cannot expect to make any progress.

Oh, and as an addendum, refusing to condone a child’s immoral lifestyle by expecting them to provide for themselves when they refuse to abide by your rules is hardly to discard them. That would be what pro-abortion proponents advocate in terms of discarding unwanted children as mere biomass. No, regretfully allowing a child to experience the results of their rejection of their parents is to actually hold out hope that they will, at some point in the future, end their rebellion and choose to end their selfishness and self-destructive lifestyle.

Share/Bookmark

Pay tithes or get shot!

The radicalness of ordinary

The best way to write a bestseller is to have a compelling, action-packed narrative. In the Christian market it seems the best route to take is to buck accepted wisdom, to tell everyone that what they thought was a good idea really isn’t and that what we should do is overhaul our lives.

This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, nor is it particularly wrong in itself to call to attention traditional practices of Christians that legitimately do need to be changed. Martin Luther was arguable one of the first christian bestsellers, and for a good reason. His books were lengthy and detailed. Luther wanted to convince his readers of the truthfulness of his position.

Today, however, I wonder if much of what passes for christian literature, is not meant (or otherwise merely has the effect of) producing an emotional reaction.

Take the grandfather of what I’ll call “get busy for Jesus” books. Charles Sheldon wrote In His Steps around the turn of the 19th century in order to encourage his readers to ask the question, “What Would Jesus Do?” The intent of the question is sound, to encourage people to be courageous Christians, but the method is wholly existential. In order to answer the question one is asked to, at some level, pretend they are Jesus. The result is that the answer to what Jesus would do turns out to be whatever the one asking the question subjectively decides.

The alternate to this approach, in case you’re wondering, is to ask “what did Jesus do and say?” This is the difference between a deconstructive and an analytical approach to the acquisition of knowledge.

But that’s the problem. Luther wrote to impart knowledge. Sheldon wrote to impart an experience. And it is Sheldon’s intent that I find in many Christian bestsellers today.

Three modern variations come to mind. Henry Blackaby’s bible study, Experiencing God, Francis Chan’s Crazy Love, and David Platt’s Radical series. Each one has, at its core, a call to an experience. And each one, if closely analyzed, is inherently against the analytical approach to gaining knowledge.

Another common factor in these books is a call to “be radical”. To make sweeping wholesale changes, preferably without much analysis or forethought. Not only is this reckless, but it runs afoul of what Jesus taught about carefully calculating the cost of any decision we make.

Sometimes radical changes are necessary. But more often than not they are merely destructive and should be avoided in favor of slow and gradual change.

One of Luther’s radical conclusions was that the normal, average person was important. That even the most ordinary work could be glorifying to God. That one didn’t need to be a rock-star in order to have an impact on the world.

What is really radical are ordinary people doing ordinary things day after day. What is radical is a family that lasts. What is radical is a responsible financial plan that helps mitigate unforeseen circumstances while allowing for a slow and steady accumulation of wealth to be handed down to subsequent generations.

Here are a couple of other great reviews of David Platt’s Radical:

The law of love

Here is a snippet from a comment series on a previous post that I thought was worth highlighting:

Incest was necessary given the nature of God’s creation of human lineage. And polygamy and concubines run rampant in the Old Testament among those deemed righteous.

Incest is not unnatural in the biological sense. One could, and rightly so, argue that it is a very bad idea today given the degree of genetic mutations. However such genetic factors are not a guarantee nor is our present revulsion at the notion a negation of the biological reality of procreation.

You are correct that polygamy and concubines run rampant in the OT. And many who participated in the practice were considered righteous. However none of them were considered righteous for their polygamy or marital indiscretions. In fact, it is abundantly clear that these men were deeply flawed individuals and only considered righteous through grace on God’s part. So to assume their righteousness incorporated all of their deeds is to commit the basic fallacy of assuming salvation or favor with God is merited through works and not through grace.

A different kind of Christianity

Brian McLaren, a rockstar pastor in California, describes “A New Kind of Christianity”. However when he’s done deconstructing every central tenet of Christinaity as defined by Scripture, its quite clear that what he’s really offering is something completely different he’s calling Christianity.

Not of the will of man

A friend of mine recently asked me what I made of John 1:11-13:

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Calvinists (of the sort who deny free will) like to point to this passage, especially verse 13, as proof that man cannot choose to place his faith in Christ.

The first thing that needs to be pointed out here is that “His own” in verse 11 are the Jewish people. “Borne not of flesh and blood” refers to the fact that it is not physical dependency that determines one’s placement within the promise of Abraham. This sentiment is also echoed elsewhere by Paul in Romans and Ephesians.

Verse 13 is very far removed from verse 11 in that Jesus is primarily addressing the notion by the Jews of his day that they were among the chosen people and because of that they were guaranteed to be the “children of Abraham” who were to inherit all of God’s blessings.

So verse 13 is emphatically stating that the blessing is not seminal. It does not pass down generation to generation no matter what the fathers or “will of man” is. The Jewish audience of John would likely remember Jacob and Esau here and how Esau was not included in the promise even through his father clearly wanted him to be.

This idea of the promise not coming in the form of the law or according to the way the Jews expected it to come is at the heart of John’s whole gospel. To make verse 13 to be about a philosophical notion of whether man can actually place their faith in Christ is actually to go against the whole book John wrote by ripping it out of the clear context it is in.

For example, John goes from his introduction straight into John the Baptist who preaches according to the soon to be Old Covenant based on law. Then John moves to Jesus, then Nathan (law), then back to Jesus (wedding). So I would say that verse 13 is simply referring to the core theme John is writing about throughout his book, namely that Jesus is the promised messiah through which the blessings foretold will come.

In sum, you can’t say that verse 13 of chapter 1 has anything to do with our inability to place our faith in Christ since that is exactly what John is persuading his audience to do.

Book Review: What Would Jesus Deconstruct? by John D. Caputo

After listening to John D Caputo’s interview by Luke Mulenhauser on commonsenseatheism.com (mp3) I decided to get John’s book, What Would Jesus Deconstruct, and see what sort of case he could build for postmodern Christianity that would compel emergent pastors like Brian McLaren to endorse it.

I first encountered JackCaputo’s writings in the introduction to God, the gift, and Postmodernism, which he edited with Michael Scanlon (Indiana University Press, 1999). Since I’m not a professional philosopher, a number of the book’s chapters (sur)passed the reading comprehension capacities of my bald layman’s head, but not the introduction. There Caputo and Scanlon spoke in down-to-earth terms of our need to become “enlightened about the Enlightenment” (meaning, for my fellow less-philosophical laypeople, the eighteenth-century movement that eventually reduced reality to phenomena that could be measured and dissected by “objective” human reason).

-Brain McLaren, pg 9

McLaren goes on to provide a very brief outline of the book which I find rather helpful,

First you’ll notice that Jack flies you into a “zone of intertextuality,” meaning that he is going to suspend you between several texts, notably Sheldon’s In His Steps (the unlikely inspiration of the WWJD craze), the writings of Jacques Derrida, and the New Testament. This may strike you as an unlikely combination, but it will make perfect sense by the time you’re halfway to the last page.

John does rely heavily on Sheldon’s book to, ironically, provide some structure for his book which deals mostly with deconstructionalism. In fact, if you haven’t read Sheldon’s book you might find it worthwhile to put John’s book down and read Sheldon’s work before returning.

John’s book can be broadly divided into two sections. The first being a crash course in deconstructionalism. And the second being what John sees as the practical implications of deconstructionalism when applied to Christianity.

In the first section John does an excellent job providing the reader a cogent and easily digestible overview of what deconstructionalism is. John uses many analogies and weaves in quotes from the founders of deconstructionalsim (Jaques Derrida, Martain Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, etc.) in seamlessly. It is evident here that John is a skilled teacher who is able to convey an otherwise complex topic.

In this section John makes the claim that certain concepts like love, justice, and “the kingdom of God” are not deconstructible. John never explains exactly why or how he comes to this conclusion, but based on his aversion to objective truth I suppose even expecting a well-reasoned argument is asking too much.

John also makes the claim that since the church is not the same as the Kingdom of God (again, the reader is apparently asked to take this assertion on blind faith alone), the church is the first and foremost thing that is ripe for deconstruction.

By way of example John uses several stories from the New Testament where Jesus apparently turned the tables and did the unexpected. John subsumes these as evidence that Jesus would always do the unexpected in the name of “love” (which, defined existentially, appears to be merely a subjective concept).

From here John launches into the second major section of his book which deals with the practical implications of what he just described.

In the second section we are given, without much analysis (which, given John’s adherence to continental philosophy is not very surprising), a steady stream of assertions that Jesus would be a full-blown liberal supporting all the fashionable liberal causes of our day from gay marriage to abortion on demand. John does balk a bit at the concept of abortion but ultimately comes down on the side of the woman has a right to do whatever she wants with her body, which is consistent with John’s deconstructionalism which makes objective judgement not only impossible but wholly undesirable.

In the end, I can see why emergent pastors like Brian McLaren would find John’s work appealing. Deconstructionalism allows the reader to place any meaning they want onto a text and thus co-opt for whatever means they desire. It also makes judgement verboten which means they are absolved from the responsibility of ever taking a real stand on anything. Further, it provides a handy platform for them to support all the fashionable causes without fear of being challenged since any and all challenges to their assertions would, themselves, be deconstructed and rendered harmless.

I highly recommend John’s book for anyone who is looking to understand the emergent church movement. John provides well articulated and frank answers to anyone who wants to understand the thought-process of the postmodern Christian/church.

Even though his work is quite old, older than Caputo’s, an excellent rebuttal to this book would be Francis Schaeffer’s lecture Modern Man & Epistemology.

Resources:

Matt Chandler – Culture & Theology: God and Sex

[HT Matthew Rathbun]

One of the current cultural Pastors that I most admire and listen to is Matt Chandler out of Village Church in Texas.  He’s insight and delivery are outstanding.  In October he did a sermon on “God and Sex”.  I’m sharing this on this site, because I think it’s one of the most powerful discussions I’ve ever heard on the topic.  It’s also one of the most down-to-earth and frank conversations.  I would recommend that your children not be in the room when this is playing.  He addresses a lot about healthy relationships and hurt then takes text-messaged questions from his congregation.

You can download it by clicking the link right-clicking HERE and choosing “download this link” or you can listen to it from my site by clicking the play button below

This is indeed one of the very best sermons I’ve ever heard on sex.

It seems somewhat strange to me that Calvinists (Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Voddie Baccham) have poor answers to the questions of evil but appear to have a solid grasp on sex and family. My guess is that is due to their overall emphasis on sovereignty, and that understanding is required for a family to function properly.

The poverty of the 5 senses

Materialists are fond of claiming that all of our knowledge comes to us through our 5 senses.

Supernatural is above or beyond nature. Any belief in a realm that isn’t knowable though our 5 senses. Or al least able to use a provable method of advanced conceptualizing that ties back to our senses and is consistent with everything else that is known to exist in the natural universe. Mysticism is the opposite. It claims that our 5 senses are inadequate to no truth or reality. this effectively removes responsibility from the individuals and places it in the hands of the elite. Who have some secret magical method of understanding truth. It is a winning strategy for those who desire power, who feel small in stature and intentionally or not, foster the powerlessness of their flock.

-Dan Barber

This position raises two questions in my mind:

  1. Through our 5 senses, how do we gain awareness of ourselves? Our own thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.? It seems that introspection is not something we engage in with our 5 senses.
  2. How can we be sure that there is nothing outside the realm of or epistemic faculties? It seems that microscopes of all kinds provide evidence that our epistemic faculties aren’t perfect, that there is more about our world that we wouldn’t know without external help.

Dan answers:

A microscope is an extension of sight. Not a replacement for it. We do imagine with our brain. That is what intospection is. And it is an evolved ability that probably came about as we learned to hurl an object for hunting. Or swing from vines. To predict an outcome in the future.

Microscopes and other instruments give us reason to believe that information exists outside the reach our natural epistemic resources. That’s not to say that this information is unknowable, just that we may need help knowing what a cell looks like.

Additionally, It seems that the introspection required to envision a tool like a microscope came not from the realm of 5 senses, but from somewhere else. Before it existed, where did the vision come from and where did it reside? Are we to suppose the physical brain randomly concocted it out of thin air?

I suppose the real question here is: Why should we think that physical matter is all that exists?

It is absolutely amazing how the human mind decides what it wants to see as real and then finds the evidence for such a conclusion. Deductive vs. Inductive reasoning. Inductive is the method i use to counter act my own irrationality in this realm.

So the final question for materialists is this. When you reason, be it inductively or deductively, which of the 5 senses are you using?

Is God a “God of wrath”? Several reasons why He isn’t.

A rather interesting discussion on Facebook began when a friend of mine posted the following:

The Prince of Peace also is the holy, righteous, and just God of wrath.

Justice is the reason for wrath

Justice, not wrath. In order for God to be a “God of wrath” there would need to be something for God to display his wrath to for eternity, making sin a necessity, which would entail dualism.

Peace and wrath are incompatible as eternal states of being. Wrath may be displayed in order to bring about peace, but in that case it is merely a means to an end, namely a just or peaceful state of affairs.

Further, wrath, like hatred, is nowhere stated as being a part of God’s character. Presumably because before God chose to create, when there was naught but the trinity in a state of complete perfection, there was no need for God to hate or display his wrath to bring about a just state of peace.

But doesn’t the Bible say that God is also wrathful?

Hebrews 1:9 says, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” God’s attributes are perfectly balanced in His divine perfection. The wrath of God is always perfect just as is His love, always. Man has a hard time understanding this because man’s wrath is almost always compromised by the presence of sin, therefore they cannot place that attribute upon God. The word says, and I believe it.

This is not something you can make an appeal to mystery for and then just walk away and pretend as if you’ve avoided the issue. The fact remains that if wrath is a part of God’s character as opposed to merely something God employed in time in regards to finite beings, there would need to be a timeless, infinite object of God’s wrath. That would raise such an object of wrath to a position of sharing other attributes God alone possesses. Namely being a necessary as opposed to contingent being.

So just as wickedness is not eternal, neither is the need to punish it. Justice, and love, however, are.

Let’s approach this from another angle: If wrath is a part of God’s character, who was God displaying wrath to for eternity past? Sinners? Are we willing to say that men and angles are uncreated eternal beings?

There is a difference between God’s actions in time vs. character traits that are a part of God’s nature. So no, God is not jealous in that He was jealous before time began since that would also require there to be something God is jealous of.

I suppose a point of difficulty for us1 is our notion of time and God’s relation to it. I would maintain that God is not immutable in the sense that most reformed people view Him as (which would also make it impossible for God to think, act, speak, etc.) but that God entered into time when He decided to create so that there are some tensed truths we can say of God now that have not always been and will not always be true. Being wrathful is one of those truths, as is being jealous.

And as fine a point as it may be2, I believe it is important to make a distinction between the means and the ends. God’s wrath is not an end in itself but rather a means to an end. The same goes for God’s jealousy.

Isn’t wrath an integral part of justice? Who did God display justice to before man was created?

Wes, your first response to the “God of wrath” statement was, “Justice, not wrath. In order for God to be a “God of wrath” there would need to be something for God to display his wrath to for eternity, making sin a necessity, which would entail dualism.”

Under your hypothesis, Wes, how could He be a God of justice, because as you later stated, “Let’s approach this from another angle: If wrath is a part of God’s character, who was God displaying wrath to for eternity past? Sinners?”

Let’s approach it from your angle, Wes. If you deny the God of wrath because there were no sinners in eternity past for His wrath to be displayed upon, why can you freely accept the God of justice prior to the need for justice under the same conditions? Who would He need to display justice to? (emphasis mine)

Himself.

Justice is indeed needed, but there can be a just state of affairs without the need for anything to be done to maintain that state of affairs.

God is wholly just and therefore complete in Himself. The question of God’s character including wrath has a direct bearing on His aseity or completeness within Himself.

The key here in my estimation is to remove man from the equation completely lest we get sidetracked by immaterial issues when discussing what constitutes the character of God.

So in the case of wrath, we should ask how that character trait was expressed before man was ever created. When we talk to others about God being a God of love, for example, we gain a distinct advantage over those who also claim God is love but do not accept the trinity (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, etc.). In this case we can say that God was, in eternity past, in a loving relationship in the trinity so that love and community itself become necessary character traits of God and not merely derived character traits that only come into existence after other agents were created.

Conclusion

I’ve found that people who are intent on portraying God as a “God of wrath” are bad philosophers who are often unaware of the problems, the mental time bombs, they create for others. Many times I’ve found people who adopt a view of wrath being a part of God’s character are, themselves, quite bitter and otherwise unpleasant people. In those cases it appears that the attribution of wrath to God is little more than a projection of themselves.

However we must, if we are serious about maturing and become approved workmen in the Kingdom of God, examine this issue carefully. We must pay close attention to the implications of our assertions.

God does display his wrath to sinners. But that wrath is not an end in itself. Wrath is something God uses in relation to the justice and holiness that make up God’s character.

  1. By “us”, I mean those who prefer to picture God as being eternally wrathful. []
  2. At this point, some were whining about this being a pointless argument. A tactic that is taken by those who wish not to think too deeply about an issue. []