Category Archives: Doctrine

The Strongholds Between Your Ears | Author Nathan D. Maki

Image of Masada, ancient stronghold in Israel
In AD 73, at the Fortress of Masada, 960 Jewish freedom fighters held off 15,000 Romans for 3 months.

What were strongholds?

In ancient times civilizations would build strongholds as fall-back points. When an enemy army invaded in such force that they either defeated a nation’s army or could not even be met on the field of battle everyone would abandon their unprotected villages and fall back to strongholds.

We find a mention of strongholds in Judges when the Midianites were invading, filling the land like grasshoppers. The Israelites built themselves strongholds in the mountains. Invading armies could strip the land of its crops, pillage and burn the villages, but behind the high walls and towers of these craggy fortresses the people would survive.  And as long as the people survived so would the nation.

Strongholds between my ears?

2 Corinthians 10:4 tells us that… [read more of this excellent article by my friend and fellow author, Nate Maki.]

Book Reviews > Perelandra > by C.S. Lewis

Lewis-CS-Perelandra-CoverBrilliant, as always, C.S. Lewis did a tremendous job in this novel, although Bible-believing Christians will notice frequently that Lewis went further out of his way than usual (seemingly) to force into this work both some of his “orthodox” (if unbiblical) “Christian” doctrines, and some of his “unorthodox” (and unbiblical) ideas such as a systematic theology that ponders (allows?) a fairly complete merger of pagan mythology (and extra-biblical writings in general) with various aspects of “the Christian tradition” in a combined sphere of thought. There is much wisdom and wit in the story that makes it worth tolerating some areas where the concepts are “off” biblically speaking.

Note: the following points are perhaps not major elements of the story, but at the least they are certainly themes found in the underlying backstory, and they are worth considering.

I’m a fan of Lewis, and thus I tend to try to tolerate those areas where his “Christian” ideas stretch far beyond what the Bible says or even allows, such as his view that certain personal beings created by the One True God are to be called “gods” (lower case ‘g’), some of whom God may have used as agents in getting aspects of the Creation, well, created. In this installment in his Space Trilogy, Lewis bluntly puts forth that an immortal, angelic being that is the “guardian” over Perelandra (the planet we call Venus) was actually the “personal being” who created the planet called Venus—a task that was accomplished under God’s instruction and at God’s bidding. Thus we’re to accept that if God created the cosmos “via” multiple lower beings, it is still God who should be credited as the Creator, even if someone else did the creating. This is a serious contradiction with what the Holy Scriptures teach about the One True God—He plainly stated He did all the creating “alone” and “by Himself.” (See Isaiah 44:24: “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself….”)

Lewis’ overall scheme here, when taken to its logical conclusion, is that each of the planets in our star system was created by a different angelic being, with each of these angelic planet-creator-beings corresponding to one of the “gods” of Roman mythology. To wit: Malacandra (the planet we call Mars, which was the focus of book #1 in the trilogy) was thus presumably originally created by its own Oyarsa (a title of status that is a version of an ancient word essentially meaning “arch angel” or “boss angel”). In book #2, Lewis openly proposes the notion that the Oyarsa of Mars (ruler and guardian of that planet) is essentially the Roman “god of war” (called Mars in ancient Roman religion and myth), and likewise that the Oyarsa of Perelandra (ruler and guardian of the planet we know as Venus) is an angelic being who is the Roman “god of love” (called Venus in ancient Roman religion and myth). The correlations would continue with a creator-guardian-being that rules over Jupiter as being the personal creature whom the Romans worshipped as Jupiter. In such a fashion, Lewis simultaneously “slaps” the ancient Romans in the face for worshipping under-shepherds instead of the Great Shepherd, while also “validating” their religion as possibly having some basis in reality instead of being merely ideas invented “out of whole cloth.”

Furthermore, Lewis’ concept here is that the head devil of our world, also known as Satan, began as the Oyarsa over planet Earth (also known as Tellus), and later chose to rebel against God and became the “Bent Oyarsa.” (Satan is now pure evil, and his followers likewise are pure evil, but they were not always so.) Satan was once free to roam the “Deep Heavens” (interplanetary space), but after his sin he and his angelic followers have for a very long time been imprisoned on Earth, in order to keep the other planets safe from him. Parts of this seem biblically sound, but the Bible does not say (at any place, as far as we are aware) that Satan was once the ruler/guardian of Earth. In the Scriptures, the only angel who is called an archangel (“head angel” or “boss angel”) is Michael, who was summoned to make war with Lucifer after his sin and rebellion. Satan is described as having been cast down from heaven to Earth.

We then see (by putting two and two together to get four) the twist here is the notion (or hint?) by Lewis that our own world was actually created by Satan, while he was still a good Oyarsa, in obedience to God. Of course, the above-mentioned verse in Isaiah, taken on its face, nullifies all such notions. I don’t recall Lewis specifically stating the concept that Satan was supposedly the Oyarsa whom God used to create the planet Earth (Tellus), but all his hints point in that direction as his intended thought. Throughout the first and second titles in the series, Lewis paints a very strong tie between Satan (the “Bent Oyarsa”) and Tellus (Earth, the Silent Planet).

On the one hand, I don’t wish to put stronger Christians “off” from reading this book/series, as the wit and wisdom within are wonderful and there is much to be learned if someone is capable of “eating the meat while spitting out the bones.” On the other hand, whenever Lewis waxes into some of the underlying ideas he proposes here, it is safe to say that disclaimers are warranted. Any recommendation of such titles without a note of warning could be mistaken as support for all the notions contained within. This series is excellent overall, and this title is no exception. This installment’s dialogue of satanic deception, waged as spiritual warfare against the innocent, human First Mother on the island-world of Perelandra, and Dr. Ransom’s valiant battle to aid the woman against the demonic seduction, are “delicious” portions that are wonderful to provoke deep thought about all that really matters. Nevertheless, the above-mentioned concerns make it difficult for me to give a recommendation without some reservations regarding any “faint of heart” Christian who is easily confused about what he or she believes (essentially anyone who is not well grounded in what the Holy Scriptures teach).

A few thoughts about A&E and their treatment of Phil Robertson

IStandWithPh

By now you’ve no doubt heard that A&E, the company that produces “Duck Dynasty,” is trying to censor Phil Robertson, a patriarch in the show’s central family. A&E took exception to some comments Phil made in an interview with a men’s magazine (a completely separate company), about what constitutes sin, and whether homosexuality is a sin. A&E seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth. On one hand, they are trying to act as though they side with homosexual activist groups, by placing Phil on an indefinite hiatus because he gave honest answers to baited questions posed by people who doubtless already knew what he believed before they asked. In essence, A&E kicked Phil off his own show because he has the courage and commitment to say in public that what the Bible teaches is what he believes. On the other hand, however, A&E has not cancelled the show. They seem to think they can have their cake and eat it too. They want the money the show’s viewers bring to them via advertising dollars, but they don’t want to be seen as even tolerating the fact that Phil has publicly made a statement of faith that is biblically based. So not only is Phil supposed to speak only what A&E tolerates while he is being filmed for their show, but he is also supposed to speak only what A&E tolerates even while he is elsewhere, minding his own business with regard to what he chooses to say in public.

First, let me say that A&E is certainly within their rights to kick him off. They are free to side with the homosexual agenda. They are even free to try to continue airing the show, if their contract allows and the family members are unable to legally stop it. However, viewers and all other people in the American society are also free to make some choices as well. Below is a petition you may choose to sign. While I am not personally a consumer (viewer) of cable network programming, I agree in principle with the content of the petition, and support the message it sends to A&E.


Here’s the full petition:

PETITION TO THE A&E NETWORK DEMANDING THE IMMEDIATE REINSTATEMENT OF DUCK DYNASTY’S PHIL ROBERTSON — #ISTANDWITHPHIL

Dear A&E Network,

I am writing to you regarding your network’s intolerant, discriminatory, and punitive treatment of Mr. Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s #1 hit show, Duck Dynasty.

Mr. Robertson’s comments in GQ Magazine are simply reflective of a biblical view of sexuality, marriage, and family—a view that has stood the test of time for thousands of years and continues to be held by the majority of Americans and today’s world as a whole.

Many members of the LGBT community may not agree with this view, but the notion that a free-thinking American should be discriminated against simply for expressing a perspective that is in conflict with another is patently un-American and flies in the face of true tolerance and civility. A&E’s position, which in your own words is “championing” the gay and lesbian community—which I believe you have the freedom to do—excludes the views of Faith Driven Consumers and effectively censors a legitimate viewpoint held by the majority of Americans.

As a Faith Driven Consumer, I am signing this petition to demand that my views be treated with equality and respect in America’s rich rainbow of diversity.

I am asking your network to immediately reinstate Mr. Robertson to Duck Dynasty, and to formally apologize to him, his family, and the millions of viewers who tune in every week, stand by him, and share his worldview. While the LGBT community may be offended by his opposing viewpoint, your rash, discriminatory, and unfair treatment toward Mr. Robertson—a recognized symbol of the faith community—is a slap in the face to Faith Driven Consumers and everyday Americans alike.

There are 46 million Faith Driven Consumers in America today who spend 1.75 trillion dollars annually. Should you refuse to equally respect and welcome our legitimately held views, we will gladly stop watching this and all other A&E programming and turn to any reformulation of Duck Dynasty on another network—while simultaneously supporting brands that stand with the show and the Robertson family.

Signed,
John Q. Public
#IStandwithPhil

Sign here: http://www.faithdrivenconsumer.com/istandwithphil?recruiter_id=53877

Faith Driven Consumer
http://www.faithdrivenconsumer.com/

Are you mistaken on the meaning of important biblical words?

Of all the words in the Bible, perhaps one of the most misunderstood in modern times is “adultery”—and if we had to list other misunderstood Bible words, “fornication” would probably rank right up there.

People in our modern society have a different meaning in mind for “adultery” than what the word meant to the Bible’s writers and to its original readers. Also, the meaning of “fornication” is pretty much just as “muddy” in modern minds as well.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com

In an excellent book titled Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible author and scholar Jay E. Adams shows the original meanings of these words, and sheds light on Scripture verses that are often misunderstood because our modern meanings of the words don’t match the original ones.

The book is only 100 pages long, and well worth its weight in gold. Every Christian should read the book, and especially every minister and/or pastor should read it.

In biblical use and meaning, “fornication” refers to any and all sexual sins (not just “unmarried people having sex” – which is the modern misunderstanding of the term). “Fornication” refers to and includes all types of sexual sin: incest, rape, homosexual acts, lesbian acts, bestiality, any sex act by a person who is not married, and, of course, any sex act by a married person to/with someone other than their spouse.

Also, in biblical use and meaning, “adultery” refers to a sin against a marriage vow (that which violates it, or damages, undermines, or weakens it). Such sins can be “lighter” or “heavier” in the nature of the transgression. Jesus taught that a man simply looking with lust upon a woman who is not his wife, is committing a sin against the marriage vow – Jesus said that lust is adultery. He did not say it was “like” adultery. He said it is adultery. (See Matthew 5:27-28.) For a married person to even flirt suggestively with someone other than their spouse is an act of adultery. Even simply becoming emotionally entangled with someone of the opposite sex other than your spouse is a violation that undermines your vow.

There are many, many ways to sin against a marriage vow. Just to name a few: lying, abuse, abandonment, mind games, inciting jealousy, etc. You get the idea. There are lighter attacks and heavier attacks. However, of all the ways a person can sin against their wedding vow, the worst would be to include the sin of fornication (sexual sin) in the “cheating,” which is actually two sins: adultery by fornication. This is the worst kind of adultery. And it is the only kind that Jesus said could qualify as proper grounds for one believer to divorce another. To wit:

In Matthew 5:32, Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of _____________, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

If you recite this verse and ask someone to fill in the blank, most people will say “adultery.” But that is not what Jesus said! He said “fornication”!

“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

By our Lord requiring fornication as grounds, that means not just any act of adultery (such as lusting in the heart, or flirting with someone else, or inciting jealousy, or instances of dishonesty) warrants two believers severing their marriage vow. It has to be that worst kind. However, just because the lighter kinds of adultery are not grounds for divorce does not mean they are not wrong and harmful. Over time, repeated instances of the lighter violations of the marriage vow can slowly destroy a marriage relationship.

While we are at it, another misconception in modern society is that an unmarried person cannot commit adultery (since they are not married). That is simply not true. If an unmarried person has sexual relations with a married person, the unmarried person is sinning against the marriage vow of the other two people who are lawfully married to each other. Both the cheating spouse and the sexually involved unmarried person are committing two sins: adultery and fornication.

As you can imagine, the book contains much more than just these words explained. It is a wonderful resource about marriage and the complicated topics of divorce and remarriage, which are covered in Scripture in much greater detail than many people realize.

Again, I heartily recommend that you get and read this book!

PS: Below is a description of the book from Amazon.com:

“If the church is going to use the Bible to decide whether divorce is legitimate in certain cases and whether divorced couples have the right to remarry with the approval and blessing of God’s people, then the Bible must be studied without prejudice toward a particular answer. The author examines the relevant passages in both the Old and New Testaments so that his readers can consider the many issues and interpretations that arise in trying to establish a consistently biblical position. As a result, readers can see more clearly and accept more firmly the truth of Scripture. The book succeeds at being exactly what the author wanted it to be: ‘a comprehensive, lucid, accurate study presented in a readable and practical style. . . .’ It is a valuable resource for the pastor, counselor, church leader, and others who are struggling to understand and apply scriptural principles to the problems of divorce and remarriage.”

Are you guilty of this very common doctrinal error?

Are all sins truly “equal” in God’s eyes?

Heart issues (inward sins) lead to outward sins (wrongful acts, hurtful crimes, etc). The Bible shows that both inward and outward sins are wrong, but it does not anywhere teach they are equal in God’s eyes. Thinking they are equal is like saying, “I already hate him, so I might as well murder him. Same thing, right?” or “I already lust after her/him, so I might as well have sex with her/him. Same thing, right?” These are not the same! One is cause, the other is result; but dealing with the cause before committing the result is clearly much different than “going ahead and doing it!”

Many people think that all sins are equal in the eyes of God, yet that firmly-held notion does hold up well under biblical scrutiny. If you are like me—one of many that has thought that way—read the following with an open mind.

Yes, the Bible does teach that it only takes one transgression against the law to make someone guilty of all the law. But don’t read so much into it that you go into false doctrine. Look at the Bible’s teachings “on the whole” to see the bigger picture.

The easiest way to prove that not all sins are equal is to read the New Testament, in John’s first epistle, where he writes of “sin not unto death” and of “sin unto death” (1 John 5:16-17). So, at the very least, we can prove that not all sins are equal in God’s eyes because some warrant harsher judgment or penalty.

This concept is clearly seen when studying the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament, in which some sins were minor and carried very light consequences, such as waiting a certain number of days before being able to do some aspect of worship, while other sins required a repentance that involved the sacrifice of an animal (and for some it was a small, inexpensive animal, while for others it was a larger, more expensive animal), and ranged all the way up to (in some cases), death (no repentance was adequate and there was only a death sentence)!

Consider, also, an Old Testament legal restriction, said as “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” This doctrine is called the Law of Retaliation (lex talionis, in Latin). The Believers Study Bible commentary says this about the Lord Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:38,39:

(vv. 38,39) Jesus does not deny the law of retaliation (lex talionis, Lat.) as a valid principle of legal justice. While insisting upon adequate punishment, this law safeguarded justice by not permitting excessive punishment. Jesus advocates a desired response more characteristic of a regenerate citizen of the kingdom.

Lex Talionis shows clearly that in God’s eyes, in a just legal system, the punishment must fit the crime—with our point being that not all crimes are equal.

In a future installment we will address the common misunderstanding about what adultery is (in the biblical sense) and why inward adultery (lust of the heart) is not equal (in God’s eyes) to outward adultery by fornication (sexual infidelity by a married person), even though both are wrong. Again, one is cause, the other is result, and if the cause is not dealt with, the result that happens is much worse than dealing with the cause before the result occurs.