Category Archives: Theology

1 Easy Step to Help the Cause of Life

D.Joseph-response-to-SOTU-2014-01-28-at-10

Our president just finished his State of the Union address. I watched it live on YouTube. (The live link is gone, but archive links abound.)  Many statements were laudable. Some represented some degree of obfuscation and thus were irritating. Sometimes I agreed, while at other times I disagreed strongly. However, one phrase in particular both “stuck out” and especially irritated me. There was nothing terribly wrong with the statement itself. What was wrong was the conflict between the statement and the extreme pro-abortion attitude of the man who issued the statement. He indicated that the best thing we can do for our children is to invest in early education (referring to pre-K schooling).

Mr. Barrack Obama is the most extremely pro-abortion president in history. (Some time ago he actually attended the annual “Planned Parenthood” conference, officially addressed them, and concluded by telling this tax-supported, baby-murdering organization, “God bless you.” Thus, it galled me to hear him say that what was most beneficial for our children was to invest in early education.

After his speech, his supporters (who organized the follow-through) invited online viewers to go to a White House-operated website and watch while questions from Twitter and the blogosphere were answered by a panel appointed by the administration. The hashtag (to post a question or participate in the conversation) is: #SOTUchat

So, I fired up my Twitter account, put in the hashtag, and tweeted this:


Feel free to copy and paste. If you have a Twitter account, retweet it. If you have a Facebook, a blog, or whatever, use your platform say something for the cause of Life. Regardless, do something, even if it’s just teaching your family in devotions or discussing it with a neighbor or coworker. Do something to participate. Be part of the Pro-Life Generation that will see Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton overturned in our lifetime.

Note: If you are looking for solid stats and amazing information to bolster your argument in favor of life—great information that is usable in everything from family devotions to debates with liberals—click to watch the awesome video below.

During quite a few of these frozen days of being snowed in, I spent many, many hours editing the video of a major Pro-Life event, at the request of Dr. Wanda Franz, Ph.D., who is the former head of the National Right To Life Committee, and current President of West Virginians For Life, and Mary Anne Buchanan, who is the Program Director for West Virginians For Life. Recently I finished the DVD production phase, and this past Monday I mailed out the DVDs to the WV For Life office. The next phase was to distill the video stream for YouTube. Last night I finished that aspect of this project, and started the upload to YouTube. Early this morning (in the wee hours) the upload to YouTube was finally completed. Behold:

Share this link to an awesome Pro-Life video: http://youtu.be/Im5pFzDfpWA

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).

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.

Forever Fighting Bad Guys (or Eternity with the Good Guys)

Our most beloved stories focus on times of crisis. Humans may say and think that we long for peace, but as a species we secretly think such times would be too boring. We are drawn to drama, to the aid of the underdog. Something deep inside elicits exciting existence — times of horror haunting us, of evil evolving in our midst, and of crisis crushing us unless we can vanquish the demons and go from victims to victors.

This is perhaps why some scoff at the Bible’s promise of eternal life. Some supposedly wizened teachers’ words betray an obtuse opinion that God never made any cosmoses prior to or after our own — except, they happily confess, His endless maintenance of a dull, fabled home of harp-strumming angels floating on cumulus clouds. How boring.

Yet the Holy Scriptures paint a different picture: war in the heavens, fought amongst angelic species predating us, and who (like humans) have broad capacity for choice, even to rebel against God. The prospect of counting epochs like days and millennia like hours, as we develop continually through aiding young, unique, future species, is enthralling to this whispering warrior, who is quite certain that Eternity with the Good Guys will be far more exciting than even our grandest imagination can grasp.

War-in-the-heavens
“War in the heavens”

One academic type has argued that it is proof of our evolution that we have grown from caring about family to village, from village to caring about state, and from state to feeling patriotic about nation. He argued that the next step in our evolution is to care about our global populace. Listen: It is neither evolution nor good when the expediency of the masses overrules the conviction of conscience of the individual or minority. Finally, in the end, it will be maturity, not evolution, that truly takes us even further than caring about all humans and creatures globally, onward to caring for new species God has not even created yet. There will be battles against evil. Wars against tyrants. Epic excitement. Crisis. Are you up for it?

The King Who Sees (a reminder from the altar)

There is something so powerful about the way God’s presence puts everything in proper perspective when we approach Him openly and honestly. Bowed before His glory, no petty rationalization, biased justification, defensive argument, or attempted distraction can be offered. What’s the use of such antics when one is beholden to the King Who Sees your heart’s deepest crevices?

“Have no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3b).

The way up is down. The death of the carnal is the end of the curse. When we lay our carnality on the altar, He helps us to mortify the sinful nature’s deeds (Romans 8:13).

Don’t try to hide that which cannot be hidden from Him. Don’t waste life’s days refusing to acknowledge or confront the innermost defects and problems resulting from unwise choices. We are all casualties of the curse. Yet when, through humble repentance before Him, we divest ourselves of carnal aspects that harbor the curse, we see Him work a change that overpowers the curse and delivers us from “the body of this death.”

If you have not offered yourself before Him in this way—or perhaps you have, yet not for a while—then don’t delay. Mere moments of true openness before Him does more than could ever be accomplished by going through “religious” motions. The stench of flesh is not that which ascends while the carnal nature is burning on the altar. A thousand times no. The true stench of flesh is that odor of sin, pride, and self-will, that foulness that oozes from our pores as we attempt life on our own, without trusting Him by building an altar and laying ourselves upon it. Cry out with Paul, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).