Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Not long ago a friend was attacking what I consider to be a caricature of “Lordship salvation” (a term which seems to foster much confusion and consternation). He wrote, somewhat tongue-in-cheek: “if you get GRACE because ya ‘live fer Jesus,’ then...what yer gittin...ISN'T GRACE!!! 

Below is my response. 

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As for "Lordship salvation:" I'm not exactly sure what you envision when you say this. I'm guessing you equate "Lordship" with "legalism." But I want to focus on the word salvation. What does the concept of salvation entail? 

I understand that to be saved is to be regenerated, to be born again, to be a new creation. Such terminology connotes change (as does the term conversion.) 

And so I ask: Changed how? (Notice, I am speaking of God's activity—not man's.) God CHANGES us (when He regenerates us) how? 

The change God brings is not physical or biological. It is spiritual. The Bible is clear: God changes the heart. 

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezek. 36:25-27). 

We are not speaking of changing ourselves. Rather, the God of promise pledges to make these changes for us—regeneration is what God does to us. 

Thus, salvation isn’t a matter of me changing my behavior. It’s a matter of God changing my heart which inevitably results in a change of behavior—the byproduct of a changed mind. 

Think on it: How can the regenerated, new heart of flesh have no impact or influence on the mind and behavior? How can one logically say, “I feel towards God and I think and I reason and I behave just as I always have. I have been born again!”  

So, the question is this: Can God convert me but not change me? If words mean anything, I don’t see how.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Unreason For The Season

          “The White Witch? Who is she?” 

“Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) 

Alas, it seems Christmas is assaulted in realms both real and imaginary. 

Oddly enough, in our bizarre world, Christmas is besieged on all sides. Secularists hate the true meaning of Xmas and traditionalists bemoan its loss. Christians fear the holiday is too pagan and atheists aver it isn’t pagan enough. 

And this year, the Christmas card has been upstaged by the race card. Rabid race baiters are tearing into Megyn Kelley like Tiny Tim on a Christmas ham. Why?  

Well, she apparently had the poor taste to claim that St. Nick is not only jolly, but also White. (Call me cynical, but I suspect the vitriol has less to do with Santa’s lack of color than Megyn’s. But…I digress.) 

I can’t help but wonder when the LGBT troops will join the fracas because transracial Santa—despite the queer hat and suit—isn’t quite gay enough.  

Or who knows when militant feminists will finally have had their fill of male-Santa? Break that glass ceiling, Mother Christmas! 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” It’s a race-less, genderless creature that will late at night slip unnoticed into your home and leave behind some environmentally-friendly fun (unless, of course, you’re a Jehovah’s Witness). HO! HO! HO! 

The fact is our world is much weirder than Narnia. Ours is a mad world. 

Not long ago it was a different kind of mad. There’s a popular story of a peculiar incident in World War I.  

. . . on Christmas Eve of that first year of battle [1914] one of the most unusual events in military history took place on the western front. . . . the British began to hear a few German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. It was soon picked up along the German line as soldiers joined in harmonizing. The words were these: “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” British troops immediately recognized the melody as “Silent Night, Holy Night” and began singing in English. 

That night, enemy soldiers sat around a campfire. They exchanged small gifts—chocolate bars, buttons, badges, and small tins of processed beef. Men, who only hours earlier had been shooting to kill, were now sharing Christmas festivities and showing each other family snapshots.

As quickly as the truce came, it went. But for a precious moment, Christmas magic interrupted the madness. How I wish it could interrupt it again. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Mockery of God

The other day I came across this sentiment (said to no one in particular): “We are to expose false teachers, not mock and scoff at them. . . . You may get away with putting them down with your little Christian friends but in the end you will give an account for how you treated every person.” 

I'm sure there are times when lines have been crossed. However, mocking false teachers and/or doctrines can be seen in several places in scripture. 

And so it was, at noon, that Elijah MOCKED them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy [“busy” means “relieving himself”], or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (emphasis mine, 1Kings 18:27). 

Isaiah is extremely caustic and mocking when he speaks of idolaters (e.g. 44:12-17).  

The Apostle Paul (1Cor. 11:5; 12:11) mocks false teachers in the Corinthian church and refers to them as “super apostles.” (Eminent or super “apostles” is dripping with sarcasm!) 

Even Jesus mocks false teachers with incredible irony and wit: 

Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch. . . . Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt 15:14; 23:24). 

Thus, mocking false teachers and/or doctrines is not ungodly per se. Perhaps we should ask: What is the purpose, intention, motive or merit of the specific mockery in question. Does it instruct or does it merely wound? 

Even so, one should follow one’s conscience in such things. If one feels personally convicted, one should not engage in mocking false teachers and/or doctrines. At the same time, such a one need not issue a blanket condemnation of all others who think differently. 

We should not elevate our scruples above the standards of scripture.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Other Gods


You shall have no other gods before Me, (Exodus 20:3). 

Do Americans worship sports? When one considers how many billions of dollars and thousands of hours are dedicated to the industry (from Little League to Major League), a case could be made that in a very real sense we do. 

At the very least I think we have to say that it is amazing—mind numbing in fact—how seriously we take our sports. Now, I assure you, this is no diatribe against our favorite pastimes; but I would like to take a moment to reflect upon the matter. 

We rightly think of sports as bringing out the best in folks, particularly our kids: physical well-being, discipline, teamwork, selflessness, etc. And regardless of liberals and their hissy-fits…it’s healthy for children (especially the ones over 30) to learn to win and to lose graciously.  

You win some, you lose some. We’re not all equal in gifts and talents and abilities. Sometimes things don’t end as we think they will or should. That’s life. We can use sports to teach or illustrate these things. 

But while we often think of sports as manifesting the best in us, in actuality they commonly reveal the worst in us: selfishness, dishonesty, anger, arrogance, pettiness and so forth. These unseemly traits are not just seen on the field, but off the field—in the bleachers (maybe even more so). Sports turn many people ugly and vicious—sometimes even criminally violent. Why? 

Just what are sports anyway? 

I think we must say that sports properly belong to the category of entertainment. Those who play sports non-professionally are recreating and those who play sports professionally are entertaining. (This is why pro athletes are so highly paid. We revere entertainers. Indeed, we practically idolize them.)  

Either way, recreational or professional, for most of us sports are really nothing more than entertainment. Do we fail to see this?  

I’ve seen fans openly, unashamedly weep in both victory and defeat. There are people who soar with absolute euphoria or plunge into abject despair based upon nothing but the outcome of a game 

And our terminology doesn’t help us any.  

It’s odd to think of the rhetoric we use of sports. Though sports are entertainment we often use terms such as gutsy, brave and heroic to describe on-field performances. War metaphors are typical. We speak of “sudden death” and “battling it out” and “warriors.” Sports entertainers are commonly referred to as heroes 

No, I’m not suggesting that we change the vernacular. Only this: When we hear or say such things…remember…sports are merely entertainment. 

Sports—as entertainment—are in actuality distractions. Sports (not unlike movies, concerts, plays, board/card/video games and shopping sprees) are a means of forgetting one’s situation in life for a couple of hours. Obviously, all such “getaways” can be healthy or unhealthy—to speak biblically, lawful or sinful. 

So, when it comes to sports and all forms of entertainment—lest we fall into idolatry—the Christian should always seek to think and to behave to the glory of God. We should ask ourselves: Am I honoring God with my actions, attitudes, and priorities in regards to this sport/entertainment? 

That’s a sobering question. 

Well, that’s all the time I have for now. It’s October and I’m a life-long St. Louis Cardinals fan. So…you know what that means. I’ve got baseball to watch.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hath God Said?


Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time. 

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.” 

And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.
~Attributed to John Clifford 

When an unbeliever denies the inspiration of scripture he usually parrots quite a laundry list of reasons to disbelieve. I’d like to take a quick look at some of them.  

Typically near the top of the list is the notion that the Bible is full of contradictions and errors. Yet, when pressed for specifics, in my experience, the non-believer knows precious little about the Bible and thus is long on assertions but short on demonstrations. 

The fact is the Church is well aware of apparent inconsistencies and textual problems and more than sufficiently deals with such things.  

Often we hear the charge that the Bible is utterly sexist, racist, and violent. And certainly, we can find all of these things in the sacred writ—these things and I’m sure more. But here the detractor of the faith fails to distinguish between that which the Bible describes and that which the Bible prescribes. (The distinction between description and prescription cannot be overstated.)  

Occasionally an unbeliever offers an objection to the sacredness of scripture by pointing out that all the world's belief systems share certain fundamental truths—that we should treat others as we would like to be treated, etc.—thus undermining the Bible as being uniquely revealed.  

But there is simply no logical reason to deny that the Bible is God’s word on the basis that there is a degree of commonality between it and other religious (and even secular) texts. A measure of similarity is precisely what one should expect given that there is but one living and true God who created the universe and all it contains and who made man a rational, moral being in His own image. 

This being so, I would go so far as to suggest that it would be unimaginably strange, perhaps inconceivable, for there to be little or no shared views between scripture and extra-biblical writings. 

While it is clearly the case that the Bible is written to and for God’s people, the skeptic nevertheless has an invested, self-interest in undermining its divine design. We are now speaking to the issue of authority 

The one who denies the holiness of the Bible becomes—in his lofty imagination—his own ultimate authority, the final arbiter of truth. That is, the unbeliever jettisons ancient faith anchored in scripture for nouveau fancy tethered to self.  

This is hardly progress.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Christian Unity


I do not pray for these alone [the Apostles], but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they may be one . . .that they also may be one in Us . . . that they may be one just as We are one . . . that they may be made perfect in one . . . (John 17:20, 21,22, 23). 

In the High Priestly prayer of our Lord, we find Christ earnestly interceding for the unity of all Christians (understood as those who believe in Christ according to apostolic witness).  

Has God answered the prayer of His Son? 

When we consider the apparent fragmentary condition of the Church, we may be tempted to answer, “No. Jesus’ desire for Christian unity is unfulfilled.” But we should resist this temptation. It is my conviction that God has in fact preserved the unity of His people: one flock with one Shepherd (John 10:16). 

The Church is unified. But what is the nature of its unity? 

Let’s begin by specifying what it isn’t. The nature of Christian unity is not ecclesiastical. That is, the one people of God meet all over the world in various local groups or churches. The one Church gathers in thousands of churches which belong to a myriad of denominations and/or associations. 

There is diversity. But that which unites the one Church is greater than that which would divide her. 

Let’s now consider what the unity of the one Church is 

According to Jesus, our unity is doctrinal. That is, Christ prays for “those who will believe in Me” in agreement with the “word” of the Apostles. We often hear the mantra: Doctrine divides. True enough, Christians do not see eye-to-eye in all matters of faith and practice.  

But surely we understand the much deeper truth that doctrine unites. Regarding doctrine, Augustine famously quipped: “in essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” 

The question now becomes: Is that which unites us (essential Christian truths) greater than that which divides us (non-essentials). I believe it is. It is the essence of our faith—the essentials—which CS Lewis envisions in Mere Christianity. 

Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbors was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times (from the preface to Mere Christianity). 

There are cardinal truths which all Christians in all times believe.
 
In addition to the doctrinal unity of all believers, we find the spiritual. We are spiritually joined to all Christians of all the ages. Jesus speaks of our spiritual communion as being twofold.  

First, He says all Christians of all the ages are “one in Us.” We are in the Father and Son.  

Second, the Father and Son are in us: “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23). Christians of all the ages are the one Body of Christ, the one Temple of God. 

Thus within the biblical Christian faith, doctrinal/spiritual unity is deeper than surface level diversity. And we can recognize this fact without compromising—in any sense—our distinctives. In other words, we can affirm our unity and not deny our diversity.  

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Key to Scripture

Not long ago I observed that to properly view the Old Testament, one must look through the lens of Christ. 

A Christian friend immediately inquired,  

Isn't it the other way around? To properly understand Christ we must look through the lens (context) of the "Old Testament", of all that came before him and the environment in which he and his audience lived, worshipped, and understood all of God and life. Especially since he said he didn't come to abolish it? 

In answer to his query we turn to scripture. 

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. . . . For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me (John 5:39, 46). 

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. . . . Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27, 44-45).   

Notice, Luke says that Jesus “opened their understanding” so that they could “comprehend the Scriptures.” The Old Testament reveals Christ (in types, shadows, sacrifices, prophecies, and promises).  If one fails to see this—one misses the central point entirely. 

Said another way, the Old Testament cannot be properly understood without reference to Christ. The Old Testament is about Jesus. One can be an “expert” in the Old Testament and not truly understand it, if one does not interpret it in the light of Jesus Christ. 

Saint Augustine famously said, “The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.” Surely this is true. The Old and New testaments are the interrelated, cumulative revelation of God. But in order to recognize this, one must accept the Person and work of God’s Son.  

But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Cor. 3:14-16).  

In other words, Christ is the key to all scripture.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Just War" or Just War?

Something to consider: How would we Americans feel if the top leaders of a country (a country we never threatened or attacked) were publicly and unapologetically discussing their plans to strike us with missiles? 

This is precisely what our leaders are doing to Syria. 

Some argue for U.S. intervention thus: If one sees his neighbor beating his wife or children one ought to (that is to say, one is morally obligated to) intervene. This is to love one’s neighbor. So, the U.S. is morally obligated to protect the innocent anywhere and everywhere it possibly can. 

But such an analogy is flawed on at least two levels. 

First, this is nothing like what may or may not be happening in Syria. Syria is more like two adult males savaging each other for nobody knows why. If one sees two strange men slashing each other with knives for no discernible reason, is one morally obligated to intervene by taking it upon oneself to shoot one man in effort to save the other?  

Syria is in the midst of a civil war. And as is the case with many civil wars it can be more than a little challenging to know who—if anyone—is wearing the white hats. Furthermore, like all civil wars, innocent non-combatants are caught in the middle. (Hence the “noble rebels” are fond of fighting Assad by killing Christians.) 

Second, the proffered analogy and application confuse categories. That is, the analogy and its application conflate personal, individual ethics with the ethics of the State. Individual ethics and State ethics are two very different things. Such conflation is wrong-headed and can even be dangerous. (Yes, war can be dangerous.) 

Speaking of the Christian’s duty to “love one’s neighbor” with cruise missiles, the 16th century reformer Pierre Viret said, “There is nothing which Christians should be more wary to employ nor which is less suited to their profession [than war]” (Joel McDurmon, The Bible & War in America, p. 29). 

Yet oddly enough, it seems American Christians are often eager to beat the drums of war. After all, what’s wrong with fighting when one is always on the side of the angels? But are our wars Just or are they just wars? 

Contemplate these “Just War” principles: 

·         A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.

·         A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause. Further, a just war can only be fought with "right" intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.

·         The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.

·         The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.

·         The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.

Do the above tenets justify the majority of America’s war waging? 

Some argue that America wages war as God’s instrument of wrath. True, God does use nations to judge other nations, but it would be incredibly presumptuous of us—or any nation—to arrogate to ourselves the role of God's "super police-state." 

Of course, God can do to and with the United States what He wills. God is sovereign. But God’s sovereign prerogatives in no way render the actions of a warring nation morally justified.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Why Are We Saved?


Recently I had a man pose this defeater dilemma: “Did God save us because He needed to? Or because we need Him to? 

He asked me this because I pointed out to him that his gospel presentation was entirely man-centered, not Christ-centered. 

Below is my answer to him. May God add His blessing to your reading. 

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Your statement in the form of a question is an example of a false dichotomy. Not only have you presented me with a logical either/or fallacy, but the premises you’ve offered—all two them—are equally wrong-headed.  

Therefore I choose neither “A” nor “B;” but “C”: None of the above. 

But let us consider the options in the order of their appearance. 

First: Did God save us because He needed to? Of course, the answer to this query is “no.” God is a perfect Being who needs nothing because there is no lack or privation in Him. 

Second: Does God save us because we need Him to? This is tantamount to asking, “Does God save us because we’re lost?” It’s somewhat tautological.  

But, again, the biblical answer is “no.” God does not save us BECAUSE we need Him to. Taken to its logical conclusion, this unbiblical notion (“God saves us BECAUSE we need Him to”) leads to Universalism.  

(That is, if sinners are saved BECAUSE they need salvation; and all sinners need salvation; then God must save all sinners BECAUSE all sinners need to be saved and the sinners’ need is the cause of God’s saving.) 

Universalism, however, is beyond the pale of Protestant orthodoxy. 

And so, we cannot say that God saves sinners because sinners need Him to. Rather, we must say—with scripture—that God saves sinners because God is gracious and merciful. God saves sinners because it is His will to do so. God saves sinners to His own glory. 

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. . . . In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:4-6,11-12). 

Scripture couldn’t be clearer.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dumb & Dumber


If we have compulsory education, then we have forced education. The term compulsory, if it has any meaning at all, means that the person has no choice about it. ~Peter Gray

I think most folks in America realize that by and large our government schools (a.k.a. the public education system) are failing. We could point out several, valid reasons for this declension—such as the disintegration of the family and the subsequent loss of authority; the secularistic, godless ideologies which underpin (or should I say undermine) curricula; and of course, the self-serving NEA which is entirely concerned with protecting and promoting itself even to the detriment of students. 

All of these things contribute to the downward spiral of government-run education. But I would like to focus on something which gets less attention: compulsory education. 

The philosophical question is this: Can a person be compulsorily educated (not to be confused with indoctrinated)? Certainly, we can—under threat of law—force a person to attend school. But can a student be coerced to think, to learn? I don’t see how.  

The pragmatic question is this: What does forcing students—who have no desire to be in school and have no intention of learning—do to the environment and morale of the school? Our would-be educators are required to play the part of peace officers and wardens. Presumably they want to teach but much of their energy is wasted in policing folks who don’t want to learn.  

In short, it seems to me that “compulsory education” is a misnomer. And it’s a dumb idea. (I use the word “dumb” in its informal sense meaning stupid or moronic.)  

But wait. There’s something even dumber.  

Not only does our government force people to attend school, it also forces schools to be, in a manner of speaking, fail-safe. In other words, our government says to the recalcitrant student, “You will go to school” and it says to the beleaguered school, “You will graduate every unwilling—or even unable—student.” 

No Child Left Behind! 

Consider the law’s absurd demand to prohibit the normal variability of human ability so that all children, from the unusually gifted to the mentally retarded, must achieve above the same “challenging” level of proficiency by 2014. The only way states could fulfill this requirement would be to define “challenging proficiency” at such a low level that even the least talented of students could meet it 

Mr. Duncan’s [the Secretary of Education] philosophy has been revealed: if a policy fails, the solution should be to do more of it. So the secretary is now kicking the ball down the road. States will be excused from making all children proficient by 2014 if they agree instead to make all children “college-ready” by 2020. ~Richard Rothstein

Bill Bennett once remarked: “The longer we stay in school the dumber we get.” Thus we have increasing numbers of people who are graduated but not educated. Surely, there’s a better way. 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bible & Race

Last week I observed that human beings are incredibly tribal. By this I mean that all of us experience and express unity and diversity in a multitude of ways. Our tribalism is pervasive. In fact, it’s hard to imagine an area of life where we are non-tribalistic. 

Let’s briefly consider a few manifestations of our tribalism.  

First, there’s entertainment: Trekkies vs. Star Wars fans (Warsies?); Team Jacob vs. Team Edward; Lavern vs. Shirley—that sort of thing. Then we have sports (also entertaining): my team vs. your team, etc. Of course we have competing criminal enterprises and gangs—Republicans vs. Democrats—for example.  

Naturally, the supernatural divides us and so we have innumerable religious tribes from world religions to denominations to sects to cults. Then we have the likes of Ford vs. Chevy; Fox News vs. Obama news; labor vs. management; rich vs. not as rich; urban vs. rural; and so on.  

Obviously, humans are tribal by nature. So is it any wonder that we experience and express unity and diversity in regards to race? 

Since we are tribal by nature, and since—in the foreseeable future—races are here to stay; the tensions which result from our unity and diversity will remain. But can we do better? Can we ease the tensions between the races? 

The Bible gives us authoritative, but very general, principles which can, at the very least, serve as a framework from within which we can have the much needed, honest conversation about race. 

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . .” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him . . . (Genesis 1:26a, 27a). 

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings (Acts 17:26). 

The first biblical principle for our framework is that all human beings are the image bearers of God. This means we are of equal worth and dignity. Our lives have value and sanctity. Having more or less pigmentation does not correlate into being more or less the image bearer of God.  

Those who deny this truth can only exacerbate the race problem (e.g., Louis Farrakhan’s racist “white devils” rhetoric.) Unless we keep all men as God’s image fairly in view, racial tensions will not, indeed cannot, diminish. 

The second principle is biblical unity. The basis for human unity (the human race) is two-fold: We have one Creator who made us from one blood; one God, one man. Racists, like Farrakhan, tend to downplay or outright deny our true, biblical unity. What good comes of this? 

The third principle is biblical diversity. Here we are not speaking of the “human race” but of “races” or “ethnicities.” Many today—on the opposite end of the spectrum from those above—tend to downplay or outright deny our true, biblical diversity.  

They offer such platitudes as, “There no such thing as ‘races.’ There’s only the human race.” While this sounds noble, it goes against scripture and plain reason.  

Let’s apply this illogic to God’s work in nature, shall we? Premise 1: Eagles are birds. Premise 2: Cardinals are birds. Conclusion: Eagles are Cardinals. 

Isn’t the categorical mistake obvious? 

We need not resort to irrationality for any of God’s works in animals or in humans. We need not deny the “human race” to affirm the existence of various races or ethnicities. (We are simply using the terms “race” and “races” differently, according to disparate categories.)  

The races are all human but they are not all the same. 

Thomas Sowell agrees. He writes: “Race is not entirely in the eye of the beholder, but it is a social concept with a biological basis” (Intellectuals and Race, p. 1). The Bible is not ignorant of, in fact it is very much aware of, racial differences and the Apostle Paul teaches that these differences are “made from one blood” by God.
 
Though the Bible does not tell us when or how the races of man emerged, it is nevertheless my contention that God—not mindless, purposeless natural processes—is ultimately responsible for (immediately and/or by use of means) biological human diversity. 

So how do we—the fallen and sinful image bearers of God—affirm our unity and diversity with lessened hate and hostility? 

I think the answer comes in applying God’s law and gospel to our social ills.  

No more blame games. No more “repentance” for the sins other people committed. No more “suffering” for the crimes other people endured. Enough is enough. 

If we would have a conversation about race within the context of scripture, we must speak of each individual person as being a responsible moral agent; with God’s law to judge and guide, and His Son to heal and forgive.  

There’s no other way forward.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wrong Words of Truth


Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world 

Did you ever sing the words above? I sang them many times as a kid in Sunday School. I remember however, that a few of my fellow church-brats and I took great delight in altering the lyrics.  

Rather than piously intone, “Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in His sight” we proudly belted out: “Red and yellow black and white; put ‘em together & watch ‘em fight…” 

Certainly, we were singing wrong words—and loving it—but it seems to me that our wrong words were nevertheless very true. That is, human beings are incredibly tribal. And no matter how the multiculturalists try to reprogram us…birds of a feather still flock together. 

Thus, the conversation about race and race relations isn’t going away soon; maybe ever.  

Consider carefully the words of Thomas Sowell. 

This premise—that the racial problem was essentially one inside the minds of white people—greatly simplified the task of those among the intelligentsia who did not have to research the many behavioral differences between blacks and whites in America—or the many comparable or larger differences between other groups in other countries around the world—that have led to other intergroup complications, frictions and polarizations, which were in many cases at least as great as those between black and white Americans. . . .Racial problems could be reduced to problems inside people’s minds, and especially to racism, not only simplifying problems but enabling intellectuals to assume their familiar stance of being on the side of the angels against the forces of   evil . . .” (Intellectuals and Race, p. 89) 

Surely, Sowell is correct. The “race problem” is not merely mental and our difficulties cannot be simplistically subsumed—with little or no evidentiary substantiation—under the rubric of “racism.” In other words, humanistic, utopian reeducation and indoctrination will not solve racial dilemmas. 

Hence, liberals in government, media, and education need to stop peddling the false metanarrative of “white guilt and the victimization of people of color.” Furthermore, shameless race-baiters must cease treating race as “intertemporal abstractions” (to use Sowell’s term) where contemporary whites are held accountable for—and contemporary blacks are excused because of—things which none of them did or experienced. 

Intellectuals have all too often played a major role in promoting a sense of grievance over inequalities. The kind of society to which that can lead is one in which a newborn baby enters the world supplied with prepackaged grievances against other babies born the same day. It is hard to imagine anything more conducive to unending internal strife and a weakening of the bonds that hold a society together. When history shows how hard it can be to maintain peace and cooperation among contemporaries, why would we take on the complex, divisive and ultimately futile task of redressing issues between our long dead ancestors or pass on to generations yet unborn the seeds of strife to blight their lives? (Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Race, p. 138) 

In the final analysis, as long as our national conversation is framed by “intertemporal abstractions” couched in terms of “white guilt” and “the victimization of people of color,” real progress is unattainable.