Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blasphemy: Who CAIRs?

A “Saturday Night Live” spoof featuring the risen Jesus Christ going on a bloodthirsty, gun-packing vengeance mission is now being blasted by some American Muslims, who call it insulting to both Christians and Muslims worldwide. 

“Such misrepresentation of what Jesus, peace be upon him, stands for is extremely offensive to Muslims and to all those who believe in his message,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. 

“While we understand the use of shocking imagery and bizarre juxtapositions to provoke a humorous response, we believe such a distasteful portrayal of a religious figure revered by billions of Muslims and Christians worldwide crosses the comedic line." 
Awad noted many people are unaware that Muslims revere and love Jesus as one of God’s greatest messengers, and that every time Muslims mention Jesus’ name, they add “peace be upon him.”

Well, they don't call NBC the "National Blaphemy Channel" for no reason, do they?  But who would’ve predicted that CAIR would speak out against Hollywood’s blaspheming of Christ, decrying it as “extremely offensive”?  

I’m guessing SNL is somewhat relieved that “extremely offending” Muslims by lampooning a risen Christ isn’t quite as, shall we say—frowned upon—as cartooning a very dead Muhammad. (Hence, SNL is “being blasted” with words and not explosives.) 

CAIR’s reaction to SNL is somewhat unexpected because, as Awad points out, “many people are unaware that Muslims revere and love Jesus.”  

The fact of the matter is, many, many Muslims “revere and love Jesus” to the extent that they imprison, torture, and murder His followers. (Thankfully, the majority doesn’t “revere and love Jesus” to this degree, but a great many do.) So, understandably, this whole “loving Jesus and hating Christians” thing can get a little confusing. 

That being said, the Qur’an (which I’ve read from cover to cover) does indeed have a high view of Jesus as a prophet of God. The problem is, however, the Qur’an’s high view of Jesus isn’t nearly high enough. The Qur’an vehemently denies that Jesus Christ is God the Son incarnate; that He is the Savior and Lord of all men. 

Muslims affirm that Jesus was a prophet of God but they deny that He was and is the Son of God. And thus they deny the One and only living and true God. Do not be deceived: Christians and Muslims are not worshippers of the same God. Of this the scriptures are abundantly clear.  

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23). 

Muslims forthrightly deny the Son and therefore they deny the Father. Simply put, one cannot come to the Father unless one goes through the Son (John 14:6). 

Thus, the Muslim view of Jesus, though it is high, is much, much too low.  

Even so, it’s not Islamic antichrists who spew moral filth and vile blasphemy out of Hollywood, is it? No. Hollywood’s purveyors of perversion, these celebrated, Christ denying defilers and destroyers of culture are not Muslim; but they are indeed, in every sense of the word, antichrists 

And make no mistake: These antichrists are hell-bent on eroding the foundations of a once great people.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jumping On The Banned Wagon

In his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama yet again—for the love of children—called for stricter gun control. Never one to let a tragedy go to waste, Obama and his ilk are clamoring to rid the streets of so-called “assault weapons” (unless of course those weapons are wielded by government employees).  

It only stands to reason that the Left would demonize “assault rifles” given the fact that all of the victims at Sandy Hook were killed with handguns (as are most folks who are murdered with firearms).  

You don’t believe an “assault rifle” wasn’t used in Newtown? Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGn4o1Lb6L0  

Now, if you won’t believe NBC News…who will you believe?  

So for the sake of our children who escape abortion, we’ve got to ban “assault rifles.” 

But we can do more. We’ve got to ban all sorts of things. (For the sake of our children and all things good, there’s just no end to the things needing to be banned.) Last week’s news cycle is overflowing with such things. 

Speaking of overflowing: consider the ill-named Carnival Cruise ship, Triumph. Over 4,000 folks spent days onboard without electricity or functioning toilets. This is the most unfortunate, unnecessary travesty since Michelle Obama got bangs.  

For the sake of human decency we should ban clippers and cruisers. We may even need a commission to examine scissors and schooners. 

Even so, the unflappable Carnival CEO, Gerry Cahill, astutely remarked: "We pride ourselves in providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case. 

Yeah. We should ban CEO’s too. 

Then there’s the tale of Christopher Dorner. His saga begins, and oddly enough it also ends, with the LAPD firing him. Dorner claims, in a manifesto of sorts, that he was the victim of racism the first time he was fired by the LAPD back in 2009.  

Naturally, because of this claim Dorner has a cadre of admirers, prompting Marc Lamont Hill to gush,  

As far as Dorner himself goes, he’s been like a real life superhero to many people. Now don't get me wrong. What he did was awful . . . but when you read his manifesto, when you read the message that he left, he wasn’t entirely crazy. He had a plan and a mission here. And many people aren't rooting for him to kill innocent people. They are rooting for somebody who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system. It’s almost like watching Django Unchained in real life. It’s kind of exciting.

For the public good, my approach is two-pronged. First, manifestos should be limited to 10 paragraphs. (NOBODY needs a manifesto holding up to 30 or more paragraphs!) Second, phantom racism should be banned. No one commits more real crimes than folks who chronically suffer from imaginary ones. 

(Also, it may not be a bad idea to disarm the LAPD.) 

While we’re contemplating race, let’s not overlook the troubled South Africa. (No, I’m not talking about the ignored White genocide there, but the murderous Olympic blade runner, Oscar Pistorius.) 

Pistorius is accused of murdering his girlfriend. It is alleged that he shot the model/reality TV star four times and hit her with a cricket bat. 

Therefore, for the sake of all that is not morally reprehensible, I propose that not only should all reality TV shows be banned; but also, anyone who would purchase a cricket bat should be subject to background checks and psychoanalysis.  

(Incidentally, there are reports of steroids in the Olympian’s house. Thus, I call for an immediate ban on roid rage.) 

Finally, we come to the most alarming news story of last week. Of course, I refer to the “Sip Heard Round the World.” What was Marco Rubio thinking 

I’m sure we can all agree that gulping water from a plastic bottle is environmentally unconscionable and well below the dignity of a United States Senator. How can we believe a word flowing from his formerly parched lips? 

We don’t need another water-gate. We should ban Marco Rubio.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Loves & Marriage

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell. (CS Lewis, The Four Loves)
The Four Loves is a marvelous study on the various types or kinds of love within human experience. The Greek language has four terms with which to convey these various meanings or distinctions of “love,” whereas the English language knows only one term. That is, the transliterated Greek terms storge, philia [also phileo], eros, and agape; we translate simply as “love.”

But while we differ from the Greeks in our language of love, clearly, we do not differ from them in our experience of love. And so, I would like to contemplate how we experience these “four loves” within the context of marriage.

Hollywood has it mostly wrong. It tends to know only one sort of love between the sexes: Eros. Eros, in Hollywood, is the beginning and ending [and so often the ending is so close to the beginning that one can scarcely differentiate between the two] of all things between a man a woman. In fact, Hollywood not only knows one sort of love, but even that which it knows; it knows wrongly.

Hollywood, more often than not, simplistically equates eros with “sexual desire.” (From eros comes erotic.) But eros is more than sexual desire and sexual desire is quite often less than eros. Human sexuality may operate within eros or without it. (When it operates without it, it is little more than--in fact it may properly be thought of as less than--animalistic.)

Eros, as conceived by Lewis, is the state of “being in love.” We may rightly equate eros with “romantic love.” Healthy marriages certainly enjoy eros. But eros in marriage cannot simply be enjoyed. It must be encouraged. Godly spouses will seek to stir eros in their covenant lover’s heart, as well as in their own heart.

Yet, as vitally important as eros is to marriage, it is but one aspect of it. We dare not elevate eros too highly. We must not make a god of him as Hollywood has done. As Lewis observes, “Eros, honored without reservation and obeyed unconditionally, becomes a demon…what costlier offering can be laid on love’s altar than one’s conscience?”

How many homes have been decimated, honor betrayed, and hearts vitiated--in the name of “love”? Eros must be submitted to Christ and His word. And when it is, it is glorious.
Rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love (Proverbs 5:18b-19).
Healthy marriage will also enjoy what the Greeks called storge. This, Lewis correlates to affection. Genuine, mutual affection fosters enduring, healthy marriage. In fact, Lewis points out,
As for erotic love, I can imagine nothing more disagreeable than to experience it for more than a very short time without this homespun clothing of affection. Appreciative love [affection] lies, as it were, curled up asleep, and the mere ease and ordinariness of the relationship (free as solitude, yet neither is alone) wraps us round. No need to talk. No need to make love. No needs at all except perhaps to stir the fire. (The Four Loves)
Storge is content and tender. It is a kind of fondness or endearment. I saw storge in action just recently. As I drove through my home town I passed an elderly couple leisurely strolling, arms linked, lost in each other’s company. Were they holding each other for comfort or balance or both? Well, I can’t see how it matters one way or the other to storge. Affection is like that. It is altogether unassuming. Have you ever glimpsed storge in a facial expression, brush of the hand, or tone of the voice? Every marriage needs a healthy dose of storge.

Every marriage also needs philia or phileo. This, of course, is where Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” gets its name. Philia best corresponds to friendship. The best marriages are those between best friends. Lewis remarks, “Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.” Friends love each other for who they truly are: no masks, no pretenses.

Who knows or understands each other better than lifelong covenant companions? Friends share almost everything. They delight in each other’s company. There is no fear between friends. Friends stick together and stand up for each other. Friends don’t always see eye to eye and sometimes they fight. But they fight fair. And they never cease loving. Friends respect each other. They respect each other’s thoughts, feelings, and individuality. Find a healthy marriage and you will discover two friends.

Finally, agape is essential to Christian marriage. Here, Lewis is speaking of that which he calls “Divine love” [as opposed to the aforementioned “natural loves”] or “charity.” You will notice that up to this paragraph I have employed the term “healthy marriage,” but now have used “Christian marriage.” This is not an inconsistency.

The love of God shared with and between spouses sets healthy Christian marriage apart from healthy non Christian marriage. We are not saying that agape is absent or entirely distinct from the natural loves. Rather, agape, godly love, inheres in the Christian and elevates the Christian’s natural loves. Thus the Christian spouse is a godly lover, companion, and friend.

Therefore, the Christian spouse does not experience or express less of the natural loves, but more. Lewis writes, “Charity does not dwindle into merely natural love but natural love is taken up into, made the tuned and obedient instrument of, Love Himself. Nothing is either too trivial or too animal to be thus transformed.”

May each of us--married, widowed, or single--determine to delight ourselves in the God who is Love and in His holy gift of marriage. (Yes, the widowed or the single can indeed rejoice in the divine institution of matrimony.) And may His love in Christ transform us each and every day to the praise of His glory alone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lost In Space

Do you believe in aliens? Every so often I am asked this question. I typically respond in the affirmative, that not only do I believe in aliens but I see them rather frequently and have, on occasion, even communicated with them. 

At this point, my inquisitor usually chuckles and explains that he is not referring to people from other countries, but rather intelligent life from other planets. Obviously, such a qualification makes a world of difference. 

The real quandary is this: Is there intelligent life on other planets? Of this, the scriptures are silent. Nowhere, despite spurious claims to the contrary, does the Bible speak of extraterrestrials or space aliens. Theology is quiet and science is ignorant concerning intelligent life on other planets, and therefore the matter is highly speculative.  

Thus I am amazed when I hear it said, “If we discover other intelligent life, it will disprove all religion.   

One has to wonder why this would be so. Christians discovered intelligent life on unknown continents a few centuries ago. This startling discovery didn’t hurt the Christian faith in the least. Why should the discovery of intelligent life on unknown planets be any different?  

Furthermore, the notion that finding intelligent beings in space would be evidence against the existence of God, seems to overlook the obvious: We already know—beyond all reasonable doubt—that intelligent life exists in space. Where in the world are Earth and earthlings located if not in space? 

Some suggest that Christianity would be disproved by extraterrestrials because man would no longer be the “center of the universe.”            

This is a rather odd assertion, because “man as the center of the universe” or “man as the measure of all things” is the product of the Enlightenment, not Christianity. According to the Christian faith, God is the center of the universe, the measure of all things; not man. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). If there is intelligent life on other planets, it exists to the glory of God, as does life on Earth.            

Strangely, I’ve observed self-proclaimed “agnostics” become quite dogmatic with the insistence that alien life must exist due to the immensity of the universe. I do not find the argument from immensity to be compelling. Because something is big it must be inhabited? I don’t follow the logic. God made the universe for His glory alone. Why shouldn’t it be immense?  

The universe declares the glory of God and immensity is what one should expect. If there is intelligent life on other planets, it does not exist because the universe is so big that it begs for occupancy. If it exists, it exists to further God’s glory. 

Similarly, I’ve also heard it said, “To believe that we are the only intelligent life in the universe is arrogant.”  

I would be more inclined to listen to the assertion, were it spoken with more humility. It seems that those who believe in space aliens are no more or less humble, no more or less self-centered, than those who do not. But the fact remains: Other than anecdotal testimony, conspiracy theories, and philosophical musings, there is no evidence (scientific or theological) for a universe which teems with alien life.  

Nevertheless, despite the lack of concrete evidence, man yearns to find intelligent life on other planets. Why?  

One could cynically respond that man wants to find intelligent life on other planets because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find it on this one. But I suspect there’s more to it. Perhaps man wishes to find intelligent life in space because he rebelliously lives in alienation and isolation from God, and even from himself, right here on Earth.  

C. S. Lewis, who personally doubted alien life, wrote a space trilogy. In borrowing from the premise of these books, I offer the following observation: If there are intelligent beings on other planets, God in His wise providence has situated them astronomical distances—far, far away—from sinful man for their own preservation and well-being.  

In the final analysis, “Are we alone in the universe?” is a question the theist need not ask nor fear. He already knows the answer. Man is not alone. The universe is filled with the presence of God. The universe is teeming with life, perhaps not alien, but most certainly Divine.