Tuesday, May 26, 2020

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: A QUICK PRIMER ON THE TACTICS OF CHRISTIAN PERSECUTION

In February, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) gave a short speech proscribing how people of faith should conduct themselves. She delivered this speech at a House of Representatives' hearing on the Trump Administration's policies on same-sex and transgender issues. She brought up the case of Evan Minton, a transgender person, who unsuccessfully applied to a Catholic hospital in California to have a hysterectomy. Even though Evan Minton was successful in having one at another hospital, Evan Minton sued the Catholic hospital for discrimination. A trial court sided with the hospital, which stated that it does not perform sterilization procedures and this policy is protected by its First Amendment rights. The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned the trial court decision, ruling that Minton was illegally denied medical care. The Court of Appeal stated that it made no difference if the hospital was motivated by religious conviction. Here is a link to the background of the case. The source is actually a site supportive of Minton's legal argument.

In her 3:44 second speech, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez begins by stating she doesn't know whether to speak as a legislator or as a women of faith (1st 18 seconds). I'll let that pass with a question: are the two mutually exclusive?

From 19-53 seconds, she introduces the theme by which she hopes to suppress Evangelical belief in the innate differences between men and women. She declares that scripture is being used to "weaponize" bigotry. She correctly points out that slave holders, white supremacists, and those who opposed integrating schools claimed the Bible supported their bigoted views on race. But then she engages in the progressive canard that links the Church's traditional views on sexuality and gender differences with racial discrimination. Her aim is to shame Evangelicals into silence on these issues as well as justify government harassment of those Evangelicals who dare to oppose her viewpoint. Later on, she will use the Minton case to further her objectives.

From 54 seconds to 1:30, the Congresswoman speaks of Christ's message: loving our neighbor and our enemy, welcoming strangers into our midst. She quotes Jesus telling the Disciples that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. She then declares that if Jesus proclaimed this message in the halls of Congress, he would be maligned as a radical and would not be welcome. Lets us suppose for a second that Jesus' message and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's progressive economics are one and the same. If that is the case, how did she manage to become a member of Congress? But her message and Jesus' are not one and the same, and I digress. From 1:31 to 2:04, Ocasio-Cortez declares that all people are holy, all people are sacred. Unconditionally. It is this belief, she claims, that transforms us. I know these were only opening remarks, but she gives us no grounds to agree that all men and women are holy. She doesn't define what a holy or sacred person is.

All people are sacred in that we are all created in the image of the triune God (Gen 1: 26-28). But a person is not to be considered holy irregardless of how that person lives. A holy person is one who lives out holiness in their own bodies, their own conduct. "Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.' " (1Pet. 1: 13-16, NKJV)  All Christ followers are transformed, but not because of their beliefs concerning others. In Gal. 2:20, Paul reveals the source of our transformation: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (NKJV)

From 2:05-2:30, the Congresswoman speaks in general terms in her attempt to stigmatize the Catholic hospital for not performing a hysterectomy on Evan Minton. She states that there is nothing holy about a hospital refusing to give medical care to those in need. Then from 2:31-3:20, she goes in for the rhetorical kill. She specifically links the Catholic hospital's course of action to religious bigotry and sexual discrimination. She states that Evan Minton should receive the same treatment she would be entitled to. According to her, the hospital refused treatment because Evan Minton is transgender, not because of any Christian convictions. And when any Christian institution, or individual Christian, defends religious liberty, it is only to support bigotry. So says Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When a Christian institution defends its First Amendment rights, it is because that institution has been weaponized. And she is tired of this. In other words: Christians, don't dare defend your right to practice your beliefs because the Congresswoman has declared her intention to shame you into submission. And if shame fails to produce the desired outcome, government power will be employed to coerce conformity to progressive ideals. She even confers upon herself the power to decide what is a true community of faith, and what is a corrupted, or weaponized Christian institution. Religious convictions are nothing more than excuses to discriminate. So much for considering traditional Christians 'holy and sacred.."

Some Christians might object to my use of the term "Christian Persecution" to describe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's use of her office to shame traditional Christianity into silence and submission. They might accuse me of trivializing the trials of our brothers and sisters overseas. I understand that. I used to agree with them. My position concerning the use of the term has changed. I will address why I changed my position in a future post.      

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A.W. TOZER CONFRONTS "THE OPENNESS OF GOD THEOLOGY"

No. A.W. Tozer never commented on  "The Openness of God" theology, or "Openness theology." This theology developed long after A.W. Tozer went to heaven. Openness theology claims that God is not omniscient in knowledge concerning the future, therefore the future contains several contingencies. While Tozer did not have any contact with openness theology, he certainly had a theological response to it, as well as the notion that God could not determine the future. Writing about God's infinitude, Tozer states:

If there were a point where God stopped, then God wouldn't be perfect. For instance, if God knew almost everything, but not quite everything, then God wouldn't be perfect in knowledge. His understanding wouldn't be infinite, as it says in Psalm 147:5.  
Let us take all that can be known--past, present and future, spiritual, psychic and physical--everywhere throughout the universe. And let us say God knows all of it except one percent--He knows ninety-nine percent of all that can be known. I'd be embarrassed to go to Heaven and look into the face of a God that didn't know everything. He has to know it all, or I can't worship Him. I cant worship that which is not perfect.
What about power? If God had all the power there is except a little bit, and if somebody else had a little bit of power hoarded that God couldn't get to, then we couldn't worship God. We couldn't say this God is of infinite power because He wouldn't be of infinite power; He'd just be close to it. While He would be more powerful than any other being and perhaps even more powerful than all the beings of the universe lumped together, He still would have a defect, and therefore He couldn't be God. Our God is perfect--perfect in knowledge and power.

Attributes of God, vol. 1.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A WORD FROM JOHN WESLEY AND OSWALD CHAMBERS CONCERNING "SINLESS" PERFECTION

From Conformed to His Image by Oswald Chambers:

"The doctrine of sinless perfection and consequent freedom from temptation runs on the line that because I am sanctified, I cannot now do wrong. If that is so, you cease to be a man. If God put us in such a condition that we could not disobey, our obedience would be of no value to Him. But blessed be His name when by His redemption the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, He gives us something to do to manifest it. Just as human nature is put to the test in the actual circumstances of life, so the love of God in us is put to the test. 'Keep yourselves in the love of God,' says Jude, that is keep your soul open not only to the fact that God loves you, but that He is in you, in you sufficiently to manifest His perfect love in every condition in which you can find yourself as you rely upon Him."

Critics of John Wesley's doctrine of Sanctification, or Perfect Love, maintain that the doctrine claims that those who have been sanctified have reached a state of "sinless" perfection. Unfortunately, that misconception has mislead many in Wesleyan holiness fellowships. When I was in seminary, another student spoke in class concerning a person in his congregation who claimed to have been sanctified twenty years before and had not sinned since. This quote from Chambers serves as an adequate rebuke to such foolish thinking. I don't know if Chambers' views on sanctification matched Wesley's, or if he attributed to Wesley the erroneous notion of "sinless" perfection. But if you believe that Wesley taught such a notion, read these quotes from John Wesley's A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, and decide for yourself if Chamber's quote would have been approved by Wesley:

  “We...believe that there is no such perfection in this life, as implies an entire deliverance, either from ignorance, or mistake, in things not essential to salvation, or from manifold temptations, or from numberless infirmities, which the corruptible body more or less presses down on the soul.  We cannot find any ground in Scripture to suppose, that any inhabitant of a house of clay is wholly exempt from bodily infirmities, or from ignorance of many things; or to imagine any is incapable of mistake, or falling into many temptations.”

“In one sense we do not, while all our tempers, and thoughts, and words, and works, spring from love.  But in another we do, and shall do, more or less, as long as we remain in the body.  For neither love nor the ‘unction of the Holy One’ makes us infallible: therefore, through unavoidable defect of understanding, we cannot but mistake in many things.  And these mistakes will frequently occasion something wrong, both in our temper, and words, and actions.  From mistaking his character, we may love a person less than he really deserves.  And by the same mistake we are unavoidably led to speak or act, with regard to that person, in such a manner as is contrary to this law in some or other of the preceding instances.” 

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A WORD FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS ON THE IMPUTATION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

From Conformed to His Image by Oswald Chambers:

" '...unto whom God imputed righteousness without works. Romans iv, 6.'

To impute means 'to attribute vicariously' ; it is a theological word.The revelation made by the Apostle Paul, viz, that God imputes righteousness to us, is the great truth at the basis of all our Protestant theology; we are apt to forget this today. Righteousness means living and acting in accordance with right and justice, that is, it must express itself in a man's bodily life. 'Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous' (1 John iii, 7). Imputed righteousness must never be made to mean that God puts the robe of His righteousness over our moral wrong, like a snow drift over a rubbish heap; that He pretends we are all right when we are not. The revelation is that 'Christ Jesus is made unto us, righteousness' ; it is the distinct impartation of the very life of Jesus on the ground of the Atonement, enabling me to walk in the light, as God is in the light, and as long as I remain in the light God sees only the perfections of His Son. We are ' accepted in the Beloved.' "   

Thursday, April 2, 2020

WESLEY BIBLICAL SEMINARY HAS A NEW PRESIDENT

As a 2004 graduate of Wesley Biblical Seminary, I like to stay informed about whats going on in the life of the seminary. WBS has just announced the selection of a new President. He is Dr. Matt Ayers. He has degrees from Asbury University, WBS, and St. Johns College in Nottingham. He has served the past eight years as President of Emmaus University of Haiti. He has written extensively on holiness and other aspects of Wesleyan theology. He has also published articles on the Old Testament in numerous academic journals. Dr. Ayers follows Dr. John Neihof as President. Dr. Neihof passed away suddenly last year. My prayers go out to Dr. Ayers and WBS as they embark on a new chapter in WBS's history. Thanks to Asbury Seminary professor and former WBS professor, Dr. John N. Oswalt, who served as interim President this past year.

Also, WBS has partnered with other institutions to form the John and Charles Wesley Center, a site dedicated to promoting Wesleyan theology in a 21st century context. The center has produced an outstanding series of devotions for Lent. They can be found at the website's link provided above.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

HUM AUR TUM, OR, IS 'OLD' BOLLYWOOD SMARTER THAN UNIVERSITY PROGRESSIVES?

As I return to blogging, I never thought I would illustrate a point with a link to a Bollywood musical number.

Hum Aur Tum is a romantic song from the film Daag (1973) starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore. From the little information I could find, the title beginning the song and the second line could be translated as "I am the man, you are the woman," "You are the woman, I am the man," or, "I am the man, you are my woman." If the song expresses sexist stereotypes, I wouldn't know, since I don't know the words to the whole song. However, I can say that the song does contain one assumption that should be evident to all. That assumption being that there are innate differences between men and women. Furthermore, declaring oneself to be the biological opposite of the gender you are born with cannot make you become someone of the opposite sex. This should not be a controversial statement. But it is in some quarters. Especially among progressives who have taken over our universities and social media.

If you doubt me on this, let me bring the trials of Caroline Farrow , to your attention. She is a British Catholic who debated a mother whose son now claims to be a female. During the debate, Caroline Farrow referred to the woman's son as him or his. The mother threatened legal action against Farrow and a vicious social media campaign has made Farrow's life and that of her family miserable. She has even been contacted by the police. After several weeks, the police informed her that she would not be prosecuted.

Or take the example of the American professor, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether. Here is how the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing him, described his circumstances:

"Dr. Nicholas Meriwether has served as a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University for over 20 years.
And until recently, he did so without a blemish on his record. Last fall, however, Shawnee State launched an investigation into Dr. Meriwether, formally punished him, and placed a warning in his file – claiming he “created a hostile environment.”
So what changed?
Dr. Meriwether refers to his students as “sir” or “ma’am” or by a title (Mr. or Miss, for example) followed by their last name. He does this to create a respectful environment in the classroom.
But this considerate practice is exactly what landed him in trouble with university officials.
One day after class, a male student approached Dr. Meriwether and demanded to be referred to by female pronouns because the student identifies as a woman. When Dr. Meriwether did not immediately agree to do so, the student became aggressive, circling around him, getting in his face, and threatening to get Dr. Meriwether fired. The student then filed a complaint with the university.
As a Christian, Dr. Meriwether believes that God has created humans in his image, as male or female. So, he offered a compromise. He would refer to the student by first or last name only – respecting his own convictions as well as the student’s.
But that was not enough for Shawnee State officials. They demanded that Dr. Meriwether refer to this student as a woman or risk losing his job."

So we see that the Christian expression of what is evident to the overwhelming majority of humanity is under attack in the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Europe.  And the time will come when those targeting any expression of the differences between men and women will target other cultures. Even "new" Bollywood may be forced to change its tune. (For all I know, it already has. I don't watch anything Bollywood has produced after 1980.) So, enjoy Hum Aur Tum, even if you don't know the words, and other songs with similar themes, while you can. (I particularly enjoy the part starting at 31 seconds to 36 seconds; Sharmila Tagore has a killer smile. I always get a kick out of the ending, 3:23 - 3:40.) These songs not only celebrate the differences between men and women, they would not exist without the acknowledgement of those differences. While many progressives can't accept something so obvious, at least Bollywood gets it. At least "Old" Bollywood does.   

Here is the link to Hum Aur Tum.

Update: Dr. Meriwether , represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, filed a suit against Shawnee State. Unfortunately, the judge in the case sided with the University, ruling that Dr. Meriwether can be compelled to express beliefs he does not hold. Dr. Meriwether and his legal team plan to appeal. See here for a link to a post from ADF. 3/14/20.

    




Monday, December 17, 2018

BEEN GONE AWHILE

It's been almost a year since I have posted on this blog. I am about to return soon.