Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Overwhelmed by Floods of Heterodoxy: Faulty Arguments Against Hating Hillary

Yes, I know. Jesus said we are to love our enemies and pray for those who despitefully abuse us and curse us. I guess that means I have a biblical mandate to "love" Hillary Clinton. However, the author of the editorial, "Hating Hillary: Getting to the bottom of a cultural trend that has seeped into the church," seeks to equivocate and misdirect. On the surface his argument seems to be a genuinely "Christian" one. However, if we dig a little deeper we can see this as the sophistry it really is.

Jesus never intends that we should "love" our enemies in the same way that we love our wives or our family. In fact, the Koine Greek word Jesus uses in Matthew 5:44 is "agapao." Basically, the context of the usage of this word determines its precise connotation. Since in Matthew 5:44 the context is God's general love for all mankind by taking care of basic needs, i.e. God gives sunshine and rain to all humanity in general, we are likewise to have a general concern for all of our fellow humankind. This is not to say that we must feel some deep affection for our enemies. I am certainly concerned for muslim extremists and terrorists and the worst criminals in our prisons today. I pray that they will be changed and converted to a worldview more humane and beneficial to the world. In the same way, I would hope that Hillary Clinton would stop supporting the murder of the unborn.

I have a genuine concern for those who support violence, those who are my political and religious enemies. I love my enemies in so much as I pray for their regeneration and conversion to Jesus Christ. However, the sentimentalism and false view of the editorial is just plain wrong and twists and distorts biblical Christianity into something it just is not.

For example, Scripture is mostly interpreted to mean that sometimes war is based on a just cause or in the case of the Old Testament, a "holy" cause. In the same way, conservative Christians are in a culture war against the paganism of liberal Christianity which seems to conform more to the ways of the world than to the law of God. While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama give us plenty of "God" talk, this hardly indicates that either of them have been genuinely regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

We can legitimately objectify the validity of someone's conversion by the words they speak, since out of the heart the mouth speaks. Thus, we know that pornographers are not yet converted by their words and actions. Likewise, we can know that a "liberal christian" has not yet been converted by their words and actions. A Christian would never support the murder of the unborn or the aberrant behaviors of sexual deviants and perverts who practice homosexuality, pedophilia, cross dressing, transgenderism or a host of other morally deplorable behaviors. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:15-20).

It is true that we do not have the power to condemn souls to hell and therefore we are not to "judge" because when we wish God to damn someone else to hell, we bring God's judgment upon our own heads. We are to pray for our enemies to be saved and not that God would condemn them to hell (Matthew 7:1ff). It is indeed revealing that where we are told not to condemn others, verses 15 to 20 tell us that we can indeed "know them by their fruits." Apparently discernment and insight are not the same thing as trying to condemn someone in the judgment.

Yes, sophistry is the correct word for this article. I have to wonder if the editor understands biblical theology at all? He seems to think that sin is something that we have the power to control on our own since he remarks that:

  • While the loudest political voices this election season will keep only a loose rein on their tongues, evangelicals do well to ponder the Bible's insights into the mysterious yet profound connection between a person's heart and mouth: "The things that come out of the mouth," says Jesus, "come from the heart." Which is why Paul says, "Now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips" (Col. 3:8). Biblical psychology assumes not only that the words of our mouths reveal the state of our hearts, but that words have power to shape the heart—for better or worse.

  • http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/march/14.26.html

There is no verse in the Scriptures that would even remotely suggest that we have the power to change the state of our own hearts simply by the words that we speak. This is implicitly pelagianism at its worst. The idea that we are sinners simply by the words or actions we use or do is appalling. The Scriptures say that we must be born again and that only the Spirit of God has the power to change sinful human hearts:

  • 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [1] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [2] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You [3] must be born again.’ 8 The wind [4] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3:8, ESV)

  • http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=John+3%3A3-8

This is not to say that we are not morally accountable to God for our words and our actions. We definitely are accountable to God since Scripture everywhere commands us to do good and to obey God. This is different, however, from saying that we have the ability to change our own hearts or to overcome the sinful nature in our own strength or by our own efforts. Clearly, God is the only one who change the spots on a leopard or the sinfulness of the human heart.

Evangelicalism is losing its prophetic edge precisely because we want to be accepted by the world. We want to fit in and and we want to be liked and seen as compassionate as individuals and as a church. Be that as it may, accommodating to the moral relativism of society at large is not an option for us as individuals or as a communion of churches. Articles like this one in Christianity Today is merely a smoke screen for compromise. Trying to bait and switch the issue from Hillary's positions on biblical ethics and morality to how we speak about her politics and her religion is logically fallacious if not outright deceptive.

Of course we should treat even our enemies with respect. However, that is not the same as having affection for them. I personally have no affection for Hillary. John McCain has some affection and respect for her because he knows her in person. Give the man an award for having a truly Christian attitude. McCain makes the right distinctions. He said that while he respects Obama and Clinton and their right to their own convictions, that in no way entails that he should embrace their political views. We Christians ought to be able to make those same kinds of distinctions without having some editorial place false accusations of "hatred" against us.

And if we are going to attack those who "hate" in the political arena, why has Christianity Today not spoken up against those who "hate" George W. Bush? Has anyone watched Bill Maher's show on HBO? Talk about hate, ridicule and verbal assault. The man has no respect for God or anyone else. One has to conclude that Maher has no respect for himself either. If Maher is a spokesman for Hillary Clinton and the political left, then it seems to me that the political left is as bad if not worse than the pundits speaking on the far right such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

The short of it is that each time I read popular Evangelical magazines like Christianity Today I have greater cause for alarm and concern for biblical Christianity's survival. Rather than solid theology what we see is increasingly ambiguous thinking and sloppy agape. Even a child can read the Scriptures and see through the sophistry expressed in this editorial. To the editor/editors at Christianity Today I can only say, "PLEASE!" How stupid do you think Christians are these days? Apparently the answer is, "Very stupid."

May God have mercy!

[Could Hillary win the religious vote?
Despite her genuine Methodist upbringing and honest-to-God faith credentials, the skepticism toward her among believers is deep and enduring. Her best hope among values voters: That they stay home on Election Day. http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/11/could-hillary-w.html From USA Today. Photo courtesy of USA Today].

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