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Why Political Speech Is Inappropriate from the Pulpit!

For years now, I have been criticizing the preaching of politics from the pulpit. Why? What's so wrong with talking about issues and can...

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Regression of CGI

After having had several articles accepted for publication in the Church of God International's quarterly newspaper The International News, it has been extremely disheartening to see that organization slide back into some of the intolerant, highly partisan, anti-intellectual and racist attitudes which characterized the ghost of Armstrongism past. Instead of growing in grace and knowledge, it is painfully obvious that CGI has decided to return to their proverbial vomit.

It is hard now to believe that once upon a time they accepted an article from me with the thesis that God is not a Republican or Democrat - that "He" is not a Capitalist or a Socialist. In the most recent issue of their newspaper, the following answer was proffered to someone who had inquired about the church's stance on the current occupant of the Oval Office:
"I would ask the question, If Jesus was born in our time and in our culture today, how would He advise one to vote?"
"...do you think He would be in favor of overthrowing our Constitution and Bill of Rights in favor of Socialism or Communism, which would negate the very right to vote at all?"
"Supporting, enabling and/or encouraging illegal immigration is, therefore, a violation of God's Word. What is the biblical solution to illegal immigration? Simple - don't do it; obey the laws. Illegal immigration is, quite simply, a sin..."
"One political party seems to advocate, 'no borders, everybody is welcome, and everything is free,' while the other says we need to stick to our constitution and the law. Which is closer to what the Bible says?"

I guess God is a Republican after all!

Likewise, in their most recent offering for their program Armor of God, Pastor Adrian Davis delivers a message on "Resisting Postmodernism." Davis clearly believes that God is on the side of the Capitalists, and that Socialism is synonymous with communism and dictatorship. He reminds us that science doesn't have the answers to the really important questions. He rails against philosophy, relativism and too much reliance on intellect.

I guess God is a Capitalist after all!

In previous posts on this blog, I've pointed out Pastor Bill Watson's rabid Trumpism, and his resurrection of the old Worldwide doctrine of Anglo-Israelism. Hence, I don't think that I'm being an alarmist when I point out CGI's regression. After a brief flirtation with more liberal notions, it appears that the organization is steadily drifting back toward Armstrong orthodoxy.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Jesus Christ on Religious Leaders

In the twenty-third chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we read that Jesus Christ made absolutely no attempt to spare the feelings of the religious leaders of his day in terms of what he had to say about them. In fact, he was quite blunt in his assessment of them. Of course, he knew that he wouldn't hurt anyone's feelings anyway! He knew that instead of eliciting sorrow or remorse, that his comments would engender anger and bitterness in them. "How dare this common, uneducated upstart challenge us?"

This is of particular interest when we consider just how prickly some of our modern Christian ministers/pastors are about any criticism of them or their ministries. Some of these folks absolutely flip when anyone dares to challenge one of God's servants (meaning them). Like the scribes/Pharisees/Sadducees before them, they believe that their critics are deserving of the severest censure/scorn and/or the Lake of Fire!

When I think about some of the pastors that I've known during my lifetime, Christ's criticisms of the religious leaders of his day are more meaningful to me. Christ said that they didn't practice what they preached. He said that they loved the honor and respect that were shown to them more than the joy of serving others. Christ called them hypocrites and said that they were an impediment to people entering God's Kingdom. He went on to say that they loved to win a convert and then often proceeded to make them even more reprehensible than they were themselves! Christ questioned their judgment and enjoined them to focus on the things that were really important (justice, mercy, faithfulness). In short, he wanted them to be less concerned about appearances and more concerned with the reality of their own greed and self-interest. Any of that sound familiar?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Those Pointy-headed Intellectuals!

Over the last fifty years, thousands of people have rejected Armstrongism and moved on to other things. Nevertheless, a significant percentage of them have retained their disdain for education, intellectual pursuits and science in general. Herbert Armstrong sought to undermine and/or destroy confidence in any authority other than himself. Sure, he professed to exalt the Bible as the final authority, but (like many before and after him) it was the Bible as HE understood it.

In reading through his writings now, one can see the tenacity and diligence Armstrong employed in discrediting the brilliant people of the world. Moreover, his motivation for doing so is quite obvious in hindsight. He couldn't have anyone competing for the hearts and minds of his followers. Intellectuals were a direct threat to the empire that this man of very limited education had created. These pointy-headed intellectuals might be stuffed with "worldly knowledge," but they were obviously IGNORANT of the stuff that really mattered.

Need some proof? Just take a few moments to peruse a few quotations from one of his greatest works - Mystery of the Ages:
"You live in a world seemingly far advanced in science, technology, higher education and diffusion of knowledge. People think it's a world of GREAT PROGRESS. We send men to cavort about on the moon and return them safely back to earth. Unmanned spacecraft land on Mars and send back to earth close-up photographs of the Martian surface. Other unmanned spacecraft fly close to Jupiter and send back astonishing pictures of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. Surgeons transplant human hearts and other organs.
It's a magic, entrancing push-button world where work is done largely by machines. It's the glamour dream world of the three "Ls" -- leisure, luxury and license.
But paradoxically, it s also a world of Ignorance! Even the educated know not how to solve their problems and the world's evils. They know not the way of PEACE or the TRUE VALUES of life!" --Mystery of the Ages (Introduction)

Evolutionists, educators, scientists, religionists have striven in vain to solve the mystery of the ages -- the origin of matter, the universe, and of man -- the mystery of humanity -- of awesome human accomplishment paradoxically paralleling human evils -- of great minds accomplishing the unbelievable while unable to solve human problems. --Mystery of the Ages (Introduction)

And now what of the scholarly of our Western world today? One would think, the most highly educated ought to know WHO and WHAT God is! Suppose you ask at random 100 university deans, "Do you believe in God?" Perhaps three or four would answer, "Oh, I believe in the existence of God -- as a 'first cause.'" But they cannot tell you WHO or WHAT God is! They cannot tell you what God is like! God is not real to them. In other words, he is a mystery. Perhaps another six or eight of the hundred will admit they are agnostics -- they do not know "for sure" whether God exists.
I have said that education has become a matter of memory instillation. From elementary grades to higher graduate levels of study, our educational systems inject ready-made concepts, ideologies and a mixture of facts and fables into the unsuspecting minds of children, youths and young adults. Students in our school systems are graded according to how well they accept, memorize and can recite or write in tests what has been taught -- whether true or false.
Modern education has given universal acceptance to the fable of evolution. --Mystery of the Ages (Chapter 1)

IT SEEMS incredible indeed! Higher education teaches technical courses in human physiology, anatomy, anthropology and psychology. The universities take man apart and study him minutely inch by inch. They study every facet and phase of man. They take the human brain apart and study it, yet the human mind remains a total mystery to even the most advanced psychologists. They do not know WHAT man is or WHY he came to be! That is the great Mystery Number 3 that has never been understood by humanity. --Mystery of the Ages (Chapter 3)

We ought to want to know! This is a mystery that has baffled higher education. Higher education during the twentieth century has come, with virtual unanimity, to accept the evolutionary theory. It no longer even considers the possibility of a designed and planned creation by a God of supreme mind, perfect intelligence, and limitless power. But the evolutionary theory cannot in any degree explain a paradoxical world of awesome accomplishment that is at the same time utterly helpless to solve its problems of mounting and continually escalating evils. It can give no purpose for human existence. Higher education contemptuously ignores, without any consideration whatsoever, the biblical truths revealing man's presence on the earth and the causes of the present state of civilization. Education in the civilized world today has become entirely materialistic. Education has become a combination of the agnosticism of evolution, the politics and economics of Karl Marx and the morals and social patterns of Sigmund Freud. Higher education remains in utter ignorance of the mystery of mankind and of human civilization.
But higher education does not know. And it doesn't want to know! When we invade the questions of WHAT and WHY, the intellectuals -- the custodians of KNOWLEDGE -- shy away or stand up and fight. Of the questions WHAT and WHY is man, they are willingly ignorant!
So, education shuts its mind, and its mouth in tight silence. Science doesn't know. Religion does not reveal for it also doesn't know! Yes, incredible -- but TRUE!" --Mystery of the Ages (Chapter 3)

And the hook - you can know what those "great" minds don't! It was an appeal to vanity. I can know more than these people who have devoted their whole lives to research and study, and all I have to do is take the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course and read a few books/booklets! Those poor, stupid, pointy-headed intellectuals will be taking orders from me in the Kingdom!

Hmmm, maybe it's time to acknowledge that they call them experts for a reason? Maybe there is some merit in consulting the views of someone who has a degree from a "worldly" college/university? Is it possible that an Anglican Doctor of Divinity might know more about the Judeo-Christian Scriptures than you do? You don't have to surrender your right to reach your own conclusions about things to acknowledge that there may be a few folks in the world who might be a tad smarter than you are! And I think that's called wisdom and humility!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

God, the Environmentalist

In reviewing some of the comments regarding climate change here and over at Banned by HWA, it is apparent to me that many Christians do not believe that man has made a significant contribution to the problem. From my perspective, this is consistent with a tendency on the part of many Christians to align themselves with the views of ultra-conservative, right-leaning Republicans. Moreover, the roots of this affinity seem to be traced to a shared belief that God created everything for the benefit and enjoyment of mankind and placed man in charge of nature and ordered him to subdue it. And, when they bother to attempt to justify these notions, it seems that the vast majority of these folks hearken back to the first two chapters of the book of Genesis.

Nevertheless, this blogger (along with many other Christians) wishes to make clear that he does not subscribe to such an interpretation of Scripture or share these views of human responsibility toward our natural environment. From my perspective, a Divine pronouncement of satisfaction with the finished product - that everything that had been created was "very good" - suggests little or no room for improvement by anyone else! Moreover, in the second chapter of Genesis, we are told that "God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it" - not to uproot and destroy it!

And, when we look at the history of mankind's impact on his environment, we have to wonder how anyone could conclude that we haven't had a significant impact on every part of that environment. We know, for instance, that humans in the Western Hemisphere are directly responsible for the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon (formerly the most numerous species of bird in North America), the American Chestnut, the American Elm and most recently several of our native species of Ash trees (admittedly, a few sick/dying specimens of these once dominant tree species remain). We have wiped out over ninety percent of our virgin/old-growth forests and came close to wiping out the American Buffalo and Bald Eagle. The former range of bears, wolves and panthers has been greatly reduced. And what about the current state of our ground water, rivers, lakes and oceans (the amount of pollutants in all of these waters is truly staggering). Hence, is it even within the realm of credibility to suggest that all of the gases and fumes that we have released into our atmosphere have not had any impact?

It is ironic that many of these so-called Christians look forward to Judgment Day or the Second Coming (different folks frame those events in different ways), but ignore some of the warnings implicit in the scriptures which talk about them. In one of those instances, we read: "The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”  (Revelation 11:18) Yes, I'm fairly confident that God is an environmentalist!