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As anyone with even a cursory familiarity with the Judeo-Christian Bible knows, that book is composed of a collection of writings which were...

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Our Quest To Understand

Throughout the history of humankind, we have sought to understand ourselves, our world, the cosmos and God. In modern times, we have employed the scientific method to get at the answers we seek; but we have always employed comparisons to help us to understand things. Our units of measurement were originally based on body parts, amounts of water or alcoholic beverages, the temperature at which water boils or freezes, the distance between two points, the length of a day here on earth, etc. We classify plants and animals based on their similarities to/differences from each other. We say that someone is tall or short compared to the height of the average man or woman. We often seek to understand things by comparing them to two extremes (e.g. hot/cold, acid/alkaline, infinite/finite, etc.). In short, when we attempt to explain/describe/define/measure something (and to truly understand anything, one must be able to explain/describe/define/measure it), we always resort to some type of comparison.

In the realm of trying to understand God, we have often resorted to the basic formula that Man is less than God or God > Man. Likewise, we reason that the Creator must of necessity be greater than that which has been created. With these simple comparisons, we attempt to explain/describe/define/measure the notion of God. From these things, we deduce that God must supersede space, time and gravity - that "HE" must be omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Some of us have even reasoned that since we are the "highest life-form" on this planet that God must look and act like us. But we would do well to stop and ask ourselves: How close to truly understanding God do these elemental comparisons really get us?

Yet, When Zophar confronted his friend Job, he resorted to the only thing available to him - comparisons. "Can you solve the mysteries of God? Can you discover everything about the Almighty? Such knowledge is higher than the heavens—and who are you? It is deeper than the underworld—what do you know? It is broader than the earth and wider than the sea." (Job 11:7-9)

In considering these things, I'm reminded of some questions that were asked long ago in the book of Isaiah: "To whom can you compare God? What image can you find to resemble him?" (40:18) and "'To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?' asks the Holy One." (40:25)

For those who think that they have God figured out, you may want to reconsider your confidence in your notions about God. Truly, God cannot be contained!

Monday, December 23, 2019

A Christmas Carol

A post that was originally posted over at The Painful Truth Blog five years ago recently made another appearance there. The post by Butler Shaffer was titled "The Case for Ebenezer Scrooge" (the principal character from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol). Shaffer informs us that he "decided that Mr. Dickens had given Ebenezer Scrooge an undeserved reputation for villainy." According to Shaffer, the "true heroes" of that age were the industrialists and the financiers. Thus, in his attempt to vindicate Scrooge, he mounts a passionate defense of Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution.

Shaffer accuses Dickens of launching an ad hominem attack against his client, but his defense sounds more like an ad hominem attack against Dickens, Bob Cratchett, the spirits and Socialists in general! Cratchett is transformed into an unambitious and lazy person who is content to stagnate, instead of a person trapped by the circumstances of the larger labor market, geography and his own education (In other words, there probably wasn't another job just waiting for him around the corner as the author implies).

He characterizes Mr. Dickens allegations as being concerned with Scrooge's wealth, and the fact that he insisted on retaining it for his own use. Shaffer dismisses the obvious objective of the author: To cause Scrooge to take a second look at his "materialistic pursuits" which "had rendered him an unhappy person." Contrary to what Shaffer alleges, Mr. Dickens is concerned with making Mr. Scrooge a happier and more productive person.

The Capitalist system and industrialization which it produced gave rise to several problems. It obviously encouraged greed and materialism (one of the points Dickens made in this piece). It also led to immobility (as evidenced by Cratchett's circumstances). The formation of monopolies distorted the marketplace and prevented it from functioning according to the supply/demand model. Likewise, this system gave rise to an inefficient use of resources and environmental damage. And, finally it gave rise to a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the boom and bust cycle which has plagued the entire history of its operation.

The problem is that: although we humans are often characterized as rational beings, we don't always act rationally! We don't always act in our self-interest either. Humans are also emotional beings. We are, thankfully, also occasionally motivated by things like love, compassion, mercy, empathy and kindness. Mr. Dickens was trying to acquaint his principal character with that other side of what made him human.

And, just for the record, Scrooge did not receive condemnation at the hands of Mr. Dickens - He received redemption! Scrooge finally learned the lesson that there is more to life than making and accumulating money.

What does all of this have to do with a blog about God? As I've said many times over the past few years (and it bears repeating), GOD IS NOT A CAPITALIST OR A SOCIALIST! Both of these economic systems were designed by humans for humans, and neither one of them is anywhere near perfect. God does not endorse Supply-side Economics, and the Bible is not the source for concepts like the "Invisible Hand" or tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. And, just as you can be a Christian and be a Capitalist, you can also be a Socialist and still be on God's side! Capitalism does not equal righteousness, and Socialism does not equal evil! Apparently, this is super hard for some folks to grasp.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Do Christians have anything to learn from the Jewish festival of Hanukkah?

Tonight, Jews around the world began their celebration of Hanukkah - that celebration will conclude at sundown on Monday, December 30. And, although there has been some interest among a few Christians regarding the festivals outlined in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus, the festivals of Purim and Hanukkah have elicited almost no interest from the Christian community.

I believe this is unfortunate, because it underscores Christian ignorance about the religious and cultural traditions of which Jesus and his followers were a part. In the tenth chapter of the gospel of John, we read that "it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon's porch." (John 10:22-23) So here we have a direct reference to Christ observing this festival (it commemorates the re-dedication of the second temple by the Maccabees).

I suspect that the festival is dismissed by many Christians because it appears outside of the canon of the Bible among the writings commonly referred to as the Apocrypha (I & II Maccabees). It should be noted, however, that this history and festival was embraced by the Jewish people and was an integral part of the traditions into which Christ and his early followers were born. Moreover, the story and traditions surrounding this festival are crucial to understanding and properly interpreting other parts of the Judeo-Christian canon.

The book of Daniel outlined the history of several world empires. One of the empires referenced there was that of the Greeks. In accordance with what is recorded in that book, after the death of Alexander the Great, his kingdom was divided among his generals. Ptolemy took Egypt and established a dynasty there. Likewise, Seleucus took Syria and established a dynasty there.

One of Seleucus' successors, a man known to history as Antiochus IV Epiphanes, attempted to force the Jews (Judea was part of his kingdom) to abandon their religion and adopt Greek customs. He even took over the temple and placed an idol (the abomination of desolation) in the holiest part of that edifice. This, of course, was abhorrent to devout Jews and engendered a great deal of resistance to his rule.

To make a long story short, one family (the Hasmoneans or Maccabees) eventually defeated the Syrian Greeks and liberated the temple. According to Chabad.org, "Judah and his followers built a new altar, which he dedicated on the twenty-fifth of the month of Kislev, in the year 3622 (139 B.C.E.). Since the golden Menorah had been stolen by the Syrians, the Maccabees now made one of cheaper metal. When they wanted to light it, they found only a small cruse of pure olive oil bearing the seal of the High Priest Yochanan. It was sufficient to light only for one day. By a miracle of G‑d, it continued to burn for eight days, till new oil was made available. That miracle proved that G‑d had again taken His people under His protection. In memory of this, our sages appointed these eight days for annual thanksgiving and for lighting candles." https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102978/jewish/The-Story-of-Chanukah.htm

Should Christians be interested in a festival that portrays the restoration of the proper worship of the true God? Also, is there anything in the festival's preoccupation with light that might be of interest to Christians? After all, doesn't the gospel according to John tell us that Jesus was "the light of men" - a light shining in the darkness? (John 1:4-9) Wasn't Jesus reported to have declared that he was "the light of the world" and that those who followed him would not walk in darkness? (John 8:12) I may be wrong, but this one looks like it might be worthy of a closer look by Christians!  

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Are Christians Headed for Heaven?

The following is an excerpt from an interesting article (The New Testament Doesn't Say What Most People Think It Does About Heaven) that appeared on Yahoo and was taken from a Time article of 16 December 2019 (originally authored by retired Anglican Bishop Nicholas T. Wright):

"The followers of the Jesus-movement that grew up in that complex environment saw “heaven” and “earth” — God’s space and ours, if you like — as the twin halves of God’s good creation. Rather than rescuing people from the latter in order to reach the former, the creator God would finally bring heaven and earth together in a great act of new creation, completing the original creative purpose by healing the entire cosmos of its ancient ills. They believed that God would then raise his people from the dead, to share in — and, indeed, to share his stewardship over — this rescued and renewed creation. And they believed all this because of Jesus.

They believed that with the resurrection of Jesus this new creation had already been launched. Jesus embodied in himself the perfect fusion of “heaven” and “earth.” In Jesus, therefore, the ancient Jewish hope had come true at last. The point was not for us to “go to heaven,” but for the life of heaven to arrive on earth. Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven.” From as early as the third century, some Christian teachers tried to blend this with types of the Platonic belief, generating the idea of “leaving earth and going to heaven,” which became mainstream by the Middle Ages. But Jesus’ first followers never went that route.

Israel’s scriptures had long promised that God would come back in person to dwell with his people for ever. The early Christians picked this up: “The Word became flesh,” declares John [1:14], “and dwelt in our midst.” The word for “dwelt” means, literally, “tabernacled,” “pitched his tent” — alluding to the wilderness “tabernacle” in the time of Moses and the Temple built by Solomon. Studying the New Testament historically, in its own world (as opposed to squashing and chopping it to fit with our own expectations), shows that the first Christians believed not that they would “go to heaven when they died,” but that, in Jesus, God had come to live with them.

That was the lens through which they saw the hope of the world. The book of Revelation ends, not with souls going up to heaven, but with the New Jerusalem coming down to earth, so that “the dwelling of God is with humans.” The whole creation, declares St. Paul, will be set free from its slavery to corruption, to enjoy God’s intended freedom. God will then be “all in all.” It’s hard for us moderns to grasp this: so many hymns, prayers and sermons still speak of us “going to heaven.” But it makes historical sense, and sheds light on everything else.

What then was the personal hope for Jesus’ followers? Ultimately, resurrection — a new and immortal physical body in God’s new creation. But, after death and before that final reality, a period of blissful rest. “Today,” says Jesus to the brigand alongside him, “you will be with me in Paradise.” “My desire,” says St. Paul, facing possible execution, “is to depart and be with the Messiah, which is far better.” “In my father’s house,” Jesus assured his followers, “are many waiting-rooms.” These are not the final destination. They are the temporary resting-place, ahead of the ultimate new creation."

Although this blogger has given up on his former dogmatic approach to what happens to us when we die, he still favors the rest and resurrection model of his former affiliation. What do you think?

Sunday, December 15, 2019

IT'S NOT A PUZZLE!

In my last post, I referenced the fact that many folks view the Bible as a jigsaw puzzle and believe that they've figured out how to make all of the pieces fit together to make a picture. However, while the analogy reflects the Fundamentalist perspective on Scripture, it does not bear up well under close scrutiny.

Think of an actual jigsaw puzzle, and how most of us tend to solve them. Don't most of us want to see what the completed image is supposed to look like? And doesn't that image often influence the way that we put the pieces together? What do we do if some of the pieces are missing? What do we do if we end up with extra pieces? What if some of the pieces simply don't fit? Do we force them anyway to create the image that we have in our mind? What if the puzzle is one of those double-sided or 3D wonders? And, isn't the finished product always subject to being taken apart and put back into the box?

There's also another angle to consider: If the Bible is a jigsaw puzzle, doesn't that make God a puzzle master? Why play games with something so important? Why are there so many ways to put the puzzle together? Does God help some folks to assemble the puzzle while hindering others? If so, doesn't that constitute cheating? Hmmmmmm, maybe this isn't such a good analogy?

Friday, December 13, 2019

God Isn't Going to Condemn You for Being Wrong!

Dennis Diehl recently posted an article as part of his "Adult Sabbath School" series over at Banned by HWA that was subsequently withdrawn. In the post, he asked for advice to help folks who may now feel trapped within one of the descendants of the Worldwide Church of God. In addition to offering some of my own advice along those lines, it later occurred to me that this phenomenon touches on a much broader problem within the Christian community. In short, there are a lot of folks out there who have serious doubts about their beliefs and/or have profound disagreements with some of the teachings of the church/group with which they're associated; but they feel compelled to keep those doubts/disagreements private.

Whether they're motivated by a desire to conform, preserve unity, a fear of damnation or a combination of all of these, I suspect there are a great many folks who have simply chosen to go along to get along. In some cases, they have seen the ridicule, abuse and rejection that folks have experienced who didn't toe the party line. In other instances, folks genuinely feel that expressing their doubts and disagreements will result in the loss of their salvation (or cause someone else to lose theirs) - that those doubts and disagreements must be the product of some faulty reasoning on their part. As a consequence, they push down the feelings of cognitive dissonance and pain that their thoughts have engendered within them. For many of these folks, there is TRUTH and there is ERROR; and they must be on the wrong side of the equation!

The problem is that this amounts to a suppression of conscience. Scripture tells us that fear and doubt are NOT good motivators, and that anything that doesn't spring from personal conviction is basically useless (even sinful). In the fourteenth chapter of his epistle to the saints at Rome, Paul said that everyone should be "fully persuaded" in his/her own mind, and that anything that isn't motivated by faith is sin! In other words, your behavior and salvation should NEVER depend on the acceptance of what other people believe to be true. And, as Martin Luther is reported to have said long ago still applies today, it is DANGEROUS to go against one's conscience.

There are folks out there who will tell you that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle, and that the pieces can only be made to fit one way - meaning their way. They present this as a question of whether or not you have God's Holy Spirit - the evidence that you do being your complete acceptance of the way in which they have assembled the puzzle.

Nevertheless, Scripture clearly states that God is NOT going to condemn anyone for their failure to comprehend or understand "His" will in some matter. Jesus spoke in parables, so that only his disciples would understand his message. He also said that no one could come to him unless the Father draws him/her to Christ. Paul said that God had concluded everyone together in disbelief so that "He" could have mercy on everyone. Hence, if God truly is the revelator, then doesn't that make "Him" responsible for what is revealed and to whom it is revealed?

Moreover, doesn't true comprehension/understanding involve acceptance and integration of that knowledge by the person receiving the information? In other words, if you don't really see or believe what has been revealed, how can you be held responsible for rejecting it? Doesn't condemnation require complete understanding/acceptance/integration at the time of rejection? How is it fair and just to condemn someone for rejecting something that they don't believe? Doesn't the anonymous epistle to the Hebrews teach us that belief is a necessary prerequisite to pleasing God? And, if that's so, doesn't that suggest/imply that anyone who lacks that belief hasn't even begun the process?

I remained within the Armstrong Church of God for much longer than I should have for a number of reasons that obviously seemed legitimate to me at the time. For a long time, I repressed/suppressed my doubts, questions and disagreements about/with Armstrong's theology. For a long time, I was even in denial about my feelings - I couldn't even acknowledge them to myself. When I finally came to terms with the cognitive dissonance (the disparity between my own experiences/knowledge with the "TRUTHS" of the church), I was finally able to begin the process of resolving those disparities to my own satisfaction/relief. Likewise, coming to terms with my own turmoil, finally gave me the strength and ability to face/confront the hostility of others within my community.

Still, even after I had reached that level of personal resolution, I lingered for several years. Like many of the folks before me who have continued to participate in groups/organizations in which they've lost confidence, I continued to work within the community in the hopes of ameliorating the negative consequences of those teachings or trying to persuade my associates that those teachings were flawed and unworthy of their allegiance. Over the years, I came to understand that this was a fool's errand. The old adage that "one convinced against his will is of the same opinion still" is absolutely true.

In the final analysis, our relationship with God is a very individualistic one. And the more collective in nature that we attempt to make it, the greater the potential for cognitive dissonance. If you believe in something, then live it! That also applies to me. I'm not going to reach my potential by trying to live your beliefs, and you're not going to reach yours by trying to live by mine or anyone else's!  

Monday, December 9, 2019

You'll have to overlook him!

One of the most frustrating parts of my experience as a former member/associate/victim of two Armstrong Church of God organizations (Worldwide and CGI) is the condescending attitude of friends and family members who still belong to one of the splinters. "You shouldn't put much stock in anything he has to say - he's been hurt!" "Everything he says is based on emotion!" "His experiences have made him bitter and clouded his objectivity!" or (my favorite) "He probably never was a real Christian anyway because he's gay!"

To me, that's like saying you shouldn't listen to what that Jew has to say about the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) because he spent some time in a concentration camp. "His views are twisted by the suffering he endured there!" "He can't comment objectively on the party's policies and philosophies because he is bitter over what he experienced at the hands of some overzealous individuals!" "Just because some bad things happened to a few people, you can't condemn the whole organization!"

I call bullshit! If someone has had a bad experience with some organization, you may want to listen to what they have to say about it. OR Maybe not! Some of us would rather learn the hard way and go merrily on our way - after all, we do all have the right to decide for ourselves! Like I said, I call BULLSHIT! (or is that just more proof that I'm overly emotional about all of this?)

God's Promises to Abraham

THE PROMISES:

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
-- Genesis 12:1-3
"And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee."
--Genesis 13:14-17
"And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
-- Genesis 17:1-8
"And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice."
-- Genesis 22:15-18

WHO INHERITED THEM?

Herbert Armstrong and his followers reasoned that it isn't plausible that the Bible would ignore/not mention nations as important as the United States and Britain in terms of the prophecies which apply to our times. They assert that God never fulfilled the promises he made to Abraham through the ancient nations of Judah and Israel and reason that God had to fulfill those promises by some other means. They reasoned that the U.S. and Britain must have acquired the wealth and power which they have experienced because God was fulfilling those promises which he made to Abraham so long ago. They implied that - because these nations worship the God of Israel, have accepted their scriptures and professed their belief in a Jewish messiah - they must be Israelites themselves. They have asserted that God's promise to David required someone from his lineage to occupy his throne down through the ages of human history and have reasoned that it must currently exist somewhere else since the Bible itself records the fall of David's dynasty.

Unfortunately for Armstrong and his followers, their reasoning and assertions in this regard can be easily demonstrated to be faulty/erroneous. As a consequence, their conclusions about the "true" identity of the Anglo-Saxon peoples are not sustainable. It is much more implausible to believe that folks who lived many hundreds of years before the U.S. and Britain existed (and were only familiar with the "world" that encompassed the Mediterranean region which they inhabited) would make any mention of those nations in their writings. And, even if we assume that the existence of Judah, Israel and the Solomonic empire did not constitute a fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham, it does not automatically follow that the U.S. and Britain are of necessity the fulfillment of those promises. Using that line of reasoning, couldn't we make a case for the Romans, Spaniards, French, Germans, Russians, Mongols, Chinese or Japanese being candidates for the fulfillment of those promises? Once again, not only have the Brits and Americans adopted the Hebrew Bible, the entire Western World has embraced the Hebrew God and his scriptures (indeed, much of the Eastern World has done the same thing)! Finally, as for the promises God made to Abraham and David, what about all of the clear scriptural references to the fact that they will find their ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ?

A recent post over at Banned by HWA, provoked a discussion of the genetic plausibility of the Anglo-Saxon peoples being physical descendants of Abraham. One of the commentators on that blog, pointed out that science has demonstrated that patrilineal descent is reckoned through a series of haplogroups. He went on to point out that most European males belong to haplogroups other than the "J" haplogroup which represents Abraham and his descendants. Unfortunately, a few individuals refuse to yield to the findings of genetic science and introduce migrations, intermarriage and mutations in an attempt to make the evidence sound less convincing. The fact that DNA testing has conclusively demonstrated that the Anglo-Saxon peoples are not the physical descendants of Abraham is clearly revealed in the length of time which scientists have determined that it took these haplogroups to form. In other words, the chronology of haplogroup origins refutes the attempts of the naysayers to obfuscate.

According to Wikipedia, in their article on human Y-chromosome haplogroups, they state: "In human genetics, a human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup is a haplogroup defined by mutations in the non-recombining portions of DNA from the Y chromosome (called Y-DNA). Mutations that are shared by many people are called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
The human Y-chromosome accumulates roughly two mutations per generation. Y-DNA haplogroups represent major branches of the Y-chromosome phylogenetic tree that share hundreds or even thousands of mutations unique to each haplogroup.
The Y-chromosomal most recent common ancestor (Y-MRCA, informally known as Y-chromosomal Adam) is the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) from whom all currently living men are descended patrilineally. Y-chromosomal Adam is estimated to have lived roughly 236,000 years ago in Africa. By examining other bottlenecks most Eurasian men (men from populations outside of Africa) are descended from a man who lived 69,000 years ago. Other major bottlenecks occurred about 50,000 and 5,000 years ago and subsequently most Eurasian/non-African men can trace their ancestry back to four ancestors who lived 50,000 years ago."

Notice the amount of time required for the formation of these haplogroups. When we combine this information with our knowledge of the migration of human populations and history, we see that it is impossible for the vast majority of European males to be the patrilineal descendants of Abraham. Moreover, for those of us who do have Jewish ancestry, it is a bit of an affront to try to appropriate an inheritance which your DNA clearly demonstrates you are not entitled to claim.

On the other hand, if we focus on these promises relative to Jesus Christ, it is clear that we can all participate in their benefits. Christians can share in the blessings and throne which Christ inherited from his ancestors, because he has invited us to share in them! We must remember that God chose Abraham and his descendants to introduce himself to the rest of the world - not to be the small sliver of humanity that he decided to grace with his blessings and presence!

For those who are interested in exploring this subject in more detail, there are numerous other posts on this blog and elsewhere that demonstrate the falsity of Anglo-Israelism. Here are links to the principal ones that appear here:
https://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2014/09/gods-promise-to-david.html
https://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2016/02/god-david-and-anglo-israelism-part-1.html
https://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2016/02/god-david-and-anglo-israelism-part-2.html
https://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2016/02/god-david-and-anglo-israelism-part-3.html
https://godcannotbecontained.blogspot.com/2018/04/is-british-israelism-inherently-racist.html      

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Are Trump's Critics Resisting God?

Earlier today, a friend forwarded to me an article entitled "The Lord Hath Chosen...Donald Trump?" that originally appeared over at The French Press. The piece begins with an examination of Energy Secretary Rick Perry's assertion that Trump was chosen by God to be President of the United States. What about Trump's obvious moral failures? Perry is not worried about those because God has used imperfect people throughout history, and he cites the examples of Saul, David and Solomon to prove his point. There is, of course, no mention of the fact that God later rejected Saul as king and replaced him with David - no mention of the fact that God inspired the prophet Nathan to challenge David and raised up his own son and others to challenge him - no mention of the fact that God raised up Jeroboam to resist Solomon and supplant his heirs in ruling over most of Solomon's former kingdom!

Later in the article, French cites a discussion between Eric Metaxas and Franklin Graham where they seem to imply that Trump's critics are either demonic or are operating under the influence of demonic forces. As French indicates elsewhere in the piece, folks who subscribe to this kind of reasoning often quote the first two verses of the thirteenth chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans to support their assertions. We read there: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." French goes on to point out, however, "In fact, applying the logic of Romans 13, if Christians fight for Trump’s re-election, and Trump loses, they’ll have resisted the person who God ordained to become the president of the United States."

The whole question is somewhat amusing to me because it underscores just how superficial many of us are in our thinking. Even widely respected religious leaders often fail to follow the logic of their views and pronouncements. By their own logic, whatever happens to Donald Trump is God's will - be that impeachment and removal, defeat or re-election in 2020! And, if the "main-stream" media, the "deep state" and the "socialist" Democrats, succeed in getting rid of him then I guess that makes them God's agents - doesn't it? And what would that imply about everyone who worked to protect Trump - worked for his re-election and voted for him? According to this line of reasoning, that would automatically make Trump's allies working against God - actively resisting His will!

Is this God's world or not? If it is, what are we worried about? Why do any Christians bother to vote? If this is man's world, Satan's world or man's world swayed and influenced by Satan and his demonic forces, then what on earth is God doing with these human leaders? Has anyone noticed that in the days of Solomon (Ecclesiastes) and Paul (Romans) there wasn't any such thing as a democratic republic or constitutional monarchy? What happens to these principles when the people themselves are responsible for governing the realm? What happens when a ruler's behavior and policies directly contradict God's laws and will? Are Christians obligated to respect and obey the human ruler in those circumstances? Does the Christian have any responsibility relevant to pointing out those sins/faults - or does that only apply to each other? What was Christ's attitude toward the political and religious leaders of his day? Didn't Christ suggest that he was going to eventually supplant all of them?

I came out of a church that believed in God ordained government that followed the top-down model. It was considered heretical and wicked to criticize leaders. We were expected to be obedient sheep - to follow our shepherds wherever they led us. We were told that it was God's responsibility and prerogative to correct any errors or mistakes that our leaders made - that we must patiently wait on God to fix problems in our leadership. Just to make a long story short - that ended badly.