Saturday, July 29, 2006

On Church Unity (Part II)

The Noble C.H. Spurgeon
In the last post on Christian unity we saw the arguments for outward unity in churches had some major problems with it. Some of which were that it would eventually mean that true Christians would for "unity's" sake would have to endure heretics to be in their midst preaching error. I argued that in the biblical sense the unity spoken of means essentially that the body of Christ would both weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice within the body 1 Cor 12:25-27 (this means bearing burdens for people we may not ever meet Rom 15:26) . This sort of unity transcends location, ethnic cultures, race, age, buildings, wealth, etc. Also, in light of scripture there are to be divisions made, the true church is to divide itself from those who teach error (Titus 3:10). Concerning true doctrine (the good deposit) we are given a call by Jude to contend for the faith saying:

"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. " (Jude 3-4)

Out of all this I argued that biblically there are good divisions believers are called to make. Reading Iain Murray's book "The Forgotten Spurgeon" continues to validate this view of separation. Spurgeon in his day was in the midst of several controversies, and knew very well what it was to divide over truth. Yet divide we must, for unless lines are drawn in the sand the deposit will be continually chipped away at until there is nothing of it left. On divisions Spurgeon writes:

"I glory in that which at the present day is so much spoken against sectarianism I find it applied to all sorts of Christians; no matter what views he holds, if he be a man in earnest, he is sectarian at once. Success to sectarianism; let it live and flourish. When that is done with [sectarianism] farewell to the power of godliness. When we cease, each of us, to maintain our own views of truth, and maintain those views firmly and strenuously, then truth shall fly out of the land, and error alone shall reign."

Spurgeon is saying that unless the truth is so precious to us that we are willing to divide over it, the truth will eventually be eroded by error. Thus, Spurgeon says basically Hooray for divisions! Hip Hip HOORAY for denominations! For the fact that denominations have formed is because He's Outta Control!men loved the truth enough to divide. I think I agree. I have a greater deal of respect for Christians who I disagree with over issues like Calvinism, WHO WILL disagree with me, rather than those who pacifistically mumble "Lets not get into controversial issues." The latter is NOT the spirit of Bunyan's Mr. Valiant for truth, for EVERY truth of scripture is in its nature controversial. So praise God for men with spines who broke away from the PCUSA (which now ordains lesbian pastors) to form the OPC and PCA denominations. Praise God for men of controversy!

For the day the church decides to stop guarding the deposit is the day error will reign. Error thrives in the anti-controversial environment, it is the very nourishment which it needs. All the enemies of the gospel need is for the saints to become gutless mealy mouths who will not raise the sword of the word to defend the gospel against its foes, because after all many foes wear the "Christian" uniform, and to contend with them would be divisive. For error to infiltrate the church requires men who love not the truth enough to fight for it. Thus, the opposite is true, as Spurgeon writes:

"As to a breach of unity, nothing has ever more largely promoted the union of the true than the break with the false."

Nothing promotes unity within the church greater than putting fences around the deposit, thus keeping error out. We must no overlook the fact that by putting fences around the deposit we may find that this will result in a breaking away from men who are at least brothers in name. However, this is for the health of the flock, fences of doctrinal statements are parallel to boundaries of where the flock may graze, they mark the land Immanuel has given His sheep to feed on, to go outside the fences is not safe, and good shepherds will put up fences for the sheep's sake.

Now we think it an easy judgment call to break away from Rome, or men like Joseph Smith who are clearly in error. Yet it becomes difficult for us to bear when those whom we are at least outwardly dividing from bear the name of evangelical, profess faith in Christ, and hope in His coming are we to have divisions among these ranks also? Are we to divide over matter of baptism, or predestination? As a Calvinist I can recall when I too was thoroughly Arminian in my thinking of election (though I probably wouldn't know what Arminian meant), yet I know that I was saved and washed in Christ though in error theologically.

So this gets somewhat difficult, yet I think the same principal stands that Calvinists and Arminians alike need to bear burdens, care for the sick, lift up the down trodden rejoice with those who rejoice whether Calvinist or Arminian. Likewise we can say of baptism, different views of baptism paedo or confessional are not the grounds for entrance into the body. However, these are biblical issues and it is impossible to have a church that is firm in truth that whole heartily supports both infant and believers baptism, likewise with predestination. Thus, the most reasonable thing to do is have different buildings, because these issues DO matter. To say that Good Bookthese issues do not matter and should be swept under the rug to achieve a unity is to say that something the bible makes a stance on does not matter. There is no doctrine of scripture that is unimportant, therefore there is no doctrine of scripture not worth fighting for. Spurgeon on this matter:

"If you say that any one part of the truth is unimportant, you do as good as say - to that extent the Holy Spirit has come upon an unimportant or valueless mission. You perceive it is declared that he is to teach us "all things"; but if some of these "all things" are really of such minor importance, and so quite non-essential, then surely it is not worth while disturbing our minds with them. And so to that degree, at any rate, we accuse the Holy Spirit of having come to do what is not necessary to be done; and I trust that our minds recoil with holy repulsion from such a half-blasphemy as that..."

Out of all this I am mainly trying to say that denominationalism is a good thing, and all to often it seems that those furiously who object to it are not thinking theologically. I recall receiving from a speaker in my early years as a Christian a sort of rearranged "I have a Dream" speech with about 10 dreams. 1 of which was that the denominational barriers would be torn down another of which was that all Christians accept the teaching of spiritual gifts for today! Even at the time I thought this was problematic, there are Christians who don't think that way and you are lamenting the denominational divisions so how do you solve the problem...They all need to think like me!

Which brings me to my final point out of much of the talk today about church unity a new ecumenicalism is emerging. Like the old it overlooks doctrinal truth as superflous, the main mission of the church is to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and teach the ignorant (What about that great commission thing Jesus was going on about?). Just like old liberal ecumenicalism, there is nothing new under the sun, same heresies just keep getting recycled. You can't have the great commission and ecumenical stances on doctrine, because to fulfill the great commission requires defining the message which we are to bring into all the world. When we define the message, if it is biblically defined we will find that many "evangelicals" simply don't agree. For instance that Christ is the only way. So if we are to fulfill Christ's call this will require a guarding of the deposit which will practically cause divisions.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Shame On You Mr. Osteen, Shame On You.

Well unless you've been under a rock for the past few years you probably have heard of a man named Joel Osteen. Osteen is known for his book "Your Best Life Now (12 steps to fulfillment er something like that)" and the fact that he has the largest church in America which weekly boasts over 30,000 attendees. Now I am not picking on Joel just because he is popular... well I'll let him speak for himself and you decide if he deserves picking on. Here are some excerpts from Joel's conversation on Larry King live:

KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?

OSTEEN: I don't think it's that hard. To me it's fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family -- I don't feel like that at all. I'm not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I'm just living my life.

KING: But you have rules, don't you?

OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To life a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that's really the essence of the Christian faith.

KING: That we live in deeds?

OSTEEN: I don't know. What do you mean by that?

KING: Because we've had ministers on who said, your record don't count. You either believe in Christ or you don't. If you believe in Christ, you are, you are going to heaven. And if you don't no matter what you've done in your life, you ain't.

OSTEEN: Yeah, I don't know. There's probably a balance between. I believe you have to know Christ. But I think that if you know Christ, if you're a believer in God, you're going to have some good works. I think it's a cop-out to say I'm a Christian but I don't ever do anything ...

KING: What if you're Jewish or Muslim, you don't accept Christ at all?

OSTEEN: You know, I'm very careful about saying who would and wouldn't go to heaven. I don't know ...

KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ? They're wrong, aren't they?

OSTEEN: Well, I don't know if I believe they're wrong. I believe here's what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God with judge a person's heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don't know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don't know. I've seen their sincerity. So I don't know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
(end excerpts)

Well gang my hang up is the gospel message which Joel doesn't seem to want to stand upon things that the word of God says like:

"No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also." (1 John 2:23)

What is being said here is that if you don't have Jesus you don't know God. It doesn't matter if you call His name Allah, Buddah, Krishna, Yahweh, if you don't have Jesus you DO NOT KNOW GOD.

"And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life." (1 John 5:11-12)

Again here we see a black and white separation between those who know the truth and those who do not. If you don not have Christ as savior you have not life. Osteen does not want to stand on the truth of God, and exalt Christ's gospel on national television. This raises questions about how precious is Christ really to this man? Is He precious enough to risk loosing members from a 30,000 plus church who might leave because they don't like the sound of "Flee, flee to Jesus for He alone is our refuge!" as much as a message of "Find the Champion in you!" (Osteen's church's slogan)?

I can't describe what Osteen said (and there is much more in the original transcript, much more) in any other way then that he denied the gospel message. That Christ is the way the truth and the life and that no one gets to the Father but through HIM, and HIM ALONE. Paul writes:

"if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; " (2 Tim 2:12)

It's hard to see what Osteen said as being anything but a denial of the message of Christ before men. What grieves me is that there are thousands of pastors across America imitating Osteen and Rick Warren in a lust to have mega-churches (after all having big churches mean God is blessing you right?). Sadly, when faced with black and white questions about the message of Christianity the answer seems to so often be "I don't know...don't wanna judge".

Ah, but this seems to be the story of the church through the ages, (even in Israel's day) that there was the outward church and the remnant. God guard Your remnant and bring the church in America to repentance, and a love of the truth.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

On Church Unity

I) What Does It Mean to be Unified as the Body of Christ? Is this Really Unity?

There is much talk of achieving a unity in the church today that would span over denominational barriers and would tear down what divides Christian from Christian. This talk in my assessment has the faulty presupposition that division is inherently not the will of God. Christ's own prayer "That they may be one" seems to give credence to this view of divisions within the church. Therefore the problem is never unity but always divisions. Now, without question scripture teaches a catholic view of the church (there is one body), so at least in God's perspective and the inspired apostles there is one church; although, there may be multiple churches, in multiple locations, in multiple languages and cultures there is still one body of Christ. So, it would seem unity is not so much achieved as it is realized, but what does that mean?

The realization of unity seems to be what the scriptures are referring to in unity exhortations. Speaking in reference to God's sovereign bestowement of spiritual gifts and the need in the body for the gifts Paul states: "that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. " (1 Cor 12:25-27)

Here we see individuals are to not see others in the body as unimportant but understand that Christ has set apart different gifts for different members, thus the unity spoken of is to be of one mind (common phrase) and not to show preferences but weep with those who weep we are to be so united that their pain and trials are our pain and trials. So in this context bad division is a division that results in a kind of apathy, a body in which the members value their own personal peace with little to no regard for the welfare of the other members. This is BAD division.

Again Paul in a preamble to a description of spiritual gifts states:

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call--"(Eph 4:1-4)

Likewise a bad division would seem to stem from NOT "Bearing with one another in love", not realizing that there is in fact one body, these people really are my brothers and sisters. To bear with is to lay down your life to aid another, this requires love. This being the case I argue that this unity is not achieved through merely our desire to create it (although that is part of it we are to be "eager to maintain the unity" but where does this affection stem from?) rather, this is a supernatural unity for it requires a selfless love, it is only possible, "because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Rom 5:5)
Christ alone is our unifier, so in all things He may have the preeminence.

Realizing our unity is natural as is weeping with those who weep and bearing the burdens of others become very practical when we think of the persecuted church. In North Korea believers are getting their tongues cut out for preaching the gospel, and bibles are scarce. My heart aches and though I don't know them personally though we don't share the same culture and location I want to help. This is what happened in the bible as well, "For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem." (Rom 15:26) This is the unity the bible speaks of, a unity that transcends all sharing the same denominational names, in short it transcends all forms of ecumenicalism for this is unity created by the blood of Christ.

II) When is division Good?

How's This For Tolerant!
Already when we realize that the unity of the church spoken of in the NT is a spiritual unity and to be realized more so than achieved, we see problems with much of the anti-denominational barrier talk. Naturally we equate outward unity with genuine unity, for example when two teams take the field to play baseball they both wear different uniforms to distinguish what side they are on. Basically, we would think that if we all wore the same uniform as Christians we are officially unified (by wearing the same uniform this means take off denominational badges and just be Christians). Well that's all fine and dandy until a guy in a Christian uniform starts to sound like the guys in the non-Christian uniform and given time more people who he associates with start to talk similarly. This may come in many forms such as the liberal: "We think the bible is not to be taken objectively as inspired but more like it becomes the word of God as it inspires the reader...kinda like reading Dickinson."

Or there may be some with more "pragmatic" concerns saying: "We believe we are saved by faith in Jesus but we think that you also must be abptised, circumcised and chastised to truly be saved." The point is that when people rise up within our own ranks there is a point where leaders can be either a good shepherd or a hireling. A hireling in the face of false doctrine may love an outward peace at the expense of truth, whereas a good shepherd will be valiant for truth. (Jer 9:3)

Leaders are exhorted to divide: "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him," (Titus 3:10)

"As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear." (1 Tim 5:20)

Leaders are exhorted to watch the doctrines in the church: ""Keep a close watch on yourself and on the doctrine. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Tim 4:16)

"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge," (1 Tim 6:20)

Based upon these exhortations from Paul to Timothy, there was a deposit, a truth once for all delivered to the saints that is to be guarded from falsehood. This is for the health of the souls of the body of Christ. In guarding the deposit a shepherd is guarding the flock, for the deposit is the very food on which the church feeds and false teachers will come and try to give the sheep unwholesome food. Eventually when false teachers persist (after rebukes) there is to be a division. This is what has happened throughout church history. There were monastic movements in response to Romes love of affluence, later of course there was the reformation sparked by Luther. The doctrines of the Catholic church had become so unscriptural that Luther no longer could with a good conscience (with scripture in mind) continue with the Catholic church because of the false teaching (ex: penance, the mass, indulgences, purgatory, and Mary worship are but a few). This was a good division.

Likewise in the more modern period of the church we have the rise of Liberalism. Liberalism has divided nearly all the mainline denominations. Liberals wanted to reduce the gospel to a mere ethical code of "Just be good and God accepts you as you are, just follow the beatitudes." and a focus on humanitarian works became the primary work of the church NOT gospel preaching (because they have no gospel...just law). Again we have good division.

Divisions are good because truth is good, if we love the truth of the bible we will see to it that the church will be fed that truth and not a mixture of bitter and sweet waters, thus false teaching must cause divisions. Charles Spurgeon was a man of controversy and has a bit to saMr. Valiant for truth himself...y about church divisions. What he has to say fits well because in his day like our own men were telling him to "just mellow out and preach the gospel, stop causing division" and "You're gonna hurt church growth". Yet Spurgeon would not back off, particularly in the last fight he was in, The Downgrade Controversy in England. The Down Grade was basically a rise of liberalism in the Baptist churches in England toward the end of Spurgeon's life Spurgeon writes:

"For Christians to be linked in association with ministers who do not preach the gospel of Christ is to incur guilt. A Union which can continue irrespective of whether its member churches belong to a common faith is not fulfilling any scriptural function."
"The preservation of a denominational association when it is powerless to discipline heretics cannot be justified on the grounds of the preservation of Christian unity.
It is error which breaks the unity of churches, and to remain in a denominational alignment which condones error is to support schism.

And again to address the NEED to divide in love for the truth and flock Spurgeon writes:

"It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide by the faith once delivered to the saints should fraternize with those who have turned aside to another gospel. Christian love has its claims, and divisions are to be shunned as grievous evils; but how far are we justified in being in confederacy with those who are departing from the truth? It is a difficult question to answer so as to keep the balance of the duties. For the present it behooves believers to be cautious, lest they lend their support and countenance to the betrayers of the Lord.

It is one thing to overleap all boundaries of denominational restriction for the truth's sake: this we hope all godly men will do more and more. It is quite another policy which would urge us to subordinate the maintenance of truth to denominational prosperity and unity. Numbers of easy-minded people wink at error so long as it is committed by a clever man and a good-natured brother, who has so many fine points about him. Let each believer judge for himself; but, for our part, we have put on a few fresh bolts to our door, and we have given orders to keep the chain up; for, under colour of begging the friendship of the servant, there are those about who aim at robbing the Master."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Best Apologetic Method?

Your Move
Since I have been a Christian I have been a major fan of apologetics (a defense of the Christian faith) and would read book after book refuting "cultist" false doctrines and defending biblical orthodoxy. However, this can become really tedious due to the fact there are mutant heresies all over the place it is hard to write books refuting all of them. Particularly when dealing with non-Christian world views I have found that the Presuppositional apologetic approach has been the best. Basically instead of dealing with all the little bullets and challenges people fire at Christianity you take away the gun. This really becomes like throwing darts especially when dealing with relativists. Again on the local Christian radio show a caller called in and challenged the host (who was speaking against embryonic stem cell research and other various social issues) the caller challenged her saying basically: "I'm a Christian and I just don't think you have any right to judge other people, you have no right to tell them that they are wrong or that they are sinning...Only God can do that."

Well you hear that kind of junk all the time these days. This time the host did a great job responding she said: "You say that it is wrong for me to judge...isn't that in itself a judgment?" See she could have defended all the points the guy rambled on about how we can't say that embryonic stem cell research is wrong and addressed the folly point by point rather you go right to the root...your doing the very thing you say I'm not to do. Or better yet "where did you get that idea that it is wrong to judge?" people who aren't Christians don't really have a foundation for their moral views they are arbitrary. Presuppositional apologetics says you have no basis to support the statements you made. For instance all the "tolerance" talk we hear today, a presuppostional approach would be to ask "Why based on your worldview should I be tolerant?"
This is better I think that dealing with all the nonsense that stems from the acceptance of the "tolerance" doctrine (homosexual unions).

I was listening to the Catholic channel on my way north one day and there was a discussion about homosexuality in the Catholic church. The hosts of course were against it yet the Catholic caller said a popular slogan: "If they love eachother and they aren't hurting anybody then what's wrong?" The hosts began to deal with the statement by saying the church has ruled homosexuality sin, blah blah blah. The real issue is where did this guy get that standard of morality from and why is it valid?! Why is "Not hurtin people" the standard for what makes something right or wrong? Where did that come from?

Greg Koukl's book which I have cited a few times in the past has the title of "Relativism: Feet firmly planted in mid-air" presuppositional apologetics points out to our relativist counterparts the fact that their beliefs aren't based on anything solid, their feet are planted in mid air. The late Dr. Gregg Bahnsen has a bit of a more scholarly description of presuppositional apologetics click here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Pray for Israel

Hey I don't know what the end times stuff is going to look like (I just read Revelation as an encouragement that Christ will come and wipe every tear away and He will be our God and we shall be His people forever) but what I do think is clear is that right now Israel needs prayer as the current situation has potential to get ugly really fast. I am not on some raging premillinial Zionist kick just saying that God did choose to reveal Himself exclusively to the Jews and bring the Messiah Jesus through the descendants of Abraham, therefore Gentile Christians are kinda Johnny come lately's. Anyway I think God still has a plan of redemption for the Jewish people, again I am not dogmatic about endtime stuff at all just saying...lets pray.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Filled with the Spirit

I Think this video really speaks for itself of the weightlessness of God in the American church today. The truths of scripture are treated as a joke.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

New Cutting Edge: Revised Jesus Seminar

We here at Millstone Theological Seminary have decided to take a critical look at the teachings of Jesus. There are many passages and teachings that people accept today that we just need to seriously analyze in a scholarly fashion to determine whether they are valid or not (whether or not Jesus really said these things). Our process for determining what is very intensive, only the clearest passages will pass muster of our rigorous testing. Basically we have a room full of top notch theologians all with Phd's from the most renown seminary's around the world such as BOSS (Bag Of Snakes Seminary) WWTS (White Washed Tomb Seminary) and the up and coming BVS (Brood of Vipers Seminary) all in Germany with the exception of BOSS which is in New Jersey. Our top notch PHD scholars know more than you (you need to remember that) that's why we have PHD's in theology. Now although our system of deciding what Jesus really said may not seem too sophisticated it really is...again PHD's we know what we are doing and we know what Jesus would have said and what He wouldn't have.

Our system involves a round table discussion of our theologians at Round Table pizza on Tuesday nights (hot wings are 20% off and CSI is on the big screen). What we do is seriously lay before us a text say for example: "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in." (Matt 23:13)

We then carefully analyze with the entire mood of the bible whether this fits with the rest of scripture (Whether it fits with a God who is all wrath and purposely tries to make people angry, who is just looking for one reason to bring down His judgment) So upon looking at Matt 23:13 it is clear to all 14 of our scholars that this fits the mood of the bible therefore after a vote we determined that Jesus very probably said this. (The vote consists of thumbs up down in the middle or somewhere inbetween up/down and the middle). The above passage got a unanimous thumbs up.

Now when we look at a passage like in John 8 where Jesus supposedly forgives this adulterous woman of her sin saying "Has anyone condemned you?"She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."]] Our scholars see a problem here, this passage has overtones of mercy and grace, these are things in our estimation God simply does not do based upon the "whole" of the bible. So this passage only received 3 up votes while it got 7 downs and 4 inbetweener downers. So we conclude saying: maybe Jesus didn't say this.

However when it comes to a way out of line passage like "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." This is pretty easy for our theologians to decide with their acute knowledge in theology, this passage has arrogant statements about love and how God will forgive all who hope in Jesus, this is WAY out of step with what our scholars have seen to be the mood of the entire bible. Passages like
And there came a voice to him: "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." are the main theme of the bible, not a forgiving, merciful God. So all 14 of our scholars roundly rejected this passage as being non-authentic.

We think non-authentic passages like Jn 3:16 came from an attempt to woo people into the church in the middle ages, rather than frighten people like the church should have, it appealed to these means and changed the words of Jesus.

Some of our critics have said that our methods seem arbitrary and we are shaping God in the way that we want. This simply is not true. We have Phd's. What we say is automatically valid, we know more than other people about religiousismic concepts therefore our rulings are above criticism. Our round table (at Round Table) has carefully been selected from the most prestigious and rigorous schools, only the most well trained we selected for this delicate task.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Book Idea: Hardy Boys of The Apocalypse

So my idea for a new book series is something like the "Hardy Boys" series (a one-hundred some odd book series), except it be on the end times. You know the rapture and all the chaos that follows. It will have a family mixed of believers and fake believers, then the rapture comes. Many of those who are left below from the rapture then realize their mistake and become Christians. The Christians then are in a massive battle against evil, having to guard their food from unbelievers and store up fire arms. Also because the Christians know the truth they are also fighting to undermine the plan of the anti-Christ and his one-world government. (This is like 4 books already!) Much of the fight against the forces of evil will be exposing the "mark of the beast" which will be being given to people and a focus upon the nation of Israel. The Christians left will try to sabotage the building of the temple because they know who will be in the temple. Then I can some how weave the Muslims in to it and how they want to destroy Israel. Oh and then the one-world government takes off and they appoint a leader, a peaceful man, who immediately declares war on Christ and Israel. (that's another 3 books) To find out how it ends you'll have to wait and see!

Oh wait....drats...There already is a "Hardy Boys of the Apocalypse" kind of series....blasted Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins stole my idea! got it! I could take those romance novels make em less smutty you know clean it up a bit, make the characters Christian, the setting oh somewhere in the 1800's, the conflicts will be in in large part over keeping their convictions and commitments to holiness while their passions rage, other random conflicts maybe Native attacks bad farm year. Sounds good...of course I'll have to get my wife to put her name on the series. Oh wait!....there are like 20 popular women authors who are capitalizing on this sort of writing already!....Drats!

(seriously) Of course I am being satirical here. Maybe somebody thought this was funny and then quickly thought "Oh but he' making fun of people...not supposed to do that...that's un-Christian". This is really the point I am building to. Douglas Wilson has a book called "The Serrated Edge" in it he makes a biblical defense of the use of satire. It is a real good book and Wilson is firmly grounded in the word as he addresses this issue. Basically in our therapeutic man-centered culture we think it ungodly to poke fun at the foibles of others. This simply is not biblical. No one ever has to make a biblical defense for showering praise on others, however criticism especially as well as satire are seen as un-Christ like.

However, biblically, we see satire employed by the inspired writers all the time. Paul in writing to the Galatians about circumcision and those who say that it is needed for salvation writes: "I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" (Gal 5:12) In light of the issue being addressed this is funny. Paul is making fun of the Judaizers desire to circumcise the Galatians. There are really 2 ways to look at Gal 5:12: a) Paul is making a satirical joke about the Judaizer's belief, or b) Paul really wanted men to cut their penis' off.

Another excellent example of biblical satire is the lazy man.
"The sluggard says, "There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!" As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed." (Pro 26:13-14) These two verses make fun of the lazy man in his sin of laziness. Basically he says (in modern terms) "I can't go look for a job it's a smog alert day." Also the sin of the lazy man is compared to a door turning, as often as a door turns on its hinges so the lazy man does in his bed. This is satire.

What about Jesus?

"And the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?" (Lk 11:39-40) It's interesting to note how often Jesus calls men fools. Jesus points out the obvious stupidity of cleaning only the outside of a cup, the inside is what holds a drink so this is the most important. Thus Jesus by using this word picture is illustrating the stupidity of the Pharisees actions. These are same men who will give Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus yet when Judas out of guilt wants to return the money the Pharisees have issues about taking it back.

Also with the rich Jesus said:
"And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:18-21) Here we see Jesus through word picture making fun of loving riches, with the hope of keeping others from similar folly.

Also there is the popular passage of Christ's where He talks of taking the plank form your own eye: "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matt 7:3-5) This really is a rather humorous illustration, here is a man with a log sticking out of his face and he has more concern for removing a speck he has spotted in his brothers eye!

Now someone might say, well ok so in the bible Jesus did make fun of people, but we aren't Jesus, He did it perfectly so we shouldn't do it. True. However, we also don't love perfectly so should we not imitate the Lord in love also? Just some thoughts. Wilson's book really lays the biblical stance on these issues. Of course there is just plain mean spirited criticisms of people which is wrong, however this does not mean all criticism is bad.

As with the Hardy boys of the Apocalypse and cheap Christian romance novels, I think in the latter we have a clear rip off of what the world likes repackaged into a "Christian" format. Imitating the world and repackaging it in Christian format I think is sin the apostle James writes:"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." So I think to imitate the world is contrary to undefiled religion. What I wrote above was a bit of a parody of how one can go about creating a "Christian" romance novel, trying to expose the shrewd worldliness, with the hope of turning others from similar folly (imitating the world).