Tuesday, September 20, 2011
One of the most beautiful truths in scripture is the reality that the children of God's covenant people are in fact God's children. This is the basis of the multiple promises in scripture which the Lord makes about faithfulness to generations not yet in existence, even a thousand generations. Peter the apostle at Pentecost declared that the new covenant like all of God's covenants was for you and your children and all who are far off. In short, the children of believing parents are not is some sort of limbo, or in an ambiguous covenant position which can be likened to the Saturday Night Live's character "Pat" where no one was ever sure what to make of him/her. Rather than having an androgynous covenant status, the children of believer's are declared to be God's.
This Divine ownership of our children obviously has sacramental implications, but leaving that aside the passage I referenced above has to do with an unfaithful Israel failing to bring their children up in the Lord. At the time of Ezekiel's prophetic ministry judgement was falling on Judah for their unfaithfulness to God. Particularly, in chapter 16 God highlights their pagan parenting as one of the charges against the people meriting judgement. Judah and Israel were taking children who belonged to God by virtue of the covenant and raising them to be idolators, even to the point possibly of sacrificing them to pagan gods.
We can learn from this that raising our children up in the context of faithfulness is one of the greatest blessings we can bestow upon them as well as the form of obedience all Christian parents are called, this is because the children we have are essentially talents God has given us on loan to be good stewards of. This means their education must be distinctively Christian as well as their speech, manners, dress, play and entertainment, Christianity is for the whole man and all of life.
How different parents apply attempting to faithfully raise their children in these areas will differ, but the point should be clear that we all should be seeking to apply the gospel every area of our children's lives. That is after all what is means to say "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". That is not just a verse worthy of an aesthetically pleasing doormat or wall hanging, rather it is a call to multi-generational covenant faithfulness, brothers and sisters may we labor for such a legacy lest Ezekiel's outcryings against unfaithful Judah equally fall upon us.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
The Apostle Paul in his epistles strives to make clear what the new covenant means for the people of God, he particularly deals with the new covenant relationship of the Jews with the Gentiles. In his epistle to the Ephesians he speaks of a mystery that has only after the coming of Christ been clearly revealed, and he informs us that this mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow-citizens of Israel (Eph 2:19) and are no longer aliens and strangers to the covenants and promises belonging to the people of God (Eph 2:12).
When we come to chapter 3 in Ephesians the Spirit continues to highlight this theme saying that this recently revealed mystery, that the Gentiles and Jews are "members of the same body", is based upon the fact that the promises of God to Jew and Gentile alike all share one Mediator, Jesus Christ. Or, stated bluntly, God in Christ did not choose to redeem Jews only, but men from every tribe tongue and nation. Also, God in Christ is not satisfied with ruling over a strip of land abutting the Mediteranean sea and the Jordan river, He came to rule the whole world (Eph 1:22).
There are no two distinct and separate covenant peoples, because there is One Savior, one body, one baptism, and one Spirit. In fact the first 5 verses in Eph chapter 4 seem to really be rebuking the desire on the part of some to divide the people of God, given the previous content in Ephesians regarding the inclusion of Gentiles the threat to unity probably came from those desiring to emphasize a Jewish particularism and push the Gentiles into the outer courts of the church. You see, Dispensationalist Zionism and the two people of God doctrinal error are nothing new, Paul had to rebuke it many a time. The pernicious nature of this error came to the point of the Spirit through Paul confronting another Apostle sinning by adopting the two people of God view and practicing its implications at the dinner table (Gal 2).
The marriage supper of the lamb will not have a two tiered banquet table, there will not be some kiddie table off to the side with Mac N Cheese and a cheap Wal-Mart box of wine for the Gentiles to enjoy while the Jews get the best seats, choice cuts of Kobe beef and chalices of new wine filled to the brim being constantly replenished by little cherubs fluttering about (yes, I mean the little baby ones). As silly as that description may appear it really seems to be the vision of unity between Jew and Gentiles many Dispensationalists gravitate toward. Is this biblical? Not in the least bit, rather, all are one in Christ, Pentecost should teach us this, as well as Paul's Spirit filled lesson in table manners.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
It only remains for me to say a few words on the last question I propose to consider:—“What is it that makes much religion appear to us not Evangelical?”
This is no doubt a delicate point, but a very serious and important one. I repeat here what I have remarked before. We do not say that men who are not professedly Evangelical ignore and disbelieve the leading doctrines of the Evangelical creed. We say nothing of the kind. But we do say confidently, that there are many ways in which the faith of Christ may be marred and spoiled, without being positively denied. And here we venture to think is the very reason that so much religion called Christian, is not truly Evangelical. The Gospel in fact is a most curiously and delicately compounded medicine, and a medicine that is very easily spoiled.
You may spoil the Gospel by substitution. You have only to withdraw from the eyes of the sinner the grand object which the Bible proposes to faith,—Jesus Christ; and to substitute another object in His place,—the Church, the Ministry, the Confessional, Baptism, or the Lord's Supper,—and the mischief is done. Substitute anything for Christ, and the Gospel is totally spoiled! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.
You may spoil the Gospel by addition. You have only to add to Christ, the grand object of faith, some other objects as equally worthy of honour, and the mischief is done. Add anything to Christ, and the Gospel ceases to be a pure Gospel! Do this, either directly or indirsctly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.
You may spoil the Gospel by interposition. You have only to push something between Christ and the eye of the soul, to draw away the sinner's attention from the Saviour, and the mischief is done. Interpose anything between man and Christ, and man will neglect Christ for the thins interposed! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.
You may spoil the Gospel by disproportion. You have only to attach an exaggerated importance to the secondary things of Christianity, and a diminished importance to the first things, and the mischief is done. Once alter the proportion of the parts of truth, and truth soon becomes downright error! Do this, either directly or indirectly, and your religion ceases to be Evangelical.
Lastly, but not least, you may completely spoil the Gospel by confused and contradictory directions. Complicated and obscure statements about faith, baptism, Church privileges, and the benefits of the Lord's Supper, all jumbled together, and thrown down without order before hearers, make the Gospel no Gospel at all! Confused and disorderly statements of Christianity are almost as bad as no statement at all! Religion of this sort is not Evangelical.
I know not whether I succeed in making my meaning clear. I am very anxious to do so. Myriads of our fellowcountrymen are utterly unable to see any difference between one thing and another in religion, and are hence continually led astray. Thousands can see no distinct difference between sermons and sermons, and preacheis and preachers, and have only a vague idea that “sometimes all is not right.”
I will endeavour, therefore, to illustrate my subject by two familiar illustrations. A doctor's prescription of a medicine often contains five or six different ingredients. There is so much of one drug and so much of another; a little of this, and a good deal of that . Now what man of common sense can fail to see that the whole value of the prescription depends on a faithful and honest use of it? Take away one ingredient, and substitute another; leave out one ingredient altogether; add a little to the quantity of one drug; take away a little from the quantity of another. Do this, I say, to the prescription, my good friend, and it is a thousand chances to one that you spoil it altogether. The thing that was meant for your health, you have converted into downright poison.
Apply this little simple parable to the Gospel. Regard it as a medicine sent down from heaven, for the curing of man's spiritual disease, by a Physician of infinite skill and power; a medicine of singular efficacy, which man with all his wisdom could never have devised. Tell me now, as one of common sense, does it not stand to reason that this medicine should be used without the slightest alteration, and precisely in the manner and proportion that the great Physician intended? Tell me whether you have the least right to expect good from it, if you have tampered with it in the smallest degree?
You know what the answer to these questions must be: your conscience will give the reply. Spoil the proportions of your doctor's prescription, and you will spoil its usefulness, even though you may call it medicine. Spoil the proportions of Christ's Gospel, and you spoil its efficacy. You may call it religion if you like; but you must not call it Evangelical. The several doctrines may be there, but they are useless if you have not observed the proportions.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Today, the presidency has metastasized from being a presiding one/steward into an unmitigated Fuhrer and as such he needn't be bothered with such peccadilloes as laws and oaths, his is a high and lonely calling kind of like C.S. Lewis' Uncle Andrew. This is seen yet again in our latest imperialistic intervention in Libya, where without even consulting Congress let alone getting a formal declaration of war, the American Fuhrer has again acted as "the decider", a title which Bush the Lesser ascribed to himself, and approved a new ambiguous open ended war.
In response to the question that has come from people who bothered to read the Constitution asking, "Hey, only Congress can declare war right?!" to which the regime has said, "Not so, with the 'Presidential war powers act' the president can do this." and it has actually become a debate whether or not the president launching a war without congressional approval is a violation of the Constitution. I just wonder what that says about the "War powers act" if it is being cited in order to trump the Constitution?
It is really no small wonder how the very things that should be fixed and unquestioned have become up for debate in our age.
But, on the "war powers" schtick, it is simply laughable that this is even being postulated as a legitimate argument. But, then again I suppose there is a long train of this sort of insane Constitution mutilation from groups like the SPLC, who argue with a straight face that in reality the 2nd amendment actually means that the government has the right to keep and bear arms, not private citizens. I know, you wouldn't think that at first, but well, these guys went to Ivy League schools so we need to just bow down to their seemingly wild revisions of history. Surely, groups like the SPLC are simply slimy commies, I refuse to believe they are so dense as to believe what they are saying, but, then again the strongest delusions often take 2-5 years of post-graduate study to be accepted.
One wonders how the public can accept such sophomoric arguments, but, then again this is the same public that no longer can tell the difference between men and women, right and wrong, and what constitutes a family versus what is an aberration thereof.
As John Calvin put it, God will give people will get the government they deserve, and boy are we in for a wild mess in the next few years.
Here's an excellent article by Tom Woods on the constitution "debate" over presidential war powers.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Essentially, education in America is run like the post office, the USPS has a monopoly over your mail box, no one else can put things in it but them. To be sure, there are private delivery companies, but, regardless of your disposition toward the post office you still have to use them to get letters and bills sent and received. Likewise, no matter how much you detest government education you still are required to fund it in the form of taxes, regardless of whether your children attend or not. Again, there is the private schooling option, and like UPS and Fed Ex they provide superior service to the government. One only needs to look at the educational background of the students who are in the top 10 for spelling bees and geography bees for the most empirical testimony of this fact.
With that said, I would assert that the best route to take is to fully open education up to the free market and privatize all of the government schools. This would save tax victims, er, tax payers, literally hundreds of billions of dollars. It also would allow for a far greater degree of accountability among teachers to do a good job, and the overall quality of education would be tremendously improved by this.
Taxed Dollars Versus Voting With Your Dollars
As it has been noted before, under the government cartelized educational model tax victims are forced to pay for schools regardless of their quality, their use by the tax victims family, or their financial soundness. This is in stark contrast to how things work in the private sector.
In the private sector individuals are allowed to vote with their dollars, we see this everyday as people choose Craft Beers over Budweiser, Bach over Eminem, or Tailored boots over Wal-Mart boots, or vice-versa. Individuals acting in a free market are able to choose what is most important to them at any given time. Do they want something of higher quality or do would they prefer something that is cheap? Do they want to drink like 10 Budweiser beers or would they rather have 1 really good beer? It is all preference, and individuals are able to decide what is the best fit for them at a given time.
Applying this market mechanism to education, it becomes clear that the same mechanisms can and should apply. Does the family want a school that has a strong math department or the other one that really emphasizes the arts? Does the family highly value athletics and is willing to pay extra for a school with a competitive team? Or, would they rather save money and go with a school that doesn't have a sports team? Do they want a school that goes off of a classical model (grammar, logic and rhetoric) or the Horace Mann and John Dewey formula?
Who is the best decision maker in regard to where your money is most wisely spent? You? Or, your congressman, whose name you don't even know?
Some of the Current Objectionable Things taking Place In Public Schools Solved By Free Markets:
As a Christian, it is my unwavering conviction that the education of my children should be thoroughly Christian. The truths of Scripture have something to say on every area of study, and the education of my children should reflect this. It is obvious to even the most passive observer that such an outlook is entirely unwelcome in the modern "religion free" government schools. Just think of the idiocy that goes on, if a kid wears a T shirt that states, "Jesus is Lord" he is liable to get suspended if he does not remove it.
Likewise, we have undoubtedly heard of numerous stories of kids getting suspended for other benign displays, such as the boy with the toy soldier hat, or other kids drawing pictures of guns. The message that is being sent is that the only violence that is acceptable is government approved violence, like the war in Iraq. Again, this moronic timorous display can be solved by a multiplicity of schools for parents to choose from, rather than this one size fits all government model.
On a similar thought, our atheist friends who get their panties in a bundle every time some teacher mentions the word "God", and it is not intended to slight His existence, can send their kids to the materialist school and learn all about how we came from slime. With such a vote with their dollars they can finally sleep easy knowing that their money is not going towards any religious stuff (well, apart from their "scientific" story about man's origin).
On that note, I would be willing to bet that a lot more people, given the choice, that would vote with their dollars that they really don’t care for the slime ball theory of man’s origin and would vote for Intelligent Design in the classroom, or a classroom that teaches both. Right now, this issue has been decided for everyone by the ACLU and black robed aspiring deities occupying courtrooms, rather than parents of students or even the teachers themselves.
The same can be said with the indoctrination of homosexuality in the public school, I'd again be willing to bet that most parents are uncomfortable with their 6 year olds learning about the "Two Kings". Yet, this stuff is forced on people unless they get so outraged that they pull their kids out and homeschool or private school them. I guarantee there are people who really don't like their children being taught about the virtues of "Gay love" but they just go along with it because pulling their kids out and homeschooling or private schooling them seems too drastic. Again, a free market in schooling would solve this.
Markets Flush Out the Inept:
In the Private Sector Reputation and Product Quality Matters:
Given the opening of the markets, schools would be in far more competition with one another, and thus will strive to provide the best services possible. As it is right now the only competition the government schools have with each other is which district is going to get the next ice cream scoop of plunder from Washington. In privatized schools on the other hand, since in the market system can not simply steal the dollars of tax victims like the government, they have to provide a product that is desirable to parents and work at convincing them that theirs is the best school for their child.
Again, just think about it, what school do you think will be better? One that you have to pay for whether you like it or not? Or, one that doesn't get your money if you think it stinks?
This dynamic would have a cleansing effect upon the faculties, schools with a lousy teaching staff would get a reputation of the same. With a bad reputation, the school would consequently lose students and if it fails to remedy this problem it will simply go out of business. Again, contrasting this to what we enjoy right now under the government cartelized system of education, school districts actually hate it when it is suggested that there be a school choice ability on the part of parents. They want you, and your child, to have to endure the crummy teachers they can’t fire because of their union contracts. Thus, when the school choice idea is suggested within the existing government school system they generally reject the idea as being “unworkable”.
In the Private Sector Balanced Budgets Isn't Optional:
In light of the Wisconsin budget debacle, privatized schools wouldn’t be able to spend beyond their means like government run schools. If a private school doesn’t have the funds to pay for a new Olympic swimming pool then they don’t purchase it. However, in the government sector, no expense can be hindered by such peccadilloes as balanced budgets. After all, if there is a budget problem they can just get bailed out by tax victims.
On that note, It was rather humorous to me when I read a statement from one of the striking union teachers in Wisconsin where she said, “We need to show the kids that we are serious about their education, I mean what message does it send to the kids back home that they are cutting teachers pay?” To which upon reading I retorted, it teaches the message that mathematics is still a relevant subject.
The Major Objection To Privatizing Schooling Answered
I anticipate a one primary objection to what has been presented and will answer it prior to its being uttered.
Q: What about families who can not afford these private schools? Do their kids just not go to school since there are no government/public schools?
A1: Historically it has been the church that has provided charitably for those what are unable to pay for services whether it was education, or medical care. There is no reason to not expect this to again be the case if the Leviathan state ceases from cartelizing education.
A2: Furthermore, if the market was truly opened up and there were no longer pounds of government paperwork and bribes to go through in order to run a school, the cost of schooling would be dramatically lowered. As it is right now private school teachers earn significantly less than the government unionized teachers. If the market were allowed to function more freely in this area we could see private schools that would run at perhaps $50 a week per student. A school with 200 students would be grossing $40,000 a month on that. I would think that would provide for ample staffing (administrators, teachers, cooks, janitors) and the price seems very reasonable to me. We pay $20 a week for my daughter’s violin lessons and that is just one day for a half an hour.
A3: Schools can offer a sliding scale or even a work exchange. Perhaps mom could help out by washing the lunch dishes a couple days a week, or dad could come mow the school’s lawn on Saturday in exchange for their child’s enrollment. These would save the school money in labor and would be the same as paying for the child’s tuition.
A4: Since the government cares about our children’s education so much, surely if the free market model of education were to prevail all schools will be tax exempt, making them all the more affordable for the poor.
Education can only stand to gain from free markets. The only thing that government run schooling added to education was regime supportive propaganda, revisionist history, and a dumbing down of the public. What better method can the state employ in going to get the citizens it desires than running education? For a revival of a robust education we need to look to different models, and ultimately to the scriptures. The first step towards dethroning the monstrosity that now exists is to privatize all the schools, as "impractical" as people may call it.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The goal of this essay is to directly rebut the often repeated myth that "There was a time when we needed unions." or "Unions used to be good but now they are out of control." I have heard these phrases tossed about by countless people in light of the recent turmoil in Wisconsin, and it is my goal to debunk that myth.
I am a Bible believing Christian, as if there is another kind of Christian, my first and foremost philosophic loyalty is to the principles presented to us in the Word of God. When approaching any subject we approach it with these lenses on, and analyze it as faithfully as we can in light of this worldview. Some simple Biblical principals for us to apply would be moral commands like "You shall not steal." or "You shall not bear false witness" or "You shall not murder." (Deut 5) If we really meditate upon these we see that their application is broader than we may think at first glance.
For instance the application of the command to not steal, is expanded by the apostle Paul to a positive of working with ones hands (Eph 4). Seeing the positive as being included in the negative "You shall not..." allows us to see further what is commanded of us. The opposite of not stealing then is to work hard and acquire your own property honestly that you may be charitable to others and respect the property rights of others. Likewise, the negative prohibition of murder would also include the positive command to respect and value life.
When we take this lens and look at politics or in the essay to come, labor unions, the main thing it seems to me to bear in mind is to call evil evil, and good good. Forget who or what we have been told are the "good" guys, we rather need to let the Bible inform us as to who are the good guys and the bad guys. Government and the state aligned media strike me as very adept at alchemizing rottenness and calling it a virtue. This is abundantly true when we look at the history and effect of labor unions. Ever since the kettle began to boil over in Madison WI, I have heard time and time again from people who actually support the Governor in his fight with the unions, that unions used to be good, we needed them at one time.
In the past labor unions truly were freedom fighters, but now they just are out of control. That is the common view of unions, and I find it very interesting how many times I have heard that same line, it tells me there is a state indoctrinated myth needing to be smashed.
But Before We Start:
So, what is a labor union? In short it is a collective, somewhat like a Borg ship on Star Trek though less attractive, as the Borg never pretended to be saving humanity from some great evil. In the words they would use today workers are united in "solidarity" making themselves able to stand as one man. The "solidarity" language sounds less commie than "collective" and thus is preferred, but a skunk called by any other name...
The Labor Union Myth
The simple narrative surrounding labor unions goes something like this, there are these greedy capitalist bosses who through sheer luck of the draw have acquired enough wealth to run a business making widgets that requires laborers. Being the greedy scumbag that he is, the bottom line for the capitalist is profit, and this is of course anathema to our more "socially" minded friends. Thus, the owner will treat workers like garbage, pay them as little as possible, make them work 23 hour shifts and fire them when they pass our from exhaustion. Humanity will be forced to endure this torment unless someone can save us.
Enter our valiant hero the labor union to save humanity from this misery, workers band together and essentially are 1 giant worker, big enough to stand up to the capitalist pig and make him treat the workers right (see illustration to the left). The workers being one solid unit walk out of the widget factory and go on strike holding signs declaring what a bad man the capitalist is.
The capitalist may send out thugs to beat up the peaceful strikers for refusing to work in his factory. The union strikers take the beatings like Gandhi, and refuse to go back to work until they get a raise. The capitalist stunned and befuddled feels ashamed and repents giving the workers a hefty raise, a 40 hour 5 day work week, 10 weeks vacation a year, a 401k plan, healthcare, and paternity leave.
It is also because of unions and their effulgent love for humanity that children no longer are forced to work in the widget mines, workers have air conditioning, and a general spirit of love and unity abounds everywhere the benevolent hand of the labor union has been fortunate enough to touch. This overflow of bliss can be most richly observed in the model cities of Detroit and Gary Indiana, where unionism has had some of its most profound impacts. Stand in awe you scoffers, you who doubt the greatness of the labor union have Detroit to rebuke you!
Labor Union Reality
Alright lets get real here, so how does this labor union thing really work? Specifically, lets start with the "weapon" of unions, the strike, how does a strike really work?
How a Strike Really Works
The only way a strike will succeed is if the union strikers get violent, they prevent "scabs" (People willing to work) from going to work in the capitalists factory, they destroy property, and violate property rights (through blocking entry to the property). Or, Biblically, they need to break the 6th and 8th commandments for a strike to have any hope of working. But, not only do the union strikers need to do all of those things to succeed, they also need one more vital ingredient for success: they need to have the government support them in these dastardly acts.
I mean just think about it for a minute, if you were a factory owner and a bunch of your workers all of a sudden decided they were not going to go back to work until you gave them a raise and dental coverage, meanwhile there are plenty of people who would love to work at the rate the unionized guys are now refusing, what would you do? Well, you'd just fire the ingrates and hire people who are happy to work on the terms the previous employees refused to work at.
Thus, if the strike is going to succeed the union strikers need to prevent you from getting new workers in the factory, which is why the strikers surround the factory. Anyone trying to get in to work in the factory is beaten up by the union strikers and given derogatory names like "scab".
In sensible response to this thuggery, factory owners in the 1800's hired private security firms like the Pinkertons or "strike busters" so they could get workers into their factory and product in and out of the factory, thus keeping the factory running. Also, before the government sided with the unions, police and militia were used to stop union violence and protect private property.
A classical historical example of the supposed good early unions is the "Homestead Strike". In this instance hired Pinkertons were trying to sneak into the private property of Andrew Carnegie which had essentially been seiged by maniacal strikers. The Pinkertons crossed an abutting river at 4 AM, and, upon being noticed by the drooling thug strikers, were greeted with a flurry of gunshots from the same. After the ensuing firefight a number of people were wounded and killed in the union induced violence.
The Pinkertons, not having the element of surprise on their side and being outgunned and outnumbered, were forced to surrender. After being granted "safe passage" out of the strike zone the Pinkertons were forced to walk through a tunnel of strikers receiving peltings of rotten fruit, urine, and club blows upon their exit, many were beaten unconscious.
Eventually, martial law was declared the state militia was called up (now the federalized national guard) and the union degenerates were thankfully thwarted.
It is difficult to imagine what sort of twisted worldview would view the strikers in the Homestead strike as the persecuted party fighting for liberty. Yet, as I said before, I don't know how many times I have heard the refrain that although unions seem pretty crummy now they used to be good. That's the big lie that nearly everyone believes, in reality unions always were thugs, Unionism after all is based off of commie philosophy which has as it's backbone Lenin's maxim:
"The scientific concept, dictatorship, means neither more nor less than unlimited power resting directly on force, not limited by anything, not restrained by any laws or any absolute rules. Nothing else but that." (Vladamir Lenin)
Another charming example of these early union strikers is the "Pullman strikes", in this case the boobery was whipped up into a union striking frenzy by Communist agitator Eugene Debs. The strike began in response to a recession induced wage cut for Pullman Palace Car Company railway workers. Unions then, like unions today, simply could not understand an economic situation where it would be justified to see their wages lowered in exchange for remaining employed.
The union strikers immediately became wild and violent, attacking numerous railroad owned properties and persons not associated with the union. In the wake of their marauding savagery 7 buildings were burned down, numerous people ("scabs") were violently assaulted, 13 killed, and in today's dollars roughly $9 million worth of damage was done by these rascals. In the end the rampaging brutes were only quelled by a force 12,000 strong US troops.
The Only Way Unions Can Succeed
Given the above examples, how in the world can a union succeed in getting what it wants? The answer is simple: government intervention.
As has been shown in two famous strikes above that unions tend to have a propensity towards violent outbursts, it would seem to me that any rational person would recoil in horror at these episodes cited above. Well, rationality seems to be short in supply.
I know it might be difficult to believe, but in the mind of the public the strikers with all of their violence, and encroachments on private property, came to be viewed as heroes and martyrs. I ask myself how in the world these ruffians could be viewed in this light, but, then I remember this is the same public that built a Greek temple in devout honour to Abraham Lincoln, housing his marbled likeness on a great white throne of judgment. The same Lincoln who waged a war causing over a million deaths in order to, "free the slaves" as the accepted myth goes.
In short, people tend to like who they are told to by the media.
The Event That Shifted Government Actions Toward Union Violence
So, suffice it to say that the public, already viewing the rogues in unions as heroes, became all the more sympathetic and outraged when renegade strikers in Ludlow CO got a teaspoon of what the Native Americans received in 50 gallon buckets at the hands of the US government. In this instance dubbed by the media the "Ludlow Massacre" a number of striker's wives and children died in a shoot out with US troops. As a result, there was no end to the rage of the public. It was that event that caused the government to cease protecting persons and property of employers and rather jump in and begin its regulation of labor, using the unions as their excuse to expand the size of government.
In light of the Ludlow strike I have to ask why strikers who are in a southern standoff with State Troops would have women and children present on what for all intensive purposes is a battlefield? That seems pretty idiotic, I know if I was in a gunfight my first thought would be how to make sure my wife and kids are safe, so why would they have their weaker vessels in harms way? Nonetheless, it is a tragedy that women and children died, but that in no way justifies the striking union's thuggish manner in which they attempted to advance their cause.
(Left and above, strikers scream at "scabs" going to work on terms the strikers refuse)
From then on the government generally would turn a blind eye to union violence and cease to perform its primary function of protecting persons and property. This can be seen in strikes after this event where union thugs were allowed to beat up scabs, take over private property, and have reigns of terror with immunity while police turned a blind eye, perhaps more so recently because police are all unionized as well.
How Government Acts as a Club on Behalf of Unions
Labor unions generally have a thoroughly unearned reputation of fighting for the little guy, making sure workers are treated fairly. Nothing can be further from the truth. Unions through teaming up with government actually restrict entry into fields of labor, thus giving union members a pay raise through keeping other workers out of said field of work.
Restriction of entry is done through requiring licenses to do certain work, like plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. These trades are all able to be learned on the job in an apprenticeship type of setting. But, rather than allowing that to occur, the unions restrict entry through the use of government requiring an obscene amount of schooling in order to obtain a license to do legally work in these trades. This is why plumbers and electricians can make $30-$100 an hour. The wages for these trades are kept artificially high by restricting entry into the fields.
For instance, if you want to be an electrician you don't buddy up with an electrician and learn the trade until you feel you can do the work on your own, that would make sense wouldn't it? Rather, you go to the government/union approved trade schools and put in the 4-6 years and get a government issued license allowing you to work. This is all justified sanctimoniously by the tired, "It's for the public's safety" line incessantly used by government to reassure the boobus that what looks like a scam and smells like a scam really is blessing.
This same union fascist use of government gimmick applies to innumerable other trades such as Barbary and Hairstyling, Machine Operating, Real Estate, Law, and Taxi cabbing to name a few. If we think about it honestly we will sensibly ask, do you really need to go to school and get a license to cut hair? Or to sell houses? Or to drive a taxi cab?
In all of these examples the unions are not teamed up to fight some wicked capitalist, but rather to club their fellow man and keep out entry into these fields through government regulation, thus artificially driving up their wages. Grasping this one point entirely shifted my perspective on unions: labor unions are not in competition with the boss, they are in all actuality in competition with other workers, particularly the non-union workers. That being the case, wouldn't it be easier to have the government beat up the "scabs" for you?
You can actually read of instances of police stings being done on plumbers, electricians, and cab drivers for operating without a license. Or, to put it more accurately, these were union beat downs of "scabs", that is after all the exact equivalent of what it is to be an unlicensed plumber.
In the disgusting article (linked to above) written by a flaming authoritarian neo-con on the plumbers he actually refers to the customers who choose to hire the unlicensed contractors as "victims". Furthermore, in the same article, you can see the licensed union contractors in full support of the crackdown, gee I wonder why? Could it have anything to do with knocking out their competition? The same is the case with the news article on the cab business operating without the government issued licenses.
I began this post with a reference to the law of God, in the end that is to be our guide, not whether we personally benefit from a union arrangement or have family that does. We have seen that unions and their weapon of striking can only succeed to the use of violence and violating of property rights. Biblically, we know without a doubt that this is directly in opposition to the 6th and 8th commandments, and thus is thoroughly reprehensible. Unionism, Biblically speaking, is immoral if these are the means it uses to achieve it's end.
Forming a union itself is not sinful, nor is striking to try to get a raise, the problem is that these means would never succeed without violence. And, even then violence is not enough, we need greater violence (The government) to support the unions through law for them to succeed. On that note we need to remember that having the government act as one's thug is no more moral than acting as a thug one's self.
I plan to address the needed political reforming of education as well as the impact of public employee unions and the Wisconsin mess in particular in upcoming posts. In this post I wanted mainly to smash the "There was a time when we needed unions" myth.
On a closing note the next time we hear the rubbish about how unions gave us the weekend please join me in a hearty belly laugh, as last I checked the weekend was God's idea (see the 4th commandment) and let us not ascribe to Commie thugs what was really the gift of God.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Do Christians Have an Obligation to Support Benjamin Netanyahu? Or, How Bad Eschatology Leads to Bad Practice.
I had such an encounter yesterday with a gentlemen, ah but that's too courteous for the web, an individual? Still too drowsy? A crooked fanged pimpled faced know nothing? That's the ticket! That's how we talk on the Internet! As I was saying I had an encounter yesterday, entirely uninitiated by myself, to which the center of our row fixed upon the status of present day Israel. I maintain that the Biblical position is that there is one people of God, the Church, or those united to Christ by faith, and this body consists of both Jew and Gentile.
For holding to such a position I was out of the gates labeled an "anti-Christ" because, I denied that the present day nation of Israel is the people of God. I suppose in the Zionist dispensational scheme my position is blasphemous, as they assert quite forcefully, that there are two peoples of God: the Church and Israel and they are separate, according to their hermeneutic. Their entire eschatological system centers upon a strip of land abutting the Mediterranean Sea.
I was reminded by our friend that the battle between Gog and Magog was soon to take place, the 7 year tribulation period is coming, the secret rapture of the Church, and Christ's ultimate return on the mount of Olives. Most of which I simply can not find in the Bible. Where does the Bible talk about a 7 year tribulation period? Seriously? Shouldn't that be clear if it is so dogmatically held to by these guys? Shouldn't there be a passage that says something akin to, "before the Christ returns there will be 7 years of tribulation..." yet I find that there is nothing even close to that.
But, what I find to be most pernicious about this system is the insistence that the Church and Israel are separate peoples of God, two bodies as it were. My position is that the Church is Israel, that is what the Bible teaches as we shall see shortly. Upon my saying this the wails come reigning down, "B,b,but, that's replacement theology! Are you saying the Church replaced Israel?" No, I am not. If you actually think about the dispensational scheme it is actually they who hold to a "replacement", right now we are in the "Church age" but it will end and God's attention will return to Israel, according to them.
For a typical exposition of the "Two people of God" doctrine from one of it's adhearants you can read here.
What I assert is that the Israel of God always was and always will be the elect of God, and that is made up of Jew and Gentile alike. This reaches it's fullest realization in the Church, as people are drawn out from every tribe tongue and nation to Christ. Christ is the very embodiment of the covenantal promise to Abraham, that in Him all nations shall be blessed. Let's look at that:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." (Gal 3:16)
See what Paul does here? He makes it clear that the promise given to Abraham doesn't refer to physical descendants in general, but to One descendant in particular, Christ. Thus, consequently the promises belong to those united to Christ, which is the Church. But, let's continue in Galatians:
"For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free." (Gal 4:22-31)
Here, we again see Paul explicitly stating that it is not physical descendancy from Abraham that makes one a member of the Israel of God, nor is it physical proximity to Jerusalem itself that makes one an Israelite. Rather, one needs to be a citizen of the "Jerusalem that is above", a son of "the free woman". Or, as one sees in the greater context, one needs to be in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in the Israel of God.
Interestingly, if we ponder Paul's language here about the bondwoman being cast out it seems rather prophetic for the coming judgement in 70 AD, where there was a doing away with the temple sacrifices and national Israel.
But more directly to the point that there is but one people of God we turn to Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph 2:13-22)
This passage speaks directly to the matter on which we are seeking clarity. Paul, writing to Gentiles, makes clear to them that they are no second class citizens, the wall of separation is "broken down" (this is temple imagery) and all have equal access into the blessing of God. There is "one body" that is "reconciled to God", and "one household", because all enjoy the same foundation and Cornerstone. The Church further is described as a temple, I would argue that this harkens back to the Ezekiel temple the Dispensationalists are always bantering about, it's already happened. That's why the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the real temple is now here, Christ and His Church.
Hey dispies, put that hermeneutic in your shofar and smoke it.
I am uncertain as to what could be more clear and decisive in settling this matter, there is one people of God, those in Christ, the Church. But, to continue to throw trusty spears into the Jabba the Hut-like hermeneutic the Dispensationalists have erected, I turn to Paul's letter to the Romans:
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.
Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." (Rom 9:4-8)
I think that spear landed into the brutes' heart. How much more vivid can the picture be before the "two people of God" position is dropped and left for dead, having been slain by the sword of the Spirit? It explicitly says the children of the flesh are not the children of God but the children of promise. One can couple this with Christ's own rebuke of the would be "Children of Abraham" in John 8 and it should be apparent that having Abraham's blood in your veins does not make one a son of Abraham.
How many times does the New Testament need to say this before we get this one? Obviously, this is not new error or else it wouldn't have been stabbed, shot, hung and burned so many times in the New Testament. The passages I cited are but a narrow selection from what else could have been chosen to address this matter. Simply put, this is a dead horse Hoss.
In fact, if someone has read this and still holds to the "two people of God" doctrine I would simply ask them to show me where that is taught in the Bible. Where does the Bible teach that God has two separate peoples? You might want to highlight and underline that question because you're not going to get an answer from John Haggee (pictured on left) on that one, you are just supposed to assume it, kind of like the guys Paul was rebuking in Galatians ch. 2. Furthermore, if you still hold to the two people doctrine, I ask, how in the world do you exegete the passages I cited above without doing violence to the text?
So What are the Implications of This?
The implications of getting this right should be clear, right now dispensationalists have a sort of boyish crush on the nation of Israel. This can be seen with many evangelical churches adorning their sanctuaries with Israeli flags, stars of David, menorahs, and gigantic maps of Israel. Worshippers may strut around bugling away on shofars, while donning an authentic prayers shawl (made in Israel of course). Although they speak English they may even adopt calling Jesus "Yeshua" because everything is better in Hebrew, as well as calling Him "Mashiach" instead of Christ. This is the whole gimmick of the "Discovering the Jewish Jesus" tv show.
But the implications of the two people of God doctrine doesn't just stop with eccentric shticks and borderline idolatrous practices in the Church, it also extends into the realm of politics as well.
Dispies generally have an Israel can do no wrong foreign policy. Every time Israel rolls tanks into Gaza it is obviously warranted. Every time Benjamin Netanyahu calls for attacking Iran the Christian Zionists are right there with him joinging the chorus calling for mass death. Apparently, because Mahmoud Ahmdinaunpronouncable made a comment about wanting to wipe Israel off the map, that is now quoted incessantly, that now justifies Israel and its lackeys here in the US constantly threatening to wipe Iran off the map.
Dispies of course turn a blind eye to all of the human rights violations on behalf of Israel, or even the US against Muslims that continue to go on, I think just because they hate Muslims. Yet, every time a Palestinian acts with reprehensible aggression the Christian Zionists begin screaming for justice, and playing the Israel is the misunderstood victim game. Although, to them it's not a game, they really perceive reality in that light. Our presuppositions will always color how we see things.
In short, this needs to stop. Our theology and the sub-branch of eschatology will effect how we live. Dispensationalism and its wild last days charts as a whole would make for a pretty neat comic book series for young teens if only grown men wouldn't take it seriously. But, particularly annoying is the Israel is the center of the world idea, and it's backbone: the two people of God doctrine.
So, coming back to our friend who would call what I just espoused "anti-Christ". What pray tell can be more anti-Christ than to say that there is a people of God outside of Christ?
And, not only that, but then the Dispensationalists demand that all those in Christ (The Church) must see to it that America gives unwavering support to that Christ rejecting people, militarily, and monetarily or America will be cursed. How absurd. Christian Zionism will eventually occupy the theological dustbin of history along with the Shakers, the Quakers, and the radical Anabaptist community of "love and equality" in Munster. Dispensationalism, and its bastard child of Christian Zionism, will be an oddity that future generations shall read about only to be rewarded with a hearty belly laugh for their labors.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Recently, in the town I reside in Rhode Island the debate over same sex marriage has been sparked as the new Governor Lincoln Chaffee (the first name should tell the reader all we need to know) has vowed to legalize same sex marriage. This was answered in our town by a gentleman speaking against this matter in a public forum at a Catholic church. Given the reaction by individuals writing to the editor one might have thought that a young George Wallace descended upon the town crying, "Segregation now! And, segregation forever!"
The statements made by local common folk is what I believe spells the death march of our society, apart from God's Spirit being poured out in a massive revival. The editorial letters were entirely devoid of any moral pronouncement that could be considered objective. In essence the entire problem the people had with the forum against same sex marriage was, "I don't like it, I have a gay friend/brother/or I myself am gay." Vapid slogans continue to dominate our intellectual landscape, one of which that is invoked ad nauseum is as follows:
"Why can't two people who love each other get married?"
To which, if we act like adults and pause to think, we will find that there may in fact be any number of reasons why it may not be possible for "two people who 'love' each other" to get married, such as: They may be brother and sister, father and daughter, mother and son, they are cousins, one of them may already be married, both of them may already be married, one of the parties may be under age, both of the parties may be under age, and lastly, they may be of the same gender. Our autonomous society wants to place an asterisk next to that last one, but if it does that, why not place an asterisk next to them all?
We hear people scoff when the sensible question is brought up that if homosexual marriage is permitted then why not polygamy, bestial marriage, or man boy marriage? People get angry and roll their eyes at these suggestions, I think because they were never taught logic. If sexual ethics are up in the air to be determined, not by God in His word, but rather the lobby groups in Washington or Providence in the case of RI, then why stop at same sex marriage?
After all, what do you mean you don't think a man can have 7 wives? What are you some sort of polygaphobe? What do you mean a man can't marry his Pit Bull? That is a bigoted narrow minded thing to say, after all, who are you to say? Honestly, why not? Stay out of a man's bedroom! The supporters of same sex marriage can never really answer why these latter perversions would remain impermissible once their perversion becomes acceptable. What are the boundaries, what is the standard that forbids such arrangements as man beast, or man and boy?
In fact, the lobby groups for these perversions already exist.
The issue isn't a what goes where mechanics confusion in sexual practice, rather it strikes at the very root of what ethics are based upon. Is God our lawgiver? If so we have objective truth in the area of ethics. Or, is man autonomous? If so all moral statements are subjective and are really on the same level as which of the 31 Baskin Robbins flavors is your favorite.
Such is the muddled state of thinking in our day, as Dostoevsky famously stated, "Without God all things are permitted."
That really needs to sink in to people. If we are just making up the boundaries of morality and decency as we go, and there is no fixed standard or word from God, then we have no basis to really object to anything. The implications of that are obviously much larger than off color bedroom practices. In short, the supporters of same sex marriage are getting more than they bargain for.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I recently had and individual on Facebook, with whom I am not acquainted, send me a private message giving me the old Romans 13 finger wagging. This was done because apparently voicing having a problem with the regime that rules us killing Pakistani civilians is actually wrong for Christians to do in light of Romans 13. I suppose the next time I happen to read about 54 Pakistani "insurgents" being killed in a predator drone strike, it is my duty in the words of Bill O'reilly to, "Sit Down and Shut Up!" To add to this, the individual further declared that the American war for Independence was in fact sinful in light of Romans 13, and it is that assertion which I shall focus on in this post.
So, what should be our response to this? Was it in fact sinful to withdraw from union with King George? My answer is simply this, not at all. In fact the colonial leaders actually would actually be disobeying Romans 13 by not standing up to King George, but more on that in a bit. We first need to get the principle of the lesser magistrate in our minds before that last sentence will make sense.
The Principle of the Lesser Magistrate
The Lesser Magistrate doctrine simply stated holds that it is not only the right but the duty of lower governing authorities (think mayor) to disobey and even oppose higher authorities (think governor or president) when those higher authorities give commands or decrees that are themselves unlawful. Theologically speaking, this all rests upon the principle that all authority is delegated authority from God, which is what we actually read in Romans 13:1. Therefore, given that the authority possessed by governments is a delegated authority or a stewardship, it has boundaries, it is not autonomous.
If we get this we can begin to understand that the American secession from King George was not in the least bit sinful, as it was in actuality the principle of the lesser magistrate in action. Since governments are not autonomous they are bound by God's laws that all men are called to obey regardless of their status. These can be simple things like, stop stealing (Eph 4:28), and stop lying (Eph 4:25). The colonial congress and government interposed on behalf of their people to protect them from the lawlessness of King George. For a recounting of what King George did that warranted a severing of their union to him the Declaration of Independence lists the grievances of the Colonies against King George and I commend its reading. The founding fathers were intimately acquainted with the principle of the lesser magistrate and based their entire secession upon it.
The logic of their separation from England went something like this:
P1. Government exists to protect persons and property.
P2. There are numerous governing authorities, (in 1776, local colonial representatives and the overseas Parliament and King.)
P3. Governing authorities can become injurious to persons and property (See King George quartering troops in homes).
/:.C. Therefore, governing authorities not only can but ought to interpose on behalf of the people to protect from other governing authorities acting tyrannically.
The principle of the lesser Magistrate was taught by John Calvin and received direct application from John Knox in his letter "Appelation" to the lesser magistrates of Scotland as he sought protection from bloodthirsty papists. The principle, being the backbone of the American Colonial secession from King George, led to the war being nicknamed the "Presbyterian War" by King George himself. Presbyterians should be proud that the American war for Independence was so called.
So with all of that said, were these men all wrong in light of the modern applications of Rom 13? Not at all, lesser magistrates would actually be violating the God given commands for government in Romans 13 if they didn't stand up to tyrants and disobey sinful orders. "For he is the minister of God to thee for good." (Rom 13:4)
Perhaps seeing the principle on a smaller scale will allow the reader to grasp its application upon a larger. A soldier is bound by oath to obey his superior officers, however, if the superior officer has ordered something that is unlawful (ex. firing upon civilians) the soldier not only can disobey but he must disobey, as he answers not to the superior officer ultimately, but the superior's Superior, God. To continue this thought, if a superior officer in the battle field loses his mind and begins dishing out all sorts of wild orders, many of them dangerous to the soldiers below him, it is no mutiny to relieve him of his charge and for a lesser officer to assume command in his place against his will. It is rather most proper and judicious for the lesser officer to depose a mad superior.
With that said, here's a real life situation, it is 1776, you are a Virginian and the Virginia congress has signed the Declaration of Independence and chosen to secede from union with England. Who do you obey, congress or the king? Who does Romans 13 tell you to obey? It simply doesn't answer this.
This is where we need to put on the big boy pants and think like adults, look over those grievances in the Declaration and decide who has our loyalty. The same can be said of the war for Southern Independence and the Lincoln's forced assimilation of the South back into a Borg like Union with Washington. It is within this seed bed of thought that men like Thomas Jefferson could say, "Disobedience to tyrants is obedience to God."
Yet, today's average Christians, not to mention your average bureaucrat recoils in horror at such sentiment as the above expressed by our 3rd president.
Simply put, we need to recapture this teaching in the church, this isn't enlightenment based rubbish. By and large I just hear the boot-licking rendition of Rom 13 ad nauseum from my brothers in Christ. The only place that kind of thinking is going to lead to is the Church being complicit as the State encroaches more and more upon the liberty of the people of this country. A robust political philosophy needs to be recovered, one that allows Christians to call evil evil and to be John the Baptists towards the Herods of our day, and there is no shortage of them. Understanding the doctrine of the lesser magistrate is a great step in that direction, and the government that rules us would rather that it was forgotten.
Monday, January 10, 2011
"The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." (Psalm 110:1)
This is actually the most quoted Old Testament text in the New Testament. So, obviously the Spirit thought it to be important to our understanding of the New Covenant. In one of the New Testament references, Peter's sermon in Acts, we see the application of this passage:
"This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.
For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.' Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." (Acts 2:32-36)
We see here clearly the answer to the question in this post's title, when Christ ascended into heaven, He sat down at the right hand of God and there shall remain, until His enemies are put under His feet. Understanding this in a Postmillenial context has helped me to understand other scriptures. For example:
"Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7)
I never understood this passage when I had a Premillenial view of Christ's return, it seemed to me that it would be better if they rolled out the throne in Jerusalem and Christ began to reign in an earthly kingdom. If that indeed is the endgame as the Premils would say how in the world can it be better that Christ not set up an earthly throne now?
Ah, but that's the rub, He is on the throne, right now. At least that's what the Spirit said, and from there He rules the nations (Psalm 2) and shall see all things put under His feet.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
The Teaching of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church Examined Part II: Bodily Healing In the Atonement Error
Let me again preface my article by stating where I sympathize with Mr. Johnson. I whole heartily agree with Mr. Johnson that sickness and death are NOT normal. We were not originally made to die, leave our bodies and be unclothed spirits (2 Cor 5:1-4). So, let me be very clear, sickness and death are tragic. As a Christian, I long for the day when that last enemy, death, is put under king Jesus' feet (1 Cor 15:26 cf Psalm 110:1). With that said, I appreciate the passion Bill Johnson has to see these things taken away, he is sincere in wanting to see sickness and death eliminated and health restored, and with that I am in cheerful agreement.
It's the theology that Bill Johnson has built around healing that is the problem, not the aim. He has a good goal but has drifted off the path and into bypass meadow, much in the same mindset of Bunyan's Christian thinking he was achieving something good, yet in reality, falling into error.
Defining The Healing in the Atonement DoctrineLet us firstly define what this healing in the atonement doctrine actually is teaching. The marrow of the healing in the atonement teaching is that just as Christ died for our sins He also died for our bodily healing. Thus, healing is guaranteed to people just as surely as salvation from our sins (and the wrath they deserve) is guaranteed by Christ's death. So, bodily healing is readily available on demand, Christ bought it. The doctrine is said to have its Biblical base in Isaiah 53:4-5 which reads:
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Now a possible translation of "griefs" in Hebrew "khol-ee'" From H2470; malady, anxiety, calamity: - disease, grief, (is) sick (-ness), is sicknesses. Also, a possible translation for "sorrows" in Hebrew "mak-o-baw'" From H3510; anguish or (figuratively) affliction: - grief, pain, sorrow. So in the text there is a possible meaning of the words that indeed is closely related to sickness, and to this the healing in the atonement teachers have latched on. (Strong's Concordance)
Further Scriptural citation for this doctrine often include the close relationship between individuals being forgiven their sins and being bodily healed. I have personally heard the doctrine being extracted from the healing of the paralytic in Matthew 9 where Christ says:
"For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he then said to the paralytic--"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." (Matt 9:6)
The logic goes something like this, Jesus in the above account was saying that the evidence that the paralytic was forgiven of his sins was shown in his consequent healing. Or, to put it another way, he was healed because he was forgiven. Therefore, it stands to reason that all those whom Christ has forgiven have full access to this bodily healing, just as he died for their sins that they may be forgiven, He equally died that their bodies might no longer taste sickness. This coupled with the sickness oriented rendering of Isaiah 53, and it seems a pretty airtight argument, especially if you are not thoroughly familiar with all of scripture.
By way of my making a response to this teaching it must be pressed upon the understanding of those who hold to and teach this doctrine that it has broad implications which threaten other Biblical doctrines and our own practice. These Biblical teachings under assault include the sovereignty of God, God's goodness in His sovereignty, the Biblical teaching on sickness and in a more empirical vein the ubiquity of sickness in our world and lives.
Before I go into a rebuttal of the position, I will let these things be stated by Bill Johnson himself. In Video #1 here, Mr. Johnson asserts that sickness is never the will of God and in fact to think that God is sovereign over sickness is actually to make Him out to be a child abuser. I find that almost every time some teacher says things like, "If God is like X then He's a rapist" that the Bible teaches that God in fact is like X. There are also many other statements made in the video I would consider outlandish, particularly the Smith Wigglesworth quote that seems to make God into an impersonal force we tap into.
Video #2 here is Mr. Johnson replying to 3 questions, 1.) Does God ever cause sickness? 2.) Does God ever choose not to heal? 3.) What was Paul's thorn in the flesh? Johnson of course answers no to the first two questions, but in doing so really has to make the devil bigger than he really is and make God smaller than He is, and again God seems more like a force that we tap into the more I listen to Mr. Johnson. In response to the third question Mr. Johnson says he just doesn't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, but he knows it wasn't sickness.
In this #3 and last video Mr. Johnson makes a statement that I think is very revealing and really supports my thought as to why there are all of these odd doctrines in Mr. Johnson's theology. Mr. Johnson states at the 1:00 mark, "I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness." Furthermore, Johnson actually says that if you don't believe in all of this healing on demand business or think Paul's thorn is some sort of bodily ailment you are preaching a different gospel. Please note, this video has written comments by someone obviously not sympathetic to Johnson's position, I rather don't like that, as Johnson's own words are enough.
Having let Mr. Johnson speak for himself I begin my rebuttal with the doctrine of God's sovereignty followed by a Biblical exegesis of the popular healing in the atonement passages, the Biblical accounts of sickness as well as our common experience with sickness.
I. The God Who is Good and Sovereign Over All Things, Including Sickness
One of the "stupid doctrines" to quote Bill Johnson, that he seems nauseated by in the first video, as it implies God is in control of sickness, is the doctrine of God's sovereignty. This teaching is directly under assault by the "sickness is never of God" slogans. Is God in control of all things or is He being controlled by something(s)? It is impossible to hold to the healing on demand position and affirm God's sovereignty, because it would mean that every sickness is from the devil, and God would rather that there were no sickness but for some reason He can't stop that pesky devil from running a muck and spreading the Flu virus. Christians often mouth quaint phrases like, "God is in control" but if we really flush that out we find He is in control of things we'd rather Him not be...but He after all isn't a tame Lion...He isn't safe...but He is good.
A. God's Sovereignty Over Evil
The most moving narrative in Scripture in regards to the sovereignty of God is found in the story of Joseph. In the life of Joseph we see a man who has received a promise from God and yet his entire life is one tragedy and suffering on top of another. From his brothers intending to murder him but instead doing the next best thing and selling him as a slave to Ishmaelites, to his slavery and false accusation of rape from the loose wife of his master. From there, as a prisoner in a dungeon, to thinking he might get a release by helping the cup bearer of Pharaoh only to be forgotten by the cup bearer for years.
Finally, Joseph is exalted to the place of 2nd over all of the land of Egypt through his interpreting of Pharoah's dreams. In this position he is able to save the lives of many including his own treacherous brothers through his wise preparations for the famine he knew was coming. It is after going through the valley of shadow full of tragedy and suffering that on the other end Joseph can look back recognizing that God did was its author. This reaches a climax as he is able to gaze upon his wicked brothers and see the hand of God guiding even them as he says:
"So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt." (Gen 45:8)
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Gen 50:20)
Here we see Joseph clearly confessing God's sovereignty over all the events of his life, particularly the evil ones, with a good end intended by God in it all. So, in regard to God's goodness I agree with Mr. Johnson, God is good all the time, we just need to understand God's goodness in the same manner as Joseph, and the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28. The "all things" includes a lot of trials are struggles.
B. God's Sovereignty Over Sickness in ParticularContrary to Bill Johnson's Q & A answers to the question "Does God ever cause or allow sickness?" the God of the Bible declares that yes indeed He does cause sickness, and the reality of this is something He confesses boldly as it distinguishes His sovereignty and power. We often overlook passages that deal with the LORD specifically striking someone with illness, one instance is the judgement of God upon David's child born out of his adultery with Bathsheba:
"And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick." (2 Sam 12:15)
Why did the child get sick? The LORD struck him. The average sentimentalist may not like this but there it is. Let God be God. Other examples worth noting are as follows:
"And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt." (Ex 9:8-9)
"They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people." For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven." (1 Samuel 5:11-12)
In a more clear cut pronouncement on His sovereignty over sickness we turn to the book of Exodus. We find this proclamation in the context of Moses stating that he is slow of speech and doesn't think he is the best candidate to go before Pharaoh and give him the "Let my people go" speech, to which God replies:
"Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" (Exodus 4:11)
Here we see God confessing that it is He who decides whose eyes will work, whose mouths shall speak, and whose ears shall hear. He decides that, not some fallen angel, running around doing whatever he wants while God bites His nails trembling at the devil's works and fretting that the church hasn't activated the power of healing like Smith Wigglesworth. No, God rules over disabilities and therefore over abilities. When someone is good at sports or music or is very intelligent people will say that person, "Has a gift", whether or not they realize they are recognizing a Gift Giver by saying so.
Yet, on the flip side when people are seen with physical problems, we want to protect God and say He didn't do that. People often become indignant and begin to demand "Why?!" from God to which scripture anticipating such a reaction to God's sovereignty replies:
"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" (Romans 9:20-21)
Now I understand that people at first don't like this, they want a God that is manageable rather than One who the Supreme Manager of all things, and that is why Arminianism reigns in regard to soteriology. But, that issue aside, once we submit to this teaching of scripture, we find that the doctrine that seemed so dark and void of comfort is actually teeming with sweetness, comfort and light. After all, when you hear from the doctor, "It's terminal." what is more comforting, the notion that this is just an accident that God wishes wouldn't be but for some reason He can't stop it, or are we comforted to know with scripture that not a hair can fall from our heads without it being the will of our Father in heaven (Matt 10:29-30)?
I'll take the latter over the Johnsonite position.
II. The Bible on Healing in the Atonement. Or an Attempt to Exegete the Texts Most Used by Advocates of the Doctrine.A. Isaiah 53
There is no controversy as to the actual language in Isaiah 53:3-4, it certainly can mean sickness and pains, hence the footnotes in your Bible's margin telling you this. So, if we let scripture interpret scripture we must ask, how is the Isaiah passage viewed in the New Testament? Lets see:
"And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." (Matt 8:14-17)
In Matthew's gospel we indeed do see the Isaiah 53:4 text used directly in regard to healing. The healings Christ performed are said to be the fulfillment of the Isaiah text. Yet, I hasten to add that that is it. Bodily healing isn't in the atonement or death of Christ, but rather was in His earthly ministry. It was during His earthly ministry that this part of the Isaiah text was said to be fulfilled in relation to sickness, not on the cross, or so says the Spirit in Matthew's gospel.
Next, in the context of suffering and persecution the Spirit in Peter's first epistle says:
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." (1 Peter 2:21-25)
Now here Peter, unlike in Matthew's citation of Isaiah 53, is clearly talking about the atonement/death of Christ on the cross. It is also apparent that he understands the "healing" of Christ's atonement to be akin to a lost sheep returning to its shepherd. The healing Peter sees here is relational between man and God centering upon forgiveness. He points to it in an exemplary manner in order to call believers to imitate Christ in His suffering wrongfully at the hands of persecutors. Having been forgiven much they too can forgive.
The healing in the atonement that the Spirit tells us about is that of men who were once at enmity with God (Rom 8:7) being restored to God, what greater form of healing can there be?
With all of that said, we see why the language of "sickness" and "pain" is treated more figuratively in regard to the atonement itself by the Apostle Peter. Sin is described in Isaiah itself as a disgusting sickness (Isaiah 1:1-7). The Spirit uses the word "sins" (1 Pet 2:24) and there do we see the true healing in the atonement. The bodily healing aspect of the prophecy was fulfilled in the healing ministry of Jesus, and the greater reality of the sin bearing savior and sinful man's restoration to God is fulfilled in the substitutionary death of Christ. After all what is sicker than a guilty sinner? Who is in more pain than one who suffers under the wrath and curse of God?
B. Is This Taught in the New Testament?If this healing in the atonement doctrine is such an important part of what Christ did that Bill Johnson actually has the temerity to accuse the deniers of it of "Preaching another gospel" where is it taught in the New Testament? Where does the new testament teach that believers are never to be sick, and that in fact getting a cold is evidence of a demonic assault needing to be resisted? Well, the answer to both of these questions should be obvious, it's nowhere in the New Testament.
But, I return now to the assertion made at the beginning in defining this teaching that Christ in healing individuals made a direct connection with their having been forgiven. They were healed as evidence of forgiveness. Lets look at that passage again:
"For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he then said to the paralytic--"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." (Matt 9:6)
Let me be somewhat silly and say that the text means what it says. Anyone can come up to someone and say "Your sins are forgiven." and that statement be a non-reality, we after all can't see sins leaving someone nor the persons' standing before God. So, to show that Jesus' declaration is not in the same category of a "Your sins are forgiven" declaration from some charlatan, Jesus provides a visual display that He and His proclamation are different from that of some irreverent blasphemer, Jesus gives them a physical display of His authority.
Is there a 1 to 1 correlation here between bodily healing and being forgiven? Absolutely not. The reason for the healing in this instance is given right in the text, and it wasn't that everyone who has been forgiven has access to bodily healing, but rather "But that you may know". Know what? Know who Jesus is. There were skeptics at this display questioning Christ's absolving a man of his sins and Jesus gave the skeptics a visual aid that they might know a bit about the Son of Man and His power.
Another aspect worthy of note is the repeated Johnsonite assertion that Jesus always healed the sick, as sickness was intolerable to Him. Again, as dealt with in the first post, Christ is allegedly our entirely "imitatable" example in this regard according to Mr. Johnson. This "Christ always healed" assertion simply is begging the question. For example, Jesus we know would have passed by a certain beggar who was lame and daily was brought to the gate outside the temple. We know this as this lame man was later healed in Acts 3:2 by Peter.
III. Accounts of Sickness in the New Testament
If the healing in the atonement doctrine is indeed the case, there certainly are a large number of New Testament scriptural accounts attesting to ill believers that contradict this teaching.
"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber."(Acts 9:36-37)
Epaphraditus:"Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.
For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful." (Phil 2:25-28)
"Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick." (2 Tim 4:20)
Paul:"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor 12:7-10)
The following passage in Galatians is why most Bible scholars assume Paul's thorn in the flesh had to do with sight:
"You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of the blessing you felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me." (Gal 4:13-15)
Didn't all of these believers know that healing was theirs on demand? Didn't they know that sickness was not part of the kingdom reality that was now their possession? What is Paul doing leaving Trophimus sick?
Obviously, the New Testament account contradicts the healing in the atonement/healing on demand doctrine. We have believers like Tabitha falling sick and dying, faithful disciples like Epaphroditus nearly dying , and we see co-laborers with Paul like Trophimus having to be left behind because of sickness rendering them unable to travel. Also, we have the apostle Paul Himself speaking of a "thorn in the flesh". Where is the thorn again? In his flesh. So, whatever that may be (blindness, or nagging injury from a persecution) it is clearly physical, and it's not going away, God Himself has said so.
Unlike Bill Johnson's assertion that he, "Refuses to form a theology that allows for sickness" the honest student of the Bible isn't allowed the luxury of deciding what the Bible says about sickness a-priori. If we just let the Bible say what it says we see that Paul's suffering was not only physical but that he actually saw a God given purpose in his sufferings.
IV. Sickness and Our General Human ExperienceSince Adam, sickness and death has been a part of the human experience. It is not normal, that is why we weep over departed saints. Those who die tend to die of something, and water is wet. With that said, men like Oral Roberts who claimed to have never been sick in decades still die of something regardless of their delusions. As I said in the first post, I have many dear friends who have been heavily influenced by Bill Johnson and the Bethel Redding Church. A number of them I know have gone to doctors for surgeries and medical treatments. Again, if all of this healing in the atonement/on demand business is true, that simply shouldn't be the case.
In fact, Bill Johnson himself was recently hospitalized for anemia. Of course it was called a demonic attack, but that must mean the devil can thwart God and does so...well...A LOT...because I see sick believers all the time. But lets stay on Mr. Johnson himself since he is the one making these extravagant claims and then not living the reality. Leaving aside acute illness, we can casually observe that, Mr. Johnson's hair is gray, he is getting rather wrinkled in the skin, and he has to wear glasses in order to see properly...healing is in the atonement?
Why all of this unreality? I would humbly say the unreality exists because the healing the atonement doctrine simply isn't Biblical.
Let's just keep it simple, if healing is in the atonement why does Mr. Johnson wear glasses? Seriously, that really should settle the whole debate, no fancy exegesis required. Rather than paying the $200 every few years for a new pair of spectacles why not pay $25 and purchase his own teaching series, "Healing: Our Birthright" at the Bethel store and grab his healing? If God never causes sickness, then what are we to make of David's child, the tumors in Egypt and on the Ark harboring Philistines all being struck with sickness, which the Bible explicitly state is from God? Not to mention the covenantal threats of disease upon the Israelites in Deuteronomy if they break the covenant.
None of that makes sense if we are to live by a theology based upon quaint slogans. All slogan theology leaves us with is a God somewhat like a doting mother with a head full of curlers who showers us with kisses and cookies everytime we skin our knees playing kick the can in the alley when she told us to clean our room.
Fortunately, man does not live by quaint sayings but the word of God.
Lastly, the Johnsonite view of God's sovereignty is surely muddled, I haven't heard Mr. Johnson explain this doctrine but he is certain to have a good deal of problems in doing so. But, the doctrine of God's sovereignty is just another bloody victim that has been slain alongside Christ's Divine attributes at the idolatrous altar dedicated to miracles that Mr. Johnson has erected. If we approach theology like Mr. Johnson, and from the outset have predetermined that certain conclusions are off limits, as he said, "I refuse to create a theology where God allows sickness", then we shouldn't at all be surprised to find that we have to engage in all sorts of scriptural acrobatics, and outright cut and pasting.
But, as I said previously, I have no personal axe to grind here, and I trust I have been charitable in my critique without compromising the truth. I just haven't really seen a rebuttal of this theology done in a responsible way and am responding to the need.