I am blessed. Think about it: With all this pervasive surveillance and electronic snooping, I am guaranteed all my prophetic warnings against the US government are surely noticed, archived and waiting for the time when God proves His Word lives in me.
Not that it will do them any good, and I seriously doubt it will make my human existence any better. That was never the objective. The objective is to cling to the truth of God and let it take my human life where it will. I’ll be glad when it’s all over and I get to go Home to Heaven, but until then, this is my mission.
I’m not like the lawyers’ Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas (Westboro). I reject their Western epistemology. Some few things they say are accurate, but not true, and their actions represent nothing in Scripture. They don’t understand the Hebrew point of view, so they don’t understand the Bible. My message is totally different.
Indeed, the sin of the Westboro Phelps crew is the quintessential sin of the West in general, and America in particular. They are an expression of what’s wrong with America, the same fundamental error with a different flavoring, all growing from the same root. America has rejected God’s Word as He gave it, and when they bother referring to it all, they get it desperately wrong because they reject the intellectual foundation God used to build His revelation. The West is burning with hatred for God’s truth.
So today we have sent our hatred abroad in the form of our troops in every sector of planet. Where we do not have them already, we are determined to destroy whatever keeps them out. We are currently sending money and weapons into Syria, stirring up fake Muslims to insane hatred that they would just as gladly bring to our shores. Give them time. Right now, they are ripping up Assad’s government. On my human side, I suspect Assad will fall, but only as a symbol. I seriously doubt the rebels will actually win much, and will eventually lose.
We did not win in Iraq; we simply destroyed what we built and gave the plutocrats another masked opportunity to raid the US economy in the process. We’ve pretty much left it to the residents to fight it out with terribly destroyed infrastructure. This does have something to do with the natural disasters striking the US; God is returning our destruction on our own heads and He’s just getting started.
We didn’t win in Afghanistan. Without our constant presence and occupation, we cannot even pretend to hold any ground there. As soon as we back out the least bit, our presumed enemy will simply recover with a vengeance. We have the money and the training, but they have everything else we lack, which is an awful lot. They have God on their side by default, because we are surely more evil in His sight. Yes, they are far closer to obeying His Laws.
So we won’t be able to accomplish much in Syria beyond an attempt to destroy what little good they have. They’ll reorganize and rebuild despite us, and we won’t be able to prevent it. But when we attack Iran, God will use the occasion to finish us off. This is from God, a prophetic warning: We will lose in battle against Iran. God Himself will fight for their side. He won’t even bother to explain why, because it will be too late.
Our propaganda excuses for all this hate are pretty thin; everyone knows it has to do with a huge move by plutocrats, the shadow government that actually runs things here and in a lot of other countries. That would include Israel. No, Israel does not write US policy, despite how it appears. Our policy is written by the same demons who write theirs, working through the same select group of human agents. These are the folks whom we have all elected to obey simply by refusing to understand things well enough to recognize the evil they have planned. We have closed our eyes and bought the lesser lies because it came wrapped in a promise of material and creature comfort.
We trade holiness and divine guidance for material prosperity, so we shall have neither. We have purchased the spilling of vast oceans of innocent blood and even the destruction of tornadoes are our own fault. But in righteousness we will attempt to reach out in kindness to recover what is left for our own. That’s one of our few virtues. Too bad we can’t treat the rest of the world that way; instead, we send our hatred wrapped up in ever-changing uniforms and weapons systems.
The really cool part is I know for a certainty the US government bureaucrats will read this and analyze it and at least a few folks guilty of keeping this wall of propaganda in place to obscure the truth will have no excuse when God puts His hands of wrath on their lives.
Spoiler alert: I’m going to explain how the book of Ecclesiastes turns out, while our weekly study will continue running for a couple of months.
First, a little context. Solomon took the throne rather like a big fish in a small pond. He wasn’t the most powerful of emperors because he avoided the sort of control that comes with empire. He was a king over the one most stable and prosperous kingdom in an age when there weren’t very many stable governments anywhere.
His father David did most of the work of extending influence and power over the unraveling edges of previous empires. At the same time, David established the standard for Hebrew poetry. Solomon established the standard or Hebrew wisdom literature. David still carried the familiarity with nomadic living and fighting for survival, so things had not hit the stasis we see much later when Israel virtually forgets how to live in tents. Thus, David’s poetry exhibits the kind of depth and hunger of soul for peace that makes great art. Solomon still had the taste of that as he settled things down. He experimented with a lot of things in a very short number of years and had the talent to comprehend the importance of what he did. Thus, the pinnacle of Hebrew visionary prophecy was just a couple of centuries later, then the culture of the people went downhill on the same slope of their lost devotion to God’s truth.
Solomon represents the pinnacle of Hebrew self-awareness. It is deeply ANE (Ancient Near Eastern). If you approach Solomon’s books of wisdom from a Western perspective, you’ll be lucky if you are smart enough to think it’s existentialism. It isn’t, but it will seem that way from a Western epistemology. You’ll read things back into his words in just about any translation and it will seem to match the likes of Albert Camus.
You’ll miss the point entirely.
There are several ways to state the fundamental query Solomon makes. In essence, he explores every effort mankind has made, or could make under any context, to overcome the curse of the Fall. Can it be ignored? Good luck with that; you still won’t escape it. Maybe you can convince yourself it’s all bogus and really do some great things and rise in power and importance over great stretches of land and humanity. But it won’t allow you to escape the futility of human existence. Being human after the Fall is the definition of futility. This life isn’t worth much trouble, and certainly not worth a moment’s anxiety.
Solomon does not directly address the issue of cosmology. It’s not a simple matter of not having one, or not understand it. They had access to ancient legends and literature. Don’t forget that despite all the lies by those who hate the Bible (ala the Documentary Hypothesis), the Books of Moses were already published and available for anyone to read. They knew what they believed, and didn’t see much need in hashing it out again. If anything, Solomon hashes out the failed assertions to the contrary.
The one thing you could easily miss is how he smashes the entire range of Western epistemology before there was a West.
The point of Ecclesiastes is to show how foolish it is to embrace the idea that man is not fallen. There were plenty of philosophers in his day promoting the ideas later crystallized in Aristotle’s teachings. Aristotle might have come up with his ideas independently, but they weren’t new. Lots of folks had long asserted the unitary universe. So Solomon decides to play their game and applied his legendary wisdom and intellect to the question of whether they were right. He points out how it all goes wrong in the end.
He tested living on those terms, an honest effort to see how it works out. He did all the things humans could do, all the different ways people chased after some sense of purpose and accomplishment on this earth. Even at the pinnacle of his power, it really didn’t mean much. In the end, he still had to die. And even if you could be immortal on this earth, you wouldn’t like it.
Without directly saying so, Solomon asserts it is not possible to evolve into a higher life form, either. God won’t permit it. Feel free to argue with Him, but it’s a waste of breath.
If you focus on the thing itself, nothing you do will matter for long. You’ll enjoy it, but when it runs out, it’s game over. You still die and someone else gets your stuff. The final answer is for you to make your best effort to discern what God intended for you personally. Don’t make the mistake of thinking He doesn’t notice. He made you and knows what’s best.
Don’t chase what captures your imagination. That might tend to indicate something, but it could also be the worst delusion. Stop daydreaming about stuff you can do, as if doing is important. Stop dreaming about being something or someone. Solomon was in his day the ultimate Someone, and it didn’t matter in the end. That’s the part that sounds like existentialism, or fatalism and some other -isms you might dream up. It all misses the point.
If you are certain God has called you to conquer the world, do so. If you simply want it for yourself, don’t be a fool. Meanwhile, the humblest peasant who scraped by is no worse off than King Solomon in the end. Living as King of Wisdom didn’t help matters, except it allowed him to see all too clearly and write it up in a little book.
You can do no better than embrace God’s revelation and figure out what God wants for you. Then chase that with all your might, because that’s how you reach out to God Himself.
I make no secret of rejecting much of what comes packaged under the label of “Western Christianity.”
Most of the time I confine my blather to fundamentals. I talk about the intellectual frame of reference and historical events that steered the narrative of Church History. For example, most of you are likely aware of how desperately Constantine tried to hijack the Christian religion for his political purposes. For the most part, he succeeded. I’m hardly the only Christian who believes the true gospel message was nearly buried more than once in the past by political exigencies.
It has happened again here in the US. I can’t pinpoint where it started, and there is no one central figure who can carry the blame just yet. We know Constantine hardly labored alone in his demented vision, but it seems he was the pivotal person in his era. We don’t seem to have one right now. Instead, we have a long list of names all entangled in a long list of political agencies and religious denominations. I don’t have room to list them all, but just chasing down the list of folks who took money from Reverend Moon, often through his CIA lieutenants, would be shocking enough. You would be shocked by the people who fawned over him. It’s the same people who are considered the standard bearers in modern evangelical Christianity.
Look folks, even the highly revered Billy Graham was highly compromised, so I am not interested in your defense of those people. Don’t tell me how the millions of people “he brought to Christ” somehow covers his awful sins in the background. The Bible bluntly says those millions of converts, if genuine, would have come to Christ one way or another. God doesn’t need any human agent for His divine work. It’s that old heresy of Synergism, the blasphemous reduction of the divine to something less. God uses whom He likes, but He stoutly asserted He often used the worst. And until you realize Satan still serves His purposes, you’ll never comprehend even what little He has revealed to us.
No, I make no pretense of being better than any of them, but I don’t do what they do. I don’t confuse my God with any political agenda. I’m not going to lay the blame at all one source, because it’s never that simple. Yes, it does involve the heresy that Modern Israel somehow reflects God’s prophetic plans for humanity, but it’s much, much more. I look back with revulsion on that time in my life when I was held captive by that lie. But this issue is not so focused, except when you realize the whole purpose is to destroy the power of the gospel message. The people most loudly claiming His power are those most guilty of perverting it.
And no one has to tell me how this puts me out on the fringe. Yes, I belong to the Lunatic Fringe of Christian faith. I make no effort to temper and spin my message to appeal to any particular audience. Nor do I scream and accuse everyone of knowingly engaging falsehood and serving the Devil. The majority of those in Western Christianity are dupes. I have no idea what to make of folks like Pat Robertson, whether he’s just an idiot they prop up to defame the gospel or whether he actively cooperates, but I do know his Operation Blessing was a CIA front, as was World Vision and a slew of other Christian relief agencies. If you want footnotes, you can find them with any search engine.
It’s hard to gather any kind of resources without some infiltration from evil powers these days. If it’s big enough to be noticed, the spies will own it or destroy it. So I stay small and virtually unknown. God is my publicist and He’s the one who makes my message plausible to whomever pays attention. Don’t put any trust in anything that gets air-time. Don’t trust me just because I’m small. I can offer criteria for rejection only as a counter to their lying promotion. Bigger is not better, nor is smaller. Don’t listen to me; listen to your own soul. I don’t trust myself that much, always failing my own promises.
You have to look inside your own soul and find your own way.
I really do wish I could remember all the details.
At the time I was one of them, and it never occurred to me to wonder if I was being manipulated. They considered me talented enough to have potential in their agenda. I was just a young preacher boy, fresh out of college. It started with my college days, when I was involved in the fundamentalist resurgence in the 1970s. I didn’t know the facts of what had happened before I came along, but this whole thing goes back before my parents were born. Still, during my own lifetime came the changes that the broader audience of sheeple never noticed.
It’s not exactly the same people, but it’s a broad overlap. The names involved in the church and denominational politics of the fight over Bible inerrancy are largely the same people with a very ugly political agenda. Most of them are frankly true believers to this day. That does not absolve them from the lies they promoted, but it does make them fools instead of simply evil. I was captivated by the rhetoric at the time. One of my best friends was an acolyte and drew me into it. Somewhere along the way, I woke up, but I don’t think he did. He stopped responding to my letters, so I’m not sure. Nothing is as simple as it appears, especially when the demons run all through the churches. Those Bible inerrancy people are part of the Necon agenda.
The conspiracy part is the manipulation by Neocons, taking advantage of true believers without telling them the whole cynical story. Leo Strauss openly taught that using people’s religious fervor was a good and valid way to herd them into agendas against their own interests. The inerrancy debates were bundled with the Neocon agenda; it’s all the same people.
It would take several books to address the whole thing, and some have already tried. The thread I’m teasing out today is one representative issue: Muslim terrorism. With all seriousness, I assure you that there would be no such thing were it not for the work of the Necons and Christian fundamentalists. Your American tax dollars and church donations went to fund all the work that created a large Muslim fundamentalist population that didn’t exist beforehand. In other words, these people created the enemy they vilify most. It’s not as the BBC alleges in their brief series exposing how torture turned a true Muslim believer into an activist. No, the CIA and similar agencies were working both sides, trying to stir up the Muslims from inside the religion while oppressing them without mercy from the outside to make them even more reactionary.
Surely you know that nothing unifies true believers like oppression? Even the Bible notices how that works. The difference is the Bible bluntly says activism is not a godly response. Try getting any modern day Fundie to admit that. Their inerrant Bible isn’t allowed to tell them to stay out of politics.
To my everlasting shame, I was an active part of all this up through the early 1990s. At some point, though, the seeds of truth planted by just a select handful of people from my preacherboy days bore fruit. No, it wasn’t the Neo-orthodox or Christian Liberal folks. They are simply the controlled opposition, keeping the battle away from the real objective. The people whose words came back to haunt me time and time again were not in either the Fundie or Liberal camps. Imperfect they were, no doubt, sharing their struggle to find the solid rock of truth on which to stand.
Contrast that to the utter false humility of the demigods of Neocon Christianity. They had poor fools like me believing they were God’s men, like Moses and Joshua. Behind their cloaks of probity, they were more like Balaam, Jannes and Jambres. I was so enthralled by their apparent greatness, so utterly thrilled by their small notes of attention directed my way, I never noticed the utter corruption they hid. As I said, there were plenty of humble true believers near the top. But a few of them betrayed a dark side you couldn’t simply write off as ordinary human frailty. They were hideously corrupt, all about the money and power. When I was permitted to read some of the background documents that revealed the utter cynicism of abusing the trust of the sheeple, I never noticed at the time how abusive it really was.
I don’t have those papers any more, those books and so forth. All I have is the damning memories of having been directly involved in something so dirty. I don’t keep track of them any more, because they don’t really matter. But I assure you some people involved in the leadership of the likes of CUFI know they are lying. Maybe they’ve convinced themselves it’s all necessary in service to God, but they serve the wrong god. So while I don’t name names, it’s not hard for anyone who really intends to walk in truth to figure out what matters most is not the people, but the message.
I’m just a messenger.
I don’t spend nearly as much time in the Manosphere these days.
It’s not that I’ve changed my mind; I’ve gotten tired of the splash over from non-essentials. My interest in Game in the first place was getting at the facts of human behavior. Some of it I knew instinctively because I’ve been studying God’s Laws for a long time. I recognized the truth in Game discussions because they accorded with what I already knew intellectually. As more people got involved, we got better and better descriptions of human behavior. That part hasn’t changed. I’m not tired of Game; I’m tired of those who talk about it because most of them are full of crap.
For awhile, I echoed the things I found that were consistent with my experience, and frankly admitted to taking a different tack on some things. I still insist that it works best in the tribal social structure, but we don’t have that much these days. Thus, some of the gamer assertions are strictly cultural. I’ve tried to note those things, but one issue in particular has become very annoying, to the point I simply don’t bother reading much in the Manosphere any more.
I think of it as a part of the little boy syndrome. Too many gamers never grew up, nor is it likely they ever will. They have this self-reinforcing immaturity. That’s obvious in the case of PUAs, but it’s not so obvious to Western Christians when another Western Christian asserts something they all assume is manly from the start. It’s this constant nagging they have about, “Don’t date fat chicks!” What they seem to want is a tomboy with boobs, in the sense of someone with a figure about like a boy, just a tiny bit of padding in the bottom, but otherwise built like a skinny guy.
Yes, I can understand taste. I can even agree some gals look pretty good that way, but it’s because that’s how they are put together. Pressuring them all to look that way is just stupid. Not ignorant; stupid. That’s because some gals look fine with more meat on their bones, and some look pretty good even chubby. The problem is most gamers have no idea that their tastes are most completely steered by mass media. They’ve surrendered completely, and Christians are some of the worst. They don’t understand it has zero utility, and guarantees a majority of really fine, godly women are excluded because God didn’t build very many women like that. All they know is the Victoria’s Secret models and cheerleaders.
The whole point is: Taste is not a guide to God’s blessings. Only a fool believes his preferences have anything to do with it. Only a complete ass demands God provide his whims. This becomes such a major emphasis they’ll compromise all kinds of other things to get what perfect piece of flesh.
Let’s pretend for a moment God decides it is time for my beloved to go Home. If I felt Him telling me to go it alone, I probably would, much to my emotional disappointment. But barring such a move of the Spirit, I would surely look for a successor to her. The primary qualification is being willing and able to keep up with me in my ministry calling. If she’s not driven to be a part of that, she has no business hanging around me in the first place. That will already eliminate a lot of gals. Whether she’s thin or chunky or anything in between is simply not a consideration, and it’s frankly immoral when a man makes it a major issue. That is, it’s immoral in the sense of God’s Laws, which defines morality. Demanding something on a perverted worldly standard is not the way to obedience.
Chances are, precious few American women would have even the least bit of interest, much less the other qualifications I’d need to see for being a successor. I wouldn’t be looking for arm candy. If that’s important to you, don’t expect me to take you seriously. You might know Game, but you don’t know my God.
Ladies, your greatest problem in godly husband hunting is their silly conditioning, whether White Knight or reactionary, against your silly feminist conditioning. Game has nothing to do with what you are, what you look like, or what you think you want. Game is about finding someone God can use in making your life holy and faithful to Him. That narrows it down to such a tiny pool of candidates, we don’t have room for stupidity. Now that the Manosphere is big enough to have a mainstream, it’s not worth pursuing any more.
The Manosphere has gotten pretty stupid lately.
Perhaps it seems a bit odd I should have to use a title restating a pretty basic Christian doctrine.
By no means am I trying to address those who might actually dispute the assertion. I expect that from the fallen world. People who are fallen would prefer to deny the very thought. Christians who join them in this assertion are not Christians in the sense we need to take them seriously at all. Their claim to faith is false, and we have plenty of them. What drives me here is how most Christians who claim to believe this doctrinal assertion still live as though it were false.
If the church looks like the world, what’s the point?
The message of God is whatever God said it was. It is not subject to revision and updating according to human fashion. The only reason we don’t die upon spiritual birth is because the Lord said He wants to use us to promote His glory. Where we get into trouble is when we attempt to summarize or characterize that message of glory. Nobody has to tell me I’m out of step with the mainstream. I’m not going to engage in debate and offer proof. I’m a prophet and I will simply present my claim. If it doesn’t call your name, it’s not my problem. God’s truth cuts its own path in the hearts of men.
Again, humanity is fallen. The world itself isn’t fallen, but was delivered to the management of humans and they botched it. We didn’t stay on the path God laid out for us, so things are broken. The first dispute I have with mainstream Christianity is the assumption this world is going to be fixed up. It is not. The reality you and I experience will remain broken until it is replaced entirely. 2 Peter 3:10 comes as close to a blunt statement as we can get on this point. This whole reality is doomed because we messed it up and God does not intend to repair it, but to replace it entirely, down to the level of matter itself.
Whatever the mission of the church is, it cannot include the notion of fixing this world’s problems. We are focused on what follows this current reality. That’s what the resurrection proves, that there is something outside this existence, something superior and more powerful, and we should want that. Granted, Paul warns it is not possible to want it without God awakening our dead spirits first, but that’s another point of conflict. The churches keep insisting there is something humans can do to bring about spiritual birth, and it’s closely tied to the instinctive belief this world can be fixed. Those things are not in our hands; they are not the mission of the church.
We are here to serve those whom God touches and calls into His Kingdom. The election is totally His; the mission of helping them live out the implication is ours. Jesus said He would use us in that way to get His message across. It is not our place to question the efficiency of this plan or the justice in God’s election of some and not others. Those things are stated in Scripture as truths to which we have to adjust our behavior. We aren’t in on the conference in the Judge’s chambers in Heaven when He discusses His divine law and His plans for humanity and His creation. Our mission is much more limited.
God created all there is. We are accountable to Him. How He goes about that is not our business, except insofar as He bothers to tell us what we need to know to serve. We all serve Him; He is Lord and Master and has the power to do whatever suits His whims. “Every knee shall bow” comes with a certain background of assumptions. We aren’t in His position so we can’t argue. Our feeble sense of justice does not apply to Him; He does not subject Himself to us. We are subject to Him. He has revealed to us a portion of His sense of justice; we have rejected that. Seriously, folks, by embracing Western epistemology, we have rejected His revelation. If you can’t be bothered to learn the Ancient Hebrew view of reality and truth, you can’t expect to understand His revelation. Being fallen is hindrance enough to understanding God’s Word; rejecting the fundamental intellectual basis God chose for His revelation guarantees you’ll fail. The entire range of Western logic is broken and alien to Scripture. The sense of justice that comes in the package with Western reasoning is all wrong, and cripples our ability to understand and embrace His truth.
The only reason He keeps us here once He has granted enlightenment and spiritual birth is because He has determined to glorify His name before He ends it all. He has determined certain things must happen in a particular sequence in this time and space continuum. We don’t belong here, and critical to what He wants from us is demonstrating that we don’t belong here.
We who follow Jesus do good things. We don’t do them simply because people need them. We do them because it reveals His glory. The entire logic of how we go about planning those good things is broken because churches invariably operate from a broken human logic. Nothing in what we do should represent the notion of solving problems. Let me say that again: Solving human problems is not our mission. How do you think we are going to suffer for the gospel message if we do everything in our power to fix the suffering? God says He has no plans to fix things. Why are we devoting so much energy to fixing this world’s ills? That is not God’s agenda. Making some pitiful effort to helping someone next to you is a means, not an end. We do good things because they are one of the many ways we draw attention to God’s Heaven.
We are not responsible to God for solving any problems at all; He does not hold us accountable for that. He holds us accountable for His glory. He said repeatedly we would fail on this earth. Even after we lay claim to the full range of powers from the Holy Spirit, we would continue to fail. It’s built into our fallen nature, the flesh we still have to drag around that holds us in this fallen realm of existence. His redemption of life does empower and improve our performance, but performance was never the issue. This fixation on human accomplishment is what damns the churches. The focus is not in this realm of existence. We are seeking to kill this human flesh, to deny it’s hopes and dreams for this world. The entire range of our connection to this world is what we try to nail to the Cross, and struggle to keep it nailed there. It is the fallen Adam who wants to fix the damage on his own terms, as if he could undo the Fall and get back into the Garden. The Garden is gone! It is not coming back to this universe.
Don’t mistake the methods and means for the mission. The mission is revelation of His glory, not making people’s lives better. Making life better is just a means.
The second problem is we struggle mightily against His plans for making life better. We have embraced not only the ultimate goal of fallen men, but we have embraced their methods. Those methods are wholly contrary to the Word of God. Virtually the entire range of church activity is hostile to His revealed method and means. We keep turning to fallen mankind for our instructions on this issue, ignoring that their instructions are based on a false hope of taking over as gods of this universe. I don’t know of a single religious organization in existence on this earth that promotes God’s ways of doing what little can be done to fix things up. We have rejected the mission and the means, and we insist on methods devised by men hostile to the message of Christ.
Correcting this secondary mistake is the purpose of my writing about God’s Laws. That’s not the message here. The message here is that the churches seem to have no clue of the basic “why” of things, so they can’t possibly do the right things.
Stop organizing around perceived human need. Stop planning to grow a church organization with more members and a bigger budget and facility. Those are human goals, totally missing the point. God may grant those things, but they should never be codified in written planning unless it is first acknowledged they don’t really matter. Engineers and planners are not the church hierarchy, and certainly not the spiritual leadership. Their vision is practical answers, but deciding what needs to be engineered is a wholly different level of operation. No one should be seriously frustrated if they find the organization has planned things that don’t happen. All our human aims are mere estimates of where we are at the moment. Investing deep emotional energy into the mere facts of our human existence and instrumentality is blasphemous.
Do you suppose it was for nothing God called Abraham to the life of a tent-dwelling nomad? There were plenty of ancient palaces and temples, but God’s primary representative on earth was a nomad. Do you suppose it was some kind of accident of history that God had Israel living in tents for such a long time? Does it occur to you that investing much of anything into human facilities is all wrong? Centralizing into one huge organization is an abomination in the first place. We should have gotten that message at the Tower of Babel. There shouldn’t be a single congregation on this earth any larger than a couple hundred members. I don’t pretend to know the threshold; that’s an engineering question for experts in behavioral science, but concentrations of wealth and human talent are not what God had in mind. People love that grand vision of greatness as humans measure it, but God calls it an evil obsession. The human organization and facilities are not the Kingdom of God. While I can convince plenty of organizations to put that in writing, it seems no one can persuade them to live accordingly.
Churches were meant to live as tribal communities scattered across the face of the earth. Each was meant to be deeply involved in the locale where the people came together for the purpose of His glory here on earth. They do quite simply what they can, with the resources they gain from whatever it is God calls them to do. Use what you have, not what you imagine you can get for something a fallen man tells you is essential. If the world takes us seriously on its own terms, we are in deep trouble. Dying on the Cross was not a human success; see John 15:18f.
The Hebrew model of life is God’s model for the churches. The church leadership was meant to be two kinds: organizational and ritual. The pastor is not an organizational leader but a ritual leader. There should be ruling elders who operate like Ancient Hebrew clan elders. The idea is not to whip the organization into shape, but to simply come together in seeking to conquer the flesh. We plan for the power of the Holy Spirit to shine through; we make room for that, even as we fully expect the bulk of activity will ignore Him even in the church. Conquering the fallen flesh nature does not happen by the disciplines of the flesh. The church is meant to be an on-going crisis in itself, always in some state of flux because the included humans are always facing new problems. The church victorious does not look like a human army marching over the corpses of their enemy, unless you understand those corpses should be our own, for we are our own enemies. We should pay scant attention to human problems as anything more than a background against which we seek to die.
Death is our goal. It can come as a penalty, and while we can’t possibly understand how, dying without first killing off some measure of our flesh puts us before God somewhat empty-handed. It means we didn’t get the job done; we died for the wrong reason. Otherwise, we seek to earn our exit from this realm. We cannot possibly earn our entrance into His Presence, but we do earn our share of His glory. We earn it not by accomplishments, but by killing the flesh and accomplishments. We earn it by learning to discount the elements of our human existence as having any great importance. We die slowly, bit by bit, working our way out of human concerns. That’s why we can be generous and giving, suffering with others who don’t understand so well — we don’t worry about clinging to things they seem to want and need. We can’t hope to comprehend in the flesh the balance between doing too little and too much for any one person’s needs, so we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us in the moment to know what He wants us to do.
I can’t feed every hungry child, so I let God tell me which children I shall feed, and He gets to choose who I will not feed. The ones who go hungry are His problem. Human suffering we understand, and we commiserate, but we don’t get wrapped up in it. Don’t let the needy person decide what you must do for them. Their suffering is not a guide to our work; His moral justice is and virtually no one in Western Christianity has a clue what that is. Don’t let your own human inclinations and wisdom rule whom and how you help. Let the Lord guide your choices as the instrumentality of His glory. For all the people Jesus fed by miracles, there were thousands more who continued going hungry.
The final issue is our vast ocean of hostility to operating in the Spirit. We have so deeply and thoroughly defined “spiritual” as cerebral that there is little hope for many to ever operate spiritually. That’s a part of our hostility to Hebrew mysticism, a mysticism God Himself built on earth as the means to understanding His revelation.
Yes, we are fallen, and our vast ocean of bad religion is not making anything better.
Translation of the Bible into English is inevitably difficult. Virtually every translation I’ve read does something I find objectionable. That’s because knowing how to get an English word or phrase from one of the biblical languages is no guarantee you got the right one. There is a substantial culture and history translation, too. There are biases, and not a single English translation approaches it with a genuine Hebrew mindset. They make the assumption someone writing in Greek must have been thinking in Greek, when clearly some of them were not.
So we have words and phrases from the Bible that don’t mean for us what it meant for the authors in many cases. Some biblical language has been imbued with a different meaning by readers far removed, convinced their viewpoint itself is holy. You cannot build a theology from a translation; you have to learn better what the first audience would have gotten from it. Written and spoken language can never represent independent truth, as if anyone centuries later can simply pick it up and get it 100%.
Phrases used interchangeably in most Christian religious conversation: born-again, born from above, having spiritual life or spiritual birth, saved, redeemed. Sadly, those last two are not the same as the others in the Bible. In the context of the Hebrew culture, they could include saved on this level without reference to the spiritual level. In other words, the average American Christian confuses the Two Realms very badly. Even with all the help of folks like Augustine and his Two Cities, we still get it wrong because Augustine himself was a bit confused and too Platonic.
Conversion and spiritual birth are not synonymous.
Because of my years of training and experience in psychology, chances are good I could convert most people. Given sufficient time and clues to what motivates them positively and negatively, I can eventually sell one kind of religion or another. Add enough enthusiasm and it would be whole herds of people.
The problem is, it has to have some measure of falsehood in it. There has to be some sort of fundamentalist edge to it, something about it that removes very real choices from your frame of reference. If I do it well enough, there’s a very good chance you’ll be committed for life. Right up to the day you die, you will believe and act accordingly.
But what about after that?
There is a correlation between conversion and eternal life, but no causal link. Indeed, the saddest part of my imaginary scenario is a virtual guarantee that a convert will believe he is going to Heaven and it doesn’t happen. Instead, he brings his assurance that he has the Holy Spirit and a genuine faculty of faith into the church and proceeds to implement his false faith.
That’s because “conversion” is a very well established term in behavioral science. We can explain how it happens and duplicate the effect in the majority of people we encounter on the street. It’s a form or manipulation, a purely psychological effect. When I attended college as a preacher boy, that’s what I was taught to do through my sermons, lessons and various “evangelism” skills.
Who remembers Evangelism Explosion? How about The Four Spiritual Laws? Since those came out, I’ve seen a huge number of personal evangelism training curricula with all kinds of cute or edgy names. If you can package it, it’s fake. It’s manipulation, brainwashing and it brings about mere psychological conversion. It produces a vast sea of “Christians” who remain spiritually dead and are utterly certain they are not. It’s a cultural Christianity with it’s own language and habits. It explains the buttonholing manipulation programs, the memorized/canned spiel with its compelling logic, which have angered so many who aren’t that easy to manipulate.
It’s called “decision theology.” The language of “Jesus’ offer of salvation” and “invite Jesus into your heart” is not in the Bible. It’s a Western rationalist approach people read back into Scripture. It’s efficiency and efficacy from an alien perspective. It’s about bringing the mighty miracle powers of God down under human control. That ain’t happening.
I would love it if there was anything at all you or I could do that would bring about spiritual birth. Sorry, but God keeps that entirely under His hat; He refused to explain how it works on His end, on what basis He chooses. He does not surrender Himself to our sense of justice and logic. The problem is on our end. He does what He does, and the one thing He put in our hands was the call to repent coupled with the power to live that same repentance ourselves. Spiritual birth is not a choice anyone but God can make.
If I offer the truth, and do so truthfully, you remain totally free of my control. I recognize the results are not in my hands. I refuse to do the things that would bring about a result that satisfies my fleshly intellect. God alone can make His Laws winsome with or without spiritual birth, so spiritual birth is surely His alone. All I can do is talk about it and tell you what I experienced, because there is a part of me that encounters God personally on some level. I can’t afford to fake it.
Mysticism comes naturally for me.
It was no great struggle to adopt the idea that material wealth isn’t that important; most of my life was in poverty. It’s not sour grapes, just a different experience. When you spend so much of your time doing without, you realize what most people consider essential to life, isn’t essential. From there, it’s just a short hop to realizing life itself isn’t that essential. Thus, I say that in Scripture, life or death is just a circumstance.
You’ll notice it hardly affected my education. As with all humans, I have gaps because it’s a simple matter of exposure. At the critical time when I needed it, the school I attended taught phonics. At the critical time I could have learned it, I didn’t get very far with parts of speech. I learned grammar by feel, largely through reading so very many books up through middle adulthood. Somewhere around age 7 I discovered the power of reading as the means to exploring my world. What got me through the rest of my education wasn’t such marvelously precise grammar but a native language talent for which I cannot take credit.
Most of the lower classes understand far better than their superiors would allow. The educated poor are simply incomprehensible to the middlings. What we understand is that we can choose to be whatever comes in the package with middle class status, or remain in poverty and do what we like. Perhaps through exceptional artistry we can bulldoze through the middle class society because we have something they simply must have but cannot produce. It doesn’t happen often. But what shocks most people is the depth to which that different experience can change your perception of things.
Hostility is not at all necessary. Particularly when your poverty and education lead you to mysticism. I’m not hostile to the middle class, though I can regale you for hours with tales of their hostility to me and my kind. I won’t. The point is not what I’ve suffered, but what they suffer. A solid historical study of the rise of the middle class from the ashes of feudalism in Europe is so very informative. The middlings are the ones who burned it down. You discover the hideous materialism of Puritan religion, and how it is directly linked to the Pharisaism Jesus faced. And it’s no mystery where Charismatic name-it-and-claim-it religion comes from. The very assumption of the middle class lifestyle is the utter necessity and primacy of worldly possessions. Mammon is the god of the middle class, inescapably. All their self-professed virtues are deeply stained by it.
The endless pretense of being upper class in wealth without the social and cultural refinements is a huge blind spot. The original burgers at the end of the Middle Ages were desperate for the respect given nobility, and pretense is so very fundamental to their existence. This is easily the single greatest break between myself and the sizable collection of libertarians among the politically active middle class. They consider me a brother in arms so long as I don’t promote freedoms beyond the barricades of their narrow brand of American middle class liberties.
There is nothing sacred about dressing just so and behaving according to their social dictates. Nor is it particularly noble, but you can’t get that past their internal censorship. They see a threat in so very many things the lower classes really do like. The biggest stumbling block is contentious issue of “saving for a rainy day.” In the lower classes, rain or sunshine are mere circumstance, as with death and taxes. It’s simply part of what we face, and getting wet means nothing more than a few extra minutes here and there accommodating what it does to us. Nor is it merely the vagaries of weather, but the broader symbolism that goes with the popular phrase. We aren’t that interested in tomorrow because today wasn’t so wonderful, at least where it concerns material possessions. We are wise enough to recognize tomorrow is ruled by people who won’t let us enjoy life. It takes all we have to make it today, so saving for tomorrow is utterly meaningless.
Instead, if we can’t consume it ourselves — and we’ll try — we give it away to someone else like us who didn’t get their share. We fully expect to work until we die, and die working or begging. Begging is harder work than you imagine, wading through the stiff current of social resistance. Some of us would rather starve. Indeed, we’d rather starve than live in the world of the middle class. There is a lot of work we could do, but won’t because it’s just morally wrong. We see where the whole thing leads to a hideous, empty life of chasing things we don’t miss. Especially when the boss demands we think and say what he believes, in violent assault on our freedom of conscience. Your brand of help is a slavery too degrading to accept.
The American middle class and their virtues are no more representative of Jesus Christ than would be whales in the ocean or birds in the sky. Changing the particular mixture of minor points of virtue doesn’t change the underlying falsehood of things. You don’t like sagging pants and tattoos? Don’t look at us. Turn away; we’ll deal with that. You want to know why the suburban white kids are adopting prison gang habits? Because your social structure has made it impossible for their creativity to rise in any other way. You mean you didn’t realize you were putting such a very high portion of the lower classes in prison for no real harm, such that you have scooped up the whole of our random sprinkling of geniuses, too? Never mind your tastes compared to that of others; the suburbanites ape the prisoners because the prisoners have created a vivid alternative society, and you have forced them to be hostile to yours. That faux prison gang lifestyle is now the future, because you refused to capture the geniuses of tomorrow.
Do you think we look longingly at your fancy cars and houses? Some do, no doubt, but by no means all of us. That we don’t own a suit and tie is not an abomination to God. The only leverage you have for enforcing your dress code is not letting us work for you at your oh-so-important job. Whoop-de-doo. Meanwhile, if we can find a way to get what we really have to have by exercising our free market talents that you don’t understand, we’ll do that.
Sometime back around the middle of the previous century, a businessman with a good heart built a mattress factory in the area where the Ponca Indians lived in Oklahoma. It was the real deal, and he expected to bring prosperity and good paying jobs to them. Lord knows, they needed it. So he hired just about any Ponca who came to work. They worked until the first pay day, then disappeared for awhile. Yes, sometimes they got drunk, but that was merely a symptom of something much more important. The natives weren’t acquisitive. That is a heresy for the middle class. The men did really good quality work and turned out some really fine mattresses at lower wages than most white men would tolerate, but when they had enough for their basic needs of life, they had better things to do. It’s not a failure of work ethic; they did other work that paid little or nothing, but was the work they normally did. It was failure of greed.
You’d be surprised how much Indian blood there is among the poor whites of Oklahoma, including yours truly. Not just shared DNA, but their culture is a pure and easily identified version of what all the lower classes tend to share. We are the superstitious barbarians who find it easier to follow Jesus because we recognize things in His teachings to which you are utterly and adamantly opposed. Yes, there are plenty of predators among, same as with you. Ours share more with the middle class than the rest of us do. They want middle class stuff, but on their own terms. Instead of picking up on what the middle class say they do, the predators copy what the middle class did to them. The willingness to buy influence in politics is a classic symptom of the middle class; it’s how they got their original political leverage against the nobility of the Middle Ages.
Class envy and resentment didn’t originate with us. We learned it from you.
It’s hard to explain, but at the expense of oversimplifying it goes like this: The nobility once had access to wealth as a privilege of their position. They kept the rules and the means to enforce those rules. In the broader sense, the rules included a high degree of intellectual refinement, if unevenly applied. It was wrong for nobles to assume only noble blood could be intelligent, so this blind spot left them open to a subtle attack. They assumed no peasant was smart enough to pull any tricks, but a few ambitious and intelligent peasants took unholy umbrage at the system and vengefully attacked it. Instead of direct force of arms, they conquered the existing ruling class by other means. Still, the fundamental driving force was pure greed, not something easily found among the nobility. The latter weren’t greedy because they already had all the power and wealth, but they were arrogant. The middle class resentment of privilege and wealth, as is so very fundamental to the Puritan doctrine, made noble wealth an insult to God in their minds. Those nasty nobles didn’t “work” for their wealth, so it wasn’t possible for God to want them wealthy. It was some vast conspiracy of the Devil, and the burghers used good old Gramscian economic guerrilla warfare to take it all away. Communism is just as materialist as it’s primary ideological enemy.
The fundamental assumptions of the Enlightenment only half caught on with the burghers. They were somewhat educated, but could not tolerate the freedom of the lower classes. They didn’t depart from the nobles in their arrogance about lesser folk. Virtually the entire gamut of “quality of life” legislation, and almost the entire range of police activity today, is a direct reflection of the middle class spitefulness against other folks. Having worked in law enforcement, I can assure you the vast bulk of “crime fighting” has nothing to do with fighting genuine harm. The entire profession of civil policeman is a creation of the middle class. They enforce laws only the middle class care about. It was the middle class who realized the ability to dominate voting, so they demanded popular vote as the means to ruling society, with certain disenfranchisements, of course. Any other means to organizing government is anathema. Democratic government is holy, and only a child of Satan could wish any other form of government. Lip service to the rights of the minority didn’t last long in history, as we all know.
Aside from the rare reminders such as this one I write this morning, it’s not worth the trouble to explain our alternative viewpoint to the professional libertarians or other branches of middle class political philosophy. It’s all the same to those of us on the bottom, because it’s just an excuse to stomp on us for daring to think differently about every day life. I’m not in love with poverty any more than I care much about prosperity. It’s just a tool for things far more important than fleshly comfort or even this whole existence in the first place. There is no particular virtue in raising the common welfare through material progress. I know; shocking to say it, but there more important things. I won’t name names, but some really big shots have praised some of my other articles on this blog, but they’ll never read this one. If they do, they’ll be blind to how completely it applies to them.
Keep your freakin’ suit and tie and your material prosperity; you simply do not understand.
Modern Western society suffers from a myth regarding individual liberty.
In one of my earliest papers on Hebrew thought, I noted “everyone serves someone.” It was not simply a spiritual statement but a moral principle. That is, in God’s Laws, every human is subject to some human authority on this earth. Most governing authorities are awful, but Christ expects us to be tolerant. Roman civil government was no calk-walk for Christians, but resistance as commonly understood was downright immoral. It still is. The command remains for us to do what’s right even when government is wrong. Perhaps an attempt to flee false justice is okay, but outright violent resistance is forbidden in most cases. I noted long ago you could justify violent resistance to the likes of Child Protective Services, but it might be very bad strategy.
I’ve also warned repeatedly that context is everything, and trying to apply a few choice words as if they were absolutes in all cases is downright evil. I spent a lot of time working in military justice, and it is an abomination to God. That’s because semantic parsing of precise wording in regulations is the law, and the judicial process was mostly a matter of whose parsing is more correct. Of all our allies in this world, the US is regarded as the most egregiously stupid about the precise wording of military regulations, even if it meant mandating things clearly wrong on every level of human understanding. The God of the Bible does not operate that way, and virtually nothing in the Hebrew culture came even close to that hidebound approach so utterly fundamental to military justice.
Part of the reason the military has nit-picking regulations about such silly things as how you will lace your boots is because of the underlying truculence of soldiers determined to fight everything at every opportunity. That truculence arises from the mythology of the free man crashing against an execrable insistence on a molecular level of uniformity.
Western culture is schizophrenic. Virtually the whole thing is composed of mutually antagonistic thrusts. One thing which is both deeply sacred and at the same time so routinely violated is the concept of individual liberty. It’s not a problem with “liberty” as a word, but the underlying pool of meaning. That meaning is a flagrant violation of God’s revelation. One of the three primary temptations in the Garden was the lust to be one’s own god. “Dammit; don’t tell me what to do!” On the one hand, we make a god of absolute liberty, which is a thin mask of damnable lack of accountability and responsibility. Then we pretend we can apply “sensible” limitations based on such things as Zero Aggression or various forms of social accountability. Nice theory, but it is utterly contrary to what God says about human nature.
Western man continues rejecting God’s revelation on the matter because he demands God supply detailed, precisely worded regulations. God says the very demand itself is evil. He says it in the veiled and nuanced way He says almost everything. He demands we submit to His broader personal will before we are permitted to digest the particulars. In other words, He is God, not we. Our natural Western truculence is complete failure before we start. The God who created the Hebrew intellectual culture as the channel for His revelation isn’t going to mold Himself to intellectual demands from another culture. If your approach is particularist and nit-picking, you can do anything you want, but don’t expect God to participate.
Yes, that leaves us all dangling in Fuzzy Logic Land where each of us can come up with a different idea, sometimes even conflicting interpretations, and God still works with us. The measure of holiness is not precision in application or clarity of logic, but ultimate surrender to His personal desires, even if they seem capricious and make no sense at all. The burden is on us to work it out, and the burden includes a grand layer of uncertainty. Deal with it, Creature.
The pool of reflexes we associate with liberty in Western society are mostly wrong. God says we start from the assumption of cooperating until we find, not a justification, but a necessity we do otherwise. Our Western mythology starts from the wrong basis. Everyone submits to someone — that’s a basic truth. The question is not whether but whom. When it comes to the ultimate authority to decide what is in a child’s best interest, would you prefer a secular state claiming a level of control and ownership that makes you a slave? Or would you prefer the mother, with all her flaws, have that ultimate authority? The latter envisions a society where the family household is the center of power over virtually all human activity. The former rips virtually everything from the family’s hands. Hint: The former is an abomination in God’s eyes.
A Hebrew soldier in ancient times would not look for any excuse to lace his boots in defiance of convention. His commanders would not give a rat’s patootie either way, so long as he showed up and did his duty. His commanders would not demand a high-degree of detailed control because they would find the whole thing impossible to lead into battle if they couldn’t rely on a basic level of moral accountability, a sense of duty carried by the individual soldier. And while American military literature does have lots of nice words to say about mature soldiers with a good attitude, the entire system militates against it. From a biblical perspective, an American troop is one of the lowest kinds of slave. He is not a proud warrior but a machine to be driven heedless of any possible interest in his welfare, despite words to the contrary. His “welfare” is measured in terms of monetary investment and maintenance, with a well established expiration and replacement policy.
Let me offer a single item to suggest which system is more noble: Hebrew combat leaders marched into battle at the head of their formations and were the first to strike the enemy. Modern American combat leaders are the last to get involved directly. Hebrew officers earned rank and respect by surviving in battle and doing the most damage to the enemy. I can assure you that modern battle tactics are not a valid excuse for changing the underlying moral imperatives.
Most questions and controversies of our day are answered from this frame of reference.
- Abortion: Would you rather the mother be free to choose or some government bureaucrat who hates God?
- Gay Marriage: Would you rather such questions be settled in a strong family social structure or by some civil government that hates the mere suggestion of such coherence, but prefers you all be isolated and prostrate before bureaucratic dictat?
- Private Weapons: Would you prefer a regime that basically considers all armed persons as competent assets against disorder, or an absolutist state that treats everyone as slaves?
- Pornography: Would you prefer a social structure that protects the vulnerable and only a few rare flakes with full freedom to pursue their limited access to perversion, or the tyranny of someone snooping in your underwear to make sure you don’t show anything to anyone who isn’t duly authorized for state purposes?
You either implement what God had in mind or you surrender to an oppressive system designed by Satan. There are no other options.
Those who find the current regime easy to manipulate in favor of their personal benefit are not good people. That is, the only people happy with what we have today in America are folks who spit in God’s eye. God will not sponsor the sort of craven sheeple who go along to get along and prefer to leverage their feeble morality through the secular state. Those sheeple will not comprehend what is happening to them because they are utterly blind to the moral fabric of the universe. They will sing their happy hymns and dream of a society God will never allow. If you feel a compulsion to activism, at least choose accurately to agitate for what God has said is necessary for improving life on this planet, this fallen plane.
Liberty is always within the context of reality.