Tag Archives: religion

Pass the (Plate) Pipe

What a mockery. By now you have heard of the International Church of Cannabis which celebrated its grand opening on April 20th. At 4:20 pm the church held a private ceremony where invited members were allowed to light up and smoke — 420 is doper slang for marijuana.

Lighting up is one of the sacraments of the church. One man who traveled from England to participate said, “I don’t think marijuana is spiritual — I know it is. The plant returns us to our shamanistic roots, before spirituality was stolen by religion.”

The church adheres to no specific practice except for the use of marijuana.

Elevation Ministries operates the church — a renovated, 113-year-old house of worship located in Denver, Colorado. A state amendment to ban pot smoking in church was quickly shot down.

Here’s the thing. Marijuana is illegal by federal law. I expect we will see the Trump Administration cracking down on states that have decriminalized, or legalized marijuana consumption.

As a Christian I believe that Colorado, for example, is in violation of the law. People say to me, “Where is your compassion?”

See, this is what happens when people surrender to the deception. We’re not talking about compassion. We’re talking about people who want to get high.

Since 1985 the FDA has approved dronabinol for the treatment of nausea and lack of appetite in patients with cancer, or AIDS.

The active ingredient is THC — tetrahydrocannabinol is concentrated in the marijuana plant.

The pill form can be legally prescribed. It has proven efficacy — lasting up to five hours. It is cheaper ($15 – $30 per month) and can replace dangerous opioids for the management of chronic pain.

What is it missing? The Rocky Mountain high.

This is the reality. A 24-year-old skateboarder twists his ankle, gets a prescription for marijuana, and sits at home with a stash of munchies to enjoy his legal buzz. In the old days he would have had to buy a bag on the street, and risk getting caught by the police.

The liberals (and dopers) pushed the compassionate mantra until society relented. This was never about an elderly patient with a terminal illness, but about the legalization of marijuana.

Doctors could legally prescribe a pill for dying patients, but this wasn’t about taking a pill. It was about the experience of rolling the weed, passing the joint, and getting stoned.

The Colorado representative who sponsored the bill to ban pot smoking in church said that the cannabis church was an offense to religious people everywhere.

Frankly, I’m stupefied at the decline of our moral standards. It is an alarming downward trend, but to be expected when a nation rejects God.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Religion and Politics (3)

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First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

Readers who are following this series on religion and politics may be thinking, “I should have stayed awake in civics class.”

Liberals, in their assault on Christianity, will always cite this principle — the separation of church and state. Where do we see this written in the First Amendment? It’s not.

What the left seeks to do when citing this clause is to remove Christianity from the public square, but this is the wrong application of what Thomas Jefferson implied in his famous letter to the Danbury Baptist church.

Danbury was located in Connecticut where the dominant brand of Christianity was Congregationalist. The original 13 colonies were, in one sense, defined by their church affiliation, or denomination. For example, Quakers were concentrated in the northern colonies, Methodists in the middle colonies and Baptists for the most part settled in the south.

If you were a Baptist in Connecticut you could face discrimination and persecution. At the Constitutional convention the issue of religious liberty, in the context of Christianity, was hotly debated. The colonies wanted to retain their unique religious identity. In the end, Federalists won the debate with the insertion of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion.

Meaning? The Federal government would not declare, as the colonies had done, that any particular denomination be chartered as the official state church. In other words, there would be no Church of England in the United States.

In theory, a Quaker could live and worship freely in Pennsylvania or Virginia. In practice, the state constitutions reflected colonial sentiment so that by the 19th century religious discrimination still existed. This was the catalyst for the Danbury Baptist Association to send a letter of complaint to the newly elected president Thomas Jefferson.

Dated October 7, 1801 the letter made five specific points:

1. Religion is a matter between God and man.

2. The legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who does wrong.

3. Religious freedom is an inalienable right, not granted favor.

4. Those who seek power under the pretense of government and religion are a reproach to their fellow-man.

5. It is not the prerogative of government to make laws that govern the kingdom of Christ.

Jefferson, a citizen of Virginia (where Baptist was the dominant affiliation), sent this letter to the Danbury church:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

The principle of separation is not found in the First Amendment, but in a letter written by President Jefferson to a church in Connecticut.

Meaning? That the government of man be separated from the institution of religion — not that the church be removed from the public square; and that it be permitted to exercise its inalienable rights without fear of persecution or discrimination.

This separation is a legal barrier that the state cannot cross. Yet the Democrat Party, and their liberal judges, throw out the Ten Commandments, deny the sanctity of life, redefine marriage, open bathrooms to any pedophile, and find people of faith contemptuous for standing up.

Understanding the historical directive that government stay out of religion we see, today, an inverted application of that principle. The state is very much involved in silencing the church. Consider Senate Bill 1146 in California. Introduced by Ricardo Lara, it specifically targets Christian colleges. For example, under the legislation a faith-based college could not require its students to sign a statement of faith, or attend chapel services. Further, students would not be required to take Bible-based courses; and restroom access would have to be made compliant with the needs of LGBTQ students. An even more prohibitive version of the legislation was passed by the Senate, but there was such an outcry of protest that Lara removed the bill from consideration — though he said that he might re-introduce it at a later date.

Lee Wilhite, vice president of university communications at Biola University, said:

It functionally eliminates the religious liberty of all California faith-based universities. It really does infringe on how we carry out our mission. We would no longer be able to require a profession of faith for students. That’s something Biola requires of all incoming students. The danger for Biola University is that it prevents us from carrying out our mission the way we have for 108 years. It would eliminate our ability to continue our mission.

Senator Lara is the first openly gay person of color elected to the California State Senate. His legislation would have permitted a gay student to sue a Christian college if it taught the Biblical definition of marriage. Minority students, who would have been denied student loans (Cal Grant), were among the most vocal opponents of Lara’s bill.

Pastor John MacArthur (Grace to You) was asked at this week’s service for his opinion on election politics. He cited all the Scriptures that affirm our citizenship is in heaven — that we are called to preach the Gospel … not engage in politics (which is a worldly concern). And though the choice is often between two evils, as a citizen, MacArthur said he has the obligation to vote for the person who will do less harm.

Listen, I grew up in a day when no one had a cell phone, and everyone knew that marriage was between a man and a woman. If just one-third of the electorate got wise we could make history, but Christians have to get off the sidelines, stop voting for a party that holds them in contempt … and pray.

Notes:

1. Democrats, LGBT Activists’ Sinister Plan to Crack Down on Christian Schools, Todd Starnes, Fox News Opinion.

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Religion and Politics (2)

Religion and Politics

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Religion and Politics (2)

Whenever Bishop Jackson speaks he creates a firestorm of controversy. Bishop pulls no punches when standing by the Word of God. If you have a heart for the LORD, these videos should make your blood circulate.

This series of articles should be read in the context of Matthew 26:11 where Jesus said we would always have the poor; and with the understanding that government cannot solve this problem.

Let me say from the outset that politics thoroughly disgusts me, but it wasn’t always the case. When the Lord was calling me to Bible college, I enrolled in grad school and earned a Master’s in Public Administration. I was going to become a political bureaucrat and save the world.

The Lord quickly disabused me of that grandiose plan. As citizens we have a degree of civic responsibility, but the state is not our master. Peter and John, when told to stop preaching Jesus, replied they could not obey that command (Acts 4:19–20).

Told a second time to stop preaching Christ, they responded, We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

The apostle Paul wrote that, as Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20–21).

We are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:16) — and are, therefore, instructed to hate the things of this world:

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not from the Father but from the world (1 John 2:15).

Jesus said that the world will hate us (Matthew 10:22) so it should come as no surprise that Christians are facing escalating levels of hostility and intolerance. Which begs the question: Who are the real bigots — those who love the world, or we who love God?

I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Allegiance to a political party, in my opinion, is idolatry. We are Christians, citizens of God’s kingdom. He is our authority to whom we owe everything. Our rights and liberties are granted by God, and it is the responsibility of the state to safeguard those rights.

The freedom of religion, as conceived by the Founders, was in the context of Christianity. Public buildings were used for Sunday worship, and it wasn’t a crime to place a cross on public land.

The Holy Spirit has churned my soul to speak out on the current state of our Union which is becoming increasingly hostile towards a Biblical worldview. Has society completely lost its senses to allow for any pervert or pedophile to freely enter the bathroom of their choice? Liberals will quickly deny that like when they said medical marijuana was for the benefit of dying patients. Really? Now, any skate-boarding doper with a sprained ankle can get a prescription for pot.

Proposition 8 was a 2008 California ballot initiative to amend the state’s constitution to legally define marriage as between a man and a woman. It passed with the overwhelming support of black voters — 70% of whom voted to uphold the traditional definition of marriage. (It was later overturned by the Supreme Court.)

I posed this question in chapter one: Why do Christians vote for a party that unequivocally supports anti-Christian policies?

According to the Pew Research Center black Americans are more religious than any group in America.

African-Americans (87%) are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole, including level of affiliation with a religion, attendance at religious services, frequency of prayer and religion’s importance in life. (Hispanic-Americans are not far behind at 83%.)

Why, then, do they vote overwhelmingly for a party that supports abortion and gay marriage? Why do they align politically with those who say that teaching the Bible to our children is child abuse, or quoting the Bible in defense of marriage is hate-speech?

Welfare and abortion — Democrat policies — have decimated black American families. Minority women represent only 13% of the population yet account for 36% of abortions. Since Roe v. Wade 16 million black American babies have been aborted.

Abortion kills more black Americans than disease, drugs and violence combined — almost 900 black babies will die today. Infanticide is immoral and horrific. How can any Christian vote Democrat?

If black lives matter we can no longer ignore the facts. Black people, as a race, have been mired in economic stagnation despite the fact that the government has spent trillions of dollars in a vain attempt to end poverty. Robert F. Kennedy, that stalwart advocate of the poor, recognized that welfare stripped people of their dignity and enslaved them in the quicksand of dependency. As Senator, he tried to amend the welfare laws to wean people off of government assistance, and into jobs. Welfare reform (signed into law by Bill Clinton) reflected the pragmatism of RFK.

The poorest families in America are those headed by a single parent. Two out of every three children living in a single-parent household are black. As was noted in chapter one, public policy has contributed to the disintegration of African-American families who are disproportionately affected by violence, drugs and incarceration.

In the following chart note the poverty rate increase during recession (indicated by the shaded bars), and compare with the decline in rates during economic growth (between the bars). Job creation, not government assistance, is the prescription. If we level out the economic component we see a poverty rate of 15% unchanged since 1967. A half-century, and 19 trillion dollars later — however you crunch the numbers — shouldn’t we have expected better results?

Blue line charts official poverty rate — see notes.

Dr. Ben Carson was criticized when he claimed that there are ten-times the number of people receiving welfare today than when the programs began. The Washington Post did a FactCheck and determined it was more like three or four times. The fact is that Carson’s general statement is correct.

The Bible has a prescription for poverty, and that is … charity. But it is not charity when the government takes from one person and gives it to another. That is confiscation — no, that is stealing.

Look at what Democrat policies have wrought. The centerpiece of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was the War on Poverty. According to the Census Bureau the percentage of poor families with a single woman as head of household has increased from 34.8% – 50.3%. Most of these families are black and, as cited earlier, 67% of black American children are living with only one parent. That is a social and cultural disaster.

Where is the church? Where is the faith of the most religious of all Americans?

Earl Walker “E. W.” Jackson, Sr. is an American conservative politician, Christian minister, and lawyer in Virginia. He was the unsuccessful Republican Party nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election … wikipedia

Notes:

OPM (Official Poverty Measure) is based on an income threshold set by the federal government. In 2014, a family of four earning less than $23,850 would be classified as under the threshold. While the OPM has remained steady relative to income, there are other ways — inflation, consumption and taxation — to measure the poverty rate. Liberals will invariably cite these adjusted measures which artificially indicate a downward trend in the poverty rate.

Census Bureau statistics clearly indicate a marked drop in the OPM before the inauguration of the Great Society. Tax cuts and job growth padded a 15% decline in the poverty rate. After 1967, the downward trend leveled out.

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Religion and Politics

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For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me (John 12:8).

The Conservative Ledger is my dormant political blog. Suspended in 2010, it now previews only a sampling of the hundreds of articles that were posted over the many years that I wrote political commentary. I like to say that the LORD healed me of the sin of politics.

However, the current state of our Union demands that Christians stand firm to resist a society and culture that is becoming increasingly hostile towards a Biblical worldview.

There are a good number of Christians — enough to turn an election — who have made a faithful decision to not participate in the political system. There are a smaller number — like the six million so-called evangelicals who voted Democrat in 2012 — who denied the presidency to Mitt Romney.

How can a Christian vote for a party that unequivocally supports policies that are anti-Christian? It is most likely that these voters see the Democrat Party as the champion of the poor and downtrodden. If these were of the greatest concern to Jesus Christ shouldn’t they also be the burden of His church?

I submit that the state has co-opted what God ordained to be the sole responsibility of the church.

The state confiscates trillions of dollars from hard-working citizens who need that money to support their own families and charities; while the church, operating like a corporation, has failed to be a faithful steward of the resources it collects. Understand that it is false idealism to believe that either institution can heal the disease of poverty.

What did James, Peter and John instruct Paul?

… to remember the poor (Galatians 2:10).

Paul had previously sent money, collected from the Gentile churches, to the saints in Jerusalem. In his letter to the Romans, Paul makes note of the churches in Macedonia and Achaia that raised money for the Jewish Christians (Romans 15:26–27). The Corinthians and Galatians were asked to take up a collection as well (1 Corinthians 16:1–3).

It seems as if the Apostle’s missionary journeys were of two-fold purpose — to spread the Gospel, and collect money for the poor.

James wrote that pure religion is to visit the widows and orphans (James 1:27) But even this was means-tested.

If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows (1 Timothy 5:16).

Paul wrote, If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). His instructions to Timothy would seem to uphold the idea that charity begins at home. If families were responsible to one another they would not be a burden to the state, nor the church. Imagine, no homeless problem.

The family unit is the bedrock of God’s creation, but social policies by design have constructed a society that is dependent not on God and family, but the binding tentacles of an all-powerful state. In exchange for this dependency we have forfeited a measure of our rights and liberties. Government assistance is not free. It comes at a cost, and with strings attached.

The welfare state has decimated the poorest families. Benefits are reduced or withheld if there is an able-bodied person living in the home. This has caused fathers to abandon their families, or women to have children out-of-wedlock. Welfare was especially destructive of black American families who became a subjugated class in bondage to inter-generational dependence on government assistance. The state contributed to the underclass growth of single-parent households who have suffered disproportionately the social ills of drugs, violence and incarceration.

Called transfer payments by policy wonks, the confiscation of trillions of dollars from those who work has created a stagnant middle class that carries the load of burdensome taxation.

Just what is the primary role of government? To protect its citizens according to Paul (Romans 13:1–7); and that is why we pay taxes — for protection, not social engineering.

At its core the social welfare state is built upon a Marxist worldview. The Progressive movement of the 1920’s was essentially an adoption of European socialism. It became fully entrenched as official government policy with the enactment of FDR’s New Deal program in the 1930’s. Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev) said, “There was no God, there was only FDR.”

See our post, The Progressive Deception.

Liberal Christians, believing that these programs fulfilled the teachings of Jesus, were wholly supportive. They began preaching what was then called The Social Gospel. It read like a copy of Das Kapital in that it supported the Marxist ideal of economic justice. This gospel taught that economic equality would bring about the kingdom of God on earth. The movement attracted a myriad of social activists (including feminists and environmentalists) who were otherwise predisposed not to a Biblical worldview, but the establishment of a socialist utopian state.

[My socialist professor of Environmental Ecology taught in 1974 that the United States had to de-industrialize, or else the world’s oceans would be dead in 25 years.]

The Social Gospel thrives in the liberal church. It is known by its fruit — the celebration and acceptance of policies that undermine the God-centered traditions of marriage and family.

Joseph Stalin was quoted:

Destroy the family, you destroy the nation.

Wake up people.

Those of you who say that Christians should not be politically active make very good arguments. I have the utmost respect for the brethren who cite Scripture to support their stance. Jesus and His disciples were not politically active — My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) — I get it.

I would only ask that you consider this — would Jerusalem have voted to be free of her Roman oppressors? We have an obligation as citizens of this country to exercise our Constitutional rights — liberties that have been granted by God. Peter, James and John could not enter a ballot box. You can. I will grant that the kingdom of God will not arrive by election, but fervent prayer. However, the church (empowered by the Holy Spirit) is a restraining force in this world, and we must present ourselves as salt and light even in the arena of politics.

Bottom line: Jesus Christ was not a Marxist — Karl Marx was an atheist. According to the Bible, the state exists to keep us safe, and Christians are exhorted to assist the poor. The world system is turned upside down, and who has dominion over this world?

Socialism demands that citizens surrender their freedom to a burgeoning state that systematically consolidates power. A constituent, dependent class will always vote its self-interests. Forty percent of the electorate is bought and paid for. Christian liberals, more than anyone, have been deceived by this political shell game. Again, I ask, who is the pawn master?

Christian, if you do nothing the body of Christ will suffer ever-increasing persecution as the state exercises unchallenged authority over God and men. And don’t expect favorable judgment from the Supreme Court if Democrats retain power. The culture is trending towards defining the Bible as hate-speech.

As when Elijah thought he could hide in a cave to escape the distress, I would not want my conscience so burdened by inaction.

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Discipleship 101

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What does it mean to make a disciple? You can almost hear the exasperation in the tone of Paul’s admonition to the assembly at Corinth:

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able (1 Corinthians 3:2).

About 40% of pastors leave the pulpit after five years. The reasons are varied. Depression and discouragement take a heavy toll, and the congregation is partly to blame. Over the years I have referenced the surveys on religion and Christianity as compiled by Barna Group Research. For example, 59% of young adults (18-29) have a Christian background, but what does that mean in practice? Are they “born again” followers of Jesus Christ? Barna asked a similar group: Who are Sodom and Gomorrah?

Answer: They were a married couple.

This is what pastors are facing as confirmed by research. The median profile of the average church-goer is someone who warms a pew, does not read their Bible and believes whatever the pastor says is true.

Barna’s assessment: Two-thirds of the nation’s adult population firmly embraces the idea that their most important purpose is to love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength (Mark 12:30). However, a deeper look at people’s full array of spiritual beliefs and behavior calls into question the sincerity of their commitment. [Source]

In practice, then, people’s social lives are more important than their spiritual lives. Simply examine how tethered (or in bondage) people are to their gadgets. I see them swaying down the street, eyes fixed on their phone, and thumbs going a mile a minute as they furiously send out their 200th text of the day — and it’s not even 11 a.m. Okay, so I exaggerate, but only slightly.

How many hours a day are you connected to your cell phone, television, music and social media? Do you give at least 10% (90 minutes) of your day to the One who gives you breath? For most people the answer is no. Let’s break it down. People spend more time on Facebook than with God’s book.

Now you may be thinking, “That doesn’t describe me.” Let me ask you, what percent of “Christians” do you think are true disciples of Christ? As was noted in the comment board of I am Elijah only 9% of Christians have a Biblical worldview. If there are 100 members in your congregation only 9 have a true Biblical perspective. That’s astounding.

How many in your “church” are still drinking milk? Someone might say, “Well, the Methodist church I attend is really on fire for the Lord.” Ask yourself: ‘What does my “church” believe?’ Presbyterians and Lutherans are split into conservative and liberal camps with regards to Bible truths. This is the fruit of Reformation. But getting back to the Methodists (since I spent my childhood in that congregation) the hot topic of the day — gay marriage — will cause a permanent break in the assembly.

As of this writing, the United Methodist Church upholds the Biblical definition of marriage as opposed to these churches: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). However, liberalism is making inroads and it is only a matter of time before the assembly breaks apart.

I recently engaged in a terse discussion with a UMC pastor who celebrated the redefinition of marriage. He posted this at his website:

According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, clergy are not allowed to conduct same-sex weddings or bless same-sex unions. Since I am not allowed to publicly pray for blessing, I wrote this lament many months ago. I offer it here, because I know some of my UMC clergy colleagues are going to be asked to officiate. Perhaps they will choose to officiate and risk retribution, or perhaps they will make referrals. Or perhaps they will find other creative ways to resist injustice.

My response:

Forgive me, but I am not clear. Is the injustice that your colleagues ‘are not allowed to conduct same-sex weddings’, or is the injustice that they must perform a ceremony that violates their conscience? It seems, to me, the latter would be the greater offense.

His reply:

I agree it would be an offense to be forced to perform a ceremony. But since we have the power to decline officiating for any reason, or no reason, I don’t see the relevance.

I have declined to officiate weddings because couples couldn’t be bothered with premarital counseling, or had no affiliation with a faith community, or because I had a schedule conflict. Imaginary scenarios set in dystopian futures are interesting philosophical questions, but a lament deals with a real situation.

Dystopian? Clever. That suggests I foresee an apocalyptic degradation of society because gays are allowed to marry. Well, yes. Liberalism has perfected the art of immersing controversial issues in a pot of cold water then turning up the heat. Society awakens one day and exclaims, “What happened!?” Except in the proverbial scenario the frog never wakes up. It is only a matter of time before a minister is sued — like the wedding florist — for not participating in a gay ceremony. (The pastor would not allow me to post this because he closed the comment board.)

This man should not be a minister of Jesus Christ, but the governing board has no power to remove him; and his congregants love him as reflected in this reply:

I lament with you that you are not allowed to officiate at the weddings of all who would ask. I rejoice that all who choose to marry their loved ones may now do so. Your reflections are heartwarming and hope-filled. We are blessed beyond measure to have you as our pastor.

Has the great falling away begun (2 Thessalonians 2:3)?

It really is a war of attrition. For every 7,000 churches that close, only 4,000 open. Responding to an altar call and reciting a simple prayer does not a disciple make. To whatever you devote your time and resources becomes your god.

Be a true disciple of Christ. Open your Bible and discover His truth. It will make the pastor’s job easier — he might even stay — or you might discover that it’s time to find another “church”.

Matthew 16:24

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Messiah is Born

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Newsweek magazine published an article by Bart Ehrman, What Do We Really Know About Jesus?, in which the author disputes the story of Christmas.

Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a “Born Again” Christian turned liberal before converting to agnosticism.

Now he preaches from the pulpit of higher education sowing seeds of doubt in our otherwise faithful sons and daughters — leading many of them astray as they innocently succumb to Ehrman’s heretical persuasion.

Be mindful of God’s instruction:

Train up your child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Pr 22: 6).

Ehrman, like many of his institutional colleagues, refutes a whole index of Christian orthodoxy even disputing that Christ was born in Bethlehem (as we read from the Newsweek article):

Only in this Gospel (Luke) do Joseph and Mary make a trip from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem in order to register for a census when “the whole world” had to be enrolled under Caesar Augustus. The whole world? Luke must mean “the whole Roman Empire.” But even that cannot be right, historically. We have good documentation about the reign of Caesar Augustus, and there never was a census of his entire empire. Let alone one in which people had to register in their ancestral home. In this account Joseph and Mary need to register in Bethlehem (which is why Jesus is born there) because Joseph is descended from King David, who came from Bethlehem.

Ehrman contends that the Gospel accounts recorded in Matthew and Luke are full of irreconcilable contradictions. It is hard to argue with a learned professor unless you are well enough studied to know that his contentions are false.

Archaeology discredits the assertion that there was no census under Caesar Augustus. Two unearthed bronze plaques titled the Acts of Augustus reveal that there were, in fact, three census registrations during the reign of Augustus (27 B.C. – 14 A.D.).

One need only refer to the writings of Roman historian Tacitus and Jewish historian Josephus to corroborate the historical account.

More contentious is Ehrman’s dismissal of the genealogies as recorded in Matthew and Luke. Here we need keen discernment of scriptural context and meaning. Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience while Luke was writing to a Gentile audience.

Luke’s genealogy traces backwards from Jesus to Adam for the purpose of conveying to the Gentiles that the Christ was born for all people. Matthew’s record goes forward from Abraham to Jesus for the purpose of revealing to the Jews that Christ was their Messiah born of the seed of David.

From Abraham to David, the gospel records concur; but after David the genealogies diverge substantially with only Zerubbabel and Shealtiel appearing in both lists. This should not sow doubt, however, but reveal a greater understanding of the inspired Word of God in context of the culture and age in which the Bible was written.

When we look carefully at the two genealogies it is markedly clear that Matthew is chronicling the life of Joseph while Luke is highlighting the ancestry of Mary. Indeed, the record splits at David with Matthew’s genealogy tracing forward through David’s son Solomon while Luke records the ancestry through David’s son Nathan. Clearly, there are two ancestral lines recorded — one for Joseph and the other for Mary thus proving that Jesus Christ had both legal claim and birthright to the throne of David.

That should be sufficient to end the discussion except that Joseph is listed in both records due only to Roman custom and tradition (remember that Luke is writing to Gentiles) that dictates the mother’s ancestry be traced through her husband (thus Luke writes):

Jesus, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Heli (Mary’s father) … (Lk 3:23).

Luke is recognizing that Joseph — as was supposed — was not the biological father of Jesus, but the son-in-law of Mary’s father Eli for it was custom and tradition for a son-in-law to have the recognition and status of a natural son through whom the mother’s genealogy is recorded.

We might point out that Luke was a meticulous historian and keeper of records. It is absurd to suggest that he would author a Gospel account that was factually inconsistent, or even contradictory to the synoptic testimonies — or that the church fathers would canonize books that were so disagreeable with historical records.

Agnostics take issue with the lineage of Zerubbabel (son of Shealtiel) in that both names appear in the post-Davidic genealogies. Zerubbabel was the grandson of outcast Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) whom God placed a curse upon during the Babylonian exile — no man of his descendants will prosper, sitting on the throne of David or ruling again in Judah (Jer 22:30).

How, then, is it possible that Christ has legal claim to the throne of David since Joseph was a descendant of the cursed Jeconiah? The simple answer is that Christ was not of the natural bloodline of Joseph by Jeconiah since He was miraculously conceived through the virgin Mary, but we then have the problem that Zerubbabel is also an ancestor of Mary.

The answer to that can be found in the Book of Haggai. The word of the LORD came to the prophet instructing him to tell Zerubbabel (who was governor of Judah upon the return from exile):

I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant, and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you (Hag 2:23).

The LORD explicitly conferred authority upon Zerubbabel, and renewed the covenant line of David which had been removed from Jeconiah, but now resumed through both Mary and Joseph thus confirming that the baby Jesus is the Christ of both Jew and Greek.

But how could the Messiah descend from an illegitimate ancestor? Recall that Judah had relations with his daughter-in-law, Tamar, who gave birth to Perez and Zerah (Genesis 38). Now look carefully at Matthew’s record:

Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram. Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon. Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David the king (Mt 1:3-6).

The law is given in Deuteronomy that no illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD. That’s a pretty strong case that the agnostics lay charge against the authority of Jesus Christ. However, let’s examine the complete text:

No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, until the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD (Dt 23:2).

Now scroll up and count the names in Matthew’s record and note how many generations passed from Perez to King David — ten generations. Our God is an awesome God — faithful and true.

One final thought to ponder is why did Newsweek publish a Christmas article written by an agnostic atheist unless to promote a secular agenda, and antagonize the faithful? We, of course, maintain that agnosticism is, in itself, a religion — certainly the religion of the world — and Newsweek (like its peers) bows to the world system.

Do you celebrate the worldview of Christmas (which even the pagans worship) or do you faithfully hold fast to the reason for the season?

Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Lk 2:10-11).

Suggested reading: Newsweek vs. the New Testament

(We love the tag line in the suggested reading: It is Newsweek, and not the New Testament, that is going out of print.)

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Holy Chaos

Ephesians_6-12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).

This topic won’t go away. The seed of this rebellion has not fully germinated — much like the issue of abortion. Make no mistake … we are engaged in spiritual warfare and the Evil One has scored another victory.

New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, elected in 2003 as the first openly gay (non-celibate) bishop in the Anglican Church, since retired, is quoted:

We don’t need to win the argument, but simply change minds. This is going to end with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the church. Let me tell you a little secret: the conservatives know it, too … there is no stopping it.

Throughout his tenure Robinson used the pulpit to promote the homosexual agenda including same-sex marriage. He praised gay advocates for creating enormous confusion and holy chaos within the church.

This is evil speaking. Pure evil.

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them (Romans 16:17).

I feel like Abraham pleading for Sodom:

“Lord, if there be one righteous man left will You spare the nation?” (Genesis 18:32)

Is there a remnant in the Episcopal church worth saving, or will they be spewed out as the church at Laodicea? (Revelation 3:16)

My soul is afflicted and deeply wounded. Where are the God-fearing men and women?

Where is the “church”?

We are ruled over by those who violate both legal contract (Constitution), and moral covenant (Bible). More sinister are the pulpit liberals who throw away the epistles, charge Paul to be a heretic (for his condemnation of immorality); and who justify their acceptance of transgression because Jesus, they say, was silent on this issue. Shall we discard the moral law? Yeshua came to fulfill, not throw away, Moses and the prophets. When asked about moral issues, Jesus would typically respond, What is written in the Law? (Luke 10:6)

So, no, Jesus did not itemize every jot and tittle of the Law. Nor should He. Making rules based on our fallen sense of justice and fairness is to live outside the will of God, and in disobedience.

If it was sin in the Torah it is sin in the B’rit Chadashah. Nothing is changed. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever  (Hebrews 13:8).

Faithful Christians — distinguished from those who are Christian in name only — are further marginalized and set apart from secular society. We who walk in the light are called hateful and phobic.

We are chastised to love and not judge as if those who recite these commands have any contextual or spiritual understanding of God’s word.

We live in an age where the truth has become a lie, and the “church” apostate. Reformers did not break enough from Rome to rebirth that which was anointed in Jerusalem; and Protestantism has wreaked further division through the establishment of denominated assemblies. Know this — the judgement of God will fall hardest upon the ecclesia.

There is no unity when the papacy has usurped the authority of Christ, and priests commit heinous sexual crimes while the Protestant assembly is fragmented by doctrinal and theological disagreement.

So the church across the street celebrates gay marriage … the one on the corner denies the divinity of Christ … and the parish across town says none of it matters — just count a few beads, recite a few “Hail, Mary’s” and all will be fine. Oh, my brothers and sisters, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth come Judgement Day (Matthew 13:42).

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:23)

Answering an altar call and mumbling a two-sentence recitation does not make you a Christian. Jesus said to follow His commandments and abide in Him:  John 14:15, 14:21, 14:23.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3). 

Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned (John 15:6).

If we could ask Jesus for a definition of marriage He would point to Adam and Eve. As for Paul’s condemnation of sexual immorality, well, the apostle was speaking on behalf of our Lord.

When Jesus says, “Truly, truly,” we best take heed:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me (John 13:20).

To the red-letter Christians and Hebrew Roots disciples who frenetically disparage and reject Paul, I ask this question: By whom was he sent?

Of Paul, Jesus said, … he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel … (Acts 9:15).

If you reject Paul … you reject the Son of God (Luke 10:16).

Paul was unmistakably clear. It is dishonest to ignore his writings simply because they offend contemporary mores. But, if you are one who is willing to throw out one-third of the New Testament then may I leave you with the following quote by a church father who is revered by both Catholics and Protestants — St. Augustine:

Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife. Nor did God create these each by himself, and join them together as alien by birth: but He created the one out of the other, setting a sign also of the power of the union in the side, whence she was drawn, was formed. For they are joined one to another side by side, who walk together, and look together whither they walk. Then follows the connection of fellowship in children, which is the one alone worthy fruitTherefore the good of marriage in every nation and for all mankind lies in the purpose of procreation and in chaste fidelity; but for the people of God, it lies also in the holiness of the sacrament. [1]

Marriage is the Holy union of man and wife for the purpose of having children, and as a testimony of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church. That a court of judges can overthrow the foundation of human society — that which was established by Eternal God — should be a clarion call for the truly born again.

The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me (Luke 10:16).

Notes:

1. On the Good of Marriage (De bono coniugali), St. Augustine, 401 A.D.

Credits:

Scripture — New American Standard Bible, Lockman Foundation, 1995. “Used by permission.”

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