Monday, December 28, 2009

A lesson in irony

"Even in the midst of their denial of the validity of Holy Scripture, the actions of today's scholars, and those that adhere to the relative social moors they advocate, themselves ensure that the prophetic outcome depicted by those Scriptures for their own downfall, the collapse of civilization as a whole, and the eventual reign of chaos by those left behind, will come to be."

If you've followed anything I've had to say, you'll know that I have what would be considered a conservative Christian perspective on life, and how to live it. This isn't to say that I believe myself to be any better, or worse than any other living person. It only says that I believe in God, His inviolate Word, and the redemption of sins through a following of His Son, Jesus. It also says that, by definition, I am flawed. This should be most noteworthy in recent exchanges I've had with my son on Facebook. I made the mistake of believing that the passion of my discourse would be sufficient to make the content believable. In today's vernacular, my bad. For it is quite evident that the amount of information that is imputed into today's youth supercedes it's ability to convince via proof with sheer volume. It must also be understood that I hold no grudges against my son for the content, nor direction that this has lead us. No, in fact, I find that again, God appears, and works, in mysterious fashion. For though I possess a rudimentary knowledge of apologetics, the study of a defense of the Christian faith, I had no real idea of how deep seated it's opposition is in the framework of today's society. For we are bombarded from all sides by not only a belief in secularism, and it's so called rights of integration into society, but rather by a hostile push to remove any semblance of religious belief from the annals of history. A mind set that says that by simply stating that something doesn't, or didn't exists, is sufficient to remove it from fact. A harsh example is the response that secularists take to the role that the Judeo-Christian religion has played in the foundation of this country. Today's scholars simply say, "that's not what was meant" when God, and the moral standard His Word implies, is noted in virtually every single document associated with the establishment of American government. The fact that the Ten Commandments are posted in every government building constructed since the American Revolution appears to have no bearing on what the founders, as well as the laymen constituent had in mind for the direction in which the country should progress. A simple statement associated with "separation of church and state" in an amendment is taken entirely out of context and becomes the basis for the educational direction we travel as well. The sociopathic ravings of a man wallowing in grief over a lost child has lead to our children being taught evolution, to the exclusion of religion, in school as though it were established fact, rather than the hypothesis and theory it actually is. The boundaries established through maintaining a religiously achieved moral standard that enabled this country to become a world power have been overrun with a relative morality that says if enough people do it, it must be right. And this to the exclusion of common sense, or common decency. Few, if any, now days understand the phrase "common grace", that condition that exists that enables the ingrained conscience that natural man has to express compassion to his neighbor. A condition that also must be fortified daily with the power of an ambivalent God to be more than just compassionate, or else the capacity for "satisfying self" takes over. Without it, absolute power begets absolute tyranny. Politicians quit listening to the voters, doctors take lives instead of save them, and scholars begin teaching our children morals based on their own perspective of what right and wrong entail without the benefit of accountability to any higher cause. The supreme irony is this: That when a government constructed that embraces a moral foundation where the rights of the individual to fairly rule itself is overthrown by the very denizens of that creed in lieu of a social environment that trivializes that moral foundation, and the individual rights of those supporting it, and then in fact disavows those morals, it is doomed to collapse from within. Without an absolute moral standard to live by, man has only his own oscillating windmill with which to generate his ethics. This same ethical standard that two hundred years ago said that slavery was acceptable, and abortion was an abhorrence, and yet today says exactly the opposite. Two generations ago the Ten Commandments were taught in school, today they are outlawed. The result? Our children often don't survive the experience. Religion is separated from state, yet judges, instead of enforcing laws, make them, influenced by politicians bent on power. The result? Thugs rule the streets. The common man must protect himself, because the police haven't the manpower to respond, let alone protect. And the tiger eats it's tale by trying to take away his ability to protect himself on the pretext that he is a danger to the government. It is politically incorrect for our children to pray in school, but perfectly acceptable for teachers to teach Adam and Steve, instead of Adam and Eve. Livestock dies, and lively hoods are lost so that we can protect the spotted owl, and the red salmon. Farmers are paid to leave land fallow, yet people in this country go hungry. We spend millions to save baby seals, and yet allow our own children to be murdered. We send thousands "over there" to protect our rights, and further our beliefs, then allow those who take our lives here go free. We are a nation morally, and spiritually bankrupt, and yet we fail to see that we have only ourselves to blame.

The biggest irony? I hold myself, and those like me who profess a stern, conservative belief that God made me who I am, this country what it is, and mankind as a whole accountable to Him, and yet have allowed those who believe otherwise to dictate how and where I express that belief. I have been reluctant to stand up for what I believe for fear of being shunned by my peers, or being branded as politically incorrect. I have sat and watched the pond that I live in turn into a social cesspool, bound for a cleansing beyond prior biblical proportions. He said He was coming back. And then, my friends, will come a "change" you can count on.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Coincidence ?

"An event that might have been arranged although it was really accidental", or another, "the noteworthy alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection".
I've heard it said that in Christian Theology, referring specifically to movements, or actions taken, by the Holy Spirit, that there is no such thing as coincidence. In other words, nothing happens by accident. I have come to accept this as an action of faith. In times of extraordinary travail, God will have already given you the tools to overcome it. Or, at least, to battle it, if the war is yet to be won. Case in point:
The church I attend had a visiting speaker some weeks back. He is the president of a Theological Seminary close to where I live. His topic of speech was Christian Apologetics. That can appear to be a misleading term, as we usually equate apology with "making allowance for" for any variety of reasons. However, in this instance "apologetics" means argumentative defense, or specifically, the field of study concerned with the systematic defense of Christian Theology.
His name was Alex, and he spoke very inteligently about a subject I have heard of a number of times over the years, but never truly appreciated the necessity of. Namely, this "Christian Apologetics".
I am very comfortable with my Christian Faith. For I believe in God. I believe He created the Heavens, and the Earth. I believe He created you, and me, in His image. I believe that He desires a relationship with you and me, and to this end He came in the form of man, born of woman. He was born about this time of year, grew up as you or I would, ministered to us, taught us how to love, how to live, and sacrificed Himself for our salvation.
That, of course, is a gross oversimplification of the gospel message. But fortunately, He left us an epistle of His intent, as well as the Third Party of Himself to help us get through the difficulties of understanding what all that means, as well as life itself.
Here's the challenge though. The more comfortable we get with our faith, the more we associate, socialize, and proffesionalize with people of the same persuasion. Nothing inherently wrong with that, it's just not all we are expected to do. For, if you know anything of the bible, Jesus commands his disciples to "go forth and preach the gospel". Preferrably to someone other than the choir. That often involves folks who want to make an argument against the subject. That's where apologetics comes in. And that's where this particular chapter of my life starts.
So Alex came, and spoke on Apologetics. He could only skip across the surface of the subject during the limited time he had, so what he told us certainly wasn't comprehensive. It gave me just enough of a taste of the topic to realize that I didn't know enough. Oh, I know most of the common material to defend my faith. But these days there are some really well spoken, and knowledgeable individuals out there who like very much to refute the Christian Faith. And on a multitude of different levels. Some call it cultish. Some dispute the time line. Some complain of contradictions in the Scriptures. Some dispute the validity of a belief in God at all. There are a number of alternative theories out there that claim to make more sense than believing that God made the world, the universe, man, and all his friends here on earth. And apologetics covers them all. It's not a new program. It's been around for as long as the Bible has. The disciples had to defend their faith against a religious sect who refused to believe that the Messiah was walking amongst them.
I can tell someone, who knows nothing of faith, "about" what I believe, that's a simple matter of quoting scripture, articles of faith, and witnessing to what God has done in my life. I have fifteen years of experience gained through a passionate study of the Christian Faith. However, I have little in the way of ammunition to actually defend it against an adversary bent on tripping me up and disputing what I believe.
So Alex said what he said, and left what he left...which was an invitation to an upcoming seminar on Christian Apologetics. Ever hungering for more knowledge, or better said, understanding of the Bible, and it's precepts, my wife, and I, along with several others from the church, bought tickets to the two day seminar.
We heard authors, theologians, mathematicians, politicians, clergy, and former atheists who had researched, written, spoken, debated and filmed subjects varying from the lineage of Christ, comparisons to other religions, supposed contradictions in time line of the Bible stories, secular historical reference to biblical accounts, archeological studies of floods, fires, monolithes, and temples, all back up and defend the teachings of Christ, eschetology of the church, validity of bible characters, and in general, meet head on any, and all arguements against the Christian Faith. They even televised a three hour debate against a self proclaimed atheist of world reknown. Topics ranging from the Darwinian Evolutionary Theory to seeds from an off world civilization were covered as possible alternatives to Creation. Nothing heard, or seen, convinced me for a fraction of a second to even question what I already knew to be true. There is a God, He is perfect, I'm not, but I didn't come from a monkey either.
So what's all this have to do with coincidence? Well, I'm not an evangelist, so it's unlikely I'll find myself on a street corner preaching the Word of God. I don't speak at universities, conferences, or seminars, so why the need to know? Fate formulated the answer to that one.
Two weeks ago I engaged in a debate on a well known blog forum with my twenty eight year old son. It started initially as a comment I had made referencing my political persuasion, and some disparity over the current administrations policies. I found out something new. My son no longer carries the same basic political beliefs that I possess. That, in and of itself, really wasn't much of a concern. I've never carried much of a candle for politicians, or their policies. Nor have I been too concerned with how that directly effected me, or my family. To be sure, I believe that some of those policies have the potential to create a clear, and present danger to the stability of this country, but they are still far enough removed from my street to make them little more than a nuisance, at this time.
After several heated parries with each other, we decided that the age old addage that politics, and family, don't mix, was true. Best to just agree to disagree. We sheathed swords, and moved on. Or so I thought. The following day I posted a quote from Cicero, a Greek character, circa 50 BC, referencing the then current state of his country, it's foreign spending policies, welfare system, and politicians. The primary point of posting the quote wasn't so much the subjects in the quote itself, as it was the mirror image it presented with reference to those same subjects as seen as issues today. A "Nothing new under the sun" thought process if you will. What proceded afterwards can only be described as an aggresive verbal assault on several fronts, met by a back against the wall argumentative defensive, or "apologetic" reaction.
I don't know that either side won. If "winning" can be construed as one side convincing the other of their views, I'm sure their were no victors. But many times small battles are fought for the very purpose of testing the opponents resolve. I don't know that I can fully comprehend the strength of my son's possition at this point, but this I do know, he's not the person I knew when he walked out the door some years back. This I know as well, his possition has changed for a reason, and the fear this possition creates in my heart for his welfare angers me.
So here's the coincidence, or lack thereof if you will, from my perspective. Several weeks ago a man spoke at my church. Big deal. He spoke on the subject of defending the Christian Faith. Big deal. My son, and I, engaged in a debate on a subject comprising the corner stone of a foundation in faith. Big deal. His philosophy potentially removes that corner stone from his life. Very Big Deal.
When it comes down to it, I care very little for the religious bend of the President of the United States . Hypocritical as it sounds, although I pray for his salvation, I'm not sure I'd want to spend eternity with him anyhow. My son is a different story.
O Absalom, my son, my son! Please don't let me find you hanging by the neck in the tree of knowledge! And God, if You're listening in, I could use another coincidence or two about right now.