December 15, 2017

Mondays with Michael Spencer: September 12, 2016

'Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier' TV Series - 1954-56...No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only  Mandatory Credit: Photo by c.Everett Collection / Rex Features ( 788700a )  'Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier', Fess Parker, 1955  'Davy Crockett, King Of The Wild Frontier' TV Series - 1954-56

Does the gospel change the way you look at the people the culture war tells you to fear and dislike?

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:14-21)

The Bible says the love of Christ controls us, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.

When I was an older child — 11 or 12 — I was caught up and fascinated with the character of Daniel Boone. The television series starring Fess Parker had become a hit, and for Kentucky kids like me, this was the greatest thing since the invention of baseball.

My friend Jeff and I entered into one of the great projects of my childhood: making Daniel Boone into a lifestyle.

We adopted roles which soon overtook our regular personalities. I was never allowed to be Daniel, being exiled to the supporting parts of the sidekick Yadkin or a friendly Indian. We bought clothes, guns, powder horns, coonskin caps, moccasins, boots and more paraphernalia. (I still have this stuff.) We memorized the Daniel Boone show scripts, but also studied Boone in real life.

One of the highlights of those years was a Daniel Boone pilgrimage we made to Frankfort, Kentucky and the site of Boonesboro, the fort Boone built in the bluegrass area of Kentucky. (The fort was actually gone and no replica existed, which was a major disappointment. That has since been remedied.)

Every day, after school, my friend and I lived out the fantasy of being Daniel Boone, often running around the neighborhood with our toy flintlocks and coonskin caps, in full dress costumes. We must have been quite a sight.

One thing was missing, however: bad guys. There weren’t enough of us be the bad guys in rotation (and my friend wouldn’t surrender the Daniel Boone role anyway,) and it wasn’t much fun to pretend without some warm bodies. We really needed bad guys; bad guys would make us good guys. Our adventures simply weren’t complete without enemies.

Fortunately, there were other kids in the neighborhood who had no interest in the Daniel Boone fantasy world. Some we knew well; others were practically strangers to us. So we made a decision. A family of neighborhood kids would be the bad guys. Two brothers and a sister, often seen around the neighborhood. They were the “Hagans,” the enemy of all things Daniel Boone.

The Hagan kids, by the way, were poorer and tougher than both my friend and I, and much larger. Even the girl towered over us. If they had ever decided they were tired of having toy rifles and plastic tomahawks pointed at them, we would have been in trouble.

The Hagans put up with our sudden interest in them without major incident. For our part, we stayed busy making up various tales of how the Hagans were up to no good, in league with our enemies, out to steal our women and goods, and so on.

My friend Jeff and I had many good times with the Hagans in our sights. Pretending you are the good guys is much easier when you can easily point at the bad guys. Fortunately, the Hagans probably never had any real idea what we imagined them doing, how often we’d killed them or thrown them all into prison.

The Hagan’s were, of course, imaginary bad guys. For Christians trying to find their way out of a culture war obsessed evangelicalism to something more Jesus shaped, the enemies aren’t the kids across the alley and their imaginary crimes.

It’s militant angry gays and lesbians.

It’s radical atheists.

It’s Democrats, liberals and supporters of the president.

It’s progressives and their social agenda.

It’s Muslims.

It’s the mainstream media and their hatred of Christianity.

It’s the hostile minions of Christian harassment and persecution.

It’s the guy you are arguing with in a blog.

It’s a Christian (so-called) who doesn’t agree with your politics or theology.

Paul says a lot of very simple things in the scripture above.

One of them is this: If the love of Christ controls us, we don’t look at people as we did before. We look at them in the light of the Gospel. As persons who are invited to be reconciled to God by what God has done for them.

That is the way we view people in the world: in the light of the Gospel. Not in light of their politics, their sexual partners, their vote, their religion or their attitude toward Christianity.

What are the variables at work here?

Is Christ Lord? Is he King?

Do we understand the love he has for human beings?

Do we believe Christ died for all?

Does this love control us?

Does this love change the way we view those we formerly viewed in a “worldly” sense? (Those who are defined by who they are in the world.)

Does this lead us to relate to, speak to and plead with these persons as ambassadors of Christ?

Do we present to them the reconciled relationship with God that Jesus Christ has made possible?

Or do we continue playing our games, making these people of the world the enemies of OUR culture and OUR beliefs rather than having our view of who they are transformed by the Gospel?

We prefer for the Gospel to change the other fellow, but Paul makes it clear that the Gospel changes us. We do not see people as we did before.

Every day I listen to and read Christians whose consideration of other persons is on the basis of politics and cultural conflict. Not the Gospel. Their anger and frustration dominates, not the Gospel.

The Gospel needs to transform me and millions of other Christians who relate to people through the cross and through Jesus only after we have exhausted all our other responses.

Is it any wonder that our evangelism is almost non-existent, when our view of other persons remains captive to fear, anger and the emotions of the culture war.

Comments

  1. In other words the “Hagans” are the vast majority of the human race. If the Church dies it won’t be murder; it’ll be suicide.

    • The Church will not die, Stephen, as long as it exists in this world as a ‘hospital for sinners’ in the Great Tradition that was handed down from the Apostles. There is no death to the work of the renewal through Christ the Lord.

      That ‘shadow-version’ of the Church that provides celebrity preachers, ‘entertainment’ and fosters misogyny and homophobia and Islamophobia, and offers itself as a bastion of self righteous ‘purity’, and as a social club for the like-minded in wealthy suburbs . . . . . THAT Church is vulnerable to ‘suicide’, yes. The seeds of pride are sown. And people reap what they sow.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The Hagans are everyone outside the walls of My One True Church.

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    As a small aside to those who remain in Evangelicalism; regarding “””That is the way we view people in the world: in the light of the Gospel. Not in light of their politics, their sexual partners, their vote, their religion or their attitude toward Christianity”””
    … are you as certain you know someone’s politics, [history of] relationship(s), votes, religion, and attitude as behavior and words often portray? Because sometimes you are seriously off target; perhaps on occasion the reaction received is because one-sided out-of-the-blue animosity is an especially ugly thing.

    I have been so very guilty of this; then to learn I was offended by or angry with a fiction I let stand in the place of a person. Urgh.

    • Ronald Avra says:

      I have been guilty of this as well; it takes considerably less energy upfront to categorize someone and respond to them on that basis, although you will pay for it down the road when your gut is grinding over all the infidels who are out to destroy you. On another note, I’m at a place where I experience a constant need for the gospel to effect transformation in every aspect of my life, and not just in my views of others.

  3. I swim in enough ponds to know setting up your own ‘Hagans’ isn’t a thing exclusive to Christian people, but really, if we’d really receive and direct that love of Christ, shouldn’t we be distinct in that we’re not waging wars?

    Fortunately, it’s not a myth; some people really do radiate that love of Christ! I suspect it takes time, buffeting, and painful self evaluating to develop…

    The Daniel Boone story was illustrative and fun, btw!

  4. “If the love of Christ controls us, we don’t look at people as we did before. We look at them in the light of the Gospel. As persons who are invited to be reconciled to God by what God has done for them.” (Michael Spencer)

    Michael Spencer was able to break through a lot of ‘the culture’ in order to get to that light, and then he shared what he saw with us. I am thankful for that.

  5. And then there’s Scripture:

    God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,
    19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
    20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
    22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools
    23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
    25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
    27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
    29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
    30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
    31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
    32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    [ Does not Scripture speak to the cultural war? I think it does and it establishes wrong from right. ]

    • This passage, first of all, says nothing about how we are to relate to our neighbors. Secondly, in context, this perspective is then developed by some pretty strong statements about those who judge others (chapter 2).

      • The same Paulwho wrote this passage to the Romans also wrote the closing verses to I Corinthians 5, where he told the Church to leave off judging those not in the Church and get busy cleaning up their own messes.

      • Exactly. Chapter 2 of Romans balances out Chapter 1–like pretty much all of Paul’s writing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Question:
      Does God have any reason for existence other than to PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH PUNISH?

      • God wrath towards His enemies is unabated except thru Jesus Christ. But for those who do not accept that gift. there are no good times ahead.

        • I still hold out hope that mercy triumphs over judgment, and that the super-abundant grace of God revealed in Christ has accomplished “much more” than any condemnation that came through Adam. A God who desires that no one perish and whose plan is to reconcile all things in heaven and earth in Christ will not be satisfied to let “wrath” be the final word.

          • Me too, CM. A good case can be made for this based on a different (more C1 Jewish, actually – thank you, Tom Wright!) interpretation of the sweep of Scripture viewed through the lens of Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection, one that takes seriously the passages like:

            “We have concluded this: that one has died FOR ALL, therefore ALL have died; and he died FOR ALL, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who FOR THEIR SAKE died and was raised…in Christ God was reconciling THE WORLD to himself, NOT COUNTING THEIR TRESPASSES AGAINST THEM, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

            God has ALREADY done this, apart from anyone’s cognitive assent to it or having “acceptedJesusChristastheirpersonalLordand Savior”.

            I hear very little in “the gospel” as proposed by even the kindest, most well-meaning people of Soterian persuasion (S. McKnight’s definition) about this reconciliation and what it means, other than it will give one’s moral actions God’s stamp of approval, whereas previously they were meaningless.

            All of my questions during my wilderness wanderings simply came down to the character of God. I don’t care how tight a particular belief system may be; If I did not believe the hallmark of God’s character is self-giving love working through humility, at this point in my life I don’t think I could be a Christian, and I understand something of why so many have rejected that god, including my own children. The wrathful, vengeful god of that bad news doesn’t look like Jesus Christ and is not worthy of worship.

            Dana

          • @Dana I totally agree with you, as usual. I’m also saddened to hear that your children have walked away from the faith. It must be heartbreaking. I’m personally terrified of that happening to me one day, regardless of my soteriology.

          • Hmm. I’m at the point where I actively celebrate and want to surround myself with those who have walked away from the faith.

            It was never ours to begin with.

          • Matt,

            my children and I all walked away – at pretty much the same time – not from “the faith” but from what I view now as a sort of two-dimensional, impaired representation of Christianity, not the fullness which I later found. We each and all rejected the same thing Stuart rejected… I went to Orthodoxy; my 3 children went in 3 other different directions, none Christian. How can I blame them? They know where I am and I am doing my best to accept where they are, and most of the time we can talk about our current ideas about God, spirituality, etc. reasonably and with respect for one another. From before they were born I have entrusted them to the God who I came to know as good and who loves mankind, and who loves them more than I do. The Father of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ is not some sort of two-faced Janus; rather, he is always working for the healing of all. That gives me hope for my children, and for me, and for everyone. Glory to Jesus Christ – glory forever!

            Dana

        • You make it sound like God has His Firehose of Wrath ready to blast everyone with, if it weren’t for that pesky son of His, Jesus.

          • That is EXACTLY what that theology preaches.

            Remember: it doesn’t have to be this way, you choose to do this to yourself.

        • Hi SENECA GRIGGS,
          what Church do you belong to . . . I’m trying to get a fix on your theology, particularly where it deals with the characteristics of ‘God’ and ‘Christ’.

          We are told in sacred Scripture that Christ said:
          “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

          • Seneca (Jimmy) was well known over at the Wartburg Watch for his dour theology & sympathy for child abusers under the flag of ‘we’re all sinners’. I was always concerned by how little he understood love, & my concern still continues.

          • Beaker – yep.

            But the reality is that mercy triumphs over judgment. I pray that Jimmy/Seneca come to realize that during his lifetime.

        • Nowadays, I ask: what gift?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          God wrath towards His enemies is unabated except thru Jesus Christ. But for those who do not accept that gift. there are no good times ahead.

          But Do You KNOW You REALLY AcceptedJesusChristAsYourPersonalLOORDandSavior?????
          ARE YOU SURE?????
          ARE YOU CERTAIN YOU’RE SURE?????
          ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE CERTAIN YOU’RE SURE?????
          ARE YOU CERTAIN YOU’RE SURE YOUR CERTAIN YOU’RE SURE?????
          ad infinitum

          Add Heavy Shepherding, Wretched Urgency, and Rapture Countdown (tick tick tick tick tick…) and that’s the background I came from. THAT’s what’s imprinted on my hindbrain.

          Funny thing is, I was raised completely non-practicing and was introduced to all this by getting WITNESSED to in High School/Junior College.

          Have you ever noticed it’s always the Sinless Righteous Ones “Walking with the LOOOOORD (all caps and multiple ‘O’s deliberate) who are into the Wrath of God upon You (not Me)?

          • –> “Have you ever noticed it’s always the Sinless Righteous Ones “Walking with the LOOOOORD (all caps and multiple ‘O’s deliberate) who are into the Wrath of God upon You (not Me)?”

            Exactly. And it’s for those Sinless Righteous Ones who Jesus saves his most scathing critique (see Matthew 23).

            Come to think of it, does Jesus ever have a condemning word toward a Gentile? Aren’t his “judgmental” comments reserved for the religious folks who should’ve known better?

          • seneca griggs says:

            I’VE attended and belonged to a number of different Evangelical churches ( not of the “fundamental” variety] in my life time. All of them have held to Scripture saying what it says INCLUDING the [ very unpopular ] “wrath of God” that will be poured out upon His enemies.

            Personally, my failings and shortcoming are innumerable. Righteousness doesn’t run in my D.N.A. It’s only thru God’s grace that I am a child of his. It surely has nothing to do with any paltry efforts I might make.

            While I agree, whole-heartedly with C.M. with God being wonderfully merciful, I’m not a universalist which suggests everyone escapes judgment. Scripture simply doesn’t teach that. God has enemies, they will be punished.

          • Seneca, a commenter above referred to your “dour theology & sympathy for child abusers under the flag of ‘we’re all sinners’.” That doesn’t square with what you just said about the “[ very unpopular ] ‘wrath of God’ that will be poured out upon His enemies.” Nor does it square with your stress upon Romans 1, above. Care to comment?

            (I should probably stay out of this… )

          • Flubbed the email address. That was me.

    • “We have met the enemy and he is us.” …….. Pogo Possum

    • David Cornwell says:

      Have you ever noticed, seneca griggs, how proclaiming God’s wrath is a wonderfully fulfilling way to vent personal anger?

      • seneca griggs says:

        I just read Scripture – even the parts I don’t particularly like.

        • I think you’ve been around here long enough to know that the phrase “I just read the Scripture” is practically meaningless. *Nobody* “just reads Scripture”. We all bring our preconceived notions to it. Our culture, our philosophy, the biases of the translators… all these and more can color what we get out of it.

        • Mercy triumphs over judgment.

          I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

          And so much else in the Bible says this, a very different message to what you have said here and on other sites.

          May the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort, become real to you, Jimmy.

          • seneca griggs says:

            Why thank you Numo. In my aging, I am ever more aware of my need for God’s grace.

            All I’ve ever said is; you cannot ignore the judgment of God and be true to Scripture.

            And unless your righteousness equates with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, have a care attacking other as so often seen on the “discernment” blogs.

            [ p.s. I’m actually an admirer of you Numo. The glimpses into your heart pop up now and again.]

          • Jimmy,

            You never give up, do you?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I just read Scripture – even the parts I don’t particularly like.

          Very familiar Justification: “It’s not me! GOD SAITH!”
          Back in the era of Jack Chick and Hal Lindsay (whose disciples were my original introduction to Jesus), I had SCRIPTURE(TM) used as a weapon on me. A lot.

          “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

    • There’s always someone who wants to spoil the Good News and the celebration.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “Only Christians can turn a Father’s party for his returning wayward son into a Fascist Rally.”
        — think I heard that on a long-ago comment thread here at IMonk

    • It all comes back to this, doesn’t it? Regardless of our attempts to reach out in love to those different than us, we still believe in a God who appears to be the antithesis of who we are trying to be; angry, vengeful, obsessed with enforcing purity for the sake of his own glory. It’s the elephant in the room whenever Christians talk about engaging the world around us, the fine print beneath all our grand statements about love and acceptance.

      • There always has to be a stick. Everything choice needs an alternative.

        Or does it?

      • Maybe it’s a paradox? Jesus didn’t shy away from proclaiming the wrath of God, despite being a champion of love. Isn’t that proof enough that hell, judgment, etc. can be a part of your vocabulary, while still being compassionate, kind and not pharasaical?

        • We’ve explored this here before, but I don’t think Jesus talked much, if at all, about “hell” or eternal judgment. I think he did speak to his generation of Israelites about the terrible consequences they were about to face via the Fall of Jerusalem and, on rare occasions (such as in Matt 25), to the “nations” about the consequences that would come upon them by mistreating his disciples.

          As the final Prophet of Israel, Jesus announced the “birth pangs” that would accompany his ministry and the dawning of a new Messianic age.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            That WOULD fit Jewish thought much better than say, Hal Lindsay.

            Judaism has always emphasized the here-and-now and living your life.

        • Such a vocabulary would be self-contradictory, or at least rife with qualifications, unless we revise our understanding of either God’s love or judgement.

        • Osti,

          I’ve come to believe that the people who are “compassionate, kind and not pharasaical”, yet use that vocabulary, are actually living “above” their received and stated theology.

          Hell, judgment, etc. have to be defined. Much of Scripture is not actually “clear” given our +2000 years and 3 language difference between when it was written and now. That’s why I went looking for how the Christians who went on after 100 AD defined those things – what definitions and understandings were passed on and were held by all in the first 400 years or so, when there was only one Christianity.

          Dana

          • Thanks for your answers guys!

            I was careful to not try to define what that ‘hell’ and ‘judgment’ actually meant, since it’s something i haven’t fully worked out myself.

            My point was that Jesus was kind and compassionate, but he also said things that, broadly, would have made people sad and mad and maybe even afraid. However you interpret it personally, I don’t think people today saying things that make people sad, mad or frightened, even non-religious folk necessarily indicate a lack of love.

            While i certainly know some self-righteous, holier-than-everyone fire and brimstone types, i also know some people who hold to traditional concepts of God’s wrath, who are exceptionally humble and kind. And there isn’t a disconnect there that would lead men to think theyve ‘risen above’ they’re theology either.

            I don’t know. People are complicated.

          • “People are complicated.”

            True that.

            D.

      • In the fine print, I read “Father, forgive them…they know not what they do!” and “Fear not!”

    • This is why I believe that the Bible is not a rule book, it is a Rorschach test.

      If you are an angry, hate-filled person, you’ll gravitate toward that attitude in the Bible — and you’ll find plenty of it. Especially in the OT, but also in the NT, as your passage shows.

      If you are a kind, gentle person, you’ll love the Beatitudes and many of the stories of Jesus (but not all — He had some wrath-filled parables too, of course). The book of Ruth, and many of the Psalms, will also make the list.

      I have been and still am both people, though, TBTG, in my later years I’m tending more toward the kindness side.

      I think we can go crazy if we try to reconcile all of scripture into one big Message.

      If we MUST, then I guess “Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself” is going to trump everything else in my estimation. But what do I know?

      • Excellent comment, Heather!

      • Oh….and….

        “If you are an angry, hate-filled person, you’ll gravitate toward that attitude in the Bible. If you are a kind, gentle person, you’ll love the Beatitudes…”

        Or maybe you’re both, like David (who I think had schizophrenic tendencies), and you’ll praise God and His salvation in one breath, then curse your foes and call God’s wrath upon your enemies in the other.

        • Rick, that’s technically more bipolar (rapid cycling moods). I think David really did have mental health issues. Reading a lot of psalms ascribed to him, there’s a prominent paranoiac and self-aggrandizing component to far too many of them. Not saying this to run him down, just reflecting on his personality and obvious weak spots.

          • Bipolar…yes. Thanks for the correction. And no, that’s not to disparage David, it’s just an observation. I think we all are a bit bipolar at times, as is the Body/Bride (aka Church) itself, when you factor in all the different denominations and theologies.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        This is why I believe that the Bible is not a rule book, it is a Rorschach test.

        As in “it brings to the surface what is already deep inside”?

    • As far as I’m concerned, the wrathful God (whether he was real or a figment of human imagination) died on the cross of Jesus Christ, but not before saying, “Father, forgive them…they know not what they do!” It’s unfortunate that the Church resuscitated him, and made him even worse by attaching to him a newly developed doctrine of hell/eternal conscious torment. This is a great curse that the Church has bequeathed to the world, when it should’ve been offering blessings and new life.

      • And if Jesus is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1), then we know God is actually FORGIVING over WRATHFUL, willing to DIE instead of kill us!

    • I think a pertinent question is whether this reflects Paul’s view at all (much less that of God). Douglas Campbell has done a fine job of examining the rhetorical style (including things such as alliteration, the chaining of ideas, grammar, etc.) and concludes that there is nothing close to this in anything else we have from Paul, as well as the thoughts being rather ‘un-Pauline’ (compare them to the one Pauline sermon we have addressed to Gentiles – Acts 17). He concludes that Paul is likely quoting a (Jewish) opponent in order to turn his arguments against him in chapters 2 and 3 (which he does in fact do).

      At best, I think Paul is repeating part of a typical homily (or rant) one might have heard on any given Sabbath in just about any given diaspora synagogue painting the pagan world with a very broad brush. I agree with Campbell that he does this to turn that against his opponents in chapter 2 and 3 (cf. 2:1). Is it mere coincidence that the very last ‘vice’ listed (1:31) is ‘unmerciful’ and the first thing he accuses his opponent(s) of is judging (condemning) others?

      Given the rhetorical nature of this passage I am very leery of theological arguments based on it (or even ascribing its ideas to Paul himself).

  6. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And I really think we’d all be a lot better off if these Culture War types got turned on to Warhammer 40K instead of the Bible.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Perhaps that is part of “the rise of the nones” we hear so much about is.

    • IDK about that. Look at Gamergate.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        At least they wouldn’t be casting all the rest of us as Orcs and Red Shirts in their little LARP.

        They’d be quarantined in a Games Workshop game store DAKKA DAKKA DAKKAing to their hearts’ content and leaving the rest of us alone.

        Aside: Gamergate is just the latest incarnation of Gamers being A-holes. There were a similar horror stories going around in pencil/paper/funny dice days; Internet just speeded up communications and extended the public reach of the A-holes.

    • WH40K costs too much money. Venting against culture war enemies is free.

    • What about Exterminatus?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        That happens AFTER the takeover, the mechanism for Purifying and Restoring a Truly CHRISTIAN Nation.

  7. For whatever it might be worth, the Map of Consciousness developed by David R. Hawkins shows the following characteristics at the level of Anger, which scores 150 on a scale of 1000 and is 50 below the crucial dividing line between service to self and service to other at 200:
    God-view: Vengeful
    Life-view: Antagonistic
    Emotion: Hate
    Process: Aggression

    A word in favor of those operating at this level, it is better than the six levels below Anger, which are, in descending order, Desire, Fear, Grief, Apathy, Guilt, and Shame, which scores 20. On this scale, Jesus operated at the 1000 level.

    • Nice of Hawkins to give Jesus a good score.

      • >> Nice of Hawkins to give Jesus a good score.

        Hawkins did not arbitrarily give any of these scores, except to posit 1000 as the ultimate limit on the scale of human spiritual consciousness. The details were determined using a number of people in controlled, scientific investigative research, It should be verifiable and replicable.under the same conditions. For the most part his findings have not been accepted either in the scientific community or at large, and certainly not by the Christian community. I have found them extremely helpful in determining my faults and plotting a course of overcoming them with God’s help. In general, most of what I have found most helpful in my spiritual growth over the years has been rejected by the world at large and the majority Christian community in particular. At best they are met with snide remarks. This is sad, but hasn’t stopped me from taking advantage of them.

        • I do wonder why everything, including the world of the mystical and religious experience, must be measured out into charts and hierarchies. Is there noting that transcends quantification? A poem, maybe? Or God? Or the human soul? Is it possible that the giving-up of comparisons is itself a milestone in spiritual growth?

          No, I suppose not.

          • Is it possible that the world is big enough to contain both objective, rational, quantifiable explanations of our perceived reality and exquisite haikus that delight my soul at the same time? Would the cop let me off if my speedometer flashed various wildflowers or played birdsongs? Will we ever get to both/and?

          • Will we ever get to both/and?

            Either we will, or we won’t. Which is to say, we both will and won’t.

          • But if the cop starts writing tickets on the basis his aesthetic dislike of the color of certain cars, we have a problem involving a confusion of categories.

  8. Speaking of Jesus and the people he stood up for, I wonder what’ll happen to good old Wells Fargo?

    Somehow I doubt we’ll be hearing many sermons or calls for justice about this. Maybe a few sales pitches for Financial Peace University (Prosperity God’s Way!).

    It’s YOUR fault for having a credit card or a bank to begin with, donchaknow.

    https://np.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/comments/52815y/freezing_your_credit_files_at_the_3_credit/d7i5nzl

  9. This article by Michael Spencer fits well with the series of articles by David Gushee over at Religion News. Here’s Gushee’s follow-up today about why the church is in decline:

    http://religionnews.com/2016/09/12/seven-follow-ups-on-ten-reasons-for-christian-decline/

  10. Back near the dawn of memory, I first heard this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7sPvWrL6KY

  11. Classic Michael, and an easily accessible description of why culture war fundamentalism is at cross-purposes with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  12. seneca griggs says:
  13. Ben Carmack says:

    “If the love of Christ controls us, we don’t look at people as we did before. We look at them in the light of the Gospel. As persons who are invited to be reconciled to God by what God has done for them.

    “That is the way we view people in the world: in the light of the Gospel. Not in light of their politics, their sexual partners, their vote, their religion or their attitude toward Christianity.”

    This quote contradicts itself. The Gospel presupposes Christianity. If someone is against Christianity in their attitude, they will necessarily oppose the Gospel as well. You might offer them Jesus and salvation, but they don’t want it, thank you. And they haven’t done anything wrong either, so why would they need forgiveness?

    I’m with Michael in not applying political tests.

    The give-away though is his statement about “sexual partners,” a vague term that allowed Michael to obfuscate. Let’s try to clear the air. The chief reason why Christians and Christianity are hated today is because of what Christians believe concerning sexuality, both in terms of copulation and also in terms of male and female, indeed the very existence of male of female is regarded as hateful today. Applying the Gospel to sexual matters is The Battle today, just as justification by faith alone was 500 years ago.

    Sexuality, because it is so misunderstood, is a great opportunity for evangelism today. Sure, it’s dangerous and all of us are afraid of bringing it up, but events are building such that it will become impossible to ignore it. Either you will bake the cake or your business will be siezed. Either you will allow the pervert to use the restroom of his choice or your church will get shut down.

    If you strip the Gospel of any cultural impact, any area where “the rubber meets the road,” you’re left with what some call an empty “soterian” Gospel. A Gospel of no demands. A Gospel that has no application to our lives. A Gospel that isn’t biblical.

    It’s time to make a choice. Either the Gospel applies or it doesn’t. Either cultural transformation will happen through obedience to the Gospel or it won’t. Which is it? Pick one.

    • Applying the Gospel to sexual matters is The Battle today, just as justification by faith alone was 500 years ago.

      OK, then, let’s start not with lecturing the world about it’s sexuality, but cleaning up our own. Take a read over the Wartburg Watch and you’ll discover that we have all too much problems with sexuality *inside* the Church to wrangle with, without beating the nonbelievers over the head with verses about how bad *they* are – which St. Paul himself said was the proper procedure in these matters (I Corinthians 5).

      • Ben Carmack says:

        I haven’t read Wartburg Watch lately, but I think you are referring to cases of child abuse in churches, a problem that is all too common, and which I know something about. I agree, it is atrocious.

        One can be opposed to sin in one area while continuing to be opposed to sin in other areas. The normalization of sexual perversion is not good for children. If you care about child abuse, you should be for a biblical sexual ethic and against so-called gay marriage.

        • No, there’s plenty on TWW aboutmen being physically and emotionally abusive to their wives and children, about ministers etc. who are adulterous, who prey on their congregations for $$$$, at least one very prominent case of a “pastor” who tried to game the New York Times bestseller list via bribes and false sales reports, and so much more. I literally could go on for at least another 500 words, just listing topics unrelated to child sexual abuse that have come up over the past 12+ months.

          Here’s a suggestion or 2 for you about LGBT folks (and any others you might think are awful transgressors):

          Love your neighbor as yourself (the corollary being that all people are your neighbors).

          Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

          There are very practical things you can do, in your own life, to get past the barriers of fear and prejudice. You might even find yourself in amongst LGBT Christians in the process. Perhaps a read of Justin Lee’s book, Torn, would be helpful.

          Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus go around condemning anyone, with the exception of some of his statements to religious leaders, and even that was intended mainly to shake them up, take stock of their lives and start living what they professed to believe.

          I am a firm believer in this: Mercy triumphs over judgment. Not just “is hetter than,” or z”edges out judgment by a neck,” but triumphs .

        • Gay people being able to marry has literally nothing to do with the sexual abuse of children. Pedophiles sexually abuse children, and most pedophiles are not adult gay people.

          Please learn more of the facts about this serious disorder. One point is that pedophiles are sexually attracted to children, not adults. It is a very serious disorder, but is an entirely separate issue from same-sex marriage. In fact, many male pedophiles get married to women and have children with them – and then proceed to abuse those children. Check TWW for many examples of this; the SGM cases in particular.

          • Ben Carmack says:

            Since you obviously have never had a gay friend and haven’t read the relevant literature, you don’t know that many who fall into homosexuality were abused as children. You’ve also clearly not read about the Lavender Mafia in the Catholic Church and how that is connected to the ongoing scandal of pederasty in that communion.

            The reason I felt compelled to include that personal slam against you is that I can’t count how many times ignoramuses on this blog have accused of me of not knowing about what I’m talking about because I’ve never known a gay person…an accusation that is not true, by the way. How about refraining from personal insults and attacks, eh self-righteous blog readers?

          • Ben,

            Actually, I have had plenty of LGBTQ friends, since I majored in the arts and worked in an art museum. I am tired of hearing these same claims repeated ad nauseam.

            Sorry, dude, not playing along.

    • You are right Ben.
      Not a popular position but you are right.