Thideology news of the day

Politics

The price of fuel and food keeps going up. Hungry people are rioting around the world and truckers have staged protests in Washington, D.C. Who is to blame? It’s not that hard to figure out. We are simply watching the law of supply and demand at work — and how trying to manipulate it brings unintended consequences.

Worldwide demand for fuel is going up. China and India are consuming more fuel than ever before. The supply is not keeping up with demand. When demand goes up, price goes up. The answer is to increase supply in order to meet the increase in demand. But our own United States federal government is preventing that from happening. We have billions of barrels of crude oil in Alaska, the Dakotas, and off the coast of Florida. But our government is preventing us from harvesting it.

Instead, our government is mandating and subsidizing the diversion of crops for the production of biofuels — which are not sufficient to make up for the increase in fuel demands. Rather, converting the food supply into fuel is creating a shortage of food which (if you’ve been paying attention you realize) makes prices go up.

Bottom line: Our own government is trying to manipulate the market — with disastrous results. Unfortunately for us, none of the presidential candidates seem to understand supply and demand. Their solution for this mess includes more government interference.

Religion

Old Truth asks the question, “Do today’s churches give God a subordinate role?” God, Himself, has given us adequate instruction on how to grow churches — the faithful proclamation of His Word. But Old Truth points out that we have adopted man-centered marketing strategies as a means of growing churches.

For one example go here. Take note of who is the center of attention at this advertised “worship” service.

  • This worship service was designed with YOU in mind.
  • A focused, practical message with life principles YOU can use now.
  • YOUR time is valuable.

According to the Bible the church exists to glorify God. When we gather to worship it should be with HIM in mind. Everything we have belongs to HIM — including our time. And, according to HIM, all Scripture is profitable.

Has the church given God a subordinate role?

It certainly seems so.

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A little light reading

While scanning the internet I ran across a couple of good articles concerning Jesus. I thought the readers of Thideology might enjoy them as much as I did. Here ya go…

The Man they still hate

The Libertarian from Nazareth

Enjoy.

Rob Bell’s “interspirituality”

Rob Bell participated in the “Seeds of Compassion Interspiritual Day” yesterday in Seattle. He was a part of a panel of “religious leaders” from a variety of different religions including Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama. A Little Leaven has a report on the proceedings at the event (complete with video clips). Take note of Bell’s demeanor and statements as the “Christian Representative.” At no time does he make a distinction between Christianity and the other “great world religions.” At no time does he single out Christ as the only savior of mankind. At no time does he acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ. Instead, he rambles on in pluralistic platitudes and spiritualistic philosophies.

He is lauded as a great spiritual leader and seems to enjoy the applause he receives from the audience. Contrast how he “represents Christ” in this instance to how the Apostle Paul represented Christ in a similar setting in Athens (from Acts chapter 17).

While Paul was waiting for them [Silas and Timothy] to join him in Athens he was greatly distressed to see the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

So already we see Paul did not beat around the bush with feel-good rhetoric that was pleasing to the ears of everyone the way Bell seemed to do. The content of Paul’s message seems to draw a contrast between the gospel and the popular beliefs of Athens because they dispute his claims and say he is advocating foreign gods. But they engaged Paul further.

Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.”

The door opens up for Paul. He is kind of like the new star in a group of people who spend all their time thinking about and discussing ideas. He has an opportunity to really make a name for himself here. If he is just careful to show the proper respect for their ideas and takes pains to not offend anyone he could be a somebody in a group of the world’s most renowned thinkers. But he blows that opportunity and bulls ahead with offensive teaching and said:

“Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”

Paul goes on to draw a stark contrast between the gods of the world and the one true God. He tells them of God’s justice, of their need to repent, and of the resurrection. He doesn’t sugar coat the truth for the sake of his own popularity. Nor is he afraid of offending anyone. And their response was predictable.

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered…

Poor Paul. Didn’t he know they might make fun? Yeah, he did. And he just didn’t care. A believer in Christ is first and foremost concerned with pleasing God. Not men. But look what else happened in Athens.

…but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed.

I wonder how many people were compelled to become followers of Christ because of Rob Bell’s testimony at the interspiritual day in Seattle. The whole day was organized around the idea that one religion is just as good as the next and he, apparently, did not dispute the idea. But Paul once wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation.”

I think that says it all.

Nooma “You”: A Review

Rob Bell’s 15th Nooma video, entitled “You,” is highlighted on the back cover of the dvd this way:

“Some of the central claims of the Christian faith are the source of many discussions and heated debates. But are we always debating the right things? Maybe some of our discussions would change significantly if we had more insight into the actual circumstances that surrounded the first people of the Christian movement — if we had a better understanding of the things they did in the context of the world they lived in. Maybe some of the claims of the Christian faith that we typically perceive to be unique aren’t really that special at all.”

You may ask yourself, what claims of the Christian faith does Bell not consider unique to Christianity? The belief in a loving God? The doctrine of God’s sovereignty? Other religions make these claims, maybe this is what Bell means.

No, no.

The thing that Bell thinks we “typically perceive to be unique” and that he says isn’t “really that special at all” is the resurrection of Christ.

The resurrection.

Very early in the video Bell tells the viewer about the ancient Roman and Persian gods Mithra and Attis. There are writings that claim these gods were born of a virgin, died to redeem their people, and rose from the dead.

“In the first century, to claim that your god had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven, well, it just wasn’t that unique,” Bell says. “The claims of these first Christians weren’t really anything new. Everybody’s god had risen from the dead. What makes yours so special?”

At this point the accompanying discussion booklet asks the questions:

  1. Have you ever thought about what makes your faith special?
  2. Do you believe that the act of Jesus rising from the dead is what makes the Christian faith unique?

That apparent implication is that the resurrection is NOT what makes Christianity unique. In fact, Bell continues to explain that what DOES make Christianity unique is humbly serving in a “universe-wide movement” to restore a world that is “broken and desperately in need of repair.”

Bell says the first Christians viewed this restoration as having nothing to do with leaving this world. “It was all about the restoration, the renewing and the reclaiming of this world.”

The distinguishing feature of Christianity, according to Bell, is a Christian’s method of making the world better. The followers of Mithra and Attis were usually Roman soldiers, politicians and people with great influence and power. They wanted to change the world through military power and political coercion. What made Christians different, Bell says, is the “gospel they were living had nothing to do with using political force to force people to live according to your laws. For them, this gospel was about serving the world, especially those on the underside of the Empire. For them, it was about serving, not ruling.”

A focus on restoring this world is typical of New Age beliefs, which, as I’ve pointed out before, have had quite an influence on Bell’s teachings. But even beyond that, Bell’s claim that Christianity is all about restoring this world just isn’t biblical.

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” — John 18:36

Jesus even made a point of telling his disciples about the promise of leaving this world.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” — John 14: 1-3

Bell’s claim that the early Christians were not concerned with leaving this world just isn’t true. Many of the early believers were consumed with leaving this world. They actually fell into error because they neglected their charge to make disciples and instead kept an eye on the sky for Christ’s return.

Bell says the distinguishing mark of Christianity is humble servant-hood, but many religions teach humility and servant-hood. In his assessment about what makes Christianity different Bell is just plain wrong. But my biggest problem with this Nooma is Bell’s initial statement about other religious claims that mirror the life of Christ. He never makes a distinction between Mithra, Attis, and Jesus. He allows the viewer to leave still thinking there is no difference in the historicity of these three.

It is true that there are ancient writings that claim Mithra and Attis had lives very similar to Christ. What Bell fails to point out is that while Mithra and Attis were worshipped before Christ was born the claims of their virgin births and resurrections weren’t until well after Christ had lived and died and risen again. Prior to Christ the stories of Mithra and Attis were very different from Christ and more like the typical Greek and Roman mythological figures of ancient literature. The stories of Mithra and Attis rising from the dead were, in all likelihood, fashioned after the actual events of Jesus’ life. Bell fails to point out that Mithra and Attis are not real and takes no time to point out that Christ’s resurrection is an historical fact and that it is THE central doctrine that makes Christianity different from any other man-made religion.

Consider how seriously Paul regarded the resurrection…

“And if Christ is has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. for if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” — 1 Corinthians, 15: 14-19

I could not disagree more strongly with Bell on this point. The resurrection IS what makes Christianity unique. Christ is very, very real. Mithra and Attis are not. I find it extremely hard to believe that a Christian teacher of any kind would address this topic and not take the time to make sure his listeners understood the reality of the resurrection. Bell’s failure to do so casts some serious doubt as to the orthodoxy of his teaching.

With each additional look at Bell’s teachings I become more and more convinced he is simply a false teacher.

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