Thideology news of the day

Goodness, where to begin…

briefcaseA lot of Christian “leaders” lately have been quite willing to compromise the integrity and message of Scripture for the sake of not offending the adherents of false religions — so much so that many of them have gone so far as to speak on behalf of all of Christianity in begging Islam’s forgiveness. It should come as no surprise. The Word of God for decades has been so compromised in America’s pulpits that we have citizens who can’t distinguish between the Church (God’s covenant people) and the state. Many of them are running for office and making campaign promises based on their erroneous views of Scripture.

Taken to the extreme these candidates have abandoned the concept of liberty altogether. Take this article about John Edwards’ proposed healthcare plan. Read his last statement and tell me he has even the remotest understanding of American liberty.

Fortunately we still have learned men in places of influence who understand the consequences of government control.

Bumper sticker of the day

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Constitution Day and political lip service

thidconstitution2sm.jpgSeptember 17 is officially “Constitution Day.” It was founded in 1997 by Louise Leigh, a lady who was concerned that Americans knew very little about the constitution. She was right. Very few Americans know what is contained in the constitution, what it was designed to do, and whose power it is supposed to limit. This was troubling to Leigh who said of the constitution, “it is the most unique government document in the history of mankind. It guarantees our freedom. It is unique in that the government doesn’t tell us what to do, we tell the government what to do.”

I appreciate Leigh’s passion for the constitution but disagree with her on one thing. Her statements about the constitution would be more accurate if she had said, “It is designed to guarantee our freedom. Our government is designed in a way that it doesn’t tell us what to do.” The constitution is the most highly praised and most widely ignored document in America (except for maybe the Bible).

Politicians will use Constitution Day to praise the wisdom of the founding fathers and the insight they used in drafting such a document. They will say our country is founded on the constitution — all while making plans to ignore it’s authority and govern beyond it’s limits. Don’t believe me? Then just take a look at a very small portion of the constitutional abuses here and here.

Thomas Jefferson is one of the founders often praised by the current crop of politicians — but they would not like his view of limited federal government at all. “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare,” he said in a letter to Albert Gallatin. “But only those specifically enumerated [in the constitution].”

But we’ve fallen so far from a constitutional form of government that we not only accept an unlimited federal government — we actually expect it. Many Americans actually think the federal government should take care of our every need. Even worse, many Christians have no problem with the notion of the state as society’s savior.

Still don’t believe me?

Take a look at a couple of presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton is proposing a massive $100-billion-plus socialized health care program that will actually mandate individuals buy health insurance. John Edwards is proposing a similar plan that would force individuals to have wellness physician care — whether they want to or not. And Louise Leigh thought our government didn’t tell us what to do.

We debate these proposals as if they were legitimate, constitutionally authorized plans and they aren’t. But Americans are so ignorant of the constitution’s limitations that they don’t see the problem.

Need more evidence?

Okay, today we have exactly one congressman who recognizes the limitations on the federal government under the constitution and is willing to govern accordingly. His name is Ron Paul and he’s running for president. He advocates eliminating anything not specifically authorized by the constitution (kind of like what Thomas Jefferson was saying). Of all the presidential candidates he is the only one who recognizes the federal government has no authority for things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Welfare. Yet, because of our gross ignorance of the constitution Ron Paul is considered the kook.

Happy Constitution Day.

Bumper sticker of the Day:

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Thideology news of the day

Becoming all things to all men

bookssm.jpgA church in St. Louis, Missouri (known as “The Journey”) has taken to hosting a Wednesday night gathering at a brewpub in order to discuss issues “ranging from racism in St. Louis to modern-art controversies to the debate about embryonic stem cell research” — all while enjoying a refreshing beer or two. It’s an outreach effort.

“We want to go where people are,” said Darrin Patrick, pastor of the church. “We don’t expect them to come to us.”

Granted.

Jesus told us to “GO and make disciples,” so I completely agree with the idea that we should not sit around on Sunday morning waiting for the world to clamor through our doors begging to hear the Word of God preached. We have to take the message to them.

Paul even says, in 1 Corinthians 9:22, that he had “become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some,” but certainly this does not mean every kind of conduct is permitted if the ultimate goal is to share the gospel.

  • Are we to murder in order that we may better relate to murderers?
  • Are we to rape so that we may better share with rapists?
  • Are we to become drunks in order to better witness to drunks?

Certainly not. In 2 Timothy Paul gives the instruction to “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…”

So while the members of The Journey may argue that drinking is not a sin (and, according to Scripture this is true), I would argue that the Bible clearly characterizes getting drunk as sinful.

Yes, they may argue, but I can drink a beer and not get drunk.

Fine. What about two? Three?

The line between drinking and drunkenness may be hard to define, but I do know this: If you don’t take that first drink you can’t take the second. If you don’t have two you can’t have three. And if this is the approach you take toward drinking then the line between “just a few” and “drunk” never becomes an issue — does it?

Therefore, in light of Paul’s warning to Timothy to “flee the evil desires of youth,” I would say it is best to not even approach the line across which lies sin. Especially when Paul says in Romans, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The Journey’s approach to evangelism is typical of the Emergent Church movement, whose followers seem to delight in dancing precariously close to the line. That’s a dangerous habit to develop. The trappings of this world are tempting, indeed. Trying to keep one foot in the world while trying to live a godly life doesn’t quite mesh with the biblical warnings against sin — even if we think our motives give us an excuse.

The State vs. The Market

Lawrence Vance, in an article at lewrockwell.com, points out the obvious difference between the state and the market — It’s Consent, Stupid. Oddly enough it was this issue of consent that made the original concept of American government so unique. The Declaration of Independence points out that the only just governments are those which govern with the consent of the governed…

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

Our government no longer recognizes this principle. But, fortunately for us the one man who has demonstrated his appreciation for this principle and his willingness to stand firm in its defense has officially announced his candidacy for president.

Bumper sticker of the day

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Bureaucratic foolishness

A recent series of tornadoes devastated the Arkansas town of Dumas. Businesses and homes were destroyed en masse and the people are in dire need of assistance. We have been conditioned to look to our federal government in situations as this — the idea going something like this:

Americans pay taxes to the federal government and in exchange the federal government will provide needed services. The federal government will establish agencies to meet all manner of needs and, when those needs arise, will gallop heroically to the rescue.

Ask the people of Dumas, Arkansas how that’s working out for them.

They need help and this benevolent federal government has hundreds of mobile homes a mere 166 miles away in Hope, Arkansas — where they sit idle because someone, somewhere didn’t fill out a form in triplicate (or whatever). Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor is trying to get something done about it but, being conditioned to look to the government for help, he is having little success.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out — let me take a stab at it…crushbox.jpg

Being from Arkansas I happen to know that guys with trucks equipped with trailer hitches are a dime a dozen. I also happen to know that it’s a pretty easy drive from Hope to Dumas (see directions here). Why not ask a bunch of guys with trucks to start towing the trailers to Dumas. Arkansans are a charitable bunch and more than willing to help out in an emergency (that’s why in Arkansas, if you hit the ditch during an ice storm, just wait a bit. It shouldn’t be too long before three guys in a four-wheel-drive show up with a logging chain ready to pull you out. But I digress).

In the time it has taken the federal government to argue over procedures, a bunch of guys in their trucks could have moved a lot of these trailers to Dumas — and the people there could have shelter. Instead, because of our conditioning to look to government for help, we’re still waiting for FEMA to do something.

It may be true that two heads are better than one. But, put too many heads together, give them impressive-sounding government titles, and you’ve reached a point of diminishing returns. All of a sudden everyone has checked their brain at the door and insists that decisions are routed through “proper channels” because the manual says so. That’s how we end up with the REALITY of trusting the federal government to help us. Which goes like this:

The federal government confiscates our money in the form of taxes to establish their bureaucracies (under the guise of “doing it for our own good”). Then, when disaster strikes we have to fill out an application and ask “pretty please” in order to get OUR OWN MONEY back in order to meet our needs. But the federal government may or may not give that money back based on THEIR determination of whether or not our need is legitimate.

My solution? Stop sending our money away. If we never send it away we don’t have to ask for it back. That way WE are the ones who determine when our needs are legitimate — NOT some Washington bureaucrat.

Of course, this is easier said than done. As I pointed out earlier, we have become conditioned to viewing the state as savior. It’s a notion we need to reject.

The government is ill equipped to play the role of savior and we are foolish to look to government when we need one. Oh, I’m not surprised when a lost and dying world looks to government for a savior — without Christ they are apt to look to anything for salvation. But Christians certainly should recognize that God has not gifted the state to act on His behalf in matters of grace. This He has done for the Church.

We already have a savior. We just need to be clear about who he is.

Economics of Christianity (Part 3)

The Go(l)d Standard

(Continued from Part 2)

The concept of indirect exchange — money — became necessary because direct exchange is impractical. An example of a direct exchange would be a farmer taking his eggs to a clothing store and exchanging them for a shirt. It works fine as long as the store clerk needs eggs. But if the store clerk doesn’t need eggs and, instead, needs a new set of tires, then the farmer’s offer does him no good, unless the tire dealer needs eggs. Then the store clerk could take the eggs and exchange them for tires.

goldbar.jpgThe idea of indirect exchange establishes a fixed medium of exchange so that people may buy and sell for the things they need. So, money, then, is a commodity. It just needs to be more marketable than other commodities for ease of exchange. Historically gold has been the commodity used for exchange. For centuries money was tied to gold. Coins were made of it so that people actually exchanged gold for goods and services. Paper money was a certificate of ownership of actual gold held in reserve. This concept of tying money to gold is called the gold standard and it provided stability in the area of commerce.

However, one by one countries began to detach their money supply from gold and began to mint money by fiat — meaning they printed money pretty much out of thin air. The problem with fiat currency is that the more of it you print the more devalued all of it becomes. And since it is no longer is backed by a standard of currency — gold — it’s value is more likely to fluctuate and things like inflation became a real danger. Because of the danger of associated with fiat currency it becomes necessary for governments to manipulate interest rates, money supplies, etc. in order to maintain the stability of a currency. It’s a complicated balancing act with the potential of disastrous consequences all because the firm foundation once established was abandoned.

Many Christians find themselves performing a similar balancing act, all because they’ve abandoned the standard of faith as set forth in God’s Word. You see, the life of a Christian is to be governed by the principles in the Bible. It is the sole source of authority for a Christian. It’s a concept known as Sola Scriptura, which means “Scripture alone.”

But the typical modern Christian would rather live life by fiat — adhering to the ever-changing principles and values concocted by the culture of the day rather than in the inerrant Word of God. We would all do well to heed the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans…

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” — Romans 12:1-2

goldbars.jpgOf course heeding his words would require that we put some stock in the Bible in the first place. Maybe that’s where we need to start. The economies of the world would do well to return to a gold standard and we, as believers, would certainly do well to return to a “God Standard.”

(To be continued in Part 4)

Thideology news of the day

pen.jpgThe “Good”…

Dr. Walter E. Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University and a champion of liberty, is being recruited to run for president. The cartoon strip “Mallard Filmore” has been championing him as a candidate and providing his e-mail so supporters can send messages of encouragement. Even though he is flattered and has been inundated with e-mails he maintains he will not run. Who does he support? Another champion of liberty — Congressman Ron Paul.

…the “Bad”…

1) A couple of members of the Gideons were put in jail for passing out free Bibles on a public sidewalk. They were reported to the police by a school principal who saw them from her window. Apparently she didn’t think they had a right to freedom of religion, the execise thereof, or the freedom of speech. Quick! Somebody send her a copy of the Constitution!

2) Several states are considering legislation to force school girls to be vaccinated for sexually transmitted diseases — even against their will or the will of their parents. Outrageous? You bet. Surprising? It shouldn’t be. We’ve had high-profile politicians spouting collectivist ideas for so long that many Americans actually think the state has the authority to do with us as it sees fit. Which brings us to…

…the…well, you know…

Hillary Clinton, who as we all know is running for president, is notorious for making the kind of collectivist statements that foster the kind of thinking exhibited in the previous story. When her husband was president she advocated the total government take-over of healthcare and even wanted to make it a crime for a person to seek medical care with their own money and with a doctor of their choosing. She’s pushing it again.

Most recently she advocated the seizure of private profits when an oil company reported it’s quarterly earnings. Said Mrs. Clinton…

“I want to take those profits and put them into an alternative energy fund that will begin to fund alternative smart energy alternatives that will actually begin to move us toward the direction of independence.”

Um, you do realize that those evil profits are what motivate that company to produce oil in the first place. Without it they’d go into business doing something else — then what would we fill our cars up with? Besides, those profits belong to shareholders. That means if you have a mutual fund or a 401(k) you may actually be benefitting from those wicked oil profits.

Make no mistake. Mrs. Clinton and her kind would be quite happy to destroy private industry so government could control and run it all. Which reminds me of another Hillary quote and another…

Bumper sticker of the day

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Economics of Christianity (Part 2)

The Source of Value

(Continued from Part 1)

In economics things are viewed as having either intrinsic value or extrinsic value. In the simplest terms this refers to whether or not something has value in and of itself. If it does it is said to have intrinsic value. The value of water is intrinsic. We need water to sustain life. We drink it, wash with it, cook with it, and water crops with it. Its value is contained within itself.bagomoney.jpg

Extrinsic value means an item has no real value on it’s own but draws it’s value from somewhere else. A check for 100 dollars, for example, has no value on it’s own. The small rectangle of paper is virtually worthless. Its value is drawn from another source – in this case from the 100 dollars in the bank represented by the check. The check’s value is extrinsic, outside of itself.

Why in the world is this concept important to the study of Christianity?

I’m glad you asked. It is important because confusing intrinsic and extrinsic value is corrupting the Gospel in many of our churches.

Okay, let me explain.

The world is divided between people who view mankind as the basis for measuring ethics and morality and people who view God as the basis for measuring ethics and morality. Humanism views man as the measure of all things while the Bible teaches that God is that measure. Both of these worldviews, however, share a common belief – man has value.

Aha, but they are vastly different in what kind of value man contains. Humanists teach that mankind has intrinsic value – that we, in and of ourselves, are valuable. And, in our relationships with one another this is true to some extent. The members of my family are valuable to me and that value is contained in them.

But what about our relationship with God?

You may have heard it said that man is extremely valuable to God, just look at the incredible price He paid for us. Now, it is true that God paid a very high price to redeem the elect. But too often we begin to think that this is the case because God saw some value in us that made us worthy of redemption. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The idea that we have some intrinsic value that made God want to save us is nothing more than the corrupting influence of humanism, which has been infiltrating our churches since the 17th century. This unbiblical worldview has penetrated so deeply into the teachings of Christianity that once uncompromising preachers are now leaning toward Universalist views as a result. What we need to remember is that the authority for Christian faith and practice does not reside in the popular philosophies of the past few hundred years but in the very Word of God revealed to us by our Creator.

How does God characterize us? Look at Isaiah’s response in Isaiah chapter 6 when he saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up.

“Then said I, Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Isaiah was made aware of his standing before a Holy God. There was no inkling of worth in him. He was utterly and completely undone. Worthless.

“Okay, okay,” the humanist philosophy tells us, “But God still needs us. That’s why He called upon us to fulfill His will.”

As believers we certainly have the distinct privilege of serving God. But we should never make the mistake of thinking God needs us. Look at Isaiah again, this time in chapter 64…

“But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And [there is] none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.”

What we do for God is as “filthy rags.”

We need to reject humanism outright and understand the biblical teaching that before God we have no intrinsic value at all. We are undone.

However, we are remarkably fortunate, indeed, because in his letter to the Romans Paul points out that, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

It pleased God to exhibit His grace in this manner so that He may be glorified. And now, we have value in His sight but it is extrinsic. Our value before God is drawn from Christ and Christ alone, it is not our own. On this point we need to be perfectly clear.

(To be continued in Part 3)

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