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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gifts, Ministries and Effects

Some observations and thoughts came to mind from today’s daily reading of the scriptures in the New Testament section of I Corinthians 12.


The saints in Christ often think and talk about those things which they would like to live out in their daily lives. They want to do so in the knowledge and confidence that they do so in the Spirit who indwells them. One thing which is common in the apostle Paul’s teaching is that each individual is a part of a greater whole; the body of believers. What’s more Paul may sometimes be difficult to understand, as the apostle Peter himself noted, (I Peter 3:15,16) but he is never vague or superficial.


He wrote to the church in Corinth as to what the “same Spirit” “same Lord” and “same God” had done, but he also specified what they each one had done. Quite likely, some might infer from that reference to Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but that is not what I take away from the passage. Rather, it is another instance of Paul’s seemingly vague or superficial (not Paul by any means) reference on which he elaborates.


One thing with which Paul’s messages always resound is the unity from diversity. In this instance, it is the gifts, -by the same Spirit, -the ministries, by the same Lord, and -the effects, by the same God. Each one of these, gift, ministry and effect, reflects a move from the lesser to the greater; the individual to the group. Is a gift less than an effect? It is if that which one has received from the Spirit remains ineffectual in him or her as though they had not received anything or something too small and of little significance from the Holy Spirit.

What Paul notes about these is that they are for the common good, (verse 7) not a personal exaltation by the individual Then, in true form, Paul specifies how that common good of my gift in our ministry shows its effect among others. It is in that the members may have the same care for one another. (verse 25) This should be no surprise for the saints in Christ because love for one another as Jesus commanded is ultimately to care for one another.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What Difference Does It Make?

purpose, action and acclaim


a generational thing


Every generation throughout human history has faced changes. The scope of these changes may or may not have been spectacular or good or evil necessarily. Suffice it to say that individuals were aware that some things had changed in the natural physical environment, human interaction and their own response to those changes especially as these changes affected them directly.


In this respect, life in America, our society and the world is no different. The Internet has made it possible for anyone with web access through a computer or other device to go, virtually, anywhere in the world to check things for themselves. They can get some idea about the natural physical environment as it flourishes or is ravaged in another part of the world. They can examine for themselves and gain some insight about what makes the human interaction hostile or peaceful between peoples with different beliefs. They can also determine how these things can or will affect them emotionally, psychologically, economically, politically; personally. Often this is the point where these changes become something overwhelming for some people to the point of anxiety, despair or depression. I maintain it is not necessarily that there is more evil, as is often the point of focus, in the world as much as the individual can now far exceed his/her intake of world news beyond what the evening newscast delivers to his/her living room or coffee house. Yet, what difference does it make or why should we care if we are aware of these changes?


change in our world


Why? What change has evolved in our present world which, although people who may not live in an environment in which changes such as these are manifested, can be so affected? Furthermore, every individual can look at himself/herself and see for themselves that they create and produce changes in their lives which affect other people around them, because it is as the English poet noted, no man is an island. Every individual fosters a thought in their mind. Subsequently, they  took what had come into their mind and they acted on it. This was true regardless whether it was good or evil. Then, to the degree of their soundness of mind and the worthiness of what they had done it became a matter of acclaim or shame for them or about them. Of course, let’s state the obvious: change is not good or bad, but it bears worth noting that is not always necessary.


It is bad enough when people stumble and perish by the actions of their own doing, but it is far worse when those who profess to know, are purported to know or are expected to know are themselves at a loss to understand and speak to the whirlwind of change.


Make no mistake about it. These who are expected to know and understand include those who lead, teach and preach either from the pulpit to the gathering of the saints in Christ or from the seat of government to the American electorate.


Here are just a few examples of responses from the pulpit and the seat of government to these changes when these same changes have broken the relative, short-term peace since the last break. Some are sound bites or rants, others are familiar quotations.


What difference, at this point, does it make?
We have given them space to destroy.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a boy or a girl, a man or a woman.
Repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act.


the difference it makes


I anticipate the aversion and knee-jerk reaction to want to take one of the above and run with its corresponding political banner and the rhetoric that drives and inflames but which does little or nothing towards helping the saints and the electorate understand what they are being told. What do these four messages share in common? They all began with a purpose; intentionality. All of these purposes were acted upon. All these actions were/are accurately or inaccurately acclaimed. Again, lest anyone fixate on a political or religious message the point here is that these are reflective of what is true in all things. If either the purpose, action or acclamation behind these things are at odds with any of the others it becomes, to understate it, suspect and deservedly subject to scrutiny.


The difference it makes in knowing and understanding what has changed is that with the loss of knowledge and understanding the saints in Christ and the American electorate do not know how, are unable and are unwilling to make decisions and judgments. The loss of is covered under the deception and guise of being loving, free and politically correct. Hence, for example, a call to repeal a health care measure is pushed and driven with never a comprehensive alternative to replace it. A boy lacks the foundation, universal confidence for understanding and accepting his natural masculine gender and responds with an embrace of what he believes is the safe alternative; be a girl. The same is true of a girl concerning her natural feminine gender. The truth is boys as well as girls and men as well as women, often can not bear the pressure of this change whose message is that it is wrong to acknowledge and accept who you are, but you will be accepted (and loved) if you 1) reject your natural gender, and 2) accept your new life as a bi-sexual, transgender or homosexual because anyway . . . what difference does it make?


What difference does it make in the political life of America? The saints in Christ and the American electorate are told to ignore and dismiss the law of the Constitution of the United States in favor of love and acceptance without judgment. This message itself ignores and dismisses completely the differences in some people’s attitude towards the Constitution. The church for her part following those who lead, teach and preach is more and more led to similarly ignore and dismiss the authority of the scriptures all in the name of love and acceptance. This response by the saints in Christ, that is, the church reflects a complete ignorance or disregard for the lessons by the apostle Paul concerning how the church is to respond to immorality in her midst. (see I Corinthians 5)

This same lame, anemic inability to make judgments is see in politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, whose idea of a tactical solution is to re-name actions, events or individuals in such way as to attempt to diminish the gravity of the matter.


all things come to light


The natural thing to do when one can not see something is to bring it into the light or shine some light on it. Things are often subjected to scrutiny for their legal or illegal standing or their moral or immoral standing by church and state alike. Someone may refuse to subject something to the light but that no more declares it right or wrong, moral or immoral any more than such refusal invalidates the universal physical and moral laws and nature of light to expose what darkness and ignorance conceal. Wrong can be made right, but until it is acknowledged, renounced and rejected it remains a piecemeal, patchwork solution to a real problem.


God: what cannot be concealed


No matter what a person’s political or apolitical, religious or irreligious worldview the processes by which he/she lives concerning purpose, action and acclaim can not be concealed. Yes, these processes can and are suppressed by some, but, again, that does not change the universal laws of physics or morality. Similarly, no matter what a person’s political or apolitical, religious or irreligious worldview either to deny or suppress these processes; purpose, action and acclaim, they are what the scriptures reveal concerning 1) the nature of God, 2) Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and 3) the relationship of God towards man as written by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in the Asian city of Ephesus. What he wrote is a testimony to what cannot be concealed, though it may be denied or suppressed, that is, that the universal axiom of purpose, action and acclaim which as it is true of human beings so too it should also be true of their Creator. The wording may be different, but he reader is able to judge for themselves if these things are not so as they read the passage of chapter one.


What the apostle Paul revealed is that it was not a nondescript intentionality or an impersonal entity but the Father who defined the purpose his will towards man before the foundation of the world. It was not a vague philosophical notion, but the living Son of God, Jesus, who redeemed (action) those who believed in Him according to the Father’s good pleasure. Lastly, it was the Holy Spirit who sealed (acclaimed, affirmed) those who put their faith and trust in Jesus.

There is nothing vague or ambiguous about these things. These things cannot be concealed. They are as natural as the universal laws of physics and morality and as much a part of every human being’s life whether or not they are aware and know about it; whether or not they accept it. The difference it makes as to whether we know this things is whether we purpose, act and acclaim with confidence who are are and what we do, whether as the saints in Christ or the American electorate. peace, amigos.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

God is one: On a Unitarian and Trinitarian debate

Debate: Unitarianism vs Trinitarianism


This article is not about debates. It is not a refutation of a debate. It is an address of a single aspect of the discussion concerning deity. Debates are a great platform for grandstanding. I do not care to attend debates. I have never participated in one and I have no desire to do so. They can do little or nothing to enlighten the saints who are of the faith that is in Christ Jesus. Worse still, too often the saints are treated to a carnal spectacle between the presenters. The tactics of single word isolation in the original Hebrew and Greek languages are flashed before the audience; each presenter positing alternately what the word means and what it could otherwise possibly mean also. Of course, there is an abundance of verses, which like their word components, are isolated and listed for what they do not say as much as for what they do not say about God.


When it comes to the trinity, a word for which I have no desire, use or need, much is heard in debates about history and the Council of Nicaea in 325 by Emperor Constantine to whom many ascribe the doctrine of what is called trinitarianism. Also, there is the back and forth about terms not found in the Bible; often noted about Trinitarian/Trinitarianism, but the same holds true of Unitarian/Unitarianism. There are the copious references to scholars and last but not least there is that point where the presenters wear thin and the veiled, subtle and sometimes slip-of-the-tongue barbs come into the debate near the end of the debate. These are my general observations concerning debates but I will say that Danny Dixon and Marc Taylor were, as the script of the debate seems to indicate, respectful as brothers in Christ.


Invariably, after the debate is over the single unanswered question in the minds of the saints is: what does it mean to say God is one and still speak of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit?


This is the question which neither Unitarians nor Trinitarians have been able to address in an open, clear and understandable manner for the enlightenment of the saints.


Basically, the conclusion is that Jesus was a very nice man, sent from God with great power, it is alright that worship was directed to him and that he never reproved those who said or did anything directed to him in the manner of praise and worship. If the saints were to receive such an enlightenment from those debates maybe their speech would convey their confident conviction concerning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit especially as Christians are confronted more and more by purportedly Unitarian Muslims. The purpose of this article is to address what, both Unitarians and Trinitarians have wittingly or unwittingly circumspectly avoided.


things debaters share in common


Danny Dixon (Unitarian) and Marc Taylor (Trinitarian), those are their own self-descriptive terms, share much more in common than the familiar formal and informal tactics of what is called debate. I encourage readers to take the time and read the fifty five page transcript of the debate. More importantly, they share their theological views, though not their respective conclusions necessarily, in common with Jews, Christians and Muslims. Read the Dixon/Taylor debate here. I have included at the end of this article three video debate links between Unitarian and Trinitarian and their mutually shared, sheer, utter futility. I am waiting on those associated with those debates to provide me the links for debates #2 and #3.


What, you may ask, could these two brothers in Christ possibly have in common between each other as veritable Unitarian/Trinitarian opponents on one hand and Jews, Christians and Muslims on the other hand?


There are other points in common, but really, only one which matters because it is the fundamental root of the problem. It is the quantification with numeric values of one, two or three of the deity who declares himself as being one. One individual argues for God as the quantitative value of one. The other argues for God as the quantitative value of one, but . . . three. It is significant and telling that what Moses pronounced to Israel in the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 is summed up for the enlightenment of the saints in this manner by both men in their only reference to the Shema in the debate.


by Dixon, “Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear O Israel, Jehovah our God, Jehovah is one. ”Did he really mean it, or was Jesus speaking with his fingers crossed behind his back since the divine joke was that in fact he was Jehovah.”


by Taylor: “When Christ quotes Deuteronomy 6:4 in Mark 12:29 it is not at all conclusive that the word for "one" refers to an absolute one for the Hebrew and Greek words for one can be used to represent a "unified one" (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5).


Arguably, the Shema is the single most important and vital passage of the Tanakh (Old Testament) for its pronouncement on the descriptive nature of God. Yet, the above comments by both men are a fair reflection of what is a common misunderstanding about God by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Every one of these different groups cite or quote the Shema, but every one of them holds the same quantitative interpretation of deity as Dixon and Taylor.


I will not lay out any argument from the Hebrew language. I will not present what various reputed scholars have said on the subject of deity. Certainly, this article, as it is probably apparent already, is not a scholarly work in no small part because of the absence of language arguments and scholars’ views. Yes, I value scholarly work. It is just that too often it takes on the consistency of muddle for those who listen in on debates. Yes, there are a number of verses (for example, those with reference to Jesus as a man) throughout the Bible some of which were instruments for engagement between Dixon and Taylor. Although I am prepared to respond to those verses they will not be a part of this article. Those responses may be a part of a further discussion to this article. Do not mistake my decision as avoidance or timidness because I do not address and respond to the familiar and anticipated questions which stem from this verse and that verse. However, the truth of the matter is that much of what is thrown into debates is for their filler effect and nothing more. What I prefer to present is what any reader of the Tanakh and the new covenant (New Testament) can read and examine in the English language for themselves and make their own judgment on these matters. It is my hope that the saints would be built up,encouraged and enlightened.


what God sought to impress on Israel


God sought to impress something on Israel for all time when He spoke through his servant Moses in Deuteronomy 6:4,5; the Shema. There are various words and phrases which appear before and after the Shema. Here are a few of those words and phrases:


the commandment, the statutes and the judgments . . . to teach . . . to keep . . . you should listen . . . Hear, oh Israel . . . These words . . . talk of them . . . bind as a sign . . . You shall write them . . .


All of these words and phrases are about the words God was saying to Moses in that moment. Since Deuteronomy is a second telling of the law to Israel those words and phrases are as much about what God had said (past) already. These were things which Israel was to learn and keep as of that day. (present) Israel was to teach these things to their children going forward. (future) Their children were to learn, keep and teach these things to impress to their children; generation after generation.


the divine revelation of the will of God is one


This is what Israel was to understand from that moment going forward. Israel was to understand that the revelation of the will of God was one in unity and harmony as is God. Israel was to understand that 1) everything that God said was to be obeyed, 2) everything that Moses said that God said was to be obeyed, 3) everything that the prophets said God said was to be obeyed, 4) everything that Jesus said was from the Father said was to be obeyed, 5) everything that the apostles said was from the Holy Spirit was to be obeyed, and 6) everything that the saints in Christ read from the written word as what God said was to be obeyed. There is no variation. There is no discrepancy. What God said is no less the authoritative commandment of God after he spoke it, when it was repeated, before it was written, after it was written, before it was printed, after it was printed and when the reading of his commandments is heard by listeners. The saints in Christ are living in a time when many among them, as in the days of ancient Israel, so desperately and frantically seek after something, surely, anything that is flashier than words.


There is complete, total harmony and oneness from beginning to end from God himself, from Moses, from the prophets, from Jesus, from the apostles and the saints. This is the unity, oneness, true nature, characteristic and description of God who is one; not a quantitative, numeric value; as is his word so too is the Father, with the Son, with the Holy Spirit.


a plurality


There is plural word form in the Shema. It is acknowledged by Jews and Christians alike. There is no denying that the plural form is present in the text. Of course, this is where Christians interject Father, Son and Holy Spirit into the passage. The awareness and response by the Jews to that plural form is aptly stated by Rabbi Goldmark in The Human Jesus; “We just ignore it.”


Amazing. This, from a teacher of Israel? A much earlier Psalms text on the Jewish awareness of that nagging plurality was quoted by Jesus for his listeners. Even before that quotation by Jesus he was quizzed by a scribe. It was a no-brainer affirmation from Jesus on the Shema. It was also the opportune moment for the scribe to parrot in the presence of the Sadducees and Pharisees what was theologically safe. (Mark 12)


Jesus answered,"The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'
31 "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these."


The scribe’s response to Jesus:


The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly  stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;
33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."


Mark, the writer of the gospel, notes this reaction from Jesus to the scribe’s safe response:


When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."


Clearly, there is nothing contradictory, wrong or otherwise unsound in the scribe’s reiteration of Jesus’ words. Is there a reasonable understanding as to why Mark notes that Jesus saw that the scribe answered Jesus intelligently, or in other versions, wisely if not for the fact that it was a theologically safe and nonthreatening response to Jesus in the presence of the Sadducees?


However, Jesus did not let things be. He proceeded to quote Psalm 110 with its nagging plural references which baffled the Jewish scribes. These references, between The Lord and my lord, are explained neither by the Hebrew language or upper or lower case spellings nor are they explained through the obscure insertion of titles or names such as Father or Yahweh. (Those explanations are as feeble as what some takeaway from Jesus’ quotation of the Shema, namely, that it was his endorsement, to use their word choice, of the Shema.)


THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET."'


Nobody answered Jesus’ question. Jesus did not state anything new. It was an ancient message of the prophets who, like Moses, revealed the will of God to Israel. Furthermore, Jesus did not offer an explanation, but instead posited another question for them and left it for them and for us to ponder that plurality. I will leave it for the reader to ponder that plurality.


Ephesians: Father, Son, Holy Spirit: role and relationship


As much as there is no denial by Jews and Christians on the plurality of the Shema there are other instances in which God refers to himself in the plural form even as He is referred to in plural. There is no denial that Jesus spoke of the deity of the Father. I prefer to leave aside Jesus’ own reference to himself as being equal with the Father and the implications of deity for himself. Similarly, I prefer to leave aside the claims of the Holy Spirit as deity. This is not a capitulation or avoidance, but it is a matter which is better to be pondered, for the time being, and for the reader to come to his/her own realization and understanding of deity. We ought not be surprised that the saints in Christ struggle to understand God.


If the disciples who walked, talked and lived with Jesus struggled to understand who it was that was in their midst; today, we ought not marvel that the saints struggle to understand the Jesus in the written word of God and the Holy Spirit who remains just as non visible today as in the first century.


Those same disciples, and later the apostle Paul too, all went on become witnesses of Jesus in their proclamation of his gospel. All were indwelt and guided by the same Holy Spirit whom they received from the Father. Their words, like those of Moses and the prophets, were one in unity and agreement with everything Jesus said and what the Spirit received from Jesus to reveal to them.


It was the apostle Paul who bore testimony through his inspired writing in his letter to the saints in Christ at Ephesus concerning the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Paul not only specifies these entities in chapter one, but he reveals 1) what was the role of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and thus, 2) the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit towards his creation; man to be specific.


It was not the Son or the Holy Spirit, but the Father who PURPOSED his will before the foundation of the world to redeem an elect people.


It was not the Father or the Holy Spirit, but the Son who FULFILLED the will of the Father through his own death in order that he might redeem the elect by his blood having been forgiven of their sins.


It was not the Father or the Son, but the Holy Spirit who SEALED the redeemed of the Father as purchased by the Son.


These words of Paul were not conjured up by him but they were from antiquity; since before the foundation of the world _ before God EVEN SPOKE THEM before the foundation of the world. These are words by which Paul explained the specific roles and relationship of each divine entity towards the redeemed. Contrary to the serious misunderstanding by Muslims, Jews and some Christians God is not a man. This mistaken notion is found neither in the scriptures nor is it the teaching of Christians. God TOOK ON the form of a man. It is just as much a serious mistaken notion of the saints to think that they understand the divine transcendent God when they speak of him in terms of person or persons. Although the scriptures present God through the use of anthropomorphisms these were primarily for the Jews and for the saints in Christ to help understand and relate to God who is spirit through the use of human terms. The use of these anthropomorphism by God himself in a human-form vessel named Jesus reveals that he was quite comfortable to extend the reference to himself as a man (John 8:40) in the face of the defiant and arrogant Jews who touted with a purportedly Unitarian fervor to Jesus, we have one Father: God.


the prophet Isaiah


As I stated earlier there is tendency to blithely throw titles (such as Father) and names (such as Yahweh) or prophet into passages where none of these appear in the text. This practice is true of Dixon and Taylor as it is of many other saints on a number of different discussion topics. This is an exercise question on deity to which I will not offer an answer. It is not that I do not have an answer, but rather it is that I will trust in the written word of God and in the reader to make the discovery and reach the realization for themselves and to rejoice in it. I know a proposition without answers is contrary to the question which is so often heard from exhausted minds in their search to understand deity: why didn’t God just say . . .? This open speculation as to what God could have or should have said is trumpeted as a default definitive answer by Unitarians and Trinitarians alike to anything they cannot articulate on their own and without resorting to a maze of biblical language definitions and ancient writers. Both of these groups and individuals throw around labels and names such as Father, Jehovah, Yahweh, YHWH inserting these at will clearly without an answer or understanding of the following question of the same text from Isaiah in two different places. The subject in reference in these passages is YHWH and the unbelief of those who heard his message.


1  According to the scriptures whom did Isaiah see in Isaiah 6?
2  According to the scriptures whom did Isaiah see in John 12?

Read the passages. Read them in your own preferred version of the scriptures whether in Hebrew, Greek or English, New World Translation of the Scriptures, New American Standard, New International Version or other.


conclusion


The question of deity by Unitarians and Trinitarians for those whom they purport to enlighten the saints remains unanswered. What is offered as an answer is obscured, muddled and lost in the tactics of debate.

So much of what is presented as sound findings from the scriptures is to pitch one passage or verse against another. This is an indication of a serious misunderstanding of the total, complete harmony of the revelation of the will of God from God himself, to Moses, to the prophets, to Jesus, to the apostles and to the saints in Christ. It is this harmony and unity which makes Father, Son and Holy Spirit one. 

We, the saints in Christ and as Jesus likened us, are one with the Father and Son when we are one in harmony just as the Father and Jesus are one. (John 17:11) Had the Jews understood and accepted and not ignored what they did not understand concerning the meaning of the Shema which became a part of their daily lives they would not have been so quick to crucify Jesus, the Son of God. The expedient death of Jesus as unwittingly prophesied by Caiaphas (John 18:13) represented the Jewish participation in something which they adamantly asserted as being a vile abomination to God and the Jews themselves. This is a convenient forgetfulness of history involving the virtual human sacrifice at Moriah of Isaac and later the actual sacrifice of the entire firstborn of Egypt. No, that is not, as some might be quick to charge, anti-Semitic. It is a matter of history. peace to all.

The Trinity: Truth or Tragedy? #1
The Trinity: Truth or Tragedy? #2
The Trinity: Truth or Tragedy? #3

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Image of Racism

the image of racism

Racists, despite their false bravado, live a lie which grovels in fear. Note that I refer to racists as individuals or groups and not in the formless, disembodied barroom, coffeehouse, sports field or classroom topic of racism. It is the image touted by some who themselves are not given to talk much less think about those things they boast arrogantly. I am compelled speak, as much as I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, on racism because of the act of racism which resulted in the murder of the saints in Christ in Charleston South Carolina. I do not speak because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ who were murdered. Rather, this is what I, to say nothing about anyone else, ought to do anytime I am truly moved in my heart by such acts. Even more than waiting for the next and latest act of racial violence I ought to be able to respond in the affirmative to the question which comes up at times such as in Charleston: Do we Americans engage in talk about racism? Even more, I as a Christian, need to initiate and engage in the discussion in the times in between those abominable acts of racial violence. Do not think you have acted or spoken against racism simply by keeping quiet and thereby thinking all can and should assume you are not racist.

Still, more than a merely venting, re-hashing and wringing my hands dry of the crime or seizing the opportune moment to alleviate or ameliorate myself as being more non racist than a racist; I am compelled to strip racism of its sham of a disguise. Contrary to the accepted delusion of racism’s perpetrators and victims racism is not about the color of a human being’s skin. There are other delusional responses and descriptive terms given to acts of racial violence purportedly as solutions to the problem of racism. These include gun control, hate crime, accident and these responses come from Christians, Democrats and Republicans all of whom claim to speak from the perspective of a faith professed in Jesus and the knowledge and practice of the teaching of Jesus as Lord and Savior. Mostly however, these covert responses are muffled, subdued and suppressed in deference to the overt response which is with the weight of legislative law. (I would venture to say that racists, even those who who would claim to be disciples of Jesus, but have become entangled in their own deception, have their own favorable spin on those terms to suit and justify their message of hate.)

a difficult statement

In so doing they have become as ignorant as is the racist as to how far they have wandered from the message of Jesus which are their life.

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?"
61 But Jesus,conscious  that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, "Does this cause you to stumble?
62"What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?
63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
64 "But there are some of you who do not believe."
(the gospel according to John 6

Those who heard this message from Jesus turned around and walked away and ceased to follow Jesus. Anyone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus yet embraces the hatred of racism deceives himself/herself.

a social definition

Racism, as it is defined by our society, is the breeding, harboring, fostering and acting out of disdain and contempt towards an individual or group who are ethnically different than another individual or group. Purportedly, this is the reason by which, however warped, the racist can justify his hatred and disdain. But this is a bigger lie than it is a farce; the farce being that racism towards others is love for one’s own family and country; the lie because racism is not about or primarily about the obvious, overt skin color of another person.

The truth is the racist would just as soon turn on one of his own with no less hatred and disdain and even murder; not because of the color of their skin, but because of difference of belief. This may resonate as familiar with some as this is the common belief and practice in ISIS, but also per the Quran instruction for Muslims who are not associated with ISIS necessarily.

Do not be ignorant because any notion of carrying out violence in the name of Jesus is that individual’s own lie and fear and it is not from Jesus and the apostles and the saints in Christ.

racism: a problem in America, in this world

America has a problem of racism. We hear in the media that no one is safe from those who, in different and varying degrees, think, speak and act or otherwise urge, encourage and cheer others to acts of racism. This hardly makes America unique among other countries. None of this should sound as new or alarming to the saints in Christ because unlike the fear-filled liar who killed those nine saints in Christ in Charleston the saints in Christ do not have a country anymore than the kingdom of Jesus is of this world. Yes, I am mindful that there is no small number of Christians who are not racist and teach and speak against racism, but who share the belief with that racist in Charleston that America is their country to keep and to defend. However, this was the response of Jesus to the Governor Pontius Pilate who stood to judge to Jesus concerning Pilate’s mistaken notions about a tract of land for Jesus himself and his disciples. (Pilate literally wash his hands as a public display to exempt himself from judging Jesus.)

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm."
(the gospel according to John 18)

the image of fear

The reality is that the response to racism, for the most part, is a game; an exercise in deception. Among politicians the response to racism is gun control. Christians, mostly following the lead of politicians, respond to racism as a hate crime. Yes, the saints are to be commended for the prompt forgiveness. It is this love and forgiveness by Christians which is what makes Charleston a display showcase for Muslims and others who know not Jesus as Lord and Savior.

The reason by which Christians are able to live and talk love and forgiveness through the good and evil in this world is precisely because we have no delusions about life or _ death. As I stated earlier, despite the false bravado of racism, racists live in the grip of the fear of death. This is true of all those who would sooner take a life than to do as Jesus did and lay down their own life. Yes. This is a difficult statement and there have always been and there will always be those who walk away from it. It is easy to shield one’s actions, racist and non-racist alike, of fear as being for one’s country and for others, but the truth that there is only one in the moment of truth who makes the determination whether to take a life or give a life. It is no more a decision than a condemnation for me to make of a believer or nonbeliever, a racist or non-racist, it is a reality.

Cain: a murderer

The Bible account in the book of Genesis relates the first murder of Abel by his brother Cain. (Genesis 4) Ostensibly, Cain murdered his brother because God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice but He rejected the sacrifice of Cain. When God asked Cain Why are you angry? it was not because God didn’t know. Rather, it was to prompt Cain to examine the source of his anger. It is the same question for the racist, Why are you angry? God never played into Cain’s wallowing in anger anymore than He does with the racist. The admonishment for Cain is the same as for the racist:

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

Cain, like his racist brothers and sisters, succumbed to the desire of sin and thereby Cain and racists alike remain in the grip of the fear of death.

This is the lie which grovels in fear; the image of the sin whose desire is to be racist.

However, this is the deliverance from the one who had (past tense) the power of death.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
(Hebrews 2:14; 15)

conclusion

Image in American society has become a cheap commodity. It is easily traded for what is superficial and temporal. Racism continues to be embraced as truth when in fact it is the false bravado of a lie. The lie is that there is no more love in the preservation of country than the preservation of one’s loved ones. It is all about one’s own skin. Racism has nothing to do with skin color. This is not to diminish or nullify the act of racism in Charleston. However, it is call to examine closely our understanding of misplaced responses towards a solution to racism. Racists ally themselves with those who, for the moment, happen to think (a dubious use of the term) and act alike. The moment there is a change in difference of thought a country and loved become as easy to discard as a human life. This was the way of Cain. This is the way of the racist.

Here is the call of Jesus to racists and all sinners who do not believe:

"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot * be My disciple.
27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot * be My disciple.
(Luke 14:26-27)

Yes. You are your brother’s keeper because the image of God in which He created male and female is no more physical than it is skin color. The image of God is love.