Monday, January 14, 2013

Searching for the Baby in the Bathwater --- a partial response

There are many and familiar questions raised by Libby Anne in this article. I will not presume to answer all those questions, but I will take up her cue on one of the "more troubling questions" in this article: why did God have to have his son murdered? I have no need to blast or malign her. Her struggles are not unique and quite common among the saints in Christ, and while they may not all survive they can all be raised up yet again. Rather, it is because the particular question concerning the death of Jesus on which I want to focus is as paramount as church, trinity, (a term for which I have no need or use) Bible and God and the status of absurd these take on with the erosion of faith and conviction.

At the risk of repelling the reader I find Anne's not-too-keen conclusion that "Christianity (a term for which I have no personal use, but will accept her use of it) was built on the foundation of actual literal (emphasis, gt) human sacrifice" a great insight of truth.

The parallelism between God and herself on forgiveness is priceless. She wonders why/how God could forgive people through the death of his son. After all, she can forgive people without the need to have something murdered. This, on the sole weight of her words, is true. However, what she overlooks is the need for her to DO something for, because or towards the one she forgives. This could be something she DOES, even if she never saw the person again, as passive as a change of attitude because she has forgiven. Outwardly, it might involve telling the person directly of the forgiveness she has extended to that person. The point is her forgiveness involved DOING something.

God did nothing different than Libby Anne. He also forgave, and, like her, he DID something beyond that forgiveness. Certainly, Jesus himself asked the Father to forgive those whose actions in the moment had resulted in his crucifixion. I will come to what Jesus DID following that forgiveness, later.

Imagine the blandness of a forgiveness without words or actions. If this is true of humans it would be totally appalling, and, rightfully unacceptable without the shedding of blood, if God forgave without words or actions? Even then, what if God merely THOUGHT to forgive the sins of man, but SAID nothing audible for human ears? And had God only SPOKEN through a colossal, universe size megaphone, "I FORGIVE YOU" for the hearing of all man how long before succeeding generations doubted and rejected the veracity of the testimony of their ancestors about the voice they claimed to have heard from the sky?

Here is the great STOP sign which will declare an end to all thought, actions, plans, good and bad deeds since the birth of the individual:death.

This is why God HAD to have his Son murdered, because anything less is as bland as forgiveness with words, without words or without actions. It would be just so many lovely, wonderful words or things done not unlike any other individual, and while the resurrection in itself does not make Jesus God incarnate it poses a matter for all to examine and judge. What is that matter to examine and judge? It is the fact that Jesus declared openly and unabashedly in the presence of friends and foes alike he would lay down his life and then took it up again.

As words go it is plausible SOMEONE in the history of the world may have uttered such a claim while they were alive, but who is that individual? Where is the testimony and record of his words as taken up by his followers? Jesus not only declared these things, but when these things were fulfilled after the resurrection there was no denial by his foes. Instead, they schemed to secure their positions of power and prestige.
None of this makes any sense to Libby Anne, nonbelievers and even some saints in Christ. She is right it is not to be accepted on faith; the default answer given by too many teachers and preachers to brothers and sisters, instead of the dialog of learning, when saints are caught up in the struggles of doubt. The stark, repelling reality is that death, human sacrifice, as Anne rightly describes it, is far more impressionable without the vague, obscure muddle served up on church, trinity, Bible and God.

Just as every human being experienced a birth they cannot remember but about which they have been told regarding time, place and parents; every human has a death before them regardless of their beliefs on church, etc. Death is the inescapable necessary reality every human being faces and it was necessary that the Creator and Giver of life, even while not being recognized as such, come into his own creation and declare then demonstrate that death is nothing to him; it is in the palm of his hand. This is the reason, Jesus, the incarnate God and by all outward appearances a human being, sacrificed himself willingly to accomplish his purpose: to draw all mankind to belief in Him.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Out-gunning the un-gunned

(note: This article was published in January 2013 and alludes to the aftermath of Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in December 14, 2012.)

I have never owned a gun, I do not presently own one and have no desire or need to own a gun. I have no problem with my neighbor who may have multiple guns, rifles or semi-automatic guns. As a disciple of Jesus it is neither a source of trouble nor an issue for me to hear saints in Christ voice their zeal and fervor to stake a right as Americans to own and use a gun. I understand and accept the constitutional right not only to own a gun as well as to use it on a mad dog, on the hunt, against an intruder into one's home, or as our Founding Fathers warned, when government ceases to be a servant of the people and presumes to rise up against its own.

What I do take issue is the gun control rants in the aftermath of every mass shooting. Worse than the rants are the disingenuous politicians and media Piers Morgans and Alex Joneses who run with it with no more desire to find a solution to the problem than to enhance their chances of re-election or buildup their egos and ratings. True enough, gun rights are no better expressed as rants and slogans than the sound bites of some saints in Christ on the convictions of their faith.

Government is not an anomaly. It is made up of American citizens. Really? A government with the authority given to it by the people and which it has been unable (or unwilling) to handle and solve the problem of violence presumes to effectively solve the problem by disarming its citizens? Government is a minister of God. The power and authority it has failed to exert on the lawless it aimlessly seeks to exert on the law abiding. As mindless as is a mass shooting so too is the notion of a policy that disarmed citizens in, Chicago for example, would be well protected by a government which has done no more for this inner city than its international southern border.

The solution is no more a gun than it was a sword when Jesus was arrested. Peter, who drew his sword in defense of Jesus, experienced a real and painful realization, namely, that for all his bravado about being ready to die for Jesus, - the fear of death compelled Peter to resort to the sword. Clearly, the response solution impressed by Jesus on Peter and for all who would surrender their lives to Jesus as Lord and Savior is one no more forced on believers than nonbelievers. It took Peter, like many other disciples, to grow in his conviction to willfully give up his life for Jesus. (This insight on Peter's death came to him from Jesus himself. [John 21:19]) Those who live without the sword are as prepared to face death as are those who live by the sword. I do not live by the sword, but I can understand the man who won't live without it and who won't die with it. I am not troubled by his/her decision anymore than I am about the appropriation of these words of Jesus:

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

However, the truth is that while these words have been commonly adopted by various armed personnel the two are not to be mistaken as being equal. When Jesus laid down his life as a demonstration of that greater love he did so without first taking someone else's life.

The clear stance of the National Rifle Association as delivered by executive vice president Wayne LePierre has no political angle and no eloquence, but is founded on the authority of the constitution.

Lastly, I remember then Senator Obama's series on YouTube when he wondered out loud just about what brand of Christianity an imaginary Christians-only nation would follow. He wondered if it would be according to the Torah, James Dobson, Al Sharpton or the Sermon on the Mount which Jesus preached. (Matthew 5 - 7) Thereby, President Obama acknowledged the value, importance and role of authority, and, while the scriptures are not the source of authority in question on the matter of gun control and disarming citizens it is the constitution that is the authority to be heeded. It does not take a lawyer or the President of the United States to know and to understand that basic tenet of American democracy. Law is not for the law abiding, but for the lawless and all who will not submit themselves to order. Government, which rightly professes authority, is just as accountable and is to be held accountable to that authority by the people. Here's the grotesqueness of disarming people. It is when a simple hand gun becomes no less than an assault weapon (pardon the media misinformation with my use of that term) to out-gun and inflict unbridled terror on the un-gunned.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Human sacrifice at Moriah and Egypt

an ancient sacrifice in the Torah

(This is a brief examination of two ancient biblical events in history for the purpose of gaining understanding. It is NOT an advocacy for such a practice involving human sacrifice by anyone today, but it is look at human sacrifice, by God himself, in a way Israel never understood and rejected. gt)

Recently, I found myself reading various articles (see links at end of article) by both Jews and Christians on a particular Jewish perspective. The perspectives in these articles were drawn on as much on the Torah as from the New Testament. (NT) I am not one to take offense at slights and accusations on the faith that is in Christ Jesus as it sometimes seems in the Torah on these matters. Notably, some appear, at least to this Christian, as a reconstructive, retroactive interpretation with no other objective than to resist and counter the message of the sacrifice of Jesus as recorded by the NT writers. This objective from Jews is understandable as we will see later.

The purpose of this brief article is to bring a focus to bear on the death, or sacrifice, of Egypt’s firstborn as the tenth and final plague which God brought on Pharaoh.