140 Characters, History, & Racism

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Published on: August 13, 2017

I am deeply saddened as I have watched what has taken place in Charlottesville, VA today and can’t help thinking that it did not have to be this way and yet coming to the realization that this display of violence was the inevitable result of all that has taken place in our culture over the last several decades. How has our country gone from the early civil rights movement where we had historically memorable quotes about judging one another on the content of character and not outward ethnic features to the dominance of “identity politics” in such a short time. I believe our desire for two things, simplification and modern superiority, have played a major role in this shift. What do I mean by these two things?

  1. Simplification: We seem to want everything to fit into neatly organized categories that can be reduced to simple black-and-white (yes that was intentional) issues. We despise nuance and reject the notion that people and their motivations are messy and complicated and do not just consist of one thing or another. We insist on everything being portrayed in terms of winners and losers, antagonist and protagonist. We cannot entertain the idea that people we principally disagree with may nonetheless have something meaningful to say that is worth of caring enough to actually listen too. To make matters worse, we have no patience for complex idea and thoughts. If we cannot express our views in 140-characters we give up and just hang out in our mutual echo chambers of clever (sometimes) memes and attempted snippets of wit.
  2. Modern superiority: This is the notion that people who lived before the age of the Internet were bigoted, ignorant neanderthals who have noting much to contribute to the “enlightened” modern society we live in today. This is often expressed in anti-religious rhetoric in which we are ridiculed for believing in ancient myths rather than prostrating ourselves before the clearly superior altar of modern science. We also view history through completely anachronistic eyes, and cannot fathom how people behaved the way they did “back then”. We pay lip service to the panoply of innovation and invention that define the majority of human history (especially in western culture) because they had the naive views that God was the one who provided the foundations for science and discovery and other silly antiquated beliefs. We fail to learn from history because we don’t see ourselves as essentially just like those who came before us, but we hold ourselves up as having “evolved” beyond those frailties and weaknesses that were part of past cultures. After all… we have iPhones and Facebook and so of course we’re different from people who had nothing to do all day but (gasp) read books!

So if we look at todays events and how these two factors played a part we need to look at the civil war. If you ask 100 people what the civil war was about I would guess that 99 of them would answer “slavery”. The problem here is not that slavery did not have a major role in the conflict, but that we have created the simplified formula (civil war = war against slavery) when the facts are that the civil war was a very complex event that involved people on both sides with multi-faceted motivations and goals. You have issues of states rights vs. federalism, you had economic factors and yes, you has slavery.

Why do I bring up the civil war? I bring it up because the focal point of the initial “white supremacist” rally today was over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a park. There was another statue mentioned in the news conference by VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe, that of Thomas Jefferson.

The Washington Post reported in their article HERE

“They (the white supremacist protesters) were met by counterprotesters at the base of a statue of Thomas Jefferson”.

So we have two statues each functioning as symbols that each side wanted to protect and defend and clearly one of the people memorialized was a patriot and founding father who believed in racial equality and the other was a war-mongering racist facist whose memory needs to be expunged from the American consciousness, right? Well perhaps it is not that simple.

According to THIS Wikipedia article on Jefferson we find the following…

“In his Notes, Jefferson contemporarily described blacks as inherently (fixed nature) inferior to whites in critical reasoning and beauty,[126] but superior in musical ability.[126] Jefferson believed that the bonds of love for blacks were weaker than those for whites.[126]According to one scholar, William Peden, this idea about fixed nature was Jefferson’s rationalized justification for the racial caste of slavery.[127]

Another article HERE on Robert E. Lee includes this quote from Lee’s 1856 letter to his wife…

In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.
— Robert E. Lee, to Mary Anna Lee, December 27, 1856

These men seem to have views that would be more similar than different, which is not surprising given that both men were (in part) products of a particular time and place, and shared common human sins.

In the WaPo article previously cited we read that

…was among the counterprotesters at the pedestrian mall, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Whose streets? Our streets!”

So on the one side you have BLM people promoting their views, which can be found HERE and include the belief that black lives are “systematically and intentionally targeted for demise”, and see the Lee statue as a symbol and confirmation of that view. On the other side you have the white supremacists who, according to the WaPo article…

marched through the campus of the University of Virginia, chanting “White lives matter!” “You will not replace us!” and “Jews will not replace us!”

So on both sides of the conflict you have these absolutized ideas where each side is out to get the other and of course when we take positions that preclude the possibility of conversation, the only thing left is violence.

I think racism is a wicked evil that is incompatible with the Christian message and should be opposed at all times. We must not make the mistake however of reducing all societal conflict, historically or in the present day, to literally black and white issues. Not all of the people protesting the removal of the Gen. Lee statue hate blacks and not all the counter protesters hate whites. The issues are complex at times and it takes empathy and patience to get to the root of things and try to have productive interactions. Will there always be those who destroy attempts at understanding through their own prejudice and hatred, not always. One day the Lord will return and judge His creation and we Christians ought to be about the work of the kingdom until that day comes.



Saying Goodbye to Old Friends

Categories: Moving to Arizona
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Published on: August 26, 2013

After a busy week of final packing, truck loading and trying our best to see all of our friends before we move to Arizona, we had the opportunity to stop by and see some old friends at the church where we were married. I am grateful for the friends we’ve had over the years and trust God to provide those in Arizona as well.

Scott, Jim and Pastor Kurt Scott, Megan and Melissa



Self-centeredness, Christian Worldview and Marketing

Categories: Theology
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Published on: August 17, 2013

When I watch TV I tend to observer the worldview being promoted and understand how I would respond if given the opportunity. Lately, I’ve noticed that commercials and shows have promoted the idea of entitlement. You hear it when words like “deserve” or “owed” or “need” are used. Nice home and luxury cars are not optiinal anymore… You work hard… You deserve those things. Nevermind the millions of people living in other parts of the world in perpetual poverty… They must not be as worthy as you. It is easy to think that way even as a Christian. “I deserve to be blessed by God with a good job, a good home, a loving wife, obedient children, and health.” It is not just the prosperity folks that think this way. I often find thoughts like that creeping in to my own mind. It is times like that when the cross of Christ should remind us what we all truly deserve… death and judgement. It is not wrong to enjoy the good things we are given, either through hard work or the generousity of others. The problem is when we buy into the idea that we are entitled to those things. When that happens we leave the Christian worldview and follow the way of the world’s thinking. So, the next time you are watching TV and see a commercial that panders to an entitlement mindeset, recognize that fact and remember the cross and what we truly deserve yet do not get.



Question: When is a gentile not a gentile?

Categories: Theology
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Published on: June 23, 2012

Answer: When he is a Christian. I was listening to a sermon while driving and a passage of scripture was cited that contained a phrase that I had not thought about in this way before. Let me explain what I mean. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:17-24…

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

When he wrote this the primary audience in Ephesus were believing gentiles, but notice when he speaks to them he refers to the gentiles in the third person, making a distinction between them and his audience. He makes that point clear when he contrasts the “they” with the “you”. This is similar language he uses in 1 Corinthians when lists the various unrighteous people that will not inherit the kingdom of God yet contrasts it by saying “and such were some of you.”

This is perfectly consistent with his view expressed in the book of Romans where he spoke about who the true children of Israel in Romans 9:6b-7a “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring”

There is something that happens to us (whether jew or gentile) when we come to Christ. Our old nature or association is not how we are defined any longer. Elsewhere Paul says there is no distinction between jew or greek, slave or free, male or female. If we really grasped that and understood the continuity we have with the covenant people of God revealed in the old testament, we’d have a different outlook on the church, the relationship of the church to modern jews and the unity of God’s people throughout the ages.

– Soli Deo Gloria



Two Kingdoms Theology Study

Categories: Theology
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Published on: June 7, 2012

I’ve been working through (slowly) a study of Two Kingdoms Theology and am still struggling to find a good balance between a complete world-church dichotomy and theonomy. The challenge as I see it is that while we can recognize clearly that we do not live in a theocracy or even a Christian culture anymore (if we ever truly did that is), we cannot ignore the fact that God exercise His sovereign rule over non-covenant nations and judged them for sins. So, on the one hand we cannot expect the culture to adopt a Christian worldview apart from conversion on a mass scale, yet we feel compelled to warn the culture of the consequences for things like homosexual marriage and abortion. When do we argue based on social impact, citing statistics of how damaging homosexuality or divorce is on the people involved? When do we declare the Biblical testimony that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God? The fact that there are some radical positions within the Two Kingdoms camp, and even the recent abandonment of sola scriptura by the author (Jason Stellman) of one of the very books I am using in my study has not helped. I have a long ways to go but will try to post my thoughts as I move along with this study. In the meantime please pray that God will help me understand His truth in this matter.



John 10 Teaching

Categories: Theology
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Published on: June 2, 2006

I find it hard to believe the responses when I ask someone to explain how the following verses can mean ANYTHING other than the fact that there is a causal relationship between being a sheep and believing/not believing. Don’t jump to John 3:16 or 2 Peter 3:9 or anything else that is not the immediate context.

John 10:24-28 (NASB95)

24 The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.

26 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

(more…)



God’s Sovereignty, Man’s Free Will and the Nature of Contradiction

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Published on: June 17, 2005

I have been reading a discussion on the tension between the doctrines of God’s absolute sovereignty and man’s libertarian free will. One of the participants has equated the tension that exists with the doctrine of the Trinity with that of the sovereignty-free will issue. I find a logical problem with equating the two. Let me explain.

The person in the discussion says that it is just as easy to say that the two beliefs within the doctrine of the Trinity…

A. God exists as one being
B. God exists as three persons

…are “undeniably and immutably contradictory” and “they cannot be reconciled”, as it is to say the same thing about the sovereignty-free will issue. Yet since we know that the Trinity is a mystery and not a contradiction, why not say the same thing about God’s sovereignty and man’s free will? It sounds like a reasonable question, but the problem lies in the fact that they are not the same types of arguments. (more…)



Ecumenism Presupposes Postmodernism

Categories: Theology
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Published on: April 6, 2005

Since the death of the Pope there has been much discussion on Roman Catholicism and the differences between protestantism. On one side you have some people using this as an opportunity to demonstrate the great errors of the Romish gospel, while others have focused on the social/moral commonalities. While I fall into the former camp, my goal with this blog entry is not to discuss that issue. What I do want to mention is that the ecumenicism of the latter group brought some things to mind.

My first observation is that this type of ecumenism presupposes postmodernism. What do I mean by that? The blurring of the importance of specific contradictary propositional statements leads to a blurring of the distinction between contradictary propositional statements in general. When we fail to recognize that the gospel proclaimed by protestants is opposed foundationally to that proclaimed by Roman Catholics, we must by extension retreat from the position that truth is objective and that the law of non-contradiction is valid and universally binding with regard to logic and thought. That kind of thinking already assumes that neither side is EXCLUSIVELY right even though at face value, the claims made by each side are mutually exclusive of each other. (more…)



The Postmodern Gospel

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Published on: August 9, 2004

Well, I have attempted to weigh in on the justification controversy by trying to understand the basis on which the federal vision (rC) folks build their case. Since it is difficult to pin them down on an objective argument (from Scripture) why we should exclude the idea of justification by grace alone through faith alone from the essential elements of the gospel, I have concluded that their foundational principal must be found elsewhere.

I believe this foundation to be none other than the dreaded postmodern view!!! They may differ on various points of doctrine but seem unified on their adherence that we cannot sufficiently understand the Bible so as to “parse” the doctrine of Sola Fide from its pages and insist that to add to the perfect work of Christ and attempt to offer our filthy rags of righteousness on the altar of God is “another gospel”.

Therefore I must conclude that, however they package their arguments and try to persuade us of their devotion to the true and historical church, at the end of the day they offer us no more that the liberal German critics who try to remove meaning from words and leave us as the gentiles were before Pentecost… “without Christ, without hope and without God in this world”.

In Christ,

Scott



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