Blogtober 9th: A Tale of Two Gospels – Poverty vs. Debt

RembrandtProdigal

Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…” Luke 4:18

The church’s primary work is spreading the gospel of Christ and making disciples.  I never stop being surprised at the widespread misunderstanding of this.  Some ministries get pretty creative in their pursuit to do this work, and naturally there are critics. One of those creative ministries states at the top of their website that they are “…an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively”.  It is a para-church ministry, (not a church) but it has come under scrutiny in recent years for how it raises and spends money. I watched the comments fly around online about it last summer, demanding that instead of using their collective $7 million budget for their own building projects, they should donate the money to help the state with the heroin addicts. This is assuming the people who gave the money don’t also give to their own church and elsewhere. $7 million is about 1/2 % of the $1.5 billion that was raised last year by candidates for the presidential election…and a failed presidential election for all the candidates but one. Did the people who gave their time, talent and treasure to the presidential election forget about the needy?

$7 million spent by Christians in creative pursuits to proclaim the gospel of Christ may seem very  frivolous, even to other Christians, but if our primary work is the proclaiming of the gospel of Christ, our first love and devotion is to Christ himself. I love this passage:

“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. 8But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 13Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” Matthew 26:6-13

My own giving will go to a church or a ministry whose primary work is preaching the gospel rather than a government recovery program or an election campaign, but if anyone else feels compassion for heroin addicts, look no further than your own hard earned dollars. Don’t give your money to a politician or a ministry you don’t feel you can support! That is our right and our freedom to give where we wish to give. Even better would be if you are a Christian, give to a Christian ministry that preaches the gospel and treats addictions or join together with like-minded people and start one yourself.

There is a fundamental reason though, that people get mixed up and think it is the church’s primary work to meet every social need society creates. It is the throwing over of the gospel of Christ in favor of the social gospel. A few years ago, a well-known, world religious leader said on more than one occasion that the core and center of the gospel is poverty. It was such a popular statement that it was even reported in the mainstream news, but why would the mainstream news care what a religious leader said about the core and center of the gospel?  They care because it was a statement about the social gospel, which makes an effective impact on people’s views and response to government policy. Regarding the gospel of Christ though, it misleads us into a deadly lie. Christ’s gospel is not about poverty, but about debt. It is about man’s sin debt to God. We cannot repay that debt, except with our own life. “For the wages of sin is death”. Are you willing to die for all of eternity, separated from God in payment for your sin? I don’t want that for you, I don’t want that for me, I don’t want that for Pope Francis or the Dalai Lama. I want to see everyone saved…but none of us can pay that debt to God with our donations, service and government policy. We each own our own debt, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”.

Making poverty the value at the center of the gospel obscures Christ’s gospel behind the social gospel, which is no gospel. It prevents people from hearing the gospel of Christ and responding right now for salvation. “Today is the day of salvation” The true gospel, the good news, is that Jesus paid your debt, and my debt and every religious and world leader’s debt on the cross by willingly laying down his perfectly obedient life. You can be materially poor and have no debts. Likewise, you can have material abundance and be deep in debt. Not everyone may be able to identify with what it means to be rich or poor. But everyone knows what it means to be in debt.

How is the debt paid? Every person’s most urgent need is to have their sin debt to God forgiven:

And the Lord said, “… I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” – Acts 26

You will notice there are no words here about poverty and the poor, but rather forgiveness which is a concept that means a great deal to someone who is in debt. A debtor who cannot repay is condemned:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ” – Jesus, In John 3

~L

 

 

 


 

 

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Day 90

front-porch2

I turned my front porch into an outdoor sitting room. I have had furniture out there covered with a tarp for almost 2 years. When I pulled the tarp off yesterday, the porch and furniture were covered in dust and dry leaves. I swept the middles and turned the couch and chairs to face one another for sitting. I brought up from the basement, an old wicker trunk scratched and torn up from the cat. On top of it,  I put out a marble platter missing a handle, an old doily and a vase with dried flowers in it. On the other side of the porch, I have a rickety old rocking chair, another rocker with a wing piece broken off of the side and a desk with no drawers. I put out some other excess decorations and sat on the still-dusty couch. The air is pretty chill today, unlike last week. I enjoyed watching the cars go by. It is a great place to just sit and think. The cats joined me for a little while. I’m looking forward to spending many days out there this spring.

So, I curbed my media consumption the last few days. I used to follow 700 Twitter accounts. I gradually cut it down to 400 since last fall, but this week I pared down to 14. I’m going for “local” news and friends and family. I cannot give my attention to so much national and international news and be effective  the way God wants me to be in my own home. Many of the people I was following are paid lots of money to follow hundreds of people on Twitter. Alas, I am not. Also, out of all of the philosophical discussions I have had on Twitter, I have rarely engaged without being called stupid, ignorant, delusional, a liar and much worse. If it was fruitful, it would be worth it all, but sadly I believe I have wasted many hours. Facebook has the advantage of allowing unlimited word count in replies for explaining oneself, but unlike Twitter the last few years, everyone I follow on Facebook is a friend or family member. A higher word count doesn’t improve the conversation if the subject matter is defective. The ‘unfollow’ feature works most of the time, but even so I’ve thought many times the last few months of just deactivating my account. At the moment, the positives outweigh the negatives, and for that I am thankful.

Bible Study and Prayer

Bible Reading – The OT book of Obadiah

Select Verses – “But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune…” , “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you;”

Hymn – “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that he should give his only son to make a wretch his treasure.”

 

 

Prayer for SundayJesus my Lord and God of atonement, you have drawn me to yourself. I am a sinner saved by you to walk in newness of life. I confess my failures to you that you would forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Thank you Lord for the ways in which you have answered specific prayers this week. You cleared away the some things to make our focus much narrower as a family and as individuals. Lord, I pray today for my husband and me and our son here at home. I pray for our daughter & soon-to-be husband and our son, his wife and daughter. Changing times…Father I pray today for my parents and all brothers and sisters. Draw those who do not know you to yourself and deepen the closeness to you, those who are saved. Today is set aside in prayer just for worship and resting in you. Thank you for the way you lead us and protect us.You know our needs, but most important is our need to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Gabe’s Tower – What Next?

In December of 2014, I wrote a proposal paper for a writing class about Gabe’s Tower. This month,  the owners have failed to meet a city deadline for refurbishment planning and the city has moved to condemn the property. Is there an opportunity, on the verge of being torn down?

Owensboro’s Gabe’s Tower: Use it or Lose it  

December 6, 2014

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Problem

Our family has moved around the Midwest several times in the last 15 years. Most recently, we moved from a small rural town in Kentucky to the city of Owensboro, KY in 2008. We bought a house in town, not far from a tall, steel and glass cylindrical building named Gabe’s tower. We didn’t know it had a name at first. We had given it a sinister name of our own when referring to it amongst ourselves. I was talking to a friend at work about it one day and she told me it had a name and that not too many years ago it was a hotel and then an apartment building, before it was closed and fell into disrepair. Most people who have lived in and around Owensboro remember when it was open for business. For those residents, it is a familiar, sentimental landmark and one that may be overlooked as the building continues to deteriorate. As newcomers to the neighborhood, we noticed it often as we drove, walked, rode the bus or pedaled a bicycle by the building.  My husband wondered why someone hadn’t torn it down already. Our oldest son wanted to buy it and turn it into a laser tag wonderland. Our other kids and I used it as a point of reference for directions, when telling friends and family how to get to our new house. Months stretched into a few years as the building continued to languish, unused and unattended. Once in a while a new board went up over a window or doorway. Weeds grew up through the concrete in the parking lot. Paint peeled and soffits fell. A few miles from this old “sentimental landmark”, the Owensboro riverfront was getting a complete makeover. Gabe’s Tower was now in the crosshairs.

Unattended property can become a problem very quickly in the middle of a city. My husband has a fear of rats because of a very large rat that showed up in the garage at his childhood home one day. The neighbors had demolished the backroom of their house that had been destroyed by a fire and the debris was left unattended for many months. So, vermin is one problem. Vandalism is another problem. Gabe’s Tower is considered an historical building and property owners naturally don’t want anyone breaking windows or tearing up interior rooms that are still in good repair. I saw an article online one day that contained photos of some of the tower’s interior rooms. There is one floor dedicated to a bar and lounge that still looks very nice, with polished natural wood walls and furnishings. The owners invested a lot of money into the purchase of the building and have had to answer to the city for their refurbishing plans. “Owners of historic property have a responsibility to conduct original research, a never-ending task, as clues continue to be found that add pieces to the puzzle of the past.” (Marian Page, 9)

The neighborhood immediately adjacent to the property will be the one most impacted by any plans for the building. The city at large could stand to benefit greatly if the plans are creative and profitable. “The fact that we still have to share places, whether we notice them or not, makes them more valuable and rare.  In an age of burgeoning electronic fantasies, places continue to be stubbornly irreducible and real…any place here, fenced or paved or public or private, cannot avoid being part of the land of the free; it has to try to live up to the name, however badly it might fail.” (Block, 158) It’s hard to tell between the city and the investors, but someone is failing here. The most recent inspection has yet to be released to the public or even the city. The owners are said to be “digesting” the findings. Without knowing those details, any proposal would be making assumptions about the building, but there have been very few details shared with the public in the last few years about why there is so much foot-dragging regarding the fate of the building. Is there a creative deficit or dollar deficit? I imagine it is a combination of both. There are a lot of factors to consider as the community watches and waits. Are there any viable ideas on the table at this time that would serve the whole community?

Proposal

There are many exciting, creative things that go on in this country as people attempt to reuse castaway material from an over-industrialized nation. Things can get even more exciting when those pursuing creative endeavors like these seek to help others and improve the communities in which they reside. In the spirit of those creators and innovators, I propose that the owners of Gabe’s Tower and the city of Owensboro consider something more than just reverting back to a hotel or apartment building. I got an idea one day after seeing a photo online of a cylindrical building in an Asian country with a giant sculpture of a serpent wrapped around the building. I thought instantly of the potential for an artistic solution to the building.

gabes-tower

I am suggesting that Gabe’s Tower be refurbished as a city museum with architectural salvage/eco-friendly/community project theme. When our family lived in St. Louis for a few years, we visited the then brand new St. Louis City Museum. The museum is housed in an old warehouse in a run-down area of the city. It was still pretty sparsely furnished with a floor or two still under construction. The museum was in the process of collecting architectural salvage from the city, pieces of Americana and ideas for eccentric exhibits. I loved the work-in-progress feel. This museum has grown and changed and is now a very popular tourist attraction. (“About”)

st-louis-city-museum-46

This type of project would be excellent for the area of the city where Gabe’s Tower is located. It would be a benefit to the neighborhood similar to another example of this kind of project in a neighborhood that our family once visited in Nashville. Near a charter school with an arts emphasis, the residents of the diverse Nashville neighborhood have gone with the flow of the art theme. During a festival at the school, we had a chance to tour the streets nearby which featured brightly painted homes and yard sculpture.

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I remember a similar spirit that revitalized an area of Chicago when I was a child. My family and I attended street art shows and garden tours there every year. This kind of neighborhood solidarity around creative living and ownership of one’s environment is the essence of culture. It could be a unifying project. “Everyone must live somewhere. However, when a family owns its home, there is a conspicuous increase in overall self-esteem of its members and general family well-being.” (Phillips) 

Justification

As a creative person with many ideas, I personally see no drawbacks or problems with this proposal. However, the owner may have problems with this proposal. Seeing the profitability may be a challenge. There would need to be energetic research and a passion for the idea. A lot of money has already been put into the purchase and I’m sure investors want a sturdy idea for the property that would show a promising return. “The restoration of damaged or neglected detail is well within the capabilities of most home crafts persons; the basic ingredients are sensitivity, time and patience.” (Poore,8) Time is running out, however. Returning the building to a working hotel has been an idea I have heard more than once. Restoring the building to apartments to provide affordable housing in this area of town has been another idea that might be pursued in opposition to a museum. Also, the building may be beyond repair, or very costly to repair. I am not aware of its problems. Neighbors also may not welcome a lot of fuss in their neighborhood from a tourist attraction. However, I believe that with the direction that Owensboro has been heading with the revitalized riverfront, now is the perfect time to propose such a solution for Gabe’s Tower. The process would involve the community similar to the planning and building of the recently completed skate park, coincidentally not far from Gabe’s Tower. The whole region could be involved and interested in a project that would welcome their creativity. College art departments and local schools could get involved. Phoenix Commotion of Huntsville, TX has perfected the art of community in collaboration to building with apprenticed labor and salvaged materials. (Bates) Gabe’s Tower could make a great tourist attraction and field trip location. Funding could be sought through art grants, environmental grants or historical landmark funds. Investors, admission fees and other creative avenues could be pursued for a project like this one. (“NEA Awards”) I am excited about this proposal now and find the thought of turning the building back into a hotel very boring.

However, any creative plans for the building are always going to be subject to the reality of the condition of the property. On October 28th of this year, an environmental consultant company inspected the building for asbestos. It was the second inspection of its kind and encouraging to those wanting some movement toward a solution. The city is getting anxious. Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer newspaper reporter Stephen Vied writes “Gabe’s Tower is currently surrounded by a chain-link fence that was installed a year ago, when interior demolition began, only to be suspended after a few days. A recent check of the property shows grass and weeds growing tall inside the fenced-in area, with the exterior of the building looking increasingly tattered. Many missing windows have been boarded over, and many windows are open, exposing the interior to the elements.

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The unkempt appearance of the building prompted the city to assess a series of property maintenance code violations against it last year for a wide range of problems.” (Vied)

So, will code violations accelerate a decision on the fate of the building just to be making a decision? If so, a whimsically creative, unconventionally economical, eco-friendly idea may have a difficult time getting a hearing with investors who are pressed for time and good PR. An idea like mine may appear to lack seriousness. Premature promotion without having even a cursory understanding of the problems with the building and the interests of the city would probably be dismissed. “Building with salvage and alternative materials puts you on the fringe of standard strategy, and one cannot expect an inspector, or a city engineer, to immediately process everything you have thought out well in advance.” (Phillips) This idea would have be brought to and through several people. An email to the mayor isn’t going to be effective.

 gabes_tower_roof_garden_450

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the fate of Gabe’s Tower has been on the drawing board for a long time. Promises have been made but progress is slow. Rather than merely attempt to restore the structure, I am proposing a creative solution that bridges the old with the new and involves the whole community in the process.

Works Cited

“About.” City Museum: Saving the City by Any Means Necessary. St. Louis, Missouri. 4 July 2011. citymuseum.org. Web. 25 November 2014.  http://citymuseum.org/site/?p=89

Bates, Don R., et al. Resurrecting Trash: Dan Phillips and the Phoenix Commotion. Texas: Texas Review Press. 2013. Print.

Block, Ira. Saving America’s Treasures. Washington D.C.: National Geographic. 2001. Print

“NEA Awards Grants to 4 Kentucky Projects.” The Associated Press, AP Regional State Report. Kentucky. 20 July 2014. Regional Business News. 25 November 2014.

Page, Marian. Historic Houses Restored and Preserved.New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. 1976. Print

Phillips, Dan. “Information.” Huntsville, TX. 2010. Phoenixcommotion.com. Web. 6 December 2014. http://www.phoenixcommotion.com/

Poore, Patricia. The Old-House Journal. New York, NY: Dutton. 1992. Print

Vied, Steve. “Tower Tested for Asbestos.” Messenger-Inquirer. Owensboro, Kentucky. 6 November 2014. Database: Newspaper Source. 25 November 2014.

Collective Guilt

Self-Portrait ~Rembrandt~

Self-Portrait
~Rembrandt~

Remember back in February, the remarks the president made at the National Prayer Breakfast? Remember this reasoning in particular?…

“We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion…And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” – President Barack Obama, February 5, 2015

I have so many questions I would want to ask here. Who justified slavery and Jim Crow in the name of Christ? Who were they? Slave owners, I’m guessing. Segregationists. If I lived back then, would I recognize them as my brother’s and sisters in Christ, or would they look similar to people today who justify horrific treatment of human beings in the name of the Lord?

Thank you, Planned Parenthood.  God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.” – President Barack Obama, 2013

Just a quick search on Google and I found a Pro-Choice Action Network article entitled The Bible is Pro-Choice. What they neglect to point out in all the verses regarding miscarriages is that all of the “choice” regarding life belongs to God and is under his command. We don’t get to make that choice.

“They are saying that it would make it a federal law that there be no abortion in the United States…You are taking an extreme case (Gosnell). I think what happened in Philadelphia was reprehensible….But let me tell you something. As a mother of 5 children…As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.” – Nancy Pelosi, 2013

Sacred ground. It must be in the bible somewhere, because she says she regards it highly. So, she must read it:

“My favorite word is The Word, is the Word and that is everything. It says it all for us. You know the biblical reference, you know the gospel reference of the Word and that Word is …we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word. The Word. Isn’t it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers anything. Fill it in with anything you want, but of course we know it means the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. And that’s the great mystery of our faith. It will come again. So, we have to make sure we are prepared to answer in this life or otherwise as to how we measured up.” – Nancy Pelosi, 2010

Wait. I thought she said the sacred and politics shouldn’t go together. I’m confused.

So, as a pro-life Christian, praying for the abolition of the slave, uh…I mean ABORTION trade, I don’t recognize the president, Nancy Pelosi or pro-choice activists as being kin to me, spiritually speaking, as part of the body of Christ. Or, perhaps I might be persuaded to see them as brothers and sisters caught in sin, deceived and in error. In February, after the president’s unfortunate remarks regarding the crusades and slavery to guilt Christians into shutting up about ISIS, there was much discussion about what exactly modern day Christians should do and say publicly about anything! This particular article by Rod Dreher caught my eye: When ISIS Ruled the American South. Among other things, Mr. Dreher details a horrific lynching in Waco Texas and quotes Bill Moyers’ response to ISIS in light of that story:

“Yes, it was hard to get back to sleep the night we heard the news of the Jordanian pilot’s horrendous end. ISIS be damned! I thought. But with the next breath I could only think that our own barbarians did not have to wait at any gate. They were insiders. Home grown. Godly. Our neighbors, friends, and kin. People like us.”

Rod Dreher responds:

“We all need to know these things, and face down what our ancestors did. These weren’t Crusaders sacking Constantinople. These were our fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, doing it to the fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers of our black neighbors. Attention must be paid. That may be the only atonement available now, but it’s better than what we have had, which is nothing.”

Atonement? That is simply not possible. We are completely inadequate for making any sort of atonement of any kind, in any measure. Mr. Dreher says there has been none up to this point. I’m curious what works he would deem worthy of being called atonement. He says “attention must be paid”, but that nothing has been done up to this point. That isn’t true. It is also completely ineffective. Attention must be paid, yes. But it’s to Jesus. The only response available to ANY of us is to bow our knee and confess that Jesus is Lord…and then shut up. Every one of us, and especially the ones who talk for a living. Talk of atonement for any historic wrongs is ridiculous considering the atrocity of the abortion trade we have witnessed this week in the news. We have no means available to us to atone for past sins of long-dead ancestors, but we can certainly ourselves stop killing and abusing this generation. Our own debt to God over that abuse is endless, but is it ‘our’ debt, in the collective? Am I guilty of abortion, when I have prayed and fought against it with my votes and voice? Will generations of Christians after us be punished, because the words of “Christian” politicians are on record forever, praising the slave trade…*cough*…I mean abortion trade? Is that justice? What possible atonement would future Christians have to offer? And who in the world would they offer it to? When you kill your children, there are no descendants.

So, after Rod Dreher’s article was published, he put it up on Twitter and I replied. Another blogger picked up the conversation and wrote about it here. Mr. Dreher decided to write another article entitled Guilt vs. Implication. I’m assuming he did because you cannot discuss these things at length on Twitter, but seeing as how he blocked me from following him and it appears he won’t post my comments, I don’t think he wants a discussion. In his “Guilt” article, he says:

“In the Commedia, Dante could not unwrite the lines of poetry of his past. But what he did, as the reader discovers, is take his writing with greater moral seriousness, realizing that his words, and his actions, affect more people and their fates than he once knew. That’s the modest point I’m making here.”

Hmm…moral seriousness.

“We are not guilty, but we are implicated; how can we not be? We are of this place and these people. Their story is our history. The fact that some people wish to use history as a cudgel to achieve power or to absolve themselves of their own implication in dirty doings, either in the past or the present, is regrettable, and must be resisted. However, we still must look at the past — our past — squarely, and do whatever is right to atone, even if true justice is not possible in time.”

No. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel of Christ in this pursuit of atonement. This pursuit is the social gospel, which is not good news. These are dead works…as in, not alive. We cannot make atonement for past wrongs. Only Jesus can do this. All we like sheep have gone astray. Every man has turned to his own way. None are righteous. No, not one. We cannot atone. There is only one name under heaven by which we may be saved, healed, justified, sanctified, forgiven and cleansed. This is done when we repent and trust Christ. Repent and trust Christ. We have nothing to offer current day descendants over the murderous abuse of their ancestors, except Christ…and THEN let’s pray and stand against the current evil blood-bath on earth, wherever we may find it, not for atonement, but because we are the only ones today, free to do so, in Christ alone. Not our ancestors. Not our descendants. Us. Right now.

“…For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12

Was Jesus Married? Talking it Out

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“Why can Jesus have no other bride besides the church?”

L: “That’s an interesting question and one that would make for an interesting discussion. 🙂 I think if you look at scripture and God’s treatment of marriage and the relationship between the bride and groom, you can see God’s design beginning with Adam and Eve, of course, but look at the Proverbs 31 woman and the Song of Solomon for the relationship between a wife and her husband, or lover and beloved. The idea is one bride and one groom. God referred to Israel as His covenant people and spoke of their waywardness like that of an adulterous wife. So, God the Father as ‘husband’ to Israel is similar in imagery to Christ the bridegroom waiting to marry his bride, the church. What are your thoughts about how scripture addresses this issue?”

CS: “The comparison of Jesus’ relationships and marriage is a metaphor, not literal. Even the verses where Jesus is stating that it is not necessary to marry, so that you can devote your full attention to God states that this would merely be a choice and not a necessity. Loyalties can be divided by two wives, provided they are both the same (as two women.) So, a metaphorical marriage to the Church or God has no bearing what-so-ever on an earthly marriage.

If we were to take the metaphor literally, then why isn’t there only one actual nun at any one time, like there is only one pope? Are they not the Brides of Christ?

There is plenty of reason to believe that Jesus was married (from historical texts outside the Bible.) There is nothing stating one way or the other (in the Bible or anywhere else.)

The part about this that fascinates me the most is that people who claim to be devout Christians state flat out that if Jesus were married then he cannot be the son of God. When challenged on this point they refuse to explain why they would abandon their faith so easily.”

L: “I’m a little confused by your reply, possibly because I am not Catholic. I am not familiar with the scriptures where Jesus says it is not necessary to marry. However, I am familiar with the words of the apostle Paul about that and he did suggest that Christians remain as Paul was, unmarried, but that if they could not, they were free to marry. He also pointed out that those were his own words and not a commandment from God. The reference in scripture to Christ and His bride, absolutely does have bearing on an earthly marriage and is very, very plain in Ephesians 5:22-32. That is a long passage and simple to search online. Again, these words are by the apostle Paul, carefully laying out the relationship of a wife and husband as being precisely like that of Christ and the church. He says it is a mystery, so I can see why it would be challenging to understand. The reference that you make to nuns is not anything I am aware of in scripture. There is only one bride of Christ referenced in scripture and that is the Church. There is zero reason to believe that Jesus was married while on earth and there are no accepted scholarly historical texts that challenge his status as unmarried. It’s just not an issue. I’m also not sure what you mean about abandoning faith, rather than people simply stating that a married Jesus is not the Jesus of scripture. Therefore, THAT Jesus is not the Son of God, naturally. It’s like saying that Jesus stopped being a carpenter when he was in his early twenties and spent 8 years as a goldsmith, because some obscure piece of paper found in Egypt said so. It’s not remotely relevant or believable. It’s a waste of time. My faith in Christ alone is not shaken by that. I find it fascinating that people are so easily lured away from the Word of God to cling to any scrap of controversy. There’s enough to do following Christ without being blown around by every wind. Read the scriptures as they are written. Consider the context. Look for patterns and repetition. Allow scripture to interpret scripture. Consider the authors. Read it straight, like you would any other literature. Start with the gospels…the gospel of John would probably be good. Try to lay aside denominational traditions in your mind and look at the text square in the eye. For example, I recently started re-reading Matthew. I was fascinated by Matthew Ch. 8. and how reading it through all in one sitting makes the theme of faith and how concerned Jesus was with faith leap off the page. I read it again. There was much more there… in the verse that says he healed people, fulfilling Isaiah the prophets words “Himself took our infirmities and bare our diseases”, Jesus, creator, TOOK and BARE or carried our diseases. He took the little viruses and bacteria. He commanded them to come out of the sick and he carried them away. Amazing. So much to think about.”

CS: ” >>>Re: ‘And there is zero reason to believe that he was not married.

…I’m also not sure what you mean about abandoning faith, rather than people simply stating that a married Jesus is not the Jesus of scripture.’

Why? This is the simple question that you, and dozens beside you, refuse to answer.

If Jesus were never married, not a single line of scripture would need to be changed to reflect that. If Jesus were married, however…. the same. Not a single line of scripture would need to be changed because of it. It’s that simple.

All I am asking of you and your fellows is an explanation of why you would immediately abandon Jesus as your Lord and Savior if you found out he was married? You keep trying to say it’s a simple thing, but then you go off on long tangents that have nothing to do with that one question that you refuse to answer.”

L: “I said the exact opposite about faith and about abandoning the Lord. If a married Jesus is not the Jesus of scripture, my ‘fellows’ and I are not abandoning scripture and Christ, but rather dismissing the marriage claim. The question of Jesus being married is a ‘what if’ question about an earthly wife that doesn’t exist in scripture. Abandonment of faith in a ‘what if’ scenario is needless speculation, whereas dismissing the actual scriptures about the very real bride of Christ and the direct application to earthly marriage actually is an abandonment of faith in the Word of God…Jesus is the Word of God.”

 

CS: “And now you resort to flat out lying about what I’ve said. I’ve said repeatedly that we don’t know. That’s the simple fact of the matter. There is nothing in the Bible one way or the other. It’s irrelevant.

You, however, continue to claim that you have been granted special knowledge to know that which is unknowable. Let me know how that Pride serves you when you stand before the throne.”

 

L: “And what have *I* said all along? That we can know what ~scripture~  says about Christ. The reason you and I are not finding common ground here is our divergent approaches to scripture. Is scripture authoritative for you? From your statements here, you place it on equal footing with folklore. From a scholarly perspective, how do you come to this conclusion? It’s important to know where you stand on this important issue. I am a family historian. I search documents for dates and details. For example, I had always been told my mother’s grandfather died from an unusual disease no one else had in the family. As an adult, when I began researching family history, I obtained a copy of his death certificate. The cause of death was listed as TB. His mother also died of TB, as did several extended family members. At first, my mom was resistant to the new information. She had always been told otherwise. The other story she knew could have been true, but we don’t know now. We have a lot more evidence to the contrary. Primary sources are important to the study and documentation of history. The bible is no different. Take a look at the studies that have been done on scripture. Look at how much more we actually know about Jesus compared to other historical figures of his time. Now let’s consider folklore. I love folklore. I’ve spent the last 8 years getting to know storytellers and balladeers and understanding their craft. Consider historical figures and weigh the facts about them with folklore. How do we know the difference between historical fact and folklore? Let’s take a pop culture reference. Chuck Norris. He is alive and we can study his life and the facts about him. Legend has it that he was bit by a rattlesnake and the snake died. When he is asked how many push ups he can do, he says “all of them”. He is amused by his own folk-hero status…but we all know these are folk stories. They are fun. They speak to people’s affection for him. This is the same regarding folklore about Christ. Stories about Christ speak to people’s interest in him and affection for him. Who would be mad at people for loving him and speculating on things about it that *might* have been *could* have been or could be? However,  scripture as authoritative and scripture as the rod by which we measure all other stories about Christ and God’s design and plan for mankind, intentionally sets it apart from other material. It’s not a pride thing. It is a decision that you make as an individual. Is it authoritative? Do you trust it as the Word of God? Then have faith in Christ, who *is* the Word of God to preserve for you his word in your own language. Embrace it. Love it. Read it. Stand alone on the Word of God.”

CS: “And again you are back to claiming scripture says something that it doesn’t. No where in the Bible does it say one way or the other whether Jesus was married or not. This is the simple fact.”

L: “And we are back to square one…it says he is betrothed to the church, his bride and the wedding is soon.”

CS: “No, it doesn’t, but please keep claiming you are special among all, chosen by God to know things others don’t. That Pride will lead you to where you deserve.”

L: “Yep. It does. A quick Google search will find a lot of stuff on ‘bride of Christ’. Chapter/verse references include but are not limited to: Ephesians 5:22-29, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7-9, 21:1-2..Jesus speaks of himself multiple times in the gospels as the bridegroom. Why would that be significant to the Jews? What was Jesus communicating by calling himself a bridegroom? Look at the book of Joel, chapter 2. This is a prophecy of the “day of the Lord”. Verse 16 talks about the bridegroom and the bride. Bridegroom appears 8 times in the old testament. Jesus is referred to in scripture as the last Adam. In 2 Corinthians 11, the bride and bridegroom are likened to Adam and Eve. God’s design is one bride and one bridegroom. The bride of Christ is made up of many…but the many are only one bride. Just one. There’s so much more that would fill so much more space and begin so much more discussion. All of God’s people are chosen by God to know things others don’t. The scriptures are available to all, but not all will read. The bible says the meaning is spiritually discerned. Not all will respond to the call. Not all will be compelled to read and study and know. Why? I don’t know. Jesus said his sheep hear His voice. In the book of Jeremiah, the voice of the bridegroom is mentioned 4 times. 4 being for seasons perhaps? I would have to study it, but the opportunity to study it is available to all. What is plain as day in scripture to me and full of treasure upon treasure is ignored or dismissed out of hand by some. This is as available to you as it is me. What good is being prideful about understanding what scripture says? I didn’t do anything but read it straight like anything else anyone else would read, but I didn’t understand it at first. Even when I didn’t understand a word of it, I wanted to know it and the first step was a blow to all pride and rebellion, repenting of my sin and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

CS: “Yes. His relationship with his followers and the church is compared with marriage as a metaphor. It compares the relationship. It’s not an actual marriage to the church. That has no bearing what-so-ever on whether he was married in actuality.”

L: “Except that it does! Christ’s sacrificial role as bridegroom to the church, His bride, is the template, the real deal, and the model upon which earthly marriage of a man and woman is based…not the other way around. Jesus is the bridegroom of His bride, the church, as seen in the old testament, long before the incarnation. He was already betrothed long before his appearance in Matthew. When he tells to the Jews the parables of the bridegroom, he is revealing *himself* as bridegroom. It has enormous bearing on to whom he is married. What purpose would there be in Christ preparing the church in chaste purity as his one and only, where the church is to be wholly committed to Christ alone, only to have his affections divided by an earthly wife and children? It is nonsensical and not remotely in keeping with God’s character and what we know ~in scripture~ of God’s marriage plan.”

CS: “Your belief that is what is says doesn’t make it absolute. It’s obvious you are clinging to this like a life preserver, and we’re back to my original question. Why? It’s obvious you will never get to an answer, so I bid you good day.”

L: “Bye, bye, CS…Scripture answers your original question. The scripture references I have provided answer your question and there is so much more. All of scripture is about Jesus. All of it. If you cannot see it reading it yourself, remember that Jesus is alive. Ask him directly. Tell him you are not seeing it. Tell Him you have questions and you don’t understand. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:5″

CS: “No, it doesn’t, but as I’ve already said, you will never admit that you aren’t perfect in your understanding of the Bible.”

 

What is Life?

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“Some conservative Christians believe life begins at the moment of conception.”

-~Daniel Wallis, Yahoo News, October 2014~

The above quote from the article Arizona School Board Votes to Remove Pages From a Biology Textbook, about biology textbook treatments of contraception, relegates ‘Christian’ statements about when life begins, to philosophy rather than science. If a microscopic fertilized egg was found on another planet, the science community would be falling all over itself to declare they found life on other planets, but the exact moment of human life on earth has been up for intense debate between the Christian and science communities for at least 40 years. Scientifically, why is there disagreement about human life beginning at conception? Why would it not begin there? Is it even a scientific question at all? Or is it merely philosophical? Viability is the battleground now, but that brings to mind the thought that perhaps human life is not a question of life but rather a question of value. When is human life valuable and when is it not? Does this put it more in the realm of economists and policymakers? That depends on the ultimate definition of ‘value’ and  to whom we are accountable.

“…Does evolutionary biology, or do the natural sciences taken together, provide an exhaustive account of the changing world of complex organisms? It may well be that the natural sciences only concern themselves with those features of reality subject to empirical observation. Yet to conclude that there is nothing more that needs to be explained, nothing more that needs to enter into a full picture of the world, is to make a philosophical claim, not a claim itself based on empirical observation…”

Christians know God as creator and submit to his Lordship. Human life is viewed as having eternal value, because The Lord our God is a personal God and has created human life and says it has eternal value. Science is an impersonal philosophy through which the viewer observes the world.

 

“Biological continuity, the key to evolution, does not tell us whether or not an exclusively materialistic explanation of human nature is true…

The traditional pillars of religion that support a view of God as transcendent Creator remain unshaken by the discoveries of modern science…”

-~William Carroll, Oxford University Professor~

God, Creation and Science

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“Scientific knowledge, by its nature, cannot ever be said to be so “settled” as to justify the silencing of critics.”

Charles C.W. Cooke, National Review

In a video series at answersingenesis.org on deep time evolution, Dr. Terry Mortenson posits a  parallel to the creation/evolution debate. He suggests a scenario of a sheriff’s deputy who is on patrol when he receives a call from the sheriff to drive over to a house and investigate a death. Inside the house is a dead body and the deputy is instructed to only consider natural explanations for that death. What would your thoughts be if you were told to do that? The deputy is being told to exclude any evidence that would point to suicide or homicide, because that would be evidence of intelligent design…

Recent news releases prior to the mid-term elections included statements made by the pope regarding everything from marriage to the poor to the church and science. The media are forever accusing Christians and the church of being anti-science. Where did this come from and when did it start? Even a cursory review of the biggies of science history will reveal men of faith in God, like Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish naturalist who created a classification system for living things and Nicholas Steno (1638-1686), considered one of the founders of modern geology and stratigraphy. Linnaeus was the son of a Lutheran minister and rather than follow in his father’s footsteps into the clergy, he studied medicine, not abandoning his faith or rejecting biblical historical claims. Steno was the son of a Lutheran Goldsmith. He is credited with being a “pioneer in anatomy and geology.” He later became a Catholic Bishop during the counter-reformation. Both Linnaeus and Steno are considered important contributors to science, even being called ‘scientist’ before the term was ever introduced. There are many others, but considering the creation/evolution debate, their faith is either ignored or only a footnote or abandoned altogether in many instances, as soon as their biographies steer into subject matter that is allowed under the banner of ‘science’. In Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, Enlightenment Era art and science is credited with the whole of human progress that we enjoy today, against the political and religious thinkers of the day. The scientific thinkers who are said to be responsible for propelling humanity into advancement were philosophes. They claimed sole ownership of reason and empirical evidence as their foundation. Their methods for observing the world and addressing the ills of humanity were and still are philosophical. Rejection of any supernatural evidence and only material, natural explanations and evidence would be permitted. They viewed the world through their own philosophy, but demanded that they no longer be called philosophers, but rather ‘scientists’. Their goal was to rebrand their worldview to be accepted  as superior to all others:

“Today “scientist” is not only an accepted title—it is a coveted one. To be a “scientist” is to be someone with an acknowledged right to make knowledge claims about the natural world. However, as the 1894 debate suggests, the term has a fraught history among English-speaking scientific practitioners. In retrospect, Huxley and Argyll’s rejection of “scientist” might seem merely quaint, even petty. But the history of the word “scientist” is not just a linguistic curiosity. Debates over its acceptance or rejection were, in the end, not about the word itself: they were about what science was, and what place its practitioners held in their society.”

~- The History of Scientist, Renaissance Mathmaticus~

Someone, somewhere, decided that the philosophical debate is settled for science and that the scientific mainstream is above the fray and authoritative – That their methods above all others provide proof of that which is true.

Dr. Nabeel Qureshi states in his video about God and medicine:

“The scientific method is not science – It is a philosophy of how to do science…The world around us should be explained by repeated observations. This process of verifying facts through repeated observations is called induction – Inference by induction…This is very different from deduction. For example, 2+2=4 follows the rules of deduction – the rules of mathematics…Inductive conclusions are conclusions reached through repeated observations where we expect to get the same result every time. This is exactly how science works.”

Samir Okasha of the University of York in England states regarding inductive and deductive conclusions:

“The word ‘proof’ should strictly only be used when we are dealing with deducted inferences in this strict sense of the word.  Scientific hypotheses can rarely, if ever, be proven true by the data.”

In the Deep Time Evolution videos I linked to at the top of this blog post, Dr. Mortenson quotes James Hutton (1726-1797), considered the father of modern geology:

“The past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen  to be happening now…No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe…no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle.”

~ James Hutton~

“Notice what he is saying,” says Dr. Mortenseon. “He is saying we MUST look at things a certain way if we are going to reconstruct the past history of the globe. He just ruled out creation and the flood before he has even gone and looked at the rocks. He has ruled out the supernatural. He didn’t come to that conclusion after doing scientific research. That was an a priori philosophical assumption… Every geologist since 1840 has been trained to think and do geology this way.”

Dr. Mortenson says that this way of doing science, this philosophy of looking at the world, is called uniformitarian naturalism. He outlines 3 assumptions of uniformitarian naturalism:

  1. Nature of matter is all that exists. Not all scientists believe that, but they do science as IF it is true. It is how they are trained.
  2. Everything can and MUST be explained by time, chance and laws of nature. All other explanations are excluded before any research is done.
  3. Processes of geological change have been operating at the same rate, frequency and power as we see today. We have volcanoes and earthquakes and tsunamis, but as we reconstruct the past, we cannot allow any more of the little catastrophes that we observe today or any greater in power to happen any differently, because all things in geologic history have to be assumed to have happened the same as they do today.

“Most significantly, recent work in cultural anthropology and the sociology of knowledge has shown that the conceptual framework that brings the natural world into a comprehensible form becomes especially evident when a scientist constructs a classification of a rock formation. Previous experience, early training, institutional loyalties, personal temperament, and theoretical outlook are all brought to bear in defining particular boundaries as ‘natural’”  ~James A. Secord in Controversy in Victorian Geology: The Cambrian-Silurian Dispute, 1986~

Dr. Mortenson concludes:

“…So when a geologist goes out to look at the rocks, he is bringing with him his previous experience, training and worldview. He’s bringing with him his starting assumptions, before he ever sets foot on the field of study and looks at the rocks…If you start with uniformitarian naturalism, you will end with uniformitarian naturalism. If you start with biblical assumptions, the world confirms biblical history.”

Dr.  Qureshi’s questions are excellent here:

“How is science different from faith? The vast majority of what you know in science is based upon what other people have told you. Have you yourself tested and seen with your own eyes?…In order to do science, it requires faith.” 

Dr. Qureshi states the 4 avenues of receiving knowledge: Our senses and tools to enhance them, testimony or publishing, reason and memory. He explains that science strengthens these avenues, but all avenues are fallible. “Science is just one approach,” he says. “Science and religion are 2 sides to the same coin.”