In His Image

About ten years ago the Ohio State School Board voted eleven to four to remove language in the state’s science standards that encourages students to “investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.” One of the board members who voted to delete the language remarked, “it is deeply unfair to the children of this state to mislead them about science,” too late.

The heart and soul of science is to investigate and critically analyze everything in the physical realm including evolution. I cannot fathom how it is misleading to teach children to do this very thing. Anything less is not science it is shamanism.

If evolution is more fact than theory, if it is so unquestionably true, if its underlying premises are so faultless, why should we fear its examination? If all roads of life’s origin and continued existence lead to Evolution why stop children from reading the map?

Evolutionists claim the beginning of life was unplanned and therefore an accident. They say the fossil record shows periods of rapid evolution interrupted by long periods of no evolution making the process of evolution inexplicable, and man’s rise to the apex of the animal kingdom was mere happenstance.

The whole scientific community is not in possession of a single observable fact about the origin of life. But based on scientists’ best guess, that is what theories without proof are, man is the random product of a mindless process that began by accident. And in the same breath, with the same certitude, and lack of direct evidence, they say we descended from the apes.

Our modern method of scientific investigation was developed over several hundred years in countries whose societies held a Christian worldview. In fact, our modern method of scientific inquiry was predicated on the following syllogism: God created the heavens and the earth (id est, the universe); God is a reasonable Creator; therefore, the world and those things in it can be understood on the basis of reason.

This view of a created universe operating by divine order was the foundation for scientific study by such men as Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Faraday and others. Since Christian thought played a prominent role in the development of modern science, Christians have no quarrel with its discoveries. Differences between believers and scientists are over theories not facts.

Since the beginning of life will remain perpetually unobserved, we are left with only two possible theories. Either God created life, or life began on its own. The Scriptures declare, “God created man in His own image…” Genesis 1:27, and evolutionists theorize we descended from the apes.

As we see the civil unrest, loss of civility in public dialogue, and the brokenness in society, we are seeing the results of a generation of people who have been taught they are little more than animals, so they act like animals.

I think our nation would be better served if we all realized we have an image to live up to, not a lineage to live down.

Was Cambridge Christian denied their right to pray?

In 2015 Cambridge Christian School of Tampa, Florida, met University Christian School of Jacksonville, Florida, in Camping World Stadium for a championship football game. When Cambridge Christian wanted to offer a pregame prayer over the loudspeaker they were denied by the Florida High School Athletic Association citing Abington v. Schempp.

Nevertheless, when the two teams met on the field before the kick off, they prayed without the benefit of it being broadcast.

In a federal lawsuit Cambridge Christian alleges the football players’ religious freedoms were violated when the FHSAA denied them the right to “broadcast a pregame prayer over the loudspeaker.” They further claim by doing so the FHSAA denied spectators the opportunity to participate.

But the players did pray, and any spectator was at liberty when they saw those young men in prayer on that field to join in a silent prayer, that in the heat and very physical competition to come, that a Christ-like spirit prevail and each player be protected from serious harm.

Cambridge Christian cannot claim any right was denied; they can merely say access to the loudspeaker was denied. Jesus Himself decried the sort of ostentatious spectator-focused prayer in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:5-6) that Cambridge Christian is claiming a right to.

I would cry foul if one of our religious freedoms are challenged. We are enjoined in the Scriptures (Proverbs 25:26) not to retreat before the advance of evil, whatever form it may take, lest we by our inaction contribute to its corrupting influence. But religious freedom is not the issue here. Denying the use of a microphone is not the denial to pray.

Those young men on the football field that day did the best thing they could to protect their freedom of religion; they simply exercised their right to pray. I have not heard that any of them were arrested for doing so. And the ACLU to my knowledge has not dispatched one of their lackeys to file a lawsuit because the players merely exercised their constitutional right.

Cambridge Christian I think was ill advised to force this issue into overtime by filing a federal lawsuit, because if it is eventually heard in court they probably will not enjoy a home field advantage. Cambridge Christian and University Christian should be thankful and proud of the way their respective players responded that day. I do not even know who won the game, but they are all champions for Christ in my estimation.

We certainly live in a time when religious freedoms are challenged and should be ready to defend them, but the cause of Christ is not well served if we pettily sue at the slightest provocation. I think the best thing Cambridge Christian could have done considering the outcome, is to have simply put this issue to rest in the win column.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

Why is this election so important?

Christian author Philip Yancey is the most recent believer to question the evangelical support of Donald Trump. Thrice-married, avowed adulterer, and an ego big enough to claim he has never needed to ask God for forgiveness, Trump does not fit nicely into the evangelical mold.

Jerry Falwell, Jr., lead the charge by giving Trump his endorsement early in the campaign after having Trump speak at Liberty University, and has faithfully supported Trump since. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, has resorted to calling fellow Christians names if they don’t jump on the Donald Trump bandwagon, and staunch Christian conservative James Dobson has excused Trump’s more insensitive remarks claiming he is a “baby Christian.”

While each of these men hold a place of respect in my mind, their support of Trump sounds more like shrill desperation and political expediency than the truth. To what can we attribute this kind of support for a man who doesn’t appear to have a clue about what it means to be a Christian?

It is the fear of a Hillary Clinton Administration and her stated support of two issues of deep concern to evangelical voters, abortion and same-sex marriage. The first is killing off the next generation and the second cannot produce the next generation, and both undermine the future welfare and security of our nation.

Jeffress has characterized this election as a choice between “good and evil,” and Dobson said his fear of a Clinton administration “haunts my nights and days.” But a Trump Administration may not be as good as Jeffress is hoping and may haunt Dobson if he is elected. The one bright spot in Trump’s campaign is his choice of Mike Pence as a running mate.

I am still praying about the election in November. Many are saying this election is important; I believe they are all important. I have conflicts within and concerns without, and one of those concerns is the extreme emphasis by Christians on the importance of this election.

Long ago the prophet Isaiah declared, “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales…All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless,” Isaiah 40:15, 17.

Come November I will step into the ballot box and cast my vote. That is my right and responsibility as a citizen of this country, but my hope for the future welfare of this nation is not in the political process of America that in comparison to the purposes of God “is less than nothing and meaningless.”

My concern this election year is for those who are willing to sell their birthright of faith for a mess of political pottage; who are willing to compromise their character and actions to advance either political cause. If the Church had been more intent on winning souls, it might not be so intent on winning elections.

Is the Bible disappearing from public discourse?

Kenneth A. Briggs set out on a two-year cross-country journey in search of the Bible’s place in American culture. He reveals his discovers in his book “The Invisible Bestseller: Searching for the Bible in America.” He recently shared some of what he learned in an interview with the Religious News Service.

There is not enough room here to even cover a shortened version of that interview, but I will share a few of the more pertinent points.

Q: When you say the Bible is disappearing from public life, what do you mean?

     A: Well, people aren’t reading it very much, and it just doesn’t show up in – as they love to say – public discourse. It doesn’t really make many appearances, and it is not in the public consciousness.

Q: What does it say about us, that despite the diminished role of the Bible, it’s still listed in Guinness World Records as the world’s best-selling book?

A: We still love it to some extent as an artifact, as a keepsake, as a gift to people we think do read the Bible even though we may not, so it remains very popular that way and something almost like – I don’t want to say quite “rabbit’s foot,” but it’s sort of like that.

Briggs goes on to say the Bible is “largely unknown” in America today, but is “discoverable.” He has seen the Bible “become a museum exhibit, hallowed as a treasure but enigmatic and untouched.”

Though I find Briggs’ observations unsettling they seem to be spot on. Despite the Bible being available in more versions and formats making it “discoverable” biblical illiteracy is on the rise so its disappearance in public discourse is to be expected. If we don’t read it then we do not think about it or discuss it.

The Bible is said to be the number one all time bestseller, which indicates it holds a place of respect in our thinking, but it should be more than a lucky charm or a paperweight.

The sin and vices so prevalent in our culture today are mirrored in the church, which means the culture is exerting more of an influence on the church than the church is on the culture. Is that because the church no longer sees the Scriptures as a reliable guide on what to believe and how we should live?

I do not believe in bibliolatry, the worship of the Bible, I worship the God of the Bible. But the Bible is a revelation of God’s holy nature and divine will so I agree with the late Bible teacher Derek Prince, “You do not trust God any more than you trust His Word, you do not obey God any more than you obey His Word, and you do not love God any more than you love His Word.”

If the Church hopes to be a righteous influence in America, then the Word of God will need to be a greater influence on the Church.

The Sacred and the Secular

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ legislature recently amended its anti-discrimination law to include gender identity. The new law will become effective October 1, 2016. The problem with anti-discrimination laws is they always discriminate against someone.

A guide to gender identity practices has been published by The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination charged with enforcing the new law. It is an interesting read.

The guide says the law is legally incumbent on “agents of public accommodation.” Those are “any place…which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.” This has been general defined as hotels, restaurants, theaters, etc. But churches are open to the public and are tasked by the Scriptures to share the Gospel that may be considered as soliciting.

Any such place of public accommodation is required if it “ lawfully separates access to a place or any portion thereof based on a person’s sex, shall grant admission to that place, and the full enjoyment of that place or portion thereof, consistent with the person’s gender identity.”

The guide further says “even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”

A good working definition of the word “sacred” is that which is devoted to the service of God. Using this definition some would say the office of a pastor is a “sacred” profession. In contradistinction, a good working definition of the word “secular” is that which is not devoted to a spiritual or religious purpose. Using this definition being an accountant would be considered a “secular” profession.

This was especially true prior to the Reformation when the work of the clergy was considered sacred, heavenly and eternal, and the work of the laity was considered secular, worldly and temporal. But after the Reformation the doctrine of labor underwent a reformation as well.

Paul admonished, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31, and “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” Colossians 3:17. Peter echoes this sentiment in his first letter, 4:11.

Christianity teaches whatever honest labor the believer engages in if done for Christ and God’s glory is sacred. The farmer plowing in the field is as honorable and his labor just as sacred as the pastor preaching in the pulpit. Thus the labor of every man is ennobled. For the believer there is no dichotomy between sacred and secular.

Using the commission’s example of a spaghetti supper, if hosted to bond with and serve the community, and the church hopes to build relationships to create a positive atmosphere to share the Gospel that is inherently sacred.

It seems those sympathetic to the LGBT cause want to limit the outreach of the church and force it into the same closet they came out of. Freedom of religion is lost when government dictates what is sacred and what is secular.

Robin Rinaldi and The Wild Oats Project

Robin Rinaldi had wanted children and her husband did not. So after 18 years of marriage she decided if they would not have children she wanted more lovers. Not wanting to go behind her husband’s back, they discussed and decided on taking a year off from their marriage. This was so that Rinaldi “could experience life (and by life we mean sex) with other people.” Her book The Wild Oats Project is her account of what she experienced.

What little I know about the book is what I have gleaned from reviews and quotes, which in turn makes me disinclined to know more. There were two things about her experience I found extremely distasteful.

First, the idea that for sex to be both exciting and satisfying one must venture outside of the marriage. Study after study reveals married couples enjoy more sex and more satisfying sex than their single counterparts, who by the way should not be fornicating, which may be why they are not enjoying it as much, guilt, fear of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, etcetera.

And last, I found her cavalier disregard for the seventh commandment of the Decalogue disturbing. “You shall not commit adultery” is not a suggestion and its violation in the utilitarian search for a more satisfying sexual relationship is a betrayal of her marriage despite her husband’s knowledge and permission.

A professor once asked a fellow student, “If you lie to your roommate about something, and he knows you are lying, and you know he knows you are lying, is it really a lie?

This was a discussion about ethics and I should give you some background so you can understand the professor’s point. The difference between saying something that is not true and telling a lie is intent. I may say something that is not true, but believed it was true at the time; I just was not in full possession of the facts. A lie is when you say something that is not true to deceive the hearer.

The professor’s point was, if you did not succeed in deceiving your roommate, did you really lie? The answer from a scriptural point is yes! Lying is a sin because of the intent to deceive whether or not you succeeded in deceiving someone.

I know there are many competing ideas of what a marriage should be, but whether it is in the marital vows or not, an underlying foundational concept of marriage is the mutual commitment to a sexually exclusive relationship. Otherwise, what’s the purpose?

A working definition of adultery is having sex with someone other than your spouse, or if single with someone else’s spouse. Adultery is still adultery even if your spouse consents to your adultery. At the heart of every sin is the intent to disobey God. Rinaldi may not have sinned against her husband, but she sinned against God.

There was a time when we were shamed by our sin, now we write books about it and flaunt it.

Calling Evil Good

One of my spiritual disciplines is Bible reading. The reading plan I use has me consistently reading through the Scriptures about every eleven months. I began reading through the book of Isaiah this past week, and though he prophesied almost 700 years before Christ I found one of his writings especially relevant.

Isaiah spoke to the nation of Judah and its capital Jerusalem. The people of Judah had lapsed into idolatry and were practicing their ancient faith only in pretense. They were under the impending judgment of God and on the brink of being deported into Babylonian captivity.

Isaiah proclaimed this warning, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter,” Isaiah 5:20. It is a caveat of exchanging the bitter way of disobedience for the sweet path of obedience, choosing to stumble in darkness instead of in the light of God’s Word.

These words address the spiritual realities of ignoring God’s directions and lapsing into sin, but the statement “calling evil good, and good evil” addresses the denial of the pragmatic realities of life that lie at the bottom of man’s depravity, trading the truth for a lie.

We are witnessing a parallel to Judah’s plight in America today.

In the name of sanctity of life we say a duly convicted murderer should not be executed and then deny that same truth and allow the killing of the unborn for the sake of convenience. We spare the guilty, and slaughter the innocent.

Here in America we say marriage is not a union of man and woman alone, but is also the union of two men or two women. The reality though is that the union of two men or two women cannot produce the next generation that would insure the flourishing of our nation. What God says about marriage is wrong, and what man says about marriage is right.

In this country a man can claim to be a woman, or a woman can claim to be a man and use the restroom of their choice. Last year a man was voted woman of the year and highlights this truth. A man can claim to be a woman, and a woman can claim to be a man.

Calling things something they are not is a mark of depravity. It is a sign of deep-seated rebellion against reality to declare a thing to be something it is clearly not. It is a sign of how far people have strayed from the will of God.

Sin not only causes one to reject the will of God, but also to reject the realities of life when it doesn’t fit into their fantasies.