The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

It may seem trivial on the surface, when must one citizen bake a cake for another citizen. But the issue actually is much more serious than it appears and has reached the highest court in our land. This past Tuesday the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing oral arguments in the case of the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to bake a cake for a homosexual couple to celebrate their pending nuptials. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission claims Jack illegally discriminated against the couple and then shuttered his business. Jack claims the commission violated his free exercise of religion under the First Amendment.

The First Amendment

The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment is considered the cornerstone of the other nine because it contains the most fundamental rights of the American citizen.

The first words of the First Amendment are “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I think it is significant that when our government sought to protect the rights of its citizens from government oversight and intrusion the first liberty they protected was freedom of religion.

Discrimination is not always bad

Did Jack Phillips discriminate? Yes, he did. Discrimination is at the heart of faith. I chose and still choose to be a Christian as opposed to all other religions and that preference is a form of discrimination. As a believer I must discriminate between what is sinful and what is righteous, what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. It is an inescapable part of what it means to be a devout believer in Christ to the exclusion of all other belief systems.

Colorado like many others has misinterpreted and subsequently misapplied the reach of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U. S. Supreme Court case that gave same-sex couples the right to marry. One citizen’s right to do something does not create an obligation on behalf of another citizen to help him secure that right.

It is a liberty issue

It will never be in the best interest of liberty and justice to deprive one citizen of his liberty by coercing him to help another citizen secure his right to do something. Someone’s liberty is lost in the process, and you cannot advance the cause of liberty while robbing another citizen of his.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace to all those who are surrendered to His will, but he also said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34. Christ has warned us that to choose Him and what is right will sometimes bring division and conflict. It is the Christian’s desire to live at peace with all men, but not at any cost, not at the cost of our convictions.

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The Christian and Politics

Integrity

Alan K. Simpson former Senator from the State of Wyoming once said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” As a former public servant he was referring to how those who are in power should conduct the public’s business. Sadly, it seems that integrity is in short supply in our nation’s capitol.

This shortage of integrity is seen prominently in the public arena of national politics and Christians are increasingly forced to decide between candidates where there is no clear moral choice. For the Christian who takes his convictions into the polling booth it can create a dilemma of conscience about which candidate to vote for.

In the last presidential election several evangelical leaders were critical of Donald Trump’s supposed Christianity in light of several statements he made. Russell Moore was among them. He took some heat in his own denomination as a result of holding Donald Trump accountable for the things he said, and justly so.

Conflicted

Some thought he was unduly critical of those who supported Trump who was elected with the help of eighty-one percent of evangelicals. Moore clarified his position when he said, “There’s a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighed the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience.”

This may be what the electoral landscape looks like for some time to come. Christians may find themselves conflicted on Election Day with the choices they have.

I believe it is a Christian citizen’s responsibility to be informed on the issues at stake in an election as best as he can, and then vote his convictions at the ballot box. I do not vote for personalities, I vote for those who I think will enact the policies that will best serve the citizens of our nation.

The evangelical voice was influential in this past election and has become a target. There will be those who curry the favor of evangelical voters and others who will try to silence it. As a voting block evangelicals need to wary of both possibilities. With the politics at stake and when power is secured by the popular vote many will resort to unscrupulous measures to win our votes.

Is the Church selling its birthright?

I am concerned when I see those who are called to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ becoming overly involved in the political arena. We need not sell our spiritual birthright for a mess of political pottage.

We need to remember what Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36. It was several years ago that Billy Graham commented on the state of things in America and his words ring true still today. In an interview with Christianity Today, he said, “The central issues of our time aren’t economic or political or social, important as these are. The central issues of our time are moral and spiritual in nature.”

To that I say, Amen!

She said; he said

Reports claim that evangelicals are “conflicted” over Roy Moore’s candidacy for a senate seat in Alabama amidst claims of past sexual misconduct. Morality was an issue in the last Presidential election, and news stories abound within the entertainment industry and political circles of sexual harassment and assault.

Paul exhorts all Christians, not just evangelicals, to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22. So, let us examine everything carefully.

What Christians are not conflicted about

In the interest of clarity let me tell you what no genuine Christian is conflicted about. No man, of any age, should date any under-aged girl, or sexually harass or assault a woman or girl of any age. No political position, or celebrity status, or any other circumstance or situations make such actions acceptable.

What I find hypocritical are those who believe it is immoral for Roy Moore to date a fourteen year old girl, but believe that same fourteen year old girl, if pregnant, should be allowed to be victimized by the abortion industry without her parents knowledge or consent. I think that kind of moral relativism is reprehensible.

When any politician has decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him or her making investigation and prosecution virtually impossible, the motivation cannot be to see justice done. Whether or not the allegations are true they surface because of political motivation.

They manipulate moral outrage

Their political opponents use the allegations to manipulate moral outrage hoping to gain an advantage at the polls on election day. I have come to accept the fact that politics can be, and many times are, at some level a dirty business, and it is not getting any cleaner as our culture seems to be in a free fall into an amoral abyss.

I do not know what to think about Roy Moore or those similarly accused. If they are guilty and it can be proven, I say prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. But I do not intend to have my moral outrage manipulated by those who believe it is acceptable to street hustle infant body parts.

Christians are not conflicted about what is morally right and what is morally wrong from a biblical perspective, though society may be, but we may be confused as to what actually happened in the case of Roy Moore and others accused like him.

Roy Moore’s situation seems to be a case of she said, he said. Her claims seem credible and his denials are not convincing, yet neither is accompanied by an ability to prove either claim true or false. The only thing I can say right now is, I am glad I do not live in Alabama.

Give Thanks

There are a host of Scriptures that enjoin us to give thanks to God. In the midst of prayer, when we are asking Him for things, we should always be mindful of what He has already accomplished for us, what He is doing on our behalf, and what He has promised in the future lest we seem ungrateful. In the midst of an ungrateful culture possessed with a sense of entitlement, bound by materialism, and blinded by hedonism, the Christian should be distinguished by an “attitude of gratitude.”

Of the ten legally recognized Federal holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two that have a religious heritage. Although the term “holiday” is a compound derivative of the term “Holy Day,” the other eight federal holidays are secular in nature in that they merely memorialize an important event in our nation’s history, or they recognize the contribution a group or individual has made to our country. Calling them secular is not to slight their importance. The secular holidays help form our country’s national identity predicated on our history. And our history is “His story” displaying the sovereign hand of God shaping our nation’s destiny and its role in the history of mankind.

But our two religious holidays are significant as well. Christmas is a decidedly Christian holiday and while thanksgiving for God’s providence has a long established tradition in the Jewish economy of worship, but in this country its practice has been adopted and sustained by the Christian community. Historically speaking, it was the Pilgrims of Plymouth that introduced its practice to the New World and whose purpose for settling here was declared in the Mayflower Compact. These Christian pioneers made it clear that their colony had been “undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith.”

The Thanksgiving tradition has a rich history here in the United States. Recognizing this, in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November, and the day became an annual national tradition celebrated every year since.

Wikipedia says Thanksgiving Day “was a holiday to express thankfulness, gratitude, and appreciation to God, family and friends for which all have been blessed of material blessings and relationships. Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. This holiday has since moved away from its religious roots.” Given the distractions afforded by our affluence many probably have “moved away from its religious roots.”

The truth remains that we are still dependent on twelve inches of topsoil and some rain at the right time or we would all starve. Would it not be wise to return to our “religious roots?” As we spend time feasting with family and friends I pray we take time to give thanks to the One who provides us with everything.

“Let us enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,” Psalm 100:4.

Is the universe to big for God?

I came across this commentary recently, “Does the size of the universe prove God doesn’t exist?” The writer goes on to say, “Scientists now know that the universe contains at least two trillion galaxies.” Really? That’s only a tenth of the national debt, that I am now beginning to believe got so big because we have been overpaying some guy to count those galaxies.

The article goes on to say, “Scientists estimate the observable universe, the part of it we can see, is around 93 billion light years across. The whole universe is at least 250 times as large as the observable universe.”

That statement is absurd. If the “observable universe” can be seen, why do we have to estimate its size? And how can scientists say the rest of the universe we can’t see is “at least 250 times” larger than the one we can see, when we can’t see it?

The gist of the writer’s point is that if God were so concerned with man, why would he create a universe so huge that man by comparison is relatively insignificant? A shepherd boy named David thought the same thing about three thousand years ago as he watched over his sheep on a starry night.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4.

What David marveled at with his unaided eyes modern man assisted by the technology of the Hubble spacecraft questions. Maybe God did not create this vast universe to highlight the insignificance of man; maybe He created it to display the significance of His might.

Like everyone I enjoy the lifestyle afforded us by the technology that is a byproduct of scientific discoveries, so I appreciate the advances of science. But I am not blind to the fact that though scientists know a lot they do not know everything. Science has its limits.

For instance, we do not know if the universe is an open or closed system, that is, if it goes on forever or if it has boundaries, limits. We just do not know.

I believe the whole modern scientific method of investigation is predicated on the following syllogism: God created the heavens and the earth (i.e., the universe), God is a reasonable God, ergo, the universe can be understood on the basis of reason. If an intelligent Designer had not created an orderly universe scientific investigation predicated on the repeatability of experimentation would be impossible.

I believe the universe we observe is an effect that the only sufficient cause is an omniscient, omnipotent Designer. The vastness of the universe with its diversity and complexity does not cause me to question the existence of God, like David, it inspires me to declare it.

Haaretz says there is “no evidence”

The Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, has questioned the historicity of the Bible according to Newsweek’s Cristina Silva. The paper reportedly said, “No evidence of the events described in the book of Genesis has ever been found.”

I am sure the absurdity of such a statement is lost on those who want to jump to the same conclusion. It is a logical fallacy to say events did not occur because there is no evidence of it. It is called an argumentum ex silentio, an argument from silence.

There are plenty of unsolved murders that have not been cleared because there was not enough evidence to prove who did it and secure a conviction, it does not mean someone is not dead. To say there is no corroborating evidence does not mean something did not happen; it just means there is no evidence of how it happened. Those are two entirely different things.

There is a universe that is evidence of something that happened. Without a shred of evidence some scientists believe in the Big Bang Theory. But since they have no evidence I’ll stick with the Big God Theory. I guess Haaretz calls the universe “no evidence.”

With a global population pushing eight billion people that is evidence that someone was fruitful and multiplied. Scientific research into mitochondrial DNA has suggested the human race had a single female progenitor. Researchers called her “Eve,” but that is what Haaretz calls “no evidence.”

Here’s a news flash, “No evidence disproving the events described in the book of Genesis has ever been found.” You can quote me on that. The whole scientific community is not in possession of a single observable fact about how the universe or life began, so if they do not know what happened, they cannot say what didn’t happen.

Not only does such a statement lack any factual support, it is a logical impossibility to prove a negative. If something did not happen the evidence it did not happen does not exist, because it did not happen.

I have often thought this may be the reason God inspired the psalmist to write, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” Psalm 14:1, because of the inability to prove a negative. This is why atheists retreat into agnosticism and say they do not know if there is a God, because they eventually recognize the foolishness of trying to prove His nonexistence.

But just because the agnostic says he does not know if there is a God, does not mean there are not others who do know Him. When man repents of his sin and exercises genuine faith in Christ he is introduced to the knowledge of God the unbelieving and uninitiated will never know. Though “we walk by faith,” we “know whom [we] have believed.”

All creation is evidence of an ordered universe operating by identifiable physical laws that suggest an Intelligent Designer, but Haaretz says that is “no evidence.” I wonder what kind of evidence Haaretz needs.

The god of our imagination

It has been said that, “In the beginning God created man in His image and every since then man has been trying to return the favor.” That is, we fashion a god who agrees with our perspective of life and agrees with what we believe and do.

The ancient Greeks elevated making their imaginations into an art form when they began to make statues that represented their many gods and temples to house them. But their various gods were clearly human creations.

Zeus, the king of the Grecian gods, was an inveterate adulterer. He was portrayed in Grecian mythology as having numerous sexual affairs with beautiful human women. The hero Hercules was the offspring of one such relationship.

Zeus and his goddess wife Hera had three children one of which, Hephaestus, was born with a limp according to the Greek poet Homer. What kind of gods are these that are consumed with mortal desires, are born and have birth defects? Clearly they are deities endowed with all the human foibles of character and body by their very human creators.

When Paul visited Athens and preached to them about the unknown God, the one they did not know, they dismissed his preaching because he had declared to them the resurrection of Christ. Paul’s teaching of a God who could raise the dead must have seemed strange to an audience whose only conception of gods are tainted with human-like weaknesses.

We live in a culture that was founded amid a Christian consensus, so it is not unusual that a statistic that has remained unchanged for decades is that about ninety percent of Americans believe there is a God. But something that has changed is the percentage of those who read their Bible with any degree of regularity. That figure stands at less than forty percent.

The Scriptures reveal to us God’s holy nature and divine will; they reveal who God is and what He is like, and what He expects from us. This means a very large portion of our population believes in a God they do not know and can only imagine what He must be like.

It is no wonder then that when someone says or writes things about God or what the Bible says many become confused and are easily duped into believing something that is not taught in the Bible, because it is unread.

The psalmist has said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105. The wisdom and guidance we so desperately need as a nation lies in many homes collecting dust while our nation is literally falling apart before our eyes.

It reminds me of a saying that I have found to be true, “If you see a Bible that is falling apart, it belongs to someone who isn’t.”

The idol we fashion by our imagination is as poor a substitute for the God of the Bible as an idol that has been fashioned by hands.