Hugh Hefner is dead

Hugh Hefner is dead. Founder of Playboy magazine and media mogul of a multi-million dollar industry fueled by the sexual revolution “passed away…from natural causes” surrounded by loved ones.

Like most people I did not know Hugh Hefner apart from his public persona. He lived a lavish lifestyle and did not deny himself of anything money could buy. He lived in a mansion with a bevy of beautiful women waiting on him hand and foot. He will be missed by his friends and family and be envied by many more.

While alive he made no secret of his hedonistic philosophy and said he did not fear death because he did not believe in the afterlife.

I was reminded of a story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in chapter sixteen of Luke’s Gospel. The rich man spent his days “joyously living in splendor every day,” Lazarus was a sickly beggar living with constant hunger. Both of them died, Lazarus was carried “away by the angels” and the rich man was buried.

Jesus tells us the rich man “in Hades lifted up his eyes in torment” and cried out to Abraham, who he could see at a distance, and begged him, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.”

But Abraham responded, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and none may cross over from there to us.”

The rich man asked, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, in order that he may warn them, so that they will not come to this place of torment.”

Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets: let them hear them.”

The rich man implored yet again, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”

Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

This story makes two points worth thinking about. First, riches will not buy one’s way into heaven; a ransom the rich man would have paid if he were able. Second, the one who begged in this life was not the one begging in the next.

None of us will get out of this life alive. Hugh Hefner is dead. Where he may be is not my call. But I would remind everyone what the Scriptures declare, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” Hebrews 9:27.

Advertisements

Are Christians intolerant?

Writing for the Huffington Post, Peter Henne published an article titled For Conservative Christians, is engagement a one-way street? Henne says, “Conservative Christians frequently claim progressives are intolerant of their views…and shut them down when they try to express their beliefs.” Then he goes on to name two incidents where conservative Christians stopped progressive Christians from expressing their beliefs.

The first event is where a lecture from a “prominent Catholic priest was called off” because of “his call for compassion towards LGBT Catholics.” The second was when a well-known Christian leader criticized Tim Kaine, Hillary’s former running mate, for claiming a scriptural basis for improving healthcare when his pro-choice view of health care ignores the slaughter of the unborn.

It is interesting that these two issues of moral concern are the two that always seem to be foremost in the minds of those claiming to be “progressive” Christians.

Henne admits he knows the terms “progressive” and “conservative” are “problematic words” when defining American Christianity. This is because these words can mean different things in many different contexts.

The problem I have with these two terms is that Christianity should be defined biblically without any qualifying adjectives. When one begins to employ adjectives to define Christianity we begin to stray from and thus corrupt what the word Christian means in Scripture.

Since Christian means to be Christ-like we must look to the Scriptures to see what Christ was like to understand what being a Christian means. One unmistakable attribute of Christ was His belief in the authority of Scripture.

After His forty day fast in the wilderness Jesus fought off the three temptations of the devil by quoting Scripture and prefacing all three of His quotes with the words, “It is written.” Throughout his earthly ministry when questioned about His teaching, Jesus would quote the Scriptures as His foundation and used the words, “Have you never read?”

It follows that anyone claiming to be a Christian should view the Word of God as authoritative on any issue it addresses. So when it comes to moral matters we view the Scripture’s teachings on morality as moral absolutes. Anything less would be un-Christian.

And when it comes to biblical morality n the two issues we have mentioned, homosexuality and abortion, the scriptural teaching is crystal clear.

On homosexuality, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination,” Leviticus 18:22. On the sanctity of life of the unborn, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:13. And these are just a sample of what the Scriptures say on these two subjects, there are many more.

Ergo, Christians cannot be tolerant of homosexuality that primarily causes the continual spread of HIV/AIDS, and the sin of fornication and adultery that causes us to seek abortions, but it will always be Christian compassion that will compel us to care for the sick and dying, and the children others do not want.

Is all this the Judgement of God?

Irma has wreaked havoc across my home state of Florida. My wife and I are recovering from the aftermath as are many others, and though we did not escape unscathed we did not sustain the property damage, bodily injury, and in some cases the loss of life that others have. We consider ourselves thankful and blessed, and pray for all of those who lost so much more.

Before this Harvey pounded the Gulf coast of Texas and Houston and they are still recovering from Harvey’s devastation. Mexico was rocked by an earthquake that registered 8.2 on the Richter Scale that was then hit by hurricane Katia. The northwest of our nation is scorched by wildfires and many are asking or thinking, what is going on?

An article I read said that “since the 1980s there has been a “400-percent increase in natural disasters globally.” Of course some of this could be attributed to increase awareness thanks to the technological advances of the Internet age, nevertheless, it points to an abundance of catastrophes occurring on a regular basis.

Some are asking and others are saying this is the judgment of God. Jesus said the Father “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” Matthew 5:45. The weather, whether good or bad, is experienced by the believer and unbeliever alike. If bad weather is God’s judgment then there are a lot of good people affected by it.

I do not think bad weather is the judgment of God. While God has used, and can again if He desires, natural disasters to execute His justice, I do not think that is what is happening now. But bad weather does reveal what we think about God, and how we handle the difficulties caused by it.

Some will curse God and Irma and complain about their losses and others will do what they can to help family, friends and strangers through the crisis. Some will simply become bitter, others will aspire to do better.

One thing that can be said about the catastrophic disasters we hear of or experience is this; man is not really in much control of what happens. What Irma did here in Florida in a few hours will take months to recover from, if at all. If in the midst of great loss this crisis opens us up to our complete dependence on God and the need to draw closer to Him it will not have been a wasted experience.

Natural disasters from without will not destroy our country as much as the spiritual storms within the hearts of men will cause our country to crumble and collapse under the weight of its own decadence. God is not sending His judgment; He is allowing us to destroy ourselves. Those who are suffering from the ravages of natural disasters are not greater sinners than the rest of us, “but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” Luke 13:5.

Interpreting the Bible

I have been a committed and passionate student of the Scriptures since 1973, forty-four years. My commitment and passion has been fueled by the sure belief that the Bible was inspired and has been preserved by Father God as a reliable guide to His holy nature and divine will intended by Him for us to read and understand.

My studies have served to reaffirm that conviction and my diligence has been rewarded with a greater understanding and insight of what the Scriptures teach. So I was concerned when I read an article recently titled Interpreting the Bible Just Got More Complicated by Dr. Hugh Houghton writing for The Daily Beast.

The title of the article suggests interpreting the Scriptures is too complicated based on the relatively obscure commentary of a fourth century scholar, Fortunatianus of Aquileia. He believed the Bible should be interpreted allegorically, not literally, and Dr. Houghton said this agrees with what the third century theologian Origen of Alexandria taught.

Based on their views Dr. Houghton concludes “you don’t have to read the Bible literally,” and “for most of the Christian era nobody thought you should.” If the allegorical interpretation of Scripture was the widespread accepted method of understanding the Bible in early Christianity, why did it lapse into obscurity?

The answer is because the allegorical method was so questionable that the majority of believers deemed it unworthy of their continued attention. It fell into obscurity for a reason; it did not enjoy the widespread popularity in the Christian community that Dr. Houghton claims.

The allegorical method of interpretation is inherently flawed; it subjects the meaning of the Scriptures to the personal perspective of the interpreter. And the Scriptures themselves tell us they are not “a matter of one’s own interpretation,” 1 Peter 1:20. It also suggest we cannot understand the Scriptures for what they plainly say.

The Scriptures are a straightforward claim to be a historical record of God’s interactions with men and understanding the historical context is important in understanding why God said what He did. He couched this revelation of Himself in human language so that understanding the interplay between semantics, what words mean, and syntax, the way words are put together to convey meaning, is important to interpreting His Word.

There are no hidden meanings, the Bible should be trusted to mean what it plainly says, although the mind darkened by sin and reluctant to accept the truth contained therein may find it incomprehensible. But every believer is promised “the Spirit of truth” who will guide us “into all truth,” John 16:13.

Therefore, the commonly accepted method of interpreting the Scriptures is the historical, grammatical, plain meaning of the Text.

Jesus said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” John 8:31-32. The Scriptures are a straightforward historical record not a collection of fables; that’s why its first words are “In the beginning” and not “Once upon a time.”

The Nashville Statement

This past August 29, 2017, approximately 150 evangelical leaders issued what is being called “The Nashville Statement.” It has been characterized as a “Christian manifesto” on the biblical perspective of human sexuality. While I do not know all the signatories, there are several I do recognize who command my respect as men of God.

It has a preamble and fourteen articles each comprised of an affirmation and corresponding denial about human sexuality. It was issued by The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I have read it and can say it is a solidly Scriptural document.

It affirmed that the only marriage sanctioned by God is between one man and one woman, and God calls us to “chastity outside marriage and fidelity within marriage.”

Article 10 states, “WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness. WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.”

What Article 10 means is one cannot truly claim to be Christian and approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism. This statement calls homosexuality and transgenderism “self-conceptions,” that is, they deny God’s purpose in human sexuality and/or their birth gender in favor of what they decide to perceive themselves to be.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s biblical support for the Nashville Statement is, “Know that the Lord Himself is God: it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves,” Psalm 100:3. If we believe the Scriptures we must believe marriage was never meant to be between two men or two women and our gender is assigned at birth.

Of course, those within the LGBT community and those who sympathize with their agenda have been whining about the Nashville Statement since it was published. But most of the complaints can be summed up in the words of activist DeRay McKesson, he said, “The God I know does not support the #Nashville Statement.”

His is right because the God he knows is a god he has imagined, a god he imagines to agree with his perspective, an idol he has fashioned in his own image, not the God of the Bible. The Nashville Statement is predicated on what the Bible teaches, not what men think or imagine about God.

The question on my mind is why these men thought such a statement was “urgently needed.” There is no other teaching in the Bible any clearer than the teachings on human sexuality and gender. That’s why transgressors are enraged by it, and any believer who is confused about the issues is not reading the Bible or is reading it and not believing it.

The Christian already has a manifesto, it’s called the Bible. And if we do not trust and obey what it says another statement is meaningless.