I could be wrong!

In fact there is a good part of me that hopes I am wrong.  Let me back up a little, in fact to really be thorough, honest and academic we will need to back up at least 100 years (if not a couple thousand).  What I am talking about is a subtle agenda being pushed to the fore by many very talented and gifted communicators in various forms to include TV, media, books and movies.  I’m speaking about universal salvation as well as several other beliefs which seem to be commonly tacked on to the coat tails of universal salvation.

In short, universal salvation, or Christian universalism, is “a school of Christian theology focused around the doctrine of universal reconciliation – the view that all human beings will ultimately be restored to a right relationship with God” (Wikipedia).  Naturally and closely associated with Christian universalism is the belief that there is no eternal physical punishment (a burning hell).  There are numerous other practices or beliefs which follow closely behind these 2 schools of thought such as acceptance of gay lifestyles in the church, a de-emphasis on chastity as well as embracing a philosophy of never judge and always include.  But for the most part I will only offer some thoughts on Christian universalism and hell.

Let me first say, as I hinted at earlier, I completely understand the appeal of Universal Salvation and the absence of a physical and eternal hell.  I have many family members and friends who do not profess Christ and who would benefit from an eternity lacking a permanent physical punishment and the opportunity to be reconciled to the Father beyond the grave.  That would be wonderful on so many levels even if mildly disconcerting to me and my, before the grave, efforts to embrace the cross and commands of Christ.  However, the above views are not what I see in scripture, but if I’m wrong it’s still a win win for everybody.  Yes I, and many like me, may have endeavored to live more circumspectly in this life to no real avail, but in the end, that end being eternity, there would be no real down side to having been wrong and having lived a life of discipleship and devotion to Jesus.

Here is my concern and caution with the increasing evolution of some mainstream Christian beliefs and the direction in which they are moving.  These beliefs, theologies and practices did not follow 50 – 100 years of respected Christian theologians from the most respected Christian seminaries beginning to question and debate the possibility that we may have been wrong about salvation and hell.  In fact the opposite has happened.  Secular philosophies of “if it feels good – do it” and other related beliefs which were introduced in the 60’s ultimately carried influence into the walls of an insecure church desperate to “stay relevant”.  This was closely followed by accusations of intolerance and hate towards anyone or any church/denomination which dared to hold onto traditional beliefs instead of getting on the “right side of history”.  Barbie and I have even had very dear friends with whom we have discussed some of these issues pull back from relationship, cut off relationship or “unfriend” us because we are the ones perceived as narrow and intolerant – I trust you see the sad irony there.

So, in what I believe to be a misguided effort, many churches in recent decades have embraced the all inclusive universal salvation position complete with setting aside significant moral prohibitions in what can best be described as a “land for peace” deal with secular society.  I will be the first to admit that it appears compassionate and inclusive to promote universal acceptance of varying cultural practices.  This is especially effective when combined with the elimination of hell as a place of punishment.  And perhaps if I had sat under different teachers in my life I might easily go there as well.

As I said earlier, if I am wrong there is no real downside to me or anybody else to having held fast to traditional beliefs of what it means to be like Christ and to hold traditional views of salvation and hell.  However, and this could be the costliest however in the history of the church, if these highly influential teachers, church leaders, movie makers and book writers are the ones who are wrong then 100’s of millions of lives could be forever separated from the Father.  That is a down side none of us should consider as an acceptable risk.

http://babylonbee.com/news/progressive-criticizes-jesus-not-christlike/

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Let your light shine???

Some blogs I write and then some blogs write themselves as is the case with the most recent actions of Pastor Karl Lentz, the senior pastor of Hillsong NY.  I’m certain that the accompanying picture (which I had to edit) to this blog is not what Jesus meant when He exhorted us in Matthew 5:16 to “let our lights shine before the world in such a way that they would see our good actions and glorify our heavenly Father”.

let your light so shine

I don’t care who you are, where you pastor, where you work or minister, as Christians we are portraying Christ to the world 24/7.  The most important question we MUST ask ourselves in light of that fact is “what is the world seeing?”.  I read well over 100 comments attached to the original article as well as subsequent Tweets about the pictures seen here of Pastor Karl Lentz and Justin Bieber.  Not one, I repeat, not even one came anywhere close in anyway to defending or giving the benefit of the doubt to Pastor Lentz’s display.  They were fraught with mockery or sensual comments from girls & men.  I will let Twitter comments and the comment section of AOL Entertainment speak for what the world (and perhaps many Christians) thought.

  • Papi,
  • God Bless,
  • what religion is this:)
  • if that’s his “pastor/boyfriend” no wonder he’s so f…… up!
  • Whose man is this???
  • Jesus!
  • Daddy Lentz! Sprinkle you holy water on me!
  • Everyone who is a parent in this church needs to watch their kids,
  • Well, it looks like he lost the “cloth” somewhere.
  • A pastor running around showing darn near his private areas?
  • Holding JB like he’s a female around the waist?
  • What’s wrong with this picture?
  • Looks like JB is a choir boy and pastor a molester.
  • No straight pastor would walk with his shorts hanging down his legs like that!

And these were the nice comments.  I have no idea what either of them (Karl or Justin) were thinking or what is in their hearts but I can say, as plainly as James – “these things ought not be!”

justin & Karl

Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong, has made statements in the past as to the challenges Pastor Lentz has created for leadership.  Much of this has been in the position Karl took in refusing to take a stand on gross sexual sin even when present in some levels of leadership in the church (feel free to read my blog entitled “Did another one bite the dust?  We’re not quite sure” from Aug. 6 2015).  I believe it is time for him (Pastor Houston) to take what action he can to remove Karl Lentz from any leadership role in Hillsong in an attempt to possibly regain or salvage some level of integrity at the church in NY.  Believe me, the world is watching and even the un-churched understand enough of the bible to know when things have gone horribly wrong.

10 Suggested “commandments” of respectful Facebook etiquette

#1 – Your business is NOT you. If you have a business you should ALSO have a Facebook page for your business and invite people to like/friend your business page. To mix your personal and business post on the same personal page is to presume upon others an interest in your business. Most of you know that Barbie and I make almost 100% of our income from our online business and apart from a rare update (maybe 3 or 4 times a year) you do not endure daily, weekly or even monthly business post for our lock company. If your business is indeed legitimate then you should conduct yourself accordingly and invite friends to subscribe to your business page and let them make that choice instead of making it for them and everybody else who sees their thread.
#2 – Think twice before liking something which is not of a personal nature. All of us like stuff. But all of us do not necessarily like ALL the same stuff. Limit your likes of random non personal stuff like the most recent gadget, political, religious or vacation spot. Just this week I scrolled through almost 30 “likes” in a row which had nothing to do with me or my interest.  Most of us do want to see your personal pictures, plans or passions but not necessarily your most recent shopping or restaurant experience.
#3 – I love scripture, God and Godly exhortations. But sharing a bunch of spiritual memes, pictures of Jesus in the clouds with a scripture or pre-packaged motivational messages often (actually almost always) feels impersonal and trite. If you have an encouragement feel free to IM a personal note or at least take the time to write it out yourself instead of just clicking like or share on something canned.
#4 – Please consider carefully when you share something with curse words, gross or vulgar images. Not everyone is as mature as you in their ability to handle that type of stuff (read sarcasm).
#5 – We get it, you exercise. We do not, however, need to know every time you go to the gym. You can also substitute various other repetitive activities to this rule i.e. eating out, shopping, golfing, etc.
#6 – We get it, you are against (fill in the blank) and you are in favor of (fill in the blank). We do not need to be reminded daily or multiple times a day of these facts.
#7 – Take the time to check the validity of something before you share it. There are lots of bogus stories, fake pictures, scam free stuff etc. etc. out there. PLEASE, the old adage still holds true today, “if something sounds (looks, feels) too good to be true is probably is.” Google stuff or check it out on Snopes.com before you pass on questionable stuff.  Oh, and for the record, the gargantuan cat hedge sculptures are photo shopped, Mel Gibson was never attacked and beaten in his youth and Mercedes is NOT giving away 10 cars.
#8 – As a general rule, try and stick to making comments about your own country. I really don’t think Americans should be giving strong political critiques of another countries election, immigration policy or other cultural practices and I believe the same should be true about other nationalities towards America. I am not speaking about expressing sympathy for tragedies or promoting positive or interesting news.
#9 – Don’t request or share stuff with the expressed desire for it to “GO VIRAL”. Going viral is a spontaneous explosion of interest or activity about a video or product not manufactured interest because you “begged” for it to go viral.
#10 – And last but not least, Do NOT, I repeat do NOT try and test or define any friend’s friendship with a challenge to like or share a post.  Really???

Off “Message” – Biblical principles and social media – Eugene Petersen test case

Many are aware that about a week ago Eugene Petersen was “put on the spot” by the question of whether he would perform a same sex marriage.  Eugene answered in the affirmative and thus ensued 24 hours of social media backlash against this oft revered pastor.  So, as is so often the case these days with politicians, reporters, entertainment or sports figures, Eugene walked back his comments saying “on further reflection and prayer, I would like to retract that”.  The fact that Eugene “saw the error of his ways” garners little respect from me since it took an almost overwhelming flood of reaction to cause his eyes to be open to what is already clearly pronounced in “The Message” (with full double meaning!)

This, unfortunately, is just another example of how social pressure is dictating church policy and practice in a modern world controlled by the click of a mouse or the posting of a poignant mem.  The church is losing respect and participants in droves today and it’s not for the reasons one might think.  Society is not impressed when Christians “get on the right side of history” by acquiescing to rapidly changing social practices any more then ISIS is impressed with efforts to appease their message of hate.  Giving in like this makes us (the church) look like spineless milquetoast minions with no guiding principles – and who wants to be a part of that?

I believe principled people who practice their beliefs with grace and kindness will be the ones looked to for guidance and wisdom for the seismic challenges in the years to come as well as being pleasing to the Lord  – if that even matters anymore!

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/eugene-petersen-affirms-traditional-marriage/

Shacking up with universalism

It was probably a dozen years ago when I first read the Shack.  I loved the book and the message of forgiveness worked some much needed healing in my life.  I vaguely remember some small dust ups of controversy back then but was able to set it aside since the book was in fact fiction and all of the theologically questionable things actually happened during the course of a dream – and we all know how weird dreams can be.

Fast forward to present day and my wife and I went to see the movie based on the book and, as before, we loved it and embraced the main message of the movie being the necessity to deal with forgiveness.  It was also true that a couple of the theologically questionable things came through a bit more in the movie.

The two events which left me with some questions as to what Paul Young actually believes were when Papa seemed to be shocked that Mackenzie made a reference to a vengeful God and towards the end when Mackenzie’s dad is included in a large group of people presumed to be those who have passed on and are in the congregation of a heaven of sorts.

Actually there was one other thing that really bothered me and that was the fact that anybody, and I mean anybody other than Morgan Freeman was used to play the role of God.  I am going to choose to believe it was because his fee simply too much for the films budget.  But in all seriousness, I had no problem whatsoever with God being portrayed as a warm and affectionate black woman nor an aging American Indian.  I know that some, maybe many, took special exception to the whole God as a woman part and to those I have a couple of things to say.  God is portrayed as many things in scripture to include Father, mother hen, spirit, a flaming bush, strong tower, nursing mother, wind, judge, comforter, cloud, pillar of fire, etc. etc.  Hopefully you get the point that to think that you know what God looks like is, well, frankly, arrogant, narrow and religious.  I have read and heard all the arguments and most of them go something like this “God is most often portrayed as male” or “isn’t He called Father for a reason?”.  The thought that our finite minds could even begin to visualize all that God is and all the forms that He has manifested or described Himself as during this incredibly short blink of an eye moment called world history is shallow at best.  What percentage of the image of God is the form we call the human male?  50%? 100%? 1 billionth of a percent?  Do you really think God can be condensed down to a form so contained, controlled and simple as to be a something we could replicate in wood, stone or gold?   I don’t think so.

So what does Paul Young believe?  Actually, a lot of what I believe!  But with all the questions and discussions about error, universalism and issues about hell I decided to buy his most recent book, “Lies we believe about God”, and dug in.  It is crystal clear, in this book, that Paul Young has gone all the way down the road of universalism.  Here is a short excerpt from the book and I promise you that I am not taking it out of context.

“God does not wait for my choice and then “save me.” God has acted decisively and universally for all humankind. Now our daily choice is to either grow and participate in that reality or continue to live in the blindness of our own independence.

Are you suggesting that everyone is saved? That you believe in universal salvation?

That is exactly what I am saying!”

Paul has also embraced a similar view of hell as Rob Bell in which there is no eternal physical punishment.  I do not presume to know for certain who will be saved or what hell is or isn’t.  But I do know that I do not want to be in the position of that person mentioned in scripture for whom it would have been better if he had never been born because of leading people astray.  The appeal of all being saved is significant as I have many friends who I love and who do not follow Jesus and the thought of them not being in heaven is not pleasant and the thought of them experiencing eternal physical punishment is horrific.  But I cannot but continue to exhort them that Jesus is the only way and that to choose any other path will result in serious eternal consequences.  As a visual, to promote a Gospel message in which the broad road and the narrow pathway ultimately converge in heaven could be the greatest deception and disservice to humanity ever put forth.  This would of course give little incentive to choose the hard and narrow road over the broad and easy one.  To put it another way, there really does appear to be a special place in hell for those who lead other away from the narrow way.  Brings a whole new sobriety to the saying “better safe than sorry, really really sorry.”

In closing this blog, I can freely encourage you to read the Shack or watch the movie and embrace the message of forgiveness while at the same time understanding it is fiction.  Unfortunately, I must also place several chapters in Paul Young’s most recent book in the fiction category as well.  May God be merciful to Paul and those who are led astray by him and other like him.

Diane Feinstein – As libs, we must have our cake and eat it too!

Well, that’s not exactly what she said in the Neil Gorsuch hearing but it might as well have been.  You see when questioning around the subject of abortion Feinstein said that she probably will oppose Gorsuch because he believes “the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Does anybody else see the absolute pure and unadulterated hypocrisy in that statement?  Was it intentional, was it a Freudian/Feinstein slip or did her true color get exposed?  You see, we actually do have laws on the books as it relates to the intentional taking of human life by a private person.  And when you exclude the right for self defense, you are left with only one thing and we call it murder.  Feinstein didn’t say that Gorsuch thought the taking of a mass of cells or a fetus was wrong, she referred to it as the “intentional taking of a human life” and according to our laws, that is always called murder.  So wouldn’t that fall into the plus column for Gorsuch to always follow the law by seeing the intentional taking of a human life as always wrong?

These people who support the killing of babies are simply messed up in the head and it comes out in their inability to even get their terms and stories straight.  So eat that cake up baby killers, but just know that it’s going to eat you up in the end.  God will NOT be mocked!

eat cake

History can teach us if we let it! (Captain obvious)

Although I am a Christian, with scripture and the laws of God holding a prominent place in my heart and life, you don’t actually have to be a believer in order to make certain choices given our extensive knowledge of history – unless of course you are intent on repeating it which seems to be the status quo most of the time.

Although some may not view Leviticus as a historical book I am going to “enter into evidence” Leviticus 18 for your thoughtful consideration for the purpose of this blog.  In that chapter God indicates actions which have caused judgment to fall on all the former inhabitants of the lands, which in this particular case refers to the land to be given to the descendants of Abraham.

The actions identified in Leviticus are of two specific categories.  One is sexual activities ranging from adultery and incest to homosexuality and beastiality and the second is killing or burning the innocents (babies) which in that day were an offering to the god Molech.

At that point in Leviticus we have a minimum of 1500 to 2000 years of recorded history to verify that no people group survived who began to practice these types of activities.  And now here we are with an additional 3500 years of history to seemingly confirm that any country which was given over to sexual or social activities which did not align with the more conservative Judeo/Christian ethics (and again although I am referencing religion I am doing so in regards to recorded history) have not survived long historically.

I recognize and understand to some extent the laws of physics such as gravity, Newton’s law of motion and others.  But what if what we have seen in history is another level of laws for the physical earth which were also set in place from the beginning which cannot be ignored any more than you could ignore gravity regardless of whether you believe it or not.  In Leviticus God refers to the land “vomiting out” people groups who participate in the practices listed earlier as if the actual physical land may have some involuntary gag reflex that plays a role in cleansing itself of people who violate these laws.  And He promises the same judgment for the Israelites if they participate likewise.  And our recorded history really does seem to confirm this to be the case.

gravity

So why should any country or people group today expect that they have somehow learned the secret of immunity to the moral laws of the universe which seem to be just as unbreakable even if somewhat less predictable in the timing or means of execution (double entendre).

So whatever you want to call it, free sex, choice, abortion, “love wins”, MYOB, equal rights, gay or women’s rights; history and the laws of the universe will not be changed or persuaded by some progressive school of thought.  I find it especially ironic that many progressives call it “being on the right side of history” to give in and practice such activities.  Have no doubt, history (and God) will not be mocked.