"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pentecostal Snake-Handlers

But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous gener-ation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." (Matthew 12:39 ESV)
  I lump religious snake-handlers into the vast subset of Christ-followers who covet sign gifts, as if simple faith and trust aren't enough. While Jesus and his followers produced signs to verify their authority, the signs he commanded us to produce are spiritual fruit, not spiritual gifts. Preoccupation with "sign gifts" smacks of carnal pride.
   When I realized the apostate nature of my native, Catholic church, I became skeptical of everything that claimed to be "Christian," and found an alarming body of evangelical teachings that hearkened back to Romanist roots. Even our cherished, Trinitarian teachings originated in Rome, which has caused my reexamination of God's fundamental nature.
   That said, I absolutely believe the eternal, self-existent Word of God, who spoke the universe into existence and established the means of communicating with his creation, is willing and able to provide us with the portion of his truth that is relevant to our temporal frame of reference. His willingness and ability to convey his truth to us, however, does not guarantee our willingness and ability to receive it. As saturation of toxic elements in our bodies blocks absorption of essential nutrients, so intellectual and spiritual error blocks our absorption of the eternal, self-existent One's truth.

   "Reason" has suffered a bum rap from Evangelical Christianity, as a rash reaction to the arbitrarily skeptical brand of reasoning employed by atheists. Carefully choosing the right words to communicate and defend God's good news requires the highest level of reasoning, and indeed, striving to do those works without careful reasoning produces the kind of childish dogmatism that invites attack by free thinkers.

   Personally, I must maintain a critical overview of my own interpretations of God's word. Even if I were qualified to exegete Scripture, I would have no authority to stand dogmatically upon my own conclusions as if they were holy writ.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Entitlements and Other Hogslop

      I haven't given up yet. I still plan to watch the rest of the Presidential Debate, even if I have to hold my nose through it. For these few months, we can forget about trivial issues such as our Constitutional Freedoms and truth in the public arena, as that's all consumed by political rhetoric.
      Both sides of the political aisle placate whatever interest groups they think will benefit them the most come November, remembering, of course, to give lip service to their voter base. Politicians and lawyers share one character trait: We know they are lying when we see their lips are moving. And when the politicians are lawyers?
      Despite all that political hogslop, we need to attend to the business of protecting our Constitution from the powers of self-interest. Pseudo-constitutional hot-buttons such as "reproductive rights," "jobs," "gay rights," "freedom from religion," "gun control," and, "income redistribution" are little more than entitlements that politicians promise with crossed fingers, simply to perpetuate, their lucrative reign of power.
      Our Founding Fathers never intended for the United States to be run by professional politicians, and predicted exactly the sort of abuses that are common today if the Biblical morality they cherished were to be abandoned. Yes, they were idealists, but their ideals made America great, and denying that fact is nothing less than rewriting our history.

More Thoughts About Atheism

      Lately I've found Facebook and YouTube comments dominated by vehement atheistic sentiment focused not at deists, theists, Jews or Muslims, but directly and hatefully at Christians, and I find that curious. Theocracy paranoia peppers these public forums with demands for “Freedom from religion,” and worries about Christian fundamentalist terrorism perpetrated on poor, innocent children who are indoctrinated with Biblical values in Christian homes. Given their way, these secularists would outlaw all religious expression, public or private, and establish their own atheocracy. Thing is, they needn’t go to all that trouble, when they can just move to Communist China and enjoy their atheistic society.

      Atheist claims of openness, free and rational thinking, etc., dissolve like Styrofoam in acetone when they flame Christians with labels ranging from “stupid” to “inbred” to “retard” to “terrorist.” If they are all that passionate, why do they not invest more time in reasonably refuting the opposition, than name-calling? Even those few who offer some rationale for their non-belief seem to be stuck on clich├ęs, rather than concentrating on original thought. Lord knows, atheists have a perfect right to express their thoughts in the public forum, as well as to bear the consequences should they be wrong.

      My personal faith in Christ began as a skeptic's honest inquiry, tempered by an absolute confidence in the Bible as God’s only revealed word, a highly unusual conviction for a Catholic. Because of my confidence in God’s word, I could no sooner blindly accept Catholic, or any other religious dogma—dictated by corrupt ecclesiastical systems—than buy into atheistic dogma—dictated by flawed human reason.

      Upon beholding nature's spectacular beauty and precise order, both creationist and evolutionist explanations seemed markedly hollow and patently dogmatic. The evangelical in-crowd insists on 24-hour creation days, while savvy evolutionists believe the universe created itself. Both propositions require incredible faith, and adherents cling to them with religious fervor. For creationists, that's understandable, but for atheists?

      By their behavior, both sides have eliminated any question as to which has the truth. Their mutual mudslinging tells me both are deceived. The only alternative I have found worthy of pursuing is the only Jewish messiah who fully satisfied all Scriptural prophesy concerning himself, having performed historically verified, unique signs and wonders, proving to unbiased inquirers that he is God’s only Son after his own kind. Jesus of Nazareth lived perfectly, died cruelly, and rose from the dead, not to establish a religion. He did all that to buy back from the enemy of our souls, a faithful remnant, willing to accept God’s love and to love him in return, through their conformity to his righteous example. In contrast to all human religions, in Jesus there is no hatred, bigotry, or cruelty, but only love for his entire creation.

      In view of religion’s track record, I cannot fault atheists for their skepticism, but I do fault them, and human religion’s followers, for their imperious belief that they know all, and that anything outside of their understanding is patently false.