Category Archives: Religion

Bill Lockwood: Spiritual Guidance & Modern Superstition

by Bill Lockwood

In Mexico, and in Mexican communities in places such as Los Angeles, there’s a lively movement of prayer to Santa Muerte, Saint Death. You pray to her for protection from the dangers of the night, in the conviction that she can protect you from attack, accident, and violent death. She can also bring trouble to someone who has attacked you unjustly. Prayer to Santa Muerte goes back to the religious life of people in the area before the gospel came to the Americas. (1)

Our modern era is supposed to be a bold new age that has cast off its need for God and the supernatural. According to modernists who signed the Humanist Manifesto’s I & II and the Humanist Manifesto 2000 mankind has outgrown its need for “God.” In reality, however, modernists who reject God eventually opt for the false religious ideas of man—the “god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

By the “god of this age” the apostle Paul, who penned 2 Corinthians, referred to “all the floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations at any time current in the world.” (2) These are precisely what are lauded by today’s cultural leaders.

A recent Pew Research study found that a large and growing percentage of Americans believe in reincarnation, astrology, psychics, and the presence of spirits in nature. The shock comes, however, in that not only do 6 in 10 Americans accept these beliefs, but that the numbers are the same among those who are self-professed Christians. Even agnostics have adopted occult ideas.

According to a new research by Trinity College in Connecticut, Wicca is one of the fastest-growing religions in the country. Between 1990 and 2008, it saw a forty-fold increase in the number of adherents. One-and-a-half million Americans now identify as either Wiccan or Pagan. As The Christian Post put it, “Wicca functions as a spiritual patina on progressive politics.” The occult is becoming mainstream in America. Such is a culture that continues to reject God.

Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is not simply the recognition that there are various cultures in the world, or even represented in the United States. According to Charles Tesconi at the College of Education at the University of Vermont, multiculturalism specifically views “all value systems as equal.” The multicultural view treats all diverse groups and ways of life as equally “legitimate.”  “Moral diversity” is the idea. This multicultural perspective therefore de-values biblical concepts as no more valid than any pagan or heathen belief. This is what is integrated into nearly all areas of public education and entertainment. “Diversity” is the watchword.

An example is the recent Disney movie Coco, a beautifully animated film that celebrates the Mexican tradition known as Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). Dia de Muertos has its roots in a “pre-Hispanic commemoration of deceased loved ones that is practiced by some Latin American indigenous populations” (Smithsonian.com). The film “draws its cultural inspiration from several Mexican variations of this tradition, which also happen to be those most commonly found in the United States.”

In the story-line, Miguel, a young boy is transported to the place of the dead in order to speak with his deceased ancestors. Cynthia Vidaurri, the writer of Smithsonian’s review, then asks:

So here is the big question: Did Disney Pixar get it right? My first response is to ask another question, ‘Right by whose standard?’ Are we talking about the indigenous traditions of celebrating ancestors as they were practiced before the arrival of the Europeans? … What about the Day of the Dead that merged with Roman Catholic practices after the arrival of the Europeans in the Americans? What about the Mexican national celebration? What about the Day of the Dead tradition introduced to the U.S. by Mexican Americans during the Chicano Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s? Or maybe the Day of the Dead Traditions that are practices by recently immigrated Indigenous Latino populations in the U.S.?

The Smithsonian plainly challenges the cultural norm that was once common-stock in America—Christianity. Right by whose standard? There is no ultimate standard to multiculturalists. This is what we are being constantly fed, from the entertainment industry to the schoolhouse where “diversity” reigns. Little wonder that various forms of superstition such as Wicca, occultism, and prayers to Santa Muerte are being practiced. Remove the One True God from the culture and everything else becomes fashionable.

Isaiah 8

Many of Isaiah’s day (8 centuries B.C. in Israel) felt the same way. Turning away from God, however, they turned to superstition. Isaiah, the inspired prophet of God, relates that they sought spiritual guidance from “familiar spirits” and “wizards.” Some of these “chirped” and “muttered” out their instructions. Others among the Israelites assumed that dead people had access to information that was normally inaccessible to the living. They therefore sought to contact “dead people” in Sheol, especially their relatives to get guidance for the future or advice about coping with the crisis at hand—the threats from foreign nations (Isaiah 8:19).

Isaiah “bursts out” against all such occult practices that seek guidance from anything but God. “To the law and to the testimony!—if they will not speak according to His Word, there is no dawn of morning for them!” (8:20). Our culture condemns itself to the night from which there is no morning—if we do not seek spiritual guidance only from God.

(1) John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone, p. 37.

(2) Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, p. 463.

Bill Lockwood: Mixing Politics and Religion

by Bill Lockwood

In a letter to his wife Abigail in May, 1780, John Adams famously wrote:

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

To John Adams the most important element of life was family. His continual service to the nation included that he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, an official Minister to England on behalf of the United States, and the second President of the United States. But this service he considered a “necessary evil” in order that he might enjoy pleasures of family and that his own future generations might enjoy the same.

In our modern era where warnings against “mixing politics and religion” are memorized and repeated without any real deep thought as to why or even what this means, Adams teaches us a few things about it. His keen mind was able to probe the issues of life and distill the principles and realities involved.

In analyzing what Adams meant when he said “I must study politics that my sons may have liberty to study …”, note the following.

What is Politics?

First, what is Politics? Politics simply means the management or administration of society. The word “politics’ is from the Greek word ‘politika’ meaning the “affairs of a city.” It is “the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group” (Wikepedia). Frequently the word “politics” is used negatively, such as in “play politics.” The root idea of the word, however, refers to principles by which people are to be governed.

The question now becomes, by what set of principles shall we govern society? Shall we use biblical principles or humanistic ones? Shall we use God-inspired principles upon which to base human laws, or shall we simply drift off into allowing people to do “what every man thinks is right in his own eyes?” The only issue in our society therefore is whether or not we plan to manage ourselves according to Christian principles.

This applies to a wide variety of social levels: the workplace, the office, the team, the church, or cities and nations; there is even “international politics.” All policies that are adopted in these various groups are called “public policies” precisely because those policies effect others. Once again, these policies will either reflect Christianity or humanism (non-religion).

These facts being so, whence comes the idea that Christian people should remain free from “politics?” Is it somehow inconsistent with biblical values that Christians should not influence public policy?

Freedom Politics is Pro-Family

Returning to Adams’ quote above, note that he was interested in freedom for his family. He wanted to construct a society along Christian principles that by this framework of freedom his family in future generations might continue to enjoy liberty. Specifically, limited government would allow personal freedom to flourish while at the same time curtail dictatorships or top-down controls that destroy freedom.

A sidebar note: Many confuse Roman Catholicism with New Testament Christianity. Not only were the colonists almost 95% Protestant in their belief-systems, but were afraid of Catholicism. The reason for this is clear. Roman Catholicism is an unbiblical political system that was constructed through the centuries to mimic Old World kingdoms such as the Roman. It too, therefore, is dictatorial and stifles freedom. Its record as a tyrannical power is matched only by other forms of government absolutisms.

Adams was well-aware of all of this. This is why that during the tumultuous formation of the United States he felt that he needed to invest time in order to create a political landscape such that allowed freedom to ring—but this was in order that his children might be able to enjoy more pleasurable pursuits. The political machinery of a nation is a direct reflection of religious values and presuppositions that underlie the society. For future family freedom, Christian politics was necessary.

Politics was not just one “hobby” that Adams chose among others he might have chosen, even though that is the casual way people view politics today. Adams showed this by couching it in his word “must.” In other words, politics was his “duty.” It functioned as an obligation. Political freedom is foundational to other freedoms.

To illustrate, Adams used “war.” Those who enjoy freedom and liberty rely on the sacrifices of untold thousands who study war and become warriors. A warriors’ occupation is not like playing sports, or collecting old cars or antiques. Without a fight for freedom, there would be no games to play or antiques to collect. Someone must do this business of war if we are to have pleasures of life. If we were all running for our lives from enemy soldiers, who cares about playing games?

So also is managing people by politics. It is foundational to freedom at large. For this reason, Cicero, the ancient Roman statesman at the time of Julius Caesar, observed: “For there is really no occupation in which human virtue approaches more closely the august function of the gods than that of founding states or preserving those already in existence.”

So exactly. Christians, being correctly informed, can change the character of the political landscape. By bringing the moral standards of Christ into the civic arena, society itself is transformed. The gospel of Christ not only changes lives and hearts of men, but the course of civil government. Why should Christians not be involved in politics?

Bill Lockwood: Is Freedom Disappearing in America?

Is Freedom Disappearing in America?- “The government will create ‘zones of exemption’ for a time which presumably will include churches.”

by Bill Lockwood

The issue is freedom. It always has been. The two-world views, a God-centered Christian worldview and the socialist/communist worldview, have always clashed in America, but now that the latter has the upper hand, freedom is on the chopping block. An absolutely perfect example of this is now occurring in the state of Iowa. The Iowa Civil Rights Act has banned places of “public accommodation” from expressing their views regarding “human sexuality” if those places either “directly or indirectly” make persons of any gender “feel unwelcome.”

Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act places of “public accommodation” are forbidden by the federal government to “discriminate” against persons of any class—be it race, color, national origin or religion. Along with this the federal government empowered itself to investigate alleged violations and prosecute.

The misstep here was to reverse what the founders had intended for a limited government. As right as it may be to eliminate discrimination based upon race, the very reason that the framers of America left the oversight for this in the hands of the states and local municipalities and forbade it to the federal government was a matter of principle. Freedom has historically been enjoyed only under limited federal government.

Our second misstep has been and continues to be the refusal of the American people—even Christians—to oppose homosexuality. This in spite of the fact that the Bible demonstrably shows that sodomy is a sin, and therefore a choice that people make. Our culture has by default placed homosexuality in the same category as race. Therefore, the same laws will apply. Now comes Obama to cram “transgenderism” into the same folder. Compliant weak-spined states meekly comply.

For example, the Iowa Civil Rights commission recently explained in a brochure that refusing to use the correct pronoun in addressing transgender individuals is a form of harassment. God’s grant of freedom of speech be hanged. Discrimination is defined by that Commission as “publicizing that the patronage of persons of any particular sexual orientation or gender identity is unwelcome, objectionable, not acceptable or not solicited.” The standard is: do not to make others feel unwelcome.

Now comes the third misstep, which naturally follows from the first two. The government decides what is a legitimate or illegitimate usage of speech; in what places or zones it may occur; who might be exempt and under what conditions. The Des Moines Register reports that Kristin Johnson, director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, assured churches that the “state code provides some exemptions for bona fide religious institutions engaged in activities with a bona fide religious purpose.”

The problem with this, as everyone who has not had their thinking by-passed by liberalism can see: this places the state in charge of deciding what is and what is not a legitimate religious institution. And remember, we are not talking about human or animal sacrifice or killing, which violates basic natural law codes.

The government will create “zones of exemption” for a time which presumably will include churches. I write, “for a time,” since it is already being discussed in some circles what constitutes a “legitimate” sermon or Bible lesson and what does not. Maura Strassberg, Drake University law professor said that “sermons that stick to human sexuality matters pertaining to theology would be constitutionally protected.” But according to the Des Moines Register she suggested that sometimes a situation may occur where a preacher’s sermonic material “crossed the line” into harassment. “There is a line: You go from ‘this is what God believes’ … to ‘You are bad, so we don’t want you here.’”

This would amount to the the state deciding what is and what is not proper sermon etiquette and content. Freedom is fast disappearing in America. Time to retrace our steps.

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Bill Lockwood: Socialism is Slavery

SOCIALISM IS SLAVERY- “It is the mainspring of socialism as well. Not only do these superior beings need to recognize the equality of all men, having been created by God, but to count others better than themselves (Philippians 2:1-4).”

by Bill Lockwood

Socialism begins with the basic tenet that some people are superior to others and should therefore manage the activities of the lesser. All men are created equal but some of us are more equal than others. It is a dictatorship of the elite who are required by the very nature of things to govern the lives of others.

Oscar Jaszi, the famed Hungarian socialist, explained socialism as: (1) A condemnation of the existing political and social order; (2) Advocacy of a new order; (3) A belief that this ideal is realizable; (4) A conviction that the immorality of the established order is traceable not to a fixed world order or to the unchanging nature of man but to corrupt institutions; (5) A program of action leading to the ideal through a fundamental remolding of human nature or of institutions or both; and (6) A revolutionary will to carry out this program.

Max Eastman, in his 1962 book Reflections on the Failure of Socialism, mused about the years he wasted in the doctrine of Socialism. Referring to socialism as a “Marxian religion” he emphasized that the real issue is “the usurpation of power” and that the “tyrant has no honest instinct for the liberties of man.”

The common denominator of all socialist theories, be they fascism, communism, Nazism, environmental paganism, economic theories championed by humanism—or whatever, is the following: “… that society can be made more free and equal, and incidentally more orderly and prosperous, by a state apparatus which takes charge of the economy, and runs it according to a plan.” Bottom Line: some people consider themselves to be naturally endowed to govern the rest of us.

Slavery

This is why Socialism is in reality another system of slavery. Socialism is a theory of government which requires the strong arm of the state to re-distribute private resources according to its plan. As an institution slavery begins with exactly the same assumption, both in the ancient and modern world. Some people are “more equal” than others.

Thomas Edwards, in his classic commentary on the biblical book of 1 Corinthians (p. 182), explained slavery on these terms while discussing the apostles’ remarks in chapter 7:11-24: “Slavery was an institution that sprang from other fundamental ideas—namely, the superiority of men over women; the religious pre-eminence of Jew over Gentile; the Greek consciousness of creative political genius; so that in discussing the question of slavery, the apostle [Paul] not only arbitrates between master and slave, but addresses himself to the antagonisms most deeply seated in the religious, political, and social condition of the time.”

It is THIS that Christianity alters—the view of mankind.  “All men are created equal” is a Christian axiom. The fact that biblical principles reconstruct one’s view of humankind from the ground up also explains why Christianity did never create firebrands of people to march in the streets demanding the overthrow of the social order, but instead operates over a period of time as leaven on a society.

As Edwards put it, “The distinction between master and slave ceases at the door of the church. But Christianity abolishes slavery by assimilating and sanctifying the relation of master and servant in its inmost nature. While it refuses to wield the sword and destroy civil institutions by violence, it so transforms their ruling ideas that those institutions become what they never were before.”

For instance, Christ bestows on the most degraded and despised slave who is a believer, spiritual endowments that cannot fail to inspire him with a consciousness of freedom. He ceases to be a slave by the very fact of knowing that in the sight of God he is free, and his service ceases to be a bondage because it is now a willing obedience to Christ.

See the slow but constant growing influence of these principles in the early ages of the church. Christians began “manumitting slaves” at Easter; then later on the Lord’s Day; at last they were freed on a daily basis. In the law Constantine forbade the owner of slaves to break up slave families; later came the sentiment that led rich men to consider the education and manumission of slaves an act of piety; finally, one witnesses the election of slaves to offices of the church, such as Calixtus, once an indentured servant, who became a bishop of Rome in 3d century.

Warped View of Mankind

Both slavery and socialism begin with a warped view of mankind, namely, that some people are more sufficient to manage the lives and activities of others. In reality, socialism is another face of slavery. This also demonstrates why the environmentalists continue to tend towards the socialistic Democratic Party.

In the following quotes, centered chiefly around the doctrines of environmentalism, one finds recommendations for massive population control, eugenics, and euthanasia. All of these require an elitist disposition. These geniuses are clearly positioning themselves to be the caretakers of ‘we the people.’

David Graber, once a biologist with the National Park Service, declared that “a particular species of a free-flowing river is of ‘more value’ to me than another human body, or a billion of them. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

The late Jacques Cousteau was quoted in the UNESCO Courier in November 1991 and again in November 1994 as saying, “The United Nation’s goal is to reduce population selectively by encouraging abortion, forced sterilization, and control of human reproduction, and regards two-thirds of the human population as excess baggage, with 350,000 people to be eliminated per day.” It’s terrible to have to say this. World population must be stabilized and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. This is so horrible to contemplate that we shouldn’t even say it. ” But say it he did.

Barbara Marx Hubbard, former Democratic vice-presidential candidate, prominent futurist and occult leader, in her The Book of Co-Creation, (self-published, 1980, Part III, p. p. 59), says, “The present vast overpopulation, now far beyond the world carrying capacity, cannot be answered by future reductions in the birth rate due to contraception, sterilization and abortion, but must be met in the present by the reduction of numbers presently existing. This must be done by whatever means necessary.”

Barack Obama’s top science advisor, John P. Holdren, opined that “A program of sterilizing women after their second or third child, despite the relatively greater difficulty of the operation than vasectomy, might be easier to implement than trying to sterilize men. “The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births.”

Quotations like these are endless. They demonstrate that the very mindset which produces slavery throughout history and around the world– the supposed superiority that too many nurture in their own minds when they compare themselves to others–is alive and prevalent today. It is the mainspring of socialism as well. Not only do these superior beings need to recognize the equality of all men, having been created by God, but to count others better than themselves (Philippians 2:1-4).

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A Cruciform Life

A Cruciform Life

by Bill Lockwood

One of the truly great moments in Paul’s inspired writing is the appeal of Philippians 3. Beginning with former “advantages” found in Judaism (5,6) Paul explains that this “gain” turns out to be a total loss—mere “refuse” in comparison to the ultimate gain in Jesus Christ. The apostle will endure great suffering (10) only that he might know Christ and the power of His resurrection.

In Christ Paul “presses on” [12, the word literally means “pursue”] that me might “seize” the prize. Diligent “stretching forward” [the word here means “straining” toward the goal] is the sum of his life (13). This lifelong passion is what might be termed “a cruciform life”—a life forever marked by the cross of Jesus Christ and conforming to it. The cross forever marks our behavior. Paul makes two points as he applies this.

One, Imitate My Behavior. “Brethren, be imitators of me” (17), Paul encourages. Two other occasions in Philippians he advises the same —1:30 and 2:18 —and it is instructive to find that both of these occur in the context of suffering. Remember, Paul is in a Roman prison as he writes. Added to this is the imperative to “mark them that so walk, even as you have us for an example.” The word “mark” is the Greek “skopeo” which means “have a discerning eye towards.” In other words, Christians are to be on the lookout for others, besides Paul himself, whose lives are most clearly dedicated to Christ Jesus. Observe them! Copy their behavior!

Two, Take Careful Note of Those Whom NOT to Imitate. The very reason we must be “on the lookout” for cruciform lives to imitate is because, sadly, “many walk, of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ” (18). Of these the final word is that “they mind earthly things” (19).

The fact that Paul weeps over them shows that these are Christians who have now become unfaithful. Instead of living a “cruciform life” in which they continually stretch forward to the prize they have become “earthly.” The word is “epigeios” which translates the idea that their mind is on the mundane things of this world. Their pursuit is for temporal things—prestige, business, entertainment, notoriety, money, success, … the list goes on. Their thought processes are concerned with themselves (see James 3:15); their goals are far from “heavenly” (see Colossians 3:2); their lifestyles are marked by the world. “World” does not mean “sinful” but merely the things that pertain to this life. Their occupation is set on temporary things and their time allotments show it. God is crowded out and their own appetites eventually become the measure of all. This is what Paul means by “whose god is their belly” (19). Their entire effort is on this present “scheme of things.”

Sober reflection upon the thrilling chapter 3 of Philippians encourages us all to forge our lives according to the cross of Jesus Christ, as did Paul. Live a cruciform life!

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Myth-Maker’s Magic

Myth-Maker’s Magic

by Bill Lockwood

Delos McKown, long-time head of the philosophy department at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, wrote an atheistic screed entitled The Myth-Maker’s Magic.  An ardent evolutionist, McKown chided creationists in the following. “…the more we understand our brains by ‘chemicalizing’ their functions, the more the person is ‘biologized,’ and the greater our success in mapping the human genome, with its myriad markers of predilection and vulnerability, the more difficult it will be to see human beings as a little lower than the angels.  A little higher than the animals, but of their kind, is more like it! Furthermore, some studies in neurophysiology indicate that our brains select among alternatives before delivering to consciousness intuitions of choice. If so, what of the vaunted ‘free will’ upon which so much of Western religion, morality, and jurisprudence is based? With notions of deity held hostage to cosmology, with the alleged spark of divinity in us deeply doubted, and with free will at risk, what stock can we place on intimations of immortality? Precious little, if any, it would seem” (p. 31).

Here we have a good sample of one who adheres to a Naturalistic Religion which looks to science for its complete picture of reality.  Unfortunately, his kind is numerous and predominant in the scientific, legal, educational and religious fields.  See where his religion takes him!

First, man is merely an animal.  Perhaps a higher form of animal, “but of their kind!” is how McKown puts it. If man is composed of no more than that which biology can examine, man is no more than an animal.

Second, there is no ultimate morality.  The word “morality” may be used by evolutionists, but it is emptied of all meaningful content, equaling no more than the personal tastes of each individual. At least Dr. McKown is “honest” enough to indicate that the evolutionist view of man calls into question the very concept of “morality.”

Third, mankind’s free-will is removed.  There is here an open confession that man has absolutely no free-will if the evolutionary worldview is correct.  No wonder that most leading evolutionists declare “there are no moral or ethical laws that belong to the nature of things” (William Provine, Cornell University).  So must it ever be with a concept that reduces the mind to nothing more than chemical reactions to stimuli.

Fourth, rationality is denied.  Rationality says that men should draw only those conclusions warranted by the evidence.  As Lionel Ruby put it, “We ought to justify our conclusions by adequate evidence.”  The very study of “Logic” is an examination of the “science” of correct reasoning by which men draw proper conclusions from premises.  Isn’t it strange that those who adopt these evolutionary positions style themselves “free-thinkers” in our society?  If their position is true they are not free at all!

Such are the lengths men will go once they deny the historical evidence of the New Testament and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Remove God from the equation of man’s existence and one end’s up with a worldview that denies every aspect of his own essence. Yet prominent culture molders say they believe these ideas. Powerful indeed is the evolutionary myth!

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