Category Archives: Religion

Bill Lockwood: The Bible and Slavery 5 (1)

by Bill Lockwood

The 1619 Project, sponsored by the New York Times, is a series of essays and multimedia creations designed to “reframe American history” by claiming America’s founding is based on racism and slavery instead of freedom and liberty. The chief writer for the project, Nikole Hannah-Jones, calls white people “savages” “bloodsuckers” and “murderers” who used Christianity as an excuse to enslave different peoples of the world. Her vitriol, which seems to know no bounds, is now being picked up by many others who are concerned about slavery in America’s history.

A slave is considered to be a person owned by another, without rights, and—like property—to be used and disposed of in whatever way the owner may wish. 1 The Encyclopedia of Religion defines slavery as “[A] social and industrial system in which the person and labor of one individual may be disposed of as the property of another.” 2

Setting aside Hannah-Jones’ ignorant vilification of “white people” as the sole perpetrators of this institution, as well as her abysmal lack of knowledge of American history, what is particularly concerning here is that she assails the Bible in her diatribes as somehow teaching the practice of chattel slavery.

What Does the Bible Actually Teach Regarding Slavery?

Moses writes by inspiration that are human beings are created in “the image of God” (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6). Of all the philosophies of the world, this Divine assertion alone gives all men and women equal dignity. All persons are equal in value to one another. Life itself is a gift of God.

Placing man in the Garden of Eden, God ordered him to “dress the garden and keep it” as well as to “eat of the fruit” which he gathered (Gen. 2:15). These commands imply freedom as well as the right to property. “Thou shalt not steal” is built into the very foundations of the created order.

From these simple premises it is easy to see that God never intended one human being to be the property of another. However, as is the case with polygamy which departed from the marriage institution that God created (Gen. 2:24)— mankind departed sharply from God’s design.

Separated from God men have concocted many schemes which ignore these plain biblical ideals, particularly regarding the value of human life. Aristotle, for example, developed the theory that some persons were servile by their very nature. 3 The school of philosophy known as Stoicism later considered slavery as a mere accident of fortune and therefore it was not a just cause about which one could complain.

The ancient world was actually steeped in slavery, whether it be the Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman world—all practiced slavery. As Everett Ferguson writes, “Slavery was pervasive in ancient civilization.” Thomas C. Edwards, in his superb commentary on the book of 1 Corinthians, notes that the practice of slavery actually sprang from a rejection of God’s Word regarding the dignity of man. “Slavery was an institution that sprang from other fundamental ideas—namely, the superiority of men over women; the religious preeminence of Jew over Gentile; the Greek consciousness of creative political genius …” 4 It was the devaluing of human life that brought about slavery.


1 The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, vol. 3, p. 1462. 2 Ed. Vergilius Ferm, p. 714. 3 Everett Ferguson, Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, 854 4 Commentary on 1 Corinthians, p. 182.


Old Testament

Slavery was almost universally practiced in all cultures during Old Testament times. Men and women were enslaved by capture in war (1 Sam. 4:9) or by purchase (Gen. 17:12-13, 27). The Law allowed Hebrews to purchase slaves from foreigners at home or abroad (Lev. 25:44ff). Children born “into the house” of slave-parents were evidently called “house-born slaves” (Gen. 17:12-13).

Interestingly, slavery could be entered by other methods as well. God legislated that if a convicted thief could not make “restitution” and pay his damages and/or fines, money could be raised for this purpose by selling him as a slave (Ex. 22:3). This law showed that slavery involved the production or labor of a person was considered to be his property, which now became the property of the one wronged.

The insolvent debtor, as well as his family, became enslaved to the creditor (2 Kings 4:1). It was also possible for one to sell himself and his labor to escape poverty (Lev. 25:39-43).

However, there are some important considerations that the Old Testament includes. First, in the case of the insolvent debtor, he was not to be treated as a chattel slave, but as a “hired servant” and to be released at the Year of Jubilee (every 50 years on the Jewish calendar) (Lev. 25:39-43). The person who purchased him was instructed “not to rule over him with rigor, but shalt fear thy God.”

Second, to abduct a person and to reduce a stolen person to slavery was punishable by death (Ex. 21:16). Third, to murder a slave was punishable by death (Ex. 21:20; Lev. 24:17,22). The reason for this is once again because of the intrinsic value of a human being. Fourth, the enslaved debtor was to be released after six years (Ex. 21:2). There was no lifetime enslavement.

God, in the Old Testament, taking men where they were, regulated the practice of slavery and softened the edge of it. Contrast that with Roman law whereby a slave is not considered a person.

Old Testament scholar K.A. Kitchen summarizes the spirit of the Old Testament.

Generally, a more humane spirit breathes through the OT laws and customs on slavery, as illustrated by the repeated injunctions in God’s name not to rule over a brother Israelite harshly (e.g. Lev. 25:43,46,53,55; Dt. 15:14ff). Even when Hebrew law and custom on slaves shares in the common heritage of the ancient Semitic world, there is this unique care in God’s name for these people who by status were not people, something absent from the law codes of Babylon or Assyria. 5


 5 The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, vol. 3, p. 1464.


The New Testament

When asked about marriage, our Lord refers questioners back to the beginning and God’s initial intention with the sacred institution (Matt. 19:3-9). In similar fashion the New Testament elevates the dignity of man (Jas. 3:9) by carrying him back to God’s created order. The beautiful principles of Christianity, influencing cultures one heart at a time, eventually eradicated the practice of slavery by re-asserting the value of human beings.

It is important to see however, that New Testament teaching did not smash with a sledge-hammer one single social institution that had imbedded itself in society. Instead, the doctrine of Christ works as a leaven in the soul of individuals, nations, and cultures. Slavery was one of those institutions.

This explains why the inspired apostles, when discussing the the question of slavery, not only advise masters and slaves how to behave in their particular life-situations, but address themselves to the deep antagonisms in the social world. This will be brought out below.

A cursory reading of the NT might cause one to think that sometimes the apostles seem to sanction slavery; at other times to proclaim its abolition—in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female; all are one man in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).

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. 6

What about those deep antagonisms that exist in all societies between different peoples? Paul’s overall theme in teaching is summarized in 1 Corinthians 7:10-24 which might be entitled, Live in Harmony with One Another. Like several NT passages in which slaves and masters are addressed, and who were part of local congregations to which the apostles ministered 7 some of the Corinthians were slaves and some were slave-owners. How did God counsel them?

“Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. Were you called being a slave? Care not for it [that is, do not be overly concerned with your social condition. Your calling in Christ ECLIPSES this consideration]. Even if you can be free, use it rather …” (7:20-21).

The phrase “use it rather” following “even if you can be free” has been variously interpreted. It is either interpreted as (1) “… use your freedom,” or, (2) “use slavery …” Many modern commentators, and even the translators of the NIV, consider the phrase to be saying, “if you can gain your freedom, do so” –opting for the first alternative.

But it seems out of character with the theme of the entire section which is to Live in Harmony—even in challenging situations. Further, the next line in the passage (v. 22) begins with the word “for”—which is explanatory of that which has just been said. “FOR, he that was called in the Lord, being a slave, is the Lord’s freedman …” That explanation does not follow if Paul has just said, “if you can become free, do so.”

As John Peter Lange points out in his classic commentary, the “whole drift of the argument is—to make men content with their lot …” 8 That being the case, the translation is, “but even though you may be made free, use your servitude rather [as a means of discipline, and an opportunity for glorifying God by showing fidelity therein].”


6 Edwards, p. 186 7 See Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-4:1; 1 Pet. 2:18ff. 8 Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Vol. 10, p. 153.


In any case, the main point should not be lost on us. The important thing is to serve God “and the slave should not worry unduly about the fact that he is a slave. If God has called him as a slave, He will give him grace to live as a slave.” 9

F.W. Grosheide understands the verse as simply saying, Use your vocation—whether slave or free. 10 The entire argument of Paul is that the over-riding concern for the Christian is that of spiritual blessings “in Christ”, and this outweighs all other concerns—including slavery! The dominant factor is being a Christian.

How does this fit within the current context of so many churches and Christians all at once becoming extremely exercised about black slavery in history, or stirred to the point of anger about discrimination in the Jim Crow era? How does Paul’s advice comport with emotionally driven screeds today that demand a removal of a Christians’ name from Christian college buildings because those preachers lived during the segregation era but did not stomp it out with vengeance?

Onesimus

An interesting New Testament episode involves the runaway slave Onesimus. Paul met him while a prisoner in Rome (circa 63-64 A.D.), converted him to Christ, and sent him back to his owner, Philemon, a Christian man who lived in Colossae. A cover letter was sent with the returned slave (Col. 4:7,9). It is the book of Philemon.

In it Paul admonishes Philemon to “receive him back” and treat him no longer as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. “Not now as a slave, but more than slave, a brother beloved specially to me, but how much more unto you, both in the flesh and in the Lord?” (16) It is noteworthy that Paul does not command Philemon to “free him” but appeals to him on the basis of brotherhood. It is also worth mentioning that Paul actually sent Onesimus back to his slave master.

Once again, Christianity revolutionizes and changes the world, but not by pouring out into the streets, holding a nation hostage with violence and smashing its cultural symbols. It does so with the teaching of the peace of Jesus Christ.

Summary

John Peter Lange summarizes the entire disposition of biblical Christianity to slavery. Christ and his followers “assailed no existing social institutions from without—marriages, callings, and conditions were to remain as they were.” Christianity wrought “from within” a “sanctifying and ennobling” influence over individual character.

Biblical principles “employed the existing bonds of society as conductors through which to diffuse its saving power—sanctifying wives through husbands, and husbands through wives, children through parents, and parents through children; and even servants through masters and masters through servants.”

Further, as seen above, Christianity aims at the preservation of peace in a society—as far as possible—in consistency with being faithful to God (See Rom. 12:17-21). Christ wants us to “ignore outward distinctions—counting outward distinctions as of little moment, in comparison with the inward state.” How our society needs this lesson! What a difference this would make to the writers of the New York Times and the 1619 Project!


9 Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 1 Corinthians, p. 113. 10 NICNT, 1 Corinthians, p. 170.


Christ’s teachings “begot contentment with the outward estate, by imparting a blessing which more than counterbalanced all earthly ill.” Not only so, but the Lord Jesus “reconciled the opposite poles of human condition, freedom and obligation in the love it engendered, making the slave a freeman, and putting the freeman under obligations to serve, and making all alike free, and all alike obligated.”

Finally, the Bible places “all in the presence of God, in whose sight it constrained believers to live; whose honor it urged all to sub-serve, and from whom it invited all to derive their chief good.” 11

The gospel brings to mankind a belief and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. Faithfulness is commanded which involves the improvement of one’s character which in turn improves the conditions of society. When people place the glory of God foremost, not only is slavery eradicated as a social condition, but it is seen to be a very little thing in the ultimate scheme of things. It is past time for people to come to Christ and lift themselves above the grievances of slavery past or racism present.


11 Lange, p. 156.


 

Bill Lockwood: Socialism as a Religion 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

Marxists profess to reject religion in favor of science, but they cherish a belief that the external universe is evolving with reliable, if not divine, necessity in exactly the direction in which they want it to go. They do not conceive themselves as struggling to build the communist society in a world which is of its own nature indifferent to them. They conceive themselves as traveling toward that society in a world which is like a moving-stairway, but walking in the wrong direction. This is not a scientific, but in the most technical sense, a religious conception of the world. (Max Eastman, Marxism—Is It Science?)

Max Eastman (1883-1969) was a prominent editor, political activist and “prominent radical” who, like many in Woodrow Wilson’s “progressive” America, became infatuated with Marxism. Eastman traveled to the Soviet Union to learn firsthand how to be a good socialist and became friends with Leon Trotsky. Years later, when Eastman became convinced that socialism is void of validity, he reflected upon his time as a Marxist. “I sadly regret the precious twenty years I spent muddling and messing around with this idea, which with enough mental clarity and moral force I might have seen through when I went to Russia in 1922” (Reflections on the Failure of Socialism).

Eastman knew whereof he spoke.

Socialism is not normally classified as a religion, but when its doctrines are examined, it more closely resembles a religious concept than anything else. The only difference between socialism and Christianity is that the latter is grounded upon historical fact while socialistic faith is founded upon unproven assumptions. Communism particularly is a philosophy of faith in the dialectic—the zig-zagging of history onward and upward to a more perfect society.

Nikita Khrushchev was appealing to this “dialectic” when he said that history was on their side and they (Soviet Union) would bury us (J.D. Bales, Communism, Its Faith and Fallacies, p. 102). “Communists represent the antithesis which the dialectic has decreed with destroy us, the thesis. It is this faith which helps keep the rank and file members at their tasks when the going is difficult.” This is also, we might add, why myriads of collegiate students, trained by their Marxist professors, continue to march fanatically to the drumbeat of socialism.

Norman Thomas

Because of the religious nature of socialism, it was a simple matter for Norman Thomas (1884-1968), to trade his ministerial garbs and Presbyterian beliefs for a heaven-on-earth utopia strategy of socialism. He became known as “Mr. Socialist” in America.

Thomas, in turn, was heavily influenced by the 19th-century Social Gospel “theology” developed by Walter Rauschenbusch. Rauschenbusch was himself a Baptist preacher of the 19th century who mixed a version of modernistic “Christianity” together with Marxism to craft what became known as the “social gospel.”

The key to Rauschenbusch’s theology was his concept of the Kingdom of God. To him, this Kingdom was not located in another place called heaven or in a future millennium, but could best be described in modern terms as a level of consciousness in which one recognized the immanence of God in human life and the interconnected, interacting, interdependent nature of the entire human species.

So writes Dr. Elizabeth Balanoff, professor of history at Roosevelt University in Chicago in her paper, “Norman Thomas: Socialism and the Social Gospel.” “Walter Rauschenbusch was convinced that this was the original Christian vision which had been distorted and lost with time, and that it was possible to regain it.”

Because of the religious nature of socialism, H.G. Wells stated: “Socialism is to me a very great thing indeed, the form and substance of my ideal life and all the religion I possess.” Mr. Edmund Optiz, writing in Foundation for Economic Education (1969) observed that “As a religion, Socialism promised a terrestrial paradise, a heaven on earth.” This is why Optiz called Socialism “A Fanatic Faith.”

Max Eastman, in his 1962 book, Reflections on the Failure of Socialism, related that Norman Thomas, “in his rather pathetic Democratic Socialism, A New Appraisal (1953), throws overboard everything that gave distinct meaning to the word socialism, but continues to drive along in the old bandwagon with the name printed on it in large letters.”

For example, Eastman points out, Thomas’ words were “Socialism will do this, …” “Socialism will do that …” But Eastman asks, “how does that differ from what he preached as a Christian minister before his conversion to socialism?” In other words, socialism and Marxism are nothing less than a “religious-type” of conviction that has jettisoned biblical promises of heaven for a “garden of Eden” on earth. As stated succinctly by Mr. Socialism himself, his socialistic philosophy was an “implicit religion.”

Spargo & Arner

Because socialism is in reality an implicit religion, Spargo & Arner, who virtually wrote the textbook on Socialism, called Elements of Socialism (1912), tell us that not only is a “future life” such as heaven an “invention of man” but that God Himself is a “construct of the human mind.” They present socialism as an “alternative to Christianity” which infuses a passion for perfection “without God” and “without heaven.” Further, it is based upon the general theory of evolution (p. 63, 75, 111, 206, 222), which itself is a theory designed to replace belief in God.

As does everything that seeks to replace biblical Christianity, socialism presents a misdiagnosis of what ails mankind. Dishonesty is not “in property ownership” (Spargo & Arner, 23); poverty itself is not an evil (p. 39); world peace is not the ultimate goal (p. 202); and “social injustice” is not the devil incarnate (p. 46). This is why Mr. Edmund Optiz describes socialism as a modern, “this-worldly” religion.

The real problem with man lies within his/her heart—it is called sin. “Above all else, guard your heart, fro everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Sin is a violation or transgression of God’s Almighty Law (1 John 3:4). All men have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 6:23). There will be no improvement of society until humanity faces the stark reality of sin imbedded in the heart. Only when the corruption in the world is given its proper diagnosis can people turn to the only real healing—forgiveness in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-23).

Bill Lockwood: “The Glory of God” Emphasized by President Trump in State of Union 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

House speaker Nancy Pelosi theatrically tore up the copy of Trump’s speech as soon as he concluded on Tuesday night. Why? Perhaps it is in the fact that our president emphasized that which should cause Christians everywhere to celebrate.
Religious Freedom, The Glory of God, and the Celebration of the Life of the Unborn—these were major themes of the State of the Union on Tuesday night.
The News Division of Pulpitandpen.org wrote, “In what was quite possibly the most Christian-affirming State of the Union in history, President Donald Trump defended Freedom of Religion, denounced anti-religion ‘cancel culture’ and lauded the glory of God.”
“My administration is also defending religious liberty, and that includes the constitutional right to pray in the public schools.” He added, “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers and pastors.”
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney declared at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday morning that “faith drives the Trump administration’s policy proposals, arguing that ‘the principles of our faith are being manifest” under the president’s watch (RNS News).
Apparently, however, belonging to the Democrat Party “trumps” religious considerations and moral principles, for Democrat Russell Moore, who chairs The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, has offered “no accolades to Trump for his remarks about religious liberty.” Instead, pulpitandpen.org notes, “the ERLC research fellows began a new round of attacks against Trump in social media.”
This freedom is why Nancy Pelosi demonstratively tore up the speech as soon as the final word was spoken. Cut liberty — especially religious liberty.

Bill Lockwood: “Bring on the Lions!” — Homosexual Agenda Seeks to Destroy Christianity 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

Several years ago a relative of mine was in a major northeastern city for a short visit and it so happened that a “Gay Pride” parade was occurring. Shocking as it seems, some of the marchers were carrying signs that read: “Bring on the Lions!” That, of course, referred to the extermination of Christians after the order of the ancient bloody Roman Empire and presented a completely different picture of the Homosexual Goal for America than the MSM would like for you to see.

The entire political & cultural battle today may be boiled down to a War on God by the political left, which is being driven by the Homosexual Agenda. Nothing can be clearer than this. Even Islam joins with homosexuals—for now–in this same goal of eradication of Christianity. Read the text of the Democratic Party’s so-called Equality Act (H.R. 5) and be in the dark no more. It completely eradicates The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), originally passed in 1993, let alone respect the First Amendment which promised that the federal government is FORBIDDEN to touch religious speech and freedom.

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et. seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application of enforcement of a covered title.”

The RFRA began as a reaction following a 1990 Supreme Court decision (Employment Division v. Smith) which concerned Christians that religious liberty might be threatened. This resulted in a huge national movement of Christians to protect their God-given rights.

How does this link to the Homosexual Agenda? GrasstopsUSA re-published a portion of homosexual activist Michael Swift’s Manifesto from 1987. For a real stomach-turner, read the entire text on Fordham University’s website entitled, “Michael Swift, ‘Gay Revolutionary,’” reprinted from the Congressional Record itself.

We shall sodomize your sons, emblems of your feeble masculinity … Your sons shall become our minions and do our bidding … All laws banning homosexual activity will be revoked. Instead, legislation shall be passed which engenders love between men… There will be no compromises … All churches who condemn us will be closed … All males who insist on remaining stupidly heterosexual will be tried in homosexual courts of justice … Tremble, hetero swine, when we appear before you without our masks.

As Grassroots correctly stated, “Disguised as a measure to extend civil rights protections” to homosexuals and “transgendered individuals,” H.R. 5 actually “forces every man, women and child in the United States to not simply accept anti-biblical behaviors but to actively affirm them under penalty of law.”

Brad Polumbo

Brad Polumbo, a homosexual Opinion Writer for USA Today and who wishes to “outlaw” “conversion therapy”, while claiming to be “libertarian,” headlines the following, “Gay Conservative: Equality Act would crush religious freedom. Trump is right to oppose it.”

Polumbo calls the “Equality Act,” “the landmark LGBT rights bill.” “From my vantage point as a gay conservative, I can see that the Equality Act goes too far for any level-headed gay rights advocate to support, and its blatant disregard for the basic right to religious freedom is appalling.”

The bill purports to protect LGBT Americans like me by prohibiting discrimination ‘based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.’ On the surface, this sounds unobjectionable—after all, no one deserves to face discrimination. Yet the bill defined ‘public accommodations’ so loosely and called for regulations so sweeping that it would crush religious freedom and radically reshape American society.

Polumbo warns that “The Equality Act could potentially see houses of worship deemed ‘public accommodations’ and subjected to anti-discrimination law. It would also declare any hospital or establishment providing medical services a ‘public accommodation,’ which would include religious organization and hospitals.”

Steve Warren

Homosexual activist Steven Warren issued in 1987 a “Warning to homophobes.” In it he stated that homosexuality will be spoken of in your churches and synagogues as an “honorable estate” and “you can either let us marry people of the same sex, or better yet abolish marriage altogether.”

Throwing down the gauntlet to Christianity, he warned, “You will be expected to offer ceremonies that bless our sexual arrangements” and you will “instruct your people in homosexual as well as heterosexual behavior, and you will go out of your way to make certain that homosexual youths are allowed to date, attend religious functions together, openly display affection, and enjoy each others’ sexuality without embarrassment or guilt.”

If the older people object “you will deal with them sternly, making certain they renounce their ugly and ignorant homophobia or suffer public humiliation.” “Finally, we will in all likelihood, want to expunge a number of passages from your Scriptures and rewrite others …”

The final warning: “If all these things do not come to pass quickly, we will subject Orthodox Jews and Christians to the most sustained hatred and vilification in recent memory.”

Bring on the Lions.

Bill Lockwood: Irreconcilable Differences 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

A recent article in Market Watch by Shawn Langlois highlights a frightening prospect for America’s future. A new survey released by the non-profit Victims of Communism in Washington, D.C., 36% of millennials say they approve of communism, which is up about 10 percentage points from a year ago. Added to that is that 70% of millennials say they are “likely to vote” for a socialist candidate. Further, 22% of the same age bracket say that “private property ought to be abolished.”

This is not merely about lack of education of the youth. It is about mal-education, specifically at the collegiate level, although High Schools and Junior Highs are preparing children for that brainwashing via the doctrine of Climate Change. As these young people begin assuming leadership roles in America, our society will be completely turned up-side down. This is the case precisely because socialism is not simply about economics, but is about a “cultural change.”

Charles Scaliger, in a recent article in The New American print magazine, explains. Socialism is “first and foremost… a social movement, not an economic one. The primary objective of socialism is to destroy the social and moral fabric of society, using economic control as a major tool.”

But this cultural change traces to a different view of human nature than that upon which western civilization has been built. This foundation is a biblical concept of man, nature, and society. Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and life itself is a gift from God. Ideas of limited government, liberty and private property are by-products of this religious heritage.

For this reason, our Founders with one accord referred to this as a Christian nation. On the other hand, all forms of socialism reject this concept of human nature, and consequently, our free society forged by the Bible.

Socialism and Communism

Socialism and communism are two peas in the same pod, as seen from the Victims of Communism poll. Communism is merely a form of socialism. Both seek to overturn society, one by the bullet and the other by the ballot. Both trace their heritage to the philosophy of Karl Marx and his atheistic view of human nature and both therefore fervently reject the concept of human nature as presented by Moses in Genesis. Marx’s view in brief is that man’s nature is created solely by the economic system and one’s relationship to it. Society is therefore changed by altering the economic system.

That both socialism and communism are the same philosophy, consider also the fact that the Labour Party, the Socialist Party in Britain, put out in 1948 a Centennial Edition of The Manifesto of the Communist Party with an introduction written by a fellow socialist, Harold Laski. In 1961 the Socialist Party in America listed The Manifesto on its reading list as a socialist classic. Norman Thomas, who was known in yesteryear America as “Mr. Socialist,” said that the Manifesto was the first formulation of socialism.

Socialism and Fascism

Fascism is also another form of socialism. Professor Thomas DiLorenzo, in his excellent treatment of the entire topic in The Problem with Socialism, points out, for example, that Benito Mussolini was always a socialist. Fascism is merely national socialism as opposed to international socialism. National socialism, or fascism, is content to allow private business to survive as long as they are directed by government subsidies and policies—which is exactly where America is today.

View of Human Nature

Without suggesting that socialists follow Marx in everything, it is the case that all these views—socialism, communism, fascism– explicitly or implicitly accept the view of human nature that Karl Marx set forward. College students today are feasting at Marx’s table which eventually influences them adopt his world-view and specifically his view of human nature. This is why the differences today between the Left and Right are irreconcilable. These views begin at a different place regarding God, nature, and humanity. In reality, socialism itself is atheistic.

See how the atheistic view of human nature lies at the bottom. Mussolini wrote that “The Fascist conception of life stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State….It is opposed to classic liberalism … [which] denied the State in the name of the individual.” (Quoted by DiLorenzo, 68).

The fact is is that Mussolini wanted the individual is to be subsumed into the State. What is the difference between this and the current proposals of the Democratic Party? State redistribution of wealth, income taxes, reparations, minimum wages, universal socialized medicine, guaranteed living income, and more make up the panoply of old socialist ideas pushed by the Democrats. All for the state, very little individual liberty. This is why the Democrats in America are always, and have always been, on a collision course with biblical values.

Vergilius Ferm, in his Encyclopedia of Religion, explains the depth of the conflict between Christianity and socialism:

“American socialism is heir to the tradition of materialism and atheism. It relies on the growth of automatic perfection, not indeed by virtue of the given natural faculties of man, but as the product of causally inevitable economic changes. The result is parallel to that of the liberal utopia, a self-contained world of man, individualistic here, collectivist there, and redeemed from evil, once and for all, by the economic process, much as this requires men conscious of their opportunity. This is an overtly anti-Christian doctrine.”

The social and moral fabric of American society must be remade, per the socialists, aka Democrats. This is also why the war in America occurring now is not simply about politics, left or right. It is all about biblical values and whether we will honor them.

 

Bill Lockwood: Was Jesus a “Refugee?” 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

As reported by CNN, a Methodist church in California is displaying a nativity scene depicting Jesus, Mary and Joseph as refugees in cages to “draw attention to the conditions faced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States.” The Claremont United Methodist Church, which is about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, “posted the photo on its website showing the three held in separate cages topped with barbed wire. The baby Jesus is wrapped in a silver foil blanket.” The “lead pastor” Karen Clark Ristine told CNN that “we thought about the most famous refugee family in the world.”

The United Methodist Church, ever ready to warp biblical narratives into liberal political messages, has displayed a stunning ignorance of the Bible. As Gary DeMar observes, “Leftists have little regard for the Bible unless it can be used to scold Christians for judging righteously … and to support socialism based on a passage about voluntary giving (Acts 2:42-45; 4:32-35).”

As I wrote in a former article, there are several biblical considerations that need be made. (1) God Himself established borders of nations. Read Acts 17:26. (2) God demanded that Old Testament Israel respect the borders of other nations. God gave Mt. Seir to Esau and his descendants for a “possession.” Therefore, Israel, when coming out of Egypt, was not to cross it (Deuteronomy. 2:5). The same regarded Israel’s respect of Moab’s borders.

(3) Once settled in Canaan, the Israelites were sternly warned to “drive the Canaanites out.” The stated reason for this was to preserve the culture of Israel (Numbers. 33:51,52). (4) Even Abraham was deported once it was discovered that he lied to border agents. Read Genesis 12. (5) Regarding Jesus and the holy family, as DeMar notes, they were living within the confines of the Roman Empire. Egypt was part of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ birth. Their escape from Bethlehem was only to another Roman Province. (6) Another command given to Joseph and Mary was that they were to return to their homeland after the death of Herod (Matthew. 2:20). DeMar asks, “How many refugees return to their home nations after entering the United States?”

Bill Lockwood: The Name of God 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

Alfred Edersheim, the Jewish commentator who became a Christian, explains why Matthew’s gospel (3:2) will use the phraseology ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ while ‘Kingdom of God,’ appears elsewhere (e.g. Mark 1:4).

According to the Rabbinic views of the time, the terms ‘Kingdom of heaven,’ and ‘Kingdom of God’ … were equivalent. In fact, the word ‘heaven’ was very often used instead of ‘God,’ so as to avoid unduly familiarizing the ear with the Sacred Name. This probably accounts for the exclusive use of the expression ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ in the Gospel by Matthew.

I was raised by a godly Christian mother who explained to me when very young that the Jews took such care when even writing the name of God in copies of the Scriptures that they washed their hands before putting pen to parchment to write it. I never heard her speak of God except in sober tones.

Kimberly Burnham, in the website ReformJudaism.org, posted an article entitled “Writing the Torah and Honoring the Name of God.” In it she interviewed Rabbi Kevin Hale who “talked about going to the river near his house to wash himself in a mikveh (ritual bath) before writing the name of God in the Torah scroll he worked on.

The reason there are very few errors is the intentionality that goes into the writing of the name of God …‘Every letter is sung out as you write, and there is an acute awareness of begin in the presence of something great,’ Hale said, noting that the name of God is written with a unique quill using special ink, a 2,000-year-old recipe.

The third commandment of the Decalogue forbids “taking the name of the Lord in vain.” Vain means empty, nothing, worthless. Writer Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, and assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, asks this pointed question: “How did ‘watch your mouth’ make the top ten?” The answer is simple: God wants us to revere His name.

That being said, how has it come to pass that Christians, who ought of all people, to honor the name of God, have allowed a hedonistic godless blasphemous culture to influence our manner of speaking and thinking in that “O my G_____ ”, or equivalent expressions have become the norm?

DeYoung reflects on light-hearted “nicknames” that people use to refer to one another. Then he comments,

“But funny nicknames given to us is one thing; irreverent use of God’s name is another. Everywhere in Scripture the name of the Lord is exalted in the highest possible terms. ‘O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!’ (Psa. 8:1). ‘Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name’ (Psa. 29:2). The first petition of the Lord’s prayer is ‘Hallowed be your name’ (Matt. 6:9). The apostles proclaim that ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Paul assured the Romans that ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Rom. 10:13). And the culminating event in all of creation is when, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of god the Father’ (Phil. 2:10-11). The Bible does not want us to forget the holy importance of the divine name.

Nothing marks the godlessness of a culture as much as dishonoring the name of God.

Bill Lockwood: Preaching against Homosexuality? 0 (0)

by Bill Lockwood

Many voices in the Catholic Church are exulting in the September 1 appointment by Pope Francis of pro-homosexual Archbishop Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, Italy to the position of cardinal. Zuppi was one of 13 individuals promoted. PinkNews, an online news agency for the global LGBT+ community, praised the new appointment precisely because Zuppi is a “pro-LGBT+” advocate.

Another celebrant to the appointment is Fr. James Martin, author of a pro-LGBT+ Catholic book called Building a Bridge. Zuppi had written the “Foreward” to Martin’s book. According to PinkNews, “Zuppi identifies that there is ‘a bridge that needs continuous building’ between the Church and the LGTB+ community, who he describes as ‘people of God.’”

Amazingly, so far from the word of God have many Catholics strayed that Archbishop Zuppi calls the homosexual network in the world “the people of God.” The fact that Zuppi has been named as “cardinal” means he will be able to vote for the next pope when that time arrives (Michael Chapman, CNSnews.com; 9-9-19).

According to PinkNews, the appointment is also “celebrated” among “more progressive Christians, who hope the Pope’s choice of cardinals reflects his vision for ‘a Church of dialogue.’”

So here it is. The Roman Catholic Church is setting a trajectory for pro-homosexual teaching in the future, discarding not only hundreds of years of teaching, but more importantly, the clear biblical teaching which describes homosexuality as not only sin, but “perversion” (Jude 7, NIV). But such is expected to be the case in a church not found on the pages of the New Testament.

Reaction

The real shocker in all of this is the reaction which many in the “Christian world” have exhibited. Instead of lamenting the direction of society, including those who claim to be “spiritual leaders,” many are celebrating it. If not celebrating—at least defending it.

One person wrote in response to the posted simple news story—“So if you are a Christian or go to church you have to hate gays?”

This is the knee-jerk reaction of people who cannot take biblical teaching regarding sin of any kind. They hurl accusations of “hatred” upon those who point out sin. By this logic Jesus Himself was a “hater” because he taught against “fornication”—which includes homosexuality (Matt. 19:9).

Another responded: “Let him that is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Once again, an anemic effort to thwart the biblical teaching against sin. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) we might as well just put a cork in our mouths when it comes to quoting passages that condemn sin. But more than this, the Bible nowhere teaches that all sin is the same sin.

It is true that all sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2); but it is also true that some sins have a much more deleterious effect upon society and upon one’s soul than other sins. Even Jesus referred to some sins “as greater” (John 19:11). Paul wrote that some sins have more serious effect upon one’s body (1 Cor. 6:18), perhaps by twisting the mind more wickedly.

It is difficult to believe that modern people have come to the conclusion that the sin of burning children alive in the fires to false gods—as did some Israelites in the OT (see 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35, et. al.)—is no more culpable than a “white lie” spoken to one’s parents. Both are sins—but one not only has many more harmful effects on society as a whole but indicates a deeper depth of depravity than the other.

So it is with homosexuality. Inspired Apostle Paul called the sin of homosexuality “unnatural” (Rom. 1:26) and a “vile passion.” It occurs when God “has given up a society” (1:24). Jude referred to it as “going after strange flesh” (Jude 7, ASV) or “perversion” (NIV). God said plainly in Leviticus that there were a number of particular sins, including bestiality and homosexuality, for which the “land will vomit you out” (Lev. 18:25, 28; 20:22). Not all sins fell into this category. Not all sins are classed as “perverted.”

Still another asks, “Do you love the sinner when you point out sin?” Once more, this sounds as if the biblical doctrine against homosexuality makes us just simply nervous. We immediately dodge by questioning the motives of someone pointing out the sin of homosexuality.

What if I had no love of God in my heart for any sinner? Would that change the truth? Absolutely not. Jonah preached the truth of God to Nineveh (Jonah 3). Nineveh would be overthrown unless they repented. I wonder if the Ninevites squirmed beneath this message by saying—“do you have LOVE for us Ninevites?” –as if to say that somehow the message would be changed if he did not.

But as a matter of fact, Jonah did NOT have love of people in his heart. He was very angry (Jonah 4:1) that Nineveh was spared upon their repentance. He wanted them destroyed!! As all can easily see however, this had nothing to do with the message itself. Jonah delivered the message faithfully even though his motives were not what they ought to be.

It is a perfect illustration of the modern generation being non-thinking, even practicing “avoidance behavior,” on the topic of sin. Whenever sin is pointed out or preached against, we dismiss the teaching by suggesting that “too many people hate.”

Reality is: we are so unaccustomed to God’s Unfiltered Word that we perform many mental gymnastics to avoid its impact—including charging preachers of the Word with being “haters.”

If I do not love one person in the world as I preach it does not change the fact that I am to preach and people need to accept the truth of God. The issue of homosexuality is not whether I love or hate. The issue is: What does the Bible teach, and am I to teach it? If I do not love as I am commanded to do, that is another issue entirely. And what IS occurring today is an overturning of society by the false prophets of the Roman Church by the appointment of pro-homosexual bishops to higher leadership positions.

Bill Lockwood: Spiritual Guidance & Modern Superstition 0 (0)

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.

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