Thursday, October 27, 2005

Christian Influence on Today's Issues

The question was raised at the GodBlog Conference about whether or not Christian blogs should both be involved with the politics of our day as well as evangelism efforts. Another interesting point that was shared is the fact that the average person sitting in the pews of the churches now can add their voices to Christian evangelism efforts through the medium of the blogosphere. Having such a voice helps Christians to express their political views and why they hold to them. Drawing from the Words of the Bible and applying them to our culture today can help Christians to be powerful witnesses for Jesus in the world.

I think that participation by Christians, even priests and pastors, in politics, the pulpit, and the blogosphere is certainly helpful and definitely necessary in confronting today's social, moral, ethical and political issues of our time.

Here are some biblical examples to back up this idea:

In 2 Chronicles 23, Jehoiada the priest finally got up the courage after 7 years of wicked rule by Athaliah, to take action and get rid of the idolatrous ruler. The qualities of character displayed by Jehoiada was to correct a wrong when exposed to it and/or speak out for what is right. It takes courage to act when such situations arise. Jehoiada did what was right even though it could have cost him his life!

In 2 Kings 9-10 we read about king Jehu, who had a mix of good and bad qualities of character. Jehu could be likened to the church of Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-17) because both were surrounded by idol worship. Jehu was willing to compromise but the Pergamum church stood firm and refused to renounce faith. However, the Lord saw some members tolerating what God opposed - thus blending two opposites which leads to a concession of principles.

This is happening today.

A major denomination is suffering and likely to split over tolerance and blatant acceptance of sin by some of its members and leaders. The abomination of immoral homosexual practices by an ordained bishop is being condoned by some in that denomination due to pressure to be openminded.

In the Revelation verses, Christ rebuked the church for tolerating those who lead people away from God. As born-again Christian followers of Christ are we to just stand by and watch such things infiltrate our churches and do absolutely nothing to combat it through any legitimate means possible; including politically?

I don't think so.

The biblical account of Elijah and Elisha teaches us an important lesson. God is sovereign. The same Holy Spirit indwelt both Elijah and Elisha although their ministries differed. The same Holy Spirit can work in two persons in different ways, according to His purpose for His people.

Like Paul told us, some are evangelists, some are teachers, and some are helpers. Some have a message of warning, some of comfort.

Most of Elisha's miracles were miracles of grace, healing, help, and comfort while Elijah, like John the Baptist, was called to a work of conviction, warning, and judgment.

The point is both are needed!

In fact, both prophets, though they may have been known for one type of ministry more than the other, did have moments where they revealed both sides of God's character.

The stern Elijah also showed great compassion and tenderness toward the bereaved widow (1 Kings 17).

The gracious Elisha sternly judged the God-despising youth and prophesied other judgments (2 Kings 2:23-24; 5:27).

It is one thing to have the Holy Spirit within you and another thing to have the Holy Spirit filling you so that nothing blocks the outflow of spiritual, supernatural power in your life.

We as Christians can demonstrate that power working within; no matter what career we are in. The Lord will lead us in the direction we should go whether we demonstrate and use a character similar to Elijah's or Elisha's.

The danger of having the attitude that we need not do anything to combat the ACLU and all like-minded, anti-God, anti-Bible political organizations of our day is that our religious freedoms could very well be taken away. Evidence of this is the current 'wacky law passing' judicial activism inculcating our culture which is bent on re-interpreting the meaning our Founding Fathers gave to our Constitution.

When seeking advice in this or any area of life we need to listen carefully and use God's word to "test everything, hold on to the good, and avoid every kind of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22).

All of these may require action on our part. Whether we like it or not, the reality is that we are in a battle for the minds, hearts, souls and spirits of our children and grandchildren. It is each Christian's moral duty to live, wait, watch, and WORK in such a time as this and, especially, to manifest the unchanging character of Christ in our present circumstances. He is our Savior, Lord, and King, and His love needs to be shed abroad in our hearts and in our world - now.

10 comments:

Thomas said...

Is this Elisha you speak of the same fellow who ordered the She-Bears to devour the little children who made fun of his bald-spot? You gotta love that guy.

Don't worry, Christine. This here Bible-bashing, ACLU-fanatic, depraved homosexual (and possible future Episcopalian bishop?), would never even dream of taking away your right to spout off your religious and political ideas. They give me far too much entertainment.

Christinewjc said...

Thomas!

I was wondering where you have been. Left you a brief message at your blog.

I once did an in depth study on 2 Kings and it was revealed to me that these "youths" were more likely teenaged thugs of the time. This mob of youths were from Bethel, the religious center of idolatry in the northern kingdom, and they were probably warning Elisha not to speak against their immorality as Elijah had done. They were not merely teasing Elisha about his baldness, but showing severe disrespect for Elisha's message and God's power. They may have jeered because of their disbelief in the chariot of fire that had taken Elijah. When Elisha cursed them, he did not call out the bears himself. God sent them as a judgment for their callous unbelief.

These young men (note: NOT children) jeered at God's messenger and paid for it with their lives.

One thing to consider is the possibility that these 'youths' were planning to physically attack Elisha...who knows? I'm not trying to add to the Scripture verse and I don't need to, either. Just the mocking was sufficient for God's judgment to land on them.

Jesus was mocked, jeered at and spat upon as he made his way up to Calvary and was nailed to the cross. The Roman soldiers cast lots for his clothing. God's judgment didn't come immediately, but if they didn't turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, then they died with their souls permanently separated from God forever. In view of eternity, the amount of days one lives on this earth isn't as important as where one's soul will spend eternity.

Making fun of religious leaders has been a popular sport through the ages. To take a stand for God is to be different from the world and vulnerable to verbal abuse. When people are cynical and sarcastic toward religious leaders, they are in danger of mocking not just the person, but also the spiritual message.

Since Jesus' crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, we are living in the time of grace and mercy. Because of man's rebellion, God allows the sin, evil, and death to still occur because he is giving unrepentant man time to come to Jesus for salvation. He doesn't want anyone to perish. But this age of mercy and grace will not last forever. When we die (or, when Jesus returns) each and every man or woman will have to make an accounting for his/her life. Jesus' second coming will be for the purpose of Judgment.

The two most important questions from God (according to His Word, the Bible) will be:
1. What did you do with the life I gave you?
2. What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?

All that we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and have will one day disappear and be gone forever. Why would any person want to sacrifice their own soul for the sake of that which does not last?

Jesus said, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Thomas said...

(2 Kings 2:23-24) And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.

And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.


Well, my Bible reads "little children" (He. = "qatan na'ar"; Gr. = "paidaria mikra"). I don't speak Hebrew so I can't give you a run down on all the different meanings. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter. Teenagers are simply children with acne and bad attitudes. They might have had it coming, as you say. But maybe Elisha had it coming too. None of them seem like winners in my book. All I know is that where I come from, if someone is giving you a hard time, you don't send "she bears" after them. That's a big no-no. You don't even ask God too send in the bears. It sets a bad precedent.

Thank you for your nice message on blog (which is probably extinct at this point). Yes, I haven't been around much. This habit of blog-browsing eats of just a huge chunk of my time, and I really ought to cut back. I've been trying to finish up my school work and graduate and so forth. Plus, my husband-type guy just found out he needs to get his gall bladder removed, and so that's added a bit of stress to my life. But otherwise I'm fine. Thanks for asking!

How's life in NoCa? Got any Halloween plans?

Christinewjc said...

Hi Thomas,

You're welcome. Even though we don't agree about much, I do tend to worry when you disappear from the blogosphere. Just how many do you visit? It can get addicting...

What school do you attend and what are you studying?

Would it be OK with you if I send up some prayers for your guy friend as he goes through the operation? Whenever I converse with atheists/agnostics/skeptics, I like to ask first. I have been pleasantly surprised when many tell me they appreciate the prayers. When is the surgery date?

Life is good here. My halloween plans are the same as every year. I give out the big bars of candy with a Bible verse attached! :-) Some years I throw in a tract. We get carloads of kids and teens on our block. I usually go through 120 big bars of candy! When I run out, I have the 'fun' size bags for back up. So, what are your plans?

Thomas said...

Howdy, Christine.

It's very kind of you to pray for my boyfriend, and thoughtful of you to ask first. As far as I am aware, no one has ever been harmed by being prayed for -- I'll leave it at that. My boyfriend, by the way, is even more of an atheist than I am. I'm what you would call a "weak" atheist -- I do not believe there is a god. He is what you would call a "strong" atheist -- he believes there definitely is no god. Catch the difference? It's pretty subtle. He also thinks that I spend too much time and energy actually researching into the different religions and pointing out their drawbacks. He may have a point! Yet he also used to be a Catholic convert for a little while back when he was in high school, so he may be having a reaction against that. I was raised in God-free household, so I tend to look on the whole thing with more of a bemused gaze. I probably go over the line when I present him with lists of all of the logical fallacies in Christian Science or Mormonism, or when I come up with a really biting critique of Scientology. It's a bit like kicking a dead horse.

I suppose I try to read blogs from all over the political map, but for some reason, I enjoy to read blogs from "the opposition." Some of my favorite blogs are Pharyngula, Three-Toed Sloth, Fafblog!, Brad Delong's blog, Crooked Timber, and Universe Today. Those are mostly liberal or sciency blogs. I also read Andrew Sullivan's blog a lot, and I find I agree with nowadays much more than I used. I don't whether he's moved to the left or I've moved to the right. I like a lot of the libertarian blogs like Cafe Hayek or Positive Liberty, and also Marginal Revolution. Yet I also read a lot of the Christian bloggers: Gaunilo's Island is a good one, as are Internet Monk, Intellectuelle, and Cerulean Sanctum. Nothing beats the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club for sheer this-guy-is-different-than-me weirdness. (I'm sorry that I didn't include any links there, but I always make a mess of it.)

Anyway, my b/f's surgery won't be for a while, most likely. His problem isn't dire, but it is persistent. Neither of us have health insurance, which presents us with a bit of problem.

It's a bit of funny timing, as I'm supposed to be writing a paper tonight on the problem of uninsured people in America. Circumstances tend to color my opinion at the moment. Since you asked, I'm majoring in economics at the University of Pittsburgh. It's a dusty subject, but a swell town. I'm supposed to graduate in December, and then I'm supposed to have an existential crisis as I realize my degree doesn't really amount to much. Should I go to grad school? Who knows. I'm thinking more and more about trying to become an academic librarian. I'd like a nice quiet job where I could read all day. It'd be nice to make just enough money so that my b/f and I could in some gay friendly New England state and have health insurance. A boy can dream. What are your kids studying, if you don't mind me asking?

Anyway, good luck with the trick-or-treat tracts. If you really want to give the kids a spooky Halloween message, why not the verse about Elisha and the bears? It might come in handy if they're a bunch of punks.

Halloween is my second favorite pagan holiday after Christmas, or as we like to call it chez nous, "Secular Solstice." My boyfriend is true devotee of Martha Stewart and pulls out all the stops. We have a multitude of carved pumpkins and autumn candles and mail-order mummies. We even cook up a big Halloween feast for the evening, with all the fall goodness we can find at the supermark. It's a happy time of the year.

Clandestine said...

thomas i adore you!

my dad's side of the family is from pittsburgh. if you ever happen to travel to state line fine wines, tell the owner you're friends with her favorite niece :) she'll know who you mean, without question!

Thomas said...

Thanks, Clandy! I shall sure to look that one up on Google Maps.

Pittsburgh is a great little city, isn't it? Although, we had a snow-storm in western PA just this last week. How crazy is that?

Too soon, I say!

Christinewjc said...

Hi Thomas,

I'm glad that you responded favorably about prayer. You see, in my personal experience, I have found prayer to be very powerful and have seen many positive results and answers to prayer. I like to pray specifically and it helps to know a person's name (or just screenname), but even if you do not want such information revealed I understand. The Lord knows who he is.

I once posted on a message board frequented by mostly skeptics, atheists, agnostics etc. I remember an ongoing discussion about "weak" atheists vs. "strong" atheists. One conclusion that was reached was that the person who held the "weak" atheist position more closely could be described as an agnostic...whether God exists or not, he doesn't believe that God can be known. But that was just one person's opinion, I guess. Anyway, when I or any other Christian posted on that board, we would often be verbally bashed for our beliefs. They constantly attempted to discredit any and all of what the Christians shared and God's Word would be pounced upon with their inaccurate and outright false annotations. As time went on, I had come to realize that many of the people there were former "nominal" believers who had left the faith for various reasons. The common trait among the skeptics was a deep anger at God and hatred for His Word.

I did, however, find it quite interesting that for skeptics, all of their discussions generally centered around questions about God and the Bible. They had their own "annotated" Bible site where they listed all of the perceived errors and contradictions that they thought had been discovered. It was basically a man-made excuse for their pre-conceived notions and a site for general bashing of the content of the Bible. Trouble is, there is another site that completely refutes all of their claims!

I'm curious as to what it was about the Catholic church that made your boyfriend reject the teachings and leave the church?

I recently read a good summary about Scientology. When I get some time I will post it. Quite bizarre to say the least.

But I guess you might likely think that way about any and all religions.

Christianity is different in that the Resurrection is a proven fact of history (see Simon Greenleaf's examination of evidence) and we worship a living, risen Savior.

I hear ya about discussing an interest that someone else does not share. Whenever I bring up the topic about the icons of Evolution, Intelligent Design and/or Creation, with my friends or family, their eyes glaze over and they get that "not THIS again" look on their faces! But, when my friend's son needed to do a paper on the Intelligent Design/Evolution controversy she knew who to call for help with the research!

You certainly frequent and read a lot of blogs! How come mine isn't one of your favorites? :-( j/k

To answer your question about our kids, my son is majoring in Kinesiology/PE with a minor in Secondary Ed. He wants to be a baseball coach and teacher. Notice the order of that goal.

Our daughter is majoring in Communications. She is very interested in an acting career and has already appeared in a commercial for Mercury Insurance. We are hoping that she will be signed with her current agent to expand into T.V. and movie auditions this November. If not, we will look for an additional agency.

Although Halloween is not a holiday that I like to observe, I do use it as a vehicle for sharing Christ. One of my favorite messages that I tape to the candy says:

The Treat of a Lifetime -

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thomas said...

Dear Christine,

I'm sorry that the folks on the atheist board were rude and nasty. People often forget that there are real people on the other end of the internet. I've fallen into the same mistake myself many a time. Religion and politics always make people extremely emotional, and the legitimate intellectual discourse that could have taken place gets lost on the wayside.

I am aware of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible, but I'm not a big fan. I'm also aware of Jason Gastrich and his criticism's of the SAB (I guess that's what you're referring to.) I'm even less of a fan of him. (There's a much better site than the SAB that critiques Gastrich: Innerancy Exposed [www.gastrich.org])

The habit of drawing little cartoon figures around funny verses isn't the best form of Biblical criticism, IMHO. I'm much more interested in the textual history of the Bible, and the political and religious forces that gave shape to it. Randel Helms has two great books about the New Testament: "Who Wrote the Gospels?" and "Gospel Fictions." Don't let the titles set your hair on fire! They're both quite thoughtful books aimed at lay people with an interest in the Bible. They come from a skeptical point of view, but not necessarily a "village atheist" one. Richard Friedman also has an interesting book entitled "Who Wrote the Bible?" which focuses more on the Old Testament, specifically the Pentateuch. Another wonderful writer with a deep knowledge of Christian history and an expressive way of reaching out to a popular audience is Elaine Pagels. I recommend "Beyond Belief," which is her most recent book, one which follows the story of the Christian church from the time of the gospels of John and Thomas (my namesake!) to the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome. She has a deep sympathy for Christian believers, because she was a member of an evangelical church in her youth, and more recently managed to endure the pain of losing her six-year old son through the fellowship of worshippers at an interdenominational church in New York.

From what I understand, my boyfriend was more attracted to the history and beauty of the Catholic Church than any specific theological questions he had. He was raised as a wishy-washy Presbyterian, and moved to the Roman church out of a desire to join something more real and more aesthetically charged. I'm reticent to discuss the matter, but I think you'll understand what I mean when I say that he abandoned the church when he saw first hand the revolting hypocrisy of the priesthood and the hierarchy. I don't know how he became an atheist. I suppose it was when he started to study neuroscience in college. It was before we met. Strangely, one of the things that led to us falling in love was a mutual admiration for C. S. Lewis. We must have watched the movie "Shadowlands" about a million times.

I think there is a difference between weak atheism and agnosticism. I'm happy to describe myself as an agnostic if it means that I think that the question can never be settled for certain one way or the other. I'm an agnostic about everything -- absolute, assured knowledge is never within the grasp of beings as fallible as we are. But most people use the word to mean they are undecided about the issue, maybe 50/50 about it. I'm 99% sure there is no god, for a variety of reasons. I think the atheists have all the good arguments. But if I were presented with new and compelling evidence, I might change my mind. It's always important to remain open-minded, but skeptical.

As regards the never-ending story of Creationism, I HIGHLY recommend a book called "The Blind Watchmaker," by Richard Dawkins. It carefully and beautifully explains how the appearance of design can arise by a process which is not directed by any governing intelligence. It's fascinating. Dawkins, mind you, is a very outspoken atheist, as are many scientists, but not all. I'd also recommend "Finding Darwin's God," by Kenneth Miller, who is a Catholic, I believe. I find the resurgence of ID as well as young-earth creationism to be very sad. It's no fun to go about upholding a pre-conceived notion when you can be learning about how life and the universe really works! I find science to be the single most inspiring thing in the world.

You certainly frequent and read a lot of blogs! How come mine isn't one of your favorites? :-( j/k Your blog goes without saying. :-) Where else do I leave 1500 word rants that take me hours to write? Nowhere!

Anyway, I wish your kids good luck in school. Your son's desire to be a coach is perfectly admirable. My uncle, who sadly passed away last year, was a lacrosse coach first (and also a great art teacher), and it was an amazing thing to see all of the student whose lives he had shaped by his work as a coach. I've always been a big anti-sports sissy, but I can't deny that athletics can be a massive benefit for some young people.