Simple Bounty

Finding Beauty, Grace and Sanity in a Busy World

god is always good March 13, 2011

Filed under: Christianity,Health — katieosborne @ 3:09 pm
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We spent most of Friday and Saturday at the hospital with Jonas.

The short version of the story: Friday morning he woke up with a fever. He was lethargic and complaining of the light. Ben’s mom came over to stay with the kids, so I could go to the store. I wasn’t gone more than 45 minutes when I got a call to come home. Jonas had had a seizure, something that had never happened before. He was sleeping hard when I got home, and I took him to the doctor, where he sat in my lap, barely conscious a lot of the time, falling in and out of sleep. Still feverish.

The doctor was concerned because it didn’t fit the typical definition of a febrile seizure, and based on other observations, he thought there was a possibility of meningitis. So, off the the hospital we went for lots of tests and waiting. Everything came back fine. We don’t know what caused the seizure.

Yesterday, when I facebooked the news that we were heading home, one of my cousins responded, “God is good!!” It’s a statement we commonly use to express thankfulness for God granting healing or positive resolution in our lives. I’ve been thinking about this lately: We never meet bad news with “God is good!” And yet, he is. He is always good. His decisions are always right and work together for the good of those who love him, even though we cannot comprehend his ways. If the diagnosis had been meningitis, God is still good. If the illness led to my child’s death, God is still good.

I think that one of the biggest challenges in life and one of the most worthwhile is to be able to say, in the midst of trial and even the worst of tragedies, “God is good.” To be able to see his grace in the darkness. In the worst case scenario, is my faith such that I would see His goodness and blessing? Is my heart capable of giving thanks in all circumstances?

 

Let’s Talk about “the rod” scriptures February 28, 2011

Filed under: Christianity,Family Life,Parenting — katieosborne @ 9:08 pm
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My cursor has hesitated over the publish button. My intention here is not to judge other parents’ choices or imply that my way is “the right way,” and I want to be sensitive to my friends who have made parenting decisions that are very different from mine. This topic is important to me. It’s something I spent time researching, thinking about and praying over while Jonas was still in the womb. A recent Bible study lesson on marriage and children in the book of Proverbs got me thinking about it again. Ben and I have a lot of Christian friends who choose to spank their children, and I know that we, by choosing not to spank, are in the minority. I am not out to tell anyone to parent differently. I think the one thing that convinces me to publish is a memory from a few years ago of a friend who, after taking her child to another room to spank him, returned and said, “I wish I didn’t have to spank.” I probably gave a weak smile, but I didn’t speak. I missed the opportunity at that time to open a dialogue about this idea that Christians are commanded by God to spank. So, I am writing this as encouragement for those who find themselves sighing, “I wish I didn’t have to….” You see, you don’t have to. If spanking doesn’t sit well with you, if you are concerned about the dynamic it is creating in your home, if it just doesn’t seem to be working well as a disciplinary tool, please consider my argument…..

This idea that God commands parents to spank their children hinges on four verses in Proverbs. That’s it. Four verses in all of scripture. Here they are:

 

Prov. 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Prov. 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

Prov. 23:13,14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. if you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

Prov. 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

 

At first glance, it seems to make sense that these verses refer to corporal punishment. Many of us have been taught that the rod is a physical instrument used for spanking. Spanking advocates often recommend a wooden spoon or switch of some sort. But is that what this rod truly is? Is that how God’s people would have understood these words at the time of their writing?

The word translated as rod is shebet.

 

Strong’s H7626

1) rod, staff, branch, offshoot, club, sceptre, tribe

a) rod, staff

b) shaft (of spear, dart)

c) club (of shepherd’s implement)

d) truncheon, sceptre (mark of authority)

e) clan, tribe

 

The object can be a large walking stick, like that which Moses carried (and that which was carried by the head of a family), a shepherd’s crook, or a king’s sceptre. In each of these cases, the Shebet is a symbol of authority. In the case of the shepherd, it additionally symbolizes guidance and protection, as the shepherd uses it to ward off predators and guide his sheep so they are not lost. Psalm 23 says “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” While the word does refer to a physical object, it is most often used figuratively throughout scripture. The Messiah is referred to as the Rod of Jesse. Jesus’ didn’t come to punish us. He didn’t come to strike us down, but to give us life. He extended undeserved grace to us – we who rebel and scorn and spit in his face – yet he did not condemn us, but extended love in gentleness and patience. His life was a ministry of teaching. Additionally, the word Shebet refers many times to God’s authority in a figurative manner, as in “Thy throne, Oh God, is forever and ever. The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” (Psalm 45:6), or “If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules….then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes.” (Psalm 89:30-32). In both cases, the rod is a picture of God’s authority and might.

Those who argue for a literal interpretation of these Proverbs, don’t truly interpret the verses literally themselves. If they did they’d be advocating hitting their child with a large, thick piece of wood that has the potential to cause a lot of damage. No loving parent would even entertain such a thought. Yet, that is what a literal reading calls for. So, if we’re not willing to employ the action the verses are truly advocating, is it okay to simply fudge the original meaning, change it just enough so it is no longer distasteful to us?

Doesn’t it make much more sense and pose less problems, to take these verses figuratively and view the rod as a symbol, just as it is throughout so much of the Old Testament? When considering this, let’s take into account the fact that the book of Proverbs contains a lot of imagery and poetic language. We don’t have an issue with determining whether we should read Proverbs 30:17 literally: The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures. God does not send birds of prey down to pluck out the eyes of insolent children. The original Hebrew of the four rod verses begs us to take the poetic language of the book into account.

So, what then, is this rod a symbol of? As I said above, it is a sign of authority. God has indeed invested us with authority over our children, and we have the responsibility to exercise that authority by “training them up in the way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6).

Before moving on, it is essential to define the word discipline. Too often it is used as a synonym for punishment, but punishment is only one of many definitions. Our English word discipline comes from the Latin words discipulus, meaning pupil or disciple and the word discere, meaning to learn. We are to treat our children as disciples.

 

Discipline:

1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.

2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.

3.

a. Control obtained by enforcing compliance or order.

b. A systematic method to obtain obedience: a military discipline.

c. A state of order based on submission to rules and authority: a teacher who demanded discipline in the classroom.

4. Punishment intended to correct or train.

5. A set of rules or methods, as those regulating the practice of a church or monastic order.

6. A branch of knowledge or teaching.

 

While discipline may include punishment of some sort, punishment is not inherent in the word, and the main focus is really on teaching. And isn’t that what the Bible clearly says is our duty? To teach our little ones? One of the most explicit instructions for parents is found in Deutoronomy 6 (and recorded more than once in almost identical words a few chapters later – must be important):

“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”. (Deut. 6:6,7).

This is what is written in the law about parental responsibility. We are to diligently teach our children God’s Word. If God intended spanking to be an important and beneficial aspect of parenting, would he not have clearly laid that out in the law? Instead, we have this beautiful, rather gentle picture of family life with communication at the center. We are to teach our children how to live godly lives by talking to them. Ever talking. Relationship. It is to be a constant, consistent process. It takes time, constant repetition. They will not mature overnight. Goodness, I look at my own life, and see my constant falling and failing. Me, an adult, who knows clearly what God expects of me and have had years to practice it. And yet I don’t find condemnation from him. It’s always grace. Undeserved grace. If we faithfully teach our children at every given opportunity, if this communication is a river that flows through our days together, they will learn. If we extend grace, instead of condemnation, they will trust and they will thrive.

Let’s look at the rod verses in a little more detail. It’s very difficult to separate ourselves from the cultural attitudes about these verses and to see them fresh. We’ve assumed without much question that we’re talking about spanking here, but, at least for me, when I get to the heart of what each interpretation really says, the oft assumed reading doesn’t make all that much sense unless we are intentionally looking through our punitive lens, the lens most of us were brought up with, the one that says children must be punished and hurt by their parents in order to learn, in order to embrace the LORD – this lens built on tradition and culture. It is something I am still shaking off, something I’m determined to shake off because I believe that the Bible teaches a better way.

Here’s my plain interpretation of each verse from both points of view. I tried hard to be unbiased about how I worded each side.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

* The parent who doesn’t spank, hates his children, but if he loves his kids, he will spank them diligently.

* The parent who doesn’t teach his children with authority, hates them, but if he loves his kids, he will teach them diligently.

Which of these makes more logical sense? Which is a greater act of love? Did we learn more about God’s truth from a spanking or from our parents teaching us of him, and modeling the Christian life? I have a couple vivid spanking memories, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you, in either case, what my offense was. All I remember was the fear and panic. My sensitive little soul was focused on my physical and emotional hurt, not on the sin that the spanking intended to correct. Sure, I learned from spanking. I learned to fake it. I learned to say and do what my parents wanted, so life would be pleasant and I would be praised as a “good girl,” not so I would be pleasing to God.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

*Children act foolishly, but spanking them will lead them to maturity.

*Children act foolishly, but teaching them God’s Truth will lead them to maturity.

We are all born with a heart stamped with Adam’s sin. We cannot escape that inheritance. Christian parents will all agree that it is our job to bring our children to an understanding of the nature of their heart and the nature of God’s grace. Will simply spanking a child enlighten his heart? How will spanking drive off foolishness in a real, heart centered way? I know from my personal childhood experience that spanking can lead a child to put on a façade of goodness in order to please and in order to avoid pain. But, in my case, that had absolutely nothing to do with my heart. Spanking, or the threat of it, did not cause me to truly give my heart to God. Again, isn’t it the teaching – the laying out of God’s expectations for us, his great gift to us, our response of heartfelt thanksgiving to him – that will bring the child to repentance and to godly maturity? Romans 2:4 says that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance. Kindness. Doesn’t that just make sense? So much more sense?

(I’m not suggesting that Christian parents who spank don’t teach their children, as well. I’m merely discussing what the verse itself says, and if we’re going to choose the first interpretation, it clearly states that spanking alone – not spanking and teaching – has the power to drive folly out).

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. if you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.

* Do not withhold spanking from a child; if you hit him with a large, heavy implement, he will not die, if you practice corporal punishment, you will save his soul from hell.

* Do not withhold discipline (teaching, guiding, correcting) from a child; if you parent him with your God given authority, he will not die. If you teach and guide him, you will save his soul from hell.

If we analyze the first interpretation, we’ll see that it just isn’t true, and if it isn’t true, it isn’t biblical. If we are speaking of corporal punishment, this verse tells us that it is our job to spank out child with the rod (walking stick, shepherd’s crook, sceptre), and that if we do this he won’t die. If we are speaking of physical death, this is a lie, because a child certainly can die by being hit with such a tool. Tragically, there have been children who have died from their Christian parents carrying out the advice of “Christian parenting experts” with far less menacing instruments. If we are speaking of spiritual death, please tell me how this practice will rescue him from damnation. What is it about striking a child as payment for his sin that will save him? It’s impossible. It is Christ alone who saves. He paid for that sin; a child cannot atone for it himself through a spanking ritual. If instead we view this verse as an encouragement to parents to do what God commands us in Deuteronomy 6, it works. Faithfully teaching them the ways of the LORD leads them to his saving arms. Is this a rule without exception? No. I know that there are parents who raised their children in a godly home, and yet a child strayed and went to his deathbed without making his parents’ faith his own. But that is the exception to the rule. When we are dealing with Proverbs, I think it is important to take into account that as wisdom literature, this book functions primarily to give us instruction, that if followed should lead to a desired outcome. (My ESV study bible says “The word wisdom (HB. khokmah) can have the nuance of “skill,” particularly the skill of choosing the right course of action for the desired result. In the covenantal framework of Proverbs, it denotes skill in the art of godly living.”) I know many parents who have wayward adult children, but we are only seeing in the moment. We don’t know how God is working in those situations. We don’t see the end. So, while we ultimately don’t know with certainty in each case, we can have faith in this general rule that if we train our children up in the way they should go, when they are old, they will not depart from it. When they are old. It may take lots and lots of time.

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

*Spanking and correcting will make a child wise, but a child who doesn’t receive these things will bring shame.

*Teaching, guidance and correction will make a child wise, but a child who doesn’t receive these things will bring shame.

A literal reading of this verse poses the same problem as the one above because, though reproof is spoken of in addition to the rod, the instruction to parents is still lacking in completeness. But if we view the rod as discipline – as teaching, training, guiding, discipling – then the pair, the rod and reproof, fit so perfectly together. We teach them what their duty is, and when they fall, we correct them and give them tools to help them do better next time.

 

I believe that The Bible calls parents to raise their children with gentle authority. While one can argue for a literal interpretation of the rod verses, it is an inferior reading that lacks the fullness of what God clearly commanded his people in the Law and seems out of step with other, clearer, verses related to parenting. In an upcoming post, perhaps I’ll discuss some of these other verses.

As I sit here considering what I’ve written, I know how short I fall. I am not a perfect parent, sometimes I’m not even a good parent, but I love my children, and with God’s grace, I will persevere and reach for better things. I’ll continue to shed that pervasive punitive mindset and strive to teach, guide and correct my children with gentle authority and kindness.

We all have choices; this is mine. Ours. I have friends who are wonderful parents who choose to spank. It would be wrong for our home. The main point I want to make here is that spanking is not an issue touched on in The Bible, therefore parents need to discern for themselves what is best for their children and themselves. If they decide that spanking is a worthwhile form of discipline for them, it should be with the understanding that this is a personal choice influenced by culture,  not a command given by God.

 

Lack Of Discernment November 13, 2008

Filed under: Christianity,Politics — katieosborne @ 2:42 pm
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I was sorta writing this in my head the other night as I was going to sleep, and my thoughts seemed to flow so well, but now, I’m at a complete loss over how to express what I’m trying to say. Plus, due to some research,I have more to say then I originally thought. Bear with me as I try to get my thoughts out, hopefully not too inarticulately. Here goes:

As a Reformed Christian, sometimes I am taken aback by what some of mainstream American Christianity believes today. I am so thankful that God directed me to a church and tradition with such a clear and Biblical theological system and such an accurate understanding of God’s grace. Having grown up in a rather legalistic non-denominational church, I didn’t receive much of an education when it came to theology. Sure, I was taught all the Bible stories kids learn, and I was introduced to God’s redemptive plan, but so much was lacking – most importantly, accurate teaching on God’s grace and our relationship to Him in light of that grace. I left that church knowing the basics of Christianity and burdened with guilt and frustration over my constant failings. I was fortunate at my next church to learn from a pastor who is himself reformed, though the denomination itself is not. It’s fascinating to look back and see God’s guiding hand as he finally led me to my current church home.

Given my own background and that of most of my family (both of my sets of grandparents, and therefore my own parents, attended the same church I grew up in), I guess I should not be surprised at some of the blatant falsehoods I see some family members falling for. Please understand that I do not say this with an air of superiority, just concern. I know that I do not have a clear handle on all theological issues myself – I have so very much to learn and truly grasp – but there are some things that without a doubt are contrary to scripture. There have been a few things lately from various relatives, that have made me go, “woah, what??” But this one really bothers me:

One of my cousins posted a message on her Facebook page from Dutch Sheets, whom I’d never heard of before, but apparently she attends, or has attended, his Freedom Church. Just looking at the website gives one pause as there is not even a statement of faith anywhere, at least not that I could find.

Here is the complete statement she posted regarding the outcome of the 2008 presidential elections. And here are a few excerpts:

Was what happened Tuesday God’s will? I am quite confident it was not.

Wow, so God’s not sovereign after all? Huh. I didn’t realize that we sinful human beings have such power to thwart God’s plans. How can this man be so arrogant as to believe that he knows God’s sovereign will? And worse than simply making such a statement, he is the leader of a large church, and is teaching this clearly unbiblical principle to his congregation and other followers. I understand that many Christians are disappointed in the outcome, but for a church leader to take such a view is to instill fear and doubt about God’s power and control in the hearts of those who look up to him – not to mention teaching downright lies.

There is such comfort to know the truth, to rest in the peace of knowing that God is completely in control, and we therefore have no reason to fear the future, no matter what.

Though I understand our reasons, we must be careful in our attempts to placate our feelings and calm our fears through religious phrases like “God is still on the throne” or “God has a plan”. He was on His throne 35 years and 50 million babies ago. And He had a plan back then. The problem is, it was us. I understand our reasons for waving high the banner of God’s sovereignty at times like these-it gives us hope. I will wave it, as well. But please be careful with this. Too much emphasis on God’s sovereignty and we’re worthless; too little and we’re hopeless.

It certainly doesn’t sound like he has any concept of God’s awesome power, majesty and perfection. In his mind, proclaiming God’s sovereignty is merely spouting “religious phrases,” in an attempt to make ourselves feel better and desperately grasp on to some sort of hope. Apparently, he believes that our free will can cause problems for God and can in fact alter His sovereign will. The real reason McCain (and more importantly, in his mind, Palin *more on that later*) lost was that Christians didn’t try hard enough and pray hard enough.

Like many, believing I had many promises and confirmations that God would “grace” us with a pro-life president in this election, I failed to consider strongly enough that all promises-even scripture-are conditional 99.9% of the time. Though I never prophesied or made guarantees that McCain-Palin would win, failing to factor this principle in strongly enough no doubt caused me to share my optimism with others inappropriately. If this caused any harm or confusion, I apologize.

Sure sounds like he prophesized, or at least his followers took it as prophecy, and now he’s backpedaling, trying to save face. Why do these people insist on making fools out of themselves by putting words in God’s mouth? It seems like so much emphasis is placed on trying to figure out God’s will – which is unknowable – instead of just trusting in Him and living our lives out as He has instructed us. I get the impression that an emotional and perhaps mystical experience is more desired than an accurate understanding of God’s Word.

I thought we had enough prayer. Obviously, God decided otherwise.

Sheets seems to view prayer as some sort of magic. As though, just getting enough people to pray that McCain would win, would make it so. God would have no choice but to acquiesce to man’s desires. And conversely, the fervent prayers of one man or a small group do not amount to enough for God to care.

I’ve been asked if my feelings about Sarah Palin have changed.  They have not. I believe she is an Esther, a Deborah, with a huge mantle from God for reformation. God has a great destiny for her related to this nation if she chooses to continue down this path.

I’m guessing that some of the prophecy that he is backpedaling on has to do with Sarah Palin. He did make statements about her entering the White House and saying “as of Friday (when McCain’s selection was announced, I assume), the U.S. has come into a new level of alignment with the Lord and His purposes.” She has been called a Deborah and Esther by many in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles. There is something called the “Deborah Anointing” (sorry I couldn’t find a more concise definition) which they’re all convinced she has.

This leads me to something else. When I was researching Dutch Sheets and the movement he is involved with called The Third Wave or the New Apostolic Reformation, Sarah Palin’s name was popping up all over the results. I did not include her in any of the searches. She is just very closely tied with this movement, a movement that the Assemblies of God denounced as heresy back in 1949.

There are so many Christians so excited about Palin, but should this not give us pause? Sure, it’s great that she professes to be a Christian and seems very sincere in her faith, but what if a lot of her doctrinal beliefs are in such error that they negatively affect any national office she may hold in the future? I know, that probably sounds like crazy talk, but I am a little concerned after reading what I have about her religious connections.

I’ll admit that despite having some family who are longtime members of Charismatic churches, some of the doctrine makes me a bit uncomfortable, and I don’t agree with a whole lot beyond the very fundamentals of Christianity. I am not in any way calling into question their faith; I just see things very differently and believe that they are in error in some of their doctrine. There is certainly no denying they love Jesus. They are passionate and “on fire,” but I think sometimes they neglect doctrine for emotional experience.

This Third Wave thing is something entirely different though. This is subversive stuff, and it is apparently infiltrating the American Christian Church in a big way. This isn’t just about doctrinal differences. It is a complete undermining of Orthodox Christianity, and three of the four churches Palin attends are connected with it. (Link).

The Wasilla Assembly of God church (Palin’s church home for many years) is deeply involved with both Third Wave activities and theology. Their Master’s Commission program is part of an three year post-high school international training program with studies in prophecy, intercessory prayer, Biblical exegesis, authority and leadership. The pastor, Ed Kalnins, and Masters Commission students have traveled to South Carolina to participate in a “prophetic conference” at Morningstar Ministries, one of the major ministries of the Third Wave movement. Becky Fischer was a pastor at Morningstar prior to being featured in the movie “Jesus Camp.” The head of prophecy at Morningstar, Steve Thompson, is currently scheduled to do a prophecy seminar at the Wasilla Assembly of God. Other major leaders in the movement have also traveled to Wasilla to visit and speak at the church.

I’ll give you a rundown of some of the problems:

  • A shift in the way that Christians think from a rationalistic view, to an approach where doctrine is developed using experiential approach.
  • they hope to infiltrate all churches through their emphasis on unity above all else
  • obsession with sensational experiences
  • fantastic Signs and Wonders demonstrate the genuineness of their movement and must, they believe, accompany the proclamation of the gospel in our time.
  • unbelievers must experience the miraculous in order to be brought to full faith. Merely preaching the gospel message, they believe, will never reach the world for Christ.
  • The emphasis is on the Holy Spirit more than on Christ. The Holy Spirit is being invoked, prayed to, commanded, and pressed into people’s foreheads.
  • believe in generational curses that must be broken by the current generation
  • One of their leaders says that, To believe that the Scripture is the end of God’s revelation is a demonic doctrine. In order to fulfill God’s highest purpose for our lives, we must be able to hear His voice both in the written word and the word freshly spoken from heaven.
  • They assign to the Church duties and rights that belong Scripturally only to Jesus.
  • claim that Jesus cannot return until all His enemies have been put under the feet of the Church
  • Instead of the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, their scheme of world restoration calls for the development of man’s social skills and knowledge, organizational ability, qualities of leadership, rhetoric and the ability to dominate adversaries.
  • In an effort to strengthen the claims of the Church on earth, as a Kingdom and Authority to be obeyed, Dominionism has come close to replacing Lord Jesus with His Body.
  • They believe there are three levels of spiritual warfare: the casting out of demons from individuals, “occult-level warfare” against “powers of darkness” (like New Age thought and Tibetan Buddhism), and “strategic-level warfare” against whole geographical areas thought to be controlled by Satan. They engage in a process called “Spiritual Mapping”, which is the practice of gathering information on patterns of belief and unbelief in cities and communities, and trying to gain territory for God.
  • They believe God is raising up an army that will manifest all the supernatural power of the Old Testament and the New Testament combined. This power will be manifested to bring the entire world under the dominion of the Church (by any means necessary). The Church will then in turn hand it over to Jesus, who will hand it over to His Father. The great conquering army of supernatural saints is commonly referred to as Joel’s Army or the Manchild company.
  • Roots in the Latter Rain Movement and is part of the holy laughter movement and things like the Toronto Blessing, Brownsville Revival and Lakeland Revival

And for your viewing pleasure – or perhaps horror – take a gander at one of Dutch Sheets’ youth services:

My concern regarding Palin is that this militant group views her as an important player in bringing about their apocalyptic beliefs, and she herself apparently believes these things. This belief that their particular branch of the church must seize control of government and other institutions in order to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and hasten the end of the world, has big implications for our country and the world. If she comes to power and believes that it is her calling to set these things in motion, how can we expect her to deal with foreign nations and leaders who hold to beliefs that are at odds with her own. Will they all be seen as enemies who are standing in the way of God’s coming?

These people are training their young children to be warriors in “Joel’s Army.” They believe they will be the last generation and their purpose is to wage a holy war across the nations. The implication, from what I have read, is they will force conversion through violence, if necessary.

Regarding Joel’s Army, Rick Joyner, a leader in the Third Wave says in a sermon called “The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church,” “As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel’s Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces. In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”

John Wimber of Vineyard Churches, which is also part of the Third Wave movement says, “Those in this army will have His kind of power. … Anyone who wants to harm them must die.”

So…..reason to fear?

No. God is sovereign.

Reason for concern.

I think so. Concern for the minds and souls of the individuals involved in this movement and the Christian Church in general. And concern for the future of our country, should their movement infiltrate national office.

Sources:

http://www.intotruth.org/res/tract2.html

http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/CHAOS6.HTM

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/geneology.html#Joel%27s%20Army

http://thewatch.wicasta.com/?p=354

 

American Christians And The War June 12, 2008

Filed under: Christianity,Politics — katieosborne @ 7:31 pm
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I actually started a post on this subject a couple months ago, but due to the nature of the topic, I never had adequate time to set my thoughts down. I still don’t, but I read a speech today that so thoroughly states my feelings on the subject that I wanted to highlight it. It is something that has weighed heavily on my mind for some time, and I won’t make any apologies to family and friends, though I’m sure some will be offended. I don’t pretend to know it all, but this is something I am so sure about: Though many people I deeply respect support the war, I say with complete confidence that they are misled, and as Christians, we all need to examine how our view of our country and this war squares with scripture.

I am simply astounded by mainstream Christians’ support for the war and the president. Have we been so thoroughly brainwashed by the propaganda of the State that we cannot see the truth of what our country has become? We can’t see how immoral this war is? I don’t understand how so many Christians can be so blind to the evils of our government and it’s military. How is the war justified in their minds when they look at Christ’s commands in Scripture? Do they just cover their eyes to the truth?

To many, government has become a god, or is at least seen as God’s agent for good. Somehow Christianity and neo-conservative thought have become so intertwined for so many, it’s as though it is, in some strange way, now a part of Christian doctrine, despite the fact that so much of it is at odds with The Bible.

I want to highlight a few passages of Lawrence M. Vance’s speech, given recently at a Future of Freedom Foundation conference. It is a long document, but well worth the read. Here are just a few paragraphs I thought were particularly important.

Christians who are otherwise good, godly, disciples of Christ often turn into babbling idiots when it comes to the subjects of war, the military, and killing for the state. There is an unholy desire on the part of a great many Christians to legitimize killing in war. There persists the idea among too many Christians that mass killing in war is acceptable, but the killing of one’s neighbor violates the sixth commandment’s prohibition against killing. Christians who wouldn’t think of using the Lord’s name in vain blaspheme God when they make ridiculous statements like “God is pro-war.” Christians who try never to lie do so with boldness when they claim they are pro-life, but refuse to extend their pro-life sentiments to foreigners already out of the womb. Christians who abhor idols are guilty of idolatry when they say that we should follow the latest dictates of the state because we should always “obey the powers that be.” Christians who venerate the Bible handle the word of God deceitfully when they quote Scripture to justify U.S. government wars. Christians who claim to have the mind of Christ show that they have lost their mind when they want the full force of government to protect a stem cell, but have no conscience about U.S. soldiers killing for the government.

If there is any group within Christianity that should be the most consistent, the most vocal, the most persistent, and the most scriptural in its opposition to war and the warfare state, it is conservative Christians who look to the Bible as their sole authority. Yet, never at any time in history have so many of these Christians held such unholy opinions. The adoration they have toward President Bush is unholy. The association they have with the Republican Party is unholy. The admiration they have for the military is unholy. The thirst they have for war is unholy. The callous attitude they have toward killing foreigners is unholy. The idolatry they manifest toward the state is unholy.

If you doubt the truth of what I am saying about the sad state of Christianity, then look no further than the support that a theocratic warmonger like Mike Huckabee received in primary elections earlier this year held all over the South in the so-called Bible Belt. A church in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida, even had Huckabee in to preach on a Sunday evening during primary season. And this time the primaries down South weren’t the usual case of Christians holding their noses and voting for what they perceived to be the lesser of two or more evils, for there was actually a principled conservative Christian on the ballot – Ron Paul. Much of the Christian antagonism toward Dr. Paul was on account of his opposition to the war in Iraq and the larger war on terror. Yet, Christians who chose Huckabee over Paul chose the greater evil that they hoped to avoid. They themselves are evil, not because they rejected Ron Paul, but because they love war, the military, and the warfare state. Huckabee not only supported the sending of more troops to their death in Iraq, he actually maintained that we should not withdraw from Iraq because “we are winning.” If we are winning in Iraq when four thousand American soldiers are dead, thousands of physically and/or mentally disabled soldiers need a lifetime of care, a trillion dollars has already been spent, the morale and readiness of the military is at historic lows, the Guard and Reserve forces are decimated, military hardware and equipment are worn out, the reputation of America in the eyes of the world is at rock bottom, and new terrorists are being created faster than we can kill them, I hate to see what kind of condition we would be in if we started losing.

Christians have bought into a variety of American nationalism that has been called the myth of American exceptionalism. This is the idea that the government of the United States is morally and politically superior to all other governments; that America is a city on a hill – the redeemer nation, the Messiah nation, Rome on the Potomac, the “hope of all mankind,” as President Bush termed it; that American values are the only true values; that the United States is the indispensable nation responsible for the peace and prosperity of the world; that the motives of the United States are always benevolent and paternalistic; that to accept American values is to be on the side of God, but to resist them is to oppose God; that other governments must conform to the policies of the U.S. government; that other nations are potential enemies that threaten U.S. safety and security; and that the United States is morally justified in imposing sanctions or launching military attacks against any of our enemies that refuse to conform to our dictates.

This is why U.S. foreign policy is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. This is why U.S. foreign policy results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States. This is why U.S. foreign policy excuses the mass murder of civilians in the Philippines, Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Iraq as for the greater good. This is why the fruits of U.S. foreign policy are the destabilization and overthrow of governments, the assassination of leaders, the destruction of industry and infrastructure, the backing of military coups, death squads, and drug traffickers, imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism, support for corrupt and tyrannical governments, brutal sanctions and embargoes, and the United States bribing and bullying itself around the world as the world’s policeman, fireman, social worker, and busybody. And because Americans are preoccupied with reconciling religious faith with national pride, they care little about the consequences of American foreign policy, preferring instead to view the world in Manichean terms of good (us) and evil (them).

The early Christians were not warmongers like so many Christians today. They did not idolize the Caesars like some Christians idolize President Bush. They did not make apologies for the Roman Empire like many Christians do for the U.S. Empire. They did not venerate the institution of the military like most Christians do today. They did not participate in the state’s wars like too many Christians do today. If there was anything at all advocated by the early Christians it was peace. After all, they had some New Testament admonitions to go by:

  • Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
  • Live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18 )
  • Follow peace with all men (Hebrews 12:14)

Aggression, violence, and bloodshed are contrary to the very nature of Christianity. True, the Bible on several occasions likens a Christian to a soldier. As soldiers, Christians are admonished to “put on the whole armor of God.” The Apostle Paul, who himself said: “I have fought a good fight,” told a young minister to “war a good warfare.” But the Christian soldier in the Bible fights against sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. He wears “the breastplate of righteousness” and “the helmet of salvation.” The weapons of the Christian are not carnal: his shield is “the shield of faith” and his sword is “the word of God.” The New Testament admonishes Christians to not avenge themselves, to do good to all men, and to not render evil for evil. There is nothing in the New Testament from which to draw the conclusion that killing is somehow sanctified if it is done in the name of the state.

What is the purpose of the military? I think it is beyond dispute that the purpose of any country having a military is defense of the country against attack or invasion, not to “rid the world of evil,” as Bush proclaimed from the pulpit of the National Cathedral a few days after the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. military should be engaged exclusively in defending the United States, not defending other countries, and certainly not attacking them. It is U.S. borders that should be secured. It is U.S. shores that should be guarded. It is U.S. coasts that should be patrolled. It is U.S. skies where no-fly zones should be enforced.

But because U.S. foreign policy is aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling; because it has a history of hegemony, nation building, regime change, and jingoism; because it is the story of interventionism, imperialism, and empire; because it results in discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States: the U.S. military – the enforcer of U.S. foreign policy – is a force for evil in the world. Because America’s military heritage is not one of how our troops have repelled invaders, kept us safe from attack, or defended our freedoms, it is not honorable to serve in the military. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially for soldiers who fought for a lie and the families of soldiers who died for a lie. America’s military heritage is unfortunately one of bombs and bullets, death and destruction, intervention and invasion, and occupation and oppression. The purpose of the military has been perverted beyond all recognition. The military spreads democracy by bombs, bayonets, and bullets. The military garrisons the planet with troops and bases. The military is responsible for the network of brothels around the world to service U.S. troops who have no business being away from home. Military personnel serve simultaneously as policemen, firemen, scientists, social workers, and bullies with the world as their precinct, forest, laboratory, client, and playground.

The problem with the U.S. military is, of course, U.S. foreign policy. U.S. foreign policy is not only aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling, it is also extremely arrogant. The United States would never tolerate another country engaging in an American-style foreign policy. Now, I think I loathe President Bush as much as any man in this room, and perhaps even more so because, as a Bible-believing Christian, I oppose his faith-based socialism, his misuse of Scripture and religion, and his doctrinal deviations from orthodox Christianity, but what if another country said that the U.S. government was corrupt and oppressive and needed a regime change and then came over here and overthrew our government? I would be outraged, as would every American. The United States has troops in about 150 countries. Would it be okay if each of these countries sent troops to the United States? If not, then why not? Would it be okay if each of the countries the United States has a military base in decided to build a base in the United States? Why not? Why the double standard? It is the height of arrogance to insist that the United States alone has the right to garrison the planet with bases, station troops wherever it wants, police the world, and intervene in the affairs of other countries.

It is high time for Christians who still defend the state, its leaders, its military, and its wars to wake up and open their eyes and recognize some cold, hard facts:

  • The United States has become a rogue state, a pariah nation, an evil empire.
  • The United States’ military is the greatest force for evil in the world.
  • The United States is the arms dealer to the world.
  • The United States is not the world’s policeman.
  • The United States cannot redeem the world through violence.
  • The United States is not the God-anointed protector of Israel that enjoys a special relationship with God.
  • The United States government is the greatest threat to American life, liberty, and property – not the leaders or the military or the people of Iraq, Iran, Syria, China, Russia, or Venezuela.

Our republic is crumbling. It is imperative that we return to the noninterventionist foreign policy of the Founders. Christians, of all people, should be leading the way.