Friday, December 31, 2010

[1565] HITCHENS- BLOOMBERG AND ADAM- Okay- being I’m finishing up my last book, I made the mistake of going to half price books yesterday- mistake? Yes- I’m going thru some courses right now on philosophy and really shouldn’t be starting any new books right now- but heck, I couldn’t help myself. So as my custom goes- my wife dropped me off [they know better than to wait at the store- I usually take a few hours] and I begin the obsession. First I go thru all the shelves of the targeted category [theology, philosophy, etc.] and pluck out the books I think are relevant. Then when the process is complete I usually purchase 3-5 books from the collection [yes- I leave the rest on the shelf for the poor book worker to put back into the proper section]. So anyway as I was walking outside after the purchase I sat at one of the outside coffee areas where lots of people usually hang out [you know- the professors- one time there was a guitar playing hippie singing about the war in Vietnam- in 2009!]. But this day it was surprisingly empty- only one homeless guy. As I sat to start Christopher Hitchens best seller ‘god is not great- how religion poisons everything’ I realized that the reason the spot was empty was because the homeless kid was sitting there at one of the tables- playing with one of those kids toys- you shake it back and forth and it claps- and he seemed to be talking to himself. To be honest- some of these guys are my best friends- I’ve spent thousands of man hours just hanging out with these brothers over the years. I really didn’t talk too much- trying to dissect Hitchens- then my wife drove up and beeped the horn. As I got up to leave- I saw the brother kinda look my way- seemed to be waiting to see the scared- or violent type response they usually see- you know ‘stay the hell away from me’ type thing. I caught his eye and just gave him a friendly ‘hey brother- how you doing’ he was so glad to be seen as a human being. I walked over and figured I’d talk for a minute or 2. I didn’t realize it at first, but he was wearing headphones and listening to music- he wasn’t talking to himself after all. He told me he was listening to Floyd- I told him I too am a big classic rock fan- that while living in Jersey I missed their concert in 1979-80 ‘The Wall’. He knew the year- it was 1980. I just spent a few minutes having a friendly talk with him- maybe the first real communication he’s had all day- most of these brothers are nice guys- yet they often struggle with mental issues- he looked to be in his late 20’s, originally from some northern state- probably headed south for the winter. As my wife was waiting in the car- beeping the horn- probably thinking ‘Oh know- another one of his homeless friends’ [yes- I’ve met hundreds over the years- and they’ve all been to the house many times] I told my buddy I got to go- he asks ‘what’s your name’? John. Hi John- my name is Adam. Strange- the man who was made in God’s image- Jesus said ‘in as much as you helped one of the least- the down and out- you have helped me’.

Okay- once again I really needed to do a post or 2 on philosophy- before I get too ahead of myself in the study; but let me make a few comments on Hitchens book [see- I told you I shouldn’t have hit the book store!] Okay- I’m gonna try and be nice to Hitchens- he is one of the famous atheist writers of the past few years- these guys are referred to as ‘the new atheists’ the group consists of some notable names- Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris- a few others. These guys kind of became popular in reviving some of the old arguments against religion and God- most modern readers are not aware that they are simply re-hashing the same old arguments that have been refuted in the past- and to be honest this bunch make a whole lotta errors in their thinking/arguments. Most well trained Christian apologists have thoroughly refuted them. But being Hitchens is dying [or died? I haven’t checked recently] of cancer- I’ll try and be nice [try!]. Okay- like some of the book reviews I read- Hitchens is crude and mean- and yes- at times ignorant of his glaring mistakes. He describes a nice old teacher he had as a youth- as a young boy growing up in England- she taught the schoolboys about nature and science- and yes- God. I thought he was being nice telling the story. Then he calls her ‘a pious old trout’. He refers to the sex abuse scandal that’s rocked the Catholic church- he calls it the ‘no child’s behind left’ scandal [a takeoff on the no child left behind policy]. So yes, this book- while containing some real good history- also sounds overly crude. Hitchens also appeals to mans great intellect and sophistication as being all we need for true morality- he says man does not need God, religion or the bible to be moral- after all we have the great works of literature! Sounds good- right? He then goes on and mentions the names of the great authors- he mentions Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy among others- and makes the argument ‘see- we have morality and truth contained within these books without needing religious truth’- geez- every well read person will tell you that these authors are known for their books being inundated with religious morality- it’s no secret that these 2 authors are considered some of the greatest Christian/religious writers of their time. How Hitchens could appeal to the ethics contained in their writings and say ‘see- we don’t need religious ethics- we have these guys’. I mean these types of obvious flaws jump right out at you- to be honest I have only read the reviews from these famous atheists in the past- but most of the reviews have pointed stuff like this out- I just didn’t think these guys would be this ‘amateurish’ [geez- don’t want to call the guy an idiot- or an old trout- that wouldn’t be the Christian thing to do]. So anyway I guess I’ll hit a few high points of the book the next week or so.

Last- but not least. Have we had our own Greek crisis? Those of you who follow the news are aware that this last year the European Union has suffered from a severe debt crisis- many states that make up the union have struggled to try and cut costs and sure up their economies- Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are still very much in trouble. So the other healthier economies in the union [Germany] have put pressure on the weaker ones to get their houses in order- they refer to this as ‘austerity’ taking measures to reign in the financial crisis. As a response to these cutbacks- like raising the retirement age and hiking college tuition- many citizens have taken to the streets in protest- govt. workers going on strike and all. People have wondered if stuff like this could happen in the good old U.S. of A- it looks like it might just have! In sort of sneaky way. The blizzard that has wreaked havoc on the north east these last few days has caused problems for N.Y. and N.J. [my old home turf]. The mayor of N.Y. - Michael Bloomberg- has come under fire for not getting the streets cleared in time. Word has gotten out that some of the street workers were told by their bosses ‘go slow in the clean up’ so to put pressure on the mayor to not eliminate their jobs- sort of like an under the cover strike. If this is true [we don’t know for sure] then it would be our own workers rebellion against our austerity measures- while it’s not as bad as what Europe has gone thru- never the less it’s still bad.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

[1564] DRUNK WITH THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS- Wasn’t sure which way to go today? It’s strange that I have been thinking about covering the sad story of the Christians in Iraq; since the war they have been persecuted severely- a few months back one of their main churches was attacked, many have fled to the northern region of the country [Kurdish area] and many are seeking asylum in our country. Saddam Hussein protected the Christian church in Iraq- he was not considered to be a radical Muslim leader- like the Mullahs in Iran. So it’s sad to see the Christian church possibly being eliminated from this ancient country. The church in Iraq dates back to the 1st century- they still speak Aramaic [some of them] which was the actual language Jesus spoke. Anyway- the thing that seems strange is I felt like I should read Revelation chapter 17 this morning- and in the chapter the apostle John has this vision of Babylon [which is Iraq- geographically. In the chapter it’s a symbol of the Roman Empire] and as he sees Babylon he says ‘she is drunk with the blood of the saints’- yes indeed, much Christian blood has been spilt in Iraq.

Okay- the other day I was watching some show about a group of people picked from all over the world who were chosen to participate in a sort of round table discussion where each person would spend so many months just sharing in conversation with these other people. Some were from the U.S., others from Muslim/Arab countries- some were from Israel. The conversation they had was really revealing- they were not scholars, but they showed you the point of view from other perspectives. One of the questions they asked was what should happen to Iran? Should the U.S. intervene in their desire to obtain nuclear weapons? One of the Americans said we should- because they might be a danger to world peace [a common ideology among many Americans] then one of the students from a Muslim country said ‘then why do you not feel it is also wrong for the U.S. to have nuclear weapons’ and the American gave some type of simple answer. Why does the Muslim world have a problem with the U.S. seeming to play the role of arbiter- who can have- or not have a nuclear arsenal?

Are there any Muslim/Arab countries that have them today? What about other countries who are also unstable? Let’s see- Pakistan [the most unstable of the bunch right now] India [Pakistan’s rival, also a major reason why Pakistan will not eliminate the Taliban from the mountainous region of her nation- they see the Taliban as playing a major role in the future govt. of Afghanistan and they need some ties to the Taliban in order to balance out any power play between India and Afghanistan] Egypt, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia- well as you can see there are a bunch of nations who already posses nuclear weapons- or are on the road to getting them. So when the average Muslim sees our attempt to intervene in who gets nukes, they see it as a hypocritical game.

What is the world history on nuclear attacks? How many countries have actually used nukes to attack/respond to other attacks? One. Who dropped the first Atomic bomb in the history of the world on another country? We did. Okay- let’s give this another shot. Who dropped the second Atomic bomb? Okay- us again. One more time- who dropped number 3? No one. So let’s see this from the perspective of the Muslim student who questioned the reasoning of why the U.S. has nukes- but doesn’t want other nations to have them. The student was told that if other nations [Iran] has them- they might use them. Yet they see us as the only country that has ever actually used them. Look- I know why we used them- and many have questioned the morality of what we did in WW2. Were we just in dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? We killed around 200 thousand people- civilians- not military [not counting the many who died in the following years from radiation sickness]. One of the definitions of terrorism is the purposeful targeting of civilians for a political/military goal. To the Muslim world- we targeted these civilian cites [they were not collateral damage- the civilians were the target] for a political/military goal- to end the war. The point is we [Americans] have a tendency to view things from one perspective- we rarely see the end result of our actions. Who would have thought that our war in ancient Babylon [Iraq] would have contributed to one of the fulfillments of John’s prophecy ‘Babylon- you are drunk with the blood of the saints’.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[1563] VICK- PAKISTAN AND THE GAMES WE PLAY- I really wanted to do a little more on Philosophy today-maybe I’ll get to it at the end. Let me talk about a few points of interest in the news right now.

First- the other day- right around Christmas- a Pakistani woman strapped a bomb around herself- had 2 grenades in her hands and walked up to a food distribution center in Pakistan and blew herself up- killing 45 people along with herself. The President spoke about it from his Hawaiian vacation spot and called the act cowardly. Now- what would cause a woman- possibly a mother- to do this? Cowardice? Desperation? A feeling of hopelessness and seeing our bombing in her streets as oppression? I obviously do not condone the act of the woman- but she was primarily looking for a way to retaliate against our remote control planes [drones] dropping bombs all over the damn place- killing women and kids in the process. This whole thing is a mess.

On a lighter note- the President made another announcement- a phone call from Hawaii- he called Tony Dungy and thanked him for giving Michael Vick a second chance with the Eagles. Michael is the quarterback who a couple of years back was caught doing the dog fighting thing [yes- bad stuff]. He was convicted and did 18 months in jail. The eagles picked him up and he has had a great season and has managed to redeem himself as a really good player. So some in the media have criticized the president for congratulating Dungy for hiring Vick. I must say, while I disagree with the president on lots of stuff- I agree with him 100 % on this. At the time of the Michael Vick story I wrote in favor of Vick- I thought it was nuts that we have had players involved with killing people- guns falling out of their sweat pants at the clubs- all types of stuff- their chauffeurs running people over when they are in the car- and lots of times these players keep playing and never do jail time- yet Vick did almost 2 years- and some people still want him to be punished. I’m happy for Michael and I thank God he’s doing so well- he had a real risk of maybe not being able to play well, when you go to jail for a couple of years during your prime- that can ruin your career. I thank God he has made the most of his second chance- and I too praise Dungy- a fellow Christian- for giving Vick the second chance.

Okay- last but not least. As 2010 comes to a close- these last few weeks investors have pulled over 8 billion out of the U.S. bond market. They see the writing on the wall- that inflation is very likely to rear it’s ugly head and interest rates are going to go up. Why? How many of you remember a few weeks back when the Federal Reserve [our nation’s central bank] bought billions of dollars of U.S. treasuries? At the time you had global trading partners condemn us for trying to manipulate the global market- many voices from our country also said it was a risky move- it might cause inflation [when investors think interest rates will rise- they pull money from the bond market and put it into stocks- that’s also why the Dow is up]. They seem to have been right. The other day I was talking to my brother in law- he was asking me about some of this stuff. I explained to him that if you were playing Monopoly- and you and a few other players did real well- but mid way thru the game the banker simply put another million dollars into the game- how would that affect you? Basically ‘printing money’ like this- out of thin air- will devalue the money that’s already in the game- it will create inflation- everything else would become more expensive because the extra money devalued the original money that was on the board. So it looks like we did this- they’re predicting gas to go up to around 4 dollars a gallon- and those of you buying food- you already have seen the prices go up. So the nation basically borrowed money from ourselves [monetized our own debt] and it seems like the world won’t get fooled again.

Monday, December 27, 2010

[1562] POPE’S BOOK- FINAL COMMENTS- Let me try and make my last comments on the Pope’s book [almost done with it- a few pages left] which I have been reading on and off for about a month [I’m in the middle of a study on the Western intellectual tradition- making radio programs- and have been too scattered to do a complete book review]. Let me hit a few high points of the last few chapters that I felt were really insightful. Benedict gives an overview of a Rabbi’s perspective on Jesus [a book the Pope read from the Rabbi]. The Rabbi does not accept Jesus as the Messiah- but is respectful in his approach and the Pope shares the common reason why the Jewish nation rejected Jesus as their Messiah in the 1st century. Being faithful to a theme that runs throughout the book- Benedict shows how Jesus presented himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy about Moses/Jesus ‘that God would raise up a prophet like Moses’- Benedict shows that Jesus presented himself as the ‘New Moses’ and took the position of God himself in the statements he was making concerning his authority. In the Rabbi’s book- that the Pope is explaining- the rabbi covers the sayings of Jesus and comes to the conclusion that faithful Jews could not/ did not receive Jesus as their Messiah because his call to them was for Israel to accept his authority over and above what they knew to be true- their attachment to the Torah [the first 5 books of the bible- the law] and for Israel- as a nation- to accept Jesus- they would be saying ‘we accept a new Moses- and place his authority and words over and above the very foundation of our existence’. Now- these insights are deep- they are coming from a Jewish rabbi who has come to the conclusion that Jesus was presenting himself ‘as God’ to the nation of Israel- and Benedict says he learned a lot from reading this perspective from the Rabbi. I just felt that this section of the book was real valuable. The Pope goes on to explain that Jesus was not repudiating the law- but fulfilling it- and in his explanation he also does a very good job [secretly!] at putting out a hand to the Protestant churches and attempting to reconcile the teachings of Paul on justification by faith [and Paul’s neglect of the law] and the biblical view of Jesus fulfilling the law. Benedict even shares very good insights into the apostolic calling of Peter- and the separate calling of the apostle Paul- his insights are excellent and you can see that he is really making an attempt to bridge the theological gap between Protestants and Catholics. Overall this book [Jesus of Nazareth] is the most Cross/Christ centered book I have read in the past 5 years! [We call this Christology- for those of you who want to learn the terms]. Over these last few years I have made an attempt to read some of the top Protestant writers of the day [Men like N.T. Wright- former Bishop of the church of Durham- England. Not talking about the top best sellers that are basically filled with pop psychology and void of any real learning] and I must confess that no other book has come close to the insights that the Pope has on the Cross and the necessity of believers to identify with Jesus in his death and resurrection- the Pope has done an excellent job at presenting Jesus and the Cross in their proper light. For all you theologians/preachers- the Pope also comes down on the conservative side of historical criticism. That is he certainly is familiar with the whole debate over Liberal/Conservative approaches to scripture [not talking politics here!] and he does another excellent job at dissecting the critics [Bultmann] and challenging many of the false assumptions that the higher critics made while rejecting the historical content of the gospels. The church went thru a century or so debating how reliably accurate the gospels were- many challenged their accuracy in a way that was not fair- that is they began holding the bible up to critical methods of historicity that no other documents were ever held to. These critics came up with methods- called historical criticism- that were quite frankly ‘loony’. And then they used this new criterion to say that the Historical Jesus was a different person than the Jesus from the bible. The Pope does a thoroughly scholarly ‘dissection’ of these faulty approaches- and quite frankly takes them apart in a ‘nice’ way. Yet Benedict also respects the historical studies of the church and handles very well the ‘contradictions’ that some find in the gospels. Many critics have shown how the various gospel writers [especially John’s gospel compared to the 3 others] do show differing accounts on certain aspects of Jesus and his life. To be honest- some of these differences can be problematic- many preachers/believers are generally not aware of some of these differences. The Pope knows them well- and deals with them well. So he does not simply reject the ‘higher critics’ by saying they are wrong, but he shows his familiarity with the subject, and makes a scholarly attempt at representing the ‘conservative’ side of the argument; which basically says ‘the gospels contained in the new testament do very much present to us the historical Jesus’. Needless to say- I agree. So anyway as you can see the book is chock full of excellent insights that would benefit all Christians- I recommend everyone pick up a copy and read it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

[1561] PIETISM/ROMANTICISM- As we already covered, the Enlightenment thinkers struggled with the idea that religion and reason/rationalism can go together. The pure Empiricists [David Hume] would reject the idea that religion could be rational- Descartes claimed it could- and Kant drew a middle line; he taught that we cannot know God thru the sense realm, but it was rational to ‘Postulate’ the idea of God [John Locke said reason can accept Revelation- Divine truths that have no Empirical evidence to back them up- Kant simply taught that it was rational for the mind to accept the idea that a first cause must exist, even if we can’t ‘prove’ him thru sense evidence]. Okay- as you can see much of Enlightenment thinking was infused with religion, reason, rationality- etc. Did all thinkers ‘think’ that these ways of approaching religion and reason were profitable? No- many thinkers/philosophers saw too much ‘head knowledge’ in the whole endeavor to make faith reasonable. Many religious leaders rejected the over emphasis on rational religion. Romanticism was a cultural/religious movement that primarily affected the Arts and Literature- but also had strains of religious thinking within it. The Romantics said we do and should experience life and God thru a real-felt type of living. There is much more to life than the rational proofs of things- in fact they felt the very essence of life was about experiencing the beauty of things thru the Arts and the creativity of man- some felt that God himself was revealing who he was thru the artistic creativity of man- the great Christian pieces of music [Bach- etc.] were not these beautiful works of music that transcended the ‘rationality’ of man and caused him to experience the beauty of God/religion thru this form of Art? The same for great literature. Pietism had her roots in the early modern period- and in the 19th century also pushed back against the sterile rationality of the Enlightenment thinkers. Pietism- much like Romanticism- said there was much more to religion than simply knowledge- Pietism challenged the ‘dead faith’ of Orthodoxy and focused on the religious experience of Regeneration- they spent much time answering the question ‘how do we know we are saved’. Romanticism had strains of religious thinkers within her- Pietism was mainly focused on the religious question. Pietism had a major impact on 19-20th century Protestant Christianity- and most Evangelicals today can trace their roots to Pietism’s influence on religious thought. In the 18th century revivals that took place in the American colonies- men like Jonathan Edwards would play a major role in shaping the religious thought of early Protestantism in America. John Wesley- the great Methodist preacher- would also challenge the ‘dead religion’ of the Church of England and eventually launch the Methodist church [though Wesley originally never meant to separate from the Anglican Communion]. So the 19th century saw a strong reaction against the reason/rationalism of Enlightenment thinking- they felt like much true religious experience was indeed meant to be ‘an experience’ that is something much more than simple knowledge. In Romanticism this challenge was primarily based in the cultural landscape of the day- in Pietism it was religious in nature. You had both Romantic atheists and Pietistic preachers agree on one thing- there is much more to life than the sterile rationality of the Enlightenment period.

Friday, December 24, 2010

[1560] BUT THOU BETHLEHEM, THOUGH THOU BE LITTLE AMONG THE THOUSANDS OF JUDAH- YET OUT OF THEE SHALL HE COME FORTH UNTO ME THAT IS TO BE RULER IN ISRAEL. Micah 5:2. In the gospel of Luke we read the story of Jesus being born in a real place- at a real time. Chapter 2 says that Caesar put out a decree that ‘all the world should be taxed’ that is they did a kind of census where you had to go to your native town and register. It just so happned that Mary, Jesus mother, was living in Nazareth [Galilee] at the time and Joseph- Jesus’ step dad- was from the lineage of Judah [King David’s tribe]. So at this very inconvenient time- at the hour of child birth- they make the trek to Bethlehem of Judea- just in time for the census- and for the baby! Hundreds of years before this event there was this obscure Jewish prophet named Micah- he blurted out one day ‘out of you Bethlehem- the least of all places- shall one come forth- a great ruler of all men’ [my paraphrase]. The Jewish nation was waiting for centuries for this ‘sent one’ this messiah who would come to them in the midst of their oppression- and he would fulfill the promise that God made to father Abraham millennia before ‘we will serve him without fear and in holiness all the days of our lives’. As a matter of fact- jump back to Luke chapter 1 and you can read this promise being uttered from the lips of John the Baptist’s father when he praises God over the pregnancy of his wife Elisabeth- you see John the Baptist was also spoken about centuries before his birth- he would come on the scene as a forerunner- a precursor to the messiah. Yes, John’s father had reason to rejoice. And when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary- he told how that she was chosen for this great task- possibly the greatest task that any human was ever given- she would give birth to this promised messiah. She asks the angel ‘how can this be- I know not a man’ he tells her the Holy Spirit will come upon her and she will conceive a child from God- none before could claim the title ‘the only begotten of God’. Read Mary’s prayer in chapter 1- it too is a cry for social justice ‘the high and mighty will be brought low- the poor will be lifted up’ we call her prayer ‘The Magnificat’. Both Zacharias and Mary spoke/prophesied of social justice- that thru these seemingly strange miracles- God put in place a plan that would bring justice to all those who were being oppressed. So the day came for Mary to bear the child- but he was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem- so God preordained that the great Caesar Augustus would make a decree that ‘all the world would be taxed’. Caesar came from the beginning line of Rome’s great Caesars. Octavian- Rome’s first- would be a devastating military leader who would strike fear into the hearts of Rome’s enemies- the kingdom [Roman Empire] would take her initial form under his rule. Of course most of us our familiar with Julius Caesar- he’s made it into the Hollywood hall of fame- and Augustus- he would be the third in a line of 12 Caesars who would rule Rome. He ruled at a time when Rome was the center of the world- all roads truly did lead to Rome- the great eternal city. Rome had her religious adherents- Rome practiced a type of pluralism- when they conquered an enemy- they would allow the people to continue to have some form of self rule- believe in whatever religion suits you- but you were still under Roman rule. The Pantheon [a sort of pedestal for the various god’s of the day] represented this religious openness of Rome. Yet the Jews had a different type of belief- they held to what we describe as Monotheism- a belief that there was only one true God. Her prophets spoke the words ‘hear O Israel the Lord our God is one’ and they held to their peculiar belief while Rome overlooked it. In the midst of all these developments, Caesar makes the decree ‘everyone go back to your towns for the census’ and Mary and Joseph hit the road. Sure enough the time came for her to deliver the child- he was born in a stable- laid in a manger and the world would receive her king. 2 Thousand years have passed- where are the great Caesars? Have you ever even heard of the name Octavian before today? Yet all over the world- in every nation- on the radio- over the internet- being shouted from the speakers at the mall- yes, all over the world we sing that Jesus Christ is king- the one born in Bethlehem of Judea- the one for whom the whole world was a stage- even the mighty Caesars of the day bowed the knee unto this eternal purpose of God- they would be puppets in the hand of God- used of God to make decrees that would fulfill the obscure prophecy of some Jewish prophet named Micah- yes- the Virgin had it right ‘God brought down the mighty- used them for his purposes- and exalted those who were struggling’. Rejoice- for in this day- 2 thousand years ago- was born a great ruler- a ruler of all men- his hometown is now famous because of this birth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Week in review. The president passed a bunch of stuff in the lame duck congress [good for the man] and the Repubs seemed to be upset. But wait- there’s still hope! The Repubs can make a comeback you know- just be careful, play your cards right and all’s well that ends well- right? O, by the way- did you hear what Haley Barbour said? He’s one of the presidential hopefuls for the Republican Party in the next election. He said when he was growing up in the south- he doesn’t remember things being that bad during the years preceding the civil rights movement. Well I guess if you were white things weren’t that bad! Okay- just a post on my thoughts on race- it’s sad, we all [Blacks and Whites] seem to have a hard time dealing with it.

-(1322) RACISM- As I was reading my hometown news paper over the last year [Jersey Journal] I followed a story about a racist right wing radio/web guy who finally got thrown into jail. The guys name is Hal Turner and the thing that caught my interest was he was from my hometown of North Bergen. Why do people like this attract an audience? A while back I was watching MSNBC and the host that day was Lawrence O’Donnell, he was talking to someone about the Sonya Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court. He mentioned how the fact that the judge was accepted at Princeton under the affirmative action program, that even though she scored lower than some of the other applicants, she eventually had high grades down the road. He then said that this is proof that we shouldn’t accept kids based on their score or achievements, but that this proves that the institutions should be able to pick people because they prefer their race. The point of course is this is blatant racism; everyone knows this. But yet those who espouse this view in public forums also accuse those who disagree with them as being racists. Now, the average White person sees right thru this, they know that if O’Donnell’s kid was rejected in her life based on race that he would be fuming, yet he publicly accuses others who would have the same response as racist. These double standards are seen for what they are. They just recently promoted the fire fighters who took their case to the Supreme Court because the city threw out their test scores because no Blacks passed the test. They won their case and finally got promoted. When the firefighters who passed [not all Whites, there were some Hispanics] sued for what was right and just, those representing the Black firefighters went to the Hispanic candidate and tried to talk him out of suing, so they could portray the White guys as being racists. The Hispanic guy said he was agreeing with the White guys because they were simply right. As I listened to the tortured defense of those representing the Black guys, it was absolutely nonsensical. I mean you can argue forever why the Whites and Hispanics passed and the Blacks didn’t, but to actually accuse the ones who passed as being racists is racist itself. These things are what causes there to be an audience for the Hal Turner’s, the liberal minded elite media feel good about themselves when they side with obviously racist views. They think it good to say ‘if a university rejects you because your White, that’s good’ they feed into the hate mongers and allow themselves to be fuel for the Hal Turners of the world.

(1216) lets try and do a few things; first, I read a few more chapters in Wrights book [N.T. Wright] and as much as I really like his writing, I do have a few problems with some of the ways he states stuff. He kinda tries to walk the middle road in the area of the second coming and the physical nature of it. He does say he believes in the real second coming and that it did not happen yet. He does teach that Jesus is ‘in heaven’ [Gods realm] physically- good. But he also says stuff like ‘when Jesus ascended you don’t believe he lifted off vertically from the planet’ [actually I do!] or when Jesus comes back it wont be like some spaceman descending out of space [well I know he’s not a ‘spaceman’ but I do believe he will come from ‘out there’]. It was statements like this that caused me a little concern in the past. He also states that he is not a full Preterist, and distances himself from those who tried to claim him as one. But you can hardly blame them, he really does at times sound like he is one [Preterists believe the second coming happened in a.d. 70- it’s a long story] Wright empathically says he does not believe that. Yet he says all the statements from Jesus on ‘his coming’ do not refer to an actual second coming in the future. But he believes Paul and other New Testament passages do teach a real, literal second coming, but that Jesus never spoke of it. To be frank, I think brother Wright opens up the door to all the accusations and confusion that some people have about his position. I still like Wright, he is an excellent N.T. scholar and 1st century historian, but I think there are some problems with his views on the second coming. He definitely states he believes in a real, physical second coming. But instead of it being ‘Jesus coming down from somewhere’ it will be more like ‘Gods realm [heaven] joining our realm’ and at that time he will physically be with us. Well I do believe that at the second coming ‘both realms unite’ that at that moment we will have a ‘new heavens and earth’ I just don’t see the point in Wright’s language when he seems to make light of the physical aspects of Christ’s return. I also agree with him 100% about the New Testament not teaching a ‘rapture’ he rightfully shows us that the ‘rapture chapter’ [1st Thessalonians 4] is the same as 1st Corinthians 15. There simply is no ‘secret coming’ taught in the New Testament [some will be caught by surprise, but it will be no secret!] All in all I like Wright, will continue to read him, just thought I needed to mention these points. Okay, let’s turn to politics. The climate in the country continues to be really bad at this time [9-09] I watched MSNBC show over and over again a picture of a man toting a sub machine gun on his back at some Obama town hall. Of course this is dangerous and nuts! The problem is Chris Matthews portrayed it along with the mindset of ‘see these white skinhead radicals, these racists who are against change’ his whole rant against the people opposing Obama is done in this vain. Sure enough, another news organization showed you the full picture of the man with the gun on his back; he was a black man. Why mention this? Stuff like this, purposefully not telling the whole story, or taking an incident and being dishonest about it to prove your point, this stuff creates racial tensions all on its own. There is no need to try and fabricate a scenario in order to make it fit your story. There are enough real nuts in the country for the news media to not have to fabricate stuff like this, to make the audience think that the ‘gun man’ was an anti Obama ‘right winger’, he obviously was not. Those who oppose the president should do so on purely political grounds, those who support him should take the same view. To be against or for a person because of their race is wrong, very wrong. But people should not feel intimidated if they want to oppose him for the right reasons. When the country sees this type of race card being played, this breeds a type of racism all on its own. Did the bill being floated on Capitol Hill fund abortions- you bet it did! I know the denials have gone forth vehemently, Obama himself publicly said that his position in national health care would include provisions for women’s reproductive rights; he was point blank asked this question. In no uncertain terms he said it would. But after the heat hit the fan they of course would not say it like this. In essence the proposed bill would have included language for ‘women’s reproductive rights’ but because the term ‘abortion’ was not specifically stated, the politicians said ‘oh no, those who think abortion is in there are misleading you’ they lied to you. So let’s try and pass what both sides agree on; pass laws on making it illegal for an insurance company to drop you if you get sick. Provide funding for those who can’t buy insurance and try and get everyone insured. Do tort reform. Get the stuff done that can get done, don’t create all types of problems by bringing up ‘reproductive rights’ there are too many people [Democrats and Republicans] who are truly opposed to abortion in a fundamental way, leave that language out. And for heavens sake, if the media has a picture of a man with a gun strapped to his back, don’t portray him as some white skinhead, especially if the guys black!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

[1559] RATIONALISTS- EMPIRICISTS [Western intellectual tradition] - Okay- for those of you who are following my sporadic teaching on modernity [philosophical period between the 17th 20th centuries] let me overview a little of what we have covered so far. We discussed the Christian thinker- Rene Descartes’- and how in the 17th century he challenged the faculty at the university of Paris [the leading university of the day] to argue for the reasonableness of Christianity thru rational means- he said we can prove the existence of God without having to appeal to church tradition or the bible. The Empiricists [those who challenged the ‘rationalists’] argued that all knowledge comes to us from the senses- so we can never prove God’s existence from reasonable/natural means. In fact they argued that religion in itself is irrational and any attempts to make it rational/reasonable were futile. David Hume and Denis Diderot [one of the first openly professed atheists of the time] would argue from this position. Then in the late 18th century the very influential German thinker- Immanuel Kant- would respond to Hume’s pure skeptical Empiricism and ‘awake out of his dogmatic slumber’ [a term he himself used to describe his reaction to reading Hume] and challenge the skeptics. Kant did accept the Empiricist’s idea that we can’t ‘prove God’ by rational means- thru knowledge obtained thru the 5 senses- yet he taught that it was perfectly ‘reasonable’ to come to the conclusion that God exists. Just because you can’t prove God like Descartes’ said [according to Kant- I personally believe Descartes’ was right] it is still rational to ‘purport’ the necessity of God- in essence we ‘need God’ and natural religion for man to function in society- and it is logical to conclude that there must be an initial cause to all creation-even though we can’t discover him thru natural means. Okay- just a brief overview of what we already covered. I guess at this point I better go ahead and start a separate study under the title ‘The Western Intellectual Tradition’ [on the blog]. Why should Christians [especially preachers/pastors] even be concerned with stuff like this? While I agree it is not necessary for all Christians to study all subjects about all things- yet these historical/cultural movements play a major role in the debate going on today between believers and those who reject God. Just like in the scientific field- if Christians simply give up the fight- that is if we come to the table of ideas- trying to engage society in a coherent way- then we need to have some ability to argue intelligently for our position. To have even a ‘surface’ understanding of some of these cultural movements that have shaped the way we think and know is important when we get into debates with unbelievers who have appealed to the skeptics [Hume] to argue against the existence of God.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

[1558] ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel- which is translated “God with us”. Matthew 1:23. This is an interesting- and important verse for all believers- we celebrate the reality of the virgin birth of Jesus during this season. Do you know where this verse comes from originally? It comes from the mouth of the prophet Isaiah [chapter 7]. The scenario is the king of Judah [Ahaz] is targeted by 2 other nations- Israel [the northern tribe of Israel] and Syria. These 2 kings make an alliance against the southern tribe of Judah and decide to make a breach [hole] in Judah’s wall and use their land as a staging ground for future military and economic purposes. The king of Judah hears about the plan and the bible says ‘he- and all the people shook like trees in the wind’- yes it felt like Rumsfeld was coming with a shock and awe campaign. Then in the midst of this fear- God tells Isaiah the prophet ‘go to the king and speak with him’. Isaiah gives him a prophetic word to not fear these 2 nations- their plans will not succeed. Then Isaiah tells the king ‘ask God for a sign- in heaven or earth’ and Ahaz says no, he will not test God. Isaiah then prophesies the above verse about Jesus. It just seems so strange for this verse, about Jesus- the Prince of Peace- to come in the middle of a military setting like this. The other day I saw some video of our troops in Iraq/Afghanistan- it was video leaked by the Wikileaks organization. They showed a few instances of our pilots in attack helicopters chasing down suspected insurgents in vehicles. You see the video of the chase, and the men in the vehicle getting out of the car and holding their hands up to surrender. The pilot radios back to his commander that they are surrendering- the commander tells them they are not able to take prisoners during the helicopter attack [obviously it would be difficult- you would have to land- slow down the entire operation for a few hours, and then go back to base camp and unload them- yes- it would be very inconvenient]. So the commander tells the pilot ‘we can’t take them’ the pilot doesn’t know what to do. The commander says ‘they are still targets’ after about 3 seconds of waiting- the pilot realizes the commander is saying ‘shoot them- with their hands up’ they do. Now, do I demonize our brave pilots for this- No. What about the commander- not really- though he bares more responsibility for the call- it was later shown that we do indeed take prisoners with helicopters. But I ‘blame’ the political miscalculations that were made years ago that allowed these men to kill these surrendering forces. They also showed video of a chopper targeting a building- as they unload the payload and destroy the building, you see a civilian walking right in front of the building- unaware of the impending attack. He’s blown away. Later- when the investigative journalists found the report for that attack- there was no mention of the civilian death. Just last week we pulled our station chief out of Pakistan- he’s the head C.I.A. guy running the drone operation from the country. In essence he’s in charge of the ‘remote control’ planes that bomb certain targets. Many innocent civilians have been killed thru these attacks. Mothers and fathers have sued the U.S. govt. over the deaths of their relatives and children. They showed protesters in the streets calling for justice for their loved ones. The Pakistanis finally realized the station chief is the person running the show and they ran him out of the country. How would you feel if someone was conducting a remote control war on your block and was accidently killing your son or daughter? King Ahaz was in the middle of the thicket- worrying about the next military move to be made against him- God sent a prophet to him in the midst of the action- he prophesied of one to come some 700 years later. A sign if you will- a virgin will conceive a child and this child will speak truth to power. He will stand before the governor of Rome [Pilate] and give no defense. Pilate will say ‘don’t you realize I have the power to take your life- my status and class have allowed me to rise in the political ranks to hold a position where I make the decision if you live or die’ Jesus responds ‘you have no power over me- accept what God permits- those who delivered me to you- they will have more to answer for’. It was the political posturing of the Jewish leaders- those who manipulated the system to get what they wanted politicaly- those were the ones who were to bare the greater blame. May Immanuel- may ‘God be with us’ all in this travesty.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

[1557] THE FIGHTER- Yesterday I was reading the movie critics and I found out that the movie ‘The Fighter’ was the story of Mickey Ward- a fighter I have watched my whole life [been a boxing fan forever]. So I told the girls ‘let's go see the movie’ and we loved it. The movie is rated R- by the way ‘my girls’ are all older- the youngest is 18- oldest 25. But the movie told the story of Mickey ward and his brother Dick Eglund. The movie had ‘a movie’ within it- they showed how HBO did a documentary on Dick Eglund- following him and filming him. The documentary was on crack addiction in Lowell mass. [their hometown] and I remember watching it one night at the fire house- was surprised to see Mickey wards brother in the documentary- that’s why I remember it. The movie follows the story of Mickey’s dysfunctional family- and how his brother- once a great fighter himself- was Mickey’s trainer. His mom was his manager- they took advantage of Mickey in a way. Eventually Mickey would get a couple of good breaks and he finally won a title. I was surprised they didn’t cover the 3 great fights Mickey had with Arturo Gatti- the Italian fighter form Jersey City [right around where I grew up]. These 3 fights put Mickey on the map and made him enough money that allowed him to quit his job as a street maintenance worker for the city. I liked the movie a lot- of course I’m boxing fan- so that’s natural. But I think its well worth the 35 dollars [popcorn, tickets, soda for 3- yes at least 35]. I think Christian Bale will get some recognition for his role as Mickey’s crack addicted brother- he stole the show. Mark Walhberg also did a good job as Mickey- but Bale was great. The funny parts of the movie are seeing Mickey’s dysfunctional family- his mom and sisters remind you of watching a Jerry Springer episode- really funny. Okay- enough for now- if you get a chance to see it I think it will be worth the 35 bucks.

Friday, December 17, 2010

[1556] REALISTS-NOMINALISTS- Let me do a little more on the development of philosophy and how Christians played a major role in new ways of thinking and ‘knowing’ [epistemology]. I mentioned Rene Descartes the other day- Descartes challenged the Christina thinkers of his day to approach apologetics [arguments for God’s existence] from rational grounds; instead of saying ‘God exists because the bible/tradition teach it’ he showed we can argue from the ground of reason. Descartes was a ‘realist’ that is a thinker who believed in Universal principles- the ancient philosophers [Aristotle, Plato- etc.] taught that there were universal ideas that existed- the example was if you think of a Horse- or a Chair- that in the mind of people we all have this concept of what these things are- but the reality of the universal idea of horse/chair exist outside of us- they are not only thoughts in our minds. The Nominalists rejected this idea- they taught that we interact with our 5 senses with things in the world- and thru this interaction our minds passively receive this knowledge and we come up with ideas- not because these ideas are universal ideas that already exist- but because our minds have ‘discovered’ them thru the senses. These thinkers were also called Empiricists. Men like David Hume would take this approach. Then in the 18th century you had the German philosopher Immanuel Kant challenge the skepticism of the Empiricists and he would become one of the most influential thinkers for our time. You would be hard pressed to find another philosopher who has had more influence on western thought than Kant. Kant too believed that man could not prove God absolutely thru natural means- but he did teach that it was rational/reasonable for man to believe in the existence of God- though he said you can’t totally prove him thru natural means. This was a different approach from the pure Empiricists- they taught that God/religion were irrational. Kant put a twist on Empiricism- he said that man does interact with the world thru his 5 senses, but instead of ideas/knowledge being a product of the mind of man passively receiving this knowledge- mans mind categorizes these interactions and it is thru this function of mans mind that we have knowledge. He carried the idea a little further than Hume. In the end of the day Immanuel Kant believed that not only is it rational to believe in God- but it is necessary. For society to ever function properly man needed to believe that his soul was immortal, that an eternal being existed that would some day judge man [or reward him] for his actions in this life. Though Kant did not accept the Realists view that we could prove God by rational means- yet he did believe in the necessity of man to believe in God. It has been said that Kant kicked God out the front door- but snuck him in thru the back. Okay- know some of this gets dry at times, but I think it is important for Christians to have some idea of the development of thought and philosophy thru the ages- many atheistic philosophers have argued against the existence of God- but many Christian thinkers have made just as strong [if not stronger] arguments on the other side- we need to know both sides.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

[1555] I really want to cover a little more Philosophy/history- but let me mention a few recent news/political developments. This past week Richard Holbrook died. He was our special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. I actually wrote a post about him a week or so ago. The Wikileaks revealed him to be less than truthful in his dealings with the public. The reason I want to mention him is because after he died the media [both left and right] praised him as a wonderful man- a great humanitarian- on and on. Holbrook was said to have been the highest diplomat in his area of foreign policy who never became secretary of state. If you remember during the presidential campaign many thought he would be picked to take the position if a Democrat won. He was also said to have had a ‘big’ image of himself- he saw himself as a very important figure. I saw an interview he did with Rachel Maddow one day- he simply gave the same justifications for the war in Afghanistan as Bush and Cheney gave- no difference. Holbrook was involved with our actions in East Timor in the late 70’s [Carter administration] and also played a role in our ‘war’ in Yugoslavia. During the 90’s under the Clinton administration we ‘sided’ with the Muslim’s who were fighting the ‘Christians’. Slobodan Milosevic was the president and we backed the Muslims because we claimed the Serbs were practicing Genocide. So the Muslims did the same against the Serbs when it was their turn. Holbrook had a hand in those killings as well. So whatever a persons political leanings are- we should also be truthful about the history of people. If someone has leaned more heavily towards the justification for U.S. action- and has pushed for the more aggressive role- than let the record show that. When Cheney or Rumsfeld die- I’m sure you will have some who will praise them- and others who won’t. In Holbrook’s case there seemed to be no one telling the other side.

Okay- let me quickly cover a few more things. I’m doing a study right now on the Western Intellectual tradition- covering the period between 1600-2000. Some if it gets a little dry- but it’s important for believers to have a basic grasp on this period. Many thinkers went thru a transformation during this time- in the pre-modern era philosophy and theology went hand in hand. But during the enlightenment and scientific revolution many new ideas arose. In the midst of the 17th century [1641] the famous Christian thinker- Rene Descartes’- sent a letter [called the Meditations- it would be released in book form later] to the university of Paris [the leading university of the day- theology and philosophy were the main fields of study] and he challenged the thinkers of the day to ground their arguments for God in Reason as opposed to Revelation [meaning tradition and what God has ‘revealed’ to us thru the bible]. Descartes’ believed that the Christian thinker could argue his case in a more powerful way if he based his argument on reason. Now to be sure this idea was not new- you had men like Thomas Aquinas advocate this in the 13th century- and as far back as 400 years before Christ the philosopher Aristotle used this line when speaking of the ‘prime mover’ [God]. But Descartes is credited with challenging the church of his day to do philosophy on this new ground. John Lock, Immanuel Kant and others would take certain aspects of Descartes ideas and develop them more fully. Some were more skeptical than others- and some rejected the idea that any reason/rationality could ever be combined with religious belief. Later on in the 19th century you had many openly advocate a type of reasoning that would totally exclude God from the picture. But for the most part the earlier thinkers did not go down that road- they thought it foolish to deny the existence of God- all things coming into existence from nothing seemed be a non starter for them- yet many of today’s most famous atheists seem to have no problem espousing a view that is absolutely proven to be false [you can never- ever- ever get something from nothing- which is the most popular view of the big bang theory among many atheists today]. So I think Christians today should be more aware of making the argument for the existence of God through rational/reasonable means- the other day I heard a radio preacher trying to debunk the theory of Evolution- he argued that it can’t be true because the bible says God made everything. Well this argument doesn’t cut it with people who don’t believe the bible! Likewise we need to be able to give a defense for the faith- without always appealing to the articles of the faith while doing it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Okay- I have to make a confession. These past few weeks I have been mad at the president- I thought he was a weak leader who caved in too quickly to the Republicans on the tax deal. Then this week while watching the news I saw a bunch of clips of John Boehner crying. It seems as if he cries at the drop of the hat. So maybe the president isn’t weak- maybe he just couldn’t take sitting in the meetings with a grown man crying every time he couldn’t get his way?

(1451) CHRISTIAN-MUSLIM BELIEFS- As I did the study on Justification by faith I hit a few verses that I felt were vital for our day; things that said Gods kingdom is not based on ethnic/racial lines, but it is based on faith in Jesus Christ. One of the major divisions between Christians and Muslims is Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet from God, but they reject his deity. They claim that the Christian church fell into apostasy and over the centuries heresy was introduced thru the councils and creeds of the church. They believe that in the 7th century God restored true monotheism [belief in one God] thru the prophet Muhammad and that Jesus [Isa] agreed with this. In the 19th century you had the rise of religious liberalism and many theologians espoused a belief that ran along these same lines; many taught that the early message of Jesus became distorted thru the over intellectualizing of the faith, and that Greek philosophy and Latin legal minds [Tertullian] ‘extended’ the faith to parameters that went far beyond the teachings of Christ. The Muslim scholars saw this as proof that they were right all along, after all these Christian scholars were basically saying the same thing! And then within the past 30 years or so you had the rise of historical Jesus studies, and men like John Dominic Crossan [Jesus seminar] would basically deny much of the gospels. They used a skewed method of determining what was real or fake, and when all was said and done you basically had a few verses from Johns gospel that were deemed true as well as a host of other ‘questionable’ sayings of Jesus from the other gospels. Why was this an important development for the rejecters of Christ’s deity? John’s gospel is the strongest teaching in the New Testament on the deity of Christ. We call this ‘Logos Christology’ John’s gospel teaches us that in the beginning was the word [Logos in Greek] and the word was with God and the word was God. So you have a distinction between the word [Jesus] and God, and at the same time the word is described as God. So to be fair about it, the deity of Jesus was not a latter development that was spawned out of the Greek/Latin mind, but was a part of Christianity right from the start. Grant it that the later creeds and councils [4th century Nicene, 5th century Chalcedon] did use some technical language to distinguish between the nature of God and Jesus, but the teaching of Christ’s deity is found within the body of the New Testament. Islam teaches that Jesus was born from a virgin, and that he was a prophet sent from God- isn’t that enough? No, they also teach that at the Cross another person died in Jesus place and that Jesus never died and rose again, this my friends can never be accepted by true Christianity. I believe we as believers should respect Muslim people, we should not denigrate them or their religion- but to have an honest conversation we need to tell the truth. Jesus was given for the sins of the whole world, he was God in the flesh dwelling among man- he died, was buried and rose from the grave. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

(1307) CHRISTMAS- being I mentioned Christmas the other day, let’s talk a little. First, does the bible give us [in the New Testament] any special memorials to celebrate? Yes, the New Testament teaches us that when believers celebrate the Lords supper that we ‘show the Lords death’ until he comes back. This is the only explicit memorial given to New Testament believers. Does this mean it’s wrong to celebrate other days? Not really. The early church, contrary to popular opinion, did celebrate ‘Christmas’ before the days of Constantine in the 4th century. They celebrated Christ’s ‘birthday’ on January 6th. But they also celebrated ‘Easter’ as well, and Easter played a more significant role in the church. But in the 4th century the church was grappling with different issues, one of the main ones was the nature of Christ [Christology] some questioned his true humanity. So as a result the celebration of the Incarnation [Jesus being born and taking on real human flesh] took on special importance, the church wanted to stress the ‘birthday’ of Jesus as a theological event. Now the story of Constantine and his conversion to Christianity is famous and many different groups see it in different ways. Many see him as the enemy of true Christianity and as a Roman Emperor who paganized the church. Many associate Catholic Christianity as the false religion set up by Constantine in the 4th century- I do not hold to this view myself. But the fact is that Constantine did legalize Christianity and he did ‘change’ the celebration of Christmas day from January 6 to December 25. Everyone knew that 12-25 was the official pagan holiday of a pagan god. Rome had Sun worship going on and December 25th was a pagan celebration day. So why did the church allow for the change? In reality Constantine was trying to bring a degree of stability to his empire and the fact was that many of his citizens [and soldiers] did practice the pagan holiday of 12-25. So as a compromise move, with the churches new found emphasis on the humanity of Christ [new found in that they willingly wanted to emphasize Christ’s birth in a greater way because of the theological controversies going on] they changed 12-25 into the celebration of Christ’s birth. It really was not some type of secret pagan takeover of Christianity. It was more along the lines of how in our day many believers celebrate ‘Halloween’ by calling it ‘fall festival’ and simply are redeeming the season for God. If in a thousand years Christians are all celebrating ‘fall festival’ instead of Halloween, I think that would be a good thing. But if you went back and found out that it started as a pagan thing, then would you consider all the ‘fall festival’ folks as pagan? So that’s the dilemma. Many serious minded believers do not celebrate Christmas and that’s fine, the scriptures don’t mandate it. But many serious believers do, I think it’s wrong to simply make the connection of the pagan roots of the day and to see this as a reason to reject it. Like I just showed you, you can look at it in a way that sees it as the church ‘taking over’ the pagan day and redeeming it back unto God.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

(1554) MODERNISM- okay- need to take a break from politics [current!] and news! Let’s do some history/philosophy. Modernism [modernity] refers to the time period between the mid 17th century to the mid 20th century [loosely]. During the scientific revolution, coming off the heels of the Reformation- there were many challenges to past ways of thinking about religion, knowledge, politics and existence in general. Many new thinkers felt the old forms of thought were outdated- and as man advances he needs to ground his existence in rationality as opposed to religion [Descartes’]. Not all thinkers rejected religion- John Locke and Immanuel Kant tried to show that religion could be rational- not all religion had to be ‘blind faith’. Others rejected that idea [David Hume] and said if you wanted society to be rational- you had to reject religion as a foundation for thought. Modern atheists- like Sam Harris- would say the same thing. In Harris’ 2004 book- The End of Faith- he teaches that all true religion is radical in nature- that those who believe you can be moderate in religion are wrong- that the religious texts themselves [Koran- Bible] call for radicalism and violence and therefore the only hope for peace in the world is to eliminate religion. Basically I think Harris should stick to atheism and not delve too deep into Christian philosophy. The Christian ‘religion/ethic’, while possessing scriptures [Old testament] that certainty do advocate violence- yet the central historical event in Christianity is the event of the Cross and the person of Christ- whose message said ‘Moses said- but I say’. Christianity contains within her texts the mandate to reject the old forms of violence and to embrace a new way of love- so Harris missed the boat on this one. But you have had thinkers [past and present] who have said ‘we need to eradicate the world of all traces of religion in order for man to reach his highest good’. The thinker Nietzsche would pronounce ‘God is dead’ in his 1882 book called The Gay Science [I’ll leave it alone]. Both Marx and Freud would join him in their rejection of God in the last half of the 19th century. So many felt the rise of modernism- along with the descent of religion was mans ultimate goal- as man advances he would mature from this ‘psychological’ weakness and accept a world without God. Than in the 20th century you had some major events that questioned whether or not modern man could survive without true religious morality. We had the world wars and the most violent century in our history as ‘moderns’. The election of Jimmy Carter- the first self professed ‘Born Again’ Christian to become president- and the Iranian revolution in 1979- the rise of an Islamic state based on radical interpretations of Islam. These events challenged the ‘hope ‘of those who felt like religion was waning and mans rationality was winning the day. So that’s why you had the rise of the new atheists who began a campaign to revive the ‘death of God’ movement and to advocate for what they felt was necessary for man to advance along the modern path. Today we are actually living in what’s called ‘the Postmodern Era’ but for the purpose of this short note we don’t want to go down that road at this time. Has man advanced- ‘modernized’ to the point where he does not need ‘God’ anymore? Can man simply build a Utopian society without God? All those who advocated for a society without God- ultimately failed in coming up with a rational basis for law and order- for who has the right to ‘make the rules’ in this new society- in essence those who tried the Freudian way could never come up with a system of govt. and law without having to borrow from the Christian world view- man cannot simply govern himself based on some atheistic principle of ‘reason’ apart from God [who decides whose reason is right?]. The atheist’s charge that all religion at its core is radical and dangerous- without reason- has been proven false. True religion can very much be reasonable- that is being rational and religious can go hand in hand- all religious adherents do not have to be ‘Fundamentalists’ as Harris claims- and the Modern experiment has not shown us that mans ultimate destiny is to rise above religious belief and attain some type of society without God and faith- that experiment has been tried- and found wanting.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

[1552] A SOCIALIST- A SEAFOOD JOINT- AND THE BAILOUTS OF THE RICH- Last night I told my daughter ‘take orders from everyone- my treat- George’s steaks and seafood’. So she looks up the number and their closed! They went out of business. This was one of my favorite spots- been around ever since I lived in Corpus Christi.
Yesterday I watched part of the speech Bernie Sanders [Senator from Vermont] gave on the Senate floor. He spoke for 8 hours- the closest thing to a real filibuster in years. Sanders is the only member of the Socialist party that is a member of the senate. He spoke in opposition to the deal the president cut with the Republicans; many Democrats are fuming and it looks like the president has a mutiny on his hands.

Though I’m not a socialist- yet Sanders speech was very enlightening. He made some great points. At a time when our country is in serious financial trouble- should we be giving billionaires a break on the estate tax? The Walton family alone [Wal Mart] would gain an extra 30 billion as a result of the deal the president made with the Repubs. 30 billion! You ask ‘John- are you telling us we should soak the rich’? Yes- yes- lets please start soaking them- as soon as possible! Look- I know the whole debate between supply side economics and the trickledown effect- the truth is we tried it and it doesn’t really work. If we were true capitalists we would have never bailed out Wall Street and the bankers.

When my favorite Seafood joint couldn’t pay the bills- what did they do? They went under. That’s capitalism. When Wall street and the bankers and all their corporate friends got in trouble- what did they do- go under? No- we- the American taxpayers bailed them out. Yet at the same time many poor and average Americans are losing their jobs, their homes are being foreclosed on- many are on the streets. Are we acting with the same urgency as we did when Wall Street was in trouble? No- Why? Probably because they have no real advocates working inside the White House. All the big shots who warned Bush and Obama that we need to act fast- these guys were all part of the group who would lose fortunes if we didn’t bail them out. Paulson. Bernanke, Geithner- all these guys have friends- family- personal fortunes at stake- sure they made it sound like a dire emergency- because to them it was!

So we opted to spend nearly a trillion dollars to bail these guys out- and they kept their fortunes- even the bankers kept their million dollar bonuses- a real travesty. So why are the Dems mad at Obama? Because he pledged- over and over again not to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich- and he didn’t keep his word. This alone- extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich- will cost us a trillion dollars- it will add an extra trillion to the debt. Trillion! When the news got out- the bond market almost crashed. Why? The investors see the writing on the wall- we are not going to responsibly deal with our debt problem. Obama’s commission failed, and we just added another trillion to our national debt. We are going down the road of Britain and the E.U- we are not going to act until there is another major crisis.

The responsible thing we probably should have done is let the tax cuts expire for ‘the rich’. This deal puts a burden on the poor and rewards the rich. It reminds me of Reagan’s ‘war on poverty’ one day the news reported ‘the White House announced the war on poverty is over’ gee- I didn’t think the poor would give up so soon? Look- what do I have against the rich? They won’t let me join the club! Well actually our country has created an environment that allowed for the billionaires to become billionaires- so in that sense they do owe a special- extra debt to society as a whole. And many of them know that. Buffet, Gates, and just last week Zuckerberg [Facebook] all have made moves and spoken publicly on their responsibility to pay more- use their wealth for the public good- many of them see the special burden they bare because of their wealth. It looks like this deal the president made will pass- maybe not? But then the Repubs will be sworn in and they will pass it- or maybe something worse! So for now we’ll do our best. No more steaks and seafood for me though- just wish George’s could get a bailout like the rest of them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

[1551]- WHERE’S THE CONFESSING CHURCH? During WW2 the German church was split on how she should respond to the rise of Hitler and the racist tendencies that were beginning to be revealed as time went on. Many German Christians initially embraced his ideas- they seemed to join a nationalistic/patriotic spirit in with the practice of their religion. Germany was coming off of years of national inferiority after their loss in WW1 and many Christians embraced the new felt spirit of ‘exceptionalism’ that was surging thru the land. On the other side you had men like Dietrich Bonheoffer who resisted what he saw as unjust govt.- others took his stance, these were called ‘the confessing church’ they believed it was their responsibility to speak out- to ‘confess’ the things they saw as unjust. Bonheoffer would get executed for his role in attempting to assassinate Hitler.

As we continue to read the release of the Wikileaks documents- we see more and more how our govt. has lied, deceived, been involved in the deaths of many civilians- and both the media and the govt. have denied these things- until they actually were exposed. Yemen. The last few years there were many attacks in the country of Yemen- when these attacks first started the U.S. govt. vehemently denied any involvement at all. The official reports and the N.Y. times ran stories that said ‘Today in Yemen- Yemeni fighter planes struck a terrorist compound and possibly killed some high level Al Qaeda terrorists’. During a press conference- state dept. spokesman P.J. Crowley was point blank asked ‘are we involved in ANY military activities in Yemen’- he point blank said no. There was speculation that we were doing secret drone attacks in the country- our govt. said ‘NO’. On average about 50 civilians die for every target we hit- quite a cost. So obviously these innocents demand to know the truth about why/who killed their kids. Yemen and the U.S. simply saw it in their best interest to lie. I mean- these people are just pawns on the grand stage- right? What rights does the average person have to really know what’s going on? So the Wikileaks revealed that yes indeed the U.S. did do the strikes- yes indeed we did kill many innocents- and yes indeed Yemen said ‘you do the strikes, and we’ll tell our people it was us’. They were caught in the act. So what is our govt. saying now? P.J. Crowley- the state dept. spokesmen who lied- he is now saying ‘well, I meant we weren’t involved in a specific attack’. When you read the actual transcript of the press conference- he was asked ‘are we involved IN ANY military activity in Yemen’? His answer- NO.

Last week our military began trial hearings against a team of U.S. soldiers for their involvement in what’s being called ‘a death squad’. This group of young men were caught killing Afghan civilians- they shot a farmer in a field- cut off his finger for a souvenir and eventually were caught. Now- do these guys represent the majority of our troops in the field- of course not! Yet this story runs as top news in the Muslim media- have you even heard about it?

How should the church respond to these types of things? Should we be the silent majority- like Germanys nationalistic church who saw ‘church and state’ as one big patriotic cause? Should we just keep ‘preaching the gospel’ while our govt. carries out hidden agendas and lies to us and the people who are being killed? Should we question the ridiculous strategy of engaging in these never ending campaigns? What’s out strategy? Do we believe that after more than 10 years- and thousands of lives- that eventually we can set up Democratic governments that will be allies to the U.S. ? What’s to prevent these radical religious countries from voting in some nut- like the president of Iran- and we spent all our time dying and killing for this?

We tried this in the West Bank- we helped the Palestinians set up some free and open elections. We wheeled and dealed with Israel and Palestine- we gave much aid and effort- after all was said and done they finally held their democratic election- and they elected Hamas!

What is the primary cause for terrorism amongst radical Islamists? They see our forces in their ‘holy lands’ as the number one cause for resistance. After our initial war [Bush 1] to expel Iraq from Kuwait- we for the first time established bases in Arab countries. Saudi Arabia- Iraq- etc. Bin laden and the rise of Al Qaeda were a direct result of what they saw as Americans’ ‘defiling’ their sacred land. Do you remember any car bombings and these types of efforts before that time? Yes- you always had some type of fighting- but not to the level that ratcheted up after the first gulf war. So, the number one reason these radicals are carrying out this insane agenda is because they see us as invaders in their land. So how do we respond to the threat- WE INVADE MORE LAND! Overall the strategy is not going to work. Right now we are fighting the Taliban- who are these people? They are ethnic Afghans who have NO WORLWIDE AGENDA. They see themselves as ‘freedom fighters’ who simply want to ‘restore’ their land to a religious theocracy. Not good- but no real threat to the U.S. So why are we fighting them? They gave space for Al Qaeda to operate out of their country. Okay- Al Qaeda’s been long gone- yet we keep fighting this group who sees themselves as defending their homeland. Its nuts! It’s like if some gang attacked you, they lived down the street in some hotel. So you start a war with the hotel owners and the gang leaves. Instead of spending all your time and resources hunting down the gang- you start a never ending war with the hotel owners! Not only is this stupid- but the gang is laughing at the strategy- it actually helps the gang to recruit more members- because the gang points to the fact that we are in their ‘holy land’ which after all is the original justification for the existence of the gang! All this would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

So what does the church say about all this- not much. We keep hawking our religious wares on our TV channels- we keep appealing for a never ending need for money- and all the time the world is going to hell in a hand basket. It’s time for us to become ‘the confessing church’ to speak truth to power- because our govt. seems to have a hard time telling us the truth.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

[1550] ASSANGE- THE POPE- AND JOHN THE BAPTIST- Kinda wanted to cover the recent developments in the Wikileaks case- also a few more notes from the Pope’s book- and a little bible stuff; let’s see what I can do. First- The head guy in charge of the leaks that have exposed our govt. and other governments secret behind the scenes wheeling and dealing- has been arrested in London. They took him in on the Interpol charge that he ‘raped’ 2 women in Sweden. These charges stem from encounters that Julian Assange had with these ‘ladies’ while doing some type of seminar on their work as freedom of the press crusaders. It seems as if the women- who were attendees- found it worthwhile to have hooked up with the big shot of the week. Initially the reports said that the women did voluntarily agree to having unprotected sex with Assange- yet they later got together- after talking for a few days- and went together to the police to file their claim. Initially Sweden rejected the charge- it seemed like a voluntary type thing! A famous lawyer, who is trying to get Sweden to toughen their rape laws, to include stuff like this- took the case. That’s how it got back into the courts. Now- it seems as if this lawyer is using the publicity of the case to leverage his own cause- which is to extend the rape laws of Sweden. That’s the case- rapist? You tell me. In the midst of it all our country is trying to extradite the man to face all types of future charges. Where not ‘officially’ doing it- but the behind the scenes deals are in the works. First Sweden still has to get him. Okay- this whole case will be a future test case for freedom of the internet and just who qualifies as being ‘press’.

As more of the leaks come to light- we keep finding out about how our govt. lied to us, and deceived us. Last night I caught an interview with a family member of the victims of the Lockerbie plane attack. If you remember a few years back a terrorist shot down a plane over Scotland, 283 people died- many Americans. The case was tried in Scotland and the man was put in prison- with the guarantee that he would not get out. Yet Scotland let him go a few months back on ‘humanitarian’ concerns. He supposedly was dying of cancer and had only a few months to live. Now, when they released him our leaders were outraged! Yes Obama and all the rest were fuming! [in public] but the Wikileaks showed us that they all knew about the release 10 months before it happened- and we kinda turned a blind eye to the deal. Britain was accused of releasing him back to Libya because they wouldn’t deal with the U.K. unless they let him go. So the family member who found all this out- thanks to Wikileaks- was outraged, our govt. lied to them. Oh yes, and another talking head called for the assassination of Assange- Bob Beckel- a Democrat who works for Fox said someone needs to put a bullet in his head. Can you imagine any of the media talking this way so openly about a Muslim journalist? This case is important because it shows us how far the govt. and the corporate world will go to silence someone who is exposing them to the light [Assange is about to release leaks on a huge American bank].

Okay- just a few more things. While reading the Popes book I like the way he gets into the details of the different perspectives of the gospel writers and the give and take between Jesus and the disciples. I didn’t get this from the book- but the book led me into the study. If you read the account of John the Baptist in Matthew chapter 3- you see John baptizing in the Jordan and the big wigs of the day show up- they want to get baptized by John. You would think John would take the whole thing as a diplomat- you know- greeting them with pomp and stuff. Instead he calls them a bunch of snakes and serpents- he says ‘who warned you to flee from the judgment that’s sure to come’- the leaders and influential men of the day were facing their own judgment- and they didn’t like the writing on the wall [sound familiar?]. In Luke’s gospel [chapter 3] you have the soldiers also coming to John- they ask him ‘what should we do?’ John says ‘do violence to no man’ wow! Now you’re meddling. Society was being challenged by John in many ways- he himself was spoken about in Isaiah and Malachi [Old Testament books]. Yet Jesus comes to John to get baptized and John says ‘I’m not worthy to do this- to carry out the mission’ Jesus says it needs to be done. In another gospel [John] we read how they come to John and ask him ‘are you the Messiah? Are you the Elijah prophet who was to come’ and John denies it. He says he is simply the voice- a messenger. There was a prophecy about John in the book of Malachi- it said a prophet- like Elijah- would come before the coming of Jesus- so one time they asked Jesus ‘if you’re the Messiah- then where’s the Elijah prophet who was to come first?’ Jesus said it was John. What’s going on here? John seemed to not be able to accept who he really was- yes- he had a bad image of himself- yet even though he felt unworthy to fulfill the task he would take it to the end. John would finally be executed for his ‘free speech’ at the time it seemed like the right thing to do- now it seems like a gross injustice.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

[1506] CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS- Last night I caught a brief interview of Christopher Hitchens; the atheist intellectual. To my surprise he has had cancer for 2 months and the prognosis does not look good. He was asked whether or not he has changed his stance now that he is dyeing- he stood strong to the end- he said he still does not believe in a God and that if he gets so sick that he loses his faculties and says some type of prayer at death, that it should be chalked up to loss of mind. He mentioned how some web sites have sprung up calling for his death, but there were others that have called for prayer- as a matter of fact they have designated a special day of prayer just for him! The host asked him ‘do you want to ask those Christians not to pray for you’ and he quickly said ‘oh no’ you could sense in his tone that he was hoping; but then he said ‘well, if it makes them feel better, then let them pray’. He also said that sometimes psychosomatic things can have a real effect; sort of like if people ‘pray’ and believe a person will get healed; that in some cases it works. He mentioned ‘the Almighty’ in the conversation; he referred to him as a real being, even though he is an atheist. So he basically confessed that prayer sometimes works and that the Almighty exists, though he is an unbeliever. God takes the foolish and causes them to acknowledge him- truly every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. I feel no ill will towards Hitchens, I just mentioned him in prayer- but it should be known that he is part of the crop of current atheists who has gone out of his way to mock and ridicule believers; unlike some atheists of the past who have been more respectful in their denial of God. I heard Hitchens mock mother Theresa after her death, not good. Any person who devotes his life to trying to cause other people to reject the faith, surely he has wasted much of his life. Jesus said it was better to have a stone tied around your neck and dumped into the ocean than for a person to cause a ‘little one’ to be offended. Hitchens has offended many little ones. Let’s pray for the man, and also be realistic about his willful rejection of God- the scripture says the atheist does not reject God on purely rationalistic grounds, but that he rejects God because of sin. Hitchens, like everyone else, has an appointment with God- it would be better if he spent some time with him before the meeting.

Monday, December 06, 2010

[1549] THEY WILL LEARN WAR NO MORE- Isaiah the prophet. This verse comes from the book of Isaiah- he also speaks of the nature of Christ’s kingdom by saying ‘the wolf will lay down with the lamb’. Isaiah has more prophecies about Jesus [Messianic prophecies] than any other Old Testament prophet. To all my ‘bible students- preachers’ most of us our aware of the various ways teachers interpret these passages; we see the dual nature of the messianic prophecies [that is many prophecies speak of Jesus first coming and second coming in one verse- you don’t see the time lapse between the 1st and 2nd coming]. At the same time we often overlook the fact that the nature of God’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. Yes ‘Make love- not war’ actually has biblical backing! Now when Jesus arrived on the scene in the 1st century, he came at a time when the nation of Israel was under ‘occupation’. Rome was the controlling authority- and the Jews knew it. Israel had different views among her people on how to deal with the Roman occupation- some wanted a violent overthrow of the Roman govt., these were called Zealots- others took a more moderate stance. Out of Jesus 12 disciples, 2 were Zealots- Simon and Judas. They thought they were getting in on a strong Messianic movement that would be violent in nature. Yet Jesus would teach them that those who live by the sword will die by it. He showed them a better way- when he said ‘greater love has no man than this that he would die for his friends’. He wasn’t saying ‘that he would risk his life in battle- while trying to kill others- and maybe die in the process’. No, he was speaking about non violent protest- even to the point of laying down one’s life. He taught them ‘war no more’. I understand that my position on these wars has upset people, and I do not see our brave men and women as ‘the enemy’. But I feel the leadership- especially in the church, has not rightly understood these things- the nature of Christ’s kingdom is one of peace- not war. When some of the most popular TV evangelists, and ‘end times’ books promote an idea that seems to pit natural Israel against Muslim/Arab nations- and they give scenarios that seem to ‘encourage’ one side fighting- and killing the other side- then in these ways we are teaching ‘war’ that is we are presenting Christ’s kingdom in a way that seems to say ‘yes, God is in this violent thing- and when he comes back he will personally wipe out the other side’. We have not done right in the church- we have not taught ‘war no more’.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


a critical look at the modern prosperity gospel.













It all started a few years back when I was regularly listening to certain ministries who taught the prosperity gospel. Over the years I subscribed to a few of these ministry magazines and truly enjoyed their teaching, but every now and then while reading through the bible I would come across certain passages of scripture that seemed to contradict the themes of the prosperity movement. I also found it strange the way they interpreted certain passages of scripture, it was almost as if when they were done explaining them, that these passages meant the exact opposite of what they were plainly teaching.

During this season of learning, while the Lord was dealing with me about these various doctrines, I would find myself at times saying 'something needs to be done about the extreme teaching coming from this camp'. I would also deal with some of the unbalanced teaching through the small avenues of influence I had through a local radio program and various speaking opportunities. I would even go through stages where I was so upset over some of the more extreme elements of this teaching, that I would avoid dealing with it at all because of the emotional baggage that comes with having to disagree with a brother in Christ.

Then why write this book? Each time I would determine to drop the whole matter and never deal with this issue again, something would happen, or be said on Christian television or radio, or be written in a new book, that was so off base that I would ask the Lord again if He wanted me to do more in bringing about a more balanced view of biblical prosperity. The most recent incident was while watching Christian TV one night, the preacher who was speaking is a well-known prosperity preacher. Before he preached he invited another prosperity preacher to share a 'special' revelatory word the Lord had given him, as the preacher came to the pulpit he began to lead the people in a series of confessions/actions that he told the audience to imitate in order for them to experience breakthrough in their finances. As he stood on the stage he then went through the motions of pulling down an imaginary lever on a slot machine while confessing in a very loud voice the words 'MONEY COMING'. He did this three times while the audience followed. When they got to the last shout, the preacher emphasized the importance of this last shout, and as he led them in the pulling down of the lever they all shouted at the top of their lungs 'MONEY COMING TO ME'

Well to say the least this was another one of those 'incidents' that caused me to ask the Lord if I should do more about such obvious abuse in the church. A few days later, while driving to work one morning, I remembered this incident and asked the Lord if he wanted me to write a book on this subject. Later on in the day during a lunch break, while reading through the bible during a regular devotional time, I just happened to be reading through the book of revelation, and when I came to revelation 1:19 where Jesus tells John to 'write the things which thou hast seen', it hit me like a ton of bricks. So here I am today, believing that this book will serve a definite purpose in the Body of Christ and cause us to return to a more balanced view of the 'things of this world'.


It has been said that the best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real. So let’s begin with a biblical look at true prosperity. In the past, while trying to deal with this subject, I would often find people responding in defense of the prosperity gospel by saying things like 'oh, but you don't know how good the Lord is' or 'you don't know how much God wants to meet our needs' or, 'the bible doesn’t say money is evil, but the love of money'. To which I would reply 'AMEN', I agree with you. But the bible also gives us many warnings against materialism, seeking to be rich, and living for material things.

So while trying to deal with the false prosperity gospel, I would like first of all to establish the truth that God is good, he does want to meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart, and yes, he even wants to bless us financially and materially. God promises not only 'heavenly' or 'spiritual' blessings, but also earthly or material blessings as well. If you go through the bible from Genesis to Revelation you will find instances of Gods people being rich, prosperous and blessed in every way. You will find many promises of Gods provisions for us, not only spiritual but also financial and material. There is no doubt that God can, and does bless His children in all areas of life if they are obedient to Him.

We also know that there are many warnings in the N.T. against seeking to be rich, living for material wealth, and the like. So how do we harmonize these two truths?

Let’s look at the overall purpose of God for his church. We are commissioned by Jesus to tell the whole world about His love for us, so we can make disciples of all nations. The message from our lips, [and hearts] is to overflow with who Jesus is and what He’s done for us. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that as we proclaim and talk about Him, and seek first His kingdom, that He will take care of all the other less important things. MATHEW 6:19-24 ' LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON EARTH, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: BUT LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE NIETHER MOTH NOR RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO........ NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS: FOR EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE, AND LOVE THE OTHER; OR ELSE HE WILL HOLD TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER. YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON. THEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU, TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, WHAT YE SHALL EAT, OR WHAT YE SHALL DRINK; NOR YET FOR YOUR BODY, WHAT YE SHALL PUT ON. IS NOT THE LIFE MORE THAN MEAT, AND THE BODY MORE THAN RAIMENT? BEHOLD THE FOWLS OF THE AIR: FOR THEY SOW NOT, NIETHER DO THEY REAP, NOR GATHER INTO BARNS; YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDETH THEM. ARE YE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY? ...... THEREFORE TAKE NO THOUGHT, SAYING WHAT SHALL WE EAT? OR, WHAT SHALL WE DRINK? OR, WHEREWITHALL SHALL WE BE CLOTHED? [FOR AFTER ALL THESE THINGS DO THE GENTILES SEEK;] FOR YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER KHNOWETH THAT YE HAVE NEED OF ALL THESE THINGS. BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THES THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU. TAKE THEREFORE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW: FOR THE MORROW SHALL TAKE THOUGHT FOR THE THINGS OF ITSELF. SUFFICIENT UNTO THE DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF' Jesus is making a distinction between material things and the kingdom of God. He is saying if we seek first His kingdom, then all these material needs will be met. If the kingdom is about material things, then Jesus contradicted himself. The plain meaning and thought of this passage is that if we put God first, He will take care of us. Now say if the disciples took this to mean that the primary message of the gospel was 'God will add all these things unto you'. And say if they went around teaching all nations to quote 'all these things shall be added unto you'. And then all over Jerusalem and Judaea and unto the uttermost parts of the earth they had people quoting 'all these things shall be added unto you'. And after a lifetime of ministry they taught the people how God would give them things if they kept quoting and meditating on the passages of scripture that speak about material wealth. What do you suppose Jesus would say when He comes back? First of all the plain teaching of Jesus in this passage is to get their focus [meditation, confession] off of material things. He plainly says that the 'gentiles seek these things', and that the disciples are not to be thinking about these things all the time like the gentiles. He tells us to focus on the kingdom as opposed to focusing on material things. He tells us that as we go forth by faith to proclaim his gospel, that he in turn will meet our needs. After all, the disciples left their jobs in order to follow Christ, and he was reassuring them that they would be taken care of materially if they forsook all to follow him.

I find it troubling that some teachers use this very passage in order to justify materialism, while the plain meaning of Jesus words are the opposite. Jesus says you cannot serve God and money. So we must take our minds and thoughts and meditations and focus them on God, not worldly things!

So true prosperity can be defined as God meeting all the needs of his children as they proclaim him in all nations. True prosperity is God meeting our needs while our focus is on him [not on our needs being met!]. True prosperity is being able to preach the word of God without a covetous motive [1 PETER:5:2].

I should make note that there are some who teach that this passage of scripture [MATT. 6:19-24] actually teaches that we have a bank account in heaven with real money credited to our account! And every time we sow [give into] the kingdom of God, that we are actually building a fund in this account. And that by faith you can claim a withdrawal on your account and receive your financial harvest now. But if this is what Jesus was teaching then the entire passage is twisted into turning our attention towards money once again! Jesus plainly warned us against focusing our thoughts on the material things in life, he told us not to be like the unbelievers who have all their possessions in this life only. Jesus told us to build up treasures in heaven, which meant a life lived for eternal purposes as opposed to temporary rewards. I believe that if we get our priorities right, that God will meet our needs, and we will be so excited about God and his kingdom that we wont even have time to think about serving mammon!


While a new Christian, enjoying that early honeymoon period with the Lord, I’ll never forget the joy I experienced while learning the bible for the first time. The clarity, pureness and unity of scripture were a sure foundation for a long road ahead. While working as a house painter and listening to Christian radio all day long, it was an early introduction to the various 'streams' of teaching that were being produced in the church. One day my job foreman, who often heard me listening to Christian radio, thought I would enjoy listening to a new tape series that he had just been given. So I popped the cassettes into my radio and listened with the excitement of a new believer in Christ. The cassettes were a new teaching on the parable of the sower. MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23 ' THE SAME DAY WENT JESUS OUT OF THE HOUSE, AND SAT BY THE SEASIDE. AND GREAT MULTITUDES WERE GATHERED TOGETHER UNTO HIM, SO THAT HE WENT INTO A SHIP, AND SAT; AND THE WHOLE MULTITUDE STOOD ON THE SHORE. AND HE SPAKE MANY THINGS UNTO THEM IN PARABLES, SAYING, BEHOLD, A SOWER WENT FORTH TO SOW; AND WHEN HE SOWED, SOME SEEDS FELL BY THE WAY SIDE, AND THE FOWLS CAME AND DEVOURED THEM UP: SOME FELL UPON STONY PLACES, WHERE THEY HAD NOT MUCH EARTH: AND FORTHWITH THEY SPRUNG UP, BECAUSE THEY HAD NO DEEPNESS OF EARTH: AND WHEN THE SUN WAS UP THEY WERE SCORCHED; AND BECAUSE THEY HAD NO ROOT THEY WITHERED AWAY. AND SOME FELL AMONG THORNS; AND THE THORNS SPRUNG UP, AND CHOKED THEM; BUT OTHER FELL INTO GOOD GROUND, AND BROUGHT FORTH FRUIT, SOME AN HUNDREDFOLD, SOME SIXTYFOLD, SOME THIRTYFOLD. WHO HATH EARS TO HEAR LET HIM HEAR.........HEAR YE THEREFORE THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER. WHEN ANYONE HEARETH THE WORD OF THE KINGDOM, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT, THEN COMETH THE WICKED ONE, AND CATCHETH AWAY THAT WHICH WAS SOWN IN HIS HEART. THIS IS HE WHICH RECIEVED SEED BY THE WAYSIDE. BUT HE THAT RECIEVED THE SEED INTO STONY PLACES, THE SAME IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND ANON WITH JOY RECIEVETH IT; YET HATH HE NOT ROOT IN HIMSELF, BUT DURETH FOR A WHILE: FOR WHEN TRIBULATION OR PERSECUTION ARISETH BECAUSE OF THE WORD, BY AND BY HE IS OFFENDED. HE ALSO THAT RECIEVED SEED AMONG THE THORNS IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD; AND THE CARE OF THIS WORLD, AND THE DECEITFULLNESS OF RICHES, CHOKE THE WORD AND HE BECOMETH UNFRUITFULL. BUT HE THAT RECIEVED SEED INTO GOOD GROUND IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT; WHICH ALSO BEARETH FRUIT, AND BRINGETH FORTH, SOME AN HUNDREDFOLD SOME SIXTY SND SOME THIRTY'. As the teacher taught through the parable he explained how Jesus was teaching us how to plant [sow] the word [scriptures] in our hearts [through confession, meditation, etc.] in order to receive a thirty, sixty, or hundredfold return. He then applied the entire teaching to reaping an hundredfold return of MONEY! He taught how that at each stage of the parable the devil tries to steal the word so we don’t receive our harvest. He then got to the part where Jesus says 'THE DECIETFULLNESS OF RICHES CHOKE THE WORD', I couldn’t understand how Jesus could be teaching us about reaping a financial harvest, and then say this! It almost seemed like a contradiction. Well the teacher then began to sound uncomfortable as he explained how the deceitfulness of riches was actually that old traditional teaching that says you cant be rich [or something to that effect]! Even as a new believer in Christ I just couldn’t accept this explanation, it was almost as if the teacher was trying to make Jesus words say the opposite of what he meant.

The basic plain meaning of the parable is self-explanatory. There are always obstacles and enemies of the gospel. Ultimately those who overcome these obstacles will bear good Christian fruit in varying degrees [30,60 or 100 fold]. The various hindrances to the word of God include the 'cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches'. If you want to produce fruit for God you cant get caught up in the materialistic pursuits of the world [2 TIMOTHY 2:4].

Many times in connection with this parable is the doctrine of sowing for a harvest taught. Jesus often uses planting [sowing] and harvesting [reaping] illustrations in his teachings. The main focus is usually dealing with the spreading of the kingdom of God and the message of Christ to the nations. Sometimes the seed refers to believers themselves, and other times the actual message preached [MATT. 13: 20,38]. Sowing and reaping also refer to the works we do, as well as the money we give into the kingdom [1COR. 9:11, GAL. 6:8]. While there are many ways you can apply sowing for a harvest, I find it disturbing that some in the church have focused the entire teaching towards financial and material gain. This type of preoccupation with money is in direct opposition to the warning that Jesus gave in this parable, he told us that the deceitfulness of riches could derail us from being fruitful, and the distorted teaching that applies this entire parable to money is in itself a fulfillment of the warning that 'the deceitfulness of riches' can deceive you, because it denies the very warning of Christ and makes him say something that he never said!


I must admit that out of all the various portions of scripture used to teach a false prosperity gospel, this is one of the most deceptive. In order for us to fully grasp the concept of the abrahamic blessing, we must do a little history.

In GALATIANS 3, the apostle Paul makes one of the greatest N.T. arguments for justification by faith versus law. I personally believe this doctrine to be one of the foundational doctrines in the N.T.

The heresy that Paul is fighting against in Galatians is the heresy of legalism that was taught by the judiazers. The judiazers were the Jewish/Christian sect that taught that gentile believers needed to be circumcised and brought under the law in order to be saved. The main argument that Paul uses to refute this doctrine is in Galatians 3. In this chapter we find Paul going back to the O.T. books in order to show that God established, by covenant, the basis of justifying man by faith without the deeds of the law. The main argument Paul uses is 'the abrahamic blessing'. Paul traces Gods promise to Abraham, made before the law was given, where God says 'in thee shall all nations be blessed' [GEN. 12:3, GAL. 3:8]. This meaning that God would bless [save] all nations through the promised child of Abraham [which would eventually be Jesus]. Paul’s point is to show that God already promised to bless all people through Abraham’s offspring [the abrahamic blessing], and not through the law. The abrahamic blessing referring to justifying the world by faith and giving us 'the promise of the Spirit by faith' [GALATIANS 3:8-14], this argument is also used in Romans 4.

Now here comes the tricky part, some teach that God covenants to make us rich trough the abrahamic blessing [or covenant]. They use this chapter to teach that Christ died so we can receive the abrahamic blessing. They then define the abrahamic blessing as the 'things' that Abraham had. But once again the abrahamic blessing as defined in Galatians 3 is referring to God justifying us by faith as opposed to the law. Paul was in no way teaching the Galatians that God was going to make them rich! He was battling for their very souls! The plain text of this passage shows us that Paul was dealing with the issue of justification, and not finances. And it would make absolutely no sense for Paul to begin to address money issues in the middle of this chapter.

Each time I came across this type of distorted interpretation, I honestly couldn’t understand how so many different teachers could so consistently apply the same passage in the wrong way. It almost reminds me of the O.T. passage that speaks of a conspiracy of the prophets [EZEK. 22:25]. A sort of network of false/distorted interpretations of the scripture that exist among certain groups of believers, and these same false opinions are then propagated again and again until after you hear them long enough they seem to become accepted truth in the church at large. We need to re-examine some of these doctrines and receive correction and make the proper adjustments in our thinking and acting [repentance!], so we don’t continue to spread these false opinions in the church.


One of the strongest books in the N.T. dealing with poverty and riches is the book of James. Simply reading this book in context would give the modern prosperity gospel a strong rebuke! James contrasts both rich and poor, he says that God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God. The context also implies that these poor Christians will remain poor in this life! [JAMES 2:5] The prosperity message teaches that if you have faith in God that you will not be poor. It’s obvious that both James and the prosperity teachers of today have a difference of opinion!

Lets look at exactly what the word of God says; JAMES 2:1-6 'MY BRETHREN, HAVE NOT THE FAITH OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE LORD OF GLORY, WITH RESPECT OF PERSONS. FOR IF THERE COME UNTO YOUR ASSEMBLY A MAN WITH A GOLD RING, IN GOODLY APPAREL, AND THERE COME IN ALSO A POOR MAN IN VILE RAIMENT; AND YE HAVE RESPECT TO HIM THAT WEARETH THE GAY CLOTHING, AND SAY UNTO HIM, SIT THOU HERE IN A GOOD PLACE; AND SAY TO THE POOR, STAND THOU HERE OR SIT HERE UNDER MY FOOTSTOOL: ARE YE NOT THEN PARTIAL IN YOURSELVES AND BECOME JUDGES OF EVIL THOUGHTS? HEARKEN, MY BELOVED BRETHREN, HATH NOT GOD CHOSEN THE POOR OF THIS WORLD RICH IN FAITH, AND HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM WHICH HE HATH PROMISED TO THEM THAT LOVE HIM? BUT YE HAVE DESPISED THE POOR. DO NOT RICH MEN OPPRESS YOU, AND DRAW YOU BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEATS? How were they despising the poor and being prejudiced in their thoughts? They were treating poor people with contempt while showing honor to the rich. This is exactly what we do in the church, by teaching that poor Christians have little, or no faith, we unconsciously treat them with contempt. We teach that the poor are under a curse and are therefore not living up to all their benefits in Christ. We actually set up a cast system in the church. James says the poor have great faith! He doesn’t portray them as having small faith. He warns the rich not to trust in uncertain riches. The bible flatly teaches that financial abundance is not a measure of ones faith! We must stop teaching that if you would simply believe God you would have an abundance of money. This is not true in every case. Sometimes the abundant supply from God is the grace and patience that he gives to the believer in the face of severe trials or lack. The N.T. clearly teaches that there are believers with lots of faith who are poor! You can't deny the plain word of God. We should not suppose that a lack of financial abundance is a sign of weak faith!

Now to one of the most recent 'new revelations' that is being taught in the church. I first heard this from a very respected soul-winning evangelist. I then heard it taught from a variety of other teachers. As of this writing it seems to be accepted 'truth' in certain circles. Lets read JAMES 5:1-6 'GO TO NOW, YE RICH MEN, WEEP AND HOWL FOR YOUR MISERIES THAT SHALL COME UPON YOU. YOUR RICHES ARE CORRUPTED, AND YOUR GARMENTS ARE MOTHEATEN. YOUR GOLD AND SILVER IS CANKERED; AND THE RUST OF THEM SHALL BE A WITNESS AGAINST YOU, AND SHALL EAT YOUR FLESH AS IT WERE FIRE. YE HAVE HEAPED TREASURE TOGETHER FOR THE LAST DAYS. BEHOLD, THE HIRE OF THE LABOURERS WHO HAVE REAPED DOWN YOUR FIELDS, WHICH IS OF YOU KEPT BACK BY FRAUD, CRIETH: AND THE CRIES OF THEM WHICH HAVE REAPED ARE ENTERED INTO THE EARS OF THE LORD OF SABAOTH. YE HAVE LIVED IN PLEASURE ON THE EARTH, AND BEEN WANTON; YE HAVE NOURISHED YOUR HEARTS, AS IN A DAY OF SLAUGHTER. YE HAVE CONDEMNED AND KILLED THE JUST; AND HE DOTH NOT RESIST YOU. The first time I heard this 'new' truth, the preacher said that this passage was dealing with the end-time transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor. It was explained that in verse 3 'YE HAVE HEAPED TREASURE TOGETHER FOR THE LAST DAYS’ meant that the rich gathered together their wealth so it could be given to the church in the last days. While I have no problem with the idea of the world’s wealth being used for kingdom purposes, I do have a problem with distorting the word of God to prove our points! A simple reading of James 5:1-6 shows us that the reason the rich are being reproved is because they spent their lives building up financial fortunes without being rich toward God [LUKE 12:16-21]. This scripture also plainly says what is going to happen to their wealth. Is it going to be 'transferred' to us? Is it going to be given to the Christians in the last days? Is it going to be used at all? NO! It is going to canker, rust and corrupt! It is going to be destroyed! It will be of no help at all in the day of judgment [PRVB. 11:4]. It will be a witness against them for living covetous lives. The entire theme of James follows this line of thought. To read all the other things that James says about the rich and poor in this epistle, for us to then interpret this passage and say that James was now teaching the Christians that they would become rich through the end-time transfer of wealth, is ridiculous. Once again the plain meaning of scripture is being distorted in order to make it say the complete opposite of what it means.

One more thing before we leave James. The early Christian community did not equate poverty with being under a curse. They did not equate poverty with sin. There are many rebukes in the N.T. against sin in the church, but the poor in the church were praised, not rebuked! The very mindset of looking upon the poor as a lower class permeates this teaching. If the poor are cursed, not living up to their inheritance, don’t know how to apply faith principles or simply don’t know/believe the word concerning prosperity, then in essence we are despising the poor through our belief system. The N.T. plainly teaches that it is okay to be poor! We need to heed the warning from this N.T. epistle and stop despising the poor!


I'll never forget the time I was watching 'Christian' TV and saw a preacher holding up his Rolex watch and then teaching the people that this was an example of his faith in action! He then went on to explain that when we use our faith to obtain things, we can then show these things to people as a witness of our faith. If this is what it means to go witnessing for Christ, I think most people would be standing in line to sign up!

Over the years I have heard it taught that the only way the world would be saved is if the church becomes extremely rich financially so she could send the gospel to the world. That the world would see our extreme wealth and would ask 'where did you get all that money?' and we would then say 'from God', and the lost would then want what we have and get saved! Convenient isn’t it. But is this a biblical picture of the N.T. church and her witness in the earth?

In order to answer this question, we need first to look at what the N.T. church is. The church consists of communities of believers scattered throughout the world. All over planet earth, right now, there are believers thriving and testifying of Gods grace in all types of circumstances and situations. The community of believers that Jesus launched 2 thousand years ago is still going strong. She answers to no man or human govt. She has outlasted empires, persecutions, false religions and every other conceivable attack that can be imagined. The prophecy of Jesus has been fulfilled ‘THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST HER’ [MATT. 16:18].

As of today there has been no other single institution upon earth that has had more influence in the history of the world than the church! Now, if the church truly consists of believers [seeds], planted [sown] all over the world under the lordship of Christ, with various giftings [Apostles, Prophets, etc.] operating under the administration of the Holy Spirit, this ministry [the kingdom of God] already has the potential of a worldwide witness to all nations. As a matter of fact this worldwide gospel of Christ has been prevailing magnificently throughout the generations. This wonderful kingdom, under Christ’s rule, has been active. It has been supernaturally deploying ministers from day one [ACTS 13]. It has even witnessed for Jesus Christ when its main ministers were broke! [ACTS 3:6]. The witness of the gospel has done extremely well throughout the centuries and will continue to do so, whether or not we all become rich!

The reason I say this is because there is a mindset in the church [American mostly] that equates the witness of the gospel with the success of American charismatic entrepreneurial ministries. We have been deluded into believing that unless we all become rich, we will never be able to reach the world. The overall success of the kingdom of God has never been dependent on any budget of any ministry past or present! Most of the modern day proponents of the prosperity gospel usually head up American ministry organizations and equate the sowing of seed [finances], with giving money to help support their organizations. They then sincerely believe that unless their organization makes more and more money, they will never be able to fulfill the great commission of reaching the world.

The N.T. clearly teaches the principles of our witness for Christ, and the focus has never been extreme wealth. But on sacrificial living, loving each other unconditionally, a sharing caring community of people who are known for good deeds of charity. In the book of acts the early church had a powerful witness, and they weren’t rich financially, yet they did reach their world for Christ. How? Through great sacrificial living, through miraculous signs and wonders, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and through a bold proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not one sermon in the book of acts focused on anything else than Jesus Christ and his great work for us. Their hearts and lips flowed with the message of Christ, not money!

I find it troubling that many of the ministries who teach the prosperity gospel usually do receive extreme amounts of money, not to proclaim the message of Jesus [speaking about him], but to simply propagate a money making gospel! You can tune into some of these ministries and find them talking about money all the time. What if a lost person tuned in? Would he hear about Jesus or money? What about when Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks? [MATT. 12:34]. If someone is always talking about money where is his heart, what’s his treasure?

We need to shift our focus back to the pure N.T. message of Christ, and understand that his gospel is the power of God unto salvation! Jesus said the world would be saved when the truth is preached in all nations by a united church, not when we all become millionaires so we can finance our own ministries!


I have often heard it said 'if you’re happy with just enough money to get by, you’re selfish and living in sin, you need to believe God and have faith for increased wealth so you can finance the gospel'. Is this a biblical concept? Should we teach people that being content with what you have is a sin?

Lets look at the word of God HEBREWS 13:5-6 'LET YOUR CONVERSATION BE WITHOUT COVEOUSNESS; AND BE CONTENT WITH SUCH THINGS AS YE HAVE: FOR HE HATH SAID, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, OR FORSAKE THEE. SO THAT WE MAY BOLDLY SAY, THE LORD IS MY HELPER, AND I WILL NOT FEAR WHAT MAN SHALL DO UNTO ME. This scripture plainly teaches us to be content with what we have! I even heard a prosperity preacher teach that this means to be happy with what you have now, while using your faith to obtain more. WHAT! When will we stop distorting the plain meaning of scripture?


He says that those who want to become rich will fall into many foolish and hurtful lusts. The craving [coveting] to become rich can either be through confessing scripture, through meditating on abundance, through the sowing of seed into good soil or any other means imaginable. The scripture simply says that if the acquiring of money, for whatever purpose [even godly purposes], has become your goal, then your motivation is wrong and you have been sidetracked.

Now the 'love of money' verse. 1 TIMOTHY 6:10 'FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL: WHICH WHILE SOME COVETED AFTER, THEY HAVE ERRED FROM THE FAITH, AND PIERCED THEMSELVES THROUGH WITH MANY SORROWS'. I have heard it said 'brother, this says the love of money, not money' and then the preacher will go right past the warning and talk all about money, not even giving a second thought to the warning! These passages, read in their entirety, give a powerful rebuke against the prosperity movement. They teach us to' be content with what we have,' they tell us' don’t desire to be rich', they plainly state that the pursuit of material wealth will sidetrack you, and they even state that 'you came into the world with nothing, when you die you cant take it with you, so be happy with what you have!' I would exhort any person who is having difficulty breaking away from this movement to read 1 timothy 6 every day for a year and allow your mind to be renewed to the word of God!
One more thing before we leave this chapter, in verse 12 Paul exhorts Timothy to 'lay hold on eternal life'. He says this in the context of comparing eternal life against materialistic living. He is saying in essence 'live for eternal things, not temporary rewards [or money!]'. I just finished watching a minister on T.V. spend 30 minutes explaining how the eternal life that Paul is referring to deals with the abundance of God in the area of finances. He flatly said that Paul was teaching us to lay hold of an abundance of money! This type of extreme distorting of scripture actually takes the warnings in the word of God that speak against materialism and turns them around to teach the exact opposite! When our own interpretations of scripture go against the plain flow of the text of scripture, then we have usurped the word of God in order to teach our own traditions!


One day while listening to a preacher trying to prove that Jesus and the disciples were extremely wealthy, he used the common ‘proof texts’ to prove his point. He then went on to explain that religious tradition portrayed Jesus and the disciples as being poor [or average], and that the word of God teaches us that they were really rich. He also explained how important it was for us to know this 'truth', because if Jesus and the disciples were rich, and Jesus wants us to be like him, then we are in disobedience if we are not striving to become wealthy!

A simple plain reading of the N.T. portrays Jesus as someone who came with a radical message of forsaking all to follow him. He often approached people who were in business [fishermen], or were rich, and challenged them to leave all and follow him. He would reassure these followers if they forsook all for his cause and the gospel, that they would be taken care of. This same type of radical call continued into the book of acts, where the early followers of Jesus also told the people that to be a follower of Christ they had to forsake all to follow him.

If you look at the overall picture [not the prooftexts!], you see the early Christian community as a people who forsook all for the gospel. You find them living and sharing as a corporate community who took care of each-others needs [ACTS 2:44-47]. You find those who were wealthy [not all of the church, but certain individuals, ACTS 4:32-37] sharing their wealth for the needs of the Christian community. You can even trace the ministries of some of the early apostles and still find them many years later proclaiming Christ through much suffering and persecution. Not only does the N.T. portray the early Christian community in this light, but also church history confirms it. You find the apostles still learning to deal with financial lack many years later well into their ministries [PHIL 4:11-12, 2 COR. 11:27]. You see a beautiful picture of a people willing to suffer for the cause of Christ cheerfully. You also see a gracious Lord who met all their needs according to his abundant grace. You find stories where the material needs of people were supernaturally met [not by extreme wealth, but by Gods miraculous intervention [MATT. 14:17-19, 15:34-36].

Now what about the promise Jesus made to Peter in MARK 10:28-31 'THEN PETER BEGAN TO SAY UNTO HIM, LO, WE HAVE LEFT ALL, AND HAVE FOLLOWED THEE. AND JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID, VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THERE IS NO MAN THAT HATH LEFT HOUSE, OR BRETHREN, OR SISTERS, OR FATHER, OR MOTHER, OR WIFE, OR CHILDREN, OR LANDS, FOR MY SAKE AND THE GOSPELS, BUT HE SHALL RECIEVE AN HUNDREDFOLD NOW IN THIS TIME, HOUSES, AND BRETHREN, AND SISTERS, AND MOTHERS, AND CHILDREN, AND LANDS, WITH PERSECUTIONS; AND IN THE WORLD TO COME ETERNAL LIFE. Did Peter personally posses [inherit] more houses, lands, sisters and mothers? How was this promise fulfilled in Peter’s life? In the book of acts Peter became a part of the 'Christian family' who had all things common, they shared everything and had no lack [ACTS 4:32-34, 2:44-47]. They had no lack because of their membership in the family of God. The fulfilling of the law of love in their sharing of material things was the fulfillment of Jesus promise to Peter, not making him financially rich!

Look at all the apostolic ministries in the book of acts. Wherever they went, whatever city they ministered in, their needs were always met. Why? Because when they became part of the Christian community, the homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, lands and all the other resources were SHARED by all the believers. They ministered to each other’s needs, they supported one another, they truly fulfilled the law of love by bearing one another’s burdens!

This picture of Jesus and the apostles as extremely rich 20th century American evangelists who headed up big budget ministries is absolutely no where to be found in the plain reading of the N.T.! I just don’t find Jesus and the disciples as rich evangelists going into the world with extreme wealth, while at the same time telling rich people to sell all they have to come follow him! [MATT. 19:23-24,LK. 1:53, 6:24, 16:19-31, 18:18-25]


The early settlers [pilgrims] of our nation came by faith in God, believing their new nation to be a promised land of freedom that the Lord had given to them. One of the descriptions of the 'belief system' of these puritans is called covenant theology. They saw themselves as 'new covenant' people who were inheriting a promised land, much like the old covenant people [Israel] inherited their promised land. They claimed and believed the many O.T. promises of God concerning the inheriting of nations. They took God at his word, and it worked!

In a sense all believers are covenant theologians, whether they realize it or not. It is through our covenant with God [the blood of Jesus], that we are made right with God [justified], have forgiveness of sins and are made children of God. As a matter of fact, everything that God does for us, or that 'we do for him', is based upon the bedrock foundation of the covenant of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now, it has been taught because of our covenant with Christ, we can go through the bible and find all the promises that are good and by faith hold God to his word and 'cause the things that are not seen [not manifested] to become seen [manifested]', or to put it simple, to get the things that God has promised us by putting our faith into action. I believe this principle is both scriptural and profitable. But the covenant cuts both ways.

When people enter into covenant, the 2 parties have complete access to each-others rights and privileges. There are times were the Lord will require of the believer all that he has [leave your nets and follow me mentality]. There are even times where the Lord called people to lay down their lives in martyrdom in order to receive a better resurrection [HEB 11:35, ACTS 7]. As a matter of fact there are many examples of people of faith who have endured great sufferings even though they had great faith [HEB. 11].

So what does it mean to be a covenant believer? It not only implies going throughout the bible and claiming all the good promises and quoting them by faith [sowing], it also carries with it the meaning of laying down all that we have [in this world] for the cause of Christ [HEB. 10:34].

While the early puritans did claim and receive the promises of God by faith concerning their 'promised land', they also endured tremendous suffering and loss [many died in their pursuit!] in order to obtain a noble goal. The N.T. commands us not only to believe and teach the good parts [or the parts we like the most!], but also to heed the warnings [LUKE 12:15, ACTS 20:27]. If we reduce covenant theology to a belief system that only reads and quotes the 'good' promises, but never heeds the warnings, then we are failing to proclaim the full gospel and are presenting a distorted view of the Christian life [ACTS 14:22]. A simple overview of the N.T. shows us how the principles of the N.T. are supposed to work. For example, you never find Jesus or the disciples going around quoting the money verses in order to receive a harvest! As a matter of fact, if we teach people to 'quote, meditate, memorize and only think on the money scriptures', we would be doing the exact opposite of what Jesus said in MATT. 6:31-34. He specifically told us to take no thought [meditate, focus our minds, etc.] of what we shall eat, drink or wear [material things], the whole point of this passage was to teach the Christian NOT to focus on these things!

You also never find any of the suffering Christians acting like they 'fell short' of their covenant rights. Instead they counted it a privilege to suffer for his names sake [ACTS 5:41]. The entire flow of the N.T. goes contrary to the 'picture painted' by unbalanced prosperity preaching. The focus of the N.T. was Gods advancing kingdom throughout the nations! Their own lives and the things they could get to make themselves more comfortable ran 100% contrary to the fulfilling of their mission [2 TIM. 4:10, 1 JOHN 2:15]. A simple plain reading of the N.T. in context teaches us that the character of N.T. Christianity is one of self-sacrificial living, not a 'get all you can by faith' mentality.


A simple reading of the N.T. gives us a broad picture of the life of the believer, which includes giving and receiving, Gods promises of funding the work of the ministry, the Christian concept of charity, and a basic overall view of finances and the kingdom of God. One of the most basic reasons of giving money in the N.T. is to share what we have with those who are less fortunate [JAMES 2:15-16, 1 JOHN 3:17]. As a matter of fact Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day for their willingness to tithe to the temple while neglecting to use their finances to meet the needs of people in need [MARK 7:6-13]. One of the most recognized passages of scripture used to describe the character of Christ is found in Luke 10:30-37, an example of someone ministering to the needs of ‘the down and out’.

Even in the book of acts the main focus on giving was to meet the needs of people [ACTS 2:44-46, 4:32-37, 6:1]. The very scripture that we use to exhort saints to put in their offerings on ‘Sunday’, is really speaking about a collection being taken to meet the needs of the ‘poor saints’ who lived in Jerusalem [1COR. 16:1-3].

This basic Christian principle of charity is a well-established Christian doctrine that most people would agree with, except for certain teachers in the prosperity movement! I remember listening to a certain teacher actually teach that in order to receive a good financial harvest, you must plant your seed [money] into good soil. He then went on to teach that good soil meant ministries, or individuals, who taught prosperity and were financially rich! He even implied that giving to prosperity ministries would make you rich, while giving to ‘poverty mentality’ ministries would make you poor [because you reap the same anointing from the ministries you so into]. The problem with this is that the bible teaches that giving to poor people [people with a poverty mentality] is good, and that the Lord will reward you for it [PRVB. 22:9,16,19:17,28:27, PSALMS 112:9].

While the N.T. does deal with Gods provisions for ministry [PHIL. 4:14-19,1COR. 9:1-14], this certainly in no way justifies perverting the gospel into a mindset of giving into wealthy ministries in order to receive a financial harvest!

Jesus, Paul and all the other N.T. ministers did receive finances and provisions from God in order to fulfill their callings, but at the same time they also warned the people emphatically against materialism. They spoke out against covetousness/idolatry, while at the same time believing God to meet their needs [LUKE 12:15, EPH. 5:3, COL. 3:5, 1 THESS. 2:5, HEB. 13:5, 2 PETER 2:3]. Were they being hypocrites? NO! They understood the difference between using the things of this world without abusing them [1 COR. 7:31]. There is a big difference between believing God to meet our needs, and twisting the entire character of N.T. Christianity into a money focused mentality! The Christian should have a proper understanding of finances, as well as physical exercise, balance in family life and relationships, dealing with the practical concerns of life. But to exalt anyone of these areas of life and to make it the message of Christianity, and then to reshape the entire image of Christianity in order to make it fit our ‘peculiar’ style of belief would be wrong.

The very fact that there are in existence today million dollar ministries [which in itself is not wrong!], that teach people to give into their ministries with the promise of a sure return, and even appeal to poor saints to give out of their lack [social security checks, etc.], while all the while propagating a false gospel, is wrong!

These same ministries use the funds collected by false pretense and then preach the gospel of money, instead of a clear presentation of the gospel of Christ! Many of these ministries sincerely believe that it is a witness for Christ to have extravagant salaries, wear Rolex watches, drive a Cadillac and be a millionaire. They actually justify this by their own belief in the message they preach. They do not see it as wrong in the sight of God to finance this type of lifestyle/ministry from the offerings sent in by poor saints and widows! Many of their supporters are average, or struggling financially, and they give out of a sincere desire to better their own lives while at the same time furthering the work of God.

I know some of these precious believers who are struggling financially while sending in their ‘widow’s mite’ with hope and faith that things will turn around for them. No where in the N.T. do you find rich preachers appealing to poor saints to give into their ministries in order to receive a harvest! This is 100% against the character of N.T. Christianity. The bible actually condemns the idea of ‘shepherds’ taking advantage of their flocks for personal/financial gain [EZEKIEL 34, MATT. 23:14, 1 PETER 5:1-2].

The very fact that we have poor Christians sending in sacrificial offerings to millionaire ministries, often times because the preacher is appealing by the ‘word of the Lord’ to them, is wrong! Many of these ministries are using these funds to propagate a false view of Christianity to the world. They are preaching an unbalanced gospel while they themselves are bringing in large amounts of money. I appeal to the church at large to finance worthy ministries who are actually meeting the real needs of people around the world [good soil!], and to stop financing a false gospel!


Why write this book? Over the years of struggling with these issues I would often come across an article, book or some type of testimonial that would expose many of the errors that are dealt with in this book. Some of the books I read seemed to leave little or no room for repentance and restoration of the ‘prosperity preachers’. I not only believe that Gods ultimate purpose in exposing sin is for the restoration of the individual, but there are examples of former prosperity preachers who have seen some of these gross errors and have returned to a balanced presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What constitutes a false prophet? While there are many characteristics that we can mention, I would like to deal with one specific area relevant to our study. That area is motivation. In 2 Peter chapter 2, the apostle deals with covetousness as a motive for teaching heresy [2 PETER 2:1-3]. He states that Balaam was a false prophet who ‘loved the wages of unrighteousness’ [2 PETER 2:14-16]. Although balaam's gift was legitimate, it was his motivation [the love of money] that caused him to use his gift in a wrong way. So you can have a true prophetic gift, and yet be a false prophet because of a covetous motivation [JUDE 11]. The early church even went so far as to brand someone a false prophet if they hung around more than a few days and charged for their ministry! [Read the Didache].

As mentioned earlier, Paul and Peter warned against being in ministry for financial gain [1 TIM.6, 2 PETER 5:2, TITUS 1:11]. Jesus himself laid down a strong warning against the hireling mentality [JOHN 10:12-13].

It is clear from these warnings [and the many others in the N.T.], that the early Christians were very aware of the dangers of the love of money. I have heard it taught that this ‘fear ‘ or ‘scared’ attitude towards money is just a ‘religious mindset’ that has no foundation in the word of God. This just isn’t true! The bible contains many warnings against materialistic living and covetousness that were the foundation of the ‘healthy fear’ that the early church had towards money.

Now the scripture teaches that there will be a time when certain teachers [false prophets] who are motivated by money, will teach false doctrines [Jesus and the disciples being rich, etc.] and that these teachers would connect faith and money [gain and godliness], as going hand in hand. Now if the current abuses of the prosperity movement do not fall into this category, then who does? We just can’t deny all the evidence pointing to this movement as one of the fulfillments of the ‘false prophets’ who teach that gain is godliness! We as a church must see this before there can be any true restoration of those involved, or more importantly a preventing of this false gospel from being taught to a whole new generation of believers!

The scripture says to rebuke false prophets sharply so THEY MAY BE SOUND IN THE FAITH [TITUS 1:13]. Even the false shepherds of Ezekiels day were promised restoration and usefulness in their latter years [EZEKIEL 44:10-14].

If we begin to renounce our errors and return to the Lord [repentance], there will be true renewal in the church. Jesus warned the church to repent because she had within her those that held to the ‘doctrine of balsam’ [REV. 2:14-16]. It is possible for those who have taught these errors to repent and be restored to a pure gospel of Christ.

Jesus dealt with the ‘money changers’ of his day just prior to the establishing of Gods kingdom. MARK 11:15-17 AND THEY COME TO JERUSALEM: AND JESUS WENT INTO THE TEMPLE, AND BEGAN TO CAST OUT THEM THAT SOLD AND BOUGHT IN THE TEMPLE, AND OVERTHREW THE TABLES OF THE MONEYCHANGERS, AND THE SEATS OF THEM THAT SOLD DOVES; AND WOULD NOT SUFFER THAT ANY MAN SHOULD CARRY ANY VESSEL THROUGH THE TEMPLE. AND HE TAUGHT, SAYING UNTO THEM, IS IT NOT WRITTEN, MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED OF ALL NATIONS THE HOUSE OF PRAYER? BUT YE HAVE MADE IT A DEN OF THIEVES. The moneychangers served as a sort of currency exchange for anyone wanting to bring any offerings or do any legitimate worship at Jerusalem, but needed to exchange their type of currency for the official currency that was accepted at Jerusalem. I find this interesting, because the function of the moneychangers themselves was a legitimate business function. But their business itself brought a type of merchandising to the temple that Jesus himself found highly offensive. I find a present day application to the moneychanger mentality in the modern prosperity movement. The movement teaches Christians to focus their attention on the return they will get on their investment into the kingdom. It causes Christians to give their offerings with the expectation of some type of return on their money. While this in itself is not wrong, for we know that God does reward his children [HEB. 11:6], the tendency of the prosperity message actually appeals to the covetous nature of people in order to make disciples of Christ! Jesus told people to forsake all to follow him, while the movement tells people if you follow him he will make you rich! I have heard it taught that as you sow your seed [money] into the offering basket that you need to 'picture' your harvest of what you are believing for in your mind [whether healing, a new car or house, the salvation of a loved one, etc.] and then your seed [money] will produce your harvest! The very idea of exchanging your money [or changing it!] into the visualized harvest of your own expectation is just as off base as the money mentality of the first century moneychangers. This is the only recorded incident in the N.T. where Jesus was visibly angry.