Matt Walsh on the West’s Indifference to Church Persecution in the East

Christian persecution and genocide is worse now than it has ever been in history. Christians in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, North Korea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, and many other countries, are regularly imprisoned, tortured, beaten, raped, and martyred. Their churches are destroyed. Their houses burned. They meet and worship in secret, risking their lives in the process. They live every moment in constant danger.

About 215 million Christians face what is called “extreme persecution” for their faith. It’s estimated that around a million have been slaughtered since 2005. There is no way to know exactly how many. What we do know is that Christianity has been dramatically reduced in parts of the world where it had existed for nearly 2,000 years.

But what do we care?

There are other things to worry about here. Hollywood sex scandals. Twitter disputes. Whatever controversial thing Trump said this week. So on and so on. We — myself included — spend far more time, and spill far more ink, on these issues than we ever have on the coordinated genocide of our fellow believers in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Why?

I have come to believe that our disinterest stems not only from the general apathy that defines western society and the western church, but from moral cowardice. To face the plight of our brothers and sisters is to face ourselves. To see these Christians who would rather be shot dead in the desert than renounce their faith is to see our own faith as a shabby, pitiful, hollow imitation. To see Christians who would risk their very lives to go to church and preach the Gospel is to question why we will do neither of those things, even though we are perfectly free and able. We cannot confront these truths of ourselves, so we will not confront the truth of Christian persecution.

We have submitted to the forces of darkness. We have bent our knees in homage to Satan, and the enemies of the faith haven’t even fired a shot to induce our surrender. Satan does not beat us with a stick; he dangles a carrot. He lulls us to sleep. He distracts us. He tempts us. Kill us? Why would he do that? We are no threat to him. A Christian in Afghanistan is a threat. He must be destroyed. It’s the only way. But a lazy, soft, equivocating Christian in the West? There is no need to persecute him. He is not worthy of it. Just give him a television and the internet and let him damn himself.

And Satan laughs.

He does not want us to be jolted out of this stupor, and he has no doubt instructed his legions accordingly. The persecutors of the church in America have quite an easy job. For them, the strategy is clear: Put down the gun. Drop the machete. Don’t scare these people. Don’t make martyrs of them. Don’t give them any hint that there is a war going on and the fate of their souls lies in the balance. Let them be arrogant and self-assured. Let them push out any thought of their own mortality. Let them dismiss everything I’m saying right now as “pessimistic” and “negative.” Let them enjoy themselves. Let them have their spiritual indifference and let them dress it up as “positivity” and “hopefulness.” Let them have it all. Fluff their pillow for them, even. Turn on the TV and hand them the remote. Feed them. Pamper them. Pleasure them. Give them everything their hearts desire. Don’t appeal to their fear; appeal to their lust, their laziness, their gluttony, their vanity, their pride, their boredom.

And watch them drop like flies.

 

Read the whole article by clicking here.

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5 Points About Football’s Impact on Holiness

In case you missed it, yesterday there was one of the greatest endings to a NFL football game ever. And it happened to the Minnesota Vikings, a team that has been mercilessly beaten by many amazing game ending plays.

If there was any team that deserved a miraculous game ending play to win, it’s the Vikings.

I went on Twitter afterwards to partake in the social media frenzy surrounding the ending. I came across this from a Christian:

“Over the years I’ve noticed that a Christian’s holiness is directly proportionate to the number of football games he or she has never seen.”

Ah yes, leave it to the Christian to poop on the party.

I hate stuff like that. Here are a couple reasons why.

  1. If I were a betting man, I’d put all my money on the fact that the author of this quote did not watch the game. Therefore, he’s putting himself in the holiness camp. One of the aspects of righteousness, sanctification, spiritual growth, and holiness is that humility develops. The kind of humility that keeps a person from vocalizing such a sanctimonious point.
  2. More than likely, if football fans were to examine the author’s life they could find something equally stupid he does that they don’t, and make a similar observation. I could say the same thing about watching movies, snowmobiling, hunting and fishing, reading fiction, having a 40+ hour a week job, etc. The list is endless and thus it’s really stupid to go where he goes.
  3. If a guy knows how to operate a DVR, you can watch a four-hour football game in about 45-minutes. I doubt this spending of 45 minutes a week will be a determinative factor in a person’s holiness.
  4. It might be true for some, but not necessarily for all. I do know some fanatical football fans that should probably cut back. I was one myself in the past. I cut ties. I backed off. There are, no doubt, many football fans who take football too seriously to the detriment of their spiritual health. I can also tell you some of the most helpful people to me spiritually partook in watching football. The idea that there’s something particular about football to ruin your sanctification is absurd.
  5. Finding a thing you don’t like and then making that thing that you don’t like the focal point of judging someone’s spiritual growth is a dangerous place to be. Perhaps this guy, or some who read his quote, will assume “I don’t watch football, therefore I am holy.” It puts the wrong emphasis on things.

In the end, this is a Romans 14 kind of thing. The author finds football to be a problem. Fine. Don’t watch football. Keep your non-watching of football to yourself.

I would be more impressed if the guy said he watched the game and has a problem with football addiction and said this quote.

But he didn’t. He just said the quote, bashing all who like that thing he doesn’t like.

He’s judging and he’s being divisive. He’s taking an insignificant thing and putting spiritual weight on it, tipping the scales toward legalism.

This is not just a screed against him or his anti-footballness. This is a warning to us all.

I’ve heard myself and others use Sci-Fi shows, coffee, health food, homeschooling, and any number of other issues the same way. Making an enjoyable thing of others into the antichrist.

It’s not helpful. It’s not edifying. It’s merely being a Pharisee and a High Horse Riding Judgmental Know-It-All.

Knock it off.

Wearing Hats in Chapel and Romans 14

I attended a Christian college with mandatory chapel every day in the auditorium. One of my goals in life at the time, was to see how I could miss as many chapels as possible and not get in trouble.

I wanted to miss chapel for two main reasons:

  1. Most of the chapels were really stupid. There was a lot of singing and a lot of very bad theology.
  2. I had a bad attitude.

Chapel was around 10am. I worked until 2 in the morning. I tried to arrange my classes so I didn’t have to go to class until at least late morning if not afternoon. I moved off campus to save money and also cuz then I could petition to miss more chapels.

I was frequently unkempt in college. I worked late, had to bike to school, I ran cross country and track, and worked as a janitor. Lots of opportunity to be dirty and smelly with that combination.

Instead of frequent showers, I wore deodorant and a hat.

One day I was sitting in one of the back sections of chapel, barely awake, unkempt, and having a bad attitude.

A chipper young fellow with a couple chipper little pixie college chics walks by me and taps me on the leg and says, “Hey bud, no hats in chapel, kay?”

I tipped my cap to him, which he interpreted as me dutifully listening to him. I then un-tipped my cap and put it back on as he walked past. I did this all with a super-abundance of bad attitude.

About a year later, this guy was in one of my classes. I did not recognize him or know him. But he came up to me one day and said, “Remember that day I told you to take your hat off in chapel and you immediately took it off but right back on? That really bugged me. Every time I’ve seen you since, I’ve thought about that and judged you.”

We had a nice conversation. I explained my schedule and my attitude. He apologized and I apologized.

I have often thought of this experience.

Both of us had our own lives going. I don’t know why hats had to be removed in a college auditorium. I thought that was dumb. But he thought hats should be off.

This was a classic Romans 14 issue. He that esteemeth chapel and he who esteemeth not chapel. He who regardeth hats and he who regardeth not hats.

Let each be persuaded in his own mind.

The guy didn’t think I should wear a hat. I had no problem wearing a hat, and, in fact, had, what I thought, were good reasons to wear a hat.

But as soon as the guy said something to me about the hat, it became a mutual issue.

Who relents? Whose opinion will rule?

Looking back, I consider myself to be wrong in my response. I should have removed the hat because the guy made it an issue. It’s better to keep the peace than to wear a hat.

I sincerely did apologize to him, and he sincerely apologized to me. Water under the bridge, no big deal. But isn’t it amazing how many of these smaller issues make us hate each other? How many of these issues cause divisions and fighting?

“Why not rather take the wrong?” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6. Why fight? Peace comes by giving in to others.

No one likes that, which is why there’s so little peace. But it’s the way of peace as spelled out in God’s Word.

No, I do not remember what was talked about at chapel that day, but I’m quite sure it wasn’t as instructive as this little episode has been for me.

The Apostle Paul, Bellum Romanum, and Terrorism

Bellum Romanum is a Latin phrase used to describe the particular kind of warfare the Romans waged against the Barbarians. It means “Roman War.”

You may recognize the Bellum from the Antebellum South–Ante–Before and Bellum–War–the South before the Civil War.

If you’re familiar with the causes of the fall of the Roman Empire, you know that they spent hundreds of years dealing with barbarian hordes picking on their extremities.

These Barbarian Wars began about 100bc and went sometime into the 400’s ad.

Rome convinced its people that barbarians weren’t totally human, they were sub-human. They were uncivilized brutes. Therefore, since they weren’t official humans, any number of atrocities against them were justified.

Bellum Romanum was all out war without restraint. There was killing, raping, and pillaging. Today we would refer to what Rome did as genocide.

It was the abject destruction of societies. Not just the destruction of barbarian warriors, but of innocent barbarian folk with their cities and everything else.

If you’re paying attention to history, you’ll recognize that much of the New Testament was written between 50-80ish ad. Smack dab in the middle of these dealings with the barbarians.

Knowing this background information, Romans 1:14 takes on special meaning. Paul says, “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise.”

Paul considers himself to be obligated to barbarians along with civilized Greeks! Imagine what he’s saying!

This is a culture that has determined that the only good barbarian is a dead barbarian, they’re not even people. Then the amazing doctrines of the NT break in and Paul says he’s indebted to serve barbarians, almost as if they’re people like Greeks!

Colossians 3:11 says that in Christ there is no difference between barbarians and other people. This is astounding stuff!

It also has relevance for peoples since then. The idea that a nation’s enemies should be viewed as sub-human runs throughout history. If you can convince your people you’re up against animals, this helps justify your violence.

The white colonist’s attitude toward Native Americans was similar. As was America’s attitude toward African slaves. Hitler depicted Jews as animals.

You might even notice similar rhetoric today concerning terrorists. “Terrorist” is almost a synonym for Rome’s “barbarian.” Terrorists are less than people living in squalid caves in the mountain.

So when President Trump said on the campaign trail he would like to bomb them all to hell, many Christians cheered.

Watch out!

Nations have a right given by God to wield the sword, to protect their people. But watch out when we cheer violence. When we think bombing people to hell is worthy of praise.

Hell is real. People, even terrorists and barbarians, have souls.

Paul didn’t worry about what Rome was doing. But Paul did not buy into Rome’s prejudices. Paul loved everyone as members of Christ or potential members. As real people with real souls who need Christ.

Follow Paul’s example.

A Morning in the Life

6:45–woke up to the sounds of my children banging around the house.

7:01–read my Bible, prayed, and said good-bye to my wife and kids.

7:45–checked email accounts, Twitter, and Facebook. Left a couple unsolicited doctrinal comments on some Facebook posts and imagined all those who would be converted by my wisdom.

8:12–I began creating song sheets for new songs for Wednesday night. Tried to get guitar chords put in the right place. Copied and pasted lyrics to songs from internet. Corrected all the wrong lyrics. Hopefully. Printed out guitar music.

9:45–Ran three miles and listened to Dan Carlin’s podcast on the Celtic Genocide. Learned about Caesar doing battle with German hordes. Cooled down and stretched.

10:35–Continued working on music. Disappointed to see no one on Facebook converted to my doctrine, but at least got to see how immediately I was dismissed as being irrelevant.

11:15–Watched a DVR’d episode of American Pickers while making and eating lunch. Ham and cheese sandwich, pretzels, banana, and leftover Christmas cookies.

12:03–Walked around the house talking to myself about doctrinal things and annoying things and annoying doctrinal things.

12:37–Still no converts on Facebook.

1:15–Figured I should write something so I did this post. Can’t wait to see how many people will convert due to the writing of this.

1:35–Checked Facebook again. No converts. Posted this post.

Denominations and the Kingdom of God

“The Kingdom of God” is a phrase used many times in the Bible, particularly in the Gospels (although Matthew, for some reason, primarily refers to it as “the Kingdom of Heaven”).

There is much debate about what the Kingdom of God is.

In fact your view of the Kingdom of God will reveal much of your theology and the branch of Christianity you are in.

Here is my opinion of what the various views of the Kingdom of God are and their predominant denominational supporters.

It should be noted that this is my understanding of these views and may not express the views of any one individual in these denominations. Every denomination has variation, but this is my generalization.

Lutheran
The Kingdom of God refers to the time period when the King was with us, when Jesus was on the earth. Lutherans typically deny any eschatological (future/end times) interpretations of anything and especially concerning the Kingdom. Their main beef is to eliminate any sort of coming earthly kingdom on this earth involving the nation of Israel (see: Luther’s antisemitism).

Presbyterian/Reformed/Calvinist
The Church is the Kingdom. This branch of theology is derisively termed Replacement Theology, as they, in essence, view the Church as replacing Israel. The Church is the Kingdom. You’re in it right now. All of God’s promises to Israel should be viewed as allegorical or spiritualized and somehow find their fulfillment in the Church in our age.

Catholic/Mormon
The Kingdom of God will be ushered in when the Church conquers the world. This mindset is what drove the Catholic Church to become the world’s largest landholder. The Vatican is a geo-political “capital.” This is why they fought the Crusades–to take back the Holy Land and claim it for the Church. Mormons and other groups hold a similar view and would do what the Catholic Church did if they had the power.

Hyper-dispensational
The Kingdom of God by far refers to the 1,000 year Millennial reign of Christ on this earth and centers on the Jewish people. Since it’s for the Jews in the future, it bears no significance to Gentiles. Most of Jesus’ teachings are not for us but for Jews in the Kingdom.

Untitled Amorphous Group #1
The branch of Christianity that has either not thought about, nor defined their views of the Kingdom, or views the Kingdom as being synonymous with salvation. It’s just a term, a code word for salvation.

Untitled Amorphous Group #2
This branch realizes that each group above has verses they use to back up their theory. Thus they try to incorporate these ideas into their overall understanding of what the Kingdom is. By using the context of a passage, it will be clearer what aspect of the Kingdom of God is being referred to–when Christ was here, the age we’re in now, synonym for salvation, or the future realization are all seen. The Catholic view cannot be seen with any bases in context.

I would place myself in Untitled Amorphous Group #2 and I’d encourage you to be as well.

If you narrow it down to your favorite aspect of the Kingdom, you will do damage to all the verses that speak of a different aspect. This will lead to bad theology and potentially death. Not kidding–the Crusades were a result of a horrible understanding of the Kingdom of God.

If you think the Kingdom was just for when Jesus was here, then none of the passages about the Kingdom have anything to do with us.

If you think the Kingdom was just for this time period, that the Church is the Kingdom, you will have to be creative with biblical prophecy and end up making it not mean what it clearly says.

If you think the Kingdom is brought in by the Church taking up arms, you’ll either die or kill a lot of people. It will result in you fighting for your stuff.

If you think the Kingdom is all about the Millennial reign of Christ, you will miss all the instructions concerning the Kingdom we are to be minding now. You will do damage to the plain sense of biblical words.

If you think the Kingdom is solely about salvation and nothing more, you will mess up biblical prophecy and probably have weird views on sanctification and justification.

Be careful out there. Don’t be afraid to think. This is a large, complex issue. It requires your attention.

3 Reasons You Don’t Need the Historical, Cultural, or Literary Backgrounds to Understand the Bible

“In order to understand a Bible passage, you need to know the historical, cultural, and literary background.”

I’ve heard such things said many times. I think it’s ridiculous.

There are three main reasons I don’t think you need to know the historical, cultural, or literary background of a passage to understand the passage.

First, the origins of this advice come from literary criticism. Literary criticism, as it relates to the Bible, comes from liberal theology. One of its foundational beliefs is that the Bible is not inspired. There are cultural norms and commentary that can be ignored in the Bible. Literary criticism only exists because of doubts concerning the authenticity and inerrancy of the Bible. Now that this sort of stuff has been around long enough, it’s part of typical Christian speak. Not everyone who brings up such things doubts the inspiration of Scripture, but that is the foundation of such things, so beware when someone brings it up.

Second, who is to say what the historical, cultural, or literary background is? What are the trusted sources of such information? Most of the time, an appeal to culture or history is nothing more than code words that you’re about to hear why the Bible doesn’t mean what it clearly says. Rarely have I heard anyone use cultural, historical, or literary background to build up a literal understanding of Scripture. Typically it will serve to bolster some sort of allegorical interpretation. If not that, than it will at least be used to throw out the traditional common-sense meaning of a text. Rarely does the historical, cultural, or literary background add anything, and many times it detracts from what the Bible says.

Third, in order to understand the Bible you don’t just need the Bible and the Holy Spirit, you now also need historical, cultural, and literary books. This undermines the authority of the Scripture as well as the Holy Spirit’s ministry. If I need Josephus to understand the Bible, then all bets are off. Who says Josephus got stuff right? Why do we put more trust in historians than in the inspired Word of God?

Historical, cultural, and literary background is just a way for overly-intellectual ivory tower types to tell the average laymen the Bible is too hard for them to understand. I have more confidence in God’s ability to say exactly what He meant than in scholars to tell me what God really meant.

The Bible is not that hard to understand with study, prayer, the edification of the Church, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You don’t need to buy some professor’s books to understand it. Just read the Word and pray for Wisdom. Let the Spirit teach you.