Moral Chimps, Sort Of, Not Really, But Still

Perhaps you saw this story the other day:

Chimpanzees can tell right from wrong: Apes’ reactions to violent video footage may give clues to how human morality evolved

Whenever evolution stories are reported on, know that the headline has almost next to nothing to do with actual findings. Also note that when a topic is covered and always appears that they’re trying too hard, something is amiss.

Bottom line: if you read the article and the actual findings, chimps have no concept of right and wrong. Here’s an analysis of the findings.

It is somewhat ironic that as our culture increasingly decides morality is nothing but bondage, we feel a need to make animals moral.

Animals aren’t moral. They do not know right and wrong. Animals may have instincts that appear moral, but they are not guided by morality, they are guided by instinct.

God has put his law in our hearts, all people have a sense of God’s right and wrong. All people have a conscience, a thing in their brain that bugs them when they do wrong, sometimes shown by guilt, sometimes by brazen flaunting.

Animals can’t violate morality, carry guilt. If they did, they would need forgiveness and thus an animal messiah to save them. Animals are breathing piles of dirt just like people. The main difference is in our morality, conscience, will, and intellect.

Gun Control and Baptism

I saw this on the internets the other day about the Charleston Shooting:

“Gun control is a legislative placebo deceiving people who think “feeling” safe actually means they are safe.”

I think that expresses well the issue of legislation in general. People want a feeling. Even if people were totally safe, if they didn’t feel they were, they would conclude they were not safe. For instance: my wife with spiders.

I heard once that a car company made a car shift with no noise. You couldn’t tell the car upshifted or downshifted. It was so smooth, people thought there was something wrong with the transmission.

The car maker redesigned the transmission so that it would make a noise and a lurch to let people know it shifted. People don’t just want to shift; they want to feel like they shifted.

People are really weird.

But this whole thing has eternal ramifications as well. People want to feel like they are saved, whether they are or not.

Baptism is Gun Control Legislation. I may not be saved at all, but at least now I feel like I am. Saying the prayer, going to church, having quiet time, whatever your thing is that gives you that “saved feeling,” might just be guaranteeing your spot in hell.

But hey, at least I feel saved now!

Unfortunately, not only do we do this nonsense with ourselves, we apply it to others. We tell our kids they are saved because they did that thing that makes us feel like they are saved.

We tell the doubting person at church “I know you’re saved, I was at your baptism!” We shuffle people’s doubts under the rug and maintain our feelings.

In the end, your feelings are probably the worst possible guide on any given subject. Feelings might help, but they are not all we make judgments by.

So, which would you rather have: salvation or the feeling of being saved?

Many people have decidedly chosen the feeling.

It’s possible to have both, this is true. I can guarantee, however, that hell is filled with people that, until they ended up there, felt saved.

Joel Osteen’s Self Help Talk Heckled

Joel Osteen’s “church” was interrupted six times be hecklers yesterday. These hecklers were apparently from another church in a coordinated effort!

The first interruption was right when Osteen began his self-help talk when a heckler yelled “Joel Osteen, you’re a liar.” Can’t argue there.

Not sure heckling is the best approach to opposing Mr. Osteen, nor, based on the recent shooting in another church, was the timing very good.

But hey, you can’t fault people for trying, or can you? I guess you could. Better them than me, but quite frankly, good for them!

Why Bible Passages Are Ignored

As I observe Christianity, I notice that most Christian disagreements are based on what passages of Scripture to ignore.

Every believer ignores, or at least downplays the importance of, various passages of Scripture. There is no agreement on which passages to ignore per se.

For instance, some believers ignore the Sermon on the Mount as being for some other age. Other believers, while holding to the Sermon on the Mount, reject Paul’s teaching about women.

However, there is agreement on what kinds of passages to ignore!

What I mean is: while some ignore the Sermon on the Mount and others ignore Paul’s teachings about women, both are ignoring passages they don’t want to do!

Yes, they disagree as to specific passages, but they agree that they don’t want to do certain things God said! The passages we ignore tend to be the passages that tell us to obey things we don’t want to do.

I find this fascinating!

People throw out James because James is perhaps the most practical book of the New Testament. Verse after verse about how to live and what we are to do. People don’t want to hear that, so just throw out the whole book.

People throw out the Sermon on the Mount because it’s just stuff we’re supposed to do. It’s not just any stuff to do, it’s impossible stuff to do! Stuff that would totally ruin my enjoyment of life, so throw it out!

Paul tells women to be quiet in church and to honor their husbands. Seriously? And don’t even bring up head coverings. We don’t want to do that, so throw it out!

Oh I know, I know, it’s “cultural” and we’ve progressed past that stuff. I know.

I wonder if culturally we’ve progressed passed the Gospel too? How would we know this? What if God decided not to do what He said because we decided not to do what He said?

“But God wouldn’t do that, the Bible says God doesn’t change,” you protest.

I know, but how can you trust that? If other things in there no longer mean what they say, what’s to say God won’t change? What if God just said He didn’t change because that’s what the culture at the time needed to hear?

We need to be careful playing the game of deciding what passages God meant and what ones He didn’t mean. We need to be careful about being God’s judge. We need to be careful not to be the Bible’s editor.

Yes, there are changes in some of God’s dealings with people (the Bible explains what those are, for instance the book of Hebrews is all about changes between the Old and New Covenant), but there is also a very consistent continuity. God wants people to listen to Him, whether you like that or not. Ignoring what God said doesn’t mean He didn’t say it.

Victorious Living is a Crock

Lots of Christians talk about “Victorious Living!” There’s always an exclamation point. I can’t help but think of nicely tanned, white-toothed, smiley preachers when I hear this phrase.

“Victorious Living!” is a phrase that has come to represent the Christian self-help movement. It means that with Jesus all your wildest dreams will come true. Jesus is the ultimate self-help guru who died so you could be successful.

Victorious Living! is a crock. Find me a verse that talks about Victorious Living.

You won’t find one. In fact, what you will find is when the Bible brings up victory, its context is usually about death.

The Greek word for victory is nikos, from which the shoe company Nike gets its name. There are only a few passages that talk about victory and us.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57, “thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
See, right there, Jeff, he talks about how we have the victory! Yeah, I know. And the context is all about death and resurrection. The victory doesn’t come in this life; the victory is resurrection, which comes after dying. In this life we have tribulation and then we die. Victory is later, after we leave this world.

1 John 5:1-4, “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
See, right there, Jeff, we have victory! Yeah, I know. Are you sure you want this victory though? The victory is our faith, and you want to know what John means by faith? Read the three verses before this phrase–the victory is obeying the commands of God. If that’s what you mean by Victorious Living!, then fine, I’m with ya! But I’ve never heard anyone sum up Victorious Living! with “obey God’s commands.”

Romans 8:35-37, “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
See, right there, Jeff, we conquer! Yeah, I know. Again, read the context–we are sheep for the slaughter, killed all day long. No amount of suffering can separate us from God. Again, the victory is in the next life, not in this one. In this life we might get tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword. But in the next one we enjoy victory.

That is nikos and you–Life sucks and then you die; so obey God. Need an expansion on this point? Read Ecclesiastes.

None of the suckage of life can remove you from God or from His love in Christ. That helps us push through the suckage. But the suckage is here, especially if you’re doing faith right. This is a very consistent theme of the New Testament.

In fact, the one church that sounds the most like they have Victorious Living! (“we reign as kings, we are wise, strong and honorable“) is the church of Corinth! The one church the New Testament has the biggest problem with!

The next biggest problem the NT has with a church is Laodicea, who thought they were rich, increased with goods, and had need of nothing! If you think you’re winning down here, the NT says you’re probably in the worst place possible.

Hebrews 11 is all about suffering people who lived for the next life. That is what faith is all about. Looking at the things that are not seen because the things that are seen are temporal. Living for the better country to come, not our best life now.

Avoid the Bible and all your fleshly dreams can come true.

Come to the Bible and all your dreams will be destroyed, your flesh life will be ruined as you take up your cross and die with Christ, being crucified to the world and the world to you, with all your affections and lusts being crucified, which results in godly living that always leads to persecution, and then, AFTER ALL THAT, comes your victorious life in heaven.

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

The Doing of Relationships

Ask any kid who has been to Sunday School, or youth programs, or even just church, what the point of Christianity is and they’ll no doubt say, “We’re supposed to be good.”

I’ve heard kids say this many times. Right after they say this, adults begin to correct them. “No Johnny, it’s not about being good, it’s about a relationship with Jesus.” Then we launch into a dissertation about “It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship.”

Of course, Johnny has no idea what you’re talking about. Examine every relationship Johnny has with anyone as a kid:

–Johnny’s relationship with parents: Johnny is to obey his mother and father
–Johnny’s relationship with his siblings: Johnny is to be nice to his brother and sister.
–Johnny’s relationship with his teachers: Johnny is to sit quiet, listen, and do what the teacher says.
–Johnny’s relationship with his coach: Johnny is supposed to listen to his coach and do what he says or else his team will lose.

The essence of relationship is doing something for another person. If you don’t think so, you’re probably a very lonely person.

Examine the relationships that God uses to describe our relationship to Him:

children to a Father
slaves to a Master
citizens to a King
wife to a Husband

In each relationship that God uses metaphorically to explain our relation to Him, we are the subservient one. We are the ones who obey Him.

Granted, no one wants to hear this. Not many wives even want to hear “obey your husband.” We bristle at being called slaves. We rip on our government leaders all the time, so God being King has lost its luster too. Kids rarely obey their parents, nor do their parents make them obey.

All of this is falling apart in our world, so it only makes sense that the world’s influence has convinced Christians that obedience to God is also optional.

But it isn’t. Even if you believe obedience to God is optional, something nice to do but not required, that doesn’t mean it’s true!

The first step is to make sure there is a relationship there. You must be born again. You must be a resident of the King’s country. Married to a new Bridegroom. Child of a heavenly Father. Released from slavery to sin to be a slave to a new Master.

Second, you then begin to fulfill your role. Salvation comes before obedience. It has to. We’re saved by faith. Faith then lives by hearing God.

If your theology does not include obedience to God, your theology is wrong. If your theology only includes obedience and has no place for mercy, no place for explaining all who God is, then your theology is also wrong.

The Bible is a large book and contains a lot of information. He wrote it for a reason. He wants you to know and obey all that He said to you.

If you don’t like obeying Him, then you’re not related to Him.