It’s not a business

One of the most familiar statements we hear about the church in America is that “it is not a business.” I’ve heard this countless times over the years, and the well-meaning phrase is meant to convey a passionate idea; that the church is much more than buildings and staff, budgets and meetings. Unfortunately, few things are weighed down with more sad irony than this idea we are currently trying to sell ourselves. “The church is not a business”, we say, while sitting in the office during a church business meeting. It’s not a business, because businesses have employees, staff, secretaries, and janitors. It’s not a business, because businesses are all about making money, and we all know that our church makes no concern over money, right?

We believe in the radical Jesus

We believe he was counter-cultural 

We believe that we should be too, as

long as we are still comfortable

We believe in the accounts

of the apostles, and tell everyone else 

live like they did, while we don’t

We got this idea in our last meeting

We believe we are progressing, 

despite all evidence to the contrary

We hold onto our own traditions, 

calling it Holy

Those who progress are heretics

We believe in the spreading of the gospel,

and make those who want to spread it beg

before a board of directors

Businesses have boards, we are not a business

We say we support missionaries we have never met

and put their picture up to make it seem like we know them

That picture is in the office, one of the offices

Business have offices

We are not a business 

We believe that God rewards faith

We put our faith in our budget, and

the people paid by the budget

Business have budgets 

We are not a business

This is an adaptation of a poem written by English journalist Steve Turner. Being that it does no good to simply complain about something, I readily admit that plenty of books and articles have been written criticizing the church on different subjects. While I do believe that most of the criticism is deserved, what’s more important is the solution. When it comes to this idea of the church not being a business, I have few solutions. One, the church could stop playing word games and just admit it has become a business. Or, a better solution would be for the church to gain a sense of urgency about its mission. Do we think that God is impressed with our buildings and signs? As Dwight Whitsett once wrote, our buildings are nothing more than pitiful imitations of cathedrals. If we are going to pour obscene amounts of money into these brick monuments, they ought to at least be used to serve the community instead of ourselves. Do we think God is impressed with our programs? With our brother-big-name staff? We ought to be using our resources and time to serve, to connect, and to help the local communities. Our missionaries should never have to beg for our resources, elbowing for space on the budget among a stack of other business propositions. The world would experience shaping, extreme change for the better if churches and the people in them could energize a revolution against a stale, corporate Christianity that has assumed headship over what was once Jesus’ movement.

There is so much the church could do if it weren’t such a business.


Alarms and Indicators: Part Three

In an honest observational mindset, it would be reasonable to say that just about anyone could look around and be certain that modern social tendencies have proven destructive. I don’t mean that we can simply recognize everything isn’t perfect; it never is. But a look at history will reveal that society has been sliding down a path of degrading excellence.

If Television is any indicator, just take a look at the nature of what people sit in front of these days, and what passes for “entertainment.” We have entire T.V. shows dedicated to studying why people hoard stuff, who can be a better model, and in what ways thousands of families have failed to get a loved one to stop making obese choices. I wonder about what we call “depression” sometimes, and while I do not wish to play lightly with a very real and substantial condition, I think we ought to recognize that modern “depression” is likely fueled by the nonsense we stuff into our brains. I may be wrong, but I think there was a time when crowds of women weren’t fighting over who could more like a Paris Hilton.

I see this as intrinsically tied onto the topic at hand. Atheistic thinkers have taken the posture that it is religion, and Christianity in particular, that need to suffer the blame for various social ills. They ruthlessly attack anything resembling faith, and label it as antiquated with the goal of propagating their move toward all things antitheistic. We are told that if we can remove the stain of religion off humanity’s garment, then we can finally look and feel better.

There is no reason to act as if some terrible atrocities have not been acted out in the name of Christianity. Many people have abused Christian ideas and made a mockery of what Christ taught. That should be openly admitted for what it is. But other such atrocities, more numerous to count, have been conducted by the hands of those who have bought into antitheistic ideas. And on what reasonable basis could an atheist call Stalin wrong? If the atheist is right, and we are nothing more than a big cosmic accident, it makes no sense to pass judgement on Stalin’s actions. On what basis does a life have value, if there is no moral law on which to make such a judgment? In other words, logically speaking, atheistic thinking is morally bankrupt.

If that seems like one big leap to you; consider this: Antitheism teaches that humans arose by accident out of a cosmic accident, in that we are a result of random mutation. We happen to be here, but there is no reason for our existence. Men like Sam Harris act as if this were a joyous discovery, a freeing knowledge that there is nothing beyond our biological existence. I find that outlook to be particularly depressing, insofar as it removes any meaning from life at all. For goodness sakes, how could we expect anything other than a social-wide epidemic of depression, after plugging into our brains the teaching that says, “We are here for no reason, so stop looking for one.” ? It’s no wonder that people seem so wrapped up in silly stuff– we have removed all the meaningful things.

Alarms and Indicators: Part Two

In Nietzsche’s parable, “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, the removal of Christianity’s moral constraints is displayed as being a worthy cause, undertaken by the brave and intelligent man who casts off the elementary beliefs of the past. While in other writings Nietzsche did seem to understand the horrible ramifications this impacting change would have on the world, he certainly makes a colorful scene of the “religious” man being tossed over the tightrope of time, only to be delivered by the atheist who explains that there is no heaven or hell. Currently, men such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have latched onto this thinking, and in some ways taken atheistic philosophy even further along a reckless path.

I bring this up in order to be reasonable. The modern atheistic posture says that religion is the root cause of all humanity’s problems, and therefore if we could somehow remove religion, man could find himself in a glorious new world without oppression and hardship (forgive the over-generalization; though it is accurate). This viewpoint becomes even more disturbing when one recognizes not only its utter bankruptcy, but the way in which our youth are indoctrinated to believe in its lies.

Nietzsche proposed that Christianity, more than anything else, had crippled the human potential. He taught that it was a system that hindered our achievements with the useless restraint of morality, and wished for the death of religious thought so that mankind could be allowed to push further into the unknown, without being weighed down by a belief in God. He thought that no powerful society could be built on ideas of humility, service, meekness, and peace. In other words, he saw Christianity as self-debasing. If you read his works, the mood reveals the obvious thrust of his message. In a work called “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, the picture is given of the glorious death of the “religious man.” Zarathustra comes upon the symbolized religious man, who is caught in the last moments of death. As Zarathustra, portrayed as the “enlightened” liberator, begins speaking to this dying man, he informs him that there in no heaven or hell. In striking terms, Zarathustra “enlightens” the man to the fact that this life is all there is, and to hope in God or heaven is to limit the mind, or constrain it and dwarf the intellect. The dying religious man thanks Zarathustra for liberating him, and here it is portrayed that religion is something which holds mankind hostage. The mood and pointedness of Nietzsche’s writing is clear: educate the people, let them know that the main obstruction to human progress is the Christian, and once we get the Christian out of the way, God will be obsolete. Only then, Nietzsche contends, can we progress further into our evolutionary future. He thought that once civilization accomplished the removal of Christianity, the “superman” would emerge, and men could realize power within themselves, unseen by previous generations.

While years ago atheists could perhaps claim that, if only they led the world, it would become a better place; today that claim can clearly be seen as false. The Nazi regime and the contemporary experiments led by Stalin expose the fact that atheism is not the savior Harris and others propose it to be. Reasonably, the thinking person can observe the status of the world, and see that we are not in need of such a bankrupt system of thought, which robs us ultimately of any meaning, purpose, direction, or hope. Clearly, Nietzsche was incorrect in his assertion that belief in God was the problem with society. I will always and openly concede that many have misused and twisted religion (and Christianity in particular) into what is was never meant to be. However, this new march of atheism takes us to an end that provides no answers for the most intrinsic questions of life.

Alarms and Indicators

I have been involved in many exciting debates about the nature of morality. A few common themes emerge from these discussions, one being the popular view that morality is a social construct, subjective to a specific group, without any sort of transcendent basis. That view is the general one held by our society, never wishing to acknowledge an absolute standard, even in areas where an absolute standard is absolutely needed. It seems to be the elitist and modern view that morality has been found to be a construct of the religious, holding down mankind’s potential with “old-fashioned” restraints. The result is a mindset that wishes to break free from perceived moral fences, to bound into the great future of a world without a tyrannical God. If only the world knew the true character of God, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a question about morality. I would suggest to those who want to break down the moral “fences”, to consider the reason for the fence in the first place. You don’t go tearing down barriers before understanding their purpose. Let’s not cast aside the beliefs and traditions of our Christian heritage in America, just because we are modern.

This has to do with a defense of Christianity, specifically the basis of a moral law. I reject the notion that morality is in the eye of the beholder. I point to history in order to make this clear. I believe that any thinking person can look around at the current social landscape and recognize that something is awry. Yes, mankind has always been imperfect, and history proves that without a doubt. But honestly, haven’t we taken a turn for the worse over the past 50 years? I don’t believe that 50 years ago, we had kids shooting up their schools, pumping drugs daily, and joining gangs just to feel like they belong somewhere. Hasn’t there been an increase in the downgrade of society? At what point can we collectively look around, and be honest enough to know that more laws from the government aren’t going to solve the deepest longings of the human heart? I see in history a correlation between morality as the Bible prescribes it, and the landscape of a culture: the further away from God a people get, the worse the condition of the people.

Atheistic thinkers tend to deny this, pretending that if we only abolish God once and for all, then humanity will soar to new heights, achieving the greatness of a world where moral law doesn’t exist. For what it’s worth, I can understand the argument. I think there have been countless tragedies and atrocities committed by those professing to be Christians or to be religious, and that has caused a resistance to a Biblical or moral law. So, this issue isn’t simple by any means. However, when it comes down to it, I say that we ought to get serious about finding the solution to our social direction which obviously isn’t going in a positive direction. While the intellectual elite hide behind lecterns, we have the luxury of discussing this in a very real way. I propose that God has given the livable, coherent, and peaceful answers for living in a way that corresponds to reality and fulfills the human mind and heart. This is going to take more than one post, but I hope this is a helpful first step.

Introduction: part two

I have learned that balance is crucial in many situations and circumstances, and serves as the key to many a proverbial locked door that prohibits understanding. With this addition to the introduction, I wish to add some balance to the introductory thoughts, and hopefully bring clarity to the continuing thrust of this blog. While it is true that we are “obese on knowledge” in a social sense, this is not to imply that people ought not exercise their minds to the highest degree. I mean to point out that, as a society, our problems are not necessarily rooted in a lack of knowledge, but rather a feast of information that keeps citizens increasingly yearning for the next entertaining course. More than ever before in history, Western society keeps its people hooked on the entertainment that can be easily and effortlessly provided, focusing each person’s attention on their own immediate gratification. We can witness an educated society around us, that feasts its mind on things which offer little value. No, our problem is not really education or knowledge; it is the propensity to be apathetic.

What I see lacking in our current society is applied knowledge, the deficiency of which serves as the source for countless misfortunes. So do not think for one second after reading the introduction that I am somehow opposed to knowledge. The majority of this blog will be dedicated to knowing certain things, and exploring the meaning and purpose of the knowledge we can accrue through experience.

So, for clarity concerning what is to be the initial subject matter here, be assured that we are talking about the mind. I am concerned with the minds of our people, and I hope that we all will use the minds God has given us to understand how we are to live and operate during this gift of life. I also hope to provide a substantial and multi-angled defense of the Christian faith in response to the many modern and classic oppositions that have come into the arena of debate. In all of this, cordiality must be maintained, because where courtesy has been ignored, the discussion loses meaning altogether. This balance ought to provide a solid launchpad for an invigorating start.

Introduction: Where have we gone?

By way of modest introduction, this blog has been created to serve the exploration of truth, from an honest and Christian perspective. I am a truth-seeker, and indeed a truth-finder in Christ. But the journey is not finished, and I am not alone. Therefore, after much nudging from my friend and colleague who also posts on WordPress, I decided to make my exploration more public. I hope you join me in the exhilarating discovery of truth and meaning, inside of honest and lighthearted discussion that will ensue. Let’s roll…

“We have educated ourselves into imbecility,” said the famous journalist Malcolm Muggeridge as he mourned over the many ideas currently shaping our modern culture. It is true that in many ways, people in America today are obese on knowledge. We know so much that we don’t even know what to do with it, and practical application of simple wisdom has become something quaint, often associated with the days of horses and carts. No longer do we have many men such as Benjamin Franklin, who seemed to gain insight about this world and willingly shared the practical wisdom necessary to live in it fruitfully. Where are such men today? Where do we turn for wisdom and guidance in a time filled with deceit and sordid gain?

Only a couple hundred years ago, a short time for a nation so young, 3 million Americans produced men such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Quincy Adams. Today, 300 million Americans have produced…nothing quite as impressive. Is there a reason for this? Is there an explanation? Have we degraded so much over time?

While I am confident that the evil inside of man existed as much then as it does today, I have to recognize the shocking degree of the atrocities around me. On the morning news, one is told that a few blocks away some estranged boy-friend murdered a young lady, cut her into pieces, and then burned her remains on an outside grill in order to cover his crime. We hear of the rapists, the child molesters, and the sexual predators…and it becomes almost normal. There is an alarming level of desensitization in the modern mind. What is most shocking to me, as pointed out by Ravi Zacharias, is the fact that there is no more any wrongdoing for which some professor cannot offer an explanation. For any crime that is committed, there is an explanation for it which bids us to “understand.”

The parallel I see, is that over the years we have witnessed our higher learning institutions bent on making a one-sided case against God with the goal of developing a serious prejudice in the minds of young learners. Theistic belief has been portrayed as lacking any form of reason, and if any shred of doubt could be cast upon any Biblical subject, it was gleefully proclaimed that the entire system of thought should be thrown out. For instance, I have read a group of essays which were supposed to prove that God was an illusion, based on the confusion about why He didn’t heal amputees. The essays were strewn with impressive language, and even did a fair job of appearing to be unbiased. The essays sought to disprove the existence of God by asking why He does not heal amputees. A fair question, but a question does not prove a conclusion, and a lack of understanding does not propel oneself into greater knowledge. And this has been the goal of this movement as I see it: to give the impression that new saviors will deliver us from an “old” way of thinking, and provide the freedom from moral constraint that has for so long held sway. God has been made into a tyrant, and the distortion of language and misrepresentation of truth have been the main weapons used by those who claim to lead us into a bright future. Without a doubt, it has been a successful tactic to take over our universities and colleges, and to infuse this thinking into the young minds of this generation. Sadly, this was predictable, as it was the logical outcome from the thinking of men like Nietzsche. We have seen the results of a generation that “killed” God. Who can forget the acts of Stalin, or the Third Reich?

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