Reading – Romans 5:1-5

(Romans 5:1-5 [ESV2011])

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Paul knew something about suffering. When God converted him on the road to Damascus, he didn’t become rich, healthy and wealthy. He was arrested, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten, stoned and left for dead. Most historical accounts hold that he was beheaded sometime around the Great Fire of Rome. Paul also took great pains to let us know in his epistles that we would suffer similarly if we truly believed and did the work of our Lord as a result.

Knowing that we will suffer, what is the root of our hope and peace? Our savior, Jesus Christ, has given meaning to our suffering by justifying us through faith. He has promised to raise us up on the last day through our belief in Him and, therefore, the desire to do His will. That is where our hope and peace comes from. Romans 8:17 says that we suffer with Him so that we may be glorified with Him. He will tear us so that He may heal us, He will strike us down and bind us up (Hosea 6), and we will count it all joy, because the testing of our faith produces steadfastness. James says Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

A hunk of ore is useless on its own, but when heat is applied it is purified into iron and can be molded into strong and useful forms. So it is with us. If God is going to use us as regenerate men and women, we require the same tempering and hardening. He promises to strengthen us, to help us, to uphold us with His righteous right hand.

Ultimately, God ordains all our sufferings and all our blessings to be worked for good towards His divine purposes. God builds our characters by trials and tempering, and true blessings are best appreciated by men and women whose characters and wisdom have been fully formed by God’s means.

I would like to read a poem from an anonymous author about this subject:

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.

Reading – 1 Samuel 2:10

This is the text of a reading I plan on giving on Sunday at my church.

  • The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
    against them he will thunder in heaven.
    The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
    he will give strength to his king
    and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

One of my favorite worship songs that we sing here is “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” The song declares “I will not boast in anything, no gifts no power no wisdom, but I will boast in Jesus Christ, his Death and resurrection.” It is a wonderful thing to boast in God, to proclaim his power and decree, to declare that the gates of hell will not prevail against His people. We can boast without sin in our security in Him, to declare His triumph over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15).

What we have here is a boast in God, spoken by Hannah, mother of Samuel, to Eli the priest in the temple of the Lord. Hannah was barren and pleaded with God to give her a son, and in turn was dedicating her son’s life to the service of the Lord. She was rejoicing in God’s abilities and boasting in His sovereign power.

Sarah tells us that the Lord’s adversaries shall be broken to pieces. And it’s true: God’s enemies are no match for Him. All their efforts are for naught and they will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord agrees when he tells Ezekiel in Ezekiel 25, “I will execute great vengeance on the [Philistines and Cherethites] with wrathful rebukes. Then they will know that I am the Lord, when I lay my vengeance upon them.” God’s enemies are like dust, or blown chaff (Isaiah 29). God will achieve His greater glory by his own Will and His purposes are greater than any of us could possibly comprehend. Anyone arrogant enough to deny Him or think he could possibly stand in His way is kidding himself.

She declares that God will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of His anointed. This could either point to Earthly kings he finds favor in, or the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, but either way, this points to God’s plan to administer justice by way of our authorities mentioned in Romans 13, as we studied a few months ago. God raises up kings and brings them down (Daniel 2), but is eternally righteous and eternally just in the way he works through them.

Today’s Christians often think of God as a means of achieving our selfish ends: Making good financial decisions, achieving material security, enjoying the finer things in life. Christ tells us in Matthew 7:7 that if you ask, it shall be given to you, but He is presupposing that what you ask for is to serve His purposes and not your own as a regenerate man or woman in Christ; someone who denies himself, then picks up his cross and follows Jesus (Matthew 16). There is no better example of this than Hannah, who, despite lacking a normal, healthy womb, wanted a son for nothing more than to glorify her King and to play a part in His eternal purposes, and boasted in His name when it was given to her.

Responding to Ed Stetzer, Defending Gab from a Christian perspective

I really enjoy taking the Right to task for their unbiblical ideas because it requires measured discussion and nuance. However, today I am going to deal with a liberal Christian’s perspective because I simply can’t let it pass with the subject matter being so close to my interests. Tuesday this week, Wheaton College’s Ed Stetzer made the unfortunate choice to join the mainstream media in piling on Gab.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/october/gab-pittsburgh-shooting-danger-of-echo-chambers-ed-stetzer.html

In light of yet another act of hate, we must understand and process the events leading up to the expression of such vitriolic hate. This depraved way of thinking and acting doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t randomly appear. This type of hate forms over time and within a supportive community that normalizes and cultivates this evil into a fever pitch.

It’s important to examine the terms he’s chosen to use. It is obvious Mr. Stetzer is using “hate” in the secular humanist context, which is simply thinking negatively of any particular minority group for their attributes or normative behaviors.

It is true that echo chambers can have negative effects, such as people who already agree with each other serving to amplify each other; however, the opposite is also true.

The insinuation here is that rather than joining a free speech community such as Gab, one should instead stay on Twitter, where interaction with the Left in the context of the Left’s rules is appropriate because they would not allow the sort of talk to take place that radicalized this individual. While I have my problems with Jewish belief as I’ve addressed earlier on this site (and really more with the way they’re regarded by Christians than Judaism itself), there is an inconsistent standard being held here:

Basically every mass shooter of the past ten years had a Facebook account and had significant troubling material there. A good number also had Twitter accounts.

Why does Gab deserve to be literally removed from the internet and not these sites?

The answer is simple: We are living in the Left’s world and the presupposed standard of morality isn’t the Lordship of Christ anymore; it’s the Secular Humanist dogma of No Place For Hate, especially when it comes to matters of special victim classes such as Jews. Because Gab decided to deviate from this dogma, they became effective endorsers of violence in the Left’s eyes. The same thing would have happened if a Gab user had beaten a same sex-attracted or trans-confused person.

I don’t know much about Mr. Stetzer’s politics prior to this post but I do know that Christians should not be working off the Left’s presuppositions when they are not stated in scripture.

In August 2016, the social network Gab was formed in response to censorship of hateful speech on popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Popular alt-right leaders were being banned for harassment and hate speech, and Gab was formed with the misnomer of “protecting free speech.”

Once again, we see Mr. Stetzer loading his writing with the Left’s language. “Harassment” is simply “speech directed at me I find objectionable.” “Hate speech” should send alarm bells off for any supposed Christian, because this loaded phrase typically encompasses core doctrines of ours, such as the idea that sodomy is immoral and harmful. Codifying “hate speech” into law is being used to strangle off proselytization all over Canada and Europe. Prominent Christian media accounts such as LifeSiteNews have faced censorship by Twitter and Facebook for factual reporting on homosexuality and abortion. So quite obviously, there is more at stake here than simply the banning of “alt-right leaders.”

For what it’s worth, many of the actual “alt-right leaders” (and not charlatans like Milo Yiannopoulos, to whom Mr. Stetzer is likely referring) are quite aware their behavior on social media is being watched carefully and so are typically mild-mannered. They get banned and censored anyway.

Free speech is presented as a “misnomer,” as if that doesn’t need qualified or explained. While I typically point back to the Bible as my authority, this is an American company, and so pointing back to the First Amendment is appropriate. Was it a misnomer there? No, once again we are presupposing one of the Left’s unwritten doctrines: “Hate speech is not free speech.” Of course, it is a laughable one, as free speech is worthless if you can’t say unpopular things.

But, long before Bowers picked up a gun and put Gab on the front page of the news, the social network was known for being a safe haven for neo-Nazis, those posting perverse pornograhic material, and others promoting hate speech against African Americans and Jews. Gab’s domain has been threatened and moved multiple times in 2016 and 2017, and Apple and Google have denied their app both on pornographic and hate speech grounds.

If one’s authority is Newsweek, it’s no wonder Mr. Stetzer is stuck with a Leftist lens when looking at current events. The mainstream media don’t like Gab because they challenge left-wing corporate hegemony over social media, which they are using to control and influence public opinion. Therefore, a string of hit pieces have been written over the past two years by mainstream sources, such as the one linked.

This is not a place where free speech is protected. Instead, it is a social media outlet for hateful, bigoted racists to share and encourage one another to maintain these beliefs.

Once again, completely unqualified, anti-factual, and a double standard as Twitter and Facebook have no problem with Leftists insulating themselves and encouraging each other to maintain Leftist beliefs. (They do it at their company meetings every day.) Free speech was flourishing on Gab. How do we know? Because things were being said that couldn’t be said elsewhere and it made the corporate authoritarians upset.

Despite being dropped by their content hosting providers, Gab has still been posting defenses of its structure and defending its policies. They are re-tweeting quotes from Winston Churchill about fighting on the hills and the beaches, claiming their social media site did nothing wrong, and using the language of uprising.

And they post even as 11 people are laying in a morgue after being brutally murdered by one of their users who wallowed in the same anti-Semitic pool of waste that is so common at Gab.

I followed about 70 people on Gab. Most of them debated theology and posted pictures of hillsides and animals with the caption “have a good day #GabFam,” along with the occasional pro-Trump article. The Jew-hating stuff existed, I did see it occasionally. I ignored it and understood that if I wanted the ability to profess my unpopular Calvinist Christian beliefs, I also had to be able to tolerate other things I didn’t agree with. I never once thought “by allowing people to say negative things about Jews, Gab is endorsing mass shootings” any more than I thought Facebook was endorsing anarchist violence by allowing pages for its organization, as they often do.

We must courageously stand up to this hate and call it what it is: evil.

It takes absolutely no courage at all to agree with institutional worldliness that what they define as hate is bad. What takes courage is defending the ability to say unpopular things even when you don’t agree with them.

But people are influenced, encouraged or discouraged, validated or repudiated by the social circles in which they run. Society affirms or condemns behavior. We have all seen it happen, and perhaps even done it. Perhaps we don’t like when our ‘friends’ on Facebook continually post about something we don’t agree with. So we unfriend them. And then someone else posts a comment we are offended by. So we unfriend them.

Before we know it, we are in a bubble of like-mindedness which feeds and affirms our own beliefs and actions. Don’t get me wrong. I love having my Christian friends fill up my Twitter feed. It feeds my soul, giving me food for thought when the darkness of the world seems so blinding.

Mr. Stetzer doesn’t realize that his post is a reflection of his own bubble. He’s been immersed in unbelieving circles so long he doesn’t realize he’s adopted some of their categories and language, such as the aforementioned “hate.”

But, as I explain in Christians in the Age of Outrage, echo chambers amplify and then often radicalize those who are stuck in them. And when this echo chamber isolation works itself into fever pitch (like it did with Bowers), we can feel our opinions are normalized enough to act.

This normalization of hate is the underlying danger of social technology that allows us to choose what circles we run in and block anyone who believes differently than us. That’s exactly what Gab does. It is not a place for discourse and discussion, but a place to spew hateful ideas and be encouraged in doing so.

What he fails to explain is why Gab is any different than Facebook or Twitter in this regard. I assure you, I had plenty of “discourse and discussion” on Gab with people both to my left and my right, both politically and theologically, yet Mr. Stetzer, who obviously hasn’t spent any amount of time on the site, has no problem smearing all their users as hateful Nazis.

You see, this is not the first time I’ve run into the cowards emboldened by Gab.

I have been on the receiving end of too many emails which have come from Gab enthusiasts. They post my email address at Gab, encourage their friends to jump on, and it begins.

Just a few days ago I tweeted out an example:

[Language warning]

I see that trigger warnings and safe spaces have also worked their way into his writing. This would suggest that he needs to stop insulating himself within the Left and be exposed to other ideas, like perhaps believing Christianity.

Really, this was a very mild version compared to ones I get which talk about killing me and harming my family. Indeed, words like these are very disconcerting, but when they have the potential to translate into action, that’s a whole different story.

So it seems this article isn’t really about anything but Mr. Stetzer having a bone to pick with Gab for one of their users sending a mean email. Perhaps the IETF should pull RFC 5322, as it seems email is being used as a platform for spreading hate as well.

We cannot be in silos and echo chambers of thought and ideas. Like a tornado in a valley, being in a thought bubble turns normal ideas into extremes, creating an echo chamber where a fringe idea can be perceived as normal because the few people in your chosen circle all say and believe the same thing you do.

Actually, we can and we should, to some degree. It’s these “echo chambers” that allowed the good news of Christ, foolishness to the world, to give you faith by hearing, save your soul and undergird your life. The Church is an echo chamber, and rightly so. Spending too much time immersed in the world allows one to start adopting the world’s outlook and language, as we’ve seen with Mr. Stetzer here.

And the belief that we are right can drive outrage towards anyone who might feel differently. This is how someone like Robert Bowers can express his views, become validated and encouraged in his ideas, and then cultivate a more extreme ideology that reaches a point of no return.

We cannot dehumanize those who have a different political or social bent than we do. That’s what places like Gab do. This is not the free speech cause you are looking for, friends. This is a cesspool that festers hate until someone gets hurt.

Obviously ethnic and religious violence isn’t good and nobody should condone it. But the opposite side of this statement is true as well: Christians, far more than they should, are passive in the face of threats to their way of life and won’t speak about them, even embrace and condone them because they prioritize worldly acceptance higher than the teachings of scripture.

We live in an age of outrage. But we can’t let that be the end of the story. We must shed the light. John 1:5 reminds us that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

May the darkness of Gab flee away as we shed the light of truth.

Again, the “light of truth” is Christ, not social media giants that tell us what we are and aren’t allowed to say and believe. May Gab make a swift return as a viable alternative to corporate Leftist thought policing. You can find me there when it returns.

Why I’m learning Greek, and the global Christian community should too.

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

– John 17:14–15

Hebrew was a dead language, but was reconstructed and revived by the Jewish community in the 19th century. Islam requires its adherents to read Arabic. Western Christianity, for 1500 years, was maintained by an unbiblical clerical elite in a special language created by Rome until Luther and Tyndale tore down its linguistic barriers, spreading the Word to the German and English-speaking masses, with translations in hundreds of languages in its wake.

Unlike Hebrew, Greek never died. While the scriptures were preserved as they were written by scholars, Greek spread linguistically through the West while continuing to evolve in its native lands. Unfortunately, Western Greek scholarship, with its “reconstructed” pronunciations almost universally declared inaccurate but maintained for their academic distinctives, is almost entirely divorced from the peoples who speak Demotic Greek, resulting in virtually no communication between the groups. These differences can and should be mended in order to further the Christian faith, and for Protestants in particular to proselytize to native Greeks brought up with unbiblical Eastern Orthodoxy.

Believing Christianity is under attack, by radical Islamism in the third world and by radical Neo-Marxist unbelief in the first.  Being able to communicate with members of a believing in-group has obvious advantages for a people whose culture and beliefs are under siege. However, learning the language of scripture is seen as frivolous or solely in the realm of the seminary student, and if Christians can take their scriptural language as seriously as other faiths, we will reap serious benefits.

 Why you shouldn’t learn Greek: In the pursuit of some “hidden knowledge” of the scriptures. The Bible receives more scrutiny than nearly any other piece of text ever created. If you question the accuracy of a translation, you need only search for it online and you will find plenty of details. (Spoiler: NASB, ESV are the most textually accurate, and NIV is easiest to read. KJV was alright for the time it was created but has a handful of problems dealing with the source material.) In short: The English bible is still the bible.

Why you should learn Greek: A desire to learn Koine Greek, the language of scripture, is going to make one take scripture more seriously by necessity.  Learning Modern, or Demotic, Greek is going to connect you to the people of Greece, from which Hellenistic (Greek or Gentile) Christianity originally sprang, and to allow you to communicate in a practical way with other believers globally in this day and age. Demotic Greek has the potential to be a Lingua Franca for Christians with a direct historical connection to scripture, in the same way Modern Hebrew is for Jews.

How does Modern Greek compare to Koine Greek? This is a question I researched for quite a while before starting and never received a good answer to. A lot of this is probably due to the exclusivity between the study groups, as those interested in scripture and those interested in Greek culture typically have little in common. I offer you this LXX (Septuagint) vs TGV (Today’s Greek Version) vs ESV comparison of Genesis 1:2 as an example:

Η γη όμως ήταν έρημη και ασχημάτιστη· ήταν σκοτάδι πάνω από την άβυσσο, και πάνω στα νερά έπνεε Πνεύμα Θεού.
ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

You will need to, at the very least, have a working knowledge of the Greek alphabet to appreciate the difference. At first, they look entirely different; however, you will notice the sentence length is basically the same, and if you look at the stems, you will see quite a few similarities in different places in the sentences. Demotic Greek removes a handful of cases from Koine Greek, but nearly every word does have a modern derivation or equivalent. This is different than, say, Old English, which is completely unintelligible to the modern speaker. The short answer is that Modern Greek is a simplified, partially transformed version of the language the scriptures came from. Greek native speakers can generally read and understand the Koine texts. However, they have a lifetime of immersion in the Greek language, reading and using uncommon words, and that does not mean you are going to pick it up as easily as they will. Learning Koine and Demotic is not like learning two languages; it is like learning 1.5 languages using the same alphabet and a few different pronunciations. 

Do I have time to learn Greek? Greek, like any other language, requires consistent practice. If you can spend an hour a night on it, while devoting a few minutes when you don’t have time for a full lesson, you can make real progress. If you are a homeschooler and you pass this language to your grade school children, you will impart the benefit of increased English comprehension as many, many English terms have Greek roots.

Which pronunciation system should I adopt? Learn modern pronunciations for Modern Greek, Erasmian for Koine Greek. The main advantage of Erasmian pronunciations is that they are much, much closer to the English cognates than the Modern pronunciations, making memorization significantly easier. It will be tricky at first, but American English speakers can understand Irish, British and Australian speakers despite their differences in pronunciation.

What about Hebrew and Aramaic? As the primary original language of the Old Testament, Hebrew is a beneficial language to learn; it’s true. However, the text that Christ and his Apostles referred to in his time was likely the Greek Septuagint and it is also older than the oldest complete Old Testament manuscripts we have (which are the Masoretic Texts, dating from 1000 AD, though older individual sources of Hebrew do exist, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls). If the Septuagint was good enough for the Apostles, it should be good enough for us. Aramaic scriptural sources are rare, inconsistent, and often date even later than the Hebrew and Greek texts, and learning resources are scarce.

Here are some resources I have used to get started.

Modern:

Duolingo http://www.duolingo.com

Greek, an Essential Grammar of the Modern Language https://www.routledge.com/Greek-An-Essential-Grammar-of-the-Modern-Language-2nd-Edition/Holton-Mackridge-Philippaki-Warburton/p/book/9781315680309

Koine:

Daily Dose of Greek https://dailydoseofgreek.com/

Reading Koine Greek, An Introduction and Integrated Workbook http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/reading-koine-greek/326720

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Writings https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/G/bo3622223.html

A Polemic Response to Arlene Bridges Samuels’ “Christian Zionists”

I’ve chosen today to highlight this article as an example of Dispensational theology in the media serving to bolster Israel:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/christian-zionists-who-are-we-and-what-do-we-think-and-do/

I will start off by stating that the focus of my blog has been and will continue to be the pervasive ecumenical attitude among conservative Christians who happen to agree with other religious folk about certain issues, as well as the importing of worldly philosophies where they are not scriptural. We think that because we find brotherhood on certain topics that we can cede ground in our Great Commission, and that just isn’t the case if we want to obey Christ.

We should identify briefly, unlike the author, the origins of the worldview she is holding to in order to reconcile herself to Christian Zionism, and that is called Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a relatively new (mid-19th century) eschatology that holds that the bible is split into seven “dispensations,” or agreements with certain people or groups, which may overlap from a timeline perspective. Unlike Covenantal views that see the church under one covenant extending to Jews and Gentiles alike, Dispensationalists hold that Israel has a separate dispensation and are a separate people of God from Gentiles, who must hold saving faith in Jesus Christ.

There are many problems with this worldview, and Reformed Forum has an excellent 13 (or 15 if you count the follow-ups) part series discussing this eschatology in depth if you are curious about its history and its difficulties. My biggest problem with Dispensationalism is that it causes Christians to think that they are not to evangelize Jews and that they do not need saving faith. Concluding a particular non-Christian group does not need to be saved amounts to a rejection of Mark 16:15’s admonition to preach the Gospel to all nations.

Arlene is an Anglican, a curious place for someone using an explicitly Dispensational eschatology, as John Nelson Darby left the Anglican church to start the Brethren, the original “denomination” (though a term he would have not used) holding to Dispensationalism.

Who Are we? I define Christian Zionism this way. Foundational to our value system, we endorse the biblical “deed” God transmitted through scripture written by Jewish hands. In my view, the deed codifies in a legal sense God’s ownership of the Land of Israel and delegates its management to the Jewish people. Millennia have passed yet the deed and delegation remain.

God’s people were Israel from Abrahamic times to when Jesus put on skin and walked the Earth. Christ provided the New Covenant to Jew and Gentile alike: Believe in Him and obtain eternal life. It’s important to note that God’s claim is not confined to the land of Israel: It is creation itself. (Genesis 1:31) God promised Israel’s land to the descendants of Abraham but the fulfillment of this was Christ’s return. (2 Corinthians 1:20)

We defend the historical fact that Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. We consider its modern establishment as part of God’s plan and embrace Isaiah 66:8: “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Can a nation be established in a day?” We say a resounding “Yes.” Nineteen forty-eight fulfilled this statement when modern Israel experienced a rebirth unlike any other nation in history.

The peculiarity of supporting ethnic nationalism for Israel and liberal democratic diversity for everyone else is shared by a huge swath of liberals and conservatives, believers and unbelievers alike and I’ve never seen a substantive defense of it. Through the rest of the Western world, ancestral homelands are generally seen as an outdated concept.

 

How do we know that the bible wasn’t referring to the reestablishment of the literal State of Israel in Amos 9? Put the Dispensationalist’s interpretation of Matthew 24 to the prophet’s test found in Deuteronomy 18:22: Dispensationalists told us that Christ’s coming would be within a generation of the reestablishment of Israel, 25-33 years. It’s been 70 years since this event happened. This obvious refutation was ignored and rationalized by many believers and to this day, Christians still feel on an emotional level they are morally obligated to support the Jewish state. It’s also worth noting that according to the Matthew Henry Commentary Isaiah 66 is referring to the creation account. We should be especially cautious when we analogize works of God’s creation to this event because we are warned in Revelation about world governments and orders; it’s safe to say they are not positive things.

 

Decades ago mainline churches started divorce proceedings from Israel. The Presbyterian Church USA called for divestment from companies doing business in Israel. Now mainline Methodists and The Episcopal Church among others have lent their call for divestment, adding to the funeral pyre of classical Christian belief by demonizing God’s people, the apple of His eye. This hierarchy- which proclaims Christ and the Bible-slanders the nation that birthed our faith, giving us our Jewish Savior and the Old and New Testaments. That Jesus was a Jew is undeniable. That God passed the Bible to the world through Jewish scribes is a fact. That our Christian faith was birthed in the rich soil of Jewish culture and tradition cannot be denied.

This is rank emotional manipulation and uses language loaded with presuppositions. The issue of the liberalizing of Mainline churches is well-known and a topic covered better by other writers and the fact that they come in line with anti-Western sympathizers to Islam and Palestine has plenty of obvious problems. “Classical Christian belief” does not extend only back to Darby in 1833 and before that we have centuries of frustrated theologians attempting to evangelize and convert Jewish people. Heaping all these “Jewish” qualifiers onto the events of the bible is meant to distract from the fact that Jesus was sent first to the Lost Sheep of Israel (Matthew 10). He didn’t come to provide a separate covenant to Gentiles: He came for everyone. In Romans 11:12, Paul says “Now if [Israel’s] trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”

[Skipping over more talk about liberals and BDS because I covered it]

Christian Zionists are realists. First, due to our own faith, we understand the imperfection of humankind. This includes ourselves and all citizens of the world. It is valuable to pursue perfection, yet it is unattainable. We don’t idolize Israel; rather we choose to be a reliable friend in a world flowing with the sewage of anti-Semitism.

I find “anti-Semitism” to be a curious term. Conservatives have become acutely aware of the ways in which leftist secular humanists abuse descriptors of bigotry like “racist” to push a political agenda, but for some reason using “anti-Semitism” in this way is embraced wholly by most of these same conservatives, even being codified into law in South Carolina in a very conservative state that would never dream of Hate Speech laws of other kinds.

An overarching theme of the bible is Israel’s falling away and redemption. When the temple was destroyed and Jews scattered throughout the Earth, Israel had fallen away by failing to embrace the Messiah who fulfilled their many prophecies. While the State of Israel has been established by the UN, Jews did not come to penitent faith in Christ as Paul had admonished them to do, and so if we are to support them as “friends,” the basis cannot be theological.

Christian Zionists’ Biblical View 
Christian communities view scripture in a smorgasbord of ways. Some taste and savor every bite as literally spiritual food from Genesis to Revelation. Others pick and choose a flavor they prefer and dismiss parts they view as tasteless. Most, if not all, Christian Zionists view scripture literally. We accept as fact God’s ancient covenants with Israel and consider them as permanent despite the passage of time or any event. We fully reject Replacement Theology which states that Christians and the church have replaced the Jewish people. Christian Zionists often say, “God has not broken His covenants with the Jews and He graciously grafted Gentiles into the promises and covenants.” Replacement Theology-on the other hand- claims God has broken with the Jews when the “church” was birthed. When Jesus walked the earth, those “churches” were synagogues. He read from Old Testament scrolls. The New Testament didn’t yet exist. Unfortunately, a segment of evangelicals has embraced Replacement Theology.

Dispensationalists are known for taking the bible literally, even choosing literal interpretations when figurative language is explicit, and “Replacement Theology” is their slur for Coventantalism and is based on a wrong-headed view of the New Covenant. When Christ established the Church, it didn’t replace Israel; it encompassed it. Their view would suggest, again, that Christ and his apostles didn’t go first to Israel. God has indeed grafted Gentiles into his Covenant (Romans 11), but that view is at odds with with their own holdings about separate promises for Jews and Israel.

Christian Zionists’ Spiritual Parents 
People of faith express appreciation for parents, pastors, rabbis, and other spiritual mentors. Christian Zionists though embrace an additional mentor, ancient Judaism, as the midwife of our Christian faith. Our “spiritual” parents functioned as God’s heavenly dictation system to make His concepts known through Jewish minds and hands, first in the Old Testament, then throughout the New. We believe that God continued to connect with us through truths in the 27 books of the New Testament also transmitted through Jewish scribes. Christian Zionists treasure the bible as ONE whole book, not two. In other evangelical circles though, the Old Testament is often shoved aside with an emphasis only on the New Testament. We look at this neglect as a mistake. It’s like leaving a half loaf of delicious homemade bread uneaten.

In the same breath, Arlene boasts of her conservative biblical literalism and embraces the liberal, ecumenical term “people of faith.” There is only one people of faith and that is those who choose to embrace Christ’s promise to the world (Acts 16). Ancient Israel were indeed our spiritual forebears but that does not mean their modern equivalents are our cousins in the current age. Jews largely rejected the Messiah in the New Testament and to say that the whole of scripture was attributable to the communal acts of a certain ethnos is extremely misleading. “…also transmitted through Jewish scribes” is also misleading; they were composed in Koine Greek and were not communicated through the Masoretes charged with preserving the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) but through the early Church in Alexandria, Rome and Byzantium (source).

I agree with her that Antinomianism, or wholesale abandonment of the Old Testament in favor of the new, is a worrying trend in Liberal/Mainline Protestantism and needs to be treated as a problem.

Christian Zionist Attitude of Gratitude
Since Christianity was born in the cradle of ancient Judaism, we draw from an immense deposit of gratitude which animates our viewpoint. If we are grateful to someone, we want to bless them back. Gratitude is a huge motivating factor for us when it comes to Israel.

God is the one that deserves the Glory, not a particular tribe he chose to bless in antiquity.

Christian Zionist Advocacy
Christian Zionist activism is not monolithic; it is multiple. I daresay thousands of Christian entities, large and small, are part of the tapestry of love and support toward Israel. The activism can include, for example, raising money for portable bomb shelters, making blankets for Holocaust survivors, weekly Israel-focused prayer groups, pro-Israel Christian media, advocating with US Congress, planning pilgrimages, reaching out to Palestinian and Israeli Arab communities, and sponsoring Jewish Aliyah. Christian outreach provides so many options that everyone can find their niche whether it’s sitting down at a sewing machine, writing a check, or advocating with a member of congress.

Here is where the real damage is done: Political action and alliances based on faulty scriptural reasoning is directly responsible for blood spilled on one half of a conflict that is not our own, and a particular love and desire for influence on our state on behalf of a nation that is not our own (from the perspective of American Christians). Israel is a primary influence in many of our interventions in the Middle East that have cost thousands of civilian lives and is pointing America towards conflict with Iran. We should love Jews and Muslims both as fellow image-bearers, not favoring Jews by recognizing some kind of separate arrangement with the same God.

Christian Zionists and Arabs
Misrepresentations are sometimes leveled against Christian Zionists from other co-religionists that we hate Arabs. Our faith calls us to live in kindness with all peoples. Many Christian organizations which are focused on Israel also make sure they have initiatives which bless and build relationships in the Arab community. Generalizations about any community are dangerous. We do not view Arabs as a monolithic people group. Christian Zionists have built many fine relationships with the Arab, as well as Ethiopian, Druze and other communities in Israel. We help and dialog regardless of religion or people group.

Except that she just explicitly supported favoritism towards Israel in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and more broadly against Islam at large. Muslims trace their lineage back to Ishmael, even recognizing Jesus favorably as a prophet in a way that Jews do not, yet receive no special “co-religionist” recognition.

Christian Zionist Fact-Checking
We spend time collaborating, informing, and interchanging ideas and articles while sorting through lies versus facts. We stay abreast of issues on the ground in Israel, what’s going on in the United Nations, and the latest terrorist assaults. Our fact checking includes our knowledge about Israel as an “innovation nation.” We consider that Israel remains a light to the world, carrying out the cultural concept of repairing the world.

Finally, we press on despite our national and personal imperfections. We are better together, standing together, and working together to protect the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people. We press on motivated by a Perfect God Who loves us-like we love our own children-despite our imperfections.

This is heretical language. Jesus Christ alone is the light of the world as clearly stated in John 8, not a government set up by the UN to serve as an ethnostate to those who rejected Christ. God’s love is for whom he had called to faith in Him (Ephesians 1), and that has nothing to do with either of our civil states. The matter of the ancestral homeland of the Jews will be handled by God in His time and it’s not our place to say that it should be preserved for an apostate ethnoreligious group.

Responding to Zachary Conover at Apologia: Feeding the Beast

I would like to start out by saying that I am ordinarily a fan of Apologia Studio’s work and I have great respect for their ministry. I also openly admit I don’t know much about Zachary Conover and have every reason to assume he is a fine man. I want to highlight this video not to pick on Zachary, but to point out that this behavior is endemic to Christians who place their political affiliations higher than the word of God and scripture.

The claim of this very short video is this: Christians have been using regulations to strangle off abortion providers. This is apparently bad, because it puts out of business smaller providers while larger ones, such as Planned Parenthood, have managed to survive, and are now claiming the lion’s share of the abortion business. Conservatives are normally against regulation but are for it in this instance and so are guilty of inconsistency when they don’t seek outright criminalization of abortion.

I will applaud Zachary and Apologia for defending what I see as a weakness on the part of many Christians and conservatives towards the abortion question. If we are going to call abortion murder and stand by the courage of our convictions, we should punish it as murder. Even though there are varying views on whom and what should be punished with regard to abortion, most all conservatives and Christians would agree that should an opportunity arise to criminalize abortion, they would do so. However, we live in a post-Roe v. Wade world. Measures like regulation are designed to save lives by hindering abortion mills and delaying would-be infanticidal mothers in the process of killing children. Every extra moment we give to the unborn is an extra moment of consideration given to that young life. If a mother has to see an ultrasound of that baby to remind her that it is in fact a baby she is killing, it may prick her conscience, as well as put an extra financial hurdle in her way she may not be able to clear. The implicit idea conveyed in the video that there are no lives saved by imposing regulatory burdens on abortionists and their clients seems a shaky one that I believe requires data to bear it out.

What I really think is happening here is self-professed conservatives such as Zachary are placing their political and philosophical objections to regulation over their biblical quest to save young lives. I think the most egregious example of this tendency would be Tomi Lahren, the young self-professed Christian conservative woman who turned against the pro-life cause and declared that conservatives “win by staying out of social issues,” but it manifests itself in lesser form here and in many other political areas as well. It is painfully obvious when Zachary declares taxation and government control over business “slavery” that he is not operating from a Christian perspective, but a Rothbardian one. Are we not told in Mark 12 to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to give to God what is God’s? Does Romans 13 tell us to pay our taxes and to submit to the governing authorities, as they are ordained by God? This flies directly in the face of Libertarian philosophy. Zachary’s claim that regulation causes the shrinking of the market and enables monopoly, while possibly true, is almost certainly informed by Libertarian dogma and does not place the life of the unborn at the center of his concerns. Who performs these abortions is immaterial to us. What matters is that they stop.

When considering political matters of clear theological prescription such as abortion, it’s important that Christians keep their eyes on the ball.