In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
The signers include some people for whom I have great respect. The document cites Scripture passages such as Ephesians, 4:31-32, “put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” and James 1:19, be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
I’m hesitant to be critical of the document because I agree completely that generally speaking, Christians should almost always be kind, compassionate, respectful and gracious not only towards other Christians, but toward almost all people.
But there are exceptions to this rule.
Judging from the document alone one might get the impression that the word “Christian” is almost synonymous with being “nice” and that the Bible prohibits all overheated rhetoric.
Such an impression would be false.
While we should strive to disagree agreeably, there are times when people advocate such damnable views that overheated rhetoric may not be out of line. For example, if someone were to advocate the sexual abuse of children does anyone think that calm, reasonable discussion is always in order? Then why should overheated rhetoric always be considered out of order when discussing the killing of unborn children or the normalizing of behaviors that the Bible calls abomination?
Why should heated rhetoric always be out of line when politicians take actions that restrict or remove our Constitutional guarantees to freedom of religion or speech? Why would genuine Christians think overheated rhetoric is always out of order when some who claim to be Christiandeceive people with a view of Christianity that is no more Christian than the religion of Islam?
It is significant that neither Moses, nor the Old Testament prophets, nor many of the New Testament writers and not even Jesus himself, could not have signed the Covenant for Civility. Take, for example:
1) “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…son of hell…blind fools…blind guides…whitewashed tombs…snakes…brood of vipers (Jesus in Mt 23:13-33)
2) “You belong to your father, the Devil…He was a murderer from the beginning…he is a liar and the father of lies,” (Jesus in John 8:44)
3) “Though you do not know him [God], I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you!” (Jesus in John 8:55)
4) “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness (Paul in Acts 13:10)
5) “If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned (i.e. let him go to hell, Paul in Galatians 1:9)
6) “You foolish Galatians” (Galatians 3:1)
7) “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 5:12)
8. "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an apostle of light" (2 Corinthians 11:13-14).
9) "Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh" (Philippians 3:2).
10) "One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply..." (Titus 1:12-13a).
11) “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God,” (James 4:4)
12) “…these dreamers…like unreasoning animals…Woe to them!...They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 8-12)
13) “Bold and arrogant…They are like brute beasts…They are blots and blemishes…an accursed brood…of them the proverbs are true, ‘A dog returns to its vomit…”(2 Peter 2:10b-22)
14) “Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:15).
This post is not an argument for uncivil speech. Far from it! But it is a recognition that there is a time for anger (cf. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). If Christians lose the ability to express anger at injustice, oppression, or bald-faced evil, we will have become like salt that loses its saltiness and is good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13).
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Here's what the prosperity gospel looks like in actual preaching:
I have to agree with Piper--the prosperity gospel is excrement! I really don't understand how Osteen can read Acts and Paul's letters and preach this stuff. Jesus, the Son of God was tortured to death. Peter and John were proclaiming God's Word when they were imprisoned and beaten. Stephen was in the center of God's will when he was stoned to death. Paul was beaten with rods, whipped five times (195 lashes), imprisoned several times, shipwrecked, and sometimes went without adequate food, water and clothing (2 Cor. 11:23-28).
Does God want the best for us? Certainly. And some day he will wipe away every tear. But in the mean time, he wants us to be faithful even in the midst of the most horrible circumstances.
Monday, March 1, 2010
This short book (167 pages) provides a fascinating and readable story of Muhammad’s life. It summarizes the earliest biography of Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq and weaves into the biography parts of the Muhammad’s teachings from the Koran, traditions about Muhammad from Hadith (by both Bukari and Muslim) and history of Islam by al Tabari.
The advantage of this book over some modern biographies of Muhammad is that this book has not been filtered through the lenses of Muslim apologetics or modern Western political correctness. The story comes directly from Islam’s earliest and most sacred sources. Almost every paragraph in the book has been documented from those sources.
The picture that emerges is that Muhammad was a man who was kind, hospitable, generous, loving, patient and forgiving—toward Muslims who submitted completely and unquestioningly to his rule.
Toward “Kafirs” (unbelievers), on the other hand, he was mercilessly vicious and cruel. He would threaten, intimidate, deceive, rob, rape, enslave, torture, execute and slaughter Kafirs by the hundreds! On one occasion, he sat all day long watching literally hundreds of Jews who had surrendered to him being beheaded at his command. Then he ordered their wives and children into slavery.
Muhammad ordered the executions of people for no other reason than the fact that those people had criticized Muhammad or had changed their minds and turned away from his religion. He “captured slaves, sold slaves, bought slaves, freed slaves, tortured slaves, had sex with slaves, gave slaves as gifts of pleasure, received slaves as gifts, and sued slaves for work” (164).
He allowed the black slave of his wife Aisha to be tortured in order to determine whether Aisha was faithful to him or not—and only after the torture revealed that Aisha was faithful did Muhammad receive a revelation exonerating her of any wrongdoing.
These stories do not come from Islamo-phobic right wing “crusaders” but from Islam’s earliest and most sacred sources. These are the stories and teachings that Muhammad encouraged his followers to emulate—and which faithful Muslims in power have emulated for over a thousand years.
The book is absolutely outstanding and should be near the top of the reading list for every adult in America—especially for those in government.