Archive for the ‘corruption’ Category

ARGUMENTS BASED ON FALSE PREMISES

 

If we’ve managed to shove the 800-pound “He”-issue gorilla out the door, there’s still a few 200-pound gorillas lurking in the corners of the room.

Scriptural references to gender neutrality: Two such references stand out in particular: Galatians 3:28, which declares that in the spiritual realm humans are neither male nor female, and Matthew 22:30, in which Jesus asserts that in the resurrection, men and women neither marry nor are given in marriage. These passages are frequently interpreted as declaring that the realm of God in heaven is genderless.

The obvious alternative interpretation, which also is a more logical one, is that while individual humans aren’t gendered in the spiritual realm, their aggregate, as the Church, is indeed gendered, that gender being female. Paul himself, in describing spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, depicts spiritual humans as components of the church, likening them to body parts such as ears. Body parts of themselves are not gendered. In the material realm, the exercise of gender requires a multitude of body parts, including the mind, interacting in close cooperation. Scripture indicates that this is precisely how gender works in the spiritual realm. That being the likely case, the Scriptural references noted above make no statement whatsoever about a supposed lack of gender in the spiritual realm.

Wisdom associated with the Holy Father as a personal attribute: To those who consider the Godhead to be either masculine or genderless, the intra-Godhead bond is seen in somewhat similar terms to that which may be found in a corporate boardroom. In that context, in Jeremiah 10:12, where God describes His creation as being made by His power and wisdom, those descriptors are naturally interpreted as His personal attributes.

But there is an alternate interpretation that not only makes more logical sense, but is beautifully descriptive. In that alternate interpretation which again is obvious, the Father and Holy Spirit are considered to be a tightly-bonded couple, each possessing the other in a romantic relationship. Under that alternate understanding, the Holy Spirit, along with Her attributes of Wisdom and Power, are naturally seen as an intimately-loved possession of the Father, and therefore belong to Him as part of Him in the same context as Adam’s understanding of Eve and his description of two joining to become one.

The personification of Wisdom in Proverbs is often interpreted as simply a literary device: Those who would deny the femininity of the Holy Spirit correspondingly deny the Personhood of Wisdom. Instead, they view the feminine voice of Wisdom in Proverbs as a literary embellishment of the wisdom of God.

An alternate and more reasonable interpretation exists here as well. It is supported by Jesus Himself who in Luke 7:35, in opposition to the interpretation of wisdom as a mere literary device, confers motherhood on Wisdom. Motherhood is an eminently personal attribute, was well as being a hallmark of femininity. Jesus more emphatically personifies wisdom in Luke 11:49 and 50, having Her speak and perform actions.

Femininity is viewed as inappropriate to Godhood: This slanderous, misogynistic rebuke of womanhood is surprisingly common among theologians. Paul’s commentary in 1 Corinthians 14 on the role of women in Church (“it is a shame for women to speak in the church”) is often taken as justification for this view.

Given Paul’s beautiful description of the future spiritual woman, the Church, in Ephesians 5, and his friendship with many women and use of them in Church activities, his probable intent with regard to womanhood is much more benign than the usual interpretation of this passage would suggest.

My view in opposition to that stance attributed to Paul, as I had noted in Marching to a Worthy Drummer, sees Eve’s error in the Garden as a transgression on her proper role as a type of the feminine Holy Spirit by failing to limit her responsive role to that of the will of either her husband Adam or of the Holy Father. In that context, Paul’s commentary in 1 Corinthians 14 actually supports a feminine Holy Spirit.

God is above the passion that a gendered Godhead would suggest: This view arose from the attempt to purify the Church of all sexuality. It was supported by Augustine and other Church Fathers and, centuries later, was formalized by medieval cleric Jerome Zanchius in his tome on Absolute Predestination. This work consulted very little, if any, Scripture.

Scripture itself provides a rich source of alternate viewpoints, all of which endow God with passion, including love, possession, anger and sorrow. Examples include Exodus 32:10, Hosea 1, Matthew 19, 21, 23 and 26, and Luke 24. Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Matthew 19 indicated a familiarity beyond His human form with love and its implications regarding inter-gender relationships. He was fully aware of the passionate nature of the marital bond and went so far as to claim (Matthew 19:6) that the source of the bond was God Himself.

The grammatical “she” in the Hebrew language does not necessarily indicate femininity: There has been much ado made by deniers of femininity in the Godhead about the fact that some objects are given feminine designators when no actual femininity is involved. The situation here is similar to the standard practice in English of calling a genderless object such as a ship “she”.

This argument would typically apply to objects, but not to sentient beings such as humans or Members of our Trinitarian God. If indeed the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs did not refer to an actual Person but was simply a literary device, then this argument might apply. But, as already noted, the Holy Spirit is indeed a Person within the Godhead.

Moreover, the gender distinction in Hebrew (the original versions of the manuscripts) is more rigidly applied in the modifiers, which very often define the Holy Spirit as feminine. This important point is often overlooked by those who would claim that a noun in Hebrew doesn’t necessarily depict gender.

The bottom line is that for every argument of which I am aware that calls into question the femininity of the Holy Spirit there is at least one alternate explanation, often considerably more reasonable than the original argument, that negates the argument itself and supports the notion of a feminine Holy Spirit. Furthermore, where the argument references Scripture, the rebuttal also appeals to Scripture.

As I review these arguments I find myself thinking of those responsible for establishing and maintaining Church doctrine in terms of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Did the Jews get it wrong in refusing to see Jesus as God? So did we in refusing to see the Holy Spirit as the feminine complement of the Father.

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THE “HE” ISSUE

 

Something’s definitely wrong about the Church’s current understanding of the Holy Spirit. A recent poll of evangelicals revealed that 68% of us consider the Holy Spirit to be an impersonal force, indicating the shallowness of a large group of Christians that would permit the movie Star Wars to influence their perception of God to such an extent. But shallowness isn’t the only culprit. Theologians with advanced degrees in Divinity admit to being stumped by the nature of the Holy Spirit.

The problem is at once both simpler and more profound than confusion or shallowness of thought. The primary source of our misapprehension of the Holy Spirit has been with us for a very long time and is our presupposition, inculcated by the Church herself, that the Holy Spirit is either genderless or weakly masculine.

With regard to the common perception of the Holy Spirit’s masculinity, the enormous gorilla in the room is the use, in virtually all translations and versions of the Bible, of masculine pronouns in reference to the Holy Spirit.

Examples of this include John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7 and 8 and 13-15, and Hebrews 3:7 and 10:15, although some verses reference the Holy Spirit as neuter. These references constitute the most common argument against a feminine Holy Spirit.

The most likely reason for all those “he”s in the Bible is the certainty that the Bible we use today does not represent the original. While I believe that the original autographs of Scripture are inspired and inerrant, I don’t extend that trust to the various translations and versions that are available to us today. There is ample reason to suspect that a gender switch took place around the time of Constantine under the misguided motive of purifying the heavenly domain from all connotations of sexuality. Many well-known Church Fathers at that time have conveyed, through their writings, their repulsion of matters involving gender and their equation of purity with chastity.

We know that the Hebrew name of Spirit, ruah, is feminine, while the Greek equivalent is neuter and the Latin equivalent is masculine. These language-based gender differences may partially account for the gender switch in the translations. The more likely scenario, unpleasant as it may be to consider, is that the switch was deliberate. The Jewish religion had, for the most part, viewed the Holy Spirit as feminine, as did a large group of early Christians, as demonstrated by the femininity of the Holy Spirit in the Syriac Scriptures. In addition, the Sinaitic Palimpsest, the original writing of which is thought to be close or identical to the Gospel that Paul taught from, depicts Jesus in John 14:26 as describing the Holy Spirit as feminine.

There are multiple reasons why it is thought that the switch was deliberate: first, the neuter description of the Arm of the Lord in Isaiah 51:9 and 10 is known to be a deliberate switch from the feminine; second is the motive: the prevailing sexual debauchery of the secular society surrounding the Christian community led the Christian leaders to set the Church apart in perfect purity, even to the extent that motivated some early Christian males to attempt to castrate themselves. Sometimes, as was possibly the case with Origen (according to Eusebius), the attempt was successful. Many of the early Church Fathers, including Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Ambrose of Milan, and, most famously, Augustine, vehemently equated purity with chastity. Some of them were misogynistic as well. Supporting that urge to switch genders was the pressure of numerous heresies that confronted the early Church. One important threat to the Church was Gnosticism, which favored a femininity of the Holy Spirit. The heresies embraced by the Gnostics placed their belief in a feminine Holy Spirit, which was common to Jewish faith and early Christian expressions in general, in disrepute. The rejection of gender in God seems to have been a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

The switch to the masculinity of the Holy Spirit was probably complete around the time of Constantine.

It’s a matter of concern to me how reluctant the Church leadership has been throughout the past several centuries to see God in the light of His Word rather than blindly adhering to Church doctrine in the face of Scriptural passages that are inconsistent with dogma. There are plenty of indications in Scripture, even in the versions we use today, to support the femininity of the Holy Spirit in opposition to the use of male pronounce in reference to Her. All it takes to see this is scripturally-compatible eyes.

We revere Christians of the past who had the insight and courage to reform the Church in the face of the corruption that attended her political power. But these Church Greats were human just like the rest of us. None of them was perfect, nor were their insights complete. Martin Luther, for example, was a rabid anti-Semite; he also thought that Jesus had an affair with Mary Magdalene. Those who are inclined to avoid any questioning of the Bible as it stands now should apply that same inclination to Luther, who lashed out against the Book of James and supported the removal of the Book of Wisdom and others from the Protestant canon of Scripture.

SEA STORY

 

Going back in time from the revolutionary period of our history, those who look for them can find many examples of God’s Hand, both positive and negative, in the affairs of the American political experiment in freedom.

Why negative? Because that’s how God operates, as He has told us numerous times. In Deuteronomy 11:26-26-28, for example, Moses told the Israelites who had left Egypt with him:

“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.”

This admonition applies to every Christian today just as much as to the Israelites whom Moses addressed back then. It applied as well throughout the American experience. According to the authors of The Light and the Glory, it took only one or two generations after they landed before the pilgrims, in experiencing an increasing ease of existence, began to fall away from their daily devotion to God. At first the chastising was mild, and quickly returned to blessing as the people heeded the correction:

“Perhaps the most extraordinary chastisement in this vein was the rain of caterpillars which Winthrop reported in the summer of 1646. ‘Great harm was done in corn (especially wheat and barley) in this month by a caterpillar, like a black worm about an inch and a half long. They eat up first the blades of the stalk, then they eat up the tassels, whereupon the ear withered. It was believed by divers good observers that they fell in a great thunder shower, for divers yards and other bare places where not one of them was seen an hour before, were presently after the shower almost covered with them, besides grass places where they were not so easily discerned. They did the most harm in the southern parts, as in Rhode Island, etc., and in the eastern parts in their Indian corn. In divers places the churches kept a day of humiliation, and presently after, the caterpillars vanished away.’”

God also is a champion of justice, particularly when mixed with compassion. There are several Old Testament references to how God prefers justice and mercy over lip service to Him. One example is found in Hosea 6:6; another in Isaiah 58:6 and 7:

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen- to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh?”

Jesus repeated these sentiments in Matthew 12:7 while He explained to the

Pharisees how much more important it is to show mercy, even on the sabbath, than to participate in spiritually empty adherence to the law:

“But if you had known what this means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.”

It is much more fun to describe blessings than curses, and justice served rather than justice denied. Here is a good sea story, also taken from The Light and the Glory regarding that time period in America’s history:

“Our favorite of these sea stories involves two ships in distress. The first, under the mastery of William Laiton, was out of Piscataqua and bound for Barbados, when, some thousand miles off the coast, she sprang a leak which could not be staunched. He crew was forced to take refuge in their longboat. It happened that they had a plentiful supply of bread, more than they could possibly eat, but so little water that after eighteen days of drifting, they were down to a teaspoon per man per day. Meanwhile, another ship, captained by one Samuel Scarlet, was having its own difficulties, being ‘destitute of provisions, only they had water enough, and to spare.’ The spied the drifting longboat, but as Scarlet made ready to take them aboard, his men ‘. . .desired that he would not go to take the men in, lest they should all die by famine. But the captain was a man of too generous a charity to follow the selfish proposals thus made unto him. He replied, “It may be these distressed creatures are our own countrymen, and [anyway] they are distressed creatures. I am resolved I will take them in, and I’ll trust in God, who is able to deliver us all.” Nor was he a loser by this charitable resolution, for Captain Scarlet had the water which Laiton wanted, and Mr. Laiton had the bread and fish which Scarlet wanted. So they refreshed one another, and in a few days arrived safe to New England. But it was remarked that the chief of the mariners who urged Captain Scarlet against his taking in these distressed people, did afterwards, in his distress at sea, perish without any to take him in.’”

AND HE DID THAT WHICH WAS EVIL . . .

 

When Israel was torn from Judah after Solomon’s reign, its leadership failed to follow God, giving rise to a familiar litany regarding its kings, as is exemplified in 2 Kings 13:2a:

“And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

This litany is frequently accompanied by the mention of King Jeroboam of Israel as being a prominent example of evildoing. What did Jeroboam do to so thoroughly offend God? According to 1 Kings 12 and 13, he made two golden calves, reminiscent of what Aaron did to evoke the wrath of God when Moses remained in communication with God on Mount Sinai; he also set up altars for the worship of these abominations in two cities of Israel. In Exodus 22:20, God made plain His displeasure with that practice:

“He that sacrificeth to any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.”

Moreover, he set up as priests people of poor character, unqualified for that office, and who were actively and deliberately disobedient to God.

This accusation of God against the leaders of Israel sounds strangely familiar. We now have a man sitting in the office of the president of the United States who refuses to personally participate in a national day of prayer, who has removed all evidence of our Judeo-Christian God from the venues that he selects to speak to the American public, who celebrates, the Muslim feast of Ramadan at the White House to the exclusion of similar Jewish and Christian observances, who grants sanctuary to Muslim refugees from the Mideast to the exclusion of persecuted Christian refugees from that area, and, in general, exhibits at best a cold indifference and, behind the scenes, a teeth-gnashing hostility against our Christian God.

This hostility is evidenced by the individuals of poor character whom he has selected to oversee his interests in matters of government related to the public worship of God: Mikey Weinstein, who, as overseer of chaplains in our armed forces, has prohibited at the threat of court-martial mention by a chaplain of the name of Jesus Christ; Loretta Lynch, who as United States Attorney General has promoted laws regarding the gay and transsexual agendas in opposition to the Word of God, and the punishment of Christians who attempt to hold fast to their faith in response to these new and obscene laws; the White House staff and advisors, who actively work to marginalize Christians; and Hillary Clinton, who as Secretary of State has supported, through her work and example, the undermining of the nobility so closely associated with the Jewish and Christian faiths.

It wouldn’t surprise me if God has already written Obama’s epitaph:

“And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

A SPEECH AMERICA NEEDS TO HEAR AGAIN

[Note: this is a rare case where I’ve posted the same article on multiple blog sites.  It’s just too good, and too relevant not to.]  

I’m a packrat. My wife finally convinced me to make it easier on the kids by tossing out all the old papers and memorabilia that’s been accumulating in the garage for several decades.

Do you think the kids will want to read all this when we’re gone?” she asked pointedly. “Nah, I replied. It’ll just go into a black garbage bag, and from there to the dump.”

You’re right. Now I have another question. Do you think that you’ll ever want to read it yourself, particularly when, I’d guess within another five or ten years, you won’t remember your own name?”

I didn’t answer. I just did it. But in going through the odd scraps of paper, I came across a copy I’d retrieved from the Internet of actor Charlton Heston’s 1999 speech as then-president of the National Rifle Association to a group of Harvard Law students. As I reread it, I was moved by how his words came down across the years as more relevant to our own time than to his.

His speech follows:

I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living.

“’My Daddy,’ he said, ‘pretends to be people.’

There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo. If you want the ceiling repainted, I’ll do my best.

It’s just that there always seems to be a lot of different fellows up here. I’m never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I’m the guy. As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: if my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with you own sense of liberty – your own freedom of thought – your own compass for what is right.

Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, ‘We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure’ Those words are true again – I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that’s about to hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you – the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.

Let me back up a little. About a year ago I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now I serve – I serve as a moving target for the media who’ve called me everything from ‘ridiculous’ and ‘duped’ to a’brain-injured, senile, crazy old man.’ I know, I’m pretty old – but I sure Lord ain’t senile.

As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms, I’ve realized that firearms are not the only issue. No, it’s much, much bigger than that. I’ve come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated.

For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 – long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else’s pride, then called me a racist.

I’ve worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.

Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.

From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they’re essentially saying, ‘Chuck, how dare you speak your mind like that? You are using language not authorized for public consumption!’ But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we’d still be King George’s boys – subjects bound to the British crown.

In his book The End of Sanity, Martin Gross writes that ‘blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly focused on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something without a name is undermining the country, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don’t like it.’

Let me read a few examples. At Antioch College in Ohio, young men seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the process from kissing to petting to final copulation – all clearly spelled out in a printed college directive. In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who had been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDS, the state commissioner announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need not – need not – tell their patients that they are infected. At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team ‘The Tribe’ because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to learn that the authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name. In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery. In New York City, kids who don’t speak a word of Spanish have been placed in bilingual classes to learn their three Rs in Spanish solely because their last names sound Hispanic. At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black students.

Yeah, I know – that’s out of bounds now. Dr. King said ‘negroes’. Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the march said ‘black’. But it’s a no-no now. For me, hyphenated identities are awkward – particularly ‘Native-American’. I’m a native American, for God’s sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife’s side, my grandson is a thirteenth generation native American – with the capital letter on ‘American’. Finally, just last month . . . David Howard, head of the Washington D.C. Office of Public Advocate, used the word ‘niggardly’ while talking to colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, ‘niggardly’ means stingy or scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and resign. As columnist Tony Snow wrote: ‘David Howard got fired because some people in public employ were morons who (a) didn’t know the meaning of ‘niggardly’, (b) didn’t know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance.’

What does all this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can’t be far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: why did political correctness originate on America’s campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who’re supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression? Let’s be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe?

That scares me to death. It should scare you too, that the superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason. You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that and abide by it, you are – by your grandfathers’ standards – cowards.

Here’s another example. Right now at more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars are researchers are being told to shut up about their findings or they’ll lose their jobs. Why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city mayors’ pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers. I don’t care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not you? Democracy is dialogue! Who will defend the core value of academia, if you supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead ‘Don’t shoot me.’

If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you sexist. If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion. If you accept but don’t celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe. Don’t let America’s universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism.

But what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? The answer’s been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand people. You simply – disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don’t. We disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.

I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King, who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might. Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Viet Nam. In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.

But be careful – it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be humiliated – to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience discomfort. I’m not complaining, but my own decades of social activism have left their mark on me.

Let me tell you a story. A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called ‘Cop Killer’ celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country were outraged. Rigthfully so – at least one had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of ‘Cop Killer’ – every vicious, vulgar, instructional word.

“’I GOT MY 12 GUAGE SAWED OFF I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF I’M ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF I’M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF. . .’ It got worse, a lot worse. I won’t read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyric brimming with racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year-old nieces of Al and Tipper Gore. ‘SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY . . .’ Well, I won’t do to you here what I did to them. Let’s just say I left the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press corps, one of them said ‘We can’t print that.’ ‘I know,’ I replied, ‘but Time/Warner’s selling it.’

Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T’s contract. I’ll never be offered another film by Warners, or get a good review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk. When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself, jam the switchboard of the district attorney’s office. When your university is pressured to lower standards until eighty percent of the students graduate with honors, chock the halls of the board of regents. When and eight-year-old boy pecks a girl’s cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for sexual harassment, march on that school and block its doorways. When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you, petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine’s cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month, boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.

So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God’s grace, built this country.

If Dr. King were here, I think he’d agree. Thank you.”

It is a given that it is ultimately God who emplaces the world leaders. But remember one thing: while the great prophet Daniel submitted to Nebudchadnezzar’s secular lordship over him, he refused to worship him. To that dictate he was willingly disobedient, just as were those Christians who were martyred for refusing to worship Caesar. Charlton Heston’s speech is an excellent reminder that nonviolent disobedience in the face of corrupt and ungodly leadership can be a noble and godly act. A thoroughly appropriate example from Scripture is taken from Acts 4:27-29:

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council; and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we strictly command you that ye should not teach in [Jesus’] name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered, and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

God apparently approved of this stand, for not long after that incident they were tossed into jail for continuing to speak out about Christ, with the following result as described in Acts 5:19 and 20:

“But an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”

THE DEADLY DEADNESS OF IDOLS

 

In Leviticus 26:1, God gives us a straightforward commandment:

“Ye shall make no idols nor carved image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God.”

In a rather different context, Jesus gave us a reason for that commandment in Matthew 22:32 in speaking of what God the Father said regarding the resurrection:

“(Have you not read that) I am the God of Abraham, and the god of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the god of the dead, but of the living.”

Psalm 135:15-18 establishes more clearly the connection between these two passages:

“The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but the see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.

“They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”

That passage is pretty scary. It echoes Isaiah 6:9 and 10, and Matthew 13:14 and 15:

“And [the Lord] said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heard, and be converted, and be healed.”

“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which sayeth, By hearing, ye shall not understand; and seeing, ye shall see and shall not perceive. For this people’s heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Returning to the passage in Psalm 135, note that God views the idols as worthless, nothing but inanimate material, and that those who make and worship idols are as dead as the inanimate idols themselves. Then Isaiah equates the nature of idol-worshipers with a lack of understanding of God that is so profound as to prevent their healing . Jesus goes yet further, declaring that healing follows salvation and spiritual rebirth, the implication there being that idol worshipers are not only spiritually dead and unable to be saved, reborn or healed, but that they cannot and never will understand the Word of God.

Idol worshipers have come in many flavors over the centuries. Modern versions of idol worship include money in its many manifestations, adoration of the famous, and narcissistic absorption with self.

SEPARATION FROM GOD

 

One concept that is stressed within the Reformed Baptist community is the transcendence of God. The Christian understanding of the word “transcendence” is that God is separate from and above His Creation. Unlike the god of some other religions, our Judeo-Christian God is not Himself a part of His creation. This concept is softened and balanced somewhat by the companion term “immanence”, which essentially means “God with us”.

Transcendence is an important notion. It should remain in the Christian’s vocabulary. The separation of our transcendent Judeo-Christian God from His creation emphasizes His superiority over it. Creation didn’t make God, but rather God made creation.

The emphasis sometimes made by preachers of transcendence over immanence, however, needs to be curbed. When it is not, the transcendent nature of God is used to contrast God’s greatness, His magnificence over mere humanity. We all know that to be the case; we don’t need to be hammered on the head over its truth.

We do need to know our place in God’s scheme of things. We don’t need to go off the reservation by thinking of ourselves more than we ought. We don’t need to play god by attempting to decide on our own what we think represents truth in Scripture, or whether God embraced evolution as a working tool, or whether our science is more authoritative than His Word, or the like. The notion of God’s transcendence helps us realize that we ourselves are beneath our God.

But we need balance in the matter. The beautiful wonder of what God desires in our relationship with Him is that despite His magnificent greatness, He wants to have a loving connection with us, and in the process to actually elevate us to a level closer to His. We don’t need to wag our tails in self-serving abject sycophantic fawning. God doesn’t want His boots licked. He doesn’t want His ego stroked. He wants to love us, and for us to love Him back, as Jesus told us in Matthew 22:37 and 38, repeating Moses’ exhortation to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:5:

“Jesus said unto [the lawyer], Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”

As John said in 1 John 4:8: “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.”

It’s just as simple and profound as that: God is love. Even the negatives that are thrown our way, properly interpreted, are intended to develop our capacity to love Him back.

Transcendence over-emphasized stands in direct opposition to the love of God. It does nothing but separate us from Him with the feeling that if we are so very different (read “lower”) than Him, we have nothing in common with His nature. Consequently, He is alien to us. How in the world are we supposed to love an alien Being? He might as well drive a UFO and we might as well bury ourselves underground so He can’t reach us with His impossible (read “alien”) demands on our lives.