Are Paul's Writings Really Scripture?

Are Paul's writings to be considered scripture, as many liberal scholars challenge? Let's ask Peter:

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation ; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 4:14-16)
Asked and answered, brethren.

Holiday Traditions

We've got a couple of holiday traditions that I thought some Christians might like to take part in, if they knew about them:

  1. George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation - sure, the pilgrims probably gave thanks, and there were various times and proclamations for a day of thanksgiving, but it was our first president that declared that a Thursday would be a day of national thanksgiving, and many presidents following did the same, and that is why it continues to be a day of thanks-giving. But what is this? Our first president commanded us to give thanks to God??? Lincoln and FDR did the same??? Yes, Washington even states that it was the providence of God that led to the forming of our nation. In the face of claims that Washington was a pure deist, and aligning cleanly with the strong statements our forefathers pitted against atheists ("infidels", they called members of this "foolishness"), this proclamation is a wonderful way to point out the faith of our forefathers in the midst of laying the foundations of our freedom with the bricks of their sacrifices and the mortar of their blood: http://www.leaderu.com/humanities/washington-thanksgiving.html
  2. Jesse Tree (or similar advent scriptural readings) - no, I don't believe that Christmas is a biblically mandated or even inspired holiday; but our church tradition is thick with countering the pagan holidays around this time of year with an earmarked celebration of our Lord. In fact, there is some evidence that Christmas began as a result of resisting and/or countering the celebration of Sol Invictus (aka Saturnalia), and this in the midst of heavy persecution. So, when in Rome, why not? I don't think it's idolatrous, unless you allow your covetousness to outweigh your zeal for a time of dedication to reading the word and other such Godly activities. That said, a Jesse Tree or similar advent-related study allows a family to focus on the end-to-end story of Jesus Christ, from creation itself and the fall of mankind to the coming of Christ and His true purpose to pay for our sins. It's a beautiful time to share that thread, to view the shadows and types of His completed covenant, and the prophecies the directly foretell of it, to the beautiful moment that He enters into a humble existence and prepares for a life of servitude and dedication. Amazing, trust me. Here's one version that we've chosen to use (the chart at the bottom contains the scriptures to be read): http://www.crivoice.org/jesse.html


What is Love?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous ; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly ; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth ; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails;
As believers in Christ, the lamb of God, we need to consider that "the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). As we continue to seek to emulate Christ, we should make sure that our tongues are bridled, our tempers cooled, our flesh kept in check, our thoughts captured, and that we strive to emulate love to our neighbor (as defined above), and most of all to God - through worship and dedication to glorifying Him in every way we can. These are the greatest commandments, as defined by Christ.

Some other thoughts... We should not use the example of Christ clearing the temple as an excuse to constantly lambast brethren and allow our tongues and tempers to run unchecked... The ONLY reason why we should look to others' sins is to discern where they might be able mature in Christ, or be kept in check so as to not cause others harm... There is a strong line between God's judgment and our discernment of sin, one that should not be crossed... the law is a tutor to bring non-believers to Christ, and should never be used to condemn or curse a believer... we are called to first serve and encourage brethren, and only rebuke and discipline when absolutely necessary, and only as a last result (and that should still be done in LOVE)... If we have not love, then the most miraculous signs and wonders are useless.


What is Homosexuality?

This one's pretty simple. The bible is clear that it is an aberration, and that it goes against the natural order. The average person can look at the sexual parts and determine their best fit, with nominal reading. As much as liberal scholars try to dance around the language in the new testament, most agree that the language points to homosexuality not being in God's plan. God in His Mosaic Law equates it to bestiality and deems it worthy of death - in the very least, it should continue to be considered aberrant behavior under the New Covenant. Though God has changed His way of dealing with His people, salvation has always been by grace alone and sin still separates us from God without the intervention of the mediator, Christ Jesus. So homosexuality is deemed a sin, there is no gay gene, and the strongest case anyone can come up with for it being an imparted trait is that of hormonal imbalance (which is curable through medication, as any other hormonal imbalance).

How then should Christians approach gays? With love, like any other non-believer. Or, if a believer is struggling with such a sin, it should not be approached with shock and disdain, but with love and encouragement - all believers struggle with sin, and it is of all sorts of facets and types against which we struggle. The morale is that believers run FROM sin rather than running TO it.

How should we NOT approach homosexuals? Never with a complete acceptance of a lifestyle devoted to that which is identified as sin. Never with a shrug of the shoulders or a wink of an eye at sin. We should challenge all brothers alike in their weaknesses, and encourage each other to press on and defeat sin - not allow each other to slip constantly into decadence and licentiousness. Advocates of sin should be disfellowshipped, if they refuse to repent. There is no other way, because God knows best.

Love, not license. So, for those of you struggling in an existence of heart-wrenching relations that will never fill the void that only God can fill... I love you, and I hope for the best for you. May God reach into your heart and pull you onto the solid rock, out of the drowning waves. I hope you won't give up on Him. Reach out, embrace Him, realize that your wants and desires are secondary to God's glory, and the love that He offers.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Many liberals attempt to twist the hermeneutics of textual criticism by saying that the New Testament doesn't condemn homosexuality, and that the language has been improperly translated. I assure you that the agenda is clearly found in the liberals' court, as I have found after solid research on the matter that the New Testament irrevocably condemns homosexuality as unnatural and unbecoming of any that are a part of God's kingdom. It amounts to a similar claim of saying that "limp in the wrist" cannot be used as a synonym for homosexual men. Oh, and for those that say that the writings of Paul don't really pan out as inspired scripture, you should think again, because Peter includes Paul's writings with those of all holy scripture:

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation ; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 4:14-16)
Probably speaks pretty strongly against the liberal scholars that seek to distort a sound interpretation of the word, as well.


The Political Party of God

Democrat? Republican? Libertarian? Constitution Party? Which one best represents the scriptures, or even best represents the interests of God in our governmental system? How can we best hope to be a good representative for God's kingdom within our earthly kingdom? I believe that we're supposed to be a good witness in everything we do, including voting for a candidate that will adequately represent us on Capital Hill, but how do we do that?

Here are some thoughts and/or guidelines for Christians:

  1. Does the party platform align with scripture? Take a look at the party's general tenets - what it stands on, how its members generally vote, etc. For me, the Constitution Party is closest to the scriptures, with the Republican party coming in a far second. I have issues with some of the national Constitution Party's theonomistic tendencies, though. I don't like the idea of stoning homosexuals to death, one part of Rushdoony's M.O.; and this modern harbinger of extreme Mosaic Christian Reconstructionism is closely associated with many of the founders of that party. However, they do want to rid the country of abortion (a.k.a. murder), they would never consider homosexual marriage to be a norm and therefore deserving of federal funding, and they would certainly enter into war a lot less quickly than others. The Republicans say that they stand for these things, but their party members are not zealous enough to do drastic things to accomplish the "impossible". Some of the Tea Party-backed Republicans certainly have the right tendencies, though. They also desire a biblical tendency of fiscal responsibility, shunning socialism and promoting a very biblical ideal of equipping people to work for themselves. Democrats, on the other hand, prefer to deny the biblical definition of life, tax and spend at an irresponsible rate, and have little respect for consulting scripture in the midst of law-making.
  2. Does the candidate's platform align with scripture? What's his voting record? Does he follow through on his word? Does his life represent his platform? Liars should never be rewarded with an office, and we are responsible for researching if the candidate is a believer that would represent my best interests (which is God's kingdom) in governance. I would lean toward an individual like Ron Paul to most adequately represent those interests. Though the Constitution Party candidate could better fulfill that role, there is no chance in our current two-party system to elect such an individual, and there never will be while their platform is based primarily on Mosaic law.
  3. No party is perfect. Even the Constitution Party. Of the two big parties, Republican platforms more closely align than that of the Democrats. Yes, there are gaping holes in the areas of mercy, tenderness, and control of the dangers of life (e.g., gun control, financial regulations), but is that really the role of our federal system? Is it meant to be the role of any state system, even? I think that the enumerated powers should keep them limited in these areas. Besides, if the church were doing its job, the government wouldn't need to step in.
  4. No one is righteous, but believers have more of a shot at doing God's will. 'Nuff said. I believe that there are more atheists, non-evangelicals, and church absentees in the party of the donkey. Though unfortunately there are a handful of those in the Elephants, they mostly seem to desire church, the scriptures, and evangelical leanings. They certainly have more of a tendency for allowing more faith-based initiatives and freedoms of religion. The Dems want to stamp out all expression of public religious displays, especially where it is related to public funding in any way. Jefferson never meant as much through his letter to the Danbury Baptists, and anyone who has done at least a little due diligence on the matter knows it well.
  5. Can one adequately vote their conscience? If I had to vote my conscience, I'd probably end up writing in my pastor every time. Even then, sin prevails at times. He's not perfect, no party is perfect, and I think we need to help affect change by voting in the primaries and general election for a candidate that will realistically win. Writing in a candidate that may not even be counted is an absurd waste of time. To not vote would be to shun one of the greatest opportunities we have as believers to shape our communities and the greater good of the state. I don't buy the argument that our country should be punished by the policies of the Dems if an adequate candidate is not presented by the Republicans, and I think anyone shirking their vote should have to continue to live under those liberal policies even when the 'pubs rescind them. Don't want ObamaCare? Tough, you should have voted, so now individually you have to continue living in that cursed environment. Ah, well, maybe not.
So, short of voting for the "Christian" party, there really is only one best option, though it's definitely far from being perfect... voting Republican. Especially when it's a Tea Party-backed candidate (and no, I'm not a racist or anything silly like that, so don't go there; I think that whole claim is a straw-man to dodge the real issue of fiscal responsibility). No one else even comes close to a real chance of winning, in our current environment. Vote your conscience, or vote effectively. I choose to effect change and actually have someone representing. The challenge after that point is keeping these representatives accountable for actually voting their promises into effect.

Should Scripture Influence Our Political Leanings?

Yes, most definitely. I'm not a theonomist, nor am I a strict Christian Re-constructionist. But I do believe that scripture should inform our every thought, movement, and certainly worldview (presuppositions, framework of ideas, and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it) as individuals and as a collective body acting on behalf of a present and future kingdom. Consider the following:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness ; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
That's right. EVERY good work. So, if we have any concept of what is good, and want our lives to be good, then it certainly must be informed by the word of God.

Apart from a relationship with God, and doing things in His name, there is no good work, because "...we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Filthy rag is pretty nasty in this context - having to do with a woman's cycle - referencing one of those things which were absolutely unclean according to the Jews. We can do no good in and of ourselves, it is only through God's grace and affect upon our lives through the counsel and leading of the Holy Spirit that we can do anything truly good. I can hear the choruses of people objecting to this, saying "what about the Dalai Lama?" (or other such holy figures that having nothing to do with Christ). Answer: what seems good to us, affecting good will toward men in the absence of a love first for God, is actually filthy and disgusting in God's eyes. His definition, not mine.

Though I don't believe that any throne or political power can adequately represent the righteousness of God in this fallen world, I certainly believe that we will be accountable for our actions to represent God to this world, to affect the greater good or even affect minimal good by fighting the greater evil. We have the responsibility of representing God in such a manner in this country - through representatives, by voting them into office. We are (relatively speaking) responsible for what our elected representatives do on our behalf. So it really is our responsibility to vote for the one that will best represent the kingdom of God in a fallen system. If you're looking for normative proof from the scriptures, it's defined a bit loosely by the selection of tribal representatives in the kingdom of Israel, as outlined by the Mosaic law (no, we're not under the law, but it certainly represents a level of wisdom that can be effected in different manners). That's in Exodus 18, Numbers 31, 2 Samuel 18, 2 Chronicles 1, and 2 Chronicles 25. Though more hierarchical in nature, the model of leadership by representation was instituted by God.

In light of this, I'd like to cover which political philosophy might more closely align with the scriptures in my next post.


Conservative Uprising

So, everyone assures me that the Republicans are now in the driver's seat, and that they feel that they have a mandate to run the record against the policies recently voted into law by the Democrats. We'll see. The last time that the Republicans had complete control of the country, they spent just as much money as the Democrats, just on different toys, different causes. I wonder if any of these candidates will remain true to their Tea Party leanings, now while in office. I wonder if any of them really wants to get out of debt. For the average family, that means rice and beans for dinner every day for months, even years. I wonder if the average family is prepared and patient enough for the maelstrom that may occur with all the budget cuts it's going to take to get out of debt. We'll see.


Oh, The Stupidity of It All (a.k.a., Politics)

I recently read an article in a "mainstream" newspaper (online) that bemoaned a failing democratic candidate's run for Senate in NC. With typical aplomb for liberal values and a push to detail the unfairness of the Republicans, the article was obviously slanted for the Democrat, decrying that the deep pockets of the Grand Old Party was the only reason why the Democratic candidate was doing so poorly in the polls. It "obviously" had nothing to do with a failing economy, nor any of the other socialist ideals that have been crammed down the public's throats... no, it was all about money. Normally I would just shrug this off as yet another sign that most of the mainstream media is firmly in the pocket of the leftists (except Fox, which is equally as much in the pockets of the conservatives), but there is something inherently confounding in the midst of the author's logic: money buys political position. Worse yet, image and marketing buys votes.

What really concerns me about this logic is the idiocy underlying the idea that voters are looking for a candidate that "seems" or "looks" like the office, desperately hoping that their values are represented by one candidate or another, but really hoping that one guy looks the part more so than the other. Thus, really cool looking candidates in sun glasses playing the sax on Late Night... commercials that denigrate the opposition, and shine the light on tag-lines that represent the best candidate since John Lennon... mailers with all the graphic depictions of political sartorial delights, pronouncing both the genius of one candidate and poo-pooing the other candidate in every way possible (but hardly ever detailing the positions and platform of either candidate)... voters that believe the lies and promises of every candidate, while failing to simply read their position on issues... oh, and those really cool signs that you see EVERYWHERE. How nice.

I'd love just once to have a test for every voter in the largest elections at all levels (full term), not as an entry exam to allow them to vote, but just to see who really understands all of the issues at hand, and whether or not they understand each candidate's positions in those matters. I bet it would be similar to the street polls that were taken before the presidential election... NOT A SINGLE PERSON UNDERSTOOD WHAT OBAMA STOOD FOR, nor did they understand anything about any of our most powerful representatives in our country... (they certainly knew all about the dirt that was reported in the media, though)...


COME ON. How does anyone get elected? Because "I like Democrats"... They pay my bills... or, I like Republicans... they let me buy assault weapons... or whatever asinine logic most voters use! Most people have no idea what their chosen party stands for. I'm sure that the republican voters are equally as ignorant. Poll 10 people about which party is more closely aligned with "redistribution of wealth", or which party is more closely aligned with the "rights of the unborn", and you'll get all sorts of answers.

I challenge everyone out there to get the vote out based on RESEARCH. That's right, with something this important, y'all need to get off your soft couches, put the remote down, and go research the party platforms, the candidate positions on important issues, and make an informed decision based on who would benefit your country the most... not who would best benefit you, or your Aunt Mae, or even your kids. And don't vote on who looks the part, or who is more cool... you might as well hand the country over to Jessie Ventura or someone else equally qualified to mess up everything. Who would be the best leader in the manner that they are supposed to lead based on the constitution of your country and/or state, and the definitions of the position for which they are running? Look it up. Educate yourself for once, rather than just voting a party line. Vote responsibly for once. PLEASE.