unChristian Christianity

Christianity has been lied about by Christians to the unChristian world. Christians have let the unChristian world believe being a Christian means you are merely moral — not repentant sinners in need of continual grace only found in Jesus. Stop doing cultural sinful practices and replace them with something culturally right, and voila! You’re a Christian. Throw in a few Bible verses and “thank you, Jesus!” and you’ve passed the litmus test.

Be Republican, and you’re in the club.

The moral majority was all the rage in the 80’s. Christianity was a cultural phenomenon, the in vogue culture club that all the cool kids were a part.

In the 21st Century, however, Christianity has lost its savor, its being Christian of its -anity.

Christianity has diminished in America because the unChristian world sees no cultural benefits to outweigh the cross it would have to bear by taking on the label.

Christianity that merely promotes (or more to the point, adds to believing in Jesus) certain hair styles, clothing, food, drinks, music and sub-cultural trends (or lack thereof) to be a Christian still sends people to hell in a hand basket.

And the unChristian world is telling Christians, “the Emperor has no clothes.”

This sort of Christianity has left those seeking water still thirsty (). As a result, the unChristian world no longer presupposes religious belief and finds traditionalism to be repressive. Why should people believe in a God and “do right things” when they can do right things of their own making?

The world does not need a to-do list. Nor does the world need a do-not-do list. The world needs Christ. True Christians, not culturally savvy people who use the word Christian as a rung on a ladder of making our best life now. Notice Paul says “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh” to those who impose a to-do list onto believing in Jesus. That, too, is fleshly (ff; ff).

It is only when the chaff and dross of cultural Christianity gets burned up by persecution and tribulation that True Christians will shine brighter in the midst of a dark, unChristian world.

Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. If it were, His servants would fight to prevent His arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now His kingdom is from another place () where righteousness dwells and its fruit is displayed (ff).

The unChristian world needs true Christians who love God and love others as themselves (), who walk in the power of the Holy Spirit (ff), who go the extra mile (), and speak the Truth in love (); Not the Cultural Christianity of a country club.

Cultural Christians will never stay Christian when the times get desolate and persecution becomes reality. The unChristian world does not need Cultural Christians.

The unChristian world needs Christian Christians — Christians who claim Christ.


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13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water. (ESV)

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (ESV)

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. (ESV)

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (ESV)

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30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (ESV)

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (ESV)


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38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (ESV)


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15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, (ESV)

Christmas, A Cure for the Pain of the World

Defenses of Christmas aren’t much better than the attacks. Remember: cynics get intelligence, believers are good hearted, dimwits. Defending anything based on religion, such as Christmas, must rely on feeling and not intellect, says our culture. Christmas is good, because it is about family, as if family is an unmixed blessing for most people. Christmas is good, because it is about “belief,” especially in the spirit of Santa. Since Santa does not exist, and recent holiday movies demand we believe in him, this seems like a call to madness. Christmas is also supposed to be about the “child within,” but in a culture in dire need of grownups this seems dangerous as well. Jesus once said to be like a little child regard to humility, but irrational Christmas marketers aren’t saying that. Christmas seems to involve believing in the unbelievable in order to regress to childishness.

Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, the incarnation of God and Man. If true, it is [a pivotal] moment of history. If false, it is useless. Best reason and best experience argue that it is true. My heart bears witness to His gentle Voice. My mind demands that I accept the truth of history. This moment when Heaven and Earth were brought together is the answer to the pain of our existence and that is the very problem with both cynicism about Christmas and most defenses of the holiday.

The cynics see a world of pain and embrace it. Chaos is basic to their vision of the world, but their very rationality denies this view. The defenders act as if platitudes can solve problems. Warm hearts are not enough against cold reality.

Christmas is for a world of pain. Christmas is good news, because it shows God comes down to Earth and saves us. Such news makes merry, but remains realistic. It is for sin, but about redemption. It denies nothing about human hurts, but does not rest content in them.

~John Mark Reynolds

Grill a Christian

Todd Friel, of Wretched Radio, went to a public college and discussed Christianity with a group.

Grill a Christian (Part 1)

Grill a Christian (Part 2)

Grill a Christian (Part 3)

Doubting Dawkins

Atheism has made a huge leap into the public mind. It seems that, ever since 9-11, a new breed of Atheism has come of age. One poem in particular about being an Atheist produces a few questions in my mind:

If you are hungry, I will offer food.
If you are thirsty, I will offer water.
If you are cold, I will offer warmth.
If you are in need, ask and I will give.
If you are in trouble, ask and I will help.

I do not do these things in the hopes of being rewarded, or out of fear of being punished.
I do these things because I know them to be right.
I set my own standards and I alone enforce them.
I am an Atheist

How does an Atheist “know them to be right”? What is right? wrong?

Who is the arbitrator of what is right? The individual person? Society?

What if one society sees everyone else not like them as inferior and decides to pursue all other societies’ destruction? It’s right in one society’s eyes but not others.

What if one society decides to take in and nurture all helpless people, while another decides to end the lives of all the helpless? What makes one society virtuous while another horrendous?

What if a society, at one point in time, pursues justice for all, yet within 1 to 3 generations becomes corrupt and pursues self-interest alone and throws justice out in the street?

What constitutes virtue? horrendous action? justice? injustice? Who gets to define these ideals and why should I follow those ideals?

This way of thinking promotes people doing what is right in their own eyes.

If we are to pursue the full extent of Atheism, then we must follow the natural conclusion provided in the video below.

What hope is there? There is no hope. There is no reason for me to follow any laws or guidelines of society. Because there is no God, I will not be judged by God, even though I will be judged by society, and even then, society’s perception of good will change. And if that is the extent of my judgement, so what? And who cares?

Check the site out: http://www.doubtingdawkins.com/.

Eschatology 101: A Christian and a Jew discuss Dispensationalism

Bill Moyers (on PBS) does an interview with a Christian (Timothy Weber, author of On the Road to Armageddon) and Jew (Michael Lerner) about the dangers of dispensationalism (video).

Transcript

BILL MOYERS: How many people belong to Christians United for Israel? Well, they say they have the support of 50,000 pastors and their congregations. And that would be no mean number. Let’s talk further now with two men who follow closely relations between American Christians and Israel.

Rabbi Michael Lerner is the editor of the widely read and quoted TIKKUN magazine, which he founded in 1986 as a journal of liberal and progressive Jewish thought. He holds doctorates in both philosophy and clinical psychology and has written 11 books, including JEWISH RENEWAL, SPIRIT MATTERS, and his most recent, THE LEFT HAND OF GOD.

Dr. Timothy Weber is himself an evangelical Christian. Once a Baptist now a Presbyterian, a teacher and historian of religion, he taught at Denver Seminary and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, among other schools. He’s known as an innovator in graduate theological education and the author of LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF THE SECOND COMING and this one, On the ROAD TO ARMAGEDDON: HOW EVANGELICALS BECAME ISRAEL’S BEST FRIEND. Welcome to you both.

These people seem to be on a roll. They look as if they believe the future belongs to them. Right?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: This is one group in a long line of similar groups that– began to organize in the late ’70s and early ’80s which combined a firm belief of Bible prophecy and a particular political agenda that has gained more and more power as the years have gone on.

BILL MOYERS: How do you account for the fact, rabbi, that there were more political actors among them than there were preachers?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: I think that that movement has three different parts to it. And one part is those people whose primary agenda is conservative politics in America and are using the issue of Israel as another part of their support for conservative politics. And if the United States moved away from Israel, they might move away from it. The second part are people who are dispensationalists, who believe that getting Israel into a huge battle with the Arab states is going to be good for bringing Jesus back onto our planet. And-

BILL MOYERS: Dispensationalist is a theological concept.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Right. It’s a theological concept. Then there are an awful lot of people who genuinely care about Jews; decent good people in this movement who, unfortunately, are being manipulated for a political agenda that is very, very different and, in my view, not at all in the best interests of the Jewish people or in the best interest of Israel.

BILL MOYERS: Before we go any further, give me a shorthand definition of dispensationalism.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Dispensationalism is a particular way of reading Bible prophecy which divides the Bible into two stories. There’s a story about God’s earthly people, Israel. And then a story about God’s heavenly people, the Church. And the basic premise of dispensationalism is that all Bible prophecies concerning earthly events applies to the Jews. And all of those events will be fulfilled literally in the End Times. So, Israel must be returned to the land. They must stay in the land. Without Israel in the land, there can be none of the other events prophesied in the Bible. There can be no rise of Anti-Christ. There can be no rebuilding of the Temple. There can be no Battle of Armageddon. And there can be no second coming of Jesus Christ. So everything is riding on the Jews, getting them there and keeping them there in the Holy Land.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: But I think– but what you have to add in there is that when this is a step in the process that they see towards the end of end times in which the Jews will be cast down into eternal damnation and to the fires of hell. And only those Jews who convert to Christianity will be okay. And everyone — all the rest of us so they’re welcoming us now — with open arms and saying, “Oh, we love the Jewish people” But they love the Jewish people literally to death because they they want see those of us who stay Jews burn in hell but not– not right away. They don’t imagine it will happen right away. So there’s a staged process. And this is the first stage in the process that will eventually lead either to us converting totally to Christianity or burning in hell. So it’s not a really great future for the Jews that those theological people have in mind.

BILL MOYERS: If what you say is so, and I think you probably agree with it, I read your book.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Yes. Yes.

BILL MOYERS: Why does this play in Israel?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Well, there’s– this is the other–

BILL MOYERS: They are being used, right?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Yes. This is the other terrible part about the role that Christian Zionists play. Because they’ve been aligned with the most right-wing elements in Israel and the most right-wing elements in the American Jewish community– that have gathered together in the Israel lobby. And the Israel lobby includes AIPAC, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, and many other of the Israel-is-always-right organizations in the Jewish world have played the role of supporting the most reactionary policies in Israel. And that–

BILL MOYERS: Isn’t this an act of survival?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Well, they think it’s survival. But, in fact, for a very large number of Jews today, both in Israel and in the United States, recognize that the policies that Israel has been following has actually been destructive for the long-range survival of Israel. And so they are an element, the Christian Zionists are really an important element in the Israel lobby today, pushing the United States towards support of the most conservative and unloving policies.

BILL MOYERS: As you watched the film, were you concerned that the thread that seemed to run throughout it, that connected the political wing of the movement and the theological wing of the movement, was the belief that a confrontation with Iran is not only inevitable but desirable? Did that hit you?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: It’s easy to make that connection and to see that. As an historian, I’m struck by the fact that in previous attempts to understand Bible prophecy Iran did not show up on anybody’s radar screen. As history takes these unexpected turns the Bible teachers, the preachers, the dispensational theologians, they adjust the scenario to fit. In some ways, Iran is playing the role that the former Soviet Union used to play as the great evil empire in the world. In short, dispensationalists know how to change the subject, when it’s necessary.

BILL MOYERS: But to them — to the religious folks, Iran is an agency for war. To the political folks, Iran is a threat to Israel for its national security reasons. Isn’t this a combustible combination?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Absolutely.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: It’s bad for the world. It’s bad for the Jews. It’s bad for Israel. And it’s bad for the United States.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: This kind of a world view — as either they dominate us or we dominate them — has led us into this terrible– quagmire in Iraq. And most Americans now believe that we made a terrible mistake going into that war. Now the president believes that he can do a different kind of war in Iran. But I think that he’s not going to be successful in containing that war either, just as he failed in the Iraq War. So it’s bad for the United States. It’s bad for Israel because this will further enflame the Islamic world against Israel. Because the primary reason being given by Christian Zionists, by the Israel lobby for the need to take out Iran is protect Israel. So–

BILL MOYERS: Ahmadinejad himself has enflamed the, as you say, the worst instincts in the Muslim world, right?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Yeah, he claims they’re the best allies. Ahmadinejad is really one of the best allies of the Christian Right and and of the Jewish Right.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Well, Islam has its own view of prophecy of the end days. And the president of Iran certainly speaks to that and speaks the language of Koranic prophecy to his own followers. Many people in this country, many political analysts don’t get it yet.

BILL MOYERS: Don’t get what?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: The fact that he is operating out of a particular view of what the future will be like and what role he can play in bringing about the return of the Mahdi, a kind of messianic figure who will turn the world Islamic.

BILL MOYERS: So you’ve got two apocalyptic world views heading toward a collision.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: And how do you negotiate two apocalyptic world views? How do you compromise? This is the danger that we’re in.

BILL MOYERS: When both believe that they speak for God or God speaks through them.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Right?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Right. The alternative is to create a different world view. And this is the problem that the United States and those of us who are liberals or progressives in the United States and in the Western world have not been able to articulate an alternative world view, in part because we’re so largely secular and because we don’t understand that there is some spiritual foundation to the yearnings of people all over the world for something other than global capitalism, for something other than the globalization of selfishness. And that is seen as what America has to offer the world, each one for herself or himself. We need an alternative. We need an alternative that can speak to the hunger that people have for a framework of meaning and purpose to their lives and the hunger that they have for loving relationships that are not based solely on looking out for number one.

BILL MOYERS: The hunger I don’t deny. But as Dr. Weber just said how does a progressive world view, a more loving world view, compete with two apocalyptic faiths that believe God has set them on a course which can only be consummated in violence?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Well, this is why I emphasize the fact that there are a lot of good Christian Zionists and a lot of good people in the religious right who are not primarily committed to the conservative agenda and to the support of global military interests of either the United States or Israel, but are actually coming from a different place. Their base can be split from their top if there is a reaffirmation of a loving world view.

BILL MOYERS: But there is no evidence, I mean, there are evangelicals who have actually signed statements to the president saying “we don’t agree with these people. We believe in a two state solution in Israel. We have empathy and sympathy for the Palestinians.” But they don’t have the clout that the–

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Yes. They’re not organized. And when you’re not organized in this kind of an environment, you end up bringing up the caboose. I mean, you’re at the end of the train. It’s important to recognize that only about a third of American evangelicals would identify with a dispensational world view. This is–

BILL MOYERS: The end times theology.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right.

BILL MOYERS: A third–

BILL MOYERS: –what? Twenty–

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Maybe 20 million, 25 million. That leaves an awful lot of other evangelicals who are Bible believers, who have a very warm spot in their heart for Israel. Let’s face it. Evangelicals grew up with maps of Israel on their Sunday school wall.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, exactly. I did, too.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: And the whole–

BILL MOYERS: You love the Bible, you love Israel.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right. And the whole story of Jesus and the whole story of his ancestors were in the Holy Land. This is sacred space. And evangelicals know that. And they tend to love Israel because of it. In other words, evangelicals love Israel not just because of a specific prophetic scenario but for all kinds of other reasons.

BILL MOYERS: That’s a very important point to remember.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: So growing numbers of evangelicals are recognizing that very thing. Bill referred to a letter sent to the president this summer signed by 30 evangelical heavyweights, presidents of seminaries and leaders of denominations and very well-known authors and spiritual leaders. And their point was we don’t want you to believe that groups like Hagee’s speak for the vast majority of us. We recognize that sometimes the best friend, the best advice that friends of Israel can give is to cooperate, is not to just endorse everything that happens but to encourage justice and peacekeeping and so on. And so you have this one group of evangelical leaders who are speaking for, I think, a much larger group that is encouraging a different approach.

BILL MOYERS: I can’t see that they are having any impact.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Not yet.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Not yet.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: No.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: History isn’t over. And —

BILL MOYERS: It may be sooner than you think.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Well– I’m hoping we have a few more years here. And I think in the 21st Century the growing wisdom of the American people and of all people is that our well being depends on the well being of everyone else on the planet, and I think that the Israeli population increasingly are coming to understand that their well being depends on the well being of Palestinians and of the Arab world. That there’s that fundamental interdependence.

BILL MOYERS: But if you lived in Israel and none of the governments around you recognized your right to exist, and if, in fact, you heard Ahmadinejad– proclaiming the apocalyptic consummation of history on his terms, wouldn’t you welcome the support of John Hagee and these people no matter what ultimately they think happens to the Jews? Wouldn’t it be an immediate factor of survival?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Well, I think it’s a mistaken view of survival. In other words, yeah, they’re —

BILL MOYERS: From your standpoint over here.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: They’re coming in there and they’re saying, “Right on, Israel, when you cut off food for the people in the Gaza Strip right now. Cut off water, cut off electricity, and just starve them out of their Hamas.” But anybody with understanding of human dynamics knows that that’s not going to lead to reconciliation. It’s just going to lead to further anger and further willingness of people to give their lives in murderous assaults on Israel. So it’s not really being helpful.

Now, yeah, there are a fair number of opportunists in Israel who say, “You know, we’ll deal with the second coming of Jesus and being burnt in hell when that happens. Right now we’re glad to have their support on the politics.” But what I’m saying is the politics is the wrong politics. It’s not helping Israel. It’s actually pushing the most reactionary elements in Israel.

BILL MOYERS: Dr. Weber, there was a CNN/Time poll that said only 36 percent of all Americans believe the Bible is God’s word. Only one third of all Americans believe the Bible is God’s word and should be taken literally. But 59 percent say they believe that events predicted in the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian New Testament, will come to pass. How do you explain that?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Paul Boyer, who is a now-retired historian from the University of Wisconsin, wrote a book called WHEN TIME SHALL BE NO MORE. And he studied this phenomenon, called prophecy belief in America. And he explained that the influence of this group, of this perspective, of dispensational perspective goes way beyond the confines of its own boundaries. He said if you view America in terms of this issue in concentric circles, you have this core maybe 20 million of really dedicated dispensationalists who give you chapter and verse, who can give you– draw the battle maps of the future and everything.

Then outside that core is another group of evangelicals, many millions more who believe in the Bible, who believe that it has something to say about the future. They’re just not exactly sure what it is. And therefore, they defer to the Bible teachers who seem to know. They listen to them. And a lot of the dispensational vocabulary filters out to that broader evangelical world of Armageddon and Rapture and the like.

And then more significantly, beyond that, you have a group of mainly secular people who don’t give the Bible much mind at all but who, during times of apocalyptic threat will give the Bible teachers a listen. Because of the fear that is so — I mean, this movement would not be strong if the newspapers every morning didn’t seem to support their world view.

BILL MOYERS: You mean with all the news of calamity and–

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Calamity and disaster, threats, potential disasters, war. This is how they said it would look and this is how most people see the world today.

BILL MOYERS: It seems to be on the front page of THE NEW YORK TIMES playing out what they’ve read in the Bible.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: I think the dispensationalists are onto something. They have a sense, they just have the wrong analysis of why it’s all going to end.

BILL MOYERS: But what do you mean they’re onto something?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: They are onto the growing depression that people are feeling, a deep emotional depression in the United States — a lack of any hopeful picture of what the world could be. And that failure is not a failure of dispensationalists, it’s a failure of the mainstream political framework in this country that– to address the major questions facing the world in the 21st century.

BILL MOYERS: Isn’t that why John Hagee is providing political leadership? I mean, the fact is John Hagee is providing not only theological guidance, he’s providing political leadership to these people, right?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Yes, yes, he is. But if you listen carefully to his message, it is a message, in many ways, at war with itself. Because on the one hand, as you just pointed out, evangelicals at the core of evangelical religion is the belief that change is possible. Evangelicals believe in conversion. They think–

BILL MOYERS: Born again.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: They think that enemies can be made friends and that bad people can be made good through the grace of God. And so they preach that. And you hear in some of the language of Haggee’s followers that we need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Then in the next– in the next breath they say, “But we don’t think it’ll do any good.”

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: No, and that we’re going to make– support those who want to make war for Jerusalem. And that–

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right. So how does that fit?

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: — But they also are very questionable from my standpoint in the way that they read the Bible. Because they’re literalists when it comes to some issues and very much ignoring other issues. For example, they say that the Jewish people were promised the holy land from God through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They neglect to mention that the Arabs descended from, or believe they descended from one of the children of Abraham, Ishmael. And that that land was twice promised. It was promised to Jews and promised to Arabs. Why to two? So that we could become a model of how to reconcile. But we haven’t done that yet and we need to do that.

BILL MOYERS: So is there a different way in your judgment these conservative Christians could help the people of Israel whom historically and biblically they were taught to love and to appreciate without supporting the right-wing elements in Israel that want to crush the Palestinians?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Well, many evangelicals are calling for exactly that. They’re looking for another way. And I-

BILL MOYERS: And they’re not all like John Hagee. So many people think that all evangelicals are alike in the same way they think all Muslims are alike, right?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right. And there are variations within the evangelical community. What I hear on the one hand, we have certain fellow believers who view the future in very well-defined ways and who or absolutely convinced that there’s nothing that anybody or anything can do about it. And yet we also have the clear teachings of Jesus about being peacemakers, about caring for the world, about loving your enemy. How do those two things go together? So there’s that deep biblical tradition that evangelicals can draw on to find another way.

BILL MOYERS: Here it seems to me is the fundamental issue. You heard all of the talk in the film about Islamofascism. People are genuinely concerned about terrorism and terrorist states. So how do we make a distinction between fighting terrorists and terrorist states without enflaming the religious passions? How do we do that?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Well, I think it’s important to recognize that dispensationalists are not the only ones who are worried about these issues. When you have the president of France and leaders in Germany who are warning Iran that there will be war if they do not stop what they’re doing, these are not dispensationalist-inspired people. I mean, the world is–

BILL MOYERS: Neither is Norman Podhoretz and Bill Kristol and people like the neoconservatives in this country.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right.

BILL MOYERS: –the neoconservatives in this country.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right. And so the wind is blowing in a particular direction and it’s very hard to redirect it. There is an evangelical past that is much more positive, much more world changing, much more embracing diversity and even tolerance in some ways than seems to be in the public eye today. And many evangelicals are beginning to rediscover who they are in that in their past. They’re saying we can be about our father’s business only if we take concern for people who are poor. The world that God has made is getting destroyed. We need to take care along those lines. And-

BILL MOYERS: But these people you heard had no sympathy for the Palestinians.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: No, absolutely not.

BILL MOYERS: They see the Palestinians as part of the problem, right?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Yes.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Yes. It– it-

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Yes.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: This very week the WASHINGTON POST revealed a poll that it had done that shows that a majority of Americans now favor cutting favor for the war in Iraq. That’s a very big shift from where the majority of Americans were only five years ago in relationship to this war. Change is possible. Fundamental changes in world views are possible. And it is possible to create a different understanding of the Islamic world, one that doesn’t put them all together in one evil category just as it’s possible to understand that there are evangelicals who are very hurtful in their world view. And there are evangelicals who are very loving in their world view.

BILL MOYERS: So Timothy Weber, are evangelicals still Israel’s best friend when you saw what you saw?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Well, they certainly think they are Israel’s best friend. But I think evangelicals are realizing that there’s more than one way to be a friend to Israel. Whether in the long run the kind of support that– groups like Hagee’s group really brings to Israel, I tend to agree with the rabbi here, that this kind of support could really backfire. But when American evangelicals support those who want to rebuild a temple in Jerusalem by tearing down the Dome of the Rock-

BILL MOYERS: That’s because the Bible seems to indicate that when the Jews come back to Israel, they will rebuild the destroyed temple-

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right.

BILL MOYERS: –and it will be built upon the– on the very place that-

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That’s right.

BILL MOYERS: –in the meantime the Muslims have built a sacred mosque.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: There this is not a friendly act, according to anybody.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: And they forget the Isaiah prophecy that “my house will be a house of prayer for all people.”

BILL MOYERS: But this is combustible, isn’t it? I mean, when both tenants want the same property.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Yes. And say that God gave that property to them. And that their own — the ultimate vindication of their religion depends on that piece of ground, then compromise is very hard.

BILL MOYERS: And both of you seem to be saying that politics truly enflames religious passions when they become so intertwined, as we’ve seen, right?

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: That and the other way around as well. Religion enflames politics and politics enflames religion.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Politics was never separate from religion in the Bible. And I don’t believe that there needs to be a separation between our highest ideals that come from the religious world and our commitment to implement them in the political world. It’s only when we try to implement them in an exclusivist way that says, “You have to believe in my religion and my particular vision of God”– that we run into deep trouble.

BILL MOYERS: Rabbi Michael Lerner and Dr. Timothy Weber, thank you both for being with me for this discussion on THE JOURNAL.

RABBI MICHAEL LERNER: Thank you for having us.

DR. TIMOTHY WEBER: Thank You.

Jesus: Prophet, Priest, and King in His Resurrection

John Stott once wrote, “The resurrection is God’s decisive demonstration that he had not died in vain.”

Do you know what makes Christianity unique? The resurrection of Jesus.

Do you know what sets Christianity apart from all other religions? The resurrection of Jesus.

‎”The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s public signature that all that Christ taught was true!” ~Mark Dever

Jesus the Great Prophet

Jesus was a great prophet, yet he was unlike any other prophet of God. He not only proclaimed the very words of God, He was the very Word of God made flesh (). He was God’s Word Incarnate. He came to do the will of the Father (), to reveal the Father (), and to speak the things of the Father (). See also, , .

Jesus the Great High Priest

Jesus was not only the greatest Prophet of God, He was also the Great High Priest of God. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek” (). Jesus who is the True Priest offered himself as a sacrifice (; ). “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation” (). As a priest, Jesus is our mediator between God and ourselves ().

Jesus the King

“A king is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people. Jesus is just such a king. He is called the King of the Jews by the Magi (), and Jesus accepts that title in , “Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say.’” speaks of Jesus and says, “Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey.” Remember, Jesus is King in that he rules and judges. “And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war,” (). The armies follow him ().

The phrase, “Kingdom of God,” occurs 66 times in the NASB, most of them in the synoptic gospels. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” (). Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come,” (). Is there a kingdom of God without a King? No. Jesus is that king: “‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘It is as you say,'” (). See CARM.

The resurrection is God’s stamp of approval of Jesus’ finished work as the Great Prophet, Priest and King.

As Paul proclaims in , “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (ff).

This is our hope.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!!

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (ESV)

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (ESV)

27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (ESV)

28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

John 12:49

49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. (ESV)

33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ (ESV)

57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” (ESV)

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (ESV)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (ESV)

26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

Hebrews 10:12

12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, (ESV)

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) (ESV)

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (ESV)

saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (ESV)

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” (ESV)

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” (ESV)

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (ESV)

14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. (ESV)

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, (ESV)

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
(ESV)

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” (ESV)

10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (ESV)

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. (ESV)

Three Reasons Why I Am A Christian

Why Am I A Christian? I am sure many people out there question why anyone would be a Christian. “That’s just crazy stuff!” However, there are very real reasons why people are Christians.

The very real and typical answer is by the Grace of God. Period. See .

But there are other reasons which are an outflow of God’s Grace in our lives.

Christianity’s Claim: Research the facts for yourself.

The Bible is a collection of over 60 books of different genres (history, poetry, wisdom, apocalyptic, etc…), spanning over 1,500 years, written by over 40 authors including shepherds and kings, fishermen and doctors, soldiers and lawyers. Compare that with any other religious book.

Further, there are over 5600 Greek manuscripts in existence which far outweigh the number of manuscripts to other ancient writings. Think Plato, Aristotle, Homer (Illiad), and others (See this chart for details).

Skeptics do not see this as definitive enough, however, “if the critics of the Bible dismiss the New Testament as reliable information, then they must also dismiss the reliability of the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Caesar, Homer, and the other authors.” It’s almost as if skeptics dismiss the Bible without looking into the evidence.

The Bible may look like it has contradictions and other issues on the surface, but the Bible has a self-consistency that surpasses other religious books. The internal consistency of the New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure.

If you are skeptical of these claims, go research it out yourself before you deny its viability of truth.

Christianity’s Claim: The Eyewitnesses are telling truth

“All Christianity asks of men on this subject, is that they would be consistent with themselves; that they would treat the evidence of other things; and that they would try and judge its actors and witnesses, as they deal with their fellow men, when testifying to human affairs and actions, in human tribunals,” writes Simon Greenleaf, one of the founders of Harvard Law School. “Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if were given in a court of justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to a rigorous cross-examination.

“The writers of the Biblical accounts invited critical analysis, as revealed in ; ; and . They wanted people to believe their testimony was true. It was imperative they provided accurate, objective and truthful information, because lives were at stake. Not just their lives, but the lives of those who received their message.

When the authors of Scripture describe events, they use specificity. In other words, only when real events are described can the details be verified and consistent. There were eyewitnesses of events such as feeding of the 5,000, 500 eyewitnesses of Jesus appearance after his death, not to mention Paul’s first hand experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus, as well as, James, Jude, John, and many many others. The authors mention all of these people as if to say, “Don’t believe me? Go talk with these first-hand witnesses yourself.” Many eyewitness were still alive when people received the letters and documents of Scripture.

“There were plenty of people around when the New Testament documents were penned who could have contested the writings. In other words, those who wrote the documents knew that if they were inaccurate, plenty of people would have pointed it out. But, we have absolutely no ancient documents contemporary with the First Century that contest the New Testament texts.”

For further reading and research, check out: http://www.tektonics.org/guest/truthfulness.htm
I also recommend CARM: http://carm.org/

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)


Listen

21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. (ESV)


Listen

4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (ESV)

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. (ESV)