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Elgin’s Books


  • Christianity and Secularism

  • Evidence for the Bible
  • Archive for April, 2009

    An Isaiah 5:20 World

    Friday, April 24th, 2009 by Elgin Hushbeck

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    When I was  a new Christian, and a much younger man, there were passages in the Bible that did not make a lot of sense to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them, but rather that I didn’t really see the need.   Isaiah 5:20 was one of those.   “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”  Ok, but who would ever do this, I thought.  Now doing evil I could see, as unfortunately there were far too many historical examples.  But Isaiah is not talking about just doing that which we should not, but an intellectual inversion of morality, that was for me,  incomprehensible.

    But over the last few decades, unfortunately many of these passages have come to make much more sense, Isaiah 5:20 being one of them.  At times I feel like Charlton Heston in the upside down world of Planet of the Apes,  and want to scream, “It’s a mad house, a mad house.”  One of those times was this week with the controversy surrounding the Miss USA pageant

    Now I am not a big fan of such pageants.  I don’t oppose them; I just don’t care about them much one way or the other.  But as I learned the details about the controversy I became very bother, because it was one of those moments of clarity where you see how bad things have really become, and how unless stopped they will get much worse.

    The basic facts are that a contestant was asked for her thoughts on legalizing same sex marriage,  and said that she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.  It  was an answer that the vast majority of Americans would give, and one that even President Obama, and many democrats have given.

    Yet Miss California was denounced and condemned for her answer, and lost.  Shanna Moakler  a co-director of the pageant applauded her for being “willing to miss out on the opportunity of being Miss USA, to stay true to her convictions.”   But then she when all to say that, “we don’t hate her. But it puts us in a difficult situation because we do have a difference of opinion.” 

    Miss California’s crime was supposedly not her position, but her answer was “insensitive” and not “compassionate.”   In short, she should not have inserted “her own personal politics into it.” Here is what she said,

    “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other, but in my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”

    The moral and intellectual inversion involved in the condemnation of this answer clearly qualifies this as an example of Isaiah 5:20. Consider the last part, that she should not have inserted her personal politics into the pageant.   This complaint was made by the judge who asked her view about same-sex marriage.  If her opinion on same-sex marriage did not belong in the pageant, then why ask for her opinion about same sex marriage?  The judge who asked the question is a militant homosexual.  Does anyone seriously believe that if her answer had supported same sex marriage this judge would have been “shocked”  or that he would have posted  the tirade against her on his web site?  This tirade was so vile and disgusting, that the Host on CBS’s the Early Show had to caution him at the beginning of the interview that there show was a live family show.

    Yet in the upside down Isaiah 5:20 world in which we live, vile and disgusting attacks on a woman who expresses biblical values are acceptable, even understandable.  But saying that marriage should be between a man and a woman, well,  that is just beyond the pale.

    As a result,  the world in which those with traditional values are allow to participate is a little bit smaller.  Again I not a fan of such pageants so in many ways I don’t care. But I am a fan of liberty and freedom. I believe that true marriage is only between a man and a woman, not just because this is what the Bible teaches, but for a number of reasons independent of the Bible. More importantly, I believe the reasoning on this is so strong that given a fair and open debate the traditional view of marriage would remain the dominant  position of society.

    I also believe that this is why the minority that supports same-sex marriage is so intolerant of any contrary opinion.  Their position is ultimately flawed, irrational and grounded in silly and false notions such as there is no real difference between men and women.   In fact, the position is so weak that the only way it can survive is through the suppression of  any contrary, that is biblical, views.  That this minority controls virtually all the major media and pop culture, allows for this suppression.

    And this is the true significance of the controversy at the Miss USA pageant  for is shows how far this intolerance of biblical views has spread.   The antipathy for biblical values is already in the movies, news, music,  and most importantly the schools.  The fact that the younger generations see no problem with same-sex marriage, is a testament to how successfully biblical views have been suppressed.  

    So now the suppression has expanded even further. In  the name of tolerance and compassion,  the expression of the biblical view of marriage can no longer be tolerated, and no compassion will be show for those who express such views.  It is truly an Isaiah 5:20 world.

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Jesus and Illegal Immigration

    Friday, April 17th, 2009 by Elgin Hushbeck

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    While it has drifted off the radar screen at the moment Tim Morgan at Christianity Today’s political blog recently raised a question that is sure to come back into the forefront as a hot divisive issue, what to do with the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and their children.  That it is coming back as an issue is clear from President Obama’s plans to grant them citizenship, an effort that news reports say will begin next month and last through the summer. 

    Morgan’s question was not so much the policy issue directly, but asks the question in terms of “What would Jesus do?” My thinking on this question has always been somewhat mixed.  On the one hand, it is a great question and one that we should all ask far more often than we do.  But if that’s the case, then what is the problem with the question? 

    My problems begin when the question enters public discussions, and are for a number of reasons.  The biggest problem is that your answer to the question will strongly depend on your knowledge of Jesus, and even for Christians in general, the actual knowledge of Jesus is somewhat lacking, and even more so for the public at large.  While it can be very valuable to struggle with this privately in prayer and contemplation before God, as a general rule, the more people involved, the less prayer and contemplation you will have. 

    I think it can be stated as a general rule that nobody really knows what Jesus would do in the case of such public policy issues.  In fact, the verse that would seem to apply the most is, Jesus’ comment in Matthew 22:21 concerning taxes, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

    The problem with trying to figure out what Jesus would do in any particular issue of public policy, is that we live in a world corrupted by sin and governed temporally by sinful people.  Issues of public policy such as illegal immigration are basically tinkering at the margins.  Jesus would go to the root of the problem, and when he was finished, the answer to the question of “What would Jesus do about illegal immigrants would be : nothing, for there would not be an Illegal immigrants issue to begin with. 

    This is not to say that we should have open boarders and allow everyone in, it is to point out the reality that the roots of the Illegal immigration problem are vast and deep.  There is the economic, political, and social problems in the countries from which the illegal immigrants come.  If every country in the world had the freedom and prosperity of the United States, there would not be a problem. 

    Then there is the breakdown of law in this country that has allow the problem to grow such that there are now so many here.  If there were only a few thousand illegal immigrants in the country who had only been here a few months, again this would not be an issue.  But for a variety of reasons, government at many levels have ignored the growing problem until now there are millions of illegal immigrants here, many for decades. 

    So to come in now and ask “What would Jesus do?” is somewhat like asking what would Jesus do to deal with  his past sins?  He wouldn’t do anything because he would never be in that position.  When he does come back he will not tinker with minor issues such as illegal immigration. He will address the root issues and eliminate the problems that cause it in the first place. 

    One other problem I frequently have with this question comes from the view of God that currently predominates the public square: God is Love.  The predominant view of God is Love, often expresses itself in such questions making them almost “What would Love do?”  In this case wouldn’t love say we should have compassion for the illegal immigrants?

    While certainly true, that is not the only attribute of God.  We sinful humans are never very good at balancing, and it takes a lot of effort.  When balancing something on the end of your finger, if you get distracted or inattentive, it will fall.  The same goes for the church balancing the attributes of God.  God is Love, but he is also Justice.  Psalm 101 starts, “I will sing of your love and justice; to you O Lord, I will sing praise.”

    Love says we should have compassion for the illegal immigrants, but justice says that they have broken the law.  Then there are all the other attributes of God, such as Righteousness and Holiness.  So what would Jesus do about the illegal immigrants and their families?  Ultimately I don’t know. 

    I do think that we need to approach the issue beginning with all the attributes of God, not just Love that would let them all stay, or Justice that would throw them all out.  I also think that any solution would have to focus on the root causes that has allow the problem to get out of hand in the first place, though unlike Jesus, here we are somewhat limited to control over our own country, though we can work to spread economic freedom and liberty to other countries.  Still while easy to say, working these out into actual public policy will take a lot of contemplation and prayer. 

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.

    Of First Importance

    Friday, April 10th, 2009 by Elgin Hushbeck

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    As I have discussed previously all too often people dismiss rituals as meaningless and of little value. But is somewhat of a chicken and egg problem.  Are rituals dismissed because they are meaningless and of little value, or are they meaningless and of little value because they are dismissed?

    Whether something does or does not have meaning depends largely on us.  The cross is meaningful because we see it as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.  We give it meaning by associating it with what Christ did.  In short, we choose whether or not we will see it as significant.

    This phenomena is not simply limited to religion.  For example in 1971 Congress restructured federal holidays to give more three day weekends.  Before 1971 Memorial Day was May 30th. Now it is the last Monday in May.  As a three day weekend every year Memorial day has for most completely lost its meaning. A Gallop Poll last year show that only 28% of Americans knew the actual reason for the three Day weekend they were celebrating.  Instead,  for many Memorial Day is nothing more than a time for barbeques and parties rather than what it was originally intended, a solemn day to honor those who gave their lives in the service of their country.

    Yet when rituals are seen as meaningful, they can focus and magnified belief. They also serve a teaching function, as a way of transmitting important values to the next generation.  The casual anything goes attitude of society exists just as strongly in a church more eager to attract members than to make disciples.

    Apart from older churches with a long history of tradition such as the Roman Catholic Church, Easter and Christmas are pretty much the last Christian rituals, and for many even these are in decline. The meaning slowly draining away year after year, and for increasing numbers of young people the meaning is never implanted.

    This weekend most Western Churches will celebrate Easter which commemorates the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  (Orthodox observe Easter on the 19th)  This is the most important date on the Christian Calendar.

    Paul writing to the Corinthians said that “I passed on to you the most important points that  I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures-and is still alive!-” (1 Cor 15:3-4 ISV)

    This is so important and central to the Christian faith that Paul later writes “if the Messiah has not been raised, then our message means nothing and your  faith means nothing… your faith is worthless and you are still imprisoned by your sins.” (1 Cor 15:14,17 ISV)

    Given its centrality and importance it is not surprising that the resurrection is not only one of the most well documented events of the Bible , it is one of the most well documented events of the time period, and one which skeptics have attempted in vain to refute for 2000 years.  (See Christianity and Secularism Chapter 6)

    The magnitude of the event is beyond comprehension.  Even the natural aspects are difficult to fully grasp,  a man was betrayed by one of his inner circle and deserted by the rest.  The crowds that had hailed him one week earlier now called for his death.  He was savagely beaten, scourged, condemned to death and then crucified.  Because of the coming Sabbath, his body was hurriedly placed in a borrowed tomb. Which was then guarded by those who had had him executed.

    Yet starting early on the following Sunday morning, people began claiming to have seen him. And not just a few,  all of those close to him did, along with many of his followers. Even Paul who strongly tried to suppress the growing faith, saw him and converted as a results.   In fact Paul point out that one appearance was before a crowd of over 500 , and challenged skeptics to go and talk to those that were still alive about what they had seen.  In short a man who had died, had come back to life.

    As amazing as this was, this was still just of secondary importance, serving mainly as a confirmation of what was really the most astounding part, a part that went completely unseen by those who witness Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

    Jesus did not just die on the cross, he died for our sins. This is the truly astounding part and something that is beyond all comprehension. He died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), He died for me, and he died for you.  He did this that we may live.  “For as in Adam all die, so also in the Messiah will all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22 ISV)

    This is the true meaning of Easter, that Jesus the Son of God,  “died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures-and is still alive!” (1 Cor 15:3-4 ISV)    This is the true meaning of Easter.   Will what you do this weekend be in accord with this?

    This is Elgin Hushbeck, asking you to Consider Christianity: a Faith Based on Fact.