Archive for Christianity

Koukl on Wealth and Capitalism: Is it greedy?

Posted in Economy, Humanity, Religion with tags , , , on July 14, 2010 by raingeg

Here’s a couple of older posts I found on Greg Koukl’s website Stand to Reason blog. It seems that there are a lot of Christians, particularly my younger peers, that want to buy the left’s ideas (fibs) about Capitalism and greed. I hope this helps you out a little.

Greg Koukl, STR, Wealth and the Bible:

I attended a lecture on “Wealth and Poverty in Scripture,” given by Dr. Jonathan Witt, in which he contrasted two polar opposite theologies–Prosperity Gospel teachings (God wants you to have a concentration of wealth) and Liberation Theology (God wants us to redistribute concentrations of wealth)–and then discussed some passages in the Bible often used to argue for or against private property and wealth.

Since I can cover only a small part of this in a single blog post, I’ll boil down the lecture and my response to it to two important points:

Read more…

Greg Koukl, STR, Are You a Greedy Capitalist?

I’m at the Acton Institute and I’m thinking about greed.  Greed is the essence of capitalism, right?  Michael Douglas captured this sentiment as corporate villain, Gordon Gekko, in the 1987 movie Wall Street.

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed – for lack of a better word – is good.  Greed is right.  Greed works.  Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.  Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Filmmaker Michael Moore echoes this attitude in his movie Capitalism:  A Love Story, calling the free market system “legalized greed.”  Well, if Hollywood is correct, then a free market economy isn’t an option for the Christian.  Jesus is clear on the matter:  “”Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Greed is immoral.  But is capitalism based on greed?  No, and if you think so, you’ve bought into the myth.

Read more…

I first heard Greg on Hugh Hewitt’s show and he did a good job defending the faith, I hope you enjoy his ideas.

Advertisements

Christian Music and John Mark McMillan’s “The Medicine”

Posted in Life, Music with tags , , on July 10, 2010 by raingeg

So I’ve just put a pot of water on to make some Saturday night pasta, in the mean time I’ve decided to write an album review. I suppose I should tell you the brief story that led me to this particular piece of music. Let me preface it by saying that I consider it a treat to actually review an album. It could be laziness, or just the fact that I’m not very enamored by new music, but I find myself buying about two new releases a year. It used to be that I was always looking for new bands on the horizon and looking out for new albums. Over the past few years my interest in new music has dwindled, and I’m much more content listening to an old record than a new artist.

It’s very rare that I am pleasantly surprised when it comes to listening to something that I’ve never heard before. I remember it happening some years ago now, when I listened to Wilco’s A Ghost is Born. I was in my best friends car one night, he had the album on and it hit like a ton of bricks, which is funny considering how light that albums sound is. Funny thing was, I couldn’t tell you what song it was that I listened to, I can just tell you that it hit me and I liked it. And it eventually lead me to really enjoy nearly all of Wilco’s music.

I remember waking up about a week ago, logging on to my FaceBook and just for the heck of it watching a video that my friend posted with the hash tag #musicthatdoesntsuck, so I guess that means it had to be good. This particular morning, like many mornings these days, I was stressed out, both mentally and physically. As many probably are, with the way things are politically, with the economy, and on top of all that just the everyday stress that comes with living. So, on this particularly stressful morning I clicked on the YouTube link my friend posted on his page. What to my wondrous eyes did appear, but a video and a song by John Mark McMillan. I happily watched as I ate my bagel before work.

I’d never heard of John Mark McMillan before, but I liked what I heard. The song playing was called “Skeleton Bones” and it seemed to hit me exactly the way the Wilco album did many years ago.

Christian music is not supposed to sound like this, its pretty good! Though I knew immediately that it was Christian music, which is something I liked. It was Christian music that didn’t wreak of the usual mundane stuff we hear pumped out in a fashion similar to that of the popular music of the secular industry. You know, the type of music that’s been run through one too many focus groups. Now my day was off to a good start and I felt much better.

Less than a week later I bought The Medicine. I didn’t know that McMillan had penned the popular Christian song “How He Loves” I just knew that he could write. It was evident in his lyrics, even One minute in to the first song of his that I’d ever heard. Also apparent was the fact that he was able to muster the courage to not sound like everyone else, something I admired.

For the last week I’ve been listening to the album as I drove around town. I listened to it straight through once and a few more times on shuffle, needless to say I liked it.

Modern Christian music, it seems, is supposed to have a certain sound, an almost corny sound that I can’t quite put my finger on. Its almost like there are a set of words and phrases that are to be repeated and any divergence from that path is to be regarded as wrong. Like using the mouths and minds that God has given us to create vivid imagery in our hearts and minds is to be avoided, so that even the basest mind can get the message. Though I’ve always understood The Gospel to be a simple message, one that is fit for the peasants and the kings, a message that does not need any dumming down. The addition of a metaphor that aptly attempts to put into words the wonder that is God is better than nothing at all. And a song that tugs on a joyful thought and applies it to Christ’s message is good. On the other end of the spectrum you have bands and artists that constantly force you question whether or not they are actually a Christians, a task that gets a bit too arduous. These artists are the byproduct of the Contemporary Christian music industry.

The Medicine does not fit either mold. I don’t want you all to think that I’m just writing this to bash on Contemporary Christian music, even though I am a little bit. I’m writing this because I thoroughly enjoyed John Mark McMillan’s work and I think that his music needs to be acknowledged and to a degree be emulated. Though I tread with caution there because I think blind emulation is something that has contributed to our current problem, and has created the other extreme, artists that won’t touch Christianity with a ten foot pole. There are in fact gems out there that write great Christian music and their work should not be marginalized.

Back to the album. The actual sound of The Medicine is a bit of a mix of Roots Rock, Folk Rock and plain old Rock music. The album is not lacking in lyrical mastery, and does not shy away from the powerful name of Christ, a plea for “righteousness” and what sounds like a real heart for God. It holds true to Christianity, all the while maintaining lyrics that uplift and make you think, as it holds on to a sound that leaves one desiring to hear more.

If I were you, I’d buy the album for $9.99 on iTunes, and check it out for yourself. It comes with some extras if you get it via iTunes. I hope the impact that The Medicine by John Mark Mcmillan had on me on a stressful Thursday morning will at least make you take a look at it, as I know this review is not quite like most reviews. I think about 25% was dedicated to the actual album.

Well, I polished off a plate of spaghetti and a couple of pieces of bread, now its off to bed so I can get to work in the morning.

C.S. Lewis on Subjectivism and Politicians, Dennis Prager on America

Posted in Education, Health Insurance, Humanity, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by raingeg

One could make the case that the United States is a few generations behind Europe when it comes to how far to the left we’ve moved. After two brutal wars during the first half of the 20th century it seems that Europe thought the best way to never again be in that situation was to pacify itself and embrace collectivism. In America, it was different, we were aiding the Europeans in the World Wars, and it wasn’t effecting us at home to the degree that it was effecting Europe. We didn’t have men blown to bits in our neighborhoods as did the Europeans.

America had her moments, in the latter half of the 20th Century, internationally we had to deal with the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and both wars in the Middle East among other international conflicts. We also had our share of economic and political woes. That has had some of the same effects that the first half of the 20th Century had on Europe, and now we are finally realizing this. As Dennis Prager has said on his show earlier this week we are seeing the results of the seeds we have sewn, the chickens are coming home to roost.

C.S. Lewis had the opportunity to live in Europe during the first half of the 20th Century. And if one believes that we are becoming more European, as I do, then I think that it is appropriate to look at Lewis’ view of the world from time to time and apply it to ours here in America. I think you will find Lewis’ comments on the politician interesting.

The quote that I’d like to highlight comes from an essay entitled “The Poison of Subjectivism” which came from (I am assuming a magazine) Religion in Life Vol. XII which was released in the summer of 1943.

I’d like to preface the quote by giving you Lewis’ explanation of subjectivism and another excerpt from the essay.

“It does not believe that value judgments are really judgments at all. They are sentiments, or complexes, or attitudes, produced in a community by the pressure of its environment and its traditions, and differing from one community to another. To say that a thing is good is merely to express our feeling about it; and our feeling about it is the feeling we have been socially conditioned to have.”

Does that not sound like something that someone might be taught today by their first grade teacher, a professor, some parents or even some churches? Morality doesn’t exist, it is merely something that is a result of our society. They tell you that you need to find “your truth,” you need to find what you think is right and wrong.

“Many a popular ‘planner’ on a democratic platform, many a mild-eyed scientist in a democratic laboratory means, in the last resort, just what the Fascist means. He believes that ‘good’ means whatever men are conditioned to approve. He believes that it is the function of him and his kind to condition men; to create consciences by eugenics, psychological manipulation of infants, state education and mass propaganda. Because he is confused, he does not yet fully realize that those who create conscience cannot be subject to conscience themselves. But he must awake to the logic of his position sooner or later; and when he does, what barrier remains between us and the final division of the race into a few conditioners who stand themselves outside morality and the many conditioned in whom such morality as the experts choose is produced at the experts’ pleasure? If ‘good’ means only the local ideology, how can those who invent the local ideology be guided by any idea of good themselves? The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which over arches rulers and ruled alike. Subjectivism about values is eternally incompatible with democracy. We and our rulers are of one kind only so long as we are subject to one law. But if there is no Law of Nature, the ethos of any society is the creation of its rulers, educators and conditioners; and every creator stands above and outside his own creation.”

That is where America stands today. You have a congress and a president that arbitrarily decide what your “rights” are. They tell you that you have a “right” to “health care,” yet they prohibit you from freely exercising your “right,” and force you to accept something whether you want it or not, doesn’t sound like liberty to me. And the reason why they have the hubris to do such a thing is because they do not believe in an objective moral law, or a Law of Nature. They believe that your rights are given to you by the state. They believe themselves to be what Lewis calls the “conditioners.” They believe that they know better than you, that you cannot be trusted with your money or your freedom.

They throw money at state education, and science, and they believe themselves to be the ones that are to be looked to when there are problems in the country, and sadly they often are by people that think they actually have something to offer them. Why do you think that the administration didn’t address the jobs issue and create a job friendly environment over the last year? Think, if more people went to work more people would probably have health insurance, and if more people had health insurance through their employer they would have had a weaker case. So, they took advantage of the jobs crisis, and they put forth many types of legislation that do anything but create a job friendly environment. Cap and trade, nationalization of the student loan industry and the health care bill are all sure to be private sector job killers as opposed to private sector job creators, because they all burden the taxpayer and the people who are supposed to employ the taxpayers.

Now that you have some context, the next quote, the quote that really caught my eye, will make a lot more sense.

“While we believe that good is something to be invented, we demand of our rulers such qualities as ‘vision’, ‘dynamism’, ‘creativity’, and the like. If we returned to the objective view we should demand qualities much rarer, and much more beneficial – virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill. ‘Vision’ is for sale, or claims to be for sale, everywhere. But give me a man who will do a day’s work for a day’s pay, who will refuse bribes, who will not make up his facts, and who has learned his job.”

-C.S. Lewis

Sadly, many of our rulers lack virtue, knowledge, diligence and skill. They have not done a day’s work for a day’s pay in quite some time, they all take bribes and make up their facts. This is not a ridiculous call to vote everyone out of office, this is a call to vote people in that know why America is great, and that is as Dennis Prager put it in his latest column, because with a small state the “individual can be free and great.”

Missionary Robert Park to be Released

Posted in Humanity, Religion with tags , , , on February 5, 2010 by raingeg

Tucson missionary Robert Park will be released. I didn’t personally know Robert but I know people that do, seems like a good guy.

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Friday it will release U.S. religious activist Robert Park, arrested in December for illegally entering the country in a journey to raise awareness about Pyongyang’s human rights abuses.

“The relevant organ of the DPRK (North Korea) decided to leniently forgive and release him, taking his admission and sincere repentance of his wrong doings into consideration,” the state KCNA news agency said.

Park, 28, walked over the frozen Tumen river from China and into North Korea on Christmas Day, other activists who helped him said.

He told Reuters in Seoul ahead of the crossing it was his duty as a Christian and that he was carrying a letter calling on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to release those he holds in brutal political camps and to step down.

On Weddings and the Modern Vision of Marriage

Posted in Humanity, Religion, Top Posts with tags , , , , on January 25, 2010 by raingeg

Marriage is in the spotlight a lot these days as the issue of gay marriage is hotly debated in California. I’d like to turn away from the issue of gay marriage to address marriage and modern conceptions of heterosexual marriage.

Last weekend a good friend of mine was married. It was a very nice wedding and even a couple days after I am still feeling a little elevated by the happiness that it brought me. Pretty much anything sentimental will leave me with a good feeling afterward, I’m just that kind of guy.

One of the most powerful things that I took away from the wedding was its emphasis on purity and Godliness, something that is often left out of marriages in the 21st century.

First, purity is almost completely absent from the marriage scene. Society has put a large emphasis on sex, and that has made purity something that is seen as bad or “uncool.” But just think of all the problems that could be solved with sexual purity before marriage. Abortions would greatly decrease, single mothers would go down, divorce might decrease given the ability to compare lovers would be nonexistent and we would have stronger ideas of what commitment and family are really supposed to be about.

Unfortunately, society decided some time ago, that it is better to follow our emotions where ever they lead us. And if those emotions lead us to a society that has and condones a large number of abortions, has more and more single mother households and a good number of broken families, then so be it, at least we are following our “true emotions.” This is all based on the idea that what comes from within the human is good, noble and true, a notion that I despise.

An excuse often used to promote promiscuity is the need for experience. The claim that one needs experience has become a talking point of a world of humans that seek justification of vile practices and lack in the area of good  judgment. This mode of thinking has made its way into many social debates on sex, drugs, alcohol and war. When it comes to any certain act we find ourselves debating whether or not the given act is moral and ethical, and what is often said is that if you haven’t experienced the act personally you are not qualified to judge its moral and ethical value. This would only be true if the one judging was the only person alive on the earth, a situation that will most likely never happen. If a person can perceive and judge the actual effects of something on a person or a society then experience is not required.

We live in a society that is completely appalled by judgment of actions, even in Christian circles. The “whatever floats your boat” ideology has permeated society, as judgment of right and wrong action becomes based more and more on ones own interpretation of what is right and wrong. We are loosing objective standards in favor of subjective standards, which inevitably makes judgment of another humans actions impossible. And as we get more subjective it almost becomes a requirement that one must experience something in order to judge its moral and ethical value.

Second, Godliness too has made its way out of the marriage process. Just look at some of the reasons that some people get married. Contrary to the Kardashian’s, marriage is not just a reason to stop using a prophylactic. Marriage is however a very strong lifelong commitment, and it requires all of you and more to make it work. Hence the reason for God to be a part of a marriage.

For some, marriage is just a piece of paper, and if it is a piece of paper then what is the difference between being an unmarried couple and a married couple, a bigger sense of commitment? The argument that marriage is the difference between having a piece of paper and not having one makes sense, coming from the world we live in now, where Godliness is a thing of the past. It seems that people put their college degree in higher regard than they do their marriage. Your degree is just a piece of paper, your marriage is not.

The divorce rate now makes sense. Marriage has been reduced to a piece of paper, a stronger commitment (whatever that’s supposed to mean) and a reason to stop wearing a condom. It is now not a binding vow, a life long commitment and a reason to remain pure. And when something gets demoralized as much as marriage has in America and around the world, I don’t have to wonder why we are finally having the debate over changing the definition of marriage and further corrupt marriage. We’ve already changed the definition, it is no longer what it once was, let this be seen as a plea to fix what has been broken and not further damage marriage, because I fear that if we do that it will soon not be salvageable.

Haiti’s Deal With the Devil

Posted in Humanity, Religion, Top Posts with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2010 by raingeg

It seems that every time a large disaster happens there is always going to be someone that blames it on sin. Pat Robertson, yesterday, did just that. I know that he said it was because of a deal with the devil, but in essence that would be a sin. I find it hard, given what the Bible says, to agree with Robertson’s assessment of the situation. The truth of the matter is that it goes far beyond any deal with the devil that Haiti did or didn’t make, it goes back to Adams sin.

Scott Richards of Scott Richards Live put it this way.

So when we are hurting or find ourselves hurting others, it goes back to the fall. When we find ourselves struggling with a sense of emptiness and frustration in the deepest part of our souls, it goes back to the fall. When we at once see the remaining traces of the beauty of creation, and the mind-blowing destruction that same creation can deliver, it goes back to the fall. And so, in a sense, Pat Robertson was right. When Adam and Eve listened to the voice of the serpent, the result was a cursed creation. But that curse isn’t restricted to Haiti, or the coasts of Indonesia and India when the tsunami disaster hit. It effects all of us. And every time we sin, we ratify that same decision that rendered the once “very good” creation into what we live in today. But the good news is, in spite of what we have done, God continues to love us.

Jesus, in the book of Luke, seems to refute Robertson’s claim.

1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-9

What message should we get from these words? Turn to Christ, its no matter whether or not you’ve made a pact with the devil. Turn to Christ and you will be set free. You will not be set free from the trials of this world, be it an earthquake or the common cold, that is not the point, we still live in a fallen world.

In the book of Hebrews it says.

23 Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

That means that you need Christ. So was Pat Robertson right when he said that the people of Haiti need to turn to God? Yes, but lets not limit it to the people of Haiti. We are all sinners and we all need God. Was he right to say that the people of Haiti are more deserving of the destruction because of their deal with the devil? No, as Christ said “unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” We are all sinners and we are all deserving of death, that is why we need Christ.

Brit Hume on Christianity, Many Miss the Point

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , on January 7, 2010 by raingeg

Brit Hume is not one of Fox News’ controversial political analysts. Out of what I’ve seen of Brit he doesn’t really stray to far from straight up political analysis. And now were are seeing him all over because he recommend that Tiger Woods turn to the Christian faith for forgiveness.

I wasn’t even going to address the issue until I saw that it was picking up some steam and people are not too happy with Brits recommendation. I ran into a compilation of links on This Week they put together reactions to Brits comments, and it seems that people are vastly missing the point.  Here’s just one example.

A short editorial from the Boston Globe:

“Tiger,’’ Hume said, addressing Woods, who wasn’t in the studio, directly, “turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’’

Yes, but commitment to Christianity couldn’t prevent Bill Clinton from dallying with an intern, Senator David Vitter from contracting with prostitutes, and Senator Larry Craig from being arrested for solicitation in a men’s room, amid thousands of other examples.

Christianity and other major religions provide solid ethical frameworks, but that’s not enough. Whether one is Christian, Muslim, or Zoroastrian, staying faithful to one’s spouse is a test of character, not faith.

I agree with this writer, Christianity would not have prevented Woods or any other person from cheating, but with all due respect, I don‘t think Hume said anything that even resembles that point. He was addressing redemption and providing an example of a religion that offers it.

The hypocritical Christian seems to be a major sticking point for Hume’s detractors. But I, a Christian myself, happen to agree with these people, I’ll always be the first one to point out that the biggest problem facing Christianity is the Christian. This is not a new argument, even the Bible says that everyone has fallen short of the glory of God, we‘re sinners, what would you like us to do stop sinning? Unfortunately that is a no-can-do. Thankfully, Christianity is about grace and forgiveness.

I should point out that This Week did compile a fair and balanced set of editorials and blogs. Go to This Week to read the rest of the blogs.