In the fable of the Emporer’s new clothes, a snake oil salesman talked the leader of the country into walking around naked in these fantastic new invisible clothes. Only those who had faith could see them. As the rumor spread through the empire that the faithful and honorable could “see” the invisible clothes, everyone was suddenly admiring the king’s wonderful new wardrobe. These salemen charged the Emporer for this beautiful new birthday suit. They ran off rich while the Emporer was finally confronted by a child who noted that he was naked. Out of the mouth of babes.
This month Harold Camping tried to dress his followers up in God’s invisible new clothes. he spun a web of math and faith that combined Nostradomas and Rainman. He convinced many to buy his new clothes before May 21st. Now that he and his ministry are rich and raking in the dough, he has an explanation for the “seeming” error of his predictions. He came out today and reported that the rapture occurred last weekend in an “invisible” way. Only the faithful saw it. Hmmmm….. Oh, I forgot, he double checked his math again too…. Turns out that he forgot to carry the “1″ which resulted in…. Well, ur, um…. it’s very complicated for mere mortals to understand, but the bottom line is… Um… The real rapture… I mean the non-invisible rapture will be in October… That is, er, um, unless, it is another nonmaterial, invisible Casper-the-friendly ghost type event that only Harold can see from his million dollar ministry with his special decoder ring.
I too am one of the many people who chuckled at news stories about Harold Camping’s prediction that the world was going to end on May 21st. As a Bible believer, it was clear that his predictions were more science fiction meets Beautiful Mind than anything Biblical or historical. I was shocked that educated people could fall for such nonsense.
As today becomes “Make-fun-of-all-Christians’-view-of-end-times-Day” because of the predictions of one self-proclaimed “scholar”, I realized that there is a far worse alternative. How atheism and its teachings have harmed children.
While Biblical Christianity says that life is meaningful and has purpose, atheism teaches that there is no greater purpose for life. While the Bible teaches that actions have consequences and accountability before God, atheism teaches that this life is all there is and no one will stand to account before their Maker. Russia’s educational system taught atheism for years resulting in a sky-rocketing alcoholism in future generations trying to medicate the lack of meaning. If only those children could sue the government for pushing this philosophy down their throats as young innocent learners. We can only wonder the mental anguish on kids who learned a world-view that suggests Hitler will have no accountability for his horrific acts to the Jews.
While Jesus teaches that those who have died will be resurrected to life based on the historic substantiated evidence of His death, burial, and resurrection, atheism teaches that you rot to death. One can only imagine the psychological damage and years of therapy children must endure as they learn that Grandpa is gone forever, Grandma is nothing more than a rotting corpse, and there is no hope of Heaven. If only the ACLU and DCFS made house calls to the college campus, there might be justice for those tortured souls.
While many silly misinformed Christians sold their homes in preparation for the rapture last week –ignoring the Bible’s clear teaching that no one knows the day or hour-, there is a far more tragic alternative. Atheism’s underpinning philosophy, Naturalism, teaches that this life is all there is. It teaches that death is normal and natural. Death is the catalyst to our evolution. Death is the hero that makes us stronger and better. Charles Darwin might encourage us to whisper into our ailing grandparent’s ears in Hospice, “Your death is your great great great grandchildren’s gain. Sure cancer is painful, but I have some good news. I’ll save a lot of money on your health insurance when you’re gone. When a child suffers, they can take comfort in the words of Richard Dawkins, “DNA neither knows nor cares. In a world of blind random chance, someone’s bound to get hurt.” Hmmmm…. Who might one call to report child abuse charges for Atheism’s hopeless philosophy. Do I dail 4-1-1 kids?
Children are taught by this philosophy that they are nothing more than products of blind random meaningless chance. They are merely a Cosmic belch that will one day disappear forever. The question is not Why did these idiot Christians sell their stuff in preparation for the rapture? but Why don’t more Atheists think out the consequences of their hopeless beliefs? Fredrick Nietzsche was one of the few who thought deeply about his ideas and the consequences of this atheism. His masterful and prophetic work, The Madman, was one brilliant example. The result of his thinking landed him in a downward spiral of insanity as he realized the consequences of a universe with no God, no objective morals, no hope, no eternal accountability, and no reason to be bothered by evil as objectively wrong.
The last 13 years of Fredrick’s life his Godly mother cared for her poor son who had been objectified and tortured by the educational narcissists known as “College professors.” These educators shoved their mindless philosophy into his mind resulting in attempts at suicide and deep depression. If anyone should have called the Department of Children and Family Services, it would be Mrs. Nietzsche who watched the abuse her son endured from the horrific teachings of atheism. To think that Naturalism is now the underlying philosophy of our national educational system is unthinkable. Naturalism has become like a virus worming its way into our view of economics, history, philosophy,and science. Despite the obvious and observable consequences of history, we keep drinking the poison while force feeding it to future generations.
The Bible is critical of BOTH the hopelessness of organized religion and irreligion. It critiques the pride of the atheist and the televangelist. It denounces the inadequacy of the “good works” of the priest, and the “Education” of the professor. The Bible teaches that life, education, purpose, meaning, and humility flow from a life of grace. Jesus taught that life is precious. Every life matters and ideas have consequences.
Today was a long day. It began with a phone call to a father who sobbed over the phone as we disguised final funeral arrangements. His 17 year old son passed away a few days earlier. I met Mitch back in January when he started attending our church. He wanted the Bible’s answers to tough questions. One of those questions is “What happens when we die.” Unlike the rest of us who may wonder about that issue, but feel like it is forever away, Mitch had a sense of urgency to find the answers.
Two weeks ago, I had an atheist friend on stage with me at church discussing the differing views of death and dying. We looked at atheism’s answer to “Why suffer occurs” vs Hinduism vs Jesus. When you see a young life snuffed out, you hunger for answers. I shared the options.
If Atheism is correct, the answer to the question of “Why Cancer, and Why Him…” is painfully hopeless. In the words of Richard Dawkins, “DNA neither knows nor cares and we dance to it’s music. In a world of blind random chance, somebody’s bound to get hurt.” If that answer doesn’t leave you empty, angry, and hopeless, I’m not sure what would be worse. Atheism critiques the problem of evil while offering us the worst possible alternative. Evolution triumphs death as the catalyst to our evolution. Death and suffering is the hero of natural selection and the way we move forward in our evolution. We die… The next generation learns from it. We get better. Christianity says, “NONSENSE! Death is not normal or natural. Death is the enemy!”
Christ’s teaching explains the problem of evil, calls it abnormal and wrong, and offers a solution. The Bible says we were made for a world without pain and suffering. The echo of that world is still etched on our hearts. That is why we grieve. That’s why we say, “IT shouldn’t be this way…” We are comparing this broken world to it’s original blueprint still etched on our hearts. The Bible says evil is a result of two things: A broken creation and free will. Christianity also offers hope that God will one day fix this world. Wipe away ever tear. Restore broken bodies. This hope can be rubbed into our grief so we grieve with hope. The hope of seeing our son and daughter again. The hope that a body with cancer on earth is replaced with a REAL body without cancer or pain in heaven.
What happens when we die? IF Charles Darwin was right, we ROT TO DEATH and all we have are memories that live on. And honestly, about a month after our funeral, most people will move on and barely remember us. If Gandhi was right, we RECYCLE into energy. We are not unique individuals, but energy that is scattered into the universe (a tree, a rabbit, a mosquito). We will never ever see our loved ones again, because they don’t exist in one place or one form. If King Tut was right, we REMAIN the same. We go into the next life with the same problems and ailments as this life. Eqyptian tombs are filled with medicines and walking canes since you have the same diseases and pains in the next life as this one. BUT… If Jesus was right, there is hope. Real historic hope. We RESURRECT to life. We get real, healed, fixed, fully restored bodies in Heaven. No more cancer. No more alzheimers. No more pain. No more tears. We know we can and will see our loved ones again. For anyone that trusts Christ to defeat death, this is the confident future.
This is not wishful thinking. This is not a fairy tale. This is a fixed hope locked on the historic FACTS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ confirmed by archeology, history, and external evidence. We could trust our good works to defeat death, but they are woefully inadequate. The Grim Reaper is only terrified by the ONE who crushed him.
I told my wife that I’d like to officiate my own funeral. She laughs at me, but I’d like to video tape my funeral in advance so I can share my confident hope in Heaven based on what Christ did, not what I did. Religion will not get you to heaven. Good works will not get any one to Heaven.. I’ll put my trust in the One person who went toe to toe with death and came out victorious. I also told my wife to bury me in a cheap plywood box from home depot. I didn’t want her guilted into spending a bunch of money on a box. Funerals can be expensive and the health code doesn’t allow Home Depot homemade coffins, BUT, back in 2009, Walmart started offering Coffins for sale for less than $1000. NOt kidding, here is the link
Some may be too proud to shop at Walmart for a funeral. As for me, I think it would sum up my view of money and death. Money: Don’t spend more than you need to on a box to hold your body. Death: It’s not the final chapter.
For more information, check out www.godonomics.com or this clip of me explaining the world views of death on the DVD series Godonomics.
Osama is dead. Obama is celebrating. Mother’s day is just around the corner. What a roller coaster of emotions. Mother’s day is a lot like this week. One moment you are laughing at a child’s funny moment, the next moment you are overwhelmed that you have no idea what you are doing. Imagine the challenges of being a mother to Osama Bin Laden. Imagine the complexities of mothering a known terrorist. Imagine the prayers, the pain, and the horror of seeing the world celebrate your son’s death. Imagine the smile and proud look of Obama’s mom, knowing her son caught the worlds most famous terrorist.
Jesus spoke of the complexities of both war and emotions of motherhood. He said:
Luke 14:28-3128 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
Jesus notes that a leader and wise builder will weigh the cost of battle before going into war. Why? First, to ensure victory. Second, to consider the huge cost in human life, financial commitment, and loss of young men and women.
The Bible takes a nuanced view on war which explains why Christ followers can disagree. While the Bible clearly teaches us not to murder, the word murder is different from the the Hebrew word kill. The Bible forbids murder: unjust killing. The Bible makes exceptions for self-defense and lays out ethics for war taking a realistic view of our broken world and the reality of evil.
I once spoke with a dear friend, a Quaker, who was a strong pacifist… Until he got married. His wife once asked him, “If an intruder broke into our house and attacked me, are you saying you wouldn’t fight him off?” My friend said, “No, I am a pacifist.” He told me the look in his new bride’s eyes will haunt him till the day he dies. She was horrified that her husband wouldn’t love her enough to protect her from evil. He made a decision that day to take evil more seriously and relook at his position on “just” violence vs “unjust” violence. He changed his position and provided his wife with the security she needed and hoped for.
War is terrible. My father in law still aches from the things he saw in Vietnam. My grandpa fought in WWII as a marine; my other grandfather was in the army. They fought the forces of evil and did “the loving thing” by serving in the military and fighting off Hitler. I know first hand the challenges to mothers and grandmothers who see the complications of war on their sons and daughters and long to hold them tightly. Jesus knew this feeling well when he referenced feeling like a mother and grieving like a mother hen seeing the coming war and destruction of his people in Jerusalem.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! ’”
Should we rejoice in Osama’s death? Should we celebrate Obama’s military strategy? A follower of christ can have mixed emotions. They can celebrate that evil is judged and innocent lives will no longer be victims while grieving the lost of a human life. They can support a war that punishes evil while questioning the cost of it. They can support just war while questioning if this particular war meets the criteria.
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