God's Politics

God's Politics


Joel Hunter: Suspicious of the Green Gospel?

posted by God's Politics

Highly suspicious. That’s what I was.
I was invited to a meeting whose participants were considering proposing something along the line of “Green Gospels.” After all, I am an evangelical, and being involved in anything that has to do with treating the scriptures with a particular perspective carries with it the danger of perverting the original intent.
Pleasantly surprised. That’s what I was when I attended the meeting with Christians of impeccable spiritual and intellectual character. Under the able leadership – and delightful English wit and accent – of Martin Palmer (secretary general – that title always sounds like an oxymoron to me – of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation), the panel outlined the task. We were to provide a commentary that would feature the centuries-old writings of Christian teachers, leaders, and poets as they thought through the relationship of God and creation. We also could uncover the context within which Jesus taught and the gospel writers wrote.
The emphasis on environmental appreciation is a recent one, you say? Au contraire! We who care about learning what scriptures have to do with nature are part of a long line of theological and intellectual contemplatives.
Just last week someone stopped me in church and said, “Pastor, our small group wanted to do a study on what the Bible says about protecting the environment. But I looked under my topical index and could only find one passage!” Ah, there’s the rub. There is so much historic context (much of it Jewish writings) that underlie the scriptures we have that most of us are unaware of how often the created world is referenced in the Bible.
And the problem is not just a denotative, analytic ignorance. It is a lack of passionate engagement. The gospels are not just concerned with creation as a background fact; creation is a source of inspiration. Therefore, who better to add to the commentaries than poets and mystics rather than just technical biblical scholars?
So we will see this project through. Maybe Christians won’t be the only ones inspired by learning more about the scriptures we have. Maybe those more interested in reading about the environment will be inspired to know its Creator.
Rev. Joel C. Hunter is the senior pastor of Northland church in Longwood, Florida. The “Green Gospels” gathering was hosted by Conservation International.



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Aaron Cavanaugh

posted August 1, 2007 at 4:02 pm


Hi,
I’ve had this idea for many years now that God’s words should be green in the Bible. Like how Jesus’s words are red.
Thanks. God Bless.
Aaron.



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jurisnaturalist

posted August 1, 2007 at 4:55 pm


The key term when discussing environmental concerns is RESPONSIBILITY.
We, as Christians need to take responsibility for the land we live on.
But what about the land our neighbor lives on?
If our neighbor litters his yard, and let’s assume it does not affect your yard in any way, nor can you see his mess, what concern is it of ours?
We may grieve over his poor lifestyle, and we may attempt to persuade him to clean up his mess. But there is one thing that as believers we have sworn off: compelling him to change.
If we are forbidden from compulsion, and free from it ourselves, by what stretch of logic shall we incite the state to compel others in our names?
We shall not. Instead we will provide a model worth imitating, by cleaning up our own messes, and taking care not to allow our messes to encroach on others or their property.
These issues are well laid out in the scriptures, and when looked at from the proper perspective including property rights and torts the solution to pollution becomes quite apparent.
Nathanael Snow



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mark

posted August 1, 2007 at 5:47 pm


Nathanael:
“If our neighbor litters his yard, and let’s assume it does not affect your yard in any way, nor can you see his mess, what concern is it of ours?”
Nathanael, your and my excess carbon emissions affect _everyone’s_ back yard.
Mark



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jurisnaturalist

posted August 1, 2007 at 7:49 pm


“your and my excess carbon emissions affect _everyone’s_ back yard.”
I’m willing to accept that. There are many similar examples, such as sewage, and water consumption.
I just want to get the basics right first, and then we can delve into complexities. I think enough people will get stuck on the previous comment, however, so I’ll wait a bit more before moving on.
The “compared to what?” comment is on the way.



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Wolverine

posted August 1, 2007 at 8:09 pm


First off, the phrase “Green Gospel” is going to be offputting to a lot of genuine evangelicals. It may not be what you mean, but the first thing that comes into mind as I read the phrase is environmentalism in place of Christ. I doubt I’m the only one to have this reaction.
There is certainly room for a Green Ethic as a part of Christianity, but there’s only one real Gospel in Christianity, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a discussion of what it means to be a steward of creation, but it might help if you came up with another name for it.
Wolverine



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 1, 2007 at 9:32 pm


Wolverine said
“first thing that comes into mind as I read the phrase is environmentalism in place of Christ. I doubt I’m the only one to have this reaction”.
Your not alone Wolverine . The scripture warning of those who are worshipping the creation more then the creator comes to my mind. Which is a shame , because envirnomentalism should be a real concern for all of us . Most of us were taught to make sure we put back the campground the way we found it .
It is the methodolgy of the way it is done that should be a concern to Christians .



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Stooge

posted August 1, 2007 at 9:53 pm


I will add my voice to those that are concerned when the word “Green” is used. At least here in Los Angeles, and I believe throughout the United States, the word “Green” is associated with a particular set of policies advanced by left/liberal environmentalists. Environmental responsibility is advocated by those on the left, under the name “environmentalists,” and by those on the right, under the name “conservationists.” Both groups seek to balance protection of the environment against responsible development and use of those resources, but that balancing results in very different policy outcomes from the left and right. I am all for an open discussion in the context of the stewardship principles set out in many places in the Bible, both explicitly and implicitly, but to use the term “Green” presupposes the outcome. I realize the term “Green Gospel” is catchy, but I think it does a disservice by suggesting that the left position is the Biblically sound one, and that should be a determination made after reviewing the evidence, not before viewing it. I think a better term would capture the notion of exploring the Biblical principles to guide our responsible development and protection/preservation of our natural resources and our obligations to our current and future “neighbors.”



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kevin s.

posted August 1, 2007 at 10:22 pm


Moderatelad,
You okay?
-Fellow Minnesotan



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 1, 2007 at 11:00 pm


At least here in Los Angeles, and I believe throughout the United States, the word “Green” is associated with a particular set of policies advanced by left/liberal environmentalists.
Well, sometimes the lefties/liberals can be Biblically right … :-)



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Moderatelad

posted August 1, 2007 at 11:29 pm


Posted by: kevin s. | August 1, 2007 10:22 PM
You okay?
I’m cool – just not wanting to comment on a lot of what is being talked about right now. My oldest son’s girl-friend is coming this weekend for a visit with another mutual friend and just getting things ready so that we all have a great time.
Blessings on you and thanks for asking!
.



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c kitty

posted August 2, 2007 at 12:13 am


It seems a little silly to confuse being “green” or being an “environmentalist” with worshipping God. Now I have to apologize for keeping my house and yard in good repair for fear of being accused by local evangelicals of worshipping my house and yard? Seems to me that kind of thinking is just a ruse to cover up the fact that most of big business is anti-green because it would cost them more money to actually operate with care for our environment. Most of us really do know the difference between communing with God and communing with a tree.



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:04 am


Kitty said
Now I have to apologize for keeping my house and yard in good repair for fear of being accused by local evangelicals of worshipping my house and yard?
I guess that would make sense if Evangelcials did not see the need to take care of the earth ? or if Evangelicals controled big business.
Your post makes little sense Kitty . It is fine and responsible for you to promote certain green movements, but be educated in all the effects .
For one there is a large population on this planet that goes to sleep every night hungry and without . Some of the regulations called for by certain envirnomental groups will stop those nations from ever having an ability to feed themselves .
A goal of Clean Energy , Clean planet is more important then your political feel good yard .
You already seem to embrace the idea without concern of who it may hurt .
A plan that allows people to be allowed their RIGHT to establish industries that allow the basic ability to sustain life till those goals are possible through scientific and global resources . It is so much more complicated then a clean back yard .



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:06 am


Well, sometimes the lefties/liberals can be Biblically right … :-)
Posted by: Rick Nowlin
Miracles still happen . ;0)



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Don

posted August 2, 2007 at 7:13 am


Kevin S and Moderatelad:
Are you BOTH OK? I just saw the news early this morning. Were either of you close to the bridge when it collapsed?
Don



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Don

posted August 2, 2007 at 7:26 am


I have to comment on this. Joel wrote that he was surprised when he realized the amount of emphasis on creation in Scripture and in early Christian writing. Why should we be surprised? I rather think they would be surprised at our modern, post-industrial views about creation.
After all, the Bible was written at a time when people had close ties to creation. They lived by the seasonal cycles. They planted and harvested crops. They knew the medicinal properties of plants and herbs. They knew and understood the astronomical cycles of the sun, moon, and planets. How many of Jesus’ parables are based on agricultural imagery, after all? Is it any wonder that the psalmists and prophets were often inspired by the natural world around them?
In our modern, technologically advanced, mechanized world, how close are we to “nature”? We have to make special plans to take hiking trips into the forest or the mountains to “get back to nature.” How many of us observe the planets in their cycles, or can tell when and where the moon will rise tonight? (How many of us in our light-polluted urban environments can even SEE the stars or planets?) How many of us know what the Native Americans used butterfly weed for?
We not only are ignorant of natural phenomena in ways that that simply would have astounded the biblical and early Christian writers, we think we are lords over creation. Our society has misinterpreted and debased the “creation mandate” in Genesis to think we are to dominate creation, not steward it.
Historically we’re the odd ones, not they. I don’t think Jeff is talking about some kind of creation worship here. It’s more like a simple recognition of our place and our role in caring for creation. But to do that, we first need to reacquaint ourselves with the world around us. A natural environment that our forebears in the faith understood almost instinctively, but that we have lost touch with.
Peace!



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henk

posted August 2, 2007 at 8:22 am


http://godstruthfortoday.org/Library/adams/SpiritOfTheWord.htm
Aeons
The view of the meaning of æon already presented explains why God is called “the King of the ages.” (Rev. 15:3, N.V.**, and the “æonial God,” Rom. 16:26. Some have argued that because this adjective, æonial (derived from æon), is applied to God, therefore it must mean endless; but such reasoning only manifests the ignorance of the reasoner. Such an expression as the endless God, is absurd and utterly incongruous, and entirely foreign to the idea the apostle intended to convey. God is said to be “the King of the Ages” because it is through these “age-times” that he is working out his gracious “purpose;” and the epithet æonial is applied to him for the same reason. The ages are God’s “days” of creation; they are the different departments through which God’s work (Eph. 2:10) must pass, stage after stage, “from faith to faith,” (Rom. 1:17) “from glory to glory,” (2 Cor. 3:18) until it reaches perfection.
I have no doubt, moreover, but that these “age-times” are foreshadowed in the law by the equally peculiar Sabbatic and Jubilee times; see Lev. 23. and 25, and other passages in the law. The “seven days,” “seven weeks,” “seven months,” “seven years” or the Sabbatic cycle, and the “seven times seven years” or Jubilee cycle,—all these are, I doubt not, types and shadows of the “ages,” “age of ages,” and “ages of ages” of the New Testament. The purpose of these Sabbatic and Jubilee times is also typical of the “purpose of the ages.” In and through the former were wrought out certain cleansing, releases, redemptions, and restorations on the natural plane, under the law. So in and through the age-times are wrought out the same things, on the spiritual plane, for beggared, enslaved, and lost man, under God’s grace. I cannot now go into this subject fully; but I think that the mere suggestion of it will carry conviction to all the “spiritually minded.” “The law has a shadow of good things to come.” (Heb. 10:1.) The “good things to come” are in the “ages to come,” when “God will show the exceeding riches of his grace,” and the law above referred to contains the “shadow” of these “ages” and of the “good things.”
There can be no doubt in any thoughtful, unprejudiced mind that this word age, is an important word in the Bible; and that it is used by the Saviour and the apostles in a definite, specific sense. I have already indicated this sense, but I shall be able more thoroughly to explain it after considering the related word, Kosmos.



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moderatelad

posted August 2, 2007 at 8:22 am


Posted by: Don | August 2, 2007 7:13 AM
I am fine – just praying a lot for the families that lost loved ones. My cousin and his wife went to the game last night and made it across to the stadium. When they heard what happened, she looked at him and said – ‘call your parents and tell them we are OK’.
Blessings on all and peace to the families who lost members. Please keep the rescue personnel in your prayers as they continue to work down by the river.
.



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neuro_nurse

posted August 2, 2007 at 10:31 am


kevin s. & moderatelad
I’m glad to hear from you! How are your families? Friends?
How awful! Your city and its people are in my prayers today.



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Moderatelad

posted August 2, 2007 at 11:25 am


Posted by: neuro_nurse | August 2, 2007 10:31 AM
My family is fine – cousin had just crossed the bridge minutes prior to its colapse. I have one friend here at work that has not heard from a friend that she use to work with at the U of MN – she is a little on edge today.
Thanks for asking and keep praying.
Blessings -
.



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Don

posted August 2, 2007 at 12:33 pm


We haven’t heard from Kevin yet today. I hope everything is OK with his family and acquaintances.
D



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acts1336

posted August 2, 2007 at 12:39 pm


A general respect for the creation we were placed in is a Christian necessity. Through creation we are able to perceive an omnipotent Creator; in fact, we are without an excuse to deny God when we behold the works of His hands (Romans). But, as Christians, this general and specific respect is not toward the environment, but toward God. I do not litter. I pick up other people’s litter. I conserve energy to be a good steward of what God has provided. BUT, an effort outside of this respect of temporal things is a waste of energy and a waste of God’s time. Once Christian enviromentalism gets in the way of the Christian commission; then it “empties the cross of its power”. You may refute this by claiming they may be joined to further our commission; fine, quote Romans 1:18-23 to them and see what happens. Will they be saved through witnessing a Christians concerted effort in preserving the environment? No more so then if a Christian prays with a Muslim as he addresses Allah.
Christ told us that the world will hate us. Why will they hate us? How and why could they not hate us? Important questions to ask. The gospel is bad for business. You could spend all of your energy promoting Christians Against Global Warming but when you hit them with their need for a Savior and the fact that it will require all of them, that they have no other way to eternal life save taking up their cross… your environmental cause will seem like a minor point at such a moment.
Luke 6:26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
Jesus is not kidding around when He says “All men will hate you because of me.” But Jesus also commands us to do good to those that hate us, but notice the order. We do not win them over through accommodation and then preach to them… we give to them in love the perpetually offensive message of the gospel of Jesus Christ and THEN do good to them who hate us for what we told them.
Here is what God thinks about the environment:Isaiah 24



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kevin s.

posted August 2, 2007 at 12:52 pm


I’m alive and well. Thank you for your concern. I work and live on the other side of downtown, so fortunately my route doesn’t take me that direction.
One of my fellow church-goers was on the bridge, but she escaped with minor injuries.



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Don

posted August 2, 2007 at 1:46 pm


“Here is what God thinks about the environment: Isaiah 24″
Acts1336, taking one passage of poetic judgment from the prophets and stating that “this is what God thinks” about the world he created ignores many other passages that give a different perspective. The creation narrative itself tells us that God pronounced what he created to be “good.” God put the two humans into the garden to tend and care for it, not to despoil and ravage it.
Sure, sin and the results of sin have damaged creation, just as it damaged all of us. But Paul tells the Romans that creation is “groaning” for the day when things will be once again set right. That day will finally come at the end of history, of course. But in the meantime, God still calls us as “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve” to tend and care for creation. Honoring what God created is honoring the Creator.
Peace!



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kevin s.

posted August 2, 2007 at 1:53 pm


The scriptures are full of allusions to the earth as God’s gift. It is used as reward and punishment for sins entrely unrelated to its use, so it is fair enough to say that God considers it a commodity over which we should practice good stewardship.
I’m not sure what Joel is getting at in contrasting poets and mystics with technical Bible scholars. Is the latter category uninterested in context?



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acts1336

posted August 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm


Kevin,
It’s one thing to say the Bible is full of Scriptures on a certain topic, but it’s another to provide them; and in proper context.
Don,
I agree that we are to “work the land”, but since when did that become part of our commission? Since when did that become the focus of ministries? That is our human responsibility; we must do it to survive, and now because of the fall we are pained in that work. A Christian, as you know, literally means follower of Christ. Where in Christ’s message or life did He exemplify and teach about this preoccupation with caring for our environment? It is such a minor point and should be summed up in a few sentences. But I can clearly see that Christ talked more about Hell than anything. I can see that He told us to watch ourselves for dissipation, which is what this social gospel is… spending energies foolishly and spreading thin the disciples of Christ. I can see that He offended so many of His disciples with the Gospel that most left Him… (John 6) However, I can also see that He was moved by compassion and a love I will only understand when I see Him face to face and become like Him!!!!!! (Awesome!) To proclaim a message that will cause the world to hate you is the love of Christ, knowing that at every moment we are no better yet are called to be set apart. That is how we relate to them. That is how we are able to be moved by compassion. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That includes the tough love, that includes wars. (Another topic).
I agree that it is important to work hard and to care for the land in your day to day living, but Isaiah is not a poetic judgment!!!! It is truth (“the sum of His word is truth” Psalm 119); that is the reality of this fallen world; that is its destiny. Environmentalism is like dressing up a house and fixing all the leaks and cracks, yet it is soon to be demolished… its pointless. Our mission is to get as many of the people out of “that house” as possible BEFORE that day. And that only happens through the Father drawing men who experience the gospel to Himself . And that is where the followers of Christ come into play (Romans 10:5-21)
The environment is transient, but humans are eternal. They will either experience eternal life or eternal death, and their blood will not be on my hands because I told them instead to use less toilet paper.
(I was also confused by Joel’s “poet/mystic” remark. Those are dangerous words to use these days with so much abuse)



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Don

posted August 2, 2007 at 3:44 pm


“Environmentalism is like dressing up a house and fixing all the leaks and cracks, yet it is soon to be demolished… its pointless.”
We’ll just have to agree to disagree there. In fact, I could hardly disagree more. We also have our children and gradchildren to think of. Do we want to give them a despoiled world to live in? Don’t tell me that since Jesus is coming back soon… We don’t know when He’s coming. It might be next week; it might be thousands of years from now.
What I meant by ‘poetic judgment’ is that one can’t base one’s understanding of “what God says” or “what the Bible” says by quoting only one passage. One must evaluate all passages that bear on the topic. I do not mean to take away from the truth of the Isaiah passage; it’s just that I don’t think it represents the totality of God’s viewpoint on his creation.
Peace,



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Richard

posted August 2, 2007 at 3:44 pm


Part of the confusion many christians seem to have on this issue is an “either/or” approach. Sure we are to be primarily concerned with the eternal, but that means reaching the unsaved, not taking an attitude that “I’m saved now, OK God close the doors and get me out of here”. Our conduct is to be our witness.
Care of creation is part of that conduct. If you look correctly, you won’t find just a few scriptures on caring for the environment, but many. Borrowing from the Creation Care magazine and from a book called “What does the Bible Say About?”, I compiled 4 pages of scriptures that support the basic tenants of environmentalism.
Many of the writers for Creation Care are from outside the U.S. To me that signifies that the greatest opposition to environmentalism among Christians here is not the issues, but the peculiar, polarized politics of the U.S.
So instead of being concerned about whether or not Christians are worshipping creation, I think we should be just as concerned about Christians that worship the Republican Party, or so-called “free-market capitalism”. I’m sure there are far more of those than Christians that worship the environment.



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borderhacker

posted August 2, 2007 at 3:45 pm


“After all, I am an evangelical, and being involved in anything that has to do with treating the scriptures with a particular perspective carries with it the danger of perverting the original intent.”
I wish the evangelicals had thought that way before hitching the Gospel to conservative Republican politics.



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JC

posted August 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm


Jesus said, “And this gospel of THE KINGDOM will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…” Matthew 24:14
So it’s really not an issue of “green gospel”(though this term does put people off) OR “the cross” but the gospel of the kingdom which includes the cross in a MAJOR way but it also includes caring for the poor, widows, orphans and aliens. It includes treating women as co-heirs of the gracious gift of life (I Peter 3:7)and people of all ethnicities who follow Jesus as brothers and sisters. It also includes stewardship of God’s magnificent creation, which we’re a part of. “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed…it will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8:19,21 Yes, I know that this will ultimately be when Jesus returns and makes everything right but we are certainly linked with creation and will not be fulfilling God’s desires for us and the rest of creation if we insist on abusing it.
This “gospel of the kingdom” that Jesus preached has not yet been preached to all the nations. We have a long way to go. Thankfully, He can accelerate it! We need to be aware of the full dimensions of His gospel and “go”.



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Loren

posted August 2, 2007 at 4:06 pm


“…[T]reating the scriptures with a particular perspective carries with it the danger of perverting the original intent:” what human is able to treat the scripture without adopting a particular perspective? Even evangelicals.



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John

posted August 2, 2007 at 4:24 pm


“Environmentalism is like dressing up a house and fixing all the leaks and cracks, yet it is soon to be demolished… its pointless.”
Do you brush your teeth? Maintain your house and car? If not, at least you are consistent. If so, then your arguement is proven illogical.



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acts1336

posted August 2, 2007 at 4:27 pm


“What I meant by ‘poetic judgment’ is that one can’t base one’s understanding of “what God says” or “what the Bible” says by quoting only one passage.”
I could hardly disagree more. Truth has no interpretation; truth is. Humans have interpretation of truth because they are very untruthful beings. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. Once God’s Word is open for criticism or interpretation then I have nothing left to say, because it is all I know. And one cannot refute “truth” with truth. We have the danger of perverting the original intent only when we ourselves are perverted. And how does a young man keep His way pure… God’s Word (Psalm 119). It’s a heart issue, not an interpretation issue.
“This “gospel of the kingdom” that Jesus preached has not yet been preached to all the nations.”
Who said? Anyone who says that Christ could come thousands of years from now has not done a study of eschatological prophecies (Revelation, Daniel etc.) Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing for those who read it. What is this blessing? Hope and fear of God. “The secret counsel of God is reserved for those who fear Him.” (Psalm 25)
Checkout “Footprints of the Messiah” and then get back to me on when you think Jesus will return. No one knows the day or hour but Jesus tells us the signs of the age. It’s all there in black and white… and red. (I actually had someone on this site tell me that Revelation needed to be removed from the Bible. He obviously never read the last verse.)



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acts1336

posted August 2, 2007 at 4:34 pm


John,
Yes I am human. No I am not an environmentalist. It’s all about focus. When the environment becomes the focus, it becomes a religion; it becomes the hub. Care of environment is to be a spoke of the Christian life, nothing more and nothing less.



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Steven

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:08 pm


“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven…” Does anyone think the River of Life will be full of sewage? Or that we will be unable to see the Light of the World because of air pollution? Or that God will “prepare a place” for the poor right next to the place where all the rest of us send our trash? Our perspective on what “caring for creation” consists of is just as fallen as everything else we do. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying.



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acts1336

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:30 pm


I agree. But, again, it’s about focus. If talking about environmentalism ever gets in the way of the gospel it has gone too far. Our environmental problems are problems that will not go away… the damage is done, we are set in our ways (as a race). Christians do their part by living the example. If someone gives me too much money back at a register, I simply am honest about it and return it promptly, but that does not mean I should focus all of my energies in ministry on “Christians Against Stealing”. That is automatically a part of the fabric of the Christian life. That fabric, of our bodily temple, is usually much more polluted and in need of “environmental care” then our Earthly environment. Because when we stand before God, He will not ask us “Why did you not turn off all the lights in your house when you were only using one room?” He will simply ask, “What did you do with my Son?” Is environmentalism part of it? Jesus never brought it up directly. And yes, the golden rule is partly an indirect reference to hygiene and environmental respect. But we should be as indirect in our focus on this issue and be nothing but direct in the areas that Jesus was i.e. “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand.” (Also, John 2:15 Matthew 12:34, Matthew 16:23, Matthew 25:41, John 3:16-21)
Again, it’s about focus; environmental care is a spoke. The gospel is the hub… Christ Himself.



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Don

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:32 pm


“Truth has no interpretation; truth is. Humans have interpretation of truth because they are very untruthful beings. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. Once God’s Word is open for criticism or interpretation then I have nothing left to say, because it is all I know. And one cannot refute “truth” with truth. We have the danger of perverting the original intent only when we ourselves are perverted. And how does a young man keep His way pure… God’s Word (Psalm 119). It’s a heart issue, not an interpretation issue.”
This isn’t really the place for a discussion of hermeneutics or epistomology, but the fact is that any time one engages with a text of any kind, one interprets it. Sorry, Acts, but when you read the Bible, you are also engaged in interpretation, no matter how much you might protest otherwise.
And I reassert, one passage in Isaiah is hardly representative of how God feels for all time about the Creation he made.
“Anyone who says that Christ could come thousands of years from now has not done a study of eschatological prophecies…”
It’s been two thousand years already. Why couldn’t it be two thousand more?
I’m not trying to be flippant, but you betray your particular interpretive bent. Yes, you are guilty of interpreting Daniel, Revelation, etc., etc., as well as Isaiah 24. Your particular interpretation, whatever that is, isn’t the only one out there. Many dedicated Christians no doubt have different interpretations. I’m sure I do. History may or may not end up the way you or me or someone else thinks it might. We won’t know until it’s all over.
Those who think they can figure out when Jesus is returning should keep in mind his words of Matthew 24:36, which you partially quoted– “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Yes, Jesus tells us the signs of the age. But he also warns us (in v. 6): “See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.” In other words, he gives us the signs, but the signs are those of the entire age, not just the final days immediately before the end. The signs cannot point toward even an approximate time of Christ’s return.
Peace!



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Mick Sheldon

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:34 pm


God still calls us as “sons of Adam and daughters of Eve” to tend and care for creation. Honoring what God created is honoring the Creator.
Peace!
Posted by: Don
Don you said that beautifully . Again though what happens on the left is what happens on the right . When you align yourselves with organizations that have the same goal , but a different perspective of the order you put your post . Many organizations skip the God part , thus you have people more concerned about envirnmental issues , then the people who are trying to survive on this planet .



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Doug7504

posted August 2, 2007 at 5:48 pm


I am always fascinated by how polarizing the debate about Christians and creation care becomes. As Christians, we must guard against becoming splintered, which only plays into the hands of those who are exploiting our beliefs for their own power.
There are a series of short-sighted assumptions being made in these arguments; let me summarize them.
1. Environmentalist = worship of the environment instead of God.
2. Caring for the environment around us is a pointless waste of energy; we should ONLY care about witnessing to our fellow man.
3. For every Biblical passage which praises God’s creation and hints at our responsibility to protect it, there is one which would seem to say that it doesn’t matter.
Jesus had no time for fools, and I believe He has little time for pointless arguments like these.
He walked among the world of His time and showed how much He loved His Father’s creation in many of his preachings. He warned about the dangers of politics: look at his attitude towards the Jewish elders. He recognized that men have always twisted God’s word to their own selfish ends. He loved His Father’s world, and loved us as His Father’s best creation. He didn’t point to a mountain and say “Lay waste to this mountaintop, for there are gold and jewels buried beneath it. Go ahead, dig it up and you will be rich.” He didn’t look at the rivers and say “Don’t worry if you poison the waters and kill the fish through your own carelessness and stupidity. They aren’t important.”
Jesus challenged us to care for ALL men. Isn’t that challenge enough for our lifetimes? Ask yourself, what does it really mean to love your neighbor as you do yourself? Who are we to decide that caring for the planet is a waste of time, because it will be destroyed anyway at some future date? Where is the Biblical passage which encourages us to exploit the natural world until it is desolate, and of no use to the men who will live after us? In what Gospel does Christ make allowances for our industrial enterprises to exploit the poor and underprivileged, to sequester them through economic discrimination so that one nation is allowed to live an unsustainable lifestyle at the expense of the rest of mankind?
To be Christian is to stand apart, to risk the hatred of others, for the sake of our faith. Understanding this precludes worrying about whether or not our beliefs are red, blue, or green. God created the world for us, not as a plaything to be used up and discarded, but as a garden to sustain ALL men’s lives, not just our own. We are charged with nurturing the garden, caring for it, not stripping the land bare, despoiling it, polluting it, so that a small minority can live in shameful riches while millions suffer, and the lives of future generations are in doubt. Jesus didn’t make allowances for us to ignore senseless violence, whether it be towards each other, or towards His Father’s world. He preached the Gospel of simple love.
Show me the Biblical passage which allows us to selfishly disregard the needs of all mankind, now and in the future.
Pray for Peace!



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c kitty

posted August 2, 2007 at 6:02 pm


Mick
Sorry I didn’t make myself clear enough for you to understand –I was being a little sarcastic. My point is not about the value of world-wide green movements, it was about the tendency of some evangelicals to confuse a general desire to make this planet a better, healthier, cleaner place to live with some kind of nature worship. Look at some of the posts and you will see that sort of knee-jerk reaction. It’s green, it’s “left”, therefore it’s wrong, evil,etc!-



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Dan

posted August 2, 2007 at 8:06 pm


Don’t abandon the house that need fixing yet remember Christ’s 1000 year reign (where?) Revelation 18 says a bit on this globalist capitalist economy and that in the end God would destroy those who destroy the earth



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acts1336

posted August 3, 2007 at 9:17 am


Don,
There IS an interpretation of the truth, but there is only one (interpretation is a bad word, I prefer “perceivability”) . That’s what makes us human; our understanding. And the ONLY way that God’s Word does not become the “ear tickler’s” defense is if there is ONE interpretation; and that is a literal, contextual interpretation. There is absolutely no confusion in this text. Yes, we make God’s Word void through our “brilliant” reasoning abilities. “God alone knows how to speak of God”, I take Him at His word. Revelation and Daniel can only be interpreted from using contextual Biblical parallels; not through current events. All symbols mean the same throughout the Bible or expound on themselves 99% of the time. All four rules of interpretation should be strictly followed and all four rules revolve around the Bible interpreting itself.



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David

posted August 3, 2007 at 9:55 am


I have not read all the posts closely, just scanned. Am saddened, as others have written, by the polarization around this universal issue. A resource for faith-based consideration of care of creation is “Web of Creation”.
http://www.webofcreation.org/Manuals/index.htm



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acts1336

posted August 3, 2007 at 9:59 am


Doug,
You were obviously lumping me in with the ones who do not really “get it”. And you obviously did not read everything I wrote…
You say “Pray for Peace” and then ask what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. Would you say that saving an oppressed people through means of force would be loving our neighbor as ourselves? i.e. Iraq. Loving our neighbor as ourself is where war is justified. If I was under the oppression of a ruthless dictator I would pray that someone come and take him out… and it will never happen through peace talks and diplomacy… dictators take by force and they are only removed by force. That is part of caring for all men.
And you provided no Scripture to back up your views on Jesus and the environment; in fact no one here has (does anyone here use Scripture?). I have written a few times now, yes caring for the environment is important… but it is indirectly important. The unsaved are living in this world too. Their efforts are to preserve the only place they view as eternal (and are much better than ours; because it is their religion), our mission is to tell them there is a better place; not to join their “religion” directly. What they dont know is that natural disasters are signs the Lord told us to look for, and we are going to try and prevent it through controlling carbon? We have nothing to do with it. If Christians had it their way they would try to prevent everything that will happen to them and this world during the fulfillment of Daniel and Revelation, but there ain’t no stopping it; no matter what alternative fuel is discovered, no matter how much toilet paper you use, it’s already happened in God’s space and time.
———————
I love how so many emergent Christians speak about the abuse of the environment yet their personal lives are in shambles, they are overweight and unhealthy. Jim Wallis is not the best example when he is out there for the cause of starving kids and yet is grossly overweight and obviously unhealthy. (I do not say that as a means of judgment but rather accountability, I am right there with him, but there is a higher calling, a greater responsibility and a necessary proof of faith) Living the example starts somewhere way before the easy talk. It’s easy to say.. “we need to care for our environment” its a whole other thing to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” i.e. the fruits of the spirit (includes self control)
I read in a book recently that the emergent church leaders were happy about the growing respect for Jesus in the world and that it was the church that was the problem. They are right about one thing… the church is the problem for their world accommodating agendas. I do agree that the church has completely missed it in regards to caring for the sick, widows and poor. But we have gone toe the opposite extreme and made church focus solely about these things. Satan knows what he is doing…
“Salt is good,but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.”
“All men will hate you because of Me.”
“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”
Go back and read what I wrote.



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Don

posted August 3, 2007 at 10:00 am


But two people using the same “literal, contextual” method you advocate can still come up with two differing, even in some cases contradictory, understandings of the same text.
And historically, the “literal, contextual” method isn’t the only one the Christian church has followed. “Taking [God] at His word” has had quite different meaning for different individuals and different Christian communities both over time and in different locations. Proclaiming your way of viewing Scripture as the only possible and valid way ignores the two thousand year history of how Christians have wrestled with the Word of God.
And making a particular interpretive or “perception” method a test of orthodoxy cuts out many committed, vibrant, and historically orthodox communities from the Faith. For example, Biblical interpretation is currently going down a different road among Africans than it did in Western Europe and North America. Yet they are witnessing to the truth of the Faith both within their own communities and to the world at large. Are you willing to say they are deficient as Christians because maybe they don’t view the Bible exactly the same way as you do?
I for one will not travel down the road. I, instead, believe that these different interpretations will uncover truths about God’s Word that will surprise and enrich all of us.
Like I wrote earlier, it appears that we simply will have to agree to disagree.
Peace,



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acts1336

posted August 3, 2007 at 10:01 am


“The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit, whereby the human race is regarded as one great “brotherhood.” It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within us.” It aims to make this world such a congenial and comfortable habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and be kind to all.”
Arthur W. Pink Anthology



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acts1336

posted August 3, 2007 at 10:14 am


Doug,
I have never had a problem understanding the text. The problem is a lot of these egghead Bible Scholars are really not Christians at all, if you look into the points of contention you will see how ridiculous a lot of them are. As far as aspects like premillennialism, predestination, a-millennialism I don’t talk about those things because they don’t matter. A lot of my good friends disagree with “ism/ation” views, but we are not of Calvin or Arminian… we are of Christ and the gospel is center; Christ is our foundation and on this we agree. If the world embraces you then Christ is not your foundation. Period! He said it Himself.
And yes I will go so far as to say that disagreements in the Biblical text exempt some as true Christians. Again, Christian literally means follower of Christ. When we embrace Catholicism, we spit in the faces of the millions of protestants who gave their lives because of the gross abuse of God’s Word. The root word of Protestant is protest. Protesting what? There are Catholics who are genuine Christians… and the bottom line is I cannot judge the heart, but I must draw a line (this line is Christ and God’s Word) regardless of who I offend, that is love… I do not draw this line with a smile as some sadist… I do it against my good intention for the sake of His name. That is why the world hates us, that is why some “Christians” hate us. When the pope declares that anything other than Catholicism is heresy, I then proudly bear the name of Protester (Protestant) and I do not “love my life even unto death.”



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Don

posted August 3, 2007 at 10:28 am


Actually, Acts, the root of “Protestant” isn’t “protest” so much as “witness”: pro (for) + testare (testify).
You contradict yourself when you say that you cannot judge the heart, but you have the audacity to declare that “a lot of these egghead bible scholars” aren’t Christian. Aren’t you judging their hearts???
Peace!



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 3, 2007 at 1:41 pm


That’s what makes us human; our understanding. And the ONLY way that God’s Word does not become the “ear tickler’s” defense is if there is ONE interpretation; and that is a literal, contextual interpretation. There is absolutely no confusion in this text.
Be very, very careful how you say that. We can study the Bible all we want but if we don’t understand the culture in which it was written we may not get the whole of it. The best example I can think of is the parable of the Prodigal Son — we Westerners may miss the son saying to his father, “Give me my share of inheritance now,” but those who live in that part of the world even now understand that he was cursing his father (quite literally that said, “I wish you were dead”).
And by the way, they were called Protestants because in those days they protested that their kings couldn’t rule over Catholic lands whereas Catholic kings were permitted to rule over “Protestant” territory.



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matt anderson

posted August 3, 2007 at 1:56 pm


Reading through the comments it’s interesting how the entire discussio slanted towards the simply environmental impacts of our immediate society and the political interweavings of the problem.
Task of the panel – “We were to provide a commentary that would feature the centuries-old writings of Christian teachers, leaders, and poets as they thought through the relationship of God and creation.”
The article and this statement speaks not only to conservation of what we have but to an understanding of what we have around us. Natural theology (also known as science) seems to me to be as large of a focus by this outline and is something that Christians seem to forget. The modern theory of scientific investigation and methods stem mainly from priests, monks and laypeople of a Christian faith looking to understand God and his glory by looking at what he’s made.
While I fully support and encourage ideas of conservation and renewal, hich the Bible speaks too. We alo need to keep in mind the only way to further our understanding of how to nurture God’s creation is by understanding it at the most fundamental levels.



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acts1336

posted August 3, 2007 at 2:29 pm


Rick,
Don’t know what your point was in explaining that there is “more than meets the eye” in Scripture… obviously. You supported my literal interpretation; if one is to literally interpret then they must get all the facts. There is so much more to be had in the literal Greek and in studying the history of cultural vernacular. But it doesn’t change the initial interpretation, further study merely expounds and gives you a deeper understanding.
“And by the way, they were called Protestants because in those days they protested that their kings couldn’t rule over Catholic lands whereas Catholic kings were permitted to rule over “Protestant” territory.”
You’ve got to be kidding me right? Did you get that from a public school history book?
And Don,
I wrongly assumed that you would know what I was referring to and can understand your offense. A lot of the egghead Bible Scholars are not Christians because they don’t profess the divinity and Lordship of Christ. Most of them are liberal Scholars who will gladly debate a passage yet have never taken up their cross and call themselves Christians or Theologians… they are in a nominal sense. These type are where the crux of the Biblical polemics originate. God provides teachers for the church. If there is no fundamental truth from which the Bible is to be understood and presented then it can never be taught.
And even though the Bible is historical in its cultural vernacular, the culture is to be judged by this vernacular and not the other way around; our modern day ethos is to be judged by God’s Word alone, no matter who or how many think it’s out of date or was assembled by corrupt men.
And can people please back their “God’s word has a lot to say on…” statements with the applicable reference in God’s Word!?



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Don

posted August 3, 2007 at 2:57 pm


“I wrongly assumed that you would know what I was referring to and can understand your offense. A lot of the egghead Bible Scholars are not Christians because they don’t profess the divinity and Lordship of Christ. Most of them are liberal Scholars who will gladly debate a passage yet have never taken up their cross and call themselves Christians or Theologians… they are in a nominal sense. These type are where the crux of the Biblical polemics originate. God provides teachers for the church. If there is no fundamental truth from which the Bible is to be understood and presented then it can never be taught.”
Okay, can you tell us who, specifically, you are talking about? You speak in generalities: “a lot of the egghead Bible scholars…”; “Most of them are liberal scholars…”. Who are you talking about? How many of these “egghead scholars” have you read? Name names. Give us summaries of things that specific individuals have written that tell you they are not Christians. Give us passages, references, citations. Tell us where, in their writings, they have renounced Christianity.
Oh, and by the way, tell us what you mean by “liberal.” Specifically.
If you cannot do that, then my statement that you are judging their hearts is still valid.
And these scholars are “where Biblical polemics originate”??? You must not have read much church history, or you couldn’t say that with a straight face.
Peace!



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kevin s.

posted August 3, 2007 at 4:04 pm


“Name names. Give us summaries of things that specific individuals have written that tell you they are not Christians.”
John Dominic Crossan and Robert Funk both deny that Jesus was raised from the dead, and that he performed miracles. Well, I don’t know if Funk denies it anymore. Bart Ehrman describes himself as an agnostic.
Burton Mack wrote a book entitled “Who Wrote the New Testament? The Making of a Christian Myth”
Bishop Spong denies the resurrection.
And those are only some of the more prominent theologians.



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Kevin Wayne

posted August 3, 2007 at 4:15 pm


Heck, I don’t see a problem with going whole-hog into Green Christianity. If it scares off the conservatives, bully for it! :)



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acts1336

posted August 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm


Don,
I have Ferguson and Eusebius sitting on my shelf.
This article sums it up nicely.
“Liberalism on the one hand and the religion of the historic church on the other are not two varieties of the same religion, but two distinct religions proceeding from altogether separate roots.”
“Liberalism is not vying with Fundamentalism (for lack of a better word) as a species of Christianity.”
I agree with J. Gresham Machen that “the word “liberalism” seems to give too much credit to the phenomenon and should be referred to as ‘modernism’”. (Piper)
“The negative impulses that lead to and sustain liberalism are:
1) a suspicion of the past that is natural in view of the stunning advances of recent decades; it does seem as if the past is of relatively little value;
2) skepticism about truth and a replacement of the category of true with category of useful (pragmatism, utilitarianism); the question what works seems to be more scientifically productive;
3) the denial that the supernatural, if there is any such thing, can break into the world.”
“When the preference for what is new, combines with a naturalistic bias and a skepticism about finding abiding truth the stage is set for the worst abuses of religious language and the worst manipulations of historic confessions. In essence what the modernists do is not throw out Christianity but reinterpret the creeds and give old words new meanings. That is, they make them into symbols for every changing meaning.”
To read John Piper’s article on J. Gresham Machen click here.
To read J. Gresham Machen’s masterpiece, “Christianity & Liberalism” click here.



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Don

posted August 3, 2007 at 5:11 pm


Hey, Kevin, I don’t know that you should be answering a question meant for someone else. I want to know who Acts1336 has been reading.
D



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JC

posted August 4, 2007 at 12:04 pm


“And you provided no Scripture to back up your views on Jesus and the environment; in fact no one here has (does anyone here use Scripture?). I have written a few times now, yes caring for the environment is important… but it is indirectly important. The unsaved are living in this world too.”
The unsaved see the attributes of God through His creation. “…since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”Romans 1:19,20
To obscure or eradicate creation interferes with witness to the unsaved.



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JC

posted August 4, 2007 at 12:14 pm


When one area of truth such as stewardship of God’s creation by His followers has been neglected, more attention has to be given to it to bring it back to it’s proper place. If a teenager, for example, makes a traffic violation, his or her parents have to emphasize proper driving until he or she “gets it” though other things may be equally or more important.
If we refer to God’s creation rather than “the environment” or “environmentalism” we may find that fewer can argue against taking care of what God gloriously made.
If this earth and life on it doesn’t count, then why did Jesus bother to come here as one of us to work His atonement and not stay in Heaven to work it?



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm


Don’t know what your point was in explaining that there is “more than meets the eye” in Scripture… obviously. You supported my literal interpretation; if one is to literally interpret then they must get all the facts.
Which, however, is impossible to do without consulting extra-Blbical sources — that’s why people go to the Holy Land. Even if one were to attempt to obey all the Scripture he or she has to know the original context, which may not apply in certain situations. Some people have interpreted the Scripture to say that women shouldn’t wear makeup or pants — ridiculous, we think.
“And by the way, they were called Protestants because in those days they protested that their kings couldn’t rule over Catholic lands whereas Catholic kings were permitted to rule over ‘Protestant’ territory.”
You’ve got to be kidding me right? Did you get that from a public school history book?
Nope, I learned this while attending a Christian school in the mid-1970s. In fact, the Reformation was every bit about power politics as redefining and restoring the historic Christian faith. It’s one reason most of Europe is secular today.
To JC — right on.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 4, 2007 at 6:08 pm


Environmentalism is like dressing up a house and fixing all the leaks and cracks, yet it is soon to be demolished… its pointless. Our mission is to get as many of the people out of “that house” as possible BEFORE that day.
Apparently you’re a dispensationalist, which is a MAJOR theological problem because that assumes the unbiblical secular/sacred split that comes from Greek philosophy. It’s unbiblical because God will restore this earth to its intended purpose and created ancient Israel, and later the church, to show just what that will be like.
Tell ya something else: You remember when Jesus was telling Nicodemus, “You must be born again [or 'born from above']?” Well, that wasn’t about salvation as we understand it — He was telling him that “unless you have received God’s viewpoint, you will not understand what He is doing in the here and now.” That’s clear from the context of the rest of the conversation.



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acts1336

posted August 5, 2007 at 6:32 am


Rick,
“‘You must be born again [or 'born from above']?’ Well, that wasn’t about salvation as we understand it — He was telling him that “unless you have received God’s viewpoint, you will not understand what He is doing in the here and now.” That’s clear from the context of the rest of the conversation.”
Dumbfounding and terrifying statement!
And yes, GOD will restore the Earth… NOT us! :)
Yes I am a dispensationalist… how can any Christian not be if they read the Scriptures? Jesus told us to watch ourselves and to pray that we may ESCAPE, not endure, the things that are to come. (Matthew) That tells me that if you are not living your life with Christ as Lord then you will taste the first death (NOT escape), and possibly taste the second death (if you still don’t make Christ Lord during the trib) as Jesus tells the churches in Revelation 3. Revelation 3 is addressed to Christians, with that in mind who do you think Jesus is addressing when he addresses the overcomers in the church? For there to be overcomers then there must be those who do not overcome, and because it has nothing to do with what any of us can put out (even on our best days) it’s all about the Lordship of Christ; what does that look like? Does that make the work of Christ imperfect? Absolutely not, but faith is confirmed through bearing fruit in keeping with repentance. It’s about real faith! There will be those who say—with confusion—BUT LORD! Who can determine who has real faith? Only God can in the end. He alone will divide the goats from the sheep and burn all the wood hay and stubble—works—done with good intentions and in His name yet not founded on Christ and not accomplished abiding in Christ. Paul said that we are heirs with Christ PROVIDED we suffer with Him. (Romans) He suffered two things… His own will and the persecution from the world and even His own people (who killed Him). That is a whole other topic and one that MacArthur covers wonderfully in “The Gospel According to Jesus”.
I don’t know if this will get through… they are holding my comments for approval. I made some previous responses that did not get through. I am just adding my two cents into the discussion… or trying to.



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 5, 2007 at 10:06 am


Dumbfounding and terrifying statement!
Also true, nevertheless, which is why I no longer use the term “born-again Christian” on a consistent basis. Now, you have claimed to believe in only one interpretation of the Scripture in the context in which it was written, but you just contradicted yourself by reacting the way you did. You would, or at least should, know that Jews have never focused very much on the afterlife, so Nicodemus would at least have some understanding of what Jesus was talking about — the specific reference was to His teaching and miracles, which once again is crystal-clear from the text. Oh, and BTW, even the Apostle’s Creed refers to the “resurrection of the Body.” No, Jesus was NOT at all talking about “salvation” — go back and read the whole of John 3.
Yes I am a dispensationalist … how can any Christian not be if they read the Scriptures?
Dispensationalist theology has existed only since the mid-1800s and has been proved doctrinally suspect (the best criticism of it I’ve ever read came from Tony Campolo, who once believed in it himself). I come from the Reformed persuasion, which also considers it less than correct.
If dispensationalism be true, then much of the rest of the Scripture can simply be ignored, specifically things like creation care and social justice. But our LORD says, “Heaven and earth will pass away [obviously hyperbole used for effect], but My words will never pass away.” So while Jesus is indeed coming again, until He does we should still be maintaining stewardship of the earth that the Father created for His glory.



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Don

posted August 5, 2007 at 1:47 pm


Rick:
I concur with you about dispensationalism. The pre-trib rapture teaching is fiction. It originated in a “charismatic” prophetic utterance in Scotland during the 1830s. They insist they’re only interpreting the bible “literally,” but then they insert a “gap” of indeterminate length into that “seventy weeks” passage in Ch. 9 of Daniel, thus mocking any literal sense of that passage.
Many dispensational scholars are moving away from the “traditional” dispensational teaching (e.g., the so-called progressive dispensationalists of Dallas Theo. Seminary) and thus are becoming more like historical premillennialists (e.g., Tertullian). Although I’m definitely more amillennial myself, I find historical premillennialism a whole lot easier to understand and accept than the dispensational variety.
Jesus said “occupy until I come.” He also blessed the servants who were about their master’s business when he came home unannounced. Caring for God’s glorious creation certainly is being about the master’s business, because he commanded Adam and Eve to tend the garden.
Peace,



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Payshun

posted August 6, 2007 at 2:36 am


You got to love dispensationalism and cessationism. Honestly those are two of the biggest heresies in conservative circles. It’s really sad to see man limit the love of the Holy Spirit and live such dead lives. I praise God he killed that in me.
p



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jurisnaturalist

posted August 6, 2007 at 7:23 am


I also was a dispensationalist for a long time. Going into full time ministry for a while cured me of that. Without the power of the Holy Spirit to direct my actions I would have burnt out.
But ultimately, I reject the pre-trib adoption of the Nation-State of Israel because of its ethical inconsistency with scripture. I see no grounds for the existence of centralized governments within the scriptures. I see no justification for coercive taxation for redistribution. I see no precedent for international interventionist war.
I believe the Scottish-English sentiment in America was too strong to permit more of the Jews from immigrating to America, and the establishment of the state of Israel was a convenient way to make what what the Christian’s responsibility into someone else’s problem, viz. the Palestinians.
Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 6, 2007 at 12:27 pm


I see no grounds for the existence of centralized governments within the scriptures. I see no justification for coercive taxation for redistribution.
Well, it was OK with the Apostle Paul for Christians to pay taxes to the Roman government, so you can take that FWIW.



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jurisnaturalist

posted August 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm


I don’t know if anyone will be back, now that this is all below the fold.
Paul allowed for Christians to pay their taxes, but not to work as advocates for taxation schemes. The message was, live at peace with all men. Pay your taxes, just don’t expect them to do any good. If there were any good to be done, it would have to be done by individuals under the direction of the Holy Spirit. By definition, that excludes application of the use of force.
Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 6, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Paul allowed for Christians to pay their taxes, but not to work as advocates for taxation schemes. The message was, live at peace with all men. Pay your taxes, just don’t expect them to do any good.
That misses Paul’s point. The bigger issue is that Christians should recognize secular authorities (also clear in other passages) because they have God-ordained jobs to do — to restrain evil and administer justice, and that takes money. Now, apparently you believe that government is by definition illegitimate (correct me if I’m wrong), but the Scripture definitely does not share that view.



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jurisnaturalist

posted August 7, 2007 at 10:42 am


Scripture shows that the proper role of government is judicial. There are laws, which must be derived through judicial, common law methods applied to revealed law. There are contracts, which require enforcement. There are evildoers – those whom have broken the law – which require punishment.
This is the full scope of the government as described by scripture.
Restraint of evil and administration of justice require money, as you say.
In cases of tort law the evildoer must pay restitution and court fees.
If the evildoer cannot pay he requires an advocate, or he is imprisoned, or put to forced labor, until he can pay.
The court’s fees will reflect the no-pay rate at the margin.
I’m not sure there is further requirement for the restraint of evil – such as a police force. I don’t see biblical justification for the police. The majority of actions which the police prosecute are vices rather than crimes and mere abuses of power.
The point is that I do not see biblical justification for taxation. Taxation only arrived in Israel with kings, which God did not want. They are the product of centralized power.
Kings also set arbitrary laws, laws which were not derived from the judicial process, but from the whims of men. There is no justification for this kind of law. It replaces the giver of the natural law with another source and in so doing creates a kind of idolatry.
Nathanael Snow



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 7, 2007 at 1:56 pm


I’m not sure there is further requirement for the restraint of evil — such as a police force. I don’t see biblical justification for the police. The majority of actions which the police prosecute are vices rather than crimes and mere abuses of power.
Tell that to my pastor, who has buried more than a few young men who were gunned down because, in many cases, they were “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The only way we wouldn’t need police is if we as a community would look out for each other, and that’s a concept we in the West don’t particularly like. In fact, the Biblical manner of prosecuting crime is that little innocuous phrase “on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Absent that, what do you suggest? You just described a weakness in “natural law.”
Getting back on topic, which is a “green gospel,” we need to understand that it not only is good for all, but it’s also good for people as individuals to get on board.



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acts1336

posted August 7, 2007 at 3:57 pm


Are we reading the same Bible? Did anyone read my comments in full? 90% of each comment was completely ignored, which could not happen in a live debate… online comments are too convenient and nothing but ego boosters. Each one has the last word because no one reads the words before their comments. Oh well. It would take days to sift through the misunderstandings and downright deceptions in the responses I received. And it wouldn’t be received anyway… so why bother. If anyone is truly interested in a discussion email me at acts1336@gmail.com God bless!



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acts1336

posted August 7, 2007 at 4:00 pm


Oh and please pick up a copy of “The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events” by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 7, 2007 at 5:52 pm


Are we reading the same Bible?
Yes, we are. But we don’t all — in fact, apparently few of us do — subscribe to your interpretation of such, which many of us apparently believe to be inaccurate.



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Payshun

posted August 8, 2007 at 1:37 am


NS said:
This is the full scope of the government as described by scripture.
me:
Read the prophets they will say something different.
p



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jurisnaturalist

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:36 am


Rick,
I’m really trying to follow your argument here.
I myself have buried a few students who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although I believe that the legalization of drugs and prostitution (vices, not crimes) would have prevented the particulars of these incidents.
I am still looking for biblical justification for police. Not practical consideration, which is quite another matter. America did quite well without large police forces for a long time.
You make the same argument I do when you say, “the only way we wouldn’t need a police force is if.. we look(ed) out for one another.” I’m the optimist, you are the pessimist. That doesn’t mean I’m right. I think it means we are in agreement, but that our perspective determines our agenda.
You are quite right that absent willing testimony there is no prosecution, as it should be. If the wronged parties are not willing to testify, or not interested in testifying, for the sake of their restitution, then the state has no reason to prosecute because they have no one to award the restitution to. If the state instead decides that all restitution should be awarded to itself then it has an incentive to prosecute every case to the fullest extent, and to invent new crimes to prosecute. This is precisely the pattern we observe.
NS



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Rick Nowlin

posted August 8, 2007 at 10:41 am


I believe that the legalization of drugs and prostitution (vices, not crimes) would have prevented the particulars of these incidents.
That still doesn’t get to the heart of the matter — man’s bent toward sin. I’m thus not so much a pessimist as a realist.



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JC

posted August 13, 2007 at 2:06 pm


But what if we stopped labeling ourselves and each other and simply became followers of Jesus?
“One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’;another,’I follow Apollos’; another,’I follow Cephas’; still another,’I follow Christ.’Is Christ divided?” I Corinthians 1:12
“If you hold to my teaching (Greek: continue in my teaching) you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” JOhn 8:31



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