Featured Post

The Essentials of Christianity

Most of the various groups/organizations which call themselves Christian have formulated some kind of official statement/summary of their b...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Roy Moore and the Christian Right

As a Christian and a former Alabama Republican, I feel compelled to weigh in on the accusations of sexual misconduct against Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore. For many, the question seems to be:  Who is more believable? Do you believe Moore or his accusers?

The reasoning goes something like this:  Since the accusations against Moore have the potential for ruining his reputation and political career, he must be given the benefit of the doubt (or, at the very least, the statements of his accusers must be regarded with extreme skepticism). In other words, the stakes are simply too high to just accept the testimony of these witnesses.

After listening to some of the Christian Right's commentary on this affair, it occurs to me that they are not following the directives given in their own scriptures. What is the Biblical standard? What is the Biblical standard of guilt?

In Deuteronomy 19:15, we read: "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."

Christ also instructed his disciples to make sure that two or three witnesses would be present to establish exactly what was said. (Matthew 18:16) Paul told the Corinthians that his third visit to them would satisfy the requirement that "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." (II Corinthians 13:1)

Six women have accused Roy Moore of inappropriate sexual conduct.

Roy Moore has said that he first noticed his present wife when she was a teenager.

According to the Christian Bible, is the matter established?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Take me to your leader!

A friend of mine recently forwarded to me an article which appeared on the Psychology Today website. The article was written by former FBI Agent Joe Navarro and was entitled "Dangerous Cult Leaders." You can read the full article here:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/spycatcher/201208/dangerous-cult-leaders

After reading through Navarro's list of traits that dangerous cult leaders often display, I was struck by how many of them apply to many Armstrong Church of God leaders (including the founder, Herbert W. Armstrong). At any rate, I think that folks of a religious/spiritual bent should be familiar with this list and ask themselves how the leader of the group which they associate with (or are interested in joining) compares to this profile.

Here is Navarro's list:

He has a grandiose idea of who he is and what he can achieve.
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
Demands blind unquestioned obedience.
Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
Has a sense of entitlement - expecting to be treated special at all times.
Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of relatives putting others at financial risk.
Is arrogant and haughty in his behavior or attitude.
Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
Takes sexual advantage of members of his sect or cult.
Sex is a requirement with adults and sub adults as part of a ritual or rite.
Is hypersensitive to how he is seen or perceived by others.
Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
Makes members confess their sins or faults publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent.
Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
Needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to insure that he or she is being noticed by arriving late, using exotic clothing, overdramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances.
Has insisted in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
Doesn’t seem to listen well to needs of others, communication is usually one-way in the form of dictates.
Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of his personality.
Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
When criticized he tends to lash out not just with anger but with rage.
Anyone who criticizes or questions him is called an “enemy.”
Refers to non-members or non-believers in him as “the enemy.”
Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
Believes himself to be omnipotent.
Has “magical” answers or solutions to problems.
Is superficially charming.
Habitually puts down others as inferior and only he is superior.
Has a certain coldness or aloofness about him that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know him.
Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted.
Treats others with contempt and arrogance.
Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere him.
The word “I” dominates his conversations. He is oblivious to how often he references himself.
Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly - when he does he acts out with rage.
Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything he has done wrong nor does he apologize for his actions.
Believes he possesses the answers and solutions to world problems.
Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
Rigid, unbending, or insensitive describes how this person thinks.
Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
Has isolated members of his sect from contact with family or outside world.
Monitors and or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
Works the least but demands the most.
Has stated that he is “destined for greatness” or that he will be “martyred.”
Seems to be highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from members or believers.
Sees self as “unstoppable” perhaps has even said so.
Conceals background or family which would disclose how plain or ordinary he is.
Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with himself – in fact sees himself as perfection or “blessed.”
Has taken away the freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life, and liberty of followers.
Has isolated the group physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed.

Yes, I've seen these traits before - What about you?

Monday, October 23, 2017

Some considerations on the primacy of Peter

If Scripture really does imply or state that Peter was the primary/preeminent/most important/lead apostle, then how do you explain the following?

Thirteen or fourteen books of the New Testament are attributed to Paul and only two are attributed to Peter.

Saul/Paul is mentioned 181 times in Scripture and Peter is mentioned 158 times.

Despite Peter having received a vision about what God regarded as clean/unclean and claiming that God had chosen him to deliver God's message to the Gentiles, the New Testament reflects the fact that PAUL (not Peter) was the apostle most responsible for carrying that message to the Gentiles.

Paul criticized Peter's different behavior among Jewish and Gentile converts and openly opposed him on the issue within the church.

A council of apostles and elders was assembled at Jerusalem to settle the matter of just how much of the Law of Moses that the Gentile converts would be required to observe. And, although Peter spoke to the assembly, it is certainly implied in the account of this event that James concluded the matter.

Christ said that anyone who wanted to be preeminent within God's Church or Kingdom had to be the servant of all the others. He also said that he didn't want his followers lording it over each other.

Christ asked Peter three times if he loved him more than the other apostles did and instructed him to take care of his flock after he answered that question three times in the affirmative. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What if God created a MULTIVERSE?

As long time readers of this blog know, I have previously expressed my interest in a concept that has received some attention in scientific circles over the last several years:  That our vast universe (with all of its vast galaxies) is only one small part of a much bigger multiverse. For some physicists, mathematicians, cosmologists, etc., a multiverse explains many things that have puzzled them for years. Indeed, for some of them, it has even called into question what we define as reality.

In some versions of the multiverse, each one of us has a doppelganger (counterpart or exact duplicate) living in each of these other realms acting out a different version of our lives. The thinking is that each time we make a choice/decision in our life - the alternative(s) is/are acted out somewhere else by another version of us. Thus, in theory, we would be exposed to all of the possible outcomes for our lives based on the different choices/decisions that we make for ourselves.

Now most of the folks who subscribe to this view characterize it as endless, but what if it wasn't? What if the death of the individual was a constant in all of these universes? Yes, the length of the life would vary across the spectrum (depending on choices made), but what if all of the various manifestations of you had to end in death? The possibilities would still be staggering, but they would not be endless. And, when the last you drew its last breath, then what? Could this be indicative of some greater design and purpose?

What if the function of this life is to clearly demonstrate to us that we cannot make it on our own? What if this life isn't a matter of being tested, but rather being given an opportunity to prove to ourselves that all of our decisions/choices will end in the same place? Could this be the ultimate expression of free will? Are we all learning a profound lesson about our need for something greater than ourselves? Are we preparing ourselves to make the ultimate informed decision someday? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Does God like guns?

As America faces the nightmare of what happened in Las Vegas, both sides in the debate over gun control are polishing up and reintroducing their arguments pro and con. For many, the question is whether ANY limitations on gun ownership are permitted under the Second Amendment. However, in a nation where many folks claim to be Christian, we have to wonder how many of them have considered what God thinks about all of this. For those who are interested in pursuing this line of thought, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a few passages from the Judeo-Christian canon:

Thou shalt not kill. --Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17

And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou has shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. --I Chronicles 22:7-8

Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but one sinner destroyeth much good. --Ecclesiastes 9:18

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. --Isaiah 2:4

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. --Isaiah 11:9

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord. --Isaiah 65:25

And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. --Micah 3:3

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment... --Matthew 5:21-22

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. --Matthew 5:38-39

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you... --Matthew 5:43-44

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. --Matthew 26:51-52

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. --Revelation 21:3-4

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Day of Atonement

As many Armstrong Church of God folks gather to "observe" the Day of Atonement, I thought it would be appropriate to offer my readers a few links to past posts on this blog. In short, from a New Testament Christian perspective, this day has absolutely NOTHING to do with Satan and much to do with Jesus Christ. Here are the links:



Monday, September 18, 2017

No Discrepancies in the New Testament?

Do you believe in biblical inerrancy? Are you a biblical fundamentalist? I believe that the book commonly referred to as the Holy Bible was inspired by God, but I don't believe that it is free of errors and contradictions. I believe in Jesus Christ, but I don't believe that the New Testament is free of discrepancies. What follows are just two examples of why I feel justified in making those statements:

Example 1:
In Matthew 27:28, we read that the Roman soldiers stripped Jesus, "and put on him a scarlet robe."
In Mark 15:17, we read that the soldiers "clothed him with purple..."
In John 19:2, we read that the soldiers "put on him a purple robe."

The Greek word kokkinos is used in Matthew 27:28, and it means scarlethttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G2847&t=KJV
The Greek word porphyra is used in Mark 15:17, and it is indicative of the color purplehttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G4209&t=KJV
The Greek word porphyrous is used in John 19:2, and it is also indicative of the color purplehttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G4210&t=KJV

Conclusion:  The robe that the Roman soldiers placed on Jesus just prior to his crucifixion is described by the author of Matthew as scarlet, while the authors of Mark and John describe it as being purple.

Example 2:
There are three different accounts of Paul's conversion experience on the road to Damascus recorded in the book of Acts.
In Acts 9:7, we read:  "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."
In Acts 22:9, we read:  "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
In Acts 26:14, we read:  "And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me..."

Conclusion:  One account has the men standing, another has them collapsing. One has them hearing a voice, but seeing no one; Another account has them seeing a light, but not hearing the voice.