They Still Don’t Get It

Nobody could dunk like Darryl Dawkins. The late 76ers’ Sir Slam kept us entertained in the late 70’s and early 80’s, shattering backboards with concoctions like “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam.” He also wasn’t a half-bad basketball player.

Misunderstood (because who wouldn’t be if they claimed to be an ambassador to Earth from the planet Lovetron where he practiced “interplanetary funkmanship” with his girlfriend Juicy Lucy), Dawkins ended up a small-time community college coach before dying waaay too soon of a heart attack at 58. Or maybe he just went home.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, it’s Friday…and Erick’s in Washington D.C. appearing in one of those CSPAN2 events where lots of words are spoken and nobody wants the camera catching them checking Twitter while the others are speaking. Speaking of that, Janet Parshall, taking the Christian pro-Trump position, did a great job pointing out all the irrelevancies of terrible people becoming president, without giving a single reason why God needs a Trump (like the horrendous Star Trek V Kirk statement, what does God need with a star ship, which I’ll get to later on).

Who’s the Birther?

People didn’t get Darryl Dawkins, but he could dunk a basketball, and he loved doing that more than anything else in the world. Donald Trump loves being in the public spotlight more than anything else in the world, and the Democrats still don’t get it.

Hillary Clinton wants the presidency like Molly Jensen wants Sam Wheat in “Ghost.” Viscerally, sexually, like wet clay on a potter’s wheel and (God rest his soul) Patrick Swayze. Until now, that longing has been cosmically unobtainable, except through some charlatan medium like Barack Obama tossing her a bone at State. As much as she tries to connect with what she was so close to in the 90’s–living in the White House and all–she remains obscenely mortal.

Not only is she mortal in the physical sense–as in dying, but Clinton cannot live down 2008, and may be doomed to repeat it at the hands of the Dr. Dunkenstein of politics. Trump is within the margin of error in the RCP average, and effectively tied in a 4-way race including Gary Johnson and the new millennial favorite, Jill Stein.

So Trump let the media run on Hillary’s health scare, demonstrated his own transparency with an appearance on Dr. Oz while she convalesces, and offered nothing but get well soon sentiments while privately hoping for further evidence of Clinton’s decrepitude. But even worse, as Democrats shriek with horror at the press turning on their Empress (or Precious, or Idol, Goddess, what-have-you), Trump resurrected the Original Conspiracy that started everything and hung it on Hillary.

Trump set up this dunk in late September. Of 2015. It took a whole year to complete.

Then Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser, spoke for the Orange Throne, a mistake frequently made and never, ever safe.

“Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States,” said Jason Miller, the Trump campaign’s senior communications adviser.

A few planetary revolutions later, Trump told The Washington Post:

Trump suggested he is not eager to change his pitch or his positions even as he works to reach out to minority voters, many of whom are deeply offended by his long-refuted suggestion that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

When asked whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said recently that he now believes Obama was born in this country, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”

But, of course, Hillary’s campaign, in 2008, wrote this in an internal memo:

All of these articles about [Obama’s] boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii are geared toward showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light.

Save it for 2050.

It also exposes a very strong weakness for him — his roots to basic American values and culture are at best limited…He told the people of NH yesterday he has a Kansas accent because his mother was from there. His mother lived in many states as far as we can tell — but this is an example of the nonsense he uses to cover this up.

…We are never going to say anything about his background — we have to show the value of ours when it comes to making decisions, understanding the needs of most Americans — the invisible Americans.

Silent Majority, anyone? Sounds pretty “America First” to me. Who’s the birther now, Hillary? Dunk.

Panic in the press

Noah Rothman rightly declared panic at the Democrats’ secret clubhouse (located a cozy six stories underground beneath PETA headquarters in Norfolk–because real estate in D.C. is so expensive, and the Trump International just blocks from the White House has ears in the Metro).

“He is playing you guys like a Stradivarius. Dominating news instead of Newsweek story, Trump Foundation,” perennial Republican critic Norman Ornstein barked at the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza. “Pathetic.”

“[Y]ou can ask any question about Trump, Trumpism or anti-Trumpism except the existential ones,” wrote  newly minted GQ pundit Keith Olbermann, “because the existential ones could lead him to stop calling in to your morning show and providing you with your highest-rated hour for free.”

It’s not that Trump doesn’t have enough faults, it’s that he has too many, and has effectively inoculated America to his misdeeds. It’s almost to the point where he becomes a sympathetic character, which makes the liberal press even more apoplectic.

The idea that Donald Trump has not been covered negatively by the press is demented. It’s not that Trump’s coverage has been soft; it’s that there has been too much negative news to cover. From the scandalous Trump Foundation, to the treatment of his hotel employees, to the fraudulent Trump University, and more, the din of scandal coverage is so deafening it’s turned into white noise. Trump is aided by the fact that Hillary Clinton’s own misconduct and ethical lapses render the contrast between her and her opponent a muted one.

Yeah, it sucks when your candidate can’t muster enough righteousness to even fake some outrage, because the race is a turd sandwich versus a giant douche. The fact that the collective media has to brown-bag the sandwich and tell everyone how yummy it is is beyond satisfying to those who are skipping the meal entirely.

The fact is, yes, they are being played. The writer called Publius Decius Mus claimed that conservatives are the Washington Generals (the team paid to lose to the Harlem Globetrotters). In fact, it’s the press who play that role, while Trump is Darryl Dawkins flying to the hoop for another basket.

They still don’t get it.

God doesn’t need a Trump

Erick quoted Star Trek in this morning’s debate about whether a Christian should publicly shill for Trump. “What does God need with a star ship?” asked Kirk of the being at the galaxy’s center who claimed the title of El Shaddai (among others).

God does use bad people to accomplish his plans. He used Judas Iscariot, Pharaoh Rameses II, Nebuchadnezzar, and the Roman Emperor Nero, to name just a few. But nowhere in Scripture is there a call to God’s people (in the Old or New Testaments) to support evil in the ultimate cause of good. The Christian’s call is to means, while the ends are in God’s hands.

If God chooses to use Trump in some unknown way to heal America, then yay God. But that can and will happen regardless of my own vote, and to claim that I am siding with God to side with Trump is lunacy. It’s like claiming that you side with Herod because he accomplished God’s will in fulfilling prophecy. Herod was evil. Only God can turn evil to good purposes. For Christians to claim that we can do that apart from God is heresy.

God does not need a Trump, but we should certainly pray for Trump (and Hillary), that they would be used for God’s purposes, and seek His wisdom.

President Reagan addressed the National Prayer Breakfast on January 31, 1985. He recounted how Ike began the prayer breakfast tradition.

He said, “Frank, this is the loneliest house I’ve ever been in. What can I do?” And Carlson said, “I think this may be a good time for you to come and meet with our prayer group.” And Eisenhower did. In 1953 he attended the first combined Prayer Breakfast. And Presidents have been coming here for help ever since. And here I am.

Reagan repeated a story he had told before. There is power in one name, and one name alone. Those who put their trust in any other name are doing so at the risk of being fools. Let us all be careful that if we get anything–we get that.

It’s a story that goes back to the fourth century. There was an Asian monk living in a little remote village, tending his garden, spending much of his time in prayer. And then one day, he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome. Well, he obeyed the Lord’s command, and he set out on foot. And many weary weeks later, he arrived in the capital city of the Roman Empire at the time of a great festival that was going on in Rome. And the little monk followed the crowd that was surging down the streets into the Colosseum. He saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, “We who are about to die salute you.” And, then, he realized these men were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowd. And he cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!” And as the games began, he fought his way down through the crowd, climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. And when the crowd saw this tiny figure making his way out to the gladiators, saying, “In the name of Christ, stop,” they thought it was part of the entertainment. And they began laughing. But when they realized it wasn’t, then their laughter turned to anger. And as he was pleading with the gladiators to stop, one of them plunged a sword into his body, and he fell to the sand of the arena, and as he was dying, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop.” Then a strange thing began to happen. The gladiator stood looking at the tiny figure lying there in the sand. A hush fell over the Colosseum. Way up in the upper tiers, a man stood and made his way to the exit. Others began to follow. In dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum. And that was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again in the great stadium did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd. And all because of one tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult. One voice that spoke the truth in God’s name.

It may take such a voice above the tumult to heal our country. Even the Romans got that.

He Who Is Without Sin…

“Even if many on the left don’t believe in Jesus Christ (in favor of their own superstitions), they should at least take those who do seriously, not for their own words, but for the words of the One they follow.”

The Apostle Paul stood in Athens, on Mars Hill, and told them how he perceived in all things they were very superstitious. Passing through, he even found an altar inscribed “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.”

Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them.

(Acts 17:29-33)

The word “superstitious” is also translated from the original Greek as “religious.” The word is δεισιδαίμων, ον, or “deisidaimonesteros” in an English transliteration. The word does not mean an adherent to an organized religion, or God-fearing in the sense of how Israel worshipped the God of Abraham. It means a sincerely held belief in a force, or deity–a superstitious fear.

Superstitious fears have no rational basis in fact supporting them. They don’t comport with current reality. Today, we see this superstitious fear all over America, but especially in the remarkable statements and attitudes proceeding from the political left–the antipode to the Christian right–whose particular superstition holds that anything Christians do or think must be evil.

Therefore, regardless of the particular facts of what actually happens in the world, the superstitious left believes that Christians are on the wrong side of it. When a radical Muslim, who likely never attended a single church service in his life, never mind studied the New Testament or evangelical Christian doctrine, murdered 49 at a gay night club, this cannot be worse than Christians opposing the LGBT lifestyle.

So when San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor prayed for victims of the Orlando shooting, she was booed. Not because her prayers were insincere, but because she was a Christian praying for people whose lifestyles are considered unBiblical. They held signs reading “You can’t use your religion to oppress us and then your your prayers to console us.”

Those who booed fail to recognize the distinction that a Christian can hold an activity or lifestyle as counter to Biblical teaching, and in fact leading to eternal punishment, but also lament the loss of those very people’s lives and pray for the comfort of their families and friends.

This kind of sentiment, brashly put by Jonah Goldberg, represents a failure of intelligence to “recognize and acknowledge [emphasis his] such meaningful distinctions. Idiots, knaves, fools, liars, activists, and a wide variety of narcissists ignore or deny such distinctions.” What Goldberg called “narcissism,” borrowing from Orwell, the Apostle Paul called superstition.

It’s notable that both Orwell, who was skeptical of Christianity yet considered himself outwardly pious (“It seems rather mean to go to Holy Communion when one doesn’t believe, but I have passed myself off for pious & there is nothing for it but to keep up with the deception.”), and Paul, the most prolific and learned of the Apostles, would arrive at the same point. Ignoring the distinction that Christians, and especially Christian leaders (minus a few jackasses who gain disproportionate attention) do not call for the systematic murder of gays, while Muslim leaders in fact do, is pure superstition.

Therefore these people, who fear the unknown god, and subscribe to one of many others that elevate various human traits and life experiences above others (beauty, virility, sexual prowess, youth, power, money, pleasure, strength, speed, alcohol, and sublimity being just a few), must attribute the failure of those gods as the fault of Christians (or Jews). When gay youth commit suicide, it must be the fault of Christians telling them their desires are wrong.

When gay youth in Israel, which has one of the most welcoming cultures for LGBT (certainly light years apart from all of its neighbors within 500 miles), have a suicide attempt rate 112 percent higher than the general population, it must be the fault of Jews and Christians. The superstitious focus on the fact that religious youths have an even higher suicide rate.

Is there mere existence of Christianity and Judaism the cause of their despair? If that’s true, then the mere existence of Islam would be a million times more devastating. Goldberg wrote:

Because of the internal fantasy-logic of this story, Muslims must be considered equal partners in the Coalition of the Oppressed. This is why the “pinkwashing” of Israel makes so many leftists angry; it arouses the agony of cognitive dissonance.

There is no logic in superstition. The same people who accuse Christians of believing in “myths and fairy tales” because of the cross, and the doctrine that Jesus rose from the dead, harbor their own religious, and inviolable beliefs.

Yet Christianity alone is rooted firmly in today’s human experience by one stunning and irrefutable principle which transcends mere superstition and belief in arbitrary rules and penetrates the heart.

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

(John 8:3-12)

There is no other worldview in which those caught directly in prohibited behavior, in which no tolerance is allowed, can escape inevitable judgment. While liberal superstition must boo Christians who pray for gays, because there is no possible way in their construct that intelligence can sanction what is forbidden, Jesus offered the ultimate social justice. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

Christ followers cannot throw stones and condemn anyone for their own sin. Those who claim the name of Christ and take up stones are liars (1 John 1:8). The logic is perfect and inviolable. It fits the facts and serves as witness in the world.

When faced with death and murderers, as I wrote before, the LGBT community will find no greater friend than true Christians. When the gods of this world fail; and when darkness falls; when light does not penetrate; when love grows cold, there is only One who offers the light of life. There is only One whose followers gladly suffer their own murder all over the world for the cause of love–not wearing a suicide vest, because He hears our prayers.

Even if many on the left don’t believe in Jesus Christ (in favor of their own superstitions), they should at least take those who do seriously, not for their own words, but for the words of the One they follow.

Donald Trump, Jesus Rebukes You

I am tired of hearing that we’re not trying to elect a national preacher. I’ve heard the arguments from Christians that politics is too dirty to expect an actual practicing Christian to engage in it (a false and moronic assertion).

Christians who should know better have taken this “God’s not really central” approach to the GOP presidential race. Dr. Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell, Jr have ignored Trump’s Biblical failings to support him. Lately, Phil Robertson, a man known for his unabashed stance on Jesus has come out for Trump.

This is a conservative, Christian-based site. It’s Erick’s website, and Erick is a Christ-follower first, a family man second, and a political activist third. While it’s possible that Jeffress, Falwell, and the Robertsons have privately expressed their Biblical views and corrections to Trump, and even been satisfied that he listened, it’s up to certain members of the public to give voice to God’s Word if others choose not to.

Trump’s supporters–I’m referring to the actual Christian ones, not the broad spectrum of nuts and nativists who pepper his Twitter feed–have one thing in common. They don’t know the difference between a rebuke and an insult. Trump always says he hits back when other people attack him.

Donald Trump: Jesus rebukes you. Not I–I am not a righteous man. I am a sinner. But Jesus the Lord rebukes you. If you wish to hit back, hit back against Him, not me.

I will let Scripture do the work.

You are a fool (Proverbs 15:1-2).

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

You are full of wrath (v.18).

A wrathful man stirs up strife,
But he who is slow to anger allays contention.

You bring trouble (v.16, 27).

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure with trouble.

He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.

You despise your own soul (v.31-33).

The ear that hears the rebukes of life
Will abide among the wise.
He who disdains instruction despises his own soul,
But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.
The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom,
And before honor is humility.

An old Jewish proverb says “the fish stinks at the head.” It means the leader of any organization sets the tone and the moral character for that organization, be it a family or a company. I would not work for Donald Trump, no matter how well he treats his employees, because he doesn’t exhibit Godly character to others.

Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies. Treating well those who treat you is no virtue (Luke 6:33).

And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

Trump will lead our country down an unBiblical path, a path away from God and His precepts. How Christians cannot or refuse to see this is indicative of the spiritual and moral blindness that has afflicted our country.

No, we’re not trying to elect a preacher in chief. But the fish stinks at the head, and Trump’s fish is stinkier than any I’ve seen in my lifetime. I pray that the man repents and shows humility. I pray that Godly people surround him and give him good counsel (Proverbs 15:22). But Christians are rightly to be fruit inspectors (Matthew 7:15-20). Until there’s visible Godly fruit from Trump, I must proclaim the Lord’s rebuke.

If you don’t like it, take it up with Jesus.


Not America First, Jesus First

By the headline, you already know what this is about. Another Christian is going to get all self-righteous and judgmental about America, right? Let me ask something before you answer. How much of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and power should He dial back and remove from the world before it’s “just enough” for you?

How much less Jesus would make your life comfortable and free from Christians talking about him too much? Any less than all of Him is none of Him. Any less than all of Jesus puts him back in the tomb, dead. If we could be righteous on our own, then we could afford to believe in “America First.” For my part, I know it has to be Jesus first, or nothing at all.

After Jesus rose from the grave and spent 40 days appearing to hundreds of people, just before he ascended to Heaven, he told his disciples this:

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

This statement was meticulously vetted and recorded by the writer of Acts, generally believed to be the Gospel writer Luke, a physician.

Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Some people in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (the latter two are known by Americans as the “West Bank”) have more sense than we do in America. If you follow Jesus in those places today, you are in for far more than just reeducation, sensitivity training, and hurled insults. Instead of names, you’ll get the sticks and stones, and broken bones will be the least of your injuries.

In America, we don’t get it. We think Jesus is the guy hanging on the cross at the altar of the local Catholic church. We think Jesus is the baby in the manger at Christmas. We think Jesus is the friendly guy feeding 5,000 with loaves and fishes on the mountain. We think Jesus is the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. And He is all those things, but those things are rubbish compared to who Jesus is.

And Jesus is not American. Americans are far, far too comfortable with our religion. We have not the fear of the Lord. We casually make statements like thus-and-such is God’s anointed candidate. We attend church and feel like we’ve done our duty to God.

But look at our society, look at our leaders, look at our politics, and it’s plainly obvious that we have not done our duty, as a church, as a people of God, as a nation.

It’s totally unconscionable that our choice for the leader of the free world comes down to a lying criminal scoundrel and a lying huckster scoundrel. How could God be pleased? In Revelation 21:8, God said,

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

God is saying to each of us: Look at your society, look at your church, America. Look at yourself. Are you cowardly, failing to act on principle because of what others might think? Are you putting your trust in a person to solve your problems–America’s problems–instead of God? Are you idolizing a candidate instead of the One who created you? Do you have more regard for abominable, sexually immoral liars than you do for the Lord?

Check yourself before you wreck yourself, as we say in the South.

Post World War II Germany was as destroyed a country as has ever existed in the world. The result of a rejection of God and elevation of culture over fear of the Lord, the country that produced the Reformation faced impossible problems. Billy Graham wrote of his meeting with the German Chancellor.

I was invited to have coffee one morning with Konrad Adenauer before he retired as the Chancellor of Germany. When I walked in, I expected to meet a tall, stiff, formal man who might even be embarrassed if I brought up the subject of religion. After the greeting, the Chancellor suddenly turned to me and said, “Mr. Graham, what is the most important thing in the world?” Before I could answer, he had answered his own question. He said, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is alive, then there is hope for the world. If Jesus Christ is in the grave, then I don’t see the slightest glimmer of hope on the horizon.” Then he amazed me by saying that he believed that the resurrection of Christ was one of the best-attested facts of history. He said, “When I leave office, I intend to spend the rest of my life gathering scientific proof of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” It was the fact of the resurrection of Christ that called the disciples to go out as burning young revolutionaries to change the world of their day. They preached that Christ is alive. This should be our message every day of the year.

Jesus is alive. He is watching us and speaking to us. We can accomplish nothing in our own righteousness. Either it’s Jesus first, last and everything in between, or America is never going to be great again.

His Pain, Our Gain

It’s Good Friday.

Today we remember that Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is Lord and Savior, God incarnate, the Alpha and Omega, the Everlasting God, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel–God with us, the Wonderful Counselor, was whipped to the edge of death with a Roman flagellum; mocked with a crown of two-inch thorns; stripped to his undergarment; and marched to Golgotha–the place of the skull, outside the city gates of Jerusalem–forced to carry the instrument of his own execution, a wooden cross.

There, Jesus was nailed to the cross and left to die a painful (from where we get the word “excruciating”) and slow death. When he had died, the Roman soldiers punctured his chest cavity with a spear to ensure he was really dead, causing the fluid which had built up around Jesus’ heart and lungs to flow out along with blood that had pooled there.

How is that good?

It’s good for only one reason. Try as we might, we cannot enter heaven. There is no way. We are sinful mortals, barred since the first sinners, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God placed two angels with flaming swords at the entrance to that created, perfect place, because it contained the Tree of Life. Those angels are still there, in a spiritual sense. The way to God’s sinless eternal life is blocked and can never be unblocked.

God Himself had to provide a way, and He did as Christ–the anointed one. God had to take our place (as He said in the garden, “you shall surely die”) and die to atone for our sins. All our sins, forever. The covenant God made with mankind was fulfilled with the death of one perfect God-man.

When Jesus uttered his last words, “It is finished,” he fulfilled the Old Covenant and became the New Covenant. He, Himself, is the Way, the Truth and the Life. When Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father but by me,” they didn’t know what He was talking about, for he had not yet made the way (although in God’s eternal plan, He was always the Way).

The first Christians called themselves followers of The Way–Christ. The term “Christian” was in fact a pejorative used by the Romans in the same way “Mohammedan” is used to describe Muslims.

There is only one Way to heaven, because there was only one atoning death of a God-man, there was only one incarnation of the living God in Christ, and there was only one lamb of God required to make that sacrifice. It never happened before, and it will never happen again. Ever.

From the instant the universe came into being until the last star is dead, there is only one Way to heaven.

From the first human breath until our mortal lives are all expended, there is only one Way to heaven.

For all the actions of all the good men and women who ever, or will ever, live on the earth, there is only one Way to heaven.

For all the evil, perversion, and violence in the world perpetrated by people on their fellow human beings, there is only one Way to heaven.

For all the sickness, poverty, seemingly-random death, waves, wind, tree limbs, cancer, suffering, and starvation in the world, there is only one Way to heaven.

God did not need to make a Way to heaven for mankind. All the ways mankind could try to find to reach God: All the spiritual solutions, perfect laws, methods of self-denial, self-sacrifice, acts of compassion, justice and righteousness by every person who ever lived or will live, will not make a Way to heaven.

We, as a human race, were as doomed as atheists say we are. We had no hope, no chance, no possible way to achieve an afterlife. But we were worse than doomed, we were condemned to be separated from God forever.

You may not believe in hell, but your unbelief is not enough to disprove its existence. You may also not believe in compassion or suffering, but I guarantee people are suffering today, and others are helping ease that suffering from a very real compassion. But neither of those real things will avoid eternity in a very real hell.

Hell is real because God is perfect and he created humans “a little lower than the angels,” but in His own image to spend eternity with Him. He created us out of His perfect love. Where God isn’t, there’s no love and no order. There’s only suffering and chaos. That’s hell.

In one act of sacrifice and atonement, Jesus Christ, the one sinless man ever to live, who never sinned because He was also God and the Son of Father God–He was not born of a sinful father but a perfect Father–became the one and only Way to heaven.

God did not need to make a Way to heaven for mankind. But His perfect love compelled Him to do it. His perfect love compelled Him to suffer excruciating pain.

His perfect love compelled Him to separate part of Himself, his sinless son on earth, from Himself in heaven.

His perfect love compelled Him to send His own son to be tortured to death in the most exquisitely awful form of execution ever contrived by evil men.

Jesus Christ died on a wooden cross on a day like today, Good Friday, nearly two millennia ago.

And because He died–and only because He died–I (and you, if you follow Him) can live forever with God.

That’s why Good Friday is very, very good.

They’d Crucify Jesus Again

One of the most often-heard objections to the Christian faith is that God doesn’t give enough clues to His existence. If God were real, they say, we’d see Him doing more public miracles and things that would point to His presence in the world. There would be less evil, pain and suffering in the world, they say.

They would rather believe that the many documented accounts of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and appearance before ascending to heaven are false and made up than to evaluate what the world would look like had those events never occurred. (In fact, these events are more well documented than anything in the ancient world by many orders of magnitude.)

But even if the accuracy of those historical accounts were set aside, the presence of Christians and Christianity in the world has been a force for the most good ever injected into the human race. In 2008, atheist Matthew Parris wrote in the Times of London that Africa needs God.

Now a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.

To preemptively answer the inevitable “but all religions point to good and all have bad” argument, I’ll dispense with it now. In India, Ghandi used non-violent citizen non-cooperation to overthrow British rule. Mahatma Ghandi was a Hindu, with Jainism leanings. But he wasn’t a religious leader, he was a political leader. Hinduism is not responsible for India’s transformation.

And of course, the Crusades–always the Crusades. The reality of God is not influenced by people who hide behind His name and do evil. Christianity is different than all other religions, in that God has come to earth to dwell among us and demonstrate His love. Mahatma Gandhi said he loves Christianity’s Christ, but Christians not so much.

If we may focus on Christ for a moment, what can be said about Him? For if He is real, and Christians are called to be like Him, then nothing you can say about Christians can be said outside of that relationship. But those who denounce Christ do so by comparing Christians to the world, not to Christ.

Jesus faced the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate after the religious authorities had him arrested for claiming to be God: Blasphemy. Were Jesus to arrive today, would not the same thing happen? The religious authorities who gather power to themselves in the name of God would condemn the Son of God, miracles and all, to the civil authorities.

The miracles would be explained away as sorcery, as they did with Christ two millenia ago.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”

But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.  The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

They said, “Barabbas!”

Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”

Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”

But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.

(Matthew 27:19-26)

They would crucify Jesus today as they did then, because they do not know the power of God, or the Scriptures (Mark 12:24); they mistake human law for God’s law. They mistake human sin for God’s will, and they mistake evidence of God for human invention.

There is, in fact, overwhelming evidence of God’s existence in the world today. There’s overwhelming evidence of lives transformed, hearts changed, entire societies moved, and liberty restored by the Truth. But the very evil in the world that atheists cite to deny God’s goodness is tolerated when God is minimized or ignored.

Jesus got it right when he told the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, or I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’

(Luke 16:24-31)

They do not hear, nor do they listen. They would crucify Jesus again. And they would not be persuaded if he rose from the dead today.

Jesus Was Wrong About Greed

Jesus was wrong about greed. There is nothing wrong with the accumulation of wealth. It gives me peace of mind. It makes it so I can, if I want, take care of others and be generous. It is my money. I should be able to do with it as I want.

With more and more money, I can accumulate nice houses and eventually a private airplane. I could then fly friends and family around and provide them nice vacations. I would not have to rely on Jesus so much with prayers begging him for things. I could just cut a check.

I think, given the comforts and abilities that come with the accumulation of great wealth, Jesus was clearly wrong about greed and I should be able to ignore him.

Now, I realize you may think I am wrong, but if Christians don’t want to engage perspectives that argue Jesus’ knowledge was limited and sometimes wrong, they should close the gospels.

I should stop here and note that none of this is my argument. It is actually the argument of a millennial homosexual named Brandon Ambrosino. To his credit, Ambrosino is willing to do what few homosexuals are willing to do and that is acknowledge that Jesus has, in fact, spoken on the issue of homosexuality. Ambrosino does not think Jesus was wrong about greed. He’d probably agree with Jesus on that one. But he thinks Jesus is wrong about homosexuality.

Ambrosino actually tweeted what I wrote above: “if Christians don’t want to engage perspectives that argue Jesus’ knowledge was limited and sometimes wrong, they should close the gospels.”

Because Ambrosino is gay, he thinks Jesus must be wrong about homosexuality. He tweeted “Today’s essay was inspired by the fight over whether Jesus was or wasn’t in support of homosexuality. He obviously wasn’t. And he was wrong.”

Note that the only reason Jesus is wrong is because Ambrosino does not want to admit the particular sin he wrestles with is actually a sin. So he concludes Jesus is wrong.

If Jesus is wrong, he cannot be a part of the trinity — He who spoke the world into existence must just be a philosopher. Reducing Jesus from the divine to a mere philosopher, gives Ambrosino the mental courage to ignore Jesus and scripture and proceed into the world as if nothing is wrong.

At this point, admitting Jesus is wrong on something marks Ambrosino’s departure from Christianity into heresy. Contrary to Ambrosino’s tweet, Christians have wrestled with the idea of Jesus being just a human. Going back to AD 325 and the Council of Nicaea, then the Council of Constantinople in 381, then the Council of Ephesus in 431, and the Council of Chalcedon in 451, among others.

The early Christian Church confirmed that Christ was fully man, but also fully God. He was without error because he was God. He could not, in human nature, tell you in AD 30 what he thought of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony and he could not tell you the chemical formula of benzene, because his human nature would have precluded that during his time on earth. But he also could not lie, sin, or commit error in his statements because his divine nature precluded that.

Now, if you are not a Christian, you do not have to believe that. But if you are a Christian, you must. It is basic Christian theology. Christ was fully God and fully man and therefore without error in his statements and deeds.

As an aside here, Brandon Ambrosino went to Liberty University and penned an article about his time there. Media Matters attacked for hiring Brandon because he dared go to a Christian university. Christians were quite charitable to Brandon during his time at Liberty and we should continue to be. He is not with the Lord and we cannot pass judgment on him. We should pray for him. But we should not hesitate to not only point out that he is wrong, but that he is also completely ignorant of the first 1000 years of church history.

Barack Obama Is Not a Christian in Any Meaningful Way

Barack Obama is not, in any meaningful way, a Christian and I am not sure he needs to continue the charade. With no more elections for him, he might as well come out as the atheist/agnostic that he is.1 He took his first step in doing so yesterday in a speech reeking with contempt for faith in general and Christianity in particular.

Saying that violent acts are not representative of Islam, the President then attacked Christians for the Crusades (started as a response to Islamic invasion), the Inquisition (a Catholic thing, not us Protestants), slavery (abolished thanks to Christians), and Jim Crow (Dr. King also had a “Reverend” in front of his name).

Despite the interpretations and defenses of the President on what he meant, he gave away the game with a bit of the speech not given nearly as much play in the media. From the transcript:

I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.

Christ said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Christ himself is truth. When we possess Christ, we possess truth. The President is a moral relativist. It was clear in his whole speech. He cannot condemn and attack ISIS as he should because in his mind what is truth? Truth is a nebulous concept with our post-modern President. With truth a nebulous concept, right and wrong are too.

We know God cares about everyone. We know Christ came to die for sinners. But Christians know Christ is truth itself. To have truth, we must have Christ. To suggest that everyone can have some version of God and some version of truth is worldly babbling, not Christianity.

The President followed up those words with these:

And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends.

I agree.

So I wish the President would stop professing himself to be a Christian if he is not going to proclaim Christ as truth and the only way to salvation. The “all paths” nonsense and moral equivalence might fit in with the present age, but the present age does not really fit with Christ.

And as for doubts on whether I’m right, “the starting point of faith is some doubt” in my ability to save myself, not in whether I’m right. I know I’m a sinner. I know I cannot save myself. I have no doubt that Christ is the only way. It’s not that I’m right, but that Christ is right. So, Mr. President, get off your own high horse.

1. No, despite what some think, Barack Obama is not a closet Muslim. Islam teaches that “there is no god but God, Mohammed is the messenger of God.” Obama’s name is neither Allah nor Mohammed. Therefore, there is no room for him to presume himself a god. So, Obama with faith only in himself, must be an atheist/agnostic.

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