Mass Killers Are Simply Being Consistent With The Culture

Yet another mass shooting, this time, in a church in Texas.  Why?

The left blames guns.  Most on the right have no answer, although Trump says it’s a mental health issue.

I say it’s a worldview issue.  These mass murderers are simply being consistent with their beliefs.

Many people dehumanize the unborn, the poor, minorities, the disabled, and the elderly, then we wonder how mass murderers can dehumanize their victims.

For the last nine years, we have had Presidents that have preached division, and then we wonder why there is so much division and hatred.

We teach children that humans are simply highly evolved pond scum, accidents of nature, then we wonder why mass murderers have so little regard for the value of human life.

We have banned any discussion of God from schools and government, then wonder why mass murderers have no regard for God.

Our music, movies, and video games glorify violence, and then we wonder why mass murderers have such a callous view of violence.

We teach that morality is whatever we choose it to be, that right and wrong are relative.  Then we wonder why mass murderers choose to believe that killing is acceptable.

As a nation, we once held God in high regard.  Now, we openly mock God.  We ridicule people of faith. Most churches reject the idea that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God.  They follow the parts they like, and “reinterpret” the parts they don’t like.  Very few in America today strive to live lives of obedience to God’s Word.  Then we wonder why God doesn’t protect us.  We don’t make the connection between our rejection of God and God’s rejection of our nation.

As long as America continues to devalue human life, preach division, glorify violence, teach moral relativism, and mock God, we will continue to have more sick individuals that have no regard for human life, hate people, and believe it is acceptable to use violence to act out their hatred.  They are simply behaving in a manner that is consistent with what they have been taught to believe.

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Las Vegas Massacre: Why?

Las Vegas.  Why?

 

It’s not a gun issue, and there is no political solution.  It’s a spiritual issue, and needs a spiritual solution.

 

The problem is that American society has rejected God.  And, when people believe God is irrelevant, right and wrong become irrelevant.

 

The culture teaches that it’s OK to murder unborn people, and then we wonder why people think it’s OK to murder other people.

 

The culture teaches that human life is the result of a cosmic accident, and then we wonder why people don’t value human life.

 

These kinds of horrific incidents will continue to escalate until America repents and turns again to Jesus Christ.  And, America will not return to Christ until American churches start taking the Bible seriously as the Word of God.

 

It doesn’t look like this will happen any time soon, though.  The left is blaming guns.  The right is blaming the left.  Nobody is looking in the mirror and placing the blame where it belongs.  And nothing will change until we do.

America Must Repent

When I see what’s happened to the United States, it breaks my heart.

We were once a great nation.  We loved God, and God blessed us.  We have never been perfect, but although evil has always existed in our country, most people recognized it as evil, and fought against it.

Today, this has changed.  The majority of Americans no longer follow God.  We not only accept evil, we embrace it.  We embrace greed and materialism.  We embrace abortion and hedonism.  We accept hatred and violence as a means to achieve our ideological goals. We elect evil leaders, and then defend their evil words and actions.

For the most part, the American church no longer stands on the Bible as truth.  Most Christians try to justify sin by ignoring the parts of the Bible that condemn their actions, or by twisting God’s words to mean the opposite of what they actually say.

Because America has turned from God, He is judging us.  We are reaping what we have sown.  9-11, Ferguson, Charlottesville, Obama, Trump, the alt-right and alt-left, anger and hatred, are the direct consequence of our turning from God.  And, unless we repent and turn once again to Jesus Christ as our foundation, things will become progressively worse than they already are.  The United States will collapse from within.

Woe to us, a people who once knew God, but have rejected Him.

It’s Wrong.

Intolerance, in the form of bigotry, hatred, and violence, is wrong.

 

It’s wrong coming from neo-Nazis.

It’s wrong coming from Islamic terrorists.

It’s wrong coming from the Alt-Left.

It’s wrong coming from the Alt-Right.

It’s wrong coming from Whites.

It’s wrong coming from Blacks.

It’s wrong coming from Middle-Easterners.

It’s wrong coming from other ethnic minorities.

It’s wrong coming from NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, or CBS.

It’s wrong coming from FOX News.

It’s wrong coming from Muslims.

It’s wrong coming from Christians.

It’s wrong coming from atheists.

It’s wrong coming from the President.

It’s wrong coming from ex-Presidents.

It’s wrong coming from Republicans.

It’s wrong coming from Democrats.

It’s wrong coming from the rich.

It’s wrong coming from the middle-class.

It’s wrong coming from the poor.

It’s wrong coming from you.

It’s wrong coming from me.

 

Intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and violence are wrong.  Period.


Note:  I apologize if there are any groups I left out. Intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and violence are wrong coming from them, too.

So Earthly Minded, You’re No Heavenly Good

The old Johnny Cash song says, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.”

I think the problem is usually the opposite. Too many Christians – myself often included – are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.

We get caught up on social media with who should or shouldn’t marry whom, who should or shouldn’t own guns, who should or shouldn’t be allowed to enter the country, and who should or shouldn’t be President.

We are so busy telling people how we should fix this broken, temporary world that we neglect to tell others how to become part of the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Abortion, racism, sexuality, poverty, violence, politics, immigration, health care, taxes, the economy… Yes, they are all important. But they’re all temporary. When we die, they no longer affect us. When our children and grandchildren die, they will no longer affect them. All that will matter when we die is whether or not we have received Jesus Christ as Savior.

It’s simple: If a person has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, their sins are forgiven, and they spend eternity in Heaven with Him. If a person has not received Christ as Savior, their sins are not forgiven, and they spend eternity in Hell away from Him. And it’s not just after we die; If a person has Jesus, they have the Holy Spirit now to help them through this mess we call life. No Jesus, no Holy Spirit, no help getting through the mess.

Christian, don’t be so earthly minded, you’re no heavenly good. I’ll be working on it, too.

Movie Review: The Shack (2017)

After being criticized on Facebook for disparaging the movie The Shack based on reviews without having seen it myself, I went and saw the movie this morning.  Most of my criticisms stand, although I did see a positive side as well.

The Positives

First, the positives.  The movie is definitely a “feel good” story.  It does a very good job of walking through the process of forgiveness.  The main character, Mack, learns to forgive the perpetrator of a horrific crime.  He learns to forgive himself for allowing the incident to happen.  And he learns to ask forgiveness from others.  The movie could be beneficial for a person who struggles with forgiveness of others, or with being forgiven by others.

For the most part, the movie portrayed Jesus Christ fairly well.  The Jesus character is portrayed as a middle-eastern man, which is much better than how Jesus is often portrayed in films as a blonde-haired, blue eyed Caucasian.  Jesus is shown as both fully human and as Creator of the Universe.  Jesus is also correctly portrayed as the Son of God, although this aspect is not well explained or emphasized.

The movie also does a good job of expressing the absolute love of God.  All three Persons of the Trinity are portrayed as omnibenevolent.   It shows how the love of God is unconditional and extended to everyone.  For a person who struggles with whether God truly loves them, this film might help them to begin to grasp God’s unfathomable love for each of us.

The Negatives

The positive aspects of the film are unfortunately greatly diminished by some extremely bad theology.

God the human woman

God the Father is portrayed as a black woman by the name of Papa, and the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a young Asian woman by the name of Sarayu.  Papa is the name Mack’s wife uses to refer to God.  The name Sarayu comes from the Sanskrit language, and means “air, wind, that which is streaming.”  In the Bible, neither God the Father nor the Holy Spirit take on human form; and neither are of them referred to a female.  Describing God as female is taken from any number of false religions, including the Canaanite goddess Asherah, the Roman Venus, the Greek Aphrodite, numerous Hindu goddesses, and modern Paganism.  Describing God as a human woman is to make Him into a false god, which is blasphemy.

God submits to human choices and wishes

Papa explains to Mack that the reason He appears to him as a woman is because Mack wasn’t ready for Him to appear as a man.  Later in the film, Papa changes to an older man, because Mack needed a father at this point in his journey.  The notion that God changes to meet our needs is unbiblical.  God is unchanging (Malachi 3:6).  The perfect, sovereign, holy God does not alter Himself to meet our needs.  He does not submit to us; rather, we are called to submit to Him.

God doesn’t judge sin

In The Shack, God never judges sin.  At one point, Papa tells Mack, “I don’t need to punish people for sin. Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside. It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”  This contradicts one of the central themes of the Bible.  God judged Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.  He judged Cain in Genesis 4, and the entire world in Genesis 7.  Throughout the history of Israel, God judged many individuals and many nations, including Israel.  In Revelation, God judges all who do not have their names written in the Book of Life, and casts them into Hell with Satan and the demons.  Most importantly, God judged sin and placed it on Jesus Christ.  It is through the blood of Jesus that we are forgiven for sin.  To claim that God never judges sin is to deny the very foundation of the Gospel.

Universalism

Another major problem with The Shack is universal salvation.  Everyone gets saved.  Papa states that all people are her children.  This is unbiblical.  John 1:12 states that people become the children of God when they receive Him; 1 John 3:10 calls some people “children of the devil;” and Romans 9:8 declares that not all are children of God.  Because Papa doesn’t judge, she also doesn’t require repentance.  The biblical God does require repentance (Ezekiel 14:6, Matthew 9:13, Luke 13:5, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19).  In the world of The Shack, everyone goes to Heaven.  There is no Hell.  Again, this is unbiblical and undermines the Gospel.

Love vs. justice

The Shack portrays Jesus, Papa, and Sarayu as being completely loving and accepting, to the exclusion of other attributes such as being holy, sovereign, and just.   God is limited by His love, and therefore cannot administer justice.  This is a false dichotomy.  It’s not a matter of either God is loving, or He is just.  He is perfectly both.  The Bible describes God as being unlimited by His love (Psalm 103:11), and perfect in His justice (Deuteronomy 32:4).  God’s love does not limit His justice.

Good vs. evil

One of the major themes of the film is the question of why God allows evil, suffering, and death.  Despite the centrality of this theme, the question remains largely unanswered.  Papa skirts the issue by explaining that evil is the result of human free will.  What is missing is the biblical explanation, that sin, pain, suffering, and death can be traced back to Adam’s sin in the Garden.  God created a perfect world, but sin brought the curse of evil.  Also missing is the role of Satan and the demons.  Because The Shack rejects God judging sin, it also rejects the role of original sin as the cause of evil and death.  Romans 5:12 tells us that “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  This is completely missing in the film’s treatment of the issue of evil, leaving the question mostly unanswered.

 Other issues

  • In the movie, Papa has nail scars on her wrists, indicating that she was also crucified. This is not in the Bible.
  • Jesus tells Mack that he is “the best way any human can relate to Papa or Sarayu.” In the Bible, Jesus is the ONLY way to God (John 14:6), not just the BEST way.
  • The film uses the image of a garden with a tree in the center – an obvious allusion to Eden. But, instead of being perfection, the garden is in seeming disarray, representing Mack’s life.  And the tree symbolizes redemption, not the Fall.
  • At one point, the biblical God is equated with the Native American Great Spirit. Biblically, these are two entirely different entities, with the Great Spirit being a false god.

 Conclusions

My reaction to the film is influenced by my own personal faith journey.  I grew up believing in a god very much like Papa in The Shack.  The god I followed was completely loving, to the exclusion of justice.  My god would never send anyone to Hell, because my god loved everyone, and made us the way we are.  I believed that while Jesus Christ was probably the best way to god, all religions pointed to god.

What I didn’t understand was that my god wasn’t real.  I had created god in my own image.  My god was mostly there to make me happy.

When I met Jesus Christ as a college freshman, my life changed eternally.  I began to understand that God’s love and God’s justice are simply two sides of the same coin – that God’s holiness, sovereignty, and perfect love demand God’s perfect justice.  God’s love and justice can be summed up in one verse:  “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Both God’s perfect love and His perfect justice were satisfied on the cross at Calvary.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

While I thought The Shack taught good lessons on human forgiveness, because of the theological train wreck that permeates the film, I cannot recommend it.  It points to a false god as our hope for peace and forgiveness.  For someone who struggles with forgiveness and whether God truly loves them, the film might give them some insight, but with a dangerous risk.  Embracing the false god of The Shack is a false hope.  Only the true God can offer eternal life through the blood of Jesus Christ.  A god like Papa can make a person feel good about themselves and others, but cannot save us from our sins.   And that is damnable heresy.

 

 

Move the Dakota Access Pipeline!

It’s rare that I agree with liberals on anything.  I’m a conservative Christian with libertarian leanings.  On environmental issues, I rarely agree with the left-wing environmental whackos who believe humans are an invasive species and are causing global warming.  I believe our natural resources should be used in a responsible manner.  Take care of the environment, but develop our natural resources for the benefit of all.  However, there is an environmental issue that’s been under the radar of the mainstream media where I’m finding myself on the opposite side of the fence from where I usually stand.

Near the small town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, activists have been protesting the construction of a crude oil pipeline which they say threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and others downstream.  The protests, which began with a few members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe back in April, has grown to an estimated 2000+ people from dozens of tribes across the nation as well as non-Native supporters.  The occupation and protests have been extremely peaceful, with only a handful of arrests for minor incidents.  The rhetoric on social media from non-Native people has been extremely vulgar and racist, and the mainstream media has either demonized the protestors or ignored the protests completely.  The state of North Dakota has blocked off access to the protestor’s camp and removed water tanks.

What’s the Dakota Access Pipeline?

pipeline mapThe Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a new approximately 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline currently under construction which would carry crude oil from production areas in northwestern North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it would connect with existing pipelines to carry the oil to the Gulf Coast refineries.  The pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., a Texas-based company.

Why Are People Protesting?

There are a number of reasons why protestors are fighting construction of the DAPL:

  • The proposed pipeline crosses under the Missouri River just a few hundred yards upstream from the Standing Rock Reservation, and a leak would potentially destroy the main water source for the Reservation.
  • A leak would also affect the water supply of millions of people further downstream.
  • The pipeline would disturb ancestral sites that the Sioux hold sacred.
  • The pipeline would violate provisions of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie.
  • They believe the Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it approved the project.

Historical Context

By Kmusser - self-made, using National Atlas data and original treaty descriptions.

Map by Kmusser from Wikipedia

In 1868, the Treaty of Fort Laramie established the Great Sioux Reservation, which covered the western half of South Dakota and parts of North Dakota and Nebraska.  This treaty was almost immediately broken by the United States Government.  The United States has subsequently used legislation and force to steal the majority of the land, leaving the various Sioux tribes with ever shrinking reservations.  The Sioux were stripped of their culture, their lands, and their language.  Their children were forced to attend government and church run boarding schools, often hundreds of miles from their families, where they were further stripped of their customs, language, and religion.

Conditions today on the Sioux Reservations are deplorable.  Reservations in North and South Dakota are among the poorest places in the United States.  The Standing Rock Reservation has an unemployment rate of over 80%.  Alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide are rampant.  Most housing is extremely substandard and would be condemned anywhere else.  Only about a third of students graduate from high school.  The tribe lacks basic medical care, infrastructure, and economic development.  There are very few resources to change any of these conditions.

In this context, for the United States government to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline along a route that threatens the primary water source for the Standing Rock Reservation is reprehensible.  The government has already stripped them of almost everything they had, and now threatens to destroy what little they have left.  This is morally unacceptable!

The Solution?  Move the Pipeline!

While many of the protestors want to do away with the pipeline altogether, the best solution I see is to move the pipeline further east to avoid having to cross the Missouri River.  The pipeline could be routed along the boundary between the Missouri River and James River watersheds, minimizing dangers to water supplies and avoiding culturally sensitive areas.  Another option would be to route the pipeline east to the existing Keystone Pipeline, either connecting with the existing pipeline, or building a new pipeline parallel with it.  Both of these two options would cost the developers more than the current proposed route, but would reduce the potential environmental impact and avoid the ancestral sites the Sioux hold sacred.  The oil companies would get their pipeline, and the Sioux would have their clean water source.

Litigation

The Standing Rock Tribe has sued developers over the DAPL, and developers have counter-sued the tribe.  A federal judge is expected to rule by September 9.

How Can I Support the Protestors?

Contact your representatives in Congress.

The protestor’s camp has a gofundme page:  https://www.gofundme.com/sacredstonecamp

Legal defense fund:  https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf