Taking God for Granted

Think of all the things we take for granted in life.
The concepts of white privilege and patriarchy are that white males have certain historical advantages that they never actually think about. Things are becoming more egalitarian, for sure. However, Western civilization has been, for better or worse, a product of straight white men exploiting others.
Don’t believe me? When we identify colleagues or even friends, we often clarify the race of minorities, but not whites. You do not hear things like “famous male inventor Thomas Edison…” or “the straight, white Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Madison.” On the other hand, we do that for racial minorities, homosexuals, and women.

In other words, heterosexual and white are default categories. The all-encompassing term to describe all of humanity is “mankind.” Consider the term “straight,” which is the opposed of crooked, which has the negative connotation of deviance. These are taken for granted assumptions typically made by straight, white, men and are often challenged by those who violate one or more of those categories. The reaction from those in the majority is shock and denial of their privileges.

This happens when we take these concepts for granted, and Christians have been doing the same thing with doctrine. From everything from Bible translations to baptism, the modern American Christian has been fattened with privileges that go all-too-often ignored.

Our Christian Founding Fathers were persecuted and murdered for their Faith. The history of the Church is filled with meeting in secret locations under penalty of death from their governments, which still occurs in many countries. What do we, as Americans, do? We use our Christian colleges as an excuse to challenge and “correct” the Bible that our brothers and sisters and the Middle-East are being beheaded over. While we bicker about whether we should wear suits or have drums in a worship setting, Christians around the world are being crucified or burned alive.

We need not fear being used as gladiatorial fodder in the Colosseum of Rome, so we find minor things over which to quibble.

Almost 80% of Americans identify as Christian, but the average weekly church attendance for a believer in this country is 1.7 services per month. Attendance is not low because Uncle Sam is waiting to bust in our doors and imprison those inside, but because to 22% of American churchgoers, watching football has become a priority. Rather than being thrust into the arena to face lions, we can watch others combat live on television. We take our churches for granted, because we have churches to go to.

American Christians have taken church attendance for granted, but have also taken prayer and daily time in Scripture for granted. We can tell you anything you want about what our favorite actors are up to, but nothing about Solomon’s life. We can quote Tom Brady’s QB rating in the 2004 playoffs, but can’t quote a verse other than John 3:16. We have time to text, not call, but text our best friends with every detail of our daily lives, but spend no time having a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

I cannot tell you the number of fellow church members and Church members who gleefully post party pictures on social media with faces distorted by drunken frivolity; forgetting that we are called to be pictures of Christ to our unsaved friends and families. How can a drug addict be helped by someone who is right next to them shooting up? How might an alcoholic have a life change while we sit at the bar sharing shots? With no thought of the repercussions, we indulge in the very same behaviors as those who are lost. How will they ever be found when we throw the map in the garbage?

We do these things because we CAN do these things. We do them because we CHOOSE to do them. We put God’s will behind our own ambitions because we ignore the manifestation of His grace in our lives. We no longer count our blessings, because our insatiable thirst for humanistic pursuits has us spoiled and privileged.

No one is perfect. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. The difference is that the heroes of the Bible felt regret when they fell from grace. King David never fully recovered from his tryst with Bathsheba. Peter spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his denial of Christ before the crucifixion. Will we do the same, or will we continue to take our privilege for granted?

Check your privilege. It is there, and we must acknowledge its existence. The only way we will be effective at bringing others to Christ is if we throw away our hedonistic lifestyles and BE LIKE CHRIST. If you sin, it’s okay. Jesus’ blood covers Christians for all eternity. However, we must all try to avoid the temptation to flaunt our sin to everyone in our social networks.

Becoming a Christian is an easy decision for most privileged Americans. LIVING like a Christian is incredibly difficult. The first decision is personal, while the second affects the lives of all those around us. Remember who you represent. You are a child of the King of Kings. You are privileged, whether you want to admit it or not. Time is running out for our loved ones who have yet to accept Christ. Do them a favor and dare to be different. Be a rebel. We are already experiencing a revolution, so be revolutionary. Stop taking God for Granted.

I am a “Racist” and That’s Okay.

I was talking to person of color yesterday about the lack of a major church led peace rally in response to the Black Lives Matter riots, and the conversation ended with me essentially being called a racist.

How did we get there?

This person, a self-professed Christian who happens to be biracial, seemed like a person who might want to have one of those “difficult discussions” or race that supposedly never happen. I said I wanted to see church leaders hold an MLK style march on Washington where hundreds of thousands of Christians could unite with a message promoting peaceful protests.

I was then informed that there are apparently 1500 peaceful protests that I don’t hear about. I responded that I have no problem with those protests, or those who are just regular folk who believe that too many black people are being killed by police. My problem is with those at the top who pour millions of dollars into the “movement” and bus professional agitators to a location seeking to set the city on fire.

I was told that I was uninformed because I did not know about the 1500 protests. An interesting indictment, because this person 1) was unaware of the millions of dollars given to BLM by George Soros and other big money donors; 2) was unaware that unions are busing in paid agitators; 3) has watched none of the shooting videos; 4) knows very few of the names of the victims.

As I provided the statistics about how only 200-250 blacks are killed by police each year. How 70-80 of those cases are justified. Maybe 10-15% are questionable, and the remaining 10-15% are absolutely unjustified. These statistics are all available from government sites (FBI, CDC, etc.). This person actually told me that those statistics cannot be trusted.

I was even told that my opinions are based on videos, not what actually happened. Although they admitted to not watching any videos, this person believed that perhaps the evidence that I saw with my own eyes was possibly falsified. I suppose my eyes are deceiving me.

In arguing about justified shootings, I informed them that if one of my little ginger daughters pulled a gun on the police, I would expect her to be shot as well. It is NOT a racial issue.

“Have you ever lost someone close to you?” I was asked. Thankfully, I have not. However, according to this person, losing someone is extremely emotional and I cannot expect someone in pain like that to behave rationally.

I told them that if someone walked into my house and killed my family, I would more than likely be filled with rage, but I would not set fire to my innocent neighbor’s house. I understand the outrage. I get that the community may be hurting. I know that they seek justice. I do not believe that burning down a local CVS is proper exercise of the outrage and pain.

This person challenged my Christianity. They asked how a Christian could be okay with black people being killed. I told them that I am not okay with it, but there is no reasonable way to stop all of these shootings. No matter what training is implemented; no matter how many cameras are on the person and vehicles of police officers, perpetrators will still pull illegal firearms out and aim it at officers, thus, justifying shooting in self-defense.

This person told me that they have to be scared for their spouse and children because they are black, and might be shot during a routine traffic stop. I told them that out of a population of 350 million people, fewer than 100 are killed by police for “no reason.”

I also have to teach my daughters to not mouth off  and especially not pull out a weapon on a police officer. I told this person about being personally harassed by police several times in my life. I have been pulled over for no reason many times. I was sucker-punched by a black man during a basketball game and looked to the police for help as I was 17 at the time. The officer harassed me for 20 minutes, trying to get me to admit that I said the “n word,” which I did not. No witness said I did, but the officer could not believe that I was punched just for playing basketball despite a dozen or so eyewitnesses that backed up my story.

Having grown up as a pale, ginger boy in an all-black neighborhood, I got into fights. I was bullied and the victim of racism. I had to go to private school because it would have been worse for me had I gone to a public school.

This, apparently, is why I have “racism in my heart” now according to the person I was conversing with. I was a victim of racism, so now I must be racist. There is no evidence of this during my entire lifetime, yet I suppose I must be.

I mean, I also had some bad run-ins with white people. The only other white kids on my block broke into my house while we were at church and stole all of our video games and systems (and yes, there were many). In fact, I got into fistfights exclusively with white people in high school. Reflecting on this made me realize that I must also be racist toward white people. They were all men too, so I must now be a man-hating sexist. Makes sense, right?

No.

I was also told that my obvious outrage over being called a racist was more proof of my racism. The conversation ended when I asked if they had ever had a bad incident with a white person, and they simply said “not until now.”

“Wow.” I left the conversation with that one word response.

This is the never ending cycle of circular reasoning and straw man arguments that keeps people quiet about race in America today. Whenever the subject is broached, white people become racists. A conversation beginning with a call for unity and healing ended with charges of racism and personal attacks.

Unfortunately, I am too stubborn to run from the topic. I will still talk about race, and I will do so with some academic authority on the subject. I will do so with research, statistics, social theories, and actual data. I refuse to believe that one “must be black” to discuss black issues. With that logic, no blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Islanders, etc. should be able to discuss white issues, which, if you use the liberal academic talking points of the day, are all issues. The default of our society is white and male.

Women can talk about men. People of color can talk about whites. Yet the reverse is not allowed? Who is the racist? Who is ethnocentric now?

A “discussion” requires two people. If we are to solve any social problem, the “opposing” groups must engage in a dialogue. It is the basis for understanding one another. I look forward to being called “racist” more often, so long as I continue to press for conversations about tough issues. I can live with that, because I know that the Truth is on my side.

Let’s Talk About Rape

Rape culture. Have you heard of it? Are you aware that we allegedly live in one here in the US of A? Did you know that our college campuses have rates of sexual assault on par with the Rwandan genocide (23% if you take the highest possible estimations) where rape was used as a weapon.

I am sure that at least some of you are aware of the “1 in 5” statistic that claims that 20% (again, awfully close to Rwanda’s 23%) of our female college students are sexually assaulted (as well as 1.4% of men). I have looked at the study, and have several problems with it—the sample was large, but only taken from two universities, the definition of “sexual assault” was very broad, and sexual assault and rape (3.4% of victims are physically forced; 8.5% are incapacitated by a substance) are often conflated but are not the same thing.

If that is true, then it is safer to send your girls to Cancun for spring break than to class at Harvard.

It seems absurd on its face, doesn’t it? But, could it be legitimate?

I just watched a CNN documentary about this epidemic called “The Hunting Ground.” The film is full of statistics, including that 16% of college girls are sexually assaulted (lower than 20% though). It argues that 88% of these assaults go unreported, and those that are reported are ignored or outright covered up by the institution of higher learning.

They also gave statistics about the number of rape allegations vs. students expelled for rape that are truly problematic. For instance, at one school there were 203 sexual assaults reported, but only 3 students punished. Another school had 169 assaults and 0 expulsions.

Clearly, there is something untoward going on.

Then I did some quick math in my head. The 203 assaults were over a 12-year span. That’s less than 20 per year. But there are another 88% not reported, according to the statistic mentioned before. So let’s multiply by 10 to be generous. Now we are at 200 sexual assaults happening on a college campus each year. This is truly an atrocity! However, the university probably has 20-25,000 students, half of which are female. That means that 200 out of 10,000 women are sexually assaulted on this particular campus—and that’s with using higher than just 88% being unreported.

Does this sound like 16-20% to you? That’s because rather than 1 in 5, it’s more like 1 in 500.

How about the case of Melinda Manning, former Assistant Dean at the University of North Carolina? She claims that she spoke to about 100 young women about their victimization during her career (11 years, so an average of about 10 per year…again, not 20%). She claims that the university ordered her to under-report these assaults, and is an advocate for those perpetuating the 1 in 5 statistic.

However, she quit her job, and enrolled AT THE SAME UNIVERSITY in order to get another degree. This beacon of rapes where women are being assaulted in high numbers with a corrupt administration, and Dr. Manning ENROLLED THERE! Does this seem inconsistent to anyone else?

For the sake of argument, let’s just say that the 20% frequency and 88% unreported numbers are true. I will also cede that universities may very well be trying to underreport the number of sexual assaults. What are some of the ramifications?

First of all, I would love to see these universities fully investigated by outside law enforcement agency—like federal or another county. If there is a rampant cover up, then these schools should not only lose federal funding, but those involved in a cover up should be prosecuted harshly. They should never be allowed to jump from one university to another after being a part in hiding sexual assault from students and the public at large.

If the problem is ever to be corrected, victims do need to be more proactive with their reporting. I understand that there is fear, not wanting to relive the experience, and some PTSD involved. There is fear of being shamed or ignored, and these issues are absolutely justified in most cases. However, I do not understand why these young girls are calling campus security, rather than the police. As a parent, I will make sure to tell my daughters to call 9-11 for any actual emergency—which is exactly what sexual assault is. Whether afraid or not, such a huge influx of reported sexual assaults would most certainly be a method of forcing the public to look into the problem.

And since I have probably already angered some of you, I would point out that university faculty and students are overwhelmingly comprised of those who identify as politically left (Democrat/liberal/progressive). If our campuses really are bastions of sexual assault, the perpetrators are statistically more likely to be leftists. Ironically, those who seem to champion the 1 in 5 stat are predominantly leftist as well. So, the safest place to be if you are a young woman is surrounded by conservatives—but I digress.

This is a very sensitive topic, but we will never make any progress if we avoid an honest discussion about the veracity of statistics, how to prevent attacks, identifying tangible solutions to the problem, and stop shaming 1) victims of assault and 2) skeptics.

Whether 20% or 2% of our girls are raped, the numbers are too high. Ignoring the issue or making false claims in order to “raise awareness” are not helpful solutions. Would anyone treat murder with such tactics? Of course not.

I also do not believe that we live in a rape culture. Most of the men I have ever met would probably beat a rapist half to death if they ever bragged about their conquest. Moreover, the film also put out a stat that 8% of men are committing 90% of the assaults. If true, then a HUGE majority of men are not involved in sexual assault. That is not a culture of rape, but a larger-than-should-be number of bad apples.

Compare the 8% of men to the 8% of Muslims who support violent extremism. Would we say that Islam is a “terrorist culture”? Are we not told that we cannot hold all Muslims accountable for the actions of a few?

How about the 7% of Americans who are LGBT? Are we living in a “gay culture”? Of course not. In fact, we are told every day about how oppressed the LGBT community is. How they must live in the shadows in many cases for fear of reprisal for their behavior.

But rapists are so brazen that 8% of them can make the academic system a rape culture? It makes no sense.

Do your own research, and do not believe statistics (which are almost always manipulated to make a point—I know I just did it). If we really are sending our children to a hotbed for sexual assault, then we MUST take action against it. If there are legitimate findings that support the stats presented to us, then I want nothing more than for those involved to be punished in ways that would make the Inquisition seem like a Disney theme park. If not, though, then we must be big enough to realize that inciting a moral panic is the antithesis of progress.

All Things Being [un]Equal

“Women are better than men,” declared heartthrob Ryan Gosling. This statement has, for whatever reason, began trending across multiple social media platforms and have feminists of all walks cheering with glee as a young, attractive man decided to tear other men down so that women can stand tall on the pedestals of power.

The unwed father of two young girls has decided that men have had their day, and now that women are “stronger” and “more evolved” than men, the reigns of society should be handed over to the females. Apparently, Mr. Gosling believes that men should not only accept this transition, but should do so willingly because we deserve to be treated as unequal.

Not all of us will do so; nor should we.

I understand that feminists had the “separate, but equal” mentality, but there is truth to the idea. No, I do not subscribe to the doctrine of separate spheres—in which the home is a woman’s domain, and everywhere else is the man’s—but true equality begins when we understand that we have differences.

Men are biologically larger, stronger, and more physical. Whether by evolution or design, men are made for hard, physical labor. Not all men are larger than all women, but the general rule applies.

Women are biologically more capable of nurturing, which actually begins in-utero. It is the mother’s body that provides nourishment for a developing baby in the womb. It is the mother’s milk that nourishes the child after he/she is born. The intimacy of breastfeeding simply cannot be replicated by men.

There you have it. It is biology. It is science. It is nature that men are physical and women are nurturing. This also does not mean that either sex is “better” than the other.

Sure, men are better at certain things, but women are better at other things. Some women are better than some men at athletics, and some men are better than some women at raising a child. Just because there are exceptions, does not make the rule any less true.

In our “all or nothing” society, we tend to forget that even nature accounts for anomalies.

There is also the concept of intersectionality that we must consider. This idea basically boils down to “not all women” or “not all whites.” The experiences of women vary based on other characteristics, such as beauty, race, sexuality, or social class.

A gay black woman from the middle class has different experiences than a straight black woman from the lower class. A white lesbian schoolteacher has different experiences than a white lesbian business owner.

This is the problem with stereotypes—there are over six billion unique individuals with experiences that are not perfectly shared with anyone else. Thus, to say that half of those people are “better” than the other half—whichever side you choose—is ignorant and dangerous.

Moreover, to say that men deserve to be taken down a few notches as some sort of repayment of past ancestral patriarchy is just plain stupid. That’s like saying that white people should be slaves because our ancestors were on the other side of the experience.

Whatever you believe about patriarchy and “white privilege,” I think that the best way to have an egalitarian society is not to bring one side down to meet the other, but to bring both sides UP. Rather than berating masculinity, we should elevate femininity. Rather than firing white men from positions of power, we should create more positions for women and people of color.

We should also understand that it is our differences that make modern society function. This is the crux of Emile Durkheim’s concept of Organic Solidarity. Not everyone can be a mechanic, plumber, professional athlete, and CEO of a tech company. It is the specialization of society that allows us to worry about being good at a few things, rather than being competent in all.

The same logic can be applied to this seeming conflict between men and women. We do not, and should not have to be “better” at all things. It is okay to specialize. As a matter of fact, it is BETTER so specialize. Some men want to stay at home with their kids. Some women want to be a CEO. That is perfectly fine! It is also fine for a woman to want to stay at home while the husband works.

It does not matter whether the couple is straight, gay, lesbian, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, mixed race, polyamorous, monogamous, polygamous, married, co-habitating, dating, rich, poor, etc. ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE DIFFERENT…but equal.

Knowledge or Wisdom?

We are the most technologically advanced civilization in history, but all this knowledge has not improved our lives in any meaningful way. Sure, we have more luxury and leisure, but we are no happier than our ignorant ancestors who simply sought after things like the meaning of life or what our purpose on the planet is. Unfortunately, these “big questions” are rarely even asked by most. We are lacking something in this “civil” society. We are a society without wisdom.

Regardless of your moral genesis, political affiliation, or religious dogma, all of us feel that the world is lacking “common sense.” But what they mean is that we are failing in the application of all the information and knowledge available to us. We are like living trivia machines, full of facts, yet no idea of how those facts are relevant to our day to day lives.

My fellow university students quote long passages from Karl Marx. They can identify the flaws of capitalism and the inevitable inequality produced when people are paid based on merit, rather than the sheer fact that they are human. However, when ideologues attempt to apply Marxism, it fails. That is simply because the utopian Communist ideal society is impractical. A wise man would take human nature, and history, into account. A wise man applies the ethos that man is flawed, thus to believe that man, himself, can possibly give up all potential possessions for the good of the whole without force is naiveté to the millionth degree.

Putting your trust in a politician, like Obama or Trump is completely unwise. History shows us that political corruption is the rule, not the exception—no matter how few exceptions we try to name. Philosophers are flawed. Our “news” media is flawed. Those who we love to quote—Marx, Jefferson, Franklin, Nietzsche, Plato, Socrates—are all men who are flawed.

Yet some of them were wise.

I believe that our Founding Fathers were wise to the inevitability of corruption, which is why the US Constitution is one of the only documents that seeks to limit the power of our leaders. I believe that philosophers can be wise, so long as they are seeking answers to the big questions.

I also believe that The Bible, whether you believe it is the Word of God or not, is a document full of wisdom. Not killing, stealing, coveting the possession of others, honoring your parents, and not sleeping around on your spouse are “common sense” principles that are almost universal throughout global cultures.

A wise man seeks wisdom from others. We must be prudent in our sources, and be unafraid to ask the big questions. Personally, The Bible and the Founding Fathers have been instrumental in my own acquisition of answers. I have found satisfactory reasons for my meaningful existence. I have tested the answers again and again, and I still find myself returning to those same sources.

I have found a satisfaction with my life that few others that I know actually enjoys. Every action that I make has eternal consequences. My legacy may live on for a generation or two through my children, but my decisions have repercussions that will last longer than the Earth as we know it.

Some may say it is foolish to prattle on about such fantasies, but I believe it to be Truth.

A wise man seeks knowledge from many sources, but discerns what knowledge is good and true through sound study—and dismisses the other as falsehood. A wise man tests Truth by filtering all information through his world view, rather than trying to piece together a world view with scraps of information. A wise man does not change the world to fit his view of it, but understands the world as it exists.

A wise man does not re-define centuries old concepts for the sake of placating the few. A wise man cannot dismiss history and science for the sake of making others feel good about themselves. A wise man takes his time to understand a situation before making any judgments about it.

This used to be “common sense,” which is no longer common or makes any sense.

A wise man recognizes that the world has been changed by those without wisdom.

A wise man understands the danger of wisdom in a world so lacking in it.

Be wise.

The Illegitimacy of the Legalism Label

“Legalism” has become a buzz word in the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement lately. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, we keep using that word, but I don’t think it means what we think it means.

Let us start with the etymology. “Legal” refers to law; specifically, written law. “Ism” is an adherence to a theory or doctrine. Thus, legalism is a strict adherence to written law.

Now, many Christians that I have encountered recently have thrown this term out like it is some measure of their street cred in the IFB movement. One person actually said he is a “recovering” member of the IFB church—like he was a drug addict—and now seems to have some sort of mission to show everyone else that his way is the correct way.

Is it?

Legalism comes up in any conversation that involves worship music (both style and instrumentation), preferred Bible translation, proper church attire, or procedures for rituals like baptism or communion. However, none of these topics are inherently legalistic.

For example, my father is a traditionalist. He prefers the use of hymns to contemporary Christian music. He believes that only string and brass instruments should be used in worship. Of course, we have had many disagreements about this since I am a drummer who wants to use my talent to be a worship leader.

To the modern IFB critic, my dad’s strict beliefs about music are “legalistic”, yet I would argue that his preference stems more from tradition than law. There are no written laws about worship music; therefore, how can this be legalism?

There are many Christians who believe that men should wear suits, and ladies should wear dresses (with hems BELOW the knees, of course) to church. Modesty is the appropriate stylistic choice when crossing the threshold of the House of God. After all, if we were to visit the President of the United States or the Queen of England, would we not dress up for it? Why, then, would we not wear our “Sunday best” when going to the home of the King of Heaven?

Again, this is a traditional view, not a written law.

Perhaps the most volatile of the “legalistic” subjects is Bible translation. Other than worship music, this subject will get Christians riled up like nothing else. Are you a 1611 King James Version person, or are you okay with the alphabet soup of modern translations like NIV, ESV, NLT, NKJV, NASB, NCV, or RSTLNE? LOL, JK.

Those who stand on the soapbox of reformed IFB members will hail down accusations of legalism against any who stand by the traditional King James Version. Some, and I believe this to be idiotic, will go as far as to say that if you claim to be KJV-Only, then you are claiming that the King James is MORE INSPIRED than the original texts (which no longer exist, by the way). As if anyone believes that there was no true Bible until 1611 A.D.

If anyone DOES believe that (in my almost 28 years of being a Christian, I have never met a single person who does), they are simply wrong.

That being said, belief that the KJV is superior to the alphabet soup is not a blind adherence to some written (or even unwritten) law of being a legitimate Baptist. I would say it is actually more than mere tradition. As the source document for our entire religion, The Bible is more important than clothes or music. If the foundation of your worldview is flawed, then so is your worldview.

I personally believe the King James to be the only divinely inspired Bible in the English language. Other translations change words that can change the context of a verse, and some remove verses completely. Some modern translations make errors so large as confusing the Son of the Morning (Lucifer/Satan) with the Morning Star (Jesus Christ).

This truly matters.

Yet those who are critical of the  IFB “legalists” flippantly disregard any discussion of our founding document as some way of measuring spiritual fortitude and they are “recovering” from such drivel. As if somehow listening to Christian rock music and reading a New International Version of The Bible is superior to tradition.

I find it interesting to see the parallels in modern American politics. There is a growing sentiment that The Constitution is an old document that needs updated, and we need to progress beyond the traditions of the past and embrace change.

The King James Version and The Constitution are irrelevant in the modern era, because they are ancient. They are difficult to understand and should be updated. Some of us are “recovering” Baptists; some are “recovering” conservatives.

Traditionalism is not legalism, my dear readers.

Like The Constitution, The Bible is full of written laws. As Americans and/or Christians, we should understand and follow the laws written into our founding documents.

When it comes to worship and clothing, there are very few written laws. Thus, disagreements about these things boil down to preference, not legalism. Our arguments are over tradition, not law.

Odd that someone can break away from being legalistic as soon as they buy a new Bible translation, even if they still believe that we should not wear shorts to church. One stops being a legalist the moment they play a contemporary Christian song from the stage, even if they ban drums from the platform.

The lines of legalism are blurry and ambiguous, at best. Yet we are supposed to believe that “recovering” Christians have any sort of legitimate argument as they pass judgment on the rest of us? The arrogance of their perceived superiority only serves to undermine their critique of traditionalists in the Independent Fundamental Baptist church as being arrogant in their “old” beliefs.

The Pharisees were the models for legalism in that they stuck to their Old Testament beliefs while the New Testament stood before them in human form healing the sick on the Sabbath. They killed Christ for violating the written law.

The Pharisees placed the written law of God over the spoken law of Jesus Christ. There is no modern equivalent in the IFB church.

Christianity in America is in the decline, not because of legalism, but because of petty arguments over preference. There are thousands of churches throughout our country, and I would bet that none are exactly the same. It is not incredibly difficult to fine one to suit your preferences. So find one that works for you and shut your mouth about the rest of us. Save your judgment and your comments about traditionalists being like “Pharisees”.

Like so many other labels, those who tend to use them misunderstand their meaning. There are incredibly few true legalists among us today. Moreover, it is never right to apply the actions of a few to an entire classification of people. This is known as stereotyping, and is generally frowned upon.

If following The King James Bible makes me a legalist, although I play drums to Christian rock music and I care very little about what people wear to church, then so be it. It is not the label I would choose for myself, but I am proud to know that I am advancing the Kingdom of God in a way that does not violate the Word of God. That is good enough for me. Is it good enough for you?

 

The Cure for Legitimation Crisis

We are staring into the eyes of what Jurgen Habermas called a “legitimation crisis.” There is a fundamental mistrust of our government, churches, media, education, legal system, and other administrative agencies that are supposed to be in place to protect us from tyranny.

Regardless of our political or religious affiliations, we feel let down. This is the inescapable downfall of humanism. When we rely on human beings for anything, we will inevitably be disappointed.

Thomas Jefferson is a hero to American conservatives. He was one of the Founding Fathers who was a staunch advocate of a small centralized government and one of the authors of the Federalist Papers. He is one of the most oft-quoted Americans of all time and is one of the few Founders that has his face on not one, but two pieces of our currency.

Thomas Jefferson was also a slave owner who was notoriously promiscuous with his slaves. No matter how hard conservatives try to ignore this history, they cannot. Some of his behavior cannot be excused.

Karl Marx is a hero to American progressives. He is widely taught throughout our university system for his critiques of Capitalist greed and inequalities. His writings in the Communist Manifesto and Kapital influenced multiple nations to try their hand at Communism via Socialism. The U.S.S.R., China, Russia, Germany, North Korea, North Vietnam, Italy, France, Sweden, Denmark, Cuba, and other nations have all tried to invoke Marx’s ideas of eliminating private property and sharing in goods and services by way of government distribution. Most of these Communist states have collapsed entirely after massive genocides and totalitarian regime changes. Others are facing massive economic failures, and even peaceful Sweden has become the rape capital of the world due to their lax immigration laws.

American Marxists would simply blame these failures on the fact that these nations did not actually follow Marx’s principles. We cannot have Communism until global Capitalism collapses. Marx’s critiques of capitalism are valid. His theories of alienation, the fetishism of commodities, and the culture industry are all great and should be discussed.

Karl Marx was also extremely racist and misogynist. He was a poor husband and terrible father. By all indications, he was a rough, arrogant, and aggressive jerk who was infamously difficult to be around. He was a bum who could not keep a job and railed against capitalism while suckling from the teat of frequent collaborator Friedrich Engles, whose father was a wealthy industrialist. No matter how hard progressives try to ignore this history, they cannot.

Ronald Reagan defeated Communism, ended Carter’s recession, lowered taxes, shrank the size of government, and embodied the ideals of conservative Republicans. He is an icon whose name appears in every GOP debate.

Reagan also allowed amnesty and must be held accountable for the Iran-Contra affair.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt is considered to be one of the greatest Presidents of all time. He expanded social programs in America like never before with the New Deal.

FDR also interned the Japanese into camps and was famous for being racist. Many economists are coming to understand that his high taxation and heavy regulations on businesses actually extended the Great Depression rather than ended it.

Sure, politicians are almost always seen as being corrupt, but are church leaders any different? How many major ministers resign from their churches due to sex scandals? Catholic priests are notorious for unlawful carnal knowledge with altar boys. Jimmy Baker disappeared from public after his extra-marital affairs came to light. Mark Driscoll stepped away from his church when allegations of fraudulent book sales surfaced.

Many Christians cringe at news coverage of the Westboro Baptist Church protesting military funerals with “God Hates Fags” signs or when Pat Robertson blames 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina on homosexuality.

No media outlet is trusted—nor are any unbiased.

Our professors are ideologically opposed to the majority of Americans, but they are responsible for helping us transition from immature teenagers to responsible adults. All while coddling young twenty-somethings and keeping them “safe” from harmful subjects and reality checks.

If you are a black man in a courtroom, your fate is almost certainly sealed. We all know that the system is broken, but trying to address the problems will cost votes in an upcoming election. One cannot be elected while seeming soft on crime.

We fear the government. We fear the legal system. We are always let down by politicians and church leaders who only gain power through the cult of personality rather than through merit.

We are the fools who continually put our trust in flawed human beings. We are also flawed and want to hope that our leaders are able to withstand corruption, because we want to believe that we can do the same.

What we are left with is just more disappointment, devastation, and depression.

It has been my experience that standing behind principles is a stronger position than behind people.

My principles are predominantly Christian. I put my Faith in the only perfect being in all of the universe. I do not have to make excuses for ANY behavior exhibited by Jesus Christ. There is no literary “character arc” where Jesus went from a flawed person to a hero. He was and is God from birth to death to resurrection.

No other leader in history can make that claim. Even if you do not believe that The Bible is the literal Word of God or that it is just a collection of stories, you still must admit that there has never been so perfect a character in all of literature.

Peter, Paul, Thomas, King David, Abraham, Moses, and Noah all made a transition from flawed to Faithful. Christ never did.

Mohammed, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Marshall Applewhite, Jim Jones, and the entire line of Popes cannot claim to be as perfect of Christ. They were all flawed human beings that died flawed—and all remain dead.

Christian principles of loving everyone—including enemies—and treating others as you want to be treated, as well as not lying, killing, or stealing are practically universal. Can any other ideology claim the same?

We cannot judge or justify Christianity based on the actions of Christians—but we should base it on the actions of Jesus Christ. To be contrary to Christ is simply not Christian.

I am secure in believing that my worldview is based on universal perfection. That is a standard that will never let me down. I will never waver like a Marxist, a Jeffersonian, or a cult follower. I do not follow a person or god, but THE God.

I challenge you to look to your own worldview and hold it to a standard of perfection. Does it hold up? Should it hold up? If not, then why are you still clinging to a sinking ship with no life raft? There is plenty of room on our boat.