This is my sermon from last Sunday on Psalm 23.
There are generally two options when looking at the war in Syria and determining whether or not we should be involved. I would like to take a moment and examine what I consider to be the good arguments from both sides. The phrase “good” arguments as there are a LOT of really, REALLY bad arguments from both sides. So let’s begin.
Arguments for the war
Chemical Weapons Use.
Someone used a “WMD” which is apparently a bad thing. This is probably the single strongest point in the argument for the war; the definition of a moral war as defined by the post-world war 2 global society precludes the use of WMDs. Therefore we need to address the use of these tools against people in Syria.
The Bashar al-Assad is bad and does bad things in general.
This one is a little more sketch. We know Assad isn’t our friend, and probably an enemy of our ally Israel, but he isn’t the worst possible leader of Syria, an Al-Qaida run Syria would be a much worse thing for us and our allies in the region than an Assad Syria. This point comes down to basically that since we are the ultimate good guys we gotta go stomp on the bad guys and give them a savage kicking.
That’s kind of all I’ve got for good arguments for the war.
Arguments against the war
We won’t fight it to win it.
Since the 1950s America has been incapable of fighting a war to actually win said war. We want to make everyone love us and our way of life! Which isn’t why or how you fight a war, it isn’t even how you treat a conquered people for crying out loud! Americans simply don’t seem to want to watch us go beat the living daylights out of an enemy and then come home, or as an equal alternative, beat the living daylights out of an enemy and then rule their country. Unless you’re going to fight a war to dominate it, you shouldn’t fight it. And Obama has made it clear that this isn’t a fight to win its to show Assad how big we are.
We don’t know who we should be fighting for or against.
Having known enemies and allies is vital to a successful military operation. We have no idea what is going on in Syria, at least not that we’ve been able to articulate. The rebels seem to be just ate up with the Al-Qaida, and have been making a habit out of shooting, raping, burning and otherwise expressing general unpleasantry towards Christians in the country, people whom Assad had been protecting. On the other hand Assad may have used chemical weapons against his people, but that could have been the rebels too, Russia seems to think so anyway.
Everyone else thinks it’s a bad idea.
Now, I’m not one to care what exactly the rest of the world thinks about what the USA does. But when the entire premise of your attack is “what you’ve done violated international morality you must be pummeled” and the rest of the international group says a pretty collective “meh!” Maybe it’s time to re-think our plans.
All things considered, while I’m usually totally in favor of going somewhere and blowing America’s enemies to kingdom come, it looks like they are doing a pretty good job of beating themselves to me. I think we should let them continue unmolested.
I don’t want this to sound like I think we might lose, or that we should be worried because Russia and Iran are talking tough. We could easily win a war with either or both of those nations, our military budget cuts notwithstanding. The question is not CAN we fight and win a war in Syria, but SHOULD we. And I would say unless there is some rather outstanding information that is being withheld, I think the answer is no.
A friend of mine on facebook posted this article on the generation of Americans known as “millennials” (roughly those born between 1980 and the year 2000 as I understand it) and their souring relationship with the “Church” which church that is the author wasn’t clear but I believe she means the protestant evangelical church, though again how she would define that isn’t clear.
Here are my thoughts:
I think within most of what she intends to say she is wrong, or at least she is wrong from a biblical / spiritual point of view, she may be right about what the millenials are looking for but her conclusion of “lets give it to them” is far, far from on target but a few of the things she says in passing are quite true.
Now I’m going to cut directly to the heart of the issue and while she says a lot of things that are quite wrong and should probably be addressed, towards the end of her article she says this “we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there“ and I want to talk about that for just a second.
Because she gives us quite a list of things we aren’t supposed to talk about and then tells us to show her Jesus. Which truly is fair, no one will get into heaven because they waited until marriage to have sex or voted republican or went to church for that matter, getting into heaven is based solely and wholly upon simple faith in Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. To talk about any other aspect of the Christian life to an unbeliever is static and noise above the signal and should be debrided from your gospel message like an abscess.
But what is the Church and who is it for? The asking of that question can quite easily descend into an argument, but the only answer to be found in scripture is that Church is for those who have believed in Jesus for eternal life and seek to be more like him. Anyone else will naturally feel like an outsider, especially unbelievers, for they are at a family meeting of those to whom they are not related. The church is for the meat of the faith to be meditated upon by those who have believed, not to draw in the outsider for evangelical purposes. Evangelism should happen outside the walls of the church, fellowship and encouragement is what we meet for in the church. (This is not an argument against sharing the gospel during a church service, which is a very, very good thing! It is an argument against missing the point of what the church is for at a very fundamental level)
Any church that has as their primary goal to see those who attend come to faith is not a church; they are an evangelistic organization and should stop selling themselves as a church. The primary goal of the local church should be to see those within the body grow in discipleship, to help improve the standing of its members before the Bema of Christ in the last day!
So yes, find Jesus! And once you have believed on Him the church has not the right but the responsibility to talk about every single other item on that list of no-no topics she listed out there for us.
Speaking of which, let’s look at those topics for a moment shall we? Keeping in mind that a Church should be saying things directed at believers 95% of the time or more here is her list of things millennials want from their Church:
- We want an end to the culture wars.
- We want a truce between science and faith.
- We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
- We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
- We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
- We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
- We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
Let’s walk through that list real quick and see if there is any truth to what she says;
1) Culture war? Yeah man! ‘Cause helping Christians stand against an evil culture that is trying to destroy everything good and moral in the USA and to effectively stand up for a culture that is friendly to Christianity is CLEARLY outside the purview of the Church.
2) Science and Faith? *sigh* really? Because standing up for and giving Christians the tools to defend biblical truths like creation against junk propaganda “science” is haaaard and our friends might think we are Jesus freaks or something.
3) We want to stand for STUFF! But not stuff that anyone is against, or that might upset our friends, ‘cause that could get awkward.
4) As far as I know, asking legit questions is always welcome in church, well maybe not in the middle of the service but you know what I mean. If your church gets cross at you for asking honest questions then you should definitely leave that sucker!
5) Ahh politics! Lol for some reason you never hear complaints about politics from liberals in a liberal church. I think someone has an agenda speaking of which…
6) Homosexuals! now, I have to kinda sorta agree with her, we should want any sinner, seeking life to feel welcome in our midst, however I don’t think people who define themselves as strongly by their sins as homosexuals do are ever going to feel welcome in a group of people seeking Christ-likeness however friendly we are to them. They define themselves so often by their sexual preference that it becomes their personality and who they are, rather than a thing they do that the only way to accomplish the goal is to preach permissiveness when it comes to sex, which is clearly unbiblical. And preaching biblical truth is what the church is there for! Now remember, this is totally 100% separate from your gospel message which should NEVER include any commentary about someone’s lifestyle, we are all equally unrighteous before God and all equally need to believe in Jesus!
7) Right, holiness I can understand the frustration of these “millennials” if they don’t want anything divisive or absolute but want to know how to live a life of holiness. Now her point about most Christian communities being somewhat obsessed about sex as sort of the definition of purity and righteousness is well made, I’ve personally never been totally clear on how sexual sin is soooo much worse than gossip, stealing, lying or speeding on the highway but apparently it is. What I think, is that lots of Christians need to calm down lol.
Or, allow me to translate succinctly:
“We want the church to tell us stuff we can do that makes us feel good about ourselves, maybe even look good to our unbelieving hipster friends, but we don’t like moral or natural absolutes that contradict modern culture or thought because that might be awkward.”
Now don’t get me wrong, its super tough to preach about righteousness and maintain that mentality of God’s infinite grace and the total assurance we have of eternal life having believed in Jesus! The critical loss is the understanding of the Judgment seat of Christ (the bema) and what our call is.
“Go, therefore and make Disciples” is not the same as “go and make big-ass churches that have a great cross section demographic of age groups and nationality’s oh and you need to have a super active missions team and a popular youth group”. But to walk the road of discipleship, what 1st John calls being “in the light” and to teach others to walk that way as well, is to teach that truth that we are assured of our destination, but called to righteousness and greatness in the kingdom along the way and we should never shrink from that message to anyone for any reason!
So George Zimmerman was found innocent the jury to my astonishment actually applied the law correctly and justice was served.
But we are being harassed by the media and some parts of the country are being plagued by “riots” (yeah… ok we will come back to that particular work of fiction in just a second) and all of this is supposedly because of white(ish) on black RACISIM! As demonstrated by Zimmerman’s (now legally certified as righteous) shooting of the guy who was pounding his head into the concrete while trying to get his gun.
Let’s ignore for a few paragraphs the reality that all the outrage and debate surrounding this case was manufactured out of whole cloth by at least the national media, the NAACP (only liberal statists need apply) and the DNC if not the executive branch of the US government. And take a moment to examine who exactly is racist.
For subject ‘A’ we have a Mexican-American working class man worried about the quickly rising tide of crime in his neighborhood, who, to our knowledge has never used a racial epitaph in his life, certainly not on camera or audio recording.
And for subject ‘B’ we have an African-American juvenile who has witnesses and his twitter account recording him making a wide range of racist remarks and comments.
And yet because subject A has a pale complexion and subject B a darker one when A shoots B whilst B is in process of stomping a mud-hole in A’s face immediately after referring to him via a racial slur, we are supposed to just accept that A is supposed is the racist? Oh sure, right I forgot when counting your racists the whitest one always is the hating one while the darkest one is the victim.
According to this logic Zimmerman is a racist because he’s white and Martin is the victim of racial hatred because he is black.
Does anyone else see the problem here?
Who else thinks the streets would be empty and the media totally ignoring this case were it Zimmerman who had died that night and Martin brought up on murder charges? Yeah, me too. Oh Racism is going on in a big way in this case, just not between Zimmerman and Martin. The racism that is here exists in the media, the social organizers and the politicians who seek to gain from these situations by casting a light of perpetual victimhood upon the minority populations.
Now … about those “riots” it looks to me like there are two groups here. The big group is the manufactured outrage bunch set up by social organizers possibly by those within the administration but definitely associated with the DNC or unions. They are too few and too peaceful to be actual riots like the Rodney King insanity in the 90s, they are almost transparently there to give those who can the excuse to legislate their will against us because of “the voice of the people” which looks to me to be about .0001% of the population or less in any given area protesting something.
The other group is gonna be your criminals. These are the folks who are using this as an excuse to steal stuff or smash windows or what have you.
I haven’t seen any reports, even among the state run media outlets that would make me believe that there is an actual outcry in any real numbers. It’s manufactured, which means there is an agenda behind it, one which it seems is the next push against gun rights. Not against the guns themselves this time, but against our right to use them to defend ourselves. Just replace Zimmerman’s gun with a knife and play out the media response in your head.
This entire circus was manufactured. No one thought that Zimmerman had done anything but legally defend himself, right up until the President of the USA decided to get involved. And POTUS doesn’t get involved unless there is an agenda to push.
All we can do is make sure we think through what we are being told and do our own research before we believe it.
Be careful out there folks.
With reverence, awe and a humbling view of history I sit to write on this day the 237th anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence and the birth of the greatest nation to exist in all of the storied history of man. A place in which I am most fortunate, blessed and grateful to live in today.
America is exceptional; we have maintained a higher level of liberty for more people for longer than any other nation in history. No other state of men has seen the freedom, liberty, power, and prosperous growth that the United States has in its short existence. It is truly a unique and wonderful place, should the people of yesteryear hear stories of the might, power and luxury of America today it would be as stories of Camelot or Elysium. And most of the good things found around the world are there or remain because of direct or indirect invention, innovation, discovery or military sacrifice by the American people.
It is the duty and privilege of every generation of Americans to be vigilant that the unique qualities of America do not disappear over the years. A responsibility the last few seem to have forgotten at least in part. And as a result we have indeed slipped away from what made us great, and the land of innovation and miraculous discovery and more towards the morass and darkness that has always gripped the rest of the world.
But that returns us to the initial idea, the main thing as it were. Are we exceptional today? I answer with an optimistic ‘Yes’. I believe the exceptionalism that created those before us has imbued into the blood of the American people a desire for true liberty as yet un-awakened within them. The people in America today have behind them and around them constant reminders of the amazing abilities and accomplishments of Americans of old. We are their children and grandchildren, inheritors of this great and wonderful place. And we will rise to the occasion and in the spirit the liberty for which so much has been sacrificed we will peacefully and quickly return to our foundational principals that once made us the most wonderful nation in the world and take up that mantle of freedom and individual liberty once more. Or we will slip swiftly beneath the waves of history and I fear the world will follow us into a time of darkness the like which has been unseen for a thousand years.
I leave you with the final paragraph of our first founding document, a blood oath and death pact amongst our Founding Fathers signed on this day in 1776 as they went to open rebellion and war with the most powerful nation in the world.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
So the Supreme Court of the United States (aka SCOTUS) has just ruled the Arizona law requiring voters show proof of citizenship.
And that is a bad thing. However its not as bad as the headlines are going to make it look.
From what I can tell and I’ll grant you that I’m not a lawyer but it seams to me that the SCOTUS did not invalidate this type of law, they said that the various states couldn’t create new election requirements beyond what the federal government has in place.
In other words, its OK for voters to be required to show proof of citizenship, but a State can’t make that call, it can only come from the feds. So that is a bad thing, but not as bad as it could have been. It also makes sense especially after reconstruction and the poll tax baloney that happened shortly after the civil war.
We want free and fair elections and it makes sense in a post-civil war/civil rights movement era that the states aren’t totally trusted to create their own election law. Now just because it makes sense doesn’t make it right. As a federalist I believe that the United States properly should be a collection of mostly autonomous states united under the loose regulations and laws from the federal government. Now that hasn’t really been the case since the civil war but its what it should be.
Anyhow, there is still hope for us to have fair elections, albeit a very small one.