Posted in Blog, In the World, Little Boots

Let Love Be Genuine

When explaining current events to my boys, I told them that ISIS persecute and kill those who do not agree with their religion. Terrorists from ISIS killed people in France, and every day they persecute people in their own country. Refugees fleeing from their homes are asking to come to Canada..

“But what if there are spies hidden within the refugees?” Encyclopedia Boots asked.

An eight-year-old boy, as free from racial and religious prejudice as only a child can be,  put his finger directly on the very real fear that many Canadians are facing.

“Well, yes, that is a risk,” I told him. “So what do you think Canada should do?”

In the media (both corporate and social), we seem to be so divided along party lines, speaking within a framework that is predetermined for us by our political leaders. But as Christians, having pledged our lives to the service of He who has died and risen for us, we must resist the urge to trot out the familiar soundbites of those pundits who espouse the values of our particular political bent. Our response, in this as in all things, must be to turn to the Word of God

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22:36-40

Sure, love my neighbour as myself, the Conservative Right acknowledges. But it goes on to ask: Are these 25,000 refugees, many of them Muslim, really my neighbours? Are we merely opening the door to a people who will bring the problems of their country into our own? 

When an expert in the law poses to Jesus the question “And who is my neighbour?”, Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-36). This man, despised by the Jews for his race and religion, showed more mercy to the wounded Jew than did the priest and the Levite who passed him by. “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-36)

Okay. So they are our neighbours. But what if there are terrorists hidden within the ranks of the well-intentioned refugees? If even 5% of the 25,000 are terrorists,  we would be inviting 1,250 terrorists into our country. Surely Christian compassion cannot mean that we are to put the welfare of our own country at risk by helping our Syrian neighbours, at the risk of bringing in potential enemies.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

As Christians, we must not be ruled by fear.

On the other hand, it seems that the Liberal Left, in its eagerness to prove its distinctiveness from the Conservative Right, moves past compassion and into foolhardiness.

Trudeau has pledged to welcome 25,000 refugees by year end. They are vetting 100 each day. But to meet the self-imposed deadline, he will need to process refugees almost ten times faster! How can they reasonably expect to screen almost 1000 people each day, and still maintain adequate security?

And yet those even further left on the political spectrum, are quick to dismiss these security concerns as hateful prejudice and fear-mongering. NDP leader Tom Mulcair has even criticized Trudeau’s policy of attempting to keep out terrorists by excluding single men in favour of women, children and families.  Mulcair states that this is “simply wrong,” and “not the Canadian way.”

Is it really so wrong to give preferential treatment to those who are most vulnerable?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27

Obviously, there is a security concern. Even an eight-year-old, who has no idea of the skin colour or the religion of the “bad guys” in ISIS, can see that. We needn’t prove our compassion by affecting blindness.

But that valid security concern does not veto our obligation to help our fellow man. They have asked for help, and we can give it. As Christians, we must give it.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them .. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9,14,18,21

Part of living peaceably with all, so far as it depends on us, includes taking appropriate security precautions (abhoring what is evil) to preserve the peace within our nation. We need to forget arbitrary deadlines given as election platforms. Take the necessary time to screen the refugees fully and carefully as possible. And then welcome them, in genuine love.

Posted in Blog, In the World

Christian Worldview vs. the Potterverse

Spoiler Alert: But come on, if you haven’t read the Potter books yet, are you really ever going to?

I was on another forum, discussing whether or not the Harry Potter books are appropriate reading material for Christian children. These are my answers.

Is Harry Potter a type of Christ, as is Aslan in the Narnia stories?

Aslan is a metaphor for Christ because he is the sinless creator of worlds, who comes to the aid of Narnia, suffering and dying in the place of sinful man (Edmund), and restoring the world of Narnia.HP1

Harry is more like the children of Narnia than the God of Narnia. He is a normally-sinful little boy who disobeys his professors and argues with his friends. The idea that he is a type of Christ, just because he is on the side of “good” when compared to Voldemort’s evil, is a really dangerous idea, and shows a huge misunderstanding of the gospel message.

Because there is no Creator in the Potterverse, and no arbiter of a universal good and evil, there can be no consequence for sin. Indeed, sin is not even a concept to be explored. There is good and there is evil, but “good” is not a concept in itself, defined by the goodness of God. Indeed, good can only be defined as anything that is not evil, defined by the badness of Voldemort. So the Potterverse has a devil, but not a god.

Take for example, the chapter where Harry, Ron & Hermione disobey explicit instruction from Professor Dumbledore by sneaking out of bed in the night in order to fight Voldemort. Are we to say that their decision was right, because they are the “good guys?”

Consider that they cast a spell on poor little Neville Longbottom, who is trying to obey Dumbledore in telling them to go back to their rooms. In the relativist morality of the Potterverse, it’s okay that they cast a spell on him, because they are justified in their disobedience because they are on a well-intentioned mission to foil the evil Voldemort. In the Potterverse, the ends justify the means. How very Machiavellian!

When Edmund betrays his brother and sisters in Narnia, there is a consequence. Indeed, Aslan Himself takes that punishment for Edmund. Remind you of anyone? This is why Aslan is a type of Christ.

When Harry Potter betrays Neville Longbottom, there is no consequence for this action. Indeed, this is the very night on which he succeeds in defeating Voldemort (the first time). There is a huge celebration, where he is rewarded for his actions by Dumbledore, the same professor whom he disobeyed. Certainly, Neville is also rewarded by Dumbledore for his bravery in standing up to Harry, but there is no consequence to Harry’s disobedience.

If Harry Potter is a type of Christ, he is a type of a Christ who never existed. He is a type of a Christ who would never have taken the cup of suffering given to him by his Father, but instead, who would have taken arms as Peter wanted to, and fought the forces of evil on his own terms. He is a type of a Christ who could never have led us to salvation, because it is in humility and submission that Christ did this, not in rebellion and disobedience.

Aslan, dying on the Stone Table for Edmund’s sin, is a type of Christ. Harry Potter, in his rebellion towards authority, is more a type of Edmund! But because Harry Potter lives in a godless universe, where morality is relative, where good has no definition of itself other than “not evil,” there is no consequence for sin, and no need for Christ.

But what about the last book, where Harry sacrifices himself for his friends?

Romans 5: 7-8: For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ died for sinners, who fell vastly short of God’s standards. Christ was able to provide a sacrifice for us because He was not a sinner. That’s the whole point of a Saviour. We are unable to save ourselves, because we are just not good enough (because God sets the standard of “good.”)

Harry died for his friends, who followed the same morality he did. They were all good, in comparison to Voldemort.

Harry is the one (in Romans 5) who will dare to die for a good person, while Christ is the sinless one who died for sinners.

The Christian worldview is based on God’s standard of morality. He decides what is good and what is evil. So God is good, and whatever is opposed to Him is evil. That includes all of us, (for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God: Romans 3:23) so we are all in need of a Saviour.

The Potterverse is based on Voldemort’s standard of morality. Voldemort is evil, and whatever is opposed to Him is good. So anyone who opposes Voldemort is good, and therefore has no need of a Saviour.

Harry Potter is a good kid, a nice guy, brave and self-sacrificing. He sacrifices himself in order to save others who are nice, good people, others who are opposed to Voldemort’s standard of evil. But He is no Christ.

But not every story has to be a gospel allegory in order for Christians to read it.

Certainly not. But the previous has been in response to the idea — presented by a religion teacher, of all things! — of Potter being a metaphor for Christ. The question of whether Harry Potter is appropriate for Christians to read is a separate issue, one best left to the individual Christian and his/her parents to determine.

If parents are using Harry Potter to springboard discussion about the Christian worldview vs. moral relativism, more power to them.

The bigger issue is that many Christians don’t recognize the flaw in the worldview, and imagine that it is compatible with a Christian worldview. They are not using the book to springboard critical thinking and discussion. They are merely allowing the world’s errant philosophies to enter their child’s perception of the world, unchecked.

As Christians, we need to be vigilant… especially when it comes to our children. Certainly, all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. (1 Cor 10:23)

http://therebelution.com/blog/2015/05/is-it-okay-for-christians-to-read-or-watch-harry-potter/

Posted in Blog, In the World

Learning from Josh Duggar

I haven’t posted about the Josh Duggar news until now. I didn’t feel that I had anything useful to add.

Of course I was completely disgusted that a 14-year-old would molest sleeping girls, but at the same time, I know that we are all sinners. If he had truly repented and become a follower of Christ after these teenage sins, it really isn’t my place to persecute him now, all these years later.

But now we discover that just as he put his own sexual gratification before the well-being of his sisters in the past, now he is putting his own sexual gratification before the well-being of his wife, his marriage and family.

He has been actively pursuing sexual sin, as a client of an online cheating service.

I am so very sad for his wife, Anna. After standing by him solidly throughout the first controversy, trusting that he had reformed, she did not deserve this.

I can only imagine the pain and disappointment that she is feeling. I too, am a Christian with conservative values. My family share many of the values that the Duggars espoused. We make some of the same choices in raising our children. We teach our children at home, we dress modestly, we have no television in our home. We see children as a blessing, not a burden.

But does any of this make us any better than any other family? Nope. Does it insulate us or our children from sin? Nope. Because sin comes from the heart of man. It is not what comes from the outside that defiles a man, but what comes from inside him.

Convictions are good things. I believe strongly in ours. But they cannot be what defines us as a family, or they become idols.

And they will certainly not keep our children free from the pursuit of evil. Only the saving grace of Jesus Christ can do that.

April from Stories of Our Boys has written a very good piece about what we can all learn from the Duggar controversy: Four Things to Learn from the Duggars that They Didn’t Mean to Teach

Posted in Blog, In the Word, Little Boots

Encyclopedia Boots Examines Genesis 1

My seven-year-old has been studying Genesis and Revelation. Not Genesis through Revelation; he hasn’t looked much at the books in between. He keeps resolving to read his Bible through, but doesn’t gets further than Genesis, over and over again. And he loves to read Revelation, because there’s a dragon in it.

Tonight, as Encyclopedia was having his Bible reading time before lights out, he kept coming out to me with questions. Really difficult questions, too. I had to get my Bible out and go through it with him. Boy keeps me on my toes!

In Revelation (22:5), it says that we won’t need the sun in the new Jerusalem, because God is the light. So if He is the light, then why did He create light in Genesis? Why did He have to say, “Let there be light,” if He already is light?

First, did you know that Isaiah 60:19 also has a prophecy that He will be our light? Neat how the books all tie in together, isn’t it?

In Genesis, maybe it was when He said “Let there be light,” that He became the light for the world. We know that He has always existed, but we also know that Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1) So in speaking those words, God made Jesus the light of the world.  Perhaps that was when He became our light.

That’s kind of hard to believe.20121109 (25)

What? That Jesus is the Word of God?

Yes.

Sure. But that’s only because we live in this world, where we are used to certain rules for how things work. Like gravity. And people not being words. But God lives outside of this world. He created it, so He is not bound by its rules. Those rules are created for this world, not for Him. It’s hard for us to understand, but God is very different than we are. Sure, we are made in His image, but we are definitely not just exactly like Him. We know that Jesus is the Word of God, because that’s what the Gospel of John tells us. And the Word — the Light of the world — became flesh, put on a body, and became one of us. To save us. Isn’t that amazing?

And of course, back in Genesis, the earth needed Him for light, because that was before He created the sun and the stars and moon.

Well, I have a question about that, too.  If He already separated light and darkness in verse 4, why did He separate the light from the darkness again when He made the sun and stars?

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

So, in the first bit, He is creating light (and perhaps He is that Light), but it is light independent of a source in the sky. It is still light, separate from darkness, and it separates day from night, but without sun or stars. In the second bit, it is the fourth day and he populates the heavens. So now, we have stars in the night, and the sun in the day. These are two separate events. The second time, He was adding some light to darkness. That’s neat, isn’t it? There is still day and night, just as after verse 5, but now we have some light even when it’s dark. Just like we have light — hope, even though we are sinners, and in the dark. Because some day, He will put one more star in the sky, when He sends His son to become man — to become sin, and die for us. Even in Genesis, at the creation of the world, He is putting a little promise of the Gospel in there.

Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

Matthew 2:2

3. What about the water? I thought that God created everything, but the water was already there. It says He separated the waters, not that He created it. So who made the water?

Well, the first two words of the Hebrew Bible is Genesis Elohim, and that means: “In the beginning God.” So we know that God was there in the beginning. It goes on to say, “created the heavens and the earth.” So the waters must have been part of that creation. What’s the next verse after that?

2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

So “the deep” must mean the waters. So when God separates the waters above from the waters below, He’s separating the waters that He has already created in verse 1.

Posted in Blog, In the Word, Little Boots

Does God Love Satan?

There is no philosopher so exacting as a seven-year-old with his own Bible. I had a few hours alone in the car with my eldest (7) and my youngest (1) today, and while the baby slept, Encyclopedia and I had a good talk.

Encyclopedia Boots: God loves everyone, right? So does He love Satan?

Me: I really don’t know, but I don’t think so. I think He must have loved him once, when He created him, because we know that Satan was the morning star.

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

Isaiah 14:12

Satan  knew God in heaven, in a way that we can’t know Him here on earth. Yet he freely chose to rebel against Him. We know that God hates sin and pride and arrogance, and Satan has chosen not only to do, but in effect, to personify these things:

There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-20

The Bible says that light has no fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), so I think that God has no fellowship or love for Satan, who is evil. We were separated from God through our sin. He couldn’t look at us.  I think Satan has separated Himself from God’s love through his choices.

Encyclopedia : But God still loved us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8).

Me: Yes, but I think Satan’s sin is different, since He was already in Heaven when He sinned. His choice was so much more of an affront to God, since he was one of His angels.

Encyclopedia : If Satan got cast out of heaven, can people ever be cast out of heaven?

Me: No, I don’t think so, because we are making our choice now, on earth, to follow God.

My seven-year-old, as I’ve said before, is a deep thinker. As you can see, my answer got weaker towards the end of this segment of conversation. I think I’m right, but I just don’t know how to support it. I would love any thoughts you may have, to maybe take me a little further, or even redirect me if I’m going off-base!

I have a feeling I’m going to have to be very diligent in studying theology with this little student in the house.