The God of Covenant

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Often atheists will try to refute Christianity by saying to the Christian: “You’re only a Christian because you were born into a Christian family in a predominantly Christian society. Had you been born in India, you would be a Hindu.”

The first part of that assertion is true — one of the main reasons I am a Christian is because I was born and raised in a Christian environment — more on that in a second. The second assertion is nonsense. Had I not been born to the parents I was born to, in the country I was born in, at the time I was born in, I would not exist, and so no logical assumptions can be made from that assertion. It is like saying, “If 2 + 2 = 5, then….” Well, two and two don’t equal five, and so no logical argument can result from that line of reasoning.

As to the first assertion: I am a Christian because my forebears were Christian — yes, that’s true — so… so what? That does nothing to refute the Christian faith; in fact, it supports it. We know from the bible that God is a God of covenant: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:5b-6) God maintains relationship from generation to generation through covenantal relationships. That is the way He operates, and the concept of covenant is one of the essential ideas one must understand in order to understand Christianity.*

Perhaps I will write more on covenant at a later time. For now, if you’re interested, click here for further reading on the concept of covenant.

*The other essential idea one must understand is holiness.

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God Speaks. You Live. Have Faith.

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In the Bible, faith is not said to be needed in order to believe that God exists. Rather, faith is needed to believe that what God says is true. This is the greatest temptation to doubt: “Did God really say…?”

God speaks, and if He didn’t, we wouldn’t exist. The atheist says he doesn’t believe in God. That’s what he thinks, but what he really doesn’t believe in is that God speaks, and speaks truthfully. God’s existence goes without saying — God is the unspoken Speaker. The atheist would disagree, but that’s because the conditions of proof for God in his mind are incompatible with reality. The atheist demands that God be an objective product of speech. Whose speech? No one’s.

“The atheist says, ‘Believe me that there is no God.’… He invokes your and my belief in the power to speak the truth… Atheism is self-contradictory, because to speak means to believe in God — to say something that has validity before and after my physical existence.”
~Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

God says, “I am,” and all of humanity hears it. To make the claim that God does not exist is really not a valid claim, and anyone who makes it is really saying that he doesn’t believe God’s claim. We all have a belief in God built into us. We all have to choose to believe if God speaks truthfully or not. The atheist takes one extreme and believes that God is lying always. The Christian takes the opposite extreme and believes God never lies (although, he will struggle much with that belief). Most people live somewhere in between those extremes.

Related reading: God’s Idea; The Kingdom of Speech; Past & Future: Connected by Speech

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I recently tweeted: The only theology that matters: Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

A Progressive/Liberal Christian responded….

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Obviously LunaticFringer didn’t bother to look up the two O.T. verses, in which she would have discovered what Jesus was quoting when He said, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

As I have young children, I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will successfully pass on my Christian faith to them. It is not a guaranteed thing when mom and dad are Christian that the kids will be too. I’ve seen it too often when children, even raised by pastors, reject the faith when they’re old enough to be allowed to do so.

This passing on of the faith can be looked at in relation to a whole society in much the same way as individual families. The Deuteronomy passage tells us what to do…

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
(Deut. 6:4-9)

First we are told to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds — everything we are. Second, we are told that these words need to be in, or on, our hearts. That doesn’t happen automatically. If we want the faith to continue to the next generation we must teach God’s word, and make His word foundational to all aspects of our lives — our children need to hear us talking about God and living what we are saying. Whatever we do with our hands and with our minds is submitted to God (compare to Revelation 13:16). Our family life (thy house) and our political sphere (thy gates) are shaped by His word.

If we don’t do these things we are guaranteeing that our children will either become atheists directly or Liberal Christians, which leads to the same place. Liberal Christianity, both its fading modernist version and its new progressive/post-modernist version, with its worship of the zeitgeist god and its false mission to “save” the Church from itself, has always been and will always be a direct road to atheism.

Today we live in an overly feminized culture. If you say or do anything which offends people and makes them feel bad, you are in the wrong. Truth, when offensive (as it often is), is rejected. God’s word is truth; God’s word is offensive. The strong father figure is no longer respected and is seen as “toxic masculinity”.

God is one — He is not divided. He is not tossed to and fro in His thinking. He was not different in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament. His word does not change meaning over time (as post-modern philosophy teaches). What He said to the O.T. Israelites as recorded in the Bible was not just their confused understanding of His word muddied by their tribalistic warrior worldview.

Christian fathers need to grow some backbones and pass on the uncompromised word of God to their children and the entire next generation.

Further reading…

Men in Charge?! So Patronizing!

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God (Book Review)

Postmodern Jesusism

Unicorns in the Bible

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The Bible (King James Version) mentions the unicorn several times: Numbers 23:22, 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17; Job 39:9; Psalm 22:21, 29:6, 92:10; Isaiah 34:7.

Other versions of the Bible, such as the New American Standard Version, will instead use the term wild ox, as the Hebrew word, rê’em [pronounced: reh-ām’], probably refers to a wild bull.

Atheists like to bring up the Bible’s use of unicorns to attack its validity. Surely, if the Bible mentions unicorns, a mythical beast lacking any evidence for ever existing, then the Bible itself is a mythical document not to be taken seriously.

But what an intellectually lazy argument it is to automatically assume that the KJV Bible, a document translated over 400 years ago from Hebrew, Greek,* and Latin sources,** would use the word unicorn in the same way it is used today. Indeed, all you have to do is go back 200 years to find unicorn defined differently than today. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines it as this…

unicorn

A rhinoceros. And the same dictionary defines rhinoceros as this…

Rhino

This does not mean that the KJV Bible is talking about rhinoceroses when using the term unicorn. But, it does make it rather obvious that the definition of unicorn is not the same today as it was 400 years ago, and the argument to write-off the Bible as myth due to its use of the word unicorn is unfounded.

Here is a good video which inspired this article…

* The Greek of unicorn is μονόκερως transliterated as monokeros [one horn].

** The Latin version of the Bible (the Latin Vulgate) uses the term rinocerotis in Deuteronomy 33:17 and rinoceros in Job 39:9.

The Gift of Translation

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With it being the Easter season, the photo on the right is what you’ll see on a typical atheist Facebook fan-page including the caption, “Read a history book Christians.” The argument being, I guess, that Christians are so stupid that they don’t realize they’re actually worshipping a pagan fertility god on Easter instead of Jesus. Well, if that argument is valid, then I could also say the same for atheists celebrating Christmas — “Those atheists are so stupid. They think they are celebrating a holiday time of giving and family, but they are unknowingly worshipping Jesus.” It’s a stupid argument.

My response to the Facebook post was this:
Christians co-opted pagan holidays and made them their own; made them Christian holidays. It’s similar to how secular culture has co-opted some Christian holidays. That’s what happens when one culture dominates another. Christians know the true origin of Easter, and they don’t care. They’ve changed it into a holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.

And it got me thinking about speaking in tongues. In Acts 2, the disciples were given the ability to speak new languages so that all who were present at the temple heard the “wonderful works of God” in their own language. Tongues is best understood when studied in relation to Babel. At Babel (Genesis 11), God scattered the nations through the confusion of language. Directly after that, He called Abram and set him apart from the nations. From Abram came Israel, which was a nation of priests to the Gentile nations to act as a mediator between God and man. The mission of Israel was perfected and completed in Jesus through His death and resurrection — the old world died in Christ and a new world was born with His rising. Once the work of Jesus was complete, there was no more need for the nations to be separate, so God reversed Babel and brought them back together. He did that at Pentecost (Acts 2) through the gift of tongues… or a better way to say it: the gift of translation.

The gift of tongues/translation is manifest today in that wherever Christians go, they translate Christianity into the receiving culture. That starts with language, i.e. the Bible, but it doesn’t end there. Language has two aspects: the objective and the subjective. The objective is simply using words to pass along information. The subjective however, is poetry, novels, song lyrics, plays, movies, TV shows, etc… All that which creates a culture comes from the subjective.

We can call the before-Christ time the Old Covenant World, and the after-Christ time the New Covenant World. In the New Covenant world, Christ has all authority and that authority passes down to the Church. One thing Christians can do, which Old Covenant Israelites could not do, is choose their own holidays. In the Old Covenant, God strictly decided when Israel’s festivals and holidays would be. In the New Covenant world, Christians decide for themselves — the Christian calendar is much more arbitrary. Another aspect of the authority handed to Christians is the fact that Christians are commissioned to take over the world.

So, we can put this all together: 1) Translation; 2) Holidays; 3) Dominion. When Christianity is moving in on a new culture, it will translate itself into that culture, remaking the holidays, and taking dominion. That’s how it works with any dominating force moving in on another culture. We see it with non-Christian influences as well, such as the secular force in the west today.

In Cambodia, the biggest holiday of the year is the Khmer New Year, which is the Buddhist new year celebration. The holiday is celebrated by water fights — people in the streets throwing water at each other. It’s a good way to celebrate, since April, when the holiday falls, is the hottest month of the year. What would happen to Khmer New Year if Cambodia became a Christian nation? Would the celebration of Buddhism still stand? No. Would there still be water fights in April. Most probably. It would just be co-opted by the Christians. In fact, what a great way to celebrate Easter — with the living water of Jesus.

Further reading: Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday – Christianity Today